The Bears didn't allow Percy Harvin to return any kickoffs Sunday, but that didn't reduce his contribution, as he posted his first 100-yard receiving day and added 45 yards on two rushing attempts. Plus, get more than three dozen notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings' 36-10 win.
On a day where the Chicago Bears came out with a game plan of not allowing Percy Harvin
to beat them as a kickoff return man, they were successful in that goal. Harvin didn't have a kick return Sunday – the Bears kicked two into the end zone and pooch kicked the only other kickoff they had.
But it was Harvin's contribution on the offensive side that was huge. He registered his first career 100-yard receiving day, catching six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown and ran twice for 45 yards to spark the Vikings to a 36-10 win.
Harvin said he was expecting to potentially have a big game, since the Bears run a Cover-2 defense and he was anticipating single coverage across the middle. The Bears didn't surprise the Vikings and Harvin was able to make big plays. But, he was quick to credit Brett Favre
with his big statistical day.
"We pride ourselves on getting open," Harvin said of the receiver corps. "Brett does a great job of looking a lot of defenders off and giving us time to work and beat man-to-man (coverage). A lot of the credit goes to him."
Harvin more than did his part, consistently finding a soft spot in the zone and taking advantage when the opportunities presented themselves.
"We know that in a zone the middle (of the field) is always the weakest," Harvin said. "We try to exploit that any time a team gives us zone and we've been able to connect on that a few times this year."
Despite being one of the smallest players on the field, Harvin has showed unwavering toughness, especially across the middle – earning the respect of other Vikings receivers who know how hard the hitting is over the middle of the field.
"He was playing big today," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe
said. "Percy always plays big. That's why we love him. That's why we drafted him. He does his part."
Sunday that contribution was done without benefit of his game-breaking return ability. A lot of young players would be bragging up their big performance, but Harvin took it in stride, saying his first 100-yard game was only meaningful because the team won.
"I don't worry about yards," Harvin said. "All I worry about is, as long as we get the victory, we take another step toward our team goal."
GAME DAY NOTES
Sunday's win was perhaps as thorough a domination of any team the Vikings have had this year. The Vikings held the ball for 40:55 of the game, allowing the Bears to hold the ball for just 19:05. The Vikings gained 537 yards, while allowing Chicago had just 169.
Nowhere was the Vikings' overpowering of the Bears more evident than in the number of plays run. The Vikings ran 83 plays and averaged 6.5 yards per play. The Bears ran just 38 offensive plays and averaged 4.4 yards.
The Vikings owned third down on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Vikings converted 12 of 18 third downs (67 percent), while allowing the Bears to convert only two of eight (25 percent).
If there was a reason for concern, it was on special teams. In eight kickoff returns, the Bears averaged 31 yards – far above the Vikings' standard this season.
Favre had his most prolific passing numbers of his brief Vikings career, completing 32 of 48 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns.
Even with those fantastic numbers, Favre's season-long passer rating only went up by one-tenth of a point. He came in with a passer rating of 112.0. His 112.5 passer rating Sunday helped raise his season total to 112.1.
Five different Vikings caught five or more passes for more than 50 yards, as Favre once again showed, he can share the wealth with his receivers.
The Bears ran the ball just 11 times for 43 yards, which will help the Vikings run defense continue to climb up the NFL charts as they look for their fourth straight year leading the NFL in rush defense.
With six catches Sunday, Sidney Rice has 56 receptions. Last season, Bobby Wade led the Vikings with 53 receptions.
Rice is only 36 yards short of 1,000 yards on the season. If he reaches the milestone, which seems like a forgone conclusion, he will be the first 1,000-yard receiver for the Vikings since Nate Burleson had 1,006 yards in 2004.
The Bears ran only 13 offensive plays in the second half, which gained a mere two yards.
The Vikings held the ball for than 11 minutes in three of the four quarters Sunday.
The Vikings outgained the Bears 69-0 in the fourth quarter and 156-2 in the third quarter.
The game wasn't perfect, as the Vikings showed on a third-quarter drive. On the drive that resulted in a field goal to give the Vikes a 27-10 lead, they had some uncharacteristic penalties – an offensive pass interference call on Shiancoe, a holding penalty on Bernard Berrian that negated a touchdown, an ineligible-man-downfield penalty on tackle Phil Loadholt and a 15-yard facemask penalty on Peterson.
In what may well be a franchise first, both starting offensive tackles -- Bryant McKinnie and Loadholt – were called for ineligible-man-downfield penalties.
Brad Childress was on his game, making a strong challenge call in the third quarter. Peterson was taken down and fumbled near the Vikings sideline, a play originally ruled as a recovery by the Bears. Childress challenged and it was ruled that one of the Bears defenders had his body out of bounds when he touched the ball – making it a dead ball and keeping it in the Vikings' hands.
In what could have been a game-changing play, Bears rookie Johnny Knox returned the second-half kickoff 77 yards to the Vikings 6-yard line. But the defense made an impressive stand. On Cutler's first pass attempt, he was sacked by Kevin Williams and Ray Edwards. On his second pass attempt, he was sacked by Jared Allen, which forced Chicago to settle for a field goal to cut the deficit at that point to 24-10.
"That was a big momentum shift," Allen said. "To stop them and make them lose yardage in close like that was huge. They had a chance to get back in it. We held them and the offense got those three points right back. That kick return could have changed the game, but we didn't let it."
"We seem to play our best with our backs against the wall," linebacker Ben Leber said. "We were challenged and we stepped up. It speaks volumes for our defense."
The Vikings honored linebacker Scott Studwell with induction to the Ring of Honor Sunday. Studwell told fans during his acceptance speech to support the team, because he has a feeling they will heading to the Super Bowl this year.
The Vikings had 312 yards by halftime, almost doubling the yardage the Bears gained. Favre completed 20 of 31 passes in the first half for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Rice led the way with five catches for 82 yards. Peterson and Harvin each had 35 yards rushing in the first half – A.P. on 11 carries, Harvin on one.
The Bears had 20 pass plays in the first half and just six runs – one of which was a Cutler scramble on what was intended to be a pass play.
In the second quarter, Matt Forte rushed just twice, while Cutler threw 17 passes and scrambled on the 18th.
The Vikings converted six of nine third-down attempts in both the first half and the second half.
Shiancoe scored his eighth touchdown of the season in the final seconds of the first half, which ties Joe Senser for the single-season franchise record for touchdowns by a tight end.
Cedric Griffin made a diving interception in end zone in the second quarter to kill a potential scoring drive by the Bears. It was his third of the season, which equaled his career total through his first three seasons.
Ryan Longwell broke the franchise record for most field goals of 50 yards or more. He hit the ninth of his Vikings career in the second quarter, passing the record he shared with Fuad Reveiz at eight.
Harvin's 35-yard run in the second quarter was the longest run by a Vikings wide receiver since a dash by Anthony Carter in 1991.
Bears kicker Robbie Gould did his part to keep Harvin from having a big day in the return game. He only kicked off three times. The first two went for touchbacks and the third was a pooch kick fielded by Jeff Dugan on the 30-yard line.
On the Bears' touchdown drive in the second quarter, the team opted to abandon the run – a ploy other teams have employed against the Vikings in recent years. Cutler completed five of six passes for 54 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown to Knox that was a perfectly thrown pass over Benny Sapp in coverage.
The Bears didn't register their initial first down of the game until 14 minutes were left to play in the second quarter.
With his touchdown pass to Harvin early in the second quarter, Favre became the first player in NFL history to score 500 career touchdowns. The pass was the 486th of Favre's Hall of Fame career. He has 14 rushing touchdowns.
Harvin moved into a tie for third place on the all-time rookie touchdown reception list with five. Hal Bedsole had five in 1965. He still trails Randy Moss (17 in 1998) and Sammy White (10 in 1976).
Harvin increased his season total to 42 receptions, trailing only Moss (69), White (51) and Paul Flatley (51 in 1963) on the rookie charts.
The Harvin touchdown capped off a 96-yard drive – the longest of the season for the Vikings offense.
The Vikings' dominance of the Bears started early. In the first quarter, the Vikings held the ball for 11:05 and outgained the Bears 130-18, running 21 plays to Chicago's six.
Peterson's problems getting to and staying over 1,000 yards continued Sunday. Last week against the Seahawks, Peterson went over 1,000 yards only to have a couple of negative-yardage carries – finishing the game with 999 yards after being honored by the crowd for his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season. It happened again Sunday. His first carry went for three yards and put him over 1,000, but his next carry dropped him back under 1,000. When he finally topped 1,000 yards for the third time this season, it was to stay. He finished the game with 1,084 yards for the season – averaging about 99 yards a game.
If there were any questions remaining as to whether Favre still has the arm strength to throw the long ball with zip, he ended that speculation – firing a 65-yard incompletion to Sidney Rice. While the pass was slightly overthrown, it was a dart that never got too much air under it.
Favre played in his 282nd consecutive game to tie the NFL record set by Vikings great Jim Marshall for position players.
The paid attendance was 63,854 – the 123rd straight sellout at the Metrodome dating back to 1998.