CHICAGO — The Minnesota Vikings overcame special teams struggles against the Chicago Bears to earn a 19-13 victory Monday, Nov. 16, their third straight win and enough to help keep slim playoff hopes alive.
After former Viking Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 104 yards for a touchdown to give Chicago a 13-7 lead, Minnesota's defense locked down Nick Foles and the Chicago offense. The Bears managed only 32 yards of offense in the second half.
"They're starting to mature a little bit, and obviously they're getting a bit of confidence now," Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer said of his young defensive players. "It's been the last three games where the other team has had the ball with a chance to win the game, [and] we've been able to put out the fire. The more times you do that, the more you believe you can do that."
Minnesota (4-5) reclaimed the lead with a pair of Dan Bailey field goals — his first field goal attempts in three games — and wide receiver Adam Thielen's second of two touchdown receptions.
It was Thielen's first touchdown, however, that turned the most heads. He fought off cornerback Buster Skrine to catch the ball in the crook of his left arm for a 17-yard score.
"That was a great catch, with contact and difficulty," receiver Justin Jefferson said. "Difficulty level was definitely nine out of 10 — I've got to get me a one-handed one, too."
Jefferson didn't have the marquee play of the game, but he did lead the Vikings with 135 yards on eight receptions. He is now tied with Hall of Famer Randy Moss for the team record of four 100-yard receiving games as a rookie.
The effort of his receivers helped quarterback Kirk Cousins reversed his Monday curse, tallying his first victory on "Monday Night Football" in 10 career starts. He finished with 292 yards passing, the two Thielen touchdown tosses and an interception.
"I thought he played really fast, which is important for him," Zimmer said. "I thought he was extremely accurate, he got the ball in the right places all night."
Minnesota appeared to be headed towards another long night in Chicago — Zimmer's teams are just 2-4 at Soldier Field during his Vikings tenure — when Kyle Rudolph fumbled away the ball on the opening possession. Safety Harrison Smith claimed the ball back on the following drive with an interception, setting up the highlight reel-caliber Thielen score.