Brett Favre wanted to play in a blizzard in front of the "home" crowd one last time, even if that crowd had to move to TCF Bank Stadium and would be greatly diminished to 40,504, almost 14,000 fewer fans than normally fill the Metrodome.
While the snow was light, the Vikings were quickly buried by the Bears after Favre was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter while trailing only 10-7. Rookie Joe Webb proved not much of a match for the blitzing Bears defense, and the Bears put a 40-14 shellacking on the Vikings.
Webb admitted that Chicago came after him harder than Favre, and he didn't stand up well with the pressure. Favre finished the game completing 5 of 7 passes for 63 yards, a touchdown and an interception on a deflected pass. Webb, who played nearly three quarters, was 15 of 26 for 129 yards, two interceptions, a rushing touchdown and a 38.8 rating in his most extensive action of the season.
He didn't have the support of Adrian Peterson either. The star running back was held out with a thigh injury suffered last Monday night when he collided with Tarvaris Jackson on a handoff. In his place, rookie Toby Gerhart rushed 16 times for 77 yards.
But Monday night was a game of big plays. The Vikings normally punted away from Chicago's ace returner, Devin Hester, but when they didn't he made them pay, taking a punt back 64 yards for a touchdown and returning one kickoff for 79 yards before being dragged down at the 6-yard line. The defense had a few breakdowns as well, allowing Johnny Knox to somehow come down with a long pass in stride that looked like safety Madieu Williams could have intercepted with better recognition where the ball was.
By the time it was all tallied, the one stat that mattered most was turnovers. The Vikings had five of them and the Bears had only one, on an Asher Allen interception.
The Vikings' first drive couldn't have started much better. Lorenzo Booker took the opening kickoff 32 yards to the Vikings 40-yard line and the offense was sharp early. Gerhart rushed four times for 26 yards to keep the chains moving, and Harvin caught two passes for 34 yards – an 11-yard out route that picked up a sliding first down and a quick-hitting route in which he raced past the coverage and into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead 3:38 into the game.
The Bears got across midfield on their first drive but punted away to the Vikings. However, that set up the Bears defense and it forced a quick turnover when Henry Melton tipped a third-down pass intended for Gerhart and Julius Peppers came down with the interception, setting up an eventual 29-yard field goal from Robbie Gould to make it 7-3 with 5:18 to play in the opening period.
After the Vikings went three-and-out on their second possession, thanks to a holding penalty, the Bears showed them how to overcome negative-yardage situations. After two consecutive penalties backed up the Bears to first-and-30, Cutler threw deep for Johnny Knox. It was a pass that Williams could have intercepted but overran and Knox was on the spot to grab it in stride and race 67 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 Bears lead.
It only got uglier from there. Favre was knocked out of the game two series later when he was sacked by Bears defensive end Corey Wootton and the offense had trouble staying on the field consistently while the Bears scored on one more possession before the half – a 15-yard slant pass to Devin Hester between Frank Walker and Williams to make it 17-7 at the half.
They continued to pile it on to start the second half, scoring on their first three possessions of the second half. Robbie Gould took advantage of a 79-yard kickoff return by Hester to start the half, kicking a 23-yard field goal after the Bears couldn't advance more than one yard following Hester's return.
The Vikings interrupted the Bears' scoring one last time when they took advantage of a pass interference penalty on Major Wright to get to the 27-yard line. Following a first-down pass to Harvin, Webb scrambled to the pylon for a 13-yard touchdown and a 27-14 deficit midway through the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Bears drove efficiently and too easily through the Vikings defense, going 53 yards in seven plays, capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass to Rashied Davis to give Chicago a 34-14 lead with 5:16 left in the third quarter.
Two more Gould field goals and two more interceptions by Webb ended the carnage, giving the Bears a 40-14 win, the NFC North title and sending the Vikings on the road for their final two home games to close the season.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings buried by Bears, not snow, 40-14
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