The Chicago Bears have committed silly penalties and made bad mistakes all season long, so it was fitting that their final game of the season saw many errors as they dropped a lackluster 13-9 contest to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon.
The game got to yet another poor start for the team's offense, with a delay of game penalty, a timeout on 2nd-and-1 and a false start penalty on Jermon Bushrod preventing the team from getting going. They ultimately had to punt the ball away as they once again failed to score early.
The Vikings responded with a well-orchestrated drive of their own, complete wtih several key first down plays by Teddy Bridgewater's offense. A pass to Greg Jennings looked like it gave Minnesota an early lead, but the call was overturned on review. The Vikings ultimately had to settle for a lengthy Blair Walsh field goal, giving them a 3-0 lead.
The two teams traded punts as the first quarter drew to an end, The Bears did start to move the ball down the field as the second quarter began, with Jay Cutler converting on a fourth-and-short to keep the drive alive. Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte combined to get another first down, but the penalty bug bit the Bears again as Bushrod was whistled again for a false start. Cutler was sacked on the next play, and the drive fizzled out as Chicago once again failed to score.
The Vikings' offense continued to struggle on their next drive, and the Bears responded with another solid drive. Alshon Jeffery made a big play down the middle of the field to get the Bears within striking distance of the end zone. Cutler overthrew Dante Rosario on a third down play a few plays later, but Jay Feely booted through the field goal to tie things up with about a minute to go in the half.
The second quarter came to an end with the Vikings' drive fizzling out late, as Jeremiah Ratliff and Jared Allen combined to sack Bridgewater to put a halt to Minnesota's progress.
As the third quarter got underway, the Bears had not one, but two touchdowns called back. The first came on an interception by Kyle Fuller, as the play was initially ruled a touchdown but was overruled on video replay. The second time came a few plays later as Cutler found Jeffery in the back of the end zone, but replay showed that he didn't keep both feet in bounds, and the Bears were forced to settle for a field goal to take a 6-3 lead.
Those missed touchdown opportunities came back to haunt the Bears as a coverage breakdown led to Minnesota retaking the lead. When Tim Jennings played zone and Brock Vereen failed to drop back, Adam Thielen was left wide open, and the receiver waltzed into the end zone for his first career touchdown as Minnesota seized a 10-6 lead.
Both teams traded punts as the third quarter wore on, but Minnesota was finally able to move the ball down the field a bit and got another field goal from Walsh to extend their lead to 13-6 early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears' offense looked like it would fall well short again as they took the field again, but Cutler eventually made some big plays to keep the drive alive. The first came a play after he had been sacked by Corey Wootton, as Cutler rushed for a big gain and a first down. A few plays later, Cutler nailed Martellus Bennett over the middle of the field on a 4th-and-3 play to extend the possession.
Unfortunately for Chicago, the drive stalled out again in the red zone, and Feely had to head back out to boot through another field goal to narrow the deficit to 13-9.
The Vikings began to move the ball effectively using their run game, with Matt Asiata picking up a couple of first downs and Bridgewater scrambling for another one. Minnesota did get greedy deep in Bears territory however and tried to go for it on a fourth down play, but Jon Bostic made a tremendous play to stop Asiata short of the marker and give the Bears a chance for a game-winning drive.
That possession was not meant to be, however. Cutler did run for a first down, but a false start penalty against Jeffery slowed things down. Josh Morgan then illegally touched a pass after going out of bounds and coming back in, and finally Bushrod put the icing on the cake as he was whistled for his third false start of the day. Bennett was then stopped short of the marker, and the Bears' season came to a merciful end.
The Bears will pick seventh overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, which will be held in Chicago.