Season Over: Bears gain No. 1 overall pick after loss to Vikings
Daniel Bartel - USA Today Sports

Season Over: Bears gain No. 1 overall pick after loss to Vikings

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - The 2022-23 NFL season has mercifully ended for the Chicago Bears (3-14), as they can now shift their focus to the offseason. Before that could happen, the Bears had a chance to end their season on a positive note, with the Minnesota Vikings (13-4) coming to Soldier Field to close out the regular season.

Typically, this would be one of those one-score games, as the Vikings have historically struggled at Soldier Field no matter the Bears record. However, this was more than just an ordinary game for the Bears as Justin Fields was unavailable for the Bears, making an already tall task that much more challenging.

Whether it was Nathan Peterman who showed flashes at times or Tim Boyle seeing snaps under center, it was a long afternoon for the Bears as the Vikings went the entire game without a punt until the final minute and picked up the 29-13 victory. Even with most of the Vikings starters playing just the first half, many had a full game of statistics worth in that half.

That included Kirk Cousins, who went 17-20 for 225 yards and a touchdown. All that came in the first half, with that lone touchdown on their opening possession. That score was set up by the 66-yard completion to KJ Osborn to put the ball deep in Bears territory before Adam Thielen hauled one in from four yards out and the quick 6-0 lead. Minnesota never looked back as they led from start to finish in this one.

The one knock against the Vikings all season long has been their lack of defense. However, their defense was playing exceptionally well early on, which made things miserable for the Bears and their offense. Give Chicago credit, as Cousins was getting CJ Ham and Justin Jefferson involved to move the ball before the Bears defense stripped Dalvin Cook and recovered the fumble.

Unfortunately, the Bears could not capitalize on that as the Vikings forced a turnover on downs to get the ball back in excellent field position. Led by Alexander Mattison on the ground, the Vikings put together a great drive that included TJ Hockenson and Irv Smith Jr getting involved. In total, the Vikings used 12 plays to go 66 yards, with Mattison picking up a one-yard score to extend the lead. Three plays later saw Boyle intercepted by Patrick Peterson, whose return helped set up a Greg Joseph field goal to make things 16-0.

Boyle shook that interception off on the Bears next possession as he hooked up with Cole Kmet on two consecutive plays for 33 yards. That set the stage for the speedster Velus Jones to outrun the Vikings defense as he took the end around 42 yards to the house to make things 16-7. Joseph appeared to end the half with another field goal, but a penalty was called, and the Vikings had to settle for the 16-7 lead.

With a nine-point advantage at the break, it was time for the Vikings reserves to come in, which included Nick Mullens. One of the better backups in the league, Mullens went 11-13 for 116 yards in the second half, but did have an interception. He opened the second half with an 11-play scoring drive that saw Mattison pick up his second touchdown. It was Mattison's first career multi-score game as the Vikings held a 23-6 lead.

Despite what the scoreboard said, Peterman and the Bears offense continued to battle and put together their best drive of the game. Needing just over five minutes to go 65 yards, the Bears used 11 plays to get it done while mixing in a nice balance of run and pass. David Montgomery was doing his thing on the ground while N'Keal Harry and Chase Claypool were catching passes. Add in some more Kmet, and the Bears came away with their second TD, with Peterman finding Kmet to make things 23-13.

Those were the final points of the game for the Bears and their offense, as they couldn't get things rolling consistently. Kene Nwangwu started to get some touches in the third and into the fourth, as did Jalen Reagor. That set things up for Joseph again as he drilled home the 50-yard field goal. After starting the year 0-8 from beyond 50, he has made his last three and four of his last five from that distance.

The Bears offense continued to struggle against the Vikings defense the rest of the way, but Greg Stroman managed to intercept Mullens in the fourth quarter to at least keep the Bears late-game hopes alive. Once again, the Vikings defense held tough, forcing another turnover on downs before Joseph capped off the scoring with another field goal.

Minnesota picked off Boyle for the second time late in the fourth, with former Chicago Bear Duke Shelley coming away with the interception. That was the final straw for the Bears as the Vikings came into town and took care of business 29-13. Peterman finished the game 11-19 for 114 yards with a TD, while Boyle went 2-8 with two interceptions. Herbert led the way for the Bears rushing attack with 50 yards, with Kmet leading the way with 57 yards receiving. With the loss, the Bears will get the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft as Houston won their game on a last-second two-point conversion.

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