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Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings: Third Quarter Open Thread

At halftime, the Minnesota Vikings lead the Chicago Bears 24-10 in the regular season finale.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Holding a 7-0 lead, the Minnesota Vikings started the second quarter looking at a third-and-goal from the 8-yard line and looking to add to their lead over the Chicago Bears. An encroachment penalty on Willie Young moved the ball to the 4, and Bradford then threw his first incompletion after an 8-for-8 start on a pass intended for Kyle Rudolph. Kai Forbath then came on for a field goal attempt, and he swept the leg perfectly from 21 yards out to extend the Minnesota lead to 10-0.

Forbath got his second touchback in as many kickoffs, giving the Bears the football at their own 25-yard line to start their next drive. On the second play of the Bears’ drive, Jeremy Langford put the ball on the turf, and the fumble was recovered by Anthony Harris in Chicago territory at the Chicago 35-yard line. The fumble appeared to be caused by one of Langford’s teammates, but it counts all the same.

Bradford got to work quickly, finding Rudolph for 13 yards on the Vikings’ first play. Two plays later, Bradford and Rudolph connected again, this time on a 22-yard touchdown pass that saw Rudolph do a nice job of breaking tackles after the catch. Forbath added the extra point, and it was 17-0 in favor of the Vikings with just under 13 minutes left in the first half.

That touchdown reception by Rudolph was the 29th of his Vikings career, pushing him past Steve Jordan for the all-time lead in touchdown receptions for a Vikings’ tight end. Congratulations to him on setting that mark.

Forbath’s third kickoff resulted in a touchback as well, giving the Bears a third straight possession starting at their own 25. A false start by Bobbie Massey got the Bears’ drive off to a slow start, and they went three-and-out after a couple of runs by Jordan Howard and an incomplete pass intended for Alshon Jeffery. Marcus Sherels went back to field the punt from Pat O’Donnell, and he decided to get in on the big play party, as he ripped off a 36-yard return into Chicago territory at the 42-yard line.

Rudolph gained five yards on first down, but the drive would go no further after a loss by McKinnon and another incomplete pass. The Vikings called on Jeff Locke to punt, and the punt was very short, as Bralon Addison called for a fair catch at the Chicago 15-yard line, resulting in a 23-yard punt.

Howard, the lone source of any actual offense for the Bears, picked up 11 yards on the Bears’ first play of the drive, and then picked up twelve more on two more carries to push the Bears to their own 38-yard line. Bears’ offensive lineman Logan Paulsen was called for holding to push Chicago back 10 yards. Chicago got those yards back on a pass from Barkley to Cameron Meredith, and Howard got another 17-yard burst to put the Bears into Minnesota territory at the 41-yard line. Minnesota pushed the Bears into a 4th-and-6 situation, and the Bears converted with another pass to Meredith for 8 yards.

Two more carries for Howard picked up 11 yards and a first down for the Bears to the Minnesota 18-yard line. The Bears were then called for another holding penalty, this one on Josh Sitton, to move the Bears back 10 more yards. However, Barkley found Jeremy Langford on a screen pass for 19 yards down to the Minnesota 4-yard line to set up first-and-goal. Chicago finally managed to get the ball into the end zone, as the Bears snapped the ball to Jeremy Langford, who flipped the ball to Cameron Meredith, who threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Barkley, the quarterback.

Minnesota started their next drive at their own 25 after a touchback on the kickoff by Barth. A couple of quick connections, one to Jerick McKinnon and one to Jarius Wright, got the Vikings to their 40 while taking little time off the clock. Bradford then had a scramble to midfield, but a holding penalty on Jeremiah Sirles wiped it out. That was enough to stall the Vikings’ drive, and they called on Jeff Locke to punt it away. Bralon Addison muffed the punt, and Anthony Harris kept the ball in bounds long enough for Jayron Kearse to recover it. The play was reviewed, and the Vikings kept possession at the Chicago 21-yard line.

Minnesota got into a goal-to-go situation on a pass from Bradford to Rudolph with less than 30 seconds remaining, and Adam Thielen finally got his first catch of the day on a 7-yard grab to put the Vikings at the 1-yard line. Minnesota then capped the drive with Bradford’s third touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 1-yard toss to Jarius Wright. Kai Forbath added the extra point, and the Vikings had a 24-7 lead with time winding down.

The Bears did get a huge return out of Deonte Thompson on the ensuing kickoff, who tore off a 64-yard return into Minnesota territory at the 42-yard line. Barkley then found Meredith for 31 yards down to the Minnesota 11-yard line, and the Bears called a timeout with two seconds left. That was enough time for Barth to put home a 29-yard field goal to make it 24-10 at halftime.

On the stat sheet, the Vikings are lighting it up, as Sam Bradford has already completed 17-of-22 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Kyle Rudolph has been the primary beneficiary, as he has seven catches for 75 yards and a score. Adam Thielen has just one catch for seven yards in the first half, leaving him 33 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark for the season. With his 24-yard scramble, Bradford is the Vikings’ leading rusher as well, but Jerick McKinnon has 23 yards on seven carries.

On the Chicago side, Matt Barkley has completed just five-of-eight passes for 79 yards and an interception. The main weapon for the Bears has, again, been Jordan Howard. Howard has 93 yards on 15 carries in this one so far. Cameron Meredith is leading the Bears in receiving with 49 yards on three catches, and has thrown the Bears’ lone scoring pass of the afternoon on the short pass to Barkley.

At the half at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings lead the Chicago Bears by a score of 24-10. Can the Vikings hold onto the lead and get themselves back to .500?