CHICAGO -- It was easy, in the midst of the celebratory visitors' locker room at Soldier Field, to forget that one of the best players in the stadium hasn't been on the field in nearly two months. But Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson was standing among his teammates after they clinched their second consecutive NFC North title, pledging to return soon from a fractured collarbone and deriving great satisfaction from his team's 21-13 victory over the Chicago Bears.
Woodson said he agreed with doctors and team officials who decided to hold him out of the game -- mostly because everyone agreed the Packers could beat the Bears without him.
"Right now the team is playing well," Woodson said. "And we felt like they could come down here and get a 'W whether I played or not. And they did. The consensus is that when I do come back, we're going to make sure it's 100 percent. That's it."
So would it make sense now for Woodson to rest another few weeks before the playoffs begin? Woodson said he would "much rather" return before then to "get some game time and speed" but that no decision have been made.
The Packers' secondary played well Sunday without him, holding Bears receiver Brandon Marshall to six receptions for 56 yards and one touchdown while drawing three offensive pass interference calls against rookie Alshon Jeffery. Woodson admitted he was stunned at that turn of events.
"I'm going to tell you this," he said, "I'm very, very surprised, but also very happy that the defensive back got those calls, because we never get those calls. ... For blatant pushoffs that those guys get away with, to have those called, that meant a lot to me."
During a long interview session with reporters, Woodson mostly brushed off Marshall's criticism of him last week. He called Marshall's attempt to raise the intensity in this series "corny" and added: "I don't really appreciate the man speaking my name. I don't know Brandon. But we're NFC North champions. That's all I care about."
We'll have much more on the blog in the coming hours.