Another season finale against the Bears, another Patrick Peterson interception.
The Vikings visited the Bears for Sunday's regular-season finale, and Peterson picked off Tim Boyle to help Minnesota to a 29-13 win.
"I was expecting a double move. Good thing I was, because he threw it right to me," Peterson said of the errant pass intended for Chase Claypool. "Later on in the year, teams are trying to get me to start and stop my feet. They pretty much understand that I can be on the initial route pretty close and pretty tight, so I was honestly anticipating the double move.
"It looked like the quarterback was, too," Peterson added with a chuckle. "It felt like a punt return to me because there was no one around me. I'm kind of upset that I stepped out of bounds because I was definitely gonna try to get to the end zone. … I couldn't cut back because my blockers were trying to seal the guys."
The takeaway marked Peterson's fifth on the season, which is second most in his career behind seven in 2012. It also was the second straight season for the veteran CB to notch an interception against the Bears in Week 18.
He said it "means a lot" to close this regular season with five.
"That's what I dedicate every offseason for – to have plays like that show up," Peterson said. "I feel like last year I had opportunities to make plays but didn't make the most out of them, so this year that was my whole goal. That was my whole mindset coming into this year.
"When those opportunities presented themselves, I think I had a pretty good year," the 12-year veteran said. "We'll see if it pays off."
Peterson's five interceptions are the most by a Vikings cornerback since Xavier Rhodes recorded the same number in 2016. He recorded one in 2021 but made it count with a long return for a touchdown to beat the Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Peterson and Harrison Smith have combined for 10 interceptions this season, the most by two Vikings teammates in a campaign since Antoine Winfield (4) and Darren Sharper (9) totaled 13 in 2005.
Smith did not play in Sunday's game, being ruled out Saturday after knee soreness cropped up late in the week. He was replaced by safety Josh Metellus, who made his third start of the season and who recorded three tackles and a career-high three passes defensed.
Vikings Head Coach O'Connell said he has no doubts Smith will be part of next weekend's home playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"Harrison just, post-practice, wanted to get something checked out and just [has] played a lot of snaps for us this year. Had a little soreness in there," O'Connell said. "This was the time, in my opinion, to try to give him the weekend and make sure he can turn over.
"I imagine Harrison would tell you right now he's gonna be ready to roll when our practice week starts," O'Connell added.
Peterson's pick was the first of two for Minnesota at Soldier Field.
Late in the game, cornerback Duke Shelley – filling in for Cameron Dantzler, Sr. – intercepted another Boyle pass intended for Claypool.
The turnover occurred on fourth-and-10 with just over three minutes remaining and effectively iced the game for the Vikings. Not to mention, it was the first career pick for Shelley, whom the Bears released just prior to the season.
He placed the ball in the center of the C logo at midfield, was mobbed by teammates and ran to the sideline cranking his right arm like a windmill.
"I will always look forward to the Chicago game," said Shelley, who added three tackles and a pass defensed to the afternoon.
The 26-year-old now has five starts under his belt in Purple and said he feels comfortable in the Vikings defensive scheme.
"I feel good … things aren't moving [too] fast for me. They've slowed down," Shelley said.
Peterson knows what it's like to make a play against one's former team, having had three pass breakups against Arizona earlier this season.
"I was so happy for [Duke]. I told him he was gonna get a pick today. I did. I said, 'Man, it's the last game of the season. It's only right. … Go get your first pick against your old team,' " Peterson said. "He got it, and what a great moment I know that was for him."
O'Connell said not only did Shelley keep the ball he intercepted, but he also was presented a game ball by the head coach postgame.
"All that guy's done since he got to Minnesota is be a great teammate, work incredibly hard, be as reliable as any player I've ever been around. He's as competitive as any player I've ever been around, and he's an absolute joy to have on your football team," O'Connell said. "I just continue to hope for Duke to experience success here with us and continue to be a big part of our defense."
View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings regular-season finale win over the Bears at Soldier Field.
The Vikings defense overall played well against the Bears.
They didn't allow a single rusher to gain more than 50 yards total, though Velus Jones, Jr., did squeak out a 42-yard touchdown on a play in which he appeared to be going out of bounds.
The Bears started Nathan Peterman at quarterback before bringing in Boyle in the second quarter. Petersman finished the day 11-of-19 passing for just 114 yards and one touchdown throw to tight end Cole Kmet, who led Chicago with 57 yards receiving. Boyle went 2-for-8 with 33 yards, two picks and a passer rating of 4.7.
Patrick Jones II and Kris Boyd led the Vikings with four tackles apiece, and Jones also added a sack of Peterman and two QB hits.
View game action photos from the Vikings Week 18 game vs. the Bears at Soldier Field.
Jones' happiness with his performance was second to that from FaceTiming with former college teammate Damar Hamlin the day before.
"It was just good knowing that I could see him and talk to him again," Jones said of Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest Monday night against the Bengals. "You just can't take [anybody] you love for granted.
"It gave me a lot of energy, just going out and playing for my dog, 3," Jones added. "I went out there and just tried to do everything I could."
With Sunday's win, the Vikings finished the regular season 13-4, making it the second time of Peterson's career he's been on a team with 13 wins (Arizona in 2015).
He's now ready to head into the postseason.
"The thing I love about this team is there's no quit," Peterson said. "There's never any doubt that we can go out there and compete with the best of them. The belief that we have is unmatched."