The Chicago Bears had a 20-10 lead behind an amazing 12 catch, 249 yard receiving performance by Alshon Jeffery, and in a wild overtime finish that featured several personal foul penalties and missed field goals by Blair Walsh and Robbie Gould, it was Walsh who ultimately got his redemption, kicking the game winner with less than two minutes left in overtime to knock off the Bears 23-20.
The game got off to an excellent start for the Bears’ defense, as Julius Peppers picked up a sack on Christian Ponder to force the Vikings to punt the ball away. Unfortunately for Chicago, their offense couldn’t take advantage of the defensive stand, and they went three-and-out to give the ball right back to Minnesota.
The rest of the first quarter ended up being dominated by the defenses as well, with Craig Steltz and Peppers both continuing to punish the Vikings both in the ground game and in the air attack as well. Those kinds of stops ended up allowing the Bears to take the lead late in the frame. Despite Martellus Bennett being flagged for offensive pass interference and the Bears failing to convert on a 3rd-and-18, Robbie Gould booted an easy field goal to give Chicago a 3-0 edge after the first.
Near the halfway point of the quarter, the Vikings finally got on the board. After several series of disciplined and smart play, Steltz made a bad decision when he tried to tackle Coradelle Patterson in the open field, and after Chris Conte and Khaseem Greene overpursued Patterson up the field, he was able to churn out a 33 yard run to give the Vikings a 7-3 lead.
Not to be outdone though, McCown and the offense went right back to work after losing the lead. They used a couple of great slant routes over the middle of the field to take advantage of some soft spots in the Viking defense, and even though they were ultimately stopped short on a key third down play, Gould was able to kick another field goal, making it 7-6 Vikings late in the first half.
Coming out of halftime, the Bears immediately showed signs of life on offense, and the drive culminated with a phenomenal 80 yard touchdown pass from McCown to Jeffery that gave the Bears a 13-7 lead and seemed to stun the Vikings. It was a deft bit of passing by the Bears’ QB, as he put everything he could into it and let Jeffery catch it perfectly in stride for the easy score in 1-on-1 coverage.
The Vikings did manage to get a field goal on their first drive of the second half, but McCown and Jeffery weren’t done yet. On what may end up being the most spectacular catch in the NFL this season, Jeffery was able to snare a pass within the 5-yard line, and not only held onto the ball high above his head, but he also managed to drag both of his feet in bounds, and he ended up scoring and giving the Bears a 20-10 lead.
The catch not only gave Jeffery his second score of the quarter, but it also pushed him to 215 yards, meaning that he is the only Bears’ receiver to ever record two 200-yard receiving games in his career (he also hit the milestone in a record-setting Week 5 performance against the New Orleans Saints, where he set the Bears’ single game record with 218 receiving yards).
After holding onto the lead through the rest of the quarter, the Bears watched helplessly as the Vikings led off the fourth quarter with a great grind-it-out style of drive. Peterson ended up doing most of the heavy lifting on the drive, but Greg Jennings was the one who got the ultimate reward as he snared a pass from Matt Cassel in the corner of the end zone to bring the Vikings to within a 20-17 margin.
The Vikings looked like they were going to get a chance to possibly take the lead on the Bears’ next drive, as McCown’s attempted shovel pass ended up bouncing off of Minnesota’s Audie Cole, and Kyle Long was stripped of the ball deep in Bears territory. Jon Bostic seemingly ended the threat when he made a great open field tackle, but he was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and it allowed the drive to continue.
Fortunately for Bostic and the Bears, the Vikings ended up turning the ball over on the next play, as Khaseem Greene intercepted a Cassel pass and took it all the way back to midfield. The Bears’ offense couldn’t take advantage though, and after a three-and-out they had to punt the ball back to the Vikings late in the fourth quarter.
On a fourth and 11 play on the ensuing drive, the Vikings remarkably were able to convert on the play. Seizing the momentum, the Vikings were able to push the ball hard down the field, and ended up at the 12-yard line of the Bears with just 36 seconds left in the contest. They couldn’t quite get the ball into the end zone, and Blair Walsh ended up booting an easy field goal to tie things up at 20-20.
The Bears got a great kick return from Devin Hester with less than 30 seconds left in the game, but Gould’s 65 yard field goal attempt ended up falling just short, and the two teams went to overtime.
Chicago ended up winning the coin toss to start the overtime period, and Trestman predictably decided to take the ball first. McCown found Jeffery over the middle on the first play of the extra frame for a first down, giving him 245 yards receiving in the game. Brandon Marshall then caught a high ball over the middle for another first down.
Unfortunately for the Bears, they weren't able to get any further, as several penalties and a questionable decision by McCown to hang onto the ball in the pocket led to Chicago having to punt the ball away. Adam Podlesh then booted a lackluster punt and gave the Vikings some decent field position.
The Vikings moved the ball down the field, and were even given an extra 15 yards on a horse-collar tackle by Conte. Walsh then booted what looked to be the game winning field goal, but a facemasking penalty against Minnesota erased the kick, and when Walsh attempted a field goal again, he ended up missing the 57-yard attempt wide left, and the Bears got a new lease on life.
Forte was deployed early and often on the Bears' next possession, pushing the ball up the field aggressively and knocking the Vikings' defense back on their heels. After he picked up a crucial first down deep in Minnesota territory, Trestman opted not to continue pushing the issue, and sent Gould back onto the field to try to win the game. After Minnesota called both of their timeouts to try to ice Gould, he calmly stepped up and missed the kick wide right to push the overtime even further.
With time dwindling away, the Vikings used a couple of solid passes from Cassel and some great runs from Peterson to move the ball down field once again. Finally, Walsh mercifully ended the game with a 37 yard field goal, and the Bears suffered a devastating loss.
The Bears will try to pick up the pieces next week when they host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.