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Super Bowl 53 Betting Preview – Best Props Picks, Trends

It’s time for Super Bowl 53 betting and you haven’t done a bit of handicapping or studied a single prop and you just want to best bets to make on Super Bowl 53.

We have condensed 100,000 articles on Super Bowl betting and 75,000 more on Super Bowl props betting into one article. Your welcome.

It’s time for Super Bowl 53 betting and you haven’t done a bit of handicapping or studied a single prop and you just want to best bets to make on Super Bowl 53.

We have condensed 100,000 articles on Super Bowl betting and 75,000 more on Super Bowl props betting into one article. Your welcome.

What is the current Super Bowl 53 point spread?

Most Vegas and offshore sportsbooks have the New England Patriots favored by either 2.5 points or 3 points. Obviously, if you have the choice as a Patriots bettor, you want to find a -2.5 and if you are a Los Angeles Rams bettor, you should try to find the +3. A comparison of NFL odds providers will tell the story quickly today.

Where can I try Super Bowl 53 betting?

This depends on where you live, where you happen to be watching the game and what kind of NFL bettor you are. If you happen to be in Vegas today, good for you, it will be a blast! And there are plenty of casinos to place a side bet on the Patriots or Rams as well as action on thousands of fun prop bets.

Some US states are now regulated with online wagering and have offered up sports betting at racetracks, such as New Jersey. The rest of the wagering public will probably have their action at Super Bowl sportsbooks that offer services around the world. Most of the names will be familiar to you and most of them enjoy plenty of mainstream media attention.

What are the most popular Super Bowl props this year?

Every year, two pre-game props steal the show. The first is the National Anthem prop, where you can bet whether Gladys Knight’s version of the Star Spangled Banner will run over or under 1 minute and 50 seconds. Believe it or not, there is lots of handicapping and speculation (and betting) on this and some sites with too much time on their hands actually timed every national anthem from every Super Bowl and found some trends.

The second is the Super Bowl coin toss which for some reason more people bet on heads than tails every year. It’s one of those fun 50-50 props. An interesting trend here – when the Patriots lose the coin toss, they are 5-0 in Super Bowls. When the Pats win the coin toss, they are 0-3.

Who is the Super Bowl MVP betting favorite?

Surprise, surprise, Tom Brady is the big favorite here at about +125, meaning a $100 bet turns into a $125 profit if he wins. Rams QB Jared Goff is next in the +225 range. Winning QBs usually win the Super Bowl MVP (9 of the past 12 times).

There is also money on Patriots rookie RB Sony Michel and Rams RB Todd Gurley. As well, some people like the longshots and the only defensive player with any real betting value, which is Aaron Donald of the Rams.

What is the Super Bowl 53 betting over-under?

The total or over-under number was set around 57.5, one of the highest of all time. But bettors have been backing the UNDER so the number has crept down. The theory is that both teams like to run the ball, which chews up the clock and limits the number of possessions for each team.

What are some of the other cool prop bets?

Since the first Super Bowl prop 25 years ago, prop betting has grown like crazy. Now there are literally thousands of outcomes you can bet on for Super Bowl 53. Some of the fun ones:

Will any player kneel during the National Anthem?

How many times will Donald Trump tweet on Super Sunday?

Will Sony Michel score 2 or more TDS?

Will the stock market rise or fall on Monday, the day after the Super Bowl?

Many sites carry lists of literally hundreds of Super Bowl 53 props (along with their best bets) and list the places where you can wager on them and the current odds.

So we have saved you from 175,000 articles today. Instead, use this to find the best places to find odds and information to enjoy Super Bowl 53.

Your welcome.

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Report: Brady defiantly denies retirement question

Report: Brady defiantly denies retirement question

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Report: Brady defiantly denies retirement question

If anyone had any question whether Tom Brady would consider retiring after the Super Bowl, win or lose, the iconic Patriots quarterback has apparently put it to rest.

With New England preparing to face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII next Sunday in Atlanta, the 41-year-old quarterback was reportedly asked if he planned to play next season.

“Zero,” Brady apparently replied when asked if there was any chance Super Bowl Sunday would be his final NFL game.

A veteran of 19 seasons, Brady was a model of consistency again this season — earning his 14th Pro Bowl selection by passing for 4,355 yards with 29 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. Moreover, the Patriots have not had a losing season since he earned the starting QB job because of a Drew Bledsoe injury in the 2001 season.

Sunday marks Brady’s third straight Super Bowl appearance and the ninth of his career — an NFL record. He is the only starting quarterback in league history to win five Super Bowls.

–Field Level Media

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Rams’ Cooks responds to Pats’ Chung dig in fan rally

Rams' Cooks responds to Pats' Chung dig in fan rally

Rams’ Cooks responds to Pats’ Chung dig in fan rally

So much for trying not to provide your opponents bulletin-board material.

Ahead of the normal barrage of stale answers to the media hordes covering Super Bowl week, both the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams held fan rallies on Sunday — with both teams talking tough to their own backers before heading to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII next Sunday.

As the AFC champion Patriots drew 35,000 fans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., starting safety Patrick Chung raised the Rams’ radar by telling his home crowd, “We’re going to go [down] there and kick their ass, baby,” according to WEEI.

Later in the day, the NFC champion Rams hosted their rally at the L.A. Stadium at Hollywood Park, where the team will start to call home beginning in 2020.

After a day of speeches and rallying cries, Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks — a former Patriots teammate of Chung’s last season — responded to the tough talk from New England.

“Hey Chung, we heard you talking that talk back there in Foxborough … let’s get straight,” Cooks said before walking off the stage, per NESN.com.

The Patriots are making their record 11th Super Bowl appearance, with the Rams playing in the game for first time since the 2001 season when they were located in St. Louis. The Rams are 1-2 in Super Bowls as a franchise.

–Field Level Media

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Huge crowd sends Patriots off to Super Bowl

Huge crowd sends Patriots off to Super Bowl

Huge crowd sends Patriots off to Super Bowl

For New England Patriots fans, the trip to the Super Bowl hasn’t gotten old.

Before the Patriots departed Sunday morning for their ninth Super Bowl appearance since the 2001 season, an estimated 35,000 fans gathered at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., to wish the team well. Fans started lining up in the cold before dawn to get a good viewing spot.

Owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and a handful of his teammates addressed the crowd, thanking them for its support. After the rally, they boarded buses for the T.F. Green Airport in Providence, R.I., where the team plane was waiting to take the Patriots to Atlanta. New England will meet the Los Angeles Rams there next Sunday in Super Bowl LIII.

“We’ve got to bring it, you guys have got to bring it and hopefully we can bring the trophy back home,” Brady said. “We’re not quite at the end yet. We’ve got one more to go.”

Brady worked the crowd into a frenzy by leading the chant, “We’re still here!” before dropping the mic.

The Patriots have won five Super Bowls in the Brady-Belichick era.

–Field Level Media

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Rams K Zuerlein optimistic strained foot will be ‘good to go’

Rams K Zuerlein optimistic strained foot will be ‘good to go’

Rams K Zuerlein optimistic strained foot will be ‘good to go’

Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein on Saturday said he was “hopeful” that his strained foot will be ready for Super Bowl LIII after a “few more days of treatment.”

Zuerlein has yet to practice since his 57-yard kick heard ‘round the world defeated the New Orleans Saints last week and thrust the Rams into the Super Bowl.

Zuerlein said he “landed on something that didn’t give as much as turf and that’s when it started hurting.” The injury occurred at halftime.

“It hurt, but not enough to keep me from playing.But, hopefully, a few more days of treatment and it’ll be good to go,” he said.

Zuerlein has been walking in a boot and was listed again on the official injury report.

Zuerlein also drilled a 48-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter to force the NFC Championship Game into overtime.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said Saturday, applauding Zuerlein’s support of stand-in kickers Cairo Santos and Sam Ficken.

–Field Level Media

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Bears give OT Massie four-year extension

Bears give OT Massie four-year extension

The Chicago Bears retained a key piece

Bears give OT Massie four-year extension

The Chicago Bears retained a key piece of their offensive line, signing right tackle Bobby Massie to a four-year extension on Saturday.

Terms were not announced, but NFL Network reported the deal is worth more than $8 million per year, a figure that would put him among the four highest-paid right tackles in the league.

Massie, 29, just finished his seventh season as a pro and third with Chicago after joining the team on a three-year, $18 million deal in March of 2016. He has missed just four games over the last five seasons, all as a starter.

“Bobby has been an important part of our offensive line the past three years and has shown steady improvement during that time,” said Bears general manager Ryan Pace in a statement.

“Bobby has a tremendous work ethic and has displayed the kind of toughness and consistency we want in our players.”

Massie spent the first four seasons of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

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Ole Miss receiver Metcalf cleared for combine

Ole Miss receiver Metcalf cleared for combine

Mississippi receiver

Ole Miss receiver Metcalf cleared for combine

Mississippi receiver D.K. Metcalf, who underwent season-ending neck surgery in October, has been cleared to resume all football activity ahead of the NFL Combine.

His surgeon, Dr. Kevin Foley, said there are no limitations on Metcalf’s activities.

Metcalf is training for the combine in Phoenix and has been projected as a potential first-round selection.

The redshirt sophomore led the squad with five touchdown receptions at the time of his injury and had 26 receptions for 569 yards, a splendid 21.9 average yards per catch.

Metcalf missed the bulk of the 2016 season with a foot injury, but played in 12 games in 2017 and had 39 catches for 646 yards and seven touchdowns.

The NFL Combine runs from Feb. 26 through March 4 in Indianapolis.

–Field Level Media

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Saints’ Watson calls Goodell’s silence ‘unbecoming’ and ‘detrimental’

Saints' Watson calls Goodell's silence 'unbecoming' and 'detrimental'

Saints’ Watson calls Goodell’s silence ‘unbecoming’ and ‘detrimental’

Four days after the New Orleans Saints missed out on a likely Super Bowl appearance due to a missed call, tight end Benjamin Watson tweeted a message to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, questioning his silence on the subject.

“We all realize that football is an imperfect game, played, coached and officiated by imperfect people,” Watson wrote. “What occurred last Sunday in New Orleans though, was outside of that expected and accepted norm. Your continued silence on this matter is unbecoming of the position you hold, detrimental to the integrity of the game and disrespectful and dismissive to football fans everywhere.

“From the locker room to Park Ave, accountability is what makes our league great. Lead by example. We are waiting.”

Though Saints head coach Sean Payton said after Sunday’s game that NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron confirmed the missed call via phone, the league has yet to issue an official comment on the matter. In the past, the NFL has released videos with Riveron — or former VP of officiating Dean Blandino, before Riveron assumed the job — explaining why particular controversial calls were made correctly or incorrectly.

The NFL’s rulebook technically could have provided latitude for Goodell to take action and change the outcome of Sunday’s game, but such action would have been unprecedented and would have had to happen promptly given the planning involved for a team headed to the Super Bowl.

Goodell was not at Sunday’s game — he was in Kansas City to watch the Chiefs face the Patriots — and he has not issued any public comments on the game or the call in question.

Watson, 38, did not play on Sunday after battling appendicitis during the week. He had said previously the 2018 season — his 14th in the NFL — would be his last.

Watson is one of the league’s most respected players. A vice president of the NFL Players Association, he was one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2017 and has been a prominent voice on a variety of off-field subjects.

–Field Level Media

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NFL: Concussion numbers dropped significantly in 2018

NFL: Concussion numbers dropped significantly in 2018

NFL: Concussion numbers dropped significantly in 2018

The number of diagnosed concussions dropped significantly in the NFL in 2018, the league confirmed on Thursday.

There was a 24 percent decline in concussions in the preseason and regular season, from 281 in 2017 to 214 this season. For the regular season only, there was a 29 percent decrease from 190 in 2017 to 135.

That means the average NFL team experienced one concussion every fourth game in 2018, compared to one every third game in 2017.

“We’re certainly pleased with the progress on concussion reduction,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president for health and safety. “There is a lot more work to do.”

Two rules changes may have contributed to the decline. After experiencing a spike in concussion figures in 2017, the league put a rule in place to prevent using the helmet to initiate contact. Changes were also made to kickoffs, with the elimination of any wedges (previously, two-man wedges had been allowed) and new formational rules that made the play more like a punt return, with fewer high-speed collisions.

Some of the credit also goes to advances in helmet technology. The league said 74 percent of players are using the latest protective headwear, compared to 41 percent in 2017.

The NFL said that 75 percent of the 538 sideline evaluations during games this season did not result in a concussion diagnosis.

“We continue to emphasize an extremely conservative approach,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer. “If they even suspect someone is concussed, we screen that player.”

The latest concussion figures are encouraging, but the league said the number of serious knee injuries has remained largely flat over the past seven seasons. There were 57 ACL tears in 2018, the NFL said.

–Field Level Media

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Saints superfan expresses ire on Atlanta billboards

Saints superfan expresses ire on Atlanta billboards

Saints superfan expresses ire on Atlanta billboards

One Saints’ superfan is so angered by the referees’ missed call in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, which likely cost New Orleans a trip to the Super Bowl, that he bought billboards all over downtown Atlanta to tell everyone how he really feels.

Matt Bowers, who owns several car dealerships in the New Orleans area, had some choice words for the league, including “SAINTS GOT ROBBED” and “NFL BLEAUX IT!” plastered on billboards along I-85 in Atlanta, the site of the 2019 Super Bowl. Another one of the billboards is located right outside of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Los Angeles Rams — not the Saints — and the New England Patriots will square off in two weeks.

Bowers wrote several social media posts on Monday hinting that he would take action in the wake of his ire, writing in one Twitter post, “I’m going to do something about this. #Saints #NFLBLEAUXIT,” and in another, “I won’t ever get over it but, I am going to make the NFL miserable. Watch me.”

The wave of billboards, reported to be seven in all with 16 placements, went live across downtown Atlanta on Monday evening, and fans and news outlets were quick to take notice. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bowers stated, “I’m not done yet.”

Bowers, whose most recent billboard message targets the NFL commissioner (“Roger Goodell knew dat!”), has also made sure that folks will see the billboards for weeks to come: He announced on Twitter they will remain “All over … Downtown Atlanta through the Fake Super Bowl.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: NFL head of officiating could lose job

Report: NFL head of officiating could lose job

Report: NFL head of officiating could lose job

The job status of the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, Alberto Riveron, could be in question after a blown call Sunday in the NFC Championship Game likely cost the New Orleans Saints a Super Bowl appearance.

NBC’s Peter King quoted a source Monday who said, “Al Riveron (EVP of Officiating) is gone. He can’t survive this.”

King added that another source said the league would have to pay a lot of money to get Dean Blandino or Mike Pereira (the latter “a less likely candidate,” per King) to return to the position. Both men once held the VP of officiating title before moving into television as rules analysts.

Riveron was promoted to the position before the 2017 season to fill the vacancy created by Blandino’s departure for Fox Sports. Last January, multiple outlets reported Riveron would remain in the position for the 2018 season despite several high-profile officiating controversies, including one that led to the competition committee overhauling the catch rule last offseason.

Riveron was senior director of officiating before being promoted to replace Blandino. He became the first Hispanic NFL referee in 2008.

Blandino suggested in December 2017, not long after leaving the league, that he could be persuaded to return to his old post if the position were valued more within the league office.

On Sunday, Saints head coach Sean Payton said he spoke with Riveron via phone shortly after New Orleans’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams, saying Riveron admitted to a blown non-call on a play that should have been ruled pass interference in the final two minutes of regulation.

“The explanation … it was simple,” Payton said of his discussion with Riveron. “They blew the call. Not only was it (pass) interference, but it was helmet-to-helmet (contact). That was the first thing Al said. …

“I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference call. That’s a tough one to swallow.”

Had the call been made, with the score 20-20, the Saints would have been able to run the clock down and attempt a short field goal as time expired. Instead, they were forced to kick with 1:41 remaining, leaving time for the Rams to tie the game and force overtime, where the Saints went on to lose 26-23.

Referee Bill Vinovich briefly addressed the play during a postgame interview with a pool reporter.

“It was a judgment call by the covering official,” Vinovich said. “I personally have not seen the play. … It is not a reviewable play.”

Multiple outlets reported Monday that the league will look closely this offseason at potentially changing that matter, perhaps making pass interference reviewable along with other “judgment” calls that have not been reviewable previously.

Saints owner Gayle Benson released a statement Monday saying she was “thoroughly disappointed” with the lack of “fair and equitable” decision-making from the referees, adding she has been in touch with the league and will “aggressively pursue changes” to prevent future errors from happening.

The officials on the field closest to the play in question were side judge Gary Cavaletto and down judge Patrick Turner. It’s unclear whether either will face discipline, although the league let go of down judge Hugo Cruz in October, less than two weeks after he missed a false start on a play that resulted in a Los Angeles Chargers touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

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Saints’ owner issues statement on controversial loss

Saints' owner issues statement on controversial loss

A

Saints’ owner issues statement on controversial loss

A day after her New Orleans Saints lost the NFC Championship Game due, in part, to a missed call by the officials, team owner Gayle Benson issued a strong statement of disapproval on Monday.

“I am thoroughly disappointed by the events that led to the outcome of yesterday’s game,” the statement said, in part. “Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly difficult to do and takes such an unbelievable commitment from a team and support from its fans. No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field. As is clear to all who watched the game, it is undeniable that our team and fans were unfairly deprived of that opportunity yesterday.

“I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday’s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again. It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations — fairness and integrity.”

Officials declined to throw a flag after Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman clearly hit Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis before the ball arrived on a third-and-10 pass. Had a penalty been called, the Saints would have been able to run the clock down before kicking a 31-yard field goal as time expired, which would have won the game and sent them to the Super Bowl.

Instead, they were forced to kick a field goal with 1:41 remaining, leaving time for the Rams to tie and force overtime, where the Saints went on to lose.

Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters after the game he spoke with Alberto Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, who confirmed the incorrect non-call.

Robey-Coleman admitted afterward he made contact before Lewis had a chance to catch the pass.

“Yes, I got there too early,” he said. “I was beat, and I was trying to save the touchdown.”

Referee Bill Vinovich briefly addressed the play during a postgame interview with a pool reporter.

“It was a judgment call by the covering official,” Vinovich said. “I personally have not seen the play. … It is not a reviewable play.”

The Washington Post reported Monday that the NFL will consider making pass interference a reviewable play this offseason.

“It will be discussed at length along with additional fouls that coaches feel should be subject to review,” a person familiar with the NFL’s inner workings told the Post.

Replay is not an option for pass interference and other “judgment calls” but was discussed as recently as March.

To implement a rule allowing for pass interference to be validated by replay or expose this and other judgment calls to a coach’s challenge, at least three-quarters of the 32 owners must vote to approve it.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Chiefs S Berry, RB Ware set to play Sunday

NFL notebook: Chiefs S Berry, RB Ware set to play Sunday

NFL notebook: Chiefs S Berry, RB Ware set to play Sunday

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry and running back Spencer Ware are trending toward taking the field Sunday in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots.

Berry was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and repeated the session Thursday. He’s been bothered by a heel injury.

“He looked good out there,” head coach Andy Reid said Thursday when asked about the risk of Berry being rusty after playing in just two games this season. “I see him out there looking like Eric Berry.”

Berry has played just 99 snaps across the two games while battling the lingering heel issue, while Ware missed the final three games of the regular season after injuring his hamstring Week 14 in a win over the Ravens.

–Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had a “minor knee cleanup” after the season, reported NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

“Sounds like he’s fine now,” Rapoport tweeted. “Just some maintenance on an injury that bothered him during the season.”

Watt had appeared on Houston’s injury report multiple times during the second half of the season with a knee issue, but he started all 16 regular-season games plus the Texans’ wild-card playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts this season.

–Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has filed an official challenge over the team’s decision to take away the guarantees in the final two years of his contract, according to multiple reports, and an arbitrator will determine if Jacksonville is within its rights to do so.

Fournette was scheduled to earn $2.93 million in 2019 and $4.17 million in 2020, but the Jaguars voided the guarantees after he was suspended by the NFL for one game for coming off the bench to fight with Bills defensive lineman Shaq Lawson during the Jaguars’ loss at Buffalo on Nov. 25.

After the game, Fournette apologized, but the Jaguars still took away the remaining guaranteed money in his rookie contract citing a contract clause that allowed them to do so if he missed a game for anything other than a football-related injury.

–The Seattle Seahawks have agreed to a deal with quarterback Paxton Lynch, a first-round draft pick by Denver in 2016, KJR Radio reported.

Lynch, who turns 25 next month, was released by the Broncos before the 2018 season.

He wasn’t able to take hold of the starting job in Denver, appearing in just five games (four starts) and passing for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. The Broncos’ signing of Case Keenum last March made Lynch expendable.

–The Chicago Bears’ impressive 2018 turnaround earned Matt Nagy the NFL Coach of the Year and former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors from the Pro Football Writers of America.

Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard, whose moves helped the Colts reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014, was voted NFL Executive of the Year by PFWA members.

Nagy inherited a 5-11 team and compiled a 12-4 record in his first season with the Bears, who won the NFC North and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

–Legendary singer Gladys Knight will perform the national anthem before Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, the NFL and CBS announced.

“I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” the 74-year-old Knight said.

Knight is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has won seven Grammy awards. She also has had two No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 singles during her career: “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “That’s What Friends Are For.”

–Former NFL quarterback Turk Schonert has died, according to Fox 19 News in Cincinnati. He was 62. His cause of death was not announced.

Schonert spent eight seasons in Cincinnati (1981-85, 1987-89) and one in Atlanta (1986), largely as a backup quarterback. He compiled a 7-5 record as a starter.

He later served as quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. He also was the Bills’ offensive coordinator for one season in 2008. More recently, he was an assistant coach with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.

–Field Level Media

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Gladys Knight to perform anthem at Super Bowl

Gladys Knight to perform anthem at Super Bowl

Gladys Knight to perform anthem at Super Bowl

Legendary singer Gladys Knight will perform the national anthem before Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, the NFL and CBS announced Thursday.

“I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” the 74-year-old Knight said.

Knight is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has won seven Grammy awards. She also has had two No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 singles during her career: “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “That’s What Friends Are For.”

Deaf activist Aarron Loggins will sign both the anthem and “America The Beautiful.”

–Field Level Media

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Potent offenses collide as Saints, Rams meet for NFC title

Potent offenses collide as Saints, Rams meet for NFC title

Potent offenses collide as Saints, Rams meet for NFC title

Drew Brees turned 40 on Tuesday, and the New Orleans Saints quarterback will cap off his birthday week matching throws and wits on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game with Jared Goff, the Los Angeles Rams quarterback who is 16 years younger.

Brees is in no mood for nostalgia, but he knows better than anyone else that chances to win a Super Bowl don’t come around often.

“I think that’s been well communicated, really, as we’ve journeyed through the season and as we’ve hit every benchmark,” Brees said of being one victory away from his second Super Bowl appearance, the other when he won a title after the 2009 season. “Don’t take it for granted. Appreciate it. We are still a young team in a lot of areas, but we also have a lot of great veteran leadership.”

Goff said he appreciated Brees’ willingness to share some insights into the art of quarterbacking when they played together in the Pro Bowl last year.

Brees said he was simply “paying forward” what other veteran quarterbacks did for him, guys like Doug Flutie, Trent Dilfer and Kurt Warner.

“I told myself at that time that hopefully I can play long enough where guys start asking advice from me,” Brees said, smiling.

In their 45-35 regular-season victory over the Rams in November, the Saints held a 35-14 lead late in the second quarter — scoring touchdowns on five of their six first-half possessions. Their only miscue came when Mark Ingram fumbled at the New Orleans 22 with the game tied at 14, but the Rams wasted that scoring opportunity when they passed up a go-ahead, 34-yard field goal on fourth-and-4 and failed to convert on holder Johnny Hekker’s run around right end.

The Rams rallied starting late in the second quarter and put up 21 consecutive points to the tie the game at 35, only to have Brees connect with Michael Thomas on a 72-yard touchdown with 3:53 left to seal the victory.

When Saints coach Sean Payton remarked after the game that he liked the matchup of Thomas going against Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, the defensive back fired back and said he was relishing a rematch.

Asked Wednesday about the verbal dustup, Payton discounted any bad blood, saying the Saints had come close to drafting Peters in 2015.

In the November matchup, Brees completed 25 of 36 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns, and Thomas caught 12 passes for a career-high 211 yards to hand the Rams their first loss of the season.

In the rematch, the Saints will be playing without one of their best run-stoppers, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who sustained a torn Achilles tendon in New Orleans’ 20-14 divisional playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

The Rams also will be without one of their best performers, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in Week 10. Kupp had 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns in eight games this season.

“That game was a while ago,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of New Orleans’ head-to-head win. “It was a great reference point for us to work from and try to learn from some of the mistakes everybody made, and we’re looking forward to the challenge again on Sunday.”

The Rams, playing in their first NFC Championship Game since 2001-02, are coming off an impressive 30-22 victory over Dallas in which they produced 273 rushing yards, the most ever surrendered by the Cowboys in the playoffs. Running backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson combined for 238 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries (6.1-yard average).

“I thought those guys did a great job complementing each other,” McVay said. “Certainly, Todd’s our guy, but I thought C.J. was a great change of pace to come in there and be able to do some really good things.”

The rematch should have plenty of offensive fireworks. The Rams finished No. 2 in the NFL in scoring (32.9 points per game), but the Saints were right behind them at No. 3 (31.5). Both defenses finished in the middle of the pack in total yardage allowed and points allowed.

While Gurley and Anderson proved they could pound the ball against the Cowboys, the Saints’ Alvin Kamara and Ingram provide the sixth-best rushing attack in the league. Kamara had three first-half touchdowns in the November meeting.

“We need to keep our gap integrity and tackle well,” McVay said.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots dialed in for Chiefs, championship game

Patriots dialed in for Chiefs, championship game

Patriots dialed in for Chiefs, championship game

in 2014, the last time the Patriots traveled to Kansas City, apoplectic reaction went to parts unknown: speculation whether Tom Brady was finished and if his Lombardi-hoarding coach had lost his touch.

Two Super Bowl victories later, New England is again on rarely traveled ground, packing for another AFC Championship game as the underdog at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

“They’re a well balanced, disciplined team. We’ll need our best game,” Belichick said Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass.

The Patriots need one win for their ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2000. Sunday will mark the eighth consecutive year New England has reached the conference title game. No other team has appeared in more than five in a row.

“I love to play in a championship game,” Belichick said, shrugging off a question about preparing for gametime temperatures forecast to be at or below freezing. “Schedule it wherever you want. We’ll be there.”

The most recent forecast calls for a daytime temperature of 19 degrees.

Belichick has won a championship at the expense of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. New England won Super Bowl XXXIX over the Eagles, with Reid as Philadelphia’s coach, following the 2004 season. The Patriots have 18 takeaways in eight games and a 6-2 record when Belichick opposes Reid.

Overall, Reid is 1-4 in championship games. Kansas City hasn’t won the Super Bowl since 1970.

For all the playoff experience Brady and Belichick boast, not often has New England been asked to go on the road to earn a Super Bowl ticket. New England is 3-4 in postseason road games featuring Brady behind center.

“We’re going to have to stop the whole offense, not just one player,” Belichick said. “We’re going to have to play good team defense.”

Belichick is 8-4 in championship games and has 29 postseason wins as a head coach.

Kansas City was first in the NFL at 35.3 points per game in 2018. New England was fourth at 27.2.

Recent games have been shootouts. The Chiefs beat the Patriots 42-27 to open the 2017 season, and New England knocked off K.C. in October of the just-completed season, 43-40.

“They have a great offense, they have a great set of players,” Belichick said. “Andy does a great job of forcing you to make choices, and spreading the ball around based on those choices. … They lead the league in everything.”

As for any lasting memories of the bloody Monday night in 2014 – a 41-14 loss in which New England trailed 27-0 and 41-7 – the Patriots are employing their usual short-term memory.

This week, they’re on to Kansas City.

–Field Level Media

Read More 372 Words

Arians: Steelers WR Brown has become ‘diva’

Arians: Steelers WR Brown has become 'diva'

New Tampa

Arians: Steelers WR Brown has become ‘diva’

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians used to have a close-up view of Pittsburgh star wide receiver Antonio Brown when he served as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

Now his view is from afar, and he isn’t so impressed with Brown’s actions or behavior.

“There’s too much miscommunication, too much … diva,” Arians said Tuesday on The Adam Schefter Podcast. “I’ve heard so many stories — I like Antonio — he plays as hard as anybody on Sunday and he practices hard.

“He’s just gotta make better decisions off the field, be on time, do some of those little things.”

Arians was around for Brown’s first two seasons in Pittsburgh. The Steelers drafted Brown in the sixth round out of Central Michigan in 2010 and Arians was impressed with his hunger to become good.

“He was the hardest working,” Arians said. “He and Emmanuel Sanders. Boy, they went after it because (coach) Mike Tomlin used to tell them, ‘two dogs, one bone.’ And at that time we had Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, I mean we had a pretty good run for one of them to get on the field. By the end of the season, they were both winning for us to go to the Super Bowl.”

Arians left the Steelers following the 2011 campaign to become offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. He served as interim head coach for most of 2012 while Chuck Pagano was battling cancer, was the Arizona Cardinals head man from 2013-17 and sat out the 2018 season before becoming head coach of the Buccaneers.

Meanwhile, Brown’s future in Pittsburgh is uncertain after his Week 17 antics infuriated the organization. Brown reportedly skipped meetings and practices and didn’t return Tomlin’s calls.

When Brown showed up for the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tomlin informed him that he wouldn’t be playing.

Last week, team president Art Rooney II said it would be “hard to envision” Brown being part of the team when it opens training camp in July.

–Field Level Media

Read More 278 Words

NFL notebook: Eagles still committed to Wentz

NFL notebook: Eagles still committed to Wentz

Philadelphia

NFL notebook: Eagles still committed to Wentz

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson didn’t waste any time putting an end to speculation about the team’s quarterback situation next year.

“Carson Wentz is the quarterback going forward,” Pederson said at a press conference Tuesday. “And in Nick (Foles’) case, listen, we’d love to have everybody back throughout the roster, but as I’ve said many times, it’s not about one guy, it’s about the team, and we’re going to do what’s best for the team.”

Foles, 29, led the team in the postseason each of the past two years with Wentz out injured. The Eagles hold a $20 million option on Foles for 2019, but the quarterback can buy it out for $2 million to become a free agent, barring a franchise tag.

–The New York Jets will hire former Cleveland Browns interim coach Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, ESPN reported.

ESPN adds the Washington Redskins — whose defense Williams coordinated from 2004-07 — also pursued Williams, but the Jets had more interest. Washington still has Greg Manusky under contract as defensive coordinator, but reports have connected the team to various other options.

–The Denver Broncos agreed to hire former Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell as defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports.

Donatell has worked under Vic Fangio since 2011, when they were both in San Francisco. He also had two previous tenures in Denver as the secondary coach. Fangio is still expected to call plays on Sundays.

–The Arizona Cardinals are interviewing former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter for the same position, ESPN reported.

According to multiple reports, the Cardinals also interviewed John DeFilippo — who has also interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ opening — on Sunday.

–The Jaguars are interviewing former Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy for the same position, ESPN reported.

McCoy, 46, was fired by the Cardinals in October, marking the second consecutive season in which he was fired midseason. The Broncos let him go midway through 2017.

–The Indianapolis Colts parted ways with offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, while assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson is leaving to take the lead job for the Buffalo Bills.

The Colts allowed an NFL-low 18 sacks in 2018, but DeGuglielmo is out after just one year because head coach Frank Reich wants to hire his own guy, NFL Network reported. DeGuglielmo was hired by Josh McDaniels last year before the latter backed out of the Colts’ head job.

–The Dallas Cowboys will keep Marc Colombo as their offensive line coach full-time.

Colombo took over for Paul Alexander — who was fired just seven games into his first year with the Cowboys — at the end of October.

–The Browns are hiring Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Chris Jones, per multiple reports. TSN reports Jones will serve as senior defensive specialist.

Jones and new head coach Freddie Kitchens have a relationship dating back to 1997, when Jones was a graduate assistant at Alabama in Kitchens’ final season at quarterback for the Crimson Tide.

–The Kansas City Chiefs activated right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from injured reserve and waived safety Ron Parker.

Duvernay-Tardif landed on IR after sustaining a spiral fracture in his fibula in Week 5, an injury that required surgery.

–The New Orleans Saints signed free agent defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, per multiple reports.

Walker, 28, began his career in New Orleans as an undrafted free agent and played 23 games with the Saints from 2013-14. He’ll help replace Sheldon Rankins (IR, Achilles).

–Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley was undergoing a mental evaluation after being detained by police in Los Angeles, according to TMZ Sports.

He reportedly was involved in an undisclosed incident at a hotel, and a friend who was with McKinley became worried and called the police. TMZ reported McKinley was not arrested. Instead, police encouraged him to seek help, and he agreed and went with police.

–The NFL announced the Los Angeles Chargers’ and Dallas Cowboys’ staffs will coach the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 27.

–Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will replace injured Chargers QB Philip Rivers in the Pro Bowl.

Other Pro Bowl replacements announced Tuesday included Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams (for Geno Atkins), 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (Fletcher Cox), Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (Luke Kuechly) and Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins (Landon Collins).

–John Parry will be the referee for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, his second Super Bowl as referee and third as an official.

–Longtime NFL coach Mike Smith announced on Sirius XM radio he is retiring to spend more time with his family.

–The San Francisco 49ers are hiring former Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods as their passing-game coordinator, per multiple reports.

–New York Giants rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense stemming from an October incident, ESPN reported.

–Field Level Media

Read More 737 Words

Bears won’t shut door on signing RB Hunt

Bears won't shut door on signing RB Hunt

Bears won’t shut door on signing RB Hunt

At the Chicago Bears’ end-of-the-season news conference Monday, head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace covered a variety of topics, including new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, expected personnel moves this offseason and kicker Cody Parkey’s appearance on the “Today” show last week.

However, perhaps no comments raised more eyebrows than those about former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who was cut and placed on the commissioner’s exempt list in late November after a video surfaced showing Hunt shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland apartment building in February.

It is not clear when — or if — Hunt will be reinstated by the league. However, neither Nagy nor Pace closed the door on potentially bringing in Hunt should the opportunity present itself. Nagy spent two seasons as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator prior to this season, including coaching Hunt for his rookie season in 2017.

“I’m a guy that, I don’t care who you are. … Here is what I’m going to say to this,” Nagy said. “Everybody has, when you talk about second chances, well, what’s the second chance? Is it, what’s your situation? And so, with him, that’s not for me to decide. … I’m a guy that has always been, now I was raised that way to give guys second chances, not third chances, now I’ve learned that from (Chiefs head coach Andy) Reid, he’s done that several times with some people, but I will say that every situation is different. That’s his situation, and I wanted to talk to him as on the true, personal side.”

As for Pace, the team’s general manager since 2015, he would say only that he takes each player and each decision on its own individual merits, and that the two sides are not close to the point of entertaining the possibility of Hunt joining the Bears.

“I think every one of those is unique. Each one is different,” Pace said. “The circumstances are always different. We’re not even there yet. I mean, I know what he is as a player obviously from watching. Matt knows more about him as a person. We’re not even close to that point.”

The Bears won the NFC North with a 12-4 record but lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 16-15 in the wild-card round when Parkey’s would-be game-winning field goal was deflected at the line of scrimmage, then bounced off an upright and the crossbar before falling short.

Hunt, 23, burst onto the scene as an undrafted rookie in 2017. Hunt rushed for a league-high 1,327 yards as a rookie and had 824 yards through 11 games this season before his release.

–Field Level Media

Read More 383 Words

Chiefs-Patriots in for frigid AFC title game

Chiefs-Patriots in for frigid AFC title game

Chiefs-Patriots in for frigid AFC title game

Chiefs coach Andy Reid wore cargo shorts to his Monday press conference at Arrowhead Stadium, but he might be sporting pants and a parka this weekend.

When the Chiefs host the AFC Championship game in Kansas City on Sunday against the New England Patriots, temperatures could be downright frigid. Weather.com has a forecast range for 6:40 p.m. ET (scheduled kickoff time) in the 5-below zero to 10 degrees above zero range as of Monday afternoon.

Last week, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick prepared his team for all types of weather before New England beat up on the Chargers. Before the game, he said, “We’re not playing the weather. Whatever it is, it is.”

Accuweather projects temperatures Sunday night between 2 and 14 degrees.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been in big games with low temps before. In 2004, the Patriots beat the Steelers in the AFC title game with a starting temperature of 11 degrees.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who went to Texas Tech, has not played in temperatures below 27 degrees at kickoff in the NFL.

Mahomes said after Saturday’s win over the Colts, when temps were at 30 degrees for most of the game, that weather “wasn’t really a factor.” Most of Missouri had been blanketed in snow a day before the divisional playoff game.

According to the Patriots’ media guide, the third-coldest game in franchise history was played in Kansas City (9 degrees, 1963).

–Field Level Media

Read More 179 Words

Jerry Rice: WR Brown wants to play for 49ers

Jerry Rice: WR Brown wants to play for 49ers

Jerry Rice: WR Brown wants to play for 49ers

Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice says disgruntled Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown wants to play for the San Francisco 49ers “really bad.”

Rice, who made the comments Monday during a radio interview, reportedly had a FaceTime conversation with Brown on Sunday.

“He wants to come here really bad,” Rice told 95.7 The Game.

“He’s talking about running the hill with me — doing all that and just working out and just picking my brain. I don’t know if it’s going to happen because it’s going to be up to [coach] Kyle Shanahan and also [general manager] John Lynch, but I’m all for it if they want him to come on board.”

Rice, the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, starred for the 49ers from 1985-2000 before finishing his legendary career with the Oakland Raiders (2001-04) and Seattle Seahawks (2004).

Rice said he would definitely trade for Brown if it were his decision.

“If it was left up to me, he’d be here in a heartbeat,” Rice said.

Brown, who turns 31 in July, is coming off his sixth straight Pro Bowl appearance after totaling 104 catches for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pro four years in a row from 2014 to 2017.

He has fallen out of favor in Pittsburgh after skipping practices and team meetings and not returning phone calls from team president Art Rooney II, head coach Mike Tomlin or teammates leading up to the regular-season finale.

He showed up to play against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the team held Brown out. He was listed on the injury report with knee soreness, but many have questioned his injury. Reports said teammates felt he quit on them.

Last week, Rooney said “it’s hard to envision” Brown returning to the Steelers, while Tomlin acknowledged that the receiver may have become more of a distraction than he’s worth.

The Steelers gave Brown a four-year, $68 million extension last February.

Brown can’t be dealt until the 2019 NFL calendar officially begins on March 13. The Steelers would likely make a decision on his status before March 17, when he is due a $2.5 million roster bonus.

–Field Level Media

Read More 300 Words

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said fans can get

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said fans can get on board or get out of the way as he takes the reins in Cleveland.

Kitchens was formally introduced as coach on Monday, ending a nine-week search that began when Hue Jackson was fired.

“It takes some guts to do what they did — I know I’m not a popular choice. And I don’t care,” Kitchens said. “You’ve got to block out the noise in this business. The noise gets you in trouble. … They didn’t care. They were doing what they thought was best for the organization.”

Kitchens will remain the primary play-caller in Cleveland despite the addition of Todd Monken as offensive coordinator.

Kitchens said Monday that Monken opted for Cleveland because of the quality of the people on the staff, despite the perceived step down from his previous role as play-caller and offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Browns also filled their defensive coordinator vacancy, officially naming former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks to that position.

“When everyone’s willing to check their ego at the door, that’s when you’re in position to be successful. We’re going to be successful,” Kitchens said. “The offense is whatever they wanted it to be. I was just the guy directing the choir. … I just get people going and they decided what they wanted to be.”

General manager John Dorsey said Kitchens’ vision for the team and his ability to collaborate — a noted shortcoming for previous head coach Jackson — and coordinate set the first-time head coach apart from other candidates.

“Honestly, I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself,” he said. “When I knew it was possible was whenever John (Dorsey) told me I was interviewing for the job. I try not to lie too much. I meant it when I said, ‘I’m one day at a time.’ You have to have a vision for the future, eliminate some road blocks along the way. … This is the most important time for me as a head coach, is the staff I’ve built.”

Kitchens will report directly to Dorsey. The structure change shifted from the existing protocol, which called for Jackson to report to owner Jimmy Haslam.

Monken, who turns 53 in February, was a candidate for head-coaching openings with the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets and also drew interest as a coordinator from several other teams, including Jacksonville and Detroit.

He took over playcalling from Dirk Koetter in Tampa Bay this season, his third as offensive coordinator, and helped the Bucs’ offense finish third in yards and 12th in points. The Bucs did not bring Monken back after hiring new head coach Bruce Arians, whose offensive coordinator will be Byron Leftwich.

Wilks, 49, was fired less than a calendar year after taking over the Cardinals, who finished with the NFL’s worst record this season at 3-13, a job he got after shining as a coordinator with the Carolina Panthers.

Arizona’s defense ranked 20th in yards and 26th in scoring, but Wilks helped Carolina finish seventh and 11th, respectively, in 2017, his only previous experience as an NFL coordinator. Wilks was a defensive backs coach for four teams from 2005 through 2016 before taking over as coordinator in Carolina.

He is replacing Gregg Williams, who served as interim head coach for the second half of 2018 but was let go when Kitchens was promoted to head coach last week.

“I’m probably going to offend some people saying this, but if you don’t self-promote sometimes you can get overlooked,” Kitchens said. “I’m just going to do my job. I was always under the assumption, if you do your job well enough, you’ll get recognized.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 559 Words

Report: NFL owners prepare for work stoppage in 2021

Report: NFL owners prepare for work stoppage in 2021

Lost in the headlines

Report: NFL owners prepare for work stoppage in 2021

Lost in the headlines of the names and ages of the people NFL teams are hiring to fill head-coaching vacancies is some of the language common in the contracts they sign.

Specifically, language reportedly foreshadowing a possible work stoppage in 2021.

According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday, the head-coaching contracts negotiated in the last week contain wording that show “teams are addressing how much each coach would make — or lose — in the event of a work stoppage.”

Teams are using different percentages based on the amount of game time that could be missed in 2021 to determine how much money they would save in coaching salary should there be a work stoppage, according to the report.

Schefter added that “both teams and coaches are confident that there will be some type of disruption,” and that similar language is expected to appear in contracts for upcoming free agents.

The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in what would be the third year of those new contracts.

Shortly after Schefter tweeted the news on Sunday, the official Twitter feed of the NFL Players’ Association tweeted back, “These contract provisions were also seen in the lead up to the 2011 lockout. Take note.”

After the owners and players were unable to come to an agreement before the last CBA expired in March 2011, the owners locked the players out as negotiations continued. That impasse lasted 132 days, coming to an end on July 25 with the Hall of Fame Game being the only on-field cancellation caused by the lockout.

–Field Level Media

Read More 209 Words

Patriots hammer Chargers, make 8th straight AFC title game

Patriots hammer Chargers, make 8th straight AFC title game

Patriots hammer Chargers, make 8th straight AFC title game

Scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions Sunday, the New England Patriots established a 35-7 halftime lead and cruised to a 41-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC divisional round game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

The result sends New England (12-5) to Kansas City next Sunday to play for the conference title and a trip to the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6:40 p.m. ET. The win also gives the Patriots a perfect 9-0 home record this season and puts them in the conference championship game for eighth consecutive season, an NFL record.

Los Angeles finished its season with a 13-5 record and its first playoff win since January 2014.

But on this day, the Chargers couldn’t come close to replicating last week’s wild-card round victory in Baltimore. The Patriots carved up Los Angeles’ defense for drives of 83, 67, 58 and 87 yards to start their day, then cashed in a fumbled punt return for a fifth touchdown just before halftime.

Every aspect of New England’s offense did its job. Tom Brady completed 34 of 44 passes for 343 yards and a 15-yard scoring strike to Phillip Dorsett with 12:17 left in the second quarter. Rookie running back Sony Michel pounded out 129 yards on 24 carries, reaching the end zone on runs of 1, 14 and 5 yards.

Brady made liberal use of running back James White and wide receiver Julian Edelman — White caught 15 passes for 97 yards and Edelman added nine catches for 151 yards, a franchise-record fifth 100-yard game in the playoffs.

Defensively, the Patriots made the Chargers one-dimensional with their first half explosion. Running back Melvin Gordon managed only nine carries for 15 yards and a third-quarter touchdown, forcing Philip Rivers to carry the load.

Operating under duress all day, Rivers completed only 25 of 51 passes for 331 yards and three scores with an interception. New England recorded only two sacks, but hurried and harassed the quarterback all day.

The AFC title game will be a rematch of a wild Week 6 game in Foxboro that the Patriots won 43-40 on a 28-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski as time expired.

–Field Level Media

Read More 301 Words

Anderson, Gurley run Rams past Cowboys, into NFC title game

Anderson, Gurley run Rams past Cowboys, into NFC title game

Anderson, Gurley run Rams past Cowboys, into NFC title game

C.J. Anderson rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and Todd Gurley added 115 yards and a score as the Los Angeles Rams ran their way into the NFC Championship game with a 30-22 victory Saturday over the visiting Dallas Cowboys.

Quarterback Jared Goff was 15-of-28 passing for 186 yards as the Rams moved one victory from the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 2001, when they lost to the New England Patriots.

The Rams will face the winner of Sunday’s Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints matchup in next weekend’s NFC title game.

“It was incredible what they did today,” Goff said of the Rams’ running backs. “We know this (Cowboys) defense, and we prepared for it well all week. What Todd and C.J. did … Todd started it and C.J. finished it off.”

Dak Prescott was 20 of 32 for 266 yards and one touchdown passing while also rushing for a score as the Cowboys lost their eighth consecutive road playoff game.

The Rams totaled 273 yards on the ground, a franchise record for a playoff game. It was the most rushing yards the Cowboys’ defense has given up in a game this season. Dallas entered with the fifth-best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 94.6 yards per game.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job of controlling the line of scrimmage, winning our gaps and tackling,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “They were able to run consistently throughout the game. They controlled the pace and tempo of the game really because of that.”

Anderson, who was signed late in the season and played in just two regular-season games, scored on a 1-yard TD run to give the Rams a 13-7 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Gurley, who was playing in his first game since Dec. 16 against Philadelphia because of knee soreness, added a 35-yard TD run with 3:27 remaining in the opening half to give the Rams a 20-7 lead.

After a third-quarter field goal from the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein, the Cowboys cut the deficit to 23-15 on a 1-yard TD run from Ezekiel Elliott and a 2-point conversion catch from Amari Cooper.

The Cowboys started a potential game-tying drive late in the third quarter, but Elliott was stopped on fourth down from the Rams’ 35-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Rams promptly went on a 12-play, 65-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard TD run from Anderson to take a 30-15 lead with 7:16 remaining. Prescott added the Cowboys’ final TD on a 1-yard run with 2:11 remaining.

Elliott was held to 47 yards on 20 rushes for the Cowboys.

“Even when we were in three-receiver sets they were in base, so they were committed to stopping our running game,” Garrett said. “If they’re committed to taking one thing away you have to be able to beat them in the other area, and at times we did a good job of that tonight.”

At 32, the Rams’ Sean McVay became the youngest head coach to win a playoff game, ahead of John Madden, who was 33 when he won his first playoff game with the Oakland Raiders.

–Field Level Media

Read More 468 Words

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers' stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

If the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, and the Indianapolis Colts top the New England Patriots, the NFL will have a decision to make.

Will the Chargers be allowed to host the AFC championship game at their temporary home, the 30,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park in suburban Carson, Calif., or will it be played elsewhere in a stadium with larger capacity?

CBS Sports reported Friday that the NFL league office will be discussing contingency plans should the fifth-seeded Chargers and sixth-seeded Colts advance. That would give the Chargers home-field advantage in the championship game.

The league discussed the possibility of where the Chargers would host a potential title game when they were vying with the Chiefs for the No. 1 seed, but that talk died down when the Chargers landed as a wild-card team, CBS’ Jason LaCanfora reported.

He said that last month, officials had discussed the potential of moving the game to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Rams. That could still be a Plan B, LaCanfora said, but if the Rams host the championship game, both games could not be played on Sunday. Instead, one of the conference championship games could be played on Monday night under that scenario, he said.

–Field Level Media

Read More 162 Words

What To Look For – Divisional Playoffs

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who play at New Orleans on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX), look to become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010, when both the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets accomplished the feat.​​​​

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990:

SEASON

TEAM

CONFERENCE

ADVANCED TO

2010

Green Bay

NFC

Won Super Bowl XLV

2010

New York Jets

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Baltimore

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Philadelphia

NFC

Conference Championship

2005

Pittsburgh

AFC

Won Super Bowl XL

 

 

 

 

2018

Indianapolis

AFC

???

2018

Philadelphia

NFC

???

 

In the AFC, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (13-4, No. 5 seed), who face New England on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), and the sixth-seeded Colts are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a No. 5 and No. 6 seed since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.

 

WINNING WAYS: The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated Seattle 24-22 on Wild Card Weekend, and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who had a bye last week, will each be playing in the Divisional Playoffs.

Dallas, who plays at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX), has 35 playoff wins and can tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36) for the most postseason victories all-time. New England, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), has 34 postseason victories and can surpass the GREEN BAY PACKERS (34) for the third-most playoff wins all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM

WINS

LOSSES

WIN PCT.

SUPER BOWL WINS

Pittsburgh

36

25

.590

6

Dallas

35

27

.565

5

Green Bay

34

22

.607

4

New England

34

20

.630

5

San Francisco

30

20

.600

5​

 

TOUCHDOWN LEADERS: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs are s​et to face off against Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK and the Colts in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC).

Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

With Mahomes and Luck ranking first and second in regular-season touchdown passes, Saturday will mark the fifth time since 2002 that the top two passing touchdown leaders from the regular season will face off in the postseason.

The postseason games between the top two regular-season passing touchdown leaders since 2002:

SEASON

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYOFF ROUND

2016

Aaron Rodgers (GB)

40

Matt Ryan (Atl.)

38

NFC Championship

2014

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

40

Peyton Manning (Den.)

39

AFC Divisional

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Peyton Manning (Ind.)

33*

Super Bowl XLIV

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Brett Favre^ (Min.)

33*

NFC Championship

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

Patrick Mahomes (KC)

50

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

39

AFC Divisional

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Tied for 2nd

 

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England quarterback TOM BRADY and the Patriots welcome quarterback PHILIP RIVERS and the Los Angeles Chargers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS).

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old on Sunday, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, combine for a total of 28,688 days old, the oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

The oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:

DATE

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

COMBINED DAYS OLD

1/13/19

Tom Brady

New England

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers

28,688*

1/24/16

Peyton Manning

Denver

Tom Brady

New England

28,603

1/9/99

John Elway^

Denver

Dan Marino^

Miami

27,704

1/16/94

Warren Moon^

Houston Oilers

Joe Montana^

Kansas City

27,306

1/22/17

Tom Brady

New England

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh

27,162

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Total days as of Sunday, January 13

 

 

RATED WELL: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES and the Eagles head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX) to face New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES and the Saints.

Foles, who has the highest postseason passer rating (105.2) in NFL history, and Brees, who ranks fifth with a 100.7 passer rating, are two of five quarterbacks to have a passer rating of 100 or higher in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts):

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

YARDS

TDS

INTS

RATING

Nick Foles

125

179

1,432

10

3

105.2

Bart Starr^

130

213

1,753

15

3

104.8

Kurt Warner^

307

462

3,952

31

14

102.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

2,672

20

7

100.8

Drew Brees

354

537

4,209

29

9

100.7

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Foles (69.8 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in league annals (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fifth.

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts):

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

PCT.

Nick Foles

125

179

69.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

67.5

Kurt Warner^

307

462

66.5

Ken Anderson

110

166

66.3

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

SHOWDOWN IN SO CAL: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT and the Cowboys head to Southern California to take on defensive tackle AARON DONALD and the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX).

Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ Wild Card Weekend victory over Seattle. Elliott has recorded at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first two playoff appearances and can become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

DATES

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 125+ RUSH YARDS

Terrell Davis^

Denver

1/11/98-1/17/99

4

Arian Foster

Houston

1/7/12-1/5/13

3

John Riggins^

Washington

1/15/83-1/30/83

3

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas

1/15/17-1/5/19

2*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active Streak

 

 

Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks and earned the 2018 Deacon Jones Award as the NFL’s sack leader, became the 11th different player since 1982 to record at least 20 sacks in a single season.

With a Rams win on Saturday, Donald would join Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1986) as the only players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982.

The players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SACKS

ADVANCED TO

Lawrence Taylor^

New York Giants

1986

20.5

Won Super Bowl XXI

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

20.5

???

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 997 Words

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to be their next head coach, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

No team can hire Taylor until the Rams’ season is over, but Taylor reportedly is the Bengals’ top choice. ESPN reported that Taylor also wants to be in Cincinnati, where he coached as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ offensive coordinator in 2016.

Taylor, 35, would become the second-youngest active head coach in the NFL, behind only his current boss, Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 on Jan. 24. He interviewed for the Denver Broncos’ and Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancies before those teams hired Vic Fangio and Kliff Kingsbury, respectively.

A former Nebraska quarterback, Taylor is in his first year as QBs coach with the Rams after spending 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach. He also coached for the Miami Dolphins, one year as assistant quarterbacks coach (2012), three as quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and part of the 2015 season as interim offensive coordinator.

NFL Network earlier Thursday that the Bengals told several assistant coaches they would not be returning, as the team’s next head coach has other assistants in mind to replace them. That indicated the hire would come from outside the organization.

Other candidates for Cincinnati job include Hue Jackson — who joined the Bengals midseason after being fired as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach — former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Taylor would be the third head coach hired during this cycle who has ties to McVay.

New Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur spent 2017 as the Rams’ offensive coordinator under McVay.

Meanwhile, McVay offered Kingsbury a job on L.A.’s staff for the remainder of the 2018 season after the latter was fired by Texas Tech. Kingsbury instead joined the University of Southern California as offensive coordinator before getting the Cardinals’ job a month later.

Taylor’s brother, Press Taylor, is in his first season as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks coach.

–Field Level Media

Read More 289 Words

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

The New York Jets’ hiring of Adam Gase as head coach has received a major vote of approval from at least one important voice on the team — starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

“It was a tough decision, but I think Gase and the things he’s able to do, the way he’s able to lead, I think is the best thing for our team,” Darnold told ESPN during a phone interview on Thursday.

Darnold had an up-and-down 2018 rookie season (17 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions) with the Jets, who finished 4-12 and ranked 29th in total offense. He also supported former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but said he thought the team made the right choice with Gase, the former Miami Dolphins head coach who was fired on Dec. 31 after they finished 7-9 and ranked 31st in total offense.

“I’m really, really excited about this opportunity and all the things Adam can bring this team,” said Darnold, who spoke with Gase on FaceTime for 10 minutes on Monday. “For us, it’s about winning. How do you do that? You score more points than the other team. I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to work with him, and score a load of points. I think it’s going to be really fun.”

If there was a backlash by fans about the Jets’ decision to hire Gase, Darnold expects it to subside, saying, “I don’t think they’ll be upset when we start winning games.”

Eight known candidates interviewed for the position, including former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy. It came down to a final four: Gase, Monken, McCarthy and Baylor coach Matt Rhule.

“Adam is an awesome dude. First of all, a really trustworthy guy,” Darnold said of Gase, who previously worked with Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill. “He just knows ball. He knows football. He’s very, very passionate about it. I think that’s what’s going to be awesome about this whole thing.”

Manning reached out to Jets CEO Christopher Johnson on Tuesday night to throw his support Gase’s way.

“His passion is going to be super, super contagious,” Darnold added about his new coach. “Guys are going to want to go out there and play the game all the time. I think that’s kind of his leadership style, and I think that’s really where he’s going to thrive. I think our guys are going to take on that kind of attitude.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 352 Words

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon sat

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon sat out practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, giving him extra rest as he hopes to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

NFL Network reported Tuesday that Gordon is expected to play through a mild left knee sprain, which is similar to the injury on his right knee that kept him out of three games in the regular season.

“There’s not a lot of backs in the league right now that are 100 percent, to be honest with you,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters before practice Wednesday. “He’s one of those guys that he’s not 100 percent, but sometimes you don’t feel like it because of the way he competes.”

Meanwhile, tight end Hunter Henry was a full participant in his first practice since being activated off the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Monday.

Henry has practiced with the team for three weeks, but the Chargers were not obligated to list him on an injury report until he was placed on the 53-man roster. The designation suggests Henry is on track to play against the Patriots, just 7 1/2 months since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during organized team activities.

Joining Gordon on the sideline Wednesday was center Mike Pouncey, who is battling a thumb issue. Fullback Derek Watt (shoulder) was limited, as were linebacker Kyle Wilson (concussion) and cornerback Brandon Facyson (concussion).

Lynn was not available for comment after the injury report was issued.

–Field Level Media

Read More 195 Words

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs’ plays

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs' plays

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will not

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs’ plays

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will not call offensive plays for the team, instead handing that responsibility to offensive coordinator/pass-game coordinator Byron Leftwich.

“Obviously I’ll have a big hand in it,” Arians added Wednesday on the Rich Eisen Show, in his first public appearance since being named the Bucs’ head coach on Tuesday. He said he feels “very, very comfortable” with Leftwich calling plays.

Arians has called plays in 14 NFL seasons, including all five years of his tenure as the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, but he clearly has faith in Leftwich, who turns 39 on Monday. In June 2017 — just a few months after Arians made Leftwich the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach — Arians said Leftwich will be a head coach “early and fast.”

A former top-10 pick as a quarterback, Leftwich was promoted to interim offensive coordinator in Arizona midway through this season after the firing of Mike McCoy, but the Cardinals released him after the season. This year will be his third as an NFL coach, in addition to one year as a coaching intern.

Meanwhile, Arians also sounded sure that former New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles will be his defensive coordinator, despite reports Wednesday saying the addition is not a done deal yet, with the Chicago Bears also seeking Bowles’ services to run their defense after Vic Fangio’s departure to join the Denver Broncos.

“He’s like a son to me,” Arians said of Bowles. “He thought hard about [being the Bucs’ defensive coordinator]. I was doing my best sell job and this happened. We’re really excited to be back together.”

Bowles was Arizona’s defensive coordinator under Arians from 2013-14 before landing the Jets’ lead job. The Cardinals finished those years ranked seventh and fifth, respectively, in points allowed.

Arians also voiced full support in quarterback Jameis Winston, saying, “this thing will be built around him.”

“I think he can win it all,” Arians continued of Winston. “He has the intelligence, the toughness and obviously the arm ability to lead a team. Now we’ve gotta put the right pieces around him, we’ve gotta do some things defensively, but if anybody can do things defensively, Todd Bowles can do it.”

The Buccaneers officially will introduce Arians on Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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Report: AAF to follow NFL eligibility rules

 

After Clemson's dominant

 

After Clemson’s dominant victory over Alabama on Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship game, social media was flooded with fans wishing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence could play pro football right away.

 

They’ll need to wait until 2021. Probably.

 

NBC Sports reported Tuesday that a spokesman for the upstart Alliance of American Football said the league will use the same eligibility rules as the NFL. That means a player can’t join the league until at least three years have passed since his high school class graduated.

 

So under that scenario, Lawrence and other players who were true freshmen in the 2018 season can’t be selected by the NFL until the 2021 draft, or join the AAF until then.

 

The AAF opens play in its inaugural season on Feb. 9.

 

The XFL, however, hasn’t committed to such a timeline. The eight-team XFL is scheduled to begin in 2020.

 

In an interview with podcast host Brian Berger of the Sports Business Radio Road Show in December, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said, “We’re not subject to that.”

 

“Theoretically we could take a player right out of high school. I doubt we’ll do that,” Luck said, taking note of the physical differences between teenagers and players in their mid-20s.

 

“But I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said. “Nor would I rule out taking a player who played a year of college football and let’s say isn’t eligible academically, which happens. Or a player who is two years out of college, and is transferring, and would have to sit out a year. A lot of guys don’t want to.”

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 213 Words

Report: ‘Good chance’ Kitchens will be Browns’ head coach

Report: 'Good chance' Kitchens will be Browns' head coach

Report: ‘Good chance’ Kitchens will be Browns’ head coach

Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens may be looking at his second promotion in less than three months, according to a report Tuesday by Cleveland.com, which says Kitchens has “a good chance” of being named head coach of the Browns.

The report adds that several assistant coaches already have been asked to stay aboard, a sign that the Browns will stay inside the organization for the hire. NFL Network reports it doesn’t appear Cleveland has made a decision yet, but Kitchens is getting “strong consideration.”

Kitchens, 44, interviewed with the Browns on Monday, and interim head coach Gregg Williams also interviewed for the job last week.

Last week, multiple outlets reported that the Browns blocked several NFL teams from interviewing Kitchens for their offensive coordinator positions so they could keep him, either as head coach or offensive coordinator.

Kitchens was promoted from Cleveland’s running backs coach to offensive coordinator — his first time holding a coordinator position — in Week 9 of the regular season, and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived after the change. In eight games with Kitchens as OC, Mayfield threw for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and was sacked just five times.

–Field Level Media

Read More 146 Words

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

New England Patriots

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday that the “book is closed” on doing any more head coaching interviews, adding, “I’ll be here moving forward.”

McDaniels made the comments during a conference call with reporters, multiple outlets reported.

It comes a day after the Green Bay Packers reached a deal with Matt LaFleur to be their next head coach, replacing Mike McCarthy. McDaniels was among several candidates interviewed by the Packers, and it was the one job McDaniels was reportedly very interested in during the current coaching cycle.

“It’s always a humbling experience,” McDaniels said Tuesday. “I’ve said before, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world.”

McDaniels previously turned down an invitation to interview with the Cincinnati Bengals, and said Tuesday that he has had “no contact” with the Cleveland Browns, contradicting reports that he had shown interest in their vacancy.

McDaniels told reporters he’s “completely focused” on the Patriots’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Patriots play host to the Chargers in a divisional round playoff game Sunday at 1 p.m.

McDaniels, 42, was 11-17 as the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, and he spurned the Indianapolis Colts at the 11th hour last year after reaching an agreement with the team to replace Chuck Pagano.

McDaniels returned to the Patriots after getting fired by the Broncos. He first joined the Patriots in 2001.

–Field Level Media

Read More 187 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 17

PRESS RELEASE

 

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 17

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 30, the 17th week of the 2018 season.

  • NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Six of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new

PRESS RELEASE

 

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 17

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 30, the 17th week of the 2018 season.

  • NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Six of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle. Should Indianapolis defeat Tennessee on Sunday Night Football, that number would increase to seven.

    Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

    WORST-TO-FIRST: Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

    PLAYOFF SEEDING: The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS won the NFC South and finished as the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The Saints will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

    The LOS ANGELES RAMS, who defeated San Francisco 48-32 and won the NFC West, are the No. 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

    The CHICAGO BEARS, who defeated Minnesota 24-10 and won the NFC North, are the No. 3 seed and will host Philadelphia in the Wild Card round. The PHILADELPHIA EAGLES defeated Washington, 24-0, and combined with Minnesota’s loss to Chicago, clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season.

    The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated the New York Giants 36-35 and won the NFC East, are the No. 4 seed and will host Seattle in the Wild Card round.

    In the AFC, the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS defeated Oakland, 35-3, and clinched the AFC West division title and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

    The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who defeated the New York Jets, 38-3, are the AFC’s No. 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

    The HOUSTON TEXANS, who defeated Jacksonville 20-3 and are the No. 3 seed, clinched the AFC South division title and will host a game on Wild Card weekend.

    The Texans completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround after finishing tied for last place in the division in 2017. Houston is the sixth team in NFL history to make the postseason after beginning the season 0-3 and joined the 1992 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS as the only teams in league annals to win their division following an 0-3 start to a season.

    The BALTIMORE RAVENS defeated Cleveland, 26-24, and clinched the AFC North division title for the first time since 2012. Baltimore, the AFC’s No. 4 seed, will host the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card round.

  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a 109.9 rating in the Chiefs’ Week 17 win over Oakland.

    Mahomes has 50 touchdown passes this season and joined PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history. ​​

    Chiefs wide receiver TYREEK HILL had five receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard touchdown reception, against Oakland and had a 15-yard touchdown run.

    Hill has 16 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and tied Pro Football Hall of Famer GALE SAYERS (16) for the most touchdowns of at least 50 yards by a player in his first three seasons.

    Hill has 1,479 receiving yards in 2018 and surpassed DERRICK ALEXANDER (1,391 receiving yards in 2000) for the most receiving yards in a single season in franchise history.

  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 24 of 33 attempts (72.7 percent) for 250 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 133.8 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 17 win against the New York Jets.

    Brady has 6,004 career regular-season completions and is the fourth player in NFL history with at least 6,000 career regular-season completions, joining DREW BREES (6,586), Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (6,300) and PEYTON MANNING (6,125).

  • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD passed for 376 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Browns’ Week 17 loss at Baltimore.

    Mayfield has 27 touchdown passes this season, surpassing PEYTON MANNING (26 touchdown passes in 1998) and RUSSELL WILSON (26 in 2012) for the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in the common draft era.

  • San Francisco tight end GEORGE KITTLE had nine receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown in the 49ers’ Week 17 loss.

    Kittle, who has 1,377 receiving yards this season, and Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE (1,336 receiving yards in 2018) both surpassed ROB GRONKOWSKI (1,327 in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

  • Houston defensive end J.J. WATT had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the Texans’ Week 17 win over Jacksonville.

    Watt has 16 sacks in 2018 and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer REGGIE WHITE (five seasons) as the only players since 1982 with four seasons of at least 15 sacks.

  • Three non-quarterbacks – Atlanta wide receiver MOHAMED SANU, Detroit kicker MATT PRATER and Miami wide receiver KENNY STILLS – threw touchdown passes in Week 17.

    In total, there have been 13 touchdown passes thrown by non-quarterbacks in 2018, the most in a single-season since 1983 (15 touchdowns).

    Quarterbacks RYAN TANNEHILL of the Dolphins and MATT RYAN of the Falcons both had touchdown catches in Week 17, marking the first week in the Super Bowl era in which multiple quarterbacks recorded a touchdown reception.

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

    • Eagles quarterback NICK FOLES recorded 25 consecutive completions against Washington, tied with Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS (Week 12 vs. Arizona) for the most by a quarterback in a single game in NFL history.
    • New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY had 142 scrimmage yards (109 rushing, 33 receiving) and one rushing touchdown in the Giants’ Week 17 loss.

      Barkley has 2,028 scrimmage yards and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and EDGERRIN JAMES (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

​​Barkley, who had four catches against the Cowboys, has 91 receptions this season and surpassed REGGIE BUSH (88 catches in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

    • Buffalo rookie quarterback JOSH ALLEN passed for 224 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills’ 42-17 win against Miami.

      Allen is the second rookie quarterback in NFL history to record three touchdowns passes and two rushing touchdowns in the same game, joining Miami’s DAVID WOODLEY, who had three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams on November 9, 1980.

      Allen has eight rushing touchdowns this season and joins CAM NEWTON, who had 14 rushing touchdowns in 2011, as the only rookie quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with at least eight rushing touchdowns.

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 1040 Words

What To Look For – Week 17

PRESS RELEASE

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes this season.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Oakland (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes can join PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with

PRESS RELEASE

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes this season.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Oakland (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes can join PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history.​​

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

Peyton Manning#

Denver

2013

55

Tom Brady#

New England

2007

50

Peyton Manning#

Indianapolis

2004

49

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

48*

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

48

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associate​d Press Most Valuable Player

*Entering Week 17

 

RIDICULOUS ROOKIE: New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY ranks third in the NFL with 1,886 scrimmage yards this season.

With 114 scrimmage yards against Dallas (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Barkley would join Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and EDGERRIN JAMES (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

The rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SCRIMMAGE YARDS

Eric Dickerson^#

Los Angeles Rams

1983

2,212

Edgerrin James#

Indianapolis

1999

2,139

 

 

 

 

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

1,886*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 17

Barkley has 87 receptions this season and needs two catches against the Cowboys to surpass REGGIE BUSH (88 receptions in 2006) for the most catches by a rookie running back in league annals.

 

RUN & CATCH CMC: Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY ranks second in the league with 1,925 scrimmage yards (1,080 rushing, 845 receiving) this season. McCaffrey has 106 catches in 2018 and surpassed MATT FORTÉ (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in league annals.

With 55 receiving yards at New Orleans (1:00 PM ET, FOX), McCaffrey would join Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK (1998& 1999) and ROGER CRAIG (1985) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season.

The players with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RUSHING YARDS

RECEIVING YARDS

Marshall Faulk^

St. Louis

1999

1,381

1,048

Marshall Faulk^

Indianapolis

1998

1,319

908

Roger Craig

San Francisco

1985

1,050

1,016

 

 

 

 

 

Christian McCaffrey

Carolina

2018

1,080*

845*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 17

 

HISTORY FOR AB: Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN has 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and leads the league with a franchise-record 15 touchdown catches this season.

With three receiving yards against Cincinnati (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Brown would become the first player in league annals with five seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards.

The players with the most seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS WITH 100+ CATCHES & 1,300+ REC. YARDS

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

4*

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

4

Andre Johnson

Houston

4

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has 104 receptions & 1,297 receiving yards in 2018

Brown and teammate JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, who has 106 receptions and became the youngest player in league history with at least 100 receptions in a single season, can become the first pair of teammates in league annals to each record at least 110 receptions in the same season.

 

DOMINANT DONALD: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle AARON DONALD leads the NFL with a career-high 19.5 sacks this season.

With three sacks against San Francisco (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Donald would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL STRAHAN (22.5 sacks in 2001) for the most sacks in a single season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The players with the most sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SACKS

Michael Strahan^

New York Giants

2001

22.5

Jared Allen

Minnesota

2011

22

Mark Gastineau

New York Jets

1984

22

Justin Houston

Kansas City

2014

22

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

19.5*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 17

Donald, who has recorded at least two sacks in seven games this season, can become the second player since 1982 to record at least eight games with two-or-more sacks in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers REGGIE WHITE (eight games in 1987).​

The players with the most games with two-or-more sacks in a single season since 1982:​​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS

Reggie White^#

Philadelphia

1987

8

Chris Doleman^

Minnesota

1989

7

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

7*

Bruce Smith^#

Buffalo

1990

7

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year

*Entering Week 17

 

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 665 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 16

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 16

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 23, the 16th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Pittsburgh, 31-28, and clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. With the

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 16

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 23, the 16th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Pittsburgh, 31-28, and clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. With the Steelers’ loss, the HOUSTON TEXANS clinched a playoff berth.

The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS defeated Buffalo, 24-12, and clinched the AFC East division title for the 10th consecutive season.

The Patriots have advanced to the postseason in 10 consecutive seasons (2009-18), surpassing Dallas (nine from 1975-1983) and Indianapolis (nine from 2002-2010) for the most consecutive seasons in NFL history with a playoff berth.

With their 10th win of the season, New England (16 seasons from 2003-2018) tied San Francisco (16 from 1983-98) for the most consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories in NFL history.

New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who has 4,105 passing yards this season, joins PEYTON MANNING (14 seasons), DREW BREES (12) and PHILIP RIVERS (10) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 10 seasons of at least 4,000 passing yards.

The DALLAS COWBOYS defeated Tampa Bay, 27-20, and clinched the NFC East division title for the second time in the past three seasons.

Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT had 109 scrimmage yards (85 rushing, 24 receiving) in the Cowboys’ Week 16 victory.

Elliott, who has 4,048 rushing yards and 1,199 receiving yards in his three-year NFL career, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his first three NFL seasons, joining OTTIS ANDERSON, CHRIS JOHNSON, and Pro Football Hall of Famers BARRY SANDERS and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON.

Elliott, who had 1,994 scrimmage yards in 2016, leads the NFL with 2,001 scrimmage yards this season and joins Pro Football Hall of Famers ERIC DICKERSON and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON, and EDGERRIN JAMES as the only players in league annals with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards in two of their first three career seasons.

  • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD completed 27 of 37 pass attempts (73.0 percent) for 284 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 121.9 passer rating in the Browns’ 26-18 win against Cincinnati.

Mayfield, who has 24 touchdown passes in 2018, surpassed ANDREW LUCK (23 touchdown passes in 2012) for the second-most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era. Only PEYTON MANNING (26 in 1998) had more passing touchdowns as a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era.

  • Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS completed 37 of 55 pass attempts (67.3 percent) for 442 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 103.8 passer rating and had two rushing touchdowns in the Packers’ 44-38 overtime win at the New York Jets.

Rodgers is the only player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. He also previously accomplished the feat on October 2, 2011 against Denver (408 passing yards, four touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns).

  • Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES passed for 471 yards and four touchdowns while tight end ZACH ERTZ had 12 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 32-30 victory against Houston.

Foles is the first quarterback in franchise history with multiple career games of at least 400 passing yards and four touchdown passes (406 passing yards and seven touchdown passes on November 3, 2013 at Oakland). His 471 passing yards are the most in a single game in franchise history, surpassing DONOVAN MC NABB, who passed for 464 yards against Green Bay on December 5, 2004.

Ertz, who has a franchise-record 113 catches in 2018, surpassed JASON WITTEN (110 receptions in 2012) for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

  • Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN had five receptions for 80 yards in the Vikings’ 27-9 victory at Detroit.

Thielen, who signed as an undrafted free agent with Minnesota in 2013, has 110 catches and 1,335 receiving yards in 2018 and joins ROD SMITH (2000 & 2001) & WES WELKER (2009, 2011 & 2012) as the only undrafted players in the common draft era with at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards in a single season.

  • Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY had 178 scrimmage yards (101 rushing, 77 receiving) and 12 receptions in the Panthers’ Week 16 loss against Atlanta.

McCaffrey, who leads all running backs with 106 receptions this season, surpassed MATT FORTÉ (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history.

McCaffrey, who has 1,080 rushing yards in 2018, joins Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (2003) and MATT FORTÉ (2014) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 100 receptions in a single season.

  • Pittsburgh wide receiver JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER had 11 receptions for 115 yards in the Steelers’ Week 16 loss against New Orleans.

Smith-Schuster, who is 22 years and 31 days old, has 106 catches this season and surpassed LARRY FITZGERALD (22 years, 123 days) as the youngest player to reach 100 receptions in a single season in NFL history.

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 722 Words

What To Look For – Week 16

PRESS RELEASE

WORST TO FIRST: As the NFL enters Week 16, five postseason berths have been clinched and seven remain up for grabs. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII and 14 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule feature at least one

PRESS RELEASE

WORST TO FIRST: As the NFL enters Week 16, five postseason berths have been clinched and seven remain up for grabs. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII and 14 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule feature at least one team still alive in the race to Atlanta.

Two teams – the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Los Angeles Chargers (playoff berth) – clinched a berth in the 2018 NFL postseason last week. The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. The Houston Texans (10-4), who finished in last in the AFC South in 2017, can clinch the division title at Philadelphia (1:00 PM ET, CBS) with a win or tie or if both the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans lose or tie.

In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 45 touchdown passes this season.

On Sunday night at Seattle (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Mahomes can continue his climb up the NFL’s single season touchdown pass leaderboard.

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

Peyton Manning#

Denver

2013

55

Tom Brady#

New England

2007

50

Peyton Manning#

Indianapolis

2004

49

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

48

Drew Brees

New Orleans

2011

46

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

45*

Aaron Rodgers#

Green Bay

2011

45

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Most Valuable Player

*Entering Week 16

 

4,000 in 10: New England quarterback TOM BRADY ranks fifth in the league in passing yards (3,979) while Los Angeles Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS ties for seventh  in the league with 3,951 passing yards this season. Both quarterbacks have eclipsed 4,000 passing yards in nine different seasons during their careers.

In Week 16, Brady, who faces Buffalo on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), and Rivers, who faces Baltimore on Saturday night (8:20 PM ET, NFL Network), can join PEYTON MANNING (14 seasons) and DREW BREES (12) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to record at least 10 seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards. Brees has 3,666 passing yards in 2018.

The quarterbacks with the most seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SEASONS WITH 4,000+ PASSING YARDS

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis, Denver

14

Drew Brees

New Orleans

12

Tom Brady

New England

9*

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers

9#

*Has 3,979 passing yards entering Week 16

#Has 3,951 passing yards entering Week 16

 

SHAKE& BAKER: Cleveland quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD, selected first overall by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft, leads all rookies with 21 touchdown passes this season.

With three touchdown passes on Sunday against Cincinnati (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Mayfield would surpass ANDREW LUCK (23 touchdown passes in 2012) for the second-most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era.

The most touchdown passes by a rookie selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

PASSING TOUCHDOWNS

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis

1998

26

Andrew Luck

Indianapolis

2012

23

Jameis Winston

Tampa Bay

2015

22

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland

2018

21*

Cam Newton#

Carolina

2011

21

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 16

 

RUN & CATCH: Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY leads all running backs with 94 receptions in 2018.

With nine receptions on Sunday against Atlanta (1:00 PM ET, FOX), McCaffrey would surpass MATT FORTÉ (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history.

The running backs with the most receptions in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

Matt Forté

Chicago

2014

102

Larry Centers

Arizona

1995

101

LaDainian Tomlinson^

San Diego

2003

100

Larry Centers

Arizona

1996

99

Chrstian McCaffrey

Carolina

2018

94*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 16

 

New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY leads all rookies with 82 receptions and needs seven catches at Indianapolis (1:00 PM ET, CBS) to surpass REGGIE BUSH (88 in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

The rookie running backs with the most receptions in league annals:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

Reggie Bush

New Orleans

2006

88

Earl Cooper

San Francisco

1980

83

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

82*

*Entering Week 16

 

RECORD-SETTING TIGHT ENDS: Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE leads all tight ends with a career-high 1,220 receiving yards in 2018.

With 108 receiving yards against Seattle on Sunday night (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Kelce would surpass ROB GRONKOWSKI (1,327 receiving yards in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEIVING YARDS

Rob Gronkowski

New England

2011

1,327

Jimmy Graham

New Orleans

2011

1,310

Kellen Winslow^

San Diego

1980

1,290

Tony Gonzalez

Kansas City

2004

1,258

Todd Christensen

Los Angeles Raiders

1983

1,247

 

 

 

 

Travis Kelce

Kansas City

2018

1,220*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 16

 

Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ, who ranks third in the NFL with 101 receptions, needs 10 catches against Houston on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS) to surpass JASON WITTEN (110 receptions in 2012) for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season in league annals.

The tight ends with the most receptions in a single season in league annals:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

Jason Witten

Dallas

2012

110

Tony Gonzalez

Kansas City

2004

102

Zach Ertz

Philadelphia

2018

101*

*Entering Week 16

 

KEEP IT 100: Five players – New Orleans wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS (109 receptions), Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN (105), Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ (101), Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES (100) and Green Bay wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS (100) – have recorded at least 100 receptions this season.

Entering Week 16, six additional players – Pittsburgh wide receivers JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER (95 receptions) and ANTONIO BROWN (90), Houston wide receiver DE ANDRE HOPKINS (94), Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY (94), Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE (93) and Minnesota wide receiver STEFON DIGGS (92) – currently have at least 90 receptions.

With 10 players recording at least 100 catches this season, the 2018 season would surpass the 1995 season (nine) for the most players with at least 100 catches in a single season.

The seasons with the most players with at least 100 receptions in NFL history:

SEASON

PLAYERS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS

1995

9

2015

7

Many tied

6

 

 

2018

5*

*Entering Week 16

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 971 Words

Mr. Townsend and the Polish Prince: An American Story of Race, Redemption, and Football.

Mike Gastineau's new book Mr. Townsend & the Polish Prince: An American story of race, redemption, and football, written with Joe Purzycki, tells the remarkable story of Joe Purzycki, the first-ever white head football coach at a historically black college, and Nelson Townsend, the athletic director who had the courage to hire him.

In November

Mike Gastineau’s new book Mr. Townsend & the Polish Prince: An American story of race, redemption, and football, written with Joe Purzycki, tells the remarkable story of Joe Purzycki, the first-ever white head football coach at a historically black college, and Nelson Townsend, the athletic director who had the courage to hire him.

In November of 1980, Delaware State College lost a football game to Portland State University by the outrageous score of 105 to 0. In the wake of that loss, athletic director Nelson Townsend decided to hire Joe Purzycki as Del State’s new coach. Purzycki was well-known throughout the state of Delaware.

He had been an all-American football player at the University of Delaware and had won a championship as coach of one of the largest high schools in the state. He was young, charismatic, and in Townsend’s eyes the perfect man for the job.

There was only one problem. He was white.

Delaware State is one of dozens of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in America. No HBCU had ever hired a white head football coach until Townsend hired Purzycki in 1981. The news was not well received.

Students staged angry protests, players boycotted his first meeting, 17 scholarship players quit, Purzycki’s office was vandalized, he received death threats, and the student newspaper derisively nicknamed him “the Polish Prince.”

Townsend and Purzycki stayed loyal to one another through two tough seasons as Purzycki slowly turned Delaware State’s football fortunes around. One of the players who helped was a guy who arrived as a transfer at the start of Purzycki’s second season. He was quiet, maybe even shy, and he was so small that both the coach and the AD were worried that he could handle college football. In this excerpt from the new book “Mr. Townsend & the Polish Prince, they not only find out that he could handle college ball, they even eventually learn his name.

From Chapter 22

                               Townsend finished his lunch and began walking across campus on a hot afternoon in the summer of 1982. He needed to get back to his office for a meeting with a student who wanted to transfer to Delaware State and play football.

The player and his parents were visiting Dover to check out the campus and meet with Townsend to see what needed to be done. As he got close to his office, he squinted his eyes to make out three people coming from the opposite direction.

“John?” he asked. “Alice? Is that you?”

Indeed, it was. John Taylor and his wife Alice had been Townsend’s classmates at Mary N. Smith High School on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in the 1950s. They exchanged hugs and hellos and laughed the way you do when you unexpectedly bump into someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Eventually, Townsend asked them what they were doing at Delaware State.

“This is my son, JT,” Taylor said. “He’s transferring here this fall and we’re supposed to meet the athletic director and the football coach.”

Townsend laughed at the series of coincidences unfolding in front of him. “I’m the athletic director,” he said as he introduced himself to JT. “Let’s head over to the office and I’ll introduce you to Coach Purzycki.”

His friend’s son was small and as they all talked, Purzycki and Townsend exchanged glances of concern as to whether he was big enough to play college football. He had attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte in 1981 but had been cut from the football team during the preseason, which was another red flag. Still, Purzycki was not in a position to turn away players: He needed all the help he could get.

They returned to Townsend’s office and began the paperwork for JT to become a Hornet. When Nelson asked him why he had decided to transfer he explained that he had become homesick and he thought Del State would be a better fit.

John and Alice Taylor’s son hadn’t even planned to go to college. He got a job driving a truck for a liquor warehouse right out of high school. A few months in, he realized he was hanging around his client’s establishments a little too frequently.

“I need to get out of here,” he told his father, “or I’ll end up no good.” His year in Charlotte with the Golden Bulls had been a bust athletically but he got good grades and was able to transfer into Delaware State. The NCAA ruled him eligible to play in the sixth game of the 1982 season, but he could begin practice immediately.

He had been undersized his whole life and the equipment he was issued at Delaware State hung on his body like a trench coat on a toddler.

“My head was so small that I could almost spin my helmet completely around,” he said. “My shoulder pads were way too big, and my pants sagged the way kids began wearing them in the 1990s.”

The first time he walked onto the field for practice he heard other players laughing at him. They also laughed at Ace Comer who took one look at the new guy and piped up, “Who the hell is this reject?”

Soon enough they found out. Taylor was a quiet, likable guy who showed tremendous ability from the start. “You could tell when he walked on the field that he was something special,” said Steven Holiday.

Assistant coach Walt Tullis decided that the J in JT stood for Jake. And Jake Taylor began working with the Hornets’ scout team during practice.

One day, with Purzycki watching, the scout team ran a play that called for Taylor to run a slant from the left side. He ran the route, caught the pass, put a move on his defender, and sped upfield untouched.

“I come back to the huddle and they called the same play to the other side,” he said. “I did the same thing. Caught the ball, put a move on a guy, and ran away from everybody.”

“I remember his speed was just different,” said safety James Niblack. “He’d get on you and he’d pass you. He was small and quiet off the field. But something happened when he put pads on. He became a different animal and he got stronger and faster. It was like he flipped a switch. He was true to his craft and you could tell he was going places. I remember right away thinking he’d make it to the next level.”

Linebacker Mike Colbert remembered something else about Taylor. After watching the new guy scamper past everyone on the defense, Colbert decided to put a stop to it. On the next play, Taylor caught a pass and Colbert zeroed in on him.

“He was a skinny, scrawny little guy,” said Colbert, who would lead the MEAC in tackles that year. “But he was like running into a brick wall. He was the hardest player I ever tried to tackle. He was a beast out there, he was so strong. He was the best player I ever saw.”

Taylor’s debut as a Hornet came during homecoming against Virginia State. Del State trailed 14-7 in the fourth quarter when he got his chance.

“I came into the huddle,” Taylor said, “and Rod Lester (the quarterback) looked at me and said, ‘we’re gonna run that slant pass you like.’”

Just like he had done with the scout team, Taylor caught the ball, made a move and rolled into the end zone for a touchdown to pull the Hornets to within one with about a minute to play. Suddenly, Purzycki was in position for back-to-back wins for the first time as a college coach and he wanted to go for it.

“I don’t want to tie this game,” he yelled at Billings. “I want to win it. Let’s go for two!” Billings concurred that was the right move.

Purzycki shifted into Dutch Uncle mode: “Now Herky, I need a two-point play … and it better be good.”

“I’ve got a two-point play,” Billings replied. “I don’t know how good it is, but I’ve got one.”

It was good enough to work this time (“Barely,” Billings admitted) and lifted Delaware State to a second consecutive victory and third of the season.

The Wilmington News Journal referred to the hero as “seldom-used freshman Jake Taylor,” which was accurate although to be fair, he had only recently become eligible. The touchdown was his first on offense since his days as a pee-wee football star in the Pennsauken Youth Athletic Association (he had been a defensive back in high school).

He would catch three more passes that season and by the end of the year informed everyone that they had been calling him the wrong name all season. For some reason, Tullis got it in his head that Taylor was named Jake.

“Coach,” he said one day in practice. “My name isn’t Jake. It’s John. I’m John Taylor.”

As in John Taylor, who would go on to spend nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, earning two Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl rings, and catch the game-winning pass in Super Bowl XXIII in 1989. THAT John Taylor. The one who would be selected to the NFL’s all-decade team in the 1980s.

 

                            Taylor would go on to play four years at Delaware State and establish numerous school records. He still holds the record for receiving yards in a game at the school (223 vs St. Paul’s in 1985) and is third all-time at Delaware State in career receiving yards. Both of those notes are made more remarkable considering Taylor played for a team that ran the Wing-T offense and focused more on running than passing. The two players ahead of him on the all-time list had 201 and 160 receptions in their careers. Taylor rolled up 2426 yards on just 100 career receptions.

Mr. Townsend & the Polish Prince: An American story of race, redemption, and football can be purchased at Amazon.com or requested from your local bookseller.

View the Youtube video of Coach Purzycki talking about the book here.

Read More 1644 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 15

Press Release

Seven From Sunday - Week 15

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 16, the 15th week of the 2018 season.

  • The CHICAGO BEARS defeated Green Bay,

Press Release

Seven From Sunday – Week 15

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 16, the 15th week of the 2018 season.

  • The CHICAGO BEARS defeated Green Bay, 24-17, and clinched the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010.

    The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.
     
    The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, who defeated Kansas City 29-28 on Thursday night, clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013.
     

  • Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans’ 17-0 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

    Henry, who rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns in Week 14, is the fifth player since 2002 to record at least 170 rushing yards and two touchdown runs in consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (2006), DEUCE MC ALLISTER (2003), CLINTON PORTIS (2003) and RICKY WILLIAMS (2002).

    Henry’s 408 rushing yards since Week 14 are the most by a player over a two-game span in franchise history, surpassing the previous high of 405 yards set by Pro Football Hall of Famer EARL CAMPBELL in Weeks 7-8 for the 1980 Houston Oilers. His six rushing touchdowns are the most by a player in team history over any two-game span.
     

  • Chicago quarterback MITCHELL TRUBISKY completed 20 of 28 passes (71.4 percent) for 235 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 120.4 passer rating in the Bears’ 24-17 victory over Green Bay.
     
    Trubisky has recorded a passer rating of at least 120 (minimum 15 attempts) in four games this season, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer SID LUCKMAN (three games in 1943), RUDY BUKICH (three in 1965) and ERIK KRAMER (three in 1995) for the most such games by a quarterback in a single season in franchise history.
     
  • Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES had 82 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 40-14 victory over Arizona.

    Jones, who leads the NFL with 1,511 receiving yards, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least three career seasons with 1,500+ receiving yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers JERRY RICE (four seasons) and MARVIN HARRISON (three), and ANTONIO BROWN (three) and ANDRE JOHNSON (three).

    Jones, who also has 100 receptions this season, joined Harrison (three), Brown (three) and Johnson (three) as the only players in NFL history with at least 100 catches and 1,500 receiving yards in three career seasons.
                                                      

  • The BALTIMORE RAVENS, led by rookie running back GUS EDWARDS (104 rushing yards) and rookie quarterback LAMAR JACKSON (95 rushing yards), recorded 242 rushing yards in the Ravens’ 20-12 victory over Tampa Bay.

    Baltimore has rushed for at least 190 yards in five consecutive games and is the first team to accomplish the feat since the 1976 PITTSBURGH STEELERS (five consecutive games from October 17 to November 14).
     

  • Indianapolis running back MARLON MACK rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 23-0 victory over Dallas. 

    Mack, who also rushed for 132 yards and two scores in the Colts’ Week 8 victory over Oakland, is the third player in franchise history to record multiple games with at least 125 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (two games in 1987) and EDGERRIN JAMES (two games in both 1999 and 2005).
     

  • The MINNESOTA VIKINGS recorded nine sacks, including two sacks each from defensive end DANIELLE HUNTER and linebacker ANTHONY BARR, in the team’s 41-17 victory over Miami. 

    Minnesota, which recorded 10 sacks in the team’s Week 9 victory over Detroit, are the second team since 1990 to register at least nine sacks in multiple games in a single season, joining the 2017 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (two games). The Vikings are the seventh team since the 1970 merger to record multiple such games in a single season.

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 586 Words

What to Look For – Week 15

PRESS RELEASE

​​​​​​WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WEEK 15

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 15, two teams have clinched division titles – the NFC West champion LOS ANGELES RAMS and the NFC South champion NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – and five additional teams can clinch their respective divisions this week: the CHICAGO

PRESS RELEASE

​​​​​​WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WEEK 15

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 15, two teams have clinched division titles – the NFC West champion LOS ANGELES RAMS and the NFC South champion NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – and five additional teams can clinch their respective divisions this week: the CHICAGO BEARS (9-4), DALLAS COWBOYS (8-5), HOUSTON TEXANS (9-4), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-2), and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-4).

For the 2018 NFL Playoff Scenarios for Week 15, click here.

As the league enters Week 15, there are 20 teams either in or within one game of a playoff spot, including 11 teams that did not advance to the postseason in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – Chicago (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.​

HISTORY IN KC: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 43 touchdown passes this season.

With three touchdown passes against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime), Mahomes would tie DREW BREES (46 touchdown passes in 2011) for the fifth-most passing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history.

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

Peyton Manning#

Denver

2013

55

Tom Brady#

New England

2007

50

Peyton Manning#

Indianapolis

2004

49

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

48

Drew Brees

New Orleans

2011

46

 

 

 

 

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

43*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Most Valuable Player

*Entering Week 15

 

HEY, ROOKIE: Denver rookie linebacker BRADLEY CHUBB leads all rookies and is tied for sixth in the NFL with 12 sacks this season.

With a sack against Cleveland on Saturday night (8:20 PM ET, NFL Network), Chubb would tie DWIGHT FREENEY (13 sacks in 2002) for the third-most sacks by a rookie in a single season since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.​

The rookies with the most sacks in a single season since 1982:​​

PLAYER

TEAM

YEAR

SACKS

Jevon Kearse#

Tennessee

1999

14.5

Aldon Smith

San Francisco

2011

14

Dwight Freeney

Indianapolis

2002

13

 

 

 

 

Bradley Chubb

Denver

2018

12*

#Named Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 15

 

JULIO ON THE RISE: Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES leads the NFL with 1,429 receiving yards this season. In Week 13, Jones became the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,400 receiving yards in five consecutive seasons.

Jones, who had 1,593 receiving yards in 2014 and 1,871 receiving yards in 2015, needs 71 receiving yards on Sunday against Arizona (1:00 PM ET, FOX), to become the fifth player in NFL history with three career seasons with at least 1,500 receiving yards.

The players with the most career seasons with at least 1,500 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS WITH 1,500+ RECEIVING YARDS

Jerry Rice^

San Francisco

4

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

3

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

3

Andre Johnson

Houston

3

 

 

 

Julio Jones

Atlanta

2*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has 1,429 receiving yards this season

 

STARS FROM SCRIMMAGE: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT leads the NFL with 1,262 rushing yards this season.

Elliott, who has 3,876 rushing yards and 1,134 receiving yards since entering the league in 2016, needs 124 rushing yards on Sunday at Indianapolis (1:00 PM ET, FOX) to become the fifth player in NFL history with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his first three seasons. ​

The players with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in their first three seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

RUSHING YARDS

RECEIVING YARDS

Chris Johnson

Tennessee

2008-2010

4,598

1,008

LaDainian Tomlinson^

San Diego

2001-2003

4,564

1,581

Ottis Anderson

St. Louis Cardinals

1979-1981

4,333

1,003

Barry Sanders

Detroit

1989-1991

4,322

1,069

 

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas

2016-2018

3,876*

1,134*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*In third season

 

BRILLIANT BARKLEY: New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY leads all rookies with 1,753 scrimmage yards and has 13 touchdowns (nine rushing, four receiving) this season.

With 147 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns on Sunday against Tennessee (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Barkley, can become the fifth rookie with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns in a single season in NFL history. ​

The rookies with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns in a single season in NFL history:​​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SCRIMMAGE YARDS

TOUCHDOWNS

Eric Dickerson^#

Los Angeles Rams

1983

2,212

20

Edgerrin James#

Indianapolis

1999

2,139

17

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas

2016

1,994

16

Billy Sims#

Detroit

1980

1,924

16

 

 

 

 

 

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

1,753*

13*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 15

 

LIGHTS, KAMARA, ACTION: New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,384 scrimmage yards this season.

Kamara, who had 1,554 scrimmage yards as a rookie in 2017, needs 83 receiving yards at Carolina on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), to join HERSCHEL WALKER (1986-87) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,500 rushing and 1,500 receiving yards in their first two seasons in league history. ​

The players with at least 1,500 rushing and 1,500 receiving yards in their first two seasons in league history:​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

RUSHING YARDS

RECEIVING YARDS

Herschel Walker

Dallas

1986-87

1,628

1,552

 

 

 

 

 

Alvin Kamara

New Orleans

2017-18

1,521*

1,417*

*In second season

 

SUPERCAM: Carolina quarterback CAM NEWTON ranks third among NFL quarterbacks with 473 rushing yards this season. Newton has rushed for at least 500 rushing yards in six of his first seven seasons in the league.

With 27 rushing yards against New Orleans on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), Newton can become the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 500 rushing yards in seven seasons.​

The quarterbacks with the most seasons with at least 500 rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SEASONS WITH 500+ RUSHING YARDS

Randall Cunningham

Philadelphia

6

Cam Newton

Carolina

6*

Michael Vick

Atlanta, Philadelphia

6

*Has 473 rushing yards this season

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 952 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 14

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday - Week 14

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 9, the 14th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Tampa Bay, 28-14,

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday – Week 14

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 9, the 14th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Tampa Bay, 28-14, and clinched the NFC South division title for the second-consecutive season. New Orleans has won back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history.
    The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS clinched a playoff berth with a 27-24 overtime victory over Baltimore. The Chiefs advance to the postseason for the fourth-consecutive season.

    The LOS ANGELES RAMS, who clinched the NFC West division title in Week 13 and play at Chicago tonight (8:20 PM ET, NBC), can clinch a first-round bye with a victory over the Bears.
     

  • The MIAMI DOLPHINS defeated New England, 34-33, on the final play from scrimmage, as running back KENYAN DRAKE took a lateral from wide receiver DE VANTE PARKER 52 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

    The Dolphins’ game-winning 69-yard touchdown was the longest play from scrimmage to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter since the 1970 merger.

    Dolphins running back FRANK GORE recorded 116 scrimmage yards (92 rushing, 24 receiving) in the team’s victory. Gore, who has 18,530 career scrimmage yards, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (18,456) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in NFL history. The four players with more scrimmage yards than Gore are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: JERRY RICE (23,540), EMMITT SMITH (21,579), WALTER PAYTON (21,264) and MARSHALL FAULK (19,154).
     

  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES completed 35 of 53 passes (66.0 percent) for 377 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 91.5 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 27-24 overtime victory over Baltimore.

    Mahomes, who was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, leads the NFL with 4,300 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes this season. Mahomes joined Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO (1984) and KURT WARNER (1999) as the only first-or-second year quarterbacks in league annals with at least 4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes in a single season.

    Chiefs tight end TRAVIS KELCE had seven catches for 77 yards and one touchdown in the victory. Kelce has 86 catches and 1,159 receiving yards this season and is the first tight end in league annals with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons.

    Kansas City defensive lineman CHRIS JONES recorded a sack in the win and has at least one sack in each of the Chiefs’ past nine games. Jones is the first player to record a sack in at least nine consecutive games in a single season since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. He is the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games at any point in time.

  • Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS completed 21 of 32 passes (65.6 percent) for 196 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 103.1 passer rating in the Packers’ 34-20 victory over Atlanta.

    Rodgers, who has not thrown an interception in 368 pass attempts dating back to Week 4, surpassed TOM BRADY (358 consecutive attempts from 2010-11) for the most consecutive pass attempts without an interception in NFL history.
                

  • New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING passed for 197 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 132.0 passer rating and rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY rushed for 170 yards with one touchdown in the team’s 40-16 victory at Washington.

    Manning has 55,142 career passing yards and became the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 55,000 passing yards.        

    Barkley, who scored on a 78-yard touchdown run, has five scrimmage touchdowns of at least 50 yards this season, the most by a rookie in a single season since Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (five touchdowns in 1998). Only BILLY HOWTON of the 1952 Green Bay Packers had more such touchdowns as a rookie in a single season (six).

    Barkley has 12 games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in 2018, tying EDGERRIN JAMES (12 games in 1999) for the second-most games with 100+ scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (13 games in 1983) has more such games.
     

  • New Orleans wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS had 11 receptions for 98 yards in the Saints’ 28-14 victory at Tampa Bay.

    Thomas, who has 298 receptions since entering the league in 2016, surpassed ODELL BECKHAM, JR. (288 catches from 2014-16) and JARVIS LANDRY (288 catches from 2014-16) for the most catches by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history.
     

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

    • New England quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 358 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 112.4 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 14 loss at Miami.

      Brady has 582 career touchdown passes (including the postseason) and surpassed PEYTON MANNING (579) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history.

      Brady has 47 career games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes and surpassed Manning (46 games) for the second-most such games in league annals. Only DREW BREES (63) has more such games in NFL history.
       

    • San Francisco tight end GEORGE KITTLE had seven catches for 210 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown catch, in the 49ers’ 20-14 victory over Denver.
       
      Kittle’s 210 receiving yards are the third-most by a tight end in a single game in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers SHANNON SHARPE (214 receiving yards on October 20, 2002) and JACKIE SMITH (212 on October 13, 1963).

    • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD completed 18 of 22 passes (81.8 percent) for 238 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions for a 126.9 passer rating in the Browns’ 26-20 victory over Carolina.

      Mayfield has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (1999) and BRAD JOHNSON (1996-97) as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with a touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts.
       

    • Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES had eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ loss at Green Bay.

      Jones leads the NFL with 1,429 receiving yards this season and has recorded at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of the past five seasons, the longest streak in NFL history

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 943 Words

What to Look For – Week 14

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WEEK 14

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 14, one team – the LOS ANGELES RAMS (11-1) – has clinched a playoff berth as the battle for the remaining spots forges ahead. Three ​​additional teams – the HOUSTON TEXANS (9-3), NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-3) and

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WEEK 14

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 14, one team – the LOS ANGELES RAMS (11-1) – has clinched a playoff berth as the battle for the remaining spots forges ahead. Three ​​additional teams – the HOUSTON TEXANS (9-3), NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-3) and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-2) – can clinch a division title this week.

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – the CHICAGO BEARS (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

STAT PATTING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes and ranks second in passing yards (3,923).

With 77 passing yards on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes would join Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO (1984) and KURT WARNER (1999) as the only first-or-second year quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season. Both Marino and Warner were named Associated Press MVP in those seasons.

The first-or-second year quarterbacks to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

PASSING YARDS

TOUCHDOWNS

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

5,084

48

Kurt Warner^#

St. Louis

1999

4,353

41

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

3,923*

41*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press MVP

*Entering Week 14

 

RAISING ARIZONA: Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD has 1,281 receptions for 16,053 yards and 115 touchdowns during his 15-year NFL career, all with the Cardinals.

With one reception on Sunday against Detroit (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Fitzgerald would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1,281 receptions with San Francisco) for the most receptions by a player with one team in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions for one team in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

RECEPTIONS

Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona

1,281

Jerry Rice^

San Francisco

1,281

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

FIFTH FOR FRANK: Miami running back FRANK GORE has 18,414 scrimmage yards in his 14-year NFL career.

With 43 scrimmage yards on Sunday against New England (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Gore would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (18,456 scrimmage yards) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in league annals.

The players with the most scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SCRIMMAGE YARDS

Jerry Rice^

San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle

23,540

Emmitt Smith^

Dallas, Arizona

21,579

Walter Payton^

Chicago

21,264

Marshall Faulk^

Indianapolis, St. Louis

19,154

LaDainian Tomlinson^

San Diego, New York Jets

18,456

Frank Gore

San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami

18,414

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

TOUCHDOWN STREAK: Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first nine NFL starts.

With a touchdown pass against Carolina (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Mayfield would become the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to record at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts.

The players with a touchdown pass in each of their first 10 career starts since 1966:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON(S)

Kurt Warner^

St. Louis

1999

Brad Johnson

Minnesota

1996-97

 

 

 

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland

2018*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has TD pass in each of first nine starts

 

SAQUON FROM SCRIMMAGE: New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY had 146 scrimmage yards (125 rushing, 21 receiving) in the Giants’ Week 13 overtime victory against Chicago. Barkley leads the NFL with 11 games of at least 100 scrimmage yards in 2018.

With 100 scrimmage yards on Sunday at Washington (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Barkley would tie EDGERRIN JAMES (12 games in 1999) for the second-most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (13 games in 1983) has more such games.

The rookies with the most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

GAMES WITH 100+ SCRIMMAGE YARDS

Eric Dickerson^#

Los Angeles Rams

1983

13

Edgerrin James#

Indianapolis

1999

12

 

 

 

 

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

11*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 14

 

RECORD-SETTING RECEIVER: Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN has 81 receptions for 1,028 yards and leads the NFL with 12 touchdown receptions this season.

With 10 receptions on Sunday at Oakland (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Brown, who has 663 receptions since 2013, can surpass WES WELKER (672 from 2007-12) for the most catches by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

The most receptions by a player over any six-year span in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

RECEPTIONS

Wes Welker

New England

2007-12

672

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

2013-18

663*

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

1999-2004

649

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*In sixth year of span

 

Brown, who had 154 receiving yards in Week 13, has 8,876 receiving yards since 2013 and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (8,759 from 1990-1995) for the most receiving yards by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

The most receiving yards by a player over any six-year span in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

RECEIVING YARDS

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

2013-18

8,876*

Jerry Rice^

San Francisco

1990-95

8,759

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

1999-2004

8,707

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*In sixth year of span

 

ZACH ATTACK: Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ ranks second in the NFL with 93 receptions and second among tight ends with 978 receiving yards this season.

With seven receptions and 22 receiving yards on Sunday at Dallas (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Ertz can become the fourth tight end in NFL history to record at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

The tight ends with at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

RECEIVING YARDS

Jason Witten

Dallas

2012

110#

1,039

Dallas Clark

Indianapolis

2009

100

1,106

Tony Gonzalez

Kansas City

2004

102

1,258

 

 

 

 

 

Zach Ertz

Philadelphia

2018

93*

978*

*Entering Week 14

#Single-season record by a tight end

 

DOMINANT DONALD: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle AARON DONALD leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks this season and has recorded at least two sacks in each of his past three games.

With two sacks on Sunday Night Football at Chicago (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Donald can become the fourth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to record at least two sacks in four consecutive games in a single season, joining SIMEON RICE (five games in 2002) and Pro Football Hall of Famers KEVIN GREENE (four games in 1998) and REGGIE WHITE (four games in 1987).

The players with the most consecutive games with at least two sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS

Simeon Rice

Tampa Bay

2002

5

Kevin Greene^

Carolina

1998

4

Reggie White^

Philadelphia

1987

4

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

3*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active streak

 

Donald, who has recorded at least two sacks in six games this season, can become the fourth player since 1982 to record at least seven games with two-or-more sacks in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers REGGIE WHITE (eight games in 1987), CHRIS DOLEMAN (seven games in 1989) and BRUCE SMITH (seven games in 1990).

The players with the most games with two-or-more sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS

Reggie White^#

Philadelphia

1987

8

Chris Doleman^

Minnesota

1989

7

Bruce Smith^#

Buffalo

1990

7

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

6*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year

*Entering Week 14

 

JONES-ING FOR MORE: Kansas City defensive lineman CHRIS JONES ties for fifth in the AFC with 10 sacks this season and has recorded at least one sack in eight consecutive games.

With a sack on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Jones would become the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games and the first player since 1982 to record nine consecutive games with at least one sack within a single season.

The players with the most consecutive games with at least one sack since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SEASON(S)

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A SACK

DeMarcus Ware

Dallas

2007-08

10

Simon Fletcher

Denver

1992-93

10

Dwight Freeney

Indianapolis

2008-09

9

Kevin Greene^

San Francisco, Carolina

1997-98

9

Bruce Smith^

Buffalo

1986-87

9

 

 

 

 

Chris Jones

Kansas City

2018

8*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active streak

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 1319 Words

Gruden: Redskins QB McCoy fractures fibula in right leg

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy suffered a fractured fibula in his right leg in the second quarter of Monday night's 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington coach Jay Gruden said.

McCoy ran to avoid a sack and tried to slide as the Eagles defense rushed toward him. He planted his

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy suffered a fractured fibula in his right leg in the second quarter of Monday night’s 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington coach Jay Gruden said.

McCoy ran to avoid a sack and tried to slide as the Eagles defense rushed toward him. He planted his right leg into the turf and the lower part of the leg and ankle viciously whipped into safety Malcolm Jenkins’ knee.

Gruden said McCoy will miss the rest of the season.

The Washington Redskins (6-6) know a thing or two about serious injuries to quarterbacks — McCoy got his chance because Alex Smith suffered a broken right leg just weeks ago that has threatened his career.

McCoy’s injury occurred on the nasty slide and he was replaced by Mark Sanchez, who was tasked with keeping the Redskins afloat in the NFC playoff picture.

“We have to get a plan ready for mark moving forward,” Gruden said. “We’ve got to play great football around him which we didn’t do tonight.”

McCoy stayed in the game and completed two short passes before limping off with the Redskins trailing 7-3 to the Super Bowl champion Eagles (6-6). The Redskins said that McCoy would not return, but didn’t immediately provide details about the injury.

McCoy took over and made his second straight start since Smith was knocked out with gruesome season-ending leg injury last month against Houston. McCoy helped Washington score a pair of TDs, including on his 9-yard touchdown on the backup QB’s first pass in a regular-season game since 2015.

His start in the Thanksgiving game against Dallas was his first since 2015. McCoy, who started for Cleveland and San Francisco earlier in his career, had appeared in nine games over the last three-plus seasons with Washington, until Smith was injured.

Sanchez was the lone QB left on Washington’s roster. He threw an interception in the fourth quarter with the Redskins trailing 22-13 that snuffed a rally.

Sanchez, signed two weeks ago, played for the first time since Jan. 1, 2017, when he was with Dallas. Sanchez, a former Eagle, was eased into the lineup.

On his first snap, he handed the ball to Adrian Peterson, who raced 90 yards for a touchdown. The 33-year-old Peterson had the longest rushing TD of his career, the longest rushing score in Redskins’ history and he became the oldest player in NFL history with a 90-yard rushing touchdown.

Sanchez was once the franchise quarterback for the New York Jets and led them to the AFC championship game his first two seasons in the NFL. Sanchez was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and drew comparisons to Joe Namath in New York. He was 4-2 in the postseason and helped the Jets beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive road playoff games in January 2011. But Sanchez had an NFL-leading 52 turnovers in 2012-13 and lost his starting job to Geno Smith. He spent two seasons with the Eagles and one with the Cowboys.

His lasting image of his time with the Jets came in 2012, when he fumbled after running into the backside of guard Brandon Moore. It was returned for a touchdown by New England’s Steve Gregory in front of a national television audience on Thanksgiving night and was infamously labeled “The Butt Fumble.”

Sanchez lost a fumble against the Eagles and actually saved the ball by pressing it against his rear end.

There’s no guarantee Sanchez will remain the starter. The Redskins worked out E.J. Manuel, T.J. Yates, Kellen Clemens and Josh Johnson after Smith was injured and quality veteran QBs are in low supply.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 552 Words

Redskins-Eagles Stats

Washington 0 13 0 0—13
Philadelphia 7 7 0 14—28
First Quarter

Phi_Tate 6 pass from Wentz (Elliott kick), 7:31.

Second Quarter

Was_FG Hopkins 44, 13:46.

Was_Peterson 90 run (Hopkins kick), 9:23.

Phi_Sproles 14 run (Elliott kick), 1:46.

Was_FG Hopkins 47,

Washington 0 13 0 0—13
Philadelphia 7 7 0 14—28
First Quarter

Phi_Tate 6 pass from Wentz (Elliott kick), 7:31.

Second Quarter

Was_FG Hopkins 44, 13:46.

Was_Peterson 90 run (Hopkins kick), 9:23.

Phi_Sproles 14 run (Elliott kick), 1:46.

Was_FG Hopkins 47, :15.

Fourth Quarter

Phi_Matthews 4 pass from Wentz (Tate pass from Wentz), 14:10.

Phi_FG Elliott 46, 11:41.

Phi_FG Elliott 44, 4:48.

A_69,696.

___

Was Phi
First downs 10 28
Total Net Yards 235 436
Rushes-yards 14-104 33-130
Passing 131 306
Punt Returns 1-1 3-19
Kickoff Returns 0-0 1-22
Interceptions Ret. 1-40 1-8
Comp-Att-Int 17-25-1 27-39-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 3-19 0-0
Punts 6-48.3 2-46.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 3-0
Penalties-Yards 10-69 5-38
Time of Possession 20:41 39:19

___

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_Washington, Peterson 9-98, Sanchez 1-8, Thompson 3-3, Crowder 1-(minus 5). Philadelphia, Adams 20-85, Clement 5-27, Sproles 4-22, Wentz 4-(minus 4).

PASSING_Washington, McCoy 4-4-0-50, Sanchez 13-21-1-100. Philadelphia, Wentz 27-39-1-306.

RECEIVING_Washington, Crowder 4-36, Reed 4-21, Doctson 3-51, Thompson 3-18, Davis 2-15, Floyd 1-9. Philadelphia, Ertz 9-83, Tate 7-85, Agholor 4-56, Clement 3-47, Jeffery 3-31, Matthews 1-4.

MISSED FIELD GOALS_None.

Read More 98 Words

Wentz tosses for 2 TDs, leads Eagles over Redskins 28-13

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz ran around and extended plays the way he did before his knee injury.

Wentz tossed two touchdown passes, Darren Sproles ran for a score and the Philadelphia Eagles stayed in the hunt for the NFC East title with a 28-13 victory over the depleted Washington Redskins on Monday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz ran around and extended plays the way he did before his knee injury.

Wentz tossed two touchdown passes, Darren Sproles ran for a score and the Philadelphia Eagles stayed in the hunt for the NFC East title with a 28-13 victory over the depleted Washington Redskins on Monday night.

The Eagles (6-6) won consecutive games for the first time since Nick Foles led them to a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.

The Redskins (6-6) lost backup quarterback Colt McCoy to a leg injury in his second game replacing Alex Smith, who broke his right tibia and fibula on Nov. 18. Mark Sanchez took his place.

Adrian Peterson ran 90 yards for a touchdown on Sanchez’s first play under center, giving the Redskins a 10-7 lead. It was the longest run Philadelphia has allowed in franchise history but Washington’s lead didn’t last long.

Wentz, who hasn’t scrambled much since returning in Week 3 from surgery to repair two knee ligaments, didn’t run for any yards. But he was on the move quite a bit on designed rollouts and plays in which he improvised and completed passes.

Sproles put Philadelphia up 14-10 on a 14-yard TD run in the second quarter. Wentz tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Jordan Matthews and connected with Golden Tate on a 2-point conversion to extend the lead to 22-13 early in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles twice failed to score inside the red zone and still managed their second-highest point total this season.

They had a first down at the Redskins 2 in the second quarter, but Josh Adams was stopped for a loss on fourth down from the 1.

They had a first down at the Redskins 5 in the third quarter, but Wentz threw an interception right to Josh Norman.

Wentz finished 27 of 39 for 306 yards. He came out firing and led the Eagles to a score on their opening drive for only the third time season.

First, he scrambled out of the pocket, motioned Tate to go deep and lofted a 19-yard pass down the left sideline on a first-and-15. Wentz finished the drive by firing a 6-yard TD pass on the run to Tate.

Dustin Hopkins kicked field goals of 47 and 44 yards for Washington.

WELCOME BACK

Sproles scored his first TD since Dec. 22, 2016. Sproles only played three games last season before he tore a knee ligament and broke his forearm on the same play. He was sidelined since Week 1 this year because of a hamstring injury.

RECORD SETTER

Zach Ertz broke Brian Westbrook’s franchise record for receptions in a season. Ertz has 93 catches and is closing in on Jason Witten’s single-season record (110) for tight ends. Westbrook had 90 catches in 2007.

INJURIES

Redskins: LG Jonathan Cooper (arm), RB Tony Bergstrom (ankle), CB Fabian Moreau (knee) and LB Ryan Anderson (hamstring) left the game.

Eagles: DT Tim Jernigan (back spasms) left in the first quarter and LT Jason Peters came out on the final series with an undisclosed injury.

UP NEXT

Redskins: Host the New York Giants (4-8) on Sunday.

Eagles: Visit the Dallas Cowboys (7-5) on Sunday.

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Seahawks 3-game streak is fueling a push to playoff berth

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — After four straight weeks of playing tight, one-score games decided in the fourth quarter, Pete Carroll enjoyed spending a Monday reviewing a rare comfortable victory.

"It was a little different than the games we've been playing in," Carroll said. "It was nice to see us get out ahead and

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — After four straight weeks of playing tight, one-score games decided in the fourth quarter, Pete Carroll enjoyed spending a Monday reviewing a rare comfortable victory.

“It was a little different than the games we’ve been playing in,” Carroll said. “It was nice to see us get out ahead and hang onto it and work with the lead and play in that fashion.”

Seattle’s blowout win over San Francisco on Sunday only strengthened what is becoming another late playoff push by the Seahawks, and after a day in which they got results that helped in trying to get back to the playoffs after missing last season. Seattle is currently in command of one of the wild-card spots in the NFC and its hopes were strengthened by Carolina and Minnesota suffering losses. Seattle holds the tiebreaker over Carolina and can have that in place over Minnesota with a win at home next Monday night against the Vikings.

The only teams Seattle (7-5) could end up in wild-card contention with that it won’t face head-to-head are Washington and Philadelphia. But if the Seahawks continue winning, it won’t matter. They’ll be in the postseason.

“These are must-win games for us. Every week, we approach it like that,” Seattle left tackle Duane Brown said after the win. “We approach every week like a playoff game and that’s the kind of intensity guys came out with from kickoff on.”

Seattle’s current roll is reviving memories of 2015, when it was 4-5 after nine games. But this time, success is coming a different way. That season, the Seahawks leaned on the passing arm of quarterback Russell Wilson as he threw for 24 touchdowns and just one interception over the final seven games as Seattle went 6-1 down the stretch and made the postseason. Wilson averaged 272 yards passing and 31 pass attempts per game during that stretch.

So far, it’s been balance and efficiency that’s defined Seattle’s offensive performance during its current three-game win streak, although his overall numbers aren’t that dissimilar. Wilson has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions during the stretch, averaging about 250 yards passing. But there’s been no fall-off with Seattle’s run game of late, meaning Wilson isn’t being forced to carry the offense.

In Sunday’s 43-16 win over San Francisco, Wilson attempted just six passes in the first half. He threw for touchdowns on three of them. Seattle will take that kind of efficiency — even with reduced numbers — all the time.

“I think that the development of the pass protection has been really obvious and Russ has taken advantage of that,” Carroll said, noting Wilson’s movement on a 52-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett on Sunday. “That’s why he’s been able to be more effective getting the second looks and sliding up in the pocket and hitting Tyler on the big play was a perfect example of that. Really good protection, he gets to move to give one more beat to get Tyler a chance to get behind him and deliver the throw. I just think it’s connected with what’s going on up front, but his overall command of what we’re trying to get done communication-wise has really helped the other guys play well.”

Seattle did come out of the win over the 49ers with one major injury concern after guard D.J. Fluker suffered a hamstring strain. Carroll said Fluker had a “grade 1” strain and would likely miss a couple of weeks. When Fluker was unable play last month against the Rams, it was Jordan Simmons who stepped in to start.

“He seems to be moving in the right direction to be a really, really viable option for us,” Carroll said of Simmons. “He doesn’t get that much practice time, so when he does get the practice time like he did in the Rams week, he did a very good job with it. So, we’re going to count on him playing and see how that goes.”

NOTES: Seattle waived LB Emmanuel Ellerbee on Monday, clearing a roster spot for LB Mychal Kendricks after his suspension was lifted. Kendricks has been practicing with the Seahawks for the past two weeks, but next Monday against Minnesota will be the first time he’s eligible to play. He could end up moving into a prominent role with K.J. Wright still out due to knee troubles, although Austin Calitro has played well. Carroll said he believes Kendricks could play a significant amount of snaps, if needed. … Carroll expects RB Chris Carson (finger), FB Tre Madden (chest) and DT Shamar Stephen (foot) to be able to play next Monday. Carson suffered a dislocated finger in the win over San Francisco, while Madden and Stephen were both inactive.

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Redskins QB McCoy injured; Sanchez in against Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy suffered an injury to his right leg and was replaced by Mark Sanchez in the second quarter of Monday night's game against Philadelphia.

McCoy's return was questionable. He limped off the field after completing all four passes for 50 yards and the Redskins trailing 7-3.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy suffered an injury to his right leg and was replaced by Mark Sanchez in the second quarter of Monday night’s game against Philadelphia.

McCoy’s return was questionable. He limped off the field after completing all four passes for 50 yards and the Redskins trailing 7-3. McCoy took over and made his second straight start after the gruesome season-ending leg injury to Alex Smith. McCoy’s start in the Thanksgiving game against Dallas was his first since 2015.

Sanchez, signed two weeks ago, played for the first time since Jan. 1, 2017, when he was with Dallas.

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Back to back: Rams sight bigger goals after winning NFC West

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams seemed to come out of nowhere last season to win their first NFC West championship in 14 years.

When the Rams clinched their second straight division title Sunday, everybody in the NFL had seen it coming all year long.

The league-leading Rams (11-1) haven't surprised anybody

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams seemed to come out of nowhere last season to win their first NFC West championship in 14 years.

When the Rams clinched their second straight division title Sunday, everybody in the NFL had seen it coming all year long.

The league-leading Rams (11-1) haven’t surprised anybody this season, not after their remarkable 2017 transformation under rookie head coach Sean McVay.

They’re still the division champs again, this time with four games to spare and plenty of opportunities to climb even higher before the postseason.

The Rams became the first team to clinch a postseason berth by beating the Lions 30-16 last weekend, guaranteeing themselves at least one home playoff game. This franchise hadn’t won back-to-back NFC West championships since 1979, when the Rams completed a run of seven straight.

“It’s a blessing,” McVay said Monday after returning from Detroit with a raging winter cold. “You don’t take anything for granted. It’s nice to be able to still have an opportunity to accomplish some things as you continue to progress through this season, but it still feels great either way to be able to accomplish something special with people that you care about and that you love.”

The Rams put on celebratory hats at Ford Field, but the muted party was mostly forgotten Monday when they got home.

According to left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the Rams have greater expectations after they built on last season’s 11-5 record with an even more impressive campaign this fall.

“With all of us coming together for the first time (last year), it felt like you responded and rose to the occasion and achieved something,” Whitworth said. “I think this year, it feels like we expected to be a good football team. We expected to have an opportunity to win this division again, and we went out and did it. So I think you more see it as a checklist item. … You’re happy you won it, but it’s not the end goal, and it’s not really something we didn’t think or expect that we could do.”

Two straight division titles still are a notable achievement in the up-and-down history of the Rams, who have won only one NFL championship since 1951.

Los Angeles’ string of solid playoff teams in the 1980s won just one division title. The Greatest Show on Turf and its descendants in St. Louis won three division titles in five years, but never two in a row.

The Rams had missed the playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons before McVay and Wade Phillips led them back last year, only to lose an opening-round home game to Atlanta.

The Rams are playoff-bound again, but they still have plenty to do in December — starting with the chance to clinch a first-round bye during their trip to Chicago on Sunday night.

A win over the Bears (8-4), who have the NFC’s third-best record behind LA and New Orleans (10-2), would guarantee an extra week of rest for the Rams in January.

The Rams also control their destiny for home-field advantage in a potential NFC championship game with the Saints, but that race could go deep into December.

“It’s a big deal,” McVay said. “To be able to earn the opportunity in your 13th game of the season to be able to, at the worst, clinch a No. 2 seed, it would mean that you’ll be able to watch that first week of the wild card round (at home). It’s a huge deal to us, so that’s certainly going to be a great challenge. That’s the next step.”

NOTES: Backup running back Malcolm Brown injured his collarbone in Detroit, and he was expected to have “a procedure that’s not necessarily a surgery” on Monday, McVay said without elaborating. The Rams didn’t know the severity of the injury. … McVay confirmed he spoke with former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury about potentially being “an extra set of eyes” for the Rams down the stretch. The offense-minded coaches are good friends, and Kingsbury spent time with the Rams during the summer. “He’s got a lot of opportunities that he’s figuring out now, so there’s really no news on that front,” McVay said. … McVay hopes to kick his cold in time for the Rams’ trip to wintry Chicago. “Even if I’m not healthy, that’s not going to hold me back,” McVay said. “I’m not out there playing, so as long as my brain isn’t too slow, then I’m going to do the best I can to get as healthy as possible and ready to go for these guys.”

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49ers RB Matt Breida out this week with ankle injury

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers will be without another key offensive piece with leading rusher Matt Breida sidelined at least a week with an injured ankle.

Breida hurt himself in warmups before Sunday's 43-16 loss at Seattle that officially eliminated the 49ers from playoff contention. Breida tried to play

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers will be without another key offensive piece with leading rusher Matt Breida sidelined at least a week with an injured ankle.

Breida hurt himself in warmups before Sunday’s 43-16 loss at Seattle that officially eliminated the 49ers from playoff contention. Breida tried to play through the injury but eventually couldn’t and left the game.

He finished the game with five carries for six yards and three catches for 51 yards.

Rookie Jeff Wilson fared well in just his second career game, carrying 15 times for 61 yards and adding eight catches for 73 yards. He also lost a disputed fumble near the goal line that coach Kyle Shanahan felt should have been ruled down by contact.

“He hits the hole and he runs hard,” Shanahan said. “He’s a very good zone runner. He doesn’t mess around. He sets his track. When he sees an open gap, he puts his foot down and goes for it.”

Breida has been one of the few bright spots on offense this season for the 49ers, rushing for 744 yards and ranking third in the league with an average of 5.64 yards per carry.

He got his chance because projected starter Jerick McKinnon went down with a season-ending knee injury a week before the opener. San Francisco also lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 and has struggled for any consistency on offense.

The Niners will get a bit of a boost this week with the expected return of speedy receiver Marquise Goodwin to the lineup. Goodwin has missed the past two games while dealing with a serious family matter but was at the facility Monday and expected to be back at practice on Wednesday.

Shanahan had challenged the Niners before their bye to come back focused for the stretch run of what has been a mostly lost season. Instead, San Francisco returned from the bye and lost 27-9 at Tampa Bay and then was hammered by the Seahawks.

The 49ers will try to avoid tying a franchise worst with a third straight loss by at least 17 points at home on Sunday against Denver. The Niners had three-game skids of losses of at least 17 points in 1963, 1999, 2005 and 2016.

“We didn’t play very well,” Shanahan said. “That doesn’t go into they didn’t respond to my challenge. You have to play very good football to win games and we haven’t done that enough consistently in all three phases throughout the year. Magic words don’t make people different. I want people to focus and worry about what they can control. We have four games left. We know we’re eliminated from the playoffs. So is this year over? This year has everything to do, for me, about next year.”

Shanahan also explained why he got so incensed at the officials after an offside call in the third quarter against Elijah Lee, who was trying to run on the field to replace Fred Warner while the Seahawks were in hurry-up mode.

Shanahan said Warner’s shoe fell off on the previous play and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw it out of the way, forcing Warner to run and pick it up behind the line of scrimmage and Lee to try to rush on to take his place.

“I’m not saying he did that maliciously or anything. Who knows?” Shanahan said. “But it was an unusual situation and it was my tipping point.”

NOTES: Edge rusher Dekoda Watson will be placed on IR with a torn calf muscle. … S Jaquiski Tartt will miss this week’s game with a stinger.

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