The Minnesota Vikings achieved an NFL first as their unusual season continued with a road win over the Chicago Bears.
Kirk Cousins threw two touchdowns to Adam Thielen while Justin Jefferson had 135 receiving yards as the Vikings defeated their NFC North rivals 19-13 at Solider Field.
It was a first win on Monday Night Football for Vikings QB Cousins in his 10th career start in such games, while the Bears are concerned over a late injury to starting signal-caller Nick Foles.
The Vikings moved to 4-5 on the season after a third straight win.
They had made a miserable start to 2020, dropping to 1-5 with a 40-23 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons a month ago.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) November 17, 2020
Seemingly in rebuild mode, the Vikings traded pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens, stripping their struggling defense of one of its main talents.
However, they have responded impressively, the run of victories kicked off by a shock 28-22 win at the Green Bay Packers.
Another divisional triumph came when they beat the Detroit Lions 34-20 before their latest arrived against the Bears.
Per Stats Perform data, the Vikings are the only NFL team since the merger to have a record that is at least four games under .500 and then proceed to beat every other team in their division in consecutive games.
Asked about ending his MNF streak, Cousins said: “It was great to get a win, needed that, but also I have got a hole to climb out of now – I have got a few more wins to get on Monday night.
“Great win, a big team win, great to go back home now with three straight. We were strong on third down. This is a really good [Bears] defense on third down and in the red zone.
“We weren’t running the ball as consistently as we were earlier in the year but we were able to make enough plays and the defense really stood up all game long.
“Yards were tough to come by, points were tough to come by, they were able to contain our run game for the most part, and that is why it was so important to have success in the passing game and third downs.”
While Dalvin Cook was not at his brilliant best, the running back’s 96 yards against the Bears took him back to the top of the NFL rushing standings with 954 in eight games.
He also is best in the league for rushing yards per game (119.3) and touchdowns on the ground (12).
Justin Jefferson continued his success on in-breaking routes tonight, gaining 75 yards on 3 receptions (12 routes).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 17, 2020
The wideout Minnesota traded away in the offseason, Stefon Diggs, leads the NFL in receiving yards with the Buffalo Bills, but impressive rookie Jefferson has gone some way to filling the void.
His 762 receiving yards put him seventh in the league and his 18.1 yards per reception figure is tied with Seattle Seahawks standout DK Metcalf for the fourth-best mark.
Jefferson has caught 42 of his 54 targets and averages a fantastic 6.9 yards after the catch per reception.
Per the NFL’s NextGen stats, that YAC metric is 2.7 yards per play above expectation, second only to A.J. Brown among receivers with at least 30 catches this season.
The Vikings are now close behind the 5-5 Bears in the NFC North and, due to the expanded playoffs, a Wild Card spot remains a possibility.
With a home stretch against three teams with a losing record – the Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars – to come next, a season that once looked lost is now one with opportunities.