MINNEAPOLIS -- Even in victory, the Minnesota Vikings appeared bewildered, shell-shocked, barely a "woo" among them as they trudged toward their locker room Sunday after one of the weirder games any of them -- or any of those viewing -- are likely to witness.
You can watch football your entire life and never see a face-mask call on an apparent game-winning field goal like the penalty that wiped one off the board for Minnesota in overtime.
You can watch an awful lot of it and not see a coach have his kicker attempt a 47-yard field goal on second down -- also in OT -- as the Chicago Bears' Marc Trestman did with Robbie Gould, who is one of the most accurate in the history of the game but left it wide right.
Bears fans watching Sunday have, in fact, never seen a better statistical performance by one of their wide receivers as the one turned in by Alshon Jeffery, the 23-year-old in his second NFL season who finished with 249 yards and two touchdowns on 12 receptions to set a new franchise record by breaking his own single-game mark of 215 yards, set in Week 5.
And they most certainly have not seen a performance of that level be obscured by the absurdity of all that surrounded it.
"And then I just see these big palms come out of nowhere and just snag it," Marshall said. "It was one of the great catches I've ever seen."
"I wish we had won," he said of a game that instead ended 23-20 in the Vikings' favor, sealed finally by Blair Walsh's 34-yard field goal 13 minutes, 17 seconds into overtime. "Especially for the team and what we were trying to accomplish, but also for my man over there. It sucks when you have a big day and you lose."
It stinks as well when the Bears' defensive front four plays with seemingly more aggressiveness and gets to the quarterback for five sacks and eight quarterback hurries but still allows Adrian Peterson -- though one of the greatest backs in the game, but on this day still recovering from a groin pull -- also turn in another all-timer with 211 rushing yards on 35 carries.
It's easy to confuse exciting with great, to mistake outstanding individual performances for excellence overall. But this was not great, not as a game and not for the Bears, who see their dwindling, but still possible, playoff chances dwindle that much further after falling to 6-6.
"It hurts because we needed it to stay tied for first [place]," Bears offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod said. "Now we need a lot more help, and we need to win out. We needed to win out anyway. We just needed this win. We needed this game. All week we stressed how important it was. We just couldn't get it done."
Nor, in retrospect, could the game's officials, who managed to be in the forefront of a game that demanded our attention on its own with a series of bizarre calls. It included a delay of game penalty on Bushrod for seemingly tossing the ball away after the whistle on the first series in overtime following a McCown sack, fumble and recovery by Bushrod at midfield.