Win Over Vikings May Not Mean Much On Surface, But It Does For Bears Confidence

Win Over Vikings May Not Mean Much On Surface, But It Does For Bears Confidence
Defensive end Willie Young sacks Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the fourth quarter. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

The Bears are far out of the NFC playoff hunt, but Sunday’s 21-13 win over Minnesota is very important for Marc Trestman’s group moving forward.

For fans that want their team to lay down in hopes of getting a top five or top 10 selection in the 2015 NFL draft that isn’t a smart idea.

With all the talent the Bears have on their team, specifically invested on offense just simply losing the final stretch of games on tap doesn’t serve a purpose. At 4-6 things can get better if they play more complete football like did this past week.

Trestman needs these games. Jay Cutler needs these games. The Bears’ defense needs these games.

It may seem impossible for the Bears to have a shot in the playoffs even if they miraculously win their final six games of the season to finish 10-6.

However, you never know in this day and age. All three phases came together to pick up a much need win on Sunday against the visiting Vikings.

Jared Allen picked up a sack against his former team and was credited with three quarterback hits looking like a rejuvenated man for the Bears’ defense. Willie Young had a key sack late in the game, while Demontre Hurst led the Bears with six solo stops.

At times Lance Briggs and Tim Jennings looked to be playing like them old selves. Both veterans have a lot to prove down the stretch, Jennings more than Briggs considering Lance likely won’t be back after this season.

Outside of an impressive 48-yard run by Vikings special teamer Andrew Sendejo, the longest play the Bears’ defense surrendered was a 24-yard grab by Charles Johnson.

The Sendejo run came on a fake punt attempt from the Minnesota 45-yard line late in the first quarter that set up the Vikings lone touchdown of the day.

Trailing 10-0, fans at Soldier Field who have witnessed three losses in front of their eyes this season had to be thinking “here we go again.”

However, the Bears’ offense came together for their best performance since a Week 6 road win in Atlanta, where they held their last lead coming into Sunday.

Cutler and Co. won the time of possession battle by over 17 minutes as they compiled 468 total yards of offense, picking up 24 first downs and converting 10 of 17 third down attempts.

Cutler tossed 330 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as he finished with a passer rating of 98 and his 22nd career game with 300 plus passing yards.

“We’ve got to move the pocket,” Cutler said to the media following Sunday’s victory. “We’ve got to help our offensive line. We get some easy throws in the flat and get some stuff on the outside. It is going to negate some of the pass rushes we see, keep teams off balance and make us look less predictable.”

Running Hard

Matt Forte has been the most consistent Bears weapon since entering the league as a second-round pick out of Tulane. Forte added his third 100 plus rushing performance of the season with 117 yards on 26 carries. He also finished third in receiving with six catches for 58 yards.

He posted a career-high 74 receptions in his first season under Trestman in 2013 and he already has 67 with six games left in the regular season. The guy is a beast.

This ridiculous 32-yard run late in the third quarter led to Brandon Marshall’s second touchdown of the day and put the Bears up for good. Forte broke four tackles along the way to a season-high carry.

Breaking Out

Speaking of Marshall he led the Bears receiving core with two touchdowns, including a 44-yard score early. Into total, he had 90 yards on seven receptions for an average of 12.9 yards.

Alshon Jeffery was targeted a team-high 16 times, hauling in 11 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. The Bears used him very creatively on short routes, slants and screens. He was huge on third down attempts all afternoon.

Martellus Bennett was quiet, catching just four passes for 29 yards. Second-year man Marquess Wilson looked to be a trusted target for Cutler, seeing four passes thrown his way, catching two for 11 yards.

Hard Truth

21 points isn’t going to be enough against the better offensive teams, but on Sunday the Bears’ offense resembled what we expected from them heading into this season. At least from Cutler, Marshall, Forte and Jeffery, who all made big plays all afternoon.

The two Cutler interceptions are still worrisome at first glance. However, the first interception came late in the first half when Trestman once again failed to control the clock well on one final drive.

The second interception came with under three minutes left in the third quarter, when the Vikings called an all-out blitz on 3rd-and-9 and Cutler simply tossed one up and Harrison Smith picked it off. That can’t happen, he has to either take the sack or simply throw the ball away especially in that situation.

Luckily, the Vikings failed to capitalize off the turnover as Blair Walsh shanked a 38-yarder wide right against the wind.

Earlier in the quarter, the Bears’ offense was very aggressive going for it on a fourth-and-goal from the one. But the play call was suspect as Trestman sent Cutler on a quarterback sweep to the left and he failed to get into the endzone.

The Bears went for it two more times on fourth and short and picked up both on Forte runs. I liked how aggressive the offense was in a game that they had to win for the sake of morale and confidence in the locker room.

But Trestman needs to be more aggressive before the end of halves with ample time left. Also, with so many big targets, a quarterback sweep to Cutler on fourth-and-goal didn’t make much sense.

Cutler still has to clean some things up, but Marshall and Bennett both missed practice time this week and we’ve seen how that’s affected the offensive chemistry at times this season.

The offense for the most part looked like it belonged and that’s a good thing. The offensive line allowed no sacks of Cutler despite Minnesota recording 30 this season.

Most Interesting Play of The Day

On the Bears’ opening drive, Cutler threw an incomplete pass that appeared to be a fumble after replays were shown. However, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer challenged the play, but the ruling on the field was upheld.

Rule 15, Section 2, Article 4 of the NFL rule book says: “If the on-field ruling is a dead ball, any recovery must occur in the continuing action following the loss of possession.”

Take a look for yourself.

A Look Ahead

The Bears host Tampa Bay next Sunday as they reunite with Lovie Smith and Josh McCown for an NFC clash. Following Week 12, they travel to Detroit on Thanksgiving before hosting Dallas, New Orleans, Detroit and ending the regular season in Minnesota.

Here’s where the Bears lie in the NFC standings. They would have to win out and then hope for a miracle to earn one of the final two wildcard spots.

NFC standings Week 12


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