3 and Out: Cairo Santos comes to rescue, Bears break NFC North losing streak

Bears beat Vikings on four field goals

Chicago Bears kicker Cairo Santos celebrates with teammate Lucas Patrick after kicking a 30-yard field goal during the final minute against the Minnesota Vikings, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Minneapolis. The Bears won 12-10.

Justin Fields fumbled twice in the fourth quarter, but Cairo Santos knocked in the game-winner to stop a 12-game NFC North losing streak for the Bears in a 12-10 victory over Minnesota Vikings on “Monday Night Football” in Minneapolis. Here’s what you need to know:

Three moments that mattered

1. Santos for the win: Santos knocked in the game-winning 30-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to secure head coach Matt Eberflus his first divisional win. Santos was 4-of-5 on field goal attempts. While an ugly offensive showing, the win was a testament to the defense holding strong.

2. Setting it up With 55 seconds left, Fields found DJ Moore for a 36-yard gain on third-and-10. The play proved crucial after a pair of incompletions and the offense stagnant up to that point; Fields ultimately led a 66-yard game-winning drive after twice fumbling earlier in the quarter.

3. Challenge lost: With 7:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs tossed a 14-yard pass to Jordan Addison. The Bears challenged the ruling on the catch, lost it, and the Vikings eventually scored a touchdown on a completion to TJ Hockenson for the 10-9 Vikings lead with 5:54 left.

Three things that worked

1. Pick party: The Bears defense played a very strong first half that was complimented by interceptions from Jaylon Johnson and Jaquan Brisker. TJ Edwards later had one in the third quarter and Kyler Gordon picked off Dobbs again in the fourth quarter. Finishing the first half with only three points surrendered, limiting Minnesota to 76 total yards and nearly doubling them in time of possession was a definite positive for the defense.

2. CB2: Starting in place of Tyrique Stevenson, who missed Monday’s game with an ankle injury, fellow rookie Terrell Smith played a strong game opposite Johnson. Smith led the defense with eight tackles and was a noticeable force in the secondary. It’s a good sign for a recent draft pick that missed considerable time with an illness earlier this season.

3. Making them Sweat: The trade is appearing to pay off for general manager Ryan Poles. Montez Sweat has definitely brought juice to the pass-rush, and he finished with 1 1/2 sacks to show for it. Sweat, who was under the microscope for his lack of snaps last week, had a first-series sack and ultimately finished with three tackles.

Three things that didn’t

1. Luke Getsy: Fields, at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter, averaged 0.3 air yards per attempt. The Bears had three points at that stage. The defense forced two consecutive first-half turnovers and the Bears punted twice. It didn’t get better in the second half. The Bears will talk about needing to execute better, but what was that game plan?

2. Proof in the pudding: The Bears defense forced four total turnovers, and had only three field goals to show for it. The Bears weren’t overly interested in stretching the field for Moore or Darnell Mooney to make a play up top, and the score largely reflected that.

3. Fumble it away: Two fumbles by Fields in the fourth quarter is a definite sore spot. In a crucial stretch for his long-term future with the Bears, these are game situations where it won’t reflect well for him. Ball security in late-game situations is a premium, and fumbles continue to haunt Fields. Fields now has 35 in his career.

What’s next?

The Bears have their bye week. They return Dec. 10 for another NFC North matchup, this one at Soldier Field against the Detroit Lions. Kickoff is at noon.

Jacob Bartelson

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.