Posts by National Football Post

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

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Pederson stands by Wentz as Eagles’ QB of future

 

While quarterback Nick Foles tries to guide the Philadelphia Eagles back to the playoffs, coach

 

While quarterback Nick Foles tries to guide the Philadelphia Eagles back to the playoffs, coach Doug Pederson assured reporters on Friday that injured starter Carson Wentz remains the franchise quarterback.

 

“I can stand here and say that Carson is our quarterback,” Pederson said. “He’s our quarterback in the future. That’s why we drafted him. It’s also why we have Nick here as a backup, as a veteran player to – I don’t want to say bail us out, but to come in and execute the offense. I think we just continue to reconfirm that with Carson and let him know that.”

 

Wentz, who turns 26 next week, remains out with a fractured vertebra that might require three months of rest to fully heal, though he has not yet been placed on injured reserve.

 

Foles, who replaced Wentz late last season and led the Eagles to the Super Bowl championship, finished 24 of 31 for 270 yards and an interception as the Eagles put up 30 points in a game for just the second time this season in an upset of the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.

 

He will start again this week against the Houston Texans.

 

Foles, 30, could play his way into a healthy salary bonus and steer the Eagles into the playoffs, which seemed improbable sitting at 6-7 before beating the Rams.

 

The Super Bowl MVP’s restructured contract includes a clause that pays him an extra $250,000 for every game in which he plays at least 33 percent of the snaps, and another $250,000 if the Eagles win that game.

 

The Eagles (7-7) trail the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) in the NFC East race as they prepare to host the Texans (10-4) on Sunday.

 

–Field Level Media

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Chargers rule RB Ekeler (neck) out against Ravens

Chargers rule RB Ekeler (neck) out against Ravens

Running back Austin

Chargers rule RB Ekeler (neck) out against Ravens

Running back Austin Ekeler won’t play Saturday when the Los Angeles Chargers meet the Baltimore Ravens, the team announced.

Ekeler, who has been recovering from a concussion and a neck injury, had been listed as doubtful. The team said Friday he had been downgraded to out.

Ekeler has been a key contributor for the Chargers, who already have clinched a playoff spot but are trying to overtake Kansas City for the AFC West title. In 13 games, he’s gained 900 total yards from scrimmage and scored five touchdowns.

The Chargers signed Ekeler, 23, as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He’s complemented starter Melvin Gordon, who missed the past three games with a knee injury but has practiced all week and is expected to play Saturday.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen left last week’s game against the Chiefs with a hip pointer injury. He is listed as questionable but also expected to play.

–Field Level Media

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WR Bryant vows to return in 2019

 

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez Bryant says the torn

 

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez Bryant says the torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2018 season won’t end his career.

 

“I have to (play again). I got business and I got ball,” said Bryant on KRLD-FM, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

 

“I can’t end like this. I have to throw the X up.”

 

Bryant, 30, suffered the injury on the final play of his second practice with the team.

 

The three-time Pro Bowl selection agreed to a one-year, $600,000 contract with New Orleans in November after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys before the season.

 

Bryant has 531 catches for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns in his career, but hasn’t posted a 1,000 yard season since 2014.

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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NFL suspends Patriots WR Gordon indefinitely

 

The NFL on Thursday officially suspended New England Patriots wide

 

The NFL on Thursday officially suspended New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon, hours after Gordon announced that he planned to step away from football indefinitely to address his mental health.

 

Gordon has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating terms of his reinstatement from a yearlong ban for substance abuse.

 

Gordon, 27, was suspended the entire 2015 season, one year after serving a two-game suspension, all for drug violations, and has been banned a total of 56 games in his career.

 

Gordon earlier in the day released a statement saying he was taking another leave.

 

“I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level. I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health. I would like to thank Coach Belichick, Mr. Kraft, as well as countless others within the Patriots organization for their continued support. I want to thank my fans for their support as well as I continue down the path of getting back to 100 (percent).”

 

“We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health,” the Patriots said in a statement released 45 minutes after Gordon posted his message to Twitter. “His attempt to do so is a private matter, which we intend to respect.”

 

Gordon took a leave from the Cleveland Browns lasting more than three weeks in August. The Patriots acquired him from the Browns via trade in September. Gordon had 40 receptions and three touchdowns — averaging 18 yards per catch — in 11 games played with the Patriots. He was inactive Sept. 23 at Detroit.

 

Without Gordon, the Patriots’ receiving corps has no legitimate lead receiver.

 

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has not been his All-Pro self because of injuries, but is still third on the team with 45 catches and three scores.

 

The news comes as the Patriots make a push for another playoff run while sitting at 9-5 and coming off of a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in which the New England offense managed only 10 points.

 

In three of the team’s five losses this season, the Patriots scored just 10 points (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Tennessee).

 

–Field Level Media

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Jets’ Darnold eager to battle Rodgers, Packers

 

New York finishes the season against the Green Bay Packers

 

New York finishes the season against the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, giving Jets rookie Sam Darnold the chance to watch two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history — Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady — up close and personal.

 

“Just the way he’s able to see the field so fast, it’s almost like he knows what the defense is going to do before the snap. For him it looks so easy and effortless,” Darnold said of Rodgers.

 

“And he has probably the best arm talent that I’ve ever seen — debatably in the NFL’s entire history. He’s just really gifted throwing the football, but on top of that, he’s super smart, so we’ve got our hands full with him.”

 

The Jets (4-10) host the Packers (5-8-1) on Sunday. Green Bay is 0-7 on the road.

 

Bothered all season by a knee injury and now dealing with a groin injury, Rodgers only ranks 14th in the NFL this season in passer rating.

 

“We have a guy coming in that to me is the best quarterback in the league when he’s healthy, and he’s going to be ready to play,” Pro Bowl Jets safety Jamal Adams said. “He’s a hell of a competitor and I’m definitely looking forward to going up against him for the first time. I used to watch him as a little boy, and I’m definitely looking forward to the matchup.”

 

Rodgers expects to be in the starting lineup, even with last week’s loss at Chicago officially ending Green Bay’s playoff hopes.

 

“I think it’s a lot about leadership,” he said of not sitting out the final two games to begin the healing process. “If I want to be listened to and followed and looked up to, how could I stand here and say that these games that don’t matter for playoffs, I’m going to cash it in? That’s just not the way I lead, and I’m super-competitive, and I want to be out there with the guys, and I look forward to being out there.”

 

Both teams have been riddled by injuries in the backfield, and that means both quarterbacks could be throwing it around Met Life Stadium.

 

Green Bay has 14 players on injured reserve, most recently running back Aaron Jones, who leads the NFL in yards per attempt. The Jets’ leading rushers, Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, are both on IR. New York listed 19 players on Wednesday’s injury report before putting right tackle Brandon Shell on IR.

 

With Rodgers struggling, Jones out and Darnold going through rookie growing pains, the best offensive player on the field will be Packers receiver Davante Adams.

 

With 100 receptions for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns, Adams has a chance to break the franchise records for catches (112) and yards (1,519). Rodgers intends to give his Pro Bowl receiver every chance.

 

“He’s been a lot of fun to throw to this year,” Rodgers said. “He’s a fantastic wide receiver. The great thing about Davante is the way that he practices. He’s a fantastic professional. He’s got a great approach to the game.

 

“I would love for him to break some records. The fact that he’s put up these numbers already … is fantastic. I’d love to get him over those records because we’ve been around for a long time.”

 

–Field Level Media

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Rams (11-3) ready to restore dominance in desert

 

The Los Angeles Rams can

 

The Los Angeles Rams can only hope a game slot out of primetime can settle recent woes that have put a wrinkle into what had previously been a dominating season.

 

When the Arizona Cardinals play host to the Rams (11-3) on Sunday, Los Angeles will be coming off nationally televised defeats to the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.

 

And while the focus all around will be on Sunday’s NFC West matchup, much of the attention will also be paid to veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who could be playing the final home game of his accomplished career.

 

There is a chance Fitzgerald could retire after completing his 15th NFL season. And since he will become a free agent after playing in two more games for the Cardinals, there is also a chance he could move on to a contender next season. As of now, Fitzgerald is keeping his future plans to himself.

 

“It may. It may not,” Fitzgerald said, according to nfl.com, when asked if Sunday will be his last game in front of Cardinals fans.

 

Fitzgerald says that one thing is certain: He will be ready and focused to match up against a Rams team that had just one loss before the Bears and Eagles found a way to diffuse a high-scoring team.

 

While the Rams offense was churning out points with ease in compiling an 11-1 record, the defense showed a tendency to be a bit porous. Suddenly it is the Rams offense that is in a rut, while the defense has given up just 20.3 points per game over the last three weeks after the team’s thrilling 54-51 Monday night victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

“It’s just us, turning the ball over, mental mistakes, stuff like that,” Rams Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley said after Sunday night’s defeat to the Eagles. “We know that’s not us. We’ll go watch the film. I’m not worried though. We have a great group of guys. I think we all know where we need to get better.”

 

Quarterback Jarred Goff also was selected for the Pro Bowl, but he has been a mere mortal of late, throwing six interceptions with one touchdown pass over the last three games. He had 26 TD passes in the first 11 games.

 

Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has just 10 TD passes and none in the past three weeks. But he is getting valuable experience, with some rewards mixed in, like his two victories over the San Francisco 49ers and his three TD passes against the Raiders on Nov 18.

 

“They’re really good and they have talent all around the field,” Rosen said about the Rams, a team he did not play against in Week 2 but got an up-close look at from the sideline as L.A. cruised to a 34-0 victory. “They have really good players top to bottom. Some of them play certain ways that we think we can take advantage of them, but a really good defense.”

 

Sunday’s game will also pit new Cardinals kick returner/wide receiver Pharoh Cooper against a Rams team that waived him this week. An ankle injury during the first game of the season limited Cooper to five contests this season and he was cut Tuesday so that the Rams could make roster room for the addition of running back C.J. Anderson.

 

The Rams will enter the game knowing that a win or a tie, coupled with a Bears defeat at San Francisco will clinch a top-two record in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye.

 

Gurley did not participate in a walk-through Wednesday after fighting through a tender knee against the Eagles, but head coach Sean McVay said he expects his starting running back to play against the Cardinals. Running back Justin Davis (shoulder) and linebacker Samson Ebukam (illness) also did not participate in the walk-through.

 

Cardinals offensive tackle Joe Barksdale and cornerback David Amerson should play Sunday after concussion issues. Wide receiver Trent Sherfield (ankle) and wide receiver Chad Williams (hamstring) were limited in practice. Safety Rudy Ford (ribs) was a full participant. Not practicing Wednesday: safety Budda Baker (knee), defensive end Markus Golden (ankle), defensive tackle Rodney Gunter (foot), wide receiver J.J. Nelson (illness) and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (illness). Fitzgerald did not practice, but it was not injury related.

 

 

–Field Level Media

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Patriots hunt for playoff position, host Bills

 

 

The second meeting this season between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots looks awfully different from the first.

 

That’s clear simply from the point spread, where the Patriots (9-5) are huge-but-not-mammoth 12.5-point favorites at home. That’s a far cry from Week 8 in Buffalo, when the Bills were the second-largest home underdogs (13.5 points) in franchise history.

 

That Monday night battle was just the second start for veteran quarterback Derek Anderson — signed off the street 20 days earlier — since 2016, as rookie Josh Allen was still sidelined by an elbow injury. New England coasted through a defensive slog, ultimately winning 25-6 to drop Buffalo to 2-7.

 

But since Allen returned in Week 12, the Bills have gone 2-2 to get to 5-9, with narrow losses to the division-rival Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. While Allen’s passing numbers have been inconsistent, he’s created with his legs (351 rushing yards, three TDs since in that span) and found receivers like undrafted rookie Robert Foster (19 catches, 468 yards, two touchdowns this year) for huge gains.

 

“Offensively, they’ve got a lot of explosive weapons,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “We didn’t see Allen. He’s been impressive. Foster — they have a lot of big plays.

 

“…The quarterback is a big difference. That’s a big difference right there. But the receivers — no [Kelvin] Benjamin, Foster has emerged — they’re much different.”

 

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott has seen significant changes in his team too, particularly in Allen’s development since returning from injury.

 

“I went back and watched the Miami game a few days ago and he looks like a different player than he did from two or three games ago, which is important and good for him,” McDermott said of Allen. “The way the game is slowing down for him is encouraging.”

 

The Patriots, meanwhile, are just 3-3 since beating the Bills, and they’re riding their first losing streak in December since 2002. New England remains undefeated (6-0) at home this season, with four of the six victories coming by at least 14 points, but there have been chinks in the armor.

 

Tom Brady’s touchdown (4.7) and interception rates (1.8) are on pace for his worst marks since the 2013 season. After finishing in the top five in passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, completion percentage and passer rating last year, Brady ranks fifth, 10th, T-10th, 17th and 12th, respectively, in those categories this year, meaning he could miss out on $4-5 million in incentives on his contract.

 

But McDermott doesn’t see any decline in the 41-year-old QB, who is 29-3 against the Bills in his career and was just named to his record-tying 14th Pro Bowl.

 

“To me, he looks even better than he has in years past, believe it or not,” McDermott said. “I know that the numbers may not support that, but I think his game is strong, he doesn’t turn the ball over. I think he’s as good as ever.”

 

Last week’s loss to Pittsburgh leaves New England two games back of Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers in the race for a first-round bye in the AFC. The Patriots are also a game back of the Texans (10-4), though they hold the tiebreaker after beating Houston in Week 1.

 

New England enters Sunday in great health, with only linebacker Brandon King (knee, limited) on Wednesday’s injury report.

 

McDermott sounded optimistic about the availability of running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring, limited), while the status of defensive tackle Kyle Williams (back, did not participate) remains unclear.

 

–Field Level Media

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Packers QB Rodgers says he’s playing vs. Jets

 

 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters Wednesday he plans to play through his groin injury Sunday against the New York Jets.

 

“It’s about leadership,” said Rodgers, who hurt the groin in Sunday’s loss to the Bears but played through the issue. “How can I stand here and say these games don’t matter? … That’s not the way I lead. I’m super competitive.”

 

Hours earlier, interim coach Joe Philbin declined to say definitively whether or not Rodgers would play.

 

“I’m hopeful he’s going to practice, and I’m hopeful he’s going to play,” Philbin told reporters. “But certainly, yeah it’s a little early to say exactly where everybody’s at.”

 

Rodgers did practice and took all the reps, avoiding the limited designation on the team’s injury report.

 

Many have wondered if Rodgers would not play the final two weeks, given the groin injury, the knee injury he played through earlier this season and the Packers officially being eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.

 

Elsewhere, multiple outlets reported Tuesday that defensive tackle Kenny Clark would be placed on injured reserve after injuring his elbow in Sunday’s loss, but Philbin said he was not aware of any plans to shut down Clark “at this point in time.”

 

Clark, a 2016 first-round pick, has six sacks in 13 games this season. The team must decide this offseason whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option for 2020, which would be guaranteed only for injury.

 

Clark’s elbow injury is not considered serious and he isn’t expected to need surgery.

 

–Field Level Media

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Report: Raiders to sign former Bills QB Peterman

 

The Oakland Raiders are signing

 

The Oakland Raiders are signing former Buffalo Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman to their practice squad, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

 

The move came as Raiders backup AJ McCarron was at the hospital with his wife, who gave birth to a baby boy on Tuesday night.

 

Peterman will work with Oakland’s scout team, according to Rapoport.

 

The Bills cut Peterman last month. The 2017 fifth-round pick appeared in eight games in two seasons in Buffalo, completing 52.3 percent of his passes for 548 yards, three touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 32.5 quarterback rating.

 

Working as an ESPN analyst at the time, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden raved about Peterman before the 2017 draft.

 

“Peterman is ready to walk in and be a contributor from day one,” Gruden wrote at the time. “He just looks like a pro quarterback.”

 

–Field Level Media

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Broncos place veteran CB Harris (leg) on IR

 

Denver cornerback Chris Harris will not return from a broken leg this season,

 

Denver cornerback Chris Harris will not return from a broken leg this season, with the Broncos placing the veteran on injured reserve Wednesday.

 

Harris suffered a fractured fibula during a 24-10 victory at Cincinnati on Dec. 2, but two straight losses without his services have knocked the Broncos (6-8) out of playoff contention.

 

Harris, 29, finished his ninth season in Denver three interceptions, one sack and 49 tackles in 12 games.

 

The three-time Pro Bowl selection returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown in a Week 7 win against Arizona, his fourth career pick-six.

 

The Denver Post reported that the Broncos have signed cornerback Craig Mager, the Chargers’ third-round pick in 2015 who was released by Los Angeles in late September.

 

Mager appeared in 24 games (10 starts) with the Chargers from 2015-18, registering one interception and 39 tackles.

 

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins place RB Gore on IR, sign DT Norton

Dolphins place RB Gore on IR, sign DT Norton

Dolphins place RB Gore on IR, sign DT Norton

The Miami Dolphins have placed running back Frank Gore on injured reserve and have signed defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, the team announced Wednesday.

Gore suffered a left ankle injury Sunday in Miami’s 41-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings when he was tackled on a run in the first quarter. While he was able to make it to the sidelines, later he was carted to the locker room and missed the rest of the game.

Gore, a 14-year veteran, had not missed a game since 2010, when he appeared in 11 games for San Francisco. In 14 games this season, Gore had gained 722 yards on 156 carries.

Norton, a seventh-round pick by Carolina in the 2018 NFL draft, spent the last 15 weeks on the Panthers’ practice squad. The 21-year-old was a standout at the University of Miami, where he totaled 84 tackles and five sacks. Norton is the son of Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton and the grandson of late former heavyweight champion Ken Norton Sr.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Lions placing RB Johnson on IR

Report: Lions placing RB Johnson on IR

Detroit running back Kerryon

Report: Lions placing RB Johnson on IR

Detroit running back Kerryon Johnson’s season is over, with ESPN reporting Wednesday that the Lions will place the promising rookie on injured reserve.

Johnson has not played since spraining his left knee in the Lions’ 20-19 victory against Carolina on Nov. 18. The decision to place him on IR comes with the Lions being officially out of the playoff race.

A second-round pick in 2018 out of Auburn, Johnson rushed 118 times for 641 yards (5.4-yard average) and three touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 213 yards and one score in 10 games with seven starts.

Johnson’s 101-yard effort in a Week 3 upset against New England was Detroit’s first 100-yard rushing performance since Reggie Bush in 2013. In Week 7, Johnson rushed for a season-high 158 yards in a victory at Miami.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Wentz had back fracture before college

Report: Wentz had back fracture before college

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was

Report: Wentz had back fracture before college

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back when he was a redshirt freshman at North Dakota State, ESPN reported Wednesday.

The injury occurred during his childhood and was completely healed before he got to college, a league source told ESPN. The source also said that injury is not related to Wentz’s current malady, a fractured vertebra that could sideline him for the rest of the season.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported that Wentz’s medical report, given to teams at the NFL Scouting Combine before the 2016 NFL Draft, referred to a healed stress fracture in his back. It did not affect his draft status, as the Eagles selected him No. 2 overall.

Wentz has been characterized as “week-to-week” by Eagles coach Doug Pederson after a CT scan last week revealed the current fracture.

He has started 11 games this season, completing a career-high 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,074 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will make his second straight start (fourth of the season) when Philadelphia (7-7) plays host to the Houston Texans (10-4) on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Short-handed Giants activate WR Latimer from IR

Short-handed Giants activate WR Latimer from IR

The

Short-handed Giants activate WR Latimer from IR

The New York Giants activated wide receiver Cody Latimer from injured reserve Wednesday and placed cornerback Antonio Hamilton on the list with a quadriceps injury.

Latimer’s return is timely with receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (quad) and Russell Shepard (ankle) both questionable for Sunday’s road game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Latimer appeared in four games before going on IR with a hamstring injury in mid-October. He caught six passes for 108 yards.

A second-round draft pick in 2014, Latimer played his first four seasons with the Denver Broncos and registered 35 catches for 445 yards and three touchdowns in 45 games from 2014-17.

Hamilton played in 13 games in his first season with the Giants and contribute nine tackles.

–Field Level Media

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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.

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Ray Rice speaks out against domestic violence, says ‘I’m done with football’

Ray Rice speaks out against domestic violence, says 'I'm done with football'

Ray Rice speaks out against domestic violence, says ‘I’m done with football’

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, whose name has resurfaced since video emerged last month showing Kareem Hunt pushing and kicking a woman, spoke publicly on Tuesday, saying he is done with football and that he would be willing to speak with Hunt.

The NFL placed Hunt on the commissioner’s exempt list hours after TMZ published the video on Nov. 30, and a few hours later the Kansas City Chiefs cut the running back.

The Ravens cut Rice in 2014 after two videos surfaced, the first showing him dragging his unconscious fiancée Janay Palmer out of an elevator, and the second showing him punch Janay in the face in the elevator, knocking her out. Rice has not played in the NFL since.

Speaking with Janay, now his wife, on “CBS This Morning,” Rice, 31, talked about his life in the years since his banishment from the league. And he made it clear he is not speaking out in an effort to get back into the NFL.

“Well, see that for me, is something that I understand why it was being said early on about, you know, is this a ploy to get back into football,” Rice told CBS’ Gayle King. “I’ll be the first one to say it. I don’t have to retire to tell you I’m done with football. The pressure I was under of being a star — that was the person I hated the most.”

The couple married in March 2014, shortly after Ray Rice was charged with aggravated assault against Janay. King asked Janay Rice why she remained with Rice after the assault and why she has yet to see the video of the assault.

“I know it’s hard for people to understand,” Janay Rice said. “And I’m not here to force people to understand. It was never a thought whether I was going to leave or not, because I knew that that wasn’t him in that moment. This is somebody I’ve known since I was 15 years old. I knew that we had work to do, and I was willing to move forward and put in the work.”

When asked if he deserves a second chance of football, Ray Rice bluntly replied, “No. I didn’t deserve another chance.” Instead, he said, he got his second chance with his wife.

According to the CBS report, the NFL confirmed that Ray Rice works with the league on its domestic violence education program. Among other topics Ray Rice covered:

On his life before the assault on Janay and the subsequent fallout:

“One of the underlying issues for me was — I never wanted to ask for help. Football, for me, was my counseling. It was my therapy. It was my psychologist. It was everything.”

On the NFL’s efforts to address domestic abuse, including the current cases of Hunt and Reuben Foster:

“They’re trying to do the right thing … I know they are working with groups to try to get more of an understanding. And they’re doing the work. … I know the NFL … they’re not trying to push — they’re not trying to push people who do bad things or abuse against women. They’re not trying to push those guys on the field.”

On whether he would be willing to speak to Hunt:

“I would love to help anyone that’s willing to go the long haul.”

–Field Level Media

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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

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Dolphins, Vikings fight to keep playoff hopes alive

Dolphins, Vikings fight to keep playoff hopes alive

Dolphins, Vikings fight to keep playoff hopes alive

The last time most fans saw quarterback Ryan Tannehill, he was in a state of euphoria, lying flat on his back on the Hard Rock Stadium turf last Sunday.

His Miami Dolphins had just upset the New England Patriots, 34-33, on the dramatic final play of the game.

Tannehill started the play by completing a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills. Two laterals later, the Dolphins had gone 69 yards to finish off the “Miracle in Miami.”

“Knowing we had one shot with minimal probability to be successful and have that 0.1 percent-chance play pay off is pretty incredible,” Tannehill said. “It just hits you all at once. I just collapsed.”

Fortunately for Dolphins fans, their team hasn’t collapsed this season, overcoming three losing streaks of two games each and the five-game injury absence of Tannehil to sport a 7-6 record — still alive for a possible AFC wild-card playoff berth.

On Sunday, the Dolphins will travel to play the Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1), who have lost two straight games and on Tuesday fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

The Vikings have scored a combined 17 points the past two weeks, including a garbage-time touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Minnesota, still in wild-card contention in the NFC, will try to salvage the season with Kevin Stefanski as the interim offensive coordinator.

The pressure is mounting on Kirk Cousins, the quarterback Minnesota signed to a mega-contract last offseason.

“I’d be the first to say that if we had played at a higher level, we’re probably not talking about the things we’re talking about this week,” Cousins said. “I take ownership as well.”

The Dolphins are just 1-5 on the road this season, while the Vikings are 4-2 at home.

Before the current two-game slide, the Vikings’ offense had played reasonably well, scoring at least 20 points in eight straight games and compiling a 5-3 record during that span.

Cousins has put up impressive numbers all season, passing for 3,698 yards and 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He has completed 70.6 percent of his passes.

His top target is wide receiver Adam Thielen, who has an NFL-high 103 catches for 1,236 yards and nine touchdowns. Thielen is battling an ankle injury but is expected to play against Miami.

Teammate Stefon Diggs is also having an excellent season with 88 grabs, 915 yards and six touchdowns.

For the Dolphins, Tannehill (ankle) is listed as probable. He has completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,578 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Miami’s most reliable weapon this season has been 35-year-old running back Frank Gore, who leads the team in rushing yards (708) and average (4.7).

The Dolphins also have running back Kenyan Drake (829 scrimmage yards, nine touchdowns), steady Danny Amendola (team-high 49 receptions) and Kenny Stills (team-high six touchdown catches).

Each team is hoping that a key defensive player will be ready to go on Sunday.

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who is tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions, missed last week with a knee injury and is questionable.

Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, a Pro Bowl player in 2014, is questionable due to a hip injury.

–Field Level Media

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Giants WR Beckham ruled out vs. Titans

 

New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has

 

New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans as he recovers from an ailing quadriceps, coach Pat Shurmur announced Friday.

 

Beckham missed last Sunday’s victory over the Washington Redskins due to the injury and was held out of Thursday’s practice after being a limited participant the day before.

 

He was initially hurt during a Week 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Beckham had the leg evaluated by doctors Thursday and at the time expressed optimism.

 

“I honestly don’t know until Sunday gets here,” Beckham told reporters on Thursday. “It has just been getting better each and every day.”

 

Beckham was blunt when asked to describe the nature of the injury.

 

“I don’t know. It’s like saying I broke my leg but you really fractured it. It’s a choice of words,” Beckham said. “Whatever you want to call it, (bleep) ain’t right.”

 

Beckham has 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games this season.

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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Giants WR Beckham misses practice Wednesday

Giants WR Beckham misses practice Wednesday

Giants WR Beckham misses practice Wednesday

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. did not practice Wednesday due to the quadriceps strain that forced him to miss New York’s win over the Washington Redskins last week.

Beckham caught a touchdown pass and threw another against the Chicago Bears in the Giants’ overtime win in Week 13. New York won without him, 40-16, over the Redskins last Sunday when Beckham was ruled out due to the leg muscle issue.

“We’ll try and get him back as quickly as possible,” Shurmur said Wednesday on a conference call with Tennessee media. “He is feeling better each day. I don’t think he is going to practice today, but we’ll see as the week progresses.”

Beckham has 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 2018, a bounceback year from his injury-shortened 2017 season during which he played four games and recorded 25 catches due to an ankle injury.

–Field Level Media

Read More 91 Words

Bills’ RB McCoy misses practice Wednesday

Bills' RB McCoy misses practice Wednesday

Bills’ RB McCoy misses practice Wednesday

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy won’t practice Wednesday and his status is uncertain for Sunday’s matchup against the Detroit Lions.

“We’ll just take it one day at a time right now,” said head coach Sean McDermott when asked if he expects McCoy will be able to practice this week.

McCoy hurt his hamstring in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Jets. The 30-year-old running back left the game after nine plays — he had one yard on two carries — on Buffalo’s opening drive and has struggled with leg muscle strains in recent seasons.

Chris Ivory served as the Bills’ primary ballcarrier and finished the game with 42 yards on 12 carries.

McDermott said Ivory will practice Wednesday, and also the team signed running back Keith Ford from the practice squad, indicating the Bills aren’t certain whether McCoy will see action Sunday.

“Keith, for a rookie, has worked extremely hard since Day 1. He continues to earn the right,” said McDermott.

–Field Level Media

Read More 109 Words

Eagles QB Wentz won’t practice Wednesday, could miss Rams matchup

The Philadelphia Eagles could be without quarterback Carson Wentz on Sunday when they travel to face the Los Angeles Rams.

 

Head coach Doug Pederson announced Wednesday morning that Wentz would miss practice due to back soreness.

 

"Sometimes he just gets a little sore, a little tight, so we're just going to rest him

The Philadelphia Eagles could be without quarterback Carson Wentz on Sunday when they travel to face the Los Angeles Rams.

 

Head coach Doug Pederson announced Wednesday morning that Wentz would miss practice due to back soreness.

 

“Sometimes he just gets a little sore, a little tight, so we’re just going to rest him today and evaluate him further,” said Pederson. “Nothing game-related. He’s dealt with it so we’re just going to evaluate him further.”

 

Pederson did not confirm if Wentz would play Sunday at Los Angeles.

 

“Again, we’re going to focus on today, get through today, and see where he’s at at the end of the day,” he said.

 

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wentz is not likely to play Sunday and may not play again in 2018 as the team continues to gather information on his health.

 

Without Wentz, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles would take over for the 6-7 Eagles. Foles started the first two games of the season as Wentz recovered from ACL surgery. He completed 65 percent of his passes with one touchdown and one interception in the Eagles’ 1-1 start.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 134 Words

Flacco returns, Ravens stick with QB Jackson

Flacco returns, Ravens stick with QB Jackson

Baltimore Ravens

Flacco returns, Ravens stick with QB Jackson

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday that quarterback Lamar Jackson will be the starter vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, with veteran starter Joe Flacco dressing as his backup.

“The starting quarterback will be Lamar (Jackson). Joe (Flacco) will be the No. 2 quarterback,” Harbaugh said Wednesday.

Jackson missed the final two plays of Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after hurting his ankle but X-rays taken at the stadium postgame were negative.

“My brain, and my heart, and my experience says this is the way to go,” Harbaugh said.

Robert Griffin III was the backup and finished out the game as Flacco was inactive, but Harbaugh said afterward that Flacco was medically cleared from his hip injury and could have played.

Harbaugh has been cagey about his plans at quarterback once Flacco is healthy enough and prepared to play. He has repeatedly declined to answer questions about who will start moving forward, though he has not ruled out the possibility of Flacco and Jackson playing for stretches.

For his part, Flacco has been supportive of Jackson and said Wednesday he would embrace the role of backup. Flacco declined to delve further into his future plans, or what this decision means for him or the Ravens.

“I thought Lamar has done a great job,” Flacco said.

Sunday’s game will be the first time Flacco has ever dressed as the backup for an NFL game.

Jackson finished 13 of 24 for 147 yards and two scores while rushing 13 times for 71 yards in Sunday’s loss.

He is now 59 of 101 for 687 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions this season in four starts and other scattered snaps, while rushing 95 times for 475 yards and three scores on the ground.

However, Jackson has fumbled eight times (six as a rusher), including a strip-sack that set up the Chiefs for a would-be game-winning field goal late in regulation Sunday. Harrison Butker missed from 43 yards, leading to overtime.

–Field Level Media

Read More 269 Words

Raiders owner responds to city’s lawsuit

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis called a lawsuit filed against the team by the city of Oakland, Calif., "meritless and malicious" at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday night, according to ESPN.

 

The federal lawsuit, announced by Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker, alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract, and names the Raiders,

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis called a lawsuit filed against the team by the city of Oakland, Calif., “meritless and malicious” at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday night, according to ESPN.

 

The federal lawsuit, announced by Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker, alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract, and names the Raiders, the NFL and every other team in the league.

 

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

 

“The City will seek a resolution for the maximum amount of damages available,” Parker said in a news release shortly before filing the lawsuit. “The lawsuit will not ask the court to prevent the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas or keep the team in Oakland.”

 

Davis told ESPN he’d leave further comment to lawyers.

 

“My feeling is we’re 3-10 and we’re still relevant,” said Davis. “It’s a legal issue, and I’ll let the attorneys make any further comment.”

 

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019, though it has proposed a lease to remain in the Oakland Coliseum for one more season.

 

One of the main cruxes of the city’s argument is that the NFL’s relocation policy is “skewed” in the favor of cities looking to get a team and biased against current host cities because each team shares a part of the moving team’s relocation fee.

 

The suit also alleges the NFL uses its relocation policy to in essence strong-arm host cities into ponying up money for a new stadium, threatening to move a team out of that city should the funds not be raised.

 

The city is seeking a jury trial but makes no specific monetary demand other than amounts to be determined at trial.

 

–Field Level Media

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Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

The Denver Broncos were high on quarterback Baker Mayfield long before he was taken first overall in the NFL draft in April.

They plan to keep him from beating them on Saturday night.

Mayfield, the brash, outspoken Cleveland Browns rookie, visits Denver for a Week 15 showdown with both teams clinging to their slim postseason hopes. The Browns (5-7-1) are having their best season in years and are coming off a 26-20 win over Carolina.

The Broncos (6-7) had their three-game winning streak ended at San Francisco on Sunday in a game they desperately needed. Denver was feeling good after getting back to .500 and into the thick of the wild-card race, but as has been the case this season, it struggled against a young quarterback.

The Broncos have lost to rookies Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Nick Mullens (49ers) and second-year star Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City). They did they beat Josh Rosen of Arizona and Jeff Driskel of Cincinnati, and they have another chance against Mayfield on Saturday.

“He’s got a neat personality,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said after practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of a — it’s loose, but it’s tight. Very, very intelligent, but a very, very confident person.”

Mayfield could find success against a banged-up secondary that will be without Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who suffered a fractured left fibula against the Bengals on Dec. 2. Harris said he is improving, but he won’t be ready for Saturday.

Without him, and the status of Tramaine Brock (ribs) and Isaac Yiadom (separated right shoulder) in question, Denver is vulnerable on the back end. The Broncos signed rookie safety Trey Marshall off the practice squad Tuesday to add to the depth.

The Browns have the weapons to take advantage, with Mayfield showing plenty of poise and wide receiver Jarvis Landry running routes. They can mix things up with running back Nick Chubb.

The biggest turnaround for Cleveland has come after the firings of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Gregg Williams is now the interim head coach, and Freddie Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator.

With Kitchens calling plays, Mayfield has thrown 11 touchdown passes in five games, and his quarterback rating is 114.4 compared to from 78.9 under Haley.

With the short week, both teams practiced Tuesday instead of having a regular day off. For Denver, linebacker Shaquil Barrett (hip), Harris, wide receiver Courtland Sutton (quadriceps), Yiadom and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (concussion) did not practice.

Joseph said Sutton should play Saturday but didn’t have an update on Wolfe.

Tight end Orson Charles (ankle), tackle Austin Corbett (foot), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (biceps), cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) and center J.C. Tretter (ankle) did not practice for Cleveland. Tretter has been dealing with the ankle injury for two months but has battled through the last seven games. He is normally held out of practice to stay ready for games.

“From a guy who barely practices all week to have the game plan down and then fight through it on Sundays for everybody else, it is great to have,” Mayfield told The Cleveland Plain Dealer after Sunday’s game. “He is a very, very important piece out there to have to be able to make calls and direct guys the right way and lead.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 495 Words

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him out of action when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs. Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive.

–The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. Minnesota has finished with fewer than 300 yards of total offense four times in the past five games.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.

–Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL Network reported.

However, Gordon was officially limited in Tuesday’s practice, noteworthy progress considering he was unavailable entirely since the original knee injury.

NFL Network reported that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion), likely would miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. Specifically, coach Anthony Lynn told the network that the team isn’t optimistic either player would suit up.

–The Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve due to knee injuries. Both starters were hurt during Tennessee’s 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith.

–The Detroit Lions placed veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts, who also has an injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9.

–The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve.

Brown injured his collarbone earlier this month. Hatfield, primarily a special teams player, needs surgery after injuring his left ankle Sunday.

–The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult when they placed running back Corey Clement (knee) and defensive end Josh Sweat (ankle) on injured reserve.

The Eagles signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they added cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

–Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Newton, 31, spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical. With the Saints, he replaces tackle Michael Ola, who went on injured reserve due to a high ankle sprain.

–The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve. Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula. Johnson had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season.

–The city of Oakland, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, the NFL and all other teams in the league. Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

–The NFL announced that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187 million to $191.1 million. That marks a 40 percent increase since the 2014 season ($133 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

–Field Level Media

Read More 718 Words

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult Tuesday when they placed a pair of players on injured reserve, including running back Corey Clement.

Both Clement and defensive end Josh Sweat were injured Sunday in Philadelphia’s 29-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Clement hurt his knee, and Sweat sustained an ankle injury.

The Eagles announced that they signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they signed cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

Clement went from undrafted rookie to Super Bowl star last season, picking up 100 receiving yards and a touchdown grab in the title game. He has 259 yards and two touchdowns on 68 carries, along with 22 catches for 192 yards, in 11 games this season.

Sweat was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft and has one tackle in nine games as a rookie.

The New Orleans Saints drafted Scott in the sixth round this year but cut him just before the season opener. They signed him to their practice squad the following day.

Hall was a third-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2017. He played in one game last season before a knee injury ended his rookie campaign. He was cut before this season began.

The Eagles are 6-7 and two games behind the NFC East-leading Cowboys. The defending champs are still in the thick of the playoff race, however, tied with Carolina and the Washington Redskins, one-half game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the final playoff spot in the conference.

Philadelphia finishes the season with games against the Rams in Los Angeles this weekend, then at home against the Houston Texans and at the Redskins in Week 17.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and -- most importantly -- a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and — most importantly — a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback must be on top of his game again Thursday night when the streaking Los Angeles Chargers look to tighten the AFC West division race.

 

Kansas City (11-2) last weekend qualified for the playoffs for the fifth time under sixth-year coach Andy Reid, using a madcap rally Mahomes engineered Sunday to hold off the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 in overtime. But after burning the NFL’s top defense entering the game for 377 yards passing and two touchdowns, the no-look pass was all the rage.

 

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

 

“I worked with him real hard on that. I built that right into the offense,” Reid cracked. “He has a knack for that. He is comfortable doing it. This is the NFL and he is doing it. That’s something to do it in practice, but when you start throwing it in a game against the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, that is a little different.”

 

Confidence oozes from Mahomes, whose plus-32 touchdown-to-interception mark leads the NFL, as do his 43 touchdown passes and 45 completions of 25-plus yards. The Chiefs average 437.5 yards and 36.2 points per game, along with 6.86 yards per play, all of which lead the league.

 

“I have built that chemistry with guys like D-Rob,” Mahomes said of Demarcus Robinson, recipient of the no-look pass, “through training camp and through last year. I know that the guys are going to know what I’m thinking and trust that they are going to keep running the route the same way. Then, I put the ball out there for them.”

 

Los Angeles (10-3) will counter with pressure off both edges from defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Bosa was injured and missed the first matchup, a 38-28 Week 1 win for the Chiefs to account for Kansas City’s one-game lead over the Chargers.

 

Los Angeles has won nine of its last 10 games, including three straight. Its only road defeat was against the crosstown Rams.

 

Kansas City, however, has won 20 of its last 21 against AFC West rivals and is looking to secure a third consecutive division title. A better divisional record gives the Chiefs the tiebreaker over the Chargers should Los Angeles win Thursday.

 

Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is having an exceptional season for the Chargers but may need to come up even bigger against the Chiefs. Running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) are dealing with injuries. Two rookies who have combined for 32 carries, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, are next in line.

 

“It’s important to just get back to being healthy,” said Michael Badgley, a rookie kicker who set a Chargers record with a 59-yard field goal while going 4-for-4 Sunday in a win over Cincinnati. “Get back in there, go through all of our recovery, and it will be a short week, so a big mental week.”

 

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

 

Speedy receiver Tyreek Hill limped through a heel injury against the Ravens but is expected to be available. Another receiver, Sammy Watkins (foot) is likely out. Running back Spencer Ware (shoulder) is also hobbled.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 522 Words

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday.

Newton, 31, suffered the devastating double injury while attempting to block All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller during a game against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 24, 2016.

He spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Newton started 68 of his 82 games with the Texans from 2011-16 after being selected in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of Arkansas State.

The Saints had a roster vacancy after placing tackle Michael Ola on injured reserve Tuesday with a high-ankle sprain suffered in Sunday’s win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

–Field Level Media

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Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula, suffered in the final minutes of Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Jets.

The second-year player finished the season with 78 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one sack.

Johnson, a fourth-rounder in 2018, had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season. He had 42 tackles and one interception in 11 games.

–Field Level Media

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Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

An injury-plagued season is now an injury-shortened season for Ziggy Ansah.

The Detroit Lions on Tuesday announced they have placed the veteran defensive end on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts and his injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9, though he has been effective (four sacks, seven quarterback hits) during his seven games on the field. Ansah is scheduled to hit free agency in March.

Roberts, 24, has nine catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season, his second since being drafted in the fourth round in 2017 out of Toledo.

The Lions are 5-8 and in last place in the NFC North. They play at Buffalo this Sunday before closing out the season at home against Minnesota on Dec. 23 and at Green Bay on Dec. 30.

–Field Level Media

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NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

The NFL announced Tuesday that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187.0 to $191.1 million.

That marks a 40-percent increase since the 2014 season ($133.0 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

“Total projected player costs, including benefits, will be more than $7.3 billion in 2019,” the league said in a statement.

The exact salary cap figure will be determined before free agency opens on March 13.

–Field Level Media

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Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

The Tennessee Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve with knee injuries on Tuesday.

Both starters were injured during the Titans’ 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Smith, who took over for injured three-time Pro Bowl selection Delanie Walker, finishes his second NFL season with 20 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.

Conklin, the Titans’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in 2016, was limited to nine games this season after starting all 16 games in each of his first two campaigns.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith. Tennessee also signed free agent offensive lineman Austin Pasztor and added tight end Cole Wick from the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad.

With three games remaining, the Titans are one of four AFC teams tied at 7-6 and chasing a wild-card berth in the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

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Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

The city of Oakland, Calif., gave the Raiders a going-away present on Tuesday.

A federal lawsuit.

Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract, and names the Raiders, the NFL and every other team in the league.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

“The City will seek a resolution for the maximum amount of damages available,” Parker said in a news release shortly before filing the lawsuit. “The lawsuit will not ask the court to prevent the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas or keep the team in Oakland.”

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

One of the main cruxes of the city’s argument is that the NFL’s relocation policy is “skewed” in the favor of cities looking to get a team and biased against current host cities because each team shares a part of the moving team’s relocation fee.

The suit also alleges the NFL uses its relocation policy to in essence strong-arm host cities into ponying up money for a new stadium, threatening to move a team out of that city should the funds not be raised.

“Threats of relocation are a central part of the NFL’s practice of demanding public financing for new stadiums, which significantly increase team revenues and ticket prices,” Parker said in the statement.

“Further, each time an NFL club moves, all NFL teams share in a ‘relocation fee.’ In the last several years, the NFL defendants have shared approximately $1.47 billion in these fees. The Raiders alone have agreed to pay over $370 million to the other NFL defendants for their ‘yes’ vote on the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.”

The city is seeking a jury trial but makes no specific monetary demand other than amounts to be determined at trial.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers' Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs.

Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive. He said he was not confident he would be helping the team by returning but opted to play.

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday of what he told Tomlin to be allowed back in the game.

During the game, Tomlin conferred with the team’s medical staff, which told the coach and general manager Kevin Colbert that the antiquated X-ray machine produced results that couldn’t be read.

Roethlisberger said team doctors cleared him to play anyway, and his performance indicated he was fine. Roethlisberger wound up completing 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked if there’s any reason to think he wouldn’t play against the Patriots, Roethlisberger said, “No, no, I don’t think so.”

The Steelers have lost three consecutive games and at 7-5-1 hold a slim lead over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs, Mahomes can lock up West with win over Chargers

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and -- most importantly -- a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and — most importantly — a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback must be on top of his game again Thursday night when the streaking Los Angeles Chargers look to tighten the West Division race.

 

Kansas City (11-2) last weekend qualified for the playoffs for the fifth time under sixth-year coach Andy Reid, using a madcap rally Mahomes engineered Sunday to hold off the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 in overtime. But after burning the NFL’s top defense entering the game for 377 yards passing and two touchdowns, the no-look pass was all the rage.

 

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

 

“I worked with him real hard on that. I built that right into the offense,” Reid cracked. “He has a knack for that. He is comfortable doing it. This is the NFL and he is doing it. That’s something to do it in practice, but when you start throwing it in a game against the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, that is a little different.”

 

Confidence oozes from Mahomes, whose plus-32 touchdown-to-interception mark leads the NFL along, as do his 43 touchdown passes and 45 completions of 25-plus yards. The Chiefs average 437.5 yards and 36.2 points per game, along with 6.86 yards per play, all of which lead the league.

 

“I have built that chemistry with guys like D-Rob,” Mahomes said of Demarcus Robinson, recipient of the no-look pass, “through training camp and through last year. I know that the guys are going to know what I’m thinking and trust that they are going to keep running the route the same way. Then, I put the ball out there for them.”

 

Los Angeles (10-3) will counter with pressure off both edges from defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Bosa was injured and missed the first matchup, a 38-28 Week 1 win for the Chiefs to account for Kansas City’s one-game lead over the Chargers.

 

Los Angeles has won nine of its last 10 games, including three straight. Its only road defeat was against the crosstown Rams.

 

Kansas City, however, has won 20 of its last 21 against AFC West rivals and is looking to secure a third consecutive division title. A better divisional record gives the Chiefs the tiebreaker over the Chargers should Los Angeles win Thursday.

 

Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is having an exceptional season for the Chargers but may need to come up even bigger against the Chiefs. Running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) are dealing with injuries. Two rookies who have combined for 32 carries, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, are next in line.

 

“It’s important to just get back to being healthy,” said Michael Badgley, a rookie kicker who set a Chargers record with a 59-yard field goal while going 4 for 4 Sunday in a win over Cincinnati. “Get back in there, go through all of our recovery, and it will be a short week, so a big mental week.”

 

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

 

Speedy receiver Tyreek Hill limped through a heel injury against the Ravens but is expected to be available. Another receiver, Sammy Watkins (foot) is likely out. Running back Spencer Ware (shoulder) is also hobbled.

 

–Field Level Media

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Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve Tuesday.

Brown injured his collarbone during the NFC West champions’ 30-16 win at Detroit earlier this month. He has rushed for 514 yards in four seasons as Todd Gurley’s backup, including 43 carries for 212 yards and five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in 2018.

Hatfield needs surgery after injuring his left ankle in Sunday’s 15-6 loss at Chicago. The second-year player and Los Angeles native saw most of his action on special teams this season.

The Rams also promoted rookie linebacker Trevon Young from the practice squad. Young, a sixth-round pick out of Louisville, has played in two games this season.

Los Angeles (11-2) hosts Philadelphia (6-7) on Sunday night.

–Field Level Media

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Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes' jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Patrick Mahomes may have come out on the losing end in the Kansas Chiefs’ wild shootout with the Los Angeles Rams last month, but one move he made with some memorabilia from that game is certainly a winner.

The second-year quarterback and NFL Most Valuable Player contender sent the jersey he wore Nov. 19 in the 54-51 classic to auction, where it reportedly sold for $36,150. What’s more, according to The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, the proceeds are going to aid in California wildfire relief efforts.

Both the Rams and Chiefs honored first responders to the fires throughout the Week 11 Monday night game, with the Rams handing out more than 3,000 complimentary tickets to first responders. The two biggest November fires, the Camp Fire in Northern California and Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, are responsible for nearly 90 deaths and the loss of 100,000 structures.

Mahomes has taken the league by storm in his first season as a full-time starter. His 4,300 yards and 43 touchdowns lead the league, and he also tops the NFL in touchdown percentage (8.9) and yards per attempt (9.7).

The Chiefs are 11-2 and hold a two-game lead in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The biggest threat to Kansas City actually comes from its own division, as the Los Angeles Chargers sit at 10-3. The Chargers visit the Chiefs on Thursday night.

–Field Level Media

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Texans look to bounce back vs. Jets, Darnold

The Houston Texans went from 0-3 to first place in the AFC South Division, a nine-game winning streak making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

 

That streak came to a crashing halt in a three-point loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

 

Now Houston gets a chance to

The Houston Texans went from 0-3 to first place in the AFC South Division, a nine-game winning streak making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

 

That streak came to a crashing halt in a three-point loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

 

Now Houston gets a chance to rebound from its first loss in two-and-a-half months Saturday afternoon when it visits the New York Jets.

 

The Texans head to East Rutherford still holding a two-game division lead over the Colts and Tennessee Titans with three weeks remaining. While Houston visits the 4-9 Jets, the Colts host the Dallas Cowboys — owners of the NFL’s longest current winning streak at five games — while the Titans visit the New York Giants.

 

During their winning streak, the Texans won five games by a touchdown or less and led at halftime of each game. On Sunday, they spent much of the game trying to rally only to come up short.

 

DeShaun Watson finished 27 of 38 for 267 yards with a touchdown pass, his 7-yard strike to DeAndre Hopkins with 2:37 left moving the Texans to within 24-21. But an offside penalty against Jadeveon Clowney on third-and-1 with two minutes remaining gave the Colts a first down and killed the Texans’ chances at completing the comeback.

 

In reality, the Texans’ inability to protect Watson (five sacks) did them in. Pass protection has been one of Houston’s biggest issues of late with opponents sacking Watson 20 times in his last five games.

 

“We didn’t play well as an offense, it is always going to be the quarterback, the head coach,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien told the media after his team’s first loss since a 27-22 setback against the Giants on Sept. 23. “I totally understand that but it just wasn’t very good as an offense. We were not able to get into a rhythm; our first-down offense was terrible. It was awful.”

 

Now the Texans will hope to correct everything against a team coming off a rare win thanks to some late-game clutch plays by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

 

“You let him escape, you let him start making plays, you’re going to be in a bind,” O’Brien said of the Jets’ first-round pick. “You got to stop the run. So, it’s a big challenge, but I know our guys are excited for it and we’ve got to have a good week here.”

 

The Jets were eliminated from the playoffs before taking the field in Buffalo last week but halted a six-game losing streak with a thrilling 27-23 victory thanks to Darnold’s first game-winning, fourth-quarter drive.

 

Darnold missed the previous three games because of foot sprain sustained Nov. 4 in Miami — a 13-6 loss in which he was intercepted four times. He briefly left the game against the Bills in the first half but returned and capped the comeback with a nine-play, 61-yard drive culminating in Elijah McGuire’s 1-yard run on fourth down with 1:17 remaining.

 

“It’s great for his first game back,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said on a conference call Monday. “Obviously, he was confident before the fourth-quarter comeback. But it just helps him, it just helps him be himself a little more, which he’s comfortable with being anyway, but that’s really all it does for him.”

 

Darnold finished 16 of 24 for 170 yards and highlighted by his first game-winning drive with a 37-yard pass to Robby Anderson that put the ball on the Buffalo 5-yard line.

 

“As a kid, you dream of converting two-minute drives and going down there and scoring,” Darnold told the media after the game. “To be able to score a touchdown and put the ball in their hands at the end of the game was awesome.”

 

Darnold actually nicked up his foot again at Buffalo and was limping on the game-winning drive. Bowles said he expects Darnold to play Sunday.

 

The Jets are 5-2 in seven all-time meetings with the Texans.

 

–Field Level Media

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Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. The Vikings finished the game with 276 yards of total offense, managing just 61 in the first half. It was the fourth time in the past five games that the Vikings have finished with less than 300 yards total offense.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties for the Vikings.

The Vikings entered November with a top-10 offense but have dropped to 17th after Monday night’s loss.

Head coach Mike Zimmer had been critical of DeFilippo’s play-calling recently, saying that the Vikings have not been committed enough to the running game. Running back Dalvin Cook rushed 13 times for 55 yards against the Seahawks, just the second time this season Cook has had more than 10 carries.

The Vikings (6-6-1) are vying for a wild-card spot and play host to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Vikings hired DeFilippo in February to replace Pat Shurmur, who left to become the head coach of the New York Giants.

DeFilippo spent two seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and was previously offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs in a momentous AFC West matchup, the NFL Network reported.

Gordon sprained his medial collateral ligament on a hit by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche in Week 13 and remains sidelined.

NFL Network reported Tuesday that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler, would likely miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.

Gordon has 802 rushing yards and 44 catches for 453 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns on the season in 10 games played.

Ekeler (neck, concussion) would be replaced by rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome if he’s also unable to return.

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did not practice Monday due to a hamstring injury. Ware replaced Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Chiefs, as Kansas City’s top back two weeks ago.

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (ankle) said he plans to play Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers QB Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up but hurting ribs won't keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

 

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury suffered in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh's loss to the Oakland Raiders.

 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up but hurting ribs won’t keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

 

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury suffered in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game in the third quarter.

 

Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive. He said he was not confident he would be helping the team by returning, but opted to play.

 

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday of what he told head coach Mike Tomlin to be allowed back in the game.

 

Roethlisberger said team doctors cleared him to play, and his performance indicated he was fine. Roethlisberger completed 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Asked if there’s any reason to think he wouldn’t play against the Patriots, Roethlisberger said, “No, no, I don’t think so.”

 

The Steelers have lost three consecutive games and at 7-5-1 hold a slim lead over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

 

–Field Level Media

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Controversy surrounds Seahawks’ key FG block

Controversy surrounds Seahawks' key FG block

Controversy surrounds Seahawks’ key FG block

The Minnesota Vikings were deprived of three points Monday night when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner apparently used illegal means to block a fourth-quarter field goal attempt.

Wagner put his hands on two teammates as he leaped over the offensive linemen en route to swatting down a 47-yard field goal try by Minnesota’s Dan Bailey.

Former NFL officiating chief Mike Pereira, now a TV analyst for FOX, tweeted, “Lots of talk about the Wagner block. The wording in the rule book is NEW this year and is clear. The new wording states, ‘May not place a hand or hands on a teammate or opponent in an attempt to jump through a gap to block an opponent’s kick or apparent kick.’ Case closed. Foul.”

Referee Brad Allen tossed a penalty flag on Wagner but subsequent changed his mind and said no foul had been committed.

Had the penalty been enforced, the Vikings could have chosen to take the three points, cutting their deficit to 6-3 with 5:46 remaining, or they could have taken a 15-yard gain on the fourth-and-9 play, giving them a first down at the Seattle 14-yard line.

Wagner didn’t admit to any wrongdoing after the game, which Seattle won 21-7.

“I tried to time it up; I got over it and made the block,” Wagner said, according to ESPN. “I’m an athlete, so I have just got to jump over people. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said, “You’re not supposed to be able to pull guys down, if that’s what they did. Quite honestly, I didn’t see it. I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened.”

Bailey also didn’t see Wagner’s leverage move.

“Obviously I was kind of out there in the middle of it,” Bailey said, according to the Saint Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. “From my understanding of that rule, he can jump over, he just can’t use leverage or whatever they call it. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.

“Obviously the most disappointing thing was not getting three points there. That would’ve really helped our team. Just have to try to knock the next one through.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll praised special teams coaches Brian Schneider and Larry Izzo for Wagner’s successful block.

“They came to me and said, ‘Hey look, we think we have something,'” he said. “That was a great find by those guys. …

“We practiced all week with Bobby jumping over the guys; never touched anybody. I don’t know what happened in the game, but that’s the way he was doing (it). He was able to clear the line of scrimmage without touching anybody, and that was the plan.

“Very few people could do that, but he had pulled it off beautifully during the week, and that’s what the officials called. But I know that there’s some controversy about that.”

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Chris Carson rushed for

Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Chris Carson rushed for a touchdown and Justin Coleman returned a fumble 29 yards for a score, both in the final three minutes, as the Seattle Seahawks defeated the visiting Minnesota Vikings 21-7 Monday night.

Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals as the Seahawks (8-5) won their fourth in a row and extended their lead in the race for the NFC’s first wild card to 1 1/2 games over the Vikings (6-6-1). Minnesota lost for the third time in four games.

The Seahawks rushed for 214 yards, including a 40-yard scamper by quarterback Russell Wilson on Seattle’s lone touchdown drive. Carson’s 2-yard run with 2:53 remaining gave Seattle a 14-0 lead. Carson finished with a game-high 90 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

On the Vikings’ second play from scrimmage after Carson’s touchdown, Jacob Martin sacked Kirk Cousins and the ball popped loose. Coleman recovered it and racing down the sideline for a score.

Minnesota’s only touchdown came on a 6-yard pass from Cousins to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 left.

The Vikings had 276 yards of total offense — 2 more yards than the Seahawks’ total. Cousins completed 20 of 33 passes for 208 yards, and Cook rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries.

Wilson connected on 10 of 20 passes for 72 yards.

After Janikowski kicked his second field goal of the game, a 35-yarder to make it 6-0 with 13:22 remaining in the game, the Vikings used a 48-yard pass from Cousins to Stefon Diggs to finally reach the red zone.

Minnesota got a first down at Seattle’s 4-yard line. Latavius Murray rushed for 2 yards before Cousins’ pass toward the back corner of the end zone was long. Cook rushed for 1 yard on third down, setting up fourth-and-goal. Cousins’ pass over the middle for tight end Kyle Rudolph near the back of the end zone was knocked away by Seattle safety Bradley McDougald.

The Vikings attempted a field goal on their next possession, but Dan Bailey’s 47-yard try was blocked by Bobby Wagner.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Seahawks got a 37-yard field goal from Janikowski with 14:11 left in the second, capping a 13-play, 70-yard drive.

Seattle moved into the red zone again in the final two minutes of the first half but came up empty, as Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks intercepted a pass that Wilson was trying to throw away after losing his footing.

The Seahawks played without their top wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, who was sidelined due to a hip injury.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general

NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general manager, reportedly eschewing the opportunity to maintain his role through the end of the regular season in Oakland.

The team said in a statement: “We are grateful for everything Reggie has done for this organization as a player, executive and member of the Raider family. … The Raiders will immediately begin a search for a new front office executive and will have no further comment until that process is complete.”

Coach Jon Gruden, in the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, and McKenzie reportedly have differed greatly in player evaluation and their vision for the roster going forward.

ESPN and NFL Network reported that McKenzie held a meeting with the Raiders’ scouting department on Monday morning to inform them he was fired and would not accept the offer to stay in the role until January.

–Journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson unseated Mark Sanchez for the starting job with the Washington Redskins.

Johnson will start this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars as the reeling Redskins look to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.

“We’ll get Josh ready to go,” said coach Jay Gruden, who worked with Johnson in 2008 with Tampa Bay and in 2013 with Cincinnati. “Fortunately he’s been around me for a while and can handle the terminology, and he did a good job moving around.”

–Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and linebacker Matt Milano had surgery to repair a broken fibula, coach Sean McDermott announced Monday.

McCoy was scheduled to undergo an MRI after getting hurt Sunday early in the Bills’ loss to the New York Jets, but he appears to have a chance to play in Week 15.

–Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is sore from the ankle injury he sustained just before halftime Sunday but appears to be OK, coach Adam Gase said.

Tannehill missed two plays after being sacked against the New England Patriots but returned in the second half.

–Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is headed to injured reserve with a knee injury that will require surgery, coach Steve Wilks announced.

Wilks declined to offer more details on Nkemdiche’s injury, and it is unclear how serious the surgery is.

–Redskins tight end Jordan Reed has a toe sprain and might not play again this season.

Jay Gruden said there is “a level of concern” about Reed’s injury, which could keep him out a few weeks, with three games remaining in the regular season.

–Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill avoided serious injury on Sunday and is considered day-to-day, ESPN reported. Also, coach Andy Reid suggested safety Eric Berry (heel) could make his season debut on Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers but added that the situation is very fluid.

Hill fought through a heel injury in the Chiefs’ win over the Baltimore Ravens, totaling eight catches for 139 yards, including a game-saving, 48-yard gain on fourth-and-9 to set up the tying touchdown in regulation.

–Leonard Fournette’s sideline spat with fans during Jacksonville’s Thursday night loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville came after a fan yelled a racial slur at Fournette, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.

A video released Monday morning by TMZ showed Fournette yelling at a fan, and Marrone said he asked Fournette about the exchange later Monday. Fournette told him a fan used a racial slur, Marrone said.

Asked if there were witnesses to support Fournette’s claim, Marrone replied, “I trust the player.”

–Field Level Media

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Quinn: Falcons failed to meet expectations

Quinn: Falcons failed to meet expectations

Atlanta Falcons: Coach Dan Quinn isn't

Quinn: Falcons failed to meet expectations

Atlanta Falcons: Coach Dan Quinn isn’t hiding from the fact that the Falcons (4-9) are one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL. “As we’re sitting here at Week 15, we have four wins,” Quinn told reporters. “So you’d better believe we’re evaluating everything and doing anything to get it right.” Atlanta has dropped its past five games. Early-season injuries began the team’s derailment, but mistakes and inconsistent play have continued the decline. “As we’re going through it, from players to staff to everything, we want to make sure we look at the body of work and get clear, concise evaluations on everybody,” Quinn said. “When you’re standing where we’re at, it’s not what you want to do, but that’s part of it and what we’re looking at for sure. If you’re clearly at four wins during this time, then we have not met expectations.”

Carolina Panthers: A once-promising campaign has disintegrated with five consecutive setbacks. Carolina has gone from battling the New Orleans Saints for the NFC West lead to being an outsider in the NFC wild-card chase. “Things happen,” veteran defensive end Julius Peppers said. “Your plans don’t always work out how you want them to.” That is certainly true with the Panthers, but Peppers said the team still has a positive vibe. “To be honest with you, I don’t feel like there is a loss of confidence or anything,” Peppers said. “We’re just not putting a good product on the field.” Meanwhile, widedout Devin Funchess, who is slated for free agency after the season, played in just 32 of 72 snaps Sunday in Carolina’s loss to the Cleveland Browns and has just three catches over the past three games. Rookie DJ Moore played 66 snaps vs. the Browns and second-year pro Curtis Samuel played 58.

New Orleans Saints: The offense came to life by scoring 25 points over the final 19-plus minutes Sunday in the Saints’ 28-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a slump of more than 6 1/2 quarters. New Orleans scored just 13 points during its funk — a stunning development for a team that averaged 41 points over its previous five games while scoring at least 30 in each. “A lot of people expect us to come out and be perfect, but that’s just not reality,” Saints running back Alvin Kamara told reporters. “You know, people make mistakes. We may start slow sometimes. But it’s not when adversity hits, it’s how you respond to it. And I think this team responds well to adversity.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Receiver Mike Evans is on pace to break the club’s single-season receiving yardage mark that was set in 1989. Evans has 1,207 yards and needs to average just 72 yards over the final three games to surpass the record set by Mark Carrier (1,422). Evans has three of the team’s nine 1,200-yard campaigns, including his career best of 1,321 yards in 2016. Earlier this season, Evans broke Carrier’s franchise record for most career receiving yards. Carrier had 5,018. Evans, 25, is now at 5,786. Despite Evans’ strong campaign, Tampa Bay has lost eight of its past 11 games after a 2-0 start.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals giving no thought to sitting Rosen

Cardinals giving no thought to sitting Rosen

Arizona Cardinals: Despite a

Cardinals giving no thought to sitting Rosen

Arizona Cardinals: Despite a completely devastated offensive line and others going down with injuries right and left, the Cardinals do not intend to sit quarterback Josh Rosen. To the contrary, they want him to get as many reps as possible. “To sit him, I don’t think it’d be advantageous to do that,” head coach Steve Wilks said, adding that he doesn’t see Rosen developing bad habits. “(Playing) is an opportunity for him to continue to grow.” Wilks remains optimistic about what he’s seen from the rookie. “You can see the potential and the things he is capable of doing,” he said. “…He has the qualities and the skillset. The inconsistency is there, but a lot of it is not just him, it’s the personnel and that falls back on us as coaches to put those guys in position to be successful.”

Los Angeles Rams: L.A.’s defense wasn’t the problem in a 15-6 loss at Chicago on Sunday night, but NFL sack leader Aaron Donald was kept awfully quiet by the Bears. Donald had just one QB hit (his fewest in a game since Week 6) and went sackless for just the second time since Week 3. According to ESPN Analytics, Donald won on just 18 percent of his pass-rush snaps after entering the week having won on a league-high 43 percent of rushes this season. Despite the quiet night, though, Donald still leads the league in sacks (16.5) by three, tackles for loss (20) by three and quarterback hits (33) by six.

San Francisco 49ers: The much maligned 49ers’ defense shined in Sunday’s win over the Broncos, holding Denver to 3.9 yards per play and stopping the Broncos on 13 of 15 third downs. But San Francisco’s turnover luck remains missing, as the 49ers failed to recover any of the Broncos’ four fumbles. Through 13 games, the Niners still have just five takeaways, five fewer than any other NFL team and a figure that seven teams have totaled in a single game this season. The fewest turnovers forced in NFL history is 11 by the 1982 Baltimore Colts, who played only nine games in a strike-shortened campaign. The 2006 Washington Redskins have the fewest takeaways (12) in a 16-game season.

The Seattle Seahawks are hosting the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.

–Field Level Media

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