CHICAGO — The Vikings regular-season finale against the Bears was all about opportunity.
Not just a chance for Minnesota to gain momentum going into the postseason, but also opportunities for players who typically don't get much playing time throughout the course of a 17-game schedule.
The Vikings offense made the most of it, both from their starters and their reserves.
Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison led an effective ground game, Kirk Cousins and backup quarterback Nick Mullens each played a half and K.J. Osborn anchored the receiving corps in a 29-13 victory for the Vikings.
Mattison scored a career-high two touchdowns and recorded a season-high 54 yards rushing and 10 carries, while Cook added 37 yards on 11 attempts.
Mattison credited the Vikings offensive line, which rolled with a different combination having three starters out, for helping him stand out.
"Yeah those guys are up there, the 'Minnesota Moving Company,' those big dogs out there really executing and playing fast and physical, and we were able to get the run game going," Mattison said. "It was awesome for us to play some really good offense, and as long as we clean up the little things and make sure that we don't stop ourselves, we can carry forward that positive momentum. It just felt good having fun out there with those guys."
Cook added what makes him and Mattison a strong duo in the Vikings backfield is not just their physical strengths but also the passion they play with.
"I think we've got the combination of everything that everybody wants," Cook said. "We've got the size, speed, the power, and most of all we've got the heart and the mind to go get it done. I think that's what separates us."
Osborn caught five passes for 117 yards. It's the second time the Vikings wide receiver has reached the century mark this season and in his career.
"There's all types of guys in the offense, so anytime I get my opportunity, I try to make the best of it because you never know what's going to happen," Osborn said.
Justin Jefferson — who had four catches for 38 yards — added he's been impressed with Osborn's work ethic throughout the season despite not getting a ton of targets each game.
"It's unbelievable. It just goes to the amount of work that he's been putting in every single day. He plays a tough role; to not get as many touches that he wants to get, but when he does get those touches, he makes the most out of them," Jefferson said. "He's a great teammate, great person to talk to and be around, and he works his butt off every single day. He's definitely somebody that I would love to be around for the rest of my career."
With Cousins and the starters beginning the game, Osborn quickly made his presence felt.
After a two-yard loss by Cook and a five-yard pass from Cousins to Jefferson, Cousins connected with Osborn for a gain of 66 to the Chicago 4-yard line. It was the longest passing play of the season by Minnesota and a career-long for Osborn.
One play later, the Vikings found the end zone on a connection from Cousins to Adam Thielen, but Greg Joseph's extra point attempt went wide right, making it 6-0 with 10:12 left in the first quarter.
After a Chicago punt backed Minnesota deep in its own territory, the Vikings moved downfield swiftly again. Completions of 17 and 23 yards to C.J. Ham and Jefferson, respectively, followed by a 12-yard run by Cook, put Minnesota at Chicago's 31-yard line.
But the Vikings couldn't gain any momentum after that. T.J. Hockenson was flagged for holding, and a Cook fumble forced by former Viking Harrison Hand was recovered at the Bears 29.
The Vikings defense forced a turnover on downs, though, giving Minnesota a short field to work with. Double-digit plays by Hockenson (16 yards), Ham and Mattison (11 yards apiece) got the Vikings to the Chicago 29 before Cousins connected with tight end Irv Smith, Jr. — playing in his first game since Oct. 30 after suffering an ankle injury — for eight yards to the Chicago 10-yard line.
Mattison then used three carries to drive the Vikings into the end zone and extend their lead to 13-0 with 9:20 left in the first half.
Three plays and a Patrick Peterson interception later, Minnesota again had solid field position after Peterson returned the pick to the Chicago 35-yard line.
A nine-yard completion from Cousins to Ham and a 15-yard run by Cook placed Minnesota in the Bears red zone. The Vikings got as close as the Chicago 5 but couldn't punch it in and settled for a 28-yard field goal from Joseph to make it 16-0 with 4:57 left in the first half.
After Chicago scored its first touchdown of the afternoon on a 42-yard run by Velus Jones, Jr., Minnesota tried to answer Chicago's scoring drive with a lengthy possession of its own.
Back-to-back plays by Mattison got the Vikings near midfield before Cousins unleashed a 30-yard strike to Osborn to the Chicago 28.
Cousins then connected with Osborn and Jefferson for a combined 19 yards to the Bears six-yard line. After consecutive runs by Cook resulted in no yards, things got a little chaotic by the Vikings offense.
On third-and-goal from the Chicago six, Cousins connected with Cook, but the play netted no yards. With no timeouts left and less than 10 seconds remaining, the Vikings scrambled to set up a 24-yard attempt from Joseph.
Joseph's kick went through the uprights as time expired, but after review, the Vikings had 12 players on the field and Minnesota went into halftime with a 16-6 lead.
With a double-digit advantage in hand, the Vikings turned to their reserves in the second half.
Mullens picked up where Cousins left off, finding Osborn for a five-yard gain and Ham for a pickup of 10 before he connected with Jalen Nailor for 26 yards to the Chicago 17-yard line.
Mullens then used his legs to get the Vikings to the Bears 6 before Mattison found the end zone for the second time on a one-yard run to push it to 23-6 with 9:25 left in the third quarter.
Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler took the torch in the Vikings backfield from Cook and Mattison.
Nwangwu began Minnesota's next possession with 10 yards on the ground and hauled in a 16-yard pass to bring the Vikings past midfield.
Minnesota marched to Chicago's 32-yard line on a roughing-the-passer penalty but couldn't gain another yard, and Joseph connected on a 50-yarder to start the fourth quarter.
After the following Vikings drive ended in a Mullens interception, Minnesota capitalized on its next possession. Chandler recorded 12 yards on the ground, and Mullens connected with Nailor on a pair of completions of 11 yards to set up a 41-yard field goal from Joseph to bring it to 29-13 with 3:43 left.
View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings regular-season finale win over the Bears at Soldier Field.
Cousins completed 17 of his 20 pass attempts for 225 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Mullens connected on 11 of his 13 throws for 116 yards in the final 30 minutes.
Chandler had 20 yards rushing on six attempts, while Nwangwu added 13 yards on five carries.
Mattison said he was proud of the way both Chandler and Nwangwu made the most of their opportunities in the second half.
"This whole running back room is filled with guys that are going to give you their all. They're going to play hard and can really have an opportunity to make big plays," Mattison said. "Both of them out there executing their job and playing hard is something that we have as a standard in this room. As you can see, they lived up to that standard.