MINNEAPOLIS – The Bears concluded their disappointing 2019 season with a 21-19 comeback victory over the Vikings Sunday in Minnesota on Eddy Pineiro's 22-yard field goal with :10 remaining.
Pineiro's fourth field goal of the game without a miss came after the Bears had blown an 18-6 fourth-quarter lead by allowing Minnesota to score one touchdown and two field goals on three straight possessions.
Entering Sunday's finale locked into the sixth seed of the NFC playoffs, the Vikings (10-6) rested most of their starters on both sides of the ball.
The win won't alleviate any of the pain the Bears feel after entering 2019 with Super Bowl aspirations and finishing out of the playoffs at 8-8. But coach Matt Nagy was pleased that his team never stopped battling.
"These games aren't easy," Nagy said. "I'm appreciative of the players and coaches fighting until the very end, literally the very end.
"We have guys that fight. It's not where we want to be. It's not acceptable. We know that. But we're going to learn from this. It could have been easy for them to do just that and not be fighters, but they did. So that's the positive of that. We'll learn a lot from a lot of other stuff."
After failing to force a turnover in the last three games, the Bears defense produced three takeaways Sunday, including two on Minnesota's first two possessions.
Vikings third-string running back Mike Boone dashed 59 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage. But then the second-year pro gifted the Bears two turnovers on Minnesota's next four snaps, fumbling a pitch that was recovered by Bilal Nichols and juggling a pass that was intercepted by Kevin Pierre-Louis.
"That's what we come out there to do, to get turnovers," said linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. "It can change the whole outcome of the game. Two turnovers that early was a great start."
Kwiatkoski helped change the outcome midway through the second quarter when he tackled Boone in the end zone for a safety on a running play from the Vikings' 1, increasing the Bears' lead to 11-3.
"That safety he made was big-time now," Nagy said. "That was a big-time hole and a lot of space there. He made a play, nice tackle."
The Bears' third takeaway came on the game's final play as Eddie Jackson sealed the win by intercepting Sean Mannion's Hail Mary pass at the Chicago 10. Mannion made his second career start in place of veteran Kirk Cousins, completing 12 of 21 passes for 126 yards with two interceptions and a 35.1 passer rating.
Boone gashed the Bears defense, rushing for 126 of his 148 yards on eight carries in the first half, including two runs of 59 and 41 yards that totaled 100 yards.
The Bears offense continued to sputter, failing to score a touchdown in the first half for the 11th time in 16 games this season. Three red-zone possessions in the first two quarters resulted in Pineiro field goals of 26, 33 and 34 yards after the Bears had reached the Vikings' 8, 9 and 14.
The offense performed better in the second half, opening the third quarter with a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by David Montgomery's 14-yard touchdown run that gave the Bears an 18-6 lead.
The unit stepped up again late, after the Vikings had rallied to take a 19-18 lead on Boone's 1-yard TD run and Dan Bailey field goals of 39 and 34 yards.
Taking over at their own 25 with 4:53 to play, the Bears marched to the Vikings' 4. The key play on the 15-play drive was Mitchell Trubisky's 32-yard pass to Riley Ridley on fourth-and-nine from the Chicago 49.
Trubisky completed 26 of 37 passes for 207 yards and an 84.0 passer rating. Allen Robinson caught nine passes for a team-high 71 yards. And Montgomery rushed for 113 yards and one TD on 23 carries, his second 100-yard game of the season.
The Bears will meet for a final time Monday before players clean out their lockers and scatter across the country. Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are scheduled to conduct their end-of-season press conference Tuesday morning. From there, a thorough evaluation of the 2019 season will follow.
"I hope that all of us understand, players and coaches, that what we went through this year we need to turn that into a glass-half-full deal and learn from it," Nagy said. "If you don't learn from it, then shame on you. You've got to learn from it. And that's going to be our No. 1 job is to make sure each person does that."