I have to admit, I had Jay written off going into this game, but he proved a lot of people wrong tonight with a phenomenal performance outdueling the great one, Brett Favre. I just knew Favre was going to throw a touchdown at the end of regulation on fourth down. That's why he's Brett Favre. He does it consistently on Monday Nights. He did it again with a seven yard touchdown pass with fifteen seconds left to tie the game at 30. But the Bears stood strong in overtime. Despite missing a 45-yard field goal at the beginning of the overtime period-the Bears first possession in ot-the Bears hung tough defensively stopping Favre on the next possession. Big sack by Mark Anderson of Alabama on Favre on third down. Then when the Bears got the ball back and couldn't move the ball and punted back to the Vikings, I was worried Favre was going to break the Bears' and all the Vandy fans' hearts.
But Hunter Hillenmeyer did what former Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll said when Franco Harris caught the Immaculate Reception, "Good things happen to people who hustle." Hillenmeyer ran down Adrian Peterson after a gain of 10 on a screen pass and punched the ball out. Nick Roach fell on the fumble at the Vikes' 39 and then Jay and Devin-It's great to be an Auburn Tiger-Aromashodu hooked up for a 39-yard score as Aromashodu, the third year player out of Auburn, blew by the Vikings' defensive back, Winfield, and Cutler floated it perfectly to him for the clincher.
The Bears moved to 6-9, but the victory had a lot of significance. It was against their most hated rival in the NFC along with the Packers, and it was redemption for Lovie Smith, Cutler and Ron Turner, the offensive coordinator. As "Jaws" Jaworski said before the game, "This is the first game of the 2010 season for the Chicago Bears." They did it. Hopefully, Lovie's job is safe. He's a good man and a good coach.
Cutler was 20-of-35 for 273 yards and four tds. Aromashodu caught seven passes for 150 yards and the game winner. He was awesome.
Minnesota is an awfully good team. They fell to 11-4, but showed a ton of heart coming back from 13 down late in the game and looked like they had a great chance to win it. Favre was 26-of-40 for 321 yards and two tds. Pretty tough for a 40-year-old. Peterson ran for 94 yards on 20 carries and two tds, but had the costly fumble. He is known to cough it up, sometimes in critical situations, and that could hurt the Vikes in the playoffs.
Hunter Hillenmeyer, also of Vandy-there are five Vandy guys on the Bears- had 15 tackles, 13 solo. Another Vandy guy, Earl Bennett, caught a 20-yard td pass from Cutler late in the game to put the Bears ahead 30-23. Vandy needed some good news in football. Maybe Jay and co can finish strong against the Lions and Vandy can reel in their best recruiting class ever, which could happen if they sign the guys who have committed. Not Alabama or Auburn, but would be pretty good and get them in the hunt with the likes of South Carolina, State, Ole Miss, Ky, and even Georgia in years to come. As Coach Greg Schiano of Rutgers said after his team won the St. Petersburg Bowl game last week over Central Florida, "You've got to be consistent before you're great." Got to keep believing.
Saints get home field throughout playoffs, and Minnesota (11-4) is still fighting it out with Arizona and Philly for second spot in playoffs and first round bye. Vikings host Giants on Sunday, Philly (11-4) goes to Dallas (10-5) in a huge game and Arizona (10-5) hosts Green Bay (10-5). Not sure about tiebreaker yet between Vikes, Cardinals and Eagles. Vikings already won the division. If they lost and Packers won they still have beaten Green Bay twice so they get the nod there. Bears play at Lions on Sunday.