CHICAGO – Any hope the Bears could build on their first win in almost a calendar year were extinguished Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Quarterback Justin Fields suffered a right hand injury and did not return, backup Tyson Bagent was picked off in the closing minutes and the Bears fell into last place in the NFC North with a 19-13 loss. Here’s what you need to know:
Three moments that mattered
1. JF1 down: Fields was taken down from behind trying to escape pressure with 10:43 left in the third quarter. Fields was in obvious discomfort and went to the injury tent before later leaving for the locker room. Bagent was promptly strip-sacked by Vikings safety Josh Metellus. The fumble was recovered by linebacker Jordan Hicks for a 46-yard touchdown and a 19-6 lead. Fields was later downgraded to out.
2. Thanks for coming: With the Bears driving and 1:31 left in the game, Bagent opted to try and get DJ Moore on a one-on-one on a deep pass towards the left sideline. Bagent was intercepted by cornerback Byron Murphy to kill the momentum and essentially ice the Vikings’ win at 19-13.
3. Gotta capitalize: Fields and the offense were in business after linebacker T.J. Edwards and the defense forced a Kirk Cousins fumble with 2:48 left in the first half, but the Bears were unable to make use of the favorable field position inside the Vikings’ 30 yard line. Three plays into the possession, Fields was intercepted by Hicks. Instead, the Vikings promptly marched down the field for a touchdown with 12 seconds left to take the 12-6 lead.
Three things that worked
1. Bagent for six: After a disastrous start, Bagent generated a nine-play drive that ended in his first career rushing touchdown to make it 19-13 Vikings with 7:46 left. Moore’s two receptions for a combined 42 yards were critical to the drive’s success and got the Bears within a possession.
2. Moore like it: After a quiet first half, Moore came alive over the final two quarters to finish with five receptions for 51 yards. The stats aren’t eye-popping, but he did take plenty of physical hits and gave his backup QB a chance in a suboptimal situation.
3. Decent showing: The Bears ultimately lost, but the Vikings didn’t exactly have an offensive clinic, either. The rushing game had a combined 46 rushing yards, tight end T.J. Hockenson was their most productive receiver with six catches, and the offense only had 220 total yards with 19 points to show for it. The front-seven sacked Cousins twice and the Vikings were 2 of 13 on third down. It’s fair to wonder if Fields stayed healthy, what could’ve come.
Three things that didn’t
1. First half offense: The Bears should’ve had more than six points at the break. In the opening minute of the second quarter, a promising drive with first-and-goal stalled at the Vikings’ 4-yard line after a Fields sack. Santos converted the field goal. Then, after coaxing a turnover with 1:47 before the half, Fields’ interception halted progress. The offense needed to convert those chances into touchdowns; not to mention, convert third downs. They were 3 of 8 at halftime.
2. No momentum: With 7:03 left in the second quarter, Cousins was sacked and fumbled on a pass attempt by Jaquan Brisker and it appeared to be initially recovered by the Bears in-bounds. After discussion, the refs ruled they did not field it in-bounds, taking away what would’ve been a short field. The Bears did force an ensuing punt, and later cashed-in on a Cairo Santos field goal to tie the game at six, but that could’ve been a huge momentum swing in the Bears’ favor with the game for the taking.
3. Critical spot: Facing fourth-and-3 on the Vikings’ 45 yard line with 4:21 left in the third quarter, coach Matt Eberflus opted to keep his offense out on the field. With Fields out for the game and a 13-point deficit, the aggressiveness fit the situation. The execution, an incomplete Bagent pass on a contested route to Tyler Scott on the boundary, just wasn’t there in a spot they needed to keep the drive alive for points.
The Las Vegas Raiders visit the Bears at Soldier Field on Oct. 22. Kickoff is at Noon.