1:00 PM ET, December 3, 2006
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
CHICAGO (AP) -- Now that they've clinched their second straight division title, the Chicago Bears can focus on bigger goals: a No. 1 seed and, maybe, the conference championship.Devin Hester ran into the record book again. Ricky Manning Jr. returned an interception for a touchdown, and the Bears claimed their second straight NFC North title with a 23-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on a frigid Sunday afternoon.
|Scouts Inc.'s take ...|
The Minnesota game plan -- a strong run game and pressuring Rex Grossman (right) into mistakes -- worked exactly as Brad Childress envisioned except for one problem: the Vikings' complete inability to maximize on Bears turnovers and the continuing self-destruction on offense. Once again, Minnesota drives were stalled by penalties, dropped passes and Brad Johnson picks. The Vikings defense and special teams created early opportunities, starting with causing a fumble on the opening kick off and forcing Grossman to play horribly, making terrible decisions and awful throws (he had three interceptions).
The Bears defense was susceptible to the run game, getting gashed for 192 yards on the ground, but countered that with excellent pressure and aggressive coverage, forcing four interceptions. With both quarterbacks playing terrible football the difference was Chicago's scoring on both defense and special teams.
Championship teams find ways to overcome problems and win while non-playoff caliber teams are unable to seize opportunities or overcome mistakes often find ways to lose important games.
Bears DT Tommie Harris left in the third quarter Sunday with a sprained knee. Harris, who made the Pro Bowl last season, was hurt on the second scrimmage play of the second half, a 6-yard run by Taylor. After staying on the ground for several minutes, Harris was helped off the field. ... Vasher suffered a hamstring injury. ... Vikings NT Pat Williams, questionable with a knee injury, played. ... Taylor has 1,098 yards this season.
Team Stat Comparison
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||4.5||2.4|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|TD||2:40||Devin Hester 45 Yd Punt Return (Robbie Gould Kick)||0||7|
|FG||6:06||Ryan Longwell 23 Yd |
Drive: 6 plays, 57 yds, 3:26
|FG||4:53||Ryan Longwell 30 Yd |
Drive: 11 plays, 69 yds, 4:53
|TD||10:27||Ricky Manning Jr 54 Yd Interception Return (Robbie Gould Kick)||6||14|
|TD||11:56||Cedric Benson 24 Yd Run (Robbie Gould Kick) |
Drive: 4 plays, 33 yds, 1:16
|SF||1:01||Ciatrick Fason Tackled By Tank Johnson In End Zone||6||23|
|TD||9:20||Ciatrick Fason 4 Yd Run (Ryan Longwell Kick) |
Drive: 11 plays, 89 yds, 6:34