FLM ALL 32: Team-by-team NFL notes

FLM ALL 32: Team-by-team NFL notes

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: The Bills hosted “Monday Night Football” for the first time since Nov. 17, 2008. And when the Bills and New England Patriots clashed at New Era Field in Orchard Park, N.Y., local police were ready. Undersheriff Mark Wipperman of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office told The Buffalo News that there will be extra security to help screen fans as they enter the stadium. “Unfortunately, this rivalry brings out the worst in fan behavior,” Wipperman told the newspaper. The Bills are 0-3 against the Patriots on Monday nights, and the Bills haven’t won a Monday night game since Oct. 4, 1999, against the Miami Dolphins with Doug Flutie at quarterback. Their last Monday night home win came on Sept. 26, 1994, when Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas led the Bills to a 27-20 victory against the John Elway-led Denver Broncos.

Miami Dolphins: Coach Adam Gase said Monday his 4-4 team is still in the playoff hunt and he wouldn’t just rubber stamp a trade proposal if the front office ran one by him before the trade deadline on Tuesday. “If they brought me something that they thought was a great idea, then I would do what’s best for the organization, but it’s highly unlikely something like that can happen,” Gase said Monday. He said he expects that wide receiver DeVante Parker will remain with the team, even though Parker has been the subject of trade rumors. The Dolphins are one of eight teams in the AFC with a record of at least .500. Six teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs.

New England Patriots: Rob Gronkowski has been battling injuries but is expected to play Monday night against the Buffalo Bills. And he wouldn’t want it any other way. Raised in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, N.Y., he grew up as a Bills fan, and he’s put on a show for the hometown folks every time he’s played at New Era Field. In seven career games at Buffalo, he has 44 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns. The only time he failed to gain at least 90 yards receiving was as a rookie in 2010, when he still caught two touchdowns. “It’s always special. This is my seventh, eighth time going up there, playing in Buffalo, and it’s always an honor, always special [to be] where you grew up watching them,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better football atmosphere either, especially this coming Monday night. It’s going to be rocking there. It’s going to be popping. It’s going to be one of the most electric atmospheres you can get in football.”

New York Jets: Quarterback Sam Darnold refused to blame not being at full strength for the team’s 24-10 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. “We had some good reps in practice,” Darnold said, per the Jets’ website. “I thought we had a good week of practice, but at the same time, it is what it is. Injuries happen. It’s football, it’s a contact sport. Guys sometimes are going to get hurt. I thought the guys, for the most part, stepped up today.” Instead, he put the loss on a lack of execution, including penalties. The New York offensive line took seven penalties. “It’s frustrating for everyone,” he said. “We just have to play better. It’s about staying in manageable down and distances. First and second down running the football and completing the football. That’s really all it is. If we can do that, we’ll be a good football team.”

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens: Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley left the stadium Sunday in a walking boot, but coach John Harbaugh had no update on his status one day later. Harbaugh voiced his support for Jermaine Eluemunor, who was promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 23. After falling behind by 17 points to the Panthers, the left side of the line was comprised of Hroniss Grasu at left guard and Eluemunor at tackle. Harbaugh said the Ravens will be ready to fight back from their 4-4 record — one game out of first place in the AFC North. “It’s not as bad as it felt after the game,” Harbaugh said Monday.

Cincinnati Bengals: Rookie first-round pick Billy Price returned to practice last week and head coach Marvin Lewis said he could have played Sunday against the Buccaneers. But Price, who thought he would be back for Week 6, is likely to resume full-contact work at center this week. Lewis said there is again a chance Price would be with the starters at center when the Bengals return from their bye Week 11. What Lewis wouldn’t say was whether he might bring back Hue Jackson. The former Bengals’ offensive coordinator from fired as Browns head coach on Monday. Lewis and Jackson talk by phone every week, and bringing him back for the rest of the season in some role is not out of the question. But Lewis would only say “I’m not going to make a headline.”

Cleveland Browns: Quarterback Baker Mayfield said the Browns don’t need to reinvent the wheel on offense, but perfect what they know they can already do well. “We need to perfect our craft. You look at the good teams around the league, they work hard at what they do and they become good at it,” Mayfield said. “We have what we have. We don’t need to try and change too much. We just need to get better at what we’re doing.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: As Le’Veon Watch inches toward a fourth month, the Steelers are more confident and comfortable with running back James Conner by the week. Conner has 922 yards from scrimmage — 16 shy of the franchise record through seven games held by holdout Le’Veon Bell — this season and is the first player in franchise history with 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns in three consecutive games. “We knew the splash plays were on the way,” Conner said. As weather turns colder in the Northeast, Conner said he’s not planning to change a thing. “I’m from up here, I’m used to the cold. I try to bring the same energy, the same mindset all season.”

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: Quarterback Deshaun Watson will be able to fly with the team for this Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, according to coach Bill O’Brien. Watson took a bus to get to a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks ago while nursing rib and lung injuries. Of course, the mile-high altitude looms as a concern but O’Brien said that doesn’t only apply to Watson. “I think the altitude is a factor for everybody, whether you’re injured or not,” O’Brien said. “I think that’s something we’re talking about relative to preparing for that. Look, I think we’re only out there — we get there Saturday, we play Sunday. I’m not sure how much of an effect it would have but I think that’s something we’re talking about with all the resources we have here.”

Indianapolis Colts: Adam Vinatieri became the all-time leader in points scored (2,550) during Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders when he passed Hall of Famer Morten Andersen, and the 45-year-old kicker got emotional afterward when coach Frank Reich awarded him the game ball. “I never thought I’d play this long and have the opportunity to be standing here talking about this right now,” Vinatieri told reporters. “But you know I love my teammates, all of them, for the last 23 years unselfishly, for going out there and letting me do my job and help me do my job and (make) a lot of great memories along the way.” Vinatieri scored 10 points — two field goals, four extra points — after working through a groin injury during the week.

Jacksonville Jaguars: It is a good time for a bye as the Jaguars have dropped four straight games. “We’re underachievers right now,” standout defensive end Calais Campbell said one day after the team’s 24-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in London. Jacksonville hasn’t won since the final day of September and stands two games behind the first-place Houston Texans in the division race. The Jaguars are 0-2 in AFC South games, losing to both Houston and the Tennessee Titans. “We can’t give away any more division games, that’s just the way it goes,” Campbell said. “We’ve got to keep our belief strong. No matter what the outside noise says or does, we just have to keep our belief strong. Five losses in this league this early really sucks, but five losses throughout the season … that’s not bad at all. That’s a heck of a year.”

Tennessee Titans: The bye week following three straight losses came at a good time for Tennessee, which will play for the first time in 15 days when it visits the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. Two of the losses were by one point and the team could use improved play from quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (three) through seven games. Coach Mike Vrabel defended Mariota’s performance and pointed out that he has repeatedly had strong fourth quarters. Meanwhile, the Titans brought back fullback Jalston Fowler to the 53-man roster. Fowler played in 42 games over three seasons for Tennessee before being released last December. The Titans waived linebacker Robert Spillane to create a roster spot.

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: Head coach Vance Joseph acknowledged Monday that he and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas have “talked openly” about trade rumors amid reports that the veteran could be dealt before Tuesday’s deadline. “I’m not surprised teams are calling, but it’s no guarantee he’s going to get moved,” Joseph said of the chances of Thomas getting traded. Joseph added that general manager John Elway has not spoken with him about the possibility of dealing Thomas. “Obviously, that’s John’s department and I’m sure he’s getting calls and he’s probably making some calls,” Joseph said. “But, he has not. It’s my job to coach the team and to coach the players. That’s my focus.”

Kansas City Chiefs: Part of the challenge of defending the offense is how the Chiefs continue to show new looks each week. Head coach Andy Reid said it goes back to how the team installs plays during organized team activities and training camp, with an eye on having new wrinkles to add to the game plan each week during the season. “We’re able to draw from that a little bit,” Reid told reporters. “We are always trying to give you a different look so that when you get here, you don’t have to go back or run out of things. We keep it pretty fresh and it keeps the guys fresh every week. It’s a nice little challenge for them.”

Los Angeles Chargers: Head coach Anthony Lynn left the door cracked for defensive end Joey Bosa to return from a foot injury this week, despite a report on Sunday that Bosa isn’t “anywhere near” ready to play. “I don’t want to rule him out,” Lynn said. “I think earlier in the year, I was comfortable doing that. Now he’s getting closer, so I don’t want to rule him out right now.” Lynn added that there’s been no rush to get the former Defensive Rookie of the Year on the field, as the Chargers have taken a conservative approach. “We’ve been really cautious with it the whole time,” Lynn said. “We’re not going to put him back on the field until he’s ready, I can tell you that.” Bosa was hurt in mid-August and has practiced just once since.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have cycled through a number of options at cornerback this season, as no corner has played more than 70.9 percent (Leon Hall) of the defensive snaps, but four others (Gareon Conley, Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) have played at least 31.9 percent. Another name jumping into the mix is Nick Nelson, a rookie fourth-rounder who played 21 snaps in his NFL debut Sunday after returning from a meniscus injury. Head coach Jon Gruden acknowledged the rotation could hurt some players’ confidence, but also said that perspective could “be an excuse” for poor play. “We’re still working through who are the best corners, who is the best combination for us in every situation,” Gruden said. “Hopefully, we can settle on it soon.”

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys fired offensive line coach Paul Alexander just seven games into his first season with the team. Marc Colombo, a former offensive tackle for the Cowboys who served as the assistant offensive line coach, was promoted to the lead position. Former offensive line coach Hudson Houck will serve in an advisory role for the offensive line. “While approaching the midpoint of the season, and going through an overall evaluation of our entire operation during the bye week, we felt that this move would serve the best interests of our team moving forward,” head coach Jason Garrett said in a team news release. “These are not easy decisions to make at any time of the year, but we will move ahead with the utmost confidence in what Marc Colombo and Hudson Houck will bring to our team in their new roles.” Quarterback Dak Prescott has been sacked 23 times, tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Known for his unorthodox approach, Alexander spent the previous 24 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before being fired in January.

New York Giants: The Giants held a workout for 16 free agents — eight on offense, eight on defense — at their practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J., on Monday, according to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson. Among the reported players in attendance were QB Connor Cook, RB Akeem Hunt, DE Will Clark and LB Corey Nelson. The extensive tryout could be a signal that the 1-7 Giants plan to be active before the trading deadline, which is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. It is possible the Giants could make several roster moves this week as they head into their bye. After a 20-13 loss at home to the Redskins on Sunday, the Giants next play on Nov. 12 against the San Francisco 49ers (1-7). One likely roster move is the activation of rookie defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh, who has missed all football activities since he joined the team with a thyroid condition. He started practicing two weeks ago.

Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles guided the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship in February, but come Tuesday, he might find himself with another team. NFL reporter Jason La Canfora included Foles on his list of the “most realistic” candidates to be traded before the trade deadline on Tuesday. The Eagles would take a salary cap hit of more than $20 million if they pick up Foles’ 2019 option (which he could also decline, if he pays back a $2 million signing bonus), and the Eagles are grooming Nate Sudfield to take over the backup quarterback role behind Carson Wentz. Teams that could be on the lookout for a veteran quarterback at the trade deadline are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. Coach Doug Pederson had this to say about the possibility of making a deal at the trade deadline: “If it values the Eagles and helps us win games, we’ll see.”

Washington Redskins: It’s an understatement to say coach Jay Gruden liked what he saw of his defense during his team’s 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. They sacked quarterback Eli Manning seven times and limited rookie running back Saquon Barkley to 38 yards rushing, a continuation of a strong run defense. “It is unbelievable, really,” Gruden said, via NBC Sports Washington, commenting on their effort in the past three games against the Giants, Carolina and Dallas. “These are three really, really good backs. [Ezekiel Elliott] and Barkley back-to-back, and obviously [Christian] McCaffrey, but also don’t forget about Cam Newton and [Dak] Prescott, they are great runners with the ball also.”

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears: Tight end Zach Miller held a press conference on the one-year anniversary of a devastating leg injury, and subsequent limb-saving surgery, in New Orleans. Miller, re-signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, said he has a long way to go but still has a desire to return to the football field. “I’m very happy with where I’m at,” Miller said at Halas Hall. Head coach Matt Nagy said Miller is a constant presence at the team facility. “Zach is one of my favorite people I’ve been around in a long time. I absolutely love the kid,” Nagy said. As for active players, Nagy said offensive guard Kyle Long has a right foot injury — he left the game on a cart Sunday — but the team doesn’t yet know the severity of the injury or when Long might be able to return.

Detroit Lions: The status of left tackle Taylor Decker is up in the air for Sunday’s game at Minnesota. Head coach Matt Patricia confirmed Decker was out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday due to “an injury situation” but the Lions will not provide information until a complete “evaluation” is finished, Patricia said. Without Decker, and facing a lopsided deficit, quarterback Matthew Stafford felt significant pressure. “We didn’t play well enough as an offense, defense probably didn’t stop the run well enough,” Stafford said. “You’ve got to prove it every week.”

Green Bay Packers: As more than a touchdown underdog, the defense didn’t leave a loss to the Rams in Los Angeles feeling entirely defeated. In addition to the inspired play by defensive end Mike Daniels and cornerback Jaire Alexander, the Packers believe they found some footing as a defensive group. “I thought our defense played really well,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. “It shows the type of team we have and the type of team we can be. We obviously gave up some points but … we competed all day long and I thought for the most part held them in check.” Daniels said: “We played football the way we were supposed to play.”

Minnesota Vikings: Head coach Mike Zimmer said improvement in certain aspects of the game didn’t lead to a win Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, primarily because of turnovers. But he didn’t want mistakes on a few plays to overshadow the overall performance of the team. “Defensively, I feel like we’re eliminating some of the things that hurt us early in the year. The running game is getting better,” Zimmer said. “I’m not disappointed. We’ve got eight more games to go.”

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: The team stands three games behind first-place New Orleans and two behind second-place Carolina, making Tuesday’s trading deadline a curious time with six starters currently on injured reserve. But whether Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff might seek reinforcements via trade or use the deadline to be sellers remains a mystery. However, coach Dan Quinn is fine with standing pat and doesn’t anticipate any action. “Not at this point,” Quinn said. “Thomas and I certainly discuss options. Obviously, he fields calls for our team and other teams, people that reach out. But we really feel like this team that we have and where we’re at and how we can go attack the year, we’ve got the right men in the building to do that.”

Carolina Panthers: Safety Mike Adams is playing well in the back end and has recorded three of the team’s nine interceptions. Adams’ pick during Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens was the 30th of his career. The 15-year veteran twice has intercepted five passes in a season — in 2014 and 2015 when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts. There could be an opportunity for more interceptions on Sunday when the Panthers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has thrown a league-worst 15 interceptions but has named Ryan Fitzpatrick to start over Jameis Winston (four picks on Sunday). “They may have had their issues, but both of them can light it up and produce a lot of yards and a lot of points at any given time,” defensive coordinator Eric Washington said of the Bucs’ QBs. “We’ve seen that from them this year.”

New Orleans Saints: Safety Marcus Williams was happy to get Sunday night’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings over with, and it wasn’t because of his dubious role in the “Minneapolis Miracle,” the play in which he whiffed on a tackle as Stefon Diggs caught the game-winning touchdown pass to send the Vikings to the NFC title game last January. Williams’ grandfather died Tuesday of cancer, the second family member in less than two years to succumb to the disease. “So it was an emotional game for me just because of them, but I held it back until after the game, and I just went out there and played my all,” Williams said. “I put them on my shoulders and I just played for them.” The 22-year-old has one interception this season after having four last year as a rookie.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With the season teetering, coach Dirk Koetter decided Monday that perhaps there is more “FitzMagic” to be created. Koetter announced the Buccaneers are going back to Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback for this Sunday’s game against the Panthers. Fitzpatrick (13 touchdowns, five interceptions) started the first four games of the season before turnover-prone Jameis Winston (six touchdowns, 10 interceptions) started the last three. “That’s what we feel like we need to do this week to give ourselves the best chance,” Koetter said of the switch. “It’s just for right now. The most important thing we’ve got is this week. We’ll just have to see how things go. I don’t like switching quarterbacks, it’

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals: At 21 years and 260 days, Josh Rosen became the youngest quarterback in the Super Bowl era to rally his team from a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit to victory on Sunday against the 49ers. After staying cool under pressure and hitting Christian Kirk for the winning 9-yard score, he’s drawing plenty of praise from teammates and coaches. “Nothing really fazes this guy in a negative way,” head coach Steve Wilks said Monday. “He takes everything and he tries to learn from it. …This experience, particularly that last drive, is going to help him grow.” Larry Fitzgerald, who had a season-high eight catches for 102 yards and a score, offered similar words. “He always has that belief in his voice and you can see the conviction in his eyes,” Fitzgerald said of Rosen.

Los Angeles Rams: Running back Todd Gurley drew the ire of fantasy owners and gamblers on Sunday when he voluntarily stayed out of the end zone to help the Rams run out the clock in a 29-27 win over the Packers, but he wasn’t worried about anything but the victory. “Man, forget fantasy and forget Vegas,” Gurley said afterward. “We got the win, so that’s all that matters.” Head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff told reporters the offense talked about the situation beforehand, but both said Gurley probably would have done the same without any direction, as he did to close out a win as a rookie in 2015. “He’s a smart player,” Goff said. “A lot smarter, I think, than he wants people to think.”

San Francisco 49ers: For the second time in three weeks and third time this year, the 49ers were unable to close out a fourth-quarter lead on Sunday, this time blowing a 12-point advantage in Arizona. Like in Green Bay two weeks ago, San Francisco had the opportunity to end the game on offense with a first down or two, and then failed to hold up in a two-minute situation on defense. “It’s something we’ve got to do to get better and get over that hump,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It comes down to, you can do a lot of things throughout a game, but when it comes down to the end when we need to close people out and we need some closers to do that. We’ve had some opportunities to do it.”

Seattle Seahawks: Rookie punter Michael Dickson’s mad dash for a late first down against the Detroit Lions caught everyone by surprise, including the team’s coaches, who had called for Dickson to take an intentional safety with the Seahawks backed up to their own end zone. Dickson moved to his right and was going to step out of bounds until he saw a lane open. “There was a couple of big, big cuss words,” head coach Pete Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle radio Monday of his reaction while watching the play. “The headphones are popping off our ears. But it was — what a moment. That was a really fun moment. I swear to God, I’m looking right down the sideline, I think Mike was smiling as he’s running, he’s thinking, ‘Oh, [crap]!'”

–Field Level Media

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said fans can get

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Garrett: Linehan to remain Cowboys OC

Garrett: Linehan to remain Cowboys OC

Embattled offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will be back

Garrett: Linehan to remain Cowboys OC

Embattled offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will be back with the Dallas Cowboys next season, coach Jason Garrett said Monday.

Garrett, in a radio interview with 105.3 FM in Dallas, said he expects no major changes to the coaching staff and plans for Linehan to return in 2019.

Ezekiel Elliott won his second rushing title in three seasons in the NFL and the Cowboys finished 22nd in total offense. The team climbed from 28th in offense after acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper. Still, Dallas averaged only 21.2 points per game.

Speculation in Dallas during the season was Linehan would return in 2019, but Garrett might claim play-calling responsibilities.

Linehan has been the Cowboys’ playcaller since 2014.

One coach who could draw interest elsewhere is offensive line coach Marc Colombo. His Boston College teammate, Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, is expected to be named head coach of the Miami Dolphins when New England’s season ends.

–Field Level Media

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Kuchar overcomes slow start to win Sony Open

Kuchar overcomes slow start to win Sony Open

Kuchar overcomes slow start to win Sony Open

Matt Kuchar overcame a slow start Sunday to rally for his second victory of the PGA Tour season at the Sony Open in Honolulu.

Kuchar, 40, held a two-shot lead entering the final round at Waialae Country Club, but saw that evaporate with three birdies over his first five holes against a lone birdie. Andrew Putnam grabbed a share of the lead when Kuchar bogeyed Nos. 4 and 5.

Kuchar started to get his round going with a birdie on No. 9. He then reeled off two more over the first three holes after making the turn to regain the lead. This time, he wouldn’t let go, with three birdies over his final four holes to emphatically seal a four-shot victory.

Kuchar’s final-round 66 put him at 22-under 258 for the tournament, with Putnam finishing at 18 under with a 2-under 68 on Sunday.

“It was not at all what I was looking for,” Kuchar told the Golf Channel about his poor start. “I know that I was playing well, so I tried to stay confident. If I keep plugging along, I knew good things would happen.

“Andrew was tough. He was battling me, took the lead … it was nice to have that pressure, to have come through and to make some birdies coming in. For me, I’ve never had a cushion like this coming down to the last (hole).”

Kuchar, who won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November, took home the $1.152 million winner’s check with his ninth career PGA Tour victory and is the second multiple-time winner on Tour this season. He also earned 500 FedEx Cup points to take over the No. 2 spot behind Xander Schauffele, who earned his second victory of the season last week.

“I think it might have been Jay-Z that said 40 is the new 20?” Kuchar joked. “I hope that’s the case. I’m awfully pleased with my game. Obviously last year was disappointing, but to win two out of three events is crazy to comprehend.

“It’s such a special thing for me.”

Australia’s Marc Leishman finished in a four-way tie for third place at 17 under with Canada’s Corey Conners and Americans Hudson Swafford and Chez Reavie. Davis Love III, one of four 50-plus-year-old in the field, earned a solo seventh-place finish another shot back.

Defending champion Patton Kizzire tied for 13th at 13 under, while 2017 event champion Justin Thomas earned a share of 16th place another shot off the pace. Thomas posted a 66 on Sunday and has now shot 68 or lower in 12 consecutive rounds at Waialae.

The Tour begins its California Swing with the Desert Classic in La Quinta next week.

–Field Level Media

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Maroon 5 officially announced as SB LIII halftime headliner

Maroon 5 officially announced as SB LIII halftime headliner

Maroon 5 officially announced as SB LIII halftime headliner

Three-time Grammy Award winner Maroon 5 was officially announced as the headliner for the Super Bowl LIII halftime show in Atlanta, the band and CBS Sports announced Sunday.

Rapper and six-time Grammy nominee Travis Scott will perform with the band, and Atlanta native Big Boi was announced as host for the proceedings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Maroon 5’s role in the halftime show had been speculated for months, but there was no shortage of public outcry for the band to not do the show because of the controversies surrounding Colin Kaepernick and other players who have knelt for the national anthem.

An online petition filed at change.org and titled “Maroon 5: Drop Out of the Super Bowl Halftime Show” has nearly 85,000 signatures as of Sunday night. The page reads in part, “Kaepernick risked his career to take a knee for equality, and the NFL punished him for it. Until the league changes their policy and supports players’ constitutional right to protest, no artists should agree to work with the NFL. Join me in asking Maroon 5 to drop out of the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show.”

Scott also announced that he and the NFL are making a joint $500,000 donation to social justice nonprofit Dream Corps.

“I back anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in,” Scott reportedly said in a statement. “I know being an artist that it’s in my power to inspire. So before confirming the Super Bowl Halftime performance, I made sure to partner with the NFL on this important donation. I am proud to support Dream Corps and the work they do that will hopefully inspire and promote change.”

According to multiple reports, Scott told the NFL he would not perform in the show without the NFL first agreeing to the donation. Nonetheless, there was no shortage of anger and unhappiness on Twitter following the announcement Sunday.

Maroon 5 have sold more than 53 million albums and 48 million singles and set a record for the most No. 1 singles (nine) by a group in the 20-year history of the top-40 chart.

The band’s sixth studio album, “Red Pill Blues,” released in late 2017, features their current hit single “Girls Like You,” which was No. 1 on the charts for seven consecutive weeks. The track has become the longest-running song in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and according to Nielsen Music, the band recently finished 2018 as the biggest act on U.S. radio.

Scott’s No. 1 single “Sicko Mode” was nominated for a Grammy for best rap performance and best rap song, and his latest album, “Astroworld,” also earned a Grammy nomination for best rap album.

Big Boi is best known as a member of hip-hop duo Outkast, which has sold 25 million albums and won six Grammys. His most-recent album, “Boomiverse,” was released in June 2017.

Last year’s Super Bowl halftime show featured Justin Timberlake in his return after he was part of Janet Jackson’s notorious “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 NFL title game.

The list of past Super Bowl halftime performers includes Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Madonna, Lady Gaga, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Prince, Paul McCartney, U2, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

–Field Level Media

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TE Gates wants to play for Chargers in 2019

TE Gates wants to play for Chargers in 2019

TE Gates wants to play for Chargers in 2019

Last February, Antonio Gates believed he had played his last game for the Los Angeles Chargers, and perhaps in the NFL. Now the 38-year-old wants to be back for a 17th season with the club.

After Gates and the Chargers lost to the Patriots in New England 41-28 in the AFC divisional round on Sunday, the future Hall of Fame tight end talked about his career and told reporters he doesn’t see how it can end now.

“I just don’t see myself walking away with this taste,” Gates said. “And plus this team. I think when you add Hunter (Henry) back, and hopefully we get (defensive back) Jason Verrett back — shoot, the sky’s the limit. And I want to be a part of it.

“But that has to be a collective decision. I can’t just want to come back. So we’ll see how it goes.”

It was Henry’s injury that actually landed Gates on the Chargers’ roster this season. Gates became a free agent following last season and the Chargers — the only team for which Gates has played — told Gates and his representation in February they would not re-sign him. Gates announced he intended to keep playing, but with a different team.

But when Henry suffered a torn ACL in May, the team was hurting in both experience and depth at tight end. At that point, Virgil Green was the only tight end on the roster with an NFL catch. The team signed Gates on Sept. 2, a week before the season began.

Gates finished the season with 28 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns while playing in all 16 regular-season games. He added nine catches for 76 yards in two playoffs games, catching a touchdown with less than a minute left on Sunday — the last touchdown the Chargers scored this season.

“I want to be sure to remind them that I want to come back,” Gates said. “I want to be part of something special, and I think we have that here. But that’s out of my control in the sense where I can only do what I can do. And we’ll see out it goes.”

In 16 seasons, the former Kent State basketball player has 955 receptions for 11,841 yards and 116 touchdowns in the regular season. The receptions and yardage totals are third among tight ends in NFL history, while the touchdowns are a record for the position.

Gates’ 89 regular-season touchdown catches from Philip Rivers are the most by a quarterback-tight end combo in NFL history.

–Field Level Media

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Lattimore’s INT caps Saints’ comeback win over Eagles

Lattimore's INT caps Saints' comeback win over Eagles

Lattimore’s INT caps Saints’ comeback win over Eagles

Overcoming a horrid start and a 14-point first-quarter deficit, Drew Brees threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns and lifted the host New Orleans Saints to a 20-14 NFC divisional playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore intercepted a Nick Foles pass — which went through the hands of Alshon Jeffery — at the New Orleans 19-yard line and returned it to the Saints’ 33 with 1:52 remaining, and running back Alvin Kamara ran for 12 yards on third-and-10 in the final minute to kill the clock.

The No. 1-seeded Saints (14-3) trailed 14-0 just 10:23 into the game but scored 20 unanswered points to advance to the NFC Championship Game next Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Rams at the Superdome.

After starting 0 for 3, including an interception on the first play of the game, Brees finished 28 of 38 with scoring passes of 2 yards each to Keith Kirkwood and Michael Thomas. Thomas set Saints’ playoff records with 12 catches and 171 yards receiving.

“Defensively in the second half, we were outstanding,” Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters following the game. “It wasn’t a perfect game. There’s a lot of things we have to clean up. But we got the win against the defending champions, and that means a lot. … We’ve played from behind quite a bit in the regular season, and we’ve been able to come back. … We did a great job of getting off the field on third down.”

The sixth-seeded Eagles (10-8) played valiantly despite a flurry of injuries. Foles completed 18 of 31 passes for 201 yards, but Philadelphia’s offense failed over the final three quarters, amassing just 97 yards after 153 in the first.

New Orleans took its first lead of the game, 17-14, by capitalizing on a withering, 18-play, 92-yard drive that consumed 11:29 of the third quarter and netted the Saints nine first downs. Brees completed 8 of 10 passes for 80 yards on the march, on which the Saints overcame two holding penalties and a false start. One of the holding penalties, on left guard Andrus Peat, nullified a 46-yard scoring pass from Taysom Hill to Kamara.

Brees eventually got the touchdown, finding Thomas in man coverage against Cre’Von LeBlanc for a 2-yard score.

“It impacts you relative to the number of snaps played, most importantly with your defense and their rest and your opponent getting that many snaps (on defense),” Payton said of the drive’s importance. “A lot had to happen for that to take place. Regretfully, those penalties hurt us, but we were able to overcome them.”

Wil Lutz extended the Saints’ lead to 20-14 with a 39-yard field goal with 10:28 left, but it remained a one-possession game.

When Lutz missed a 52-yard field-goal attempt wide right with 2:58 remaining, the Eagles had new life at their own 42. But Jeffery’s drop of Foles’ pass and Lattimore’s interception — his second of the game — sealed Philadelphia’s fate.

“He told me he loved playing with me and we wouldn’t have won a Super Bowl without me,” Jeffrey told the media after the game of what Foles said to him. “Still, I let the city of Philadelphia down.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson told reporters that prior to the interception he believed his team would capitalize on Lutz’s miss.

“I thought we were on our way, that we got that. It just felt like the momentum at that point was in our favor, ion our hands. It’s been that way all season. I felt like the magic was going to continue.”

The Eagles dominated the first quarter, jumping out to a 14-0 lead and at one point holding a total yardage advantage of 151-0.

However, the Saints got back in the game with 10 consecutive points in the second quarter to trail only 14-10 at halftime.

Foles completed eight of his first nine passes for 113 yards and led Philadelphia to touchdowns on its first two possessions. The first score was set up on the Saints’ first play, when Brees badly underthrew Ted Ginn Jr. on a deep route and LeBlanc intercepted the ball at the Philadelphia 24.

Foles completed all five passes for 65 yards on the ensuing 76-yard scoring drive, including a 37-yard strike to wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who easily beat double coverage for the touchdown.

After New Orleans went three-and-out, Foles directed a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown march, setting up the score with a 30-yard back-shoulder throw to Jeffrey on third-and-7 to the Saints’ 4. Foles got the 14-0 lead by stretching the ball over the goal line from 1 yard out two plays later.

But the Saints finally got rolling in the second quarter, when Brees completed 13 of 16 passes for 171 yards a touchdown. Sean Payton successfully gambled twice on fourth down on the touchdown drive — converting a fourth-and-1 on a fake-punt run by Hill at the Saints’ 30 and then converting the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with Brees’ soft pass in the left corner of the end zone to Kirkwood.

Lutz brought the Saints within 14-10 with a 45-yard field just before intermission. The drive started at the New Orleans 6 with 78 seconds remaining in the half.

The loss will also bring Foles’ future with the Eagles into question in the coming days and into the offseason. The Super Bowl MVP from last season may become a free agent in the spring and starting quarterback Carson Wentz’s health issues will leave the Eagles with a huge decision regarding Foles.

“I just told him I appreciated everything he’s done,” Pederson said of what he told Foles. “For him to come in and step in the way he has, I told him I loved him, and we’ll probably visit in the next few days.”

The NFC Championship Game is scheduled to kick off at 3:05 p.m. ET next Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Dolphins ponder rebuild, eye 2020 QB class

Report: Dolphins ponder rebuild, eye 2020 QB class

Report: Dolphins ponder rebuild, eye 2020 QB class

The Miami Dolphins are pondering a full-scale rebuild that could mean fewer wins in the 2019 season but a shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, ESPN reported Sunday.

Per the report, the Dolphins know their roster is far from where they want it to be, and they “recognize that losing likely will be a part of next season,” as they look to improve the offensive and defensive lines.

A poor 2019 season could put Miami in position to draft highly regarded quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama or Justin Herbert of Oregon. Herbert could have declared for the 2019 draft but decided to return to school, while Tagovailoa won’t be eligible to declare until the 2020 draft.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was candid about the possibility of a rebuild during his season-ending press conference, after firing head coach Adam Gase.

“We’ve been operating under a philosophy that we had a good young roster, and it needed maybe free agents and draft choices and we’d be very competitive,” Ross said. “To keep operating under that philosophy would be like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and really expecting a different result.

“…Basically, the thought is we’re going to look to really build this organization based on our needs, and if it takes a year or so — two years, three years — we’re going to be there and we’re going to be an organization.”

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill — who has missed 24 games over the last three seasons due to injury — is reportedly not in the team’s long-term plans, but it’s unclear if the Dolphins intend to move on this offseason. General manager Chris Grier was noncommittal at his season-ending press conference about Tannehill’s status.

“Yeah, as of right now, he’s on the roster,” Grier replied when asked if Tannehill would be back in 2019. “Again, the next head coach is going to come in and he’ll evaluate the roster as well. So we’ll work through that once that guy is hired.”

If not for a restructure of Tannehill’s contract last March, Miami would be able to release him with no cap implications, but it would now incur a dead-money hit of $13.4 million by releasing him. Still, that would represent a savings of $13.2 million from his $26.2 million cap number for 2019. The Dolphins could spread that dead-money hit out over two seasons (about $7.9 million in 2019 and $6.6 million in 2020) by releasing Tannehill with a June 1 designation.

Miami is expected to hire New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores once the Patriots’ season is over.

Most teams give new head coaches four-year contracts with a fifth-year team option, but the San Francisco 49ers — entering a full-scale rebuild of their own — gave Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch six-year deals two offseasons ago.

The Dolphins have gone 13-19 over the last two seasons after reaching the playoffs with a 10-6 record in 2016.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs G Allen rewards good Samaritan with tickets

Chiefs G Allen rewards good Samaritan with tickets

Chiefs G Allen rewards good Samaritan with tickets

A Kansas City Chiefs fan named David Cochran is going to the AFC Championship Game next Sunday for doing a good deed.

A snowstorm bombarded the Kansas City area on Saturday, and the vehicle of Chiefs guard Jeff Allen got stuck in approximately eight inches of snow as he was trying to make it to Arrowhead Stadium for his team’s playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Allen encountered a man, who identified himself simply as Dave, who helped get him his car out. He asked for Dave’s phone number and was entering it into his phone when his phone rang and he lost the number.

So late Saturday night, Allen began a social-media search for Dave. He put out the word on his Twitter account and said he wanted to give the helpful man tickets to the AFC title game.

“My car got stuck in the snow before the game & a nice guy named Dave help pull me out without knowing I was a player,” Allen wrote. “I want to give him tickets to the AFC championship game for helping but don’t have a way to contact him. He drove a 97 or 98 Black Suburban. Pls RT #ChiefsKingdom”

Allen had to sift through numerous impostors claiming to be the man before finally being contacted by the correct “Dave” on Twitter.

“Update: Despite the recent influx in people changing their name to Dave in the KC area lol, I was actually able to track down the Dave that helped me thanks to the power of social media and #ChiefsKindgom,” Allen wrote. “Thanks for your kindness”

The Kansas City Star met up with Cochran in the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday and confirmed his identity. NBC affiliate KSHB-TV reported that Cochran is homeless and living in the truck with his girlfriend and his dog.

In a video interview, Cochran did say of his vehicle, “It’s my home.”

As for his reaction when hearing about the reward from Allen?

“I seen the message this morning,” Cochran said in a video interview. “Call me soft if you want to home boys, but I started bawling, I started bawling.

“Just to know he is a man of his word and reached out to contact me. It is like a dream come true.”

The Chiefs will host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET.

–Field Level Media

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Saints’ Rankins, Eagles’ Cox, Brooks hurt

Saints' Rankins, Eagles' Cox, Brooks hurt

Saints’ Rankins, Eagles’ Cox, Brooks hurt

Both teams were hit hard with injuries during the first half of Sunday’s divisional playoff game in New Orleans, starting with Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and Philadelphia Eagles guard Brandon Brooks getting carted off minutes apart.

NFL Network reports Rankins — who the Saints ruled out before halftime — is believed to have torn his Achilles, putting him out for several months.

A separate NFL Network report states Brooks’ season is likely over with a serious lower-leg injury.

Meanwhile, Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox hurt his foot early in the second quarter while trying to stop a Saints fake punt that converted a fourth-and-1. The team deemed him questionable to return, and he came back for the final few plays before halftime.

Philadelphia also saw defensive ends Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett and cornerback Rasul Douglas leave during the second quarter, though Graham and Bennett each returned. Douglas was ruled questionable with an ankle injury.

Cox was named first-team All-Pro this season, while Brooks was named to his second straight Pro Bowl.

Rankins posted a career high with eight sacks in the regular season.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns hire Monken, Wilks as coordinators

Reports: Browns hire Monken, Wilks as coordinators

The Cleveland Browns will fill their coordinator openings

Reports: Browns hire Monken, Wilks as coordinators

The Cleveland Browns will fill their coordinator openings with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coordinator Todd Monken on offense and former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks on defense, according to multiple reports Sunday.

New head coach Freddie Kitchens is expected to call plays and run his own offense for the Browns, but Monken will provide extra experience, as Kitchens had not been an NFL coordinator prior to 2018’s midseason promotion.

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

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

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

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

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

Per Cleveland.com, both coordinator hirings are expected to be announced Monday. Kitchens will also be officially introduced as head coach on Monday.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Futures of Gronkowski, Gates uncertain

NFL notebook: Futures of Gronkowski, Gates uncertain

He may be

NFL notebook: Futures of Gronkowski, Gates uncertain

He may be focused on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game next weekend, but New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to contemplate retirement again once the offseason arrives, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.

Gronkowski, 29, told reporters last month he is not thinking about retirement after first broaching the subject following last season’s Super Bowl. Rapoport said those close to him think he’ll seriously consider it again, however. Last offseason, Gronkowski was the subject of numerous trade rumors and skipped OTAs before reporting to Patriots training camp and restructuring his contract.

The oft-injured Gronkowski has struggled to stay on the field this season, catching 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games as he has battled back and ankle injuries.

–Following Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, Chargers’ tight end Antonio Gates said that he wants to be back for a 17th season with the club.

The Chargers signed Gates shortly before the season began after tight end Hunter Henry suffered a torn ACL in May. Gates finished the season with 28 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns while playing in all 16 regular-season games. The former Kent State basketball player has 955 receptions for 11,841 yards and 116 touchdowns in the regular season. The receptions and yardage totals are third among tight ends in NFL history, while the touchdowns are a record for the position.

–New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and Philadelphia Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks each tore their Achilles tendon just minutes apart during the Saints’ 20-14 win in their divisional playoff game in New Orleans.

Multiple outlets reported the Saints — who ruled Rankins out before halftime — believe Rankins tore his Achilles, though an MRI on Monday will confirm the injury. Brooks, whom the Eagles officially ruled out after halftime, announced his diagnosis after the game on Twitter, thanking fans for well wishes and saying he looks forward to “attacking rehab like it’s a game.”

–Oft-injured veteran linebacker Sean Lee said after the Dallas Cowboys’ season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night that he will ponder whether he will play another season.

Lee, 32, has been with the Cowboys since the team selected him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL, played in only 18 games in the last two seasons combined, and never has played a 16-game season.

–According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the head-coaching contracts negotiated in the last week contain wording that show “teams are addressing how much each coach would make — or lose — in the event of a work stoppage” in 2021.

Schefter added that “both teams and coaches are confident that there will be some type of disruption,” and that similar language is expected to appear in contracts for upcoming free agents. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in what would be the third year of those new contracts.

–The Miami Dolphins “recognize that losing likely will be a part of next season” and are pondering a full-scale rebuild that could mean fewer wins in the 2019 season but a shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, ESPN reported.

A poor 2019 season could put Miami in position to draft highly regarded quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama or Justin Herbert of Oregon. Current starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill — who has missed 24 games over the last three seasons due to injury — is reportedly not in the team’s long-term plans, but it’s unclear if the Dolphins intend to move on this offseason.

–The Cleveland Browns will fill their coordinator openings with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coordinator Todd Monken on offense and former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks on defense, according to multiple reports.

Wilks, 49, was fired less than a calendar year after taking over the Cardinals, who finished with the NFL’s worst record this season at 3-13.

–Three-time Grammy Award winner Maroon 5 was officially announced as the headliner for the Super Bowl LIII halftime show in Atlanta, the band and CBS Sports announced. Rapper and six-time Grammy nominee Travis Scott, along with Atlanta native Big Boi, will also take part in the proceedings at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Maroon 5’s role in the halftime show had been speculated for months, but there was no shortage of public outcry for the band to not do the show because of the controversies surrounding Colin Kaepernick and other players who have knelt for the national anthem. Scott announced that he and the NFL are making a joint $500,000 donation to social justice nonprofit Dream Corps.

–Field Level Media

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Former Dolphins OL Keuchenberg dies at 71

Former Dolphins OL Keuchenberg dies at 71

Bob Keuchenberg, a member of the Miami Dolphins perfect 17-0 team in 1972, died on Saturday at the age of 71.

Keuchenberg was a six-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman in his 14 seasons with the Dolphins, also helping the Dolphins win the Super

Former Dolphins OL Keuchenberg dies at 71

Bob Keuchenberg, a member of the Miami Dolphins perfect 17-0 team in 1972, died on Saturday at the age of 71.

Keuchenberg was a six-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman in his 14 seasons with the Dolphins, also helping the Dolphins win the Super Bowl in 1973.

A fourth-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Notre Dame in 1969, Keuchenberg instead signed with the Dolphins as a free agent the following season and went on to play in 196 games, all with Miami.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Bob Kuechenberg,” the Dolphins tweeted early Sunday.

His former coach, Don Shula, also released a statement calling for Keuchenberg to be honored in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I’ve coached a lot of Hall of Fame players, including a number of offensive linemen, and Kooch was as good as any of them,” Shula’s statement reads. “I hope one day he gets that ultimate recognition by being enshrined in Canton – it’s an honor long overdue and one he certainly deserves.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Gronkowski to consider retirement after season

Report: Gronkowski to consider retirement after season

New England Patriots

Report: Gronkowski to consider retirement after season

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to contemplate retirement again this offseason, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Gronkowski, 29, told reporters last month he is not thinking about retirement after first broaching the subject following last season’s Super Bowl. Rapoport said those close to him think he’ll seriously consider it again, however.

Following New England’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Gronkowski would not commit to playing the 2018 season. The ensuing offseason was tumultuous for Gronkowski, who was the subject of numerous trade rumors and skipped OTAs.

Gronkowski reported to Patriots training camp, and the team restructured his contract to boost his potential 2018 earnings by $4.3 million. The star tight end is under contract at a base salary of $9 million in 2019, then will become a free agent.

The oft-injured Gronkowski has struggled to stay on the field yet again this season, catching 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. He has battled back and ankle injuries.

The Patriots face the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC divisional-round playoff game on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys, LB Lee have decisions to make

Cowboys, LB Lee have decisions to make

Cowboys, LB Lee have decisions to make

Oft-injured veteran linebacker Sean Lee said after the Dallas Cowboys’ season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night that he will ponder whether he will play another season.

“We will see. I am going to take some time and think about it,” Lee told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Obviously, staying healthy is something I need to do if I want to keep playing. But I do love playing the game. I love the organization. We have to figure out the future.

“There is a decision. I need to talk to my family. And see what the deal is Cowboys wise. We have to figure things out.”

The Cowboys also have some thinking to do.

Lee is owed a $7 million base salary and would represent a $10 million cap hit in 2019. The Cowboys would reclaim $7 million in cap space if they release Lee, according to NBC Sports.

Lee, 32, has been with the Cowboys since the team selected him the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He missed the 2014 season with a torn ACL and never has played a 16-game season.

In the 2018 regular season, he played in seven games (five starts), a hamstring injury limiting him throughout the season. He made just 30 tackles, down from 101 in 11 games in 2017.

In Lee’s absence, rookie first-round selection Leighton Vander Esch made a name for himself. In 16 games (11 starts), he made 140 tackles and intercepted two passes.

–Field Level Media

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Kuchar shoots bogey-free 66 to hold Sony Open lead

Kuchar shoots bogey-free 66 to hold Sony Open lead

Kuchar shoots bogey-free 66 to hold Sony Open lead

Matt Kuchar shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to extend his lead in the Sony Open on Saturday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

He’ll go into Sunday’s final round at 18-under 192 with a two-shot edge on Andrew Putnam, whose strong start allowed him to tie for the lead early in the third round.

The 40-year-old Kuchar was 3-under on the front side and regained the solo top spot.

Kuchar ended the round with six consecutive pars. Putnam birdied No. 18.

Kuchar will aim for his second championship in about two months after winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November in Mexico. He tied for 19th place last week in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Kuchar opened with consecutive rounds of 63 this week. He excelled with the irons again Saturday, leaving himself birdie putts of reasonable length.

Putnam pulled even with Kuchar with three birdies in the first five holes. He had a shot for another birdie on No. 6, but his chip from the fringe sat just outside the cup. That would have made for birdies on three consecutive holes.

Keith Mitchell and Chez Reavie share third place at 14-under.

Mitchell played a bogey-free round of 63, including four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10.

Reavie (66), who had three eagles Friday, was 5-under through nine holes of Saturday’s round. Then he went through a 3-over stretch from Nos. 11-13 and regrouped for two birdies the rest of the way.

Bryson DeChambeau made a move with 63, tying his best score on the PGA Tour. He opened the round with birdies on each of the first three holes.

He’s among a cluster of golfers at 11-under.

Corey Conners, Davis Love III, Charles Howell III, Dominic Bozzelli and Brian Stuard will all begin the final round tied at 11 under. They all checked in with 64s.

Hudson Swafford (67), Ted Potter Jr. (68) and Marc Leishman (68) are also in the bunch at 11-under.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Fitzgerald pondering Cardinals return

NFL notebook: Fitzgerald pondering Cardinals return

Arizona Cardinals wide

NFL notebook: Fitzgerald pondering Cardinals return

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he is undecided if he will retire or play in 2019, which would be his 16th season in the NFL.

He told ESPN’s Adam Schefter he intends to take some time to mull the decision.

Fitzgerald committed to playing the 2018 season last February, but it turned out to be a tough year in Arizona. The Cardinals finished the season with an NFL-worst 3-13 record, and head coach Steve Wilks was fired.

New head coach Kliff Kingsbury said last week he hopes Fitzgerald will return. In 2018, the 35-year-old appeared in all 16 games and caught 69 passes for 734 yards and six touchdowns.

–The Cleveland Browns officially named Freddie Kitchens as the team’s new head coach on Saturday.

Kitchens, 44, becomes the 17th full-time head coach in franchise history. He replaces Hue Jackson, who was fired in October after compiling a 3-36-1 record in two-plus seasons.

After parting ways with Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley in October, the Browns promoted Kitchens from running backs coach to offensive coordinator and named defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as interim head coach. Williams has been relieved of his duties and is no longer with the team.

–Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, whose job security was in question when the team was 3-5 at midseason, now is expected to receive a long-term contract extension, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Garrett’s current contract runs through 2019, but his work leading the Cowboys to a 10-6 finish apparently has owner Jerry Jones ready to commit to him beyond then. Garrett is in his ninth season and is 77-59 since taking over in Dallas midway through the 2010 season.

Jones gave Garrett a vote of confidence amid the team’s midseason struggles and teased a potential extension earlier this week during an interview on 105.3 The Fan.

–Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin were both active for the team’s divisional playoff game at the Los Angeles Rams.

Both players missed practice all week due to ankle injuries, but both were expected to give it a go during pregame warmups, and both received the go-ahead to play. Beasley aggravated his ankle issue last week but played through it as the Cowboys beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, who were also questionable with ankle injuries, were also active. Safety Darian Thompson (groin) was inactive for Dallas after being listed as questionable, and the Rams were fully healthy.

–The Denver Broncos are expected to be one of several teams interested in trading for Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown this offseason, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports.

The report adds that there have been no moves toward reconciliation with the team on Brown’s part, and the Steelers may actively seek a trade rather than merely listening to offers.

–New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is making a concerted effort to keep wide receiver DeSean Jackson on the team, NFL Network reports.

Per the report, Arians intends to “re-recruit” Jackson and “convince him he can be a big part of the offense,” after the wideout reportedly soured on his fit with the Bucs in 2018.

ESPN reported before the season finale that Jackson told the team he wants out of his contract so he can play elsewhere in 2019. Jackson, 32, remains under contract for $10 million in 2019 — the last year of his deal — but he has no guaranteed money remaining.

–The Jacksonville Jaguars are interested in Denver Broncos coach/personnel man Gary Kubiak for their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to an ESPN report.

Kubiak, who is currently under contract in Denver’s personnel department, was expected to become the Broncos’ offensive coordinator under new head coach Vic Fangio, but those plans changed due to philosophical differences.

–Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry (heel) and running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) were both inactive for the team’s AFC divisional playoff game against the visiting Indianapolis Colts.

However, Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins (foot) was active for the first time since Week 11.

–For all the grief Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey received for missing what would have been a winning 43-yard field goal in the playoffs last week, many others in the Windy City might express some sympathy after knowing what it feels like.

Among the 101 contestants who tried the kick from the same yardage in tough, wintery conditions in Chicago, not one put it through the uprights in what was called the Cody Parkey challenge.

–Field Level Media

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No winning kickers in Chicago’s Cody Parkey challenge

No winning kickers in Chicago’s Cody Parkey challenge

No winning kickers in Chicago’s Cody Parkey challenge

For all the grief Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey received for missing what would have been a winning 43-yard field goal in the playoffs last week, many others in the Windy City might express some sympathy after knowing what it feels like.

Among the 101 contestants who tried the kick from the same yardage in tough, wintery conditions in Chicago on Saturday, not one put it through the uprights in what was called the Cody Parkey challenge. And none faced a rush trying to block their attempts — Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester nicked Parkey’s kick last week.

Chicago brewery Goose Island Beer Co. put on the contest outside its taproom at 1800 W. Fulton St. less than a week after the Bears lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 16-15 in the NFL wild-card game last Sunday.

“It became much bigger than we ever thought it would,” said Zac Connelly, an employee who came up with the idea. “The last couple days have been crazy.”

Patrons 21 or older were given one chance to kick a 43-yard field goal. A successful kick would have led to a shot to be the grand-prize winner by hitting a 65-yard field goal, thereby breaking the NFL record set by Matt Prater, who made a 64-yarder for the Denver Broncos on Dec. 8, 2013.

Two first-place finishers also would have received two tickets to any 2019 regular-season game of their choosing, plus round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations for two consecutive nights.

The incredible response forced the brewery initially to limit the number of entrants, then the policy was changed when only 101 decided to compete in the snowy, cold, windy weather.

Kicking contestant Phil Cozzi of Elmhurst, Ill., said, “It’s way different, everyone’s slipping all over the place.”

He was comforted by the fact that the only Eagles fan wiped out during his attempt.

“OK, good,” Cozzi said.

Without a grand prize to award, the brewery is donating $20,000 to the Lurie Children’s Hospital, the charity chosen by Parkey.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin active

Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin active

Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin active

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin are both active for Saturday’s divisional playoff game at the Los Angeles Rams.

Both players missed practice all week due to ankle injuries, but both were expected to give it a go during pregame warmups, and both received the go-ahead to play. Beasley aggravated his ankle issue last week but played through it as the Cowboys beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, who were also questionable with ankle injuries, are also active. Su’a-Filo will serve as a backup behind rookie Connor Williams, who will start at left guard after taking first-team reps all week.

Safety Darian Thompson (groin) is inactive for Dallas after being listed as questionable.

The Rams are fully healthy, as their only player listed as questionable — defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks — is active.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs, Mahomes control Colts, advance to AFC title game

Chiefs, Mahomes control Colts, advance to AFC title game

Chiefs, Mahomes control Colts, advance to AFC title game

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 278 yards and ran for a score Saturday as the Chiefs ended a six-game home losing streak in the postseason by stomping the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 at snowy Kansas City, Mo.

The AFC playoff victory was the first in a quarter-century for the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium after they advanced as the No. 1 seed for the first time since 1997.

More than a half-foot of snow socked Kansas City before kickoff. Light snow also fell during the game.

Kansas City will play for the AFC championship next Sunday against the winner of Sunday’s playoff game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers.

Running back Damien Williams had career bests with 25 carries for 129 rushing yards. He scored one touchdown.

Tight end Travis Kelce led the Chiefs with 108 receiving yards on seven catches, while wideout Tyreek Hill added eight catches for 72 yards and a rushing TD. Mahomes went 27-for-41 passing and didn’t throw an interception.

Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston had two sacks and recovered a fumble off a strip by Dee Ford.

The turnover thwarted a huge opportunity for the Colts after they took over at the Chiefs 20-yard line late in the third quarter on a fumble that was forced and recovered by linebacker Darius Leonard.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck could never get into a rhythm, passing for 203 yards while going 19-for-36. The Colts, who had won 10 of their previous 11 games, including five straight, were dogged by 10 penalties for 70 yards.

Kansas City dominated the first half, generating 18 first downs before Indianapolis moved the chains for the first time during a two-minute drill to end the half.

The Colts stormed downfield on that march but kicker Adam Vinatieri, playing in his 32nd postseason game, missed a 23-yard field goal attempt off the left upright as time expired. Vinatieri also missed a PAT attempt.

The 24-7 lead the Chiefs took into the break was achieved with 195 yards passing from Mahomes, who also rushed for a 4-yard TD with 1:40 left. Williams scored on a 10-yard rush and wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a 36-yard reverse to cap the first two Kansas City drives.

Indianapolis went three-and-out on each of its first four possessions.

Najee Goode broke through to block a punt that teammate Zach Pascal recovered in the end zone with 5:56 left for the Colts’ only first-half score.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Sarkisian unlikely to join Cardinals’ staff

Report: Sarkisian unlikely to join Cardinals' staff

Report: Sarkisian unlikely to join Cardinals’ staff

Former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is unlikely to join the Arizona Cardinals’ staff, NFL Network reported Saturday.

ESPN reported Friday that the Cardinals were closing in on a deal to sign Sarkisian to be their coordinator, but it appears that won’t happen.

New head coach Kliff Kingsbury is expected to call plays and run his own offense in Arizona, but he said he would like to hire a coordinator with NFL experience.

Sarkisian, 44, was fired after two years in Atlanta that did not live up to the heights of the Falcons’ 2016 offense. The group finished 10th in points and sixth in yards in the NFL this year after ranking 15th and eighth, respectively, in 2017.

The Cardinals also have interviewed former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo for their coordinator opening.

McAdoo, 41, spent last year out of football after being fired by New York, but he had a strong two-year run as the Giants offensive coordinator in 2014-15 before his promotion.

Arizona has finalized its other coordinator spots, with Vance Joseph signing on to run the defense and Jeff Rodgers staying in his position as special-teams coordinator.

–Field Level Media

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