MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Zimmer started into his story during the Minnesota Vikings' team meeting on Wednesday, intent on turning the team's recent futility at Soldier Field into a bogeyman the Vikings would become desperate to slay. He had just about reached the punch line when two of the three players who'd endured the most anguish in Chicago stole it from his lips.
"He started talking about it, and BRob [Brian Robison] and Chad [Greenway] finished the sentence for him," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "He started to say, 'Yeah, we haven't won at Chicago in ...' BRob and Chad just finished the sentence for him. I think they're more aware of it than we are. Like I said, we know how important this game is for us, a divisional game, on the road, in a place that we haven't won at in a long time."
It's been since Oct. 14, 2007, to be exact. Robison, a rookie, didn't start in the game. Greenway, playing his first full NFL season after tearing his ACL as a rookie, had six tackles. And a rookie running back named Adrian Peterson went over 200 yards for the first time as a pro, carrying 20 times for 224 yards three weeks before he'd break the NFL's single-game rushing record. Ryan Longwell hit a 55-yard field goal as time ran out, and the Vikings won 34-31. Since then, Soldier Field has been a nightmarish venue for the Vikings, full of late-game collapses and bizarre sideshows.
Thirty-four of the 53 players on the Vikings' active roster have been with the team for two years or less. But even those players can recount stories of trips to Chicago gone awry -- such as 2013, when the Bears scored the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left, or last season, when a malfunctioning Soldier Field game clock forced the Vikings to fly blind on their last attempt to tie the game.
So as the Vikings face the Monsters of the Midway on Halloween weekend in Chicago, we present five moments to remember -- or rue -- from their losing streak there:
1. Oct. 19, 2008: A nasty return
The Vikings had won three of four after an 0-2 start when they traveled to Chicago to face a Bears team with the same record. But in a game in which the Vikings rolled up 439 yards on offense, they were done in by turnovers -- particularly those which the Bears could return for scores. Chicago brought back fumbles for touchdowns in the second and third quarters, to go with a first-quarter blocked punt return for a touchdown, and prevailed 48-41 over a Vikings team that would go on to win the division at 10-6.
2. Dec. 28, 2009: Monday night misfire
Following a Sunday night loss in Carolina in which Brett Favre feuded with coach Brad Childress, the Vikings came out flat on Monday Night Football, falling into a 16-0 hole at halftime and trailing 23-6 in the third quarter. Favre brought the Vikings all the way back with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter and hit Sidney Rice with 16 seconds left to send the game to overtime. But Jay Cutler's 39-yard strike to Devin Aromashodu officially ended the Vikings' bid for home-field advantage in the playoffs, and the team would lose the NFC title game in New Orleans four weeks later.
3. Nov. 25, 2012: Breakdown on the road
Peterson had to take a cab from the team hotel after missing the bus to the stadium, and he fumbled on his third carry of the game. Peterson ran for 108 yards on 18 carries, but Christian Ponder threw for just 159 yards on 43 attempts, and the Vikings never recovered from a 25-3 deficit in a 28-10 loss that dropped them to 6-5. They'd beat the Bears at the Metrodome two weeks later, though, to start a four-game winning streak that took them to the playoffs.
4. Sept. 15, 2013: The last-minute woes begin
In four years covering the Vikings, I've never been in a postgame locker room setting as tense as the visitors room at Soldier Field that day. The Vikings started the game with a 105-yard kickoff return TD from Cordarrelle Patterson and got another score on Robison's 61-yard fumble return. But up 27-24 in the fourth quarter, the Vikings missed a chance to put the Bears away when Ponder missed Kyle Rudolph and Peterson was stuffed on third-and-goal from the Bears' 4. Chicago marched 66 yards for the game-winning score with 16 seconds left on a play where Cutler probably could've thrown the ball to three different receivers for a TD. Afterward, fuming players tried to hold their tongues about the defense on the final drive, and middle linebacker Erin Henderson said defensive coordinator Alan Williams' final call was a coverage the Vikings hadn't practiced during the week. The 31-30 loss started an all-too-familiar trend: The Vikings blew last-minute leads five times that season, which was Leslie Frazier's last as head coach.
5. Nov. 16, 2014: Not like clockwork
The Vikings came out of their bye at 4-5 after two straight wins gave them flickering playoff hopes, and they built a 10-0 lead on the road. But Cutler targeted Josh Robinson 15 times, exploiting the 5-f0ot-10 corner's disadvantage against Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. A malfunctioning game clock left the Vikings guessing at how much time they had in the fourth quarter. Thinking he had time for only one more play, Bridgewater heaved a pass for the end zone with just under a minute left in the game. The second-down pass was intercepted in the end zone by Ryan Mundy. "When you're not aware of how much time is left on the clock, when you're down there on the playing field, it forces you to make some decisions that you probably wouldn't have made if you were aware of the play clock or the game clock," Bridgewater said Wednesday. "Hopefully it doesn't happen again this year."