National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

No. 14 Louisville dismisses F Behanan from team

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville dismissed junior forward Chane Behanan from the team on Monday for another violation of university policy.

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino did not specify what rule was broken but expressed disappointment that the 6-foot-6 forward had another setback just a month after being reinstated from a 26-day suspension for violating school policy. The coach said Behanan and the Cardinals (11-2) were informed of the decision on Monday morning.

Behanan was a key member of Louisville's national championship squad and was named to the Final Four all-tournament team. He had averaged 8.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and shot 67 percent from the field in 11 games this season backing up sophomore power forward Montrezl Harrell.

Pitino said "away from the lines he just did not do the right things. ... It sets our basketball team back immensely."

Behanan went scoreless with seven rebounds in Saturday's 73-66 loss to No. 15 Kentucky. The Cincinnati native averaged 9.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during his Louisville career.

"I want to apologize for letting down my family, teammates, coaches, (athletic director) Tom Jurich, this university and the Louisville fans," Behanan said in a statement released by the school.

Behanan's exit leaves the Cardinals thin in the frontcourt entering Tuesday night's American Athletic Conference opener at Central Florida and jeopardizes their hopes of repeating as champions.

After 6-8 Harrell, 6-5 junior small forward Wayne Blackshear and 6-10 redshirt freshman center Mangok Mathiang, Louisville's bench consists of 6-6 perimeter threat Luke Hancock; 6-9 senior reserve Stephan Van Treese; and 6-8 freshman Akoy Agau. On top of losing Behanan, Pitino also suggested that junior guard Kevin Ware could be redshirted after struggling to come back from last year's devastating leg injury sustained in the Midwest regional final against Duke.

Louisville's frontcourt problems were exposed by Kentucky, which outrebounded the Cardinals 44-36 and outscored them 42-24 in the paint. Behanan missed all three shot attempts and committed three turnovers in the game, and Pitino suggested he might have been distracted "because he knew without us knowing the hammer was about to fall."

Louisville's challenge now is avoiding further collapse without Behanan.

"Our front court, It's obvious from the North Carolina (loss) as well as the Kentucky game is the weak part of our basketball team right now," Pitino said. "Now, we have to jump up on the fly and play a very good Central Florida team on the road that presents a lot of problems up front. They are a team that shoots the 3(-pointer) great.

"Rebounding has been a problem for us from the beginning of the year, anyway. Now you're going to have to try to play a freshman, Agau. ... A lot of things we have to do, but we have no time to do it right now. We have to do it on the fly."

Behanan's dismissal ends a tumultuous early season for him. He was coming off the bench after starting 37 of 39 games during the Cardinals' title run last year.

Pitino announced on Oct. 17 that Behanan was suspended indefinitely following the unspecified violation. He was reinstated on Nov. 11 and returned the next day against Hofstra after meeting conditions that surprised his coach.

However, troubles continued to follow Behanan.

After returning from his suspension, Behanan's name came up again after his 2012 Final Four ring turned up for sale on a sports memorabilia late last month. The player's mother said he gave the jewelry to his grandmother and that it had been stolen from her home without her or Behanan's knowledge.

The website quickly removed the ring and returned it to the family. A university and police investigation later cleared Behanan from any involvement in the process.

Since then Behanan had been trying to regain the aggressive form that helped lead Louisville to its third NCAA title. He posted season highs of 13 points and 12 rebounds in his second game back against Cornell on Nov. 15 but now must choose between transferring to another school or turning professional.

Said Pitino, "I'm just worried about his future. I want him to overcome his problems and be successful in life."

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AP Freelance Writer J.J. Hysell in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.

Duke's Cutcliffe is Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year

ATLANTA (AP) David Cutcliffe, who led Duke to its first 10-win season and spot in the ACC championship game, was named the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year on Monday.

Eight former coach of the year winners attended the announcement: Bill Curry, Fisher DeBerry, Vince Dooley, Ralph Friedgen, Fred Goldsmith, Jim Grobe, Ken Hatfield and Dick Sheridan.

"There are a lot of great parts of this," Cutcliffe said. "I would have to say the greatest part is being on stage with men like these coaches.

"This is the most meaningful thing that has happened to me. When these gentlemen walked into the room, the meaning of the Bobby Dodd Award just took hold of me."

Cutcliffe's No. 22 Blue Devils will play No. 20 Texas A&M in Tuesday night's Chick-fil-A Bowl. This is the first time Duke will play in back-to-back bowl games. Duke is playing for its first bowl win since 1961.

Kansas State's Bill Snyder won the 2012 award, named for the former longtime Georgia Tech coach.

Cutcliffe also has been named the Walter Camp and Maxwell Award coach of the year honors this year.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl is taking over management of the Bobby Dodd Award in 2014 and arranged a dinner for the former winners.

"We aim to make this similar to the Heisman Trophy for players," said Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan. "We want this to be the Heisman Trophy for coaches."

Redskins fire coach Shanahan after 3-13 season

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Mike Shanahan's plan to restore order, professionalism and consistent success to the Washington Redskins disintegrated quickly in 2013, costing him his job Monday a day after the team finished a 3-13 season.

Shanahan was fired after a morning meeting with owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen at Redskins Park, a formality expected for several weeks as the losses mounted and tension rose among Shanahan, Snyder and franchise player Robert Griffin III.

Shanahan went 24-40 in four seasons in Washington and had one year remaining on his five-year, $35 million contract.

Snyder will now be seeking his eighth head coach for his 16th season as an NFL owner - a span that includes just four winning seasons, two playoff victories and seven last-place finishes in the NFC East.

"Redskins fans deserve a better result," Snyder said in a statement. "We thank Mike for his efforts on behalf of the Redskins. We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to continue to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs."

Shortly after his meeting with Snyder, Shanahan made a five-minute statement thanking fans, players, reporters and Snyder. Shanahan did not take questions, and he defended his efforts in rebuilding the Redskins while repeating his assertion that an NFL-levied salary cap penalty hindered his ability to improve the roster even more.

"We're better off today than we were four years ago," Shanahan said.

Shanahan's career regular-season record is 170-138 over 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos and Redskins, but his two worst years have come in Washington - 5-11 in 2011 and this year's 3-13. He captured Super Bowls titles with quarterback John Elway and the Broncos after the 1997 and 1998 seasons, but he won only one playoff game over his final 10 years in Denver and was fired after the 2008 season.

The selection of Heisman Trophy winner Griffin with the No. 2 overall draft pick and a season-ending seven-game winning streak propelled the Redskins to 10-6 record in 2012, their first division title in 13 years.

But Griffin was injured in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks and required major knee surgery days later, setting the stage for a year of conflict as the quarterback vowed to return in record time and felt empowered enough to openly challenge some of his Shanahan's decisions.

Griffin returned for Week 1 of the regular season - just as he said he would - but he wasn't the same dynamic player who won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012.

The Redskins also struggled on defense and special teams, with Shanahan repeatedly citing the handicap of the two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the league for the way Washington restructured contracts during the uncapped year of 2010.

Shanahan eventually benched Griffin for the final three games of the season. Even though Griffin was medically cleared to play, the coach said the move was best for the organization because it was important for the quarterback's development that he be healthy for the upcoming offseason. Griffin was clearly unhappy with the decision.

Snyder's search for a new coach presents plenty of intrigue. He's tried nearly every angle: the hot college coach with no NFL experience (Steve Spurrier), the franchise icon (Joe Gibbs), the promising youngish coordinator (Jim Zorn) and the established demand-control-over-everything big names (Marty Schottenheimer and Shanahan).

Snyder's hands-on reputation and history of developing close relationships with star players have made candidates wary of the job, and his ties with Griffin did nothing to help matters this year.

"We are going to take a smart, step-by-step approach to finding the right coach to return the Redskins to where we believe we should be," Allen said. "We will analyze accurately and honestly all of the decisions that were made over the past year."

Shanahan demanded - and received - contractual control over all football matters when he joined the Redskins, and he repeatedly emphasized the need to run a disciplined organization with a sense of decorum. Snyder met Shanahan's requests to upgrade the Redskins Park facility, spending millions on a new practice bubble and other amenities.

Shanahan weeded out the disgruntled players - most notably Albert Haynesworth - but ultimately was unable to stymie what he called the "circus atmosphere" that has permeated the Redskins under Snyder.

Leaks, rumors and power struggles were just as bad as before, as were the losses. The Redskins' 2013 record was their worst since 1994, and the season-ending eight-game losing streak is their longest in more than 50 years. Shanahan leaves with the same regular-season winning percentage (.375) in Washington as Spurrier and Zorn.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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NFL says officials erred on KC's missed field goal

SAN DIEGO (AP) The NFL says referees erred in not penalizing the San Diego Chargers for an illegal formation on a missed 41-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop of the Kansas City Chiefs with four seconds left in regulation on Sunday.

Succop was wide right on the kick, and the Chargers went on to win 27-24 in overtime to claim the AFC's final playoff spot.

The NFL says in a statement released Monday that had the penalty been assessed by referee Bill Leavy's crew and the ball moved up 5 yards, it would have allowed the Chiefs to attempt a 36-yard field goal.

San Diego lined up with seven men on one side of the snapper. The rule says no more than six players can be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper.

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Eagles beat Cowboys 24-22 to take NFC East title

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 131 yards and a receiving score and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 in a win-or-go-home game for the NFC East title Sunday night.

The Cowboys (8-8), with Kyle Orton filling in two days after Tony Romo had back surgery, lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year.

The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans a wild-card game Saturday night.

Dallas trailed 24-16 when Orton threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Orton went back to Bryant for the 2-point conversion, but Cary Williams dove to punch the ball away.

The Cowboys got another chance with a stop from their beleaguered defense, but Orton's pass was intercepted by Brandon Boykin on the first play to seal the win.

McCoy finished with 1,607 yards.

Browns fire coach Rob Chudzinski

CLEVELAND (AP) Rob Chudzinski didn't even get a full year to fix the dreadful Browns.

Cleveland's front office fired Chudzinski on Sunday night following his first season, which started promising but ended with a seven-game losing streak and a 4-12 record.

Chudzinski had only been in place since Jan. 11, when the Ohio native and lifelong Browns fan was hired for his dream position by owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner. The Browns were 4-5 after a win over Baltimore on Nov. 3, but they collapsed in the final two months, blowing several late leads and the organization decided to cut ties before heading into a second season with Chudzinski.

"We appreciate Chud's passion for the Browns, and we have great respect for him both personally and professionally," the team said in a statement not attributed to any person. "We needed to see progress with this football team. We needed to see development and improvement as the season evolved and, unfortunately, we took a concerning step backward in the second half of the year.

"Our fans deserve to see a consistently competitive team. We have high standards, and there's an urgency for success. When we believed we were not positioned to achieve significant progress in 2014, we knew we had to admit that a change was needed, and move forward. Browns fans are the most loyal and passionate supporters in the NFL. We're fully committed to bringing them the winning football team they deserve."

The Browns scheduled a 12:30 p.m. news conference on Monday to explain Chudzinski's shocking dismissal.

Cleveland ended its sixth straight double-digit lost season with a 20-7 loss in Pittsburgh. Although the Browns dropped 10 of their last 11, players were united in support for Chudzinski and were stunned to hear his job was in jeopardy.

"I think he's done a good job," Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said, "and if you fire coaches after one bad season, it's not like we won the Super Bowl last year, and we were coming back with the same offense. We had tremendous changes philosophy-wise, offense, defense, and so many different players that we brought it. To get that consistent winning is by having consistency in the coaching staff and the philosophy of management, to me, that's how you become a winner.

"I'd just be really surprised."

Chudzinski had plenty to deal with as a rookie coach, including an unsettled quarterback situation as the Browns were forced to use three starters because of injuries. The team also traded running back Trent Richardson and never adequately replaced him. The Browns didn't give Chudzinski much help in the draft as No. 6 overall pick, linebacker Barkevious Mingo had a disappointing season.

So, the Browns, who have made the playoffs just once since 1999, will embark on yet another coaching search. They've gone through four coaches in the past six years and their next hire will be their seventh full-time coach since their expansion rebirth.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

NFL Leaders: Manning tops in passing yards and TDs

With one stellar half, Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing. He finished the season with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes both records.

LeSean McCoy had the rushing title wrapped up before the Eagles faced the Cowboys on Sunday night for a spot in the postseason. Coming into the game, McCoy had a 189-yard lead on Jamal Charles, who sat out the Chiefs' final regular-season game.

Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon finished with an NFL-high 1,646 yards receiving, a first for the franchise. Washington's Pierre Garcon led with 113 receptions.

Indianapolis' Robert Mathis finished with a half-sack more than Robert Quinn of St. Louis. Mathis joined Dwight Freeney as Indy's only sacks champions.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Former F1 driver Schumacher in critical condition

PARIS (AP) Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery following a skiing accident in the French Alps on Sunday, doctors said.

The Grenoble University Hospital Center said the retired racing driver arrived at the clinic in a coma and underwent immediate surgery for a serious head trauma.

It was not clear whether the 44-year-old Schumacher was still in a coma but the hospital statement, which was signed by a neurosurgeon, an anesthesiologist and Marc Penaud, the hospital's deputy director, said "he remains in a critical condition."

Schumacher fell while skiing off-piste in Meribel earlier Sunday and hit his head on a rock, according to a statement from the resort. Resort managers said he had been wearing a helmet and was conscious when rescuers first responded to the scene.

Earlier in the day, the Meribel resort said Schumacher had been taken to Grenoble for tests and authorities said his life was not in danger.

But the situation began to appear more serious when the resort said that orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gerard Saillant had traveled from Paris to the hospital in Grenoble to examine Schumacher. German news agency dpa said it was Saillant who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999.

In an email to The Associated Press, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm said the champion German driver was on a private skiing trip and "fell on his head."

"We ask for understanding that we cannot give running updates on his condition. He wore a helmet and was not alone," Kehm said. Schumacher's 14-year-old son was skiing with his father when the accident happened, the resort said.

As news of the accident spread, Formula One drivers used social media to wish Schumacher a quick recovery.

His former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, who recovered from life-threatening injuries sustained at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009, wrote on Instagram: "I am praying for you my brother!! I hope you have a quick recovery!! God bless you Michael."

The Twitter feed of Germany's Adrian Sutil, who drives for Sauber, read: "I hope Michael Schumacher will get well soon! All my best to him and his family." Romain Grosjean of Lotus tweeted: "All our thoughts to Schumi and his family! Hope you will recover soon (hash)legend (hash)Schumi."

Support also came from leading German sports personalities, ranging from the NBA to soccer. Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki said his thoughts were with Schumacher, while Lukas Podolski, who plays for Arsenal in the English Premier League, tweeted: "Bad news from Switzerland: please get well soon, Michael Schumacher. All the best for you, my friend! (hash)getwellsoon (hash)MichaelSchumacher."

In addition to the crash at Silverstone, Schumacher was hurt seriously in a motorcycling accident in February 2009 in Spain when he suffered neck and spine injuries. He recovered sufficiently from those injuries to make a comeback in F1.

Schumacher initially retired from F1 in 2006 after winning five straight titles with Ferrari following two earlier ones with Benetton. He returned to the sport in 2010 and drove for three seasons for Mercedes without much success before retiring again last year.

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Moulson reported from Berlin. AP Sports Writer Nesha Starcevic in Frankfurt contributed to this report.

Chargers claim final AFC playoff spot with OT win

SAN DIEGO (AP) Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime and the San Diego Chargers, who trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, beat the Kansas Chiefs 27-24 to claim the AFC's final playoff spot.

The Chargers (9-7) ended a three-year postseason drought. The winning drive was kept alive by a 2-yard gain by Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle on a fake punt on fourth-and-2 from the Chargers 28. The game ended when Kansas City couldn't convert on fourth-and-15 from the San Diego 41 with 3:16 left.

With the Chargers on the verge of an embarrassing collapse against a team resting 20 of 22 starters, Philip Rivers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal early in the fourth quarter and Novak kicked a 22-yard field goal to tie it.

Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop was wide right on a potential game-winning, 41-yard field goal try with 4 seconds left in regulation.

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Seahawks clinch top seed with 27-9 win over Rams

SEATTLE (AP) Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seattle Seahawks clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 27-9 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Seattle (13-3) matched the franchise record for wins in a season and finally wrapped up the No. 1 seed after failing in two previous attempts, including last week's loss to Arizona that snapped a 14-game home winning streak.

Smith's interception was the start of a dominant performance by the Seahawks defense that held St. Louis under 100 yards of total offense into the fourth quarter.

The defensive effort and a lack of discipline from the Rams (7-9) helped Seattle's offense do just enough. Russell Wilson threw a 47-yard TD pass to Golden Tate, and Lynch finished with 97 yards rushing.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Saints make playoffs with 42-17 win over Bucs

NEW ORLEANS (AP) One more time, Drew Brees and the Saints proved how tough they are to hang with in the Big Easy.

If they want to go anywhere in the playoffs, though, they'll have to do so on the road.

Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans clinched a wild-card spot with a 42-17 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Three of Brees' scoring strikes were longer than 40 yards - 76 to Kenny Stills, 44 to Lance Moore and 41 to Robert Meachem. Brees passed for 381 yards, eclipsing 5,000 yards in a season for an unprecedented fourth time. He finished the season with 5,162 yards to go with 39 touchdowns.

Brees' other TD was a 10-yard pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, and the Saints (11-5) finished 8-0 in the Superdome.

Mike Glennon passed for 219 yards and two TDs for Tampa Bay (4-12). With doubts swirling about the future of second-year Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, the Bucs closed the season with losses in their last three games, and four of their last five.

The Saints were 3-5 outside the Superdome this season, and had lost three of their previous four games to set up a season finale they needed to win to assure themselves of a playoff spot. With Sunday's victory, they got back to the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons, the lone exception being scandal-plagued 2012, when coach Sean Payton was suspended the entire season in connection with the NFL's bounty probe.

They'll open the playoffs next weekend at Sunday night's winner between Philadelphia and Dallas.

Schiano, meanwhile, coached like he had nothing to lose, trying a fake field goal and going for it several times on fourth down, converting one of three.

In the end, his team was overmatched, outgained 468 yards to 290.

Glennon was intercepted by Keenan Lewis, setting up Brees' 9-yard touchdown run.

Pierre Thomas also scored on an 8-yard run.

Brees was 17 of 21 for 321 yards in the first half, when he threw all four of his scoring passes and took a perfect 158.3 passer rating into the locker room. His final line was 24 of 31 for 381 yards, no interceptions and a rating of 157.4.

The Saints opened with an 80-yard scoring drive, but not before being faced with their first significant decision. Facing fourth-and-1 on the Bucs 46, Payton kept the offense on the field and fullback Jed Collins converted. On the next play, Brees found Moore deep down the middle to make it 7-0.

It marked the first time in 11 games the Saints had scored on their opening possession, but that lead didn't last long.

Tampa Bay responded on its first series with a flea-flicker that went for a 48-yard touchdown to Tiquan Underwood, who was wide open after safety Malcom Jenkins was drawn in by the handoff to Bobby Rainey.

New Orleans took the lead right back with another 80-yard drive, that one highlighted by Graham's 33-yard reception, Darren Sproles' 24-yard gain on a screen pass and Graham's 10-yard TD catch, the Pro Bowl tight end's team-leading 16th score of the season.

Brees went over the 5,000-yard mark for the fourth time in his career in style, hitting Robert Meachem deep down the sideline for a 41-yard score that made it 21-7 in the second quarter.

Glennon's 1-yard pass to Ti Wright in the corner of the end zone cut it to 21-14, but Graham's score, his team-leading 16th of the season, made it 28-14, and the Bucs did not threaten again.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Rodgers, Cobb lead Packers over Bears, 33-28

CHICAGO (AP) Aaron Rodgers fired a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 33-28 to capture the NFC North championship.

Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide open Cobb on fourth-and-8 at the 48 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.

Green Bay will host San Francisco next weekend.

The Bears had one final drive, but Jay Cutler's deep pass to Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Sam Shields on the final play.

That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Jets owner says coach Rex Ryan will return

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Rex Ryan is staying put as coach of the New York Jets.

Owner Woody Johnson announced after the team's 20-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday that Ryan, who has one year remaining on his contract, will return next season. The decision ended several weeks of speculation surrounding the fate of the popular coach.

It was not immediately clear if Ryan will coach through his existing deal or be given a contract extension. Neither Johnson nor general manager John Idzik would discuss details related to Ryan's contract.

Ryan's job status was uncertain heading into the regular-season finale at Miami since the Jets have gone three straight years without a playoff appearance. It was also speculated Idzik could want to hire his own coach heading into his second season on the job.

It was an unusual setup, with Johnson choosing last January to retain Ryan despite firing general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Johnson hired Idzik to replace Tannenbaum, with the condition that Ryan remain as coach.

Neither Johnson nor Idzik previously commented on the situation, and Ryan said he hadn't heard what his fate would be.

Ryan appeared loose after his final regular-season practice Friday - looking like anything but someone on the verge of losing his job. Then his team beat its division rival Sunday.

The Jets opened 5-4 and as one of the NFL's most surprising teams led by rookie quarterback Geno Smith heading into their bye week. But they set an NFL record by alternating wins and losses through their first 10 games. A three-game skid sent New York from controlling its playoff fate to barely in the postseason picture.

After the Jets were eliminated a few weeks ago, there were serious questions whether Ryan would be retained.

Ryan received overwhelming support from fans, players and ex-players taking to social media to state their case why he should stay. Ryan received a Gatorade bath on the sideline after the win Sunday.

One fan started an online petition urging Johnson to save Ryan's job, and it received nearly 500 signatures. Many reporters and columnists were also in favor of Ryan getting another chance, in light of the coach far exceeding the grim expectations outside the organization heading into training camp, and managing a break-even record despite injuries to key players throughout the year.

Despite their personalities being opposites - Ryan sometimes brash and humorous, Idzik low-key and buttoned up - a somewhat toned-down Ryan described his relationship with Idzik as "great" several times. The GM also was complimentary of Ryan in his few meetings with the media throughout the season.

Ryan and Idzik will now look forward to building next season's team with plenty of issues to consider, starting with quarterback. The Jets must determine whether Smith can be their quarterback of the future, and whether they'll draft another player to compete with him or sign a proven veteran.

New York will likely part with quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes to save money on the salary cap, and there are several potential key free agents, including right tackle Austin Howard, right guard Willie Colon and kicker Nick Folk.

Expectations were extremely low for this year's team. One major factor was the trade of the Jets' best player - Darrelle Revis - to Tampa Bay, a big blow to Ryan's defense. There was also a dearth of game-changing talent on offense, and an underwhelming yet closely contested quarterback competition between Sanchez and Smith, a second-round draft pick. That was settled only when Sanchez was lost for the year with a shoulder injury in the third preseason game.

New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was forced to try to develop Smith on the fly. After a solid first few games, Smith became a turnover machine before bouncing back in his last four outings of the season, in which the Jets went 3-1 to finish .500.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Panthers clinch NFC South, edge Falcons 21-20

ATLANTA (AP) Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team- record four sacks and the Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South title by beating the Atlanta Falcons 21-20 on Sunday.

The Panthers (12-4) clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Carolina could move up to the No. 1 seed with losses by Seattle and Arizona in late games.

Carolina set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defense also produced a touchdown on Melvin White's 7-yard interception return in the second quarter.

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Bengals eliminate Ravens with 34-17 win

CINCINNATI (AP) Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records on Sunday, leading Cincinnati to a 34-17 victory that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

It was an erratic performance by the third-year quarterback, who threw four interceptions as well. The Bengals (11-5) head into the playoffs as AFC North champions.

The Ravens (8-8) lost their last two games, becoming the 15th Super Bowl champ that failed to reach the playoffs the following season and the sixth in the last 12 years.

In Cincinnati, there's only one thing in mind: finally win a playoff game. The Bengals haven't done that since the 1990 season, tied for the seventh-longest streak of futility in NFL history.

Most of the focus will be on Dalton, who broke Carson Palmer's club records for touchdown passes and yards passing.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Titans beat Texans 16-10, Houston nabs No. 1 pick

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans, who beat the Houston Texans 16-10 Sunday for a win that may help coach Mike Munchak's argument to stay on the job in 2014.

With their 14th straight loss, the Texans (2-14) clinched the No. 1 selection in next May's draft for the next head coach owner Bob McNair hires.

The Titans (7-9) scored 16 straight points in snapping a five-game home skid that was their longest since leaving Houston for Tennessee in 1997. They also won a second straight game for the first time since September, when they started 3-1.

Rob Bironas kicked three field goals, including a season-long 55-yarder. Linebacker Akeem Ayers intercepted a pass and forced a fumble as the Titans got four turnovers they turned into 10 points.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Dodgers talk to Puig after his latest arrest

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Dodgers have told outfielder Yasiel Puig the organization is "very disappointed" with his behavior in the wake of his second arrest this year for reckless driving.

The team issued a statement Sunday that said Puig's behavior "is a very serious issue to us." The Dodgers said they would continue to educate the 23-year-old Cuban defector and strive to further develop his growth off the field.

Puig was arrested Saturday in Naples, Fla., after the Florida Highway Patrol clocked him going 110 mph in a 70-mph zone.

Authorities said Puig was arrested and charged with reckless driving and taken to the Collier County Jail for processing. Puig lives in the Miami area during the offseason.

In April, when he was still in the minors, Puig was charged with reckless driving and speeding after Chattanooga, Tenn., police clocked him going 97 mph in a 50-mph zone. The charges were dismissed in November after Puig completed community service in Los Angeles.

Puig was an instant sensation with the Dodgers last season, batting .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs. He helped them reach the NL championship series, where they lost to St. Louis, and he was runner-up for the Rookie of the Year award.

Puig signed a $42 million, seven-year contract in June 2012, a record for a Cuban defector. He received a $12 million signing bonus and made $2 million last season.

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