The Bears led by 11 at the half, but the Vikings scored four touchdowns in the second half Sunday to hand the Bears a 31-17 loss, likely the final one of the Matt Nagy era. Here’s what you need to know:
Three moments that mattered
1. Matter of time: With 4:54 remaining, the Bears, facing a 4th-and-1, opted to pass, which was intercepted by Patrick Peterson and returned 66 yards for the 31-17 lead. The Bears had four drives end on a turnover on downs and two more end on interceptions.
2. Game on: The Vikings tied the game at 17 with 13:35 left in the fourth quarter on a 45-yard Kirk Cousins pass to Justin Jefferson. Jefferson, somehow, got behind Jackson in the end zone and it appeared Jackson was a bit lost in coverage or potentially thought the play was over. Regardless, he paid for it.
3. Wheeling and shoveling: Andy Dalton connected with Damien Williams on a 23-yard wheel route touchdown. On the ensuing two point conversion, Dalton’s shovel pass to Allen Robinson made it 14-0 Bears with 31 seconds until halftime. All signs pointed to the Bears ending the season on a three-game win streak at that point.
Three things that worked
1. Mr. 1,000: Bears wideout Darnell Mooney surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in a single season for the first time in his two-year career. Mooney’s value in this offense was beyond obvious all season and he will, at minimum, be a top two option for Justin Fields next season.
2. Limiting Dalvin Cook: The Bears defense traditionally plays Cook well and it continued Sunday. Cook finished with 79 yards and had a game-long 29-yard run. Jefferson and Cook are the stars of the offense and at least one was neutralized.
3. Thanks for everything: While it came during a forgettable season, the fact the Bears got all they did out of 17-year veteran offensive tackle Jason Peters is remarkable. The Bears signed him while he was fishing during the offseason and it turned into a respectable end (likely) to his hall of fame career. Rookie Teven Jenkins, eventually, entered during the second half.
Three things that didn’t
1. Matt Nagy is still Matt Nagy: With 7:30 remaining in the third quarter and facing 4th-and-1 at the goal line, the Bears opted to pass, which resulted in another Dalton sack. David Montgomery was on the field and didn’t get the carry. We already discussed the pick-six. The Bears finished 1 for 5 on fourth-down conversions. It’s, frankly, inexcusable and just another reason why a change will likely be coming at coach for the Bears. Situational football isn’t Nagy’s strong suit and it shined plentifully for four seasons.
2. Andy Dalton: With all respect to the veteran, Sunday’s finale was yet another example of what the Bears got with Dalton: empty passing yards with few points to show for it. Dalton’s back-to-back fourth quarter interceptions were just the icing on the cake. Nick Foles, arguably, could’ve done that.
3. Got to finish: Jaylon Johnson is a potential all-pro cornerback candidate moving forward. It’s highly rare he gets beat and is very low on the list of concerns moving forward; but not touching down Jefferson on a 25-yard gain, which eventually led to the Vikings’ field goal to close the first half, is a detail that cannot happen. Johnson is phenomenal, but that was a poor time for a mental lapse.
We don’t really know. A coaching change is highly likely, but what about general manager Ryan Pace? We’ll likely find out more this week.