MINNEAPOLIS -- A 23-20 overtime heartbreaker of a loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday didn't eliminate the Chicago Bears from playoff contention. But it certainly made the road beyond the regular season much more difficult to navigate.
Marc Trestman wasn't ready to concede Chicago's season could be over after watching his team fall to 6-6, one game back in the NFC North of the Detroit Lions, who pounded Green Bay on Thursday. In fact, Trestman plans to speak to his team on Monday about how this loss doesn't effectively end their season.
“There are some historical points of view that show that it doesn’t,” Trestman said. “We’ve got a long season left. We’ve got four games to go. There was a sign of a team that played very well today at times. We just didn’t play well enough all the time. There’s clearly evidence that we can move forward here, and I’m always going to feel that way.”
The Bears dropped their second consecutive game to fall to 3-6 against NFC opponents. Of all the likely contenders for the two wild-card spots, Chicago holds the worst conference record. Wild-card contenders such as Philadelphia, Carolina and San Francisco possess conference records at or well above .500. Arizona, at 7-5, is 4-5 against conference opponents.
The situation signals that Chicago’s best chance to make the postseason is to win the NFC North. Heading into Sunday's game, the Bears were tied for first in the division. Their loss, coupled with the season sweep by Detroit, essentially puts the Bears two games behind the Lions.
“We know Detroit won, and we know what our record is,” Trestman said. “There’s certainly a lot of football to be played. I think our guys will come back on Monday night [against the Dallas Cowboys] excited to play and ready to go. I’m proud of our team with the effort and the level of intensity they played with throughout the game and the overtime. We’ve got to move on from there.”
In the quiet locker room, it seemed that would be difficult at best. Even left tackle Jermon Bushrod admitted the team would “mope just for one day about this one.”
“It hurts,” Bushrod said. “We needed it. We needed it. We needed it to stay tied for first. Now we need a lot more help and we need to win out. We needed to win out anyway. But we just needed this game.”
Defensive end Julius Peppers was confident the Bears could move on from Sunday’s heartbreaker.
“We’re not kids here,” Peppers said. “We’re grown men. So we’re just gonna come back to work. We’re going to put in the same work we did this week and we’re just gonna try to get it done next week.”