Eagles finally start looking like team that won NFL title

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles are finally starting to play like a defending Super Bowl champion.

It took six games, but they sent a clear message to the rest of the NFL that they are going to make another run, if their game against the New York Giants on Thursday night was a sign of things to come.

The Eagles (3-3) played fast, Carson Wentz spread the ball around and the defense — particularly the front four — made life miserable for Eli Manning and the Giants in a 34-13 win that enabled Philadelphia to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2016.

“All season long we have been close, we just were not sustaining it,” said tight end Zach Ertz, who caught one of Wentz’s season-high three touchdown passes. “Hopefully this win sparks us for the rest of the year. Obviously, we are going to look at film and learn how we could be better even, but this is something that we hope we can build some momentum on.”

The 34 points were a season high for the Eagles, who beat the Giants for the fourth straight time.

“It’s a big win for us,” said Wentz, who threw for 278 yards and hit Alshon Jeffery on his other two TD tosses. “NFC East and the conference. It’s huge. Being 3-3 is better than 2-4. This is more like who we are. We can build from this.”

The win put the Eagles into a first place tie with Washington (2-2) in the NFC East with Dallas (2-3) a half game back. The Giants (1-5) are fading fast.

“Obviously not where we want to be,” said Manning, who was sacked four times and hit 13 other times. “I’m not happy about it. I am frustrated like everyone. Obviously, all you can do is worry about the next game.”

The pressure was the key for the Eagles. It allowed defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to sit back with his linebackers and secondary and kept receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard from making big plays for New York. They were invisible most of the game.

“We want to get after the passer every week,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “These games are battles. It all comes down to which team gets after the passer. We hit Eli and put him on the ground. That was big.”

So was winning.

Five things were learned from the game:

SAQUON BARKLEY: The Giants rookie halfback is carrying the team. The second pick in the draft ran for 130 yards on 13 carries, scoring on a 50-yard run. He caught nine passes for 99, including a tackle-breaking 55-yarder that set up a field goal. That’s 229 yards from scrimmage. He has gained at least 100 in all six games, one off the NFL rookie record set by Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt last year.

“Saquon is a beast,” said Eagles halfback Corey Clement, who scored on a 1-yard run. “It’s hard not to say it. if I was saying anything otherwise, I’d be a hater.”

QUICK START HELPS: The Eagles got big contributions early. An interception by Kamu Grugier-Hill on the opening series set up Wentz’s first touchdown to Jeffery. A 23-yard punt return by DeAndre Carter paved the way for Clement’s score. Coming into the game, Philadelphia had scored seven points in the first quarter. They got 14 against New York.

MORE ODELL CONTROVERSY: Beckham was frustrated. At one point, he head butted a cooling fan on the Giants’ sideline. He also left the field one play before halftime with New York lining up for a Hail Mary. Coach Pat Shurmur said he was going to get an IV.

“I was just trying to get myself fired up,” Beckham said.

INJURIES: The Eagles’ biggest concern has to be left tackle Jason Peters. He left the game with a biceps injury. Backup cornerback Sidney Jones left in the first half with a hamstring injury. The Giants had LB Ray Ray Amstrong (concussion), WR Cody Latimer (hamstring) and CB Antonio Hamilton (illness) leave the game.

THE DIFFERENCE: Wentz had an idea what changed for the Eagles

“I think more than anything we just stayed ahead of the chains,” he said. “I think we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. And really offensively and defensively we just fed off each other. I think that’s something we do so well when we get that rolling and so tonight it was good to get it going.”

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Dolphins’ Wake might return against Lions; Riddick out

MIAMI (AP) — Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is on a course to return Sunday against Detroit from a knee injury that sidelined him the past two weeks.

Wake is listed as questionable but took full part in practice Friday. He coyly declined to say whether he expected to play but added,

MIAMI (AP) — Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake is on a course to return Sunday against Detroit from a knee injury that sidelined him the past two weeks.

Wake is listed as questionable but took full part in practice Friday. He coyly declined to say whether he expected to play but added, “It’ll be Christmas morning on Sunday.”

The return of Wake would be timely because Miami defensive ends Charles Harris (calf) and Jonathan Woodard (concussion) were ruled out.

Lions running back Theo Riddick, who has 23 catches this season, was ruled with a knee injury. That could mean more snaps for rookie Kerryon Johnson, especially on third down.

Miami cornerback Bobby McCain is questionable but took full part in practice and is expected to return from a knee injury.

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Saints scratch Peat vs. Ravens, hope Ginn plays this season

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says there is a "very realistic" possibility of injured receiver Ted Ginn Jr. playing again this season.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has ruled out left guard Andrus Peat and listed right guard Larry Warford as questionable for Sunday's game at Baltimore.

Peat has missed practice this

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says there is a “very realistic” possibility of injured receiver Ted Ginn Jr. playing again this season.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has ruled out left guard Andrus Peat and listed right guard Larry Warford as questionable for Sunday’s game at Baltimore.

Peat has missed practice this week with a head injury, while Warford has been hampered by back soreness.

Ginn was placed on injured reserve on Thursday because of a nagging knee injury that Payton says will require arthroscopic surgery. Under NFL rules, teams may bring up to two players back to the active roster after they have spent at least eight weeks on injured reserve.

If Ginn recovers on schedule, he’d be eligible to play again in Week 15. That means he’d be able to play in up to three regular season games plus any playoff games, should the NFC South-leading Saints qualify for the postseason.

Ginn has played in four games this season, catching 12 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.

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Jaguars acquire RB Hyde from Browns in trade for draft pick

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and five touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Hyde signed a three-year, $15.25 million contract in March.

The Jaguars (3-3) were willing to take on the financial commitment because leading rusher T.J. Yeldon will become a free agent at the end of this season. So will third-stringer Corey Grant, who was placed on injured reserve last week because of a foot injury. The Jaguars signed veteran Jamaal Charles to a one-year contract to replace Grant.

Fournette was ruled out for Sunday’s game against Houston. It will be the fifth game he’s missed this season because of the nagging injury.

Cleveland had seemed pleased with Hyde, but his departure clears the way for rookie Nick Chubb to be the team’s primary back. He’s averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

Browns general manager John Dorsey continues to revamp the team’s roster and add picks. In addition to their own picks in the first six rounds, the Browns acquired a third-rounder from New England, Jacksonville’s fifth-rounder, another fifth-rounder from New England and a seventh-rounder from Jacksonville.

The NFL trading deadline is Oct. 30.

The Jaguars built their offense around Fournette, a bruising runner and the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft. He tried to return after missing two games earlier this season but re-injured his hamstring and has been sidelined since. Yeldon, meanwhile, is dealing with foot and ankle injuries.

Making Jacksonville’s offense even more stagnant, the team is without its top two left tackles, its top two tight ends and its leading receiver from 2017.

The 28-year-old Hyde was off to an impressive start in Cleveland. But he was taking playing time away from Chubb, who scored on two long touchdown runs at Oakland on Sept. 30 and enters Sunday’s game averaging 10.8 yards on 16 carries. Also, running back Duke Johnson had gone from being a dual threat to mainly a receiver. He’s had just 19 carries this season.

Earlier this week, Browns coach Hue Jackson said it was vital to get Chubb more touches. Chubb had only three carries for 25 yards last week in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

“We need to get him more chances,” Jackson said. “But I think sometimes the game changes, you get behind and you need Duke Johnson out there because that is what he does well — catch the ball and run it. I think that is what you were seeing yesterday. As these games get a little closer, they do not get too far away and we can get up whatever that is, we do need to give Nick Chubb more carries.”

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Broncos reverse the script, can they keep it up?

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos will try to replicate their energy and emotion from their 45-10 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals so they don't fall into the same morass they did the last time they ran up the score on an overwhelmed opponent.

They walloped the Dallas Cowboys 42-17 in Week

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos will try to replicate their energy and emotion from their 45-10 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals so they don’t fall into the same morass they did the last time they ran up the score on an overwhelmed opponent.

They walloped the Dallas Cowboys 42-17 in Week 2 last season.

They then won just five of their next 20 games, suffering through a franchise-worst eight-game skid last year and a four-game losing streak this season that had general manager John Elway reprising his “soft” label for a deficient defense and spurring fans to call for coach Vance Joseph’s job.

Then, on a short week, the Broncos (3-4) backed up Von Miller’s smack talk and outclassed the Cardinals (1-6) just as their superstar linebacker had promised, flipping the script maybe on what had been a soured season.

Miller’s message was actually directed at his own shaken team in hopes of restoring its swagger.

“It’s not even like me,” Miller said, “But I thought it was the best thing to do to get my teammates going.”

Miller first asked if his teammates had his back.

“We said, ‘Yeah, we got you. Go ahead and say it,'” said cornerback Bradley Roby. “When he put it out there, it put confidence in this team and I think it brought the best out of us.”

It sure brought the best out of Roby, a former first-round pick who had struggled in his first season as a starter opposite star Chris Harris Jr ., who had a pick-6 Thursday night along with linebacker Todd Davis .

Roby gave up three long touchdowns against the Jets two weeks ago, then failed to follow protocol for a sick day the next morning.

Against the Cardinals, Roby broke up four passes and recorded his first interception of the season.

“He really played well yesterday,” Joseph said. “For this defense to work, the corners have to play well. Chris has played well the entire season.”

Another former first-rounder who was also struggling, left tackle Garett Bolles, played his best game against Arizona and wasn’t whistled for any flags after drawing an NFL-high six holding calls going in.

Roby and Bolles hadn’t been benched like right guard Connor McGovern was last week because the Broncos lack depth at cornerback and tackle. So, Joseph was left to let Roby and Bolles work out their difficulties in the glare of the game.

“I thought Bolles played one of his best games of the year,” Joseph said, praising Bolles’ work blocking pass rusher Chandler Jones.

The Broncos have a long weekend now to relish their slump-busting victory before getting ready for their rematch with the Chiefs , who rallied for a 27-23 victory in Denver three weeks ago.

“Like Coach Joseph said, in this league, when you lose you feel like you’re never going to win again and when you win, you feel like you’re never going to lose again,” receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “It’s one of those situations we can build off.

“Obviously, you all heard about Von’s ‘We’re going to kick their’ you-know-the-word. We went out and did it and it feels good,” said Sanders, who both threw and caught a TD pass against Arizona . “Now we got 10 or 11 days until we go out to Kansas City. We’ll just sit back, watch some football over the weekend feeling confident in yourself. Hopefully, we can keep building off this.”

As for Miller, he doesn’t anticipate issuing a similar warning next week when the Broncos visit Arrowhead.

“Honestly, it wasn’t even for the Cardinals; it was for my teammates,” said Miller, who collected two strip sacks of rookie Josh Rosen. “It was just to put us in that mentality, no backing down now. I think we have a great football team. We have great leadership. We have a great GM, great owner, great coaches, and we have great players.

“I just thought what we were missing is the confidence part of it.”

That’s been restored in a big way.

Notes: Joseph said RB Royce Freeman (ankle) and WR/PR DaeSean Hamilton (knee) were day to day but S Darian Stewart (neck), who sustained his third stinger in three weeks, may be out a while. … Joseph said CB Adam Jones (thigh) should return this week and OLB Shane Ray (ankle) and RT Jared Veldheer (knee) are day to day.

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Bears’ Khalil Mack practices but questionable for Patriots

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Bears linebacker Khalil Mack must wait until just before game time to learn if he gets a chance to rush New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at Soldier Field.

Mack played through an ankle injury in Chicago's last game, a 31-28 loss to Miami. On Friday, he practiced

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Bears linebacker Khalil Mack must wait until just before game time to learn if he gets a chance to rush New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at Soldier Field.

Mack played through an ankle injury in Chicago’s last game, a 31-28 loss to Miami. On Friday, he practiced for the first time this week, although on a limited basis. Bears coach Matt Nagy says he thought Mack “moved around pretty good.”

Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday. Nagy says team medical personnel will monitor how he bounces back from Friday’s practice.

Mack has played in 70 straight games and has never missed a start.

“That’s just who he is,” the coach said.

Ultimately, the decision will depend on Mack and the medical evaluations.

“When we get to the time when we’ve got to make a decision, then we’ll go with what we feel is best for him and best for the team,” Nagy said.

Mack has five sacks, and last week was held without a sack for the first time this season. He didn’t comment Friday on his injury, but wants to see the Bears defense bounce back from its worst game of the year when they face the Patriots.

“They’re very explosive,” Mack said. “They’ve got weapons over the top. They’ve got some good backs. And so it’s going to be a challenge.”

Mack called last week’s overtime loss and 31 points allowed “difficult to handle.”

Wide receiver Allen Robinson II practiced Friday on a limited basis after missing Thursday’s practice because of a groin injury. He is questionable.

Cornerback Bryce Callahan is also questionable after missing Friday’s practice because of an ankle injury from Thursday’s practice. Cornerback Marcus Cooper (hamstring) is doubtful. Cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and guard Eric Kush (neck) were removed from the injury list and are expected to play.

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Bengals, Chiefs could be missing key players to injuries

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs could be without several starters on their already porous defenses when they meet Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Bengals ruled out first-round pick Darqueze Dennard, their best slot cornerback, with a shoulder injury Friday. They also ruled out linebacker Nick

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs could be without several starters on their already porous defenses when they meet Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Bengals ruled out first-round pick Darqueze Dennard, their best slot cornerback, with a shoulder injury Friday. They also ruled out linebacker Nick Vigil with a knee injury and listed safety Shawn Williams as questionable with a concussion

Running back Giovani Bernard (knee), tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) and center Billy Price (foot) are also out for Cincinnati.

The Chiefs are expected to be without Eric Berry (heel) and Justin Houston (hamstring), who are both listed as doubtful. Pass rusher Tanoh Kpassagnon was limited in practice Friday with an ankle injury, while safety Eric Murray was also questionable with an ankle injury.

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Jaguars trade draft pick to Browns for running back Hyde

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for Cleveland running back Carlos Hyde on Friday, adding a proven starter while Leonard Fournette progresses slowly from a strained right hamstring.

The Browns (2-3-1) will get a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from the Jaguars in exchange for Hyde, who has 382 yards rushing and five touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Hyde signed a three-year, $15.25 million contract in March.

The Jaguars (3-3) were willing to take on the financial commitment because leading rusher T.J. Yeldon will become a free agent at the end of this season. So will third-stringer Corey Grant, who was placed on injured reserve last week because of a foot injury. The Jaguars signed veteran Jamaal Charles to a one-year contract to replace Grant.

Fournette was ruled out for Sunday’s game against Houston. It will be the fifth game he’s missed this season because of the nagging injury.

Cleveland had seemed pleased with Hyde, but his departure clears the way for rookie Nick Chubb to be the team’s primary back. He’s averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

Browns general manager John Dorsey continues to revamp the team’s roster and add picks. In addition to their own picks in the first six rounds, the Browns acquired a third-rounder from New England, Jacksonville’s fifth-rounder, another fifth-rounder from New England and a seventh-rounder from Jacksonville.

The Jaguars built their offense around Fournette, a bruising runner and the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft. He tried to return after missing two games earlier this season but re-injured his hamstring and has been sidelined since. Yeldon, meanwhile, is dealing with foot and ankle injuries.

Making Jacksonville’s offense even more stagnant, the team is without its top two left tackles, its top two tight ends and its leading receiver from 2017.

The 28-year-old Hyde was off to an impressive start in Cleveland. But he was taking playing time away from Chubb, who scored on two long touchdown runs at Oakland on Sept. 30 and enters Sunday’s game averaging 10.8 yards on 16 carries. Also, running back Duke Johnson had gone from being a dual threat to mainly a receiver. He’s had just 19 carries this season.

Earlier this week, Browns coach Hue Jackson said it was vital to get Chubb more touches. Chubb had only three carries for 25 yards last week in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

“We need to get him more chances,” Jackson said. “But I think sometimes the game changes, you get behind and you need Duke Johnson out there because that is what he does well — catch the ball and run it. I think that is what you were seeing yesterday. As these games get a little closer, they do not get too far away and we can get up whatever that is, we do need to give Nick Chubb more carries.”

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Report: Rihanna backed players, turned down SB LIII halftime

Report: Rihanna backed players, turned down SB LIII halftime

Superstar singer Rihanna turned down an invitation to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl in solidarity with protesting NFL players, according to multiple reports.

"The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year's performer in Atlanta," a source told

Report: Rihanna backed players, turned down SB LIII halftime

Superstar singer Rihanna turned down an invitation to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl in solidarity with protesting NFL players, according to multiple reports.

“The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year’s performer in Atlanta,” a source told US Weekly, which first reported the news. “They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.”

Rihanna, who reportedly has an album and tour in the works, declined on principle despite the potential exposure, according to another source.

“The offer and exposure would have been great for Rihanna as she’s planning a new album and tour but she stuck to what’s right in her eyes,” a person close to the singer reportedly told Entertainment Weekly.

Rolling Stone said it had independently confirmed the news on Friday morning.

Fellow singer Pink, who performed the national anthem before Super Bowl LII in February, was also reportedly considered, but never reached an agreement.

Maroon 5, fronted by Adam Levine, was reportedly offered the job and accepted, though no formal announcement has been made.

Super Bowl LIII will take place in Atlanta on Feb. 3.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars RB Fournette to miss third straight game

Jaguars RB Fournette to miss third straight game

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will miss his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury after being ruled out of Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

Fournette suffered the injury in the season opener against the New York Giants and missed

Jaguars RB Fournette to miss third straight game

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will miss his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury after being ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.

Fournette suffered the injury in the season opener against the New York Giants and missed the next two games. He aggravated it in Week 4 when he returned to play against the New York Jets.

Fournette has just 71 yards on 20 carries this season. T.J. Yeldon (299) again will be the main ball carrier.

Standout defensive Calais Campbell was listed as questionable on Jacksonville’s Friday injury report due to an ankle injury.

Campbell has four sacks in six games this season. He posted a career-best 14.5 last season.

Cornerback D.J. Hayden (toe) and tight end James O’Shaughnessy (hip) also will sit out the contest. Cornerback Tre Herndon (hamstring) and offensive lineman Will Richardson Jr. (knee) are listed as questionable.

–Field Level Media

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Browns’ Garrett complains about officiating after bad calls

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns defensive end Myles Garrett flagged NFL officials, saying he's tired of bad calls going against Cleveland.

Garrett spoke out on Friday and said he doesn't care if he gets fined by the league for his comments because "something needs to be said."

He was particularly upset about a

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns defensive end Myles Garrett flagged NFL officials, saying he’s tired of bad calls going against Cleveland.

Garrett spoke out on Friday and said he doesn’t care if he gets fined by the league for his comments because “something needs to be said.”

He was particularly upset about a non-call last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, whose left tackle Russell Okung clearly moved before the snap to block Garrett. The play was allowed to continue and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass.

Garrett argued that not only should Okung have been penalized, but if he had continued rushing he may have sacked Rivers or forced a fumble.

Garrett also pointed to a fumble that was whistled dead on Oct. 30 at Oakland. The Browns stripped Raiders quarterback David Carr, recovered the ball and were running for a TD. But officials ruled Carr was in the grasp.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron later acknowledged the call was wrong.

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Jets’ secondary will be down a few key players vs. Vikings

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Maye are out for the team's game against the Minnesota Vikings with injuries, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson is doubtful to play.

The Jets will have to face a Vikings offense on Sunday that includes wide receiver Adam Thielen, who

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Maye are out for the team’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with injuries, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson is doubtful to play.

The Jets will have to face a Vikings offense on Sunday that includes wide receiver Adam Thielen, who leads the NFL in receptions and yards receiving.

Skrine has a concussion that has caused him to miss most of the last two games. Maye is dealing with a broken right thumb. Meanwhile, Johnson — the Jets’ top free-agent signing — will likely miss his third straight game with a quadriceps injury.

New York could also be short-handed at wide receiver, with Quincy Enunwa having been previously ruled out with a sprained ankle and Terrelle Pryor doubtful with a groin injury.

Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (foot) is doubtful, and running back Isaiah Crowell (foot) is questionable.

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Chargers duo Rivers, Gates back in London 10 years later

Ten years after their first trip to London, Los Angeles Chargers veterans Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates are keen to see how much the British audience has learned about the American version of football.

Rivers and Gates took part in the second regular-season game played at Wembley back in 2008, when the NFL

Ten years after their first trip to London, Los Angeles Chargers veterans Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates are keen to see how much the British audience has learned about the American version of football.

Rivers and Gates took part in the second regular-season game played at Wembley back in 2008, when the NFL was still a bit of a curiosity and large parts of the crowd didn’t quite understand the sport.

“I remember like if it was yesterday,” Gates said. “The ball would be punted in the air and the crowd would be making noise. We were like, ‘what are you making noise about?’ But it was just their way. They’re used to watching soccer, and the chants and things of that nature. It was foreign to us, just like we were foreign to them.

“And now I think over the years, they’ve learned to grasp a little bit more a better concept of the game of American football. Most people understand it now here.”

That was the goal behind the NFL’s decision to stage annual games in London — to grow the interest and understanding of the game overseas. When the Chargers (4-2) host the Tennessee Titans (3-3) at Wembley on Sunday, it will be the 23rd game played in London since 2007.

“I’m interested to see again the atmosphere in the stadium,” Rivers said. “Last week, I hear it was an unbelievable crowd for Oakland and Seattle. I remember there being a great crowd 10 years. I just remember so many different jerseys from so many different teams represented. The energy was in there. A long pass, or a ball getting kicked, all those things got the crowd going pretty good.”

The Chargers arrived in London on Friday morning after spending the week in Cleveland following a win over the Browns, a move aimed to shorten the trip and make it easier to adjust to the time difference.

It also helped the players bond while spending that time together, coach Anthony Lynn said.

“We did have a team-building activity and 100 percent participation. And I thought the guys liked it a lot,” Lynn said. “I left it up to my sports psychologists. The coaches get the hell out of the room and let the players talk and do their own thing. But everyone says it went really well.”

The shorter flight didn’t completely help Rivers stave off the jet lag.

“Today was one of those days where I don’t think anything could help. It got to the point where that third, fourth cup of coffee wasn’t working at all,” the quarterback said after finishing a training session in North London at 8 a.m. California time. “But it’s not bad. I think if we can push through and get to 8, 9 o’clock tonight, we should be OK.”

Running back Melvin Gordon was limited in the practice session, but Lynn said it was mainly a precaution after the long trip.

“He was just sore. Long plane ride. Probably didn’t drink enough water,” Lynn said. “We were being extra cautious with him.”

For those European fans who have really studied the game since the Chargers’ last visit, Rivers did have some disappointing news. The Alabama native won’t be wearing his famous bolo tie after the game, although he does plan on sporting his traditional cowboy boots.

“I did not bring the bolo tie. I’ve got the cowboy boots,” Rivers said. “I always make sure to have those with me on game day. The same boots I probably wore here in 2008, I’ve had them for that long. They’re almost like slippers now.”

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Manning stresses importance of financial literacy for kids

Eli Manning recognizes that the numbers in a playbook aren't the only important statistics.

Manning wants children, including his three daughters, to have a strong set of financial skills.

"I think it's so important for kids to understand what it means to save, to have a budget, to be smart about spending money,"

Eli Manning recognizes that the numbers in a playbook aren’t the only important statistics.

Manning wants children, including his three daughters, to have a strong set of financial skills.

“I think it’s so important for kids to understand what it means to save, to have a budget, to be smart about spending money,” the Giants’ 15th-year quarterback says. “I think the more you can introduce financial literacy to students at an early age, the more it’ll prevent them from making mistakes when they’re a young adult.”

Manning and Giants rookie Saquon Barkley spoke to more than 100 local high school students about the importance of managing their finances before facing off in a head-to-head competition playing the latest version of Financial Football, a free video game designed to educate users on smart money decisions. Financial Football was created in a partnership between the NFL and Visa. The game challenges players to answer multiple choice and true or false questions to advance down the field in order to score a touchdown.

With one in five teenagers in the United States lacking basic financial skills, Visa has teamed with 49 state governments and the District of Columbia to issue copies of the game to middle and high school students across the country.

The free video game is available through iOS and Android apps and financialfootball.com.

“It’s a fun interactive game for both adults and kids,” Manning says. “You get to play a game, but also answer questions and learn about your finances. It’s good for kids to start learning about the importance of financial literacy and to start saving their money.”

“Involving football for the kids is a way for them to learn more interactively. Some of it is asking questions they might not know the answer to, but it might trigger their curiosity. It starts a conversation and I think it will help them down the line.”

https://financialfootball.com/downloads

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BENGALS BOOK

No one knows more about the Cincinnati Bengals than Geoff Hobson, now in his 18th year at Bengals.com after covering the team for the Cincinnati newspapers.

Hobson’s incredibly detailed “This Day In Bengals History” is a terrific ride through 50 years of a franchise that has had highs — two Super Bowl appearances — and lows — a string of 14 seasons without making the playoffs, and no postseason wins since Jan. 6, 1991.

Stories about Cincinnati greats such as Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz and team founder Paul Brown share space in the book with anecdotes about the lesser-known Bengals Solomon Wilcots and David Verser.

From New Year’s Day through New Year’s Eve, there’s plenty of good reading for every day on the calendar.

“Two things I rediscovered while putting together a daily log of the club,” Hobson says. “It’s amazing how 24/7 the NFL has become in the 21st century. Even as late as 30 years ago, it was virtually a six-month enterprise for everyone from coaches to media — except scouts.

“But even though it wasn’t 24/7, there was never a dearth of news. From the World League to the USFL to expansion to free agency to strikes, the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s give the new century a run for its money when it comes to headlines. Put a football down between coaches, players, fans, media, you’ll always make news no matter the decade.”

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COUNTRY FLAIR

Nashville is making it very clear just how much of a country flair Music City will be bringing to the 2019 NFL draft.

Even though no artists have been announced yet for free concerts in Nashville around the draft, country star Tim McGraw has been tapped for Nashville’s local organizing committee. Other celebrities include Eddie George, former Titans running back, and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit.

The committee is raising money to pay for free fan events during the draft scheduled for April 25-27. Nashville had free concerts by Alan Jackson before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in June 2017 and Luke Bryan performed before Game 6 of that series. Nashville is planning concerts, autograph sessions and other events as part of a three-day festival around the draft.

The organizers already have raised $1.5 million of the $2 million expected to be needed. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and the Nashville mayor are honorary co-chairs on the committee. Strunk thanked everyone who volunteered to work on the committee, and says she can’t wait for Nashville to be on the national stage for the draft.

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TOAST TO THE CHAMPS

Joe Wagner grew up watching and playing football. Now, he gets to bottle up his passion.

Literally.

The fifth-generation Napa Valley winemaker has created the second release of Jets Uncorked Championship Reserve, a limited-edition premium 2016 California Red that celebrates the 50th anniversary of New York’s Joe Namath-led 1968 team that upset the Baltimore Colts 16-7 in the Super Bowl.

The Jets collaborated with Wine by Design on the project, and fans can purchase the wine at retailers in New York and New Jersey, throughout MetLife Stadium, and online through the team’s website for $24.99.

“Bringing two of my passions — football and winemaking — together was a great opportunity,” said Wagner, owner and operator of Copper Cane Wines and Provisions. “Together with the team, we created an amazing red blend using some of my favorite vineyards from throughout the Napa and Sonoma appellations. We believe it’s the perfect way for a Jets fan to celebrate the past and look forward to a successful Jets future.”

The wine bottle’s label includes green and white stripes and a diagrammed X’s and O’s play — “19 Straight” — with which Matt Snell ran for the go-ahead touchdown for New York.

It’s the second time the Jets and Wine by Design have worked together, with the first coming in 2010 when Jets Uncorked Wine was released. Through a multiyear partnership, they plan to expand the wine lineup in the future.

https://www.newyorkjets.com/stadium/wine

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FIRED UP

Quarterbacks are the natural team leaders, but in the case of Kirk Cousins he’s only been with Minnesota for about seven months. Still, Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph nominated him before the game in Philadelphia on Oct. 7 to lead the breakdown prior to pregame warmups on the field , when Cousins delivered a message about finishing strong.

On the flight home, Joseph told him to be ready for a repeat. So before playing Arizona last Sunday, Cousins screamed at his teammates to encourage a similar effort and urge the defense to harass rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. The Vikings (3-2-1) won both of those games.

Though Cousins has said he considers himself reluctantly vocal in some of those situations, preferring to let his play do the talking, he’s had plenty of experience with pep talks.

“In college, we did it some, and then in the locker room as well,” Cousins said. “In high school, we did it a lot. It’s not foreign to me. I’ll put it that way.”

The Vikings have posted the clips on their website, thus making a story out of their quarterback’s recent rah-rah moments.

“He definitely has the fire. He has the passion. Sometimes guys have too much passion and their words get lost and they get jumbled over, but we know what they meant, and other times guys have the right words but not the right gusto,” defensive end Stephen Weatherly said. “And he has a great balance of both.”

The message is easier to express when you’re third in the NFL in completion percentage and fifth in the league in passing yards.

“I loved it,” linebacker Anthony Barr said. “At first, not knowing the guy, it kind of maybe comes off as fake or phony. But as you get to know him, that’s really who he is, an intense guy, a competitor, a guy who likes to go out and compete at a high level and compete well for his team, and the message that he shares hits home.”

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AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Teresa M. Walker, Dennis Waszak Jr. and Dave Campbell contributed.

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NFL giddy right now, must watch for storm clouds

NFL owners were almost giddy about the state of their game as they departed their fall meetings on Wednesday. So was Commissioner Roger Goodell.

That's easy to do when TV ratings are up, viewership across all digital media is strong, scoreboards are practically exploding with all the points being scored, and the number

NFL owners were almost giddy about the state of their game as they departed their fall meetings on Wednesday. So was Commissioner Roger Goodell.

That’s easy to do when TV ratings are up, viewership across all digital media is strong, scoreboards are practically exploding with all the points being scored, and the number of close games through six weeks has been eye-catching.

There’s also the prospect of attracting billionaires from other sports when NFL franchises hit the market now that a cross-ownership ban has been lifted. Going in the other direction, the football billionaires are free to purchase teams in baseball, hockey or basketball that are not located in their NFL areas.

“I will leave you with something that I have said to the owners many times,” Goodell said. “I don’t think there has been a better time to be an NFL fan. The quality of the games and the enjoyment that comes with that, I hear it from the fans all the time — that is No. 1 for them. No. 2 is the access to the games and the way that fans are able to engage with the NFL. There are more platforms and more opportunities to do that. The experience is better because of technology. All of that creates a much better opportunity for our fans to enjoy football and NFL football.

“From our standpoint, we look at this as a great moment for us: the tremendous growth and the tremendous popularity of our game.”

There are storm clouds ahead, though.

The unilateral policy the league put together in May barring players from demonstrating against social and racial injustice on the sideline during the national anthem remains in limbo.

The players’ union and its members fought back against the policy that would allow players to remain in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but they could not kneel or sit by team benches during the anthem.

And while Goodell correctly cited the strong and widespread community involvement being done by the league and players, the protests haven’t gone away, nor should the players be penalized for expressing their concerns.

Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling during the anthem soon was embraced by many of his peers, hasn’t been with a team since 2016. That comes down to the individual teams, of course, and not the league itself, and it’s uncertain that Kaepernick would return to the field if given the opportunity.

But does anyone truly believe that opportunity might come?

There’s also been a fan and media maelstrom — with complaints by coaches and players, both publicly and privately — about the inconsistency of officiating. When a defensive player admits he let up on a hit to prevent getting a roughing-the-quarterback call, that’s a bad sign. Those defenders have little idea what is a foul anymore.

One week, lowering the helmet to initiate contact, by the offense or the defense, draws a flotilla of yellow flags. Another week, when “incidental contact” is added to the equation, the penalties decrease exponentially.

To its credit, the NFL is trying very hard with its rules to make the game safer. One mechanism for that is consistency with implementation of them.

Another way of keeping players healthier and safer would be by increasing the size of rosters on game day. The Colts went into a recent meeting with the Patriots minus five starters and lost a few more during the defeat.

It’s difficult enough trying to win in Foxborough with a full complement of players. With third-stringers on the field, well, give Indy credit for not getting entirely blown out.

The senseless requirement that seven of the 53 active players be declared inactive on game day can lead to more such inequities. If teams are paying 53 guys, let them all suit up.

Indeed, as we move forward, the union would be wise to seek expanded rosters, and not just for the added salaries. That would help make the game safer, in part because fewer banged-up guys would wind up on the field.

Also ahead, albeit not until 2021, is the expiration of the labor agreement. Already, both sides are building “war chests” for the likely lockout or players’ walkout. Neither the owners nor the players have displayed an inclination for at least preliminary peace talks, if you will.

Then again, why would they at this point, with so many indicators looking so positive?

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Report: Broncos RB Freeman sprained ankle

Report: Broncos RB Freeman sprained ankle

Rookie running back Royce Freeman sprained his ankle in the Denver Broncos' Thursday night rout of the Arizona Cardinals, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Freeman, who has started every game for the Broncos this season, left the 45-10 victory after carrying the ball 13

Report: Broncos RB Freeman sprained ankle

Rookie running back Royce Freeman sprained his ankle in the Denver Broncos’ Thursday night rout of the Arizona Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Freeman, who has started every game for the Broncos this season, left the 45-10 victory after carrying the ball 13 times for 37 yards and a touchdown.

He could reportedly miss some time, but the Broncos don’t play again until Oct. 28 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Freeman, 22, was drafted by the Broncos in the third round of the 2018 draft, 71st overall.

The rookie has rushed 71 times for 309 yards and four touchdowns through his first seven games.

In a 27-23 loss to the Chiefs in Week 4, Freeman had eight carries for 67 yards and a touchdown.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals fire OC McCoy, promote Leftwich

Cardinals fire OC McCoy, promote Leftwich

The Arizona Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Friday morning and promoted quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich to the play-caller position.

The move comes hours after a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, which dropped the Cardinals to 1-6 on the

Cardinals fire OC McCoy, promote Leftwich

The Arizona Cardinals fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Friday morning and promoted quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich to the play-caller position.

The move comes hours after a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night, which dropped the Cardinals to 1-6 on the season.

The Cardinals are 31st in the league in scoring at 13.1 points per game this season. They were limited to 223 total yards against the Broncos and haven’t had more than 269 yards in a game this season.

Leftwich, a former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, joined the Cardinals as an intern in 2016 under former coach Bruce Arians. He takes up the task of guiding rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and turning the offense around.

Rosen had a season-worst five turnovers on Thursday night. His 1.9 QBR on Thursday is the second-worst by any quarterback this season, surpassed only by Bills QB Nathan Peterman’s pitiful 1.1 rating in Week 1.

Leftwich spent nine years in the NFL as a quarterback after going from Marshall to the Jaguars in 2003.

In 60 career games (50 starts), Leftwich completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 10,532 yards with 58 touchdowns and 42 interceptions.

The Cardinals face the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday before their Week 9 bye. They beat the 49ers 28-18 on Oct. 7 for their only win of the season and first under new coach Steve Wilks.

“I would say all our jobs are in jeopardy, including mine, if we don’t win (Thursday),” Wilks said on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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Giants WR Beckham vows to improve, but needs help

Giants WR Beckham vows to improve, but needs help

Odell Beckham Jr. is ready to do his part to get the New York Giants back on a winning path.

But the outspoken wide receiver also said he can't do it alone.

"I'm ready to talk about the

Giants WR Beckham vows to improve, but needs help

Odell Beckham Jr. is ready to do his part to get the New York Giants back on a winning path.

But the outspoken wide receiver also said he can’t do it alone.

“I’m ready to talk about the Atlanta Falcons. I think we’re 1-5,” Beckham said, “and we need to start winning games. “Everybody needs to do more. I need to play better. I can’t say that I’ve had my best games. I can’t say I’ve done enough. … We win games together, we lose games together.”

With the Giants at 1-5 entering “Monday Night Football” in Atlanta, Beckham put himself on the spot by flinging arrows at teammates and the offense in general in a wide-ranging ESPN interview last week. Beckham’s critique drew the ire of ownership, and John Mara said publicly he needs “less talk, more play” from the newly minted Beckham.

On Friday, Beckham said he has not yet talked to Mara and did not confirm he was fined by the team as ESPN reported this week.

Mara said Manning, 37, has become an easy target but said there is plenty of blame to go around. Beckham signed a six-year, $103 million contract before the start of the 2018 season. He said this week on Uninterrupted that he would not apologize for his critical comments.

Beckham, asked Friday about Manning turning this around after his sluggish start, didn’t offer blatant support.

“You gotta ask him,” Beckham said. “I tell him every time we get in the huddle, ‘Take me home, 10.’ Which to me carries weight because he’s been there. He knows how to win. He knows what he’s doing, he’s the most prepared of anybody I’ve ever seen. That’s exactly what I say, ‘Take me home.’

“We’ve got to start picking it up. We’ve got to. … We’ve just been beaten. Some games we’ve been out-executed. We just need to win.”

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals offensive coordinator gone after blowout loss

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have dismissed offensive coordinator Mike McCoy a day after the team was blown out at home by the Denver Broncos on national television.

The team said in a statement Friday quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich will take over the job for a club that is 1-6 and

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have dismissed offensive coordinator Mike McCoy a day after the team was blown out at home by the Denver Broncos on national television.

The team said in a statement Friday quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich will take over the job for a club that is 1-6 and has the worst record in the league.

Coach Steve Wilks is to discuss the move later in the day.

The Cardinals lost 45-10 on Thursday night, trailing 21-3 after one quarter and 35-3 at the half. Wilks called the effort “embarrassing.”

The Cardinals have lost their first four home games for the first time since 1979, nearly a decade before the franchise moved from St. Louis to the desert.

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Returning Woodyard, Titans’ D eager to face Chargers’ Gordon

LONDON (AP) — Tennessee Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard knows that the Los Angeles Chargers are going to get the ball in the hands of running back Melvin Gordon on as many plays as possible on Sunday.

That means it will be up to his unit to keep Gordon out of the end zone.

LONDON (AP) — Tennessee Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard knows that the Los Angeles Chargers are going to get the ball in the hands of running back Melvin Gordon on as many plays as possible on Sunday.

That means it will be up to his unit to keep Gordon out of the end zone.

“In the red zone, he’s one of their top targets, and we know what type of runner he is,” Woodyard said Friday. “He’s a guy that’s good on the edge and fine to beat you with his speed. Most importantly, (we need to) just understand the runs that he’s going to give us in different backfield sets.”

Gordon, the Chargers’ do-everything running back, enters the game at Wembley Stadium third in the league with 466 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and his nine total touchdowns rank second only to the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley.

And while the Titans (3-3) have allowed 14.5 points per game, the third-fewest in the league, they have also surrendered an average of 123.2 rushing yards, the sixth-most of any team.

“The biggest challenge is all 11 of us just getting to the ball, point of attack, wrap up and make sure we make the tackle,” defensive end DaQuan Jones said. “(If) we just swarm, do our job up front, we horde the point of attack, set the edge … we’ll be fine. We have to be consistent. We can’t do it a couple plays here, a couple plays there. It’s got to be all 60 minutes of the game.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers, in his 15th season, is off to one of the finest starts of his career, having thrown 15 touchdown passes and averaged 8.8 yards per pass attempt for the Chargers (4-2) — marks that are both good for third in the league.

His success, though, has relied heavily upon Gordon, who is also the Chargers’ second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

“Philip Rivers obviously is Philip Rivers,” outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “He’s a top, elite quarterback in this league, but everything goes through Gordon. Whenever the receivers are not open, the checkdown to Gordon is always there and he’s always getting positive yards.

“The running game is wide open and guys want to rush the passer, (so) they do a lot of draw plays, things of that nature to get Gordon free. So we have to contain and stop Gordon and then we’ll worry about all the other (explosive) plays.”

Woodyard, who is expected to make his return on Sunday after missing two games with a shoulder injury, should help with that.

Hurt in the overtime victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 30, Woodyard had a career- and team-high 172 tackles last season and had played in every game since joining the team in 2014.

“It was really tough, especially seeing my guys not being able to get a victory,” said Woodyard, who was with the Denver Broncos in 2010 but was inactive for their game at Wembley. “I felt like that was my fault for not being able to get out there, but I’m excited to be back out there making calls and making plays.”

The Chargers, who rolled to a 38-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, remained in Ohio for practice before departing Thursday evening to cross the Atlantic.

Tennessee also arrived on Friday, and free safety Kevin Byard said he hopes players can acclimate to the time difference quickly in order to avoid the Titans’ third consecutive loss.

“That’s the most important thing,” Byard said. “Nobody wants to lose three straight games. We have to get back on track. Nobody’s panicking. Nobody’s living like the sky is falling or anything like that, but we have to play with more consistency.”

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AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

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Eagles fan hit with fame after hitting pole gets some glory

The moment in the spotlight isn't over yet for a Philadelphia Eagles fan who stumbled into fame as a viral video star after running into a subway pillar earlier this year.

Jigar Desai is now the subject of an NFL digital short feature, shot ahead of the Oct. 28 Eagles game against the

The moment in the spotlight isn’t over yet for a Philadelphia Eagles fan who stumbled into fame as a viral video star after running into a subway pillar earlier this year.

Jigar Desai is now the subject of an NFL digital short feature, shot ahead of the Oct. 28 Eagles game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.

In the short, he’s surprised with tickets for him, his wife and two kids to attend the game in England.

Desai says the ticket giveaway was a total surprise.

In January, Desai was trying to rally subway passengers for the NFC Championship game. He was filmed running along the train, and then slamming into a pole.

He says the whole ordeal has “been a wild ride and a long 15 minutes” and he’s “enjoyed every minute of it.”

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