The Vikings beat the Bears 31-17; uncertain future for Nagy, Zimmer | Professional football

By DAVE CAMPBELL – AP Pro Football Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had no interest in thinking, still stung by several close losses in his eighth year that kept his team out of the playoffs and made it unnecessary this end-of-season victory against Chicago.

Down the hall, Bears coach Matt Nagy was more introspective in the loss. With both of them in danger of being fired, the conclusion was the same. The decision is not theirs, and the case does not lie.

Kirk Cousins ​​tallied 172 yards and three second-half touchdowns to lead the Vikings’ comeback to beat the Bears 31-17 Sunday in a pad-the-stats game between the eliminated teams.

Afterward, Zimmer stopped in for a photo with longtime defensive co-coordinator Andre Patterson, before greeting fans as he left the pitch. Zimmer, who still has two years on his contract, said he had not been informed of his status for 2022.

The victory gave Zimmer a 72-56-1 record in eight years, including 2-3 in the playoffs. The Vikings have missed the playoffs in three of the past four years.

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“I appreciate the way this team conducts their business, the way they work, the way they represent the team, the way they represent the organization, the way they go out to train every day, the way she goes in the weight room, going to meetings, ”Zimmer said.

Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn scored touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the Vikings (8-9), who outscored the Bears 28-3 after halftime.

“Bitter to end up that way, but that’s kind of what it is, you know?” Said linebacker Anthony Barr. “It has been a pleasure to be a Viking for eight years. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but regardless, I will always have a special place in my heart for Minnesota.

Barr and DJ Wonnum each had two of Minnesota’s seven sacks from Andy Dalton, who scored 33 for 48 for 325 yards and a touchdown pass to Damien Williams who gave the Bears a 14-0 lead.

Darnell Mooney had 12 catches for 126 yards to pass the 1,000-yard mark for the Bears (6-11), who are 30-35 in four seasons under Nagy without a playoff win.

“I’ve never been in this position before. I continue to go about my business as usual. I mean that, ”Nagy said. “I know, whatever is supposed to happen will happen. I am a positive person.

Nagy chose to try his luck six times, with just one conversion. Andy Dalton has taken sacks on three of the first four of those games for 35 yards, including two on the fourth and -1. He also threw a fourth interception down late in the fourth quarter, when Patrick Peterson picked him for a 66-yard touchdown return.

The Bears had seven possessions in the first three quarters and reached Minnesota at least 35 on each, but they had one touchdown and three field goals by Cairo Santos to show for it.

In their first practice of the second half, Dalton scrambled the third and -8 for what was initially considered a touchdown. The replay review reversed the call with his knee down just before the goal line. Next, Barr chased Dalton for a 15-yard loss after looping behind the line of scrimmage looking for an open receiver.

Dalton, the 11-season veteran, made his sixth start of the season. Rookie Justin Fields landed on the COVID-19 reserve list this week.

“There is a good thing going on here right now, and there is a very good franchise quarterback who is here who is going to be good for a long time,” said Nagy, whose boss GM Ryan. Pace, is also uncertain of returning. “Ryan and I were one of them. “

The Vikings scored 15 yards in their first 15 games, but Cousins ​​found his first spark with a 40-yard goal for rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette to set up a placement on the final play of the first half. time.

Smith-Marsette had 103 yards and one touchdown, and Jefferson finished with 107 yards, leaving him 17 yards before setting the franchise record in a single season. Randy Moss set the 16-game mark with 1,632 yards in 2003.

The crowd chanted “Let’s go, Justin! When the Vikings last took the ball, booing when they knelt to end the game rather than give Jefferson another shot at breaking the record.

Cousins ​​crossed the 4,000-yard mark for the sixth time in seven seasons as a starter.

Bear: DT Akiem Hicks (ankle), who wreaked the usual havoc on Minnesota’s offense in the previous game on Dec. 20, was out for a seventh game this season.

Vikings: LB Eric Kendricks sat on the COVID-19 stash. DT Michael Pierce (illness) missed his second straight game and has been inactive nine times this season. CB Mackensie Alexander (ankle) and CB Kris Boyd (rib) were both eliminated.

Bear: Already stuck in third place, Chicago will face the next third in 2022: Houston and San Francisco at home and New Orleans or Atlanta. All AFC East and NFC East divisions are also on the program for all NFC North teams. The Bears sent their first-round pick to the New York Giants for last year’s trade to Fields.

Vikings: Finishing second, Minnesota will face Indianapolis and the Los Angeles Rams or Arizona at home and play in New Orleans or Atlanta.

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