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Spikes honored as community role model

Buffalo Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes was selected as the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner.

The Block award typically is chosen by each team's training staff, and goes to a player who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. The recipient symbolizes professionalism, great strength, dedication and serves as a community role model for others.

Spikes will be honored with 31 other team winners on March 20 in Baltimore.

Spikes came back from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the third game of the 2005 season. "The Comeback" was the theme of Spikes' 10-month rehabilitation period prior to the start of the season. Spikes has started 10 of 15 games. He sat out four games with a hamstring injury.

Off the field, Spikes manages the 51 Ways charity with Giants linebacker Carlos Emmons to support families of children diagnosed with cancer or blood disorders. Spikes also has done charity work with Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo and the Gateway-Longview youth residential facility in Williamsville.

The award is named for Ed Block, former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts from 1954 through 1977.

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Even though Baltimore's Brian Billick made his reputation in the NFL as an offensive coach, the Ravens never have ranked higher than 14th in yards per game in his eight years as head coach. They are 17th this year. The opposite is true in Indianapolis, where defensive coach Tony Dungy leads an offensive juggernaut and a struggling defense.

"I think basically God has a twisted sense of humor to give Dungy the kind of offenses he's had and to give me the kind of defenses I've had," Billick joked. "The football gods are having some fun."

"I learned about two minutes after I took this job that when you're a head coach, you're neither an offensive or defensive coach," Billick said. "You're the head coach and you utilize your resources and your assets as best you can."

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Bills punter Brian Moorman enters the season finale ranked second in the NFL in net punting, with an average of 39.5 yards per punt. No. 1 is Kansas City's Dustin Colquitt at 39.9 yards. No punter has finished a season with a 40-yard net average since the NFL started keeping the statistic in 1976. Colquitt finishes his season in what looks likely to be a bad-weather game, at home against Jacksonville.

Moorman has 85 punts on the year. To get his average up to 40.0, he would need to average 48.2 net yards on five punts against the Ravens. That's not likely. He probably would need one booming, 65- or 70-yard net punt with the wind to have any chance.

The Bills' records for net punting go back to 1965. Moorman set the team record last year at 39.1 yards. That bettered the mark of 38.7 by Paul Maguire that had stood for 40 years, since 1965.

Moorman has a decent chance to set or tie the team record for most punts inside the 20 for a season. He needs two more to equal the mark of 33 set by John Kidd in 1985.

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Why did the NFL change Sunday's game from 1 to 4:15 p.m.? Competitive balance. The Ravens and Colts are vying with each other for a first-round playoff bye. The Colts are playing Miami this week. So the league shifted both the Colts and Ravens games to the 4:15 time slot so that both games still will be relevant for the fans, an NFL spokesman said. This way one team doesn't have an advantage over the other in terms of knowing whether it needs to win.

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It still looks like Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden will sit out with an injured toe. Bills safety Donte Whitner missed practice due to a sore toe and is listed as probable.

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It turns out the Colorado State offense in 1981 was a pretty cerebral group. Bills offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild was the quarterback. The center was Chris Foerster, now the Ravens' offensive line coach and assistant head coach. The tight end was Rick Dennison, who now is offensive line coach of the Denver Broncos.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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