MINNEAPOLIS >> Sam Bradford concluded his first season with Minnesota with three first-half touchdown passes, helping the Vikings to a 38-10 victory over the bumbling Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Bradford went 25 for 33 for 250 yards and one interception, finishing with a 71.6 percent completion rate to set an NFL single-season record. Drew Brees (71.2 for New Orleans) set the league mark in 2011.
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.
The Bears (3-13) wound up with their fewest wins in a non-strike year since 1973 after turning the ball over five times. Everson Griffen returned one of their three lost fumbles for a touchdown.
Jordan Howard, the lone bright spot, rushed for 135 yards on 23 carries to break Matt Forte’s franchise rookie record and finish with 1,313 yards for the season for Chicago.
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.
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.
Two protesters spiced up the docile atmosphere by rappelling down from a bridge truss on the building’s east end that stretches from the upper concourse to the roof, unfurling a banner decrying stadium sponsor U.S. Bank’s alleged involvement in the bitterly disputed Dakota Access Pipeline project.
One of them wore a Brett Favre Vikings jersey, and they both hung from their ropes for most of the afternoon while city police and firefighters strategized about their removal. Soon after the game ended, they voluntarily climbed up and peacefully left the perch.
The Bears held two of their top edge rushers, OLBs Leonard Floyd (concussion) and Pernell McPhee (shoulder), out 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.