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Kirk Cousins: The much-maligned Vikings quarterback played a near-flawless game against one of the league's best defenses in a game where the Vikings needed him to be at his best. He had a passer rating of 100.7, completing 25 of 36 throws for 292 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on a ball that Adam Thielen should have caught. Cousins did all the things Vikings fans have been begging to see from him since he joined the team. He moved around in the pocket. He threw the ball away when nothing was there. He didn't force bad throws. He showed some emotion. He created plays when it looked like nothing was there. The Bears' defense was focused on stopping Dalvin Cook and forcing Cousins to beat them. And he did. — Jason Feldman

The (rapidly improving) defense: The Vikings defense continued its post-bye turnaround Monday night. There is a lot of credit to go around, from coach Mike Zimmer's creative scheme to the players' execution. Harrison Smith made several key plays, just like a Pro Bowl safety should. But young players on each level of the defense made big plays, from lineman D.J. Wonnum's pressures and sack to linebacker Troy Dye's key blitz to Jeff Gladney's continued strong run stuffing support from the cornerback position. — Robb Jeffries

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Thielen: Everyone is going to rave about the first quarter touchdown that belonged in SportsCenter's Top 10, and they should. But receivers of Thielen's caliber are expected to find ways to haul in a pass when they get both hands on the ball. Thielen had three such balls that he was unable catch, including one that slipped through his hands for an interception. On a weekend highlighted by outstanding performances by elite wideouts across the league — Stefon Diggs of Buffalo and DeAndre Hopkins of Arizona played remarkable, full-game efforts — I can't help but think Thielen left a little on the table. — Jeffries

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Marwan Maalouf: The Vikings had two punts blocked last week against Detroit. On Monday, rookie Dan Chisena cost the team 19 yards by stepping on the goal line while trying to down a punt at the Bears' 1. Then the Vikings allowed Cordarrelle Patterson (of all people) to return the opening kickoff of the third quarter untouched for a touchdown. Then the Vikings botched an extra point. To boot, rookie KJ Osborn was drafted specifically to be a kick returner and he has been mediocre at best, not showing any signs of the ability to break one for a big gain. And is it just me or does it feel like the Vikings never even try to block a kick? Any one of those things could be pinned on a player or players. When you add it all up, Minnesota's special teams have been borderline disastrous. In that case, the finger cannot get pointed at anyone other than Maalouf. After the past two weeks, any special teams gaffes in the coming weeks are on Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer for keeping Maalouf employed.— Feldman