MINNEAPOLIS -- Brett Favre's surprising start in snowy TCF Bank Stadium didn't last very long.
Favre threw a 23-yard touchdown to Percy Harvin in the first quarter before Bears defensive end Corey Wootton slammed him to the turf and knocked him out of Monday night's game with a head injury as Chicago led the Minnesota Vikings 17-7 at halftime.
Favre was 5 for 7 for 63 yards with one touchdown and one interception before Wootton beat left tackle Bryant McKinnie on a speed rush. The 41-year-old quarterback's head bounced off the frozen turf and he was replaced by rookie Joe Webb on the next series.
The team said Favre's return was doubtful.
Jay Cutler was 9 for 15 for 142 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yarder to Johnny Knox, in the first half for the Bears, who can clinch the NFC North with a victory. Cutler also tossed an interception.
Julius Peppers intercepted a batted pass from Favre to set up Robbie Gould's 29-yard field goal and Cutler also hit Devin Hester on a 15-yard scoring pass to dig the Bears out of an early hole.
The game was played at the University of Minnesota's outdoor stadium after the Metrodome's roof collapsed last week.
Favre was ruled out for the game on Saturday, with all signs pointing to Webb making his first career start. But Favre woke up on Monday morning and told team athletic trainers and staff that his right shoulder felt much better.
With the snow falling and the game being played on Monday night, two circumstances in which Favre has often played his best, it was shaping up as a storybook return for a star who may only have a few games left in his career.
Playing without star running back Adrian Peterson (thigh) and left guard Steve Hutchinson (broken thumb), Favre got the Vikings off to a fast start, completing a swing pass to Harvin in the flat on the opening drive. Harvin made two defenders miss on the slick field and raced to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Favre leaped onto guard Ryan Cook's back in the end zone to celebrate, the most emotion he's shown in what has been a difficult year for the quarterback and the team. Just this year, Randy Moss returned to Minnesota and departed again in less than a month, coach Brad Childress was fired midseason, Favre was embroiled in an embarrassing NFL investigation and the Dome's roof collapsed last weekend, rendering the team homeless.
And Monday night's promising start quickly evaporated.
Henry Melton tipped Favre's pass at the line of scrimmage and Peppers picked it off to set up Gould's field goal.
The Bears faced a first-and-30 on the next possession, but Knox got behind Lito Sheppard and safety Madieu Williams took a bad angle on the pass, which fell into Knox's arms for a 10-7 lead.
With a dazed Favre watching from the sidelines, Cutler zipped a scoring pass to Hester for a 17-7 lead that put the Bears in control.
Favre is tied for second in the NFL with 19 interceptions and his 69.6 quarterback rating at the start of the night was good for 30th. He also has been the subject of an NFL investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to a gameday hostess when both worked for the New York Jets in 2008.
He's dealt with numerous injuries through the season and had his cherished NFL record for consecutive starts streak snapped at 297 last week. Not coincidentally, the Vikings have been eliminated from playoff contention after starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations.
The setting on Monday night seemed a perfect situation for Favre to make a triumphant return.
Snow started following in the metro area on Monday afternoon and didn't let up as game time approached. The stiff wind turned TCF Bank Stadium into a snow globe, swirling the white flakes around in the horseshoe-shaped stadium in what made for a throwback scene.
The Vikings hadn't played an outdoor game in Minnesota since a 10-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Metropolitan Stadium on Dec. 20, 1981.
The Vikings used to be famous for their toughness and ability to play through wintery conditions. Iconic coach Bud Grant led the "Purple People Eaters" to four Super Bowl appearances in the 1960s and '70s, refusing to allow heaters on the home sidelines to keep Fran Tarkenton and the rest of the team warm.
The Vikings celebrated their 50th anniversary on Sunday by holding a gala for the 50 greatest players in franchise history. Most of them, including the famed defensive line of Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Gary Larsen and Carl Eller, stuck around for the game to be honored at halftime.
A generation of Vikings fans only know those days thanks to the grainy footage of NFL Films. The newest purple backers have grown up in the comfortable confines of the Metrodome, where Moss, Cris Carter and the modern-day Vikings turned up the heat under the big white roof.
The billowy top came crashing down last Sunday under the weight of one of the biggest snowstorms the city has ever seen, a fitting metaphor for this disaster of a football season in Minnesota.
Fans started lining up more than five hours before kickoff to ensure getting a good seat at the general admission event, but there were thousands of empty seats to be had well after the game started.
The team mascot, Ragnar, entered the stadium on a snowmobile with Carter hanging off the back in his purple No. 80 jersey, firing up the crowd.