|Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson goes up and over the Chicago defense for the first of his two second-half TD runs. (Tom Olmscheid/Associated Press)|
MINNEAPOLIS - Trampled by Adrian Peterson the last time they met, Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears figured out how to stop Minnesota's star rookie for the better part of three quarters.
At least until it really counted.
Peterson's 8-yard touchdown run, his second of the night started by a shoulder-shake to fake Urlacher at the line of scrimmage, sent the Vikings past the Bears, 20-13, yesterday for their fifth straight victory.
"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, mistakes that led to a 13-3 Bears advantage until Peterson's first score early in the third.
"It just shows people and shows [ourselves] that we can win all kinds of ways," said Jackson, who was 18 of 29.
Peterson finished with 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," said Bears coach Lovie Smith, who winced while his team was whistled for 11 penalties totaling 95 yards.
Coming off the self-declared worst game of his career, just 3 yards on 14 carries against the San Francisco 49ers, Peterson had trouble finding room to run again for most of the night and took the blame from coaches for a fumble on a botched first-half handoff.
But he came through in the clutch, plunging through the line for a yard out to pull Minnesota within 13-12 before a low snap by Cullen Loeffler preceded a missed point-after 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.
"It was a communication error, but I was able to make a big play out of it," Peterson said.
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 was too often way off target. He completed 22 of 36 passes for 184 yards.
"The more you play the more comfortable you get, but I didn't make enough plays to win," Orton said.