Since Matt Nagy was hired as head coach last year, the Bears have possessed confidence in a next-man-up mentality and the ability to overcome adversity.
Fortunate to remain healthy throughout last season, they were never really challenged in those areas. But when the Bears' mettle was finally tested Sunday, they passed with flying colors—and recorded a statement win in the process.
Already down five starters heading into a pivotal NFC North showdown with the Vikings at Soldier Field, the Bears lost quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with a left-shoulder injury on the game's first possession.
But instead of panicking or feeling sorry for themselves, the resilient Bears relied on several talented reserves to help lead them to an impressive 16-6 victory.
"It just goes to show the type of culture that we have," Nagy said. "It's as simple as that. There was no concern in regard to, 'Now what?' No, it's the next-guy-up. That was a really good football team that we just played, and to come here and battle through that and win the way we did, for me as a head coach, I'm just super proud."
After relieving the injured Trubisky, backup quarterback Chase Daniel demonstrated poise and accuracy in completing 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards with one touchdown, no turnovers and a 101.4 passer rating.
The Bears defense played without linemen Akiem Hicks (knee) and Bilal Nichols (hand) and linebacker Roquan Smith, who was a late scratch due to an undisclosed personal issue. But several reserves stepped in—and stepped up—to fill the void.
Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski recorded a team-high nine tackles and a strip/sack of quarterback Kirk Cousins, tackle Nick Williams registered two sacks and recovered a fumble and tackle Roy Robertson-Harris compiled 1.5 sacks.
"These guys understand, they prepare," Nagy said. "They know that when they're a backup, they still practice and prepare during the week like they're playing, so that when the time does come that they have to play, they're ready."
So many different players contributed to Sunday's win that Nagy thought it was unfair to present a game ball to any single individual.
The reserves complemented a defensive effort that once again was led by Khalil Mack. The All-Pro outside linebacker recorded 1.5 sacks, including one of his patented strip/sacks that resulted in a fumble that Williams recovered.
Two veteran defensive backs combined to produce the first of two Bears takeaways, as cornerback Prince Amukamara stripped the ball from receiver Stefon Diggs and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix recovered the fumble in the second quarter.
The Bears held the Vikings scoreless for the game's first 57:02. The defense registered six sacks and limited the NFL's second-ranked running game to just 40 yards—153 yards below its average. Dalvin Cook, who entered Week 4 as the league's leading rusher with 375 yards on 57 attempts, was held to 35 yards on 14 carries.
"Anytime you take a team that averages 193 yards in rush yards per game and you have 40 or 50 yards rushing and you hold that running back who's a really good running back to that minimal amount of yards, you're doing something right," Nagy said. "Those guys, they stepped up, They wanted it. It was a challenge to them."
The Bears took a 7-0 lead on Daniel's 10-yard touchdown pass to Tarik Cohen on the game's first possession. Eddy Piñeiro followed with three field goals without a miss to widen the margin to 16-0. He hit a 25-yarder on the final play of the first half and 38- and 30-yarders in the third quarter.
The Vikings finally scored on Cook's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:58 remaining. But they failed to convert the two-point conversion and were unable to recover the subsequent onside kick. It was the only red-zone possession of the game for Minnesota.
With their third straight win, the Bears (3-1) are now tied for first place in the NFC North with the Packers (3-1), who lost to the Eagles Thursday night in Green Bay.
Allen Robinson II led the Bears in receiving with seven catches for 77 yards, while David Montgomery rushed for a team-high 53 yards on 21 carries.
Given what Nagy's team overcame and the magnitude of the game, he ranked Sunday's win among the top three or four he has experienced as Bears coach.
"I'm going to always go back to the culture of this place," Nagy said. "We've got good people. We've got high-character people. We've got hard workers. We've got people that don't flinch when adversity strikes. The coaches in there and the players in there, they all stuck together, and this was a big one."