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Vikings-Bears: What we learned

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS - In a game neither team was determined to win, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson decided to put the issue to rest.

Peterson finished with 211 yards, including nine carries for 51 yards in overtime of the Vikings 23-20 victory over the slumping Chicago Bears at Mall of America Field.

His three carries for 26 yards on the game's final drive set up kicker Blair Walsh's 34-yard field goal with 1:47 left in the OT session.

"It seems we've been in so many game like that this year and this time we found a way to make some plays in clutch situations," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.

Playing against the league's worst run defense, Peterson had his seventh career game of 100 or more yards against the Bears. He surpassed 10,000 career rushing yards, a milestone cleared with a twisting, turning, 19-yard run in the fourth quarter on a touchdown drive that pulled the Vikings within 20-17.

"It really means a lot," said Peterson of the milestone.

He took pains to credit linemen who have helped him through the years.

"Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie, the guys from this year. Just to be in this elite group, it's truly a blessing," he said. "God has really blessed me to be surrounded by some great guys to help me get to that goal. I sit here and I'm just humbled."

Peterson, who has 10,057 yards, achieved the milestone in his 101st game. Only two running backs accomplished the achievement faster: Eric Dickerson did it in 91 games, Jim Brown in 98.

And it was barely enough in a game filled with big plays, big days and big mistakes.

Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a career-high 249 receiving yards with two third-quarter touchdowns. The first was an 80-yarder from Josh McCown on the second offensive play of the second half.

The second was a leaping 46-yarder over cornerback Chris Cook that gave Chicago a 20-10 lead and got cornerback Chris Cook tossed for bumping an official while arguing for an offensive pass interference call.

McCown had 355 passing yards, two touchdowns and a 114.9 passer rating. Bears running back Matt Forte had 120 yards on 23 carries.

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel, who entered the game in the third quarter after Christian Ponder was treated for a head injury, threw for 243 yards and led three scoring drives.

Still, it took almost a full overtime to settle. Both teams had a chance to win it.

But Walsh's 39-yard field goal with 8:04 left was nullified by fullback Rhett Ellison's facemask penalty. Walsh missed from 57 yards two plays later. Chicago took the ball near midfield and drove to the Minnesota 32, but Robbie Gould's 47-yard attempt went wide right.

"I didn't come through for my teammates in the end," an emotional Gould said, one day after his wife gave birth to the couple's first child. "It's very unlike me but there are no excuses for it. I just didn't do it."

The loss, the second straight for the Bears (6-6) pushed them a game behind Detroit in the NFC North. The Lions need to win three of their last four games for their first division title in 20 years. Minnesota, which tied the Packers in Green Bay last week, improved to 3-8-1).

"We have a long season left -- we still have four games to go," said Bears coach Marc Trestman when asked if the playoffs were still in reach. "

What the Vikings said

"(I know) that I really screwed over the team and that I made a big mistake. You just try to erase it and move on to the next play. These guys didn't give up, so I couldn't give up, and we ended up pulling out a win." -- Tight end Rhett Ellison, whose penalty negated what would have been a game-winning field goal early in overtime.

"We just rallied. They really only had two big plays on us. I thought we did a great job of keeping the top on the defense. They got a couple runs on us, but when it came down to crunch time, we really stepped it up." -- Defensive end Jared Allen.

"I can't speak enough in high regards to what he did. I've said this in the past, he approaches every week as though he's the starter. And so when it's his opportunity to step up and make plays, he's ready. My hat goes off to him. I can't say enough about him, and he's a great guy to have in your back pocket." -- Wide receiver Greg Jennings, on quarterback Matt Cassel.

What the Bears said

"It is not a good feeling right now. We just have to continue to be positive and continue to go to work every single day. We have to find a way to get better, and we need some help from some other teams to put us back in position (for the playoffs). I don't know how it's going to work out, but you have to just keep your eye on the prize." -- Offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod.

"I don't really have any emotions after this game. It is about the season. There are some games left, and you never know what could happen. I want to get to the playoffs, and I want to win. A lot of people in this organization deserve it, and for us not to get it done today, it just puts us behind the 8-ball a little more." -- Wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

What we learned about the Vikings

1. The Minnesota offense is simply a different animal with a competent quarterback at the helm. The Vikings gained a total of 123 yards with Christian Ponder at quarterback in the first half, but he sustained a concussion late. In his place to start the third quarter, Matt Cassel threw for 243 yards and a score, leading an offense that gained 373 yards after halftime.

2. Adrian Peterson is back. After being slowed by a succession of injuries, the running back gained 357 yards on 67 carries -- a 5.3-yard per-rush average -- over his past two games.

What we learned about the Bears

1. The NFC North may be one of the most mediocre divisions in recent history, but the Bears aren't going to be factor in the race for the division title until they learn how to stop the run. Already the worst run defense in the league, the Bears allowed Viking running back Adrian Peterson and company to total 246 rushing yards.

2. If Chicago is to rally into the playoffs, it might well be because of the emergence of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery as a big-play threat. Josh McCown threw to Jeffery 15 times. Jeffery caught 12 of those passes for a career-high 249 yards and two touchdowns, his second 200-yard receiving game of the season.
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