We're Black and Blue All Over:
As it turns out, the final call ever made by the NFL's replacement officials was the one that gave the Green Bay Packers a 14-12 defeat Monday night. The league ended its two-month lockout of its regular officials late Wednesday night, by coincidence I'm sure, and they will work NFL games beginning Thursday night.
We noted Wednesday it would be instructive to note whether the league caved financially after Monday night's debacle. The details are still coming in, but I can tell you that the regular officials got to keep their current pension benefit through 2016 or until they reach 20 years of service. Beginning in 2017, a defined contribution benefit will begin.
So in plain terms, officials staved off an effort to eliminate their pensions immediately but ultimately will give them up. Prior to Monday's game, reports were that the NFL was refusing to compromise on the pension issue. Perhaps Golden Tate's "Fail Mary" catch provided the proper motivation.
Continuing around the NFC North:
The folks at ESPNChicago.com discuss the Bears' dangerously inconsistent offense.
Bears place-kicker Robbie Gould is approaching an NFL record for consecutive field goal conversions of 50 or more yards, notes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
There is little tolerance for failure by quarterbacks like Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com: "As Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley's attorney attempts to get him out of legal trouble, there is nothing that can be done to avoid NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's impending penalty."
Nick Harris, 34, has re-joined Jason Hanson, 42, as a Lions specialist. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News has more.
There was "nothing out of the ordinary" about Matthew Stafford's gait on Wednesday, reports Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Packers' mindset: "Several players admit they'll never forget Monday's 14-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Those scars won't heal. The game will rot in NFL infamy. But in four days, an equally bitter New Orleans Saints team comes to Lambeau Field. Analyzing one play does zero good."
Packers safety M.D. Jennings on his decision to try to intercept the pass on the final play Monday night, via Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "You can second-guess yourself, thinking catch it or bat it down. But I just had to go with my instincts, and that was to go up and try to make a play on the ball."
Packers tight end Tom Crabtree (shoulder) has returned to practice, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
The Minnesota Vikings won't force things downfield despite the return of receiver Jerome Simpson. Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com explains.
Vikings rookie cornerback Josh Robinson on his approach if he faces the Lions' Calvin Johnson on Sunday, via Bruce Brothers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Just be physical with him. Let him know, 'Just because I'm small, I ain't going to be scared of you.' That's something we're working on this week to make sure we have down to every detail."
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune takes a look at decisions to go for it on fourth down.