MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Vikings have a way of making life more difficult on themselves than it needs to be, and self-inflicted mistakes that have been a problem much of the year continued in a 12-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Joshua Dobbs was 21-of-31 for 163 yards, and was intercepted four times. Two of them bounced off Vikings' receivers. Cairo Santos made four field goals, the last of which gave the Bears the final lead with 10 seconds to play. For the first time in 30 years, the Bears got a win without scoring an offensive touchdown.
Now, the Vikings have to sit on an ugly loss for a week as they head to their bye 6-6, and 2-1 in the NFC North Division.
"Very crushed locker room right now. Credit Flo (Brian Flores) and his guys once again for keeping us in a football game that we had no right being in with how poorly we played on offense with the turnovers," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said after the loss. "Until we figure out a way to play complementary with our defense and get a little more production without having the ball turned over, we’re not going to win football games."
On a night filled with offensive miscues, the Vikings took a 10-9 lead with 5:54 to play after Dobbs hit T.J. Hockenson for a 17-yard touchdown. They got the ball back with a chance to run the clock out after Josh Metellus forced a Justin Fields fumble that Anthony Barr recovered. O’Connell opted for two short runs and a wide receiver screen to Brandon Powell that went nowhere.
O'Connell thought about a long field goal for Greg Joseph, but instead tried to play the field position game and punted.
The Bears drove the ball down the field, and avoided what looked like an intentional grounding call on Fields. On the next play, Fields hit a wide open D.J. Moore for 36 yards, setting up the game-winning field goal for the Bears.
It’s safe to put Monday’s loss squarely on the offense. The Vikings managed just 242 total yards, were 2-for-9 on third down and didn’t convert either fourth down they tried. That includes a 4th-and-7 pass to Hockenson that went for six yards. If Dobbs leads him on the throw, it's a first down.
But the story Monday, as it has been in losses, was their four turnovers. That makes 23 for the season, tied for worst in the NFL. Dobbs now has 10 interceptions this season, after throwing five in eight starts with the Arizona Cardinals. He should've had a fifth pass intercepted, and if Jaylon Johnson makes the play, it would've been returned for a touchdown. Dobbs has six turnovers in his last two games with the Vikings.
Dobbs is now 2-2 with the Vikings as the quarterback, and is still getting comfortable with offense having only been in Minnesota for a month.
"It’s frustrating, I see it. Turnovers really control the game. It starts with me and taking care of the football with my decision-making. I acknowledge it man, I’m frustrated with myself because it starts with me," Dobbs said. "I don’t make excuses based on my situation of just being here a month. I had the opportunity to get the reps in practice. I hold myself to a higher standard, no matter what happened tonight, I know I can play better football. I’m not ashamed to say that, I’m not running from it. I’m excited for the next opportunity to show that."
The Vikings have lost two straight games, allowing a total of one offensive score.
After the game, O'Connell did not commit to Dobbs being his starter at the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 10, as Justin Jefferson is set to return from a hamstring injury.
"We’re going to take a look, really evaluate the inventory of plays we have of Josh. We’ve got Jaren available to us, and now Nick Mullens is available as well. I think what Josh Dobbs has done coming in here on short notice, going 2-2 and the deck stacked against us. That’s not the way this team thinks, that’s not the way we operate, that’s not the way I operate," O'Connell said. "We’re trying to go out and win every game we play. We’ll take a look at everything."
The Vikings now face an uphill climb in the NFC North, three games behind the Detroit Lions with five to play. But for the second straight week, they cost themselves a winnable game with turnovers.
"Adversity brings out the true character of this team. We’re in the thick of it right now, losing back to back games. Games that we should’ve won, it’s just about leaning on each other," Metellus said. "December is when the best football is played, so we’ve just got to find a way to play our best football this next month."