Favre knocked out, Bears beat Vikes to win North

The Pak Banker - - International -

MINNEAPOLIS: Bun­dled up on the side­line in a heavy, gray coat, Brett Favre could only watch as Devin Hester and the Chicago Bears sped through the snow to the NFC North ti­tle.

Favre's sur­prise start ended with a con­cus­sion, per­haps putting him out for good, and the Bears spoiled Min­nesota's first out­door home game in 29 years.

Hester set the NFL record with his 14th kick re­turn touch­down, run­ning back a punt 64 yards for a score shortly af­ter half­time to help the Bears fly past the Vik­ings 4014 on a frosty, hard-hit­ting Mon­day night.

"You play long enough, you're go­ing to get your bell rung," Favre said.

Jay Cut­ler threw for three scores for the Bears (10-4), who last won this di­vi­sion dur­ing their 2006 Su­per Bowl sea­son. Hester caught one of Cut­ler's touch­down passes and also took back the sec­ond-half kick­off 79 yards to set up a field goal a few min­utes be­fore his game-break­ing punt re­turn made it 27-7.

That was Hester's 14th ca­reer re­turn touch­down, kick­off or punt, break­ing Brian Mitchell's pre­vi­ous mark.

"Don't dwell on this," Hester said. "It's the record­breaker, but there's go­ing to be a lot more. I guar­an­tee you that."

Favre doesn't have many, if any, left. He fin­ished 5 for 7 for 63 yards be­fore the big hit by Corey Woot­ton, and the Vik­ings (5-9) fell apart in front of their proud alumni in town for the fran­chise's 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion fea­tur­ing all kinds of blasts from the past. With the Metrodome un­us­able be­cause of a roof col­lapse, the game got moved to the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota. TCF Bank Sta­dium was about 80 per­cent full, with snow­balls fly­ing from the seats - some­times hit­ting play­ers - and plenty of frol­ick­ing in the flakes. -Afp

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