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Bears vs. Vikings: Notes from a tough 25-20 victory

ECD subs in for Jacob Infante once again as the Bears record the win and a strong grip on the division in their return to Sunday Night Football.

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There is something about Sunday Night games that has every fan on the edge of their respective seats towards the final two minutes of regulation....

Regardless, a stingy defense and Cody Parkey’s bid for redemption balanced out an uneven effort on offense in their return from a 5+ year absence on Sunday Night. They also gained a much firmer grip on the race for the NFC North crown. Plus, this is the type of “signature” win that will make most critics believe in the Bears this season.

  • First; and foremost, the fans should take a bow for their performance at Soldier Field. They were LOUD from start to end, and surely that electricity was felt in every square inch of that stadium. Well done, Bears fans. I’ll raise a cold one in your honor tonight.
  • And right on cue, the Bears forced a 3-and-out on the Minnesota Vikings’ first possession of the night. Akiem Hicks is a freakin’ monster.
  • Also on cue, the Bears score on their first possession of the night, albeit only a field goal. Mitchell Trubisky looked great in their initial march down the field, until he took a sack in the red zone. Jordan Howard was also heavily featured in this first drive. Cody Parkey’s first kick of the night split the middle of the uprights.
  • Parkey is just having the worst month of his career. After he boots the field goal, he shanks the following kickoff as it flew over the Vikings’ two-yard line. Woof.
  • “Bend but don’t break,” a saying made famous during Lovie Smith’s career in Chicago, was on full display during the 2nd possession against the Vikings’ offense. Literally, the Bears’ D needed to force a takeaway to keep the scoreboard blank. It almost seemed destined that a big play would be made in the Bears’ own red zone.
  • And then Khalil Mack delivered. Again. He stripped and recovered his 5th forced fumble of the 2018 season. He came into the night as the first player since 1982 to have 7+ sacks, 4+ forced fumbles, and 1+ interceptions within the first ten weeks of the regular season.
  • This is where the night started getting rough for Trubisky. And Matt Nagy, for the matter; they appeared to abandon the run while opting to go vertical with the passing game. This drive ended with an interception, where Trubisky tried to thread the needle to Taylor Gabriel in between three different Viking DBs. All three Viking DBs had a significant height advantage on Gabriel, too.
  • Oh look, that Khalil Mack guy seems pretty good at this football stuff. The entire front seven just whipped the Vikings’ O-Line on all three snaps, with Mack getting the Bears off the field as he hammered Kirk Cousins while the $84 million-per-year quarterback was throwing the ball. Had Bryce Callahan just held onto the ball for two seconds longer, that would have been a pick.
  • If Trubisky has displayed anything to this point in his career, it’s resilience. After he tossed the interception in their previous series, he teamed up with Jordan Howard — something they should have done in the previous series — to control the clock and score a touchdown. Trubisky and Howard punished the Purple People Eaters on the ground, which set the play-action passing game up nicely.
  • Anthony Miller has some ridiculously good hands. I initially thought the ball bounced off the turf following a low delivery from Trubisky, yet Miller held on and secured the touchdown. The chemistry between these two players is strong nowadays, as Miller has recorded a receiving touchdown in 3 of the last 4 games.
  • Oh, boy. A two-point conversion already? Most fans didn’t like that call, as it appeared to be a bit too aggressive for that situation. hell with it. The days of bubble wrapped offense under John Fox are loooooong over, my frents.
  • If I were to tell you that Kirk Cousins is earning a fully guaranteed $84 million per year, after watching this series, I’d expect a few weird faces. He continued to crumble under pressure in this series as he failed to connect with Adam Thielen on two separate tries.
  • It’s nice to see this Bears offense when Jordan Howard is given more than one touch per series. It would also be nice if Nagy could just stop getting cute in critical moments. After Howard trucks for some solid gains, the offense started going horizontal. Against one of the fastest flowing defenses in the league. Not a good idea.
  • Cody Parkey hit his 2nd field goal just barely inside the left upright. All this while the NBC broadcasting crew was obsessed with the “doink” sound effect trademarked by John Madden. Idk who was happier to see Parkey sink his 2nd kick; the Bears’ coaching staff, or Al Michaels.
  • Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs went from having a combined 0 catches in the first 29:10 minutes of the game, to making all the catches on this last minute effort to score some points heading into half time.
  • That was until Leonard Floyd forced Kirk Cousins to toss an arm punt straight to Adrian Amos. Amos now has a career high in interceptions (2) within a season. And that ensured the Vikings would be blanked on the scoreboard heading into the 3rd quarter.
  • You know, it would be splendid if the Bears’ offense could stop sleepwalking in the 3rd quarter. Despite Tarik Cohen having a nifty 21-yard gain on 2nd and 21, the gameplan just didn’t appear to make sense as the Vikings’ defense stiffened up big time.
  • Luckily for the Bears, there’s more than one monster on their defense. His name is Akiem Hicks, in case the rest of the NFL hasn’t figured this out yet. He recorded another tackle for loss, and Leonard Floyd joined in on the fun with a TFL of his own.
  • TRUBISKY NO! That’s all I’ll say on this series of which resulted in his 2nd interception of the night; or should we say, arm punt. It also gave the Vikings excellent field position to begin a comeback.
  • MACK YES! Just as Thielen and Diggs are heating up in the receiving game, Khalil Mack took Cousins down for his 8th sack of the year. That became too much for the Vikes’ offense to overcome as they settled for a field goal.
  • This is where I started saying “oh s—-.” Granted, this forced fumble was a result of outstanding hustle from the Vikings’ defense. And I respect how hard Cohen fights on every tout. Still, it’s not a bad thing to just go down and secure the ball after contact is made. Be smart and survive to live another down. Instead, the Vikes are once again gifted with a turnover deep in the Bears’ territory.
  • AKIEM HICKS YES! Seriously; though, how did the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints miss on this guy? He took Cousins down for a huge sack on 3rd-and-2 that forced Minnesota to settle for another field goal.
  • At least the Bears chewed up some clock on the ensuing possession. This was a “big boy” moment for Trubisky and the Bears’ young offense, and they missed on a chance to effectively end the game.
  • EDDIE JACKSON OMG!!! The budding star at safety made a Mike Brown-esque pick six on a poorly thrown ball from Cousins. He overthrew Laquon Treadwell badly, and instead of simply backing away from the play, Jackson attacked the ball and returned it for the back-breaking touchdown.
  • Here we go: two D-linemen in on the Bears’ 2nd 2-point conversion of the night. Roy Robertson-Harris and Akiem Hicks got their opportunity to play offense in yet another package featuring members of Vic Fangio’s crew. Best of all Akiem Hicks lined up in the backfield as a tailback, in a T-formation, and motioned out wide as a slot receiver.
  • So because for the sake of common sense, Trubisky lobbed a ball to Adam Shaheen after the 6’7” tight end received a single manned look in coverage. Welcome back, Shaheen.
  • I would have absolutely lost my mind had the ball gone to Hicks....and I actually wanted that to happen, too. Here’s to hoping that’ll come against the Green Bay Packers.
  • Another thing that would be nice — the theme of tonight’s thread — is if Vic Fangio could discontinue the soft prevent look in the fourth quarter. Not only does Cousins finally get a touchdown on the board following an impressive drive, but a BS call on Hicks gave them two attempts at a two-point conversion. They, naturally, succeeded on their second attempt.
  • I swear, Matt Nagy planned on getting Cody Parkey his chance at redemption tonight. Even though the previous two touchdowns resulted in consecutive two-point conversions, after Parkey made his first field goal. Nevertheless, the Bears controlled the clock and forced Minnesota to burn out some of their timeouts. And when called upon, Trubisky made a few decent plays, while drawing an unnecessary roughness from Harrison Smith.
  • The moment every Chicagoan was waiting for — both in fear and in anticipation — Parkey’s chance to drive the final nail in the Vikings’ coffin. He delivered, beautifully mind you, on a 48-yard field goal that kept the Bears ahead by two scores. Kudos to Parkey for gutting out what was a gruesome week of memes, angered fans, and calls for him to be cut; only to deliver the knockout punch against such a tough opponent.
  • Barring anything stupid, any touchdown drive this late in the game would be considered “garbage time points.” Sure, Cousins got Diggs and fantasy owners a touchdown to make the score a bit closer. Of course, all it would take is #BearsSpecialTeams to manifest itself again in the obvious onside kick attempt.
  • Nope. Not happening. Benny Cunningham made a smart play to snatch the ball immediately after Dan Bailey kicked it. And that wrapped up the game.
  • In all, Mitchell Trubisky completed 20 of 31 passes for 165 yards, a touchdown, and two picks. His performance wasn’t pretty; rather, he did just enough against a top five defense to control the clock and keep Cousins and Co. off the field. The ability to extend drives with his legs is reminiscent of Aaron Rodgers. One could say this is his first true win against a tough opponent.
  • For those who follow me on Twitter, you all have likely seen how adamant I am when it comes to feeding Howard the ball. Tonight is a great example of that; 80% of the time Howard carried the ball inside, he’d pick up 5+ yards. I, still, can’t see why it’s a good idea to not give him more touches.
  • After being shut out last week, Taylor Gabriel led all Bears receivers in receptions and receiving yards. I can get used to this whole “spreading the wealth” concept in the passing game.
  • I’m sure coaches from all levels would agree with the following statement: the Bears’ defense is the best in the league when one considers a “whole team” concept. From Akiem Hicks recording 5(!) tackles for loss, to Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos recording a pick each, to Khalil Mack feasting on multiple plays. This defense is 1) stacked from top to bottom and 2) built to last for a long time.

The Chicago Bears (7-3), currently winners of 4 straight games, have a short week with a game on Thanksgiving Day being hosted by the Detroit Lions (4-6) this coming Thursday afternoon. They will then be at the New York Giants (3-7) and at home versus the Los Angeles Rams (9-1) the following week.

It feels good to finally be in a healthy position for clinching a spot in the playoffs.