TWO-MINUTE DRILL

The best and worst from yesterday's games:

NEWS & NOTES

Reports: Packers Fire Rhodes, Staff

The Packers fired coach Ray Rhodes and his entire staff after the team failed to make the NFL playoffs for the first time in seven years, according to reports last night.

ESPN and WFRV-TV, the CBS affiliate in Green Bay, reported Rhodes's firing. Phones calls by the Associated Press to team president Bob Harlan and GM Ron Wolf were not returned.

Two players, Vonnie Holliday and Anthony Davis, said they were unaware of the report.

ESPN quoted sources as saying Rhodes, in his first season as coach of the Packers, was informed of the decision last night. A win by Dallas over the Giants yesterday eliminated Green Bay (8-8) from postseason contention on a conference tiebreaker.

An official announcement is expected today, ESPN said.

Rhodes replaced Mike Holmgren when he left for Seattle.

Rhodes was fired by Philadelphia after last season.

Gandy Pushes Official

Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Wayne Gandy was ejected for pushing referee Tom White late in yesterday's loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Gandy was quick to dismiss comparisons between his ejection and that of Cleveland Browns tackle Orlando Brown for shoving official Jeff Triplette two weeks before.

"I don't know what to expect from the NFL, but my case was totally different," Gandy said. "I wasn't facing the referee, he just accidentally ran into my arm and I pushed him away. At that point I thought he was one of my teammates and I just pushed and said, `Get away from me.' Then I realized he was a referee."

Coach Bill Cowher called Gandy's actions "flat wrong."

Injury

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Paul Gruber will miss the playoffs after breaking his right leg in a 20-6 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Comings and Goings

New York Jets Coach Bill Parcells, who has hedged on returning next season, said after a season-ending 19-9 victory over Seattle that he will make an almost immediate decision on his future.

"I'm going to think this over real quick," Parcells said after the Jets won their fourth straight to rally from 1-6 and finish 8-8. "We've got imminent changes here in the organization and I have a responsibility to the organization, and I'll adhere to that all the way and do my best to get things squared away very quickly."

BY THE NUMBERS

54

Kickoff temperature yesterday in Chicago, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured their first NFC Central title with a 20-6 victory over the Bears. Tampa Bay is 0-17 when the temperature at kickoff is below 40 degrees.

12

Touchdowns scored this season by Carolina's Wesley Walls, which ties an NFL record for tight ends (three others share the record). Walls had two touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints.