The Chicago Bears fell 29-22 to the host Minnesota Vikings but that does not tell the tale of this game. Chicago came out of the game looking a complete mess with the defense allowing an 80-yard scoring drive to Kirk Cousins who managed to set a new Vikings franchise record by completing each of his first 17 passes without an incompletion.
At halftime, the Bears trailed the Vikings 21-10 following a first half that was rife with miscues and missed opportunities.
Quarterback Justin Fields – who completed just 3-of-8 passes for 73 yards in the first half – completed 12-of-13 attempts for 135 yards and a touchdown in the second half. He also rushed for 36 of his 47 yards and led the Bears to three-scoring drives overall.
He also had a chance to lead a game-tying drive until a fumble from Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
Bears’ Justin Fields Sounds Off on Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s Crucial Mistake
Bears WR Makes Crucial Mistake
The Bears claimed Smith-Marsette off waivers from the Vikings on September 1. He is one of two former Vikings they claimed during the summer including defensive tackle Armon Watts. A former fifth-round pick, he had just one target coming into this game but was the target during a no-huddle situation with just 1:12 left on the clock.
Fields found the 6-foot-1 cleanly and the wide receiver went to take the ball upfield.
That was a mistake as he was met by his former teammate, Minnesota defensive back Cameron Dantzler, who managed to strip the ball and essentially end the game.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette said he shoulda gone out of bounds.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) October 9, 2022
It’s not a stunning admission, but it is an honest one and would seem to play into the H.I.T.S. principle that head coach Matt Eberflus has preached since Day 1.
Eberflus alluded to finishing the game but was more focused on the defensive errors.
“In the NFL, it’s never going to be perfect. And it’s always going to come down to the end…We just have to finish.”
Fields was also positive in his postgame following what his head coach called “one of the best days of his career”
“Yea, it’s tough. But I know Ihmir. I know he’s feeling down right now. So, our job is to pick him up. And he’s a great player. Me, personally, I know what he can do on the field. He’s young – second year. He’s just got to learn from that mistake; keep going. But he can be one hell of a player in this league for sure.”
Fields and Smith-Marsette never crossed paths in college, but they were both in the Big 10. He also saw him rack up over 100 yards and a touchdown on just three grabs against the Bears last season.
To Eberflus’ point, the defense was wholly ineffective in the first half before tightening up after the break. The Bears allowed just 122 total yards of offense while outgaining them with 176 yards of their own. Cousins also passed for 217 of his 296 yards in the first 30 minutes of gameplay.
Unfortunately, they gave up 57 of his 79 second-half passing yards on that scoring drive that saw Cousins take a one-yard plunge into the end zone.
Minnesota converted on 12-of-15 third downs. They also managed to get a first down on their attempt at a fourth-down conversion after Cousins’ incomplete pass to Justin Jefferson drew a defensive holding call.
#Vikings were 12 for 15 (80%) on 3rd down.
According to Pro Football Reference, this is the worst 3rd down day for #Bears in terms of percentage completed by opponent.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) October 9, 2022
Jefferson had 12 catches for 154 yards but just two catches for 16 yards after halftime.
He was held out of the end zone but did catch a two-point conversion while Cousins found Jalen Reagor for a one-yard score while Dalvin Cook scored twice on his 18 carries with 94 yards.
Bears’ Crucial Mistake Belies Explosive Plays
Eberflus came out of halftime noting that the Bears needed more explosive plays but the biggest play ultimately was not meant to be. On a broken play in the fourth quarter with the Bears trailing 21-19, Fields broke loose for what looked like a 52-yard touchdown scamper.
That play was called back on an illegal block above the waist call that went against Smith-Marsette.
Right guard Teven Jenkins – a full-time starter following Cody Whitehair going on injured reserve – also negated a Fields run of 12 yards on the previous Bears’ possession. Both drives resulted in field goals rather than touchdowns. He also saw Dante Pettis have a critical drop early.
In the end, Fields is maintaining a positive outlook.
"Overall I'm just proud of everybody and the way they fought. We were down 21-3. A lot of the same teams in this league would've laid down and stopped playing but I'm just proud of the guys in the way they fought."
– Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) October 9, 2022
The Bears next play on Thursday when they will host the Washington Commanders (1-4) who lost 21-17 at home to the Tennessee Titans.
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