Cutler leads Bears over Vikings, 36-30 in OT

Brett Favre issued a warning, Jared Allen wanted to curse and Adrian Peterson simply felt ill.

The Minnesota Vikings lost again Monday night, beaten by the Chicago Bears 36-30 when Jay Cutler tossed a 39-yard strike to Devin Aromashodu in overtime. It was the Vikings' third loss in four games and gave the New Orleans Saints homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

“Each man on this team needs to go home and look himself in the mirror and figure out what we want to be this year,” Allen said afterward, “an 11-5 team or a 12-4 team that makes noise in the playoffs.”

The Vikings looked like Super Bowl contenders just a few weeks ago, but now even Favre is expressing concern about the team as it heads into the playoffs.

“We have to play better than we did the last few weeks or we'll be home fairly quickly,” Favre said. “I'm just being honest as I can be.”

Playing for the first time since the sideline spat between the star quarterback and coach Brad Childress, the Vikings' late rally wasn't enough.

After Favre's stunning fourth-down pass to a leaping Sidney Rice in the end zone with 16 seconds left in regulation, Cutler threw the winner with just over 9 minutes left in overtime to prevent the Vikings (11-4) from locking up a first-round playoff bye.

Nick Roach recovered a fumble by Adrian Peterson following a catch, setting up Cutler's fourth touchdown pass of the game.

Chicago's Robbie Gould, who kicked three field goals in the first half, had a chance to win it on the first possession of the overtime but missed a 45-yard field goal wide right.

The Bears (6-9) pulled it out a few minutes later, though, after Hunter Hillenmeyer knocked the ball away from Peterson. Cutler found an open Aromashodu, who had beaten Antoine Winfield, and the Bears won for just the third time in 11 games.

“It's good for the team, it's good for the morale of going out there and putting up points and answering the bell, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime when you have to do it,” Cutler said.

Favre has never led a team to a win after trailing by 17 or more, falling to 0-43. The Bears were up 23-6 in the third quarter and the Vikings were able to tie it twice.

Minnesota can lock up a bye with a win next week and loss or tie by Philadelphia, or with a tie and an Eagles loss. But after running away with the NFC North, the Vikings didn't expect to be in this situation.

They started 10-1 behind a resurgent Favre, but have tailed off since. Favre had a good game after three mediocre performances, completing 26 of 40 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Peterson ran for 94 yards and two scores, but that fumble ruined his night.

“I felt like I had it secured, but as I was going down they punched it,” Peterson said. “I thought I was down but obviously not. I mean, the ball came out. I'm feeling sick right now that that happened.”

Favre wasn't feeling too good, either.

“At first I didn't think we would be having this conversation that we would have to be talking about turning it around, but we are,” he said. “We didn't respond tonight.”

He'll get no argument from Allen: “If I could cuss right now, I would. … I mean, we're playing bad right now. We've got to play better.”

Cutler looked more like the player the Bears thought they were getting in a trade with Denver than the one who's been racking up interceptions at an alarming rate. He was 20 of 35 for 273 yards, although he did throw his league-leading 26th interception.

Aromashodu had seven catches for 150 yards. Danieal Manning set up two touchdowns for Chicago with kickoff returns of 57 and 59 yards. And the Vikings fell again.

“At times today in the second half you saw guys offensively make plays,” Favre said. “That has to happen for four quarters. I hope we can turn it around. I hope we do. I'm going to sit here and be positive as I should be, but we have some things we have to get better at.”

NOTES: Chicago CB Charles Tillman suffered a rib injury making a tackle in the fourth quarter and had to be wheeled off the field on a stretcher. … Bears WR Johnny Knox injured an ankle returning a kickoff and was taken off the field on a cart in the third. … Vikings NT Pat Williams was inactive because of an elbow injury and Jimmy Kennedy started in his place.

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