Vikings hand ball, game to Bearsby Bob Collins, Minnesota Public Radio
Seemingly in control of the game with just over 3 minutes left, the Vikings fumbled the ball in their own territory and Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman threw a touchdown pass to beat Minnesota 19-to-16.
Minneapolis — The Bears were favored to win the game, thanks mostly to a strong defense and a rejuvenated Rex Grossman, but the Vikings showed their defense is among the best defensive squads the team has fielded in years.
It's the Vikings offense that is missing in action, with the exception of field goal kicker Ryan Longwell.
For the second consecutive week, Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson failed to lead his team to a touchdown, though he completed 21 of 34 passing attempts for 194 yards. Johnson has thrown just one touchdown pass this season.
But Grossman was better, despite throwing two interceptions, one of which led to the only Vikings touchdown of the game. Grossman recovered from the TD interception by Antoine Winfield at the opening of the fourth quarter, to first lead his team to a 49-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that made it 13-to-12 Vikings.
But when Johnson responded with a 41-yard,8-play drive that resulted in a Ryan Longwell field goal to make it 16-to-12, the Vikings seemed to be in control of the game, especially after the Minnesota defense held Chicago on the next possession.
That changed in a hurry when Chester Taylor lost a fumble with 3½ minutes left, and Adewale Ogunleye recovered at the Vikings' 37-yard line. The Bears recovered, and Grossman capped a 5-play drive with a 24 yard pass over the middle for a touchdown to Rashied Davis. The extra point gave the Bears the 19-to-16 lead, and silenced the Metrodome crowd.
Johnson had just-under two minutes to get the Vikings into field goal territory for a tie, but on a 4th down and needing 5 yards to continue the drive, Johnson threw a long pass to Troy Williamson that was nowhere near the receiver. Moments earlier, Williamson had dropped a catchable pass, something that is beginning to mark Williamson's season.
Grossman brought the league's best passer rating into the game after throwing for 551 yards and five touchdowns in victories over Green Bay and Detroit . But the Packers and Lions didn't provide much resistance, and Grossman didn't look ready for Minnesota's persistent rush.
He threw six straight incompletions during a stretch just before he was picked off by Smith, and almost every time he connected with one of his receivers, the target was wide open somewhere in the middle of the field. Darren Sharper dropped a sure interception early in the second quarter that likely would have turned into a touchdown.
A 21-yard pass to Bernard Berrian and a 17-yard pass interference call on Fred Smoot pushed Chicago close to field-goal range with the seconds waning in the first half. But the Bears used up their timeouts, having lost one on a denied first-quarter challenge, and they ran out of time to kick after a 24-yard completion to Muhsin Muhammad marked the ball at the Minnesota 23.
Chicago's receivers kept finding room in the middle, and Grossman guided the Bears inside the 15 on their first two possessions of the second half. The Vikings, who brought in an entirely new coaching staff and changed their defensive scheme to match the defending division champions, weren't budging, though.
Both teams were heavily penalized in the contest; the Vikings were flagged for 83 yards and the Bears for 82.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)