The Chicago Bears wrapped up their regular season Sunday evening with a 24-10road victory over the Minnesota Vikings. They will finish the season with 12 wins which are the most by the team since 2006.
In a game meant little to the Bears, head coach Matt Nagy coached his best game of the season on the eve of his playoff debut next week.
Before the start of the game, the Bears had a chance at earning the second seed in the NFC playoffs with a win which would give them a bye and a Divisional round home game. They needed to win and a Los Angeles Rams loss against the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams controlled their game from the start giving the Bears nothing to play for following the first half.
With no importance to the game, Chicago dominated Minnesota from start to finish forcing a three and out on their first defensive drive and scoring a touchdown on their first offensive drive.
Nagy’s offense led the way with three rushing touchdowns which are the most in any game this season. His defense held Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousin to his lowest passing total of the season with 132 passing yards.
The Vikings needed a win to keep their season alive and clinch the final sixth spot in the NFC Playoffs. Mentally, they did not look ready from the start of the game as the Bears looked both physically and mentally ready for the game.
The biggest key for the Bears was to escape the game without injuries, but they were unable to. With starting wide receiver Allen Robinson held out of the game, Chicago preceded to lose two more of their wide receivers in Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller to shoulder injuries.
Nagy’s coaching ability was on display as reserve wide receivers Kevin White and Javon Wims stepped up to fill the roles as the offense did not miss a beat. The two backups receivers combined for five catches for 54 yards.
Many believed that Nagy would pull his starters at halftime if the Rams were leading by a large margin, but he chose to play his starters into the fourth quarter. Even when Minnesota trailed by just three into the fourth quarter, Nagy left a majority of his starters in on offense leading to a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Tarik Cohen.
The move was all important as the importance of knocking the Vikings out of the playoffs forcing a playoff matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles became extremely important late.
With the Eagles leading in their game, Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles left the game due to a rib injury leaving his availability for next week’s playoff game in jeopardy.
Instead of playing the Vikings for the third time this season and back to back weeks, Chicago will now play a Philadelphia team that could possibly start one of three quarterbacks because of injury.
Most impressive was how readied and focused Nagy had his team throughout the game. The defense played aggressive and with purpose throughout the game. Even when the defensive reserves were in late in the fourth quarter, they held Minnesota’s offense scoreless, even as Minnesota needed to score for their playoff livelihood.
On offense, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky remained poised even with the lack of wide receiver continuity as he completed 69 percent of his passes on the day.
For the season, Chicago will finish with impressive marks as the defense set a team record for fewest rushing yards allowed in a season with 1280. Trubisky made the second year jump for a quarterback throwing 24 touchdown passes, which is fourth most in franchise history.
The season finale win is all too important as Nagy showed the true value as a head coach. He motivated his team to be the dominant team in a game that had no value to them. When key players got injured, he had their backups ready and did not need to change the gameplan.
Most importantly he had his team play a complete game from start to finish right before the start of the playoffs creating invaluable momentum heading into January.