Fighting Chance

Lake Forest - Wide receiver David Terrell summed it up in two words when he was asked what quarterback Chad Hutchinson gave the Bears in a 24-14 victory over the Vikings that had been missing the past eight games.

"A chance," Terrell said. "A chance to make plays. A chance when something goes wrong to come back and just make another play. A chance to feel alive, a chance for everybody to have fun. He spread the ball around and we put some points on the board, something we've been trying to do all year since Rex (Grossman) went down."

The third-year pro from Stanford became the first Bears quarterback in 38 games to throw three touchdown passes in a game, and he didn't throw an interception while completing 18 of 30 passes for 213 yards and a passer rating of 115.0.

The victory dropped the Vikings to 7-5 and left the Bears at 5-7, tied with four other teams in the NFC, just one game out of the sixth and final playoff spot in a conference that has given parity a bad name.

"If we lost, everything would have been over, and we knew that," Terrell said. "Coach Lovie (Smith) challenged us the first practice on Monday. He told us, 'We've got five games left, and if we lose one of these games, then we aren't going to the playoffs,' and that's the ultimate goal."

Hutchinson has given the Bears a reason to dream. He succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, where Jonathan Quinn and Craig Krenzel had failed ever since Rex Grossman suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 27-22 loss to the Vikings in Week 3. He completely outplayed Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper, who came into the game with a 112.4 passer rating, the best in the NFC.

The Vikings quarterback threw two TD passes but also threw three interceptions, two by Jerry Azumah and one by Brian Urlacher. Culpepper was also sacked five times, four in the second half, and he finished with a 77.7 passer rating.

Hutchinson had as many TD passes Sunday as the Bears had in their previous seven games combined. How much of a difference did he make?

"Huge," said wide receiver Bobby Wade. "Night and day. It was the missing link. I think everybody knew it; nobody wanted to say it, but now that he's playing we can talk about it."

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