The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings had a back and forth battle that truly felt like a playoff game on Sunday afternoon, but every time the Vikes landed a shot, the Bears counterpunched. Chicago’s win pulled them back to .500 at 7-7, and while the Eagles didn’t cooperate by knocking off the Cardinals (now 8-6), the Bears are still alive for wildcard spot in the NFC.
They’ll need some help, but here they are playing meaningful December football, which is something not every team can say right now.
These next two weeks will be fun.
The Bears offense was the star of this game, but after a brutal red zone interception gave us all a ‘here we go again’ feeling, it was Chicago’s defense that came up big by forcing a Minnesota four and out.
The defense still needs to shake of whatever has ailed them in 3 of their last 4 games, but the offense is playing good enough right now to carry them for at least one more game.
(That may have been the strangest sentence I’ve written in a long time.)
But back to yesterday’s game, the Vikings had the edge in total yards (407 to 397) and in first downs (26 to 23), but the Bears had the time of possession edge (32:59 to 27:01), they were better on third downs (50% to 36%), and they also stopped the Vikings on both of their fourth down tries.
Now let’s take a closer look at the playing time break downs for the Bears and also some individual stats.
Overall, the Bears didn’t ask Mitchell Trubisky to do much as their ground game was eating all afternoon, but to his credit, he did what he was asked and executed the game plan, and his scrambles were meaningful. He had 8 runs for 34 yards, and he completed 15 of 21 passes (71.4%), for 202 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception, for a passer rating of 97.7.
The red zone pick was bad, but he owned in it the post game presser. “It got away from me a little bit,” Trubisky said. “I thought I could make a little bit better of a throw and also a little bit better of a decision down there. That would be one I would want back.”
David Montgomery had his best day as a pro with 32 carries, 146 yards, 2 TDs, plus a catch for 16 yards. He was running hard all day, but the offensive line was putting in work as well.
I tweeted about this play after it happened on Sunday, but this is a great breakdown here. Whitehair with the pancake, but Mustipher having the awareness to post his arm on the nose before sealing off the linebacker was impressive as well, and Kmet getting his guy was nice too. https://t.co/yWIVoadOc7— Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. (@wiltfongjr) December 21, 2020
If Sam Mustipher can continue to play this well these next two weeks then he’ll be the odds on favorite to man the center spot in 2021. Consistency is key for offensive linemen, and Mustipher has been putting quality tape out there for weeks now.
Chicago’s leading receiver was wide out Allen Robinson II with 83 yards on 4 catches. Darnell Mooney matched A-Rob’s 4 grabs, and he had 49 yards and a TD. He also had 1 run for 16 yards and is yet another day three gem from general manager Ryan Pace.
Mooney’s up to 46 receptions on the year, and that’s a new Bears rookie record for wide receivers surpassing the 45 from Harlon Hill and Johnny Knox.
The heavy run game plan meant that Javon Wims out-snapped Anthony Miller, and it also led to tight end Cole Kmet playing every snap on offense. Kmet ended up with just 2 receptions for 12 yards, but I thought he had a nice game blocking.
Danny Trevathan led the Bears in tackles with 11, and he also had a pass defensed. He’s now up to 100 tackles on the season, which is just 2 shy of his Chicago’ high.
The Bears had 3 sacks on the day with Bilal Nichols (7 tackles, 3 QB hits) and Robert Quinn (2 tackles, 1 QBH, 1 forced fumble) each getting one, and Khalil Mack (3 tackles) and Brent Urban (3 tackles) splitting one.
And speaking of Nichols...
Bears DI Bilal Nichols had one hell of a game against the Vikings. Two sacks, five pressures, three stops, and he just swats Kirk Cousins down here. No soup for you, Kirk. pic.twitter.com/ROnW6KTyvf— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) December 21, 2020
The Bears didn’t pick up a single tackle for loss against the Vikes, as Dalvin Cook had a fine day running against them with 24 carries for 132 yards and a TD.
Reserve defensive backs Duke Shelley (7 tackles) and Kindle Vildor (5 tackles) did a decent job filling in for Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine.
Sherrick McManis got the game ending interception off a Kirk Cousins Hail-Mary.
*The above image has players that only played in the third phase.
Cairo Santos was a perfect 4 for 4 on field goals and 3 for 3 on extra points. His 92.6% on field goals is a career high, and is currently the highest percentage in team history for a single season ahead of Robbie Gould’s 89.7% which he did twice.
Patrick O’Donnell punted once for 44 yards, and he knocked it inside the 20. This is the first time in the Matt Nagy era that they only had a single punt.
Cordarrelle Patterson had 3 kick returns for 69 yards and he tweaked his knee during the game. The Bears are calling him day to day right now.
The newly active Xavier Crawford had one of the Bears 2 special teams tackles.
To check out the full Bears vs Vikings box score I find that ESPN has an easy to navigate site.
All statistics and snap counts are taken directly from the NFL’s Game Statistic and Information System, as are the accompanying pictures.