New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin is sticking with Bill Sheridan as his defensive coordinator. Hours after the defense gave another pitiful performance in a 45-38 loss to the NFC East-leading Eagles, Coughlin yesterday gave Sheridan a vote of confidence, saying he was satisfied with the game plans developed by his rookie coordinator.

"I am disappointed in the results, obviously," Coughlin said after the Giants (7-6) lost for the sixth time in eight games.

The slump has dropped New York a game behind Dallas (8-5) in the race for the final wild-card berth, and much of it can be traced to the play of the defense.

After getting off to a 5-0 start, the defense has given up an average of more than 32 points in its past eight games, including three games where the opposition has scored 40 or more points.

Noteworthy

* New England coach Bill Belichick fired back at two Carolina defenders who criticized the effort of wide receiver Randy Moss.

Belichick, who rarely rips opponents, said, "My response would be that's a lot of conversation coming from a team that just lost another game."

After Moss had just one catch for 16 yards in the Patriots' win over the Panthers Sunday, cornerback Chris Gamble and safety Chris Harris said Moss, who had a reputation for going less than full speed with Minnesota and Oakland when those teams struggled, didn't go all out during the game.

* Dallas coach Wade Phillips said linebacker DeMarcus Ware could play Saturday night at New Orleans, an encouraging sign after a scary headfirst collision that left him sprawled on the field for several anxious minutes during Sunday's loss to San Diego. Ware was treated and released at a hospital. The Cowboys described Ware's injury as a strained muscle in his neck.

* Tennessee's Vince Young has had a variety of tests on his right hamstring, and coach Jeff Fisher called it a mild strain that will keep the quarterback day-to-day. Young pulled up at the end of a 44-yard run, the longest of his career, during Sunday's win over St. Louis.

* The Jets said injured quarterback Mark Sanchez (right knee), who sat out Sunday's win over Tampa Bay, will practice this week. Coach Rex Ryan is uncertain what the rookie's status will be for the weekend's game against Atlanta. Sanchez didn't practice last week after being injured in the team's win over Buffalo in Toronto on Dec. 3.

* St. Louis guard Jacob Bell could miss the rest of the season after tearing a hamstring late in Sunday's loss at Tennessee. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said the injury will not require surgery but hinted Bell could be placed on injured reserve.

* Denver has lost rookie safety/special teamer Darcel McBath for the season with a broken right forearm, suffered during Sunday's loss to Indianapolis.

* Green Bay agreed to a 4-year, $21 million extension with linebacker Brandon Chillar.

* Cleveland coach Eric Mangini said he might use Josh Cribbs at running back in the future. Cribbs already returns kickoffs and punts, plays gunner on special teams, lines up at wide receiver and as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation.

* Oakland quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is doubtful for this weekend's game against Denver because of sprained ligaments in both knees. JaMarcus Russell replaced Gradkowski in the second half of Sunday's loss to Washington and was sacked six times.

* A federal appeals court rejected an NFL request to reconsider its decision in a high-profile sports labor case involving two Minnesota Vikings accused of violating the league's anti-doping policy.

In a split decision, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the NFL's request for a rehearing before either the full appeals court or the same three-judge panel that ruled against the league in September in the case of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Four of the court's 11 judges dissented.

The Williamses, who are not related, tested positive in 2008 for the diuretic bumetanide, which the NFL bans because it can mask the presence of steroids. The defensive tackles acknowledge taking a weight- loss supplement that did not state on the label that it contained the banned drug. The league has been trying without success to suspend them for four games each because its no-tolerance policy holds players responsible for what they put in their bodies.