Devin Hester tied an NFL record with his fourth touchdown return of the year, and Ricky Manning Jr. ran back an interception back 54 yards for a score to lead Chicago to a 23-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on a frigid Sunday afternoon.
Chicago has a five-game lead on the Vikings with four games remaining and also has the NFC's best record by two games.
With the temperature around 20 degrees and a wind chill in the single digits, Grossman did little to stop the debate about whether he should continue to be the starting quarterback. Johnson, on the other hand, was replaced.
With some fans calling for backup Brian Griese after a loss at New England, Chicago's Rex Grossman was 6-of-19 for 34 yards and threw three interceptions for the second straight week but stayed in the game. He has 14 interceptions in the last seven games after throwing just three in the first five.
He had two in the first half, and then his first attempt of the third quarter was intercepted.
As bad as Grossman was, Johnson wasn't any better.
The veteran was 11-of-26 with 73 yards and four interceptions before being lifted for Brooks Bollinger late in the third quarter. His last two passes ended in the Bears' hands.
Back from a one-game suspension for his role in a Los Angeles restaurant altercation, Manning picked off his team-leading fifth pass at the Chicago 46. He returned it for his first touchdown this year to make it 14-6 in the third quarter. On the next play from scrimmage, Brian Urlacher intercepted Johnson.
That led to a 23-yard touchdown run by Cedric Benson on a 4th-and-1 play and a quarterback change for the Vikings.
Benson had 60 yards on nine carries against a defense that was averaging a league-low 56.6 yards per game. Starter Thomas Jones added 32 on 12 attempts for the Bears.
Chester Taylor ran for 99 yards and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for Minnesota (5-7), the first time in his career he has eclipsed that magical mark.
After both teams blew several prime opportunities in the first quarter, Hester broke through early in the second and gave the Bears a 7-0 lead.
The rookie caught a punt at the 45 and ran straight to the highlight reel. He took a step back with four Vikings closing in, reversed to the left side and ran all the way to the end zone, breaking four tackles on the way.
It was his team-record third punt return for a touchdown. Hester also ran back a missed field goal 108 yards against the New York Giants last month, tying an NFL mark for longest return set by teammate Nathan Vasher last season.
Taylor broke off a 42-yard run to set up a 23-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell that made it 7-3. Longwell added a 30-yarder early in the third that made it a one-point game.
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