MINNEAPOLIS - The Bears will miss the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons, but that doesn't mean that their final two games are meaningless.
What transpires the next two Sundays against the Buccaneers in Tampa and the Lions in Chicago could shape what the roster looks like heading into 2016.
"These are more like job interviews moving forward," right tackle Kyle Long said after Sunday's loss to the Vikings, "because it's going to be a competitive place to keep a spot."
With the playoffs no longer a possibility, the Bears no doubt will monitor every player to ensure that they're continuing to give maximum effort at all times.
Asked about the team's identity following Sunday's defeat, quarterback Jay Cutler said: "We're going to find out. We know where we're at with two games left. We'll find out who in the locker room has some character and wants to finish and who doesn't."
Tale of the tape:** Cutler and Teddy Bridgewater both passed for 231 yards Sunday, but the Vikings quarterback was much more efficient, completing 17 of 20 passes with four touchdowns, no turnovers and a 154.4 passer rating.
Despite Bridgewater's outing, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee wasn't ready to induct the second-year pro into the Hall of Fame just yet.
"He didn't do anything great," McPhee said. "He just made a lot of crossing routes and completed passes and we really didn't tackle good today. That made him look really good. But he's a good quarterback. He's still learning. But I don't think he just went out there and was slinging the ball across the field."
Cutler completed 26 of 37 passes with two TDs, one interception and a 93.4 rating. He was under much more pressure than Bridgewater as the Bears allowed a season-high five sacks.
While Cutler acknowledged that the pass protection was "a little shaky," he accepted the blame as well, saying: "I've got to get rid of the ball. It's a group effort out there. It's not all on the offensive line. I thought they fought hard throughout the game."
One pick: While Cutler threw multiple interceptions in 26 starts over his first six seasons with the Bears, he has yet to do so in 13 games this season.
His only pick Sunday came early in the fourth quarter when defensive end Justin Trattou dropped off the line and intercepted a screen pass intended for running back Kyle Long.
"He rushed and then stopped," Forte said. "He just made a good play. It's always hard when you run screens because you don't know if the linemen are going to rush or not.
"We were kind of taking a gamble there, but he made a good play. He tried to rush, saw he wasn't getting anywhere, looked at the quarterback's eyes and caught the ball."
Roster notes: All six Bears players who were listed as questionable for Sunday's game were active: McPhee, receiver Alshon Jeffery, tight end Zach Miller, cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Sherrick McManis, and defensive lineman Will Sutton.
Nickel back Bryce Callahan (quad) sat out with an injury. Other Bears inactives were cornerback Jacoby Glenn, running back Antone Smith, linebacker Christian Jones, guard/tackle Nick Becton, tackle Tayo Fabuluje and receiver Cameron Meredith.
The Vikings played without three of their top defenders in linebacker Anthony Barr (groin/hand), safety Harrison Smith (knee/hamstring) and tackle Linval Joseph (foot).