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Vikings Offense Can't Capitalize in Crucial Areas in Loss to Bears


The chances were there for the Vikings. Plenty of them, in crucial areas of the field.

But in a narrow division loss on the road that could have swung the other way, Minnesota's offense couldn't make enough plays where it mattered most.

The Vikings fell 25-20 to the Bears in prime time as Minnesota scored just six points off three Chicago turnovers, and also handed the Bears another touchdown on a pick six.

It all added up to a night of frustration for the Vikings, who spent all week preaching key points but didn't deliver on them on Sunday Night Football.

"The reasons we lost are what Coach [Mike] Zimmer sat there on Wednesday morning and told us, 'Hey, these are the keys to victory. We have to be good in these areas — red zone offense, protecting the football, we have to run the football well.' The reasons we lost were not surprises to us, as we knew they would be keys to victory," said Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. "We weren't good enough in those areas."

Added Zimmer: "We made too many mistakes to win tonight."

The dagger came just before the halfway point of the fourth quarter, when the Vikings trailed 14-6 but got the ball on their own 11-yard line looking to mount a game-tying drive.

The series lasted just one play as Cousins was picked off by Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who scampered 27 yards for the touchdown and a two-score lead.

Cousins, who was targeting Laquon Treadwell on the play, said the pass should have gone to Stefon Diggs on a shorter route instead.

"With the coverage, the ball really should have gone to Stefon in the flat," Cousins said. "I was trying to feel the demeanor of the defensive backs, and playing fast, I felt like … obviously I felt wrong. I felt like I could put it in there to Laquon, but the throw was, I think, to Stef' in the flat.

"I was trying to trust my eyes. What I felt the DB do, I don't know if he really did. Playing fast and in the moment, I felt the DB was squatting, but he really wasn't," Cousins later added. "If he's not squatting, then the safety is in a different spot than where I thought he'd be. That led to the interception."

While that might have been the biggest game-changing play, Minnesota's disappointment started early when the Vikings went three-and-out despite gaining eight yards on their first play from scrimmage.

Minnesota later started at its own 40-yard line after Chicago's kickoff rolled out of bounds, but the drive also ended in irritation.

Cousins nearly hit Diggs for a 38-yard touchdown that would have given Minnesota the lead, but the pass was just out of the wide receiver's grasp in the end zone.

And although the Vikings eventually moved into the red zone, they came away with nothing when Vikings running back Dalvin Cook coughed up the ball at the 14-yard line. Bears linebacker Khalil Mack forced and recovered the fumble.

"He made a play," Cook said. "That's what he's been doing since he got there. He made a play at the line of scrimmage and stuck his hand out there. It was a gift for him.

Chicago didn't take advantage of the fumble, as Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was intercepted by Vikings safety Anthony Harris.

But Minnesota did nothing with that turnover, gaining just a single yard before punting it away.

Harris came through again late in the third quarter, intercepting Trubisky again to bring the ball down to Chicago's 31-yard line.

With the Vikings trailing 14-0, a touchdown would have cut the deficit to just a one-score game.

Instead, Minnesota gained just 13 yards on seven offensive plays as the Vikings had to settle for a 36-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.

It was more of the same on the following possession.

Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson stripped the ball from Bears running back Tarik Cohen less than a minute into the fourth quarter as Vikings safety Harrison Smith pounced on it at the Bears 29-yard line.

Minnesota's offense promptly gained 11 yards on four plays as Cousins was sacked on third down, leading to another 36-yard field goal by Bailey.

All in all, the Vikings scored just six points on three takeaways, two of which gave them the ball roughly 30 yards from the goal line.

Minnesota has now scored 46 total points on 17 takeaways this season, a stat that includes just one offensive touchdown.

"We made some good plays offensively, but we've got to take advantage of the turnovers," Zimmer said. "We had turnovers that we didn't take advantage of tonight.

"We got in the red zone, and we turned the ball over, you do that and you're losing points every time you do that," Zimmer added. "Even if we had kicked field goals in those situations it might have been a different outcome."

Added Cousins: "We talked about getting in the red zone, getting in the scoring zone, and coming away with touchdowns and not field goals. Especially in the first three quarters of the game, we kept coming away with field goals or even worse — turnovers. That certainly put us behind the 8-ball."

Cousins finished with 262 passing yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 76.5. Diggs had 13 catches for 126 yards and a score while Adam Thielen had seven catches for 66 yards.

An early hole led to just 14 total rushing attempts for Minnesota, which had 22 rushing yards.

A few more conversions in key areas, mainly taking better advantage of Chicago's turnovers, might have made a difference in this one.

"It's always frustrating when your defense plays well and you don't really create anything off of what they're doing," Thielen said. "That's probably the toughest thing … you feel like you let the team down because of how well they went out and played and how well they did shutting down a good offense."