MINNEAPOLIS - Brett Favre was bundled in a heavy gray coat by the time Devin Hester sped through the snow with his record-setting return.
Favre's surprise start ended with a head injury, perhaps putting him out for good, and the game ended with an NFC North title for the Chicago Bears.
Hester set the NFL record with his 14th kick return touchdown, running back a punt 64 yards for a score shortly after halftime to help the Bears fly past the Minnesota Vikings, 40-14, last night.
Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes for the Bears (10-4), who last won the division during their 2006 Super Bowl season. Hester caught one of those scoring tosses and also took back the second-half kickoff 79 yards to set up a field goal a few minutes before his game-breaking punt return made it 27-7.
That was Hester's 14th career return touchdown, kickoff or punt, breaking the mark he previously shared with Brian Mitchell.
Favre finished 5-for-7 for 63 yards, and the Vikings (5-9) fell apart in front of their proud alumni in town for the franchise's 50th anniversary celebration.
With the Metrodome unusable because of a roof collapse, the game got moved to the University of Minnesota's outdoor stadium.
Favre was declared out Saturday due to a sprained right throwing shoulder. But he said he felt better yesterday, passed his pregame throwing test and trotted out in front of the Minnesota fans one last time, finding Percy Harvin for a 23-yard TD to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead after the opening drive.
The joyful vibe didn't last very long.
Henry Melton tipped Favre's pass on the next Minnesota possession, Julius Peppers intercepted it at the 14 and Robbie Gould kicked a field goal.
The next drive was a three-and-out, and Favre had to hustle back and smother the ball after a high snap slipped through his hands. Cutler zipped a 67-yard pass up the sideline over safety Madieu Williams to a streaking Johnny Knox, and the Bears built a 10-7 lead they never lost.
In the second quarter, the Vikings lost Favre - perhaps for good.
On third-and-4 from the Bears' 48, Corey Wootton got in the backfield and grabbed Favre by his non-throwing shoulder, slamming him toward the cold turf where he hit his head. Rookie Joe Webb took over, scoring on a 13-yard scramble to the edge of the end zone to cut the lead to 27-14, but the Bears had their way after putting perhaps the final seal on Favre's storied, 20-year career.
Favre repeatedly has said this will be his final season and the Vikings, long out of the playoff race, have just two games left, including Sunday night's clash with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.