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Peterson gets Vikings out quick in win over Bears

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 10, 2012 at 4:16 am •  Published: December 10, 2012
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Metrodome roof held up just fine during Minnesota's latest heavy snowstorm.

It's the Chicago Bears who seem to be collapsing under the weight of December football.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead the Vikings to a 21-14 victory over the freefalling Bears on Sunday.

Almost two years to the day that a huge snowstorm felled the big white dome and forced the Bears-Vikings game to move across town to the University of Minnesota's stadium, another dose of wet snow came down as the Vikings prepared to host their division rivals. No problem this time around, for the roof or Peterson. The resilient running back ripped off a 51-yard run on the first play of the game and got the Vikings (7-6) out to a 14-0 lead before the first quarter was half over en route to a desperately needed victory.

"I think they'll look at the standings tomorrow and see that we're still right in the thick of it, just like we were when this week began," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "For us, every game following will be like a playoff game."

When the Bears (8-5) look at the standings on Monday, they will be a game behind the Packers, who beat Detroit, but still be ahead of Minnesota. It just didn't feel that way when they hobbled out of the stadium on Sunday afternoon. They were 7-1 and in prime position to win the NFC North at the season's midpoint, but have lost four of their last five games and seem to get a different key player injured every week.

This time it was quarterback Jay Cutler, who was crunched on a high-low hit by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter. He finished the drive, but did not return for the final four minutes because of a neck injury. He was 22 of 44 for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

With Brian Urlacher out indefinitely with an injured right hamstring and cornerback Tim Jennings missing the game because of a shoulder injury, the Bears are bruised and battered, to go along with beaten.

"Everybody has injuries. That's part of this league," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We're going to have to play through that. But obviously some of our better players are down. We need guys to step up and play."

Few have rebounded from an injury the way Peterson has. The relentless runner tore the ACL in his left knee late last season, yet somehow has been able to comeback better than ever. He topped 100 yards for the seventh straight game to give him 1,600 yards this season — putting that hallowed 2,000 yard mark well within reach with three games to go.

More importantly for the Vikings, he carried the ball a season-high 31 times, the kind of broad-shouldered performance the offense desperately needed with quarterback Christian Ponder continuing to struggle in the passing game. Ponder was 11 of 17 for just 91 yards and one ugly interception, a back-footed throw into triple coverage that Major Wright easily snagged just before halftime.

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