In Primetime, Bears Make Statement That They Belong

November 19, 2018 - 1:38 am
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- It went as the Bears had planned. From rowing the boat in the end zone with Anthony Miller to playing the song of something special with Eddie Jackson, the Bears accomplished what was most important at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Asserting themselves over a division rival and strengthening their hold in the NFC North.

In front of a national audience in primetime, the Bears re-energized a football town with a convincing 25-20 victory against the Vikings to improve to 7-3. In doing so, a confident team made a statement that it belongs and took a 1.5-game lead in the division.

"We feel like in any game we can play with anybody in this league," coach Matt Nagy said.

Ahead of the showdown, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was picked up pregame by the NBC broadcast telling his teammates they were the reason why the game had recently been flexed into the primetime slot. While the Vikings did reach the NFC Championship last year, it was the intriguing Bears who were a big draw for the national broadcast. 

After winning six, three and five games in their last three seasons, respectively, the Bears have transformed into one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. They have the look of a team not just bound for the playoffs but of one capable of winning games once there.

Bernstein: Bears raise stakes with signature win

Facing a daunting challenge against the Vikings, the Bears dictated the game. They finished 6-of-12 on third downs against the league's top-ranked third-down defense. They forced three turnovers against Cousins, including a pick-six by Eddie Jackson midway through the fourth quarter than helped seal the victory. They fed off the raucous home crowd from start to finish.

When it was over, the Bears celebrated on the field, danced to the disco ball in their locker room and then turned the page and looked ahead.

"We're still getting better," running back Tarik Cohen said. "We haven't reached our ceiling yet. Only we can decide what our ceiling is."

Haugh: Bears serve notice on national stage

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky didn't produce to the extent he hoped -- he was 20-of-31 for 165 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions -- but he carefully paced the Bears' offense against a tough Vikings defense. 

The Bears knew they would need a team effort facing the Vikings, and they got it. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack recorded another sack and forced fumble. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks had five tackles for a loss as part of his huge night. Even kicker Cody Parkey played a part, converting all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 48-yarder late that was crucial.

The same teammates who picked up Parkey after he missed four kicks a week prior were there to celebrate his night of redemption.

"This team's really special," Parkey said.

The Bears certainly enjoyed their success on the field. They had planned out several celebrations before the game as the NFL allows more elaborate team displays. Miller came up with the idea of rowing the boat in the end zone, which he did after hauling in an 18-yard pass from Trubisky in the second quarter.

As for Jackson's symphony? Well, that was among the Bears' few miscues on the night. Mack thought it was to be a choir, then ran into the end zone and saw Hicks playing the air flute. 

"We got to get it corrected," Mack joked. "We got to get it ready for Thursday."

A road game against the Lions awaits on Thanksgiving Day. The Bears will allocate their precious time on a short week to the priority of preparing for the Lions, not reflecting on the win against the Vikings. The team won't watch the film of the victory because time is so limited, Nagy said.

After showcasing themselves to the nation, the Bears must quickly move on to the next game. They have a division lead to hold and more statements to make.

"This is what it's all about," Nagy said. "So, we'll see where we're at now on an 84-hour rest."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​