Vikings-Packers Stats

Minnesota 7 0 0 22 0—29
Green Bay 7 10 3 9 0—29
First Quarter

GB_J.Jackson 0 blocked punt return (Crosby kick), 7:28.

Min_Treadwell 14 pass from Cousins (Carlson kick), 3:04.

Second Quarter

GB_D.Adams 9 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 12:28.

GB_FG Crosby 37, :00.

Third Quarter

GB_FG Crosby 40, 6:32.

Fourth Quarter

Min_Diggs 3 pass from Cousins (Carlson kick), 14:17.

GB_FG Crosby 31, 7:35.

Min_Diggs 75 pass from Cousins (Carlson kick), 7:18.

GB_FG Crosby 48, 2:13.

GB_FG Crosby 36, 1:45.

Min_Thielen 22 pass from Cousins (Diggs pass from Cousins), :31.

A_78,461.

___

Min GB
First downs 24 24
Total Net Yards 480 351
Rushes-yards 18-68 24-98
Passing 412 253
Punt Returns 1-13 2-0
Kickoff Returns 2-74 1-8
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-24
Comp-Att-Int 35-48-1 30-42-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-13 4-28
Punts 5-40.8 5-51.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 8-70 7-54
Time of Possession 31:20 38:08

___

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_Minnesota, Cook 10-38, Murray 4-19, Ham 1-5, Cousins 2-5, Diggs 1-1. Green Bay, J.Williams 16-59, Montgomery 5-31, Rodgers 2-11.

PASSING_Minnesota, Cousins 35-48-1-425. Green Bay, Rodgers 30-42-0-281.

RECEIVING_Minnesota, Thielen 12-131, Diggs 9-128, Rudolph 7-72, Cook 3-52, Treadwell 2-23, Morgan 2-19. Green Bay, D.Adams 8-64, Graham 6-95, Allison 6-64, Cobb 4-30, J.Williams 3-12, Montgomery 1-9, L.Kendricks 1-4, Valdes-Scantling 1-3.

MISSED FIELD GOALS_Minnesota, Carlson 48, Carlson 49, Carlson 35. Green Bay, Crosby 52.

Report: Bills release WR Pryor

Report: Bills release WR Pryor

The Buffalo

Report: Bills release WR Pryor

The Buffalo Bills have released wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, according to an ESPN report on Tuesday.

Pryor signed with the team on Oct. 30, 10 days after being released by the New York Jets, and made two catches for 17 yards in Week 9. He did not have a catch on three targets in Sunday’s 41-10 rout of the Jets.

Reports following Pryor’s release in New York said the Jets could have interest in bringing him back later this season.

Pryor originally joined the Jets in March on a one-year, $3 million free agent deal. He spent 2017 on a one-year, $8 million deal with the Washington Redskins.

The converted quarterback has a total of 492 receiving yards in 17 games over the last two years since breaking out with a 1,000-yard season for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.

–Field Level Media

Read More 77 Words

Report: Jets GM Maccagnan’s job is safe

Report: Jets GM Maccagnan's job is safe

Report: Jets GM Maccagnan’s job is safe

While New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles’ job is in danger, general manager Mike Maccagnan’s is not, according to an SNY report.

Per the report, which cites several sources familiar with the Jets’ thinking, Bowles is likely to be fired after the season, but Maccagnan appears to be safe. The team intends to give Maccagnan a chance to compete for a spot in the playoffs in 2019, which has been his stated goal since being hired in 2015.

ESPN reported Monday, a day after Jets were routed 41-10 at home by the Buffalo Bills, that Bowles is unlikely to be fired midseason.

Maccagnan and Bowles both were hired in 2015 and believed to be given four-year contracts. Maccagnan reportedly was given a say in choosing the team’s head coach, but the final decision went to owner Woody Johnson.

Christopher Johnson, the team’s CEO since Woody Johnson was named the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, was “thrilled” with Maccagnan’s aggressive trade-up last offseason, per the SNY report, that netted quarterback Sam Darnold with the third overall pick. He intends to give Maccagnan time to see how Darnold pans out.

Darnold missed Sunday’s game after hurting his foot in a four-interception performance in Week 9. He has completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,934 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in nine starts, with a 3-6 record.

The Jets have gone 23-35 through three-plus seasons under the Bowles-Maccagan duo, including 3-7 this year.

Of Maccagnan’s first three drafts, 10 of the 22 players chosen are no longer on the team’s roster, including second round picks from 2015 (Devin Smith) and 2016 (Christian Hackenberg). Hackenberg has yet to appear in an NFL regular-season game and recently agreed to join the new Alliance of American Football.

–Field Level Media

Read More 234 Words

Report: Chiefs-Rams game in Mexico City in jeopardy

Report: Chiefs-Rams game in Mexico City in jeopardy

Monday night's marquee matchup

Report: Chiefs-Rams game in Mexico City in jeopardy

Monday night’s marquee matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs reportedly could be relocated from Mexico City to Los Angeles or postponed due to unsafe field conditions.

The playing surface at Azteca Stadium is “a mess” and the safety of the players is a significant enough concern that the league is considering a venue change, ESPN reported Tuesday.

“We are working closely with the field manager at Azteca Stadium and others to ensure that we have an NFL-quality surface for our game, and we are looking forward to kicking off in Mexico City on Monday night,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

Two recent events apparently damaged the hybrid playing surface, a combination of grass and synthetic filler. The stadium hosted a large music concert on Nov. 7 and a soccer match on Saturday.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the league would announce a final decision, although ESPN reported that NFL officials are expected to meet at the stadium on Tuesday to review the surface.

The Chiefs and Rams share the best record in the NFL at 9-1.

–Field Level Media

Read More 130 Words

Cowboys’ Jones calls Riley interest ‘speculation’

Cowboys' Jones calls Riley interest 'speculation'

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday denied reports that he

Cowboys’ Jones calls Riley interest ‘speculation’

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday denied reports that he is interested in Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley.

“That would be total drawing it out of the air,” Jones said during his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “Totally speculation.”

Riley’s name came up Sunday when NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Cowboys “have an affinity” for Riley “if they move on from Jason Garrett.”

On Sunday night, Garrett likely boosted his job security by leading the Cowboys (4-5) to a 27-20 road win against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Garrett, 52, has been the head coach in Dallas since midway through the 2010 season, compiling a 71-58 record with two postseason appearances (2014, 2016).

Riley’s name pops up frequently in NFL coaching conversations. The 35-year-old Lubbock, Texas, native led the Sooners to a 12-2 record and a Rose Bowl appearance in his first season as head coach in 2017. This season, No. 6 Oklahoma is 9-1 heading into Saturday’s game against Kansas.

–Field Level Media

Read More 108 Words

Hue Jackson rejoins Bengals

Hue Jackson rejoins Bengals

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue

Hue Jackson rejoins Bengals

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson is back with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I have a great comfort level with Hue and his ability to assist me with the day-to-day responsibilities on defense, including analyzing our opponents and helping me on game days with the players and defensive coaches,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement.

Jackson’s new job title is Special Assistant to the Head Coach.

“I’m pleased to have this opportunity to join the Bengals this season,” Jackson said. “There is a lot of talent on this team, and I look forward to doing my part to help it finish the season strong.”

Jackson has regularly been connected to the Bengals — for whom he coached from 2004 to 2006 and 2012 to 2015 under close friend Marvin Lewis — since he was fired by the Browns on Oct. 29. Jackson was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2015 before taking the Browns job.

Lewis was asked Monday if he might add Jackson to his staff to help handle the added workload created by Monday’s firing of defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

“I’ve got a plan,” Lewis replied with a smile. “Watch and see.”

Austin was fired a day after Cincinnati allowed 51 points to the New Orleans Saints. Jackson’s expertise is on the offensive side of the ball, but his presence could allow Lewis — a defensive coordinator before becoming a head coach — to focus more on the defensive side. Lewis told reporters Monday that he could use some more oversight to make offensive decisions while he’s working with the defense.

“If I have my back turned making corrections, I can’t do that,” Lewis said. “I’m going to try to minimize that as much as possible. But I feel strongly I have to make the correction and coach the defense right now.”

The Bengals have yet to play the Browns this season. They host them in Week 12 before visiting Cleveland in Week 16. Cincinnati also plays each of its other AFC North foes, whom Jackson knows well, once more.

–Field Level Media

Read More 282 Words

NFL players are reprising some old, costly celebrations

NFL players seem to have run out of creative ways to celebrate.

Either that, or they've decided to pay homage to the players they grew up watching, even if it costs them some funds for injecting fun into the game.

Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill was the latest to go old school when he

NFL players seem to have run out of creative ways to celebrate.

Either that, or they’ve decided to pay homage to the players they grew up watching, even if it costs them some funds for injecting fun into the game.

Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill was the latest to go old school when he commemorated his second touchdown in Week 10 by commandeering the CBS camera like Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco once did.

“The celebration just came into my head,” said Hill, whose actions netted an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a coach Andy Reid’s ire.

“That was too much,” Reid said.

The NFL, which has relaxed celebration rules, might agree.

Hill’s stunt came days after Saints receiver Michael Thomas was fined $30,000 for using a phone as a prop, a la Joe Horn, and Titans safety Kevin Byard was dinged $10,026 for celebrating an end zone interception on the Cowboys’ midfield star logo, just like Terrell Owens did in 2000.

Saints tight end Ben Watson added a little twist to his celebration when he stuffed the football under his jersey to signal his wife’s pregnancy just like … Ben Watson did, back in 2009.

When Watson, 37, scored against the Rams last Sunday, he let the world know he and his wife, Kristen, are expecting twins by stuffing the ball under the front of his jersey and holding up five fingers on one hand as he often does to honor his five children.

Then he held up two more fingers on his other hand in honor of the twins on the way.

Nine years ago, Watson similarly stuffed the ball under his jersey after scoring as Kristen was close to full term with their first child, Grace. He was fined shortly thereafter for using the ball as a prop.

“So the cool thing is I will be able to say (to his twins) that, ‘When I did it for Grace, I had to pay. When I did it for you all, the league had changed,'” Watson said. “What a difference nine years make.”

Not for everyone.

Hill was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in Kansas City for taking over the TV camera, just as Thomas was for pulling a flip phone out from under the goal post padding after his fourth-quarter score against L.A.

“Where did he get a flip phone?” Watson said. “I said (to Thomas), ‘Do you even know who Joe Horn is? You must have been in elementary school back then.’ But that was pretty good. I’ve got to give him props on that one.”

No pun intended, of course.

Byard said Friday his $10,026 fine was worth it because his interception denied the Cowboys a touchdown and sparked a 28-7 run in Tennessee’s 28-14 win in Dallas on Monday night.

Byard said he expected the Cowboys to take offense when he sprinted to the 50-yard line to pose on the star, then began a sort of Irish jig when teammates joined him at midfield.

“I was actually expecting someone to knock my head off,” Byard said. “I was like, if we get enough guys to the 50, we are just going to start dancing on the star.”

Cowboys running back Byron Jones quickly shoved Byard away, playing the part of George Teague, who blasted Owens when he did the same thing while with the 49ers 18 years ago.

“You don’t do that,” Jones said.

Byard met with his coach, Mike Vrabel, who had a big problem with his DB’s actions.

Vrabel said he wants players to celebrate with each other and not stand up an opponent.

“It’s not what we want to do,” Vrabel said.

Byard said his over-the-top celebrations are history.

Other takeaways from Week 10 included a stumbling, bumbling Tom Brady, a shoutout from the Rams to Halle Berry and Sean McVay’s decision to train at altitude in preparation for Monday night’s showdown between the Rams and Chiefs, who are both 9-1.

ALTITUDE ACCLIMATION: Last year, Bill Belichick decided to stay in Colorado after a win at Denver to acclimate to the altitude of Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium (elevation 7,200 feet) by practicing at the Air Force Academy (6,621 feet).

It paid off in a 31-8 drubbing of the Oakland Raiders, who stayed home and prepped at sea level.

McVay said the trade-off is scrubbing the team’s routine, but the wildfires and mass shooting in Thousand Oaks has made training in Southern California anything but normal anyway.

The Rams will train in the Rocky Mountains on Thursday through Saturday before flying to Mexico, and McVay said a second charter with family members will fly out from L.A. to Colorado later in the week.

“I think it really served us well last year when we went to Jacksonville before we played in London,” McVay said. “Staying out there, kind of a way to connect with the team. Getting away a little bit. This instance definitely provides a little bit different approach where your families are so important right now.”

HAIL HALLE : Jarod Goff was glad it was quiet enough for fans to hear his “Halle Berry” play call Sunday. Even the actress heard it, tweeting him for an explanation.

Goff couldn’t reveal secrets of the audible, which resulted in an 8-yard pass to tight end Tyler Higbee.

All he’d tweet back was, “It’s my favorite play ever.”

On Monday, McVay said, “It’s one of my favorite plays, too, Halle.”

BRADY’S BUNGLE : A lot is made of Brady’s arm at age 41 and how he was just 21 of 41 Sunday in a 34-10 loss at Tennessee, where he was held without a TD pass for the second time in three weeks.

But what about his stumble and tumble on a trick play in which he caught the pass only to trip over himself and plop down a yard short of the first-down marker?

Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota later caught a pass on the Titans’ own trick play.

“I wanted to see if ours looked any better than theirs,” deadpanned Vrabel.

___

With contributions from Associated Press Writer Terry McCormick.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 952 Words

Shepard’s late TD leads Giants over 49ers

Shepard's late TD leads Giants over 49ers

Shepard’s late TD leads Giants over 49ers

Sterling Shepard hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 53 seconds remaining Monday night, giving the New York Giants a 27-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif.

Manning, who earlier had thrown two TD passes to Odell Beckham Jr., drove the Giants (2-7) 75 yards in nine plays after Robbie Gould’s third field goal of the game, a 30-yarder with 2:46 remaining, had given the 49ers a 23-20 lead.

The 49ers (2-8) were called for defensive holding and pass interference penalties, aiding New York’s winning drive.

Nick Mullens got the 49ers as close as the New York 21-yard line with one second remaining but threw out of the end zone on the game’s final play, assuring the Giants’ victory.

Gould had hit earlier from 53 yards in the first quarter to open the scoring and from 36 yards with two seconds left in the half to send the 49ers into halftime with a 13-10 lead.

Mullens threw 11 yards to running back Matt Breida for a touchdown that increased the San Francisco lead to 20-10 with 8:09 remaining in the third quarter, before the Giants rallied.

Manning’s second touchdown pass to Beckham, a 20-yarder, got the visitors within 20-17 with 6:36 left in the third quarter.

Aldrick Rosas’ second of two field goals, a 31-yarder, produced a 20-all tie with 2:10 left in the third, setting up the tight finish.

Manning finished 19-for-31 with 188 yards and the three scores.

Beckham had four catches for 73 yards and the two TDs.

Rookie standout Saquon Barkley was limited to 67 yards on 20 carries and 33 yards on four receptions.

Mullens, who made his NFL debut in last week’s 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders, completed 27 of his 39 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice.

Tight end George Kittle was his favorite receiving target, hauling in nine balls for 83 yards.

Breida finished with 101 yards rushing, including a 3-yard TD run in the second quarter, and three catches for 31 yards and his other score.

The 49ers, who beat the Giants 31-21 exactly one year earlier, outgained the visitors 374-277.

–Field Level Media

Read More 293 Words

Giants-49ers Stats

New York 7 3 10 7—27
San Francisco 3 10 7 3—23
First Quarter

SF_FG Gould 53, 10:13.

NYG_Beckham 10 pass from Manning (Rosas kick), 2:43.

Second Quarter

SF_Breida 3 run (Gould kick), 13:05.

NYG_FG Rosas 20, 1:50.

SF_FG Gould 36,

New York 7 3 10 7—27
San Francisco 3 10 7 3—23
First Quarter

SF_FG Gould 53, 10:13.

NYG_Beckham 10 pass from Manning (Rosas kick), 2:43.

Second Quarter

SF_Breida 3 run (Gould kick), 13:05.

NYG_FG Rosas 20, 1:50.

SF_FG Gould 36, :02.

Third Quarter

SF_Breida 11 pass from Mullens (Gould kick), 8:09.

NYG_Beckham 20 pass from Manning (Rosas kick), 6:36.

NYG_FG Rosas 31, 2:10.

Fourth Quarter

SF_FG Gould 30, 2:46.

NYG_S.Shepard 3 pass from Manning (Rosas kick), :53.

A_69,409.

___

NYG SF
First downs 17 24
Total Net Yards 277 374
Rushes-yards 23-97 29-124
Passing 180 250
Punt Returns 1-7 2-24
Kickoff Returns 4-104 0-0
Interceptions Ret. 2-8 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 19-31-0 27-39-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-8 0-0
Punts 5-47.6 3-44.3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 8-78 10-97
Time of Possession 25:46 34:14

___

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_New York, Barkley 20-67, S.Shepard 1-27, Gallman 2-3. San Francisco, Breida 17-101, Morris 9-19, Juszczyk 1-3, Mullens 2-1.

PASSING_New York, Manning 19-31-0-188. San Francisco, Mullens 27-39-2-250.

RECEIVING_New York, Beckham 4-73, Engram 4-46, Barkley 4-33, Penny 2-12, S.Shepard 2-9, C.Coleman 1-11, Ellison 1-6, Pulley 1-(minus 2). San Francisco, Kittle 9-83, Goodwin 4-69, Bourne 4-33, Pettis 4-12, Breida 3-31, Juszczyk 2-10, T.Taylor 1-12.

MISSED FIELD GOALS_None.

Read More 122 Words

Manning’s late TD pass leads Giants past 49ers 27-23

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Eli Manning threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard with 53 seconds left and the New York Giants snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the San Francisco 49ers 27-23 on Monday night.

Manning threw two TD passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and then engineered the late

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Eli Manning threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard with 53 seconds left and the New York Giants snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the San Francisco 49ers 27-23 on Monday night.

Manning threw two TD passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and then engineered the late game-winning drive with help from a pair of third-down penalties against Malcolm Smith and Ahkello Witherspoon.

Saquon Barkley then had a 23-yard catch to get the ball into the red zone and Manning connected with Shepard on third down to give the Giants (2-7) the win.

Matt Breida ran for 101 yards and scored two touchdowns for the 49ers (2-8), who were unable to win consecutive games under third-string quarterback Nick Mullens. Breida’s 23-yard run helped set up a 30-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that gave the Niners a 23-20 lead with 2:46 to play.

But the 49ers allowed the go-ahead score and couldn’t pull it out at the end as Mullens’ pass from the Giants 20 sailed out of the end zone on the final play.

Mullens wasn’t nearly as sharp as he was in his NFL debut against the Raiders on Nov. 1 when he joined Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton as the only players with at least 250 yards passing, three touchdown passes and no interceptions in the first career game.

Mullens threw for 250 yards and had an 11-yard TD pass to Breida that made it 20-10 early in the third quarter. But Mullens also threw two interceptions with the first setting up a 10-yard TD pass from Manning to Beckham .

Those two connected again on a 20-yard score in the third quarter as New York rallied from 10 points down to tie the game in the second half.

HARD HIT

Niners receiver Marquise Goodwin was hit in the helmet by Alec Ogletree on a catch late in the third quarter and briefly left the game. On his first play back in to start the fourth quarter, a pass from Mullens deflected off Goodwin’s hands for the second interception of the game by B.J. Goodson . Goodwin was slow to get up after that play and went back into the medical tent for observation. Goodwin returned to the game later in the fourth quarter.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

The Giants entered the game converting just 40 percent of their red zone trips into TDs. They missed a golden opportunity for one late in the first half. On a third down from the 3, the 49ers left Beckham unguarded in the slot but Manning stuck with a run play to Barkley that gained only 1 yard. New York settled for a field goal that tied the game at 10.

The Niners then drove down for a late field goal to take the lead at the break as the Giants trailed at the half for the eighth time this season.

PLAYING FOR PARADISE

Niners GM John Lynch welcomed the high school football team from Paradise, a town destroyed by the wildfires in Butte County, about 175 miles north. Players and cheerleaders from the school were on the field for the national anthem. The air quality for the game was at an unhealthy level because of the fires.

The Air Quality Index was at 161 at kickoff, which is in the unhealthy zone, and smoke could be smelled throughout the stadium. The NFL had monitored the situation but the AQI never got near 200, the level where the game would have needed to be moved.

UP NEXT

Giants: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.

49ers: Visit Tampa Bay on Nov. 25.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 542 Words

Bengals fire defensive coordinator, Jackson re-joining staff

CINCINNATI (AP) — Marvin Lewis got the Bengals' head coaching job because of his reputation for defensive excellence. He's now in charge of trying to resuscitate a historically bad unit and pulling Cincinnati's season back from the brink.

The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, a day after a 51-14 loss

CINCINNATI (AP) — Marvin Lewis got the Bengals’ head coaching job because of his reputation for defensive excellence. He’s now in charge of trying to resuscitate a historically bad unit and pulling Cincinnati’s season back from the brink.

The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, a day after a 51-14 loss to the Saints that ranks among the worst in franchise history. New Orleans scored on every possession except the last one — when it took a knee while in field-goal range — during its rout at Paul Brown Stadium.

The fading Bengals (5-4) fired a coordinator in midstream for the second season in a row. And it’s up to Lewis to get hands-on and try to fix the mess while filling two roles at once.

“Teryl worked very hard, but I just felt like we have to rock their world, shake things up,” Lewis said.

The timing was curious. The Bengals were coming off their bye week that would have given them time to adapt to a change at coordinator. Now, they’re changing on the fly while getting ready for a pivotal AFC North game at Baltimore (4-5) on Sunday.

Lewis made another interesting move, re-hiring fired Browns coach Hue Jackson, who served as his offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. Jackson, who was dismissed by Cleveland on Oct. 29 after winning just three games in two-plus seasons, will take on an unspecified role within Lewis’ staff, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Monday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced Jackson’s addition.

The Bengals host the Browns on Nov. 25.

Lewis took the defense aside a few times on Sunday, trying to clear up confusion. While he won’t change the defensive schemes, he’ll try to bring more clarity to players’ responsibilities.

“They want help: ‘Give me something,'” Lewis said.

The Bengals have given up at least 500 yards in three straight games — a first in the Super Bowl era — and are on pace to give up an NFL record for yards in a season . In the past four games, Cincinnati has allowed 481, 551, 576 and 509 yards.

Lewis has one thing in his favor: The schedule is far more favorable the rest of the way.

Cincinnati has faced six offenses currently ranked in the league’s Top 10 — Tampa Bay (No. 1), Kansas City (3), Pittsburgh (4), New Orleans (5), Atlanta (6) and Indianapolis (9). Only two are left on the schedule: the Chargers (8) and the Steelers again.

With three losses in the past four games, Cincinnati has fallen from first place to trailing Pittsburgh (6-2-1) by two games in the loss column. They can’t afford to fall any further behind, which was a factor in the firing.

“They’re trying to get things fixed now,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “If you weren’t paying attention, you’re paying attention now.”

It’s the second time during his 16-season tenure in Cincinnati that Lewis has gotten directly involved in the defense.

The Bengals hired him in 2003 in large part because of his reputation for defensive coaching — he coordinated the Ravens’ Super Bowl-championship defense in the 2000 season. Defense has been a regular challenge during his tenure.

Lewis became so frustrated with the defense in 2004 that he took over play-calling from coordinator Leslie Frazier during a game against Cleveland. The Bengals lost 34-17 and Lewis left the defense in Frazier’s hands the rest of the way, and then fired him after the season.

Now, he’s back in charge.

“We’re not playing well, so something had to change,” safety Jessie Bates said.

Lewis hired Austin from Detroit after defensive coordinator Paul Guenther left to join Jon Gruden with the Raiders. The Bengals gave up a lot of yards while opening the season 4-1, with the defense scoring four touchdowns off fumble and interception returns to overcome the poor showings overall.

With injuries sapping the defense during a stretch of games against the NFL’s top offenses, the unit imploded. The Saints scored touchdowns on all five first-half possessions Sunday, and moved the ball easily even when they were running out the clock in the fourth quarter.

The Bengals matched the club record by giving up 28 points in the second quarter. The 51 points allowed were one shy of the club record.

Austin is the fourth coordinator fired in the NFL this season. Tampa Bay fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith, Arizona fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and the Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Jackson has a close relationship with Lewis, who has declined to discuss whether he’d bring him back to Cincinnati. Jackson coached on both offense and defense in Cincinnati.

Last year, the Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after an 0-2 start, but the Bengals missed out on the playoffs for the second year in a row. Lewis got a two-year contract extension after the season even though he’s 0-7 in the playoffs — an NFL record for futility.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

___

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

Read More 781 Words

AP Source: Former Browns coach Jackson returning to Bengals

CLEVELAND (AP) — A person familiar with the hiring says fired Browns coach Hue Jackson will rejoin Marvin Lewis' staff in Cincinnati.

Jackson, who was dismissed by Cleveland on Oct. 29 after going 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons, will take an unspecified position with the Bengals, said the person who spoke to The Associated

CLEVELAND (AP) — A person familiar with the hiring says fired Browns coach Hue Jackson will rejoin Marvin Lewis’ staff in Cincinnati.

Jackson, who was dismissed by Cleveland on Oct. 29 after going 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons, will take an unspecified position with the Bengals, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday night because the team has not announced the move.

Jackson was Lewis’ offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015 before he was hired by Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam. Jackson also worked in Cincinnati as a defensive assistant and wide receivers coach.

Lewis fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, a day after a 51-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Jackson was brought back for a third season in Cleveland despite going 1-31 in his first two. However, the team continued to struggle and Jackson had issues with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was also let go.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 107 Words

Report: Hue Jackson rejoining Bengals’ staff

Report: Hue Jackson rejoining Bengals' staff

Former Cleveland Browns head

Report: Hue Jackson rejoining Bengals’ staff

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson will rejoin the Cincinnati Bengals’ coaching staff starting Tuesday, according to an NFL Network report Monday evening.

The report adds it’s still unclear what Jackson’s title will be.

Jackson has regularly been connected to the Bengals — for whom he coached from 2004 to 2006 and 2012 to 2015 under close friend Marvin Lewis — since he was fired by the Browns on Oct. 29. Jackson was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2015 before taking the Browns job.

Lewis was asked Monday if he might add Jackson to his staff to help handle the added workload created by Monday’s firing of defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

“I’ve got a plan,” Lewis replied with a smile. “Watch and see.”

Austin was fired a day after Cincinnati allowed 51 points to the New Orleans Saints. Jackson’s expertise is on the offensive side of the ball, but his presence could allow Lewis — a defensive coordinator before becoming a head coach — to focus more on the defensive side. Lewis told reporters Monday that he could use some more oversight to make offensive decisions while he’s working with the defense.

“If I have my back turned making corrections, I can’t do that,” Lewis said. “I’m going to try to minimize that as much as possible. But I feel strongly I have to make the correction and coach the defense right now.”

The Bengals have yet to play the Browns this season. They host them in Week 12 before visiting Cleveland in Week 16. Cincinnati also plays each of its other AFC North foes, whom Jackson knows well, once more.

–Field Level Media

Read More 213 Words

Bills release QB Peterman

Bills release QB Peterman

The Buffalo Bills

Bills release QB Peterman

The Buffalo Bills have released quarterback Nathan Peterman, less than three months after he won the starting job coming out of the preseason.

The move likely means rookie Josh Allen (elbow) and/or veteran backup Derek Anderson (concussion) will be ready to return from injury when Buffalo gets back from its bye in Week 12.

Peterman started in Week 1 but was pulled for Allen at halftime after throwing two interceptions and just five completions on 18 attempts. He threw two more picks, including the game-losing pick-six, in relief of Allen in Week 6.

That led head coach Sean McDermott to start Anderson in Week 7, 12 days after he joined the team. After Anderson was concussed in Week 8, the Bills signed Matt Barkley.

With Barkley as his backup, Peterman threw three interceptions in his Week 9 start, prompting Barkley’s promotion to start on Sunday, 12 days after he was signed. Barkley impressed, leading the Bills to a 41-10 win over the New York Jets and throwing for 232 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

A fifth-round pick in 2017, Peterman finishes his Buffalo tenure 68-of-130 passing for 548 yards (4.2 yards per attempt), three touchdowns and 12 interceptions in eight games (four starts).

Allen, who is dealing with a sprained UCL in his right (throwing) elbow, returned to practice last week for the first time since being hurt in Week 6. He appears on track to return to the starting lineup in Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

–Field Level Media

Read More 181 Words

NFL notebook: Owner calls Raiders’ 1-8 start ‘my fault’

NFL notebook: Owner calls Raiders' 1-8 start 'my fault'

Owner

NFL notebook: Owner calls Raiders’ 1-8 start ‘my fault’

Owner Mark Davis took responsibility for the Oakland Raiders hitting eight losses with seven games to play in 2018.

“Where this team is right now is my fault. We haven’t been able to build a 22-man roster,” Davis said in an interview with ESPN, referring to the starting lineups on offense and defense. “We haven’t been able to give this team a chance to win because the reconstruction failed. We failed from 2014 on to have a roster right now.”

Embattled coach Jon Gruden has taken heat for the Raiders winning only one game this season, his first in a 10-year, $100 million contract that lured him back to the Raiders’ sideline from the broadcast booth.

Davis defended the decision to deal linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. He said the Raiders presented Mack and agent Joel Segal with a contract offer in June 2017 that would have made him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. When Mack turned it down, the Raiders felt a long-term deal was not within their reach.

–Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was tight-lipped on the status of quarterback Joe Flacco, amid reports that the signal-caller could miss Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Harbaugh acknowledged Flacco injured his hip early in Week 9’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying Flacco “landed awkwardly on his knee,” but declined to say if the QB will be ready for this weekend after having a bye week to recover.

–Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting quarterback for Week 11 against the New York Giants, head coach Dirk Koetter announced.

“I just think he still gives us the best opportunity right now,” Koetter said of Fitzpatrick, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble against Washington on Sunday.

–Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp tore a ligament in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the 2018 season, coach Sean McVay confirmed.

In the fourth quarter of the Rams’ 36-31 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Kupp made a cut on his left leg and fell to the ground, holding his knee. He finishes his second NFL season with 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns.

–After 13 seasons with six NFL teams, nearly 1,000 receptions and zero playoff appearances, veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall could end his postseason drought after reportedly signing a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

New Orleans (8-1) signed the 34-year-old free agent after losing the newly signed Dez Bryant last week to a torn Achilles tendon.

–New England Patriots wideout Julian Edelman is not expected to miss much, if any, time due to a minor ankle injury, ESPN reported.

Edelman played 54 snaps (82 percent) in Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans and was limping slightly on his left leg after a pass to him on fourth-and-6 early in the fourth quarter was knocked away.

–The Carolina Panthers waived running back C.J. Anderson, giving the veteran the opportunity to latch on with a new team ahead of Week 11.

Signed to a one-year deal in the offseason after five seasons with the Denver Broncos, Anderson rushed 24 times for 104 yards in nine games this season.

–New York Jets ownership is unlikely to fire head coach Todd Bowles before season’s end, according to multiple reports.

The focus on Bowles’ future increased Sunday after the Jets (3-7) lost to the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium, 41-10. It was the fourth straight loss for the Jets, who have a bye this weekend.

–Cincinnati fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin one day after the Bengals allowed 51 points and 509 yards in a lopsided loss to the Saints.

The Bengals (5-4) have lost three of their last four while allowing a league-high 454.6 yards per game, including 500-plus in three straight games. Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32.3) are giving up more points per game than Cincinnati (32.0).

–The Bills have released quarterback Nathan Peterman, less than three months after he won the starting job coming out of the preseason.

The move likely means rookie Josh Allen (elbow) and/or veteran backup Derek Anderson (concussion) will be ready to return from injury when Buffalo gets back from its bye in Week 12.

–Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee.

–Jacksonville Jaguars center Brandon Linder needs surgery on his knee and will miss the rest of the season.

–The Atlanta Falcons activated linebacker Deion Jones from injured reserve.

–Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman will miss the rest of the season with a left knee injury that will require surgery.

–Field Level Media

Read More 705 Words

Rams relying on Woods, Reynolds with Kupp out

Rams relying on Woods, Reynolds with Kupp out

Rams relying on Woods, Reynolds with Kupp out

Arizona Cardinals: Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was swarmed for five sacks and 13 QB hits on Sunday, as the Cardinals’ offensive line remained leaky amid several injuries. Left guard Mike Iupati (back) sat out, while right guard Justin Pugh returned from a hand injury only to hurt his left knee. Head coach Steve Wilks said the team can do more with its designs to keep the QB safe moving forward. “We have to do a better job leaving guys in with six- and seven-man protections to help Josh,” Wilks said. “…The personnel is not going to change, so we have to find ways within the system and the scheme to help him out.”

Los Angeles Rams: With Cooper Kupp lost for the season, head coach Sean McVay said the team will turn back to Josh Reynolds as the third receiver. Reynolds has seven grabs for 98 scores this season, having made two starts for Kupp a few weeks ago. “Josh Reynolds has played a lot of good, quality football for us,” McVay said. “He’ll step into a larger role, and then other guys will be asked to step up.” Meanwhile, Robert Woods will likely spend more time in the slot and fill some of Kupp’s responsibilities. “Robert will take over some of those different things that typically you see Cooper doing, but that’s kind of what Robert’s done all year,” McVay said. “He’s demonstrated that he can really do everything.”

Seattle Seahawks: Seattle was missing a few key players in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, but running back Chris Carson (hip) and right guard D.J. Fluker (calf) are expected to be ready for Thursday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Head coach Pete Carroll indicated the team kept the short week in mind when holding those players out Sunday. “We didn’t know if [Fluker] would be able to get through that last game, with the hopes of making a full showing this week,” Carroll said. “So we’re counting on him, he should be out there on the field working with us today.” In Carson’s absence, rookie first-rounder Rashaad Penny had the best game of his young career, with 108 yards and a score in 12 carries.

–Field Level Media

Read More 315 Words

Reid: Chiefs’ protection woes a learning opportunity

Reid: Chiefs' protection woes a learning opportunity

Reid: Chiefs’ protection woes a learning opportunity

Denver Broncos: Fresh off the bye week, head coach Vance Joseph expects several players to return from injury this Sunday against the Chargers, including rookie running back Royce Freeman. The third-rounder hasn’t played since sustaining a high-ankle sprain in Week 7, but he had formed an effective one-two punch with undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay before the injury, averaging 4.4 yards per carry with four touchdowns. Also expected to return are safety Darian Stewart (neck), cornerback Bradley Roby (ankle) and rookie wideout DaeSean Hamilton (knee), who is expected to have a larger role following the trade of Demaryius Thomas.

Kansas City Chiefs: Injuries up front finally appeared to take their toll on Sunday, as the Chiefs allowed a season-high five sacks and 10 QB hits of Patrick Mahomes against the Cardinals. But head coach Andy Reid was not discouraged, referring to it as a learning experience and noting the protection improved with a few second-half adjustments. “It can be a positive for us,” Reid said. “That group hasn’t played a bunch together. They did a couple things in there that’ll help us down the road here and we can learn from. It wasn’t just a physical thing — in a couple cases it was — but it wasn’t just a physical thing.” It’s unclear when center Mitch Morse (concussion) will return to the lineup, but guards Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Jordan Devey are both on injured reserve.

Los Angeles Chargers: Head coach Anthony Lynn remains unwilling to speculate about when defensive end Joey Bosa will return, but the third-year pro appears closer to practicing. “We’ll see,” Lynn said about Bosa returning to practice. “I’m really pleased with the progress that he made last week as far as moving towards getting back on the field, but we’ll see when he’s ready.” Lynn did confirm that linebacker Denzel Perryman will miss the rest of the season with an LCL injury. With Perryman out, Lynn added that second-round rookie Uchenna Nwosu will continue to play defensive end for now, but could see snaps at linebacker again at some point.

Oakland Raiders: Well out of playoff contention, the Raiders made another move on Monday with eyes on the future rather than the present, putting second-year defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes on reserve/PUP and ending his season. Vanderdoes started 13 games as a rookie but tore his ACL in the 2017 season finale. He began the year on PUP before returning to practice a few weeks ago, pointing toward a likely return to game action. Instead, he won’t play at all this year. “We want to make sure that we give him the proper time to get ready,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “We are going to be very precautionary with him. I believe his season will end unfortunately, but it’s the right thing to do for him and his future.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 419 Words

3-game winning streak helping Indianapolis build momentum

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts' season looked lost in early October.

At 1-5, they were better positioned for the draft than the playoffs. A defense that showed so much promise in the first three weeks gave up 37 or more points over the next three. Andrew Luck's short, quick throws created debate

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts’ season looked lost in early October.

At 1-5, they were better positioned for the draft than the playoffs. A defense that showed so much promise in the first three weeks gave up 37 or more points over the next three. Andrew Luck’s short, quick throws created debate over whether his surgically repaired right shoulder was — or ever would be — back to full strength.

Three straight wins have changed a lot.

Suddenly, the Colts trail division leader Houston by just two games, have slowly moved back into the wild-card chase, face only one more team with more than five wins at home against Houston (6-3) on Dec. 9. With momentum and hope restored in Indy, there’s no telling how this might end.

“That’s not a good question to ask a perfectionist,” coach Frank Reich said Monday when asked if the offense could play more efficiently.

“It’s never good enough. But it’s been pretty good. It’s funny how we’re wired in this business. This business can humble you in a second and the moment we think we can throw it out there and score 30 points in a minute is the time we get embarrassed.”

Reich’s comments explain why he refused to panic when many things — including his decision to go for the win in an overtime loss to Houston — seemed to backfire.

It’s also the reason he views Sunday’s 29-26 victory over Jacksonville with mixed feelings.

He was thrilled to see Luck finding open receivers throughout the first half as Indy scored on four its first six possessions and excited to look at a stat sheet that showed the Colts’ defense limited the Jaguars’ usually strong ground game to just 91 yards and 2.7 yards per carry.

Still, he understands Indy (4-5) must continue improving to continue winning.

The offense only produced two first downs in the second half, preventing the Colts from sealing the victory until finally forcing a fumble after Jacksonville had moved into position for a potentially tying field goal with 90 seconds left in the game. They only got the ball back after a booth review barely beat Jacksonville’s next snap and the replay review overturned the call on the field.

“It’s sort of like a mixed bag of emotions,” Luck said after joining Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the only players with six consecutive games of three or more touchdowns in one season. “A win, excited, but also a little bit angry on the mistakes I know that I felt like I made and that our offense made.”

There are plenty of encouraging signs.

Luck has thrown 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in the past six games with a reduced workload on his shoulder. He’s increasingly exploited the mismatches between Indy’s versatile tight ends, hooking up with them on five TD passes over the past two weeks.

Perhaps most important: Indy’s rebuilt offensive line has kept Luck upright. He’s been sacked 10 times in nine starts after going down 156 times in his first 70 games, and Luck’s streak of four straight games and 184 consecutive sacks are the longest of his pro career.

They’ve played well enough that Reich is expanding the play calls.

“It gives us a lot of confidence to call anything we want, to call stuff down the field,” he said. “There’s not a play that gets called that we don’t think protection first.”

Defensively, things look better, too.

The Colts generally have created a pass rush though they failed to even hit Blake Bortles on his 38 attempts Sunday, and they’ve proved stouter against the run than in previous seasons.

If they keep it up, Reich knows anything is possible. Another home win next Sunday against Tennessee would give the Colts a four-game winning streak, a share of second place in the AFC South and perhaps even better odds in the playoff race.

“It’s not easy, obviously, to win three in a row, especially coming off of a bye,” Reich said. “But we really want to make a statement in these games we have at home. We want to get the excitement back in the building.”

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 632 Words

Bills release turnover-prone quarterback Nathan Peterman

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have released turnover-prone quarterback Nathan Peterman.

The move was announced by the team Monday and made as the Bills enter their bye week. Earlier in the day, coach Sean McDermott backed Peterman by saying he maintained his confidence in the second-year player.

Peterman became the

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have released turnover-prone quarterback Nathan Peterman.

The move was announced by the team Monday and made as the Bills enter their bye week. Earlier in the day, coach Sean McDermott backed Peterman by saying he maintained his confidence in the second-year player.

Peterman became the odd man out with Buffalo carrying four quarterbacks, and with rookie Josh Allen set to reclaim his starting job after missing four games with a sprained right throwing elbow.

Peterman was also passed on the depth chart by newly signed Matt Barkley, who took over the starting job in a 41-10 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. Derek Anderson is the third quarterback on Buffalo’s roster, and has missed two games because of a concussion.

Peterman could never escape his reputation for committing turnovers since the Bills selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Pittsburgh.

Overall, he threw 13 interceptions in nine career appearances, including playoffs, and four starts. Peterman began this year as the starter, before losing the job early in the third quarter of a 47-3 season-opening loss at Baltimore.

He’s best remembered for throwing five interceptions in the first half of his first career start in a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers a little under a year ago.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 174 Words

No time for Seahawks to recover from being overrun by Rams

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The idea the Seattle Seahawks would score 31 points and lose used to be unfathomable with Pete Carroll in charge.

It's happened now twice this season, both times to the division-leading Los Angeles Rams. And by the end of the season those two games of being unable to slow

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The idea the Seattle Seahawks would score 31 points and lose used to be unfathomable with Pete Carroll in charge.

It’s happened now twice this season, both times to the division-leading Los Angeles Rams. And by the end of the season those two games of being unable to slow down the Rams could end up being the difference between Seattle finding its way into the playoffs and being left home for the second straight year.

“I’m not a moral victories guy. A loss is a loss,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We need to grow from it. It’s only good if we learn something from it and do better. We’ve got to do that. We have to apply that to the rest of the season.”

Seattle has little time to make corrections with Green Bay visiting on Thursday night in a matchup with major wild-card implications in the NFC. Seattle has dropped two straight, falling to 4-5 and can’t afford a third straight loss if it wants to remain in the playoff race.

Carroll believes there is still time for Seattle to make a playoff run. But its defense must improve starting this week.

“We’ve got to go. We’ve got to take these one week at a time and start piling up some wins. I like our style and I like our style in playoff mode. I’d like that opportunity,” Carroll said on Monday.

“We’ve got a lot of ball to play, there are a lot of games coming at us, lot of opportunities at home and we should have nothing but the thoughts that we should build on where we are right now and have a chance to get going and get better. Hopefully we can stay healthy and give us a chance to play with the same guys.”

For the second straight week, Seattle was terrible at stopping the run, especially in the first half. A week earlier against the Chargers, it was Melvin Gordon running wild as that Los Angeles franchise rolled up 160 yards rushing and averaged more than 7 yards per carry.

It didn’t get better against Todd Gurley and the Rams. Gurley rushed for 120 yards on just 16 carries and the Rams averaged 6.5 yards per carry. It was the third time this season Seattle has allowed its opponent to average more than 6 yards per rush — it happened just seven times in the previous eight seasons.

“We’ve just got to play better and not allow the big plays to happen,” Carroll said. “It’s just consistency. That’s the common denominator, the consistency at the line of scrimmage.”

The Rams are the only team this season to score 30 or more points against the Seahawks, but what was a rarity under Carroll’s regime has become more of an issue in the past two years.

From the middle of the 2011 season through the end of the 2016 season, the Seahawks allowed 30 or more points eight times, including none in the 2012 season — a span of 89 games.

In the past two seasons, including Sunday’s 36-31 loss to the Rams, the Seahawks have given up 30 or more points seven times in a span of 25 games.

Injuries can be blamed for some of the problems, but clearly the Seahawks defense is far more vulnerable than they’ve been in the past.

“We gave up too many plays, particularly early. It took us a while to zero in on what we needed to do to stop the running game. I really thought that was the key,” Carroll said. “They did a nice job again. They continue to just keep rolling on offense and we weren’t able to slow them down enough.”

NOTES: Center Justin Britt declined to comment about a postgame confrontation with Rams’ DT Aaron Donald. Donald rushed Britt near midfield at the end of the game and the players had to be separated. … Carroll was unsure the status of LB K.J. Wright who left Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Wright had knee surgery in August that caused him to miss the first six games. … Carroll said he expects RB Chris Carson and G D.J. Fluker to be able to play against the Packers. Both players sat out Sunday’s game in the hope of being able to play against Green Bay.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 661 Words

Falcons miss opportunity to stay close in NFC wild-card hunt

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons picked a bad time to play their second-worst game of the year.

Losing by two touchdowns at Cleveland cost the Falcons (4-5) a chance to move one-half game back in the NFC wild-card race. They enter this week's home game against Dallas (4-5) two games

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons picked a bad time to play their second-worst game of the year.

Losing by two touchdowns at Cleveland cost the Falcons (4-5) a chance to move one-half game back in the NFC wild-card race. They enter this week’s home game against Dallas (4-5) two games behind Carolina for the final playoff spot.

Atlanta looked out of sync most of the day. Only in Week 5 in a blowout loss at Pittsburgh did the Falcons play worse, but quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t terribly concerned.

“There are seven games to go, and we are right in the mix,” Ryan said. “Probably the most important part of being a professional is being able to move on. That includes being able to move on from both positive experiences and negative experiences. We can’t begin to start feeling sorry for ourselves or anything like that.”

Coach Dan Quinn told his team Monday that he was satisfied with its effort against the Browns but not much else. There was a palpable lack of speed as the Falcons fell short of reaching “another spot that you go to, to play really exemplarily ball.”

Trailing 14-10 and getting the ball to begin the third quarter, Atlanta’s next four possessions ended with a fumble, two punts and a failure to score from the 1-yard line early in the fourth when Tevin Coleman was stopped for no gain and Ryan threw an incompletion.

In between, the Browns scored two touchdowns with Nick Chubb’s 92-yard run, the longest in Cleveland history, one of the most embarrassing plays of the season.

Linebacker Duke Riley froze and got blocked by center JC Tretter while right guard Kevin Zeitler pinned Derrick Shelby back at the line of scrimmage. Chubb dashed through the hole and was too fast to catch after free safety Damontae Kazee dove at his feet and whiffed near the Cleveland 22.

The Browns’ 211 yards rushing were the most Atlanta has allowed since Sept. 28, 2014, at Minnesota.

“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted and worked for but we can’t dwell on it,” Riley said. “We have to move forward like we did with the first couple of losses.”

The offense suffered a letdown when center Alex Mack sent a shotgun snap over Ryan’s head in the second quarter, causing the Falcons to settle for a field goal. Mohamed Sanu’s lost fumble to begin the third was even worse because he held the ball out to get an extra yard and was still 14 yards shy of the first-down marker.

Six plays later, the Browns were dancing in the end zone.

“We didn’t do our jobs the way we were supposed to,” Sanu said, “and you saw exactly what happened.”

Quinn will challenge his players to create more energy in practice this week.

“I thought over the last couple weeks defensively we knew we had faced some good runners with the Giants and certainly at Washington, and it was going to take that second and third guy jumping over the pile to get there,” he said. “I thought offensively we’ve been hitting it on that stride for a few weeks now.

“So for us not to find that speed, to create some of the explosive plays and same thing on the defensive side, not to create some of the speeds that create negative plays, those are things that I didn’t think was up to our standard.”

Notes: Quinn said MLB Deion Jones will practice for the second straight week in hopes that he can play against the Cowboys. Jones has been out since breaking his foot in the season-opening loss at Philadelphia. … It will likely be Thursday before Quinn knows if kicker Matt Bryant will be ready to return from a hamstring injury. Giorgio Tavecchio is 5 for 5 on field goals and has hit all eight of his extra-point tries in playing the past three games in Bryant’s spot.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 601 Words