The Bears (2-3) overcame a 21-3 deficit with 19 straight points Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis, but Kirk Cousins' 1-yard touchdown run with 2:26 remaining gave the Vikings (4-1) a 29-22 victory.
"The message for the guys in there was just this: 'Hey, in the NFL, it's never going to be perfect and it's always going to come down to the end,'" coach Matt Eberflus said. "And we learned that the last two weeks and we have to make the plays to finish the game and seal the deal. That's what it is. It's about playmakers making plays, coaching putting the guys in position and we just have to finish and give ourselves a chance right there."
The Bears offense had a sluggish start, scoring only on a 50-yard field goal from kicker Cairo Santos through the first 28 minutes of the game. But running back David Montgomery ran 9 yards for his first touchdown of the season to close the gap to 21-10 just before halftime in his first game back since injuring his ankle Sept. 25.
The Vikings scored touchdowns on their first three drives of the game as Cousins started the game with 17 straight completions for 176 yards. Cousins completed 32 of 41 passes for 296 yards and a score, while running back Dalvin Cook finished with 94 yards on 18 carries and two TDs.
On the first drive of the second half, quarterback Justin Fields tossed a pop pass to rookie Velus Jones Jr. for a 9-yard touchdown, the first of the receiver's NFL career. Santos then kicked 43 and 51 yard field goals -— results of a blocked field goal by defensive end Dominique Robinson and an interception by cornerback Kindle Vildor -— as the Bears took their first lead of the game at 22-21. But Cousins' 1-yard TD run on a 17-play Vikings drive gave Minnesota the lead for good.
Fields completed 15 of 21 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown, earning a 118.8 rating.
"I think efficiency in the passing game, I think we took a step forward for sure," Fields said. "I felt like the protection was better today. I think we definitely handled their blitz better than last week, so I felt like we took a step forward in that. Overall, I'm just proud of everybody and the way they fought. We were down 21-3, a lot of the teams in this league would've just laid down and stopped playing, but I'm just proud of our guys and the way they fought."
The Vikings opened the game with a 12-play, 86-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead with 8:15 left in the first quarter. Cook punched in the 1-yard score, but Cousins fueled the drive with 7 completions for 68 yards. Receiver Justin Jefferson caught four passes for 55 yards.
A 50-yard field goal from Santos cut down the Vikings' lead to 7-3 just two minutes later. After a delay of game penalty on the first play from scrimmage, Fields opened up the drive with a screen pass to Montgomery, who took it for a 30-yard gain. A pass interference penalty later in the drive on a throw to receiver Darnell Mooney set the Bears up at the Minnesota 27, but two incomplete passes stalled the drive.
Cook ran in another touchdown, this time from 5 yards out, to extend the Vikings lead to 14-3 at the start of the second quarter. Jefferson accounted for 36 yards on the drive while receiver Adam Thielen had a pair of catches for 20 yards.
The Vikings added a third straight touchdown, improving their lead to 21-3 with 7:20 left in the first half. Cousins delivered a deep ball to Jefferson for a 31-yard gain. Then on third-and-10, Cousins completed a backwards pass to Jefferson, who threw it across the field to Cook, who picked up 23 yards and the first down. Cousins ended the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jalen Reagor.
Montgomery scored his first touchdown of the season with a 9-yard run to bring the Bears within 21-10 just a minute before halftime. The Bears started the 4-play, 50-yard drive at the 50, following a poor Vikings punt and a 10-yard holding penalty on Minnesota. Fields then threw 39 yards downfield to Mooney, who stretched out to make an incredible one-handed grab at the 11.
"Anytime you have a 1-2 punch back like that, you got [Montgomery] and Herbert, it's really good to have those guys," Eberflus said. "You can see what "D-Mo" does in the passing game too. He does a really good job of getting north on those checkdowns. He's a different style. He's an aggressive cutter, getting vertical, so I thought he did a nice job."
The Bears came out of halftime with an 8-play, 67-yard touchdown drive, cutting the Vikings lead down to 21-16 after a failed 2-point conversion. Fields fueled the drive with an 18-yard pass to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and a 23-yard completion to tight end Cole Kmet. Fields then tossed it to Jones on the pop pass, who ran 9 yards for the touchdown, the first of his career.
"We were talking about that all week," Fields said about Jones' score. "I was like, 'Bro, go crib it.' He did that and, of course, great physical run by him. That's one thing he's good at is just getting the ball in his hands, making guys try and tackle him and stuff like that. So, definitely proud of him."
Following the touchdown drive, Eberflus called a surprise onside kick, but the Vikings recovered at Chicago's 48. Linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive end Trevis Gipson pressured Cousins on back-to-back plays to force incompletions, bringing out the field goal unit. Robinson then came up big, blocking Greg Joseph's 51-yard field goal attempt and the Bears took over at their own 41.
Fields said both the two-point conversion call and the onside kick attempt showed the trust Eberflus has in the team to make a play on either side of the ball.
"I love it, personally," Fields said. "I think it's confidence in us. I think he believes in us to, if we do get that onside kick, it gives momentum and it shows you if we don't get it, he trusts in the defense. I think it gives us confidence."
The Bears offense capitalized on Robinson's play with a 43-yard field goal by Santos to cut the deficit 21-19 with a minute left in the third quarter. Fields kept the drive alive on fourth-and-4 by avoiding pressure and scrambling for 7 yards. An incomplete pass intended for Mooney in the end zone on third down caused the Bears to settle for three points.
On the next drive, Vildor generated the defense's first takeaway and his first interception of his career on a pass intended for Thielen, which led to the 51-yard field goal by Santos to give the Bears a 22-21 lead – their first of the day – with 9:26 to play. Following a defensive holding penalty on cornerback Jaylon Jones, which kept Minnesota's drive going on fourth-and-4, Vildor intercepted Cousins at the Chicago 30 then returned it 18 yards to the 48.
Just under a minute later, Fields broke free for a 52-yard TD run, but an illegal block in the back penalty on receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette nullified the score, leading to the field goal try.
The Vikings scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:26 left in the game on the 1-yard sneak from Cousins, and a successful 2-point conversion put the Vikings up 29-22. Minnesota's 17-play, 75-yard drive was led by 15, 13 and 11 yard completions from Cousins.
The Bears were driving on their final possession of the contest to try and tie the game, Fields completed a 15-yard pass to Smith-Marsette with just over a minute to play, but Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler ripped the ball from Smith-Marsette's hands and to seal the victory for the Vikings.
"It's tough, but I know Ihmir," Fields said. "I know he's feeling down right now, so our job is to pick him up. He's a great player. Me, personally, I know what he can do on the field. He's young, second year, so he's just got to learn from that mistake and keep going. But he can be one hell of a player in this league."
Watch the Bears' Week 5 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers at U.S. Bank Stadium.