Brett Favre cranked up and made one more impossible throw, zinging a touchdown pass in the fading seconds. Too bad for the Minnesota Vikings, that merely put them into overtime.
The Vikings lost again Monday night, beaten by the Chicago Bears 36-30 when Jay Cutler tossed a 39-yard strike to Devin Aromashodu.
Minnesota fell for the third time in four games, and the defeat gave the New Orleans Saints homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Playing for the first time since the dustup between Favre and coach Brad Childress became public, the Vikings' late rally wasn't enough.
Despite Favre's stunning, fourth-down pass to Sidney Rice with 16 seconds left in regulation, Cutler threw the game-winner just over 9 minutes left in overtime to prevented 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.
Favre's pass to a leaping Rice capped a 68-yard touchdown drive and tied the game at 30.
Chicago's Robbie Gould had a chance to win it on the first possession of the overtime but missed a 45-yard field goal wide right.
The Bears (5-10) took advantage a few minutes later, though, when Hunter Hillenmeyer knocked the ball away from Peterson and Roach recovered. Cutler found an open Aromashodu, who had beaten Antoine Winfield, and the Bears won for just the third time in 11 games.
"D.A., he's been coming along," Cutler said. "He had some injuries early on. ... I'm happy for him."
Favre has never led a team to a win after trailing by 17 or more points, falling to 0-43 in such situations. The Bears were up 23-6 in the third quarter and the Vikings were able to tie it twice.
Minnesota can lock up a first-round 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 the Vikings simply couldn't pull this one out.
Cutler looked more like the player the Bears thought they were getting 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.
"It's fun," Cutler said of outdueling Favre. "He got me in Denver. I got him when he was in New York. ... It was a good game."
Aromashodu had seven catches for 150 yards, and Danieal Manning set up two touchdowns with kickoff returns of 57 and 59 yards.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)