Minneapolis, MN – Adrian Peterson had a pair of first-quarter touchdowns as the Minnesota Vikings handed the Chicago Bears a 21-14 loss at Mall of America Stadium.
Peterson finished the game with 154 yards on 31 carries while Christian Ponder was just 11-for-17 with 91 yards and an interception for the Vikings (7-6), who kept their playoff hopes alive by snapping a two-game losing streak.
"So very proud of this football team because all three phases played very well," said Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier. "This game just epitomized what a team win is really all about. The way everyone prepared for today makes me very proud."
Brandon Marshall caught 10 passes for 160 yards and a score while Jay Cutler threw for 260 yards and a touchdown on 22-of-44 passing for the Bears (8-5), but Cutler was picked off as Chicago fell for the fourth time in the last five weeks and now sit one game behind Green Bay for first place in the NFC North.
"We knew we had to play our best football on the road in hostile environment's such as this place," said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith. "If you want to be successful in the NFL you have to do that, and we didn't today."
The Packers posted a 27-20 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.
Minnesota nearly had an interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter and wound up with one in the third quarter.
Cutler was looking for Marshall on his second pick, but overthrew him and the ball wound up in the hands of Harrison Smith, who took it down the right sideline and into the end zone on a 56-yard score for a 21-7 lead with 3:27 to play in the third quarter.
Chicago got to the Minnesota 34 on its ensuing touch, but a false start and holding call moved the ball back 15 yards. The team was only able to get back to the 39 and had to punt in the final minute of the third.
Pinned at their own 1-yard line, Minnesota got a big third-down conversion. Needing seven yards, Ponder hit Michael Jenkins for eight. The team was unable to get any points, but did kill off 6 1/2 minutes of the clock before punting away to Chicago.
Starting at his own 5-yard line, Cutler got 30 yards from Alshon Jeffery on a deep pass, and a 22-yard catch from Marshall got the ball across midfield. Facing a first down at the Minnesota 27, Cutler and Jeffery got together for four yards, but the next three plays saw an incompletion, a drop from Devin Hester followed by a drop from Marshall on fourth down that gave the ball back to Minnesota.
Minnesota had to quickly punt, forcing Chicago to burn all of its timeouts, and the Bears got the ball back at their own 24. Jason Campbell came out under center and marched the team down the field before making it a one-score game on a 16-yard scoring pass to Marshall.
That was with 1:48 left, though, and the Vikings recovered the onsides kick to kill off the rest of the clock.
The Vikings opened the game with the ball at their own 20 and on the first play, Peterson took a handoff between the right tackle and guard, kicked it out to the sideline and raced down to the Chicago 29 for a 51-yard gain. Following a 16-yard run around the left end down to the 1-yard line, Peterson walked it in for a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
On Chicago's first touch, Cutler was picked off by Josh Robinson, who took it into the end zone from 49 yards out. The replay showed he was out at the 5- yard line, but Peterson took it in from a yard out three plays later for a 14-0 lead with 8:42 left in the first quarter.
The game stayed that way until late in the first half, when the Bears cut their deficit in half. Starting at their own 31, Chicago got a pair of first downs to move the ball past midfield. Facing a 3rd-and-3, Cutler and Marshall got together on a 12-yard play and on the next snap, Cutler floated a pass down the right sideline and Jeffery came down with the ball for a 23-yard score to make it a 14-7 game with 1:52 to play before intermission.
Peterson had 104 yards in the first quarter, a career-high for him in an opening period ... Marshall has seven 100-yard games this season, tying a team record ... Minnesota plays in St. Louis next Sunday ... Chicago hosts Green Bay next Sunday ... Minnesota snapped a six-game losing streak to Chicago ... Matt Forte had 13 carries for 85 yards along with six catches for 34 yards for the Bears.