- Associated Press - Monday, December 19, 2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears receiver Johnny Knox will miss the rest of the season after undergoing back surgery Monday.

Coach Lovie Smith confirmed that Knox would not play again this year. He was taken from the field on a cart early in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Smith says the surgery to stabilize a vetebra in his lower to mid back started Monday morning and was not finished as of midday.

The injury is not considered career-threatening.

After Knox caught a pass, Kam Chancellor poked the ball out of his hands, and as Knox made a diving attempt to retrieve it, he was hit by Anthony Hargrove and bent backward. Smith says it was “an unfortunate play” but not a dirty one.

Carter’s injury big blow to Patriots‘ defense

DENVER — New England defensive end Andre Carter likely will need surgery on his quad, which he injured in Sunday’s victory at Denver. If Carter has surgery, his season probably would be over.

Carter, who has 10 sacks, was injured attempting to tackle Broncos running back Lance Ball during the Patriots‘ 41-23 win.

The 11-year veteran is one of the top tacklers on New England’s banged-up defense. The Patriots already were missing linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) and safety Patrick Chung (foot).

Chargers keep hopes alive with rout of Ravens

SAN DIEGO — Philip Rivers threw for one score and reached the 4,000-yard mark for the fourth straight season, Ryan Mathews ran for two scores and hit 1,000 yards rushing, and the San Diego Chargers kept their slim postseason hopes alive with a 34-14 victory against the playoff-bound Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.

The Chargers (7-7) neutralized Baltimore’s normally ferocious defense, which got Ray Lewis back after a four-game injury absence, and scored on six of their first seven possessions. San Diego is tied with Oakland, a game behind Denver with two to play. San Diego has won three straight after a six-game losing streak.

The Ravens (10-4) saw their four-game winning streak snapped, but clinched a playoff berth earlier in the day thanks to losses by the New York Jets, Oakland and Tennessee.

Around the league

JETS: New York running back-kickoff returner Joe McKnight has a separated right shoulder, a person with knowledge of the injury said. McKnight was hurt in Sunday’s 45-19 loss at Philadelphia. McKnight is the team’s third-string running back, but as a kickoff returner he is averaging 32.3 yards a return, best in the league, and has a 107-yard touchdown.

BROWNS: Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy has not yet been medically cleared to resume practice following a concussion, and it remains unclear if he will play again this season. Coach Pat Shurmur said McCoy remains day-to-day…. Wide receiver Jordan Norwood sustained a concussion on Sunday, at least the 11th reported head injury for the Browns this season.

VIKINGS: Minnesota left guard Steve Hutchinson is recovering from a concussion. Hutchinson was hurt Sunday against New Orleans. Hutchinson has started every game in nine of his 11 NFL seasons. He missed 12 games because of a broken leg in 2002 and the last five games of last year with a thumb injury.

FALCONS: Coach Mike Smith said his doctors have a plan to address the discomfort that caused him to be examined in a Charlotte, N.C., hospital following the Falcons’ win over the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 11. The coach did not make the team flight back to Atlanta from Charlotte. He was at the Falcons’ practice the following day and on the sideline for Atlanta’s home win over Jacksonville on Thursday night.

TELEVISION: The highly anticipated matchup between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow helped draw the second-best preliminary television rating for a regular-season NFL game on CBS since the network acquired the AFC package in 1998. The New England Patriots‘ 41-23 win over the Denver Broncos led to a 19.5 overnight rating and 36 share for CBS’s NFL coverage Sunday. Only the Nov. 4, 2007, games highlighted by a meeting of two undefeated teams, the Patriots and Colts, had a higher rating in the last 14 seasons on the network with a 22.5/39.

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