MINNEAPOLIS – The Vikings defense did some really good things against the Bears; rather than hanging their hats on stats, however, they're hanging their heads after a second straight loss.
Minnesota fell 12-10 to Chicago in frustrating fashion on the Monday Night Football stage.
The defense did its best to compensate for a Vikings offense that struggled to find a rhythm and suffered four interceptions – three of which were snagged deflected passes – by quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell acknowledged postgame the effort by Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores to keep the game in reach down to the very end.
"[We did] not have the performance we wanted to have offensively," O'Connell said. "Credit Flo' and his guys once again for keeping us in a football game we had no right being in with how poor we played on offense with the turnovers."
And while there's truth to O'Connell's statement, and the Vikings kept the Bears out of the end zone all night long, Minnesota's defenders aren't placing the onus on anyone but themselves.
"Holding them to field goals is cool and all, but if we're not stepping up when we need to put the game away, we're not doing enough," safety Camryn Bynum said.
Added fellow safety Josh Metellus: "It's 12 points too many, in my eyes."
Metellus had an impressive night personally, logging nine tackles, one-half sack, a tackle for loss and two forced fumbles – the second of which was recovered by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr to give Minnesota's offense an opportunity to close out the game.
Without adding to the win column, though, Metellus isn't celebrating a thing.
"It would feel better to win. Those things don't count when you lose," he said. "My mind is still on the plays I could have made. I don't even know what stats I had; there were just so many plays out there, man. I wish I had them back."
Metellus and his teammates would especially love back a Justin Fields pass to DJ Moore that gained 36 yards in the game's final 60 seconds. The third-and-10 play was Chicago's longest of the night and set up the Bears to burn clock before kicking a 30-yard field goal that won the game.
"Good play by them," Metellus said. "We knew what they like to do; they knew what we were gonna be in. It's just a good job – their two best players finding a way to make a play at the end of the game."
Minnesota did allow Chicago to move the ball well on its opening possession, with Fields going 8-for-8 on a 9-minute drive. The Bears still came away scoreless, though, when kicker Cairo Santos missed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Fields finished the evening with a modest stat line: 27-of-37 passing for 217 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 87.3, but he also added a game-high 59 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Moore led the Bears with 11 catches for 114 yards, while tight end Cole Kmet was next in line with seven receptions for 43 yards.
The Vikings didn't give up much to Chicago's running backs, as Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert combined for 59 yards rushing on 16 carries. But Fields did demonstrate his mobility, scrambling 12 times for another 59 yards.
Chicago converted eight of 18 third-down attempts (44 percent) and was successful on its single fourth-down attempt, a fourth-and-10 to close out the first quarter on which Kmet gained 24 yards. Santos kicked a 25-yard field goal to cap the drive and put the Bears up 3-0.
"Defensively, there's a lot of plays we left out there. Too many times they got three points," Metellus said. "I know it felt like we could have been playing [well], but on our end, we felt like we could have played a lot better."
He added it's even more frustrating to lose a game in which multiple teammates made big plays. He noted Sheldon Day, who had been signed from Minnesota's practice squad to the active roster earlier in the week, recovering a fumble forced by Danielle Hunter, as well as Barr's recovery of the second fumble Metellus forced.
"We've got guys who can make plays in and out. When we don't come away with wins when we've got so many playmakers on the field, it just sucks," Metellus said. "You've got Sheldon Day coming in doing a great job, AB right back at home and feeling the energy, feeding off of it. We're definitely doing things to put ourselves in the right position, [but] time's ticking."
The Vikings are now 6-6 as they enter the bye.
A break is certainly needed for a team that's battered and bruised, but it's tough to stomach the idea of stewing on this loss for two weeks.
"I'd like to play again, to be honest," a clearly frustrated Harrison Smith said. "We had a chance. We had our opportunities and didn't make a play when it mattered most."
Added Bynum: "As a competitor, I want to get right back to it and get this taste out of our mouth."
Barr isn't feeling the same need for recovery, being that he only re-signed with the Vikings Nov. 14. But the 10-year veteran does understand the importance acknowledging a painful loss and then making the most of a bye before the season's final games.
"It sucks. We didn't play good enough to win, man. That's how the NFL is. You give a team enough opportunities, and you don't capitalize on your own, that's the way it's going to go," Barr said. "Hopefully we can learn from this. There's a lot of season out in front of us. Going to lick our wounds. Take some time away, reset and be ready for the home stretch."
The Vikings aimed to enter the bye week 3-0 in the division and came up short, but Minnesota isn't about to give up. The team already overcame a 1-4 start to the season and will look forward to returning injured players and working to capitalize on every remaining opportunity.
"We had a spot to put ourselves in a great position, and we let that slip. A lot of frustration going into this week," Metellus said. "But at the end of the day, we've gotta move on. That's this league. We've got another game coming. My mind's already on the Raiders. I know they have a bye week, too, so it's just about whoever can get the healthiest, whoever can use these next two weeks in the right way to win the game.
"I know the type of team we've got; I know the type of guys we have – playmakers on all sides of the field," he continued. "Times like this, it's just gonna build us stronger. We're heading into December. […] We've just gotta find a way to play our best football this next month."