The Vikings ended a two-game losing streak with 21-14 win over Chicago before 64,134 fans at Mall of America Field Sunday while the first winter storm of 2012 was pounding the area with as much as a foot of snow on the Metrodome roof. The great Adrian Peterson continued his remarkable MVP-like season. His march to glory Sunday came with 154 yards, two touchdowns, and a season-high 31 carries.
Most of Peterson’s yards, 104, were in the first quarter, helping the Vikings get off to a fast 14-0 start. And getting the partisan big crowd in the game, he ripped off another big 51-yard run. Peterson has 1,811 combined yards rushing and receiving this year, the most ever by a Viking in 13 games.
Vikings improved to 7-6 and are very much alive in the NFC North and, with three games left, for a playoff spot. The Vikings are doing this with virtually no passing game. Quarterback Christian Ponder continues to start despite his struggles. Sunday was no different: It was his fifth game this season — 35.5 Arizona, 37.3-Seattle, 58.2-Chicago, 41.9-Green Bay, and 53.8 vs. the Bears with a QB rating that is by definition poor.
He threw for just 91 yards, completing 11 of 17 passes with an interception. To his credit, however, Ponder did not throw an interception for a touchdown. That’s always a killer.
Vikings rookie safety Harrison Smith grabbed his third interception of the season. He picked it off Chicago QB Jay Cutler and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, giving the Vikings a 21-7 lead.
Defensive back Josh Robinson picked off Cutler early in the first quarter and dashed 44 yards up the sideline to the Bears five-yard line. Peterson scored his second touchdown from one yard, Vikings 14-0. So the defense stepped up big with two critical interceptions for 14 points. Peterson now has run for 1600 yards in 13 games, which leads the NFL.
Peterson has run for 100 yards or more in a Vikings’ record seven-straight games. The NFL record is 12 straight by Tennessee’s Chris Johnson; two other players have nine straight 100-yard games, so Peterson has a shot at 2,000 yards.
The Vikings hit the road the next two weeks, at St. Louis (6-6-1) and then at Houston December 23. The 9-4 Packers travel to suddenly struggling Chicago next Sunday.
The 8-5 Bears, after starting 7-1, have slipped, losing 4 of 5. The Vikings are now 6-1 at home and just 1-5 on the road. To make the playoffs the Vikings have to prove they can win on the road.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.