Bears end season 3-13 with loss to Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Sam Bradford wrapped up his first season with Minnesota with three first-half touchdown passes and an NFL record, leading the Vikings to a 38-10 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday to finish on a winning note after tumbling out of contention over the last two months.
Bradford went 25 for 33 for 250 yards and one interception, posting a 71.6 percent completion rate to set the single-season record. Drew Brees (71.2 for New Orleans) last set the league mark in 2011.
"I would trade that for wins any day, but the fact that we were able to go out there and accomplish that as a group, everyone contributes to that, it's pretty cool," said Bradford.
He also established career bests for yards (3,877), interception percentage (0.9) and passer rating (99.3) after arriving in an emergency trade following the serious injury to original quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's left knee.
Kyle Rudolph caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a score for the Vikings (8-8), who started 5-0 before stumbling out of their bye week and never recovering.
"It's a good win, but it's tough that that's the end of it," coach Mike Zimmer said. "We did things today like we did early in the year."
The Bears (3-13) wound up with their most losses since 1969, looking as if they were more than ready for winter vacations while turning the ball over five times and allowing the Vikings to rush for a season-high 124 yards.
Everson Griffen returned one of their three lost fumbles for a touchdown, and Matt Barkley was picked off twice to total 10 interceptions over the past three games. Bradford was picked off just five times in 15 games.
Coach John Fox fell to 9-23 in two years with the Bears. He said he hasn't asked for, or received any, assurance from the front office that he'll return.
"I've been doing this for a long time," Fox said. "I've never worried about job security, and I'm not going to start now."
Jordan Howard, the lone bright spot for the Bears, rushed for 135 yards on 23 carries to break Matt Forte's franchise rookie record and finish with 1,313 yards for the season.
Howard's 202 yards from scrimmage in Chicago in the first meeting with Minnesota on Oct. 31 served as a breakout for the fifth-round draft pick and a bad omen for the Vikings in defeat.
"That's the point of the game, to win the game," Howard said. "If you're not winning, there's no point in celebrating."
Barkley's best moment actually came as a wide receiver, when he caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Cameron Meredith on a trick play late in the second quarter. Barkley slid out of the shotgun formation and ran an out pattern. The snap went directly to running back Jeremy Langford, who pitched the ball back to Meredith on a reverse. Barkley joined quarterbacks Russell Wilson of Seattle and Blake Bortles of Jacksonville in catching passes for scores this season.
This was the fourth time in the past 12 years that the Bears and Vikings met in Minnesota in the last game of the regular season without any playoff implications for either team. This was the third of those played at noon local time on New Year's Day, the perfect storm for a snoozer.
A woman and a man in a Brett Favre Vikings jersey spiced up the docile atmosphere by rappelling down from a ridge truss on the building's east end that stretches from the upper concourse to the roof, unfurling a banner protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline project . They were arrested for trespassing.
"Why wouldn't the season finish like that?" Bradford said. "I think it's just been that kind of a year."
The Bears held out two of their top edge rushers, OLBs Leonard Floyd (concussion) and Pernell McPhee (shoulder), as expected. McPhee had four sacks in only nine games this season, and the rookie Floyd had seven sacks in just 12 games.
The Vikings put Joe Berger at LG for Alex Boone (back) for their eighth different starting lineup combination on the offensive line this season. Then T.J. Clemmings (elbow) left with an injury in the first quarter and was replaced at LT by Rashod Hill, who made his NFL debut. Hill was the 12th player to see action for the Vikings along the front five this season.