A Khalil Mack-led Bears defense pressured Kirk Cousins relentlessly throughout the night, and the Vikings offense was unable to capitalize in crucial opportunities.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus delved into the game in its immediate reaction post, “Re-Focused,” and highlighted Mack and Akiem Hicks as Chicago’s biggest playmakers on defense. The PFF analysis team wrote:
Akiem Hicks was perhaps the most impressive performer for the Bears defense. He was unblockable in the run game and recorded five tackles for loss. Hicks also produced rushing the passer, recording two quarterback hits and a sack.
Khalil Mack had another strong performance in prime time, forcing a fumble and recording a sack, giving him four on the season. Safety Eddie Jackson continued his strong sophomore campaign, intercepting Kirk Cousins for a pick six in the third quarter.
PFF also emphasized the offensive performances of Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky and WR Taylor Gabriel, who made seven catches for 52 yards, including four for first downs.
For the “keys to the game,” PFF pointed to the Bears offense and defense.
The Bears offense won time of possession and [converted] 50 percent on third down, as the Bears had to move the ball slowly up-field and take long drives to beat the Vikings.
The Vikings offense struggled to sustain drives in the first half and played catch up most of the second half because of it. Credit the Bears’ defense and the performance of their front seven for limiting the Vikings’ offense and pressuring Cousins throughout the game.
Craig’s Post-Game Takeaways Include Credit to Bailey
The Vikings tried to come back but fell short to the Bears in tMinnesota’s first of two consecutive Sunday Night Football divisional contests.
In a postgame takeaways article, Mark Craig of the Star Tribune pointed out that Dan Bailey helped keep Minnesota in the game and with a shot at clawing its way back. Craig wrote about the Vikings kicker as well as both special teams units and how they fared:
[Bailey kept] the Vikings in the game into the fourth quarter by making a pair of 36-yard field goals in the second half. Meanwhile, one of the loudest cheers in the history of successful 33-yard field goals was given to Bears kicker Cody Parkey, who made all three of his attempts a week after clanging four balls off the Soldier Field uprights. But he also sent a kickoff out of bounds. [Bears Head Coach Matt] Nagy went for two and was successful after both touchdowns.
Craig added that the Bears didn’t catch the Vikings with any special teams trickery, as has happened in games the past two seasons.
Chicago’s revered defense certainly took its toll on Minnesota, but Craig also took a look at the Bears offense, how it’s changed under Nagy’s direction and how it affected the Vikings Sunday. Craig said it looked like “watching Nagy’s former team, the Chiefs, dressed in Bears uniforms.”
An amazing transformation from the lifeless John Fox years, the Bears offense stretched the field side-to-side and used excellent misdirection to keep the Vikings defense one step behind. The Bears had 202 yards at halftime and had six different ball carriers run 23 times for 115 yards. In a town where offenses have struggled for years, Nagy’s new-look team came into Sunday night’s game riding a six-game stretch of scoring the Bears hadn’t seen in 62 years. The 206 points scored in that stretch were the most since the team scored 237 in 1956.