Bears lose to Vikings, finish at 3-13

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph, rear, during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Minneapolis.

    Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph, rear, during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Minneapolis. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/1/2017 4:14 PM

The final score in the Bears' 38-10 season-ending loss to the Vikings represented just some of the many depressing numbers facing a franchise near the bottom of the NFL barrel.

The Bears' 3-13 record is their worst since the NFL went to 16-game schedule in 1978. Percentage-wise, it's the second-worst season in franchise history after the 1-13 disaster in 1969.

 

The Bears finished 0-8 on the road and plummeted to 9-23 under coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace. No Bears coach has ever had a worse record in his first two years.

Sunday's loss was the Bears' most lopsided in a depressing season that ended with them being outscored 109-58 in the final three games.

Most of the speculation on Fox's future has him returning, in part because the Bears ended the season with 19 players on injured reserve, most of them starters or key role players.

"I've been doing this for a long time, and I've never worried about job security, and I'm not going to start now," said Fox, who has spent the past 15 years as a head coach in the NFL. "(But) one thing I've learned about this league is a lot of different things can happen. I'm not going to get into all that now. (I'm) trying to get over this loss."

Asked if he wants to return, Fox said: "Yeah. You start something, you want to finish it. I think a lot of this organization. I think a lot of this city. I think a lot of the tradition of this team. It's definitely a job I want to finish."

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That will not be an easy job after the Bears ended the season with a whimper and without a postseason appearance in six straight seasons. There has been just one trip to the playoffs in the 10 years since the Bears lost to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI.

On the positive side, they locked up the third pick in this year's draft, which should help in the future.

But they officially waved the white flag on the present when David Fales replaced Matt Barkley at quarterback after Barkley lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was Barkley's third turnover of the game and 12th turnover in three games, including 10 interceptions.

Barkley showed promise in his first three starts, throwing 4 TD passes and 2 interceptions. But in his final three starts, he threw 4 TDs and 10 interceptions.

Barkley started the second half Sunday the same way he started the game, by throwing an interception in the end zone. The Bears responded with a rare takeaway of their own, their only one of the game, when Cre'Von LeBlanc picked off Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford in the end zone. It was just the eighth interception of the season and left them with a franchise-low 11 takeaways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bears came in with a minus-16 turnover-takeaway differential, and they were even worse than usual in the first half. They turned the ball over three times, which resulted in 17 Vikings points.

But the first half did have a couple highlights for the Bears, most notably the continued brilliance of Jordan Howard who, as he always does, ran with toughness and purpose.

The fifth-round draft pick blew past Matt Forte's Bears rookie rushing record of 1,238 yards. Howard finished with a season total of 1,314 rushing yards after getting 136 yards on 24 carries vs. the Vikings.

Twice the Bears appeared on the verge of being blown out early, but kept it interesting -- for a while.

The Vikings took advantage of the Bears' third turnover of the first half, punt-returner Bralon Addison's fumble, to go up 24-7 with 18 second left in the half.

But Deonte Thompson responded with a 64-yard kickoff return, the Bears' longest of the season. With just nine seconds left, Barkley found Cam Meredith for a 31-yard gain with two ticks remaining. Connor Barth's 29-yard field goal trimmed the Vikings' lead to 24-10 at the half.

The Bears' most creative play-call of the season got them on the board and back in the game late in the first half after they dug themselves a 17-0 hole.

As Barkley shifted to a receiver position, running back Jeremy Langford took a direct snap from center and lateraled to wide receiver Meredith, a quarterback for his first two years at Illinois State. Meredith lofted a perfect 2-yard TD pass to Barkley to get the Bears within 17-7.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter at @BobLeGere.

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