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Jerick McKinnon's First TD a Photo Finish

MINNEAPOLIS — Paul Allen was a man on a mission.

Camera phone in hand, the "Voice of the Vikings" radio announcer sought out Jerick McKinnon in the locker room after the Vikings defeated the Bears 38-17.

Allen had McKinnon hold up one finger, representative of the second-year running back's first NFL touchdown, a 17-yard reception from Teddy Bridgewater with 26 seconds left in the first half.

Fullback Zach Line observed and gently brought up the fact that Allen had just asked him to hold up three fingers. Line's 4-yard touchdown reception provided the game's final points and was the third of the season. He ended with an impressive dive across the goal line and inside of the orange pylon.

McKinnon didn't mind the kidding.

Who would after catching a pass at the line of scrimmage, slipping a tackle by Shea McClellin at the 8 and Chris Prosinski and Will Sutton inside the 5?

Somehow, someway, McKinnon kept his knee from hitting the ground before crossing the goal line. It was confirmed by officials after review.

"It's a great feeling. My second year in, finally getting a touchdown means a lot," McKinnon said. "The best thing I liked about the touchdown was all my teammates coming over and congratulating me. That's the feeling that was better than my own personal feeling. Hopefully it's the first of many more to come."

McKinnon's score occurred when the outcome of the game was very much in the balance. The Vikings lead of 10-7 was tenuous, especially after Adrian Peterson was sent to the sidelines with an ankle injury suffered during the possession.

McKinnon, however, wasn't too wide-eyed for the moment. He said splitting duties with Matt Asiata for all but one game last season helped him Sunday as the Vikings improved to 9-5.

"It prepared me. I learned a lot, some of the things I did well and some of the things I messed up on. After learning from that whole stretch, every day, coming in here, asking questions from [running backs coach Kirby Wilson], AP, Matt, Zach, it made me play fast," McKinnons said. "I didn't have to think. I didn't have to second guess myself. When I lined up, I didn't have any thoughts going through my head. It was just a matter of fact of knowing what to do, knowing your responsibility and doing it as fast as I could and being able to execute at a high level."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said he spoke with McKinnon before the game and shared a premonition, telling him, "Jerick, you're going to have a big game."

"He had a good week of practice, he had opportunities, he had chances to make plays," Zimmer said. "We involved him probably a little bit more in the game plan this week, and he's a good player, he's a good kid, a great player. He's a tough, tough guy. I like the way he runs. [Matt] Asiata ran good at the end as well. We have great kids with some ability."

McKinnon, who wore the custom-made Minnesota Wild jersey he received from making the "Let's play hockey" announcement might start wearing it to and from football games more often. He finished with 76 yards on four receptions and added 10 rushing yards.

Alligator arms: Peterson had 12 carries for 56 yards in the first half before suffering what he said was an ankle sprain.

"You could call it an alligator tackle. They snap on and they twist. A guy rolled up on me," Peterson explained.

He had six carries in the second half and finished with 63 yards on 18 rushes, drawing considerable attention from Bears defenders.

"I loved his performance. I'm glad he's on my football team. I know it's hard to run into 11 guys, but I was watching something on TV last night and the thing is they talk about this is such a great team game because one guy can't beat 11. You need 11 guys. He's facing a lot of guys up in there, and that's why we need guys like Teddy [Bridgewater] and guys like Mike Wallace and guys like Jarius [Wright] and [Stefon] Diggs to come and make some plays for us, and Kyle Rudolph and the offensive line as well."

The Vikings got 66 more yards on 18 carries split by Asiata, McKinnon, Adam Thielen, Line and four scrambles by Bridgewater, including a 12-yard touchdown run by the second-year QB.

First since Favre and Fran: Bridgewater was nearly perfect, 17-of-20 passing, on the day and became the first Vikings quarterback to throw four touchdown passes since Brett Favre, who did so multiple times in 2009.

"That's amazing," Bridgewater said. "Talk about Brett Favre being my idol. It all points back to [Offensive Coordinator Norv] Turner calling a great game plan, allowing us to play fast today."

Bridgewater also became the first Viking to throw four scores and rush for another since Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton did so in the Vikings first regular season game (against the Bears on Sept. 17, 1961).

"Outstanding job," Peterson said of Bridgewater. "The fight that this kid has, the determination and willpower, I've been talking about it all year. These past two weeks I've seen a different look in his eyes. I really don't have to say much to him."

Bigger issues: While teammates and members of the media watched the end of the Panthers-Giants game, Brian Robison was being asked about potential playoff ramifications. He said the Vikings don't want to watch scoreboards or standings in the final two weeks of the regular season.

"We've got bigger issues at hand than worrying about clinching a playoff spot," Robison said. "We're worried about making sure we come back home next week and beat the New York Giants and then we've got a tough one at Green Bay, so we're looking at the bigger picture, other than worrying about a playoff spot."

Honorary Kapp-tain: Joe Kapp, who quarterbacked the Vikings to the 1969 NFL Championship and Super Bowl IV, visited from California and served as the honorary captain of the game.

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