3 and Out: Bears suffer second-half meltdown in season finale against Vikings

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.

What’s next?

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.

Jacob Bartelson

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.