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CHICAGO 23, MINNESOTA 13

Bears win NFC North

December 04, 2006|From the Associated Press

CHICAGO — Devin Hester ran into the record book again, Ricky Manning Jr. returned an interception for a touchdown and the Chicago Bears claimed their second NFC North title in a row with a 23-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on a frigid Sunday afternoon.

"The defense had to carry the offense today," Manning said. "That's the way it is going to be sometimes. We understand that, and we are up for that challenge if that has to be done."

With the temperature around 20 degrees and wind chill in single digits, Hester tied an NFL record with his fourth touchdown return, and Manning returned an interception 54 yards for the Bears (10-2), who lead the NFC by two games.

Chicago overcame another shaky performance by quarterback Rex Grossman. The Vikings, however, couldn't overcome Brad Johnson's play.

Grossman completed six of 19 passes for 34 yards and threw three intercepted passes for the second consecutive week. But he stayed in the game.

He has had 14 intercepted passes in the last seven games.

"I never really got anything going, and that is something I need to fix," said Grossman, whose quarterback rating was 1.3 -- 0.0 after three periods. "It's a simple formula to fix. It's just hard to get done."

Coach Lovie Smith said he was not replacing Grossman.

"There's a difference between perception and reality," Smith said. "The reality is we're 10-2 right now. We just won the division with Rex at quarterback, so that's what I go on."

Johnson was 11 for 26 for 73 yards and four interceptions before being replaced by Brooks Bollinger in the third quarter.

Chester Taylor ran for 99 yards before bruising his ribs in the third quarter and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for Minnesota (5-7). He returned but did not carry the ball again.

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