Halftime: Vikings give up late FG, down 24-21 in wacky first half
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CHICAGO -- The Minnesota Vikings have one NFC North road win in the last 10 attempts and Sunday's first half at Soldier Field provided a puzzle that could piece together for their second divisional road victory since 2009.
Rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson recorded his first NFL touchdown on a 105-yard kick return to start the game, but Chicago Bears return man Devin Hester responded with his own 73-yard return to give the Bears a short field.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler orchestrated a five-play, 32-yard drive for the tying touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett. Bennett was set up by a pick by Bears' receiver Alshon Jeffrey, allowing Cutler to make the quick throw over safety Jamarca Sanford.
Quarterback Christian Ponder came out firing to receiver Greg Jennings, completing on an 18-yard pass down the sideline for the Vikings initial first down. Jennings let a deep ball slip through his hands to stall the first drive after running back Adrian Peterson amassed one yard on his first two carries.
The Bears committed two 12-man in the huddle penalties in the first half, the first one gave the Vikings life after a three-and-out on their second drive. Right tackle Phil Loadholt got beat inside to force the first Ponder sack on 2nd-and-7 with the drive ended in another three-and-out.
But the Vikings found themselves down 14-7 after giving up a three-play, 86-yard drive that included a 38-yard run by receiver Alshon Jeffrey and a 34-yard touchdown pass from Cutler to receiver Brandon Marshall over cornerback Chris Cook, who was beat off the line in man coverage.
Hester came back with another dynamic return, this one for 80 yards to set the Bears up at the Vikings' 22-yard line. Cutler took the Bears down to the 1-yard line, where defensive end Everson Griffen tipped a Cutler pass and defensive tackle Kevin Williams got his first interception since 2007.
Ponder rewarded the defense with a touchdown pass of his own to Bears' cornerback Tim Jennings. Ponder targeted receiver Jerome Simpson, who didn't come back on the route, and Jennings easily jumped it for the pick-six to put the Bears up 21-14.
Ponder commanded a six-play, 75-yard drive near the end of the half -- his best looking performance of the day -- completing it with a 20-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph for his first touchdown of the season.
Chicago took 71 seconds to bring the ball back to the Vikings' two-yard line, but the defense held on three plays, forcing a Robbie Gould field goal. The score stands at 24-21.