Vikings offense sputters as Bears win, gain breathing room in NFC North
CHICAGO The Chicago Bears rise, from a 5-11 record to the top of the NFC North under first-year head coach Matt Nagy, has been fueled by a creative offense and a defense that leads the league in points off turnovers.
It was the latter attribute, more than the former, that fueled the 25-20 victory that extended the Bears advantage in the NFC North to 1 andfrac12; games over the Vikings.
Despite gaining only 118 yards through the games first three quarters, the Vikings stayed within striking distance of the Bears into the fourth quarter, where second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky committed some of the neophyte errors that came with his spellbinding mobility through the Bears 6-3 start.
But in the end, it was Kirk Cousins who made the mistake the Vikings couldnt afford.
With the Vikings down 14-6 in the fourth quarter, Cousins sailed a throw for Laquon Treadwell that turned into a crippling interception after Bears safety Eddie Jackson made a play on the ball, picking it off and returning it 27 yards for a touchdown that put Chicago up 22-6 after Trubisky hit his second two-point conversion pass of the evening.
The interception was Cousins second of the night, to go with a Dalvin Cook fumble that ended a potential Vikings scoring drive late in the first quarter.
After their victory Sunday night, the Bears are 7-3 and heading to play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The Vikings, now 5-4-1, will again play on Sunday night next week, at U.S. Bank Stadium against a Packers team whose playoff hopes are on life support.
Through two quarters, the Bears held the ball for 19:55, gaining 115 of their 202 first-half yards on the ground. Trubisky posted 37 yards on six attempts, with a 9-yard designed run coming among his scrambles, and the Bears misdirection helped create holes in the middle of the Vikings defense for running back Jordan Howard, who gained 46 yards on 10 first-half attempts.
After the Bears ran the ball or Trubisky scrambled on seven consecutive plays, the quarterback found Anthony Miller in the back of the end zone for a 18-yard touchdown, before Nagy opted to go for two with the Bears up 9-0. Trubisky hit Josh Bellamy for the conversion, giving Chicago an 11-point lead it would extend to 14 with Cody Parkeys second field goal of the first half with 50 seconds remaining until halftime.
While the Bears built their 14-0 lead, the Vikings managed only 77 first-half yards on 22 plays, with 43 of those yards coming on a two-minute drill that ended in a turnover as Cousins sailed a throw beyond tight end Kyle Rudolph while under pressure from Leonard Floyd.
The Vikings first points of the night didnt come until the final minutes of the third quarter, after Trubisky forced a throw to Allen Robinson with Anthony Harris sitting over the top of the receiver. Harris came up with his second interception of the night, setting up a Dan Bailey field goal after a first-down sack from Khalil Mack and third-down pressure from Akiem Hicks and Floyd stalled the Vikings drive.
The Vikings forced a punt after Baileys field goal, but on their first offensive play, Cousins threw his interception to Jackson.