The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their 2021 season with a victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon.
The atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium was similar to a wake as most fans awaited the fate of head coach Mike Zimmer. Reports through the weekend indicated that Zimmer would be fired after the season finale and that translated into a lethargic first half.
The Bears struck first with a pair of field goals from Cairo Santos and their 6-0 lead held into the final two minutes of the first half.
After setting the NFL record for points allowed in the final two minutes of a half last week, a miscommunication between Anthony Barr and Cameron Dantzler sent them crashing into each other. The gaffe sprung Damien Williams, who was wide open for a 23-yard touchdown from Andy Dalton.
The Bears made it a 14-0 game on a successful two-point conversion and the Vikings showed signs of life on the following drive. A pair of long completions to Justin Jefferson and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Cousins had Minnesota driving. But a throwaway with seven seconds to go led to a Greg Joseph field goal and plenty of boos at U.S. Bank Stadium.
But the drive gave the Vikings some momentum to begin the second half and Cousins capitalized on a 44-yard touchdown to Smith-Marsette.
The Bears with a drive down to the Vikings' goal line. It appeared that Dalton extended Chicago's lead with a touchdown run but the play was overturned. On 4th-and-goal on the one-yard line, Anthony Barr came up with a sack to give the ball back to Minnesota.
The Bears added another Santos field goal to make it a 17-10 game but Cousins answered, finding Jefferson on a 45-yard moon ball to tie the game at 17.
After the Vikings' defense got a stop, Dalvin Cook's 29-yard run set up a 21-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn that gave Minnesota the lead.
The defense took over from there as they sacked Dalton five times on the afternoon. The pressure eventually forced a pair of interceptions including a pick-six by Patrick Peterson that put the Bears away for good.
The win ended a disappointing season but there were plenty of positives to come from it. Smith-Marsette finished with 103 yards and D.J. Wonnum picked up a pair of sacks. Jefferson also came close to history, finishing 16 yards shy of Randy Moss's franchise record for receiving yards in a season.
But this is a team that will look much different when they take the field next August. With the Zimmer era coming to a close, the Vikings will embark on an offseason that will have many difficult decisions.