Holding on to a 3-2 lead over the Chicago Bears at halftime, the Minnesota Vikings got the football first to start the second half. Jerick McKinnon took the kickoff out to the 25-yard line, and Case Keenum. . .and not Sam Bradford. . .led the Minnesota offense onto the field. Minnesota picked up a first down on a pass to Kyle Rudolph and a couple of carries by Latavius Murray, and picked up another on a pass to Jerick McKinnon. Keenum found Adam Thielen for a big third down conversion, and the Vikings were into Chicago territory at the 38-yard line.
Thielen then took a jet sweep and the purple picked up another first down to the 27-yard line. C.J. Ham then took a screen pass for another 11 yards into the Chicago red zone at the 16. Two plays later, Keenum rolled to his right and found a wide open Rudolph on the right side of the end zone for a Minnesota touchdown. Kai Forbath added the extra point, and the Vikings opened their lead up to 10-2.
Forbath’s kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback, giving the Bears a start at their own 25-yard line. They got things going early with two Jordan Howard carries that resulted in a first down, and a pass from Mitchell Trubisky to Kendall Wright to push into Minnesota territory at the 42. However, that’s where the Vikings’ defense made the stop, and Pat O’Donnell came in to punt it away for the seventh time this evening. Of course, the Bears chose that point to call a fake punt, and it worked to perfection as O’Donnell completed a pass to Benny Cunningham, and he practically walked into the end zone for a 38-yard score. Connor Barth connected on the extra point, and suddenly the score was 10-9 in favor of Minnesota.
Minnesota started their next drive at the 22-yard line, after a fumble by Jerick McKinnon luckily bounced out of bounds on the return. Latavius Murray appeared to have a nice gain on a screen to start things off, but a holding penalty on Michael Floyd negated it. Floyd atoned for it on the next play, catching a 19-yard pass for a first down. Two plays later, McKinnon made up for his kick return gaffe by taking a handoff from Keenum and blasting 58 yards for a Minnesota touchdown! Kai Forbath added the extra point and the score was back to an 8-point lead for the Vikings at 17-9.
Jordan Howard got things going again on the next drive, as a couple of carries for him sandwiched around a penalty on Linval Joseph gave the Bears a couple of first downs. A holding penalty on Trae Waynes gave the Bears a new set of downs, and as we move to the fourth quarter of play, the Bears are looking at a 2nd-and-6 from the Minnesota 40-yard line.
An offensive fireworks display. . .at least in comparison to the first half. . .has broken out at Soldier Field, as the Vikings lead the Bears 17-9 going into the last quarter of play. Can the Vikings get a win in this all-important NFC North battle?