Bears make the most of the Sunday night stage in a win over the Vikings

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 18: Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears sacks quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at Soldier Field on November 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – It’s been a while since you saw Soldier Field lit up on this day during the week. It’s been a while since the Bears have been good, too.

Thanks to their success so far in 2018, the NFL gave the Bears a flexed Sunday night game in Week 11, their first at home since the 2012 season. It’s a nod of respect from the league to the franchise, which has finally snapped out of a half-decade of struggle to talk playoffs for the first time since 2013.

A festive atmosphere at Soldier Field greeted the players in one of the most anticipated games in years with the Vikings, with first place in the NFC North on the line. The question is how the Bears would handle the major showcase on the big stage in a mid-November game of significance.

Their offense had their moments, but the defense had a few more, and in the end the Bears let the NFL know that they’ll be around for the playoff fight till Week 17.

The Bears beat the Vikings 25-20 on Sunday night to improve their record to 7-3 on the season, keeping their lead in the NFC North, and inching them closer to a playoff spot that’s eluded them since the 2010 season. It’s the Bears’ first win on a Sunday night at Soldier Field since the 2011 season, when the also beat Minnesota 39-10 on October 16th of that season.

Vic Fangio’s defense was the star most of the night, holding the Vikings to 238 yards of offense and causing issues with their pressure. The Bears had nine tackles for loss with two sacks on the evening, with Akiem Hicks enjoying one of the best games of his career with five tackles for loss.

Mitchell Trubisky had his moments behind center, completing 20-of-31 for 165 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 43 yards. But he did throw a pair of interceptions as well, but the defense minimized the damage, and the quarterback would lead a clinching 45-yard field goal drive late in the fourth quarter.

Taylor Gabriel was his favorite target, catching seven passes for 52 yards while Jordan Howard led the ground game with 63.

The seven victories are the most since the 2013 season as the team prepares for a quick turnaround as they face the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving morning.

While far from a perfect game – with each team turning the ball over three times – the Bears were playing from in front the entire game, thanks to a player whose struggles the week before were part of the pregame hype.

Cody Parkey, who smacked the upright four-straight times in a win over Detroit, knocked in a 33-yarder to finish off the Bears’ first drive with points. Trubisky would finish the job on the next series, utilizing his quarterback scrambles along with runs from Jordan Howard to work the offense down the field 64-yards. The quarterback finished it off with his arm as he hit Anthony Miller for the 18-yard touchdown, which made the score 11-0 when the Bears got the two-point conversion.

Parkey’s second field goal of the day, a 41-yarder in the second quarter, put the Bears up 14-0 at the half.

Minnesota got themselves back in the game thanks to some offensive errors on the home team’s part. Trubisky misread a throw in the third quarter that ended up in the hands of Anthony Harris, who returned his second interception of the day into Bears’ territory. Dan Bailey converted that into three points on a 36-yard field goal and did so again on the next series after the Bears turned it over again, this time on a fumble by Tarik Cohen.

Yet the Bears defense, which gave the Vikings fits for a majority of the night, struck for a score of their own. Kirk Cousins’ pass to his right was snagged out of the air by Eddie Jackson, who took it back 27 yards for his second touchdown of the season. Another two-point conversion, this time on a pass from Trubisky to the recently activated Adam Shaheen, made it 22-6.

Cousins regrouped on got Vikings back in the game with a 74-yard drive that was finished off on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson. Initially, the Bears’ stopped the two-point conversion try, but a penalty onĀ Hicks gave Minnesota another shot, which they converted to make it 22-14.

Having converted his first two kicks, Nagy looked to Parkey one more time to finish off a drive with a 48-yard field goal. The kicked knocked it right down the middle, much to the approval of the fans, to make it 25-14.

One more time the Vikings pushed their way down the field, this time scoring on a five-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Stefon Diggs. But Hicks knocked down the two-point conversion, and the Bears recovered the onside kick, to finish off a night to remember that was a long time coming.