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Vikings move into final playoff spot with win over Bears

The Vikings got a win in Chicago, but it wasn't pretty.
D.J. Wonnum

The Minnesota Vikings have made a habit out of making every game come down to the final possession. On Monday night, they finally got break as they ran into an overmatched Chicago Bears team on the way to a 17-9 victory.

But it wasn't the dominating performance that the score suggests. Instead, the Vikings ran into a team that was more inept than they were and won despite their own shortcomings.

After both teams exchanged scoreless opening drives, the Vikings struck first thanks to Justin Jefferson. Hours after being named to his second Pro Bowl, the superstar receiver made two third-down receptions including a 12-yard touchdown reception from Kirk Cousins to put Minnesota on the board.

But while the Vikings were able to force three Chicago turnovers in the first half, their offense was anemic enough to keep the Bears in it. The low light was an interception from Cousins where Jefferson was held and thrown to the ground but Cousins launched the pass anyway. 

Although the Bears couldn't capitalize after Dalvin Tomlinson blocked a Cairo Santos field goal attempt, they were only down 10-3 at the half.

Despite the ugly performance on offense, the Vikings were aided by a pair of personal foul penalties on a third-quarter drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Smith-Marsette's first career touchdown reception put the Vikings up 17-3 but Chicago found a way to keep things interesting. After blocking a Jordan Berry punt, the Bears were in scoring position but were stopped on a broken play on a 4th-and-1.

Chicago got another stop on the following drive but Damiere Byrd muffed the ensuing punt to put the Vikings in prime field position, where they couldn't add to the lead.

Even when Chicago showed signs of life, such as an 81-yard drive that took them into the red zone, Darnell Mooney came down with a fourth-down pass from Justin Fields, but his elbow came down out of bounds and the Vikings came away with a stop.

In the end, the Vikings ran into a team that just wasn't good. The Bears' ineptitude masked that Cousins had just 3.6 yards per attempt against a secondary that featured mainly practice squad players. Jefferson had just three catches for 34 yards on the night and Dalvin Cook averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.

Overall, the Vikings' offense stumbled to just 193 yards of total offense on the night but got a win to continue their pursuit for the seven seed. At 7-7, Minnesota moved into the final playoff spot in the NFC but could be knocked out if Washington beats Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

Regardless, the Vikings will have a tougher matchup when they host the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.

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