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Associated Press, Published November 14 2010

NFL: Cutler, Bears beat Vikings 27-13

CHICAGO – Barely in playoff contention when the day began, Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings may be just about out of it. The Chicago Bears are sticking around.

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.

It was a rough day 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 year in drama surrounding its quarterback, its 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.

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, and Percy Harvin limped off the field late in the game.

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 with 18 remaining.

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 one punt back 42 yards.

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

Harvin – questionable with a migraine – had a fumble overturned by the replay on the ensuing kickoff but limped off the field. It was not clear what exactly the injury was. He’s also been bothered by an ankle problem lately.

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

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

They brought in Randy Moss in early October and released him about a month later, stunning players, management and ownership and raising questions about Brad Childress’ job security. The coach also nearly came to blows with Percy Harvin in practice.

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.