For the first time in six years, the Chicago Bears hosted a Sunday night football game in Soldier Field. It was a big game for many reasons, the most obvious being that the winner controlled their own destiny in the NFC North.
On a 30 degree night in Chicago, the Bears and Vikings faced-off.
It was a game dominated by the Bears’ defense from the start. Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Leonard Floyd all had huge games. The result? It was a tough 25-20 win over a division opponent on national television.
The score doesn’t do the Bears’ defense justice. They were special in the biggest game of the year. They forced three turnovers, two in the red zone, which was ultimately the difference. Leading up to the game, it was well known that Cousins can turn the ball over. He did that on Sunday.
Safety Eddie Jackson continued his Pro Bowl season with a pick-six that put the Bears up 20-6 at the time. Adrian Amos also got his first interception of the season right before halftime, which was huge keeping the Vikings scoreless before halftime.
Leonard Floyd may be back. He was creating pressure on a consistent basis against the Vikings. Having Floyd on one side and Mack on the other makes it almost impossible for opposing teams to contain the Bears.
Speaking of Mack, he forced another fumble. Like most Bears fans, it’s hard sometimes to believe he’s really on the roster, but when he makes special plays like he did on Sunday night, it’s fun to realize that you’re watching a future Hall of Fame player.
Let’s not forget about Hicks, who had his best game of the season. He had five, yes, five tackles for loss against the Vikings. I still can’t believe the Patriots let him walk in free agency. Kudos to general manager Ryan Pace for identifying Hicks.
Early on, the gameplan by head coach Matt Nagy and the offense was solid. There was a ton of misdirection and motion going on. It kept the Vikings’ talented unit off-balance. The Bears were also to rush for over 100 yards as a team before the end of the first half.
Clearly, Nagy and his staff saw something on tape.
Second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky made some big, big plays, but had some bad moments as well. His ability to thrown on the run was on display in the first half, specifically on his touchdown pass to rookie wideout Anthony Miller, who made a great catch.
In the second half, the offense struggled to do much of anything. The Vikings’ defense is one of the best units in the NFL, so it was a matter of time before they started having some success, but the Bears also beat themselves at times.
Trubisky’s second interception of the game came on a play where Allen Robinson was held. The problem is Robinson wasn’t open and there was some miscommunication between the QB and WR. It was overall a bad decision by a young QB.
The score of the game was so close because the Bears’ offense stalled at times. It didn’t help that the Bears turned the ball over two times in the second half, including a Tarik Cohen fumble. Turnovers on offense cannot continue to happen if the Bears want to win the division.
At times, it felt like the Bears’ offense just went with what the talented Vikings’ defense gave them. That meant running the football. Jordan Howard had 18 tough carries in Sunday’s win over the Vikings.
After having a horrible week 10, kicker Cody Parkey bounced back. He went three for three in field goal attempts, including one late in the fourth quarter from 48 yards out. It was great to see Nagy have confidence in his kicker to close out the game.
The one thing that really drives me insane is Vic Fangio’s prevent defense when up two scores. After going up 16 points in the fourth quarter, the Bears’ defense gave up two 11-play drives for a total of 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Something has to change there.
Look, a win is a win. The Bears are 7-3 and in first place in the NFC North. Let’s enjoy it. See everyone Thursday morning.
Follow Nick on Twitter–Featured Photo Credit: (Brian Cassella, Jose M. Osorio, and Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)