CHICAGO -- Good (late) morning to everyone in the NFC North. I’m still processing the events and implications of the final "Monday Night Football" game of the year, one that secured the Black and Blue’s status as the NFL’s source of high drama. (Or is it “Air and Space? After all, I counted 594 passing yards and six touchdown passes.)
There were a number of angles I didn’t hit fully Monday night, including what appeared to be serious injuries to Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman (ribs) and receiver Johnny Knox (ankle). I’ll pass along updates on their statuses as I get them.
Also lost in the shuffle was Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson’s sixth lost fumble of the season. Not all of them have impacted the outcome of games, but this one certainly did. Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer punched loose the ball after a 16-yard reception. Replays indicated that cornerback Zack Bowman grabbed Peterson’s facemask during the play, but no penalty was called.
I missed Peterson’s postgame interview, but here’s what he said, according to the Star Tribune: “I'm sick right now. I'm very disappointed. I really feel like I lost this game. We were in position to win the game, and I gave it away.”
Since he entered the NFL in 2007, Peterson has lost 13 fumbles -- by far the most of any non-quarterback in the league. The next player on that list is Washington tailback Clinton Portis. As we’ve discussed many times, the word is out that Peterson doesn’t protect the ball as well as he should at the end of runs. It makes all the sense in the world to punch the ball rather than try to tackle him.
Continuing around the NFC North:
It’s time for Vikings fans to panic, writes Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune considers Monday night’s game an indictment as much as a victory for the Bears: “Does beating a Super Bowl-caliber team create more faith in [coach Lovie] Smith's coaching ability or doubt?”
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Trust the Bears? You'd probably like to. You want to believe that the positive vibes will carry over into next season. But trust what happened Monday night at your own peril.”
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at the evolution of importance in run defense and how it impacts Green Bay.
Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji had a strong showing in Sunday’s rout of Seattle, based on Tom Pelissero’s video review in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz doesn’t see long-term value to a team winning its final regular-season game, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
The Lions aren’t sure if they’ll continue their rotation at left guard and right tackle in Sunday’s game against Chicago, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.