NFL: Vikings keep their playoff hopes alive with crucial win over Bears

Chicago, Illinois - The Minnesota Vikings dominated their way to a big road win over their NFC North rivals, the Chicago Bears, to stay in the hunt for a January Wild Card spot.

Justin Jefferson (c) of the Vikings celebrates his first quarter touchdown against the Chicago Bears.
Justin Jefferson (c) of the Vikings celebrates his first quarter touchdown against the Chicago Bears.  © Imago/UPI Photo

The Vikings beat the Bears 17-9 on Monday night for their second win in a row while handing Chicago its third consecutive loss and the eighth in the last nine games.

Coming into this matchup, Minnesota needed to win to keep pace with the handful of teams in the NFC vying for the seventh and final Wild Card spot.

The Bears were nowhere near playing the role of spoilers against the Vikings in this one.

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After a couple of failed drives at the start, Minnesota finally found the end zone to go up by seven after one quarter.

They opened the second quarter with three more points to go up by 10 and stayed that way until the Bears eventually got with the program and kicked a field goal to only trail 10-3 at halftime.

But Minnesota continued to control the flow of the game in the third quarter, getting into the end zone again to go up 17-3 ahead of the fourth.

The Vikings defense took over as time ticked away for the Bears, forcing them into several failed fourth-down conversions that kept them from scoring more points until a last-second TD pass was ruled complete with no time left in regulation.

But the game was already over for the Bears and they weren’t allowed to even try for an inconsequential extra-point attempt.

The player spotlight

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins three for two TDs against the Bears on Monday night.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins three for two TDs against the Bears on Monday night.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

It wasn’t flashy, and quite frankly, one of the lesser passing performances of his career, but Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (33) did just enough to make sure his team had enough points to beat the Bears when the dust settled.

On the stats sheet, he was straight up outplayed by Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, whose overall QB rating was almost 30 points higher than his 69.3.

Cousins may not have broken 100 yards through the air either, but his touchdown passes built a lead that the Bears simply couldn’t overcome.

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He finished the game with 12-for-24 passing, 87 yards, and two touchdowns.

The big picture

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.  © IMAGO/NurPhoto

After beating the Bears, the Vikings are back in the seventh and final playoff spot, but they still have three difficult games to go in the regular season.

For now, they'll keep that spot as long as Washington doesn’t win on Tuesday.

Minnesota is in a tough position, though – they’ll need to win the rest of their games, in order to have a decent chance of keeping hold of that Wild Card after the end of Week 18 in January. That's a tall ask for a team with a 7-7 record.

Next Sunday, the Vikings will be back at home to host the Rams (9-4) while the Bears (4-10) will be on the road to play against the Seahawks (5-8).

Cover photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

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