And punter Brad Maynard dumped the Vikings back deep at their own 9-yard line in the third quarter with a 55-yarder one play after a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against center Olin Kreutz.
But the key special teams play was Charles Tillman's tackle of the Vikings' Brian Russell on a fourth-and-five fake punt with 8:17 left in the game at the Bears' 47. The Bears led 24-14 at the time, and if the Vikings had marched down for a field goal or TD they'd have plenty of time left for the tie or win.
Russell took a direct snap behind a few Viking blockers in a swinging gate formation, then began running from one side of the field to the other, looking for the necessary 5 yards. It looked like the final game scene from Burt Reynolds' movie "The Longest Yard,'' as Russell then found an opening and leaped high in the air.
He came up half a yard short.
"We just did not get the job done on that one,'' Russell said. "I had to scramble around and try to get the first down any way I could, but I didn't get enough. I needed a few more inches. I saw the marker, which is why I kind of went up and over.''
The only glitch was a touchdown bomb of 40 yards Daunte Culpepper threw to Marcus Robinson. Cornerback Charles Tillman had coverage on Robinson, and released him for the safety like the corner does in a ""cover-2.''
There was no free safety, though, as McQuarters was elsewhere. Robinson scored.
"It was just a miscommunication with the safety,'' Tillman said. "When Mike Brown is free safety we had miscommunications with playing. It happens.
"It happens, it's a common mistake but you can't make mistakes cause they result in TDs. We're the last line of defense.''
Tillman thought the experiment went well with McQuarters.
"He's a natural athlete -- he can play any position he wants to play in that backfield, corner, strong safety, free (safety), whatever.''
The 56,552 fans (5,499 no-shows) got a thrill from Hutchinson taking on Vikings linebacker Chris Claiborne when he scrambled for 3 yards along the sidelines to the Vikings' 6 in the first quarter.
Claiborne nailed Hutchinson in the shoulder and knocked him down, but the Bears' QB got right back up and began shouting at Claiborne. It evoked memories of another quarterback wearing No. 9 and challenging linebackers by scrambling -- Jim McMahon.
"It definitely didn't hurt,'' Hutchinson said of the hit. "I just got up and said 'keep bringing it because I'm going to keep taking it.'
"That's not going to throw me off. You know, he got up talking.''
As for the cheers he got after that move, "It was just nice hearing them get all riled up. For me that was definitely exciting, so I definitely fed off that,'' Hutchinson said.