Jets LB Lee suspended for final four games

Jets LB Lee suspended for final four games

New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee has been suspended without pay for the final four games of the season for a violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, the league announced Friday.

Lee’s suspension begins with Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills. The suspension will cost him approximately $325,000.

Lee is eligible to be reinstated to the active roster on Dec. 31, one day following the Jets’ season finale against the New England Patriots.

Lee had 74 tackles and three interceptions this season. He returned one of the picks for a score.

The third-year-pro has 241 tackles in 40 games with the Jets.

Lee was the 20th overall selection in 2016 out of Ohio State.

–Field Level Media

Dolphins, Vikings fight to keep playoff hopes alive

Dolphins, Vikings fight to keep playoff hopes alive

Dolphins, Vikings fight to keep playoff hopes alive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Field Level Media

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Giants WR Beckham ruled out vs. Titans

 

New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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Steelers RB Conner practices, questionable to face Patriots

Steelers RB Conner practices, questionable to face Patriots

Steelers running

Steelers RB Conner practices, questionable to face Patriots

Steelers running back James Conner was limited in practice Friday and is expected to return to the Pittsburgh lineup for a key AFC affair with the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Conner was seen walking without a limp after Thursday’s practice and declared himself ready to roll, but the Steelers will officially list him as questionable.

The renewal of the Steelers-Patriots rivalry is a headliner of Week 15 as Pittsburgh slides into the game on a three-game losing streak, holding a narrow lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and at risk of being thrust into a dogfight with numerous teams for the final spot in the AFC playoffs with another loss.

With three games to play in the regular season, the Steelers welcome the return of Conner from a sprained ankle. Without him, the Steelers lost at Oakland last week. Even before Conner went down, Pittsburgh has struggled to find balance on offense of late, particularly the last three games.

Including the postseason, New England has won nine of the 12 games against the Steelers since Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger entered the NFL.

The Patriots are in the running for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which would assure home-field advantage through the conference championship game, after the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

Conner was thrust into a key role in his second season when Le’Veon Bell opted to hold out after being designated the team’s franchise player for the second consecutive season.

Conner has 1,376 yards from scrimmage for the Steelers in 2018.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars sign K Forbath as insurance for injured Lambo

Jaguars sign K Forbath as insurance for injured Lambo

Jaguars sign K Forbath as insurance for injured Lambo

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed kicker Kai Forbath on Friday in case Josh Lambo is unable to kick Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Lambo suffered a right groin injury during Thursday’s practice and is listed as questionable on the injury report released Friday.

Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone said he has no idea if Lambo can recover in time to kick on Sunday.

“We don’t really know how it’s going to go,” Marrone told reporters of Lambo. “It’s not a lot of time between now and Sunday for an injury like that. We’re going to take it day-by-day, probably up until game time.”

Lambo, 28, is 19 of 21 on field-goal attempts this season and 38 of 41 in two seasons with the Jaguars. He spent his first two NFL seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers and is 90 of 105 on field goals in his career.

Forbath hasn’t kicked in the NFL this season after being cut by the Minnesota Vikings in training camp.

Forbath, 31, kicked a career-best 32 field goals (in 38 attempts) for the Vikings in 2017 in his second season with the team.

The UCLA product also kicked for the Washington Redskins (2012-15) and New Orleans Saints (2015). He has made 116 of 135 career field-goal attempts while scoring 517 points.

Forbath worked out for the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this week.

Jacksonville placed linebacker Leon Jacobs (quadriceps) on injured reserve to open up the roster spot.

Also, starting right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), wideout DJ Chark Jr. (quadriceps) and offensive lineman Josh Walker (foot) will miss the game against Washington, the team announced.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys’ Elliott gets fined $26K for helmet hit

Cowboys' Elliott gets fined $26K for helmet hit

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys’ Elliott gets fined $26K for helmet hit

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, the first offensive player penalized this season for the helmet rule, was fined $26,739 on Friday for lowering his head to initiate contact Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The action occurred against defensive back Corey Graham in a game the Cowboys won 29-23.

Elliott is appealing the fine, which is the second he has received in four weeks. He was fined $13,369 for unsportsmanlike conduct after donating $21 into the Salvation Army kettle following a Thanksgiving Day touchdown against Washington on Nov. 22.

Delivering the hit against the Eagles, Elliott also struggled to recover. He went to the blue medical tent and missed five plays, saying he briefly lost feeling in his arm.

“I mean when you’re on that sideline, I’ve got to protect myself,” Elliott said. “And if a guy’s going low, I’ve got to go low, too. The rule is meant for the betterment of the game. The rule is for our safety, and if there was illegal helmet-to-helmet contact on there, that’s something I need to go look at and work on. That’s not OK. It’s just a tough play.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, while not defending his player 100 percent, did understand Elliott’s rationale.

“We’re just making some calls here that are tough, but we’re doing it for protection and safety,” Jones said. “That’s the biggest question being asked: How do you play? … I don’t want Zeke to stop punishing them on the end of his runs. Upon further review, they both tucked their heads. Zeke is a punishing runner. That’s what we want in the NFL. That is a physical aspect of football that we want to give our fans. I’ll certainly do everything I can to not make those kinds of things penalties.”

According to Kevin Seifert of ESPN, officials threw 10 flags for use of helmet — all against defensive players — through the first 13 weeks of the season.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys OL Martin (knee) to miss game for first time

Cowboys OL Martin (knee) to miss game for first time

Cowboys OL Martin (knee) to miss game for first time

Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin, who has started all 77 games of his career since the team selected him in the first round out of Notre Dame in the 2014 NFL Draft, will see his streak end on Sunday.

A Pro Bowl selection each of his first four seasons and a two-time first-team All-Pro, Martin was ruled out for the game against the Indianapolis Colts because of a knee injury on Friday.

Connor Williams, who took for Martin last week when the latter aggravated a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee during a win over the Philadelphia Eagles, will start in Martin’s place. The rookie out of Texas actually started the first seven games of the season at left guard for Dallas but underwent knee surgery in October and lost that job to Xavier Su’a-Filo.

“He did a good job in the [Eagles] game going in there and playing,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told the media of Williams. “I thought he handled that work well. He’ll benefit from that experience and then he’s come back and had a good week so far.”

The Cowboys hope to have Martin back this season, at least for the playoffs, if not for the Dec. 23 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Also Friday, the Cowboys listed linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring pull) and wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin injury) as questionable.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders WR Bryant suspended indefinitely

Raiders WR Bryant suspended indefinitely

Oakland Raiders

Raiders WR Bryant suspended indefinitely

Oakland Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant was indefinitely suspended by the NFL on Friday for violating his reinstatement terms of a previous ban, the league announced Friday.

Bryant was allowed to play this season while he appealed a one-year suspension. He went on injured reserve earlier this month with a knee injury suffered on Nov. 11 during a game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“Effective immediately, Martavis Bryant has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his April 2017 conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse,” the league said in a statement.

Bryant, who turns 27 next Thursday, reportedly violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy during the offseason.

The Clemson product was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 season because of positive drug tests while he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Raiders initially released Bryant on Sept. 1 but resigned him 11 days later when the NFL ruled he could play while appealing the penalty.

Bryant had 19 receptions for 266 yards in eight games for the Raiders this season.

–Field Level Media

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Bears’ Nagy named top coach by AP panel

Bears' Nagy named top coach by AP panel

First-year Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy

Bears’ Nagy named top coach by AP panel

First-year Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy received seven of 10 possible first place votes among a panel of 10 Associated Press football writers asked to name the NFL coach doing the best job this season.

Nagy, who was previously the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, finished ahead of Pete Carroll.

In his first year at the helm, Nagy has guided the Bears to a 9-4 record and is on the verge of clinching a playoff berth. The Bears hadn’t won nine games in a season since going 10-6 in 2012 and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010.

A win in Chicago against Green Bay on Sunday or a loss by the Minnesota Vikings will clinch a playoff spot for the NFC North leading Bears.

Carroll’s Seahawks can also clinch this week despite a defense decimated by injuries and departures. Carroll didn’t receive any first-place votes; Bill Belichick (New England Patriots, 2 votes) and Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts, 1) were the other coaches picked.

Belichick finished in ninth place despite the two No. 1 votes.

–Field Level Media

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Saints QB Brees tops all players in Pro Bowl fan vote

Saints QB Brees tops all players in Pro Bowl fan vote

Saints QB Brees tops all players in Pro Bowl fan vote

Amid a growing group of young star players around the league, 39-year-old New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished the fan ballot portion of Pro Bowl voting with more votes than anyone.

The NFL announced the results on Friday from fan voting, which ended a day earlier. The 11-time Pro Bowl passer Brees got 1,270,631 votes to top all players, ahead of second-place Patrick Mahomes (1,197,370 votes), the second-year Kansas City Chiefs QB who has thrown 45 touchdown passes in 14 games in his first season as a starter.

Rounding out the top five was New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley (987,562 votes), plus a pair of Los Angeles Rams teammates — running back Todd Gurley (957,052) and quarterback Jared Goff (838,561).

Seven of the top 10 players receiving votes have three seasons or fewer of NFL experience.

The fan vote is merely one factor deciding the Pro Bowl rosters, as the league’s players and coaches also get the opportunity to make selections — with their voting done on Friday. The final Pro Bowl rosters will be revealed on Tuesday, Dec. 18 on NFL Network.

The Pro Bowl will take place on Jan. 27 on Orlando.

NFL PRO BOWL — TOP-10 VOTE-GETTERS, FAN VOTE

1. Saints QB Drew Brees, 1,270,631

2. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, 1,197,370

3. Giants RB Saquon Barkley, 987,562

4. Rams RB Todd Gurley, 957,052

5. Rams QB Jared Goff, 838,561

6. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, 827,888

7. Steelers RB James Conner, 817,495

8. Steelers WR Antonio Brown, 778,630

9. Saints RB Alvin Kamara, 776,846

10. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, 753,981

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Steelers expecting RB Conner back for Pats

NFL notebook: Steelers expecting RB Conner back for Pats

Steelers

NFL notebook: Steelers expecting RB Conner back for Pats

Steelers running back James Conner practiced on a limited basis Friday and is expected to return to the Pittsburgh lineup for a key AFC affair with the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Conner was seen walking without a limp after Thursday’s practice and declared himself ready to roll, but the Steelers will officially list him as questionable.

The renewal of the Steelers-Patriots rivalry is a headliner of Week 15 as Pittsburgh slides into the game on a three-game losing streak, holding a narrow lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and at risk of being thrust into a dogfight with numerous teams for the final spot in the AFC playoffs with another loss.

Conner has 1,376 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.

–Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin will miss a game for the first time in his career Sunday, bringing to end a streak of 77 straight regular-season starts.

A Pro Bowl selection each of his first four seasons and a two-time first-team All-Pro, Martin was ruled out against the Colts because of a knee injury.

Rookie Connor Williams will start in Martin’s place.

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

Beckham, originally injured in Week 12 against Philadelphia, missed last Sunday’s victory over the Redskins because of the injury.

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

–Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller was to undergo surgery for a fractured wrist Friday and is likely to miss time, NFL Network reported.

Fuller played with the injury in Thursday’s 29-28 loss to the Chargers.

While a recovery window will reportedly be established once the surgery is performed, it typically takes six weeks for a complete recovery from a wrist fracture. That would stretch to the AFC championship game or even the Super Bowl.

–Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was downgraded to doubtful for his team’s game against the Rams on the official injury report because of a stress fracture in his back.

Head coach Doug Pederson said that Wentz will need up to three months for a complete recovery. The team is measuring whether Wentz could do significant damage by playing in a game with the injury.

–Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was a practice participant for the second straight day and is expected to be available when the team visits the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Baldwin missed Monday night’s win over the Minnesota Vikings due to a hip injury. The Seahawks listed him as questionable for the game against San Francisco.

–The New York Jets are placing leading rusher Isaiah Crowell on injured reserve with a toe injury, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coach Todd Bowles said Elijah McGuire (158 yards) and rookie Trenton Cannon (80) will get heavy work in the backfield in an effort to make up for Crowell’s production (685 yards, six touchdowns).

–The NFL indefinitely suspended Oakland Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant for violating his reinstatement terms stemming from a previous ban under the league’s substance abuse policy.

The 27-year-old reportedly violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy during the offseason but played through appeal. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 season because of positive drug tests while he was with the Steelers.

–Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was fined $26,739 for lowering his head to initiate contact Sunday against Philadelphia defensive back Corey Graham, Elliott’s second fine in four weeks.

–First-year Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy received seven of 10 possible first place votes among a panel of 10 Associated Press football writers asked to name the NFL coach doing the best job this season.

–The Jacksonville Jaguars signed kicker Kai Forbath in case Josh Lambo (right groin injury) is unable to kick Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

–New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished first in the fan ballot portion of Pro Bowl voting with 1,270,631 votes. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (1,197,370 votes) was second.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins coach Gruden not worried about future

Redskins coach Gruden not worried about future

Redskins coach Gruden not worried about future

The Washington Redskins’ hopes for a playoff berth are hanging by a thread, but head coach Jay Gruden is not feeling the pressure regarding his future with the organization.

In an interview with ESPN, Gruden on Friday said, “It doesn’t weigh on me at all. My key works; I come in and work. … I understand it. You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine and then you’re not fine. I’ll wait to get final word when the season is over.”

After four straight losses (including an embarrassing 40-16 drubbing by the New York Giants on Sunday) and dropping five of their last six games, the Redskins are 6-7 as they prepare for this Sunday’s game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

The longest-tenured Redskins coach under Dan Snyder’s ownership since the team was bought in 1999, Gruden is five years into his contract, and Washington has not made the playoffs since the 2015 season, when it lost to the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round.

“It’s not my job to judge [my performance],” said Gruden, who will sit down with Snyder after the season as a coach with two years left on his contract. “It’s my job to coach the guys I’ve got. There’s only one judge and he’s the one that has all the money. He’s the one that writes the checks. It’s up to him.”

The Redskins have struggled for various reasons this season, most notably on offense, where they will start their fourth quarterback of 2018 on Sunday. Seventeen of their players are on injured reserve, and that includes five starters on offense led by quarterback Alex Smith.

Maybe Gruden is not too concerned because the two-year contract extension he received after the 2016 season includes a combined $10 million in fully guaranteed money.

“He has always been supportive,” Gruden said of Snyder. “Never been negative. He gets very upset after losses, as we all do. But he’s been very supportive and has tried to do everything he can to help.”

–Field Level Media

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Chargers’ Allen could miss time with hip pointer

Chargers' Allen could miss time with hip pointer

Chargers’ Allen could miss time with hip pointer

The bad news for Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen? He could miss some time with a hip pointer suffered in Thursday night’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The good news, however, is that Allen’s diagnosis did not include any structural damage in the hip, and if he is sidelined, it shouldn’t be for long, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Allen has 88 catches for 1,074 yards for the Chargers, who moved into a tie with the Chiefs atop the AFC West Division at 11-3 with their 29-28 win. He landed hard in the end zone as he came within fingertips of making a highlight reel touchdown catch in the second quarter.

The Chargers don’t play again until Dec. 22, a Saturday night game in Los Angeles against Baltimore, before closing the regular season Dec. 30 at Denver.

In six NFL seasons, all with the Chargers, Allen has 411 catches for 5,084 yards and 28 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles rule out QB Wentz (back) for Sunday

Eagles rule out QB Wentz (back) for Sunday

Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz will

Eagles rule out QB Wentz (back) for Sunday

Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz will not play Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams because of a back injury, the Eagles confirmed Saturday.

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will make his third start of the season in place of Wentz, who had been listed as doubtful after an exam earlier this week revealed a stress fracture. Coach Doug Pederson said the injury could take up to three months to heal.

Foles, who started the Eagles’ first two games as Wentz completed his rehabilitation from a knee injury, has completed 54 of 82 passes for 451 yards with one touchdown and one interception this season.

Foles played for the Rams when they were still based in St. Louis in 2015, posting a 4-7 record with 2,052 passing yards, seven TDs and 10 picks.

Wentz likely will finish this season with a 5-6 record. He has completed a career-high 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,074 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Philadelphia (6-7) still has a slim chance at a wild-card playoff berth heading into the prime-time contest at Los Angeles (11-2).

–Field Level Media

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RB Conner downgraded to doubtful for Steelers

RB Conner downgraded to doubtful for Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers running

RB Conner downgraded to doubtful for Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner was downgraded to doubtful on the injury report on Saturday, the team announced.

That means he’s unlikely to play against New England on Sunday in a key AFC matchup for both teams.

Conner was limited in practice Friday as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle. Without him, the Steelers lost at Oakland last week. Even before Conner went down, Pittsburgh has struggled to find balance on offense of late, particularly the last three games.

The Steelers-Patriots game is a headliner of Week 15 as Pittsburgh slides into the game on a three-game losing streak, holding a narrow lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and at risk of being thrust into a dogfight with numerous teams for the final spot in the AFC playoffs with another loss.

The Patriots are in the running for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which would assure home-field advantage through the conference championship game, after the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

Conner has 1,376 yards from scrimmage for the Steelers in 2018. He became the team’s No. 1 running back amid the holdout of All-Pro LeVeon Bell, who did not report to the team this season.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks WR Baldwin expected to play versus 49ers

Seahawks WR Baldwin expected to play versus 49ers

Seattle Seahawks receiver

Seahawks WR Baldwin expected to play versus 49ers

Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was a practice participant for the second straight day on Friday and is expected to be available when the team visits the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Baldwin missed Monday night’s win over the Minnesota Vikings due to a hip injury. The Seahawks listed him as questionable for the game against San Francisco.

Meanwhile, linebacker K.J. Wright (knee), running back Rashaad Penny (knee) and safety Maurice Alexander (concussion) were ruled out of the contest. Guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) is doubtful.

Baldwin has dealt with numerous injuries this season — knee, groin, elbow, hip — but has missed just three of Seattle’s 13 games. He had 37 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

“Doug did really well,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Friday’s workout. “He practiced, made it through it today. He did fine. It looks like he’s playing.”

Wright will miss his fifth straight game. He has played in just three contests this season.

“We’re going to leave him home so that he can really work hard on it so next week he can have a chance to practice on Wednesday and we’ll just take it one day at a time and see how he goes,” Carroll told reporters. “He’s optimistic about it and we are, but we really won’t know until the end of next week where he is.”

Penny was injured against the Vikings.

“He came out of the game last week with a sore knee and it didn’t respond quickly enough to get back for this week, so we’re going to leave him (in Seattle) so he can get treated over the weekend,” Carroll said. “After about Tuesday or Wednesday, we’ll know a little bit more. We’ll let you know next week.”

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed (oblique) and safety Bradley McDougald (knee) were listed as questionable, and Carroll expects both to play.

–Field Level Media

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Watson-Hopkins connection rallies Texans over Jets

Watson-Hopkins connection rallies Texans over Jets

DeAndre Hopkins

Watson-Hopkins connection rallies Texans over Jets

DeAndre Hopkins caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson with 2:15 remaining as the Houston Texans inched closer to clinching the AFC South Division title with a 29-22 victory over the New York Jets on Saturday at East Rutherford, N.J.

On first down, Watson ran a play fake and connected with Hopkins along the left sideline. Hopkins turned around and made the catch while getting by New York cornerback Morris Claiborne.

A week after a season-low 36 receiving yards in a 24-21 loss to Indianapolis, Hopkins finished with 10 catches and a season-high 170 yards. He also caught a 45-yard TD in the second quarter.

After Hopkins gave the Texans a 26-22 lead, Houston’s defense stopped Jets quarterback Sam Darnold from getting his second career game-winning drive. Jonathan Joseph broke up a long pass to Robby Anderson on first down, and two plays later, J.J. Watt sacked Darnold on third-and-seven.

Darnold actually had another chance at a game-winning drive when the Jets gained possession with 54 seconds left following Ka’imi Fairbairn’s fifth field goal, but Jadeveon Clowney sacked Darnold for an 8-yard loss. The game ended when Darnold’s pass to Elijah McGuire on fourth-and-18 fell 2 yards shy.

The Texans (10-4) won for the 10th time in 11 games and can clinch their division if Indianapolis or Tennessee lose on Sunday.

Watson overcame being sacked six times and completed 22 of 28 passes for 294 yards. Fairbairn kicked field goals of 41, 32 and 53 yards in the first half before adding a 49-yarder early in the second half and a 40-yarder with 54 seconds remaining.

Darnold completed 24 of 38 passes for 253 yards. He threw a 5-yard touchdown to Anderson and a 13-yard TD to Andre Roberts and engineered a third touchdown drive culminating in McGuire’s 2-yard run with five minutes remaining.

Jason Myers made a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter but also missed two extra points as the Jets (4-10) lost for the seventh time in eight games.

The Texans built a 16-3 lead in the second quarter on two field goals by Fairbairn and Hopkins’ diving touchdown catch, which occurred two plays after Watt forced a fumble. The Jets were within 16-9 by halftime on Anderson’s grab with 30 seconds left and then made it 16-15 on Roberts’ TD with 8:44 left in the third.

Following Fairbairn’s fourth field goal, the Jets took their only lead at 22-19 when McGuire barreled into the end zone.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Jets place RB Crowell on IR

Report: Jets place RB Crowell on IR

Report: Jets place RB Crowell on IR

The New York Jets had already ruled out leading rusher Isaiah Crowell for Saturday’s home game against the Houston Texans, but now it appears he’s done for the season.

The team is placing Crowell on injured reserve with a toe injury, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Saturday’s absence will be the first of Crowell’s career after playing in 77 consecutive games. He has 685 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Crowell set a franchise record with 219 rushing yards against the Denver Broncos earlier this season but has topped 50 just once over the past eight games.

Coach Todd Bowles said Elijah McGuire (158 yards) and rookie Trenton Cannon (80) will get heavy work in the backfield.

Leading receiver Quincy Enunwa will also miss Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.

Enunwa has a team-best 38 receptions but hasn’t recorded a 100-yard game this season. His 449 yards are second to Robby Anderson’s 492.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles downgrade QB Wentz to doubtful vs. Rams

Eagles downgrade QB Wentz to doubtful vs. Rams

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was downgraded

Eagles downgrade QB Wentz to doubtful vs. Rams

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was downgraded to doubtful on the official injury report released after 4 p.m. ET on Friday a stress fracture in his back.

Earlier in the day, head coach Doug Pederson announced Wentz would be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game despite never taking the practice field this week.

Wentz, who was on the field lightly jogging the past two days, is expected to give way to Nick Foles at quarterback when the Eagles visit the Rams on Sunday.

Heavily frustrated with the media during a question and answer session Friday, Pederson said that Wentz will need up to three months for a complete recovery. The team is measuring whether Wentz could do significant damage by playing in a game with the injury.

“He has a stress injury that evolved over time and it won’t require surgery,” Pederson said.

NFL players have taken the field with known back injuries, especially the compression fracture known as transverse process. That injury is considered less serious.

“If we put him out there, there has to be 100 percent that there is no risk of anything further,” Pederson said.

Foles, who was Super Bowl MVP with the Eagles in February, started the first two games this season and went 1-1 while Wentz was recovering from knee surgery.

–Field Level Media

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Pats, Steelers moving on from last week’s stunners

Pats, Steelers moving on from last week's stunners

Pats, Steelers moving on from last week’s stunners

Clashes between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are usually high-stakes affairs. When the two longtime AFC heavyweights meet Sunday at Heinz Field, there’s another angle this time.

Both teams are rankled coming off losses last week.

The Patriots (9-4) fell at Miami 34-33 when the Dolphins lateraled and weaved for 69 yards on the final play.

The Steelers (7-5-1) fell at Oakland 24-21 when kicker Chris Boswell’s plant foot slipped and he shanked a tying 40-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left. It was their third straight loss.

“We’re licking our wounds as we should when you’re unsuccessful in this business,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’re excited about an opportunity to compete and get this negative taste out of our mouth, as I am sure New England is.”

Both teams lead their divisions, but only the Patriots have some clinching scenarios this week.

Per the NFL, New England clinches the AFC East with a win and a Miami loss or tie, or a tie plus a Miami loss. It clinches a playoff spot with a win plus a Tennessee loss or tie; or a tie plus a Baltimore loss, a Tennessee loss and an Indianapolis loss or tie.

“We’ve got a big challenge this week with Pittsburgh,” Patriots center David Andrews said. “We’ve got … to get this ship corrected.”

Turning the page is critical, New England quarterback Tom Brady said.

“We get back to work,” Brady said. “If (the Dolphins) didn’t make that play at the end, we’d do the same thing. It’s disappointing when we lose games. I think we all realize we could have done a better job in certain areas. I wish I could have done a better job on certain plays, but that’s football. We’ll just get back to work this week and try to go beat Pittsburgh.”

Maybe it’s the overall matchup or the chance to share the field with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but Brady has been stellar over the years against Pittsburgh, with 40 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Roethlisberger missed most of the second half against Oakland, because of bruised ribs suffered on a sack in the first half. He said Wednesday he is good to go.

The three-game losing streak, which followed six straight wins, weighs on the Steelers.

“It’s very frustrating,” Roethlisberger said. “You want to win them all, but you understand you can’t. We can only control this week. We have had opportunities. We just for whatever reason haven’t found a way to do it. I don’t think it’s from a lack of sense of urgency. It could be lack of execution, lack of one thing here or there. We understand what it takes to get it done. We just have to do it.”

On Miami’s winning play, New England installed tight end Rob Gronkowski in the defensive backfield in anticipation of a Hail Mary pass, but the Steelers will be more concerned about his play on offense.

Asked if he was aware of a successful strategy to neutralize Gronkowski, Tomlin quipped, “We haven’t been a part of it. We’re looking to be.”

Pittsburgh is holding tryouts for kickers this week, although Boswell is also being given a chance to retain his job after missing 6-of-10 field goal attempts and five extra points this season.

Pittsburgh’s biggest injury concern is with running back James Conner, who missed the Oakland game. His status was downgraded to doubtful on Saturday.

New England as of Wednesday had no players out or limited at practice.

–Field Level Media

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Titans, Giants pin hopes on running backs

Titans, Giants pin hopes on running backs

Titans, Giants pin hopes on running backs

Entering Week 15, multiple things need to happen for the New York Giants to make the NFC playoffs. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans, the Giants’ upcoming opponent, stand among a quartet of 7-6 teams vying for the last AFC wild-card spot.

The Titans hope to enhance their chances at reaching the playoffs for the second straight season while also officially eliminating the Giants (5-8) from contention Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Giants are showing signs of life, having won four of their past five games following a dreadful 1-7 start. There is a remote possibility they can advance to the postseason if six scenarios go their way.

First, the Giants cannot lose any of their final three games, and then they need help.

The Giants need the Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1), Philadelphia Eagles (6-7), Washington Redskins (6-7) and Carolina Panthers (6-7) to lose twice and the Green Bay Packers (5-7-1) to lose once.

In the AFC, the Titans, the Baltimore Ravens, the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts are all 7-6. Baltimore owns the four-way tiebreaker entering this week.

To attain the second AFC wild card, the Titans need to win out (including the regular-season finale against the Colts), get a loss by the Dolphins and have either Baltimore or the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) lose once.

The Titans remain alive in the AFC South race, though they must win out and the Houston Texans (9-4) must lose twice. Coincidentally, the Texans are visiting the New York Jets on Saturday.

Both the Titans and the Giants are coming off blowout wins aided by dynamic production from their lead running backs.

In a 30-9 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 6, Tennessee’s Derrick Henry raced for a 99-yard touchdown to tie Tony Dorsett for the longest run from scrimmage in NFL history. Henry also set the franchise’s single-game rushing record with 238 yards on 17 carries, breaking the previous mark of 228 set by Chris Johnson in 2009.

“You’ve got to stop him like you do Adrian Peterson or any marquee, downhill, hard running back,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said.

Last week, Giants rookie Saquon Barkley highlighted a career-best 170-yard showing with a 78-yard TD run in a 40-16 win over Washington. He became the first Giants rookie to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards and set a team record for rookies with 13 total touchdowns.

“We better be ready to play defense,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “This is a much-improved (Giants) team. When they’ve lost, they’ve lost close games. When they’ve won, they looked like they won them pretty convincingly. That game (against the Redskins) was over about the middle of the second quarter.”

Barkley is third in the league with 1,124 rushing yards, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (1,262) and the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley II (1,203). The Giants are averaging 31.4 points in their past five games, and Barkley has amassed 605 rushing yards in those contests.

“We’re starting to figure out that, kind of this offense runs through him,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “When we’re running the ball well, it just sets up everything else.”

The New York offense will continue to be centered around Barkley, especially if Odell Beckham Jr. sits out again. The star wide receiver missed last week’s game with a quadriceps injury, and he was limited in practice Wednesday. Beckham’s status likely will not be known until Friday or Saturday.

The Titans will be missing two starters Sunday, right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith. Both players landed on injured reserve Tuesday due to knee injuries.

–Field Level Media

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