Vikings: 'Hungry' defense steps up

The Minnesota Vikings were without three defensive starters against the Bears on Sunday, but the unit once again stepped up.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings missed three defensive starters for the second straight game on Sunday. No problem.

The Vikings held the Chicago Bears to 293 yards, many coming in garbage time of the fourth quarter, and improved to 9-5 overall with a 38-17 win at TCF Bank Stadium.

The banged-up defense played a large role as it limited the Bears to a modest 96 yards and seven points in the first half. And the line led the charge.

"I love this team," Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson said. "Everybody is hungry. We don't have guys that are selfish and are always about themselves. It's all about the next person."

Which has been important because defensive tackle Linval Joseph, linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith all missed time again.


Johnson helped fill in for Joseph and had one of the Vikings' five sacks.

"I think our ability to rush the interior," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said of what makes this year's defensive line so good. "When you can move Tom around and Brian (Robison) around and then having a guy like Shariff (Floyd) who can rush the quarterback really well. I think we can rush from every angle."

Rookie Danielle Hunter had 1.5 sacks against Jay Cutler while Johnson, Greenway and Robison all had one and Floyd had a half sack. Hunter now has five sacks, trailing only Everson Griffen (7.5) for the team lead.

Robison is in his ninth year with the Vikings and said this might be the team's best line in his tenure with the squad.

"I guess you could make an argument that it is," Robinson said. "And we've had some good ones."

The Vikings have also showed good overall defensive depth. Joseph missed his third straight game while Smith and Barr have missed the past two.

"I think we're jelling really well," Johnson said. "The guys really love each other.

"As long as everyone does their job, good things will happen," he added.


Trattou with another pick

Justin Trattou, a defensive end, has had a real up-and-down season with the Vikings. But he has had an impact with the team.

Trattou played in just his third game on Sunday, but he tied a single-season team record for linemen with his second interception. He read a screen play in the third quarter and intercepted a Cutler pass, setting up a short Vikings TD drive.

"I saw everyone go behind me," Trattou said. "I felt the screen and I dropped back a little big and he threw up the ball and I got it."

"We might need to drop him back in coverage more often," Robison said.

Trattou has been injured much of the season. Due to all the injuries, he was also cut last week to make room for other players. He had an offer to sign with another team, but decided to return to the Vikings instead.

"I just go out and try to make plays when my number is called," Trattou said. "I felt this was the best place for me. Business is business."

Diggs back strong


Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs had been held to 31 or fewer receiving yards each of the past three weeks. He had a big game against the Bears, however.

Diggs had a modest three catches, but he snared a pair of touchdown passes and had 55 receiving yards. Diggs caught a pretty 15-yard scoring pass from Teddy Bridgewater to cap the Vikings' first drive of the game.

"Everyone has a front pocket. It's where you keep your pens and your notepads," Diggs said, "but that is where he threw it at, and it was a perfect play."

Diggs had a 33-yard scoring reception in the third quarter to give the Vikings a 24-7 lead. He scampered in after taking a short crossing pass from Bridgewater.

"You can't ask for more as a receiver than when they put the ball right in your hands, and for that I really pat him on the back," Diggs said.

Diggs now has four TD grabs this year, three in two games against the Bears. He is tied for the team lead in catches (47) and TD receptions and is first in receiving yardage (693).

First TD for McKinnon

Second-year running back Jerrick McKinnon scored his first career touchdown when he caught a 17-yard scoring pass from Bridgewater with just 26 seconds left in the first half to give the Vikings a 17-7 lead.


"I'm happy I finally got one," McKinnon said. "It's a great feeling."

McKinnon said he will give the TD ball to his mom. The one drawback of the play: He was tagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for celebrating. Bridgewater was also roughed on the play, so the two penalties canceled each other out.

McKinnon finished with a team-high four catches for 76 yards out of the backfield. He also had seven rushes for 10 yards.

"It just shows the team has trust in me," McKinnon said.

Modest game for Peterson

The Vikings scored a season-high 38 points despite running back Adrian Peterson's modest game. Peterson set the tone early with 56 yards rushing on 12 carries in the first half. But Peterson suffered a sprained ankle late in the half.

"You can call it an alligator tackle," Peterson said. "They snap on and they twist. A guy rolled me up."

Peterson missed the first series of the second half. He returned, but was held to seven yards on six carries in the second half to finish with 63 yards on 18 attempts. The Vikings turned to McKinnon and Matt Asiata with the game in hand in the fourth quarter.


"He's quick and explosive," Peterson said of McKinnon. "You know he keeps me on the top of my game, I can tell you that."

Asiata rushed for 28 yards on just five attempts.

Odds and ends

• Zach Line caught his first career TD pass with the Vikings. The fullback had a 4-yard scoring grab to conclude the scoring in the fourth quarter.

• Adam Thelen recovered an onside kick for the Vikings in the fourth quarter. It was his second onside recovery of the season.

• Kicker Blair Walsh booted a 53-yard field goal. He is now 4-for-6 from 50 and beyond this year.

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