Detroit Lakes native Adam Thielen has come a long way in his limited time as a Viking.
The Minnesota State, Mankato standout has gone from practice squad member to a player Mike Zimmer said was one of the most improved during minicamp; to being named Mr. Mankato at training camp to a special teams standout; to one of the biggest reasons why the Vikings beat Chicago 13-9 in the regular season-finale on Sunday.
Thielen caught one touchdown and perhaps saved another one with a tackle on special teams, allowing the Vikings to hold on to the four-point win. He finished the game with three catches for 68 yards and the game's only touchdown.
The game got off to a slow start for both teams as neither the Bears nor Vikings could manage more than a field goal in the first half.
But after the Vikings defense held the Bears to a field goal following the interception, Bridgewater led the Vikings down the field for a big answer. He capped off the drive with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Thielen.
It was Thielen's first touchdown reception of the season, and Bridgewater's 10th straight game with a touchdown pass.
Minnesota stretched the lead to 13-6 on Walsh's second field goal of the day.
On the ensuing kickoff, Chicago's Marc Mariani broke free into Vikings territory, but Thielen chased him down for a touchdown-saving tackle. The Vikings defense stepped up again, holding the Bears to Jay Feely's third field goal of the day.
Bridgewater finished with another solid day; he was 17 of 25 for 209 yards with the touchdown and interception.
Matt Asiata also ran for a season-high 91 yards on 19 carries, becoming the team leader in rushing yards.
The Vikings finish the season at 7-9.
1st quarter – MIN Blair Walsh 37-yard field goal, 3-0 MIN
2nd quarter – CHI Jay Feely 44-yard field goal, 3-3 Tie
3rd quarter – CHI Feely 25-yard field goal, 6-3 CHI
3rd quarter – MIN Teddy Bridgewater to Adam Thielen on a 44-yard touchdown pass (PAT), 10-6 MIN
4th quarter – MIN Walsh 44-yard field goal, 13-6 MIN
4th quarter – CHI Feely 35-yard field goal, 13-9 MIN