One Viking Was a Bear Killer Yet Again

Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports.

He did it again.

D.J. Wonnum has terrorized the Chicago Bears amid his four-year career, and Sunday was no exception as Minnesota downed the division foe 19-13, a triumph that kept the season afloat.

One Viking Was a Bear Killer Yet Again

The Vikings now own a 2-4 record, one game out of the NFC’s wildcard playoff picture.

Bear Killer
Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports.

It wasn’t pretty for the team — at all — but Wonnum did his part at Soldier Field, notching 4 total tackles, a sack, a QB hit, a tackle for loss, and a pass defended. And, in fact, Wonnum set the tone immediately in Week 6, flying into the Bears backfield on the first play from scrimmage and sacking Justin Fields. Thereafter, Chicago put competent plays together on offense in bits and pieces, but generally speaking, the Vikings put the clamps on the Bears, a team that had scored 68 points in the previous eight quarters.

And this is what Wonnum does against Chicago. It isn’t new.

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) runs a Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) fumble back for a score during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

In seven career games versus the Bears, Wonnum has logged 30 tackles, 11 QB Hits, 7.5 sacks, and 6 tackles for loss. If he played the Bears every Sunday, he’d win Defensive Player of the Year with 18 sacks per season.

Wonnum’s closest sack total against a single team is 2 sacks in five career games versus the Green Bay Packers — quite the drop-off.

Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum (98) prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Meanwhile, Wonnum’s productive day in Chicago wasn’t the first of its kind in 2023, either. He did this in Charlotte two weeks ago to help the Vikings secure their other win in 2023 versus the Panthers.

Wonnum is not a stranger to game-changing plays, but his performance out of the gate in 2023 sputtered through three games. Marcus Davenport was hobbled until Week 4 by an ankle injury, forcing Wonnum and EDGE rusher Patrick Jones to pick up the slack. Before Week 4, they had not. That changed in the last three weeks.

No matter what, Wonnum typically has the Bears number, and Sunday, with the Vikings desperately needing a win to remain relevant in the NFC’s playoff picture, was no different. He delivered.

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Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) and Minnesota Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum (98) in action during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

The last time Wonnum had a monster game, he and his teammates looked at the following week on the schedule, and the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs were on the docket. History repeats itself after the Chicago game, too, as Minnesota will host the San Francisco 49ers, owners of a 5-1 record and angry mood after losing to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday due to a missed game-winning field goal.

The Vikings are early seven-point home underdogs against the 49ers, the team’s largest underdog status at home since 2014.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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