The date was October 14, 2007. The stage was Soldier Field. Rookie running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the Minnesota Vikings single-game rushing record, in a 34-31 win over the Chicago Bears.
That’s the last time the Vikings won a game in Chicago. Since then the Bears have dominated the Vikings, winning the last five meetings at Soldier Field.
“This is becoming déjà vu up here,” Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. “This is the same script, just a different year. We got to fix something.”
One Viking suggests something supernatural may be the reason for Chicago’s success.
“They might have a lucky troll or something over there,” defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. “Every time we come up here it seems like the same story. We got to find a way to get over that and get a win here.”
Recently the Vikings are not only having a tough time beating the Bears in Chicago, but they can’t beat them at home either, losing six consecutive games in the series.
So is this something the Vikings carried with them heading into Sunday’s game?
“We knew what we was getting into,” Peterson said. “Those guys wanted to come out and make a statement, but I feel like it was more so what we did. Giving the ball away. Not making routine plays. Got to give credit to those guys because they did a good job of stopping us.”
The two teams will strap it on two weeks from now in Minnesota in what will be another crucial game for both team’s playoff hopes.
“We’ll swallow this,” Peterson said. “But I can’t wait to see them again.”
Marshall ‘impressive’ to Vikings’ defense
Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall collected 12 receptions for 92 yards on Sunday, becoming the first Bears wideout since Marty Booker to go over 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
“I think Brandon Marshall caught literally everything that was thrown to him, which was impressive,” Allen said.
Marshall didn’t have many huge gains, his longest catch was for 17 yards, but the sheer volume of balls he hauled in was back-breaking for the Vikings.
“He has a great catch radius,” Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said. “We were in position a few times with tight coverage and somehow the ball got in there and he came up with it. He’s a good player.
Balancing act for Bears
In the Monday night loss to San Francisco the Bears rushed for 85 yards, but only had 58 passing yards. Obviously those kind of offensive numbers won’t win you many football games. But, in Sunday’s 28-10 win over the Vikings, the balance was back, as Chicago had 113 yards on the ground and 183 yards through the air.
“Anytime you can be two-dimensional, it’s kind of hard to stop as a defense,” Winfield said.
In a week that saw Chilo Rachal temporarily leave the team after being demoted for Chris Spencer, Gabe Carimi benched in favor of Jonathan Scott and Jay Cutler return to action, change was more of a theme than surprise.
“They changed some protection things up,” Allen said. “We knew they were going to. You bench a guy and you’re not going to just sit back there in five man protection and let people rush, especially when Jay [Cutler] is coming off of a head injury. So, hats off to them.”
The Vikings watched Jason Campbell run the Bears’ offense on film against the 49ers, but instead faced off against Cutler on Sunday. So what’s the biggest difference?
“I think [Cutler] gets the ball out of his hands a lot quicker,” Winfield said. “He scrambles a lot more, buys time and he’s not afraid to take chances. You can see Marshall in coverage and he’s still throwing him the ball.”
Michael Bush’s rush into the end zone, his second score of the game, with four minutes left in the second quarter hurt the Vikings. But the successful two-point conversion by holder Adam Podlesh was deflating, as it extended the Bears’ lead to 18-3.
“We got chopped off at the head quick and that can break you down,” Peterson said “We continued to fight it just didn’t go our way.”
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was intercepted by Chris Conte on the next drive, setting up Cutler’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Matt Spaeth, giving the Bears a 25-3 halftime lead.
“The game got out of hand real early and we didn’t really give ourselves a chance,” Winfield said.
Ready for a rematch
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was adamant that Minnesota (6-5) was still in the playoff hunt, even following a 28-10 blowout loss to the Bears.
“We’re not panicking at all,” Greenway said. “We wanted this one really bad. This was a huge game for us. We need to take care of business in Green Bay and we need to take of business when Chicago is at our place. That’s just the way it has to be.”