JC's Live Game Blog: Bears vs. Vikings

The 9-2 Chicago Bears take on the 5-6 Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and a win would give the Monsters of the Midway their second consecutive NFC North title. Be sure to refresh this page every 10 to 15 minutes for all the goings on from Soldier Field. From the field to the sideline to the press box, JC will make you feel like you're there.

(10:25) Happy game day, Bears fans. It's so great to be back in the Soldier Field press box after three consecutive road trips. It's an absolutely gorgeous day outside, but considering how cold it was when I woke up this morning, I'm quite happy I don't have to deal with the elements. If you ask me, today's game is all about the two running games. If the Bears can run against this defense and keep Chester Taylor in check on the other side of the ball, they'll be just fine ...

(10:27) Another solid job on the press box breakfast spread. Those mini-pancakes are fantastic, and the fruit platter makes you feel like you're eating something healthy even though I can currently feel my artery walls getting thinner. As long as we don't get another weak hot dog spread for lunch, I'll be happy ...

(11:06) Inactive today for the Bears are Justin Gage, Kyle Orton, Derrick Strait, Todd Johnson, J.D. Runnels, Leon Joe, Anthony Oakley, and Antonio Garay. For the Vikings, QB Tarvaris Jackson, WR Jason Carter, RB Artose Pinner, S Will Hunter, FB Naufahu Tahi, OT Marcus Johnson, OG Artis Hicks, and WR Troy Williamson will be sitting this one out. How far has Williamson's stock fallen after being a first-rounder last season? As expected, Chris Harris will be starting for Johnson at strong safety today. For Minnesota, TE Jermaine Wiggins will actually be starting for Pinner at fullback ...

(11:12) Weather conditions as of right now: 14 degrees, 73% humidity, winds from the west at 10mph, and a wind chill of -4 ...

(11:34) Time for my weekly radio show for the boys in Milwaukee. I'm huge in Milwaukee, apparently. Back in a bit ...

(11:49) Needless to say, it's a late-arriving crowd today at Soldier Field. One last shot of Bailey's in the parking lot before making their way through the turnstiles. It's beautiful, but it's cold ...

(11:56) Pretty lukewarm reception for Rex Grossman as he comes out of the tunnel today. Much louder for Thomas Jones and Muhsin Muhammad, I'll tell you that. I'm a firm believer that the boobirds will be out early and often if Grossman gets off to a slow start today ...

(12:00) Who doesn't love a good flyover at the end of the national anthem? Seriously, who? That gives me goosebumps every time ...

(12:01) The Bears have won the toss and elected to receive ...

(12:03) Rashied Davis got absolutely blasted returning the opening kickoff and fumbled it away. Minnesota ball just that quickly. First down from the Bears 31-yard line ...

(12:06) Pretty quick three-and-out for the Vikings who are forced to punt. Another beauty of a save from the Bears defense. Punter Chris Kluwe fumbled the snap but was able to get it away and stick it down on the 9-yard line ...

(12:14) The Bears get a pair of first downs on a Bernard Berrian catch and a Thomas Jones run, but the drive is eventually stalled. Mewelde Moore made an incredible return breaking a few tackles along the way, but it looks like a penalty is going to bring this one back. What a shock, illegal block in the back. A break for the Bears right there. Minny is pushed back to their own 9-yard line ...

(12:19) Big-time pressure on Brad Johnson provided by Adewale Ogunleye, who probably should have made the sack, but Johnson escapes and gets the pass away. He should have taken the sack. Rookie Danieal Manning comes up with the interception and gives the Bears the ball back at the Vikings 22 ...

(12:21) That's the last thing Grossman needed right there. He's picked off by Chicago native Napoleon Harris to quickly end the threat. It wasn't overly vicious, but some boobirds let their presence be known as Grossman and the offense trotted back to the sideline ...

(12:29) Tough penalty on 3rd-and-6 right there. Lance Briggs and Alfonso Boone sacked Johnson and would have forced another punt, but Charles Tillman was whistled for defensive holding down the field. Automatic first down for the Vikings as the chains move again ...

(12:32) Eventually the Minny drive stalls, but at least they were able to move the ball into Bears territory and flip the field position. Grossman & Company get it back at their own 19 after just a 22-yard punt ...

(12:35) I don't know about all of you, but several media members are openly yawning right now ...

(12:38) That's the end of the first quarter in a defensive struggle to say the least. Cedric Benson is getting his first action on this drive and once again moving the pile. Grossman is off to a sluggish start, 2-of-6 for 15 yards and an INT. Johnson isn't exactly lighting it up for the Vikes, 4-of-9 for 20 yards. Chester Taylor, on the other hands, has 21 yards on four carries to push him over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career ...

(12:41) You just can't defend Grossman on that throw. He forces another deep ball to Berrian even though he's fairly well covered, and Antoine Winfield makes the interception. That ball flopped and fluttered and flat-out wasn't pretty. Minny ball at their own 7-yard line. The longer the Vikings hang around this game, the more confident they will be that they can win ...

(12:46) The defense picks up Grossman with a firm three-and-out. Kluwe will be punting from deep inside his own end zone. I don't believe it. Devin Hester breaks a few tackles and weaves all over creation before making a beeline for the left sideline and in for the touchdown. What a runback for the rookie as he gives the Bears a 7-0 lead with 12:20 to go in the second quarter ...

(12:54) That might be the single-most awful roughing-the-passer penalty I've ever seen in my life. Brian Urlacher is livid right now. He should be ...

(12:56) The defense shuts Minny down and forces a chip-shot field goal from Ryan Longwell. He coverts from 23 yards out and trims the Bears' lead to 7-3. Taylor ripped off a 42-yard run, but aside from that, they didn't move much ...

(1:03) Grossman might not throw a pass on this drive ...

(1:04) Well, he does throw a pass, but it doesn't do any good as the Bears need to punt again. Maynard pins them back deep to the 9-yard line. Moore signaled for the fair catch but strangely let the ball bounce. Cost his team 10 yards. Hester has tied the NFL for total return TDs in a season, by the way, with four. He's the first one to do it since Detroit's Eddie Drummond in 2004. That's right, THE Eddie Drummond ...

(1:10) The Vikings will punt as they come up a yard short on third down. There's been 35 combined pass yards in this game. Let's see if this punt goes anywhere near Hester. Instead, it's a shank that accidentally deflects off Dante Wesley. Minnesota recovers and gets it back at their own 39 ...

(1:13) Let's try this punt thing again ...

(1:15) "This is the two-minute warning" ...

(1:18) When Grossman gets sacked, the kid gets sacked. He lost 10 yards on that one. Fourth down again as Maynard needs to come up with a big one here and keep the Vikings off the board before halftime ...

(1:25) This will be Kluwe's sixth punt of the first half. Exciting stuff, sports fans. Bears ball with :33 to play before the half ...

(1:26) And that's the half as the Bears will head into the locker room with a less-than-inspiring 7-3 lead. This is normally when I review the first half statistics, but they're too depressing to list here. I'm going to go cry in the fetal position for a while ...

(1:42) The Vikings will open the second half with the ball at their own 19 ...

(1:43) Barbecue beef sandwiches for lunch today, by the way. Throw in some pasta salad and kettle chips, and this sports writer is pretty satisfied. I'm going back for seconds because a stinker game like this pretty much writes itself ...

(1:46) Feel free to start freaking out, Bears fans. Tommie Harris is being helped off the field and back to the bench. It's hard to tell what he hurt from up here, but he's struggling right now ...

(1:49) I hate the tuck rule ...

(1:52) Harris is out of the game with a leg injury, but no more details are available right now ...

(1:54) The Vikings get grossly conservative in th red zone and are content with another Longwell field goal. He splits the uprights and moves the score to 7-6 Bears. Any chance Brian Griese sees some action soon? ...

(1:56) Hester returns the kickoff again and appears to have replaced Davis in the lineup ...

(1:59) Just unbelievable. We were thinking there was an outside chance Griese would start the second half, but instead, Grossman has his first pass tipped at the line and intercepted. That's a hat trick on the day and five turnovers so far ...

(2:00) Can this game get any weirder? Briggs picks off Johnson's first pass on yet another ball that tight end Jeff Dugan should have caught. Grossman comes back on the field to a chorus of boos. This game is nothing short of ugly right now ...

(2:03) Taylor for the Vikings bruised some ribs and is now questionable to return. Could be a lot of Ciatrick Fason in the second half. Fason is the leading rusher in the history of my high school in Neptune Beach, FL, just in cast you were curious. I know you weren't. Moving on ...

(2:12) Who needs offense? Ricky Manning Jr. steps in front of a Johnson pass intended for Marcus Robinson and returns it 54 yards down the right sideline for another Bears defensive touchdown. Robbie Gould converts the extra point for a 14-6 Bears lead. What was Johnson thinking on that throw? He threw it right in Manning's bread basket ...

(2:16) I've never seen quarterbacking this bad. Johnson's next pass goes directly to Urlacher for his fourth pick of the day. What a mess. I thought Johnson was a smart veteran who doesn't make silly mistakes. That's two awful throws in a row. And I'm expecting the Bears to come out in the wishbone the rest of the game considering how Grossman has been throwing it ...

(2:19) Benson breaks down the right sideline on 4th-and-1 and dives over the pylon for a 24-yard touchdown. I know Jones is having a great season, but Benson is going to be some running back once he gets this job full-time. What an effort ...

(2:23) The Brooks Bollinger Era has officially started for Minnesota as the former Wisconsin Badger enters the game. Looks like Johnson will finish the day 11-of-26 for 73 yards and four INTs ...

(2:28) That's the end of the third quarter as the Bears take a 21-6 lead into the final period ...

(2:53) And we're back. Sorry for that near half-hour power outage. It was out of my control, I promise. All I missed was a safety by Tank Johnson and a garbage-time TD by Fason. 23-13 Bears with only six minutes to go. Although this game just got more interesting as the Vikes recover an onside kick and get the ball back at their own 45 ...

(3:00) Snow flurries are starting to fall at Soldier Field ...

(3:03) I swear, there has been a penalty on every other play in the fourth quarter. U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi. This game is ugly ...

(3:07) The Bollinger Era didn't last very long. Rookie Tarvaris Jackson is now under center for Minny. Let's just call him Daunte Culpepper Lite right now ...

(3:08) 7,983 unused tickets today as Mother Nature has officially made it winter around here ...

(3:14) Jackson is stripped by Ogunleye, and Hunter Hillenmeyer pounces on it for yet another Bears takeaway. That's five today ...

(3:15) And that's the game, Bears fans. 23-13 is the final score as the Monsters of the Midway clinch their second consecutive NFC North division title and secure a spot in the postseason. They won today despite another horrid day by Grossman, who finishes just 6-of-19 for 34 yards and three more interceptions. Benson looks to be taking control in the backfield and led the team with 60 yards and a TD on only nine carries. The defense was great, but still, they allowed 192 more yards on the ground ...

Thank you again for tuning in to my live game blog. Be sure to hit BearReport.com for all the analysis, all the postgame quotes, and your weekly Stud and Dud of the Week.

JC

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