Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
At about 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers walked into the team's indoor training facility for a throwing session that ultimately convinced coach Mike McCarthy that he should start against the Atlanta Falcons.
"I think Mike wanted to look into my eyes and see if I wanted to play," Rodgers said to reporters at Lambeau Field. "I told him, 'I want the ball. I want to be out there.' I just knew I was going to have to deal with the pain."
As Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette details, Rodgers took neither medication nor a pain-killing shot to help him through a 313-yard, three-touchdown passing day. In our coverage of Chicago's 34-7 victory Sunday over Detroit, we probably didn't devote enough space to what could be a career-defining moment for Rodgers.
"He's a special guy," defensive end Aaron Kampman said.
Rodgers' arm wasn't as live as normal, observed Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and he was in obvious discomfort in the fourth quarter of a 27-24 loss. But the Packers' injury-depleted defense had as much to do with the defeat as anything, and in the macho world of the NFL, Rodgers picked up some loyalty points by playing through a very uncomfortable situation Sunday.
Continuing around the NFC North:
The Packers were unable to pressure Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel traces another quiet day for designated pass rusher Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
McCarthy: "Our house is messy right now."
Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times touches on an item we didn't get to Sunday: Bears receiver Marty Booker's amazing one-handed reception that officials initially couldn't believe was a catch. The Bears challenged the play, and an incomplete call was reversed on replay.
The Bears' biggest battle in a relatively weak division might be complacency, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
Rob Parker of the Detroit News has a simple solution for the Lions: "Rod Marinelli must be fired. Today." The Lions sure looked like a team that has given up, but replacing Marinelli at this point might not help matters.
Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press wonders when owner William Clay Ford will accept any public accountability for this season's debacle.
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune suggests that a Minnesota victory Monday night at New Orleans would leave the team in decent shape after the most difficult stretch of its season.
Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press crunched the numbers: Since coach Brad Childress arrived in 2006, the Vikings are the NFL's seventh-most penalized team and have committed the sixth-most number of turnovers.