Brett Favre, the great eraser, wiped out several mistakes and miscues by others in a 36-10 Vikings win over the Chicago Bears.
Minnesota committed 10 penalties and Adrian Peterson fumbled twice, but Favre was nearly flawless again in his franchise-tying eighth game with a passer rating of 100 or better.
He threw the ball 48 times, completing 32 of them for three touchdowns and 392 yards – a season high for him and the most in the Brad Childress era for the Vikings. Once again, Favre went without an interception and kept the Bears defense guessing by spreading the ball around. He connected five or more times with five different receivers and all three of his touchdown passes went to different targets.
Percy Harvin led the way with six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Chester Taylor all had six catches as well for 89, 74 and 51 yards, respectively. And tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had five catches, including one touchdown.
Combined with a Vikings defense that smothered Chicago and held the Bears to 169 net yards, it added up to an easy 36-10 win to push the Vikings to 10-1 on the season and eliminating Chicago from any hopes of an NFC North title.
While Favre remained on fire, the Bears' Jay Cutler was his interception-prone self, throwing picks to Cedric Griffin and Jared Allen, the second on a deflected pass. Cutler was held to 147 yards passing, Matt Forte was limited to 27 yards rushing and the Vikings had an impressive time-of-possession advantage of 40:55 to 19:05, possibly the most glaring statistic in a game filled with offensive efficiency for the Vikings and offensive ineptitude for Chicago.
The Vikings' first drive ended with Adrian Peterson fumbling when they got into scoring position, which started a series of four drives between the teams that went without a score. But the Vikings offense got it together on its third drive. Starting at the 4-yard line, Favre moved the chains with a 14-yard pass to Rice and continued to get first downs through the air. He hit Taylor for an 11-yard pass play and then again for 16 yards. When Peterson ripped off a 16-yard run, the Vikings were at midfield. On third-and-7, Favre found Bernard Berrian wide open down the left sideline for 27 yards to the 6-yard line. After two defensive penalties, the Vikings had the ball at the 1-yard line, but they made it a little harder when Favre took a 14-yard sack. No matter. On the next play he fired a bullet for Harvin, who went high and came down with the 15-yard touchdown to open the scoring four seconds into the second quarter.
It opened the scoring gates. Danieal Manning returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards and Cutler went to work with Greg Olsen, hitting the tight end with consecutive passes of 6, 9 and 9 yards. Then it was Johnny Knox's turn. Cutler connected with the rookie speedster on two of his next three throws, including a 24-yard touchdown pass that was perfectly thrown over Benny Sapp to tie the game 7-7 with 12:12 to play in the first half.
The Vikings responded quickly, opening up with a 35-yard run by Harvin and passes of 10 and 11 yards to Rice for two more first downs. At the 10-yard line, Favre found Taylor for a short pass that he turned into a touchdown when he beat the pursuit to the pylon for a 14-7 lead with 8:06 to play in the half.
When Eric Frampton stripped Knox of the ball on his next kickoff return and Heath Farwell recovered, the Vikings offense was back on the field. While they didn't move the ball, they were already close enough to get a 52-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell and assume a 17-7 lead.
The offensive opportunities didn't end there. Cedric Griffin and Jared Allen both had interceptions in the final three minutes of the half, and Favre was able to take advantage of the Allen's pick. He started with a 21-yard pass to Shiancoe and found Rice for 33 yards three plays later. On third-and-goal, Favre returned to Shiancoe for a 6-yard touchdown bullet and a 24-7 lead going into halftime.
The Bears tried to assume quick momentum in the second half when Knox returned the opening kickoff 77 yards, but after going backwards 12 yards on two sacks and a penalty, Chicago had to settle for a 38-yard field goal from Robbie Gould to make it a 14-point lead for the Vikings.
That was as close as the Bears would come. Minnesota answered with a field goal drive of its own, despite feeling like a touchdown should have been the result. Favre moved toward midfield with a 12-yard pass to Harvin, followed immediately by a 22-yard pass to Harvin. With a 19-yard pass to Shiancoe, the Vikings were at the door of the red zone and looked like they were getting a touchdown on a 20-yard Taylor run, but Berrian was called for holding to set off a series of penalties that eventually resulted in the Vikings settling for a 37-yard field goal and a 27-10 lead.
But they weren't letting up with that. Favre came back and hit Naufahu Tahi for one first down and then found Berrian for 18 yards. On the next third down, Favre fired a missile to Harvin down the middle of the field for a 31-yard gain to the 10-yard line. They settled for 20-yard field goal and a 30-10 lead with 13:36 to play.
Despite the defense shutting down the Bears, the Vikings offense wasn't letting up. Peterson and Taylor combined to pick up two first downs with a 24-yard pass interference penalty sandwiched in between. Harvin brought it the 5-yard line with an end-around run and Peterson sealed the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. With 6:35 left in the game, the Vikings had a 36-10 lead (they didn't get a kick off on the extra point) and the game in hand.
With the score tied 7-7 in the second quarter, the Vikings snuff out the Bears the three other quarters. In the second quarter, the Bears gained 149 total net yards – and got only 20 yards the entire rest of the game. By the time it was over, the Vikings had 537 yards to Chicago's 169 and had run 83 offensive plays to Chicago's 38.
Despite the penalties and fumbles, it was domination on defense and Favre's right arm on offense that led to a 36-10 blowout.
Favre, defense dominate Bears, 36-10
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