Vikings beat Bears decisively 38-17

Vikings beat Bears decisively 38-17

Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t perfect on Sunday but he was close.

Bridgewater threw a career-high four touchdown passes and ran for another to lead the Minnesota Vikings to a 38-17 win over the Chicago Bears at TCF Bank Stadium.

The win was Minnesota’s ninth of the season and assured the Vikings of their first winning campaign since 2012. They could have a playoff spot wrapped up by the time they kick off against the New York Giants next week on Sunday Night Football.

“We didn’t commit penalties, we didn’t beat ourselves,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We scored touchdowns when we got in the red zone and converted third downs.”

Chicago lost its third consecutive game and will have back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2003-04.

“Same stuff that’s hurt us all year,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. “We open the game with a holding call, I throw an interception, we have a strip-sack, protection was a little shaky today, more penalties. Doesn’t matter who we were playing today, we weren’t going to win.”

Cutler finished with 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 26-of-37 passing.

Bridgewater threw for a pair of touchdowns in each half, connecting twice for scores with wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Running backs Jerick McKinnon and Zach Line also caught touchdowns.

In all, Bridgewater completed 17-of-20 passes for 231 yards.

According to the NFL, Bridgewater was the first quarterback since Frank Ryan in 1964 to complete at least 85 percent of his passes, throw four touchdowns, run for another and not throw an interception.

Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson left the game with an ankle injury, but returned to the game in the second half and finished with 63 yards on 18 carries.

What we learned about the Vikings:

1. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater might be coming into his own as his second season in the NFL nears an end. After throwing for a season-high 335 yards in a loss to the Cardinals last week, Bridgewater threw a career-best four touchdowns on Sunday. Although his yardage numbers were not impressive, he completed 85 percent of his throws and now has 13 touchdowns to eight interceptions on the season.

2. Concern over Adrian Peterson’s gruesome-looking ankle injury in the first half were overblown. After turning his ankle at the end of a 9-yard run shortly before halftime, Peterson went to the locker room early but returned in the second half in limited action. With a sizable lead, Peterson’s return was likely a sign of confidence in his health. Minnesota could clinch a playoff berth before their game with the Giants next week even begins.

3. For the first time since 2012, the Vikings will finish with a winning record. The win Sunday over the Bears was their ninth of the season, as the turnaround under second-year coach Mike Zimmer appears to be on schedule. A lot of things would have to go wrong over the final two weeks for the Vikings to miss the playoffs; now it’s a matter of where they will finish. If they can stay within a game of Green Bay after next week’s games, the Week 17 meeting between the rivals at Lambeau Field will be with a NFC North title on the line.

Etc.:

–S Harrison Smith missed his second consecutive start because of a leg injury. Smith’s status for next week’s game against the New York Giants is unknown.

–LB Anthony Barr missed his second straight game with groin and hand injuries. Barr could return next week against the Giants.

–DT Linval Joseph missed his third consecutive game with a foot injury. Joseph is likely to return to the lineup next week against the Giants.