Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears marched on in their already-lost season, this time into US Bank Stadium for a Monday Night Football matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Coming off of a late-game collapse against the Detroit Lions last Sunday, the Bears coaching staff needed a win to help cool their seats off. With all the rumors surrounding Jim Harbaugh, the rest of the season carries heavy implications for whether the coaching staff will return next year, and this game in particular will play into the decision of whether they finish the season at all. Head coach Matt Eberflus came into this game 0-9 in games against the division after General Manager Ryan Poles famously said they would take and not give back.
Monday Night Football was notably missing the famous “ManningCast,” AKA Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, so both ABC and ESPN carried the standard broadcast for this one. Commentators were Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, with Lisa Salters on the sideline.
Also absent in this one for Minnesota was starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, so the “Passtronaut” Joshua Dobbs started for the Vikings. Superstar receiver Justin Jefferson and a few others here also missed this game.
For the Bears, running back D’Onta Foreman was inactive, a bad hit to the running back room with Khalil Herbert just coming off Injured Reserve last week. Starting quarterback Tyrique Stevenson also couldn’t go, backup tackle Larry Borom sat out with an illness, and a few others missed the game listed here.
A cool pre-game note: Adrian Peterson blew the Vikings' horn during their SKOL chant. The future Hall of Famer is one of the few Vikings I can stand.
Here’s the box score for review.
Justin Fields avoids three sacks, but the fourth gets home, and the Bears kick themselves
Justin Fields and the Bears offense took the first possession, and early in the drive Fields took a rough hit on a play where the Vikings got away with defensive holding. But, it was positive yardage on QB scramble. That was followed by another first down pickup throwing to Cole Kmet where he dragged a couple defenders with him. After short throws brought up 3rd-and-2, Fields did a beautiful job avoiding two sacks as he moved left and found Roschon Johnson for the first down. On the next play, Fields avoided another sack and found Herbert up the sideline to move into scoring territory. Then the Vikings finally sacked Fields after a sad blocking effort by Johnson on a free rusher, but Johnson is a running back and Fields probably should have bailed out of that pocket. Then Cairo Santos missed a 48 yard field goal attempt. That’s only Santos’ second missed field goal of the season.
Vikings go 3 and out
Joshua Dobbs immediately went deep to Jordan Addison in double coverage, with Eddie Jackson ripping it out at the very last second. No challenge on a very close call. Then on 3rd down, Montez Sweat got his second sack in his Bears career as he ran Dobbs down rolling left. Bears got nothing on the punt return, but the defense really looked excellent on that drive.
Sweet fourth down conversion and Bears take the lead
Fields sold a fake handoff well and ran for a first down up the sideline. Then Roschon Johnson, clearly still in the coaches’ good graces, caught a screen pass and ran for a big gain. Another sack, this one probably on the offensive line, then an absurd too-many-men-in-the-huddle penalty (seat just got hotter, Luke Getsy) backed the Bears up 17 yards in the wrong direction. On 4th-and-10, Kmet was wide open as the Vikings sent everybody and their brother after Fields. First down, Bears. Later on 3rd-and-4, Johnson was stood up. Santos made that field goal, a 25 yarder, and the Bears strike first. Bears 3-0. Johnson looked smooth on that drive and the Bears dominated time of possession through the first quarter and change.
Dobbs throws a gimme
Vikings running back Alexander Mattison made some good moves to run for a first down, and then Tremaine Edmunds blew up the next run attempt for a loss. Joshua Dobbs then threw another pass into double coverage, and Jaylon Johnson made him pay for that one. Interception, Bears! Kyler Gordon was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taking his helmet off after the play. Ask DJ Moore about what he thinks of that rule.
Edit: They changed it to a taunting penalty.
Fields misses a wide open Mooney
Teven Jenkins, injured on the Bears’ field goal attempt, remained out and Cody Whitehair came in at left guard. The Bears struggled to get any traction on this drive, and on 3rd-and-14, Fields overthrew a wide-open Darnell Mooney. The Bears punted. Other NFL receivers may get a defenseless receiver penalty on that hit.
Penalties move the Vikings forward, but Brisker nabs the Bears’ second INT
Gervon Dexter was called for roughing the passer, likely for landing on Dobbs with his full body weight, but then on the ensuing first down Jaylon Johnson continued his dominant play blowing up a screen pass. On 3rd-and-5, the Vikings threw incomplete but got bailed out by an iffy illegal contact flag. Two first downs by way of penalty. Then on 3rd-and-4 Dobbs threw a good ball which went off Addison’s hands and into the waiting arms of Jaquan Brisker. That was Brisker’s second pick of his young career, and first of this season, and he topped it off with a SKOL chant. Love it.
Defensive showdown so far
DJ Moore took a short throw for 11 yards and a first down. That man hates being tackled, it always seems to take 3 defenders to finish him off. Then Kmet got beat badly on a designed QB run and Fields took a nasty shot. On 3rd-and-9, Fields threw incomplete to an open DJ Moore, and the Bears punted again. At this point, it looked like the pressure from the Vikings may be getting to Fields.
Johnson drops a pick 6
Terell Smith tackled Jordan Addison after an expedited review revealed his knee went down, wiping off a big Vikings gain. On 3rd-and-6, Jaylon Johnson jumped a route perfectly but dropped an interception which likely would have gone back for a touchdown. To this point the game needed to stop looking like the Lions game. Vikings punt. That would have made it three straight drives, three straight picks for this defense. They needed that one.
Bears punt and the Bears again failed to capitalize on a disastrous half from Minnesota
DJ Moore, on nearly the same play as his last catch, went for a big gain to move the Bears near midfield. Then two plays later they tried it again, but the Vikings finally stopped it. Then on 3rd-and-10 Fields couldn’t find anybody downfield and ran for a handful, not enough for the first. That brought up the two-minute warning and then the Bears punted. To this point, the Vikings had three first downs, and two were from penalties on the Bears.
Vikings tie it up as the half expires
The Vikings were scheduled to get the ball to start the second half, and coaches always talk about this opportunity to double-dip. Run a two-minute offense, score, and then get the ball to start the second half. A deep shot to Brandon Powell followed by a throw over the middle to KJ Osborn made it 1st-and-10 in Bears’ territory and the Vikings were threatening to do just that. Kyler Gordon then made an excellent play to break up a deep shot to TJ Hockenson, but the refs saw defensive pass interference where there was none. That made it 6 penalties for 71 yards for the Bears compared to 0 penalties for the Vikings to that point, but on the next play the Bears accepted an intentional grounding penalty (holding was also called), and the Vikings moved backwards. On 3rd-and-24, the Vikings ran a screen pass to make the field goal attempt easier. Greg Joseph kicked true, and it’s 3-3 at the half.
Hockenson gets nothing. No soup for you!
Taking over to start the second half, Minnesota’s Mattison made some more sweet moves to pick up a big gain and a first down. On the next play, Sweat and Brisker shared a sack, with Dobbs holding the ball too long. Gordon then brought Hockensen down on a short throw, and that’s a very large human being he just tackled. TJ Edwards must have taken notes because on 3rd-and-11 he also tackled Hockenson for a minimal gain. The Vikings went for it on fourth down, a very questionable decision, and Gordon once more brought Hockensen out of bounds short of the sticks. It almost looked like Hockensen extended the ball at the end but it was still short. Have yourself a game, Kyler Gordon.
Bears convert a couple of third downs, but eventually settle for a field goal
Starting with good field position, on first down Fields had to dodge multiple defenders just to throw the ball away. To that point, the offensive line had not held up very well. On 3rd-and-3, the rookie Johnson took a carry for a first down. More pressure forced Fields to throw another incompletion, and then on 3rd-and-5 they designed a run for Fields up the middle to move the sticks. On the next 3rd down, this one with two yards to gain, Fields threw outside to Moore and the Vikings stopped him short. Cairo Santos made a 39 yard field goal, and the Bears move ahead once more. Bears 6-3. Although he hasn’t been perfect, I have to take back what I said about the pressure getting to Fields. His composure has been admirable despite rough offensive line play.
Dobbs might finish this game on the bench
Mattison once more scampered for a first down, but then the Bears sniffed out the repeat attempt at the line of scrimmage. Then on 3rd-and-9, Terell Smith made an excellent play to break up a first down throw, but Jaylon Johnson was called for defensive holding. Another iffy call and the sticks moved on a Bears penalty once more. The Bears' defense didn’t blink, forcing another third down with six yards to gain, and TJ Edwards made a beautiful tackle to force fourth down. The Vikings went for it, and Johnson tipped a ball up which landed in TJ Edwards’ lap. Interception, Bears! It’s a pick fest!
Bears settle for another field goal.
The start of the next drive, Fields broke off another good long run for a first down. Moving the ball across midfield, on 3rd-and-3 the Bears ran a good play to get DJ Moore wide open on a blitz. Stock up, Getsy. That brought about the end of third quarter. To start the final fifteen minutes, Roschon Johnson was ripped down, and on 3rd-and-8, Byron Murphy made a nice play to break up a Fields pass to Moore. Cairo Santos then nailed a 55-yard field goal attempt, and the Bears stretch their lead to 9-3. Field goals have defined this game, after it was hyped as Fields vs Dobbs. Neither quarterback can shine when these defenses are playing lights out.
Kyler Gordon comes up with a pick
Terrel Smith was injured on the Vikings’ first play from scrimmage. He stayed down after the play but then walked off with the trainers. On 3rd-and-5, the Vikings threw to the sticks and completed to Jordan Addison. Then a bad Dobbs pass was bobbled by the Bears’ Justin Jones and ended up picked off by Kyler Gordon. That’s the fourth interception and could have been the fifth. Dobbs had a horrible night to that point.
Fields gives it right back
Early in the drive Lucas Patrick dove on a Herbert fumble, and with a lead in the fourth quarter that was a disaster averted. Then Fields found Mooney throwing left for a first down. Moving into the red zone, Fields scrambled and fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Vikings. Just a terrible time for a (second) fumble on a drive where the Bears had a chance to really put a stamp on this one. There is so much to like about Justin Fields’ game, but his fumbles are a real problem.
Vikings take the lead
On 3rd-and-2, the Vikings picked up 18 yards throwing to Powell. Then a deep shot connected to a wide open Jordan Addison, but he was out of bounds. Kyler Gordon was injured on the play, which explains why Addison was so open. The Vikings went to Addison once more to pick up the first down, and an Eberflus challenge was unsuccessful. Minnesota, now across midfield, moved the sticks once more with a throw to Hockenson. Brisker stayed down on that play, and these injuries started piling up. Good news: Gordon came back in. Bad news: Dobbs threw a touchdown to Hockenson, and the Vikings took the lead with the extra point. Vikings 10-9. That drive went 77 yards for a touchdown and the Bears now played from behind for the first time tonight.
Fields fumbles again
The Bears continued throwing around the line of scrimmage, bringing up 3rd-and-10, where Fields ran upfield and fumbled again. He was trying to do too much, getting it to fourth-and-manageable but trying to get the first down instead.
Bears' defense gives Fields another shot
Chicago barely missed a chance at an interception on a risky throw behind the sticks, and that hurts even more. Another play the defense needed in a game where they’ve made so many. Vikings punt.
Santos drills a game winner
Fields found Moore for a first down, which brought up the two minute warning. Fields then scrambled for a 5 yard pickup, followed by a designed run to move the sticks. Still needing a few more for Cairo Santos’ range, Fields danced around the pocket before throwing the ball away on first and second down, bringing up 3rd-and-10. Fields found a wide open DJ Moore and the Bears moved into short field goal range, down one. After kneeling to get the clock down to 10 seconds, Cairo Santos put a game winning field goal through the uprights.
Vikings run out of time
BEARS WIN! BEARS WIN! First division win of Eberflus’ coaching career.
The Bears dominated the Vikings in the first half on the stat sheet, moving the ball 158 yards compared to 76 for Minnesota, and nearly doubling them up in time of possession 19:47 to 10:13. They won the turnover battle 2-0 in the first half and it could have easily been 3-0 if Jaylon Johnson caught that pick. The one place the Bears didn’t crush? The scoreboard. A halftime score of 3-3 in this one was inexcusable, even without the missed field goal. Every Bears drive stalled in one way or another.
Going into the fourth quarter this game was Bears 6, Vikings 3, so it’s no surprise that a fourth quarter performance won the game. The defense, which had been playing like the best defense in the NFL, finally broke on the Vikings’ 77 yard touchdown drive to take the lead. In a game of field goals and defensive prowess, the team that gave up the touchdown lost the game, and that was almost the Bears. Fields did a fantastic job on that last drive, avoiding pressure, throwing the ball away when needed, and finding DJ Moore wide open to get Santos in range for a game-winning field goal.
Despite the win, it’s worth noting the Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and the Steelers fired theirs too in Matt Canada, so this may be the last straw for Luke Getsy. When your defense picks off the opposing quarterback four times, and you only score field goals, there’s really no excuse. No blaming execution. Your offense stinks.
Most Valuable Bear: Jaylon Johnson. That pick helped keep the Vikings off the scoreboard early in this one. Even with the dropped pick six for a second week in a row, Johnson had a hell of a game.
Most Underated Bear: Kyler Gordon. He was tasked with covering TJ Hockenson for a lot of this game, and he held up his end of the bargain.
Injury note: Teven Jenkins returned for this game after missing a couple possessions. He appears to be OK. Same goes for Kyler Gordon. Stay tuned to Windy City Gridiron for news on Jaquan Brisker.
Be sure to tune in to Bill Zimmerman’s Not Your Average Bears Postgame Show! on 2nd City Gridiron.
Our day-after Bears game recap, Bear & Balanced, will be at 6:00 on Tuesday night due to the Bears playing on MNF, so join Jeff Berckes and Lester Wiltfong for their cooled-down review on 2nd City Gridiron. Once they press stop on the show, you can catch the audio on our podcast channel.
Plus, we’ll have several articles here at WCG breaking down the game you can find in our Bears vs. Vikings story stream.