The Bears finished their centennial campaign with an 8-8 record, thanks to their 21-19 win in Week 17 over a Vikings team resting its starters for the playoffs.
THREE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
1. The game was meaningless, so we're revisiting previous moments in 2019, when things still mattered. And because Matt Nagy first highlighted the Chargers defeat in Week 8 when asked this week whether he had any "what-ifs," we will too. Sure, Eddy Pineiro missed the 41-yard buzzer beater, the ultimate difference then between 4-3 and 3-4. But recall Matt Nagy not trusting his quarterback and kneeling at the 21 on first down with 43 seconds remaining, after going 1-of-4 in goal-to-go situations. The I-formation was dusted off, and the run game popped consistently, but it wasn't enough to fix the Bears' season-long offensive problems.
2. The other L.A. defeat, three weeks later in prime time, showed Nagy's lack of trust at the time in Pineiro. The Bears eschewed a 49-yard attempt after Pineiro's first miss (and try) following the Chargers game, from 48 on the opening series. But this was also the season's low point because Mitch Trubisky was pulled when he was hurt, not injured. Plus, the Bears 'D' got run over early by Todd Gurley and the Rams reserve O-line before ceding big passing plays later on to an offense sans two of its top three receivers and leaning on the run in light of Jared Goff's struggles.
3. Akiem Hicks dislocating his elbow on the eighth snap in the London loss to the Raiders had an unmistakable effect on the pass rush the remainder of the season, but the immediate wrath was felt most against the run. The Bears lost four consecutive games, including the run defense's three worst performances prior to Sunday.
THREE THINGS THAT WORKED
1. Eddy Pineiro: He converted all three of his field goals — from 26, 33, 34 and 22 — to improve to 23-of-28 on the season (82.1 percent). Pineiro finished the season by converting 10 consecutive field goals, helping restore some of team brass' confidence in him that had all but disappeared around midseason."I think we're in a good place with him right now," Nagy said this week.
2. Take it away now: After going three straight games without a takeaway for the first time since 2016, the Bears notched two of them on their first two defensive series. Following a Bilal Nichols fumble recovery, Kevin Pierre-Louis tipped interception gave the unit nine this season, ensuring it wouldn't match its franchise low (8).
3. Run and run again: The Bears began the second half with an 11-6 lead, imposing their will with a 75-yard TD drive, including eight carries, highlighted by David Montgomery's determined 14-yard pile-dragger. It was Montgomery's seventh touchdown, tying Allen Robinson for the team lead, and marked one of their few scoring drives all season when Matt Nagy matched his top pick's determination to relentlessly run the ball. Whether that persistence is repeatable in 2020, of course, will dictate whether it means anything. Montgomery went over 100 yards for the second time as a rookie, and the Bears had 158 rushing yards — their second-highest 2019 total.
THREE THINGS THAT DIDN’T
1. Staying healthy: Pro Bowl special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson was ruled out with a concussion in the second quarter, and his replacement, Anthony Miller, suffered a shoulder injury on his first return attempt in Patterson's absence. Patterson has been among the team's more consistent performers, while Miller — who had surgery last offseason to repair a torn labrum and dislocated shoulder — appeared to be figuring things out in his dynamic latter portion of 2019 after a frustrating first half to his second season.
2. No backup boon: Without both Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman, the Bears run 'D' was gashed repeatedly by Vikings third-stringer Mike Boone. It began on the opening play, a 59-yard explosion when he was untouched to the third level before Ha Ha Clinton-Dix's missed tackle, and didn't end until Boone had a career day: xx for xx and xxx yards, with xx a touchdown.
3. Moving Mitch: Perfect symbolism: Mitch Trubisky's best throw of the game came on his penultimate attempt: a 32-yard beauty off the rollout to Riley Ridley on fourth-and-9 to set up Pineiro's game-winning field goal. Why is in this category, you ask? Where were these rollouts — clearly Trubisky's greatest strength — all season?
The Bears will have their final open locker room Monday morning, prior to Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace holding their annual end-of-season joint news conference bright and early Tuesday.