Bears 20, Vikings 10
CHICAGO — In the midst of the 2016 World Series, 24 hours after the hometown Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 3-2 at Wrigley Field in game five, it was the first World Series win by the Cubs at home since 1945, forcing game six in Cleveland with the Indians leading three games to two. The Cubs are trying to win their first World Series in 108 years.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears, 1-6 and struggling along for second-year Head Coach John Fox, delivered an inspiring performance in prime time on Monday Night Football. They shocked the football world and the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings with a 20-10 victory.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler started for the first time in five weeks and four games, returning from injury. Cutler has had a love-hate relationship over the years with fans in Chicago. He has teased Bears fans over the years with his talent. His contract, signed through 2020 with the Bears, owes him $78 million. If Monday night was an audition for another team, he will find a future home.
Cutler is now 9-5 all-time versus the Vikings after engineering the masterful win Monday Night. He also has had a successful history against the Vikings at Soldier’s Field; you might say he was “house money,” because now he’s 7-1 versus the Vikings at Soldier’s. He has thrown more touchdown passes — 26 — against the Vikings than he has thrown against any other NFL team. Cutler was 20-31 passing Monday for 252 yards and one touchdown to Alshon Jeffery.
He led the Bears to a dominating performance against the NFL’s number-one-rated defense. The Bears had balance on offense; they virtually ran and passed the ball at will against the Vikings. The Bears had 403 yards in total offense and led the entire game. In fact, the Vikings trailed 20-3 for the first time all year, down by as many as 17 points.
Chicago attacked the soft spots in the Vikings defense. Right now the Vikings’ pilot light is out. Next Sunday the Vikings return home to U.S. Bank Stadium where they are 3-0 with a chance to re-ignite the pilot against the 4-4 Detroit Lions.
Rookie running back Jordan Howard combined for 202 yards, 153 yards rushing and 49 yards receiving. It was the best rookie performance by a Bears rookie running back since 1965, when Hall-of-Famer Gayle Sayers had a 200-yard game with six touchdowns.
Howard delivered Monday night big-time for the Bears. Suddenly the Vikings have fallen to sleep in the middle of the season. If you snooze you lose, and the Vikings were totally out-played and out-coached.
The Vikings made no plays on offense and defense when the game mattered. Quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked five times. He missed Stefon Diggs early in the game for a touchdown. The Vikings offensive line can’t protect him; he’s been sacked 11 times in the last two games, both losses on the road.
Mike Zimmer called his football team “soft” after losing to Philadelphia. Two weeks ago he put stuffed animals around the team’s locker room, and that backfired. Somebody used red paint and slit the throats of several of the stuffed animals.
“They got after us pretty good tonight,” said Zimmer. “They controlled the game and the tempo of the game. We got to get back to work. We didn’t make any plays. They made them all. When it was time to make plays, they made all the plays. Sometimes you get beat. They played better than us.”
The question is how does a 1-6 Bears team dominate the game against a first-place 5-1 Vikings team that had been the NFL’s last unbeaten team? The Bears had 158 yards rushing and 19 first downs and kept the ball for 33 minutes against the NFL’s number-one defense.
Offensively the Vikings had 258 yards total offense with just 57 yards rushing. The Vikings are 31st in the NFL in total offense and last in rushing and can’t protect their quarterback. The entire league can see the issues they have. The team can’t feel sorry for themselves. However, it’s Zimmer’s job to fix them.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to email@example.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.