The Minnesota Vikings took over sole possession of first place in the NFC North last night with a 34-14 thrashing of the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. Both teams were tied for first, but now the Vikings lead Chicago by a game, and Green Bay by two, as they lost to Carolina yesterday.
It looked like it might be a long night for the Vikes last night, as Chicago scored first, on a pass and long run to Devin Hester late in the first quarter. With the score 7-3 in the second quarter, Benny Sapp got nailed with a stupid personal foul penalty that kept a drive alive, and the Bears wound up on the Vikings one-yard line on first down.
But the game completely turned in the other direction, as Chicago missed a pass in the end zone, and the Vikings superior run defense stopped three straight rushes that gave them the ball at the one. And Gus Frerotte took immediate advantage, as he hit Bernard Berrian alone down the sidelines for an NFL record-tying 99 yard TD pass to give the Vikings the lead.
The Vikings added another TD to give them a 17-7 halftime lead. Chicago edge back to 17-14 after an interception brought Chicago to the Vikings five yard line early in the third. But that was as close as they would come. The Vikings defense, as well as their offensive line, took control of the game. The Vikes intercepted Kyle Orton three times, and Jared Allen had two sacks and was pestering Orton all night.
Adrian Peterson ran for 131 yards, and Chester Taylor added a TD to give the Vikings a hard-fought win. The goal line stand in the second quarter may just have saved the Vikings season, as Chicago would have gone up 14-3 with a TD, and the momentum would have clearly been with them. But the long bomb gave the Vikes the mo they wouldn't surrender the rest of the night.
Next up for the Vikings are the lowly Detroit Lions, who've lost all 12 games this season. A game with them actually worries me, as the law of averages say the Lions have to win at least once this season, and I hope the Vikings don't think that just by showing up the game is theirs. After that, they will end the season with three teams who may all be heading for the playoffs: Arizona, Atlanta and the NY Giants. So a win at Detroit is simply a must, as it appears that only the champion of the NFC North will be going to the postseason.
BTW, did you notice that the Vikings and the Patriots have the same record, 7-5?