1. CP84 fixes (temporarily) Bears’ third-quarter woes
The host Bears went into Monday’s game against the Vikings with as many third-quarter points (seven) as turnovers this season. Think about that. They had been outscored 27-0 in the third quarter during their three-game losing streak. In eight third-quarter possessions during that stretch, they produced four punts, three turnovers and one turnover on downs. Five of the possessions netted fewer than 8 yards. So what happens against the Vikings on the kickoff to open the second half? Naturally, former Vikings All-Pro returner Cordarrelle Patterson goes 104 yards in 14 seconds for an NFL record-tying eighth kick return for a touchdown and a 13-7 lead. But after that? More Bears third-quarter football: Three possessions, minus-3 yards and three three-and-outs en route to a 19-13 Vikings victory.
2. No NFL safety stacks up the picks like Smith
If Kyle Rudolph losing a fumble looked really unusual, it’s because it had never happened in 137 games — including an NFL tight end-leading 90 consecutive starts — until early in Monday’s game. His only other career fumble, which the Vikings recovered, came back in 2014. Fortunately for Rudolph, Harrison Smith’s 26th career interception came two snaps later. No other safety can match that total since Smith was drafted in the first round in 2012; only cornerbacks Richard Sherman (31) and Marcus Peters (30) have had more. The Vikings turned Smith’s pick into a 41-yard touchdown drive capped by Adam Thielen’s one-handed 17-yard touchdown grab in tight coverage. Smith ranks seventh in team history in interceptions. “Harrison has great anticipation,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He understands what offenses are trying to do to him. I think part of it is his vision and anticipation. And he’s a tough guy, too.”
3, Lazor has zero luck as Bears’ new play-caller
Zimmer found himself watching the Bengals’ 2017-18 offenses this week once Bears coach Matt Nagy announced he was turning over play-calling duties to his first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Zim must have liked what he saw since Lazor’s 2017 Bengals offense finished last in the NFL. In four years as an offensive coordinator — including 2014-15 with the Dolphins — Lazor’s offenses finished higher than 26th only once. But, apparently, desperate times — ranking 29th in points (19.8) and 30th in yards (317.8) — called for Nagy to turn the call sheet over to a guy who was a volunteer assistant at Penn State last year. Bad move, Matt. Lazor oversaw season lows in yards (149) and first downs (10). The Bears went 2-for-11 on third down and had 32 yards and two first downs in the second half. The offense produced six points and had four consecutive three-and-outs after Patterson’s touchdown gave Chicago the lead.
4. Points off turnovers: Vikings 10, Bears 3
The Vikings and Bears went into the game tied for 22nd in takeaways (nine) and turnover ratio (minus-3). But they were two teams going in opposite directions when it came to turnovers. The Bears were minus-4 (five giveaways, one takeaway) during their three-game losing streak while the Vikings were plus-4 (zero giveaways, four takeaways) during a two-game winning streak. Chicago hadn’t forced a turnover in 26 possessions going back to the fourth quarter of Week 7 — a far cry from the 2018 team that led the league in takeaways (36) under Vic Fangio. The Bears have had 30 in the 26 games under Chuck Pagano. They forced two in the first half Monday but were able to turn only one of them into three points. The Vikings also forced two turnovers, turning them into 10 points.
5. Patterson fails to lift abysmal running game
So how were the Bears going to counter the rushing prowess of Dalvin Cook? With league lows in average rushing yards per game (82.3) and total rushing TDs (two). And without their leading rusher, David Montgomery. Their top rusher active for the game? Patterson (88 yards). The Bears promoted former Texans Pro Bowl back Lamar Miller from the practice squad, giving him his first action since the 2018 season. He didn’t have a carry. Lazor tried to stay balanced in the first half, running Patterson seven times for 25 yards. If Lazor felt he could fool the Vikings with Patterson running from the wildcat formation, he was badly mistaken. Patterson went on to reach a career-high 12 carries for 30 yards (2.5). The Bears had only 41 yards rushing on 17 carries (2.4).
Mark Craig did not travel to Chicago. He wrote after watching the television broadcast and participating in interviews via videoconference.