MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 20: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears is congrtaulated by quarterback Jay Cutler #6 after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium on December 20, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Devin Hester;Jay Cutler
History was made on Monday night, as the Bears beat Minnesota 40-14 to win the NFC North and earn a playoff spot.
Devin Hester earned a spot in the record books, scoring a punt return touchdown in the third quarter, giving him the most return touchdowns in NFL history with 14. He almost broke the record earlier in the quarter, as he was stopped just six yards shy of the end zone after the kickoff to start the second half.
But it wasn't the only bit of history made, as legendary quarterback and Bears nemesis Brett Favre was knocked out of the game. Unexpectedly, he made the start after being ruled out by last week. That decision turned out to be a mistake, as rookie Corey Wootton sacked Favre early in the second quarter. Favre didn't return in his game because of a head injury. With the beating that Favre has taken recently, football fans had to wonder if that's the last time Favre will be on the field.
Even with the questionable field conditions and Favre's injury, the night belonged to the Bears.
The defense started their domination early, when Favre was still in the game. Henry Melton tipped a pass that was then intercepted by Julius Peppers. That was followed by Wootton's sack. When back-up QB Joe Webb came into the game, the Bears showed no mercy to the rookie. Chris Harris and Charles Tillman both picked him off, while Lance Briggs, Matt Toeina and Israel Idonije sacked him. The Bears forced five turnovers on the night.
On offense, the Bears didn't let the freezing rain and hard ground stop them. Matt Forte had 92 rushing yards on 17 tries. Johnny Knox had 78 receiving yards, including a 67-yard touchdown. Jay Cutler finished the game with 194 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
This is the Bears' third division championship in six years. They have a playoff spot secured, and are in a good position to win a bye for the first week of playoffs.