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Keys to the Game

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Keys to the Game: 3 things that will help Bears beat Vikings

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The Bears (3-8) visit the Minnesota Vikings (6-5) Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium. Here are three things that should increase their chances of winning the game:

(1) Handle Minnesota's varied and frequent blitzes.

The Bears will face a Vikings defense Monday night that has blitzed on 54.8% of pass plays this season, the highest rate by an NFL team since the 2019 Ravens.

"The challenge is real," said offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. "Nobody does it this much or this often or this many different varieties or ways as these guys do. I think coach [Brian] Flores has done a really nice job of getting those guys all in sync and they figured out a really nice job of putting a lot of stress on people."

In a 19-13 win over the Bears Oct. 15 at Soldier Field, the Vikings registered five sacks, including one early in the second half that knocked Justin Fields out of the game with a dislocated right thumb. Minnesota's defense later produced a fumble on a sack of backup Tyson Bagent that was returned for a touchdown.

"I felt like we made too many mental mistakes last time we played them," Fields said. "We're better than that. We're better than what we put on tape that game."

Fields added that the Bears must be "on our Ps and Qs each and every play, locked in and getting the ball out fast when we need to when they do bring that pressure."

Getsy isn't expecting the Vikings to employ the same defensive game plan they utilized in the Oct. 15 meeting.

"They do a good job of changing things up each week," Getsy said. "That's where they are so dynamic in that sense that their personnel allows them to be so fluid so guys don't have to line up in the same spot to do the same thing every time. They have a bunch of guys that can do a bunch of different things."

According to Pro Football Focus, Fields has completed 58.8 percent of his passes with four touchdowns, two interceptions and an 88.8 passer rating against blitzes this year.

After missing four games with his thumb injury, the third-year pro looked sharp in his return to action last Sunday in Detroit. In a 31-26 loss to the Lions, Fields completed 16 of 23 passes for 169 yards with one touchdown and a 105.2 passer rating and rushed for 104 yards, the most by an NFL quarterback this season.

(2) Pressure Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

Generating a consistent pass rush against Kirk Cousins' replacement will be crucial for the Bears, who have registered five sacks in their last two games.

Since being acquired Oct. 31 in a trade with the Cardinals, Dobbs has accounted for seven of Minnesota's eight touchdowns over three games. After Jaren Hall exited with a concussion Nov. 5 against the Falcons, Dobbs led the Vikings to a 31-28 comeback victory by throwing two touchdown passes and running for a third score despite not taking any practice reps during the week leading up to the game.

"It's very impressive," said cornerbacks coach/passing game coordinator Jon Hoke. "Guy gets hurt. He had been there since Wednesday and then he does what he does. He's very mobile. We all know how smart he is. What he has been able to do for their team right now is really remarkable. You have to give the guy a lot of credit, and you have to give their coaches a lot of credit for getting them ready."

Unlike Cousins, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, Dobbs is a dual threat who leads both Minnesota and Arizona with three rushing TDs this year.

"It stresses your defense in different ways," Hoke said. "Now your rush lanes have to be really, really good. We always say, 'four equals one,' and you have to have that mentality with the rush lanes. You have to be smart with how you play man coverage when you do because now you have [defenders] running with people and they're going to have their eyes back to him. So you have to have people who are responsible for him as best you can and still be able to rush the passer. That always complicates things, that's for sure."

The Bears produced a season-high four takeaways last Sunday against the Lions—including three interceptions—and hope to create more against Dobbs, who leads the NFL this season with 14 fumbles and seven lost fumbles. In three games with Minnesota, he has been sacked six times and fumbled six times.

The Bears defense hopes to replicate its performance from the Oct. 15 game at Soldier Field, when it held Minnesota's offense to season lows in touchdowns (1), total yards (220) and first downs (12).

The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall to continue their preparation for Monday night's showdown with the Vikings in Minneapolis.

(3) Finish strong.

The Bears outplayed the NFC North-leading Lions for three-and-a-half quarters on their home turf last Sunday, taking a 26-14 lead late in the game. But breakdowns on both sides of the ball enabled Detroit to score 17 unanswered points over the game's final 2:59 and rally for a 31-26 victory.

The Bears are determined to learn from their mistakes and finish stronger moving forward.

"The mentality is where you start," said coach Matt Eberflus. "That's where your foundational floor is. It's the execution piece of it after that: What are we going to do? How are we going to do it? And how can we execute fast and correctly? That's exactly where our mindset is; the mentality to finish, to make the good calls on offense and defense and also for the guys to execute and the playmakers to step up and make those plays."

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