The Bears were their own worst enemy at times Monday night, committing eight penalties for 55 yards in a narrow 20-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field.
The offense was flagged six times in the first half alone. On the game's first possession, Tre McBride made a diving catch of a 26-yard pass from Mitchell Trubisky on third-and-10, resulting in an apparent first down at the Vikings 9. But the big gain was nullified by a holding penalty on center Cody Whitehair, and the Bears eventually were forced to punt.
Looking to increase their 2-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Bears committed three penalties on the same drive, including a holding infraction on receiver Markus Wheaton that erased Jordan Howard's 42-yard touchdown run.
With just under two minutes to play and the game tied 17-17, the Vikings were already in field-goal range when they faced third-and-four from the Bears' 22. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd sacked Case Keenum, but Floyd was flagged for holding tight end Kyle Rudolph as he released from the line of scrimmage, resulting in an automatic first down.
Bears running back Tarik Cohen.
Without the penalty, the Vikings would have attempted the go-ahead field-goal with 1:53 to play, giving the Bears time for a two-minute drill. But the flag enabled Minnesota to run three more plays and not kick the decisive field goal until there was just :12 left in the game.
Still an issue: The Bears continued to struggle with turnovers, coughing the ball up twice while failing to record a takeaway. They are now minus-nine in turnover differential this season.
The Vikings converted their two takeaways into a pair of field goals Monday night on possessions that started at the Bears' 13 and 28.
"The difference in the game was minus-two in the turnover ratio," said coach John Fox.
The Bears defense has only generated two takeaways in five games this season—a third came on special teams—after mustering an all-time franchise low 11 last year. In the last two seasons, the Bears are now 1-13 when losing the turnover margin.
Safety dance: Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd recorded his second safety in as many seasons when he sacked Sam Bradford in the end zone late in the first quarter.
"I just rushed and he held the ball," Floyd said. "Coverage played well and I made the sack."
Floyd also produced a sack last Dec. 4 in a 26-6 win over the 49ers when he sacked quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the end zone. Floyd scored his first career touchdown earlier last season with a strip/sack of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Floyd registered two sacks in Monday night's loss, as did defensive end Akiem Hicks.
On the ground: After producing the two highest rushing totals of his rookie season against the Vikings with 153 and 135 yards last year, Howard ran for 76 yards on 19 carries (though he had a 42-yard TD erased by a penalty). As a team, the Bears ran for 115 yards on 29 attempts.
"It will get better as we go," Fox said of the running game. "I don't think it was great, but I also don't think it was awful. We didn't get a lot of explosive plays, and the couple we did get were called back for penalties."
Roster news: Cornerback Marcus Cooper Sr. (back), inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (chest), center/guard Hroniss Grasu (hand) and outside linebacker Willie Young (triceps) did not play due to injuries. Other Bears inactives were quarterback Mark Sanchez, running back Taquan Mizzell and defensive lineman John Jenkins.