The Vikings offense could not get rolling while the Bears offense found a way to get it done with backup quarterback Chase Daniel playing for the majority of the game. Those two factors along with several others led Chicago to a 16-6 victory over the Vikings on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Here are five takeaways from the Vikings loss to Chicago.
1. Bears showed championship mettle
Sunday's game was a matchup between the previous two NFC North champions, but it was the Bears who were the ones to show the championship mettle. The defending NFC North champs were without several key players entering the game, including starting right guard Kyle Long and two key members of the front seven on defense – defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and linebacker Roquan Smith. Then, on the game's first series, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was brought to the ground by Danielle Hunter and injured his shoulder; Trubisky left the game and did not return. Even without those key players, the Bears were able to put forth an efficient game on offense and a downright dominant performance on defense to win their third consecutive game and send the Vikings to a record of 2-2.
2. Ground game was grounded
The Vikings entered Week 2 with the NFL's top rusher (Dalvin Cook) pacing the No. 2 rushing attack. The Bears entered the game without two key run defenders in Hicks and Smith. Despite the absence of those tone-setters, Chicago's physicality up front and subsequent staunch run defense halted the Vikings ground game. Cook finished with only 35 rushing yards on 14 carries. While he did reach the end zone late in the game, Cook's longest run on the day was nine yards as the Bears defense stifled the Vikings offensive game plan.
3. Bears defense got after Cousins, too
Cook wasn't the only Vikings player to be adversely impacted by Chicago's impressive defensive effort. Kirk Cousins and the passing game couldn't dig the offense out of the hole Chicago's run defense dug for it because there weren't enough clean pockets. Cousins was sacked six times on the afternoon, including on the first play of the 3rd quarter when Khalil Mack stripped him and Chicago recovered. There were missed opportunities in the passing game, too, as Cousins narrowly overthrew a wide open Adam Thielen for what would've been a 1st quarter touchdowns and then Stefon Diggs caught-then-fumbled a pass later in the first half that would've put the Vikings within scoring range. Diggs did have an explosive day, though, hauling in seven catches for 108 yards, including a 39-yard grab on a 4th down late in the game.
4. Vikings defense kept the game within reach
Considering how little the Vikings offense was able to impact the game and, subsequently, how often the Bears offense was on the field, the Vikings defense did a good job of bowing up and keeping the team in the game. Despite failing to score any points until late in the game, it wasn't until the failed two-point conversion in the final minutes of the 4th quarter that the game was truly out of reach. Chicago was five of 16 (31.2%) on 3rd downs, one of four (25%) in the red zone, averaged just 2.2 yards per rush and averaged only 4.0 yards per play, as the Vikings did a good job of limiting explosive plays and getting off the field in crucial situations.
View game action images as the Vikings took of the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
5. Vikings must channel frustration into improvement
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged that frustration was present with his team in the aftermath of Sunday's loss. That is only natural when defeat rears its ugly head. What's important for the Vikings now is that the frustration is channeled into determination and the process of improvement rather than having that frustration spin into disarray. Zimmer has stated his appreciation for his team's work ethic, toughness and fighter mentality, and now those traits will be put to the test as the Vikings head home to begin preparations for next week's road game against the New York Giants.