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Bears’ defense shuts down Joshua Dobbs, Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — The Chicago Bears dominated the Minnesota Vikings in several areas Monday night (except on the scoreboard) and it looked like it would cost the Bears when the Vikings took the lead late in the fourth quarter. But Justin Fields orchestrated a final drive that resulted in a field goal and a 12-10 Bears victory.

The Bears are the first team to win without scoring a touchdown after teams previously went 0-28, and it was their first win when not scoring a touchdown since 1993.

Chicago Bears

The Bears (4-8) ended their streak of consecutive NFC North losses at 12 after Fields led the offense on a 10-play, 66-yard drive in the final 2:12 to take the lead for good.

Wins are important, but the way Monday’s victory played out leaves the Bears searching for plenty of answers as they head into their bye week.

Chicago’s offense was stuck in neutral after a game plan that relied heavily on screen passes struggled to capitalize off the extra possessions it received from the Bears’ defense, which came away with four turnovers for a second straight game.

Fields did enough to lead his team to a win, but lingering questions about his long-term viability in Chicago will remain.

Troubling trend: The Bears are forcing turnovers on a consistent basis — seven interceptions in the past two games — but the offense isn’t taking advantage. Chicago failed to score off multiple first-half turnovers in back-to-back games after Jaylon Johnson and Jaquan Brisker picked off deep passes in the second quarter. On each of the subsequent possessions, Fields couldn’t connect with his deep ball on third down, which led to stalled drives. Chicago dominated time of possession, the turnover battle and total yards in the first half but had three points to show for it. The Bears had three points total off four takeaways.

Biggest hole in the game plan: To counter Minnesota’s aggressive blitz, the Bears’ passing game turned horizontal. Fields reached a career high in passes completed at or behind the line of scrimmage (10) by the end of the first half and averaged 0.3 air yards on those completions. The screen game may have felt necessary, but its ineffectiveness cost Chicago several opportunities to score. Perhaps no play illustrated that more than a short pass to DJ Moore on third-and-2 in the third quarter that fell short of the first down. The drive resulted in a 39-yard field goal after the Bears’ offense stalled.

QB breakdown: Chicago’s game plan didn’t do Fields many favors after a strong, balanced performance last week in Detroit. Fields had four completions for a first down on the Bears’ opening drive, which culminated with a missed field goal, and was 12-for-12 for 100 yards by the end of the first quarter. That’s where his good fortune ran out until the very end of the game. Over the course of the final seven games of the season, the Bears want to see Fields come through in critical situations. After Chicago recorded its fourth interception, Fields was strip-sacked as the Bears tried to make their way into the red zone. On the Bears’ next drive, Fields coughed up the ball when he committed to run on third-and-long. But Fields put his two fumbles in the rearview mirror and led the Bears down the field for the second fourth-quarter comeback of his career.

Eye-popping stat: The Bears had lost 12 straight NFC North games and hadn’t beaten a division opponent since Matt Eberflus became the head coach to start last season. It was the longest active division losing streak in the NFL and it was the Bears’ longest since the 1970 merger, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Eberflus is now 1-9 vs. the NFC North. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Lions (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 10)

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings lost their second consecutive game in near identical fashion as they did the week before: committing far too many turnovers and leaving an exhausted defense unable to protect a late lead. That formula will haunt the Vikings during their bye week, which they enter with a .500 record (6-6) when it could have easily been 8-4.

Last week in Denver, they committed three turnovers and allowed the Broncos a go-ahead touchdown with 1:03 remaining. Monday night, quarterback Joshua Dobbs threw four interceptions and the Bears won on a field goal with 10 seconds remaining. The Vikings now rank No. 31 in the NFL in turnovers per game (2.0) and No. 30 in turnover margin per game (-0.67).

In the big picture, the Vikings are still in the No. 7 spot of the NFC playoff race, and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives them a 62.4% chance of making the playoffs. Their offense might get more explosive with the expected return of receiver Justin Jefferson, but if the Vikings can’t correct their turnover issues, it probably won’t matter.

QB breakdown: Dobbs gave the Vikings some things to think about during their bye. He threw four interceptions, bringing his total to eight turnovers in four games with the Vikings, and is officially 1-2 as the Vikings’ starter. Their win in his debut against the Atlanta Falcons was credited to rookie Jaren Hall, who started the game. Dobbs has been one of the best NFL stories in years, but he was always an emergency starter, and the Vikings now have their original No. 2 quarterback — Nick Mullens — back healthy. That’s not to suggest the Vikings will or should turn to Mullens post-bye, but they’ll certainly need to work through that possibility during their time away.

Promising trend: After a week of intrigue surrounding the Vikings’ offensive backfield, the team decided to give Alexander Mattison the start, but Ty Chandler got the first carry of the game. Coach Kevin O’Connell raised the possibility of a shakeup after Mattison lost his second fumble of the season last week in a loss to the Denver Broncos. O’Connell said accountability is important, but in the end he decided against embarrassing Mattison, a well-liked veteran, in an obvious way. Ultimately, Mattison (10 carries for 52 yards) and Chandler (four carries for eight yards) ended up splitting the load.

Describe the game in two words: Bad football. The Bears ran on 22 of the first 25 plays of the game, and Dobbs threw interceptions on two of the Vikings’ first three possessions, but somehow the game was tied 3-3 at halftime — tied for the fewest combined points in the first two quarters of an NFL game this season. The first half didn’t provide much incentive to continue watching into the night. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: at Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, Dec. 10)


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