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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Games at Soldier Field set the course for Vikings 2016 and 2017 seasons

By Matthew Coller

In 2016, the Minnesota Vikings’ game on Halloween night at Soldier Field was a fright fest.

Coming off a loss in Philadelphia, the Vikings fell 20-10 to the lowly Chicago Bears. Mike Zimmer suffered a torn retina that would eventually require major surgery. Sam Bradford was sacked five times. Norv Turner resigned following disagreement over the Vikings’ offensive philosophy. Jordan Howard trucked the Minnesota defense for 153 yards rushing.

The disasterous night in Chicago was only the beginning of an epic meltdown from a 5-0 start to an 8-8 finish.

This year, the Vikings went into Soldier field in need of a win. They were 2-2 and had just lost 14-7 at home to the Detroit Lions – a game in which Dalvin Cook tore his ACL.

Bradford attempted to return from a knee injury that had kept him out of there previous three games, but he struggled mightily during the first half, forcing Zimmer to pull him in favor of Case Keenum.

The identity of the Vikings’ team was forged that night. Keenum completed a number of short passes, going 17-for-21, and tossed a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph. Running back Jerick McKinnon broke off a 58-yard run, which was sparked by guard Nick Easton. And Harrison Smith picked off Mitchell Trubisky to seal the victory.

The Vikings have only lost once since then as they have largely used the same formula. Rudolph in the red zone, short passes to playmakers, strong running game and big plays on defense. And of course, great touchdown celebrations.

When Rudolph scored, the Vikings gathered in the end zone for a game of Duck, Duck, Gray Duck. In hindsight, it looks now to be the moment they believed this year would be different.

“I guess everybody said we couldn’t win in Soldier Field, so I guess that was important that we go in there and win,” Zimmer said of the early October victory.

Vikings fans are now hoping that the W at Soldier Field wasn’t the only frustrating trend to be broken by Zimmer’s team. There’s also a long-standing tradition of blunders and disappointments in the playoffs that they would like to see ended.

First they have to beat the Bears again.

With a number of key defensive players missing and Mitchell Trubisky still having plenty of rookie moments, the Vikings should put an exclamation point on a terrific season. It’s their final chance to show that the other shoe isn’t about to drop.

“We need to win,” Zimmer said. “It’s important to get a home game, to get a bye I mean. If you can get a bye it’s like winning two games in one day. That’s pretty huge, so we need to go out and win.”

The post Games at Soldier Field set the course for Vikings 2016 and 2017 seasons appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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