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Action Reaction: Oddities Prevent Minnesota's Odd-Year Success

This is an odd-numbered calendar year, which in recent history has coincided with a Vikings win at Soldier Field.

Mike Zimmer's squad did so in 2015 and 2017 en route to NFC North titles, but Sunday was littered with different types of mistakes and oddities, with seemingly every bounce going the wrong direction for the Vikings, who wore their home purple jerseys in Chicago for the first time because the Bears were wearing throwbacks that paid tribute to the 1936 season.

The 16-6 loss, combined with a Week 2 defeat at Green Bay, puts the Vikings at 2-2 on the season and 0-2 in a division that is giving all kinds of indicators of being one of the strongest in the NFL in 2019.

Minnesota has now opened a season 2-2 through the first quarter three times under Zimmer (2014, 2015 and 2017).

Pre-game question: Could the Vikings find another way to win a tough game at a venue where they have just three victories since 2001?

In-game action

1. Bears reserves rise on defense

The Vikings entered as one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL, and the Bears were countering with one of the best run defenses in the league.

Minnesota faced a Chicago squad without starting defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols, as well as inside linebacker Roquan Smith.

The Bears reserves, however, stepped up. Nick Williams and Roy Robertson-Harris filled in on the front, and Nick Kwiatkoski got involved on plays time and time again.

According to press box stats, Williams totaled seven tackles, including 2.0 sacks and recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble caused by Khalil Mack on the first snap of the third quarter. Mack won a 1-on-1 against Riley Reiff, quickly coming around the edge.

Robertson-Harris was credited with three tackles that included 1.5 sacks, and Kwiatkoski led the Bears with nine tackles and forced a fumble during another sack of Cousins.

The Vikings finished with 40 rushing yards on just 16 carries, as Dalvin Cook was bottled up by the Bears for much of the game. Cook totaled 35 yards on 14 carries that included a 2-yard touchdown but also only featured a long gain of 9.

The run game grounded, the Vikings couldn't get the pass game going either.

2. Reviews reverse fortunes

The Kwiatkoski forced fumble, which started on a second-and-16 at the Chicago 36, was initially ruled to have been recovered by Bears LB Leonard Floyd and returned, then fumbled because of a force out by Dalvin Cook and recovered by Vikings RT Brian O'Neill at the Minnesota 43.

Officials reviewed the play and determined that Floyd had not fully possessed the ball, meaning instead of a fresh set of downs, the Vikings faced a third-and-35 on the final play of the quarter. Cousins connected with Kyle Rudolph for a mere 12 yards, and Minnesota punted.

The Bears, however, benefited when a pass to Trey Burton was initially ruled a completion and loss of four before Everson Griffen forced a fumble that was recovered by Chicago. After review, officials ruled the ball incomplete, so Chicago faced second-and-goal at the Minnesota 10 as opposed to the 24.

Tarik Cohen's 10-yard touchdown catch occurred on the ensuing snap.

In the second quarter, Minnesota was again bitten on a review reversal. Officials initially ruled that a pass to Stefon Diggs at the Chicago 34 was incomplete because of a breakup by Prince Amukamara.

After review, they decided that Diggs had possession of the ball long enough before Amukamara knocked it loose, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The Bears took over, still up 7-0, at their own 20 where Clinton-Dix held the ball when the play was whistled dead. They ran out the final 6:36 of the half, ending the session with a short field goal.

Zimmer placed blame on himself but didn't elaborate when asked about taking a timeout when the Bears specialists were on the field. After the stoppage, the Bears decided to go for it and converted a fourth-and-3.

View game action images as the Vikings took of the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.

3. Trubisky left the game, but…

Danielle Hunter forced a fumble during a sack of Mitchell Trubisky on the sixth snap of the game, and Everson Griffen recovered the ball at the Chicago 33.

The potential game-shaping play was negated, however, because of a holding penalty against Anthony Harris.

Trubisky landed on his left shoulder and was knocked out of the game. He was replaced by veteran Chase Daniel, who played five games and made two starts (going 1-1) for Trubisky in 2018.

While Daniel has only appeared in 18 games (including Sunday) since 2013, Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy was his quarterbacks coach in Kansas City from 2013-15. Daniel has spent more time with Nagy than Trubisky, and he ran the offense smoothly against Minnesota.

The Vikings had developed an entire rush plan that they wanted to implement against Trubisky and were not able to pivot quickly enough to keep Daniel and the Bears off the board on Chicago's first possession.

Postgame reaction:

"They stymied our offense, so get back to work and try and figure out a way to win a game on the road. … I don't know [what they did against the run]. I'll have to look [at the film]. It's hard to say. Probably just overpowered some of our guys here and there."

— Zimmer on the Bears defense

"That's not good enough when you're on the road, playing a good team like Chicago. You just have to try to find something, and we didn't find it today. We just have to get back to work and not let it carry over to next week. … We just couldn't find it. It was just one of those days. That's about it. That's how you sum it up."

— Cook on the offense

"I think the key is to play fast, and if you play with looking at him and worrying about him, then you're going to miss a lot. You have to kind of play trusting it and letting it go. That one was really just unfortunate. I think he got a good jump. I'm putting my hands apart to throw it to Irv [Smith, Jr.], and [Mack] got there, and it was a great job of going after the football. That one was really unfortunate."

— Cousins on the fumble caused by Mack

"We had to change some things, but he played in about four games last year, and we saw him a lot on tape. We had to change some things. … The second half was a lot better than the first. We made some adjustments like we always do, but the first half, we didn't play, like I said, I didn't feel like we were up on the guys, tight enough, so they had some completions to guys that were short routes that kept the drives going but didn't really affect things other than that."

— Zimmer on adjusting to Daniel

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