After a third straight season without a playoff berth, desperation was the operative mood in Chicago. A series of swings and misses in connection with the effort to find a new offensive coordinator only made matters worse, before the team settled for Mike Martz, whose name appeared one spot higher on the list than leaving the position vacant.
But the Bears defied the critics and the odds with a strong start, they weathered the inevitable rough spots, and they rebounded from an ugly Week 14 loss at home to the Patriots with a 40-14 win over the Vikings on the frozen fake grass of TCF Bank Stadium.
It helped that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, who surprisingly made the 298th regular-season start of his career, exited the game after having his head slammed against stuff that looked like a broad bed of unthawed broccoli. Rookie Joe Webb simply wasn’t up to the task, and the Bears continued to pull away.
Along the way, Bears receiver Devin Hester set the career record for touchdown returns with a 64 yard punt return, a play that came only one drive after Hester came within less than 10 yards of taking a kickoff the distance. He has 14 combined kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in his five NFL seasons.
Despite the placement of 54 total points on the board, no quarterback threw for more than 200 yards, no running back rushed for more than 100 yards, and no receiver generated more than 100 receiving yards.
Still, the Bears have won the NFC North for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 2006, and they currently hold the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff field.