With the Minnesota Vikings needing to get themselves a little momentum heading into the postseason while not wanting to risk any more injuries, the team managed to do both on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
The Vikings played their starters for a half in Chicago and did enough to go into the postseason with a victory, as they took down their NFC North rivals, the Chicago Bears, by a score of 29-13 in their regular-season finale.
The Vikings got on the board early, courtesy of a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen to put the Vikings ahead, 6-0. It was a 6-0 lead because Greg Joseph missed another extra point.
The Vikings appeared to be driving for more points on their second possession, but former Vikings cornerback Harrison Hand caused a fumble by Dalvin Cook with the Bears recovering at their own 29 late in the first quarter. The Vikings’ defense forced a turnover on downs on the next possession, as the Bears came up just short on a 4th-and-7 from the Minnesota 40-yard line.
Minnesota turned the turnover on downs into points, courtesy of a 1-yard touchdown run from Alexander Mattison to make it 13-0 (after Joseph connected on the extra point).
The Vikings’ defense then generated another turnover, this one coming in the form of an interception by Patrick Peterson after the Bears turned the quarterbacking duties over to Tim Boyle. The interception set the Vikings up in Chicago territory.
The Vikings turned the turnover into three points, with Greg Joseph’s 28-yard field goal making it 16-0 in Minnesota’s favor with five minutes left in the half. Chicago then finally got on the board, thanks to a 42-yard run by rookie receiver Velus Jones on an end-around. After a penalty on the extra point, the Bears elected to go for two and were unsuccessful, making it 16-6 with three and a half minutes remaining in the quarter.
Minnesota somehow made a mess of things at the end of the first half, as they threw short of the end zone with no timeouts and about fifteen seconds left, and ran a fire drill to get the field goal unit on the field in time. Joseph’s 24-yard field goal attempt was initially ruled as being good, but the officials reviewed things and determined that the Vikings had 12 men on the field, wiping the field goal off the board and making it 16-6 at the half.
The Vikings turned to Nick Mullens at quarterback after halftime, allowing Cousins, Jefferson, and Thielen to take the second half off. Mullens led a very nice drive, finding K.J. Osborn and Jalen Nailor for nice gains. The drive was capped with the second one-yard touchdown run of the afternoon for Alexander Mattison, extending the Minnesota lead to 23-6.
The Bears went back to Peterman at quarterback to start their first second-half possession, and he helped put together what was the Bears’ best drive of the afternoon (with a lot of Minnesota’s defensive starters on the sideline). The drive concluded with Peterman connecting with tight end Cole Kmet, who ran through several Vikings on his way to an 11-yard touchdown. That made it 23-13 late in the third quarter of play.
Greg Joseph extended the Vikings’ lead again, connecting on a 50-yard field goal on the first snap of the fourth quarter to make it 26-13. After a Bears punt, the Vikings turned the ball over again as Nick Mullens was intercepted by Greg Stroman with the return coming back to near midfield. Fortunately for the Vikings, the Bears did nothing with it, as they turned it over on downs on the ensuing possession.
Joseph connected again late in the third quarter, adding a 41-yard field goal to make it 29-13 with just under four minutes left in the game. Minnesota then ended it with a flourish, as former Bear Duke Shelley intercepted Boyle. . .who was back in at quarterback. . .to officially end this one for the Vikings.
The Vikings move their record to 13-4 and now wait to see who they will play in the first round of the playoffs. The likely opponent is the New York Giants, who currently hold the #6 seed in the NFC, but if the Arizona Cardinals should somehow upset the San Francisco 49ers this afternoon the Vikings would climb back to the #2 seed and play whoever winds up as the #7 team in the conference.
The Minnesota Vikings defeat the Chicago Bears in the 2022 regular season finale by a score of 29-13. Thank you to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman, and we’ll see you in the playoffs!