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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mack’s dominant first half carries Bears over Vikings

By Matthew Coller

CHICAGO — Thanks for nothing, Jon Gruden.

In the days leading up to the Minnesota Vikings’ matchup with the Chicago Bears, players and coaches fielded dozens of questions about how they would handle the world’s best pass rusher, Khalil Mack.

There were answers Monday through Saturday. There were no answers on Sunday night.

Mack, who was traded to Chicago by the Oakland Raiders prior to the season opener, made it clear right from the beginning that he would be adding a zip disk’s worth of plays to his season-long highlight reel.

In the first four drives, he caused two deflections, had two QB hits and forced a Dalvin Cook fumble at the Chicago 14-yard line. The Vikings’ nine-play, 45-yard drive was one of only two times they did not go three-and-out n the first half.

On the fifth drive, which began with 0:50 remaining in the first half and Minnesota down 14-0 at Soldier Field, Mack did tossed $54 million left tackle Riley Reiff to the ground with one hand.

Khalil Mack is making Riley Reiff look like a high school player

— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) November 19, 2018

The Vikings attempted to use all the tactics other teams use against Mack. They lined up tight ends over him. They ran a screen pass to Cook. They tried to run the ball his way. They tried a seres of quick throws. It meant nothing.

Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks did nearly as much damage as Mack, crushing the Vikings’ first drive by blowing up Brian O’Neill for a three-yard loss.

Sunday night’s game was supposed to be a battle of two up-and-coming offensive minds. Round 1 went to Chicago head coach Matt Nagy.

With the Vikings offense completely stifled, Chicago was able to wear down Mike Zimmer’s defense with a rushing and quick-pass attack. Nifty Nagy found all sorts of clever ways to misdirect the Vikings’ defense and keep their pass rushers Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen at bay.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s impressive wheels played a role in that, too. In the first half he ran for 37 yards on six carries. The Bears gained a total of 115 yards on the ground in the first two quarters, which ran the clock down to a 2:1 time of poesssion ratio.

Trubisky had one brutal interception in the first half, a throw into double coverage that resulted in an Anthony Harris pick. Otherwise he operated Nagy’s offense well, finding seven different receivers in the first two quarters. He only completed three passes over 10 yards, but kept his team moving by going 3-for-5 on third down.

Still the Vikings found themselves only down 14 points at halftime because of two key red zone stops.

Trubisky gave the Vikings a shot with a confounding decision late in the third quarter, throwing deep down the field on third down, right into the hands of Harris, who ran it back into Bears territory.

Mack then picked up his first sack of the night, as you might expect. Two plays later, the Vikings were forced to kick a field goal and headed into the fourth quarter down 11 points.

Chicago did everything they could to allow the Vikings back in the game. Running back Tarik Cohen fumbled to start the fourth quarter, but the Bears sacked Cousins on third down, forcing another field goal. Hicks plowed through the middle of the line and Mack was so close behind he had to leap over the nose tackle and quarterback on the ground.

A Vikings stop on defense returned the ball to Cousins and the offense with more than eight minutes to play, but Cousins overthrew Laquon Treadwell and gave the Bears a defensive score. Safety Eddie Jackson picked the ball off and ran it into the end zone.

Again Chicago couldn’t close the game. Cousins led a methodical touchdown drive and completed a two-point conversion to stay within eight. The Bears committed a personal foul penalty to give the Vikings another shot at it.

But the Vikings returned the favor with a personal foul as Trubisky was diving to the ground with just over thre minutes remaining. The penalty moved the ball into field goal range and Cody Parkley nailed it through to put the final nail in the coffin.

Cousins led one more touchdown drive, but the Bears recovered an onside kick to complete the 25-20 win over the Vikings.

The Vikings’ quarterback ended with 262 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and two times sacked.

In the end, the Bears walked out of Soldier Field with full control of the NFC North but both teams proved they are still seriously flawed. The Vikings couldn’t find a way to stop Mack and their quarterback dropped to 4-12 in prime time while the Bears left the door open for a comeback and put a “Welcome” mat outside.

Turns out Sunday night’s Bears victory was just a game of “best player wins.”

The post Mack’s dominant first half carries Bears over Vikings appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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