Final

Bears 14

(8-5, 3-3 away)

Vikings 21

(7-6, 6-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 9, 2012

Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN 

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 0 7 0 714
MIN 14 0 7 021

Top Performers

Passing: J. Cutler (CHI) - 260 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: A. Peterson (MIN) - 31 CAR, 154 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: B. Marshall (CHI) - 10 REC, 160 YDS, 1 TD

Adrian Peterson tops 100 yards again as Vikings roll

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Everyone in the stadium knows Adrian Peterson is going to get the ball when the Minnesota Vikings are on offense. No one seems to know how to stop him once he does.

His sights set squarely on 2,000 yards, Peterson's latest jaw-dropping performance also made sure the Vikings can keep their eyes on the playoffs.

Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead the Vikings to a 21-14 victory over the free-falling Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Peterson topped 100 yards before the first quarter was over, helping the Vikings (7-6) overcome another lackluster day from quarterback Christian Ponder to get a victory that will keep their playoff hopes alive.

"The guy's unbelievable," Ponder said of his star running back. "I don't know if he's human or not."

Jay Cutler was 22 for 44 for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and couldn't finish the game for the Bears (8-5), who have lost four of five. He took a wicked hit to the head from Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter, remained in for the rest of that drive, but was replaced by Jason Campbell with 3 minutes to play.

Cutler has a neck injury, which could leave the reeling Bears without two of their most important players down the stretch. Linebacker Brian Urlacher did not play because of a strained right hamstring that threatens to end his season.

"It started stiffening up more and more," Cutler said. "I just have to take it day by day."

Campbell threw a 16-yard TD to Brandon Marshall with 1:48 to play, but Kyle Rudolph recovered the onside kick. Marshall had 10 catches for 160 yards, but Chicago's struggling offense couldn't do enough to overcome the two turnovers and Peterson's relentless effort.

Peterson's remarkable comeback from a torn left ACL late last season seems to get more impressive every week. Not even a year removed from that major injury in Washington, he broke the 100-yard mark for the seventh straight game. He has 1,600 yards with three games to play, putting a hallowed 2,000-yard season within reach. He ran for 51 yards on the opening play and continued to gash the broken-down Bears the rest of the way.

"I think about it," Peterson said of 2,000 yards. "I don't try to think about it too much. I feel like it will happen. It's obvious we're going to continue to run the ball and the chips will fall where they may."

No one was happier to see it than Ponder, who continued to look skittish in the pocket and out of whack with his mechanics. He finished 11 of 17 for 91 yards, including an ugly interception off his back foot late in the first half.

This time, his performance didn't doom the Vikings. Owner Zygi Wilf addressed the team this week after a string of four losses in five games threatened to spoil a 5-2 start.

"You know when you play the Vikings you're going to have to stop Adrian Peterson," coach Leslie Frazier said. "And for him to come out and gain 100 yards in the first quarter, just an amazing feat by him."

Vikings fans trudged through a snow storm to get to the Metrodome, and they were ornery and ready to give Ponder all the grief they could. They booed him in pregame introductions, then Peterson touched the ball on five of six plays in the opening drive. He also ripped off a 16-yard run and finished it with a 1-yard TD.

"It looks like we weren't ready for it, but we were," Bears cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. "We were ready. It was the first drive and there was so much football played after that, I thought we did a pretty good job after that."

Josh Robinson intercepted Cutler on the next possession, returning the ball to the Chicago 5 to set up Peterson's second touchdown. The Vikings were off and running, exactly what they were hoping to do.

Cutler responded, hitting Alshon Jeffery with a 23-yard TD pass that got a healthy contingent of Chicago fans chanting "Let's Go Bears!"

Just as the Bears appeared to seize momentum, Cutler floated a pass over Marshall's head and right into the arms of Smith, who headed down the Chicago sideline for a 56-yard touchdown late in the third quarter and a 21-7 lead.

The Vikings haven't made big plays in the passing game ever since Percy Harvin was lost for the season with a severely sprained left ankle against Seattle on Nov. 4. They finally did it Sunday, but it was the defense that made it happen.

Robinson and Smith combined for 100 return yards, more than the Vikings' passing game had through the air.

Now the Bears must try to hold off another December malaise under coach Lovie Smith. They started 7-1, but Smith tried to ratchet up the intensity this week, saying the Bears had to win out to get into the playoffs.

Through six games, the Bears gave up an average of 71 yards rushing. But they had given up 136 yards per game on the ground in the previous six games.

"It's all willpower, man," Peterson said. "They pretty much know we're going to run the ball. Offensive line knows that, receivers. Everybody's dialed in."

Game notes


Vikings CB A.J. Jefferson suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter. He will be re-evaluated on Monday. ... Marshall joined Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison and Wes Welker as the only players in history with at least four seasons of 100 or more receptions. Marshall also set the all-time Bears record with his 101st catch this year. ... Bears K Robbie Gould did not kickoff on Sunday after straining his left calf in pregame warm-ups. He did kick the Bears' two extra points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CHI
MIN
1st Downs2217
Passing 1st downs
167
Rushing 1st downs
48
1st downs from penalties
22
3rd down efficiency
7-176-14
4th down efficiency
1-20-0
Total Plays7356
Total Yards438248
Yards per play6.04.4
Total Drives1211
Passing32077
Comp-Att
28-5311-17
Yards per pass
5.84.3
Interceptions thrown
21
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-41-14
Rushing118171
Rushing Attempts
1838
Yards per rush
6.64.5
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Penalties10-807-54
Turnovers21
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
21
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01
Possession31:4228:18

Passing Leaders

CHIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Cutler22/442605.9122-4
Campbell6/9647.1100-0
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Ponder11/17915.4011-14

Rushing Leaders

CHICARYDSAVGTDLG
Forte13856.5036
Cutler2168.0011
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson311545.0251
Gerhart3175.706

Receiving Leaders

CHIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Marshall1016016.0139
Jeffery35719.0130
MINRECYDSAVGTDLG
Jenkins4369.0011
Wright22914.5016

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCHIMIN
minTD11:56Adrian Peterson 1 Yard Run (Blair Walsh Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yds, 3:07
07
minTD8:46Adrian Peterson 1 Yard Run (Blair Walsh Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 5 yds, 1:07
014
SECOND QUARTERCHIMIN
chiTD1:57Alshon Jeffery 23 Yard Pass From Jay Cutler (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 69 yds, 3:41
714
THIRD QUARTERCHIMIN
minTD3:40Harrison Smith 56 Yard Interception Return (Blair Walsh Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 8 yds, 1:28
721
FOURTH QUARTERCHIMIN
chiTD1:53Brandon Marshall 16 Yard Pass From Jason Campbell (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 76 yds, 2:02
1421

Research Notes

NEXT LEVEL: Brandon Marshall was targeted 15 times on throws more than 10 yards downfield Sunday (14 from Jay Cutler), tied for the most times a receiver has been targeted on such throws in a single game over the past five seasons. After a strong first half on such throws, Cutler completed 2-of-7 attempts on such throws targeting Marshall in the second half, including an interception returned for a touchdown.
  [+]
NEXT LEVEL: Adrian Peterson had 11 rushes for 97 yards and a touchdown outside the tackles Sunday, compared with 57 yards on 20 rushes between the tackles. Peterson has been running outside on nearly a quarter of his rushes over his last five games with great success after a majority of his rushes earlier in the season were downhill coming off his ACL injury.
  [+]
Brandon Marshall now has 100 receptions this season, his 4th 100-reception season in his career. That ties the NFL record set by Marvin Harrison, Jerry Rice and Wes Welker (who can still get his 5th this year).
Bears RB Matt Forte became 4th player in Bears history with 5,000 rushing yards for the team, joining Walter Payton, Neal Anderson and Rick Casares
Brandon Marshall now has 7 100-yard receiving games this season, matching the single-season Bears record.
  [+]

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