The finger. The show. The reporter. The knee. The wall. And now, the feet.

Through it all, Jets owner Woody Johnson has stood by his coach and team during this, ahem, interesting and winning year.

"I'm very proud of the organization," Johnson said yesterday. "I think the organization responded very responsibly in every case. The culture that I'm looking for is starting to develop and has developed to the point where the people in this building are able to handle it and be resilient and focused on what our real job is, and that's playing football."

Johnson still had to answer plenty of non-football questions during a 10-4 season in which the Jets are a win away from a second straight playoff berth under Rex Ryan.

His latest defense came a day after the embarrassed coach declined comment about a foot-fetish report posted by the sports website Deadspin.

"I have a lot of respect for Rex and his family," Johnson said. "My respect has not diminished one iota."

The site put up four videos of a woman - who bears a close resemblance to Ryan's wife, Michelle - and shows her displaying her toes to an off-screen cameraman who sounds a lot like the coach. Ryan said Wednesday it was a "personal matter." Johnson thinks it is, too.

"My reaction is, I don't really want to talk about that," he said. "I'm going to respect Rex and how he wanted to characterize it. It's a personal matter, and that's the way it is."

Johnson said he has spoken with Ryan and offered his support.

"He's still the coach of the New York Jets," the owner said.

On the field, the Jets might have to try to clinch a playoff spot without Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan said yesterday that Sanchez's sore shoulder is worse than he first thought, though he still expects the quarterback to start Sunday at Chicago.

Noteworthy

* Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield has been fined $7,500 for a hit on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Monday night. Winfield was notified of the fine yesterday.

* Broncos Pro Bowl linebacker Elvis Dumervil has been cited for assault and disturbing the peace for an alleged run-in with a security guard at Invesco Field. Denver court records show the reported incident happened on Oct. 24, the day the Broncos were blown out 59-14 by the Oakland Raiders.

* Colts running back Joseph Addai expects to return Sunday at Oakland after missing the past eight games with a nerve injury in his left shoulder.

* The Broncos have placed kicker Matt Prater on injured reserve. Prater has missed the last two games with a groin injury.

* The 49ers are going back to Troy Smith as their starting quarterback while leaving open the possibility they might switch to Alex Smith at any time.

* The Seahawks have placed defensive tackle Junior Siavii on injured reserve after he suffered a neck stinger last week against Atlanta.

Last night's game

* At Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger showed off Pittsburgh's deep passing game and the Steelers inched closer to a division title and a first-round playoff bye, beating the Carolina Panthers, 27-3.

Pittsburgh (11-4) will wrap up the AFC North and the bye if it beats Cleveland on Jan. 2. The Browns (5-9) could end the division race even earlier than that if they upset the Ravens (10-4) at home on Sunday.

Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace on a 43-yard scoring play and Emmanuel Sanders on a 35-yard completion to set up Rashard Mendenhall's 1-yard touchdown run as the Steelers opened a 20-0 halftime lead.

It didn't seem that close and it wasn't, not with the Steelers outgaining the Panthers (2-13) by a more than 3-to-1 margin.