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5 Takeaways: Vikings Win Wild Affair at Soldier Field

CHICAGO — The Vikings are in a playoff spot … for now.

But it was another outlandish and incredulous game for Minnesota at Soldier Field, a place where "normal" doesn't seem to exist when the Vikings and Bears play during prime time in Chicago.

The final score? The Vikings earned a 17-9 win to move to 7-7 on the season with three games to go.

And Minnesota jumped into the No. 7 spot in the NFC playoff picture, leapfrogging New Orleans (7-7). Washington and Philadelphia meet Tuesday night in a battle of 6-7 division rivals. A Washington win would put it in the seventh seed.

But this one will be remembered for all sorts of wackiness between teams that showed once again why the NFC North was often referred to the 'Black and Blue' division back in the day.

View game action photos between the Vikings and Bears during the Monday Night Football matchup at Soldier Field.

Eric Kendricks, perhaps the Vikings best defensive player, was ejected a few minutes into the fourth quarter. Officials ruled he connected late with Justin Fields up high after the Bears rookie quarterback slid … and disqualified the linebacker for the first time in his career.

Minnesota's offense, perhaps the strength of the team most of the season, had its worst showing of the season. Kirk Cousins finished with 87 passing yards and a passer rating of 69.3.

The Vikings defense? That much-maligned group balled out, as the Vikings did not allow the Bears to score a touchdown until the final play of the game.

And special teams was a bit all over the board, with a takeaway (recovery by Kris Boyd of a muffed punt), and a blocked field goal by Dalvin Tomlinson. The unit, however, allowed a Jordan Berry punt to be deflected.

In other words, it was a typical Monday night affair between Minnesota and Chicago.

But the Vikings will take the win as they passed the first in a series of four tests that will determine if they get into the playoffs.

The Vikings return home in Week 16 to face the Rams. Los Angeles (9-4) plays its Week 15 game Tuesday night against Seattle. Kickoff between the Rams and Vikings is scheduled for noon (CT) from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Here are four more takeaways from Minnesota's Week 15 win:

1. Wonnum leads the charge on defense

This might have been the best showing of the season for the Vikings defense.

It certainly was for D.J. Wonnum, as the second-year defensive end produced the best game of his young career thus far.

Wonnum — who had 3.0 total sacks as a rookie and 3.0 total sacks in 2021 entering the game — had a trio of sacks in prime time.

Wonnum's first one was a strip-sack on Fields that the quarterback recovered but resulted in a 14-yard loss. Wonnum's next sack also went for minus-14 yards.

His third sack came at a crucial time with the Vikings holding a 14-point lead. With Fields looking to scramble on fourth-and-1 at the Vikings 21-yard line, Wonnum brought him down for a 2-yard loss.

The Vikings defense also helped Minnesota win the turnover battle, too.

Cameron Dantzler, who started his fifth game of the season, punched the ball loose from Fields late in the first quarter. Anthony Barr recovered near midfield.

Sheldon Richardson forced and recovered a second-quarter fumble, and even had a hand in getting Zimmer to challenge the play. After Richardson encouraged Zimmer to do so, the call was overturned and Minnesota took possession of the ball.

Chicago also muffed a fourth-quarter punt as Minnesota ended up with a 3-1 advantage in the turnover battle.

2. A rough night for the offense

The film session for Minnesota's offense might be rough this week.

The Vikings produced their lowest total output of the season at Soldier Field, as Minnesota recorded just 193 yards against the Bears. The Vikings season-low had been 255 yards against the Browns all the way back in Week 4.

Some unpleasant stats:

The Vikings converted on just five on 17 tries on third downs. And Cousins' passing yardage was his career low as a starter. His previous low was 98 yards against the Falcons in the Vikings 2019 season opener.

But the performance was enough, as Dalvin Cook ran for 89 hard-earned yards, with Justin Jefferson and Ihmir Smith-Marsette catching touchdown passes from Cousins.

Jefferson's score came in the first quarter, and he helped set up Smith-Marsette's first NFL score.

With Jefferson in the backfield, he drew ample coverage from Chicago's defense as Smith-Marsette was left all alone in the back right corner of the end zone.

3. A chippy tilt between division rivals

The first meeting of the season between these teams proved there is still no love lost between the division rivals.

That was the most evident just past the midway point of the third quarter when Wonnum gave chase to Fields and gave him a shove just after the quarterback threw the ball and while he was still in bounds.

Bears rookie left tackle Tevin Jenkins didn't take kindly to the legal play, and had words for Wonnum after the play. Jenkins also took shots at Wonnum and Richardson to earn an unnecessary roughness call that put the Bears back 12 yards.

That was one of five separate unnecessary roughness calls on the Bears, who showed plenty of fire and emotion that cost them at times.

Chicago's defense was the culprit of three those five flags, which equaled 57 total penalty yards. Even Matt Nagy got in on the action, as the Bears head coach was called for a sideline infraction that cost his team 12 yards.

It was a rough night for Jenkins, who was called for three penalties on the night, including a hold on Chicago's first offensive snap.

Minnesota was called for two personal fouls — both on the same drive.

James Lynch was flagged for a late hit on Fields after the quarterback had already touched the ground after bobbling a snap. Kendricks was then sent to the showers early, as the officials deemed his infraction egregious enough to warrant an ejection.

All in all, the Bears were whistled for nine penalties for 91 total yards. The Vikings were flagged seven times for 54 yards.

4. An ugly end to the first half

The Vikings and Bears didn't give the national TV audience many fireworks in the opening half that ended with a 10-3 Minnesota lead.

In fact, both teams squandered chances in the final two minutes.

The Bears got on the board with a field goal with just over 90 seconds left in the half. But the Vikings, with no timeouts, couldn't add to their lead as Cousins was intercepted on a deep throw with no Purple jerseys around. (Jefferson appeared to be both held and then tackled while running his route).

But Chicago, which started in Minnesota territory, couldn't score either. The Bears attempted a 49-yard field goal that was deflected by Tomlinson and fell short.

The Vikings then took over but couldn't get past midfield before halftime.