Bears end 8-8 season with a win in Minneapolis

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears tight end Eric Saubert (43) leaps over Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Minneapolis.

    Chicago Bears tight end Eric Saubert (43) leaps over Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Minneapolis. Associated Press

 
By Dave Campbell
AP Paro Football Writer
Updated 12/29/2019 3:41 PM

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddy Piñeiro's fourth field goal of the game for Chicago came from 22 yards with 10 seconds left, giving the Bears a 21-19 victory over Minnesota on Sunday with the Vikings resting their regulars for the playoffs.

Piñeiro, the latest attempt by the Bears (8-8) to solve their persistent kicking trouble, finished the season with 11 straight made field goals. Mitch Trubisky highlighted another unremarkable performance by hitting Riley Ridley for 34 yards on fourth-and-9 with 2:36 left from midfield to set up the winning kick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

David Montgomery had 23 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown to cap a strong rookie season and help the Bears beat the Vikings (10-6) for the fourth consecutive time. Chicago dodged what would have been a fifth losing record in six years, after winning the NFC North in 2018 in coach Matt Nagy's debut.

Minnesota missed a third 11-win season in six years under coach Mike Zimmer, but he was far more concerned about taking a healthy team to the playoffs. The only drama in the building was the way the Green Bay-Detroit game was unfolding, with a significant impact on where the Vikings will play their first-round game.

Ifeadi Odenigbo strip-sacked Trubisky in the fourth quarter to pick up the ball and set up Dan Bailey's fourth field goal for a brief lead for the Vikings, but a replay review negated what would have been Odenigbo's second fumble return for a touchdown in three games after it was ruled that his knee was down after the recovery.

Mike Boone rushed 17 times for 148 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, atoning for three costly miscues in the first half. After a 59-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, Boone fumbled a pitch from Sean Mannion that Bilal Nichols recovered. He bobbled a short pass over the middle on the next possession that Kevin Pierre-Louis intercepted. The Bears turned both of those takeaways into field goals.

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Then after a punt by Pat O'Donnell was downed at the 1, Boone stutter-stepped in the end zone to try to elude an unblocked Nick Kwiatkoski but was engulfed for a safety that put the Bears up 8-3, ultimately the difference in the game.

Boone, who was held to 28 yards on 11 carries on Monday night in the 23-10 defeat by Green Bay, was again the lead runner with Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook and primary backup Alexander Mattison recovering from injuries.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph (81 games) and defensive end Danielle Hunter (48 games) took the first snap for their side of the ball to extend consecutive regular-season start streaks for the Vikings, but the interior offensive linemen were the only starters who broke a sweat and they were out after three series.

Montgomery got his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, but otherwise the Bears offense gave the Vikings' second-stringers little to worry about. For the 11th time this year, they failed to score a first-half touchdown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For the fourth straight year, all since U.S. Bank Stadium opened in 2016, the NFL scheduled Chicago's visit to Minnesota for the final week of the season. The Bears also finished on the road against the Vikings in 2014 (outside at TCF Bank Stadium) and 2011 (inside at the Metrodome), and most of these matchups have come with a exhibition-game vibe.

Both teams were eliminated from contention for the playoffs in 2011, 2014 and 2016. This time, the Vikings were safely in with the No. 6 seed cemented. Only in 2017, when the Vikings won to clinch a first-round bye, and in 2018, when the Vikings lost to miss the playoffs, were there any postseason positions to determine.

The Bears' Pro Bowl kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson entered the concussion protocol after taking a pair of end-around runs as a wide receiver in the first quarter. Anthony Miller replaced him on kickoff returns and hurt his shoulder on his first attempt. Tarik Cohen took over after that.

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