Bears look shaky as could be in win over Vikings, but at least they’re interesting
Put aside the major overhaul the Bears need this offseason. For now, they’ve got a chance at the final NFC wild-card spot, and that’s worth watching.
That was as shaky a victory as it gets.
But shaky can be fun, and anyone who has made it this far into the Bears’ season deserves some fun.
The Bears stayed in the playoff chase by defeating the Vikings 33-27 on Sunday in Minneapolis even after Mitch Trubisky uncorked a late interception in the end zone and the defense needed a stop on the final snap.
Convincing? Absolutely not.
‘‘You know, it’s exciting for us right now,’’ coach Matt Nagy said. ‘‘We know we have two more [games] guaranteed for us. And we feel good about all that.’’
It has been a while since anyone claimed the Bears were exciting. And it’s OK to acknowledge how substantial an overhaul is necessary for them to become a contender again while still enjoying this mad dash for the playoffs.
The Bears have a chance. That’s all that matters as they try to catch the Cardinals, who are a game ahead of them at 8-6.
The oddity of the Bears’ emergence from a six-game losing streak is that it came with their offense bailing out their defense. Yes, you read that correctly.
The Vikings put up 407 yards, including 158 on the ground. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a 113.7 passer rating until Sherrick McManis intercepted his desperate heave to the end zone on the last play.
The Bears stifled the Texans last week, but in games against the Vikings, Lions and Packers in the last month, they allowed a combined 102 points and 1,146 yards.
Nagy even weighed in on the final play, advising defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and yelling to a defensive player on the field about what he thought the Vikings might try as they snapped the ball from the Bears’ 33 with seven seconds left.
‘‘It’s important in those times to let these defensive coaches know what you’re thinking from an offensive perspective,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘I don’t tell them what to do; I just tell him from the offensive standpoint what [the Vikings] should be thinking. And then they go ahead and make the calls. I thought [Pagano] made the right call.’’
The Bears were without starting cornerback Jaylon Johnson and nickel corner Buster Skrine, but their real problem — a recurring one — was that they couldn’t stop the run. It has been jarring to see a defense that led the NFL in fewest yards rushing allowed in 2018 struggle so badly.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook pounded them for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The Vikings averaged 5.6 yards per rush.
‘‘It wasn’t our best,’’ linebacker Danny Trevathan said. ‘‘We don’t like the fact that we gave up so much rushing yards. That’s not us at all. We’re gonna get that figured out. I know that for sure.’’
It’s hard to be sure about much with the 2020 Bears.
Trubisky contributed to the drama, too, reminding everyone always to exercise extreme caution when buying into him. He was crisp and effective — until he wasn’t.
He completed 15 of 21 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown — a serviceable performance — but he jeopardized the game and the season with an interception from the Vikings’ 6 with 3:02 left and the Bears leading only 30-27.
Trubisky fired the ball toward receiver Allen Robinson and fourth tight end J.P. Holtz — it was hard to tell whom he targeted, but he said it was Robinson — and it sailed to Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler.
‘‘It got away from me a little bit,’’ Trubisky said. ‘‘I could make a little bit better of a throw and also a little bit better of a decision down there.’’
Danger lurks with every throw, and that’s part of the thrill. The unpredictability, both of Trubisky and the Bears’ defense, isn’t good, but it does make the Bears interesting. And being interesting is a big improvement from what they were before.