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Vikings Manage Anticipated Chippiness in Win Over Bears

CHICAGO — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer added an extra wrinkle to various meetings ahead of his team's prime-time tilt at Soldier Field.

Yes, Zimmer got his defensive scheme ready for Justin Fields and made sure the offense was aware they would be in for a long night against a stout Bears defensive front.

But Zimmer also made it a point of emphasis this week to make sure the Vikings were ready for the chippiness, nastiness (or whatever else you want to call it) that would ensue on Monday Night Football in an eventual 17-9 win by Minnesota.

This is the Vikings and Bears we're talking about here — not two high school buddies who enjoy catching up over lost time.

Composure, Zimmer said, would be the key to a win. And his team succeeded.

"I think for the most part, they did a good job," Zimmer said. "I know that it helped us a couple times because they got 15-yard penalties.

"We try to be a disciplined football team and not do those kinds of things," Zimmer added. "But when you get your manhood challenged sometimes, you react, and you just have to keep [composed]. You know, I talked to the offense, I talked to the defense, about being composed and just doing our job."

For Vikings players who had played the Bears before, they knew what was coming.

"Yes, I do expect it," said Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. "You just play through it, and you make sure you don't do anything that would create a penalty. You have to play with a lot of self-control."

Justin Jefferson added: "Chicago is always like that. They like to talk trash, get us out of our game a little bit. That's what they do. We just play our own game, mind our own business, keep playing football."

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

The Vikings second-year wide receiver, who was named to his second straight Pro Bowl before Minnesota's 17-9 win, welcomed the chatter.

"They just be liking to talk just to talk sometimes," Jefferson said. "But I mean I like that. I like that energy; gets me more fired up, so they want to keep doing it, go ahead."

The trick, however, is to play with emotion and intensity without taking it too far.

Even on a night where the Vikings offense was stuck and couldn't get much of anything going.

Minnesota recorded just 193 yards of offense, its lowest total of the season and the lowest output since a 175-yard performance in a Week 2 loss at Indianapolis in 2020.

The Bears were penalized nine total times for 91 yards on Monday night, with Chicago's defense accounting for four of those flags for a total of 50 yards.

And while Zimmer preached patience, his counterpart — Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy — couldn't say the same. Nagy, upset with Chicago's first unnecessary roughness call of the night on defense, earned an unsportsmanlike conduct call of his own a play later.

The 27 yards in penalties help set up Jefferson's opening score of 12 yards.

Minnesota's perseverance endured in the third quarter, too.

With Minnesota leading 10-3, a frustrated Bears defense was called for a pair of 15-yard penalties on the Vikings offensive drive.

The free yards helped the Vikings pad their lead as Ihmir Smith-Marsette caught his first NFL touchdown.

"Yeah, that was very big for us, pretty much went down the whole field, so, them not being as disciplined and us just playing football," Jefferson said. "And letting them run their mouth, we'll take the penalties."

It wasn't the prettiest night for the Vikings, especially on offense, but it might have been the most disciplined game of the season for that unit. Minnesota's offense was called for just two penalties for a total of 12 yards.

It's a win the Vikings will take, especially late in the 2021 season.

"We did what we needed to do, but obviously left a lot out there," Cousins said. "Could've played better, but it's a tough place to come in and win.

"We got a win, and we'll take it," Cousins added.