We're Black and Blue All Over:
At least one player did everything in his power Sunday to preserve the Chicago Bears' ultimately dashed hopes for winning the NFC North title. Even to the naked eye, linebacker Lance Briggs was all over the field. Dan Pompei's weekly film review in the Chicago Tribune confirmed what was an elite-level game.
Wrote Pompei: "If every Bear played like Briggs, the Bears would have won."
Unofficial press box statistics credited Briggs with nine tackles, but Pompei wrote that he was actually in on 13. Pompei: "Briggs read well, closed quickly and played physically. He took on offensive linemen with pop and came off blocks to make plays."
We don't know what will happen with this franchise and its nucleus after the season, but Briggs' performance in an important game suggests he should be a building block for whatever product they put on the field in 2013.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Longtime Bears beat reporter Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com didn't disagree with Brian Urlacher's anger against fans for booing Sunday. But, Dickerson writes, nothing good will come of Urlacher saying so publicly. Dickerson: "He has to turn the other cheek and simply accept the fact that fans will act how they want to act, right or wrong. There is no positive outcome here for Urlacher. While it's easy to lump all media together in one group, as most athletes and coaches tend to do, you should never do that to fans. It's not worth it. Urlacher is too good for that."
Urlacher's quote "perfectly represents the disdain the Bears have for the people who follow them," writes Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he doesn't know how to continue answering questions on place-kicker Mason Crosby other than to say he remains the team's kicker. Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more.
McCarthy isn't planning on letting up in the regular season after clinching the division, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
McCarthy admitted Sunday that he made the wrong decision to try a trick punt return in the fourth quarter Sunday, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers echoed that sentiment during an interview with NFL Network on Monday night. Via ESPNMilwaukee.com, Rodgers said: "Just not a very intelligent call at that point in the game."
The Minnesota Vikings are focused on avoiding turnovers Sunday against the Houston Texans, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com reviews the film of the Vikings' victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Everson Griffen's interception return Sunday provided a glimpse of why the Vikings once thought he could play outside linebacker for them, writes Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz acknowledged his team's season has "gone off the rails a little bit," writes Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Schwartz said the blame lies "100 percent" on his shoulders, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions are, of course, standing behind quarterback Matthew Stafford, writes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.