by MADDIE TOPLIFF
I’ll get straight to it: this was the most important game of the Bears’ season so far. With the chance to hop out of last place in the NFC North division into second place, lots was on the line — especially since the Packers faltered against the Philadelphia. But with six Chicago starters down for the count, including Akiem Hicks, the Vikings’ odds were promising, even with the Bears playing at home.
This week’s injury report was a little hard to read. After a fantastic performance against the Redskins last Monday, Taylor Gabriel would sit out due to a concussion. Defense dynamos Kyle Long, Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks would also not suit up for Sunday. Oh, and Mitchell Trubisky suffered a shoulder injury in the first five minutes of the game and was ruled out for its remainder. Talk about a tough break — six starters ended up sitting out.
If you recall from preseason, the Bears elected to not sign a third-string quarterback. That means if second-string gets injured, then RB Tarik Cohen would step up into QB. And no one wants that. No one. Not only is he super small — 5 ft 6in is my height, okay? — but we need him to run the ball, not throw it.
Sunday afternoon, starring Daniel
Bears fans still don’t know what to think of Bears backup QB Chase Daniel. A lot of insecurity stems from him simply being the backup — no team is 100% comfortable with their starter being benched. And it probably doesn’t help that the last time we saw Daniel in regular season play was a downright disaster. On December 2, 2018, this man threw two interceptions, fumbled four times and was sacked five times in the same game.
Still, the fanbase would be foolish to write him off. His performance against division rival Detroit Lions late in the season Thanksgiving was clutch, even if he was sacked four times that game too. When he’s on his A-game, he does just enough to get Chicago the W, and just enough was all we could ask for this week. He lofted a beautiful TD pass to Cohen first quarter and converted on third (and fourth!) down when the team needed him to. Most importantly, he was only sacked once. Boom.
No thanks, I’m stuffed
From the get-go, it was clear that if Daniel wasn’t able to win the game for the Bears (he was), then the defense sure could. Minnesota’s offense was high-key struggling, and I truly believe they were trying their best. RBs were getting stuffed again and again at the line of scrimmage, and poor Vikings QB Kirk Cousins ended up getting sacked six times, with five of them in the second half alone. The cherry on top? Three forced fumbles.
But, to play devil’s advocate, their pride will be the death of us all if they aren’t careful. A defense that gets too cocky gets into trouble. In the second quarter, Chicago gave Minnesota 25 free yards in two minutes because of careless penalties. Why pick a fight when the pass was incomplete? I don’t understand people.
Piñeiro and Pat prove their worth
The game ended with the Bears on top 16-6, and nine of those points were courtesy of everyone’s favorite place kicker Eddy Piñeiro. Piñeiro is not only humble, but he’s dependable — always ready to make a play.
And gosh darn it, guys. Our punter Pat O’Donnell does not get enough credit. He was on fire Sunday, if a punter can truly be on fire. His kicks didn’t give the Vikings special teams even a sliver of a chance, forcing either touchbacks or starting drives from inside their own ten. We love to see it.
All in all
Big win. Every game counts, but divisional matchups count just a little more, especially when they’re at home. It’s math — look it up. With their third win in a row, the Bears move into second place in the NFC North just behind the Packers, who are also 3-1.
Daniel will most likely still be playing in Trubisky’s spot next week, but choosing to be concerned about that will be a game-time decision for me. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he would do the same for me.
-Second-string quarterbacks aren’t always second rate.
-Chicago kickers make it count.
-Watching Kirk Cousins get sacked six times is funny.
Maddie’s Monster of the Game
The team was so well-balanced today that it’s difficult to pick one stand-out. But this week, we’re going to give WR Javon Wims some love. Wims caught for 56 big yards in his first start of the season, stepping into Gabriel’s absence like a champ. He didn’t score, but we were lucky to have him.
Oh, how the turn tables. In week 1, we were the only NFC North team that lost, and this week, we’re the only NFC North team that won. Music to my ears.
1st place: Packers are 3-1
2nd place: Bears are 3-1, but the Packers beat us.
3rd place: Detroit Lions are 2-1-1 because you can still tie in professional sports.
4th place: Vikings are 2-2. Bummer.
A cheeky mashup
Peace out, USA! The Bears are jetting to the UK for the NFL’s annual London game, where they’ll face the Raiders AKA Khalil Mack’s former team. Mack is looking forward to the game. Apparently, it’s circled on his calendar. The game will kick off in the Tottenham Hotspurs arena at 6pm UK time, but for us locals, that’s 12pm CST. The Raiders were bested by the Vikings a couple of weeks ago, so hopefully this will be a breeze.
Until next time, cheers and Beardown.