The Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings already were eliminated from playoff contention entering Sunday’s season finale at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Here’s the latest Week 18 updates from Minneapolis.
Halftime: Bears 14, Vikings 3
The Bears defense held the Vikings to 87 net yards in the first half to fuel a 14-3 halftime lead at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Bears quarterback Andy Dalton hit a wide-open Damien Williams with a 23-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds to play in the second quarter, and Allen Robinson caught the two-point conversion pass for the 14-0 lead.
Bears kicker Cairo Santos made fields goals from 43 and 46 yards out on the Bears’ first and fourth drives of the half.
Meanwhile, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 5 of 10 passes for 78 yards and was sacked twice, and running back Dalvin Cook gained 12 yards on six carries. Cousins had 65 of those passing yards on the final drive of the half, which ended with Greg Joseph’s 39-yard field goal.
The Bears turned the ball over on fourth down twice in the half.
They went for it on fourth down twice on their second drive. David Montgomery ran for 4 yards on fourth-and-1. But Dalton later was sacked for a loss of 15 yards on a fourth-and-5 blitz, giving the Vikings the ball at midfield.
The Bears defense came through with the stop following that play. Sam Kamara had a tackle for a loss against Dalvin Cook to push the Vikings into third-and-13. And Angelo Blackson took down Cousins while Trevis Gipson stripped the ball, pushing the Vikings out of field-goal range.
The Bears put together another solid drive on their next possession. But on fourth-and-1 from the 13, the Bears opted to pass rather than call a play for Montgomery, and Dalton was sacked again.
Filling in for Justin Fields, who is out with COVID-19, Dalton threw for 162 yards. Montgomery had 61 rushing yards. And Darnell Mooney had six catches for 71 yards to hit 1,000 receiving yards in his second season.
Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn and nose tackle Eddie Goldman will play against the Vikings after they were listed as questionable Friday. Quinn, who set the Bears’ single-season sacks record last week, is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Goldman has a finger injury.
Justin Fields remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list and so will not play.
As was previously announced, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks will miss what could be his last game with the Bears as he continues his recovery from a nagging ankle injury.
Cornerback Duke Shelley (heel), offensive linemen Elijah Wilkinson and Lachavious Simmons and running back Ryan Nall are also inactive for the Bears.
For the Vikings, quarterback Kellen Mond, cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander and Kris Boyd, running back Wayne Gallman, tight end Zach Davidson, guard Wyatt Davis and defensive tackle Michael Pierce are inactive.
Latest Bears buzz on Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace
The Tribune’s Brad Biggs reported Friday that while Nagy is expected to be fired Sunday or Monday following the season finale, the buzz around the league is the Bears could retain general manager Ryan Pace in some role.
In what potentially could be his last game as Bears coach, Matt Nagy still expects his team to put forth its best effort to end the season on a three-game winning streak.
The Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants after their loss to the Vikings officially knocked them from the playoff race.
“We all play to win the Super Bowl. That’s why we coach, that’s why we play,” Nagy said. “The biggest challenge as a player, as a coach is to make sure that we maintain that obligation to do everything that we’ve been doing … and keep fighting like you would if you had a chance, and that’s what I’m proud of with these guys.
“When there’s adversity that strikes and when things don’t go as well as you want it to go, how do you react? Do you change? Do you treat people differently? Are you a different head coach? Are you a different type of player? Because as they all say, that reveals your true character. In the end, we all look back and say, ‘How did we react during a tough time?’ I think everybody in this building can tell you, ‘We reacted pretty well.’”
Veteran Andy Dalton will start at quarterback after rookie Justin Fields tested positive for COVID-19 during the week. Nagy said Nick Foles would be the backup. Though Fields technically could have tested back into the playing, Nagy indicated the missed practice time Thursday and Friday would be too much to come back from.
Dalton will try to end a challenging season on a high note.
He was the starter to open the season before suffering a knee injury in Week 2. As he was recovering from the injury, the Bears turned to Fields as the permanent starter. Dalton came back to fill in for the then-injured Fields in a Thanksgiving Day win against the Detroit Lions but suffered hand and groin injuries and tested positive for COVID-19 in December.
He returned to beat the Giants last week with Fields out with an ankle injury.
“It’s been up and down,” Dalton said. “There’s a lot that has gone on and a lot of things that were not expected at times, but it’s kind of one of those things that you have to learn and grow from each experience that you have and that’s just kind of where I’m at.”
Aside from Fields being on the reserve/COVID-19 list, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is the only Bears player who was declared out Friday. Hicks has been dealing with an ankle injury and will miss his eighth game this season.
Outside linebacker Robert Quinn (shoulder), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (finger) and cornerback Duke Shelley (heel) were listed as questionable.
The Bears on Saturday elevated wide receiver Dazz Newsome from the practice squad. The 2021 sixth-round pick has played in two games.
For the Vikings, defensive tackle Michael Pierce (illness) is doubtful while Mackensie Alexander (ankle), Kris Boyd (ribs) and Wyatt Davis (illness) are questionable.