Adrian Peterson’s 211 rushing yards came at someone’s expense, but the defensive line, keeping nine players active for the first time, did a serviceable job in multiple areas, collecting five sacks, eight hits and six tackles for loss.
With the season on the line, as it will be every week from now on, Julius Peppers at times was as dominant as he has been all year, with his biggest plays at tipping points of a game that was an elimination test for the Bears, particularly the defense.
Peppers, who finished with 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, three other quarterback hits and a pass deflection, ended Minnesota’s first and third possessions with sacks and delivered a third-down pass deflection in the third quarter to force Minnesota to settle for a field goal at the end of a 7-minute drive. Peppers had eight tackles and was also a force in run defense with lateral pursuit, at one point running down Adrian Peterson on a run that threatened to break loose in the Bears’ second level.
Peppers added a third sack, shared with Corey Wootton, again on a third-down. Wootton blocked a third-down pass in the closing moments that set up what should have been a fourth-down stop to save the season but for coverage failures.
Wootton had three tackles to go with his half-sack, tackle for loss and two passes blocked, including one inside the Minnesota 10 to force a fourth-and-long. Paea added a quarterback hit and pass deflection to go with his half-sack, shared with nickel back Isaiah Frey to end the second Minnesota possession.
Jeremiah Ratliff was inserted at three-technique on the second series and delivered a hurry of Christian Ponder as well as allowing the Bears to move Wootton back outside to his more natural spot a left end in base packages.