“I finally was on the winning side in Soldier Field. I think that for me is one win in nine tries,” Allen said after the game. “I always associated this field with losses and for me it was a personal goal to turn that around today. Not to put any extra pressure on myself, as I always play to win, but this time it was more important somehow and very special.”
Allen ended the day with five tackles, one for a loss, three QB hits and a sack, and helped hold the Vikings to 243 total yards, which was far less than Chicago’s 468.
“I knew all the Vikings players,” Allen said. “I played with them for quite a while. There wasn’t any ill will between us. In fact, we talked some before the game and joked back and forth on occasion between plays. I enjoyed ragging on the guys if I got a big hit. I’m not sure how much they appreciated that.”
Allen felt his familiarity with the Vikings helped in today’s success, which was the Bears’ first win at Soldier Field this season.
“I knew tendencies and I adjusted accordingly,” he said. “I could give our defensive guys some pointers on who was likely to do what out there. For example I knew Bridgewater was a young quarterback. He’s a rookie so I hadn’t played with him, but I knew when the Vikings would go to a no huddle. I felt no huddle would be asking a lot of a young quarterback. I felt that Bridgewater might have trouble adjusting quickly to those situations and I concentrated on that.”
After disheartening losses to the Patriots and Packers the past two weeks, in which the defense allowed 106 total points, Allen felt the defense had a lot to prove today.
“No team wants to have the other guys go up on them by 40, 50 points. That’s simply unacceptable,” said Allen. “We worked incredibly hard this week to turn things around. It wasn’t that we dwelled on what had gone wrong in the past but we did use that as motivation going forward.”
Allen said he and the team have been able to tune out fan discontent since returning from Green Bay.
“It’s not that we try to isolate ourselves when preparing for an upcoming game but we all try not to let it be too much of a distraction. Everybody here understood the fans’ frustration. Believe me, we were frustrated as well. The best way to handle that situation was to come out today and do well. The fans deserved a home-field win and we desperately wanted to give that to them. Having confidence and staying on the right track was the key to success in that respect.”
After losing three in a row, and five of their past six, the Bears were desperate for a spark, and Allen provided that today.
“You can only get beaten up so many times, then it’s just too much.” Allen said. “This had gone on way too long. It was so darned frustrating as we knew the talent was there but the execution fell short. We spent the week in practice building things from the bottom up, concentrating on every single detail in the play at each position. Sometimes you have to micromanage like that to get results. Before what we accomplished in practice didn’t translate well to game day. Today things worked.”
The Bears now turn their attention to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and former coach Lovie Smith. While Chicago’s playoff chances are slim, a win next week puts them at 5-6 with momentum, which could propel them into a late-season run.
“It’s week-by-week playoff football now. We have to stockpile these wins “Allen said. “I see that upcoming game against the Bucs as much as I saw the Vikings. It will be a challenge but with proper motivation, thorough preparation, we can get that done. We are enjoying positive momentum now for the first time in way too long. None of us wants to let go of that right now.”
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 14 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.