The Bears have grown plenty since blowing a 20-point lead against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 and brutally losing to the Miami Dolphins in Week 6. But in Sunday night’s 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears showed that growth in how they finished — and it wasn’t just one unit putting the team on its back. Offense, defense and special teams came through to earn the 7-3 Bears a 1 1/2-game lead in the NFC North. 

This wasn’t an easy game for the Bears to finish, not after a Mitch Trubisky interception and Tarik Cohen fumble suddenly gave the Vikings life midway through the second half. Those two turnovers resulted in field goals — a testament to the play of the Bears’ defense — but still brought the Vikings within eight points.

Eddie Jackson’s pick six with eight and a half minutes left, though, seemed to seal the game (at the least, it probably sealed the safety’s place in the Pro Bowl). But the Vikings were able to muster an 11-play, 64-yard scoring drive after it to again move within one score. 

Facing a third-and-eight, and the uncertain prospect of giving the ball back to a team that pulled off the Minneapolis Miracle in January, Trubisky delivered his biggest throw of the day: A 17-yard strike to Allen Robinson, which converted the first down. Aided by a Harrison Smith penalty that tacked 15 yards onto a five-yard Trubisky scramble, the Bears moved into field goal range. 

 

And then Cody Parkey — the guy who kicked in front of an empty Soldier Field and two news helicopters during the week — put the game out of reach with a 48-yard field goal. Nearly the entire Bears team bounded off its sideline to greet Parkey, displaying the kind of spirit instilled in this group by Matt Nagy and its leaders since they first got together in April. 

The Bears needed that kick, too, as Kirk Cousins found Stefon Diggs for a touchdown with 48 seconds left that brought Minnesota back within a score. Benny Cunningham recovered an onside kick — something the Bears failed to do last week against the Detroit Lions — sealing the win. 

This was a game the Bears might not have won in September. They might not have won it in October, either. But a young team coalescing around its first-year head coach, a dominant defense and a more than good enough offense won it in November against a good team. And in doing so, they proved they can do it in December. 

And January, too.