The Chicago Bears continue their hot streak as they pulled off a 33-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15. The Bears now find themselves back at .500 with a 7-7 record. As a matter of fact, the Bears are right in the thick of things when it comes to the NFC Playoff picture.
As it stands, Chicago is just behind the Arizona Cardinals as the eighth seed in the NFC.
Nevertheless, today was a great day for the city of Chicago and Bears fans alike. Not only did they keep their playoff hopes alive but they exacted revenge on the Vikings for their Week 10 loss at Soldier Field.
Although the win itself was fantastic, it was the way in which they won that stood out. All three phases and the coaching staff showed up when it mattered most. It wasn't a pretty win but it was still delightful. In a tradition like any other, here are the main takeaways from the Bears' much-needed win over the Vikings.
In what was by far his best performance as a head coach all year, Matt Nagy finally showed off what he's capable of. Nagy finally committed to the run and stuck with it all the way through. He put Mitchell Trubisky in a position to succeed and once again catered a gameplan around his offense's strengths.
Sure, there were still some kinks to work out, but they weren't as awful as the weeks prior. Give credit where credit is due — the third-year head coach has pulled this team out of the depths of football hell and has them right back in this playoff race at 7-7. While he's the one that put them in that same depths of hell to begin with. that's a story for another time. Nagy swallowed his pride and put his ego aside to put the team in a better position down the home stretch.
Today marked yet another solid performance from the five guys up front. They did a whale of a job blocking in the passing and running game. As a unit, they allowed only one sack on the day, which afforded Trubisky some comfortability in the pocket. Furthermore, the offensive line's performance led to the Bears rushing for 199 yards on the afternoon. It has been several weeks in a row that the new makeshift offensive line has impressed. Barring any new injuries, this unit to instill some confidence for an offense striving to make a playoff push.
Montgomery got it done today. The Bears fed him the ball early and continued to do so throughout the game. He rewarded them for that decision. On the ground, he popped off 146 yards on 32 carries, good for an average of 4.2 yards. Montgomery also found the end zone twice.
However, the Bears didn't call upon Montgomery much in the passing game, as he logged one reception for 16 yards on two targets. Nonetheless, Montgomery was excellent against the Vikings.
The resurgence of Mitchell Trubisky continues, or it seems. Trubisky has been playing pretty well since recapturing his starting role, mostly in part to the week-to-week gameplans that serve him relatively well. The coaches have done a remarkable job since the bye week to highlight his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.
Trubisky fared well once again. His stat line wasn't sexy, to say the least, but the eye test reflected a sense of confidence and composure within his game. Trubisky finished the day with the following stat line: 15/21, 202 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 97.9 QB Rating.
The Bears' signal-caller used his legs frequently against Minnesota as well. Trubisky ran eight times for 34 yards for an average of 4.3 yards per rush. He ended up being a dual-threat and a major headache for the Vikings.
Since re-signing with the Bears, this guy has been money. Santos hit all four field goals and three extra points against the Vikings. By and large, he's fixed the kicking woes that have plagued the team the last four years. What a relief. On the year, Santos is 25/27 (92.6%) on field goals and 30/31 (96.8%) on extra points.
Ever since Darnell Mooney hit the field, he's been nothing but outstanding for the Bears. The rookie wideout hauled in four catches for 49 yards and caught the lone passing touchdown on the afternoon.
Surprisingly, the rookie is making history already.
The Quarter That Shall Not be Named
The post-second quarter woes are starting to fade. Last week, the Bears managed three points in the third quarter. This week, they notched seven whole points. SEVEN. Nevertheless, it's safe to say they're starting to put their pre-fourth quarter struggles in the rearview mirror.
The Bears converted six of their twelve third downs! Hooray! That's a 50% success rate.
While many things went well for the Bears today, their defense was clearly the weakness. Despite sacking Kirk Cousins three times and intercepting the final pass of the game, there were a lot of flaws.
Once again, poor tackling proved costly. Ineffectiveness in that department afforded the Vikings several opportunities to gain extra yards. As a result, Dalvin Cook torched the defense. The Minnesota running back scampered for 132 yards on 24 carries and logged a touchdown. Furthermore, Kirk Cousins had a great time running away from Bears defenders as he sported an average of 8.3 yards per run -- 25 yards on three rushes.
Additionally, Justin Jefferson had himself a day against the Bears' secondary in the second meeting between the two teams. He logged eight catches and 104 yards but luckily did not find the back of the end zone. The 'bend but don't break' Chicago defense experienced a significant crack as they yielded 27 points and 407 total yards.
Nuggets and Tidbits
Positives regarding the Bears' offense have been few and far between this season, so let's take a minute to appreciate them.
On the whole, the Bears played a pretty clean game. The offense put up another 30-burger and have seemingly found their identity. Despite the defense getting gashed and surrendering many more points than usual, they did make the necessary plays at crucial times.
Now, the Bears find themselves at 7-7 and only one game behind the Arizona Cardinals for the final spot for the playoffs. Ultimately, it will come down to the Bears winning out and getting some help. The Cardinals face the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams to close out their year, so Bears fans may ultimately see their holiday wishes come to fruition. The playoffs are a very real possibility and they're more within reach than a top-ten draft pick. It's time for the Monsters of the Midway to push their chips in and make a run for the postseason, everything else be damned.
What's On Tap Next?
The Chicago Bears have a date with the Jacksonville Jaguars down in Florida in Week 16. The Bears and Jaguars will square off on Sunday, December 27th at 12PM CT. The game will be televised on FOX. Chicago will head into this matchup at 7-7 and looking to continue their winning streak. Meanwhile, the Jaguars sit at 1-13 are currently tied for the worst NFL record and lead by a tiebreaker in the "Tank for Trevor [Lawrence]" sweepstakes. Both teams are headed in polar opposite directions as the Bears have everything to lose and the Jaguars shouldn't be looking to win.
The On Tap team wishes you all a safe and Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!
Be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast for postgame reactions, updates, and analysis throughout the week in addition to discussions on a variety of other Bears-related topics.