Vikings top Bears 29-22 for third straight comeback victory
The Vikings fell behind 22-21 in the fourth quarter after blowing a 21-3 lead. But they were able to go ahead for good at 29-22 on a 1-yard sneak by Kirk Cousins and a two-point conversion pass from Cousins to Justin Jefferson with 2:26 left in the game.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Another Sunday, another Minnesota Vikings escape.
For the third straight week, the Vikings trailed in the fourth quarter against a lesser foe only to come back and win a game they easily could have lost. Their latest Houdini act was Sunday’s 29-22 victory over the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings fell behind 22-21 in the fourth quarter after blowing a 21-3 lead. But they were able to go ahead for good at 29-22 on a 1-yard sneak by Kirk Cousins and his two-point conversion pass to Justin Jefferson with 2:26 left in the game.
Then on the Bears’ final possession after the Vikings’ TD, Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler stole the ball out of the hands of former Minnesota receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette. He returned the fumble 16 yards to the Bears 45 with 1:01 remaining, and that was the game.
The Vikings previously had come back to defeat Detroit 28-24 on Sept. 25 at home and beat New Orleans 28-25 on Oct. 2 in London.
“That just shows that we’re going to fight to the last whistle,” Vikings defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson said. “We’re not going to give up no matter the circumstances.”
Then again, this was a game that should have been over well before the last whistle. After the Vikings (4-1) took a 21-3 lead in the second quarter, they watched as the Bears (2-3) roared back by scoring 19 consecutive points, going ahead 22-21 on Cairo Santos 51-yard field goal with 9:26 left in the final quarter. That was set up by a Kindle Vildor interception of a Cousins pass.
“Would we like to blow teams out? Yes,” Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said. “So we’ve got to find a way when we get in those positions, 21-3, that we just keep putting the foot on the gas pedal. But there will be some good learning.”
In the meantime, the Vikings are at least doing what it takes to win in the fourth quarter. After Santos’ field goal, Cousins led them on a methodical 17-play, 75-yard drive that lasted seven minutes and culminated with his 1-yard sneak.
“We do it when we have to,” Cousins said. “The quarterback on a sneak, it’s not really me as much as that’s (the offensive line).”
The Bears, though, still had a chance to force overtime. On first-and-10 from the Chicago 46 with 1:12 left, Justin Fields passed to Smith-Marsette on the sidelines for a 15-yard gain. But Danzler ripped the ball out of his former teammate’s hands, and that clinched the game.
“It feels great,” Dantzler said. “It’s something we work on. … I just saw an opportunity, and I took it.”
Dantzler was awarded a game ball, along with Cousins and Jefferson. Cousins completed 32 of 41 passes for 296 yards with a touchdown and the interception, and Jefferson caught a career-high 12 passes for 154 yards.
The way Cousins started the game landed him in the Vikings’ record book. He completed his first 17 passes. Toss in the two passes he hit to end the game against the Saints, that gave him a team-record 19 straight completions. The previous marks for either multiple games or for a single game were both 16, set by Tommy Kramer at Green Bay on Nov. 11, 1979.
“You just kind of play,” Cousins said of the record. “You’re not really thinking about it. It was a productive day.”
During Cousins’ hot streak, the Vikings took a 21-3 lead on a 1-yard run by Dalvin Cook in the first quarter, a 5-yard run by Cook early in the second quarter and a 1-yard shuttle pass from Cousins to Jalen Reagor midway through the second quarter. Then they went cold.
The Bears took the lead thanks to a 9-yard touchdown run by David Montgomery just before halftime, a 9-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Velus Jones Jr. in the third quarter and field goals by Santos in the third and fourth quarters. Fields completed 15 of 21 passes in the game for 208 yards, and also ran for 47 yards.
“Don’t necessarily think we found that four quarters of consistent ball that we’re looking for, but as we’ve learned, it’s not easy to do in the NFL against teams with different scheme variations and a competitiveness,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. “That’s OK, but we’re still going to work tirelessly to have that.”
In the meantime, the Vikings once again survived. On their pivotal late scoring drive, they mixed up the pass and the run. Cousins actually had two runs on the drive, the other a 5-yard jaunt when Minnesota had third-and-5 at the Bears 20 with 3:37 left.
“If you watched us last year, we didn’t pull out (such games),” Cook, who rushed for 94 yards on 18 carries, said of the numerous close losses under former coach Mike Zimmer. “Last year was the total opposite. It was crazy. This year, (O’Connell) has emphasized a lot of situational things.”
Thielen said the Vikings work tirelessly on two-minute drills, including often starting off practice with one. And that looks to be working.
The Vikings scored the go-ahead points against the Lions with 45 seconds left and against the Saints with 24 seconds remaining. On Sunday, they made another late escape, but they don’t want to make this too much of a trend.
“We need to play better through the stretch of the games so that we can pull away and not live in these games in the last two minutes,” Cousins said.
This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.