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Chicago (10-4) clinched its division for the first time since 2006, when the Bears eventually lost to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl, thanks to the win and Green Bay’s loss to New England on Sunday night. Chicago is the first team in the NFL to wrap up its division.
Several other stories cropped up during the game, including the injury of Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre and Chicago’s Devin Hester setting an NFL record for combined kickoff and punt return touchdowns.
Favre was not expected to play but was upgraded to questionable on Monday, then given the go-ahead to start. He missed last week’s loss to the Giants, ending his record for consecutive starts at 297.
But he didn’t finish the game against Chicago. In the second quarter, Favre dropped back to pass and was wrapped up by lineman Corey Wootton, who slammed the quarterback to the ground for his first NFL sack.
Favre landed on his left shoulder while his head bounced off the frozen ground.
Medical staff came out, but Favre walked off the field under his own power before Minnesota punted the ball. Rookie Joe Webb finished the game under center for the Vikings.
Hester came into the game with 13 touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns. In the third quarter, he fielded a punt and ran down the right sideline 64 yards into the end zone for No. 14, which broke the record he shared with Brian Mitchell.
It was Hester’s 10th career punt return for a touchdown, tying a record set by Eric Metcalf.
The first outdoor game in Minnesota since December 20, 1981 happened because the Metrodome is still undergoing repairs after the roof collapsed last week due to a heavy snowstorm.
Minnesota played last week at Detroit’s Ford Field, while this game was held at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
It snowed lightly throughout the contest, while the game-time temperature was 19 degrees — with the wind chill bringing that figure down to nine degrees.
Yes, this game has become every bit as exciting as I’ve just made it sound. Thankfully, there are only about seven minutes left before it’s over.
With seven minutes left in the football game, the Bears lead the Vikings 40-14.
Minnesota was lucky to not give up another touchdown, as Jay Cutler threw a third-down pass just slightly behind Johnny Knox that allowed Frank Walker to get a hand in and break it up. The Bears did convert a 34-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, though, to increase their lead to 23.
With thirty seconds left in the third quarter, the Vikings trail the Bears 37-14. Lorenzo Booker has just gotten a nice kickoff return into Chicago territory. We’ll see if the Vikings can do anything with it.
Daniel Manning. . .apparently getting a turn because Devin Hester was tired or something. . .returned the Ryan Longwell kickoff to the Bears’ 40-yard line, and Chicago made it look easy from there. Jay Cutler’s third touchdown pass of the night came on a strike over the middle to Rashied Davis, and the Bears moved their lead back to 20.
With 5:16 left in a third quarter that seems to have gone on forever, the Bears lead the Vikings 34-14.
Joe Webb might not be doing much as a passer right now, but he just showed that he’s got all the athleticism you could possibly want.
The Vikings got a big interference call against Bears’ safety Major Wright to move the ball into Chicago territory. After a completion to Percy Harvin and a short gain by Toby Gerhart, Webb faked a give to Toby, rolled out to the right, and simply took off for the end zone. He beat a couple of Bears to the pylon, and registered his first touchdown as an NFL player.
The run was officially 13 yards.
With 9:47 left in the third quarter, the Vikings are kicking. . .sort of. . .as they trail 27-14.
Yeah. . .let’s just forget I said that.
The Vikings went three-and-out on their first offensive series of the third quarter, and proceeded to punt to Devin Hester. Hester took the line drive off of the foot of Chris Kluwe and went, literally, untouched down the right sideline for a 64-yard punt return touchdown. There was a penalty flag on the play, but it was an illegal motion call against the Vikings.
The Vikings trail the Bears, 27-7, with 12:06 left in the second quarter, as the NFC North’s best team is 27 minutes away from locking up the NFC North division championship and moving themselves into the #2 seed in the NFC.
The Vikings nearly got themselves off to a disastrous start to the second half, as Devin Hester actually got his hands on the football. Hester took the opening kickoff of the second half and returned in 79 yards to the Minnesota 6-yard line, but the Vikings kept him out of the end zone. A touchdown would have allowed Hester to take sole possession of the all-time NFL record for kick and punt return touchdowns.
The Vikings’ defense held firm, though, keeping the Bears to a 23-yard Robbie Gould field goal.
Less than a minute into the second half, and the Vikings trail the Chicago Bears by a score of 20-7.
On the Vikings’ final offensive play of their previous drive, Brett Favre was sacked by Corey Wootton and slammed his head hard on the TCF Bank Stadium turf. He needed help to get off of the field, and has been ruled as doubtful to return with a “head injury.”
That’s just fancy talk for “concussion.” He’s not coming back tonight.
For better or worse, it looks like the Joe Webb era is getting its start tonight in Minnesota after all.
The Vikings are starting to fall apart on both sides of the ball.
After another short, out-of-bounds punt from Chris Kluwe, the Bears took over at their own 30-yard line, and moved the ball downfield with shockingly little resistance from the Minnesota defense. The drive concluded with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler to Devin Hester, who had cornerback Frank Walker beaten by three yards.
This one is coming unraveled quickly, ladies and gentlemen.
With 6:54 left before halftime, the Bears have taken a 17-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings.
The Bears forced a punt from the Vikings after center John Sullivan had another bad snap out of the shotgun formation that went over the head of Brett Favre. After a couple of penalties on the Bears made it first and 30, the inexplicable happened.
Jay Cutler dropped back to pass, and found Johnny Knox from 67 yards out. I have no idea how he got the ball there, largely because I have no idea what in the heck Madieu Williams was doing on the play. Of course, I’ve said that a lot of times about Madieu this year.
Any early momentum the Vikings had is gone, and the Bears now have a 10-7 lead with 1:55 left in the first quarter.
Favre dropped back to pass on a third down and four, looking to set up a screen to Toby Gerhart. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the pass over the outstretched arms of Henry Melton, and he deflected the pass high into the air. Bears’ defensive end Julius Peppers came down with the pass, and the Bears started at the Vikings’ 14-yard line.
However, the Bears only generated a couple of yards of offense, and had to settle for a 28-yard Robbie Gould field goal instead of getting a touchdown.
With a little more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Vikings lead the Bears by a score of 7-3 at TCF Bank Stadium.
Gerhart toted the ball four times for 26 yards on the drive, including a big third down carry where he bounced off of Julius Peppers and gained a first down for the Vikings, and Brett Favre only had to throw two passes on the drive. They both went to the returning Percy Harvin, and they went for a total of 34 yards. The touchdown came on a play where the Bears jumped offside, Favre swung it to Harvin on the left side, and Percy broke a couple tackles en route to a 23-yard score.
The drive covered 60 yards in six plays, taking 3:38 off of the clock to do it.
The Bears are driving on their first possession, but with nine minutes left in the first quarter, the Vikings have an early 7-0 lead.
We’ve finally managed to get our hands on Chicago’s inactive list, too. Tight end Desmond Clark, who has had his share of success against the Vikings in the past, is not active for the Bears this evening.
The full inactive list for the Bears looks like this:
RB Kahlil Bell
TE Desmond Clark
QB Caleb Hanie (#3 QB)
DL Marcus Harrison
OT Herman Johnson
CB Joshua Moore
LB Pisa Tinoisamoa
FB Eddie Williams
Outside of Clark and Tinoisamoa, Chicago doesn’t appear to have any major pieces missing or anything like that.
Brett Favre, fresh off of being ruled out earlier in the week which caused the Minnesota Vikings to name Joe Webb the team’s starter as well as sign Patrick Ramsey as insurance, has been made active and will start against the Chicago Bears in the Vikings Monday Night Football game tonight at TCF Bank Stadium.
Favre missed his first start in 297 games last week, but apparently woke up feeling “much improved” today and threw the football around pregame in an attempt to make sure his body could handle the cold, snowy conditions that will be present for the Vikings first outdoor home game in 29 years.
In anoher surprise move, the Vikings have ruled running back Adrian Peterson out. Peterson, who bumped knees with Tarvaris Jackson in last week’s game, missed Thursday’s practice but was expected to get the start tonight.
Well, millions of fantasy football players have commenced to throwing things around their homes or offices or wherever they might be right now, because the Minnesota Vikings have deactivated running back Adrian Peterson for tonight’s game against Chicago with knee and ankle injuries.
Brett Favre, who hasn’t thrown a pass to a teammate all week, is active and will start for the Vikings tonight.
Here’s the Vikings’ entire inactive list. We’ll have the Bears inactives here shortly.
I assume that Ramsey is the #3 quarterback, but nobody has specified anything anywhere.
UPDATE at 4:35 PM Central time: A snow emergency has been declared in Minneapolis. Yep, things are going to continue to degrade. Continue staying safe out there, folks!
It's a little less than four hours before kickoff at TCF Bank Stadium between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings for Monday night football. If you're going to the game and you're reading this. . .well, let's just say that it might be in your best interests to start trundling in the direction of the stadium as early as you possibly can.
From all accounts, the roads in Minneapolis range anywhere from "slow going" to "a parking lot" at this point. Intrepid weather correspondent/SB Nation Minnesota hockey expert Bryan Reynolds reported this via the magic of Twitter at approximately 3:30 PM Central time.
The "parking lot" had been reserved for just St. Paul in an earlier tweet, but has apparently been extended to include the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area.
The reason that someone has, apparently, paved paradise and put up a parking lot? Well, because it's snowing like heck in the Twin Cities right now. According to our good friends at Accuweather, it's currently 20 degrees with snow and freezing fog in Minneapolis, with winds coming from the east-southeast at 15 miles per hour, making it feel as though the temperatures are closer to about three degrees above zero.
It's only going to get colder as the evening progresses. By the time we reach kickoff, the temperatures will have dropped a couple of degrees and the winds will have increased a bit, giving us a "Real Feel" of exactly zero degrees Fahrenheit. The Twin Cities are also under a winter storm warning until 6:00 AM tomorrow, and the snow is not going to stop any time soon.
We here at SB Nation Minnesota want to see as big a crowd out there tonight for the game as possible, but please be safe in getting there and getting home. Not everybody drives with anything even resembling common sense, so keep vigilant on the roads of Minneapolis, St. Paul, or whichever suburb it is that you might be coming from this evening. And, for crying out loud, keep warm out there tonight as well by whatever means you have available.
From the “I absolutely, positively can not believe that this crap is happening” file, we get news from Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Vikings’ quarterback Brett Favre. . .he who was ruled out on Saturday. . .has been upgraded to “questionable” for this evening’s game against the Chicago Bears, and will throw a couple of hours before game time to see if he can start tonight.
I can’t believe this. . .after getting Joe Webb ready all week for his first-ever NFL start, the Vikings are actually going to try to roll Brett Favre out there in a meaningless game for a team that he’s not going to be quarterbacking next year on a surface that may or may not be safe when he’s clearly not 100%.
Absolutely unbelievable. I know that I, for one, will be livid if the Vikings’ first snap of tonight’s game is taken by Brett Favre and not by Joe Webb.
We’re discussing all of this over at The Daily Norseman. Join us, won’t you?
Any Vikings fan with a Twitter account knows that if you want to get a good chuckle throughout the course of your day, the guy to follow is @ChrisWarcraft. . .the handle for Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe. Kluwe has never been one to mince his words either, and he displayed as much again after the Vikings had a walkthrough at TCF Bank Stadium this morning.
A couple of hours ago, the following series of "tweets" came from the man that wears number 5.
Serious time - All respect to the people that cleared the field and got it ready, you did an amazing job. That being said, it's unplayable.
The field is as hard as concrete an hour and a half after they took the tarp off, and anyone that hits their head is getting a concussion.
I find it interesting that the NFL can claim an emphasis on player safety, and then tell us the field is fine. It's beyond hypocritical.
I can only hope, however unlikely, that no one gets catastrophically injured at the trainwreck that's about to take place tomorrow night.
To everyone - that was a totally serious post on the field conditions. It is like walking on concrete. They took the tarp off at the same time they'll take it off before the game. The problem isn't heating it, it's retaining that heat.
Looks like things could potentially get a little ugly at The Bank tomorrow night, ladies and gentlemen.
Just hope that the NFL isn't in the business of fining people for what they say on Twitter. #exceptforchadochocinco #that'sokaybecausehe'snotaviking
(Sports Network) - NFL outdoor football will return to Minnesota for the first time in 29 years this coming week, though that wasn't the intended plan.
With their normal facility still undergoing repairs, the Minnesota Vikings will take on the Chicago Bears this Monday night at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium in a Week 15 divisional showdown that could declare this year's champion of the NFC North.
A severe winter storm that dropped 17 inches of snow on the Minneapolis area last week caused the roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to collapse and damaged the stadium's ceiling in several places. As a result, the Vikings will move Monday's tilt to the nearby college venue for the franchise's first outdoor home game since Dec. 20, 1981, when Minnesota dropped a 10-6 decision to Kansas City in the final contest held at Metropolitan Stadium.
The Metrodome's unplayable conditions had forced the Vikings to play last week's originally-scheduled home date with the New York Giants at the neutral setting of Detroit's Ford Field, where Minnesota had a two-game winning streak under interim head coach Leslie Frazier halted with a 21-3 loss in a game that will be best remembered as the one that ended Brett Favre's epic run of 297 consecutive regular-season starts.
It appears Favre is about to begin a different sort of streak this week, as the sprained shoulder the legendary quarterback suffered in a Week 13 victory over Buffalo isn't expected to heal sufficiently enough to allow him to play on Monday. Backup Tarvaris Jackson is definitely out after landing on injured reserve Thursday with a sprained toe he sustained in the loss to the Giants, meaning the Vikings will likely put the offense in the hands of unproven rookie Joe Webb.
Webb, an athletic sixth-round pick of Minnesota in April's draft who rushed for over 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior year at UAB, completed 2- of-5 passes for eight yards and added a 16-yard scramble after taking over for Jackson in the latter stages of last week's setback. His understudy for Monday's matchup will be journeyman Patrick Ramsey, signed by the Vikings on Wednesday.
The raw 24-year-old's first extended NFL action will come against a Chicago defense that's been one of the league's best this season, but was shredded for 475 total yards by Tom Brady and the high-powered New England Patriots last Sunday in a 36-7 thrashing at Soldier Field that ended the current NFC North leaders' five-game unbeaten streak.
One of those wins came at the expense of the Vikings in Chicago during Week 10, with the Bears limiting their longtime rivals to 240 total yards and intercepting Favre three times en route to a 27-13 verdict.
Chicago does remain in good position in its quest for a first NFC North title and postseason appearance since 2006, and can clinch the division crown by defeating the Vikings and if second-place Green Bay loses at New England on Sunday. The Bears enter this week's slate with a one-game edge on the Packers in the standings.
The Vikings lead the regular-season series with the Bears, which dates back to 1961, by a 52-44-2 count, with Chicago moving closer with the above-mentioned 27-13 victory at Solider Field last month. The Bears have lost in each of their last three stops at the Metrodome, however, including a 36-10 setback last season, and haven't won there since a 19-16 triumph in 2006. That year also marked the last time Chicago swept a home-and-home set from the Vikings in the same season.
The longtime foes have also met once in the postseason, a 35-18 Bears road win in a 1994 NFC First-Round Playoff tilt.
Frazier, who played five seasons as a cornerback for the Bears from 1981-85, will be facing his former team for the first time as a head coach. Chicago's Lovie Smith is 7-6 all-time against the Vikings but has never previously opposed Frazier.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
Chicago's season-long inconsistency on offense was on full display in its last outing, when the team mustered a meager 185 total yards against the Patriots to stagnate the steady progress it had been making on that side of the ball in recent weeks. The Bears fumbled twice and punted five times on their first seven possessions, while quarterback Jay Cutler (2697 passing yards, 17 TD, 12 INT) had three turnovers and hit on a subpar 12-of-26 passes as he struggled to handle the cold and windy conditions. Cutler had been extremely sharp in his prior two starts, however, including a four-touchdown, zero-turnover effort in a key late-November win over Philadelphia, and came through with three scoring strikes in this season's earlier meeting with Minnesota. Wide receiver Johnny Knox (45 receptions, 2 TD) compiled 90 yards on five catches in that game and serves as the primary deep threat of a serviceable corps of pass catchers, with third-year pro Earl Bennett (42 receptions, 3 TD) and tight end Greg Olsen (31 receptions, 5 TD) the main underneath targets and return specialist Devin Hester (34 receptions, 2 TD) often in the mix as well. Chicago also possesses two good receiving backs in leading rusher Matt Forte (773 rushing yards, 38 receptions, 8 total TD) and ex-Viking Chester Taylor (247 rushing yards, 3 TD, 20 receptions), who combined for 102 of the 130 rushing yards the Bears generated against Minnesota in Week 10.
A Minnesota defense that's usually quite stout against the run will be seeking to atone for an uncharacteristically brutal performance in that area from last week, when the Giants pounded out 213 yards on the ground and averaged a whopping 7.6 yards per attempt. Such prolific results are atypical, though, from an accomplished front seven anchored by the Pro Bowl tackle tandem of Kevin Williams (31 tackles, 1 sack) and Pat Williams (24 tackles) and backed up by the strong linebacking duo of E.J. Henderson (89 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INT) in the middle and leading stopper Chad Greenway (120 tackles, 1 sack) on the weakside. Minnesota's most impactful defender, however, has been end Jared Allen (49 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 1 INT), a terrorizing pass rusher who's racked up 8 1/2 sacks over the past six games. The three-time All-Pro could be licking his chops at the prospect of facing a Chicago offensive line that's surrendered a league-worst 47 sacks, and counterpart Ray Edwards (24 tackles, 5.5 sacks) may have a chance to add to that total as well, as he's close to ready to returning from a two-game absence caused by an ankle sprain.
WHEN THE VIKINGS HAVE THE BALL
Webb has an intriguing set of tools and brings an added dimension with his impressive running skills, but the rookie's lack of game experience and polish as a passer leads one to believe the Vikings will employ a run-heavy game plan on Monday. And that's not a bad idea, considering the team sports the NFC's second-leading rusher and a multiple All-Pro on its roster in running back Adrian Peterson (1149 rushing yards, 33 receptions, 12 total TD). The standout carrier was held in check by the Giants, however, managing a season-low 26 yards on 14 carries and missing the presence up front of perennial Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, who's slated to miss a second straight game with a broken thumb. Minnesota should have wide receiver Percy Harvin (51 receptions, 5 total TD) back after sitting out two straight weeks with migraine-related issues, however, and look for the team to get the ball in the dynamic sophomore's hands as much as possible to further ease the burden on Webb. Harvin and talented wideout Sidney Rice (14 receptions, 2 TD), now all the way back from offseason hip surgery that's limited him to only four games so far, give Minnesota's neophyte quarterback two excellent options to throw to in his anticipated NFL starting debut.
Chicago comes in to the Vikings' temporary home fielding the NFL's third-best stop unit in terms of points allowed (17.5 ypg) and stands fourth overall in pass efficiency defense, but you wouldn't know it if you tuned into last week's disaster. Brady erupted for 369 yards and two touchdowns while hitting on 27- of-40 throws against a secondary that stymied Favre last month, picking off three of the grizzled veteran's throws and holding Minnesota to 170 yards through the air. The Bears have permitted only 11 touchdown passes on the year, the second-fewest in the league, and own two difference-making edge rushers in ends Julius Peppers (44 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 INT) and Israel Idonije (41 tackles, 7 sacks) that will test Webb's scrambling ability. Chicago can also be a force against the run, as Peterson found out by gaining a modest 51 rushing yards on 17 attempts in the previous meeting, and accomplished linebackers Brian Urlacher (104 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT) and Lance Briggs (70 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT) will take the field on Monday aiming to show off the team's No. 2 ranking in run defense (87.9 ypg) in front of a national audience.
An expected faceoff with an unseasoned quarterback makes the Chicago defense a very attractive play this week, and Webb's insertion has the potential to wreck the fantasy prospects of Rice, Minnesota's best receiver. Harvin's value may be less affected, though, as the Vikings may look to get him the ball on screens and reverses to take advantage of his playmaking skills, and the change under center shouldn't deter Peterson owners from keeping the workhorse back in lineups. Forte is the one must-start on the Chicago side, with Taylor offering moderate appeal at the flex position as the Bears' main goal-line back who's scored a touchdown in two straight games. Cutler's a riskier choice than the top-level quarterbacks, but still a better one than most, while no Chicago receiver with the exception of Knox has been productive enough to warrant a starting spot in a playoff week. Those in IDP leagues have a number of really good options to choose from in the Bears' trio of Urlacher, Briggs and Peppers and Minnesota's Allen.
While last week's flop showed the Bears are still a work in progress in several areas, they're still more consistent and sound at this point than a Minnesota team that's once again in disarray and dealing with a multitude of key injuries, including one at the most important position. The Chicago defense shouldn't have much of a problem rendering the depleted Vikings one- dimensional, giving the Bears a good chance of winning both the turnover and field position battles necessary to come out on top of what has the makings of being a low-scoring contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bears 24, Vikings 10
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