Sunday’s season finale for the Bears served as a microcosm of their year. The Vikings marched down the field on their opening drive of the first quarter for a touchdown, when running back Latavius Murray punched it in from the one. The Bears defense, solid all season despite multiple injuries to key pieces, then locked in allowing only 14 more points. This statistic may not seem so impressive, but given the fact that the Bears offense couldn’t move the ball until the fourth quarter, thanks, Dowell Loggains, and the Vikings kept getting the ball around midfield for the first three quarters, it was a pretty good day on the defensive side of the ball.
One thing that wasn’t so typical of the Bears was that they couldn’t run the ball all game. In fact, Jordan Howard, who came into the game as the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher, had all of nine yards for the entire game. NINE YARDS.
One of the two bright spots for Chicago, the other being a 55 yard Mike Nugent field goal, came on a punt return with 5:50 left in the second quarter where Bryce Callahan, who had previously committed two huge pass interference penalties, stood barely in bounds on the opposite side of the field from regular return man Tarik Cohen, and Minnesota punter, Ryan Quigley, wanting to kick away from the dangerous Cohen, did so without spotting Callahan, who was still almost out of bounds. As Quigley got the kick away, the Bear’s blockers ran to Cohen to make it seem as though the ball was coming his way. All of the Minnesota players followed suit. As a result, Callahan caught the ball on the other side of the field as he raced to the end zone untouched.
The score was 16-7 at halftime as the Vikings had added another touchdown and were awarded a safety after Mitch Trubisky (20-36, 178 yds.) was called for intentional grounding while he was in the end zone.
The Vikings added to their lead at the end of the third with another touchdown to make it 23-7 heading to the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears opened it up and began to move the ball down the field. But just when you thought they might be back in the game, Loggains reared his ugly head once more. With a total of 12 plays from inside the five-yard line, the Bears failed to get it in the end zone as the Vikings showed that they, statistically, are the best defense in football. The game ended 23-10.
With the win, the Vikings secured a first-round bye in the playoffs and will play in an NFC Divisional matchup in two weeks.
The next move for the Bears will be finding a new head coach to take over for John Fox, who in his three seasons, went a combined 14-34 for a winning percentage of .292. The Bears also should explore the option of getting rid of offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, whose play calling was horrible all season and was, for the most part, predictable all year long.
Bears: CB Bryce Callahan 59 return yds, TD WR Dontrelle Inman 5 rec. 94 yds.
Vikings: RB Latavius Murray 111 rush yds. 2 TD. QB Case Keenum 189 yds. TD