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Stats That Stood Out: Vikings-Bears in Week 15

For the second consecutive week, the Vikings were able to move the football but unable to maximize some of their best possessions with touchdowns or convert a pair of fourth-and-1s that proved particularly pivotal.

The defense failed to stop the run or affect Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Those factors combined in a 33-27 loss by Minnesota to Chicago that allowed the Bears (7-7) to leapfrog the Vikings (6-8) in the NFC North.

Mathematically there's still a chance for Minnesota to nab a Wild Card spot, but it's highly unlikely.

Here are three stats that stood out presented by GEICO:

1. Lack of deep passes

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins didn't look deep often against the Bears.

Minnesota opened its second possession of the second half with a 26-yard gain on a play-action pass to Justin Jefferson, who caught the ball between the 44- and 45-yard line. Sportradar counted it as one of two passes that traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but Next Gen Stats counted it under 20.

The only other attempt by Cousins on the day of that depth was his Hail Mary on the game's final play that was intercepted after a deflection.

The lack of deep attempts in a game Minnesota trailed for almost the entirety could reflect two things: 1) Minnesota wanted to remain committed to a ball-control offense and avoid risking interceptions that were problematic earlier this season; or 2) the Vikings didn't feel confident in their ability to protect Cousins on slower-developing deep attempts.

Everyone knows the Bears front seven is loaded with talented rushers, but they also know that Chicago's secondary was short-handed Sunday.

What's also true is that Cousins entered Week 15 with the third-best passer rating (118.1) and fourth-most touchdowns (27) in the NFL since joining the Vikings in 2018 on passes thrown 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

2. Run game could have been worse?

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook carded his eighth game of the season with at least 100 rushing yards.

He finished with 132 yards on 24 carries for an impressive average of 5.5 yards per rush.

According to Next Gen Stats, Cook's total included 34 rush yards over what was expected, the fifth-most of Week 15 (not counting Monday's game). Next Gen Stats termed a pair of Cook's carries as "remarkable rushes," calculating that he gained 15 more yards than expected on a 20-yard run (13th-best above expected) and 13 above expectations on an 18-yarder (15th).

The Vikings defense struggled to contain David Montgomery, who finished with 146 yards and two scores on 32 rushes. The yardage was the second-highest of Week 15, but Next Gen Stats calculated that Montgomery got 9 fewer yards than expected on the day. He also landed in the "remarkable rushes" of the week by gaining 12 more than expected on a 19-yard carry that started Chicago's first touchdown drive.

3. Just 1 forced punt

The Vikings defense forced a three-and-punt to end Chicago's first possession of the game, but Bears punter Pat O'Donnell rested his leg the rest of the way.

It was the fewest punts by O'Donnell in seven seasons (14 games) against the Vikings. The 2014 sixth-round pick had punted at least four times in nine previous contests with Minnesota.

The infrequency also was a season low for O'Donnell, who has punted at least four times in 11 of 14 games in 2020.

This is in part due to the Bears getting short fields (and ensuing field goals) after two failures on fourth-and-1s by the Vikings offense. Minnesota's allowance of at least 42 yards on six of the nine possessions that Chicago was trying to advance the ball (excludes final possession of first half that began with 0:26 remaining and lasted one run play for a gain of 3) also played a part.