Marc Trestman said he didn’t coach the game any differently. But his team, which hadn’t won in 35 days, and maybe his career were on the ropes.
In the second half of the Bears’ 21-13 victory Sunday against the Vikings at Soldier Field, Trestman ran the ball three times on fourth down rather than kick an easy field goal to go up seven.
Twice, they made it.
“I’m sure the fans will echo that as well — they like to see some backbone,” guard Kyle Long said. “We were fired up. We were all about those calls.”
At the Vikings’ 1-yard line six minutes into the second half, Jay Cutler lined up in an empty backfield and ran a quarterback sweep with a linebacker blitzing between the guard and center. Met at the left pylon, he was a half-yard short.
“It wasn’t something we just picked out of a hat on fourth down,” Trestman said.
Still, it didn’t work. But the Bears were more successful in the fourth quarter thanks to Matt Forte, who finished with a season-high 175 total yards, including 117 rushing yards.
Trestman tried to instill confidence all week, Forte said.
Ahead 14-10, Forte gained two yards on fourth-and-one at the Vikings’ 27. Seven plays later, he gained two on fourth-and-one at the 6.
“If we wanna win, we better convert,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “It’s as simple as that. Our defense was making plays throughout the day. . . .
“It wasn’t very long that we had to get, but it was a tough half a yard. We just worked to the best of our ability up front, and Matt grounded it out.”
The Bears scored three plays later on Brandon Marshall’s four-yard catch to go ahead 21-10.
“If you don’t make it, it can hurt us,” said Cutler, who completed 31 of 43 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns, one apiece to Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in the second quarter. “Matt did a great job. Up front, the guys did a great job of moving some piles. . . .
“To be able to convert those and keep drives going whenever we’re deep is a good thing.”
Trestman showed faith where he hadn’t earlier. The Bears got the ball with 1:05 to play in the first half but ran the ball twice, called their last timeout and watched Cutler throw the first of his two interceptions. Trestman said he didn’t “want to put our team at risk,” but his fourth-quarter gambles paid off.
The Bears “did what we had to do to try to stay on the field and score,” said Trestman, who gave no consideration to the side effect of confidence.
“The intent was to make the first down,” he said. “And the results were good.”