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NFL 100 Series: Top 10 Vikings Games Against Bears


As part of the NFL's celebration of its 100th season, is producing 10 different top 10 lists over the course of the 2019 season to help commemorate 100 special moments in franchise history. We'll cover legendary players, rivalry games and miraculous moments alike. We began with the top 10 seasons in franchise history and followed with the top 10 moments against the Packers.

With the Vikings and Bears set to play for the 117th time (regular season and postseason) on Sunday in Chicago, it is fitting to list the top 10 Vikings games against the Bears.

There was a lot to sort through. So much in fact, that the longest pass play in Vikings history — a 99-yard touchdown reception by Bernard Berrian from Gus Frerotte — didn't make the final cut. The play was great, but it occurred in a game that Minnesota won 34-14.

For this list, I combed through the previous 116 matchups and formed a list of 23 games, then whittled it down to 12. Eric Smith, Lindsey Young and I then awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for second place, and so on. That means that 30 points is the highest total. Zero points were awarded by each voter for our bottom two games.

One of the biggest upsets in NFL history, which happened to occur in Minnesota's inaugural game, topped the list. Find out what else made the top 10:

1. Tarkenton leads stunning upset in pro debut (29 points)

Vikings 37, Bears 13 | Sept. 17, 1961 | Metropolitan Stadium

"Papa Bear" George Halas had to wonder what he had just done. The Bears founder, owner and head coach had helped Minnesota gain approval for an expansion NFL franchise in 1960 to begin play in 1961.

Just 15 days earlier, Chicago dismantled Minnesota 30-7 in a preseason game in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but on this day, the Vikings ran away with it.

Fran Tarkenton came off the bench to throw for four touchdowns and run for another in the stunner. Tarkenton completed scoring passes of 14 yards to Bob Schnelker, 29 yards to Jerry Reichow, 2 yards to Hugh McElhenny and 2 yards to Dave Middleton. He also rushed four times for 11 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown.

Kicker Mike Mercer scored the first points in Vikings history on a 12-yard field goal in the first quarter.

Reichow led the Vikings with 103 receiving yards on three receptions, and McElhenny added 54 yards on six receptions to go along with his 25 yards on six rushes. Tarkenton finished 17-of-23 with 250 yards for a passer rating of 148.6. Veteran George Shaw was 2-of-3 passing for 22 yards.

Bears quarterback Billy Wade and Ed Brown combined for eight completions and four interceptions.

Clancy Osborne, Charlie Sumner, Jack Morris and Dick Grecni each recorded interceptions for the Vikings, and Rip Hawkins forced a fumble on Chicago's first play of the second half.

The stunner meant that the first career victory for Minnesota Head Coach Norm Van Brocklin occurred against a coach who had already recorded 264 wins and five NFL Championships.

The Vikings finished 3-11 in their inaugural season, but the win over the Bears helped the fledgling franchise gain a footing and begin building a following in the region.

The day introduced Tarkenton to the NFL and marked the first of a franchise-record 270 consecutive regular-season starts made by Vikings Ring of Honor defensive end Jim Marshall.

2. Vikings record first shutout in team history (23 points)

Vikings 31, Bears 0 | Oct. 12, 1969 | Wrigley Field

Two seasons after Halas retired and Bud Grant was hired to be the head coach in Minnesota, the Vikings began to usher in an era of dominance. Over an eight-season span, the team advanced to four Super Bowls.

Minnesota had won the NFL Central Division with an 8-6 mark the previous season but was yet to hold an opponent scoreless.

The Vikings entered this game just 3-11-2 in their first 16 games against the Bears, but Minnesota executed in multiple phases to improve to 3-1 on the way to winning a franchise-record 12 consecutive games.

Chicago dropped to 0-4, but the defense's display of dominance — which became central to the core of numerous successful Vikings seasons — shouldn't be undermined.

The Vikings limited the Bears to 119 net yards of offense on the day. Minnesota shut down Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers, who totaled 15 yards on 13 rushes but still finished with a league-best 1,032 rushing yards that season.

Bobby Bryant recorded two interceptions, including one on the goal line on Minnesota's opening drive, and Earsell Mackbee returned another interception 38 yards.

Mike Reilly blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for the only score in the first half.

John Beasley caught a 1-yard pass from Joe Kapp in the third quarter, and the Vikings scored on a 24-yard field goal by Fred Cox, who also made extra points after touchdown runs of 18 by Clint Jones and 58 by Dave Osborn in the fourth quarter. Osborn led all players with 137 yards from scrimmage (106 rushing and 31 receiving).

3. Improbable comeback snaps Soldier Field losing streak (22 points)

Vikings 23, Bears 20 | Nov. 1, 2015 | Soldier Field

The Vikings had lost seven consecutive games on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan, including seasons when they had a better team (2009) and the previous year when a clock malfunction certain didn't help a comeback attempt in a 21-13 loss.

It looked like Chicago would make it eight in a row against Minnesota after pesky Jay Cutler rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to put the Bears up 20-13 with 4:55 remaining.

Rookie Stefon Diggs and second-year pro Teddy Bridgewater, however, proved otherwise.

Diggs caught a short toss and turned it into a 40-yard touchdown to tie the game with 1:49 remaining. The play capped an 84-yard drive that Bridgewater helped extend with a 19-yard scramble on a second-and-17.

After Minnesota forced a quick three-and-punt, the Vikings got the ball back at their own 34-yard line with 1:00 left on the clock.

Bridgewater again connected with Diggs on a 4-yard pass before finding Charles Johnson for a 35-yard gain to the Chicago 27. Minnesota took its first timeout before Adrian Peterson gained 9 on the ground. The Vikings then let the clock run down to 0:04 before Blair Walsh made a walk-off, 36-yard field goal.

Diggs led Minnesota with six catches for 95 yards and his second career touchdown. Peterson totaled 103 yards on 20 carries.

Walsh also kicked field goals of 43 and 48 yards on a day when Marcus Sherels put the Vikings on the board with a 65-yard punt return touchdown in the first quarter.

The win was Minnesota's third in a five-game streak. The Vikings improved to 5-2 en route to finishing the season 11-5 and winning the NFC North, the first division title under Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

4. Peterson shreds Bears defense; Longwell kicks winner (20 points)

Vikings 34, Bears 31 | Oct. 14, 2007 | Soldier Field

Appropriately named Ryan Longwell provided the decisive score with a 55-yard field goal as time expired.

Longwell's kick was enabled by a 53-yard kickoff return by Peterson, who put the NFL on notice in his fifth career game.

The return gave Minnesota the ball at the Chicago 38 with 1:30 remaining and reversed momentum that the Bears had seized with a pair of touchdown passes by Brian Griese less than a minute apart (33 yards to Muhsin Muhammad and 81 yards to Devin Hester).

Peterson totaled 128 yards on four kickoff returns, but his performance on offense — 224 rushing yards and touchdown runs of 67, 73, and 35 — was what really raised eyebrows from coast to coast.

The first score tied the game at 14, the second gave Minnesota a 21-14 edge, and the third put the Vikings up 31-17 with just 4:10 left on the clock.

The 33-yarder to Muhammad was the shortest touchdown of the day.

Chicago's Devin Hester opened the scoring with an 89-yard punt return, but Minnesota's Troy Williamson tied the game with a 60-yard scoring pass from Tarvaris Jackson at the end of the first quarter.

Bears — and future Vikings — receiver Bernard Berrian followed with a 39-yard touchdown catch.

Peterson broke loose inside the final three minutes of the second and third quarters, helping the Vikings outrush the Bears 311 to 83. Several defenders, including all three linebackers, were back for a Chicago defense that had played in Super Bowl XLI the previous season, but it didn't matter to Peterson or Chester Taylor, who added 83 yards on 22 rushes.

It was the fifth time for a Bears defense to ever allow 300 or more rushing yards in a game and first since Denver totaled 356 in 1976. Chicago hasn't come close to allowing an opponent to rush for 300 yards since. Side note: the 1965 Vikings rushed for 304 against the Bears in Week 5 but lost 45-37.

Ben Leber led the Vikings defense with an interception and sack, and Dwight Smith also picked off a pass.


5. Bud Grant fools everyone, and Matt Blair does it again (16 points)

Vikings 22, Bears 16, OT | Oct. 16, 1977 | Metropolitan Stadium

Bud Grant had a trick up his sleeve that was so good, it shocked Tarkenton.

After the Vikings drove to the 11-yard line on their first possession of overtime, Grant sent the field goal unit out on first down, prompting protests from Tarkenton and Charles Goodrum.

Krause took the snap and rolled out. He was supposed to throw to Steve Craig or Jeff Siemon, but tight end Stu Voigt flashed open and caught the winner.

Alan Page, who blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt by Chicago in the fourth quarter, also had a key sack to stymie the Bears opening possession of overtime.

Matt Blair also blocked an extra point on the day, a year after he blocked one and the Bears missed another (Oct. 10, 1976 in a game that made the top 12 but received no top 10 votes).

Minnesota rushed for 195 yards on 41 attempts, led by second-year pro Chuck Foreman's 150 yards. He scored Minnesota's only touchdown in regulation on a 2-yard run.

Walter Payton had 122 yards on 24 rushes for Chicago.

In addition to helping sell the fake field goal, kicker Fred Cox booted field goals of 30, 38 and 21 yards.


6. Daunte dazzles in first career start (11 points)

Vikings 30, Bears 27 | Sept. 3, 2000 | Metrodome

The Vikings opened the 2000 season with fresh-faced Daunte Culpepper as the new starting quarterback. The first-round pick in 1999 didn't disappoint in his debut as a starter.

Culpepper rallied the Vikings from a 20-9 deficit in the third quarter by rushing for three touchdowns. He totaled 73 yards on 13 rushes and scored from 1, 7 and 4 yards.

He also completed 13 of 23 passes for 190 yards and was intercepted once.

Robert Smith led Minnesota with 109 rushing yards on 14 attempts in the opener of what became his most prolific and final pro season.

Randy Moss caught four passes for 89 yards, giving a preview of the chemistry he would have with Culpepper.

Minnesota carried momentum from the comeback and won its first seven games of the season on the way to claiming the NFC Central and appearing in its second NFC Championship in three seasons.

7. (tie) Vikings shock defending champs (10 points)

Vikings 23, Bears 7 | Oct. 19, 1986 | Metrodome

This one got a boost in voting from Eric and myself because of how dominant the Bears were from 1985-86.

Chicago was generally mauling people since the start of 1985 when it finished 15-1 and outscored opponents 456-198 and won Super Bowl XX over New England by a count of 46-10.

The Bears came into this one as winners of six consecutive games to open 1986, including a 23-0 defeat of Minnesota two weeks earlier.

Tommy Kramer completed 12 of 18 passes for 239 yards with touchdowns of 37 to Alfred Anderson and 60 to Anthony Carter. Kramer also rushed for a 5-yard touchdown to give Minnesota a 23-0 lead in the third quarter.

Carter led the Vikings with 93 yards on three catches, and Steve Jordan added 66 yards on five receptions as Minnesota won for the fifth time in Jerry Burns' first seven games as Minnesota's head coach.

Darrin Nelson added 61 rushing yards and 43 through the air.

Minnesota sacked Steve Fuller seven times for 44 yards, with Gerald Robinson's 2.5 leading the way. Issiac Holt recorded the game's only interception.

7. (tie) In Case of emergency (10 points)

Vikings 20, Bears 17 | Oct. 9, 2017 | Soldier Field

Sam Bradford returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Week 1, but it was Case Keenum's relief effort that helped Minnesota record a rare win at Soldier Field.

Keenum completed 17 of 21 passes for an economical 140 yards. He completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, who then helped take the "Duck, Duck, Goose/Duck, Duck Gray Duck" debate to a national level with the team's end zone celebration.

Rudolph totaled 45 yards on six receptions. Jerick McKinnon led the Vikings with 95 yards on 16 rushes that were highlighted by his 58-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He also had 51 yards on six receptions.

The Bears recorded a safety in the first quarter and scored on a fake punt when Benny Cunningham caught a 38-yard pass from Pat O'Donnell in the third quarter. Chicago tied the game at 17 in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard pass and 2-point conversion run by Mitchell Trubisky.

The teams stalemated for the next 12 minutes until Harrison Smith picked off Trubisky late to set up a 26-yard, game-winning field goal by Kai Forbath with 12 seconds remaining.

The victory started an eight-game win streak, and Minnesota closed the campaign by winning 11 of 12 without its starting quarterback or running back Dalvin Cook. The Vikings claimed the NFC North and advanced to the NFC Championship Game, and it all began with a win in the Windy City.

9. (tie) Walker Lee runs away with it (8 points)

Vikings 28, Bears 27 | Dec. 19, 1988 | Metrodome

The Metrodome served as the stage for the 1988 regular-season finale, but there were enough late-game dramatics and heroics for The Orpheum.

The Vikings built a 21-point lead before allowing 20 unanswered points. The Bears were driving for a go-ahead score until Walker Lee Ashley intercepted a pass by Mike Tomczak and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown with 2:37 left in the game.

Chicago was able to add a late touchdown, but this was before the NFL allowed 2-point conversions, so the Bears were unable to try to tie the game.

Minnesota finished 11-5 on the season, in second place behind Chicago (12-4). The pick-six and win gave the Vikings home-field advantage against the Rams in the Wild Card round of the playoffs the following week, and Minnesota prevailed but lost at San Francisco in the Divisional round.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Bears.

9. (tie) Carter's heroics come through in OT (8 points)

Vikings 33, Bears 27, OT | Dec. 1, 1994 | Metrodome

Cris Carter caught a 65-yard pass from Warren Moon for the walk-off winner on a play called "The Shoot" in overtime. Carter ran a simple curl before turning up field once getting a signal from Moon. Guarded by linebacker Joe Cain, Carter caught the ball near midfield and managed to stay in bounds.

The future Hall of Fame receiver finished with 124 yards on nine catches and put the Vikings up 27-24 in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown catch from Moon, another future Hall of Famer who finished 27-of-48 passing for 306 yards.

Quadry Ismail added 71 yards on six catches, and Jake Reed recorded five catches for 70 yards.

Dewayne Washington put the Vikings on the scoreboard first with a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown, but Minnesota trailed 24-16 entering the fourth quarter.

The early and late heroics helped Minnesota finish the season 10-6 and win the NFC Central for the second time in Head Coach Dennis Green's first three seasons.

Honorable Mention: Palmer delivers 'wake-up call'

Vikings 31, Bears 28 | Sept. 27, 1998 | Soldier Field

The 1998 Vikings finished a franchise-best 15-1 but needed a big spark in Chicago to win their fourth of seven consecutive games to open the season.

It came in the form of a 53-yard punt return in the third quarter, sparking a comeback from a 21-10 halftime deficit.

The Vikings scored 21 unanswered points, and the defense kept the Bears from scoring for the first 28-plus minutes of the second half.

Andrew Glover (19 yards), Cris Carter (35) and Randy Moss (44) caught touchdowns from Randall Cunningham during the scoring spree. Cunningham also completed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Robert Smith to start the day's scoring.