Tackle Fred Miller played with a broken jaw (smashed in a fight with teammate Olin Kreutz), CB Nate Vasher picked off two more passes (six on the year), and Chicago moved to 7-3. Said Vasher after Sunday's 13-3 squashing of the Panthers, "A good Carolina team just got dominated. What does that tell you about the Bears?"
Ohio State football
After a pregame address from ex-Buckeye Eddie George--he said playing Michigan was bigger than the Super Bowl--Ohio State staged a late 13-point rally to stun an Ann Arbor crowd of 111,591 and beat the archrival Wolverines. That's six straight wins for Ohio State (9-2), which covets a BCS bid.
Behind the superb play of unheralded goalie Henrik Lundqvist (left, 2.13 GAA) and top scorer Jaromir Jagr--"He's the director of everything," teammate Peter Prucha told the Daily News--New York's pucksters led the Atlantic.
After a four-TD, zero-interception day that lifted the Chargers to 6-4, Brees (right) has transformed San Diego's once simmering quarterback controversy into a question of Philip who?
From their season's first play from scrimmage (a muffed snap) to Sunday's 27-0 loss in Denver (the first time they've been shut out since 1995), the injury-riddled, 2-8 Jets have gone through five QBs and run aground. Says RB Curtis Martin, "This is like an NFL team's nightmare, what we're going through."
State of Michigan football
No major bowl bids here. Michigan State lost for the sixth time in seven games; Michigan coughed up a home game to, well, see "Hot"; and the state's NFL reps, the Lions, committed 17 penalties in a 20-7 loss to the Cowboys. Shouldn't the state that's hosting the Super Bowl be setting a better example?
Behind the subpar play of much-heralded goalie Roberto Luongo (right, 2.91 GAA) and veterans such as Alexander Karpovtsev and Jozef Stumpel--both have been benched--South Florida's pucksters had lost 11 straight and were last in the Southeast.
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! And eight more like that--'Bama's QB was sacked 11 times in a loss to Auburn. Croyle disliked being "manhandled." Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville? "It was a beautiful sight," he said.
SI PLAYERS POLL
Which is the NFL's classiest organization?
Browns, Ravens 6%
Which is the least classy?
FAST FACTS The Patriots received 16% of the "classiest" vote in their own AFC East; conversely, 53% of their fellow NFC South competitors voted for the Panthers.... The five "classiest" teams here have been to eight Super Bowls since 1997; the four "least classy" have made just two visits.
[ Based on a survey of 357 NFL players ]
For an expanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/Players.
JOHN GRESS/REUTERS (BEAR CHRIS HARRIS)
DAVID BERGMAN (OHIO STATE MASCOT)
BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES (LUNDQVIST)
DENIS POROY/AP (BREES)
DAVID DUROCHIK/SPORTPICS (PATRIOTS OWNER BOB KRAFT)
STEVE JACOBSON (RAIDERS OWNER AL DAVIS)
JOEL AUERBACH/US PRESSWIRE (LUONGO)
BOB BRODBECK/AP (SPARTAN DREW STANTON)
BRIAN BAHR/GETTY IMAGES (JET VINNY TESTAVERDE)