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5 Takeaways: Vikings Win, Jefferson Falls Short of Moss' Single-Season Record

View game action photos between the Vikings and Bears during the Week 18 season finale matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.

MINNEAPOLIS — That's a wrap on the Vikings 2021 season.

Minnesota capped it off with a 31-17 win over Chicago, but the Vikings 61st season as a franchise ended with a losing record and without a playoff berth.

The Vikings finished 8-9 in the NFL's first 17-game season that was filled with one close game after another for Minnesota.

This one turned out to be just the second double-digit win of the season for Minnesota, which struggled and trailed early but rallied in the second half.

The Vikings first 18 offensive plays went for 22 yards, but Minnesota finished with 331 yards of offense.

Kirk Cousins threw for 250 yards and three scores, while the Vikings defense sacked Andy Dalton seven times.

Minnesota also allowed just five conversions on 15 Chicago tries on third downs.

As usual, the Vikings ended the regular season at home against the Bears, which marked the sixth time in eight seasons that had occurred.

Minnesota's Week 18 win meant the Vikings finished with a 4-2 record in division play for the 2021 season. The Vikings won home games against the Lions and Packers, and also earned a road win against the Bears.

Minnesota has a 26-21-1 record in NFC North play in eight seasons under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

Here are four more takeaways from Minnesota's season finale:

1. Jefferson falls just short of Moss' record

Justin Jefferson has set a plethora of records in his first two seasons in the league.

His résumé already included the most receiving yards in a player's first two seasons in the league (3,016), and Jefferson added another accolade Sunday.

The former LSU standout had five catches, which tied Michael Thomas' record of 196 catches in a player's first two seasons in the league.

But Jefferson fell short of a big milestone he really wanted Sunday.

He finished with 107 receiving yards against the Bears, just 17 yards shy of surpassing Randy Moss' single-season Vikings record.

Moss set the mark with 1,632 yards on 111 catches in 2003 and caught 17 scores in that 16-game season.

Jefferson has 196 catches for 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first two seasons.

2. Wonnum, Smith-Marsette love playing the Bears

Count D.J. Wonnum and Ihmir Smith-Marsette among the Vikings players that love playing against the Bears.

Wonnum had the best game of his career against Chicago earlier this season with a trio of sacks on Monday Night Football.

The second-year defensive end collected two more sacks on Sunday, making five of his eight sacks in 2021 against the Bears. If you include the 2020 season, 6.0 of Wonnum's 11 career sacks have come against Chicago.

Anthony Barr and Kenny Willekes also had a pair of sacks against the Bears.

Smith-Marsette also stood out — again— with the Bears on the opposing sideline.

The rookie wide receiver's first NFL touchdown catch came in Week 15 at Soldier Field, and the 2021 fifth-round draft pick found the end zone again Sunday against Chicago.

Smith-Marsette had the game's most exciting play, a 44-yard touchdown reception from Kirk Cousins in the third quarter.

Smith-Marsette had three catches for 103 yards in the season finale.

3. The defense continued a (bad) trend

Minnesota's defense was subpar across the board for most of the 2021 season, as the Vikings entered Week 18 ranked 31st in yards allowed per game (385.4), 27th in rushing yards allowed per game (133.3) and 25th in points allowed per game (25.6).

But the unit's most maddening trend continued yet again, as Minnesota's defense closed out the season by allowing more points at the end of the first half. 

The Vikings gave up a 23-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds left before halftime, and the Bears ensuing 2-point conversion was successful.

That put Minnesota's tally at 93 points allowed in the final two minutes before halftime this season.

Minnesota's total amount of 128 points allowed in the final two minutes of either half is the most by any team since the 1970 merger.

4. Peterson avoids INT goose egg

Here's a quote from Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson last Thursday:

"Got one game left so hopefully I don't end the year on a goose egg [for interceptions]. That would be the first time in my career that that's ever happened, but I feel like my coverage has been tight, I feel like my technique has been tight."

Peterson got his wish, as he picked off Andy Dalton in Week 18 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Even better, returned his first interception in Purple 66 yards for a touchdown.

Peterson made sure that he recorded at least one interception in his 11-year career, the first 10 seasons of which were spent with Arizona.

Peterson has multiple interceptions in nine of those seasons, with just one takeaway in 2017 and 2021.