MINNEAPOLIS — The pressure may have been off second-year starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on Sunday because his playoff future was set, but the Chicago Bears’ quarterback played playoff football at US Bank Stadium in a 24-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
To open the fourth quarter, he converted five third-down plays en route to a touchdown that would stick a dagger in the Vikings.
“We did a good job of mixing up the plays and when we got to the third down we had to be able to convert, especially against a defense that does so well on third down,” Trubisky said.
The Vikings came into Sunday’s game with the best third down defense at home in the NFL, allowing less than 30 percent of third downs to be converted by opposing offenses. The Bears went 8-for-14 on the day.
”They were getting separation and getting open,” Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr said. “Sometimes it just isn’t your day.”
Mike Zimmer’s defense was hardly shredded, allowing just 163 yards through the air in total, but Trubisky came up with important throws and one key third-down run for a first down.
Overall the Bears put together a strong running attack, which also has not happened very often against the Vikings at US Bank Stadium. Chicago gained 169 yards on the ground.
“They had to bring an extra player to the line of scrimmage to stop the run,” Trubisky said. “We were moving around and creating holes so that the defense could not keep the line open, which created one-on-one matchups onthe outside.”
One of those one-on-ones resulted in a 40-yard Trubisky touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel.
“We had a holding penalty, we had a roughing quarterback…they threw a long ball on Holton Hill one time, threw another completion on him, I believe and then, honestl , we kind of ran out of defensive backs today,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings defense was forced to spend most of the game on the field because of the team’s offensive struggles. Chicago controlled 37 minutes of possession.
“I’ve been in the league for six years and have never made it to the playoffs,” defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. “I bust my butt to get there. It hurts.”
The Vikings’ defense will finish the season fourth in the NFL in yards allowed, just behind the Bears.
“For us to come out and play the way we did in all three phases says a lot about this team,” Trubisky said.