Bears safety Adrian Amos stands over Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs after an incomplete pass.

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Bernstein: Bears Choose To Close Out Strong

A dominating defense shined in arguably the Bears' most complete performance.

Dan Bernstein
December 30, 2018 - 7:15 pm
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(670 The Score) Matt Nagy's rookie season as an NFL head coach goes into the books as 12-4, and it was clear he thought letting his more valuable players fight well into the fourth quarter was worth any risk.

It all took care of itself well enough at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, as the Bears snuffed out the Vikings' season 24-10 and ensured a wild-card round matchup with the Eagles at Soldier Field next weekend.

We can quibble about how Nagy did or didn't attempt to engineer his next opponent, observing the speed at which the Rams were dismantling the 49ers, a late-game rib injury to Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and the entirety of the Bears' dominance on both sides of the line of scrimmage. But any of that concern fails to recognize just how ferocious the Bears' defense is at the moment and just how much trouble any offense is likely to have on the lakefront. This team is too good to be worrying about such things.

A dominating road effort was one of the Bears' most complete performances under Nagy, featuring relentless pressure from the front seven, reliable tackling and some punishing hits from the secondary. Mitchell Trubisky was accurate and efficient in completing 18 of 26 passes for 163 yards with no turnovers, while Jordan Howard finally found himself a bit to exploit well-blocked inside zone plays for 109 yards and two scores.

Bears will host Eagles in wild-card round

Our current list of concerns sees injuries at receiver, with both Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel unable to finish a game in which Allen Robinson was already sidelined. Javon Wims appeared capable for a day, but that a lone catch by Kevin White had Twitter all aflutter was strange.

Cody Parkey is just not very good at what he does, nearly missing his first extra-point attempt and successfully missing his next with a signature clang off the upright. There are no satisfying answers to this problem, not at the outset of the postseason. The hope is that he and the higher spiritual powers that he claims determine his accuracy can get their respective games together.

The day wasn't without some usual Bears-ness either, as backup linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski caught a two-point conversion on a play that also saw cornerback Prince Amukamara in motion as a receiver. Those noting a special appearance by Prince in Minneapolis deserve a nod, even if that wasn't Nagy's clever subtext.

The Bears' last touchdown drive was unglamorous but effective, as it started at their own 25 and took 16 plays that added up to 9:05 on the clock. It ran from 1:51 left in the third to the 7:46 mark of the fourth and featured several well-delivered third-down throws from Trubisky. It bled the Vikings out of the game and out of the season, then finally let Nagy play for the next game.

When Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks came out with 7:32 left in the game, it was the first time Nagy provided any indication that he was accepting the fact that this had become an exhibition affair at halftime. The same guy who wanted to sit his material players in August and trust the value of his practices now stayed on the accelerator until the outcome was certain.

He played to win. They won.

Because the stars of the Bears are either healthy or well on their way to being so, Nagy gets to end up being right after the fact. And there isn't a team in the NFL that can say honestly that it would be feeling good about facing this defense in Chicago.

All the time we have spent debating who we'd rather see would've been better served appreciating what fun this has all been and what could still be in store for one of the best Bears defenses we've ever seen, particularly considering the context of the modern game.

All that matters now is that there's more of it to come.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​