Blair Walsh hits three field goals, including a game-winner in overtime to give the Minnesota Vikings a win.
Whew. A game that both the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears had a chance to win in overtime, finally came to an end on kicker Blair Walsh's second attempt in the extra period. His 34-yard field goal came on the heels of a 47-yard miss by Bears' kicker Robbie Gould that would have given Chicago the win.
Gould, who came into the game converting 19-of-20 field goal attempts, missed two of them Sunday against the Vikings. The first was a 66-yard attempt as regulation expired, the second came on the Bears' second possession of overtime.
Walsh thought he had won the game on the Vikings' first possession of overtime when he converted a 39-yard attempt. A face mask penalty negated the field goal and pushed the attempt back by 15 yards. Following a loss of three yards by Adrian Peterson, Walsh missed a 57-yard attempt.
It was the second consecutive week that Minnesota had to go into overtime against a division opponent. This time they figured it out, and came up with a win.
The loss drops Chicago to 6-6 on the season, putting them a game behind the Detroit Lions. The win gives the Vikings a bit of retribution over the Bears for their last-minute loss on the road in Chicago in Week 2.
It's only the third win of the season for the Vikings and, along with the tie last week in Green Bay, assures that the Vikings will not match the franchise record for losses in a season. In 2011, they tied that mark going 3-13.
Here are some takeaways from the Vikings win over the Bears.
Adrian Peterson finished the day with 211 yards on 35 carries—both season highs for the Vikings running back.
After the Vikings' winning field goal was called back because of a penalty, Peterson was not going to be stopped. On the Vikings' final drive, that started on their own 37-yard line, Peterson ran for 30 yards on only four carries.
When the game was on the line, Peterson was not going to be stopped. In overtime, he had 54 yards on eight carries.
He also topped 1,000 yards for the season and 10,000 yards for his career.
Matt Cassel only played about three-quarters of a football game, but he ended up passing for 243 yards. He completed 20-of-33 passes with a touchdown and an interception.
His 243 passing yards were the second most on the season for the Vikings. It was five yards less than what he passed for against the Steelers in the Vikings' Week 4 win.
It was a huge boost for a Vikings team that only netted 16 passing yards in the first half. Christian Ponder was 3-of-8 passing for 40 yards and was sacked three times for a loss of 24 yards.
Either quarterback Christian Ponder needs to work on his pocket presence, or offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave needs to put together a game plan that makes Ponder more efficient.
On the Vikings' first three offensive drives, they ran a total of 11 plays before having to punt three times. On each third down, Ponder was sacked as he stood in the pocket.
He had trouble locating a receiver as he faced at least 3rd-and-5 each time.
The last time the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings met, Cordarrelle Patterson opened the game with a 105-yard kick return for a touchdown.
The Bears were very much aware of that, and did not give him an opportunity to do it again. The first two kickoffs were well short of the end zone where Patterson was waiting.
Instead, the Vikings found a new way for Patterson to score.
Facing a 2nd-and-8 from the Bears' 33-yard line in the second quarter, the Vikings lined him up behind fullback Jerome Felton in the backfield and pitched him the ball.
Patterson hit the line untouched and broke two tackles before outrunning the Bears' defense for the score. At the time, it gave the Vikings a 7-3 lead.
It's the third touchdown this season for Patterson. He now has one each on a return, a reception and a run.
Blair Walsh is the Vikings' most potent weapon.
That's saying a lot with Adrian Peterson rushing for 211 yards in this game.
The fact is, the Bears have the worst rush defense in the NFL, and Peterson did what he should have done.
In this game, Walsh finishes with 11 points, Peterson, none.
In less than two seasons, Walsh has converted 57-of-61 field goals, and is 12-of-13 on tries greater than 50 yards. The only miss he had in this game came from 57 yards away. If he would have converted that try, it would have been the longest of his career.
The fact that he is that good is why the Vikings attempted to win the game in overtime.
As pointed out repeatedly in a report from 1500ESPN last May, cornerback Chris Cook wanted to be counted on to stop the opposition's best receiver—he's had plenty of chances, but has not been able to come through this season.
On the second play of the second half, Cook was beaten by wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for an 80-yard touchdown pass.
On the Bears' next drive, Cook was again beaten on a spectacular 46-yard touchdown catch by Jeffery. In his frustration, he touched the official as he pleaded his case. He was thrown out of the game for the contact with an official.
Perhaps the officials did the Vikings a favor.
Following his second touchdown catch, Jeffery had nine receptions for 215 yards. After Cook's ejection, he only had three more catches for 34 yards.
I doubt that the Bears forgot about Jeffery after Cook was dismissed.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes had another strong game for the Minnesota Vikings. It was the second consecutive game where he broke up a pass in the the end zone.
Last week, it was on a pass intended for James Jones. This week, it was one intended for Brandon Marshall.
According to ESPN, Rhodes finished with six tackles, one for a loss, and one pass defended, but that does not tell the whole story.
Marshall was limited to only four passes for 45 yards.
In six games against the Vikings since 2007, it's the fewest receiving yards for Marshall. The four catches matches the fewest Marshall has had in a game against the Vikings. In 2010, as a member of the Miami Dolphins, he only had four catches for 71 yards in a 22-19 Vikings loss.
Leslie Frazier is coaching like a man with nothing to lose—which is fitting, since his future may already be determined.
Frazier decided to go for it on fourth down three times in the game against the Bears—the third facing a 4th-and-11 on the Vikings' 8-yard line, late in the fourth quarter and down by three points.
The Vikings were able to convert all three of them into first downs.
Of course two of them came on 4th-and-1. To no surprise, Adrian Peterson got the carry and gained a total of 24 yards on those two carries.
Still, it proves that Frazier was coaching to win this game and not playing for a high draft choice.
Wide receiver Jarius Wright had three catches for 54 yards against the Bears.
Sure, the Minnesota Vikings' 23-20 overtime win over the Chicago Bears means little for the Vikings.
But it still was a devastating loss for the Bears, who are trying to earn a playoff berth.
The win also doesn't help the Vikings' draft position, but it will still make for a better Monday than another loss—especially when I can smile at those coworkers that are from Chicago.