Bears News: Matt Eberflus on finally getting first division win, stellar defensive play
David Reginek - USA Today Sports

Bears News: Matt Eberflus on finally getting first division win, stellar defensive play

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - It took 29 games, but head coach Matt Eberflus finally got his first division win as the head coach for the Bears in their 12-10 victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. This shows a recent trend with Chicago that they perform better in the spotlight, as they have a 3-1 record in primetime this season.

One key to this victory was the defense.

Not only did they generate four turnovers, although the offense only got three points off those turnovers, but they held the Vikings offense to just 10 points, the least amount they have scored since their 40-3 loss versus the Dallas Cowboys in week 11 of last season. According to Eberflus, turnovers have been a point of emphasis in practice and that is finally showing dividends for the Bears the past two weeks.

“We’ve been working really hard during the course of the week of taking the ball away and that’s starting to pay off for us,” Eberflus said. “So, I thought the first half ended well for us there, just I thought too many penalties put us behind the sticks sometimes, missed some opportunities.”

This game also marked another first - the first game-winning drive of the season for quarterback Justin Fields. The game came down to a third-and-10 from the Minnesota 49 yard line when Fields hit a wide open DJ Moore in the middle of the field for a gain of 36 yards. That was followed by taking a knee twice, forcing the Vikings to use their timeouts, and a 30-yard field goal from kicker Cairo Santos to win the game. Some questioned why Eberflus elected to take a knee as opposed to running the ball and getting Santos a little closer. However, for a successful kicker like Santos, 30 yards is close enough for him.

“Rather than run the ball, you want to kneel it because it’s a safer play,” Eberflus said. “No reason to and then we knew they had 10 seconds after the kick. So, it was a good operation.”

Santos did not have the best game, missing a 48-yard field goal on the opening drive of the game. However, he made four field goals after that, including the game-winner. His points were the only points of the game as Chicago won their first game without scoring a touchdown since week five against Atlanta in 1993. They were also the first team this season to fail to score a touchdown and win.

“I credit Cairo, missing that first field goal and coming back, his resolve in that,” Eberflus said. “Certainly for the offense, having the two fumbles at the end and being able to have the mental focus and the determination to take that two-minute drive down there and get us in scoring position to win the game.”

Both fumbles were by Fields in the fourth quarter. The first led to the only touchdown of the game on a 17-yard pass from Vikings’ quarterback Joshua Dobbs to tight end TJ Hockenson. On the following drive, Fields fumbled again, but the defense was able to hold and forced Minnesota to punt the ball. In the locker room after the win, Fields thanked the team for standing by him after those fumbles, a moment that Eberflus enjoyed.

“For him to stand up there and to do that in that moment, I think that’s special and it says a lot about his character and a lot about his leadership and it was really neat to see and the response of the guys was also really cool to see too,” Eberflus said. “But, that was a cool moment.”

Of course, it would not be a Bears football game without something weird and unusual happening. This game was no exception. Following Dobbs’ first of four interceptions, cornerback Kyler Gordon was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was later elevated to taunting, for taking his helmet off on the field.

However, this was no ordinary penalty. His facemask had come off of his helmet and he took the helmet off because it was broken and needed to be fixed. Despite the damage to the helmet being clear, that was the call by the referees. Eberflus said he did not get a clear explanation on that even though they pled their case.

“I really didn’t get a full explanation on that. I’m curious to say what they do say about that,” Eberflus said. “But, clearly his face mask was off and we pleaded our case. It just didn’t work out.”

On the injury front, Eberflus did not provide many updates. However, he said that rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson tweaked his foot in practice after making an interception, causing him to miss Monday’s game. The bye week should help Stevenson to recover and Eberflus said he will be back this season.

“He tweaked his foot on the turf. Had made a really nice interception in the red zone seven-on-seven and he tweaked it,” Eberflus said. “But we’re hopeful. We feel good about where he is.”

Comment on this story
Send Feedback to Ariana Pensy: Email | Comment
Post your comments!