Here's a look around the National Football League and some of the notable performances by Notre Dame alumni:
• Denver reserve safety David Bruton only has four tackles this season, but his interception in a win over Kansas City on Nov. 25 helped the Broncos (10-3) keep what is now an eight-game winning streak intact and clinch an AFC West Division title.
• To make room for kicker Josh Brown, the Cincinnati Bengals waived veteran center Jeff Faine on Dec. 6. The 31 year old started 124 of 125 games played over 10 seasons. Fellow Fighting Irish alumnus Trevor Robinson, who signed with Cincinnati in April as an undrafted rookie free agent, has played in 10 games (five starts) this year for the Bengals, which are 7-6 and tied for second with Pittsburgh behind 9-4 Baltimore in the AFC North Division.
• Miami tight end Anthony Fasano hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass in the Dolphins’ 27-13 loss to San Francisco on Dec. 9. It was Fasano’s first TD reception since Oct. 28. Miami has lost five of its last six games and are 5-8 overall. Fasano has 30 catches for 233 yards and four scores in 13 starts this year.
• Arizona rookie wideout Michael Floyd has registered at least two catches in each of the Cardinals’ last six games, upping his total to 28 snags for 312 yards and a touchdown. But Arizona can’t gain traction in what has been a greased slide since the beginning of October that has resulted in nine consecutive losses and a 4-9 record.
• Houston offensive tackle Ryan Harris barged his way into the starting lineup for the first time this season in a 24-10 victory over Tennessee on Dec. 2. The Texans are in the AFC South Division driver’s seat with an 11-1 record and clinched a wild card berth.
• Offensive guard Eric Olsen, a reserve for New Orleans all season, has started last two games for the Saints (both losses). New Orleans is 5-8 this year.
• Brady Quinn started his third straight game and fifth of the year for the Kansas City Chiefs in a 30-7 loss to Cleveland on Dec. 9. Quinn’s only win as a starter — and the team’s second victory of the season — came a day after the organization was rocked by the news of linebacker Javon Belcher murdering his girlfriend before driving to the team’s practice facility and fatally shooting himself in front of members of the coaching staff. Quinn led a shocked and grievous squad to a 27-21 home victory over Carolina the next day, when he completed 19 of 23 passing attempts for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
• Rookie safety Harrison Smith boosted the Minnesota Vikings in a 21-14 win over Chicago on De. 9 with an interception returned 56 yards for a touchdown. It was Smith’s second pick-six of the season, and the first round draft pick added seven total tackles to improve his total to 81 this season.
• The Jacksonville Jaguars waived tight end Maurice Stovall on Dec. 4. He was signed by Jacksonville in September and appeared in 10 games as a backup tight end and special teams player.
• Golden Tate and the Seattle Seahawks delivered a big blow to the Chicago Bears in a 23-17 win on Dec. 2. Tate finished with five catches for a season-high 96 yards and a touchdown. The following week he caught two passes for six yards in a 58-0 win over Arizona. The Seahawks are 8-5 and trail only 9-3-1 San Francisco in the NFC West. Tate has 37 receptions for 492 yards and seven scores.
• New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck made five total stops in a 52-27 win over New Orleans to help the defending Super Bowl champions improve to 8-5 and remain a game ahead of Washington and Dallas in the NFC East. Tuck’s season totals include 41 tackles and three sacks.
• After being cut by the Washington Redskins, Ryan Grant returned to Green Bay on Dec. 5 after Packers starting running back James Starks, whom Grant split carries with in 2011, went down with a knee injury. Grant spent 2007-11 in Green Bay and was welcomed back with a standing ovation by many players. He rushed once for 13 yards in a 27-20 win over Detroit on Dec. 9. The Packers (94) are a game ahead of Chicago in the NFC North.
Irish In The NFL
Name (Years At Notre Dame) Pos. Current Team
Armando Allen (2007-10) RB Chicago Bears
Jordan Black (1999-2002) OT Washington Redskins
Robert Blanton (2008-11) DB Minnesota Vikings
Sergio Brown (2006-09) S Indianapolis Colts
David Bruton (2005-08) S Denver Broncos
John Carlson (2003-07) TE Minnesota Vikings
Jimmy Clausen (2007-09) QB Carolina Panthers
Jeff Faine (1999-2002) C Free Agent
Anthony Fasano (2002-05) TE Miami Dolphins
Darius Fleming* (2008-11) LB San Francisco 49ers
Michael Floyd (2008-11) WR Arizona Cardinals
Jonas Gray# (2008-11) RB Miami Dolphins
Ryan Grant (2001-04) RB Green Bay Packers
Ryan Harris (2003-06) OT Houston Texans
Robert Hughes (2007-10) RB Indianapolis Colts
J.J. Jansen (2004-07) LS Carolina Panthers
Derek Landri (2002-06) DT Philadelphia Eagles
Trevor Laws* (2003-07) DT St. Louis Rams
Kyle McCarthy* (2005-09) S Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Olsen (2006-09) OL New Orleans Saints
Brady Quinn (2003-06) QB Kansas City Chiefs
Trevor Robinson (2008-11) OG Cincinnati Bengals
Kyle Rudolph (2008-10) TE Minnesota Vikings
Harrison Smith (2007-11) S Minnesota Vikings
Maurice Stovall (2002-06) TE Free Agent
John Sullivan (2003-07) C Minnesota Vikings
Golden Tate (2007-09) WR Seattle Seahawks
Justin Tuck (2001-04) DE New York Giants
Darrin Walls (2006-10) CB New York Jets
Ian Williams (2007-10) DT San Francisco 49ers
Sam Young (2006-09) OT Buffalo Bills
Tom Zbikowski (2003-07) S Indianapolis Colts
^ Practice squad member; * suffered a season-ending injury; #injured reserved