The Bears look different through one half Monday night – but the result, ultimately, remains the same.
Playing under new play-caller Bill Lazor, the Bears trail 7-6 at halftime against the NFC North rival Vikings at Soldier Field.
While that’s six more points that the Matt Nagy-driven offense produced in the first half last week against the Titans, it still isn’t enough. A mediocre Vikings defense has been in quarterback Nick Foles’ face all night, despite the return of center Cody Whitehair to the Bears’ starting lineup.
It’s a small sample size, but Lazor’s play-calling seemed to emphasis getting the ball quickly to the flank, be it via screens, run or quick throws. Foles has completed 10-of-16 passes for 91 yards and one interception.
The Bears’ first drive ended — quickly — in disappointment. On the first play, receiver Anthony Miller was shoved into Darnell Mooney after the rookie caught a screen pass. On the second, Foles threw a deep in route to Miller that was high and a bit late. The pass hit Miller in both hands, though — and bounced into the arms of Vikings safety Harrison Smith.
Six plays later, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a gorgeous 17-yard pass up the left sideline that receiver Adam Thielen, blanketed by cornerback Buster Skrine, caught with one hand.
Down 7-0, the Bears put together a 14-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard Cairo Santos field goal. The Bears had first-and-goal at the Vikings’ 7, but Foles threw an incomplete pass, handed off to Cordarrelle Patterson for two yards, and then threw incomplete to Anthony Miller.
Foles, who was pressured throughout the drive, was in discomfort on the sideline afterward, flexing his right. He threw warmup passes and took practice snaps from center Cody Whitehair. He took the field for the Bears’ next drive.
The Bears got a break coming out of the two-minute warning. Star edge rusher Khalil Mack was actually in coverage when Kirk Cousins threw to Adam Thielen, who bobbled the ball right into Mack’s hands. He ran down the right sideline for a 33-yard gain, giving the Bears the ball at the Vikings’ 45.
The Bears’ offense gained 21 yards before sputtering again, leaving Santos to make a 42-yard field goal with about a minute left in the half.
With starter David Montgomery concussed, the Bears have leaned on Patterson, who leads the team with seven rushes for 25 yards. Backups Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce and Lamar Miller have each touched the ball once.