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Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was hit by Bears defensive lineman Israel Edonije in the second quarter during a Jan. 1, 2012, game. Ponder injured his hip on the play.

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

VIKINGS WEEK 12

Noon Sunday at Chicago • Soldier Field • TV: Ch. 9 • Line: Off the board

Bears have been Monsters of the Midway to Vikings

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER
  • Star Tribune
  • November 19, 2012 - 11:46 PM

 

The Vikings don't need much reminding of their recent woes in Chicago. Defensive end Jared Allen, for example, offered up again Monday that he is 0-4 at Soldier Field, still bothered by a quartet of games in which he remembers the Bears jumping out to early leads and the Vikings failing to get back over the hump.

"It just seems to be the same story whenever we go there," Allen said. "The first half is a storm we're trying to weather. And in the second half, we come out and scratch back into it. ... Whatever it is, you need to be aware of it and focus on, 'Oh, hey, this is how things have gone, and let's change things around here.'"

Indeed, true to Allen's memory, the Vikings have trailed at halftime in all four of his trips to Chicago.

Last year's 26-3 deficit was the biggest of the bunch and led to a 39-10 mauling.

Coach Leslie Frazier, meanwhile, laments the Vikings' current four-game Soldier Field skid as a byproduct of poor field position.

"Man," Frazier said, "any time we play Chicago, that is always an issue."

In the Vikings' past four visits to the Windy City, the Bears have scored 28 times -- 17 touchdowns, 10 field goals and a safety. In that span, the Vikings defense has allowed nine scoring drives that began on their half of the field.

Chicago also has a kickoff return score, a blocked punt touchdown and two fumble recovery TDs.

"I can remember some times where we just felt like we were on short fields all day long," Frazier said. "It drives you crazy."

But enough of the bad memories for a minute. Here's some reason for optimism. The Vikings returned to practice Monday morning after a week off and seemed to have a surplus of energy.

The Bears, meanwhile, spent their Monday in San Francisco and will have to regroup on a short week after a difficult West Coast road game.

So maybe there is reason to believe the Vikings can flip the script and remain a factor in the NFC playoff race into December. After all, the bye week seemed to provide plenty of physical and mental rejuvenation, particularly since it was preceded by a feel-good 34-24 victory over Detroit in which the Vikings found corrections to stabilize their run defense and catalyze their passing attack.

"I think we needed to get back on track with what we were doing," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "I think that definitely helped. It definitely made the bye week more enjoyable."

Now, much of the talk this week at Winter Park will center on the opportunity for the Vikings to make big things happen.

Yes, a three-game stretch that sandwiches a trip to Green Bay between two games with Chicago could realistically be the trap door that drops the Vikings out of playoff contention. But this upcoming slate also presents an opportunity for a surge that could keep a potential January game in play.

That's why mindset will be so critical for the Vikings this week -- as it has been all season.

No, Chicago hasn't been kind in recent years. The Vikings have only one victory there since 2000. But the Vikings understand this weekend's trip could become a springboard if they hit it right.

"Anybody would be dumb not to say this isn't a huge game for us," Allen said. "Again, it's not a make-or-break game. But it's a dang crucial game for where we're trying to get to."

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