The Minnesota Vikings dominated the Chicago Bears on Sunday, defeating them 38-17 and bringing them ever so close to a playoff berth.
The playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Well, Vikings fans, a LOT would have to happen for them to miss the playoffs at this point.
The Vikings dominated the Bears from start to finish on both sides of the ball, despite playing without their top three defensive players. Call me crazy, but just two weeks after falling in demoralizing fashion at home against Seattle, the Vikings might be on their way to peaking at the right time.
Teddy Bridgewater had arguably his best game as a pro, completing 17 of 20 pass attempts for 231 yards and four touchdowns while also running for another touchdown. His first touchdown throw was a beautiful 15-yard fade route that he dropped perfectly into the arms of Stefon Diggs in the end zone to put the Vikings up 7-0 in the first quarter.
His second touchdown toss was a catch-and-run to backup running back Jerick McKinnon, who danced his way into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown that put Minnesota up 17-7 going into halftime. McKinnon finished the game leading Minnesota in both catches (4) and receiving yards (76).
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Early in the third quarter, Bridgewater led another touchdown drive that was capped with his third touchdown pass of the day. He found Diggs again on a drag route, and Diggs proceeded to do magical things from there to get himself in the end zone for the 33-yard touchdown. Diggs’ final stat line included three receptions for 55 yards.
Minnesota’s next score was a rushing touchdown by Bridgewater mid-way through the fourth quarter that put Minnesota up 31-10. After dropping back to pass and not finding anyone to throw to, Bridgewater scrambled and leapt over a defender and into the end zone.
A fifth touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a short rollout pass to Zach Line concluded Bridgewater’s tremendous day, which was a long time coming for many fans.
Adrian Peterson ran effectively in the first half, but left the game early in the second half with an ugly ankle injury. He was able to return later in the game, so that should be a good sign for his status for next week’s contest against the New York Giants. In the end, Peterson was able to reclaim his lead in rushing by grounding out 63 yards on 18 carries.
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Defensively, Minnesota’s defensive line put relentless pressure on Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler all day. The Vikings sacked Cutler five times, led by 1.5 from rookie Danielle Hunter. Brian Robison, Chad Greenway, and Tom Johnson each recorded a sack while Sharrif Floyd added a half sack.
It should be noted that a few of those sacks were due mostly to the excellent coverage by the Vikings secondary. Cutler generally had time to throw today, but the Vikings seemed to have everything blanketed and that’s how most of the sacks and throwaways were forced.
This win should be a nice confidence booster for the Vikings, who will host the Giants on Sunday Night Football in another key game for both teams in the NFC playoff race. Two weeks ago, I had lost all hope in the Vikings after they were blown out 35-7 at home by Seattle. In the past two weeks, Minnesota has regained my faith.
- Teddy Bridgewater was absolutely phenomenal today, but he was even better if you look at just his third down stats. On third down, Bridgewater was 8 for 9 for 119 yards, no interceptions and four total touchdowns (one rushing). The Teddy truthers out there will have to be quiet for at least this week.
- Danielle Hunter applied pressure on Cutler all day long while making a few nice tackles in the running game. He may be a diamond in the rough in the 2015 draft class. As I tweeted earlier today, Hunter’s insane athleticism + Zimmer’s coaching = stud. The sky’s the limit for Hunter.
- The offensive line was…good? Okay, maybe they weren’t GOOD, but they certainly weren’t bad. Improvements are happening there, too, which is a good thing because for awhile it looked like Teddy may not make it to the end of the season alive.
- Mike Wallace showed up for the second straight week and made some key plays, catching three passes for 37 yards. But the play I was most impressed with wasn’t even a play. As McKinnon was celebrating his first career touchdown, Wallace went over and tried to calm McKinnon down and prevent a penalty. McKinnon was still penalized, but Wallace showed some leadership trying to stop it.
- Norv Turner was tremendous today. He called an excellent balance of short and longer passes while still establishing the rushing attack. Norv, on behalf of Vikings fans everywhere, DO THIS AGAIN NEXT WEEK. AND THE WEEK AFTER THAT. AND THE WEEK AFTER THAT.
Now at 9-5, the Vikings will host the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium next Sunday for a Primetime game that will have a number of playoff implications in the NFC.
As always, continue to check with Sporting Sota on the daily for news and analysis on the Minnesota Vikings.