Packers-Chiefs Stats

Green Bay 7 14 0 0—21
Kansas City 7 10 6 10—33
First Quarter

KC_Harris 3 pass from Henne (Butker kick), 9:13.

GB_Allison 31 pass from Kizer (Crosby kick), 4:18.

Second Quarter

KC_FG Butker 35, 14:07.

GB_Tonyan 1 pass from Boyle (Crosby kick), 7:55.

GB_A.Jones 1 run (Crosby kick), 3:52.

KC_Dar.Williams 7 pass from McGloin (Butker kick), 1:56.

Third Quarter

KC_FG Butker 38, 11:22.

KC_FG Butker 36, 6:25.

Fourth Quarter

KC_FG Butker 28, 14:10.

KC_Dorleant 30 interception return (Butker kick), 13:08.

A_63,588.

___

GB KC
First downs 16 22
Total Net Yards 253 397
Rushes-yards 20-73 22-71
Passing 180 326
Punt Returns 1-(minu 4-18
Kickoff Returns 7-160 3-90
Interceptions Ret. 1-0 3-35
Comp-Att-Int 20-38-3 27-44-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-4 0-0
Punts 4-52.0 3-45.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-37 5-71
Time of Possession 26:44 33:16

___

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_Green Bay, A.Jones 9-34, Bouagnon 5-19, Kizer 1-10, L.Daniels 4-7, B.Hill 1-3. Kansas City, Dar.Williams 11-41, Dam.Williams 3-16, Lawry 3-13, Braverman 1-2, K.Williams 3-0, Litton 1-(minus 1).

PASSING_Green Bay, Kizer 5-7-1-57, Boyle 15-31-2-127. Kansas City, Henne 4-5-0-33, McGloin 10-18-1-127, Litton 13-21-0-166.

RECEIVING_Green Bay, Tonyan 4-31, Valdes-Scantling 3-41, A.Jones 3-21, Moore 2-13, Allison 1-31, B.Hill 1-12, St. Brown 1-10, Byrd 1-7, Kendricks 1-7, Bouagnon 1-6, Jennings 1-4, Yancey 1-1. Kansas City, Pringle 4-122, Amaro 4-48, Ellis 4-40, Dar.Williams 3-19, Smallwood 2-44, Chesson 2-14, Harris 2-10, D.Thomas 2-7, Dam.Williams 1-8, Robinson 1-5, Mack 1-5, Dieter 1-4.

MISSED FIELD GOALS_None.

Depleted Colts, Chargers ready for opener

Depleted Colts, Chargers ready for opener

For the Indianapolis Colts and Los

Depleted Colts, Chargers ready for opener

For the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday’s Week 1 matchup in Carson, Calif., is more notable for who’s not there than who is.

Andrew Luck’s stunning retirement on Aug. 24 left a 6-foot-4, 240-pound hole under center for Indianapolis.

Melvin Gordon’s continued holdout has left Los Angeles looking to replace a highly-skilled but injury-prone running back that provides critical balance to a pass-first attack.

The late Dean Smith, the legendary North Carolina basketball coach, once said you can always play one great game without a key player. But can either team unearth the secret to making up for the potentially permanent absence of a star?

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn entertained talk about Gordon only to a point at his Wednesday availability.

“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to talk about the Melvin Gordon situation, but I love Melvin Gordon,” Lynn told reporters. “We’re definitely a better team with Melvin, but he’s not here right now. I have to get these guys ready to play this team, because this is a very talented team coming in here Sunday.”

Not as talented now as the Colts were last month, before Luck grew tired of the cycle of injuries and rehabilitation. A shoulder injury knocked him out for all of the 2017 season, and ankle and calf injuries kept him on the sideline throughout this preseason before he retired.

Luck’s last year was his best. He won Comeback Player of the Year after completing 67.3 percent of his passes for 4,593 yards with 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, helping the Colts earn a wild-card spot and reach the AFC divisional round.

Indianapolis will turn to Jacoby Brissett, who started 15 games for it two years ago when Luck was shelved. Brissett, who inked a two-year, $30 million extension on Monday, is backed up by Brian Hoyer. He was signed on Monday after being released by New England and is throwing himself into learning the playbook quickly.

“I was telling Jacoby it’s like, imagine studying Spanish for four years in college and then the last week before finals they’re like, ‘All right, here’s French. Good luck. Here’s the final exams on Sunday,'” Hoyer said. “So I’m just trying to figure it out.”

That’s not a problem for Los Angeles. Philip Rivers, 37, is aging very well, proven by a 2018 in which he threw for 4,308 yards and 32 touchdowns in a 12-4 season that saw the Chargers win an AFC wild-card game in Baltimore before bowing out at New England.

Rivers’ receiving corps — Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and tight end Hunter Henry, a red-zone menace when he can stay healthy — can scare any defense. But the absence of Gordon means the combination of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will have to provide a semblance of a running attack that can keep Rivers from having to throw 35 or 40 times to win a game.

A bigger worry for Lynn is the absence of left tackle Russell Okung, who will miss the first six games with a pulmonary embolism that was discovered in June.

“They go into this game without Andrew Luck, but I go into this game without one of the best left tackles in the game,” Lynn said.

The Chargers are also without safety Derwin James, who earned first-team All-Pro honors as a rookie, for the first few months of the season due to a foot fracture.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Elliott lands 6-year, $90M deal

NFL notebook: Elliott lands 6-year, $90M deal

NFL notebook: Elliott lands 6-year, $90M deal

Running back Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a six-year, $90 million contract on Wednesday, ending his five-week holdout and making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

Elliott is in line to receive $50 million in guarantees, trumping the $45 million Todd Gurley received from the Los Angeles Rams, according to ESPN. Gurley’s deal averages $14.4 million annually, compared to $15 million for Elliott.

“Zeke has been arguably our best player,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who added, “Zeke has a big heart. Now he’s got a thick pocketbook, too.”

Elliott was expected at practice on Wednesday, but coach Jason Garrett might not know until late in the week what role the running back will play Sunday in the season opener against the New York Giants.

–Wide receiver Antonio Brown voiced his displeasure on social media over fines levied by the Oakland Raiders on the same day he announced a new helmet deal.

Brown expressed his annoyance over being fined $53,950 by the Raiders for skipping a mandatory walkthrough on Aug. 22 as well as a training camp session four days earlier. But at least the ongoing saga of his helmet has been solved after his former helmet had been ruled out of code by the NFL this season.

No longer allowed to wear a Schutt Air Advantage helmet, Brown now will don Xenith Shadow headgear this year.

–Le’Veon Bell doesn’t want to be a spectator in his first NFL game in nearly 20 months. He wants to see the ball a lot.

Bell makes his debut for the New York Jets on Sunday when they face the Buffalo Bills, and he declared himself ready to go after sitting out last season due to a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I can carry 50 (times) if you ask me,” said Bell, who signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the Jets in the offseason. He refused to sign the franchise tender of $14.5 million with Pittsburgh last season and ended up sitting out the entire year.

–The Tennessee Titans placed Ryan Succop on injured reserve and signed kicker Cairo Santos.

Succop began training camp on the physically unable to perform list after having offseason knee surgery, but returned for Tennessee’s final two preseason games. The 32-year-old will be ineligible to play until Week 9.

Santos spent the offseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was cut in favor of rookie Matt Gay.

–Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was left off the team’s first official injury report entirely, less than two weeks after an injury scare in the team’s third preseason game.

Though Newton exited the Aug. 22 game against the New England Patriots in a walking boot, coach Ron Rivera said last week there was “no doubt” the quarterback would be ready for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. On Wednesday, Rivera added that Newton won’t be limited on Sunday.

–The Denver Broncos officially renamed their stadium Empower Field at Mile High, ending a period of more than a year without a naming-rights sponsor.

The team announced the deal, which is subject to approval by the Metropolitan Football Stadium District and covers 21 years through 2039. The venue had previously been called Broncos Stadium at Mile High since June of 2018, following the bankruptcy of former naming-rights sponsor Sports Authority.

–Field Level Media

Read More 491 Words

Browns welcome pressure ahead of opener vs. Titans

Browns welcome pressure ahead of opener vs. Titans

It's

Browns welcome pressure ahead of opener vs. Titans

It’s not a stretch to say this is the most eagerly anticipated season in this iteration of the Cleveland Browns.

Fresh off a 7-8-1 season in which it appears it found a quarterback for the long haul in Baker Mayfield, Cleveland made a big offseason splash with the acquisition of New York Giants star receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.

Add Beckham to the talent already on hand — defensive end Myles Garrett, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and left guard Joel Bitonio — and you have a team some think could win the AFC North.

So this version of the Browns, who returned as an expansion team in 1999 and have played in just one playoff game since, proclaim they are more than ready to start the season Sunday against the visiting Tennessee Titans.

“I’d play them in the parking lot,” Mayfield told reporters recently. “I don’t really care.”

Nor should he, not after a rookie season in which he took over as the starter in Week 4 and completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,725 yards with a 27-14 touchdown-interception ratio. Giving Mayfield a top-tier pass-catcher like Beckham to go along with a great possession receiver like Landry should only enhance his development.

The concerns with Cleveland are more external than with the roster. Can new coach Freddie Kitchens display the brainpower to out-scheme opponents and the touch to motivate 53 players instead of just a few? How does this franchise handle high expectations outside its locker room? And can it display the discipline that has escaped it in recent years?

For his part, Kitchens is pointing at process as a guide to success.

“Everybody is focused on today and doing their best job for the Browns and these fans today,” he said. “I am excited to try and teach these guys. Our coaches are excited to teach these guys and go watch them implement it.”

There might not be as much buzz around Tennessee, but it believes that it can win the weakened AFC South. A division which shed itself of perhaps its top quarterback by retirement (Andrew Luck) and one of its biggest impact defenders by trade (Jadeveon Clowney) in the last two weeks of preseason is definitely up for grabs.

The Titans are coming off their third straight 9-7 season, missing the playoffs after reaching the divisional round in 2017. They lost to Luck and Indianapolis in the final game of Week 17 last year with Marcus Mariota on the shelf due to injury.

Mariota is back for a fifth year with Tennessee, working under yet another offensive coordinator after Matt LaFleur’s departure to become the head coach in Green Bay. Tight ends coach Arthur Smith was promoted to fill the spot, though he is expected to keep most of the same scheme.

A slow start for Mariota could mean the end of his time with the Titans, with former Miami starter Ryan Tannehill now in reserve.

“I have been dinged, I have been banged up and I understand that,” said Mariota, who has missed games in each of his four seasons, though only eight total. “I just have to do my job to be available for this team, and hopefully throughout the year, that will happen.”

Tennessee will play without left tackle Taylor Lewan, serving the first of a four-game PED suspension. Dennis Kelly replaces him and will likely have to deal with Garrett.

–Field Level Media

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Bucs, 49ers open looking to end long playoff droughts

Bucs, 49ers open looking to end long playoff droughts

Bucs, 49ers open looking to end long playoff droughts

Two teams looking for improved seasons get what would be considered a favorable Week 1 matchup when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their NFL opener on Sunday afternoon.

The game will be a rematch of a 27-9 Tampa Bay home win in Week 12 last November, with the Buccaneers having since switched coaches and the 49ers quarterbacks.

Bruce Arians and Devin White will be making their Buccaneers debuts, with the former Arizona Cardinals coach already having named the No. 5 overall pick of the 2019 draft as one of his starting inside linebackers.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo returns from a knee injury to regain his starting status as the San Francisco quarterback, replacing Nick Mullens, who was sacked four times and threw two interceptions in the 49ers’ trip to Florida last year.

The opener isn’t expected to be impacted by Hurricane Dorian, which brought rain to much of Florida’s east coast Tuesday and Wednesday. But hot and humid weather is expected to greet the 49ers, whose late-fall visit last Thanksgiving weekend featured Chamber of Commerce conditions.

“It can wear you out,” Arians warned Wednesday on a conference call with Northern California media. “We get worn out every day in practice. We had a lot of lightning during training camp, so we went inside and opened all the doors to keep the humidity in there. It wasn’t much fun.”

The 49ers might not be accustomed to summertime Florida weather, but they are quite familiar with Arians, who coached in the NFC West from 2013-2017. And vice versa, with Arians holding the advantage, winning seven of the 10 head-to-heads, including the last six.

Coming off a 5-11 season and seeking to end an 11-year playoff drought, Arians returns the Buccaneers’ same dynamic throw-and-catch combination in Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. They combined for six connections for 116 yards in last year’s game.

Winston threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the win. It was one of just three games with at least 300 yards and two TD’s last season, and the only one in a win.

This time around, Winston figures to have to deal with an improved 49ers defensive front that now features Nick Bosa, the No. 2 overall pick in April, and Dee Ford, an import from Kansas City who had 13 sacks and forced seven fumbles last season, as book-ends.

Both basically were given the preseason off to deal with health issues, Bosa a high ankle sprain that he sustained early in training camp, and Ford a tendinitis issue in his knee that has bothered him in the past.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been as motivated in my life to get back,” Bosa told reporters this week. “I’ve had my sights set on playing my first NFL season. Every waking hour was spent getting my ankle right.”

Garoppolo is set once again to direct the San Francisco offense after having blown out his knee in the third game of the 2018 season at Kansas City. The 49ers had split their first two games, dropping their opener at Minnesota before beating Detroit at home.

The 49ers haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 during the Jim Harbaugh era. Jon Gruden was the coach the last time the Buccaneers reached the postseason in 2007.

–Field Level Media

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Healthy Newton, Panthers host NFC champion Rams

Healthy Newton, Panthers host NFC champion Rams

Questions had

Healthy Newton, Panthers host NFC champion Rams

Questions had arisen regarding Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s health going into the season opener.

The opponent is the Los Angeles Rams, who seem to have put to rest any quarterback quizzes for a while with Jared Goff signing an extension on Tuesday.

The two teams meet Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

The Rams are the reigning NFC champions, coming off a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. They’ve moved on from that.

“We’re focused on this year,” coach Sean McVay said. “I think our guys have done a great job of having that singular focus on just producing in the present.”

Newton sustained a sprained foot during a brief stint in Carolina’s third preseason game Aug. 22, but he wasn’t on the team’s first injury report on Wednesday. Coach Ron Rivera rebuffed speculation about Newton’s status Wednesday.

“He’s in great shape and mentally where he needs to be,” Rivera said. “He’s throwing the ball the way he needs to.”

On the flip side, McVay kept his starters entirely out of game action in the preseason.

Los Angeles seems more stable at quarterback at least in terms of off-field news this week. Goff agreed to a four-year extension worth a reported $134 million that takes him through 2024.

Goff, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has thrown 60 touchdown passes in 31 games as a starter over the last two seasons, including 32 TDs last year.

“He’s a special player,” McVay said. “I think his production speaks for itself. … Naturally, the quarterback is thrust into that leadership role.”

Goff will have some newcomers around him on offense. Center Brian Allen and left guard Joe Noteboom are slated to make their first NFL starts, replacing John Sullivan (retired) and Rodger Saffold (left in free agency), respectively.

But running back Todd Gurley is back, and he’ll be playing in his home state. He said the lack of action in preseason games isn’t a concern.

“It’s all good,” said Gurley, who’s entering his fifth season coming off consecutive first-team All-Pro campaigns.

“Todd is ready to play real football, and I think he’s ready to go,” McVay said. “It’s not exclusive to Todd.”

The Rams have won consecutive NFC West crowns.

With Newton’s status somewhat in question the past couple of weeks, much of the attention fell on reserve quarterbacks. Kyle Allen and rookie Will Grier have been dubbed Newton’s backups.

“We saw some really good things last year that gives us a lot of confidence in Kyle,” Rivera said. “It’s one of those things where you have to have confidence when you are on the field, the player has to have confidence.”

The Panthers will introduce new kicker Joey Slye, who excelled in the preseason and landed the job when Graham Gano went on injured reserve.

“Just being here and getting the opportunity has been awesome, and I really appreciate the guys for trusting me, the coaches for trusting me,” Slye said.

Carolina is trying to recover from a 7-9 season that came after beginning 2018 with a 6-2 record.

The Panthers have faced the defending NFC champion every year since 2008, excluding 2016, when they held the title themselves. They’ve won three of the past four meetings and four of the last six in such matchups.

This is the third time in Rivera’s nine seasons that Carolina opens with a home game.

This will be the Rams’ first visit to Charlotte since the franchise relocated from St. Louis to Los Angeles. The Panthers have won five of the last six meetings.

–Field Level Media

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Murray-Kingsbury era begins as Cardinals host Lions

Murray-Kingsbury era begins as Cardinals host Lions

The Arizona Cardinals' grand

Murray-Kingsbury era begins as Cardinals host Lions

The Arizona Cardinals’ grand Air Raid experiment begins Sunday, when rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Heisman Trophy winning-quarterback Kyler Murray debut for a team looking to redefine an offense that was last in the NFL last season in yards and points.

The visiting Detroit Lions moved to help their production with a less splashy hire, bringing in veteran offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

With Kingsbury and Murray comes a four-wideout, limited-huddle, shotgun-oriented attack that is designed to create space for athletic playmakers, including the dual-threat Murray, by stretching the field horizontally and vertically.

“If I wrote ‘wow’ one hundred times, that was probably not enough,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said on the college tape he saw of Murray before making him the first pick in the 2019 draft.

“In today’s day and age, you have to be able to extend with your feet and make plays out of the pocket. Now we have a guy who can be a weapon with his feet and his arm.”

Running back David Johnson, Hall of Famer-in-waiting wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and second-year wideout Christian Kirk are expected to help Murray energize an offense that was last in the league in yards gained (241.6 per game) and points (14.1) under first-year coach Steve Wilks, who was fired the day after a 4-12 regular season ended.

Although Kingsbury’s particular version of the open-field attack is new to the NFL, Johnson believes big things are coming. He had 2,118 yards from scrimmage in 2016, before a wrist injury and a stagnant offense limited his effectiveness the last two years.

“I definitely hope that a thousand/thousand is reachable,” Johnson said of gaining 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving, “and that’s always going to be my goal, with the team coming first.”

That is a high bar. San Francisco’s Roger Craig in 1985 and St. Louis’ Marshall Faulk in 1999 are the only two running backs in league history with a double grand.

Lions coach Matt Patricia added former Minnesota and Seattle offensive coordinator Bevell to replace Jim Bob Cooter after the Lions went 6-10 and were 24th in total offense (327.3) and 25th in points (20.3) last season.

Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford will begin his 11th NFL season after career-lows in yards (3,777) and touchdowns (21) as a full-time starter. Halfback Kerryon Johnson and wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are his primary threats, and the Lions also plan to use the tight end more after making T.J. Hockenson the eighth pick in the first round of the 2019 draft.

“Every year I’m trying to be a better player than I was the year before, and this year is no different,” Stafford told the team’s website. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to go play better and help this team win.”

Rush ends Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs will bookend a Cardinals’ defense that was vulnerable to the run last season. Jones had 13 sacks a year ago, and free agent Suggs had seven sacks in his 16th season in Baltimore.

Defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison, who helped revive the Lions’ defense after being acquired from the Giants last season, will be with the team through 2021 after signing an extension in the offseason.

Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford (fractured tibia) is out fir Arizona, and Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson will begin his six-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, leaving the secondary thin and inexperienced.

Detroit middle linebacker Jarrad Davis (knee) and defensive end Trey Flowers (shoulder) were limited in practice Wednesday. Their status for the game is uncertain, but center Frank Ragnow (ankle) is expected to play.

–Field Level Media

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Jackson, Ravens visit reworked Dolphins for opener

Jackson, Ravens visit reworked Dolphins for opener

The Baltimore Ravens

Jackson, Ravens visit reworked Dolphins for opener

The Baltimore Ravens have the guy they feel is their quarterback of the present and the future: Lamar Jackson.

The Miami Dolphins, by all accounts, have no idea what their future is at football’s most important position.

Those two statements serve as the key backdrop for Sunday’s NFL regular-season opener that matches the Ravens against the host Dolphins.

Jackson, drafted 32nd overall last year, was 6-1 as a starter as a rookie, using his electric speed and moves to rush for 695 yards, five touchdowns and a 4.7 average.

This year, he could potentially pass Michael Vick for the greatest rushing season by a quarterback in NFL history. Vick set the single-season QB-rushing record in 2006 with 1,039 yards.

Jackson’s passing ability, however, is still in question. The former Louisville star completed just 58.2 percent of his passes last year, which would have ranked 31st out of 34 NFL quarterbacks if he had enough passing attempts to qualify.

Still, he has shown significant improvements in his mechanics in the offseason, and he appears to be confident on the eve of the new season.

“We’re going to play ball,” said Jackson, who has estimated he’ll average 30 pass attempts per game after averaging 22.6 in seven starts last year. “I love it.”

The Dolphins, meanwhile, will start 36-year-old veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will be making his Miami debut. This is the eighth NFL team for “Fitzmagic,” who has had his share of highs and lows.

Fitzpatrick passed for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns — both career highs — with the New York Jets in 2015. But after winning five straight games, Fitzpatrick was intercepted three times in the season finale, a brutal 22-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills to miss the playoffs.

Last year, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Fitzpatrick passed for more than 400 yards in each of his first three games and then less than 200 in his next two contests.

Now, Fitzpatrick serves as a block on the progress of Josh Rosen, 22, who was a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals last year. The Dolphins traded second- and fifth-round picks for Rosen after the Cardinals drafted QB Kyler Murray with this year’s first overall pick.

Rosen will be available in relief on Sunday, if needed, but, for now at least, the starting job belongs to Fitzpatrick.

“A case could be made that the younger guy (Rosen) is not ready,” said Brian Flores, Miami’s first-year head coach.

Both teams are fairly healthy going into the opener. For the Ravens, only backup cornerback Brandon Carr (hip) is on the injury report. He was limited during practice this week.

Miami’s biggest concern may be electric wide receiver Albert Wilson, who also has a hip injury and was limited on Wednesday. Defensive end Charles Harris practiced in full despite a wrist issue.

The Ravens are a seven-point road favorite for Sunday’s game, and that makes sense. They have won seven of their past eight games against Miami, outscoring the Dolphins by a total of 78-6 in their past two meetings.

Miami returns just 22 players from last year’s 53-man roster. The Dolphins traded standout left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans last week in a package that returned two first-round picks and one second-rounder. That followed an offseason that saw the Dolphins dump QB Ryan Tannehill and choose not to re-sign standouts such as defensive end Cameron Wake and right tackle Ja’Wuan James.

The Ravens — unlike the Dolphins — were much more aggressive, as evidenced by the signing of safety Earl Thomas to replace Eric Weddle.

Baltimore still has to show it has adequately replaced star inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who signed with the New York Jets, and pass-rusher Terrell Suggs (Cardinals). But the remaining talent makes the Ravens the clear favorite on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers work out QB Lynch, need backup to Rudolph

Steelers work out QB Lynch, need backup to Rudolph

Steelers work out QB Lynch, need backup to Rudolph

Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch worked out for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.

The Steelers are in need of a No. 2 quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger headed to elbow surgery and injurd reserve. Mason Rudolph was elevated from backup to starter but Pittsburgh had only two quarterbacks on the roster, having traded Joshua Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. The Steelers drafted Rudolph, from Oklahoma State, in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

For now, Rudolph will be backed up by undrafted Devlin Hodges, who was promoted from the practice squad. Hodges, 23, played college football at Samford.

Rudolph will make his first career start Sunday at San Francisco. He completed 12 of 19 passes in Week 2, falling just short in a comeback bid against the Seattle Seahawks.

Lynch spent training camp with the Seahawks. He was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2016 out of Memphis.

–Field Level Media

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Woods concludes shaky U.S. Open with a flourish

Woods concludes shaky U.S. Open with a flourish

Woods concludes shaky U.S. Open with a flourish

Six birdies in the last 12 holes moved Tiger Woods up the leaderboard, but he was a non-factor in the 119th edition of the U.S. Open.

It was a minor consolation to Woods that he finished well at Pebble Beach, but he knows it was just a band-aid to a week’s worth of scabs and welts.

“I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that,” Woods said after a final-round 69 that allowed him to finish at 2-under 282, well behind the leaders. “Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. Turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is — normally it’s a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it.”

The final round marked the lone time Woods broke 70 in four rounds on the scenic course on the northern California coast. But it sure didn’t come easy.

Woods bogeyed four of the first six holes and appeared to be en route to a dreadful day. He bogeyed the par-5 Nos. 1 and 2 to start off the round, failing to sink a five-foot putt on the second hole.

A bogey on the par-3 fifth hole was followed by another bogey on the par-5 sixth, leaving Woods’ mood as gloomy as the cloudy sky hovering over the course.

“It was just a matter of can I somehow get it back to even par for the day and the total,” said Woods, “and that was our goal.”

The turnaround began with a birdie-2 on the 102-yard seventh hole and was followed with a birdie on the par-4 eighth.

After four straight pars, Woods finished with a flourish by nailing birdies on 13, 14, 16 and 18. Nos. 13 and 16 were par-4 holes — he began his late flurry by sinking a 40-foot putt on 13 — while Nos. 14 (582 yards) and 18 (539) were par-5s.

The ending left Woods with a positive way to conclude the tournament, even if he was never in contention.

“Just because I got off to a bad start doesn’t mean it’s over,” Woods said. “Keep grinding, keep playing. And I was able to turn my round around today as well as yesterday. So rounds that could have easily slipped away and kind of gone the other way pretty easily I was able to (get a) turnaround.”

Woods has won three U.S. Open titles, but the most recent was the memorable 91-hole playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in 2008.

He said next up on his slate is getting some rest — “I think I’m going to take a little bit of time off and enjoy some family time,” Woods said — with an eye on being physically fresh next month for The Open Championship (formerly British Open) at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

“I’m looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out,” Woods said of a course in which he has never played or seen. “I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I’ve never played, and to get a different feel how it could play for the week. And definitely have to do my homework once I get there.”

–Field Level Media

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Woodland nabs first major win at U.S. Open

Woodland nabs first major win at U.S. Open

Woodland nabs first major win at U.S. Open

Gary Woodland fended off a challenge from the reigning champion and won his first major championship, shooting 2-under 69 during Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on the shores of northern California.

Woodland, who’s from Topeka, Kan., finished 13-under 271 for the tournament for a three-shot victory. The 35-year-old, who was a college golfer at Kansas, capped the round with a long birdie putt on the last hole.

Brooks Koepka, the two-time defending champion, made it interesting, finishing with 68 after a torrid start to the round. He ended up at 10 under.

Koepka, who won last month’s PGA Championship, posted birdies on four of the first five holes. He closed with six straight pars, barely missing a birdie putt on the final hole that would have closed the gap to one stroke at the time.

England’s Justin Rose (74), Xander Schauffele (67), Chez Reavie (71) and Spain’s Jon Rahm (68) tied for third place at 7 under.

Rose shared the top spot briefly on the final day but couldn’t stay there. He was undone by bogeys on Nos. 12, 13 and 15.

Woodland’s third bogey of the tournament came on the ninth hole Sunday. He gave another stroke back on No. 12.

Even with Koepka lurking, Woodland held it together.

With a birdie on the first hole, Rose pulled even with Woodland as the leaders began the round.

Webb Simpson, with birdies on three of the last six holes, shot the best round of the day at 5 under. That put him at 3 under and tied for 16th.

“Made the eagle on (No.) 6 to start me in the right direction,” Simpson said.

Masters champion Tiger Woods shot 69 for his best round of the tournament. He ended up at 2 under and tied for 21st place.

After four bogeys on the first six holes, he had six birdies the rest of the way.

“I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that,” Woods said of the reason for the change of fortunes. “Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off.”

–Field Level Media

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Report: Panthers QB Newton (foot) misses practice

Report: Panthers QB Newton (foot) misses practice

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sat out

Report: Panthers QB Newton (foot) misses practice

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sat out practice on Tuesday after aggravating a foot injury, NFL Network reported.

Newton was rehabbing the injury as his teammates practiced. The 30-year-old quarterback sprained his left foot in a preseason game last month against the New England Patriots.

The Panthers are off to an 0-2 start and will travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals (0-1-1) on Sunday. His status is unclear.

Newton was 25-of-51 passing for 333 yards in a loss last Thursday to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble.

On the season, he has no touchdown passes and an interception.

Coach Ron Rivera was scheduled to address the media later Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

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Rams TE Higbee day-to-day after coughing up blood

Rams TE Higbee day-to-day after coughing up blood

Los Angeles

Rams TE Higbee day-to-day after coughing up blood

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee is day-to-day after sustaining a chest injury during Sunday’s game that resulted in his coughing up blood in a hospital, coach Sean McVay told reporters Monday.

After reports surfaced earlier in the day that Higbee was taken to a local hospital for precautionary reasons before coughing up blood, McVay confirmed the details and called the injury a lung contusion.

Higbee, 26, was injured in the second quarter of the Rams’ 27-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Fellow tight end Gerald Everett received playing time in the potential absence of Higbee, who had two receptions for 21 yards before exiting Sunday’s game.

Higbee, who agreed to a four-year contract extension earlier this month, has six receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown this season.

A fourth-round pick in 2016 out of Western Kentucky, Higbee has played in all 50 games and caught 66 passes for 713 yards and five touchdowns in his career.

McVay also said that starting right guard Austin Blythe (ankle) is day-to-day.

Los Angeles plays at Cleveland next Sunday night.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs have Super Bowl aspirations as they open vs. Jaguars

Chiefs have Super Bowl aspirations as they open vs. Jaguars

Expectations for a

Chiefs have Super Bowl aspirations as they open vs. Jaguars

Expectations for a dazzling encore to last season do not seem to faze the Kansas City Chiefs.

Nor does the overtime loss in the AFC Championship Game, where the New England Patriots won the coin toss, scored a touchdown and kept the NFL’s MVP, Patrick Mahomes, from touching the football in the extra frame.

“There’s no hangover from that. Every year is a different year in this league,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

If different is eventually defined as more explosive for Kansas City, it should again contend for a berth in the Super Bowl, a game the Chiefs last played in 50 seasons ago when they downed the Minnesota Vikings.

That quest begins Sunday when Kansas City visits Jacksonville. The Jaguars could present a stiff defensive challenge after adding rookie Josh Allen as an edge rusher to add to a talented defensive front.

Nonetheless, Mahomes, who begins his second year as a starter, is surrounded by his favorite targets in tight end Travis Kelce (103 receptions for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns) and wide receiver Tyreek Hill (87 for 1,479 and 12 scores).

The Chiefs, who reported no new injuries going into the opener, boosted their offensive talent with the acquisition of LeSean McCoy after the veteran running back was recently released by the Buffalo Bills.

McCoy could play sparingly against the Jaguars, however, so he is not put in a “bad spot,” Reid said. That leaves Damien Williams to get the bulk of the carries after the journeyman excelled late last season as both a rusher and receiver.

“At every single position, I feel like we’re three to four deep,” said Mahomes.

Except quarterback, of course, where Matt Moore was signed as a backup after it was determined Chad Henne needed ankle surgery.

During Mahomes’ record-setting debut as a starter, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2017 draft joined Peyton Manning (2013) as the only players in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season.

“Some of the things that went on were historical things,” said Reid, “but some great defensive coordinators in this league have had an opportunity to study him this offseason. That’s where the challenge comes in.”

Some adjustments surfaced when the Chiefs split their last six games last season but still earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

In addition to preparing for the NFL’s most productive offense of a year ago, the Jaguars are confronted with other issues. Hurricane Dorian curtailed their practice schedule and obviously disrupted the lives of everyone in the Jacksonville area. Temperatures in the 90s are expected during the game on Sunday.

“There’s been a lot of discussions about a lot of different things,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “The priority was to make sure everyone is safe and has a plan, and once we know that everyone is safe and has a plan with what they’re doing, then I think we just take things as they come.”

Nick Foles left Philadelphia and takes over as the Jacksonville quarterback. He is dealing with oblique soreness but is expected to play.

An unproven receiving corps could prompt the Jaguars to rely on running back Leonard Fournette, especially to limit opportunities for Kansas City’s potent attack. A year ago, Jacksonville lost 10 of its last 12, finishing 5-11 after reaching the AFC Championship Game during its 2017 run.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals geared up for Seahawks fans to bring the noise

Bengals geared up for Seahawks fans to bring the noise

If

Bengals geared up for Seahawks fans to bring the noise

If the Cincinnati Bengals could get a do-over on their schedule and pick another place to open their season, they’d likely take it.

With a new coach and offensive system, star receiver A.J. Green out with an ankle injury and an unsettled offensive line, heading into Seattle’s CenturyLink Field — one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL — isn’t the ideal way to start.

Plus, Bengals left tackle Cordy Glenn has been placed in the concussion protocol, putting his status for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks in doubt.

Not exactly the debut first-year head coach Zac Taylor, who is familiar with the setting in Seattle after having been an assistant the past two seasons with the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams, was looking for.

“I’ve seen the worst of it,” Taylor said. “Seattle is one of the top places on the road that I’ve ever been part of. We really worked on it springtime on our non-verbal communication. That’s one of the things that we stress in everyday life — communication, verbal and non-verbal. It’s a great test. We feel like we have an answer.”

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton echoed Taylor’s comments.

“When you play in the noise, you’ve got to have great communication,” Dalton said. “You’ve got to make sure everybody’s on the same page. Everybody’s dialed in. Everybody’s listening.

“We’ll be prepared for it. We know it’s going to be loud — first game of the year. Seattle’s a loud place anyway. We can’t have the mistakes. We can’t be jumping offsides. We can’t do the stuff that will set you back. We’ve got to prepare for it and mentally be ready for it.”

The Bengals have pumped in loud music during practice to prepare for the Seahawks.

“It’s better than not having it,” Dalton said. “But it’s not the same as Sunday.”

Throw in the Seahawks’ acquisition of three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and things could really get tough for the Bengals, who lost nine of their last 11 games last season to finish 6-10.

The Seahawks finished 10-6 and made the playoffs last season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

They acquired Clowney last weekend in a trade with Houston for two linebackers and a third-round draft pick next year.

“I’m glad it’s over, the whole process of being traded and everything,” Clowney said. “I’m glad I can be a part of this team here now and get going on a new journey.”

Clowney went through his first practice in Seattle on Monday.

“His excitement about coming here and being part of this team and ready to take advantage of this opportunity to show where he belongs. He’s not going to let this go by now,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He wants to show us that we’ve got to have him here. That’s thrilling for us to hear. We’ll see what goes down in the long haul.”

Clowney will play on one end of the Seahawks’ defensive line, with Ziggy Ansah on the other. Ansah, another former Pro Bowl player, signed as a free agent with Seattle in the offseason.

“Those guys are like bookends. They’re exactly what you’re looking for on the edge,” Carroll said. “I’m hoping we’ll be able to see these guys come together and be a factor and play off one another and complement each other.”

–Field Level Media

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Falcons, Vikings open season seeking redemption

Falcons, Vikings open season seeking redemption

Falcons, Vikings open season seeking redemption

After missing the playoffs last season, both the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons are eager for the chance to bounce back in 2019.

The quest to return to prominence in the NFC begins on Sunday, when the Vikings host the Falcons in Minneapolis.

Two seasons ago, Minnesota went 13-3 and memorably reached the NFC Championship Game. In 2016, Atlanta nearly won the Super Bowl before another postseason appearance in 2017. However, each took a step back in 2018, with the Vikings going 8-7-1 and the Falcons a dismal 7-9.

Meaning, both teams should be amped to better those respective performances from last season.

“It will be a good test,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said at his Wednesday press conference. “I think Atlanta is a good football team and well coached. Hopefully, we are too. I think it’s going to be a really good football game.”

A successful season for Minnesota could depend on how Year 2 in town for Kirk Cousins and the offense goes. Now, with full-time coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s zone-scheme system, with help from adviser Gary Kubiak, in place.

Cousins became the first quarterback in league history last season to throw for at least 4,000 yards (4,298) and complete 70 percent of his passes (70.1) with at least 30 touchdowns and 10 or fewer interceptions (he hit the last two figures exactly). However, Minnesota’s offense was inconsistent and held to 10 points or fewer four times.

Cousins still has arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, who combined for 215 receptions, 2,394 yards and 18 touchdowns. Diggs, however, did not practice Wednesday due to a hamstring issue and will be monitored.

The overall key for Minnesota, though, could be running back Dalvin Cook, healthy again after playing just 15 games in his first two seasons — rushing for 969 yards.

Defensively, the Vikings feature essentially the same faces from a unit that ranked fourth in the NFL allowing 309.7 yards per game.

“Every year is a new year,” Zimmer said. “I think you go in with everything the same. Hopefully, we approach things with a chip on our shoulder and out to prove something.”

Atlanta also has plenty of star power, beginning with quarterback Matt Ryan, who has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in eight straight seasons and had 35 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 2018. As Julio Jones (113 catches, 1,677 yards, eight TDs in 2018) nears a new contract, he’s still Ryan’s top option, with Calvin Ridley looking to build on a rookie season that featured a team-leading 10 TD catches.

With Tevin Coleman now in San Francisco, the Falcons’ backfield belongs to Devonta Freeman. He needs to stay healthy, however, after playing just two games in 2018 because of knee, foot and groin injuries, the last of which ended his season.

Injuries also hindered an Atlanta defense that ranked 25th in average points allowed (26.4) and 28th in yards allowed (384.5) last season. However, coach Dan Quinn is now coordinating that group and has key contributors in linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal healthy after they combined to play seven games last season because of injuries.

“Preseason-wise, we focused on getting better and closer, and I certainly think we made a lot of strides on that,” Quinn said this week. “But, you don’t rush that process. You keep battling through it, and keep getting better.”

Minnesota has won three in a row against the Falcons, most recently, 14-9 at Atlanta in 2017.

–Field Level Media

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With Elliott in fold, Cowboys ready to host Giants

With Elliott in fold, Cowboys ready to host Giants

With Elliott in fold, Cowboys ready to host Giants

The Dallas Cowboys finally have Ezekiel Elliott in the fold and now they will hope a 41-day holdout will not lead to some rust for the running back when they host the New York Giants in their season opener on Sunday.

“He’s in very good shape, he looks good, but he hasn’t been practicing with pro football players,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ll just see how he fits back in, but he’s a quick study, he’s a smart guy and he’s got an excellent football IQ. We’ll just see where he is and adjust accordingly as we go.”

Shortly before Dallas began its first complete workout on Wednesday ahead of the season opener, Elliott agreed to a six-year, $90 million contract extension.

When he lines up in the backfield to start his fourth season, Elliott will be the league’s highest-paid running back with $50 million guaranteed, and the $15 million per year breaks the standard set by the $14.4 million per season Todd Gurley got from the Rams last year.

Elliott was seeking a long-term deal as he entered the last season of his rookie contract. Quarterback Dak Prescott is in the same situation, but didn’t hold out. The duo helped the Cowboys win the NFC East in two of the last three seasons, but Dallas has yet to get past the divisional round, extending a drought that goes back to the 1995 season.

“I feel good,” Elliott said. “I’m excited to be back. I’m excited to be back on the field. I’m excited to go win some ballgames.”

New York is entering its second season under coach Pat Shurmur. The Giants also are starting their first without wideout Odell Beckham Jr and possibly the last with quarterback Eli Manning as a starter.

Shurmur won five games last season after the Giants were 3-13 in 2017 and then the team traded Beckham to Cleveland. They used the No. 6 pick to select Daniel Jones out of Duke to eventually be Manning’s successor.

The Giants also say they believe they bolstered their offensive line by acquiring Kevin Zeitler from Cleveland to give running back Saquon Barkley even more support after he rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season.

“It’s the first game of the year, and we have to put our best foot forward,” Shurmur said. “We have to do everything in our power to beat Dallas. That’s the importance of it. I tell the players all the time, it’s the players, not the plays. So, we have to get the players ready to play and go do it.

The quarterback transition could wind up being similar to when Kurt Warner began the 2004 season and Manning took over in the final weeks, but the Giants are not ready to proclaim when and if Jones will start a game this season.

Instead, they are focused on getting off to better starts. Since last winning the Super Bowl in the 2011 season, the Giants have won one season opener and are a combined 2-14 in the first half of the season in the last two campaigns.

“You always want to get off to a good start, that’s always the goal,” Manning said. “Right now, we just have to focus on our game plan, on the Cowboys, what they are doing, and we need to go out there and play well.”

Dallas has won the last four meetings with the Giants and nine of the last 12.

–Field Level Media

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Wentz returns as Eagles open against Redskins

Wentz returns as Eagles open against Redskins

The Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz returns as Eagles open against Redskins

The Philadelphia Eagles will welcome quarterback Carson Wentz back into the starting lineup when they host the Washington Redskins in the season opener for both teams on Sunday.

Wentz was shut down with a stress fracture in his back for the final three regular-season games and two playoff games last year.

The 26-year-old Wentz sat out the entire preseason but has repeatedly stated that he’s completely healthy heading into the 2019 season.

“I think we’re all excited,” said Wentz, who recently signed a long-term contract extension. “You know, I think it’s been a long offseason as it always is. And you know, not fully having all the ones out there in the preseason, I think we’re all just really chomping at the bit to get out there Week 1 at the Linc (Lincoln Financial Field).

“And I think everyone’s really excited because we know we have a lot of talent.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson doesn’t seem concerned that Wentz hasn’t played at all in the preseason.

“I don’t believe in that,” Pederson said of easing Wentz into the game. “I don’t ease anybody in. I think you have to go in fully prepared. That’s why you go through training camp, especially at that position.”

Wentz will have plenty of offensive weapons, led by Zach Ertz, who set an NFL record with 116 receptions by a tight end last season. The Eagles also brought back speedy wideout DeSean Jackson and traded for running back Jordan Howard.

Jackson (finger), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (foot) and cornerback Ronald Darby (knee) are all expected to play against the Redskins, though Pederson wouldn’t officially confirm it.

The coach, however, is ultra-excited about beginning his fourth season.

“It never gets old,” Pederson said. “Those emotions will never go away, and the passion and the desire and we have to keep it.”

The Redskins will face a daunting challenge during the initial month of September, beginning with their annual trip to Philadelphia.

They’ll open the season without Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, who is still holding out. Donald Penn, 36, is expected to start in his place, with Ereck Flowers at left guard. That’s a difficult way to start in protecting the blind side of quarterback Case Keenum.

“I’m kind of numb to the fact, so we’re just going to coach the guys we have,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Williams’ absence. “That’s all we can do right now.”

Gruden did say that he’s confident in the players who will protect Keenum.

“I feel good about it,” Gruden said. “We’ve just got to be ready. That’s a major (Philadelphia) pass rush. They’ve given us problems the last few times we’ve played.”

Keenum is with his fifth team in eight seasons but remains steadfast that he’s ready to lead the team.

“I’m excited. I really am,” Keenum said. “I don’t take that lightly. The opportunity, the position I’m in … I’ve been there before and I know it’s a tough job and there’s only 32 of them. I’m very honored, I’m excited to continue to earn the right to be the leader for this team, to be the quarterback of this team.”

The Redskins will be anchored on defense by cornerback Josh Norman, who will be matched up against wideout Alshon Jeffery. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has recorded at least 11 sacks in each of the past three seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Beckham, Garrett lead Browns’ easy win over Jets

Beckham, Garrett lead Browns' easy win over Jets

Beckham, Garrett lead Browns’ easy win over Jets

Odell Beckham Jr. had a career-long 89-yard scoring reception and Myles Garrett recorded three sacks as the Cleveland Browns posted a 23-3 victory over the New York Jets on Monday night at East Rutherford, N.J.

Baker Mayfield completed 19 of 35 passes for 325 yards and the touchdown to Beckham, who had six catches for 161 yards. Beckham’s big showing came at MetLife Stadium, the venue he called home for five seasons with the New York Giants before being traded to the Browns during the offseason.

Nick Chubb added a rushing touchdown and Austin Seibert kicked three field goals for Cleveland (1-1), which impressively rebounded from a season-opening 43-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

New York (0-2) totaled 262 offensive yards without starting quarterback Sam Darnold (mononucleosis) and also lost fill-in Trevor Siemian to an injured left ankle with 7:47 left in the second quarter. Siemian was 3-of-6 passing for 3 yards before exiting.

Luke Falk finished the game and completed 20 of 25 passes for 198 yards. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 68 yards on 21 carries and caught 10 passes for 61 more as New York suffered its seventh straight home setback.

The Browns, who had 375 offensive yards, scored the game’s first 13 points while quickly taking control.

Seibert kicked field goals of 23 and 48 yards in the first quarter, and Chubb scored on a 19-yard run through the left side to make it 13-0 with 10:16 left in the half.

Siemian was injured about 2 1/2 minutes later when he was hit by Garrett after throwing a deep incompletion. Siemian’s toes pressed into the turf and his left leg twisted as he felt the brunt of the weight of his lower body plus Garrett’s body weight falling on him.

Falk entered and drove the Jets to Sam Ficken’s 46-yard field goal with 2:56 left in the half.

Seibert booted a 43-yard field out as time expired to give Cleveland a 16-3 halftime lead.

The big play to Beckham all but assured the Browns’ victory. Cleveland was at its own 11-yard line when Mayfield hit a wide-open Beckham with a short throw at the 22. Beckham headed upfield and outran four New York secondary players with 3:32 left in the third quarter.

Beckham also made an acrobatic one-handed, 33-yard reception in the opening quarter to set up Seibert’s first field goal.

–Field Level Media

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Woodland leads Rose by one at U.S. Open

Woodland leads Rose by one at U.S. Open

Woodland leads Rose by one at U.S. Open

It naturally should be mostly about Gary Woodland and England’s Justin Rose at this stage of the U.S. Open.

But Brooks Koepka is lurking, and that’s enough to swing a bunch of attention his way for the final round at Pebble Beach.

Woodland maintained the lead through Saturday’s third round, posting a 2-under 69 on the shores of northern California.

Woodland is at 11-under 202 for the tournament and goes into Sunday’s final round with a one-shot edge on England’s Justin Rose, who registered on 68 on Saturday. Rose closed with a birdie, cutting his deficit in half from when the round began.

Yet Koepka, the two-time defending champion, is just four shots off the lead.

“I feel good,” Koepka said. “I feel like if I can just make a few putts, I feel like I could be right there, right next to Gary.”

Woodland endured only his second bogey of the tournament on the par-4 eighth hole. From there, he had pars the rest of the way other than a birdie on No. 11, his third of the day after two on the front nine.

Woodland has been in the top 10 in two of the past three majors, so he’s gaining comfort in pressure situations.

“I can be confident with the way I’m working the golf ball right now,” Woodland said. “I’m starting to work both ways, which has been an adjustment for me. I think the golf course sets up beautifully for me.”

Rose rolled in a birdie putt from the fringe on the par-5 14th for one of his clutch conversions, bouncing back from a bogey at the 13th. He finished with five birdies against two bogeys on the day.

Woodland and Rose will be in the final pairing for the second day in a row.

“It’s going to be a fun day,” Rose, the 2013 champion, said of Sunday. “(Being) one (stroke) back gives me the freedom to feel like I’ve got everything to gain, nothing to lose.”

Koepka moved within two shots of the lead at one point. His bogey-free 68 was his best mark of the tournament so far, leaving him at 7 under going into the final round.

“Just keep doing what I’m doing,” said Koepka, who has also won back-to-back PGA Championships, with the second coming last month. “Obviously whatever I’m doing is working. … Trying to be three back going into the back nine, you never know from there, see what happens. Make a couple of birdies, put some pressure on guys.”

Chez Reavie (68) and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (70) are level with Koepka in third place.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (70) is alone in sixth at 6 under.

“I felt for the most part today I did the right things,” McIlroy said. “And I need to do 18 more holes of that, but just get a little bit more out of the round than I did today.”

Matt Kuchar (70) looked like he would be a factor after an eagle on the sixth hole and a birdie on the seventh put him 4 under for the round. But he had back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 8 and 9, and again at Nos. 16 and 17 following a birdie at the 15th. He sits at 5 under with Chesson Hadley (70), who bogeyed the final hole.

England’s Danny Willett shot 67 for his lowest round in any U.S. Open, recording the best score of the day.

“You play good golf, there’s a good score out there,” Willett said.

After a pair of 71s, Willett has moved into good shape at 4 under for the week.

“We put ourselves in that position regardless of what the leaders do,” Willett said. “We’re going to be in nice position to go out there (in the final round) and have a decent finish regardless of what the guys at the top do.”

Tiger Woods shot 71 to remain at even for the tournament. He used birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to save a round that included five bogeys.

“I had to try to fight back and claw out a round today, which I was able to do,” Woods said.

Woods, who is tied for 27th, was still bummed about missed opportunities the first two days, figuring that’s the reason he hasn’t entered the list of contenders.

“If I was able to clean up my rounds the first two days, I would be closer to the lead than I am now,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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Woods’ movement stalls with third-round 71 at U.S. Open

Woods' movement stalls with third-round 71 at U.S. Open

Woods’ movement stalls with third-round 71 at U.S. Open

Moving day at the U.S. Open didn’t equate to an improvement in Tiger Woods’ fortunes.

His movement was one stroke back, one stroke forward, as he had five birdies and five bogeys in an even-par 71 round on Saturday on a cool day at Pebble Beach.

Woods also is even par through three rounds with a 213 total. He knows that placement doesn’t typically equate to any final-day surge occurring at the prestigious tournament being held on the northern California coast.

“I’ve had my chances to post good rounds — today, this week,” Woods told reporters after Saturday’s round. “Today was a perfect example. I fought back, and if I was able to clean up my rounds the first two days, I would be closer to the lead than I am now.”

Woods felt he needed a strong start on Saturday to try to work himself in the mix. Instead, the opposite happened, as he bogeyed two of the first three holes.

“Those are supposed to be some of the easier holes, and I’m a couple over and had to fight back the entire day, and I was able to clod around a few more, which is pretty good,” Woods said.

Woods seemed to escape his fog — on a day in which low-lying clouds blocked the sun from baking the course — with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5.

But a three-putt bogey on No. 7 pushed him over for the round. Another bogey on No. 12 hurt, but Woods scored birdies on three of the last five holes (14, 16 and 18) though he had another bogey on 15.

What stuck with Woods is he felt the course conditions were more favorable than the first two rounds, yet he didn’t take advantage.

“They were able to get some mowers on the fairways, and they were a little bit quicker,” he said. “I think they did a great job of setting it up so that we can make birdies. And if you do miss them on the wrong spot, then you still can get up and down here, which is not always the case.”

The cool conditions presented another challenge for Woods, who said his body was aching throughout Saturday’s round.

“The forces have to go somewhere,” said Woods, who has undergone four back surgeries. “And if they’re not in the lower back, they’re in the neck, and if not, they’re in the mid-back and if not they go to the knee. You name it. …

“Let me put it this way, I feel every shot I hit. I think that’s always going to be the place from here going forward.”

–Field Level Media

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