Jets linebacker Eric Barton was fined $7,500 by the NFL for his hit on San Diego quarterback Drew Brees in last weekend's playoff game, and said yesterday that he plans to appeal the penalty.
Barton was flagged for roughing the passer after hitting Brees in the head with his forearm and elbow on fourth down. The penalty nearly cost the Jets the game, because San Diego got a fresh set of downs, and Brees threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates one play later to send the game into overtime.
____ The Road to Jacksonville ____ • The Patriots use a tough running game and a physical defense to batter the Colts.
• Michael Wilbon: History should have taught us something.
• The Eagles knock off rust and the Vikings to host third consecutive NFC title game.
• Mike Wise: Could the fourth time finally be the charm for the Eagles?
• Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss fail to capitalize on third-quarter opportunities as Minnesota falls short.
• Notebook: The Eagles' Freddie Mitchell produces an Owens-like performance.
_____ What's Next? _____ NFC Championship Game
• Falcons at Eagles
3 p.m., Sunday; Fox
AFC Championship Game
• Patriots at Steelers
6:30 p.m., Sunday; CBS
_____ On Our Site _____ • Photos
• Talk about the playoffs.
_____ Divisional Results _____ Saturday
• Steelers 20, Jets 17 (OT) | Box
• Falcons 47, Rams 17 | Box
• Eagles 27, Vikings 14 | Box
• Patriots 20, Colts 3 | Box
_____ First-Round Results _____ NFC
• Vikings 31, Packers 17 | Box
• Rams 27, Seahawks 20 | Box
• Colts 49, Broncos 24 | Box
• Jets 20, Chargers 17 (OT) | Box
The Jets ended up winning, 20-17, and will face Pittsburgh tomorrow in the next round of the playoffs.
Barton said earlier this week he did not watch television over the weekend so he could avoid seeing replays of his hit.
"Things like that don't happen too often," Barton said. "I am just grateful to get a second chance this week."
Meanwhile, Jets quarterback Chad Pennington returned to practice, one day after sitting out with a stomach virus.
"It was just a 24-hour virus and everything is fine now," Pennington said.
Quincy Carter was still absent after leaving the team to be with his ill mother in Georgia, and won't be at the game tomorrow. No. 3 quarterback Brooks Bollinger becomes the backup, while former Canadian Football League player Ricky Ray will be the emergency quarterback.
Defensive end John Abraham, listed as questionable with a sprained right knee, also practiced but Jets Coach Herman Edwards said, "I doubt if he plays."
PATRIOTS: The team left the Gillette Stadium grass uncovered through Wednesday's rain and yesterday's fog. With more rain or snow expected today and freezing temperatures for the weekend, the Colts' prolific offense could find the footing funky in Sunday's playoff game.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick knows a cold front may be as critical as his three-man defensive front in slowing down the Colts. But he certainly wouldn't turn the field into an ice rink or a quagmire just to help his team, would he?
"My job is not to pull weeds," he said Wednesday with an innocent-looking smirk.
STEELERS: Linebacker Kendrell Bell missed practice again with the flu and was downgraded to questionable for Pittsburgh's game against the Jets.
"Kendrell's flu is pretty significant," Coach Bill Cowher said. "We'll see where he is in two days."
BILLS: Buffalo granted Travis Henry permission to seek a trade, giving the disgruntled running back a chance to become a starter again after losing his job to Willis McGahee.
Henry, Buffalo's second-round pick in the 2001 draft, was a three-year starter and enjoyed consecutive 1,300-yard rushing seasons in 2002 and 2003 before losing his job to McGahee in October.
PACKERS: President Bob Harlan plans to strip Coach Mike Sherman of his general manager duties and is targeting the Seahawks' Ted Thompson as a replacement, a Green Bay team source said.
Sherman took over GM duties in 2001 after the retirement of Ron Wolf, the architect of Green Bay's revival in the 1990s.
Sherman is 53-27 in the regular season since becoming Packers coach in 2000, but he is only 2-4 in the playoffs, including a first-round loss to the Vikings last weekend.