In a defensive battle between NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings narrowly outlasted the Chicago Bears, 19-13. Kirk Cousins was finally able to snatch his first-ever Monday Night Football win after losing his past nine contests on the big stage.
Despite the Bears’ defense holding Dalvin Cook to just 91 yards on 27 carries, the team’s offense mustered only one first down in the second half, effectively sealing Chicago’s fate.
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STORY OF THE GAME
A dreadful performance from the Bears’ offense saw the unit amass a mere 149 yards. Meanwhile, punter Pat O’Donnell netted 221 yards on five punts. Credit head coach Mike Zimmer and the Vikings’ defense — even with multiple secondary members sidelined, they were able to scheme defenders into position and capitalize on Chicago’s poor play.
Cordarrelle Patterson did his best with every touch but could not get anything going on the ground in relief of David Montgomery, who was out with a concussion. Patterson was repeatedly hit behind or at the line of scrimmage, often needing extra effort plays to simply avoid losing yards. His best snap of the night came on a kick return to start the second half, taking it 104 yards to the house.
Quarterback Nick Foles had no answers for the Vikings’ pressure and two-high safety coverage, often opting to check it down or throw it away. Even when kept clean from pressure, he connected on 13-of-17 passes for a measly 90 scoreless yards and an interception. On the Bears’ final drive of the game, he took a hard hit to the ground while trying to throw the ball away and had to be carted off the field.
Although the offense was suspect for yet another week, the Bears’ defense did all it could to keep the team in the game. Khalil Mack was gifted his third career interception when Adam Thielen let a pass go right through his arms. The pass rush was dominant but could not reach Cousins as he consistently got rid of the football quickly, resulting in the Bears owning 10 pass-rush wins that failed to generate pressure.
Their play against the run was similarly stellar, forcing 24 defensive stops on 32 total tackles. Not only did they wrap up at the point of attack, but the front seven also did not allow Cook to break off large runs, forfeiting just 1.1 yards after contact per attempt — the third-lowest mark of the week.
The Vikings’ offense did not fare much better than the Bears’ unit, but Cousins was nearly perfect when it mattered. On third downs, he completed 10-of-11 attempts for 149 yards and two touchdown strikes to Thielen in the red zone. Rookie wideout Justin Jefferson impressed once again, hauling in eight passes for 135 yards, the fourth 100-yard game of his young career.
Five Vikings rookies saw 20 or more snaps tonight: offensive guard Ezra Cleveland (73), Jefferson (61), cornerback Jeff Gladney (50), edge defender D.J. Wonnum (28) and linebacker Troy Dye (20). Cleveland endured a rough night at his right guard position, allowing three quarterback pressures on 37 pass-blocking snaps and being constantly beaten in the run game.
Gladney did not allow any chunk gains but did surrender four receptions on five targets into his coverage, with three going for first downs. Wonnum enjoyed a nice outing, as he recorded three pressures, including a sack, on 20 pass-rush reps. Dye was not on the field much, but he had a missed tackle against the run and allowed his lone target to be caught for seven yards.
Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson were the only rookies on the gridiron for the Bears tonight. Despite being on the field for 40-plus snaps, Mooney saw just two targets that he caught for a paltry 3 yards due to defenders tackling him shortly after the catch. Kmet was comparably ineffective, reeling in just one of two targets for 7 yards. Johnson struggled against Jefferson and Thielen, conceding five receptions for 98 yards and four first downs. He did have a couple of clean pass breakups, but he’ll largely want to move on from this outing.
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