Bears observations: Season ends with 29-13 loss to Vikings

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What we learned as Bears' season ends with 29-13 loss to Vikings originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

CHICAGO – The Bears’ season came to an end Sunday at Soldier Field, not with a bang but with a whimper in a 29-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

With Justin Fields inactive due to a hip strain, the Bears turned to the quarterback duo of Nathan Peterman and Tim Boyle to finish out the first year of the Matt Eberlfus era.

The Vikings opted to play their first stringers for one-half of Sunday's game. That was enough to get Justin Jefferson and Co. some good work and ensure a 13-win season for first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Other than a first-half fumble by Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ offense faced little resistance Sunday. Minnesota led by 10 at halftime and put it in cruise control with the backups in the second half.

It wasn’t a completely wasted afternoon for the Bears. Velus Jones Jr. and Cole Kmet finished their seasons on a high note, and the Houston Texans knocked off the Indianapolis Colts to give the Bears the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Here’s what we learned as the Bears’ season ended with a 29-13 loss to the Vikings. The Bears finished the first season of the Eberflus era at 3-14 and on a 10-game losing streak.

Quarterback rotation

Peterman started and played the first quarter, going four-for-seven for 50 yards.

But the Bears turned to Tim Boyle in the second quarter. Boyle was picked off on the third play of his watch. He threw deep down the right side for Chase Claypool, but the wide receiver broke off his route, giving Patrick Peterson an easy interception.

With Fields made a spectator by the hip injury, Bears quarterbacks went 6-for-11 for 83 yards and an interception in the first half.

Peterman resumed command of the offense in the third quarter. He opened the stanza by marching the Bears 75 yards in 10 plays, hitting Kmet for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the Minnesota lead to 23-13 midway through the third.

Peterman finished the day going 11-for-19 for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Finish strong

It has been a tough season for Bears Jones Jr. He dealt with a hamstring injury during training camp and missed the first three games of the season. Jones returned and had two critical muffed punts.

Jones played sparingly on offense all season, but the third-round pick maintained that he is a dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands.

He flashed that during the second quarter Sunday when he took the pitch on the reverse from Boyle, got the corner, and tight-roped down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown run.

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That 42-yard run gave the Bears 2,975 rushing yards on the season, breaking the franchise record set in 1984.

Kmet, meanwhile, finished his season with four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. One season after being unable to find the end zone, Kmet scored seven touchdowns in a positive step forward for the third-year tight end.

Season over

The Bears’ defense entered Sunday’s finale down four starters in the secondary. The patchwork team of Harrison Hand, Greg Stroman, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Elijah Hicks, and rookie Jaquan Brisker put up little resistance against the Vikings in the first half.

Kirk Cousins went 17-for-20 for 225 yards and one touchdown as the Vikings took a 16-6 lead into halftime. That was all the Vikings would need to hold on.

Minnesota yanked its starters at halftime to rest up for a likely Wild Card Weekend showdown with the New York Giants.

The Bears, meanwhile, head into what they hope is a transformative offseason armed with over $110 million in salary cap and a top pick to start their rebuild around Fields.

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