The Bears defense delivered its best performance of the season in Sunday's 19-13 loss to the Vikings at Soldier Field.
The unit allowed its fewest touchdowns (1), first downs (12), total yards (220) and passing yards (174) while recording its best third-down percentage (15.4% on 2-of-13 conversions) of the year.
The Vikings' only offensive touchdown came on an 8-play, 77-yard drive late in the first half that capped Minnesota's lone red-zone possession of the game.
"Honestly, it felt good," said cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who returned after missing the previous two contests with a hamstring injury. "I felt like we played dominating football outside of that two-minute [drive] before halftime. Other than that, I feel like we dominated the game. Of course, we wanted more turnovers. But I thought we dominated."
Johnson felt the defense was fueled by energy and intensity, eager to build on the Bears' first win of the season over the Commanders.
"Just coming in hungry, especially after that win, just wanting to continue to start a winning streak, continue to keep things rolling," he said. "And, of course, me coming back, being able to bring the energy to the defense, that confidence, too, because my biggest thing is dominating no matter who it is. I tell the front, the linebackers, 'be you and dominate. Go out there and be confident, fly around and do what we know we can do.' The biggest thing for us this year is we know we have high level guys that can play this game at a high level, and we haven't. We haven't set that bar yet."
Johnson hopes the defense will continue moving in that direction Sunday when the Bears host the Raiders.
"We've just got to keep building," he said, "keep finding ways to come together, stick together, to be aggressive out there and have energy and let our execution drive our energy and just continue to keep that juice throughout the duration of the game."
Bouncing back: Eberflus was impressed with how undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent responded to adversity Sunday.
After Justin Fields exited with a right thumb injury in the third quarter, Bagent lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown on the third play of his NFL career. But the Division II product rebounded to engineer a 9-play, 77-yard drive that he capped with a 1-yard touchdown sneak that drew the Bears to within 19-13. Bagent completed 3 of 3 passes for 53 yards on the possession.
"I thought he really worked through it," Eberflus said. "Obviously, the first series or so wasn't ideal. [But] I think that you give him credit. He's a backup quarterback, a young guy. I think he came in there and had poise. He was dealing with a team that pressured a ton during that game and I thought he really settled in and had poise. He showed that during that touchdown drive. There were a lot of good things that came out from Tyson in that game."
The fumble that Bagent lost came on a strip/sack by blitzing safety Josh Metellus. Eberflus told reporters that there was a communication breakdown on the play.
"On that one there we have to do a better job of talking … the protection needed to be solid inside and it wasn't," Eberflus said. "He did a good job of evading the first guy. I thought he did a really nice job there. Then they had a secondary player coming off the edge and once he felt that guy right there, he should've just kept two hands on the ball and then taken the sack. He tried to get it out to [Darnell] Mooney, and when he did that, that's when the fumble occurred."
First things first: On the Bears' first play from scrimmage Sunday, Vikings linebacker D.J. Wonnum was unblocked as he rushed from the right side of the defense and sacked Fields for a seven-yard loss.
"They were six-man up, they were all across," Eberflus said. "We were in empty formation, and we did the right thing in terms of sending the line one way. We sent it to the right, let the outside guy go free and the ball's supposed to be delivered right there. It's an outside-in read, so it's K.B. (Khari Blasingame) to DJ [Moore]. We've just got to float away from pressure [and] deliver the pass."