Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron remembers his first college start at Alabama in 2011, especially his two interceptions in a 48-7 win over Kent State.

First starts are unforgettable.

So will be Sunday's game at San Francisco, when the Bengals (10-3) have a chance to clinch their second AFC North title in three years and fifth straight playoff berth. The second-year quarterback gets to make his first NFL start in place of the injured Andy Dalton.

He played a lot last Sunday when Dalton broke his right thumb during a 33-20 loss to the Steelers. McCarron, a two-time national champion at Alabama, threw a pair of interceptions.

McCarron will have a chance to end a long streak of 'Bama futility vs. the 49ers (4-9). No quarterback from Alabama has won an NFL start since Jeff Rutledge in 1987. "That's history," McCarron said.

Fan-friendly touch

The Jets are working on giving their fans a unique experience through cutting-edge technology called "Jets Virtual Sideline."

"Man, it's cool," fan Phil Dinhofer of Merrick, N.Y., said.

The Jets tested it during six home games this season. Wearing headphones and Oculus goggles, fans have a choice of six experiences: running out to the field with the team (the most popular); taking part in the coin toss; being on field for the national anthem; standing on the sideline during a touchdown catch by Brandon Marshall; participating in a Flight Crew (cheerleaders) performance, or being in the crowd for the J-E-T-S chant.

Fans get 360-degree views, and the sounds are vivid.

"It's great," Dinhofer said. "I was ready to join the cheerleaders and do the dance."

Game fines near $120K

The NFL fined five players from the Steelers-Bengals game last weekend a total of $118,649. Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict was fined $69,454 for three separate infractions.

However, the league levied no fines over the pregame skirmish at midfield that began when Burfict and Pittsburgh linebacker Vince Williams butted helmets.

Burfict was fined for roughing the passer, a facemask and unnecessary roughness.

Pittsburgh won the game 33-20.


• Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Shields, who suffered a concussion in Green Bay's last game, didn't accompany the team on its flight to Oakland for Sunday's game, coach Mike McCarthy said.

• Peyton Manning's left foot was sore Friday so he didn't practice after running the Broncos' scout team for two days. "So we said, OK, we'll stop for the weekend and go from there," Denver coach Gary Kubiak said. Manning's foot has bothered him for months and he's been sidelined since mid-November with a torn plantar fascia that required a cast or boot for 10 days.

• Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was listed on the team's injury report Friday with an illness that made him questionable Sunday against the Titans. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo has appeared in four games this season but has not thrown a pass.

• St. Louis aldermen voted 17-10 to spend $150 million to help finance a new riverfront football stadium as part of the effort to keep the Rams from moving. The vote does not guarantee that owner Stan Kroenke will keep the team in St. Louis but was considered vital toward the effort to build the $1 billion stadium that could entice NFL owners to not allow the Rams to move.