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AFC North and NFL Roundup: Week of Dec. 24-28


Friday, Dec. 28

!Steelers Choose Miller As MVP
As the Steelers head into their season finale this weekend, the team chose injured tight end Heath Miller as the team's MVP. Miller's season ended last week when he suffered a knee injury, but the veteran tight end had the best season of his career and was a bright spot in Pittsburgh's offense. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

!**Gipson: Nothing Meaningless About Sunday's Game**
The Browns wrap up the season this weekend in Pittsburgh, ending another losing season for the franchise. While the game doesn't have playoff implications for either team, Browns safety Tashaun Gipson emphasized that the game is far from meaningless for the young players on the roster.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

!Geathers: I'd Love To Be Back 
Veteran defensive lineman Robert Geathers is heading into this weekend's game at Paul Brown Stadium knowing that it could be his final game in Cincinnati. Geathers is in the final year of his contract, and his time in Cincinnati could be coming to a close. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

!**Newton Fined For Coonduct Toward Official**
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has reportedly been fined $21,000 for abusive conduct toward a game official. Newton shouted at and bumped referee Jerome Boger in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 17-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday. [] Thursday, Dec. 27

!Roethlisberger Can't Explain Dropoff In Late Rallies
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the best in the NFL over his career at rallying his team to late victories. The two-time Super Bowl champion has a knack for dramatic comebacks, but this year Roethlisberger and the Steelers have fallen short on late drives. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

!**McCoy Has Injured Shoulder**
Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy came into last week's game when Brandon Weeden went down with an injury, but now McCoy is also hurt. McCoy suffered a sprained shoulder on a sack and his status for the season finale is up in the air.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

!Lewis Still Confident In Kirkpatrick's Career 
The rookie season for Bengals first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has been a disappointment, as the Alabama product was hobbled by a knee injury. Kirkpatrick was placed on injured reserve this week, but Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis is still confident that the cornerback has a bright future ahead of him. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

!**Tebow Inisists He Never Asked Out Of Wildcat**
The New York Jets string of anonymous quotes has continued in recent days, with some players saying that backup quarterback Tim Tebow asked out of his wildcat quarterback duties after learning he wasn't getting a chance to start. Tebow denied those reports and said he never asked out of any role. [] Wednesday, Dec. 26

!Only Pride On The Line In Finale
The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in an unusual situation this week, as their Week 17 game against the Browns is for nothing more than bragging rights. Head Coach Mike Tomlin said this week that playing for pride is still significant. "We take pride in our opportunity to come together and compete again as the 2012 Steelers," he said. "To perform for our fans, to perform for them at Heinz Field." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

!**Browns Prepare To Face Steelers**
The Cleveland Browns are set to close the season on the road against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The game won't have any meaning behind pride and draft position, but it could also be the final game for Head Coach Pat Shurmur, who is reportedly on the hot seat.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

!Kirkpatrick Heads To Injured Reserve 
A disappointing rookie campaign for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick came to a close this week, as the Bengals put the first-round pick on injured reserve. Kirkpatrick has been hobbled by a knee injury since before training camp and the injury did not show signs of improving before the end of the season. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

!**Pagano Back With Colts After Treatment**
The Indianapolis Colts received an emotional boost this week when Head Coach Chuck Pagano returned to work after undergoing treatment for leukemia. Pagano has missed the last 12 weeks of the season, but his Colts team is headed to the playoffs and he is thrilled to be back at work for the postseason run. [] Monday, Dec. 24

!Steelers Lose, Playoff Hopes Dashed
The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10 yesterday, dropping the Steelers to 7-8 on the season and ending their hopes of making the playoffs. The Steelers couldn't capitalize on turnovers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a late interception to set up the game-winning field goal for the Bengals. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

!**Cribbs Lashes Out On Twitter**
The Browns dropped their second straight game Sunday, losing to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The 34-12 loss is the most recent defeat in what has been another frustrating season in Cleveland, and after the game receiver Josh Cribbs lashed out at critical fans on Twitter.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

!Bengals Clinch Playoff Spot 
The Cincinnati Bengals are headed back to the playoffs for the second straight season after beating the Steelers Sunday. This will mark the first time under Head Coach Marvin Lewis that the Bengals have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.  [Cincinnati Enquirer]

!**AFC Playoff Teams Set**
The six teams from the AFC to make the playoffs have been set, as the Texans, Broncos, Patriots, Ravens, Colts and Bengals are headed to the postseason. The seeding is still up in the air, and the 1-4 seeds will be determined  based on the results of the final week of the season. []

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