Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Vikings are officially on a winning streak. Since losing a tight contest 23-20 at Denver before their bye week, the Vikings have won three straight games.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but the wins include 16-10 over Kansas City, 28-19 over Detroit and Sunday’s 23-20 victory over Chicago. Perhaps most important is that the Vikings are 3-0 within the NFC North Division with two wins over the Lions and one over the Bears.READ MORE: Campus Alert: Person Robbed Near West Bank By Suspect With Screwdriver
The division record will go a long way towards determining a playoff berth. And a potentially huge match-up looms Nov. 22 when the Green Bay Packers head west to take on the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. With first place in the NFC North potentially on the line, the game has been flexed to a 3:25 p.m. kickoff and will be on national television.
But for now, we’re reflecting on a last-second victory at Chicago. Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s win.
Vikings First Win At Chicago Since 2007
The Vikings won a close game, and they did it at Chicago. It’s something that hasn’t been done in eight years, which is notable since they play at Chicago every year. For whatever reason, the Vikings rarely play well there. Blame the long turf that causes problems, blame the wind or whatever you want. But Mike Zimmer is changing this team’s mindset, and the Vikings did enough to get a road win over a division rival. It wasn’t always pretty, but getting the win is all that matters.
Teddy Bridgewater Stepped Up When Needed
Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t great Sunday. He finished 17-of-30 passing for 187 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The interception was a terrible, telegraphed throw into double coverage that turned into points for the Bears. But when they needed him in the second half, he made big plays to lead the Vikings to scores and the victory. A 40-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs that tied the game 20-20. He also made big throws on the drive leading to Blair Walsh’s game-winning field goal.READ MORE: Metro Transit Cutting Down Scheduled Light-Rail Trips Due To Lack Of Drivers
Fans have to slow down and remember that Bridgewater is in just his second NFL season and first as a full-time starter. But it’s encouraging to see him making the big plays in the crucial times of a game.
Special Teams Were Special In Victory
After Blair Walsh had a rough preseason and was inconsistent to start the regular season, there was concern about the Vikings’ kicking situation this season. That’s especially after Walsh signed a new contract in the offseason. The Vikings knew at some point they would need their kicker to deliver with the game on the line, and Walsh did Sunday. It’s not easy to kick in Chicago with the wind, and he drilled the 36-yarder to win the game. He has now made 13 straight field goals and is 17-of-19 on the season.
But it wasn’t just Walsh on field goals. Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a touchdown to put the Vikings on the board. And thanks to Jeff Locke’s punting and long kickoffs, the Bears spent most of the day starting on their own side of the 50-yard line. The Vikings will need their special teams to continue to be special to keep winning big games.
Young Receivers Continue To Impress
Stefon Diggs again led the Vikings with six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. The score was a huge play in the fourth quarter that tied the game. Charles Johnson only had one catch on the day, but it was a huge play on the drive that led to Walsh’s game-winning kick. It was essentially a jump ball that a Bears defender was waiting to intercept, but Johnson went up and grabbed it to keep the late driving going. The Vikings will continue to need Diggs, Johnson and other young receivers to make plays and help Bridgewater.MORE NEWS: Prescription Drug Disposal Set Up For Nat'l Drug Take Back Day
It’s not always going to be pretty for the Vikings, especially when they’re on the road. But they’re winning the games they need to win to stay with Green Bay in the division race. If they can find a way to beat St. Louis and Oakland the next two weeks, it sets up a huge showdown in Minneapolis with the Packers for the NFC North lead.