There were times where it wasn’t pretty, and it was significantly more interesting at the end than it needed to be, but in the end the Minnesota Vikings did what they needed to do to secure a bye in the 2017 NFL playoffs.
Keyed, as always, by the NFL’s best defense, the Vikings held off a pesky Chicago Bears team by a final score of 23-10 and, in the process, secured themselves a first-round bye in the 2017 NFC Playoffs.
(Yes, I initially forgot the final score. It’s there now. -Chris)
Minnesota wasted no time getting themselves the lead, as they went down the field on a 70-yard drive on their first possession. The drive was keyed by a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Chicago’s Eddie Goldman and a big 26-yard pitch-and-catch from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs. Latavius Murray finished the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run, and Kai Forbath’s extra point gave the home team an early 7-0 lead.
The Vikings got another 1-yard plunge from Murray in the second quarter to extend their lead to 14-0. The Bears then got on the board via some trickery, as on a Ryan Quigley punt the Bears acted as though the punt was going to their primary returner, Tarik Cohen. In reality, the ball was going to Bryce Callahan, who was on the other side of the field. Callahan, who had been ignored by the Vikings’ special teams, took the punt and raced untouched for a 59-yard score to cut the Minnesota lead to 14-7.
Not long after, the Vikings got on the board via the defense. Trubisky dropped back to pass near his own end zone and was swarmed by a host of purple jerseys. He attempted to throw it away, but the officials flagged him for intentional grounding. As he was in the end zone, that meant a safety for the defense, and it extended the Minnesota lead to 16-7.
The Vikings didn’t add to their lead until towards the end of the third quarter, when Keenum hit Diggs on a 15-yard strike in the back of the end zone to extend the Minnesota lead to 23-7.
The Bears didn’t even cross into Minnesota territory until the first play of the fourth quarter, which tells you about the sort of day the Vikings’ defense put together in this one. Chicago did manage to tack on some points midway through the fourth quarter, as Mike Nugent blasted a field goal from 55 yards out to make the score 23-10. That was all the scoring in this one, as the Vikings held the Bears out of the end zone the rest of the way despite a couple of pushes deep into Minnesota territory by the Chicago offense.
The Vikings’ offense wasn’t much to write home about today, at least on the passing side of things. Keenum was efficient, completing 21-of-29 passes, but he only has 189 yards and the one touchdown. Stefon Diggs led the Vikings in receiving yardage in this one, amassing 66 yards and a touchdown on his six catches. Adam Thielen had six catches today as well, picking up 61 yards. David Morgan had 35 yards on three catches, while Laquon Treadwell had three grabs for 16 yards. Kyle Rudolph had just one catch on the day for three yards, while C.J. Ham and Latavius Murray each had one reception.
Speaking of Murray, he wound up putting together another very solid game on the ground, as he had 111 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He also gained a couple of huge first downs when it came time for the Vikings to grind out the clock. Jerick McKinnon chipped in with 44 yards on 12 carries.
The Vikings move their final regular season mark to 13-3, making them just the second team in franchise history to win at least 13 games in a season. They will take next week off and host a divisional round playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on either 13 or 14 January. The Bears finish their 2017 season with a 5-11 mark, and they are expected to fire their head coach, John Fox, as part of the upcoming “Black Monday” in the National Football League.
The Minnesota Vikings have secured a first-round bye in the 2017 NFC Playoffs with a win over the Chicago Bears. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of this week’s game here at The Daily Norseman, and keep it right here for all the playoff info you’ll need for the 2017 NFC North Champs!