By Joseph Gunther
A first half snooze fest turned into an exciting and wild game in the second half and overtime between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears Sunday at Mall of America Field. Blair Walsh made his second field goal attempt in overtime to give the Vikings a 23-20 victory.
Both teams had a chance to win the game in overtime, but the Vikings had a game-winning field goal negated by a face mask penalty called on tight end Rhett Ellison before Walsh missed a 57-yarder and Bears kicker Robbie Gould missed from 41 yards out.
Adrian Peterson had a huge game, as was expected against the league’s worst rushing defense, with 211 yards and six yards per carry.
The Bears featured number two wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who had 12 catches on 15 targets and racked up 249 yards – a Bears single game record – and two touchdowns.
Offense Grade: C+
Ellison had a rough game. Before committing the costly penalty in overtime, the second year tight end bobbled and dropped a pass near the goal that was intercepted. Had he hung on, he likely would have scored a go-ahead touchdown with four minutes and 38 seconds remaining.
The Vikings offensive line struggled early in pass blocking and finished the game with five sacks allowed – 2.5 to Bears DE Julius Peppers.
Peterson topped the 10,000 career yard mark in just his 101st game. He finished with over 200 yards and Cordarrelle Patterson added a 33-yard touchdown run.
The Vikings running backs were able to get down field frequently enough to allow for the Bears safeties to be the lead tacklers on the day.
Greg Jennings developed chemistry with Matt Cassel recording six catches for 76 yards after the backup quarterback entered the game.
Defense Grade: C+
The Vikings defense did some good things with four sacks, five tackles for a loss, three passes defensed and a fumble recovery.
Chad Greenway led the way with 10 tackles, one sack, three tackles for a loss and one quarterback hit. After the game, he revealed that he has been playing with two fractures in his wrist for nearly a month.
Xavier Rhodes continues his impressive development as a physical corner with six tackles and one pass defensed. He did struggle a bit trying to cover Alshon Jeffery, however.
No matter who was tasked with covering Jeffery, it did not go well. Chris Cook really struggled and was beat on both of Jeffery’s long touchdown catches. The second resulted in Cook’s ejection for touching a referee.
Quarterback Grade: C
Christian Ponder started and struggled. He was sacked three times – each one on third down on the first three Vikings drives. He completed just 3-of-8 passes for 40 yards and a rating of 54.2 before getting hurt late in the second quarter. He suffered a concussion when he was sandwiched between two Bears defenders on a third down completion that came up short of the first down marker.
Matt Cassel entered the game and got the Vikings offense moving. He finished the game with 243 yards and one touchdown on 20-of-33 passing.
Special Teams Grade: C
The special teams were all over the place. Walsh made a field goal to win the game, but then missed after a penalty took the kick away. Then he made the game-winning kick on the next drive after Gould missed a field goal.
Patterson, the NFL’s leading kick returner, never got a chance to return a kickoff.
Punter Jeff Locke had a good net average, but was fortunate that Devin Hester fair caught most of his punts with room to run.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.