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NFL news and notes, Week 15

Power rankings

1. Patriots

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2. Falcons

3. Saints

4. Steelers

5. Eagles

6. Ravens

'Legend killer'

Bills LB Arthur Moats is a rookie with just 21 tackles to his name. But he has drawn plenty of attention for being the one who helped end the legendary starts streak of Vikings QB Brett Favre. It was Moats' hit in Week 13 that drove Favre's shoulder into the ground, playing a role in the streak of 297 games being snapped last week. Moats, who was 4 years old when Favre started the streak in 1992, told ESPN he has heard teammates call him the "legend killer" and "streak ender," but it's not the way he wants to be remembered.

"That's not the way I want to get my name out there, for hurting somebody," he said.

Saw it coming

Veteran P Hunter Smith thought someone might lose his job after the muffed extra-point attempt in last week's 17-16 loss to the Bucs in Washington. And Smith was right — only it was him. Smith, who couldn't catch the snap on the play, was released Tuesday, and Washington signed former Bucs P Sam Paulescu to replace him.

Smith took it all in stride.

"Honestly, nothing surprises me after 12 years playing NFL football," Smith told the Washington Post. "Obviously, if I catch the snap and we kick the extra point and go to overtime, I'm probably not cut today. So that's definitely disappointing. Obviously, this is not the way I wanted to finish the season."

Information from Times wires and the NFL was used in this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Mea culpa of the week

The Jets' Sal Alosi, right, is now the most well-known strength and conditioning coach in the league, for all the wrong reasons. The image of Alosi sticking out his knee and tripping the Dolphins' Nolan Carroll during punt coverage last week has been shown over and over again (just look at YouTube). Alosi "manned up" and took responsibility, but it was later revealed last week that he ordered several players to form a wall near the sideline. Alosi has drawn an indefinite suspension, but SI.com's Jeff Pearlman suggests that if Alosi were in the "real world," he would have been fired.

"Sports, however, isn't the real world. Not even close," Pearlman writes. "As soon as Alosi stepped into the confessional booth (the Jets' media room) and stated his obvious-to-everyone-with-working-eyeballs sins, he was forgiven and, quizzically, lauded. It's the way these things go in organized athletics, where somehow we've all been brainwashed to believe the words 'I'm sorry' warrant a gold medal."

As Pearlman points out, "What if Carroll had missed Alosi's knee? Would he still cry before the press, begging for a second chance? Or would he be thinking about where to place his knee during (this) week's game against the Steelers?"

Upset special

Jets over Steelers

After two rough losses, including taking a beatdown from the Patriots, the Jets will need to rebound in a big way against Pittsburgh.

Welcome back

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger admitted he was "shocked" when WR Santonio Holmes, left, was traded in April — to the Jets, no less — for a fifth-round draft pick.

Holmes, who played a huge role in Pittsburgh's Super Bowl win after the 2008 season at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, will likely have a lot of emotions in his return to Heinz Field today. "It's been on my mind for quite some time," Holmes told the New York Post. "Now I get a chance to play against these guys I played with for four years. Now it's definitely time to show these guys, 'Why did they let me go?' "

Said Jets LB Bart Scott: "I'd be ready to put it in their face and shove it down their throat."

QB Peyton Manning and the Colts haven't had many "must-win" regular-season games in the past decade.

When you've owned the AFC South and made the playoffs an NFL-best eight consecutive years, those pivotal games come in January.

But when Indianapolis (7-6) hosts Jacksonville (8-5) today, there will be big implications, including inside track on the division title and a home playoff game. "I think every time they play us, it's like their Super Bowl," Colts LB Tyjuan Hagler told the Indianapolis Star.

Thirteen of the teams' 17 meetings since 2002 have been decided by seven points or fewer, including the Jaguars' 31-28 win Oct. 3. But it's the Colts who have won six division titles in eight seasons to Jacksonville's none.

"They're like they're our little brother right now. They want to be the big brother," Colts RB Dominic Rhodes told the Star. "You get that thing going on, there's a lot of competition. They don't like us. We don't like them."

Excuse the Jaguars for wanting a little respect. "Everybody keeps saying Indy, Indy," Jacksonville LB Kirk Morrison told the Florida Times-Union. "What about us? What about the Jacksonville Jaguars? What about us going out and executing and holding everything we want in our own hands?"

"You can't sit back and hope Indy loses," Jaguars DT Terrance Knighton said. "We've got to take it. To be the champs, you've got to beat the champs."

Stat of the week

The Bears might be in good position in the NFC playoff race, atop the NFC North (despite getting blown out by the Patriots last week). But according to a statistical index unveiled Tuesday, Chicago boasts the worst pass protection in the league.

The Chicago Sun-Times referred to Northbook-based STATS, a New York Life Protection Index that measures pass protection with a formula that includes length of a team's pass attempts, penalties by offensive linemen and number of times the quarterback is knocked down or hurried. The top five teams in the index are among the top two teams in their divisions. The Colts rank No. 1 at 90.6, with the Bears at the bottom (29.6).

NFL news and notes, Week 15 12/18/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 18, 2010 5:26pm]

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