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Richardson Delivers on Promise to Zimmer, Wonnum Records 3.0 Sacks in Chicago

Sheldon Richardson looked Mike Zimmer in the eye and told the Vikings head coach he would not regret challenging the call.

Zimmer threw the red flag midway through the second quarter, after officials ruled Bears running back David Montgomery down by contact. Richardson was sure he had knocked the ball loose and recovered it before the runner was down by contact.

"He promised me that it was a fumble," Zimmer said.

After review, officials overturned the call and ruled it a fumble forced and recovery by Richardson.

"I can't say what he said, but I [told him], 'I'm glad you were right,' " Zimmer said. "I said, 'Nice challenge,' to him too."

What would have been third down for Chicago from the Minnesota 12-yard line became the Vikings ball. While the offense wasn't able to capitalize, the play by Richardson stopped the Bears from putting points on the board.

"Sheldon just played his technique; I think he was in a 6-tech or whatever. The quarterback came out of the pocket, and he just came, ripped the ball out," Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum said, emphasizing that he saw the ball pop out. "We knew we were gonna get the ball back."

Minnesota eventually prevailed 17-9, and Richardson exited the Monday Night Football stage with the forced fumble, fumble recovery, three tackles, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits.

Richardson, who has shifted to defensive end from defensive tackle to fill a need for Minnesota, wasn't the only Vikings defender who made a clutch play at Soldier Field.

Wonnum racked up a career-high 3.0 sacks of rookie quarterback Justin Fields. He dropped Fields for a loss of 14, 13 and 2 yards.

Wonnum's three sacks is tied with John Randle (twice) and Alan Page for third highest in a Vikings game against the Bears.

"Oh man, it feels amazing, man. I put the work in in the offseason, and each and every week I've gotten better," Wonnum said. "I got better and better, and tonight was the night to do it. Prime time, there isn't a better time to do it."

The second-year defender tied with Harrison Smith for the team lead in tackles, notching eight apiece. Wonnum also a forced fumble by Fields, but the quarterback recovered the ball.

Fields did lose another fumble, though, when Cam Dantzler knocked the pigskin loose late in the first quarter. It was recovered by linebacker Anthony Barr.

Dantzler, who started at cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson, later stopped Fields on a scramble. Fields gained 3 yards in the Vikings red zone late in the game, but the tackle by Dantzler helped contain the Bears and force a punt two plays later.

Dantzler finished the night with seven tackles and the forced fumble.

Eric Kendricks also totaled seven tackles and a tackle for loss before being ejected in the fourth quarter for unnecessary roughness. The linebacker was flagged for helmet-to-helmet contact against Fields, who was sliding with his torso upright.

Zimmer said he "didn't get a good explanation" from the officials regarding the disqualification.

"They came over late and said they thought he had an elbow to a head," Zimmer relayed. "I thought I saw it pretty cleanly, and I thought the quarterback slid and kept his head up, and Eric was going down and kind of raised his head to try to avoid it, and I thought they bumped heads."

It seems Vikings-Bears games at Soldier Field always seem to get chippy, and Monday night wasn't any different. The win certainly wasn't pretty, but Zimmer will take it.

Minnesota limited Montgomery to 60 yards rushing but gave up 115 yards on the ground, including 35 from Fields. In the passing game, Fields was 26-of-39 passing for 285 yards and one touchdown on the final play of the evening. His passer rating was 96.6.

Wonnum called Fields "squirmy."

"He was really scrambling. Like, loose and fast. So I missed him one time," Wonnum said. "He's a great athlete, but I got him on the ground."

Minnesota's victory on the road officially eliminated Chicago from the playoffs while keeping the Vikings postseason hopes alive.

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

Zimmer appreciated the defense's showing Monday after a rough second half against the Steelers on Thursday Night Football.

"It was nice. The first half last week was really good, and the second half wasn't any good. This game, we had some moments where it wasn't very good, but they fought," he said. "I was very, very hard on them this past week. Very demanding. I'm not saying that's the reason why, but these guys have a lot of pride, too.

"We just have to keep grinding on them, keep trying to get them better, keep working on the things that they need to improve on," Zimmer continued. "That's the important thing, is that we try to get better these last three weeks. Not just show up and roll the balls out. Let's get better."

As the Vikings look toward their final three games of the regular season, they'll try to keep things rolling defensively.

It's certainly nice to have Barr back in the lineup, as well as defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson. The difference when those two anchor the line is undeniable.

"Those guys can do everything. They stop the run, but [sometimes people] don't see that they rush the passer, as well," Wonnum said. "That second sack I got, DT was a big part of that because he forced the quarterback my way.

"Those guys are great players, and I'm just excited to be playing with them," Wonnum said.

And as for his own game? Wonnum wants fans to know he's just getting going.

"Three sacks, it was just the beginning," he said. "I'm ready to get better, and I'm looking forward to next game."