MINNEAPOLIS – Diving deep into the Bears' season-ending 23-10 loss to the Vikings Sunday in Minnesota.
THREE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
1. It didn't take long for the Bears to fall behind after the offense opened with a 3-and-out. The Vikings quickly marched down the field on an eight-play drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown for Latavius Murray. The big play came when Bears safety Adrian Amos read a crossing route to Stefon Diggs correctly but failed to make the tackle over the middle. Diggs got away for 26 yards down to Chicago's 14-yard line.
2. Penalties were a problem for the Bears all afternoon in Minneapolis. They were flagged seven times in the first half for 91 yards. Two of those came on third downs on the same drive in the second quarter. Marcus Cooper was called for illegal contact, and fellow defensive back Bryce Callahan was flagged for pass interference, which set up Murray's second TD to make it 14-0.
3. The Bears had a chance to get within one score early in the fourth quarter with easily their best drive of the day and first-and-goal at Minnesota's 6-yard line. From there, Mitchell Trubisky fired thee straight incompletions, and on fourth down, Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes broke up a touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman with a nice play.
THREE THINGS THAT WORKED
1. Keeping Trubisky healthy. There was a valid argument to be made that the Bears shouldn't even run their prized rookie out there in a meaningless game with three of their starting offensive linemen sidelined. The patchwork offensive line was far from perfect Sunday, but it performed well enough to keep Trubisky from taking a beating.
2. Mike Nugent from long distance. You have to get a bit creative to find positives when the Bears finish with more penalty yards than total yards in the first half. Nugent hitting a 55-yard field goal qualifies given the Bears' struggles at the position since cutting Robbie Gould, who entered Week 17 having made 47-for-49 attempts since leaving Chicago.
3. Special teams trickery. Former Bears special teams coach Dave Toub is remembered fondly for his trick plays. Current coach Jeff Rodgers borrowed a play out Toub's playbook Sunday by hiding Bryce Callahan near the sideline and setting up the punt return away from him. The Vikings bit and Callahan easily raced 59 yards to get the Bears within 14-7.
THREE THINGS THAT DIDN'T
1. Finishing drives. The Bears ran 11 plays inside of Minnesota's 10-yard line in the fourth quarter and came away with zero points. Outside of Rhodes' nice play against Inman, the Bears also tried a fullback screen with Michael Burton and an inside shovel pass to Tarik Cohen. Neither worked.
2. Avoiding penalties. The Bears needed to play a near perfect game to have a chance against the Vikings. They clearly did not. The Cooper and Callahan penalties directly led to Minnesota's second touchdown, and a roughing the passer call on Eddie Goldman gave the Vikings 15 yards on their first scoring drive. The Bears finished with 10 penalties for 116 yards.
3. Generating a run game. Burton led the Bears in rushing yardage at halftime with zero yards on one carry. Jordan Howard had minus-1 yards on five attempts. Like much of the last month, the Bears failed to establish a ground game – particularly on perimeter runs. They finished with 30 yards on 15 carries.
The Bears enter the offseason with John Fox's coaching tenure likely over and holes to fill at wide receiver, outside linebacker and potentially in the secondary. General manager Ryan Pace faces major decisions regarding his coaching staff, Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara.