All night, the Chicago Bears needed the offense to make one play against the Minnesota Vikings. They refused
Time and time, the Bears' defense made stops, forced turnovers, earned short fields, and did everything and anything to give their offense a chance to win. Each time, the kindness was met with a gross malaise of ineptitude.
After Joshua Dobbs finally woke the slumbering Vikings offense for a touchdown to give Minnesota a 10-9 lead, another head-shaking Chicago loss felt inevitable. It felt doubly so after Justin Fields fumbled for the second consecutive drive, turning a potential two-score lead into a Minnesota first down away from a 10-9 loss.
But the defense bowed up once again, forcing a punt.
Then, finally, after what felt like 45,000 bubble screens, ineffective backfoot heaves, and runs directly into defenders' clutches, the Bears made a play.
Facing third-and-10, Fields had time, as the blitz-happy Brian Flores dropped his defense into coverage and found D.J. Moore for the game's biggest play, a 36-yard-gain to set up a chip-shot game-winning field goal. Bears 12, Vikings 10.
"The guys never wavered, so the guys in the locker room, appreciate them for sticking beside me and believing in me, and defense did a great job by getting us the ball back for that last drive, and offense did a great job executing those plays," Fields said after the victory, via the official transcript. "Felt great, and really just felt good of fighting through the adversity, ups and downs of the game. Guys never got too high or too low, and we fought and finished in the end, so it was good."
Fields and the Bears' offense, despite being gifted great field position all game, failed to punch the ball into the end zone, generating 4.7 yards per play on 68 plays.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's answer to the blitzing Vikings' defense was screens and quick throws that quickly became ineffective. Per Next Gen Stats, 43.2 percent of Fields' targets were at or behind the line of scrimmage, the highest in a game by any QB in 2023 (min. 20 attempts). Fields air yards per attempt of 2.7 was the lowest of his career.
Fields' faults are plentiful, but concocting that sort of game plan for that type of quarterback is like owning a Ferrari and driving it in circles around the cul-de-sac. What's even the point?
For the second consecutive week, it appeared the Bears would waste a four-turnover effort by the defense. Fields' second fumble seemed to seal Chicago's fate. There is plenty of blame to go around for the struggling Chicago offense, from the play-calling to the porous offensive line to the lack of continuity to the quarterback missing plays. However, even the most ardent Fields backer must concede that the back-to-back fumbles were solely on the QB.
"First off, can't fumble," Fields said. "Need better ball security on that. It's crazy because Roschon (Johnson) I think he fumbled a play or two before I fumbled on the first one, so I said to him, 'Ball security is the most important thing right now,; and two plays later I fumble, then the second one was like a back breaker."
Luckily for Fields, his defense gave him another shot to make a big play finally.
"Relief. Relief," the QB said. "We came in at halftime, and we were up, defense was playing a great game, offense kind of got off to a slower start than we wanted to, but nothing that mattered in the first half. It mattered to us starting in the second half, so that was our message was just finish, finish, finish, because there's been too many times this season where we've been up, we didn't do a good job of finishing, so again, just going back, proud of everyone for fighting through the end, no matter what had happened, and finishing the game out. Ultimately got the dub, so yeah."
A week after being unable to finish against a division foe, Matt Eberflus's club finally won an NFC North tilt for the first time since 2021 and the first time of the coach's tenure.