Bears outlast Vikings on fourth field goal by Santos; Dobbs throws four picks
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Chicago Bears finally won one of these up-for-grab games after all those painful finishes.
Cairo Santos made a 30-yard field goal with 10 seconds left, his fourth of the night after a miss on the opening drive, and the Bears had four interceptions of Joshua Dobbs in a defense-dominated 12-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday.
“Proud of everyone for fighting to the end, no matter what,” said Justin Fields, who lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter before a third-and-10 completion to D.J. Moore for 36 yards put the ball at the 13 with 55 seconds left to set up the winning kick. The Bears (4-8) stopped a 12-game NFC North losing streak, including six in a row against the Vikings (6-6).
“He came back like a true leader does — somebody on the rise as a young quarterback. They just block that out and make that throw,” said Moore, who had 11 catches for 114 yards.
The Vikings, who cautiously chose to hold star wide receiver Justin Jefferson out for another game with his hamstring injury, were as helpless as ever on offense with only a field goal by Greg Joseph at the end of the first half to show for the first 54-plus minutes. Dobbs threw the go-ahead score to T.J. Hockenson with 5:54 left, but the Vikings stalled out again after that at the worst possible time.
After Fields rumbled for a first down, Josh Metellus jarred the ball loose that Anthony Barr recovered at the Chicago 43. The Vikings ran for no gain and 1 yard, before a screen pass lost 1 yard. Then Ryan Wright sailed his punt out of bounds, netting just 26 yards, and the Bears had the ball at their 22 instead of being pinned deep. Only 59 seconds came off the clock.
The Bears, who blew a 12-point lead with about three minutes left last week in defeat at Detroit, forced four turnovers for the second straight game. Jaylon Johnson, Jaquan Brisker, T.J. Edwards and Kyler Gordon had the interceptions, three off deflected balls.
“Turnovers really control the game, so it starts with me and taking care of the football with my decision-making,” Dobbs said. “No matter what happens on the other end, it’s giving the receiver a good ball and getting the ball where it needs to go based on the coverage. I acknowledge it. I’m frustrated with myself.”
Gordon's diving grab with 12:32 to go and a 9-3 lead gave the Bears the ball at the Minnesota 38. But five plays later, Danielle Hunter – whose takedown of Fields in Chicago on Oct. 15 dislocated the quarterback’s thumb and sidelined him for the next five games – dislodged the ball during a sack that Sheldon Day recovered at the Minnesota 23.
“We love the game on us," Gordon said. “We want to be the ones to close the game out and be clutch.”
The Vikings went the other way in eight plays for their only their second drive of more than 30 yards all game, and the Bears were in danger of another late collapse. But they became just the third team in the NFL in the last 20 years to win without a touchdown, multiple turnovers and 50-plus penalty yards, according to Sportradar.
“Defense, I feel like we played lights out,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “We’ve just got to continue to get better when it comes to the finishes."
Dobbs had a devil of a time finding a rhythm. After sparking the Vikings to two victories after Kirk Cousins went down with a torn Achilles tendon, Dobbs has had a much tougher time the last two games.
The backflips during the BMX freestyle bike show at halftime actually accounted for the bulk of highlights, but only for the people in the building not in line for bathrooms or concessions. The ESPN audience might well have preferred the matchup be switched out under the flexible scheduling policy.
The Bears are giving Fields, the 11th overall pick in the 2021 draft, a close look over the final month-plus of the season before determining whether to move forward with him as the quarterback with the long-term status of the coaching staff simultaneously muddied.
The game plan in the first half looked like it was devised precisely as an audition for Fields, frequently dropping him back in the pocket against the aggressive and unorthodox pressures directed by Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Fields went 12 for 12 for 100 yards in the first quarter and while he took three sacks he never made a bad throw while finishing 27 for 37 for 217 yards.
When Flores sent a zero blitz with seven rushers on fourth-and-10 from the Minnesota 38 on the last play of the first quarter, Fields managed to find tight end Cole Kmet sneaking uncovered over the middle for a 22-yard gain. That set up the first field goal by Santos, who missed a 48-yard try on the first drive.
Bears: DE Yannick Ngakoue left in the fourth quarter with leg cramps.
Bears: After the Week 13 bye, they host Detroit on Dec. 10.
Vikings: The bye week is next, followed by a visit to Las Vegas on Dec. 10.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL