And another weak effort by quarterback Rex Grossman didn't provide much to look forward to in the postseason.
The offense wasn't in much of a mood to celebrate after getting out-gained 348-107. It was the lowest yardage output by the Bears since they accumulated just 104 yards against the 49ers on Dec. 17, 2000, with another No. 8 at quarterback, Cade McNown.
"We didn't do anything on offense to make us feel like celebrating," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "We've won 10 games and the division championship, and we'll celebrate that. But we know we have to get a lot better on offense. There are going to be times when you're not going to move, and you're going to work through that, but you can't turn the ball over."
As the temperature dropped to 14 degrees with a wind chill of minus-11, Grossman threw three more interceptions, giving him six in the past two games and 14 interceptions plus four lost fumbles in the past seven games. He was picked off just three times in the first five games.
Fortunately for the Bears, the defense provided interceptions by free safety Danieal Manning, linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher and nickel cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. Manning returned his team-best fifth pick 54 yards for a touchdown, to give the Bears a 14-6 lead with 4:33 left in the third quarter. Urlacher's interception came on the Vikings' next play from scrimmage, sent the Vikings' starting quarterback to the bench, and set up Cedric Benson's 24-yard touchdown run for the second touchdown in 89 seconds.
At that point, Grossman's passer rating was the same as John Blutarski's grade-point average in Animal House: zero-point-zero. He finished with 6 completions on 19 attempts for 34 yards and a passer rating of 1.3, the lowest in the NFL by a winning quarterback in 30 years.
Grossman was booed repeatedly by the home crowd, but said he was neither surprised nor disappointed.
"I feel like I have pretty thick skin," he said. "I know the fans' frustration. It's definitely a situation I don't want to be in."
The combination of Grossman's lack of production and a running game that produced just 83 yards on 25 attempts for a lackluster 3.3 yards per carry made for an unusually melancholy postgame atmosphere following a playoff-clinching victory.
"It's unfortunate, but it just feels weird," Grossman said. "I feel like we lost and I'm wearing a division championship hat. There are a lot of things that are unusual about this press conference right now, but the main thing is that I am frustrated in my play, and I'm going to go fix it and hopefully everyone will be patient and allow us to do that."
Bears coach Lovie Smith staunchly defended Grossman.
"We're not changing," Smith said defiantly. "Rex is our quarterback. We're 10-2 with Rex as our quarterback. We're not changing."
But the question being asked more frequently with each Grossman meltdown is whether the Bears can win any playoff games with so many turnovers at the quarterback position.
"Well, we won with him," a feisty Smith said. "There's a difference between perception and reality. Reality is we're 10-2 right now and we just won the division with Rex at quarterback. So that's what I go on."
But when Smith was asked if his team was ready for the playoffs, he said, "We don't have to be. Right now we're in the playoffs and that's what we're going to concentrate on. That's hard to do, to get in the playoffs. And for us to get in the playoffs, the first week of December, we're just going to cherish that right now. We know what happened today. We have to play better on the offensive side of the football and we will."
Grossman said he realizes what the problems are, but he hasn't been able to make much progress correcting them in the past three games, when he's completed just 32 of 75 passes (42.7 percent) for 324 yards, one touchdown and six interceptions.
"I'm thinking too much," Grossman said. "I'm trying to analyze things too much. I'm making it more complicated than it is. It's a lot easier when you just go and play."