Studs and duds from Bears’ Week 18 loss vs. Vikings

The Chicago Bears (3-14) were defeated 29-13 by the Minnesota Vikings (13-4), which marked their 10th straight defeat to close out a dismal 2022 season.

With quarterback Justin Fields sidelined with a hip injury, this game provided another look at just how significant a role he played on offense this season. While the Bears played with better effort than last week’s embarrassing loss to the Detroit Lions, this injury-depleted roster wasn’t enough to even overcome Minnesota’s backups.

But that’s probably the best outcome to close out the year. With Chicago’s loss and the Houston Texans defeating the Indianapolis Colts, the Bears locked down the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

There were no shortage of standout performances — both good and bad — in this loss. Here’s a look at our studs and duds from the Bears’ loss to the Vikings.

STUD: WR Velus Jones Jr.

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Velus Jones Jr. closed out his rookie season on a high note with his best game of the season. Jones showcased how he can be an explosive player for this team, both on offense and special teams. Jones had two huge plays on offense — a 42-yard rush and a 28-yard catch. He also had another huge day on special teams, returning four kickoffs for 82 yards, including a long of 25 yards.

STUD: TE Cole Kmet

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While the Bears passing offense has been putrid this season, Cole Kmet has been one of the bright spots. So it’s not a surprise to see Kmet end his season on a strong note with four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. Kmet saw his touchdown total go from zero in 2021 to seven in 2022. He’s become a security blanket for not only Justin Fields but any quarterback under center in Chicago.

STUD: RB Khalil Herbert

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With David Montgomery’s future in doubt, Khalil Herbert could be the No. 1 back in Chicago next season. He ended his 2022 season on a high note. While the Bears’ top rushing attack managed only 110 yards — without Justin Fields — Herbert led the way with 10 carries for 50 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

STUD: DT Justin Jones

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The Bears defense has been ravaged by injuries, and it wasn’t a great outing Sunday against the Vikings (especially backups in the second half). But Justin Jones was definitely a standout with three tackles — all for a loss. While there’s plenty of change coming to this roster this offseason, Jones has one more year on his contract and should be back in 2023.

STUD: Houston Texans

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t send a shoutout to the Houston Texans and former Bears coach Lovie Smith, who helped Chicago secure the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft. The Bears took care of business in losing to the Vikings, and the Texans completed a dramatic comeback against the Colts to record their third win of the season. But that pesky tie puts Chicago ahead of them, thus the Bears are now on the clock at No. 1.

STUD: All navy uniforms

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Honestly, the all navy uniform combination is one of my favorites. It’s sleek, slimming and downright awesome. The only problem is, they typically lose (and lose badly) whenever they wear them. I can’t remember the last time the Bears won while wearing those, which made it the perfect game to don the all navy look with the No. 1 pick on the line.

DUD: Bears passing defense

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It feels a tad unfair to have Chicago’s pass defense on this list. Expectations were already low. After all, with injuries to their starters and backups, the cornerback group consisted of practice squad players, including Harrison Hand, Greg Stroman Jr., Breon Borders and Michael Ojemudia. They combined for 41 total snaps on defense this season (all belonging to Hand). Chicago allowed the Vikings’ starters and backups to shred them to the tune of 341 passing yards, which included a five-catch, 117-yard outing by KJ Osbourne.

DUD: RT Riley Reiff

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After allowing seven sacks on Justin Fields last week, the Bears offensive line gave up just one sack against the Vikings. It was an improved effort by a group that will look completely different in 2023. But veteran tackle Riley Reiff had a tough start against Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter, where he was getting beat bad.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire