Cutler, Bears beat Vikings 27-13

Published 10:32 pm Sunday, November 14, 2010

CHICAGO (AP) — Brett Favre is still clinging to playoff hope even if Minnesota has little left.

Barely in postseason contention when the day began, Favre and the Vikings may be just about out of it. The Chicago Bears are sticking around, though.

Jay Cutler threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns, Devin Hester had two big returns and the Bears beat Minnesota 27-13 on Sunday to tie Green Bay for the NFC North lead.

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“It was a big game for the whole team,” Cutler said.

It was a rough one for Favre and the Vikings (3-6), who needed to win this game and beat the Packers next week to jump back into the division race.

That would have been quite the dramatic twist for a team that’s been embroiled all season in drama surrounding its quarterback, coach and the acquired-and-departed Randy Moss.

Favre threw for just 170 yards after going for a career-best 446 the previous week against Arizona, when Minnesota wiped out a late 14-point deficit and beat the Cardinals in overtime.

This time, there were no late rallies. And with the Vikings well back in the playoff chase after Sunday’s loss, Favre was asked if he would keep playing this season if they’re mathematically eliminated?

“Let’s not worry about that,” Favre said. “Don’t push it. … I think there’s still a little hope left. I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but I do know the consensus seemed to be afterward that there is life still left.”

The loss also figures to spark more calls for coach Brad Childress’ firing.

“You deal with it,” he said. “It’s not something you’re happy to deal with. … My name is behind the Vikings team. It all starts with me.”

Asked if he’ll be coaching next week, Childress said, “Until I get any word differently, yeah.”

It didn’t help that Favre threw three interceptions — all in the second half — and two late in the game that wiped out whatever chance the Vikings had at a comeback.

Chicago (6-3) also held Adrian Peterson to 51 yards rushing. Making matters worse was that receiver Bernard Berrian sat out after aggravating his groin in warmups and center John Sullivan left with a calf injury on the Vikings’ first possession.

Percy Harvin, who was questionable with a migraine headache, limped off the field late in the game after aggravating an ankle problem.

“Honestly, it’s a gut-check time,” Jared Allen said. “It’s getting old. Same song and dance, different game. We’re just inconsistent.

As for the Bears?

“We’re right where we want to be,” Bears defensive end Israel Idonije said. “Momentum’s building, we just have to keep this thing going.”

Cutler completed 22 of 35 passes and got picked off twice, but his 19-yard TD to Kellen Davis on a play action made it 27-13 in the fourth quarter.

Hester had a 68-yard kickoff return to set up a third-quarter field goal by Robbie Gould that made it 20-13 after being used solely on punts through the first eight games. He wasn’t bad in that area, either, running a punt back 42 yards.

The Bears breathed a little easier after Cutler’s TD pass to Davis down the middle with 8:37 remaining.

Harvin had a fumble overturned by replay on the ensuing kickoff, but limped off the field after an ankle that’s been bothering him lately flared up.

Two plays later, Favre was intercepted by Lance Briggs at the Minnesota 37, putting a huge dent in their comeback hopes. Chris Harris sealed it when he picked off Favre with 2:26 left after tight end Visanthe Shiancoe slipped.

The Vikings were widely viewed as a favorite in the NFC when the season began and certainly didn’t envision their season going this way after nine games.

They brought in Randy Moss in early October and released him about a month later, stunning players, management and ownership and raising questions about Childress’ job security.

Those flare-ups diverted attention from Favre, who has two fractures in his left foot and has the NFL checking into claims that he sent messages and lewd photos to a former New York Jets employee two years ago. Along with those issues, his future — as always — remains a burning question.

In an interview with the NFL Network this past week, Favre answered “no” when asked if he would play next year. Of course, he’s been known to change his mind, but that’s looking less and less likely with each loss.

“As I said when I came here last year, my first press conference — if it ended then, if it ended today, if it ends at the end of this year, if it ended before the start of this year, it’s been a wonderful career,” Favre said. “I hold no regrets. It’s been everything I thought it would’ve been and then some.”

Notes: Coach Lovie Smith said he used Hester on kickoffs because the Bears are “just looking for ways to be productive and get points as much as anything.” … Vikings WR Sidney Rice remained on the physically-unable-to-perform list and was not available Sunday. He has been sidelined all season after having hip surgery in August, but the Vikings had hoped he would be ready after practicing all week.