(Sports Network) – Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes to help the Chicago Bears clinch the NFC North with a 40-14 pasting of the Vikings in their first outdoor home game in 29 years.
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.