NFC North: rapid reaction 17
Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers, who on Sunday became the first team in NFL history to have two receivers finish with 100 yards in the same game in which two of their running backs also gained 100 yards.
You wouldn't have expected that feat to occur against anyone other than the bumbling Detroit Lions, who finished the first 0-16 season in NFL history in fine historical fashion. The Lions' latest rebuilding process could begin as early as Monday when coach Rod Marinelli meets with owner William Clay Ford, but at least Marinelli and his defense went out in style.
The Packers got 100-yard rushing games from Ryan Grant (106 yards) and DeShawn Wynn (also 106), while receivers Donald Driver (111 yards) and Greg Jennings (101) also finished in triple digits. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that statistical combination had never occurred before in league history.
The victory allowed the Packers some joy at the end of a deeply disappointing season. For the Lions? Just another drop in the historical bucket.
Ultimately, the only scoreboard the Chicago Bears needed to watch was the one hanging at Reliant Stadium.
No matter what else happened around the NFL Sunday, the Bears needed to win at Houston to keep their playoff hopes alive. As it turned out, the Bears would have clinched a wild-card playoff spot had they defeated the Texans. But in a game that mirrored their season, the Bears lost an early lead and couldn't stop their opponent's offense when it counted most.
Up 10-0 in the first quarter, the Bears were outscored 31-14 the rest of the way -- the sixth game this season in which the Bears have lost a lead. The Bears porous' pass defense gave up 328 yards to quarterback Matt Schaub and a total of 455 offensive yards to the Texans offense.
Those numbers provided an exclamation point for what figures to be a hot offseason topic in Chicago: Will the Bears bring back defensive coordinator Bob Babich, a longtime friend of coach Lovie Smith? In what was apparently a tense postgame locker room, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman alluded to the subject.
"Something has to change," Tillman told reporters. "I don't know what that is, but I think something will change. Something has to."
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ryan Longwell just clinched the NFC North title for Minnesota.
Longwell's 50-yard field goal on the final play bailed the Vikings out of a botched two-minute drill, lifting the Vikings to their first division championship since 2000.
The Vikings will be the No. 3 seed and play next weekend at the Metrodome. Their opponent will be the winner of Sunday afternoon's game between Dallas and Philadelphia. At this moment, the Chicago Bears' wild-card hopes are still alive.
A capacity crowd at the Metrodome was nervous until Longwell's kick sailed through the uprights. Owner Zygi Wilf led the charge onto the field afterwards, celebrating the team's first playoff berth since he purchased the team in 2005.
I'll be back with more once we return from the locker room.