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Lunchbreak: A Gritty Win Counts More Than A Pretty Loss

Nobody is going to put Minnesota's 17-9 win on Monday Night Football in a fine art museum anytime soon, but victories all count the same in the NFL.

The Vikings improved to 7-7 with the Week 15 win, and also jumped up past the Saints and into the third and final NFC Wild Card spot.

Grant Gordon of offered his takeaways from the game and noted that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's squad will take the gritty road win against a division opponent.

Gordon wrote:

Minnesota stayed alive in the race to the postseason (moving precariously into the No. 7 spot in the conference) and that's all that matters. The Vikings gave their fans a game off from the drama and won ugly against an inferior foe. All the wins count the same and this was a crucially important one, no matter how it looked under the prime-time spotlight.

Minnesota will now be closely watching Tuesday's tilt between Washington and Philadelphia. If Washington wins, it moves into the seventh seed. But an Eagles win would keep the Vikings in the playoff field heading into Week 16.

As for another takeaway from Monday night's game, Gordon opined that the Vikings offense wasn't at its best.

Even with Chicago's defense missing numerous starters, Minnesota managed a season-low 193 yards of offense. That total was the fifth-lowest under Zimmer since he arrived in 2014.

Gordon wrote:

Kirk, Dalvin and Justin were all there, but this was hardly pretty and this was hardly the dramatic nail-biter to the end that most Minnesota games have been this season. Nope, the Vikings won a rather tedious affair by a comfortable margin – it would've been their largest of the season, in fact, had it not been for the Bears score on the last play.

Kirk Cousins threw for just 87 yards, but had two touchdowns. Justin Jefferson was largely held in check, but had one of those scores. And Dalvin Cook had 89 yards on 28 carries, which is hardly sexy, but his bell-cow day helped dictate the game.

Cousins' passing total was his lowest in 118 career starts.

But a win is a win, and the Vikings took one on their flight home early Tuesday morning.

Minnesota is home in Week 16 as it hosts the Los Angeles Rams. Kickoff is at noon (CT) Sunday from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Wonnum, Smith-Marsette earn game balls from Star Tribune

D.J. Wonnum set a career-high with a trio of sacks Monday night against Chicago.

But the Vikings defensive end joked after the game that he could have had an even gaudier stat line against Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

"I missed him one time, I should have had four [sacks]," Wonnum said. "Really should have had five. He was squirmy.

"I gotta break down better," Wonnum said. "He's a great athlete, but I got him on the ground, and I had to keep going, keep going, keep getting better."

Even so, Wonnum's big-time outing was enough for him to earn a game ball from the Star Tribune.

The second-year end, now the team's leading pass rusher with Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen out, had a monster game. He had 3.0 sacks, including one on a fourth-and-1 from the Vikings 21; two tackles for a loss; four quarterback hits; and a forced fumble, which the Bears recovered.

Wonnum, who recorded 3.0 sacks as a rookie, entered Monday night with 3.0 sacks on the season.

Rookie wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette also earned a game ball.

With all the Bears attention on Justin Jefferson, the rookie scored his first NFL touchdown on his second career reception — a 7-yard pass from Kirk Cousins in the third quarter.

Smith-Marsette's score was the fifth-rounder out of Iowa's lone catch against the Bears. He was targeted twice.

The Star Tribune also gave a game ball to Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who finished with a pair of sacks in a disruptive performance.