The Vikings finally won the turnover margin for the first time in 2023 — and picked up their second win of the season, prevailing 19-13 on Sunday against the Bears at Soldier Field.
Byron Murphy, Jr., snagged his first interception as a Viking by corralling an underthrown pass intended for DJ Moore. Murphy reeled in the football tossed by Bears backup Tyson Bagent at the Minnesota 8-yard line. He fumbled at the end of the return but managed to recover the football.
Jordan Hicks had a monstrous day, recording an interception and returning a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown.
His interception occurred at the Minnesota 9-yard line and occurred three plays after the Bears forced and recovered a fumble by Kirk Cousins. It reversed momentum, and Minnesota's offense responded with a 77-yard touchdown drive to close the first half.
Three plays after Bagent entered the game in relief of Justin Fields (right hand injury), Josh Metellus blitzed and forced a fumble. Metellus nearly scooped it, but it bounced to Hicks, who scored his second career touchdown and put the Vikings up 19-6 with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
It was the first time Hicks had recorded a pick and recovered a fumble in the same game since Sept. 27, 2015 with Philadelphia. Hicks scored for the first time since a 67-yard interception return for the Eagles at Dallas on Nov. 8, 2015.
After totaling three takeaways in Weeks 1-5, the Vikings totaled three against the Bears to win the turnover battle 3-1.
Here are four more observations from the game.
1. Attack plan without Jefferson
The Vikings didn't shy away from throwing the ball in their first half without Jefferson.
Cousins completed 15 of 20 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
K.J. Osborn (four targets), Brandon Powell (four), T.J. Hockenson (five), Jordan Addison (three) and Alexander Mattison (four) were involved. Osborn led the Vikings with 48 yards on four catches, and Hockenson added 42 yards on four catches, including 35 yards on Minnesota's touchdown drive near the end of the half.
Addison caught his fourth touchdown in just his sixth game, finding an opening in the Bears defense for a 10-yard strike.
Cousins finished 21-of-31 passing for 181 yards and a passer rating of 93.6.
Hockenson totaled 50 yards on six catches to lead Minnesota.
2. Hunter and Wonnum
D.J. Wonnum opened the game with a sack on the first snap of the game, and he also created pressure on Bagent to force the underthrown ball to Moore.
Danielle Hunter made his presence felt throughout the game as well, recording seven tackles and 2.0 sacks, boosting his season total to 8.0 and giving him 79 for his career.
Hunter also showed elite athleticism in tracking down Fields to limit a scramble to just three yards in the third quarter.
The performances were big for a Vikings defense that lost Marcus Davenport to an ankle injury during the game.
The Vikings limited the combination of Fields and Bagent to 16-of-24 passing for 141 yards and a passer rating of 47.4.
3. Ground game discrepancy
The Bears entered the game down three running backs, but they were able to grind out 162 yards on 36 carrries, averaging 4.5 per carry with a long of 17.
D'Onta Foreman led the way with 65 yards on 15 carries.
The Vikings ground game struggled to get going throughout the day. Minnesota totaled just 46 yards on 22 carries.
Alexander Mattison rushed 18 times for 44 yards; Cam Akers recorded a gain of 8 on his lone carry.
Powell was tackled for a loss of 1 on his attempt. Cousins wound up with minus-5 yards on two carries, although that total was affected by a kneel-down on the final play that was a loss of 6 yards to run out the clock.
Vikings left guard Ezra Cleveland left the game late with an injury and was replaced by Dalton Risner.
4. Mixed bag on specials
Greg Joseph impressed with field goals of 53 and 51 yards, but the extra point team allowed leakage that resulted in a blocked point after Addison's touchdown.
Joseph had a run at a 57-yarder, but it was wide right.
Punter Ryan Wright finished with a gross average of 49.8 yards and a net of 43.3 on five punts, but his 63-yarder resulted in a touchback.
Wright, however, did help the Vikings get out of the shadow of their own goal post with a 45-yarder that was fair caught.
Powell totaled 32 yards on three punt returns for Minnesota, and the punt coverage group limited the Bears to one return for 12 yards.
Velus Jones, Jr., however, totaled 90 yards on three kickoff returns.