Bernstein: Bears somehow make it fun


(670 The Score) Bad teams are allowed moral victories.

And make no mistake: The Bears are one, and that was one.

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Having it end the way it did was deflating, but even that wasn't without a dreamer's silver lining. Ihmir Smith-Marsette — a receiver cut by the Vikings before the season who might soon be cut by the Bears during the season — decided inexplicably to fight for extra yardage instead of just going out of bounds to stop the clock and keep alive a last-ditch drive, giving Minnesota cornerback Cameron Dantzler the chance to rip the ball away to seal his team's 29-22 win against Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

What we're still left able to do is imagine what could've been possible from Justin Fields and the resurgent Bears offense, if by no means probable.

The fact that the Bears even earned our hope says something about their effort Sunday.  Overmatched in talent by no small measure and quickly trailing 21-3 in the second quarter on the road, it was shaping up to be another grim marking point in what we all knew would be a season full of them.

Kirk Cousins started the day 17-of-17 passing for 176 yards, just cutting a passive defense to ribbons with well-timed throws to mostly open receivers. Fields did about nothing for most of the first half.

But a Justin Jones sack at the two-minute warning resulted in a Vikings punt, and then Fields lofted a 39-yard pass to Darnell Mooney, who made a one-handed catch that will assuredly be one of the best in the NFL this season. A David Montgomery touchdown was followed by a Vikings missed field-goal attempt, and the Bears opened the second half with a well-executed drive for another score. Bears coach Matt Eberflus then got appropriately risky with a two-point conversion attempt and an onside kick, though neither gambit worked.

The Bears blocked another field-goal attempt and then kicked one of their own to cut the lead to 21-19 before Kindle Vildor intercepted Cousins and returned it to midfield in the fourth quarter. Cairo Santos was good again, and — incredibly — the Bears had a late lead.

This was the point that we realized that at a minimum, the experience of watching the Bears on a note-perfect fall day in Chicago wasn't a complete waste of our time, because that may be how we have to assess these things.

At that point it was actually entertaining, and there was reason to think something good could still happen based on what we were seeing. Kyler Gordon was making open-field tackles, Fields was scrambling for first downs without getting killed and Cousins can always be on the edge of collapse no matter a record-setting start.

But it wasn't to be, even after all that. Cousins calmly engineered a go-ahead Vikings touchdown drive that included picking up five third downs, including on goal-to-go from the 1, with a two-point conversion pass to Justin Jefferson then preceding that last opportunity for Fields that was undone by such an unfortunate lack of football awareness by one of the Bears' awful wideouts.

Fields' second half was encouraging too: 12-of-13 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown while he kept numerous plays alive with his athleticism and had a 118.8 passer rating for the game. He didn't look overmatched at all on the road in a tight game against a division opponent. There was plenty of positive stuff.

The Bears still aren't any good, but they're are allowed to not be entirely miserable. Same can go for the rest of us.

Dan Bernstein is the co-host of the Bernstein & Holmes Show on middays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.

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