It was ugly from start to finish as the Chicago Bears stymied the Minnesota Vikings in a 25-20 victory at Soldier Field.
The backbreaking play of the game happened midway through the fourth quarter when one of Kirk Cousins' many errant passes sailed into the hands of Eddie Jackson for a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown.
It put the Bears up 20-6, which moments later was 22-6 on a successful two-point conversion attempt. Cousins finished 30-of-46 for 262 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but the majority of his yardage and both touchdowns came in the final eight minutes of the game.
Aldrick Robinson's 13-yard touchdown catch and a two-point conversion from Cousins to Thielen cut Chicago's lead to 22-14 with 4:51 to go, but Chicago pushed the lead back to 11 points on a 48-yard field goal by Cody Parkey, who missed four kicks last week.
A touchdown pass from Cousins to Stefon Diggs with 48 seconds to play made it a 25-20 game, but Minnesota's ensuing onside kick failed and that was the ballgame.
Diggs finished with 13 catches for 126 yards and his fifth touchdown of the season.
It's a brutal loss for the Vikings, who fall to 5-4-1 and a game-and-a-half behind the 7-3 Bears for first place in the NF North. And the schedule is far more difficult for the Vikings than it is the Bears, who face just two teams with winning records over the final six weeks of the season.
Minnesota's hosts Green Bay this coming Sunday night followed by road games against the Patriots and Seahawks.
Fortunately, the NFC wild card race has cooled off and if the playoffs started today the Vikings would be in as the second wild card. NFC playoff standings:
- Saints (9-1)
- Rams (9-1)
- Bears (7-3)
- Redskins (6-4)
- Panthers (6-4)
- Vikings (5-4-1)
Contributing to Cousins' rough night was Minnesota's inability to put together any momentum on the ground. Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray combined to run the ball 13 times for 17 yards.
Minnesota was trailing 3-0 in the first quarter when Cook fumbled in the red zone, killing early momentum the Vikings had gained.