Peterson Leads Vikings To Win Over Bears

Tuesday, December 18th 2007, 7:44 am
By: News On 6

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears had Adrian Peterson all bottled up, at least until it really counted. Peterson's 8-yard touchdown run, started by a shoulder-shake to fake Urlacher at the line of scrimmage, sent the Minnesota Vikings to their fifth straight victory, 20-13 over the Bears on Monday night.

``Couldn't finish,'' said Urlacher, who kept his sparse postgame comments to grouchy sentence fragments.

The Vikings (8-6) stayed in control of the NFC's last wild-card spot, despite four turnovers and a missed extra point. Tarvaris Jackson's career-high 249 yards passing were overshadowed by three interceptions, miscues that led to a 13-3 Bears lead until Peterson's first touchdown early in the third.

``It just shows people and shows ourself that we can win all kinds of ways,'' said Jackson, who completed 18 of his 29 throws.

Peterson finished with two touchdowns and 78 yards on 20 carries, just enough to keep Minnesota one game in front of New Orleans and Washington in the conference race. Defending NFC champion Chicago (5-9) was officially eliminated from contention.

``We know you have to play a complete game, and in the end those same guys who made plays early have to step up there in the fourth quarter,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

Coming off the self-declared worst game of his career, just 3 yards on 14 carries against the San Francisco 49ers, Peterson had more trouble finding room to run for the better part of three quarters.

But he came through when it counted, plunging through the line for a yard out to pull Minnesota within 13-12 before a low snap by Cullen Loeffler preceded a missed extra point by Ryan Longwell.

Then in the fourth quarter, with Jackson sidelined temporarily by a cramp in his calf muscle, Peterson added another clip to his rookie highlight video.

On third-and-goal, after brushing backup Brooks Bollinger during a bad handoff, Peterson stutter-stepped to freeze Urlacher before darting left and scurrying over the goal line. Urlacher just shook his head, while Peterson hammed it up with teammates in the end zone.

Bollinger's dive forward on a draw play gave the Vikings the 2-point conversion and a 20-13 lead with 10:56 left, plenty of time for Chicago to come back.

Kyle Orton, though, didn't have it in him. In his first start in two years, the Bears quarterback stayed away from the costly turnovers that Jackson was guilty of, but way too many of his throws were off target. Orton completed 22 of 36 passes for 184 yards, and his long pass to the end zone to Bernard Berrian just after the 2-minute warning was intercepted by Darren Sharper to seal it.

The throw that hurt Orton the most came near the end of the third quarter, on fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 35. On a curious call, Orton lofted a swing pass to fullback Jason McKie that sailed over his head. After the exchange, Peterson got going and led the drive for the winning score.

The Vikings have come a long way since Nov. 11, when they were whipped on the road by the rival Packers 34-0.

``Just brick by brick,'' coach Brad Childress said. ``We've been, really, play by play since that Green Bay, and practice to practice.''

The Vikings wore purple from head to foot after pulling their dark pants from the back of the closet. This game had the look of one of those Black-and-Blue Division clashes with the Bears from 20 years prior.

Urlacher played like the six-time Pro Bowl pick that he is, harassing Jackson often, recording two sacks, and twice taking the ball from Minnesota.

He was angry and embarrassed two months ago when Peterson shredded the Bears defense for 224 yards and three touchdowns to send the Vikings to a 34-31 victory at Soldier Field. Never in the history of the franchise had an opposing player gained so much on the ground.

Well, they didn't forget that game, and the return of starting cornerback Nathan Vasher _ after nearly two months due to a nagging groin injury _ gave the Bears' beat-up defense another boost.

Though they moved the ball well at times in the first half, six points were all the Vikings managed, and they were lucky to get the last three.

Jackson's first throw was on target to Robert Ferguson, but the ball bounced off his chest and into Urlacher's hands and he returned it to the Minnesota 14. Two false-start penalties on the Bears forced them to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.

Minnesota drove to the Chicago 22 on its next possession, but Peterson didn't handle Jackson's handoff cleanly, and Urlacher grabbed the errant ball for another turnover.

Chester Taylor dropped a third-down pass in the second quarter that would have put Minnesota in field-goal range, and with less than 1 minute left before halftime Jackson made his worst throw in more than a month by forcing a ball over Bobby Wade's head that Vasher picked off and took 34 yards to the 12.

McKie's short touchdown run came next, and the Bears had a 10-point lead. The Vikings used an 18-yard scramble by Jackson and a 15-yard late-hit penalty on Charles Tillman to sneak into range for Longwell to kick a 48-yard field goal at the gun.