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  • NFL notebook: Rodgers to have surgery, per McCarthy
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Monday that Aaron Rodgers will have surgery on his broken right collarbone "in the near future."

    • While the rest of Rodgers' season is in doubt, McCarthy was adamant with reporters that the team wasn't interested in bringing in another quarterback.

      "I've got three years invested in Brett Hundley, two years invested in Joe Callahan," McCarthy said. "The quarterback room is exactly where it needs to be, OK? We're fortunate to have a great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. We're committed to the path that we're on. We need to play better as a football team."

      Callahan was promoted from the practice squad on Monday by the Packers, who will withhold making a decision on Rodgers until after the procedure.

      Hundley, who replaced Rodgers in Sunday's 23-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, will make his first start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.

      --Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has not played or practiced since suffering a dislocated left knee and torn ACL almost 14 months ago, was cleared to return to practice, coach Mike Zimmer confirmed.

      Dr. Dan Cooper, an orthopedic specialist who performed the major surgery on the dislocation on Sept. 9, 2016, examined Bridgewater in Dallas on Monday morning and cleared him to begin practice on Wednesday.

      Bridgewater hinted at the positive outcome with a morning tweet that said, "Thank you."

      Bridgewater has been sidelined since being injured on Aug. 30, 2016, a week before the season. When he begins practicing, the Vikings will have 21 days to decide whether to add him to the active roster or keep him on the physically unable to perform list all year.

      -The Oakland Raiders signed linebacker NaVorro Bowman to a contract, the team announced.

      Terms of the deal were not announced by the club, but multiple outlets reported it was a one-year contract for $3 million. The San Francisco 49ers released Bowman on Friday after seven seasons with team. The 49ers agreed to the 29-year-old Bowman's request to be released after trade scenarios were investigated, according to general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan.

      Bowman could provide a boost to an Oakland defense that was shredded by Melvin Gordon in Sunday's 17-16 setback to the Los Angeles Chargers. The 24-year-old Gordon rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown and added nine receptions for 67 yards and a score.

      --NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron stands by his controversial call to overturn the touchdown catch by New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the fourth quarter Sunday against the New England Patriots.

      Riveron said the replay reversal was "clear and obvious" in making the correct call for the proper enforcement of league rules. Riveron, speaking on a conference call with reporters, said the ball was loose when Seferian-Jenkins went airborne and was hit by a defender, making it a fumble as the ball went out of bounds across the goal line and through the end zone.

      "No doubt about it. It was clear and obvious," said Riveron, who makes all replay determinations from the league's New York office. "Unless it's clear and obvious to us, we will not change the ruling on the field."

      --Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant reportedly requested a trade recently, but he shut down those reports.

      NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported late Sunday that sources informed him of Bryant's trade request because of lack of playing time, adding that Steelers teammates and coaches are well aware that the receiver is unhappy. ESPN confirmed the report.

      Bryant told reporters Monday that he has not requested a trade. "I'm good ... That's up to the coaches," Bryant said when asked about his role in the offense.

      --Denver Broncos wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie sustained sprained ankles Sunday night and will miss the team's Week 7 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, coach Vance Joseph said.

      Sanders exited the Broncos' 23-10 loss to the New York Giants late in the third quarter after he was hit in the lower right leg by safety Landon Collins on an incomplete pass. Sanders, who is second on the team in catches (25) and yards receiving (266), was on the ground being tended to by team medical personnel for several minutes before being helped off the field.

      McKenzie, who also serves as the team's punt returner, exited shortly thereafter when he fell awkwardly while leaping for a pass. The 22-year-old has one catch for zero yards this season.

      --Washington Redskins rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is expected to be sidelined for at least three weeks with a foot injury, coach Jay Gruden said.

      Allen, Washington's first-round draft pick (No. 17 overall) out of Alabama, is dealing with a Lisfranc sprain sustained in Sunday's 26-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Gruden estimated the 6-foot-3, 288-pound Allen will be sidelined for three to four weeks. Allen has started all five games and recorded 10 tackles and one sack.

      Another notable injury involves kicker Dustin Hopkins, who was listed as week-to-week with a hip ailment, putting his availability in question for next Monday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

  • Belichick newsflash: These aren't 2016 Patriots
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Through six games of 2017, the Patriots (4-2) clearly aren't the same team that took home New England's fifth Lombardi Trophy with the epic comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons in February.

    • After breaking down film of Sunday's 24-17 win over the AFC East rival New York Jets, ever-astute Patriots head coach Bill Belichick emphasized that believing the team could pick up where it left off last season isn't realistic.

      "It's incomprehensible to me how anybody could think that a team that's practiced for six months and played 19 regular-season and post-season games and had triple-digit practices, five months later, after not playing a game, after having a fraction of that type of experience, could be anywhere close to the level of execution that they were five months before that after all of the things that I just listed. I mean, it's impossible in my view," Belichick said Monday, all in one breath.

      Belichick was reacting to the residue of preseason expectations that included a belief that the Patriots could go undefeated, apparently based on offseason acquisitions and some presumption that some momentum existed from last season. He once again squashed that idea with a simple observation.

      "So, each year, you start all over again," he reminded. "You start that process all over again. You build your team over the course of the year though practice repetitions, through preseason to regular-season games, through the evolving of your scheme, and that's why each year is different and unique. But, I understand I'm in the minority and most other people don't see it that way, which is OK, but that's the way I see it."

      That's why he is the great coach. Regardless of rampant expectations, Belichick realizes each season is different, which actually became obvious when the Patriots were beat up in the season opener by the Kansas City Chiefs and were 2-2 before winning the last two games.

      But, they still are not where they want to be, a point that quarterback Tom Brady made clear after overcoming a clear and present danger of losing in the closing moments.

      "I wish we had done better, but we won," Brady said just after escaping MetLife Stadium. "Probably a lot to learn from it. We'll keep at it. It's only the sixth game of the year. Still a lot to figure out."

      Sunday's win elevated New England to first place in the AFC and just a game back of the best record in the NFL, but the Patriots are hardly happy about how they are playing.

      The defense is dead last in the NFL. It allowed Jets quarterback Josh McCown to throw for 354 yards, becoming the sixth consecutive opponent this season to pass for more than 300 yards.

      That generosity is the result of a team effort. Not only is the coverage inconsistent, at best, the pass rush is weak and the run defense is mediocre most of the time.

      Also, the offense was held under 30 points each of the last two weeks and barely managed to get 24 and 19 points in wins over the Jets and Bucs, respectively.

      Brady obviously buys into Belichick's reality check.

      "The goal is not to be perfect," Brady told WEEI. "The goal is just to be better than the other team. You'd love for everything to go right, but you have to coordinate 11 guys doing the right thing on every play, and then to marry that with the defense, they play good defense, too. That's the ebbs and flows of the game. So that was just one of those days (Sunday) where we couldn't really get into the right flow. We just kind of kept fighting, kept fighting. We just had to grind it out."

      Defensive captain Duran Harmon also tried to put the season in proper perspective, but with a positive spin.

      "We didn't start the way we wanted to this year," the safety said. "But I really believe we are making good progress."

      And, despite lofty preseason expectations, that is the best that can be said about the 2017 Patriots.

      --Quarterback Tom Brady set an NFL record with his 187th career regular-season win in Sunday's ugly 24-17 victory in New York. Until then, Brady was tied with Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. Brady already held the records for most overall wins by a quarterback (212) and most regular-season wins by a quarterback for one team (187).

      "That's what we're all here for: to win games," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of his quarterback's latest record. "We're very fortunate to have Tom at the helm of those wins."

      --Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was limited in practice last week with an ankle injury before he was removed from the report after participating fully in practice last Friday. But on Saturday, Gilmore returned to the injury report with a concussion and was downgraded to out for Sunday's game and did not make the trip to New York.

      Belichick was less than forthcoming -- per usual -- when asked about the odd sequence with Gilmore.

      Said Belichick: "We followed the rules to the letter on the injuries like we always do. They were reported exactly as it happened."

      --Midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, it appeared that Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins scored on a 4-yard reception to pull New York within 3 at 24-21. But upon further review, the play was ruled a fumble by Seferian-Jenkins that he did not recover before going out the side of the end zone, meaning it was a turnover and touchback for the Patriots.

      It was a controversial call to say the least, but one that Patriots players clearly enjoyed.

      "Oh man, great call by the referees," safety Duron Harmon said of what was ruled a fumble forced by cornerback Malcolm Butler. "Great call. It's football. I mean, that rule, a lot of people don't like it. I love it because, as a defensive player, it gives us the opportunity to make a big play, a momentum play, to give our offense the ball without (the opponent) even scoring three points."

      After the game referee Tony Corrente said it was a "pretty obvious call."

      "When Malcolm came off the field, first thing he told me was that it was out," head coach Bill Belichick said. "I thought they were reviewing whether he was across the goal line or not. But you know Malcolm had a really good look at it. That was the first thing he told me."

      NOTES: LB Harvey Langi was inactive for the fourth straight week and fifth time this season. His absence was due to a serious multi-car accident the undrafted rookie and his wife were in on Friday night in Foxborough. Though the Jaws of Life were used on his car, Langi was reportedly released from the hospital on Saturday. ... CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion) was added to the Patriots injury report on Saturday and ruled out for the game against the Jets. Gilmore's concussion did not appear on the injury report previously, though the cornerback was dealing with an ankle injury that limited him on Wednesday and Thursday last week. He was listed as full participation and removed from the injury report altogether on Friday. ... CB Eric Rowe (groin) missed his second straight game and third contest in a month. Rowe is still walking with a noticeable limp in the New England locker room. ... RB Rex Burkhead (ribs) was inactive for the fourth straight game due to the injury suffered in Week 2 in New Orleans. Burkhead has practiced on a limited basis, began the week as questionable, then was downgraded to out. ... LB David Harris was a healthy scratch for the second time in three weeks, missing the battle with his former Jets team. ... T Cameron Fleming was a healthy scratch in New York, the first time he was inactive since opening night against the Chiefs. ... T LaAdrian Waddle was active for just the third time this season, seeing reserve action on the offensive line and in the kicking game. ... T Cole Croston was inactive, a healthy scratch for the sixth straight game to open his NFL career. ... WR Chris Hogan was helped off the field by trainers in the second half of Sunday's win after taking a big hit to the ribs following an incomplete pass. Hogan returned to the game later appeared to be in some discomfort following the hit.

      REPORT CARD VS. JETS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: B minus - Tom Brady was not sacked, which is notable after enduring sacks at least twice in each of the first five games. Brady threw for the fewest yards of the season, completing 20 of 38 for just 257 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception (80.7 rating). The pick was the second in as many weeks and came on an ill-advised deep ball for Phillip Dorsett.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus - Were it not for Mike Gillislee's fumble in New York territory in the first quarter, this grade would have been even better. Overall the Patriots ran it 24 times for 119 yards for a 5-yard average. Dion Lewis led the way with 11 carries for 52 yards and his second rushing score of the season. But Gillislee's fumble put a damper on the production against the Jets 30th-ranked run defense.

      --PASS DEFENSE: D - Thanks to a couple interceptions, New England held Josh McCown to an 84.9 rating, the lowest by a Patriots opponent this season. The Patriots played without two of their top three cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and Eric Rowe (groin). McCown had a season-best 354 yards passing, completing 31 of his 47 throws with two touchdowns and the two picks.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: B - If the work of the offensive line in pass protection and opening up holes for the ground game was the biggest positive for the Patriots offense, then the defensive front's work stopping the run was the high for the defense. Alan Branch returned to action to set a positive tone for what has been a struggling front. Branch had early penetration on both running and passing situations and the rest of the front followed suit as the Patriots held the Jets to just 74 yards and 24 rushing attempts for a 3.1 average that was by far the lowest for a New England opponent this season.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: C - Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal for the first time this season, a 47-yard attempt in the second quarter. The kicker hit a 28-yarder later and continued to be solid on kickoffs. Punter Ryan Allen was so-so with a 40-yard average and 40.5-yard net on his four chances, with one inside the 20. The net was higher than the gross because the Jets had minus-2 yards in punt returns.

      --COACHING: C - There is little doubt the Patriots are underperforming right now. Clearly some of the blame for that falls on the coaching staff. Bill Belichick is supposed to get the most out of his players, putting them in position to maximize their strengths and mask their weaknesses. That is not happening. Offensively, the unit was too focused on deep balls. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels apparently moved away from the short precision passing attack, New England's strength for more than a decade. Defensively, the Patriots can't stop the pass. Sunday, they threw more blitzes at McCown, with mixed results.

  • Browns' QB situation up in the air -- again
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    BEREA, Ohio -- Just like last Monday, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson is beginning another week unsure which quarterback he will start against the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.

    • Jackson chose to bench DeShone Kizer after Kizer turned the ball over twice in the red zone in the loss to the New York Jets two weeks ago, but the experiment failed when Kevin Hogan threw three interceptions, one for a pick-six, in an embarrassing 33-17 loss to the Texans in Houston this past weekend.

      "I'll make that (decision) by Wednesday," Jackson said on Monday. "I'm in the midst of it right now. Getting closer, but we'll know for sure on Wednesday."

      Jackson is in a desperate situation with limited options. His team is 0-6 this year and 1-21 since he took over in January of 2016.

      "I never said that Kevin was going to be the starter for the rest of season," Jackson said. "We'll go back, watch the tape, go from there and make a decision."

      Because the Browns need to learn whether Kizer can be their quarterback of the future makes it seem Jackson is leaning toward going back to Kizer. Second-year quarterback Cody Kessler isn't under consideration.

      "If I change quarterbacks, I'm going back to DeShone," Jackson said. "That was never a different type of thought that way. I wanted him to see the game from a different lens.

      "I've gone on record of saying it -- (Kizer) will be a huge part of the future here and that will definitely go into my thought process here in the next several hours about what is best for all involved, what is best for the offensive football team, first and foremost, who can get the job done and then what is best for us as an organization as we continue to move forward."

      Hogan became the 28th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999. He replaced Kizer after halftime of the Jets game and looked in control while throwing two touchdown passes in that game. The Jets weren't ready for him, but the Texans were. They sacked him four times and applied pressure that forced Hogan to often sail passes over his intended target.

      Jackson's reasoning in switching to Hogan was Hogan provided a better chance to win. Instead, the second-year player from Stanford showed why he was fourth on the depth chart when training camp began.

      "I'm not shaken from this at all," Hogan said. "I felt like I was seeing a lot of things out there and they made a lot of great plays. I felt like they had a game plan for us. At the end of the day it's just about making plays, regardless of what they're doing.

      "So for me it's about learning, and that's in my control and I'm going to come back and continue to get better. This was a tough first experience but definitely something to learn from and grow from and I think that there are some positives to take from it."

      The Browns sustained no injuries in their game with the Texans, Jackson said on Monday.

      --Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson threw three touchdown passes to lead his team to a 33-17 victory over the Browns. He also threw an interception Jason McCourty returned for 56 yards and a touchdown. McCourty did not feel like boasting after scoring the first touchdown of his nine-year career.

      "(Watson) doesn't look like a rookie," McCourty said. "There were probably a few throws I know he would like to have back, but he has that offense rolling. I just give them the credit, they played really well today."

      --Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett had one sack and five tackles in his second NFL game after missing four with a sprained ankle. The Texans at times used a hurry-up offense that prevented Garrett from running onto the field in passing situations.

      "Once they're on the far side, you can't really switch out personnel, because you don't want to get a penalty," Garrett said. "You just have to wait until they slowed it down or we had our opportunity to get me back in, and just tried to make a difference."

      Garrett now leads the team in sacks with three despite playing in only two games

      NOTES: LB James Burgess (knee) missed Sunday's game against the Texans because of a knee injury. He was injured a week against the Jets. ... CB Jason McCourty, after intercepting a pass from Deshaun Watson, has three interceptions and two fumble recoveries this season. ... WR Kenny Britt (knee/groin) missed his second consecutive game. With Corey Coleman on injured reserve with a broken hand, it means the Browns played without their Week 1 starting receivers for the second consecutive week. ... K Zane Gonzalez kicked a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter to tie the game 3-3. It was a pressure kick even though it was early because he missed his only two field-goal tries last week.

      REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Kevin Hogan was a colossal failure in his first NFL start. He sailed passes over the heads of intended receivers most of the day. He threw three interceptions, and one was returned 82 yards for a pick-six. He was sacked four times and was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. He did nothing to merit a second start after head coach Hue Jackson benched DeShone Kizer, thinking Hogan would give the Browns a spark.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Browns had success running the ball for a second straight week. That is an encouraging sign if they ever get to a point where the score is still close in the fourth quarter. Running back Isaiah Crowell rushed 12 times for 58 yards -- a modest total -- but he hit the hole with more authority than he showed in past games this season. Duke Johnson was elusive running five times for 40 yards. The run blocking has improved steadily the last three weeks.

      --PASS DEFENSE: D-plus -- The 56-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Jason McCourty saved this grade from being lower. The Browns entered the game ranked fifth defensively, but after Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson threw three more touchdown passes against them they have now given up 14 in six games. That puts them on a pace to give up 37. Houston receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller had no trouble getting open in the Browns secondary.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: C -- A 39-yard run by D'Onta Foreman set up Houston's third touchdown. Other than that, the Browns kept the Texans bottled up most of the day. They did not want Watson to beat them with his legs and were successful in that regard, holding the Texans quarterback to 23 yards on four carries. Middle linebacker Joe Schobert led the way with 12 tackles.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- One of the few bright spots for the Browns while falling to 0-6 was rookie Jabrill Peppers getting bolder as a punt returner. After making a fair catch most of the time in earlier games, Peppers returned six punts for 43 yards on Sunday. He did not signal for a fair catch once. He could break a long one if he continues to field the football and run with it. Kicker Zane Gonzalez bounced back from two misses last week to connect on a 41-yard field goal.

      --COACHING: C-minus -- It is easy to look back and say head coach Hue Jackson should never have benched rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer for Kevin Hogan, but Jackson figured Kizer needed at least one week to catch his breath. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has to figure a way to cut back on touchdown passes allowed. Either the schemes he is using or the players he is using aren't good enough to slow the passing attack of opponents.

  • Run defense burns Chiefs
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After watching Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell rip through his defense for 179 yards in a 19-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton had a short response when asked to go into depth about his team's run defense struggles.

    • "Le'Veon Bell," Sutton said. "Is that deep enough?"

      The patient and elusive Steelers running back seemingly remains impervious to the Chiefs run defense. The Chiefs have lost five games since October 2016, three of them to the Steelers, including last January's divisional playoff game at home. Bell totaled 493 rushing yards in those three games.

      Sutton said his team failed in fundamentals and techniques in slowing down Bell and the Steelers run game.

      "We definitely have to play better run defense," Sutton said. "We understand that. We got to tackle better. All those things have to happen if we want to improve on defense."

      Bell after the game said he saw no new wrinkles from the Chiefs defense. Some argue that Sutton's commitment to man-to-man defense and avoidance of run blitzes matches up poorly against the Steelers. Sutton disputed that notion, putting more emphasis on execution.

      "It's like everything, you just have to keep playing your defense," Sutton explained. "We're not going to invent something here to take over the fundamental part of your defense. When you have your chances, you got to do a good job of it."

      The Chiefs have little time to shore up their run defense. The team travels to Oakland for a Thursday night meeting with the Raiders. Unlike their recent games with the Steelers, the Chiefs hold a five-game winning streak over the Raiders. They have won seven of eight meetings since Sutton and head coach Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City in 2013.

      The Chiefs also carry both a nine-game road winning streak and a 12-game win streak over AFC West opponents into the game.

      Oakland counters the Chiefs with its own once-elite running back in Marshawn Lynch. Sutton knows his defense must prove that it can contain Lynch and the Raiders run game.

      "Like all great backs, you don't want to be involved in a lot single tackles," Sutton said. "You want multiple people there and that's a big part of this whole thing as you get ready for playing a guy like Marshawn. You need your whole defense."

      --The Chiefs have little time to dwell on Sunday's home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a road trip to Oakland on Thursday night. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said preparations began moments after the end of Sunday's game.

      "It was come on right over to the office and get on to the tape," Nagy said. "We were all here doing it getting ready for this game."

      Quarterback Alex Smith said he relishes the opportunity to put the Steelers loss quickly behind him and his teammates.

      "I think the positive is we get a short week to bounce back, get this taste out of our mouth," Smith said. "There is a positive from it."

      The Chiefs have dominated the Raiders in recent seasons, winning seven of eight games since head coach Andy Reid's arrival in Kansas City in 2013. The team's only loss to the Raiders in that span came on a Thursday night road trip in 2014, a 24-20 setback on a rainy Thursday night in Oakland.

      The Raiders built a 17-3 lead before Smith rallied the Chiefs with two second-half touchdown passes to Jamaal Charles and Anthony Fasano. Smith finished 20-of-36 passing for 234 yards while Charles rushed for 80 yards. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr delivered one of his better performances against the Chiefs, finishing 18-of-35 for 174 yards and a touchdown. Running back Latavius Murray provided the difference on the ground with 112 yards and two scores.

      Now the Chiefs must travel to the West Coast following a physical game against the Steelers. It also comes in the midst of four prime-time games in five weeks that has thrown off the team's regular schedule.

      "Coming off a physical game, you know you're going to have another big divisional game and travel," Smith said. "You got all those built-in excuses there to lean."

      But Nagy believes his team will be prepared to face the Raiders despite the short preparation.

      "Yesterday wasn't our day, but we're not going to let that affect how we play here in the future," Nagy said. "We're going to stick together, there's not going to be any pointing fingers, and we're going to be ready to rock and roll here with Oakland."

      --The Chiefs lined up against the Steelers without two key wide receivers. The club placed Chris Conley on season-ending injured reserve Saturday with a ruptured Achilles tendon, then Albert Wilson was a late scratch with a sprained knee.

      That meant dramatic increases in playing time for backup receivers De'Anthony Thomas and Demarcus Robinson. Both players earned the praise of offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, especially Thomas thanks to a 57-yard touchdown reception.

      "He moved around pretty well and you saw with the touchdown catch making a good play and did some good things with the ball in his hands," Nagy said.

      Robinson, a second-year receiver from Florida, saw the first substantial playing time in his career. He lined up for 49 of the team's 54 offensive snaps. Nagy said Robinson still has learning to do, especially in adjusting to the speed of the game and improving his timing with quarterback Alex Smith.

      "I think what you're going to see with Alex and Demarcus, as these games go by here and we just get more and more practices and games together, I think you're going to see that relationship between the two of them on the football field really grow," Nagy said.

      The Chiefs promoted Marcus Kemp from the practice squad in Conley's place on Saturday, and the undrafted rookie free agent saw playing time immediately with eight offensive snaps.

      Receiver Tyreek Hill exited the game for a concussion evaluation following a punt return late in the game. That left the Chiefs with a lineup of Robinson, Thomas and Kemp on the field for the team's final drive in a vain comeback attempt.

      "When a guy goes down, just like at the end of the game, it's not how we wanted it to end," Nagy said. "But (Hill) goes down and guys have to step up in the most important part of the game. We have trust and confidence in these guys. They come out here and practice every day and see what we're doing and when they're not getting physical reps they're getting a lot of mental reps."

      The Chiefs definitely appeared to miss Wilson, who often plays critical roles in the team's motion and play setup. Nagy called Wilson the offense's sparkplug for both his mental preparation and his energetic style.

      "Anytime you lose a guy like Albert, it definitely hurts you," Nagy said. "But with that said, the belief and confidence that we have in these other guys is sky high."

      --It took a long journey for wide receiver Marcus Kemp to make the NFL, and now he wants to prove he deserves to pursue his dream.

      "I'm trying to play my best, do everything I can to show the coaches that I deserve to be here, or show the NFL I deserve to be here," Kemp said while a member of the Chiefs' practice squad.

      Kemp drew light interest as a high school wide receiver, finding his way to Hawaii. He caught 73 passes for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. His size and speed attracted the interest of the Chiefs.

      "He's a big, physical player," Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. "He's a good route-runner with really good ball skills."

      The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Kemp ran a 4.54 40-yard dash during his pro day, and he possesses an agility that belies his lengthy frame.

      "I think that for as tall as I am and as long as I am, my agility, it surprises some people, my routes and how quickly I get in or out of them," Kemp said. "I think that's something that I can use. I deceive people with how tall I am. I don't look very fast but I am a little bit quick. I get around some people by surprise."

      --The Chiefs' receivers group is long on athleticism and short on experience. Albert Wilson and De'Anthony are the longest tenured receivers in their fourth seasons. Kemp says Wilson and Chris Conley help him learn much early as a rookie. But he says the group leans on each other to improve.

      "Even the young guys, even the old guys will take critique or take criticism from the young guys because they understand that there is always something that you can learn," Kemp said. "I really feel like this group is special in the way that we help each other."

      Nagy said Kemp simply needs experience to make plays at the pro level. He may get that experience sooner rather than later with Kansas City's rash of wide receiver injuries.

      "The biggest thing for Marcus is understanding where to go on certain routes versus certain coverages," Nagy said. "Once he gets that down, he can do really good things."

      NOTES: WR Albert Wilson was a late scratch Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a sprained knee. The team downgraded Wilson to questionable on Saturday. His availability for Thursday night's game at Oakland remains unclear. ... WR Tyreek Hill exited Sunday's game against the Steelers for evaluation of a concussion. Hill told head coach Andy Reid he felt fine in the locker room after the game. Hill was limited in practice with a hamstring injury last week, but showed no ill effects against the Steelers. ... RB Charcandrick West also left Sunday's game for evaluation, and team officials suspect West's injury to be more severe than Hill. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy indicated Akeem Hunt would serve as backup to Kareem Hunt if West is out Thursday night against Oakland. The team also re-signed veteran RB C.J. Spiller.

      ... C Mitch Morse returned to practice on a limited basis last week, but was among the team's inactives against the Steelers. Zach Fulton drew his fourth start in Morse's absence. The Chiefs have just one practice during the short week before Thursday night's game. West and Hunt combined for just eight offensive snaps against Pittsburgh in Week 6. ... RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif missed his second game with sprained knee but head coach Andy Reid said the third-year veteran continues improving. He's availability against Oakland remains doubtful, however.

      REPORT CARD VS. STEELERS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus - QB Alex Smith rallied the Chiefs late and had a chance to win the game on his team's final possession, but it proved too little too late. The Chiefs posted just 6 yards of total offense in the first half, with Smith completing 5-of-8 passes for a mere 23 yards with two sacks for 15 yards in losses. That buried the Chiefs into a hole from which they could not emerge. WR De'Anthony Thomas provided one of the lone bright spots, hauling in a 57-yard touchdown pass for the longest offensive play of his four-year career.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus - Rookie RB Kareem Hunt never found traction against the Steelers defense, mustering a mere 21 yards on nine carries. The Chiefs rushed for minus-2 yards in the first half. Hunt did contribute to the passing game, catching five passes for 89 yards. That allowed him to claim sole possession of the record for most games starting a career with 100 or more yards from scrimmage at six. He previously shared the record of five games with Adrian Peterson.

      --PASS DEFENSE: C - QB Ben Roethlisberger bounced back from his atrocious five-interception performance last week against Jacksonville, dinging the Chiefs for 252 yards and a touchdown through the air on 17-of-25 passing. Antonio Brown hauled in eight catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. CB Marcus Peters had another interception, giving him a league-high 18 picks since 2015.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: D-minus - RB Le'Veon Bell torched the Chiefs yet again, piling up 179 yards on 32 carries as he systematically dominated the Kansas City defense and drained the clock, allowing the Steelers to possess the ball for more than 36 minutes. The only backhanded compliment the Chiefs' run defense deserves is they only yielded Bell one touchdown.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus - Rookie kicker Harrison Butker provided the bulk of the team's scoring, including field goals from 33 and 46 yards. Special teams also set up Kansas City's first score. The Steelers let punter Dustin Colquitt's free kick following a safety hit the turf, and rookie WR Jehu Chesson chased down the loose ball. Tyreek Hill gave the team a chance to win with a gutsy 32-yard punt return setting up Kansas City's final drive. Colquitt continued his excellent season with a 47.5 net average on four punts, three of which were downed inside the 20 and one at the 1-yard line. Special teams kept the Chiefs in the game as the offense and defense struggled.

      --COACHING: D-minus - The Chiefs know exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers plan to do against them, and for the third-straight matchup, head coach Andy Reid and his staff failed to mount any defense whatsoever. The Chiefs did show some pluck in the second half mounting a comeback. Far outshadowing that grit, however is the reality the Steelers proved the tougher team once again and out-hustled the Chiefs. The Chiefs remain among the class of the AFC, but they cannot achieve their Super Bowl dreams until Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton solve the Le'Veon Bell riddle.

  • Saints get defensive and win
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints have won three games in a row and have shown an ability to win in a variety of ways.

    • Their 52-38 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome wasn't a Drew Brees-led shootout as one might suspect. The point output was more a result of a big-play defense, which scored three touchdowns for the first time in franchise history and forced two more turnovers, one of which led to another touchdown.

      The defense had three interceptions for the second time in three games and also made five sacks.

      "It's not just about getting the ball carrier down or the quarterback down," defensive end Alex Okafor said Monday. "When we get to them, we're getting fumbles and turnovers and that's been a big difference."

      On Detroit's first possession, Okafor sacked Matthew Stafford, who fumbled, and safety Kenny Vaccaro fell on the football in the end zone for a touchdown.

      "The defense is jelling," said defensive end Cam Jordan, whose interception of a Stafford pass in the Lions' end zone sealed the victory. "The way we're running to the ball and the way we're making turnovers happen, which is highly successful, hopefully keeps rolling into next week and the weeks beyond."

      New Orleans, which visits Green Bay on Sunday, is the only NFL team this season to win three consecutive games by at least two touchdowns.

      Against Detroit, the Saints' offense struggled with three turnovers, one of which was a pick six, but Brees also had two touchdowns and Mark Ingram II ran for two touchdowns. All three turnovers came during a second half in which Detroit cut a 45-10 deficit to 45-38.

      --The law of averages caught up with the Saints as their turnover-free streak to start the season ended. New Orleans was just the third NFL team since 1933 to go without committing a turnover in its first four games of the season.

      --The Saints had their most productive rushing game of the season in their first game after trading Adrian Peterson to Arizona. Peterson had a big game in his debut with the Cardinals, but Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara both benefited from additional opportunities in Peterson's absence. Ingram had a season-high 25 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and Kamara averaged 7.5 yards on 10 carries in addition to catching four passes for 12 yards.

      --The Saints won despite converting just 2 of 12 third downs (16.7 percent). They entered the game Sunday having converted 41.7 percent of their third downs.

      NOTES: T Terron Armstead played 90 percent of the offensive snaps in his first action since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. He started at left tackle and helped the Saints build a 45-10 lead in the third quarter. He was replaced by G Senio Kelemete as Andrus Peat moved from guard to tackle. The Saints tried to limit the number of reps Armstead had, but he returned after the offense went stagnant and Detroit got within two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. Head coach Sean Payton said the plan for giving Armstead a brief break was pre-determined. ... WR Willie Snead IV made his season debut after being suspended for the first three games of the season and missing the fourth game because of a hamstring injury. Snead caught one pass for 11 yards, converting a third-and-10 during a touchdown drive that gave New Orleans a 17-7 lead. But he played just 30 percent of the offensive snaps and was targeted just three times.

      REPORT CARD VS. LIONS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus -- Drew Brees had one of his poorest performances in a game that the Saints won. He passed for just 186 yards -- ending a streak of 55 consecutive games with at least 200 passing yards -- and threw two interceptions. The second interception was returned 2 yards for a touchdown.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: A-minus -- The Saints had their largest rushing total of the season (193) and Mark Ingram II had the first 100-yard game by an individual. Alvin Kamara averaged 7.5 yards and the team averaged 5.2. The one blemish on the performance was a lost fumble by Ingram.

      --PASS DEFENSE: A-minus -- The Saints held Matthew Stafford to less than a 50 percent completion rate (25 of 52), sacked him five times (recovering two fumbles, one for a touchdown) and had three interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns. The big plays mitigated the fact that Stafford passed for nearly 100 yards more than his average and several missed tackles allowed short completions to turn into longer gainers.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: B -- New Orleans rolled to a 31-10 halftime lead, which limited Detroit's use of the running game for much of the second half. The Lions rushed for 66 yards on 19 carries, including 9 yards on seven carries in the second half.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The Saints allowed a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown, Wil Lutz knocked a kickoff out of bounds that jump-started a drive that nearly yielded a touchdown right before halftime and there were several special-teams penalties. This could have been an F except Thomas Morstead averaged 49.1 yards on seven punts, two of which were downed just outside the Lions goal line, leading to defensive touchdowns.

      --COACHING: A-minus - The Saints had a good plan to establish the run and offensive balance early as well as get after Stafford. The special-teams' blunders hurt as did offensive stagnation that seemed to result in part from the Saints losing their aggressiveness and edge.

  • Falcons still kicking leads away
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons have not learned their lesson from Super Bowl LI.

    • Despite their best efforts, the Falcons are starting to reveal their true selves.

      With them, no lead is safe, after the Miami Dolphins roared back from a 17-0 deficit to win 20-17 Sunday.

      The Falcons have been outscored 72-40 in the second halves of their first five games of the season. They come out strong and then fizzle.

      Just like in Super Bowl LI.

      The Falcons appear to lack a killer's instinct to finish off opponents.

      "I recognize the story," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said. "I don't think it's justified, but I recognize the story."

      While Quinn won't agree with the concept, he struggles to explain the second-half blues.

      "The reason I say that, we're going to be in a lot of close ones," Quinn said. "The league, the margin of victory, I said maybe a week ago, is the closest it's been in years and years. Let's get real comfortable in these close ones. We'll get our share where we have to close it out and win."

      The Super Bowl hangover appears to be real.

      "In one we have, and another we didn't," Quinn said. "The scars are definitely deeper when you have it and you let it up to go then when it's back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Those are the ones that piss you off more, for sure, and leave a deeper mark.

      "But at the end of it, you come back and say, 'How can we do it better? What can we do to make sure we're going to be our very best at this point, in this moment.' That's what we discussed the most."

      The Falcons don't see a common thread that runs through their second-half woes.

      "For us, we felt like the run game isn't up to where we would like it to be defensively," Quinn said. "I think that it has extended some drives for the opponent's offense. I wouldn't say we saw it with Chicago.

      "There was a long run against Chicago. We've seen that probably in the game against Buffalo and Miami, there were some longer runs that made it extend some drives longer. I think when you look at that time of possession, that was one that really stuck out to us, where they were able to possess the ball, hold onto the ball, where we don't get our normal times at it."

      The Falcons are trying to turn the page from the Super Bowl, but until they start finishing teams off, the thought of collapsing will stay around.

      "I recognize we're not facing any demons here this week," Quinn said. "It's the 2017 version of us and them. We don't get to replay that one. How it ended, it was a bummer.

      "We talked about it maybe once or twice during our time. But what I can say is when you get back in the regular season, man, you just go play for it and get all you can, as hard as you can, right into it, to be the best we can be. That's where we're at and that's where we're headed."

      --With the return of defensive end/linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., the Falcons figured to extend their streak of games with a sack to 20.

      But the streak was snapped in the 20-17 loss to the Dolphins.

      The Falcons didn't have a sack, but had five quarterback hits and batted down seven Jay Cutler passes. The rush couldn't get to Cutler, who was throwing a lot of quick passes.

      The Falcons did a good job of timing their jumps and clogging up his passing lanes with the tipped balls.

      The Falcons also had a streak of eight games with two or more sacks.

      Beasley, who led the league in sacks last season with 15.5, was playing with a hamstring injury and admitted that he was less than 100 percent.

      "It went good for me," Beasley said. "I wasn't at my best a little bit of the game, but I guess those are the kind of the kinks that I have to work out and improve on coming back."

      He was pleased with the defense's start.

      "Man, I thought we came out on fire," Beasley said. "We got off to a hot start and that fire kind of ran out there in the second half."

      He believes the Falcons will move on from the tough loss as they start to get ready to face New England in a rematch of Super Bowl LI.

      "You just move on, if you don't you get blasted from the past," Beasley said.

      Beasley doesn't have an answer for the Falcons' second-half collapse.

      "Shoot, they played better than we did," Beasley said. "They made better calls. Their players played a little better than we did I guess. I felt like we came out on fire, but we didn't finish like we wanted to."

      --Falcons tackle Ryan Schraeder knew he didn't have a good game against the Dolphins.

      "It was a tough game," Schraeder said just before leaving the locker room.

      He missed the Detroit and Buffalo games and most of the Green Bay game with a concussion.

      The former Valdosta State standout wasn't happy with his performance.

      "I did OK," Schraeder said. "I had some issues in pass protection with Cameron Wake, but nothing that can't get corrected."

      Schraeder allowed six of the Falcons' 10 total pressures and finished with a 24.4 grade from profootballfocus.com. He ranked 51st out of the 51 tackles to play before the Sunday night game.

      --Right guard Wes Schweitzer continues to play well after a shaky debut in Chicago.

      Schweitzer didn't allow a pressure in 39 pass blocking snaps and finished with his highest game grade (83.3) of the season from profootballfocus.com. He has now graded as a top-10 guard in two consecutive games.

      NOTES: FS Ricardo Allen had seven tackles in his return to action. He missed one game with a concussion. ... RT Ryan Schraeder played his first game back after missing the past two games in the league's concussion protocol. ... WR Marvin Hall had a 40-yard touchdown catch. It was his first career touchdown catch. ... QB Matt Ryan went 24-of-35 for 248 yards and one touchdown. This is the 60th straight game Ryan has thrown for at least 200 yards and this is his 23rd straight game with a passing touchdown -- currently the longest streak in the NFL. ... RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman teamed up for 115 total yards. Freeman finished the game with nine carries for 68 yards and a 7.6 yards-per-carry average. ... RB Tevin Coleman scored his 10th career rushing touchdown and his first of the year. He finished the game with nine carries for 32 yards.

      --LB Deion Jones recorded his first interception of the season - third of his career. He finished the game with 11 total tackles - highest of the season and tied for the second highest in his career.

      REPORT CARD VS. DOLPHINS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: C - Matt Ryan, the reigning MVP, has thrown six interceptions over the past three games, including two losses. He's committed seven turnovers. Ryan missed on his first throw of 20 yards or more, but connected with wide receiver Marvin Hall on his second deep ball for a 40-yard touchdown. Ryan had connected on only 3 of 15 passes traveling 20 yards or more before his bomb to Hall. With Mohamed Sanu out with a hamstring injury, Ryan moved the ball around to seven receivers in the first half. Right tackle Ryan Schraeder struggled in pass protection.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: C - The Falcons continue to try to finesse things in short-yardage situations. On their first possession, the Falcons settled for a field goal after getting stopped on third-and-1. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian called a toss sweep and Tevin Coleman lost a yard. On their fourth possession, Freeman busted loose for a 44-yard gain in the second quarter to set up Coleman's six-yard touchdown run, the 10th rushing touchdown of his career. The run game was stymied in the second half and was held to 18 yards after it amassed 82 yards in the first half.

      --PASS DEFENSE: C - Middle linebacker Deion Jones had a nice interception when he made up some ground on a weak side-armed passed by Jay Cutler intended for Jarvis Landry. He was spying Cutler when he picked off his second pass in the third quarter that was negated by a roughing the passer penalty on Grady Jarrett. The Falcons were fine with Landry, Kenny Stills and tight end Julius Thomas working underneath. They just couldn't let Stills get open deep and they were successful. The defensive line did a good job of getting their hands up as Cutler wanted to just dink and dunk on short routes as they batted down seven passes.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: F - Dolphins running backs Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams had some success running to the weak side of an unbalanced line. The Falcons gave up 125 yards rushing against Chicago. They gave up 117 against Buffalo, 71 to Detroit and 59 to Green Bay. The unit did a better job with missed tackles, but defensive end Brooks Reed lost containment early when Ajayi scooted outside for an 18-yard gain. The Dolphins finished with 139 yards to lead the comeback. The Falcons keep talking about being knocked out of their gaps and not playing sound.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus - Kicker Matt Bryant missed his first field-goal attempt of the season, a 59-yard attempt right before the half. He was about three yards short and punter Matt Bosher made the tackle on the return. Bosher's punts had hang times of 4.53 (47 yards) seconds, 3.92 (26-yard shank) and 4.99 (55 yards). Bosher had to run on his third attempt after the snap was botched by long snapper Josh Harris.

      --COACHING: D - Falcons head coach Dan Quinn told the CBS network that the team didn't play with emotion against Buffalo and lost. So, against the Dolphins, the Falcons went over the edge a couple of times and earned stupid penalties and almost started a fight on the sideline. The Falcons must figure out how to play smart and with emotion. Jarrett's knockdown of Cutler was utterly unnecessary, way too late and it led to a Dolphins touchdown to make it 17-14. Rookie Takkarist McKinley also had an unnecessary roughness penalty.

  • Ravens' offense is broken
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- One week after a promising performance, the Baltimore Ravens are back to figuring out ways to ways to fix a broken offense.

    • Compounding that challenge, Baltimore's run defense played just as poorly.

      The Ravens did not score an offensive touchdown in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Chicago Bears. Baltimore also gave up 231 rushing yards, the most the franchise has ever allowed.

      The loss dropped the Ravens to 3-3 and into second place in the AFC North behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, who picked up an uplifting win on the road against the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

      Ravens head coach John Harbaugh insists there are solutions to the team's problems heading into a Week 7 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Harbaugh is confident his team can make a run at the playoffs.

      "Spinning your wheels and being at .500 is in the hunt," Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. "We're very much in it. We've had three really good games, and in some ways, excellent games. We've had three not so good games. We need to find a way to win games. You need to stack as many wins as you can."

      Much of the problems against the run could be solved if nose tackle Brandon Williams is able to return to the lineup from a foot injury. Baltimore allowed just 85 rushing yards per game when Williams was in the lineup. In the past four games he has missed, Baltimore has allowed 169.5 yards per game.

      The players acknowledge that Williams' absence has hampered the team's ability to stop the run.

      "It will be a big difference. He's a guy that demands two blockers at all times," defensive tackle Willie Henry said. "So, that leaves a lot of one-on-one matchups for the other defensive linemen like (Michael) Pierce and other players that make plays. It keeps linebackers free and clean. It'll be exciting when he gets back."

      The solutions are not nearly as simple on offense.

      Quarterback Joe Flacco had another poor game against the Bears, going 24 of 41 for 180 yards with two interceptions. He had a 48.8 passer rating and did not complete a pass for more than 17 yards.

      However, Flacco is hampered by a group of receivers who struggle to catch the football. On the year, Flacco has thrown for 1,003 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 66.1 passer rating. He missed all of training camp with a sore back, and has been sacked 12 times this season.

      "You keep going back at it, and you keep slinging it around, and you keep handing it off," Flacco said. "You keep doing everything you can. No matter what happened in the past. Everybody always says -- and it is a bit cliche -- about putting it behind it you and moving on to the next one, but it is what you have to do. It is easier said than done, but it is what we have to, and I think we have the guys that can do it."

      So far, though, the players on offense have struggled to produce. The Ravens travel to Minnesota in Week 7 and another loss would mean an uphill climb to make the playoffs for just second time in the past five seasons.

      --The Ravens pride themselves on special teams making key plays. That unit had one of its best games against the Bears, almost single-handedly keeping the team in the game.

      Bobby Rainey, who was signed by the team Tuesday, returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter that gave the Ravens some life. Michael Campanaro returned a punt 77 yards to pull the Ravens to within 24-22 with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter.

      With the offense still struggling, Baltimore could continue to rely on special teams to help put points on the scoreboard.

      "I kind of knew they brought me in here to play," Rainey said. "I knew I was coming here to play. In the position I was in, I had to learn quickly. As a professional, you just have to pick up and go. It doesn't matter what your circumstances are. I knew I had a big role coming in on special teams. In the position I play, I try to bring a spark to the team."

      --For the third straight year, injuries are having a devastating impact on the Ravens. The team has a league-high 16 players on injured reserve and had seven players inactive against Chicago because of injuries.

      The Ravens lost two more players this week. Tight end Maxx Williams had to leave the game with an ankle injury that had kept him out of the previous three games. Williams was hurt after catching a pass, but lost a fumble on the play that ended a potential scoring drive on the 19-yard line.

      Williams, a second-round draft pick in 2015, has been hampered with injuries throughout his career. He could now be the 17th player headed to injured reserve.

      In addition, receiver Breshad Perriman suffered a possible concussion when he was hit attempting to catch a pass in the second quarter. The ball caromed off him into the hands of Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan, who returned it 52 yards to set up his team's first touchdown. Perriman also missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury.

      Ravens head coach John Harbaugh did not have an update on either player Monday. However, he said the team simply needs to absorb those type of setbacks moving forward.

      "We are going to need to go better than .500 the rest of the way to accomplish what we want to accomplish," Harbaugh said. "We need to get 10 wins."

      NOTES: WR Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) did not play against the Chicago Bears after being limited in practice throughout the week. The team sorely missed Maclin and could not manage an offensive touchdown. Maclin has caught 16 passes for 159 yards and leads the Ravens with 28 targets and two touchdown receptions. ... TE Maxx Williams appeared to aggravate the ankle injury that kept him out of the past three games. Williams had to leave the game against Chicago after making a 6-yard catch that would have given the Ravens a first down. However, Williams fumbled and Chicago recovered. He has just six catches for 32 yards this season. His status for Week 7 against Minnesota is uncertain. ... WR Breshad Perriman suffered a possible concussion against the Bears when he was hit trying to catch a long pass from Joe Flacco. The ball bounced off Perriman's hands and was caught by cornerback Bryce Callahan, who returned it 52 yards. Perriman, the team's first-round pick in 2015, missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury. He has caught just four passes for 26 yards. His status for Week 7 against Minnesota is uncertain. ... RB/KR Bobby Rainey made a big impact in his first game for Baltimore. Rainey, who was signed on Tuesday for depth, had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown -- the sixth-longest in franchise history. However, he did not have any rushing attempts. The team signed Rainey when running back Terrance West was lost indefinitely with a calf injury. ... WR Mike Wallace caught three passes for 30 yards against Chicago. He now has 501 receptions for 7,563 yards and 54 touchdowns.

      REPORT CARD VS. BEARS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: D - Quarterback Joe Flacco was 24 of 41 for 180 yards with two interceptions. He had a 48.8 passer ratings and did not complete a pass for more than 17 yards. However, his receivers had numerous drops and both interceptions came off deflections. Flacco was also sacked three times.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: B - Alex Collins and Javorius Allen split carries and combined for 123 yards. Both were effective making plays even when the pocket collapsed. They are capable of providing a spark for the beleaguered offense.

      --PASS DEFENSE: C-minus - Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was asked to manage the game and completed 8 of 16 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown. However, both Ravens safeties Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle struggled in coverage and missed tackles. The unit did not have an interception.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: F - The Ravens allowed the Bears to run for 231 yards, the most the franchise has ever allowed. Jordan Howard ran for a career-high 167 yards, including a vital 53-yard scamper in overtime. The team desperately needs NT Brandon Williams (foot) to get back in the lineup.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: A - Bobby Rainey, who was signed by the team Tuesday, returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and Michael Campanaro also had a 77-yard punt return for a score. This unit almost single-handedly kept Baltimore in the game.

      --COACHING: D - The Ravens fell to 1-2 at home and lost to a rookie quarterback for the first time in the John Harbaugh era. The offense could not manage a touchdown even when given a short field. The defense allowed the most rushing yards in franchise history. Ultimately, though, the blame falls on the players, who continue to make costly mistakes. This team is in danger of missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

  • Redskins DL Allen (foot) out at least three weeks
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    Washington Redskins rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is expected to be sidelined for at least three weeks with a foot injury, coach Jay Gruden said Monday.

    • Allen, Washington's first-round draft pick (No. 17 overall) out of Alabama, is dealing with a Lisfranc sprain sustained in Sunday's 26-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

      Gruden estimated the 6-foot-3, 288-pound Allen will be sidelined for three to four weeks. Allen has started all five games and recorded 10 tackles and one sack.

      "He's seeing Dr. Anderson for the review," Gruden said Monday. "It could take some time."

      Another notable injury involves kicker Dustin Hopkins, who was listed as week-to-week with a hip ailment, putting his availability in question for next Monday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

      Hopkins converted both field goal attempts in Sunday's victory but went for an MRI exam that revealed a rotator muscle strain in his right hip.

      "I just found out about it this morning and he's pretty sore so he got an MRI and we'll have to see how it is later in the week," said Gruden. "We'll have to work out some other kickers just in case."

      Hopkins, in his third season with the team, is 9 of 11 on field goal attempts and 12 of 13 on extra points this season. He booted a career-high 34 field goals in 42 attempts last season.

  • Steelers WR Bryant denies requesting trade
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    PITTSBURGH -- Another week and another potential distraction for the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose 2017 season might as well be titled: "As the Steelers turn."

    • Every week has soap opera-like storylines with the latest star character being wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

      A report surfaced late Sunday after the Steelers' 19-13 victory in Kansas City that Bryant had requested a trade. The NFL Network was the first to report the trade request and other news outlets quickly confirmed the report.

      But Bryant, speaking Monday afternoon at the Steelers' practice facility, said it's not true.

      "No, I'm good, man," Bryant said. "Good to go. I'm going to play ball. Finish strong and move on forward."

      Bryant is upset that rookie second-round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster has apparently passed him by in the receiver rotation. Through six games, Smith-Schuster has more snaps than Bryant (296-285) though Bryant has provided more production.

      Bryant has 17 receptions for 231 yards and one touchdown while Smith-Schuster has 15 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

      "It is what it is," said Bryant, when asked if he has had to adjust to his role this season. "I'm not complaining. I know my potential and what I can do. The little bit I get, whatever I get, I just have to make the best of it. Everything else isn't in my control."

      Last week, running back Le'Veon Bell complained about his touches after the Steelers lost to the Jaguars. Two weeks ago, it was Antonio Brown who threw a sideline temper tantrum after Ben Roethlisberger failed to throw him the ball.

      It seems like it's something new every week with this team. Before a game in Chicago last month, the Steelers were embroiled in controversy after former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva was the only member of the team to leave the locker room for the national anthem in Chicago. Players admitted the controversy was a distraction and affected their play during an overtime loss to the Bears.

      You can call the Steelers Team Turmoil - it's certainly true - but they are alone in first place atop the AFC North and in contention for a top seed in the AFC playoffs. They are 4-2 entering Sunday's home game against the Bengals. They haven't let the distractions sabotage their season, but it does make one wonder where they'd be in the standings if they were simply able to concentrate on football.

      NOTES, QUOTES

      --James Harrison is a former NFL defensive player of the year, but at 39 his role with the Steelers this season has been diminished. Before Sunday, he played just seven snaps in the first five games and had been inactive the previous two weeks against the Ravens and Jaguars.

      But with the Steelers facing Kansas City, Steelers coaches decided to give Harrison a bigger role, and he responded with a signature performance. He delivered a sack on third down that forced a fourth-and-18 and effectively ended the game as the Chiefs were trying for the late winning score.

      Harrison has had tackle Eric Fisher's number over the years. He had a sack in the AFC playoff game in January and also forced the holding penalty that nullified the tying two-point conversion. He also recorded 1.5 sacks against Fisher in s 2015 regular-season game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

      "I had a plan before I went there, what I was going to do," Harrison said. "It happened to work. I'm 39 years old, and I'm still playing a young man's game. I'm extremely blessed and highly favored. This is all God's doing. I'm just sitting back and riding the bus."

      Harrison admitted the season has been a struggle for him and said he'd like to play more. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

      The Steelers are starting rookie first-round pick T.J. Watt in front of Harrison and don't want to stunt his growth.

      "It's a good feeling anytime I go out there and play," Harrison said. "That's what I like to do. I like to compete. Anytime I'm on the sidelines of course I'm not happy about it. I want to go out there and compete. I'm not still playing this game because I want to stand on the sideline."

      --Wide receiver Antonio Brown provided the winning points for the Steelers on Sunday when he reeled in a 51-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. Brown had eight catches for 155 yards, but if the Steelers had lost the game he might have been viewed as the goat. If the ball didn't take a fortuitous bounce into his hands on the 51-yard touchdown -- after Kansas City cornerback Phillip Gaines bobbled a sure interception -- the spotlight would have been on Brown for making two mistakes early in the game.

      The first came early in the first quarter after the Steelers took a 2-0 lead after a Chiefs safety. Brown misplayed a free kick and the Chiefs recovered. The play set up the Chiefs' first points of the game, a field goal that gave them a temporary 3-2 lead.

      "I was coming up full speed on it," Brown said. "The ball took a bounce, went in the other direction. We have to find a way to get the ball in that situation. We have to recover the ball and get us another possession in the game. We're lucky it didn't (affect) the outcome of the game. We have a lot of plays we can get better from."

      The other mishap came early in the second quarter on a Ben Roethlisberger interception. Brown stopped his route and cornerback Marcus Peters made an easy pick, which again set the Chiefs up with prime field position. The defense bailed Brown after that miscue by forcing a punt.

      "In that situation, I have to get better," Brown said. "I can't leave Ben out to dry. I have to keep coming."

      STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

      PLAYER NOTES

      --LG Ramon Foster said the back injury that prevented him from playing against the Chiefs had been lingering for a few weeks.

      --RT Marcus Gilbert left the Chiefs game with a hamstring injury, the same one that prevented him from playing for the three previous games. There was no update on his status Monday.

      --WR Antonio Brown needed only 107 games to reach 9,000 receiving yards, the fewest games in franchise history to reach that milestone. The previous mark was 159 games by Hines Ward.

      --RB Le'Veon Bell recorded at least 150 yards from scrimmage for the 13th time in his career, breaking a tie with Franco Harris for the most such games in franchise history.

      --LB Vince Williams had the first multi-sack game of his career. He had two sacks against the Chiefs and boosted his season total to four.

      --QB Ben Roethlisberger improved to 6-1 as a starter against the Chiefs, including a 2-1 record at Arrowhead Stadium.

      REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus - Ben Roethlisberger had that special connection once again with Antonio Brown, but he still can't seem to find a consistent rapport with any of his other receivers. Brown caught eight passes for 155 yards and a touchdown, but no other receiver had more than 35 receiving yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster had three catches for 32 yards, Le'Veon Bell three catches for 12 yards and Martavis Bryant two catches for 27 yards. The Steelers aren't scoring a lot of points and they need Bryant to become that big-play threat that he's been in previous seasons. One positive for the passing game: tight end Vance McDonald recorded his first reception of the season, a 26-yard gain. The Steelers traded for McDonald before the season in hopes he'd add another dimension to the downfield passing game.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: A - Le'Veon Bell rushed for a season-high 179 yards on 32 carries against the Chiefs, a team he loves to play against. In his past three games against the Chiefs, he has rushed for 144, 170 and 179 yards. The first two came in 2016 - one in the regular season and the other in the playoffs. Bell complained about his touches the day the Steelers lost to the Jaguars last week. He had just 15 carries for 47 yards in that game. The Chiefs could not stop the counter play. Guard David DeCastro and tight ends Jesse James and Vance McDonald were clearing a path for Bell to churn out yards all day.

      --PASS DEFENSE: B - Alex Smith entered the game as one of the NFL's top passers, but the Steelers, who own the league's top pass defense, kept Smith and his receivers in check for most of the game. It wasn't until 6:13 remained in the game that Smith broke through with his first touchdown pass of the game. But even that came on a broken play when Smith scrambled from the pocket and found De'Anthony Thomas free in the secondary. Artie Burns and Mike Hilton missed tackles on the play and the missed tackles temporarily put the game in jeopardy. But in the end, the Steelers pass defense made plays. James Harrison's sack of Smith on third down and an incomplete pass on fourth down sealed the victory for the Steelers.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: A - One week after surrendering 231 yards to the Jaguars, the Steelers clamped down and allowed just 28 yards on 15 carries to the best rushing team in the NFL. The 28 rushing yards for the Chiefs was their lowest output in five years. The Steelers have been inconsistent stopping the run this season. One week the defense looks like Swiss cheese and the next it appears impenetrable. The Steelers believed their problems were fixable and their performance against the Chiefs suggests they were right. Now the goal should be to play that way on a more consistent basis.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: C - The Steelers had two big mistakes on special teams. The first was Antonio Brown's failure to field a free kick after the Steelers took a 2-0 lead early in the first quarter after a safety. The mishap led to a Chiefs recovery in Steelers territory and led to a field goal. The second mistake came late in the fourth quarter when the punt team allowed a 32-yard return by Tyreek Hill that gave the Chiefs excellent field position when they were trying to score the winning touchdown. Jordan Berry got off his best punt of the day -- a 62-yarder -- but it was so good that he outkicked his coverage. But as poor as the coverage was, Roosevelt Nix deserves credit for helping the Steelers win the game. His hard hit on Hill knocked Hill out for the rest of the game and the Chiefs had to try to beat the Steelers without their top play-making receiver. Chris Boswell also helped the Steelers win by kicking a field goal.

      --COACHING: B - Mike Tomlin and his staff did a fine job of preparing their players to beat the Chiefs, who had been the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler put together a game plan that limited Kareem Hunt, the NFL's leading rusher, to just 21 yards on nine carries. Butler's defense also did an excellent job against the pass until late in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs completed a 57-yard touchdown pass on a broken play that pulled them to within two points. Still, there is work to do. The offense remains a work in progress and failed to score a touchdown when it had first-and-goal at the 2 late in the first half. The red-zone struggles are holding the Steelers back from becoming a complete team.

  • Rams win with special teams
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams are 4-2 for the first time since 2006 and have shown maturity, poise, resilience and massive coaching and personnel improvements.

    • Most of that was on display when they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday to remain undefeated (3-0) away from Los Angeles.

      The offense struggled to put together consistent drives and managed just one touchdown and two field goals.

      But a defense that's rapidly rounding back into form and a spectacular effort from the special teams was enough to balance out the offensive shortcomings.

      That's the sign of a team that's transitioning back to NFL relevance after spending the last 13 years on the outside looking in while not positing one single winning season.

      More and more, the Rams are looking like a complete team able to beat opponents a variety of ways. Be it outgunning them, out-punching them or, as was the case Sunday, getting a huge lift from a special-teams unit that scored two touchdowns.

      On an afternoon in which the offense wasn't clicking, another area of the team was available to step up.

      "That is kind of exactly what I just said to a few teammates," said quarterback Jared Goff. "Obviously, you never want to do what we did offensively tonight. I don't know where we were on third down, but I know it wasn't very good. For the rest of the guys on the team to be able to pick us up and really win the game for us is the reason why we won tonight and the sign of a good team."

      And in the process, the Rams begin their long three-game odyssey away from Los Angeles on the right foot. The Rams will remain in Jacksonville this week to practice in preparation for their NFC West clash against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday in London. And after the bye week the following week, they'll return to the East Coast to play the New York Giants.

      Getting the win on Sunday kicks things off on the right foot.

      "It makes the trip more enjoyable, you know?" said Rams head coach Sean McVay. "Credit to our players. I think they just continue to show character, and continue to fight. Sometimes things don't always go our way, we've had a lot of adversity, but I think what you saw today, offense not really playing quite as well as we would like, defense and special teams picked up their performance, and it's about winning as a football team, and that's what we were able to do, and we've got to continue to improve in all three phases. I thought really, when you look at the special teams and the defense, hats off to them. They did a great job today."

      --Running back Todd Gurley II enjoyed a homecoming of sorts, having played four previous times at Jacksonville's EverBank Field as a member of the University of Georgia football team. No surprise, then, he enjoyed a solid afternoon against the Jaguars, rushing for 130 yards on 21 carries.

      "This is my stadium, right here," Gurley said. "I've had one loss in this stadium, and (three) wins. Being able to play here brings back old memories. I had my family here and a bunch of Georgia Dawg fans here, so that was a good feeling."

      --Linebacker Cory Littleton, a second-year player, is a backup on defense but is turning into a valuable player on special teams. He flashed big time Sunday by bursting through the Jaguars offensive line to block a punt inside the Jacksonville 10-yard line. Teammate Malcolm Brown picked the ball up at the 8-yard line and rumbled into the end zone for the touchdown.

      "Basically, we came out with a mindset that our special teams was going to make big plays in this game and one thing was the blocked punt," Littleton said. "We came with a scenario where we had a chance to do it and we successfully executed it."

      The Rams special teams under coordinator John Fassel have been a strength of the team. Littleton said part of it is mindset.

      "Our play on specialty teams and our whole mindset was to dominate all four phases and that's exactly what we did," he said.

      NOTES: WR Pharoh Cooper returned the opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. The last time the Rams had a kickoff returned for a touchdown was Oct. 9, 2005, when CB Chris Johnson returned one 99 yards. Cooper's return is tied for the third longest kickoff returned for a touchdown in franchise history. Two players have returned kickoffs for 105 yards (Jon Arnett and Travis Williams). Cooper's 103-yard return is tied with Tony Horne and Tommy Wilson for third longest. ... Rookie TE Gerald Everett notched his first career touchdown on a 4-yard pass from QB Jared Goff. ... CB Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted a QB Blake Bortles pass and returned it 31 yards. It was Robey-Coleman's second interception of the season. This is the second consecutive season that Robey-Coleman has nabbed two interceptions in a single season. He has five career interceptions.

      REPORT CARD VS. JAGUARS

      --PASSING OFFENSE: C -- The Rams threw for just 107 yards against the ball-hawking Jaguars, which is not acceptable given the talent on hand and the improvements of second-year QB Jared Goff. They need to do better moving forward.

      --RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Todd Gurley II exceeded the 100-yard mark for the third time in four games with 116 yards on 21 carries. The Rams would have preferred that output would have resulted in more points offensively, but they'll still take springing Gurley over the century mark any time they can. Especially in a win.

      --PASS DEFENSE: A -- The Rams gave up just 220 yards and no touchdowns while notching five sacks against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars. They also forced an interception and rushed Bortles on some other errant throws. It was a winning effort, and the kind they'll gladly live with the rest of the season.

      --RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Outside of the 75-yard touchdown run the Rams surrendered to Leonard Fournette on the Jaguars' opening play, the Rams actually did a solid job bottling up the impressive runner by limiting him to just 55 yards on 20 carries the rest of the way. Their goal was to slow Fournette down and put the game on QB Blake Bortles, and outside of the opening run that's exactly what they did.

      --SPECIAL TEAMS: A-plus -- Pharoh Cooper took the opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. Cory Littleton blocked a punt and Malcolm Brown returned it 8 yards for a touchdown, Greg Zuerlein was good on two field-goal attempts, one of which was for 56 yards, and didn't allow a kickoff return. Johnny Hekker averaged 46 yards on seven punts with a net of 43.1 and four inside the 20. That is an exemplary effort any way you slice it.

      --COACHING: B -- The Rams have some work to do on the offensive side of the ball, especially on third downs as they converted just 4 of 13 situations. And that's on head coach Sean McVay, the Rams de facto offensive coordinator for all intents and purposes. But aside from that, Wade Phillips made defensive adjustments to limit the Jaguars' powerful run game and John Fassel and the special teams were spectacular.

  • Raiders sign former 49ers LB Bowman
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    The Oakland Raiders signed linebacker NaVorro Bowman to a contract, the team announced Monday.

    • Terms of the deal were not announced by the club, but multiple outlets reported it was a one-year contract for $3 million.

      The San Francisco 49ers released Bowman on Friday after seven seasons with team. The 49ers agreed to the 29-year-old Bowman's request to be released after trade scenarios were investigated, according to general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan.

      Bowman could provide a boost to an Oakland defense that was shredded by Melvin Gordon in Sunday's 17-16 setback to the Los Angeles Chargers. The 24-year-old Gordon rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown and added nine receptions for 67 yards and a score.

      The Raiders (2-4) return to action Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1).

      Bowman, who is listed at 6-foot, 242 pounds, was originally selected by the 49ers in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Penn State.

      The eight-year veteran earned First-Team All-Pro honors four times in his career (2011-13, 2015), as well as three trips to the Pro Bowl (2013-14, 2016). During his career, he has appeared in 89 games (74 starts) and registered 808 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four interceptions (returning one for a touchdown), seven forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 28 passes defensed. Bowman also led the team in tackles in four of the previous six seasons (2011-13, 2015).

      Bowman missed the entire 2014 season after suffering a gruesome leg injury in the 2013 NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

      Bowman registered 38 tackles this season in his return from an October 2016 Achilles' tear.

      The Raiders waived linebacker Tyrell Adams in a corresponding move. Adams, 25, recorded 18 tackles in six games this season.

  • Broncos WRs Sanders, McKenzie out with sprained ankles
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    Denver Broncos wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie sustained sprained ankles Sunday night and will miss the team's Week 7 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, coach Vance Joseph said Monday.

    • "They're out this week and will be week-to-week after that," Joseph said in a radio interview on Orange and Blue 760.

      Sanders exited the Broncos' 23-10 loss to the New York Giants late in the third quarter after he was hit in the lower right leg by safety Landon Collins on an incomplete pass.

      Sanders, who is second on the team in catches (25) and yards receiving (266), was on the ground being tended to by team medical personnel for several minutes before being helped off the field. The 30-year-old did not put any weight on the ankle as he was being assisted to the bench before later being taken to the locker room on a cart.

      "Sprains can come in all different levels. But it's a sprain. It's a sprain with both guys," Joseph said. "I think Isaiah is a little bit less of a sprain than Emmanuel."

      McKenzie, who also serves as the team's punt returner, exited shortly thereafter when he fell awkwardly while leaping for a pass. The 22-year-old has one catch for zero yards this season.

      "I'm very fortunate that it wasn't any more serious then what they told me," McKenzie said. "I'm happy about that and hopefully I can be back next week or the week after that."

  • NFL senior VP of officiating defends call to overturn Jets' TD
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron stands by his controversial call to overturn the touchdown catch by New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the fourth quarter Sunday against the New England Patriots.

    • Riveron said Monday the replay reversal was "clear and obvious" in making the correct call for the proper enforcement of league rules.

      Riveron, speaking on a conference call with reporters, said the ball was loose when Seferian-Jenkins went airborne and was hit by a defender, making it a fumble as the ball went out of bounds across the goal line and through the end zone.

      "No doubt about it. It was clear and obvious," said Riveron, who makes all replay determinations from the league's New York office. "Unless it's clear and obvious to us, we will not change the ruling on the field."

      The play everyone is talking about occurred with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter when Seferian-Jenkins appeared to score a touchdown that would have closed the Patriots' lead to 24-21 after the extra point. Because the ball was ruled to be a fumble out of bounds, the play resulted in a touchback with the Jets losing possession. The Patriots went on to win 24-17.

      "Once (Seferian-Jenkins) is going to the ground, we see the ball is loose," Riveron said Monday. "Now, we know we have a fumble. By rule, he has to re-establish possession, must regain control of the football again. We see in two other instances (on the replay review) where the ball is loose, he has not regained control of the football before he lands out of bounds.

      "By rule, we have a touchback. We might not agree with the rule, but that is the rule. So the rule was enforced correctly."

      Riveron said the competition committee during the offseason may revisit the rule that gives the defense the ball when the offense loses it out of the end zone.

      "This has been something that has been brought forth to the competition committee on numerous occasions, and I'm sure we'll talk about it again," Riveron said. "We might not agree with the rule, but that is the rule, so the rule was enforced correctly."

      A number of Jets players said after the game they disagreed with the call, but Seferian-Jenkins accepted the ruling.

      "I feel like I scored, but at the end of the day, that's what the ref called," Seferian-Jenkins told reporters Sunday. "I'm going with what the ref said, and I have to have better ball security. I have to make sure I make the necessary corrections so that doesn't happen again."

      Coach Todd Bowles told reporters he's ready to move on Monday.

      "It does not matter today," Bowles said. "We have to move on to Miami. It's not going to change, so it really does not matter. It's not worth talking about for me."

  • Vikings QB Bridgewater cleared to practice
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has not played or practiced since suffering a dislocated left knee and torn ACL almost 14 months ago, was cleared to return to practice, coach Mike Zimmer confirmed Monday.

    • Dr. Dan Cooper, an orthopedic specialist who performed the major surgery on the dislocation on Sept. 9, 2016, examined Bridgewater in Dallas on Monday morning and cleared him to begin practice on Wednesday.

      "It's great," Zimmer told reporters Monday. "He's worked extremely hard. Obviously not only him but the training staff, the doctors, (head strength and conditioning coach) Mark Uyeyama, all those guys have done a great job with him to try to rehab him and get him ready to practice. It's a great deal for Teddy and we'll take it one day at a time just like we did for the last 14 months."

      Bridgewater hinted at the positive outcome with a morning tweet that said, "Thank you."

      Bridgewater has been sidelined since being injured on Aug. 30, 2016, a week before the season. When he begins practicing, the Vikings will have 21 days to decide whether to add him to the active roster or keep him on the physically unable to perform list all year.

      Bridgewater has been present in team meetings throughout his rehab and receives the game plan every week.

      "He'll be ready," Zimmer said. "Teddy's smart."

      The 24-year-old Bridgewater, the Vikings' 2014 first-round pick, is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, when he passed for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

      The Vikings ruled out starting quarterback Sam Bradford for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers due to a nagging left knee ailment, causing him to miss four of the past five games. Case Keenum has been starting in Bradford's absence.

      Keenum said after the game he is not worried about how Bradford's status or the return of Bridgewater could affect his future.

      "I don't make anything of it," Keenum told reporters.

      "I'm playing quarterback, and I love to play quarterback. I love this team, I love this offense, and I love the atmosphere. I love the stadium. It's a great spot. Like I said, there's a lot of externals in this business, and it's your job to talk through every possibility in everything that goes on, but that's not my job, so I don't have to answer that question. I can go out and play quarterback and have fun."

      Keenum, making his fourth start of the season, was 24-of-38 passing for 239 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Packers.

  • Steelers WR Bryant shuts down trade request talk
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant reportedly requested a trade recently, but he shut down those reports Monday.

    • NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported late Sunday that sources informed him of Bryant's trade request because of lack of playing time, adding that Steelers teammates and coaches are well aware that the receiver is unhappy. ESPN confirmed the report.

      Bryant told reporters Monday that he has not requested a trade.

      "I'm good ... That's up to the coaches," Bryant said when asked about his role in the offense.

      Bryant posted Sunday night on Twitter that he is happy to be in Pittsburgh.

      "Big win today and tomorrow right back to work tomorrow I am happy to be a steeler and can't wait to reach number 7 this year," Bryant tweeted hours after the Steelers' 19-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

      Bryant spoke with Steelers coaches ahead of last week's game, asking to be more involved in the offense, according to ESPN. The Steelers are not expected to trade Bryant, who is third on the team in targets (34) behind Le'Veon Bell (39) and Antonio Brown (74).

      Bryant, 25, missed the entire 2016 season due to a suspension by the NFL for multiple drug violations under the substance-abuse policy. He has 17 catches for 231 yards and one touchdown in six games this season.

      Bryant has 93 career receptions for 1,545 yards and 15 touchdowns in 27 regular-season games since being drafted in the fourth round in 2014. On Sunday, he had two catches for 27 yards.

      Bryant said his goal this week is preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals.

      "I know my potential and what I can do," Bryant said Monday. "The little bit I get or whatever I get, I just have to make the best of it. Everything else is out of my control."

  • Peterson makes impressive debut with Cardinals
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The good news is Adrian Peterson may have just saved the Arizona Cardinals' 2017 season.

    • The bad news is he almost killed their starting quarterback, which likely would have derailed Arizona's season altogether.

      "A couple of times, he almost ripped my shoulder out of the joint just handing the ball off to him," Carson Palmer said. "He's just so powerful."

      Peterson couldn't have enjoyed a much better debut with his new team, rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries during the Cardinals' wild 38-33 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

      The 32-year-old, acquired five days before the game in a trade with the New Orleans Saints, ran for more yards (84) on his first eight carries than the Cardinals had gained in any of their previous five games.

      Peterson joined an Arizona offense that entered Sunday's game ranked last in the league in rushing at just 51.8 yards per game. He had more than that after just four carries, running for 54 yards during the Cardinals' game-opening drive, which he capped with a slicing and dicing 27-yard run.

      It was Peterson, in fact, that helped the Cardinals score on each of the first five possessions and ultimately climb to a giant 31-0 lead early in the third quarter. Peterson showed signs of incredible strength on some runs and timeless agility on others, juking and jump-cutting his way for big gains throughout the day.

      He was so exciting, Palmer said he caught himself watching Peterson run instead of continuing some of his rollouts after handoffs.

      "I couldn't help it sometimes," Palmer said. "I'm supposed to be booting out and doing some stuff and I just couldn't help but to turn and look."

      Peterson, meanwhile, couldn't help but feel some self-satisfaction after hearing for weeks that he's probably washed up and at the end of his brilliant career. After all, how could he be a third-team running back with the Saints and expect to become a lifesaver for the Cardinals?

      That could be exactly what he becomes in Arizona, however.

      "It's satisfying," he said. "Up until this point you hear so much from outside sources, and I do a great job of blocking that out. But I'm hearing it and when you hear those things they kind of hit you a little bit.

      "For me, I never lost focus. I have always understood what God has blessed me with.

      "So being able to come here and have the opportunity to display it, it was satisfying. It felt good. I am going to say that and be humble. It felt good. We got the W and that was the most important thing before heading to London and doing better."

      Peterson would have finished with 179 rushing yards against the Bucs had a 45-yard gain not been negated because of an illegal block in the back on the other side of the field.

      "It happens," Peterson said. "It's unfortunate, but at the end of the day, I know there are going to be a lot of opportunities. I just have to keep pressing. You have those types of obstacles that come within the game. It's four quarters and it's all about how you respond to it."

      Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had a pretty huge day himself with 10 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown, said he just wishes he could have been a teammate of Peterson in Arizona a long time ago -- like when the Cardinals had a chance to draft the running back out of Oklahoma and decided to pass.

      "I'd have a Super Bowl ring already," Fitzgerald said.

      With Peterson helping to establish a running game and making opposing defenses have to actually start respecting the Cardinals' play-action pass, it figures to do wonders for Palmer, the 37-year-old quarterback who entered the game having been sacked more times than any other quarterback in the league.

      "It's great to see Carson only throwing the ball 22 times," Fitzgerald said. "His wife will be a lot happier. He won't be walking around so slow. He can play with the kids at the house."

  • Gamble proves costly in Chiefs' loss to Steelers
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 16, 2017

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers held off Kansas City for a 19-13 win at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, dodging a last-minute rally after the Chiefs pushed the ball past midfield with just more than a minute to play and needing a touchdown to win.

    • But Kansas City might have needed only a field goal to tie, had head coach Andy Reid made a different decision earlier in the fourth quarter.

      The Chiefs offense struggled to move the ball much of the game against the Steelers, and found themselves trailing 12-3. On the final play of the third quarter, quarterback Alex Smith somehow escaped a Pittsburgh blitz and found running back Kareem Hunt in the open field. Hunt rumbled for 37 yards, and a late hit against Smith by safety Mike Mitchell put the ball at the Steelers' 12-yard line, giving the Chiefs their best field position of the day.

      "We hadn't been down there and hadn't done much throughout the afternoon," Reid said. "We had an opportunity to get down there and potentially score. We felt like we had a couple of plays that we felt real good about and we called one of them."

      Reid decided then he wanted a touchdown and not a field goal. He planned to go for it on fourth down no matter what happened.

      "I was the whole way, yeah," he said after the game.

      Smith lined up in an empty backfield on fourth-and-2 from the 4-yard line with five receivers against man coverage in the secondary.

      "That was the first positive drive and we get down there in the red zone and it was a big opportunity if you can convert there," Smith said. "Guys were ready for it."

      He initially looked left toward tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. Defensive end Cameron Heyward beat left tackle Eric Fisher to the edge and forced Smith to roll to his right. He found tight end Demetrius Harris in the end zone and fired his direction.

      "I found a void and he threw a good ball and I had a chance to go get it," Harris said.

      The tight end appeared initially to make the catch. He possessed the ball with two feet on the ground, but strong safety Sean Davis tied up the ball, eventually stripping it from the grasp of Harris.

      "I feel like I had the ball long enough, for two seconds, to call it a touchdown," Harris said, "but he made a great play on the ball because his hand was stuck between the ball and my hand."

      Reid did not believe Harris completed the catch.

      "I didn't think he had it," Reid said. "He didn't have complete control of it."

      The Steelers thought Davis came up with an interception. Head coach Mike Tomlin did not argue the call.

      "They said he did not maintain possession of the ball through contact with the ground," the coach said.

      Tomlin said his team made key plays when they needed them.

      "Obviously we weren't perfect, particularly in the second half as they made their run," Tomlin said. "They're a good team and they're competitors, so we expected them to do that. Thankfully we were able to ward those guys off with a couple of significant plays."

      Bypassing the field-goal try came back to haunt the Chiefs. Smith later connected with wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas for a 57-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 12-10. Steelers quarterback Ben responded with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown that put the Steelers up 19-10.

      The Chiefs responded quickly with a 33-yard field goal from Harrison Butker to cut the edge to 19-13 with 3:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. The team's defense forced a punt, which Tyreek Hill returned 32 yards to the Kansas City 44-yard line with 1:42 remaining.

      If the Chiefs settle for a field goal earlier, they likely needed only a field goal to force the game into overtime, drastically changing the team's focus on the final drive.

      "It didn't work out," Reid said. "Hindsight ends up being that I wish we would have kicked it. But at the time I felt pretty strongly that we would complete it."

  • Broncos WR Sanders (ankle) exits game
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    DENVER -- Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders left Denver's Sunday night game against the New York Giants late in the third quarter due to a right ankle injury.

    • The team announced he would not return to the game.

      Sanders was upended as he ran a crossing route. Giants safety Landon Collins made a diving attempt for Trevor Siemian's low pass, which was intended Sanders. The Broncos wide receiver was sprinting toward the pass as well and toppled over the diving Collins.

      Sanders was on the ground being tended to by team medical personnel for several minutes before being helped off the field. He did not put any weight on the injured ankle as he was being assisted to the bench.

      A short time later, he was then taken to the locker room on a cart for further examination.

  • WR Williams plays first game for Chargers
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Los Angeles Chargers rookie wide receiver Mike Williams made his long-awaited NFL debut on Sunday in a 17-16 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

    • The Chargers used the seventh overall pick in the draft to take the former Clemson standout, but he had been sidelined for months with a herniated disk in his lower back.

      "Just to be out there with my teammates, in this game, it feels good," Williams said. "And to go out and get a (win), it feels good. I was a little nervous. I tend to get nerves before every game, but just going out there, getting in the rhythm of the game, I felt good."

      Williams had about 10 plays and caught one pass, a 15-yard throw from Philip Rivers during a 59-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. On third-and-6 from the Oakland 34, Williams found an open spot in the Raiders' zone coverage over the middle and Rivers hit him.

      "That was a big catch," Williams said. "We went on and scored on that drive. It was a big conversion for us."

      --Raiders long snapper Jon Condo took the blame for kicker Giorgio Tavecchio's missed extra-point attempt after a touchdown with 7:51 left that left Oakland's lead at 16-14.

      "I had a bad snap," Condo said. "Marquette (King) did a good job getting it down, and Giorgio did the best that he could to get it through. I let the team down. The team practices all week to go out there and do their job. I had my opportunity to go out there and do my job and I didn't come though."

      Tavecchio made a 44-yard field goal Sunday, making him 9 of 9. He has made 13 of 14 extra points.

      --Chargers safety Adrian Phillips left the game with 6:49 left in the first quarter after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Los Angeles outside linebacker Jatavis Brown.

      After the game, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said he didn't yet know whether Phillips sustained a concussion or how long he would be out.

      "He went to the (trainer's) tent, they told me he was out," Lynn said. "I'm going to find all that stuff out."

      Defensive tackle Corey Liuget missed some snaps with back tightness.

      "He'll probably be fine," Lynn said.

      --Raiders quarterback Derek Carr pointed the finger at himself for Oakland's struggles on offense.

      "Sometimes these things happen in life where you think you're doing a good job of certain things, especially as a leader, but then it's not going the right way," Carr said. "So you have to go back and think, 'What do I need to do?' At the end of the day, this is my fault. It's not my players' fault, it's not my teammates' fault. This is all on me.

      "So I have to get it right. I have to somehow make it click better or maybe I can talk to them better. Maybe I can explain things better."

  • Broncos QB Siemian returns after being sidelined by shoulder injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    DENVER -- Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian left Denver's Sunday night against the New York Giants late in the second quarter with a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury.

    • His backup, Brock Osweiler, came in for the Broncos to finish out the second quarter, but Siemian returned to play when the game resumed following halftime.

      Siemian appeared to hurt his shoulder when he dived to try to tackle Janoris Jenkins near the end of the New York cornerback's 43-yard interception return for a touchdown.

      Siemian landed hard on his left side as he stretched out to try to make the stop. He hurt the same shoulder last season and was forced to miss a start against the Atlanta Falcons in October 2016.

  • Saints DE Jordan celebrates big play with dunk
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    NEW ORLEANS -- Defensive end Cam Jordan can do a lot of amazing things on the football field, but the greatest play of his seven-year NFL career -- an end-zone interception of Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford for the decisive touchdown in the New Orleans Saints' 52-38 victory on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome -- ended with a slam dunk.

    • Jordan's excitement about the first touchdown of his career caused him to go off the reservation just a bit. After cradling the ball for the interception, he at first faced the goal post and raised the football above his head as though he were about to shoot a free throw.

      But he drove the lane instead, leaping to dunk the ball over the crossbar. That excessive celebration -- launched in New Orleans by former Saints tight end Jimmy Graham but later outlawed by the NFL -- merited an unsportsmanlike penalty on the ensuing kickoff.

      It didn't matter.

      On the game-winning interception, Jordan lined up at right defensive end and then ran a twist toward the middle. He overpowered Lions center Travis Swanson and then saw Stafford cock his right arm to pass.

      Jordan leaped with his left hand, deflected the pass into the air and easily grabbed it as it fell into his arms. Suddenly, the Saints, who had seen a 45-10 lead nearly evaporate to a tenuous 45-38 advantage, were up by 14 points with 5:08 left.

      "We knew that (Stafford) was giving up sacks and that he had a whole lot of passes batted," Jordan said. "We had to take advantage of that. Did it result in my first (NFL) touchdown? Yes, it did. Did I enjoy every minute of it? For sure."

      Jordan also forced a fumble and stripped Lions running back Theo Riddick of the ball in the third quarter, which led to an interception by safety Kenny Vaccaro. On another play, Jordan bull-rushed tackle Brian Mihalik into Stafford for a sack.

      Jordan had five tackles, including two sacks of Stafford, two quarterback hurries and three tipped passes.

      "Interceptions, fumbles and recoveries -- it was a tremendous game by the defense," Jordan said. "I can't speak enough of how young our defense is but how much they love to play this game."

  • Beathard earns starting nod as 49ers QB
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    LANDOVER, Md. -- San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard couldn't author a storybook ending when he replaced Brian Hoyer in Sunday's 26-24 loss to the Washington Redskins.

    • He did, however, earn himself a job.

      Head coach Kyle Shanahan, after watching his team fall to 0-6 with their fifth straight loss by three or fewer points, said Beathard will remain the team's starter.

      "I thought he came in and competed," Shanahan said. "By no means were things perfect, but the game is not too big for the guy and he comes in and doesn't hesitate. He's extremely tough."

      Beathard entered with the 49ers trailing 14-0 in the second quarter. Late in the first half, he completed three straight passes in the two-minute drill and the 49ers eventually scored on the final play of the half to pull within 17-7.

      In the second half, the 49ers scored 10 straight third-quarter points to tie it. With his team trailing 26-17 late, Beathard threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson with 1:58 left.

      After Washington punted, the 49ers drove to the Redskins' 40 before an offensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver Pierre Garcon pushed them back to midfield and out of field-goal range.

      "Obviously I don't agree with it, but that's part of the game," Beathard said. "You can't put it in the refs' hands. You've got to go win it as an offense, as a defense, as a team."

      Beathard, drafted in the third round out of the University of Iowa, completed his first NFL pass attempt for 13 yards and went on to finish 19-of-36 for 245 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

      "He came in there and gave us a little bit of a spark, gave us a few off-schedule plays which was nice, and the main thing is we'll watch the film," Shanahan said.

      Hoyer passed for over 300 yards in last week's loss at Indianapolis, but was 4 of 11 for 34 yards and was sacked once in San Francisco's first four drives Sunday.

      "I don't think we helped Brian. I thought there were a lot of drops early," Shanahan said. "C.J.'s had a good week of practice. He's put two good weeks together. I had a feeling going in that if it went like that, I had to make the move to give us a chance to win."

      Hoyer, 32 years old and playing for his sixth team, is once again a backup.

      "I've been in this situation before and C.J. is a great kid, so I'll be there every day trying to help him as much as I can," Hoyer said.

      Beathard's coming out party took place against a team for whom his grandfather, Bobby, served as general manager in the 1980s. During his tenure the Redskins won two Super Bowls and three NFC championships. He will be considered for the pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor the day before Super Bowl LII.

      "I think it's really cool. During warmups you look up and you see your grandpa's name around the stadium," Beathard said. "He's a tremendous person. I've learned so much from him. Just trying to be like him every chance I can."

  • Kaepernick files collusion grievance
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing the 32 owners of collusion, his legal team announced on Sunday.

    • Kaepernick has remained unemployed through the first six weeks of the NFL season, even when injuries to other quarterbacks created job openings. He retained attorney Mark Geragos to represent him.

      "We can confirm that this morning we filed a grievance under the CBA on behalf of Colin Kaepernick," Geragos said in a statement, in reference to the collective bargaining agreement. "This was done only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.

      "If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protests -- which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago -- should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.

      "Colin Kaepernick's goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field."

      The 29-year-old Kaepernick said his agent reached out to all 32 teams to make sure they were aware of his interest in playing this season. He opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason.

      Kaepernick has been a controversial figure since he first sat and then knelt during the national anthem before games with the 49ers in the 2016 season. The move was the beginning of what turned into league-wide protests earlier this season after President Donald Trump made critical comments of players who don't stand for the national anthem.

      Kaepernick and his legal team are claiming the owners violated terms of the collective bargaining agreement, specifically a clause that prohibits teams from acting together in regards to a player's employments status.

      "No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making," the CBA states, adding that the clause applies to "whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player" and "whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player."

      NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has stated on multiple occasions this season that Kaepernick is not being blackballed.

      The Players Association said it will back Kaepernick in his fight against the NFL and is in the process of scheduling a conference call with his advisors for early this week.

      "Our union has a duty to assist Mr. Kaepernick as we do all players and we will support him," the NFLPA said in a statement. "The NFLPA has been in regular contact with Mr. Kaepernick's representatives for the past year about his options and our union agreed to follow the direction of his advisors throughout that time."

      Among the teams who lost a starting quarterback this season were the Miami Dolphins. In that instance, Miami lured Jay Cutler out of retirement to be its signal-caller, citing a relationship Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and Cutler developed when both were with the Chicago Bears.

      The Baltimore Ravens considered Kaepernick when Joe Flacco sustained a training camp injury but ultimately passed on signing him.

      The Tennessee Titans needed a quarterback earlier this month when Marcus Mariota was injured. They opted for journeyman Brandon Weeden.

      The Green Bay Packers could be in the market this week after losing Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone on Sunday.

      Kaepernick passed for 2,241 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while fumbling a career-worst seven times with the 49ers last season. He also ran for 468 yards and two touchdowns.

      In six NFL seasons, Kaepernick has passed for 12,271 yards with 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, adding another 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

      Kaepernick, who guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season, has indicated he would stand for the national anthem this season.

  • Confusing rule highlights Jets-Patriots game
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The latest installment of an NFL rule nobody quite understands occurred on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

    • Here's the nitty-gritty: The New England Patriots beat the New York Jets, 24-17.

      The part everyone is talking about occurred with 8:24 remaining in the fourth quarter when tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins appeared to score a touchdown that would have closed the Patriots' lead to 24-21 after the extra point.

      The call on the field initially was a touchdown, but it was reversed because, as referee Tony Corrente explained, Seferian-Jenkins fumbled into the end zone out of bounds, which is a turnover. But let him explain further, as he did after the game.

      "The final shot that we saw was from the end zone that showed the New York Jets' runner, we'll call him a runner at that point, with the football starting to go toward the ground," he said to a pool reporter. "He lost the ball. It came out of his control as he was almost to the ground. Now he re-grasps the ball and by rule, now he has to complete the process of a recovery, which means he has to survive the ground again.

      "So in recovering it, he recovered, hit the knee, started to roll, and the ball came out a second time. So the ball started to move in his hands this way. He's now out of bounds in the end zone, which now created a touchback. So he didn't survive the recovery and didn't survive the ground during the recovery is what happened there."

      Got all that?

      Basically, if you try to recover your own fumble in the end zone, you have to complete the process of the recovery, just as you would have to complete a catch in the end zone, without letting the ball hit the ground or squirt away again.

      Corrente added that the play was initially ruled a touchdown by down judge Patrick Turner because Seferian-Jenkins' back was to him "when all the action occurred."

      "If I take care of the ball the way I'm supposed to and I don't let it move or anything like that, we don't have this discussion," said Seferian-Jenkins, who finished with eight catches for 46 yards and a touchdown that actually counted.

      Added head coach Todd Bowles: "From my angle on replay, I didn't see the ball fumbled. I saw it bobbled and I saw him gain control of it."

      Quarterback Josh McCown called the play "frustrating" but the 38-year-old, who has seen plenty of ups and downs in his career, took it in stride.

      "The refs are doing the best job they can," he said. "They look at it, they make the best call they can, and you move forward. It's a difficult rule to understand."

      Many of the 77,562 fans were left confused. Even some Patriots fans.

  • Trubisky enjoys contributing to Bears' OT win
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 15, 2017

    BALTIMORE -- Chicago rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky showed poise with his arm and feet, helping the Bears come away with a 27-24 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

    • Trubisky dodged a defender and ran 19 yards for a first down in the second quarter. The Bears later used some trickery to score a touchdown when Tarik Cohen took a handoff from Trubisky and threw a 21-yard pass to tight end Zach Miller in the corner of the end zone.

      "This was a lot of fun," said Trubisky, who absorbed four sacks. "We were playing in a hostile environment. It's a tough place to play. We were playing a good team and we won."

      Trubisky did a solid job managing the game and completed 8 of 16 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown. He also picked up 32 yards rushing on four carries.

      Trubisky became just the first rookie quarterback to win in Baltimore in the John Harbaugh era.

      He made other key plays that were a big part of the win. Trubisky picked up a bad snap in the end zone and threw an incomplete pass that prevented a safety. He also threw an 18-yard pass to wide receiver Kendall Wright that helped set up the winning kick.

      It was an all-around encouraging day for the Bears, who snapped a 10-game losing streak on the road.

      Trubisky was the second overall pick in the draft from North Carolina, where he set season records for passing yards (3,748), touchdowns (30) and total offense (4,056) last season.

      The Bears are confident his game will translate to the NFL. Trubisky certainly provided a huge dose of optimism moving forward.

      Chicago head coach John Fox was happy with the collective effort of his team.

      "It's all about the hearts of the players," Fox said. "The players, the coaches and everybody, we're all in it together. You tell them what we have to do to win the game, and it was evident they did."

      --Special teams were one of the few bright spots for the Ravens and kept them in the game against the Bears.

      Bobby Rainey returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter that gave the Ravens some life.

      Rainey was signed by the team on Tuesday when Terrance West was ruled out with a calf injury. The journeyman Rainey made an immediate impact.

      "I kind of knew they brought me here to play," Rainey said. "In the position I was in, I had to learn quickly. As a professional, you just have to pick up and go."

      Michael Campanaro also returned a punt 77 yards to pull the Ravens within 24-22 with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter. Flacco completed the two-point conversion with a pass to Nick Boyle that sent the game to overtime in the eventual 27-24 loss.

      "We didn't play the way we want to, but I think we showed fight all the way to the end," Campanaro said. "We have to play better in the first four quarters. I think guys showed fight. Hats off to the Bears. Big win for them. We're going to bounce back next week."

      --Linebacker Pernell McPhee, who was picked by the Ravens in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, got a measure of revenge against his former team for letting him go.

      McPhee had a key sack against Flacco in the second quarter and played a key role in a dominant day for the Bears.

      McPhee, who signed with Chicago as a free agent in 2015, led a defense that kept Baltimore's offense out of the end zone for the entire game.

      The Bears limited the Ravens to three of 18 (17 percent) on third down.

      "It was still in my system -- being a Raven, playing like a Raven," McPhee said. "That's how I was bred into this NFL world. That was my birth, just playing like a Raven, being a Raven."

      --Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had another subpar game. However, he did not get much help from his teammates.

      Flacco was 24-of-41 passing for 180 yards with two interceptions, had a 48.8 passer rating and did not complete a pass for more than 17 yards.

      Flacco was hampered by receivers who struggled to catch the ball and breakdowns on the offensive line that led to three sacks.

      Baltimore's offense did not manage a touchdown in the overtime loss to the Bears.

      So far this year, Flacco has thrown for 1,003 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 66.1 passer rating. He missed all of training camp with a sore back.

      "You have to be able to deal with the ups and downs of a season and continue to roll through," Flacco said. "It's still early on and we're a 3-3 football team. It does not feel good. Obviously, losses are going to affect you in a certain way. We have to keep our heads down and keep going."

      --Injuries continue to mount for the Ravens. This time, though, they're even more costly.

      Tight end Maxx Williams had to leave Sunday's game with an ankle injury. He was hurt after catching a pass, but he lost a fumble on the play that ended a potential scoring drive on the 19-yard line.

      Williams had missed the past three games with another ankle injury.

      Wide receiver Breshad Perriman suffered a possible concussion when he was hit attempting to catch a pass in the second quarter.

      The ball caromed off him into the hands of Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan, who returned it 52 yards to set up Chicago's first touchdown. Perriman also missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury.

      Baltimore already has a league-high 16 players on injured reserve and had seven players inactive because of injuries against Chicago. Perriman and Williams were the Ravens' top two picks in the 2015 draft.

      Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been defiant in dealing with the injuries this season.

      "It just doesn't matter. It is not something we think about," Harbaugh said about the injuries. "It is not something we quantify. We don't waste any energy thinking about that. You just go and get ready for the next game."