Peterson carries Vikings to OT win
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.
He made history and, in the process, forced a victory upon the Vikings, who were in overtime for the second consecutive game. His three runs 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 passed 10,000 career rushing yards, a milestone he 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. "We know Detroit won and what our record is. Our guys will come back Monday and be excited to play and ready to go.''
Down 20-10, Cassel hit on six of nine passes for 63 yards and Peterson ran four times for 36 in a drive that ended with Cassel's 8-yard pass to Greg Jennings with 7:41 left in regulation. That's when the game came unchained.
Two plays into their ensuing possession, McCown's shuffle pass went off a Vikings defender, into one of his own lineman's hands, who then fumbled, giving the Vikings the ball at the Bears' 18. Five plays after that, on second-and-goal from the 6, Ellison bobbled Cassel's pass, allowing linebacker Khaseem Greene to pluck it out of the air and return it 49 yards to midfield.
Cassel completed five of 10 passes for 80 yards on a drive that tied the game on Walsh's 30-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in regulation. The Vikings finally got it done in overtime.
"My job is to go out and get prepared each week and do whatever coach asks me to do," said Cassel. "I might not always agree with it, but I have to go out there and be accountable to those guys in the locker room."
NOTES: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson went over 10,000 career rushing yards in the fourth quarter. Peterson is the fifth player in NFL history to rush for at least 10,000 yards in his first seven seasons. Only Eric Dickerson (91 games) and Jim Brown (98), reached 10,000 faster than Peterson (101). ... Sunday was a professional homecoming for Bears head coach Marc Trestman. He grew up in St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb. Sunday was his first game in his hometown as an NFL head coach. ... It was also the 32nd and final time the Vikings hosted the Bears in the Metrodome. Minnesota entered the game with a 19-12 record. ... Rookie CB Xavier Rhodes started in place of Josh Robinson (fractured sternum). Rhodes, who sustained a concussion a week ago, briefly left Sunday's game in overtime but returned. ... Bears SS Major Wright, who sustained a hamstring pull Friday, was inactive Sunday. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Craig Steltz, who led Chicago in tackles with 13. ... DT Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) was active and made his Bears debut; Ratliff, who went by Jay as a Pro Bowler with the Cowboys, had not played in an NFL game since November 2012.