Bears showcase both resiliency, inconsistency as rally falls short in loss to Vikings

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (670 The Score) -- A large box was wheeled outside the visiting locker room of U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon, waiting for the Bears as they walked off the field following their 29-22 loss to the Vikings. Each player was to leave his helmet in the box.

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Most players carefully placed their helmets into the box, while others slammed them in a sign of frustration. Just like the Bears’ performance, the emotions were mixed following the game. The Bears overcame a 21-3 hole in the second quarter to storm back and take 22-21 lead in the fourth quarter, only to see the Vikings score a touchdown with 2:26 remaining to claim a 29-22 win.

The Bears (2-3) felt the frustration of a devastating loss but also plenty of pride in their effort.

“A lot of the teams in this league would’ve just laid down and stopped playing,” quarterback Justin Fields said. “I’m proud of our guys and the way they fought.”

Inside the locker room, there are no moral victories for the Bears -- despite outside expectations being low for the team. The players and coaches going to work at Halas Hall each day truly believe they can win every game. For what the Bears lack in talent, they've often made up for in heart. That was the story of their Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Bears allowed three touchdowns and 245 yards on the Vikings’ first three drives – with Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins starting 17-of-17 and star receiver Justin Jefferson hauling in eight catches for 122 yards in that span – and it seemed Chicago could be in for a day of potentially historic futility. But the game changed from there.

With 1:50 remaining in the first half, Fields hit receiver Darnell Mooney for a 39-yard gain as Mooney made a spectacular one-handed grab, which helped flip the momentum. Three plays later, running back David Montgomery ran for a nine-yard touchdown.

"I feel like if it's in my vicinity, whether it's two hands or one hand, I got to catch the ball,” Mooney said of his catch.

“My job is to be a playmaker at all times. Whenever I get the ball, I got to do whatever I can to create a spark.”

The Bears continued to fight back from there, with coach Matt Eberflus riding the wave along with his team. After rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr. recorded a nine-yard touchdown catch on his first career touch from scrimmage, Eberflus elected to go for a two-point conversion. The attempt failed, but he stayed aggressive with a surprise onside kick.

The Vikings recovered, but the Bears backed Eberflus’ belief in them by blocking a 51-yard field-goal attempt by Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph.

“Loved it,” Mooney said of Eberflus’ aggression. “Loved it. Loved it. Love how he has confidence in us, how he trusts us and just love his aggressiveness. I appreciate it as a player.”

The Bears took their first lead of the game with 9:26 remaining in regulation as kicker Cairo Santos hit a 51-yard field goal. But Chicago’s defense couldn't get the key late stop it needed.

Though the game was a tale of two halves, the common theme for the Bears was a failure to get off the field on third down. The Vikings embarked on a 17-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that included five third-down conversions. Chicago allowed Minnesota to go 12-of-15 on third-down conversions overall, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.

Fields drove the Bears into Vikings territory late, but receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette was stripped of the football with 1:12 remaining – after failing to get out of bounds to stop the clock – and Minnesota soon went into victory formation.

The Bears weren’t projected to win the game and faced the prospect of being blown out by halftime, but they pulled through with enough resiliency to claim a late lead -- just not the victory they were seeking.

“We have to make the plays to finish the game and seal the deal,” Eberflus said.

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

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker/USA Today Sports