‘You like that?’ Bears beat Vikings, maintain lead in NFC North

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The Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings, 25-20, in a Sunday night showdown between NFC North foes. The victory was the Bears’ seventh of the season and it further strengthened their grasp on the division race.

Prior to the game, the biggest question mark that branded the team was: are the Bears any good?

As I wrote after last week’s defeat of the Lions, the win percentage for Bears opponents through nine weeks was .405. And of the teams they beat, it was .321. The Bears lost games against good quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

Could these Bears beat a good opponent like the reigning NFC North Champion Vikings, who played in last year’s NFC Conference Championship game?

Bears pass the test, pound the Vikings

Don’t let the final score belie the truth. The Bears owned the Vikings for much of Sunday night’s victory.

The first half wasn’t even close. The Bears scored 14 points on two field goals, a touchdown and a two-point conversion. The Vikings, meanwhile, were blanked. Minnesota’s first five possessions of the game — all in the first half — ended with a punt, fumble, punt, punt, and interception, respectively.

It would have been foolish to expect the Vikings to roll over and play dead in the second half as well. Any observer knew that head coach Mike Zimmer would make adjustments and have his team ready to compete in the second half.

The Vikings offense easily outplayed their Bears counterpart beyond intermission. After punting on their first possession of the third quarter, the Vikings scored on four of their final five drives of the game, kicking two field goals and recording two touchdowns.

An Eddie Jackson pick-six was the only stain on Minnesota’s second-half run.

It was clear the Bears defense was gassed by the fourth quarter when the Vikings piled on 17 points. The offense was not sustaining drives, which caused the defense to be on the field for too long.

Bears offense needs to learn to close games

Good football teams identify and correct mistakes on a weekly basis. The best teams in the league regularly add to their repertoire and don’t consistently commit the same errors.

The next step for this Bears team on their road to contention is to have the offense finish games. The defense is damn good, but it’d be foolish to rely on them to win games in the fourth quarter every week.

The Bears scored just three points on offense in the second half — five, I suppose, if you include the Adam Shaheen two-point conversion attempt after Jackson’s pick-six. The first four possessions of the second half ended with a punt, interception, fumble, and punt, respectively.

The Bears did themselves no favors with their second-half turnovers. First, it was a Mitch Trubisky interception, which seemed to result from miscommunication with Allen Robinson.

Then, Tarik Cohen got a little too cute dancing in the backfield while looking for a hole to open, and he coughed it up.

It’s good to have a defense that can close games — after all, as I tweeted, that is what they’re paid to do. But it’d be nice if the offense complemented that stingy defense with a 60-minute effort.

Trubisky helped win the game, stats notwithstanding

The defense clearly was the main reason the Bears knocked off the Vikings. They held the Minnesota offense to 268 total yards, including an astonishingly-low 22 rushing yards.

But let’s not fail to give credit where it is also due. Trubisky rose to the challenge and helped the Bears win that game.

Trubisky hasn’t exactly faced the Murderers’ Row of defenses this season, and has had a number of close calls with throws dropped by defenders. In fact, he had a couple more in Sunday’s game against the Vikings.

But this Minnesota defense is also one of the best in the league and Trubisky — mostly with his legs but certainly with his arm, too — found a way to neutralize them.

Trubisky threw two picks on the night. One was the previously mentioned confusion with Robinson. The other came on a downfield shot to Taylor Gabriel, which seemed ill advised given the amount of traffic Gabriel was in.

Outside those two plays, Trubisky was efficient in helping move the chains. He completed 20 of 31 passes (64.5%) for 165 yards and a touchdown pass to Anthony Miller.

Where he did the most damage, however, was in evading the Vikings’ pass rush, extending plays with his legs, and picking up first downs to keep drives alive. Trubisky recorded 43 yards on 10 carries.

And if you can believe it, Trubisky has passed Cam Newton for most rushing yards by a quarterback to date.

Parkey’s redemption

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the performance of Bears kicker Cody Parkey in Sunday’s win.

Parkey, of course, made national headlines — and found his way into Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ monologue — after missing four kicks last week, all of which hit an upright.

Pressure couldn’t have been higher for Parkey in a prime time appearance with the football world watching.

But Parkey came through, converting on all three field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder with three minutes to play that extended the Bears’ lead to 11 points — making it a two-possession game.

The Bears did not attempt an extra point after their two touchdowns, instead opting to go for the two-point conversion both times. But it’s hard to say if that had more to do with them not trusting Parkey, or if Matt Nagy just wanted to be aggressive. I’m guessing the latter.

Bears have short turnaround before Thanksgiving

Next up for the Bears is a Thanksgiving Day battle with another divisional opponent, the Detroit Lions.

Not only will this be the second game against the Lions in just 12 days, but it will be a short week of preparation for the Bears. It’s always difficult to beat the same team twice in any given season — how much more so in a condensed period of time.

It would not be a surprise if the Lions pulled off an upset. That said, I would neither expect it nor would it be easy to stomach if such a feat occured. A division loss to the Lions, after a huge Sunday night victory created some separation for them, would be borderline devastating.

But I have faith in the young Bears team to recuperate in short order. I trust the brain power of Matt Nagy and Vic Fangio to come up with a game plan to replicate the results from their previous matchup with the Lions.

I expect a close matchup, but anticipate another Bears victory. And then I’m going to eat some turkey, drink some beer, and pass out on the couch.

Former high school and college kicker. Lifelong Chicago Bears fan. I've been writing about the navy blue and burnt orange since 2007. You can follow BearsBeat.com on Twitter, like it on Facebook, or email me.