MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Cairo Santos made a 30-yard field goal for Chicago with 10 seconds left, his fourth of the game after a miss on the opening drive, and the Bears had four interceptions of Joshua Dobbs in a defense-dominated 12-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
Justin Fields lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter, but with excellent protection on third-and-10 near midfield he hit D.J. Moore for 36 yards to put the Bears at the 13 with 55 seconds left. They drained the clock to set up the winning kick and stop a 12-game losing streak against NFC North opponents — including six in a row against the Vikings.
Moore had 11 catches for 114 yards for the Bears (4-8), who managed to win without a touchdown on the strength of a smothering performance by their defense. Dobbs threw the go-ahead score to T.J. Hockenson with 5:54 left, but after the second fumble by Fields the Vikings stalled out and immediately had to punt.
When Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon made a diving grab of a batted ball – three of their four interceptions were off deflections – shortly after Santos hit a 55-yarder, the Bears were in control.
But five plays later, Danielle Hunter – whose takedown of Fields in Chicago on Oct. 15 dislocated the quarterback’s thumb and sidelined him for the next five games – dislodged the ball during a sack that Sheldon Day recovered at the Minnesota 23 with 9:46 to go.
The Vikings, who cautiously chose to hold star wide receiver Justin Jefferson out for another game with his hamstring injury and were as helpless as ever on offense with only a field goal by Greg Joseph at the end of the second quarter to that point, finally put together a quality drive that Dobbs finished with the clutch throw to Hockenson.
After Josh Metellus forced another fumble as Fields rumbled for a first down that Anthony Barr recovered at the Chicago 43, the Vikings were in business. But they ran twice for a net of 1 yard before a screen pass to Brandon Powell lost a yard. Then Ryan Wright sailed his punt out of bounds, netting just 26 yards, and the Bears had the ball at their 22 instead of being pinned deep.
The Bears, who blew a 12-point lead with about three minutes left last week in a 31-26 loss at Detroit, forced four turnovers for the second straight game. Jaylon Johnson, Jaquan Brisker and T.J. Edwards had the other picks.
The backflips during the BMX freestyle bike show at halftime actually accounted for the bulk of highlights, but only for the people in the building not in line for bathrooms or concessions. The ESPN audience might well have preferred the matchup be switched out under the flexible scheduling policy.
Dobbs had a devil of a time finding a rhythm, with Bears newcomer Montez Sweat leading the charge on a fierce pass rush and the secondary smothering the receivers down field. After sparking the Vikings to two victories after Kirk Cousins went down with a torn Achilles tendon, Dobbs has had a much tougher time the last two games.
The Bears are giving Fields, the 11th overall pick in the 2021 draft, a close look over the final month-plus of the season before determining whether to exercise his fifth-year option and move forward with him as the quarterback with the long-term status of the coaching staff simultaneously muddied.
The game plan in the first half looked like it was devised precisely as an audition for Fields, frequently dropping him back in the pocket against the aggressive and unorthodox pressures directed by Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Fields went 12 for 12 for 100 yards in the first quarter and while he took three sacks on the night he never made a bad throw while finishing 27 for 37 for 217 yards.
When Flores sent a zero blitz with seven rushers on fourth-and-10 from the Minnesota 38 on the last play of the first quarter, Fields managed to find tight end Cole Kmet sneaking uncovered over the middle for a 22-yard gain. That set up the first field goal by Santos, who missed a 48-yard try on the first drive.
Bears: DE Yannick Ngakoue left in the fourth quarter with leg cramps. … RB D’Onta Foreman (ankle/shin) was inactive.
Vikings: CB Akayleb Evans (calf) was inactive. Mekhi Blackmon started in his place.
Bears: After the Week 13 bye, they host Detroit on Dec. 10.
Vikings: The bye week is next, followed by a visit to Las Vegas on Dec. 10.