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  • Brady: Brown's domestic violence case 'league's issue'
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 24, 2016

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady weighed in Monday on the NFL's continuing problem with domestic violence amid the outrage around the country over New York Giants kicker Josh Brown.

    • Brady knows a thing or two about NFL punishment after he received a four-game suspension to start the season over Deflategate, in which the league claims the quarterback played a role in deliberately deflating footballs before the AFC Championship Game in 2015.

      In his weekly radio interview with WEEI radio in Boston, Brady was asked about Brown, who was given a one-game suspension to start the season and was subsequently placed on the commissioner's exempt list last week after documents were released showing the kicker admitted to physically abusing his now ex-wife.

      "Domestic violence is a horrible issue," Brady said Monday. "I have no respect for that. The NFL claims to take tough stances, this is their situation.

      "I grew up with three sisters, I was very fortunate to learn from a loving father and a loving mother how to treat and respect women. I have a daughter of my own and domestic violence is a horrible issue. It's a tragedy when it happens. Any type of abuse or bullying of people who can't defend or fight for themselves, I have no respect for that."

      Brady would not go as far as saying he has issues with how the NFL handled the Brown case.

      "I think it is the league's issue," Brady told WEEI. "Obviously, there is a lot of controversy with that. I'm trying to stay out of all that. I will let them handle it. I think that is their responsibility. I certainly don't condone any part of domestic violence. I think it is a terrible, terrible thing. I think the league, they have to handle those types of things.

      "I'm just going to stay in my lane. Like I said, it's up to them to decide whatever they want to do. I'm just going to try and stay out of any kind of my opinion. I certainly have opinions, I just don't really care to share them."

      Brown was put on the exempt list Friday after new documents released last week by the King County (Wash.) Sheriff's Office showed he admitted to years of physical, verbal and emotional abuse against his then-wife Molly Brown.

      NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's trip to London for Sunday's NFL game brought questions about the Brown case.

      Goodell told the BBC that he understands "the public's misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand how we get to those positions. But those are things that we have to do. I think it's a lot deeper and a lot more complicated than it appears but it gets a lot of focus."

  • Cardinals' Arians rips non-call blocked field goal ruling
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 24, 2016

    Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is livid about the non-call decision by officials on a field-goal attempt in the first half of Sunday night's 6-6 overtime tie against the Seattle Seahawks.

    • Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner leaped over Cardinals long-snapper Aaron Brewer to block a 39-yard attempt by Chandler Catanzaro with 13:25 left in the second quarter.

      Arians contested that Wagner touched Brewer as he hurdled him, which would be a rules violation. A flag was thrown on the play but was later picked up.

      Replays showed Wagner making contact with Brewer's back

      "He touched him," Arians said after the game. "You saw it. Did you see it? Didn't he touch him? Yeah, he sure did. It sure looked like it to me, but it was not ruled that way, same with the last (field-goal attempt in overtime). He definitely touched him.

      "I'm sure I'll talk to the league and we'll get some kind of explanation that is all bull----, like normal."

      Wagner had his version of the play after the game, feeling he could jump over Brewer after seeing him "really low" on film.

      "I didn't touch him, so I knew I was good," Wagner said. "I didn't feel like I touched him. I knew I cleared him, so I had two feet down and got the kick."

      Brewer said he felt "something" on his back during the play and told the officials.

      "I don't know if it was him or something, but I did feel something on my back," Brewer said. "I did feel something."

      NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino wrote on Twitter after the play that withholding a penalty was correct because Wagner did not land on a Cardinals player.

      "In #SEAvsAZ you have to land on the player for it to be a foul. The block was legal," Blandino tweeted.

      The overtime game featured two blocked kicks and missed field goals that would have won the game for both teams on what essentially were chip shots.

      Catanzaro had a chance to win the game for the Cardinals with a second field goal in overtime, but his 24-yard attempt with 3:19 remaining bounced off the left upright.

      The Seahawks took over, and after two long pass plays from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin, Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka shanked a 28-yard field goal wide left with seven seconds left to play in the extra period.

  • Giants K Brown not expected to appeal being on exempt list
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 24, 2016

    New York Giants kicker Josh Brown apparently will not appeal the NFL's decision to place him on the commissioner's exempt list.

    • Brown was put on the exempt list Friday after newly documents released last week by the King County (Wash.) Sheriff's Office showed he admitted to years of physical, verbal and emotional abuse against his then-wife Molly Brown.

      The kicker had three days to appeal the league decision, but a league source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Monday that Brown is not expected to appeal.

      NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch sent a letter to Brown on Friday stating the league wanted to investigate further upon learning of the new documents that stem from Brown's 2015 arrest.

      The new information prompted the Giants to announce Thursday that the Brown would not travel with the team for Sunday's game in London against the Los Angeles Rams. The 37-year-old veteran may be done playing for the Giants.

      The NFL suspended the kicker for only one game for the May 2015 incident -- Brown was arrested for allegedly grabbing the wrist of his then-wife in a heated dispute at a home the couple shared in Woodinville, Wash. -- because of "insufficient information to corroborate prior allegations."

      The Giants then signed Brown to a two-year, $4 million extension this offseason. By being placed on the commissioner's exempt list, Brown will still be able to collect his base salary of approximately $1.15 million.

      The new documents were part of the final case file at the King County Sheriff's Office for Brown, who was charged with assault in the fourth degree/domestic violence after an incident with his ex-wife.

      Brown's ex-wife told police that he had been physically violent with her on more than 20 instances over the past several years.

  • Seahawks, Cardinals kickers lament OT misses
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, October 24, 2016

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Typically, there is only one kicker who sits and ponders "what if" as he curls up in his locker and tries to disappear after a costly missed field goal.

    • On Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium, however, there were two of them.

      In one of the strangest endings to an NFL game, both Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro and Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka each missed what would have been game-winning field goals in overtime as the NFC West rivals battled to a 6-6 tie.

      Catanzaro, who earlier in overtime was successful on a 45-yard field goal and also connected on a 46-yarder in the second quarter, clanked a 24-yard attempt off the left upright with 3:19 left in OT.

      Hauschka pulled his 28-yard attempt wide left with just seven seconds remaining in overtime. He made a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter and added a 36-yarder in OT to extend the extra period.

      Afterward, both completely dejected.

      "I just missed it. No excuse," Catanzaro said. "Just came out of it a little too fast. Didn't stay on it. No excuse for those. The team played their tails off. I feel bad, but I have to move past it as fast as possible no matter what.

      "I know I make that kick 999,999 out of a million. It's a tough deal, but no matter what, I have to move past it as quickly as possible."

      Hauschka sounded as if he wasn't sure what happened on his ill-fated miss.

      "It is disappointing," he said. "We work hard to make those kicks all season long. ... I feel like I let the team down. We will look at it tomorrow. We'll see if there is anything in there, but I take the responsibility."

      Hauschka said the reaction from his teammates was positive, which helps.

      "We are in this together," he said. "They know how hard I work at this, and we all love each other in this locker room."

      While Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was expectedly kind in describing his veteran kicker's miss, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians didn't hold back in his criticism of his third-year kicker's failure in overtime. Catanzaro also had a 39-yard attempt blocked by Seattle's Bobby Wagner in the second quarter.

      "Make it. He's a professional," Arians said. "This ain't high school. You get paid to make it."

      Carroll said he had a short, private conversation with Hauschka.

      "He has been making kicks for us for years," Carroll said. "I love him and he's our guy."

      Catanzaro said the Wagner block from earlier wasn't weighing on him when he missed his second attempt in overtime.

      "No, it wasn't on my mind," he said. "I was just thinking about trusting my line. ... Shouldn't miss in this league. No excuses."

  • Bucs hope road form travels home
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Thanks to their road record, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the thick of the division race.

    • The Bucs improved to 3-3 with a 34-17 victory against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and moved within half a game of the first-place Atlanta Falcons (4-3) in the wide-open NFC South.

      All three of the Bucs' wins came on the road, where they defeated Atlanta, the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco and lost to the Arizona Cardinals. Tampa Bay is 0-2 at home, with losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos, but will play its next three games and four of its next five at Raymond James Stadium.

      That stretch starts with a game against the Oakland Raiders (5-2) next Sunday.

      "Wish we were 6-0, but we're not," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "Back-to back wins, back-to-back wins on the road. We got to learn how to win some games at home. Let's keep those Raiders jerseys out of the lower bowl. Let's get some Bucs jerseys in there. Let's rock that place next week. We got to do our part. We got to learn how to win at home. We've proven we can win on the road."

      --The 49ers came into the Sunday game ranked last in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing an average of 174.3 yards per game. Then they outdid themselves, giving up 249 rushing yards to Tampa Bay. Going into the game, the Bucs' offense ranked 27th in rushing at 88.6 yards per game.

      No. 3 running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who started in place of the injured Doug Martin and Charles Sims, rushed for 154 yards on 26 carries.

      "Anything is fixable," 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said of San Francisco's run defense. "I just think that the guys that get double-teamed maybe have to do a better job at taking on the double-team. I know that is difficult, but that is what we signed up for."

      San Francisco free safety Eric Reid said stopping the run is a matter of each defender doing his job.

      "Everybody is responsible for a gap," Reid said. "When you get blocked, you have to get off of those blocks, and I think that we have to do a better job of getting off of blocks, securing tackles and not letting big plays happen."

      --The Bucs placed veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson on injured reserve Tuesday due to a torn knee ligament, but staring wideout Mike Evans and reserve Russell Shepard had big games Sunday, helping fill the void.

      Evans caught eight passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Shepard made five receptions for 77 yards and one score.

      "I thought Mike Evans was huge today, coming back to the ball, catching the ball at the highest point, going for the ball in the air," Koetter said. "I think Mike has just really improved his work habits in practice. Mike, it was like he was on a mission out there."

      The same could be said for Shepard.

      "We said with Vincent out we needed some guys to step up, and even though we rotated four guys in that spot, Shep's the guy that made the plays," Koetter said.

      Shepard caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston with 48 seconds left in the first half, giving Tampa Bay a 17-14 lead. Lined up wide right, he beat 49ers rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson with a double move, then cutting back inside and catching Winston's pass.

      "I was the third read on that play," Shepard said. "I didn't think I was going to get it, but I just went up and made a play."

  • Ailing Perryman comes through for Chargers
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    ATLANTA -- Denzel Perryman missed the San Diego Chargers' victory over the Denver Broncos with a bum shoulder and was obviously playing in pain at times Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

    • More than once, the second-year player from the University of Miami had to be attended to by the Chargers' training staff.

      "He knows what he means to this football team," coach Mike McCoy said of Perryman. "He just didn't want to come off the field. He came out for a couple plays, felt a little better and went back out there. It's those type of players that you need when the game is on the line."

      Perryman was on the field when it counted, making the two biggest defensive plays of the Chargers' 33-30 overtime victory over the Falcons.

      The inside linebacker intercepted Matt Ryan to set up the tying field goal in the closing seconds of regulation, then threw Devonta Freeman for a loss on a fourth-and-one play in overtime that led to the winning kick by Josh Lambo.

      "Right now, with all the adrenaline going on, I don't feel anything. I'm too happy," Perryman said. "But when I get on that plane, I know that I'm going to feel everything. I just sucked it up during the game and gave it all I've got."

      Perryman, a second-round draft pick in 2015, made seven tackles (six solo) and got the ball he intercepted as a souvenir.

      "Their linebacker peeled off the inside route and went outside. I saw it too late," Ryan said.

      "I'm surprised I caught the ball," Perryman said. "The ball was coming right to me and I was saying to myself, 'Don't drop it.' I should have got more yards. But it feels good to make a big play."

      The fourth-down stop might have been even bigger, though.

      "The d-line did their job and I did my job," Perryman said. "I just got nice and low and shot the gap. The lineman couldn't get his hands on me and I just got Freeman's leg and hung on."

      Veteran nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who had five tackles, knows that Perryman can be a key part of the Chargers' defense.

      "He made some big plays," Mebane said. "We just try to stick together and make plays. Fortunately, we came out with a victory."

      Now the Chargers, who play at Denver next Sunday in a rematch, hope to string more than two wins together.

      "We're starting to believe," Mebane said. "We have a very young team and we're starting to believe in each other. When you win, it boosts so much confidence around the team."

      The Chargers have consecutive victories for the first time since November of the 2014 season. The Falcons have two straight losses after a four-game winning streak.

      This time it was the Chargers, who blew a 17-point lead in an opening loss at Kansas City in overtime, finishing strong after being down by that margin in the second quarter.

      "We flipped the script," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "I know it's easier to say this after a win, but we came in at halftime and I must have said it seven or eight times that we're going to win the game. ... I really was saying that."

  • Butler does it for Pats in Pittsburgh
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    PITTSBURGH -- Former Secretary of State John Kerry, the former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, met with his home-state New England Patriots following their 27-16 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

    • It was a win largely made possible by the Patriots' secretary of defense for the game, cornerback Malcolm Butler.

      Butler cut in front of star Steelers receiver Antonio Brown to make an interception in the end zone on Pittsburgh's second possession of the game. The Patriots (6-1) took advantage by immediately driving 80 yards to score, with Tom Brady's 19-yard scoring pass to running back James White finishing off the first of successive long New England touchdown drives.

      "Malcolm's interception was a big play for us. He was on (Brown) a lot, the way we set it up," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "They have great players and they're tough to cover."

      Brown made seven catches for 106 yards but was kept out of the end zone. He still doesn't have an NFL touchdown pass that wasn't thrown by Ben Roethlisberger, who sat out the game due to a knee injury.

      Asked how he made the interception, Butler said, "(I) turn around and find the ball, (I'm) just playing football. I just made the play, that's all there was to it."

      He also mimicked Brown by copying one of his signature end-zone dances, causing Brown to smile despite having a potential TD catch taken away from him.

      "Me and AB had conversations, and once I showed him how I did it (mimicked Brown's dance), I did it in a game," Butler said.

      --The Steelers (4-3) go into their bye week with two consecutive losses and a lot of injuries, including those to Roethlisberger, who could be out another month, and defensive captain Cam Heyward (hamstring).

      "We definitely do (need to get healthy)," running back Le'Veon Bell said. "Obviously, we want all of our players, but we don't look at it like that. We don't seek any comfort. We can go out there and win with the players we have out there."

      --Once-automatic Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a second extra point attempt of the season -- until a season ago, he made 523 in a row -- to go with an uncharacteristic three missed field-goal attempts on the year. And it is obviously weighing on him.

      "It's kind of piling on right now; at my position you only get so many opportunities, and that's what's hard on you mentally," Gostkowski said. "Right now, I just stink, and I need to know how to get better. It's just not working out and things keep piling on, but I'm going to hold my head high and keep working hard."

      --A Pittsburgh defense that, until a few years ago, averaged about one 100-yard rushing yard game allowed per season now has given up a 204-yard game (by the Dolphins' Jay Ajayi) and a 127-yard game (by the Patriots' LeGarrette Blount) in successive weeks.

      "I'm not concerned about the last two weeks," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I'm concerned about what just transpired (the loss to New England). We acknowledge schematically that we were willing to bleed a little bit in the run game in an effort to minimize big plays."

      --Steelers quarterback Landry Jones, who never played in his first two NFL seasons, now is 1-2 as a replacement starter for Roethlisberger. Against the Patriots, he couldn't repeat his upset win over the Arizona Cardinals a year ago while replacing an injured Roethlisberger. Against New England, he completed 29 of 47 passes for 281 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

      Before the Sunday game, he told his teammates to relax and not panic because he was starting.

      "I think he was very confident. ... He was making some plays," left tackle Alejandro Villanueva said. "I think he didn't get the full support from the rest of the offense as a group. ... As an offense, we could have done a lot more to help him out."

  • NFL notebook: Jets, Browns lose QBs to injuries
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    The latest installment of the Geno Smith Era might have only lasted four series for the New York Jets.

    • Making his first start of the season for the Jets, Smith left Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens after sustaining a knee injury while being sacked in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium.

      Smith, who was 4 of 8 for 95 yards and a touchdown, was taken down by Matthew Judon for an 8-yard loss on third-and-6 play. He was seen pointing to his knee upon reaching the sideline and soon headed for the locker room. Smith returned in street clothes in the second half and was ruled out for the contest.

      Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was benched for Smith after throwing two touchdowns and 10 interceptions four consecutive losses. He finished 9 of 14 for 120 yards and a touchdown Sunday in New York's 24-16 win.

      --Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler left the game in the second quarter due to a concussion.

      Kessler had just completed an 11-yard shovel pass when he was thrown hard to the turf by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Backup quarterback Kevin Hogan took over for Kessler.

      The only other quarterbacks for the Browns -- Josh McCown (collarbone) and Robert Griffin III (shoulder) -- are both out with injuries.

      --Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer underwent surgery on his broken left arm.

      The 31-year-old veteran could be placed on injured reserve, multiple media outlets reported. ESPN reported he will miss at least eight weeks.

      Hoyer sustained the injury in the second quarter Thursday in the Bears' 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers when he was hit by linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers on a third-down pass attempt.

      --Washington Redskins star cornerback Josh Norman sustained a concussion in the third quarter against the Detroit Lions and missed the remainder of the game.

      Norman banged the side of his head tumbling over receiver Marvin Jones Jr., who made a diving 52-yard reception on a deep throw from Matthew Stafford despite Norman committing pass interference on the play. After being evaluated on the field, Norman immediately headed to the locker room with assistance from the Redskins' medical staff.

      Earlier in the game, Lions cornerback Darius Slay injured a hamstring and was declared out for the remainder of their game.

      --San Diego Chargers reserve defensive tackle Caraun Reid was taken off the field on a cart due to a knee injury in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons.

      Reid was hit by Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman as the teammates converged to make a tackle.

      Chargers cornerback Craig Mager sustained a concussion in the third quarter during the game. Mager, who was hurt making a tackle, was wobbly leaving the field. He was taken to the locker room for additional evaluation, and the concussion diagnosis was made.

      --San Francisco 49ers starting defensive end Arik Armstead left the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the third quarter with a shoulder.

      Later in the period, San Francisco starting outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (shoulder) and backup cornerback Rashard Robinson (knee) sustained injuries.

      --Jacksonville Jaguars nose tackle Roy Miller sustained a right Achilles tendon injury against the Oakland Raiders.

      Miller's injury occurred early in the third quarter while he attempted to rush Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Miller fell to the ground and had to be helped off the field by two members of the team's medical staff.

      --Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks went down with a knee injury in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings and was taken off the field on a cart.

      Brooks was injured without making contact when he attempted a tackle against running back Jerick McKinnon. Rookie Jalen Mills replaced Brooks.

      --New Orleans Saints starting left guard Senio Kelemete walked off the field with trainers due to a stinger.

      Just a few moments earlier, New Orleans starting left tackle Terron Armstead left the game due to a lower leg injury. Armstead was helped off the field and taken by cart to the locker room for further examinations.

      Saints wide receiver Jake Lampman left the field after covering a kickoff with a right knee injury.

  • Raiders RB Murray driving force in win
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray sat out each of his team's past two games while he dealt with the painful effects of a turf toe.

    • His feet looked completely healthy Sunday.

      Murray was a driving force for the Raiders as they roughed up the defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a 33-16 victory at EverBank Field.

      "It's good to get the running game going," Murray said. "Definitely a lot more work to do on my end. I need to continue to get better and do some things better, but it's important to get the win."

      Murray was better than he gave himself credit for after the game. He finished with 59 yards on 18 carries (3.3 yards per carry) but was able to pick up many tough yards and scored a pair of touchdowns in the game.

      Oakland's most impressive drive came midway through the second quarter and was capped by a 2-yard plunge into the end zone by Murray.

      The Raiders ran 11 plays on the drive -- nine of which were on the ground. Quarterback Derek Carr was asked to throw just twice, once converting a third down.

      Murray's second score came with 2:35 remaining in the game.

      "I want the ball in my hands as many times as I could get it," Murray said.

      The Raiders received solid contributions from a pair of rookies while Murray was out and have the makings of an effective multi-faceted running game.

      Fifth-round pick DeAndre Washington has proven to be a bruising runner and is averaging 5.2 yards per attempt on 42 carries this season. Jalen Richard, an undrafted free agent, has shown good speed and elusiveness as well.

      But the return of Murray against the Jaguars (2-4) is a good sign for a Raiders (5-2) offense that totaled 344 yards Sunday.

      Murray now has 231 yards and five touchdowns on 58 carries this season.

      "It was great to see him back," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "We got him a couple of touchdowns. When we finished that last drive, we were trying to milk the clock and score if could and we did both. He was big on that drive and it was great having him back. It was great having your best players (out there)."

      --Posluszny angry

      Veteran Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny was furious with teammates Malik Jackson and Jalen Ramsey for being ejected from Sunday's game.

      Jackson was ejected with 11:37 remaining in the fourth quarter after being hit with his second unsportsmanlike penalty of the game for verbally abusing officials. His anger stemmed from a roughing the passer flag he was called for earlier in the drive.

      Ramsey was ejected later in the fourth quarter along with Raiders receiver Johnny Holton for fighting.

      "I've never seen anything like that before," Posluszny said. "That's unacceptable on a lot of different levels. Fans don't want to see that, you guys don't want to see that and we don't want to be a part of it. Just from a higher standard of playing in the NFL, we can't have that."

      Sunny in Oakland

      Instead of flying back to California after the game, the Raiders remained in Florida to begin preparing for next week's game at Tampa Bay.

      That's just fine with defensive end Khalil Mack.

      "I'm a Florida boy and it's nice to be back in Florida weather for a little while," he said. "Now we need to go out and get another victory next week."

      Mack had a sack (for a loss of 7 yards) and three tackles Sunday.

      --Bortles struggles

      Blake Bortles looked like a franchise quarterback last season while setting the Jaguars' franchise record with 35 passing touchdowns.

      He looks lost so far this season.

      With one touchdown and two interceptions Sunday against the Raiders, Bortles has now thrown nine touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season. He has been sacked 15 times and has a quarterback rating of 76.4.

      "Offensively, we're not playing as well as we did (last season)," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "I know it's going to go right to the quarterback, but we all take responsibility for that."

      Greene responsible

      Jaguars punt returner Rashad Greene took full responsibility for a miscue that gave the Raiders good field position in the first half.

      Greene muffed a low punt from Oakland's Marquette King, which was recovered by Raiders receiver Andre Holmes at the Jaguars' 17-yard line.

      Oakland eventually got a 32-yard field goal out of the turnover.

      "I judged it a bit wrong," Greene said. "I tried to get up under it, and it was too late. I should have made a better judgment of it. That's pretty much what it is. Learn from it and move on from it."

  • Smith outshines Brees where it matters most
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The straight statistical line gave the best passing performance of the game to quarterback Drew Brees in Sunday's meeting between Kansas City and New Orleans.

    • But the number that counted most fell in favor of quarterback Alex Smith. His Chiefs grabbed a 27-21 victory over Brees and the Saints at Arrowhead Stadium to move to 4-2, while New Orleans is 2-4.

      The quarterback match-up is always a big part of any NFL game, and going into the contest it appeared the Saints had the edge. In his 16th season, the 37-year old Brees owns a Hall of Fame-type resume and he rolled into Sunday's encounter as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL at this point of the 2016 season.

      He stood up to that role, completing 37 of 48 passes (77.1 completion percentage) for 367 yards (average of 7.7 yards per attempt), three touchdowns and an interception.

      In comparison, Smith hit 17 of his 24 attempts (70.8 percent) for 214 yards (average of 8.9 yards per attempt), two touchdowns and no interceptions. In the NFL passer rating, Smith finished at 126.0 while Brees was 110.3.

      And Smith picked up the victory, something he's done a lot of since joining the Chiefs in 2013 after a trade from San Francisco. Kansas City is now 34-20 in regular and postseason games where Smith has been in the starting lineup.

      He's been labeled a "game manager," but that title does not do justice to Smith's influence on the Chiefs.

      "He's probably one of the quarterbacks in the league that I feel like does not get the respect that he deserves," Brees said of Smith. "I feel like he's such a versatile player. First of all, he's tough, he can do everything. He can throw the ball -- short passing game, down the field. He does a great job with that offense.

      "I think he's playing some of his best football."

      Smith did what he does best on Sunday: he was efficient, did not turn the ball over and made big plays when needed for the Chiefs offense.

      It was a different story with Brees. Despite his impressive numbers, one of the biggest plays of the afternoon came when his pass to wide receiver Willie Snead bounced into the air when the Saints wide receiver was hit from behind by safety Eric Berry. Kansas City's nickel safety Daniel Sorensen was there to grab the ball and returned it 48 yards for his first NFL touchdown.

      "That gives them seven," said Brees. "We are on our way to getting what we think is seven points inside the ten-yard line, definitely three points, so it's a 10-point swing. At the end of the day we lose by six points. It's a 10-point swing that determines the game."

      The mistake does not take away from Smith's respect for Brees.

      "He's a heck of a player who's been doing it a long, long time," said Smith. "This may be one of the most prolific stretches in the history of the game that he's had over these last few years."

      On this Sunday, Brees had the bigger numbers, but Smith got the "W."

  • Eagles' Vaitai much improved in second start
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA -- This time a week ago, Halapoulivaati Vaitai was under fire on the field and in the locker room. The rookie offensive lineman made his first NFL start against the Washington Redskins and was pushed around by Pro Bowl defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who had two sacks. Then, Vaitai had to stand in front of his locker and review his long day with the media.

    • The media surrounded him again on Sunday, but for a different reason. Vaitai made his second NFL start against the Minnesota Vikings, who came into Lincoln Financial Field with the NFL's No. 2 defense, which was also fourth in the league in sacks. So, Eagles fans hoped for the best and expected the worst on Sunday, and at first it looked as if they would get it -- on just the Eagles' second play from scrimmage, the rookie was flagged for a false start.

      But that was the last time anybody mentioned Vaitai's name, and that's a good thing for an offensive lineman. Vaitai was thrown into the deep end of the pool when right tackle Lane Johnson was suspended 10 games for using a performance enhancing drug. And in his second start, the rookie learned how to swim.

      "I felt so much more comfortable out there today since I already had a game under my belt," Vaitai said, smiling as he added, "and I knew I couldn't play any worse than I did last week. I know I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but this was a good step in the right direction for me."

      Eagles coach Doug Pederson was criticized last week for not giving Vaitai enough help against the Redskins, but he gave him even less help against the Vikings because he felt the rookie was ready for the responsibility.

      "I felt that he kind of settled in this week and did a nice job," Pederson said.

      --No brotherly love for Bradford

      Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford did his best to downplay his return to Philadelphia and the team that traded him away just eight days before the season began. Actually, Bradford spent most of his day running away from the Eagles defense -- he was sacked six times, hit a total of 19 times, and was pressured on almost every passing play.

      "They played aggressively and they were blitzing a lot," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of the Eagles' defense. "And I would, too -- we didn't pick up anybody, so you might as well.

      "He got hit a lot," Zimmer added of Bradford, "so it's hard to evaluate his performance when we looked like a sieve out there."

      Still, Bradford assumed his share of the responsibility for the Vikings' weak performance on offense.

      "I have to find a way to overcome that," Bradford said of the Eagles' pressure. "I have to find a way to get the ball out quicker and to find completions to keep us on the field."

      --Another happy return

      There have been two kickoffs returned for touchdowns in the NFL this season and the Eagles have both of them, and in successive games. Last week, rookie Wendell Smallwood returned one 86 yards for a touchdown and on Sunday Josh Huff returned one 98 yards.

      "They're really beginning to click," Pederson said of his special teams. "You need those things -- you need special teams scores. It was just great to see it two weeks in a row."

      Last week, Smallwood gave all the credit to his blockers, and on Sunday Hugg did the same thing.

      "All I had to do was run -- they did all the hard work," he said with a smile. "They opened up a lane down the sideline and all I had to do was beat the kicker (Blair Walsh). After that, it was just a matter of running as fast as I could for as long as I needed to."

      Huff also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in his rookie season of 2014 -- that one was 107 yards against Tennessee. He's now the fifth player in Eagles history to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown. The others -- Timmy Brown (five times), Derrick Witherspoon (three), Steve Van Buren (three) and Brian Mitchell (two).

      --This and that

      Eagles safety Rodney McLeod intercepted Bradford in the end zone and now leads all NFL safeties in interceptions, with three. McLeod, in his fifth NFL season, also recorded his first NFL sack. ... Zimmer said he never considered benching and protecting Bradford in the closing minutes of a lost game. "I'm not going to pull guys," he said. "I want them to learn how to fight under pressure. So, stay in there and fight." ... Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham in the third quarter to tie Donovan McNabb with the most touchdown passes (eight) by an Philly rookie. ... Quote of the day, from Vikings defensive end Brian Robison: "They punched us in the mouth and we didn't punch back hard enough."

  • Motivated Fitzpatrick proving Jets organization wrong
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets' decision makers surely learned over the last 19 months just how motivated quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick -- who lasted more than a decade in the NFL after entering as a seventh-round draft pick out of Harvard -- is by slights, real or imagined. But he provided them another scathing reminder on Sunday afternoon.

    • Fitzpatrick, who lost his job to Geno Smith on Wednesday after throwing two touchdowns and 10 interceptions over the previous four games, relieved an injured Smith in the second quarter Sunday and went 9-of-14 for 120 yards and a touchdown to help the Jets mount a come-from-behind 24-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium.

      Afterward, Fitzpatrick, who has started for six NFL teams dating back to 2005, was asked about the emotional whirlwind of the past several days. His answer surely rankled the feathers of the three most powerful people in the Jets organization -- head coach Todd Bowles, general manager Mike Maccagnan and owner Woody Johnson.

      "That's the NFL," Fitzpatrick said. "The biggest thing in this game, in order to last, is to have a belief in yourself. Because when the owner stops believing in you, and the GM stops believing in you, and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself. That's kind of something I've had to deal with before, something I'm dealing with now."

      Bowles said Wednesday he made the decision by himself after consulting with Maccagnan and his assistant coaches. However, ESPN reported during the Jets' 28-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Monday -- when Fitzpatrick was yanked for Smith after throwing an interception in the end zone -- that the hands-on Johnson was growing impatient with his struggling team.

      Regardless of who had the final say, Bowles, Maccagnan and/or Johnson might counter Fitzpatrick's comments with the argument they believed in him enough to stick with him during a brutal season-opening stretch that came just months after they bestowed upon the 33-year-old a $12 million contract.

      Even that deal, which took six months to hammer out as the free agent Fitzpatrick held out for a more lucrative contract, served as proof of Fitzpatrick's stubbornness and me-against-the-world mentality. It's what drives Fitzpatrick, whether at the bargaining table or on the field.

      "I've probably played better as an underdog, pissed off," Fitzpatrick said, "Going forward, yeah, I'll be pissed off."

      So, too, might his employers.

      --If Bowles is upset with Fitzpatrick, perhaps his mood will be tempered by thinking about the improved performance of the Jets' beleaguered secondary.

      Third-quarter interceptions by cornerbacks Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams set up the final 10 points by the Jets. The interception by Skrine -- who returned the ball to the Ravens' three-yard-line to set up a 22-yard field goal by Nick Folk -- came just six days after he was flagged for four penalties in the lopsided loss to the Cardinals.

      "He did a good job getting the turnover," Bowles said. "He made a complete turnaround from last week."

      The picks by Skrine and Williams -- whose interception was returned to the Baltimore 24-yard-line and eventually yielded a one-yard touchdown run by Matt Forte -- equaled the amount of turnovers the Jets created during their four-game losing streak.

      Overall this season, the Jets have forced just six turnovers. Last year, they generated 30 turnovers, tied for third-most in the NFL.

      In addition, the Jets, who gave up 13 touchdown passes in the first six games, surrendered none on Sunday. The Ravens' only touchdown came in the first quarter, when wide receiver Chris Moore recovered a fumbled snap by punter Lachlan Edwards in the end zone.

      "They got turnovers, which we haven't been getting lately," Bowles said. "It's a credit to them for continuing to fight."

      --Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had another subpar game Sunday but insisted afterward his right shoulder is not bothering him.

      Flacco, who missed practice Wednesday and Thursday due to a sore shoulder and was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report, finished 25-of-44 for 248 yards, no touchdowns and two pivotal third quarter interceptions that the Jets turned into 10 points.

      It was the fourth straight mediocre performance for Flacco, who is 113-for-190 for 1,063 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions over that stretch. With Baltimore off next week, Flacco said he's looking forward to resting and strengthening his arm.

      "The last couple days have been great and I felt great coming in throwing the ball, so hopefully I won't have to deal with it," Flacco said. "I'm sure there will be a little bit (of soreness), but the fact that we have a bye week this week, hopefully I can get over it."

      --The Ravens are hitting the bye week in as good a shape as possible for a team mired in a four-game losing streak.

      Baltimore, which has been outscored by just 19 points during the skid, remains in the thick of the AFC North race. At 3-4, the Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are tied for second place, one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, who fell to the New England Patriots 27-16 in their first game without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday.

      With Roethlisberger expected to miss up to four more games -- the Steelers are also off next week -- the division is still there for the taking for the Ravens, who have played just one AFC North game thus far. Baltimore hosts Pittsburgh on Nov. 6.

      "We have to keep our head on straight and get back into a good routine and just be confident that we have the team and that we are who we think we are," Flacco said. "We have to stop playing like this. We have to get better. There are a lot of games left and we definitely have the ability to do what we want to do inside of our division. And that's what we have to look forward to."

  • Bills left questioning toughness after loss
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- This was mysterious enough to call in crime scene investigators.

    • Maybe CSI Buffalo can decipher how the Bills -- cruising along with a 4-2 record, a four-game win streak and a 17-6 third-quarter lead over a mediocre Miami Dolphins team -- could find a way to lose.

      But that's exactly what happened as the Dolphins rallied for a 28-25 win over the Bills on Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.

      "They out-toughed us," Bills starting right tackle Jordan Mills said. "I wouldn't say it was a surprise, but we didn't expect it."

      With apologies to Mr. Mills, that, by its very nature, is the definition of a surprise.

      Then again, just like Mills' confusing speech, the Bills were off their game all day.

      Known for their tough defense and their defensive-minded coach, Rex Ryan, the Bills were somehow bullied by the Dolphins, who started the day with a 2-4 record.

      Miami running back Jay Ajayi, a fifth-round pick in 2015 from Boise State, had a paper-thin resume before eight days ago. But against the Bills, he ran for 214 yards and a 7.6 average per carry.

      Ajayi joined Ricky Williams as the only players in Dolphins history to get as many as 214 yards rushing in one game. Ajayi also joined Williams, O.J. Simpson and Earl Campbell as the only players in NFL history ever to get at least 200 yards rushing in consecutive games.

      "He ran hard," Ryan said of Ajayi. "The kid made some good runs, ran through some tackles. He did a great job of bouncing and cutting back."

      Lorenzo Alexander, one of Buffalo's starting outside linebackers, said Miami showed a run scheme that reminded him of the Denver Broncos of old.

      "(Ajayi) pressed the outside, but then he was a one-cut runner," Alexander said. "He ran downhill. Once he got to the second level, he was a very strong runner and had some big plays.

      "That's why we lost this game. We gave up too many explosive plays in the run game."

      Another factor in the Buffalo loss was a lack of weapons offensively. Both starting wide receivers -- Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins -- are out with foot injuries. And No. 3 wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who had a 67-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, left the game in the fourth with a possible concussion.

      In addition, running back LeSean McCoy, who was coming off a hamstring injury, was held to 11 yards on eight carries in one of the worst games of his stellar career.

      McCoy also left the game -- Ryan said his star runner felt soreness in his hamstring -- and that left quarterback Tyrod Taylor with little in the way of established targets in the run game or passing attack.

      Other than Goodwin, no other Bills running back, wide receiver or tight end finished with more than 31 yards.

      In fact, Taylor had to call his number to get anything done. He led the team in rushing with 35 yards on seven carries, including a touchdown. And he also completed 14-of-28 passes for 221 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

      Given what Taylor had to work with, it was a solid performance.

      "It was tough to get in a groove," said Taylor, who was sacked four times. "We had a lack of execution."

      The Bills, now 4-3, need to get healthier quickly because they will return home for next Sunday's rematch with the New England Patriots. The Bills beat New England 16-0 on Oct. 2, and the Patriots will, presumably, be fired up for revenge.

  • 49ers lose three to injuries
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers starting defensive end Arik Armstead left Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the third quarter with a shoulder injury at Levi's Stadium.

    • Later in the period, San Francisco starting outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and backup cornerback Rashard Robinson sustained injuries. All three were ruled out for the remainder of the game.

      Rookie defensive end DeForest Buckner replaced Armstead, who had four tackles and half a sack before being injured.

      Lynch injured a shoulder and was replaced by Eli Harold. Robinson injured a knee.

  • Colts' Vinatieri aging like fine wine
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Adam Vinatieri is getting older. And better.

    • The Indianapolis Colts' 43-year-old placekicker hasn't missed a field goal since Week 2 last year, and his streak of perfection officially hit the NFL record book Sunday in a 34-26 win over Tennessee at Nissan Stadium.

      Vinatieri's 33-yard field goal with 3:46 left in the third quarter was his 43rd consecutive make, setting a new league record and adding one more line to a resume that might make him the best kicker in league history.

      "There's a lot of good kickers out there that have played a lot of games," Vinatieri said. "Obviously, Mike Vanderjagt held the record and I can't say enough about him -- one of the most accurate kickers of all time.

      "For me, I'm happy that we won the game and that this is a little bit to go along with it."

      No current kicker is as accomplished at Vinatieri, and it's a legitimate argument that no kicker in NFL history can stack up to what he's done. Three kickers -- Jan Stenerud, Lou Groza and George Blanda -- are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as is punter Ray Guy.

      If and when Vinatieri's career ever ends, he's a cinch to join those guys in Canton. It's debatable that the New England Patriots' dynasty would have ever gotten off the ground had Vinatieri not nailed a 45-yard field goal through a snowstorm in an AFC semifinal against Oakland 15 years ago, forcing an overtime that he ended with a chip shot minutes later.

      And now, in what should be the twilight years of his career, Vinatieri is 18-of-18 on field goals, including 11 of more than 40 yards and five of more than 50. Sure, playing in climate-controlled Lucas Oil Stadium helps, but Indianapolis plays road games too, and he's not missing in those, either.

      "It is such an honor and privilege to be able to come to work every single day and work with that guy," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "What he has done throughout his career and what he continues to do is truly amazing."

      Forty-three in a row at age 43? To Vinatieri, it's only a number.

      "We all want to do our job," he said. "You know, sometimes, the ball flies well."

      For Vinatieri, it almost always flies between the uprights.

  • Chiefs finally string together consecutive wins
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The goals for the Kansas City Chiefs were many in their game against the New Orleans Saints. One of the most important items was putting together back-to-back winning performances.

    • They can check that item off the list after a 27-21 victory over the Saints on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.

      Now 4-2, it was the first time this season the Chiefs won consecutive games. Coming off last week's 16-point victory over Oakland, they wanted to get off the roller-coaster routine and build consistency.

      "The up and down stuff will kill you as a team," Chiefs veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "No matter how it happens, you've got to string together wins. We started to do that today."

      New Orleans (2-4) was riding a two-game winning streak coming into the game, but the Saints made too many mistakes that provided Kansas City with opportunities and crushed their chances to push their streak to three games. Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints had 463 yards of offense and Brees threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns.

      But the Kansas City defense allowed just 21 points, stopping scoring opportunities for the Saints with an interception in the first half, and then a fumble recovery in the second half. Along with 10 penalties, it made a difficult job even harder for New Orleans.

      "We felt like we moved the ball well and we were pretty balanced (run to pass)," said Brees, who threw touchdown passes to wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Brandon Coleman and running back Mark Ingram. "Penalties really killed a number of our drives. We knew against Kansas City our execution had to be at a premium. Unfortunately, the penalties cost us."

      Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense could not match the yardage production of the Saints, with 326 yards and just 214 passing yards. Still, they did enough with two touchdown passes from Smith, a pair of field goals and a defensive score.

      Running back Spencer Ware continued to be the engine of the Kansas City offense by producing as a runner and receiver. He touched the ball 19 times against the Saints for 131 total yards. One of those touches came on a short pass from Smith and Ware weaved his way to a 46-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

      "I just tried to run through all those big guys," said Ware, who last year at this time was on the Chiefs' practice squad. "I think they just couldn't find me. I was happy to see some of my big guys running down field with me."

      Nickel safety Daniel Sorensen grabbed a Brees pass that was tipped and ran 48 yards for a touchdown. The throw was intended for wide receiver Willie Snead, but as the ball arrived he was hit from behind by Kansas City safety Eric Berry. The ball popped in the air and Sorensen was at the right spot at the right time.

      In the second half, Kansas City thwarted a Saints drive deep in Chiefs territory and forced a fumble by Ingram at the Chiefs 7-yard line that was recovered by cornerback Marcus Peters.

      "Those kind of things (turnovers) can't happen against a team like this in this type of environment, so we got what we deserved," Brees said.

      New Orleans moved the scoreboard first, with Brees directing his offense 80 yards on 10 plays, hooking up with Cooks on a 9-yard touchdown play. Kansas City answered back on its next possession, going 75 yards on five plays with the Smith to Ware score.

      For his second touchdown pass of the game, Smith hooked up with rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a 38-yard scoring play in the second quarter. Hill caught the ball with his left arm, while his right arm was pinned to his body by Saints cornerback Ken Crawley.

      Out of the halftime locker room, Brees marched the Saints 75 yards on 14 plays, using over eight minutes on the clock. He connected with Ingram on a 3-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Saints within a touchdown 21-14.

      Kansas City added a 39-yard field goal from Cairo Santos to push the margin to 10 points. New Orleans drove into Chiefs territory, but safety Ron Parker forced the Ingram fumble that Peters recovered, finishing up with a 21-yard return.

      "The interception gave them seven points, and then we are on our way to a touchdown, definitely at least a field goal on the fumble and it's a swing of 10-14 points," said Brees. "We lost by six points."

      But Brees again pushed the New Orleans offense into Chiefs territory and this time got the points as he connected with Coleman in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The point-after kick left the Chiefs with a 24-21 lead and 2:33 to play.

      The Saints attempted an onside kick but the ball rolled out of bounds, giving Kansas City possession. The Chiefs were able to add a 41-yard field goal from Santos with 28 seconds to play to set the final score.

      "We played with the idea of bend, but don't break," Johnson said of the Chiefs defense. "We gave up a lot of yards, but only 21 points. That guy (Brees) is a Hall of Famer. We'll take this and run with it for a few days and get ready to go again."

      NOTES: The touchdown on their first possession made it four straight games where the Saints reached the end zone on their initial opportunity with the ball. That's a club record. ... New Orleans rookie WR Michael Thomas caught 10 passes for 130 yards. No other receiver or runner in the game cracked the 100-yard mark. ... It was the 300th game of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid's career, making him the 14th NFL head coach to achieve that level of staying power.

  • Kessler latest in line of Browns QB injuries
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    CINCINNATI -- As if Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson didn't have enough issues to resolve for his winless team, things took a turn for the worse on Sunday when Cody Kessler left the 31-17 loss to the Bengals with a concussion, leaving the Browns with one healthy QB.

    • "It's disappointing," Jackson said. "It's a tough sport. These quarterbacks only have so many hits in their body, you know? It's just been happening too much."

      Jackson said Kessler will enter concussion protocol, so his status for next week's game against the New York Jets is uncertain at this point.

      Kessler was escorted to the locker room in the second quarter after being thrown hard to the turf by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap following the completion of an 11-yard shovel pass. At the time of his injury, Kessler was 9 of 11 passing for 82 yards.

      "He was playing good," Jackson said. "You have to find a way to stay out there, and that's tough because he's trying his tail off, and I think we all know that."

      Backup QB Kevin Hogan took over for Kessler and played well, albeit mostly with his feet. Hogan rushed for 104 yards on seven carries, including a 28-yard touchdown. He completed 12 passes for 100 yards with two interceptions.

      Using Hogan in the read option was a new wrinkle that Jackson -- formerly the Bengals' offensive coordinator -- threw at his old team and was part of Sunday's game plan even before Kessler's injury. It's a role previously held by Terrelle Pryor, who was limited by a hamstring injury.

      "Part of it was a little bit different from what they were running with Pryor," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "Credit the quarterback for doing a good job reading it and doing it. We had to adjust after he went into the game."

      The only other Browns QBs also are out with injuries. Josh McCown was inactive Sunday with a broken collarbone and Robert Griffin III is on IR with a shoulder injury. Six QBs have taken snaps for the Browns this season including Pryor, who logged nine pass attempts.

      Kessler played last week's game at Tennessee with chest and rib injuries. He passed for 947 yards this season with four TDs through Sunday's game.

      Jackson said there's a chance McCown could return next week. If not, Hogan says he's ready.

      "I'm confident in my ability and preparation," Hogan said. "Obviously, I hope Cody makes a speedy recovery. He's our quarterback and we trust him. But I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I'm ready."

  • Cousins' storybook homecoming spoiled by Lions
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    DETROIT -- Kirk Cousins had an uneasy feeling his storybook ending could get erased.

    • Playing in his home state for the first time as a pro, the Washington Redskins quarterback scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 19-yard keeper with 1:05 remaining.

      That play wound up being a footnote when Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford tossed an 18-yard scoring pass with 16 seconds to go, giving the Lions a 20-17 win on Sunday at Ford Field.

      "My first thought, really, was we probably left him too much time, with how talented he is as a quarterback and how many receivers they have," said Cousins, the former Michigan State star and native of Holland, Mich.. "When you get, with one minute left, a chance to just air it out and drop back, he's capable of taking them right down the field."

      Cousins rode a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the game. The Redskins scored just three points in the first three quarters, in large part because of two fumbles, including one in which he tripped over his center's feet and fell on a handoff attempt.

      He then led a comeback from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit with two touchdown drives, culminating with his bootleg after faking a handoff to Chris Thompson.

      "Phenomenal play call by Sean," said Cousins, referring to offensive coordinator Sean McVay. "We had run it the previous play and handed it off. The second time we got to it, we didn't get the look we wanted on a pass play, so we checked to it. The defensive end closed and pulled in. Phenomenal blocking by our receiver on the outside to give me a chance to get there."

      Washington coach Jay Gruden was pleased with the way his quarterback responded in the fourth quarter. Overall, Cousins completed 30 of 39 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown.

      "He kept his poise and moved us down the field and made some big throws," Gruden said. "I think we were nine of 15 on third down today. He made some big-time plays and put us in position to win the game. That's all he can do."

      Cousins gave his large cheering section a thrill, but a majority of the crowd left the building happy to see him lose.

      "I love being able to come home," he said. "I know I'm from the west side of the state but the state of Michigan is home to me. I wear a baseball cap around the facility with 'State of Michigan' on it. It means a lot to me that I had a great number of people from Michigan State and my hometown of Holland here to support me. I felt right at home. It was very special for me and I would have loved to come out on top."

  • NFL roundup: Eagles hand Vikings first loss
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA -- A ball-hawking defense and a back-breaking kickoff return led the Philadelphia Eagles past the Minnesota Vikings 21-10 Sunday, as the NFL's final undefeated team took its first defeat.

    • Neither team's offense was effective and both team's quarterbacks struggled.

      Rookie Carson Wentz completed 16 of 28 passes for 138 yards and had a passer rating of 52.3 for the Eagles (4-2).

      Sam Bradford, who was traded from the Eagles before the season opener, was even worse for most of the game for the Vikings (5-1). He completed 24 of 41 passes for 224 yards and had a passer rating of 71.5, but most of that came in garbage time when Philadelphia was giving up short passes. Prior to the Vikings' final possession, Bradford was 15 of 32 with a passer rating of 45.7.

      Josh Huff returned a second-quarter kickoff 98 yards, and the subsequent two-point conversion run by Wentz gave the Eagles an 8-3 lead. Minnesota was never in front again.

      Dolphins 28, Bills 25

      MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Jay Ajayi became the fourth player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards in consecutive games, leading Miami over Buffalo.

      The Dolphins (3-4) won their second straight game. The Bills (4-3) had their four-game win streak snapped.

      Ajayi, a second-year running back from Boise State, ran 29 times for 214 yards and one touchdown. The previous week, he ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before that game, Ajayi, a former fifth-round pick who started the season as a backup, had never rushed for 100 yards in an NFL game.

      The Bills were led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who threw a touchdown pass and also ran for a score. Running back LeSean McCoy re-injured his hamstring and was held to 11 yards on eight carries.

      Giants 17, Rams 10

      Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie each had two interceptions, fueling a strong defensive effort in New York's win over Los Angeles at Twickenham Stadium in London.

      Collins returned his first interception for a highlight-reel touchdown and set up Rashard Jennings' go-ahead touchdown run in the fourth quarter with his second pick of the game.

      The Giants (4-3) intercepted Rams quarterback Case Keenum four times. New York had only three takeaways all season before Sunday.

      Both of Rodgers-Cromartie's picks came in the end zone in the fourth quarter. New York also sacked Keenum three times and handed the Rams (3-4) their third straight loss.

      Bengals 31, Browns 17

      CINCINNATI -- Jeremy Hill rushed for a career-high 168 yards and Andy Dalton passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a Hail Mary to A.J. Green at the end of the first half, to lift Cincinnati over Cleveland.

      The Bengals (3-4) badly needed a win to keep pace in the AFC North heading into next week's matchup with the Washington Redskins in London.

      It was another rough afternoon for the Browns (0-7), who lost quarterback Cody Kessler to a concussion in the second quarter. Kessler had just completed an 11-yard shovel pass when he was thrown hard to the turf by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap. At the time of his injury, Kessler was 9 of 11 for 82 yards.

      Backup quarterback Kevin Hogan took over for Kessler and rushed for 107 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown, but was 12 of 24 for 100 yards and two interceptions passing.

      Jets 24, Ravens 16

      EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Matt Forte generated 155 yards in total offense and scored two touchdowns as New York snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Baltimore.

      The Jets (2-5) lost starting quarterback Geno Smith in the second quarter but pulled away in the second half thanks to Forte, who had 103 total yards in the final two quarters. New York's opportunistic defense picked off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco twice to set up a pair of scoring drives.

      Chris Moore recovered a fumble in the end zone and Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for the Ravens (3-4), who have lost four straight. Flacco was 25 of 44 for 248 yards and the pair of damaging interceptions.

      Ryan Fitzpatrick, who lost his starting job after throwing two touchdowns and 10 interceptions during the four-game losing streak, was 9 of 14 for 120 yards and one touchdown after Smith (4 of 8 for 95 yards and a 61-yard touchdown to Quincy Enunwa) was injured while being sacked.

      Lions 20, Redskins 17

      DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left, lifting Detroit over Washington.

      Stafford, making his 100th career start, engineered a six-play, 75-yard drive after Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins scored on a 19-yard run with 1:05 remaining.

      Stafford completed 18 of 29 passes for 266 yards as the Lions (4-3) won their third straight, all at home. Wide receiver Golden Tate caught six passes for 93 yards and Zach Zenner scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run.

      The Redskins (4-3) saw their four-game winning streak snapped. Cousins, the former Michigan State quarterback playing in his home state for the first time, completed 30 of 39 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown.

      Chiefs 27, Saints 21

      KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Led by the efforts of running back Spencer Ware on offense and a defense that forced two turnovers, Kansas City beat New Orleans Saints.

      Six games into the season, Ware has proven to be a major contributor as a runner and receiver, touching the ball 19 times against the Saints for 132 yards. He caught a short pass from quarterback Alex Smith and turned it into a 46-yard touchdown play in the first quarter.

      The Kansas City defense allowed the New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees to throw for 348 yards and three touchdowns. But the Chiefs (4-2) forced a Brees interception that was returned for a touchdown by nickel safety Daniel Sorensen. The Saints dropped to 2-4.

      Raiders 33, Jaguars 16

      JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Oakland's offense was efficient and its league-worst defense stifled Jacksonville throughout the game.

      The Raiders (5-2) are now 4-0 on the road this season -- the last time they accomplished that came when the franchise advanced to the AFC Championship Game in 2000. The team has won at New Orleans, at Tennessee, at Baltimore and now Jacksonville.

      Raiders quarterback Derek Carr outplayed counterpart Blake Bortles in a game that featured plenty of boos from a Jacksonville fan base that hasn't had much to cheer for this season for the 2-4 Jaguars. Carr finished 23-of-37 passing for 200 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers.

      Colts 34, Titans 26

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Indianapolis scored two touchdowns in an eight-second span to beat Tennessee, possibly saving its season.

      Andrew Luck hit Jack Doyle with a 7-yard touchdown pass with 1:55 left to give the Colts (3-4) a 27-23 lead. On the Titans' first play after the kickoff, T.Y. McGill strip-sacked Marcus Mariota and Robert Mathis scooped it up, rumbling 14 yards for the clinching score.

      Ryan Succop drilled a 44-yard field goal with 43 seconds remaining to pull Tennessee (3-4) within a score, but the onside kick bounced out of bounds to seal the verdict.

      Luck completed 27 of 39 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns despite being without three offensive starters due to injuries. Mariota was 22 of 37 for 232 yards and two touchdowns.

      Patriots 27, Steelers 16

      PITTSBURGH -- LeGarrette Blount ran for two touchdowns and 127 yards against his former team, and New England turned to its old reliables -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski -- to hold off Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh (4-3).

      Gronkowski caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Brady in the third quarter after the Steelers cut what was a 14-0 deficit to 14-13. The tight end then made a 37-yard catch to set up Blount's 5-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter. Blount earlier ran for a 3-yard touchdown, and Brady threw for two scores.

      Brady went 19 of 26 for 222 yards and no interceptions. He has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in three games since returning from his four-game suspension -- and the Patriots (6-1) have won all three.

      Chargers 23, Falcons 20 (OT)

      ATLANTA -- It took a comeback and overtime, but San Diego (3-4) beat Atlanta (4-3) to post consecutive wins for the first time since November 2014.

      Josh Lambo kicked 42-yard field goal six minutes into OT after Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman stopped Devonta Freeman for a loss on fourth-and-1 from the Falcons 45-yard line on the first possession of the extra period.

      The Chargers, down by 17 points in the second quarter, tied it on a 33-yard field goal by Lambo with 18 seconds remaining in regulation after Matt Ryan was intercepted by Perryman.

      Buccaneers 34, 49ers 17

      SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 156 yards, Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes, and Tampa Bay (3-3) came from behind to defeat San Francisco (1-6).

      Mike Evans caught eight passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns for the Buccaneers, who won their second straight game. Russell Shepard caught five passes for 77 yards and a score.

      Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started his second straight game and threw for 143 yards and one touchdown for the 49ers, who lost their sixth in a row. Kaepernick rushed for a team-high 84 yards on nine carries. He completed 16 of 34 passes, was intercepted once and lost a fumble.

      Cardinals 6, Seahawks 6 (OT)

      GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In a game featuring two blocked kicks and missed field goals that would have won the game for both teams on what essentially were chip shots, Arizona and Seattle wound up settling for a tie.

      Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro had a chance to win the game with a second field goal in overtime, but his 24-yard attempt with 3:19 remaining bounced off the left upright.

      The Seahawks took over, and after two long pass plays from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin, Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka shanked a 28-yard field goal wide left with seven seconds left to play in the extra period.

  • Chargers DT Reid, CB Mager injured vs. Falcons
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    ATLANTA -- San Diego Chargers reserve defensive tackle Caraun Reid was taken off the field on a cart after sustaining an apparent injury to his left knee in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

    • Reid was hit by Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman as the teammates converged to make a tackle.

      Reid, 24, is a third-year player from Princeton University. He was claimed off waivers by the Chargers from the Detroit Lions.

      Chargers cornerback Craig Mager sustained a concussion in the third quarter during the game.

      Mager, who was hurt making a tackle, was wobbly leaving the field. He was taken to the locker room for additional evaluation and it was determined he had suffered the concussion.

      Mager had moved into the Chargers' starting lineup in place of Brandon Flowers, who missed his fourth game because of a concussion.

  • Jaguars NT Miller injures Achilles' tendon
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    JACKSONVILLE -- Jacksonville Jaguars nose tackle Roy Miller suffered a right Achilles' tendon injury and will not return to Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

    • Miller's injury occurred early in the third quarter while he attempted to rush Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Miller fell to the ground and had to be helped off the field by two members of the team's medical staff.

      Abry Jones replaced Miller, an eight-year veteran, on Jacksonville's defensive line.

  • Redskins lose CB Norman; Lions lose CB Slay
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    DETROIT -- Washington Redskins star cornerback Josh Norman suffered a concussion with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter on Sunday against Detroit. He has been ruled out for the remainder of the game.

    • Norman banged the side of his head tumbling over receiver Marvin Jones Jr., who made a diving 52-yard reception on a deep throw from Matthew Stafford despite Norman committing pass interference on the play. After being evaluated on the field, he immediately headed to the locker room with assistance from the Redskins' medical staff.

      Norman signed a five-year, $75M contract with the Redskins this spring after Carolina rescinded its nonexclusive franchise tag on him.

      Earlier in the game, Lions cornerback Darius Slay injured his hamstring and was declared out for the remainder of their game.

      Slay, the Lions' top defensive back, suffered the injury away from the play as Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins completed a 10-yard pass to running back Chris Thompson.

      Slay, who received a four-year, $48-million contract extension this summer, was replaced by Johnson Bademosi.

      Detroit was already playing without two key defensive performers, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker DeAndre Levy.

  • Fisher: 'We're staying with Case' as Rams QB
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum was intercepted four times, including twice in the end zone during the fourth quarter of a 17-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday in London.

    • But Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters after the loss that he is sticking with Keenum as his starting quarterback despite a 3-4 record, leaving No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff on the sidelines waiting his shot.

      "Quarterback is not the reason we lost," Fisher said after the game. "We're staying with Case. I'll make changes at receiver before I make a change at quarterback."

      Keenum's first interception came off a tipped ball, which was corralled by Giants defensive back Landon Collins and returned 44 yards for New York's first touchdown.

      It was the first of two interceptions by Collins. His second pick set up the Giants' go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

      Twice in the fourth quarter, Keenum was picked off the end zone by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, including on the Rams' final drive. Trailing by seven with one minute to play, Keenum marched the Rams to the Giants' 15-yard line. But on third down, Keenum appeared to have some miscommunication with receiver Brian Quick, resulting in Rodgers-Cromartie's clinching interception in the end zone.

      Keenum finished 32 of 53 for 291 yards with a touchdown to Tavon Austin and the four interceptions. On the season, he has completed 62.5 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions for the Rams, who have lost three straight games.

      The Rams traded up in the draft to take Goff out of California but have gone with Keenum in their first season in Los Angeles.

      Fisher said that won't change, but he will have the entire bye week to reconsider.

  • Browns QB Kessler departs with possible concussion
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    CINCINNATI -- Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler left Sunday's game in the second quarter and was being evaluated for a possible concussion.

    • Kessler had just completed an 11-yard shovel pass when he was thrown hard to the turf by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap. At the time of his injury, Kessler was 9 of 11 for 82 yards.

      Backup quarterback Kevin Hogan, who had already rushed for 37 yards on three carries on Sunday, took over for Kessler.

      The only other quarterbacks for the Browns -- Josh McCown (collarbone) and Robert Griffin III (shoulder) –- are both out with injuries.

      Cleveland came into Sunday's game winless at 0-6.

  • Eagles CB Brooks carted off with knee injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, October 23, 2016

    PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks went down with a knee injury in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings and was taken off the field on a cart.

    • Brooks will not return, the team announced. Brooks was injured when he attempted a tackle against running back Jerick McKinnon. Brooks was injured without making contact.

      Brooks was replaced by rookie Jalen Mills.