After watching tape of Monday night's 12-10 comeback victory over the Vikings in Minnesota, coach Matt Eberflus lauded the Bears for overcoming adversity and rallying to win.
"Just want to credit again the whole football team for the resolve that we had, being able to finish that game off the right way," Eberflus said Tuesday. "Certainly, had some adversity at the end of the game."
Eberflus singled out Justin Fields for rebounding from two lost fumbles to engineer the game-winning drive; Cairo Santos for bouncing back from an early miss to hit four straight field goals, including a decisive 30-yarder with :10 remaining; and a stifling defense that permitted just one touchdown and generated four interceptions.
The win came one week after the Bears had allowed the Lions to score 17 points in the final 2:59 to turn a 26-14 deficit into a 31-26 win in Detroit.
"That was really cool to watch those guys do that, just the whole group coming together," Eberflus said about the victory in Minnesota. "From what happened the week before and the way we came together on Monday and put our eyes forward to the next opponent, and to be able to do that going into the bye week with a win—and a win in that way, that fashion—is a big step for our football team."
"That was [Smith's] idea to put those guys on the same side and run that little pick stunt that we had," Eberflus said. "We ran it a couple times. We lined up in that same alignment, did a couple other things out of that, had a nice third- or fourth-down stop out of that same alignment with a different pressure.
"You definitely need to do that. Any time you can get a mismatch and put [Sweat] on a particular side, you're doing that for a particular mismatch or you're creating an advantage for somebody else somewhere else. That's the benefit of having a player like that."
Check out the best images—taken by Bears photographers—from Monday night's victory over the Vikings in Minneapolis.
Playing on the perimeter
Fields threw mostly short quick screens in Monday night's win, completing 27 of 37 passes for 217 yards and an 87.3 passer rating. Eberflus explained why the Bears didn't throw more slants or downfield passes.
"They pack the paint, so-to-speak," Eberflus said of the Vikings. "Some of their coverages are three deep and they've got two guys in the middle. So really, the open slots on a lot of those are the perimeter. And you can certainly hit some high side pockets on those, which we did with DJ [Moore] a couple times.
"Certainly, they give those things away. You've just got to do a real good job of spitting the ball out there and blocking well on the perimeter, which we did at times. You saw DJ get a couple nice runs there towards our bench. But that's really where you can take advantage of it."
Asked if he'd like to see more downfield shots mixed into the game plan, Eberflus said: "You're always wanting more chunks. Explosive plays are where it's at. I think we had eight explosives where we're at in terms of goal wise. When you're playing a team that pressures that way and they're vulnerable in the coverage, I believe that we should have more and we're always looking to get that. Certainly, we had some opportunities to hit some more of those and we want to take advantage of those."
Backfield in motion
The fourth-round pick from Texas was on the field for 52 snaps compared to just 15 for veteran Khalil Herbert. Johnson rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries and caught five passes for 40 yards, but he saw expanded playing time for his pass-blocking ability as much as anything.
"Roschon did a nice job, for the most part," Eberflus said. "There were a couple hiccups in there. The one sack that we did take with the edge pressure, he's got to be more inside and firm. He'll learn that as he goes. He's still a rookie and he's got a lot of situations that he hasn't seen yet in real time and game situations. But he's a heck of a worker, super smart. He's a tough guy and he's one of our better protectors."
A cool moment
Fields addressed his teammates in the locker room following Monday night's win, telling them that he appreciated them for sticking by his side and believing in him after his two fumbles. The quarterback's teammates responded by telling him they appreciated him as well.
"For him to stand up there and do that in that moment, I think that's special, and it says a lot about his character and about his leadership," Eberflus said. "It was really neat to see. And the response of the guys was also really cool to see, too. That was a cool moment."