We're Black and Blue All Over:
ELIZABETH, N.J. -- Week 13 might have given us our most wild collection of games yet here in the NFC North.
You had the Green Bay Packers clinching the NFC North with a precision drive in the final 58 seconds of regulation at MetLife Stadium.
You had the Chicago Bears losing tailback Matt Forte to a sprained knee, possibly for the next two weeks, and losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, 10-3, at home. The margin of victory? An improbable Hail Mary at the end of the first half.
You had the Minnesota Vikings scoring 32 points with tailback Adrian Peterson sidelined by an ankle injury, only to be bested by a near-perfect passing day from Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
And finally, you had the Detroit Lions playing a closer-than-expected game at the New Orleans Saints, but ultimately absorbing a 14-point loss amid three costly personal fouls.
The series of events left the NFC playoff picture mostly unchanged from last week. If the season ended Monday, the Bears (7-5) and the Atlanta Falcons (7-5) would be the two wild-card teams. The Lions would be bumped out because of their loss earlier this season to the Falcons.
And away we go into the final quarter of the 2011 season. ...
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "Combine the Packers’ talent and confidence with their level-headed approach every week, and it’s an unbeatable combination. Winning isn’t just a goal for this team, it’s an expected result."
Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: "If he hadn't won the award already, Rodgers clinched it by coming to New York and wowing everyone with a performance that illustrated perfectly how important he is to the NFL's reigning champion and best team."
It sounds like Packers coach Mike McCarthy has decided whether he will rest his starters late this season, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. McCarthy just isn't ready to talk about it.
Packers tailback Ryan Grant, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "We feel like we're playing for greatness."
Lions center Dominic Raiola was one of several players livid about the penalties in the postgame locker room, notes John Niyo of the Detroit News. Raiola shouted "Grow the [expletive up]" multiple times.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz was critical of his team for the penalty total, according to Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press. Receiver Nate Burleson, who committed three offensive pass interference penalties, did not escape his wrath. Schwartz: "When there's tight coverage, you've gotta be able to create separation without a push-off."
Schwartz said he won't play "guys who get penalties," according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Via Twitter, Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said: "All bad. WE gotta give yall better/smarter football. This is getting old."
ESPN.com is reporting that Forte has a second-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, an injury that could cost him at least two games.
The Kansas City Chiefs' only touchdown Sunday was a Hail Mary play a the end of the first half. Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on the play, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com: "Same thing we always do: bat it down. The guy happens to catch that one. About 100 times, first time anyone's caught one."
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune: "[T]he Bears weren't beaten by an answered Chiefs prayer. They were beaten by their own godforsaken offense."
Before you blame the loss on quarterback Caleb Hanie, writes the Tribune's Dan Pompei, don't forget that he had one touchdown pass called back and another that should have gone for a touchdown get intercepted.
Bears receiver Roy Williams took the blame for causing that interception, according to ESPNChicago.com.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was among those who was livid with the way the team's pass defense played against Tebow. Tom Pelissero's column over at 1500ESPN.com includes this quote from Frazier: "Just a poor job, and we've got to identify somebody who can come back there and make a play for us when the ball's in the air."
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder threw for 381 yards but also had three turnovers. Ponder, via Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "It's hard to look Jared Allen in the eyes and tell him I had two picks and a fumble and I cost us the game. You can't win ballgames that way in the NFL."
Ponder got outplayed by Tebow, writes Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune.