LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears can at least breathe a little easier during their bye.
They got a rare win over a division rival when it looked as if they were headed toward yet another ugly loss and beat the Minnesota Vikings 12-10 on a field goal in the closing seconds by Cairo Santos on Monday night.
Sure, it wasn’t pretty. But as far as they’re concerned, it beats the alternative.
“From what happened the week before and the way we came together on Monday and put our eyes forward to the next opponent, and to be able to do that going into the bye week with a win, and a win in that way, that fashion, is a big step for our football team and a big step for us as the Chicago Bears,” coach Matt Eberflus said Tuesday.
Fields shook off two late lost fumbles and helped lead the winning drive before Santos made his fourth field goal. The defense intercepted Joshua Dobbs four times, and the Bears (4-8) stopped a 12-game losing streak against NFC North opponents. They were 0-9 against the division under Eberflus.
The defense. The Bears have gone from being ranked 29th to ninth in total defense since a Week 5 win at Washington. And the defense led the way against the Vikings. Chicago held Minnesota to 242 yards and just two third down conversions on nine tries — a 22% rate that was the second lowest allowed by the Bears this season. The Vikings were 2 for 13 — 15.4% — in a Week 6 win over the Bears at Soldier Field.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Points after turnovers. The Bears would not have needed a late field goal had they capitalized the way they would have liked on their takeaways. The season-high four interceptions led to a grand total of three points, with Chicago punting twice and Fields losing a fumble in the fourth quarter.
CB Jaylon Johnson. Johnson might be in for a big raise with his rookie contract set to expire. He had the first of Chicago’s four interceptions on Monday, giving him three in the past six weeks after picking off one pass in his first 43 NFL games. Eberflus thought he missed what “should have been a great return” by cutting to the middle instead of taking it down the sideline.
WR Darnell Mooney. Mooney had just two catches for 6 yards and was targeted three times in another quiet performance. It was his third straight game with two receptions or fewer. Mooney has 25 receptions for 351 yards, after finishing with 40 receptions for 493 yards in 12 games last season. It’s a steep drop from where he was in 2021, when he had 1,055 yards as a second-year pro.
Rookie CB Tyrique Stevenson (foot), who missed the game after starting the first 11 was injured on an interception during a seven-on-seven drill in practice last week, Eberflus said. Eberflus said “yeah, I hope so,” when asked if he expects the second-round draft pick to play again this season.
4 — The Bears forced four turnovers for the second straight game. They have seven interceptions in that span.
35 — Fields’ two fumbles gave him 35 in 35 games. He has seven this season after leading the league with 16 a year ago.
The Bears have a bye, then will try to get some payback for a stinging loss at Detroit when they host the Lions on Dec. 10. Chicago blew a 12-point lead in the closing minutes in Week 11 at Ford Field and fell 31-26. The Bears have not won consecutive games since beating Seattle and the New York Giants in Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2021 season.
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