It may not have mattered, but the 2016 regular season finale certainly was fun to watch for fans of the Minnesota Vikings.
Thanks in part to five Chicago Bears turnovers, the Vikings blew out their division rivals in the season finale at U.S. Bank Stadium, trouncing Chicago by a final score of 38-10.
Minnesota received the opening kickoff after Chicago won the toss and deferred, and they wasted no time in taking the lead. Sam Bradford went 4-for-4 on the opening drive, including a 16-yard swing pass to Jerick McKinnon for the score. The big play on the drive was a 39-yard connection between Bradford and Cordarrelle Patterson that got the Vikings to the edge of the red zone.
The Vikings’ defense thwarted a Bears’ drive, courtesy of Xavier Rhodes’ fifth interception of the season that snuffed a Chicago drive at the Minnesota 4-yard line. Minnesota then pushed deep into Chicago territory, but had to settle for a 21-yard Kai Forbath field goal to make the score 10-0.
Minnesota took advantage of another Chicago turnover on their next drive, as they turned a Jeremy Langford fumble into a 22-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Kyle Rudolph, and the Vikings were quickly ahead by a score of 17-0. The touchdown for Rudolph was the 29th of his career, putting him in sole possession of the record for touchdown catches by a Minnesota tight end.
Chicago finally got on the board near the end of the first half, courtesy of a trick play. Barkley moved around behind the line of scrimmage and appeared to be calling signals, but the Bears snapped the ball to Jeremy Langford, who then flipped the ball to Cameron Meredith, who then threw a pass to Barkley for the score. The extra point from Connor Barth made it 17-7 with less than two minutes left in the half.
Minnesota took advantage of another turnover, as a muffed punt by Chicago’s Bralon Addison gave the Vikings the ball at the Chicago 21-yard line late in the half. Bradford connected on his third touchdown pass of the day, finding Jarius Wright from a yard out to make the score 24-7. Thanks to a big kickoff return and one long pass, the Bears got into field goal range at the end of the half, and Connor Barth connected from 29 yards out as time expired to make it 24-10 going into the locker room.
Chicago put together a nice drive to start the second half, but it also ended in a turnover, as Matt Barkley found Trae Waynes for Waynes’ third pick of the season to stop a drive at the Minnesota 11-yard line. Minnesota put together a lengthy drive, but it ended with Sam Bradford’s fifth interception of the season, as he was picked off by Cre’von LeBlanc in the end zone on a pass intended for Cordarrelle Patterson. That played a big role in keeping the third quarter scoreless.
The Bears found themselves in a 4th-and-1 on their own 40 early in the fourth quarter, and they rolled the dice and went for it. Xavier Rhodes dragged Jordan Howard down short of the marker, and the Vikings got the football back in Chicago territory. Minnesota cashed in on the big stop, as Jerick McKinnon ran one ten yards out of the “Wildcat” formation for the score. Forbath’s extra point put the Vikings up 31-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota got another touchdown on yet another Chicago turnover, as Matt Barkley was sacked by Linval Joseph and fumbled the ball away. Anthony Barr batted the ball towards the end zone, and Everson Griffen scooped it up and took it in for a 20-yard fumble recovery touchdown. Kai Forbath made another extra point, and that made the score 38-10. It was Chicago’s fifth turnover of the afternoon, and the third for Barkley. That was how the game ended, as the Vikings avoid being the first team to finish below .500 after getting off to a 5-0 start on the season.
Bradford played another solid game, as he completed 25-of-33 passes for 250 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He finished the season with a completion percentage of 71.56%, which as it stands now would be an NFL single-season record. Kyle Rudolph had the big game on the receiving side, as he caught 11 passes for 117 yards (both career highs) and a touchdown. Jerick McKinnon led the rushing attack with 89 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Unfortunately, wide receiver Adam Thielen did not become the first Viking to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season since 2009. Needing 40 yards coming into today’s contest, he managed just one catch for seven yards on the afternoon.
For Chicago, Jordan Howard had another huge game, carrying the ball 23 times for 135 yards on the afternoon. It was his second 100-yard performance against the Vikings this year. Passing, however, was another story for the Bears. Matt Barkley completed just 10-of-15 passes for 122 yards and accounted for three turnovers (two interceptions, one lost fumble). Cameron Meredith had four catches for 61 yards on the afternoon, and his pass to Barkley from two yards out accounted for the Bears’ lone touchdown on the day.
Minnesota finishes at 8-8 on the season, while the Bears finish their season at 3-13 and have clinched the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
In their season finale, the Minnesota Vikings take down the Chicago Bears by a final score of 38-10 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Thanks to everybody that got their coverage of this game, and the entire 2016 Minnesota Vikings’ season, right here at The Daily Norseman.