Vikings Fully Control the NFC North After Beating the Bears, 29-22

Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) salutes the fans after the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Vikings jumped out to a 21-3 first half lead on the back of Kirk Cousins setting a franchise record for consecutive pass completions, it seemed like Minnesota would cruise to a Week 5 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Instead, the Bears scored 19 unanswered points to take a 22-21 lead in the fourth quarter. Part of this had to do with consistent breakdowns from the Vikings defense, which allowed Justin Fields to complete 15/21 passes for 208 yards, and a touchdowns. The completions and passing yards were both season-highs for Fields, and he also added 8 rushes four 47 yards.

However, some of the biggest letdowns from this game came from the special teams unit that has been oh-so consistent up until this point. Greg Joseph missed a pair of 50-plus yard field goals, including having one of them blocked. Additionally, Ryan Wright’s sole punt of the day traveled a total of 15 yards, allowing the Bears to set up shop on their own 48-yard-line. All of this occurred over a three-drive span.

The Bears scored 16 of their 22 points during this span, and it allowed themselves to get back into this game. Kirk Cousins also threw an interception in the second half; the one blemish on what was overall a terrific game from the Vikings QB.

In past years, an interception from Cousins down the stretch may have derailed him. However, he bounced back in a terrific way down the stretch. On Minnesota’s final drive of the game, Cousins led a 15-play touchdown drive in which the Vikings converted five third downs. Coming into this game, Minnesota had converted just 31.3% of their third downs. Today, Minnesota converted 80%.

Cousins capped off the drive by rushing a QB sneak in for the score, and he followed that up by hitting Justin Jefferson for a two-point conversion, putting Minnesota up 29-22. Jefferson had a career-high 12 catches on Sunday.

On the ensuing Chicago Bears drive, former Vikings receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette got caught trying to fight for extra yards, allowing Cam Dantzler to sneak in a rip the ball out of his arms. The fumble from the Vikings 2021 fifth-round pick sealed the victory for Minnesota.

This win has huge implications for the Vikings moving forward. Most importantly, this game gives the Vikings a tiebreaker over every other NFC North team by starting 3-0 against all divisional opponents. Making this win even sweeter, the Green Bay Packers fell to the New York Giants in London, and the Vikings effectively hold a two-game lead over their rivals for the division.

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Minnesota (4-1) heads back on the road this week for a matchup with the Miami Dolphins (3-2) who are going through a number of problem at QB right now between injuries to both Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater. Meanwhile, the Bears (2-3) head back home and turn around on a short week to play the Washington Commanders (1-4) on Thursday night.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken