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Next-Day Stats: Bursts of Speed, Lack of Deep Passes in Vikings Win at Bears

EAGAN, Minn. — The shorthanded Vikings never trailed the depleted Bears during their 17-9 victory at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.

Minnesota (7-7) prevailed despite being outgained 370 to 193, nearly a 2:1 margin because it clamped down on Chicago (4-10) at critical spots on the field and in big moments. The Vikings also recovered three of four Bears fumbles.

The renewal of the longstanding divisional rivalry was steeped in chippiness, but Minnesota's players controlled their emotions before the teakettle whistled.

Here's a deeper dive at some "next-day stats" with an eye on the ever-increasing number of Next Gen Stats. References to rankings across the league include all Week 15 games except for tonight's games (Washington at Philadelphia and Seattle at the Los Angeles Rams).

1. Jefferson Showed Jets Despite Containment

By Justin Jefferson's prolific standards, the second-year receiver was grounded by a Bears squad that limited him to four catches on 10 targets. He, however, showed afterburners on his final two catches of the night.

After opening the game with an 18-yard reception on a third-and-8 and catching a 12-yard touchdown on a third-and-5, Jefferson recorded the eighth-fastest speed by a ball carrier in Week 15 when he reached 20.09 miles per hour on pass that gained 4. He also turned in the 11th-fastest speed (19.66 mph) during a 13-yard reception.

The final catch pushed Jefferson's two-year total past a franchise record set by Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who was in the house as part of ESPN's broadcast team.

Jefferson wound up being the third-fastest player to touch the ball on the night.

Chicago QB Justin Fields (a 23-yard rush) and Minnesota RB/KR Kene Nwangwu (a 33-yard kickoff return) tied for the sixth-fastest speeds by reaching 20.11 mph.

2. Not much deep (or intermediate, for that matter)

The Bears managed to contain Minnesota's passing attack despite missing key members of their secondary.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was 0-for-4 on passes thrown more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He also didn't hit on many intermediate routes. Cousins was 4-of-8 passing with 50 yards and an interception on passes thrown 10 to 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but two of Cousins' four throws in that range resulted in touchdowns to Jefferson and rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Cousins' 87 passing yards were his fewest in 118 career starts.

Fields didn't attempt a pass more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage until the final snap of the game, but it resulted in a 19-yard touchdown pass to Minnesota native Jesper Horsted. That scoring pass ranked as the least-probable completion (14.9 percent likelihood) of Week 15.

The 11th overall pick of 2021 fared decently on intermediate throws, going 7-for-10 with 109 yards, and on passes that were fewer than 10 yards beyond or behind the line. Fields was 18-for-25 with 157 yards.

3. Feeling the heat

Minnesota's offensive approach as the game progressed could have been shaped by believing it had enough of a lead, or because it wanted to avoid a game-turning play caused by Chicago's talented front seven, which got a big boost from the return of Akiem Hicks.

The mammoth defensive tackle showed he also can be fleet of feet, recording sacks in 3.34 and 3.37 seconds, which ranked as the 10th- and 11th-fastest sacks of Week 15.

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

His teammate Robert Quinn continued his renaissance with his 16th sack of 2021. The 31-year-old reached Cousins in 2.84 seconds, the second-fastest time this week.

With three games to play, including the finale against the Vikings, Quinn has a shot of matching or beating his personal best of 19 that was set way back in 2013 with the Rams.

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