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Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against former team New York Giants been ‘checked off’


Jason Pierre-Paul may not be hurt that the New York Giants traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason. He still found it “shocking” that all he received upon his exit were phone calls from general manager Dave Gettleman and quarterback Eli Manning.

Nothing from ownership as far as he’s aware, although a source said that Giants co-owner John Mara did try to reach out via text the day of the trade but did not hear back

“I wouldn’t say hurt. Just the fact that the only thing I got was a phone call. You know what I’m saying?” Pierre-Paul said on a conference call with reporters four days ahead of a return to MetLife Stadium, where the Giants host the Bucs. “I didn’t speak to no owners or nothing. Obviously, I gave a hard eight years with the New York Giants and won a Super Bowl there, and the only thing you get is a phone call. I wouldn’t say I was hurt but it was just shocking. You know what I mean?

“Honestly, I had this game checked off since I left there. Emotions running big. I’m coming, man. I’m bringing the house down.”

Jason Pierre-Paul, on facing the Giants

“At the end of the day this is a business league. At the end of the day, we have to do our jobs no matter what team we play for. You’re a football player, you’re a pro, so you’ve got to do your job to the best of your ability. That’s what I’ve been doing.”

Pierre-Paul has 8.0 sacks this season, almost matching his total from last year. He had 8.5 sacks in his final season with the Giants.

“Honestly, I had this game checked off since I left there,” Pierre-Paul said. “Emotions running big. I’m coming, man. I’m bringing the house down.”

Pierre-Paul said there is no chip on his shoulder, even after the Giants had signed him to a lucrative new deal under the previous regime a year earlier.

“Obviously, New York felt like I couldn’t get the job done,” he said. “I don’t know who makes those decisions but that was the decision that was made when I got traded.”

The 2010 first-round pick had an up-and-down run with the Giants. Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks and helped them to a Super Bowl victory during the 2011 season. He made a pair of Pro Bowls and later returned to play at a high level after his career seemed to be in jeopardy following a 2015 Fourth of July fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger and parts of several others.

Manning was the one player who did call Pierre-Paul after the trade. Pierre-Paul also received a text from long-snapper Zak DeOssie and heard from safety Landon Collins and several other teammates. And then it was off to Tampa Bay.

With the Bucs, Pierre-Paul says he’s “playing great ball, obviously.” He leads the team in sacks (8.0) and quarterback hits (13) and is also tied for the lead in tackles for a loss (9) on a defense that has struggled this season.

The Giants’ defense, which is ranked near the bottom/middle of the pack in most categories, has just 10 sacks this season. Only the Oakland Raiders have fewer. Rookie Lorenzo Carter leads the Giants with five tackles for a loss.

“Numbers speak for themselves. I can’t really say much, but I’m not even worried about the sacks and how much the Giants have on their team,” Pierre-Paul said. “Like I said, I’m just playing some great football and I’m just blessed to be getting the opportunity to keep on playing this game that I love. I’m going to walk away from it when I walk away from it, but until then, I’m just going to keep on being a great player that I am and obviously come Sunday, I’m going to go out there and do what I normally do, go 110 percent and just fly to the ball.”

Pierre-Paul faces a favorable matchup to do more damage against his former team. The Giants have allowed 32 sacks this season, and right tackle Chad Wheeler has struggled badly at times.

“I wouldn’t say licking my chops, but I know it’s a problem,” Pierre-Paul said. “But like I said, that’s not my problem. I’m on the Bucs and I’m doing a great job here and I’m loving it.”



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San Francisco 49ers bring fire-struck Paradise High School team to game via bus


SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After days of watching and hearing stories about how one of the deadliest wildfires in California history had torn through their community, the Paradise High Football team found some relief Monday night in the form of a bus ride.

After the San Francisco 49ers invited the Paradise team to Monday night’s game against the New York Giants, the 35 players, 16 cheerleaders and eight coaches boarded a bus provided by the Niners Monday in Chico, California, at around 11 a.m. to make the roughly 200-mile trek to Levi’s Stadium.

While everyone in the traveling party was looking forward to the game and expressed gratitude to the Niners for the invitation, the two things they wanted most could be found on that bus: an opportunity to sleep and a chance to spend time with their friends and teammates.

“I think the biggest reaction was on the bus ride here when they all slept,” coach Rick Prinz said. “They’re exhausted. They’re all displaced. (Almost) all of their homes have burned down. They’ve lost everything.”

“We were all just hanging out and having a good time with each other,” senior quarterback Cole Cline said. “We all really missed each other.”

The invitation to spend the evening with the Niners came after the Camp Fire ripped through Paradise late last week.

After word that Paradise, which was 8-2 despite being the smallest school in its section, had to forfeit their playoff appearance made its way back to the Niners, they got in touch with the Butte County Office of Education.

Soon enough, the Niners had offered buses for the team to come to Monday night’s game and stand with them on the sideline during the National Anthem.

Earlier Monday, the Butte County Sheriff’s Department announced that the death toll in and around Paradise had reached 29, matching the number for most deaths from a single fire in modern California history. More than 200 other people remain unaccounted for and more than 6,400 homes had been destroyed, according to the sheriff’s department.

“What that town, what that community has gone through, it’s just heart wrenching, gut wrenching for all of us,” general manager John Lynch said. “So, you just look for anything you can do. I think when you can take people’s minds off something for a short time, of course we’d do anything possible. I think it’s just a show of solidarity of our community, we’ve got to all stand together and reach out and help each other during a time like this.”

The Niners also will donate all proceeds from Monday night’s 50/50 drawing to the North Valley Community Foundation to help those impacted by the fires in Butte County.

In addition, San Francisco tight end George Kittle, quarterback Nick Mullens, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, left tackle Joe Staley and running back Matt Breida are signing and donating their game-worn jerseys from Monday night to be auctioned off with all money going to relief efforts.

Shane Wallen, the 49ers assistant strength and conditioning coach, grew up in Paradise, is a native of Chico and has started a GoFundMe page in efforts to offer support for his hometown. The fire destroyed Wallen’s father’s home in Magalia.

With the help of multiple Niners players making donations and lending their social media platforms, Wallen had already raised more than $19,000 of the $50,000 goal as of early Monday evening. Wallen stopped and greeted each player on Monday night.

During the National Anthem, the Paradise team stood in front of the 49ers on the sideline and received loud cheers from the fans at Levi’s Stadium. As the anthem began, Niners players put their arms around the Paradise players in solidarity.

“It’s nice to get away from everything that’s going on and getting my mind off of it,” senior linebacker Trevor Rickson said. “And I get to watch football, the game I love.”

While the school survived the fire, about 90 percent of the players’ homes did not. Like most of the community, the coaches, players and cheerleaders have spent the past few days living elsewhere and seeking updates on the status of their own houses.

Cline said he initially didn’t believe his parents when they told him they needed to evacuate last Thursday morning. Within an hour, the town was engulfed in flames. He and his family safely made it out and have been staying at a hotel in nearby Folsom. Cline and his family found out their home burned down on Sunday.

Rickson has a similar story, albeit with a different ending, leaving his home with his mother and sister around 9 a.m. on Thursday and going to his aunt’s house in Chico. His house, in a neighborhood where most burned down, is still standing.

“It’s hard but they all have a place to stay if they need it,” Rickson said.

Both players expressed their dismay at not being able to play the playoff game they’d spent their high school careers working toward. In the absence of the chance to play, Cline said he and his teammates have leaned on the lessons they’ve learned from the game to help them stay positive through the most trying of times.

“We just rely on each other to pick each other up and just love each other because that’s what we’ve done all year,” Cline said. “We’re a great group of brothers.”

Like Rickson, Prinz’s house also managed to survive the fire, a fact that was confirmed via texts from friends who sent pictures.

“Nothing around it made it and somehow it’s standing there and I don’t know how to explain that,” Prinz said. “And it makes you feel a little bit guilty and grateful at the same time. But Paradise is devastated.

“I can’t believe it. You wouldn’t believe it guys if you saw it. It’s on a hillside, everything is gone and there sits that house. It’s a miracle.”

After Monday’s game, the Paradise contingent will take the long ride back to Butte County and disperse to where they’re staying — some in hotels, some with relatives and some in evacuation shelters.

As of Monday night, they still haven’t been allowed to return to town to survey the damage. They don’t know what comes next. But for one night, they were happy to get away from it all.

“One of my players said it best after we suspended our season, he said, ‘I really want to play the game but I lost everything I own and I need to find out where I’m going to live,'” Prinz said. “So, this was a great break from that. He’s on this trip. That’s most of the team and most of the coaching staff. So, it’s a great diversion. It’s fantastic. And all of this … they’re going to remember it forever. It’s just a great show of humanity and support for us from people you don’t even know who would come in and be this kind.”



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Ben Roethlisberger has Pittsburgh Steelers playing like team possessed – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog


PITTSBURGH — The liveliest party of the year just took place in Heinz Field, where they danced so hard in the end zone that they ran out of touchdown celebrations, and that’s when they weren’t throwing Cam Newton to the turf.

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t lying when they said they were just getting started.

The 52-21 pounding of the Panthers on Thursday tied for the most points allowed in Carolina history and showed that the Steelers look ready to make their own history. Carolina last gave up 52 points on Christmas Eve in 2000 against the Oakland Raiders.

If Ben Roethlisberger can continue to deliver masterpieces like this against a good defense, the Steelers — winners of five straight — might have their best chance at a Super Bowl since the early Mike Tomlin years.

Roethlisberger finished 22-of-25 passing for 328 yards, five touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3, the third such game of his career. He hit every throw, as if tossing into a big net. The Steelers worked the no-huddle offense, Roethlisberger’s specialty, on a short week, and the usually stout Panthers looked uneasy throughout.

Turns out this offense hadn’t unlocked everything it had this season. The Steelers had connected on three deep balls all season but hit two Thursday, a 75-yard touchdown to JuJu Smith-Schuster and a 53-yard score for Antonio Brown, who made rookie corner Donte Jackson look silly in press coverage.

After the Panthers marched 75 yards for the opening score, the Steelers flipped the game in 13 seconds with the Smith-Schuster touchdown on their first play from scrimmage and Vince Williams‘ interception for a touchdown off an ill-advised Newton throw out of the end zone. The Smith-Schuster score was the franchise’s longest-ever first play from scrimmage.

When Roethlisberger left the game with 14 minutes, 55 seconds in the fourth quarter, the Steelers had scored points on all seven of their drives that didn’t end in a clock run-out at halftime.

On defense, the Steelers (6-2-1) sacked Newton five times and knocked down him many others. A Christian McCaffrey running game that confused the Steelers on the first drive was quickly put in park.

This was such a thorough whooping that Eric Reid‘s helmet shot on Roethlisberger with 1:15 left in the third quarter — which prompted Reid’s ejection — was an attempt to revive a fight that was dead two hours earlier.

At times, the Steelers can turn unstoppable with a fast offense thriving with James Conner as the lead back — which will only complicate matters upon Le’Veon Bell’s potential return by the Tuesday deadline to play this season.

Either way, Pittsburgh is good. Rookie running back Jaylen Samuels scored. Tight ends Vance McDonald and Jesse James both scored. Even offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was feeling himself, opening the playbook for fullback screens in the second quarter.

Brown and Conner, who each scored Thursday, are the first pair of teammates with 10-plus touchdowns each in their team’s first nine games since Abner Haynes and Chris Burford with the 1962 Chiefs.

Roethlisberger, Brown & Co. have shown the ability to hit the throttle in previous seasons. Performances like this aren’t necessarily unique for this group, especially in prime-time games.

But the efficiency at every level is hard to ignore right now.

And they get Jacksonville, a past playoff hindrance, next Sunday.

Based on this warm-up act, they look ready for anything.



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Steelers CB Artie Burns was late to team activity before not playing a snap


PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns‘ challenging season took another hit.

The former first-round pick was late to a team activity last week, according to sources. That could explain why Burns, despite making five starts this season, did not play a single snap on defense in Sunday’s 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns.

One source said that activity was a pregame walk-through.

The Steelers had hoped Burns would break out in his third year in the league, but after an impressive training camp, he lost his starting job to Coty Sensabaugh in Week 3. Over the following three weeks, Burns and Sensabaugh have played in a rotation with Burns getting the start.

Sensabaugh, a seven-year veteran, played most of the Cleveland game. Cam Sutton entered the game at cornerback when Sensabaugh hurt his foot in the second half.

Burns told reporters he had to attend a team meeting when approached during Monday’s open locker room session.

Burns gave up a touchdown and a crucial penalty in Week 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals but had productive practices last week, telling ESPN he secured an interception on Thursday.

That same day, defensive coordinator Keith Butler said he expected Burns to learn from his mistakes.

“I think he’s gotten better over the last week or two in terms of learning to play a little bit better with technique and I think he’ll be OK,” Butler said. “I think any player that stays any length of time in the NFL, makes mistakes and either corrects those mistakes or he’s not going to have a job and that is just the nature of the League. I think Artie [Burns] is up for that. I think he will try to change and do better than he has done. I think he’s a competitor. I think it bothers him to get beat deep like with anyone else, but I think he’ll fight back.”

The Steelers selected Burns No. 25 overall in the 2016 draft. Burns recorded 26 pass deflections and four interceptions during his first two seasons but has one pass deflection, zero interceptions and a forced fumble this year.



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Minnesota Vikings DE Everson Griffen to resume team activities


Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who has been away from the team since Week 3 to deal with mental health issues after a series of incidents, will resume team activities Wednesday.

“We have been in communication with Everson’s medical professionals throughout this process and have relied on his recommendations regarding the appropriate next steps for Everson,” general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. “We are excited to welcome Everson back to the Vikings and to see him around teammates, coaches, and staff — people who care deeply about his well-being. Our focus will continue to be on providing an on-going support system for Everson and his family.”

The Vikings became concerned with Griffen’s well-being prior to two separate incidents that occurred on Sept. 22, one day before he was slated to miss the Buffalo Bills game with a knee injury.

According to a police incident report from the Minnetrista Police Department, Les Pico, the Vikings’ executive director of player development, told police that Griffen had been “explosive, screaming and yelling” at the team facility and that he had been struggling in recent weeks.

On Sept. 20, Griffen was told by the Vikings not to worry about practice or the Bills game and to instead place his focus on getting himself the help he needed. Contrary to what was listed in the police report, at no time was Griffen barred from the Vikings’ training facility, according to multiple sources.

Two days later, Griffen was involved in an incident at Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis, where he had been staying for several days, in which he allegedly threatened to shoot someone if he was not allowed in his room. Griffen was later involved in a separate incident in which he showed up at Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes‘ home and, according to the police report, attempted to enter, an allegation that Waynes denied in a statement issued by the Vikings.

The reporting officer placed a health and welfare hold on Griffen “based upon his actions and information I had acquired about him.”

The Pro Bowl defensive end released a statement on his Instagram ahead of the Vikings’ Week 4 matchup with the Rams in which he said he is focused on resolving personal issues he has been dealing with for a long time.

Griffen released a statement Tuesday in which he said he hopes to share his story with everyone.

“Being around my teammates and coaches is something I have missed for several weeks,” Griffen said. “While this is an exciting and positive move forward for me, it is only the next step in a longer process. I look forward to once again putting in the work with the guys and contributing to this team in any way I can.

“My larger focus remains on addressing my personal health, and I’m hopeful the time will come when I feel comfortable sharing my story and using my platform to bring awareness to these issues. I continue to be extremely grateful for the constant support from my family, my teammates, the Vikings organization and our tremendous fans.”

The Vikings face the Saints on Sunday night. The team has not yet said what Griffen’s status for that game will be.



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2018 NFL Week 7 takeaways – What we learned from every team and what it means for next week


The Bears came up just a little short against the Patriots, the Panthers came all the way back against the Eagles, and the Jaguars are suddenly in disarray.

All that and more in Week 7’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
CIN-KC |TEN-LAC | NE-CHI | CAR-PHI | HOU-JAX | MIN-NYJ
BUF-IND | CLE-TB | DET-MIA | NO-BAL | LAR-SF
DAL-WSH | DEN-ARI


The Chiefs will be difficult to beat if their defense continues to play as well as it did against the Bengals. The Chiefs have played well at times defensively in all of their games except a recent one against New England, but it’s possible they turned a corner with a consistent defensive showing against Cincinnati. — Adam Teicher

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Andy Reid expresses his emotions on getting his 200th win, including playoffs, in the NFL and says “everybody is involved” in this milestone.

Where has the Bengals’ defense gone? The Bengals have given up at least 480 yards in three of the past four games, and they couldn’t stop the Chiefs’ offense all night. That doesn’t bode well, as the Buccaneers and Saints are coming to town soon. The Bengals clearly don’t match up well against speedier offenses, and that’s going to be a problem moving forward if they don’t generate turnovers. — Katherine Terrell


Don’t look now, but the Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, riding a four-game win streak into their bye week after edging the Titans in London. The break comes at a good time for the Chargers, with Melvin Gordon nursing a hamstring injury and defensive end Joey Bosa potentially playing for the first time this season against the Seahawks in Week 9 after missing time with a bruised left foot. “Was it our best game all around? Probably not,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “But the name of the game is to score one more point than the other team, and we did that.” — Eric D. Williams

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The NFL Countdown crew breaks down why the Chargers are showing signs of positive growth.

The Titans’ offensive struggles were showcased in their third consecutive loss. They’ll have plenty of time to figure out what went wrong as their bye week comes at an opportune time. “We’re gonna get back to work and we’re going to improve the stuff we didn’t do very well and get better,” coach Mike Vrabel said. Time off will allow the Titans to work on their ineffective red zone offense. Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur will get a chance to showcase his revised scheme Week 9 against the Cowboys. — Turron Davenport


The Patriots wanted to prove they can win on the road after opening 0-2 away from home. They showed mental toughness in overcoming several sudden changes in a win over the Bears. At the same time, three turnovers continues an alarming trend, as Tom Brady called them “frustrating” and an area that has to be corrected heading into Monday night’s road game against the Bills. So while the Patriots were pleased to win, they felt this was far from their best effort. — Mike Reiss

For the Bears to beat a quality opponent like New England, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has to play better. Trubisky had some good moments on Sunday, particularly in the run game, but he missed the mark on 24 pass attempts and tossed a pair of interceptions. Even with Trubisky’s last-second Hail Mary completion to Kevin White, the Bears’ starting quarterback still had a passer rating of below 70.0. Not having Khalil Mack at full strength hurt, but the Bears need better accuracy from their quarterback to win big games. They look to get back in the win column next week against the Jets. — Jeff Dickerson


Coach Ron Rivera called this a “statement” win. Indeed, the Panthers not only overcame a 17-0 fourth-quarter deficit, but also did it on the road where they were 0-2 this season. With two home games coming up against Baltimore and Tampa Bay, the Panthers, 3-0 at Bank of America Stadium, have a chance to keep pace with the Saints in the NFC South. — David Newton

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Cam Newton notes Carolina’s persistence as the team kept battling to overcome a 17-point deficit.

There’s no excuse for a fourth-quarter collapse against the Panthers that drops the Eagles to 3-4 and sets up an uphill climb. The defense shut Cam Newton out for three quarters — a first for a Newton-led team — but couldn’t hold late. There are major questions to be answered with their London game against the Jaguars on deck. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after the game: “Basically told ’em that, ‘Hey, pressure’s off of us. Nobody on the outside world is giving us a chance to do much of anything, and the pressure’s off, so we can go play, have fun and just relax.’ Lot of football ahead, too.” — Tim McManus


The Texans won their fourth consecutive contest and gained sole possession of first place in the AFC South, playing their best and most complete game of the season. Houston did it with another stellar effort from its defense and an improved running game, two areas the team needs to continue to have success with on Thursday night against the Dolphins as quarterback Deshaun Watson plays through ribs and lung injuries. — Sarah Barshop

Things are falling apart for the Jaguars. Players were heard yelling at each other in the locker room, and at one point, Calais Campbell was restraining Yannick Ngakoue. Jalen Ramsey said there’s no secret to what’s going on: It’s a mess right now. Coach Doug Marrone said the starting QB job is up for grabs after benching Blake Bortles along with pretty much every other spot on offense heading into Sunday’s game against Philadelphia in London. — Mike DiRocco


Even after failing to capitalize on great field position created by the special teams unit throughout the game, the Vikings’ offense still hung 37 points on the Jets in their third straight win. As long as Minnesota has Adam Thielen, who recorded his seventh consecutive game of 100 yards receiving, it’s going to be difficult for teams to contain the Vikings’ explosive passing attack. Now the Vikings face their biggest test of the season next Sunday night when they host the Saints in rematch of last year’s “miracle” finish in the divisional playoffs. — Courtney Cronin

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Harrison Smith praises Adam Thielen’s performance so far this season, saying “now you see kind of all the fruits of his labor.”

Sam Darnold suffered his worst game in part because the Jets’ pedestrian receiving group — down Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Terrelle Pryor (released/injured) — was exposed by the Vikings. Now the front office must weigh the pros and cons of acquiring a receiver before the trade deadline. The Jets could be hurting Darnold’s development if they stand pat. — Rich Cimini


The Colts rushed for 220 yards in their 32-point victory over the Bills. Sunday was the first time since the 2011 season that the Colts rushed for at least 200 yards on the ground. Second-year running back Marlon Mack‘s 126 yards marked just the fourth time in Andrew Luck‘s career that he had a player rush for at least 100 yards in a game. “It just gives you a feeling of physical power,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. The Colts could extend their winning streak next week against struggling Oakland team. — Mike Wells

Three interceptions and a lost fumble by Derek Anderson made it clear Buffalo is doomed whatever direction it turns at quarterback. Whether it’s raw rookie moments from Josh Allen, disastrous interceptions from Nathan Peterman or the expected flaws Anderson showed Sunday less than two weeks after being signed, the Bills (2-5) have little choice but to accept their situation at the position. Their defense’s performance Sunday proved it was too soon to call the unit elite and too optimistic to expect that side of the ball to bail out a bottom-feeding offense this season, especially next week against the Patriots. — Mike Rodak


The Bucs turned the ball over four times, but defensively, they were able to pressure the quarterback and their secondary didn’t have the coverage breakdowns we’ve seen much of this season, simplifying things on the back end. Losing linebackers Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy played a role in allowing the Browns back into the game, but this is a step in the right direction for the Bucs, who play at Cincinnati next Sunday. — Jenna Laine

Another slow start, another struggle in overtime. Coach Hue Jackson said he will have to get more involved in the Browns’ offense. “I got to jump in headfirst, all hands, feet, everything, and go figure it out,” Jackson said after his team fell to 2-4-1. Jackson will take the plunge just in time for the Steelers and the possible return of Le’Veon Bell next week. — Pat McManamon


It was the Lions’ best day running the ball since the Barry Sanders era, and that says something for their future. After gaining 248 rushing yards — Detroit’s best since Sanders had 216 yards against Indianapolis in 1997 — in a road win to get back to .500, the Lions appear to have a more diversified offense than at any time during Matthew Stafford‘s career. And that can make Detroit dangerous with a critical portion of its schedule upcoming with a home game against Seattle followed by road trips to Minnesota and Chicago. — Michael Rothstein

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Kerryon Johnson breaks through and takes off for a 71-yard run to set up a field goal for Detroit.

The Dolphins’ wide receiver room is getting extremely light after injuries to Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, the Dolphins’ two most productive receivers this season. To make matters stickier, DeVante Parker‘s agent called Adam Gase “incompetent” after his client was inactive once again. That situation seems volatile, but the Dolphins have to turn around and travel to Houston on Thursday with injuries that may force their hand into different personnel in another week of Brock Osweiler. — Cameron Wolfe


The Saints (5-1) won their most important game of the season to date, coming back from a 10-point deficit at Baltimore against the NFL’s No. 1 defense. As coach Sean Payton and his players preached Sunday, these are the types of games that build a team’s character. Mark Ingram II said they proved they are “road warriors.” The tests don’t stop, though. They’re at Minnesota next week, then they host the undefeated Rams. — Mike Triplett

The Ravens need to prove consistency before they can be stamped as a playoff contender. Baltimore has a bad habit of following up big wins with disappointing losses. Earlier this season, the Ravens lost at Cleveland after beating Pittsburgh. On Sunday, Baltimore fell to New Orleans after shutting out Tennessee on the road. Now, the Ravens will have to rebound at Carolina, where the Panthers have won eight in a row. There have been too many close losses over the past two years in September and October, costing the Ravens playoff trips. — Jamison Hensley


Aaron Donald sacked C.J. Beathard four times as the Rams put together their most dominant defensive effort and improved to 7-0. The defense forced a season-high four turnovers as Donald, Cory Littleton, Troy Hill and John Johnson III all had takeaways. “We are on a roll,” Johnson said. It’s perfect timing, as Rams prepare to host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. — Lindsey Thiry

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After a 4-turnover performance against the 49ers, Sean McVay tips his hat to the defense and looks forward to next week’s test against the Packers.

Even without Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers have found themselves in the position to win games over the past few weeks, coming away with something to build on even if they didn’t win. But Sunday’s blowout loss to the Rams was an example of what happens when you pair an uber-talented opponent with the 49ers’ continued mistakes. The Niners are now a league-worst minus-15 in turnover margin, something no team can overcome. Even with “winnable” games coming against the Cardinals, Raiders and Giants, the Niners won’t return to the winner’s circle until they can forge some sort of turnover turnaround. — Nick Wagoner


The Redskins have found a formula that works, and it’s one they haven’t had for a while: strong defense and a run game. It’s why they’re 4-2, and it’s why they’re optimistic that they can continue to contend in the NFC East. Adrian Peterson has provided an attitude for the offense, while young linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen have done so for the defense. They will need quarterback Alex Smith to play better if they want to be serious contenders, but for now their formula is working. — John Keim

The Cowboys enter the bye week at 3-4 in second place in the NFC East after a game-tying field goal attempt hit the upright on the final play. This team is searching for confidence, especially away from home. “You want to come up here and win this ballgame and do everything you can to scratch and claw and find a way to come out on top but unfortunately that did not happen,” coach Jason Garrett said. The Cowboys have five games remaining at AT&T Stadium, but their season could be decided with back-to-back road games against Philadelphia and Atlanta on Nov. 11 and 18. — Todd Archer

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Brett Maher misses a 52-yard field goal with a chance for the Cowboys to tie the game, giving the Redskins a 20-17 victory.


Broncos coach Vance Joseph said the team’s defense “got back to what we do best” on Thursday night, when the Broncos finished with six sacks, three interceptions — they returned two for touchdowns — and the kind of effort they’ve been waiting to see for four quarters. When cornerback Bradley Roby plays with discipline in coverage, the Broncos are better equipped to play man on the outside and rush five or more defenders. The Broncos were at their best defensively against the Cardinals, but will it continue next week against the high-powered Chiefs? — Jeff Legwold

The Cardinals came pretty close to rock bottom in this one. It was a bad enough offensive performance to get offensive coordinator Mike McCoy fired on Friday morning, and it’ll be up to quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich, who replaced McCoy, to right a ship that’s severely off course. When Arizona gets back to work Monday, it’ll be a new dawn for Josh Rosen, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. — Josh Weinfuss



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2018 NFL Week 6 takeaways – What we learned from every team and what it means for next week


The Falcons, Vikings and Steelers got important wins, the Ravens made a statement against the Titans, the Chargers showed they deserve to be in the AFC West conversation, and the Dolphins pulled off an exciting overtime victory against the Bears.

All that and more in Week 6’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
KC-NE | PIT-CIN | ARI-MIN | TB-ATL | CAR-WSH | BUF-HOU
LAC-CLE | OAK-SEA | CHI-MIA | IND-NYJ | LAR-DEN
BAL-TEN | JAX-DAL | PHI-NYG


The Patriots’ offense, with WR Josh Gordon playing a larger role, Julian Edelman re-entering the mix and rookie Sony Michel as the top RB, can go toe-to-toe with the best in the NFL. The offense will need to if the defense gives up as many big plays as it did to the Chiefs. — Mike Reiss

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Tom Brady praises Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, then reflects on Sunday’s game that came down to the wire.

The Chiefs won’t always be able to overcome their woeful defense. They won’t face Tom Brady and the Patriots again during the regular season but will have some games against other high-scoring opponents, including the Bengals next week. The Chiefs, who managed just three field goals in falling behind to the Patriots by 15 points, can’t afford another slow start offensively. — Adam Teicher


The real Steelers stood up. This was a bad team in September, but Pittsburgh just put together its toughest, most complete performance of the season in Cincinnati. The 28-21 score doesn’t fully illustrate how the Steelers punished the Bengals’ front with James Conner averaging 5.8 yards per carry. This should be Pittsburgh’s identity moving forward. With a balanced attack on offense, let the defense improve steadily. — Jeremy Fowler

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James Conner joins Josina Anderson to talk about the Steelers’ big win over the Bengals and Le’Veon Bell’s return next week.

The Bengals’ defense has serious issues, and it’s going to cost the team more games. Cincinnati might be without three starting defenders against the Chiefs next week after Nick Vigil, Shawn Williams and Darqueze Dennard left with injuries. That’s going to leave a struggling defense more vulnerable. Whether it’s the scheme or the players, something is going to have to change if the Bengals want to regroup. — Katherine Terrell


The Vikings’ run game was finally able to take some pressure off Kirk Cousins after he endured weeks of throwing upward of 50 times per game. Minnesota punched right through the Cardinals’ 31st-ranked run defense behind Latavius Murray‘s career-best 155 rushing yards and a touchdown. Six weeks in, Minnesota’s run game is beginning to evolve under offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, whose plan for protections helped turn around the Vikings’ issues sustaining the run in prior games. — Courtney Cronin

The Cardinals’ offense continued to struggle, failing to convert any of its 10 third-down chances. It didn’t score in the third quarter for the sixth consecutive week and didn’t reach 300 yards, also for the sixth consecutive week. But Arizona’s woes this week spread to the defensive side of the ball, where it surrendered 195 rushing yards. The Cardinals could have a chance to get back on track against Denver’s defense on Thursday night, though. The Broncos allowed 270 rushing yards to the Rams on Sunday. — Josh Weinfuss


The Falcons are feeling pretty confident despite a 2-4 record, as they snapped their three-game losing streak. But they also understand that they aren’t playing their best football, with the offense stalling at times and the depleted defense surrendering 512 yards to the Bucs. “Everybody pats you on your back, ‘Good job. Good job. Good job,’ but we’ve got to go in there and fix things, too,” Julio Jones said. — Vaughn McClure

The Bucs’ comeback hopes against the Falcons were dashed at the Atlanta 21-yard line when, after a series of laterals with seven seconds left, the ball bounced out of DeSean Jackson‘s hands. Jameis Winston threw four touchdowns and two interceptions. “I don’t know what’s going on, man, honestly. I’m very frustrated. I hope other guys in this locker room are frustrated,” Jackson said. It will continue to get worse if the Bucs don’t figure something out on defense. — Jenna Laine

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The Buccaneers’ final play consisted of a series of laterals deep in Atlanta territory, but the ball goes out of bounds at the 5-yard line.


After being embarrassed by New Orleans on Monday night, the Redskins recovered for a victory over Carolina to improve to 15-6-1 following a loss in the past three seasons under Jay Gruden. Adrian Peterson rushed for 97 yards, and the defense made enough big plays, especially cornerback Josh Norman. If the Redskins want to start a win streak, they must adopt that same approach this week before hosting Dallas. — John Keim

The Panthers had a chance to go 4-1 and keep pace with New Orleans in the NFC South heading into a showdown against Philadelphia. Now, after a sloppy first half in which three turnovers led to a 17-0 deficit, the Panthers are mired among a group of contenders. Both of their losses are in the NFC, too, which could be costly come playoff time. — David Newton


The Texans are back to .500 on the season, but their offensive line is still struggling. Deshaun Watson, who is playing with a rib injury, was hit 12 times and sacked seven times. Watson said he’s focused on getting himself healthy and ready to play for the Texans’ Week 7 game against the Jaguars, but it certainly won’t get easier to stay upright against the Jacksonville defense. — Sarah Barshop

Replacing an injured Josh Allen in the third quarter, Nathan Peterman threw the go-ahead touchdown before telegraphing a pick-six late in the fourth quarter that gave the Texans the lead. He threw another interception to seal the Houston victory, another mark against Peterman’s ugly record that should result in veteran Derek Anderson becoming the Bills’ No. 2 quarterback as soon as he is ready. — Mike Rodak


Melvin Gordon finished with a season-high 132 rushing yards, and he had his first game with three rushing TDs in his four-year career. “I get a lot of juice when he’s running the ball like that,” offensive lineman Dan Feeney said. “He was out there making people miss, running through people.” The Chargers, currently on a three-game win streak, will stay in Cleveland to practice this week before heading to London on Thursday. — Eric D. Williams

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Melvin Gordon cites a collective effort in the Chargers’ 38-14 shellacking of the Cleveland Browns and pinpoints superior blocking for his three-touchdown day.

The Browns felt good after beating the Ravens in overtime last week, but they couldn’t win back-to-back games and were dominated by the Chargers on Sunday. They keep slipping as they try to get over the hill to success. Until they get past the hurdle, they will be a struggling and inconsistent team. — Pat McManamon


The Seahawks have a lot of season ahead of them, but the playoffs no longer seem as far-fetched as they once did. The Seahawks are 3-3 heading into their bye and have looked the part of a playoff team since their 0-2 start. Plus, the Seahawks will have Ed Dickson and potentially K.J. Wright available for the first time this season when they face the Lions in two weeks. The arrow is pointing up for Seattle. — Brady Henderson

The Raiders, whether they realize it or not, are in a messy rebuild only two seasons after winning 12 games. Necessitated by injuries, ineffectiveness, trades or all of the above, Oakland is again an NFL bottom-feeder, playing a gaggle of rookies and untested players as it enters its bye week with a 1-5 record. “I’m going to lead the heck out of this team,” Derek Carr said after the Raiders were crushed by the Seahawks, “all the way.” Stay tuned. — Paul Gutierrez


The Dolphins overcame injuries to get to 4-2 with an easy schedule ahead, but the health of Ryan Tannehill going forward is important. Coach Adam Gase got testy when pressed about Tannehill’s shoulder injury after the game. Brock Osweiler helped the Dolphins to a big overtime victory, but Miami is better with a healthy Tannehill. — Cameron Wolfe

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Dolphins rookie kicker Jason Sanders nails a 47-yard field goal as time expires in overtime to lift Miami over the Bears.

Sunday’s overtime loss is a prime example of why enthusiasm for the Bears needs to be tempered. The Bears remain a work in progress under new coach Matt Nagy. They aren’t going to turn into Super Bowl contenders in one year after four consecutive last-place finishes in the NFC North. The Bears are clearly a better team, but they can still make bad mistakes that cost them games, as they did against the Dolphins. — Jeff Dickerson


The Jets proved that they can handle prosperity, winning back-to-back games for the first time since last October. For their next trick, they need to beat a winning team, as they get the Vikings (3-2-1) next week at home. Sam Darnold is gaining confidence, but he and the offense must improve their red zone efficiency. They were 1-of-6 against the Colts, cementing their No. 32 ranking. — Rich Cimini

The Colts lost running back Robert Turbin and receivers Ryan Grant and Marcus Johnson in Sunday’s defeat. Those players join receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight end Jack Doyle, defensive lineman Denico Autry and safety Clayton Geathers on a long list of Indianapolis injuries. The Colts also dropped six more passes to bring their total to 15 over the past three games. “The common mistakes are drops and penalties and turnovers,” said Colts coach Frank Reich, whose team hosts the Bills next Sunday. — Mike Wells


The Rams held off a late push from the Broncos and improved to 6-0. Todd Gurley set a career high in rushing yards with 208. While the defense showed improvement in stopping the run, vulnerabilities appeared at cornerback, as Aqib Talib remains on injured reserve. — Lindsey Thiry

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Todd Gurley rushes for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams beat the Broncos 23-20.

As cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said after a close loss to the undefeated Rams, “There are no moral victories.” The Broncos’ penalties cost them at least seven points, and their losing streak has reached four games. They have a short week with a road trip to Arizona on Thursday night. — Jeff Legwold


The Ravens cranked up their pass rush to a historic level, recording a franchise-record 11 sacks against Marcus Mariota and the Titans. Baltimore also became the first team to shut out the Titans in Nashville. The Ravens have already talked about needing a similar stellar defensive effort Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens are the only team that hasn’t yet lost to Drew Brees. — Jamison Hensley

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The Ravens’ defense records 11 sacks against the Titans, setting a franchise record in a 21-0 win.

The Titans failed to score and produced only 106 yards of total offense. Mariota and the offense have to shore up the protection and figure out how to get the ball into the end zone, starting with next week’s game against the red-hot Chargers in London. — Turron Davenport


The Cowboys finally had a reason to strut. Maybe it was the presence of Conor McGregor on the field before the game. Dak Prescott accounted for three touchdowns and ran for a career-high 82 yards, Ezekiel Elliott ran for 106 yards, and Cole Beasley had his first two touchdown catches of the season. The defense had two takeaways. The Cowboys followed a formula for success that has worked since 2014: control the tempo, convert on third down, and keep the defense fresh. But McGregor’s presence might be just as good a reason for the win. “You’d like to say we’re going to have to get him in here every game,” Jerry Jones said. — Todd Archer

The Jaguars like to tell everyone that they have the best defense in the NFL, but it sure didn’t look like that against the Cowboys. They gave up 206 yards rushing and pretty much allowed Prescott to do whatever he wanted. The defense is reeling after back-to-back poor performances, and it’ll be facing Deshaun Watson and the Texans’ offense next week in a battle for the division lead. — Mike DiRocco


The offense of last season showed up just in time to potentially save 2018. The catalyst was Carson Wentz, who threw three touchdowns and posted a 122.2 QB rating. Injuries are mounting — tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson didn’t finish the game — but the offense is showing signs of life, and Wentz looked like his old, MVP-caliber self, which bodes well for the defending champs moving forward. — Tim McManus

The Giants and Eli Manning managed just 13 points and failed to score 20 for the fourth time in six games. Manning did not throw a touchdown pass and has only six in six games this season. This will only increase doubts that already exist in the Giants’ locker room about whether Manning can still get the job done. It already seems like a lost season for the Giants (1-5) with 10 games remaining. — Jordan Raanan



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2018 NFL Week 2 takeaways – What we learned from every team and what it means for next week


Concern grew for some teams with Super Bowl hopes in the second week of the 2018 NFL season. The Patriots, Eagles and Steelers all fell, the Vikings and Packers settled for a tie (yes, another one!) and the Saints just slipped by for a close win.

Here are all of the biggest takeaways from Week 2 (through Sunday’s afternoon games).

Jump to a matchup:
BAL-CIN | MIN-GB | CAR-ATL | KC-PIT
PHI-TB | CLE-NO | IND-WSH | HOU-TEN
MIA-NYJ | LAC-BUF | NE-JAX | ARI-LAR
DET-SF | OAK-DEN


The Bengals are 2-0 for the first time since 2015 and have all the confidence in the world as they head into a two-game road stretch against the Panthers and Falcons. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green proved their connection is alive and well with three touchdowns together in the first half, which bodes well for the future of the team’s offense. — Katherine Terrell

Joe Flacco goes from the place where he struggles the most (Cincinnati) to his comfort zone, back home next week at M&T Bank Stadium to face the Broncos. When playing at home in September, Flacco is 16-2 with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His passer rating is 99.5. — Jamison Hensley


The most frustrating aspect of Sunday’s tie relayed by Vikings players and coach Mike Zimmer was how many chances they had to put the Packers away. The Vikings settled for field goals, which rookie kicker Daniel Carlson missed. “Guys are supposed to do their jobs,” Zimmer said. “Maybe we should’ve thrown a ball into the end zone a couple of times at the end, but I believed that the guy was going to make the kick.” The Vikings have a good chance to improve to 2-0-1 when they host the winless Bills in Week 3. — Courtney Cronin

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Daniel Carlson misses a 35-yard field goal attempt in overtime as time expires, giving the Vikings a 29-29 tie with the Packers.

The most talked about subject after the Packers’ tie wasn’t how Aaron Rodgers valiantly played through an injured left knee. Rather, it was the questionable roughing-the-passer call on Clay Matthews that wiped out a late fourth-quarter interception that might have clinched the game. And you can bet it will be a point of discussion right up until next Sunday’s game at Washington, which became even more critical after the Packers failed to close out this win. — Rob Demovsky


Matt Ryan made plays with his arm and his feet, accounting for four TDs and igniting his teammates with some Cam Newton-like scrambles. With Ryan playing at a high level, rookie Calvin Ridley scoring a TD and the Falcons establishing a running game behind Tevin Coleman (16 rushes, 107 rushing yards) — not to mention creative play-calling and an admirable job by a banged-up offensive line — the Falcons go into next week’s showdown with the Saints feeling confident about their ability to put up points. — Vaughn McClure

The run defense, in the word of Panthers coach Ron Rivera, was “terrible” and the number of dropped passes was “disappointing.” Throw in a make-shift offensive line because of injuries, and it was almost a miracle Carolina had a chance to tie Atlanta on the last play. Nevertheless, it put more emphasis on the need to win the next two games at home against Cincinnati and the New York Giants. Win those to get to 3-1 with outside linebacker Thomas Davis returning from a four-game suspension, and the sting from Sunday’s loss won’t feel so bad. — David Newton


The Chiefs have reason to feel they can outscore the 49ers next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium — and any of their other opponents down the line. They started strong offensively last year before hitting a midseason slump, but they also didn’t have Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback. His presence, plus an improved collection of skill players that includes Sammy Watkins, makes them more difficult to defend this season. — Adam Teicher

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Patrick Mahomes carves up Pittsburgh with six touchdown passes and now has an NFL-record 10 TD passes his first two weeks of the season.

The Steelers’ offense still has its fastball and looks ready to win shootouts after Ben Roethlisberger‘s 452-yard performance, but why should it have to? The team has spent significant draft capital on a defense that looked confused and overmatched against the Chiefs. Players admitted communication breakdowns dug them a 21-0 deficit, and that shouldn’t happen on a team stocked with veterans. Monday Night Football will be a serious gut-check for a 0-1-1 team with Super Bowl hopes. — Jeremy Fowler


This “Fitz-Magic” thing is real. Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for eight touchdowns and has a rushing TD. The Bucs are now 2-0 for the first time since 2010. But credit also goes to the defense for getting a lot more pressure on Nick Foles than they did with Drew Brees last week. Rookie defensive backs Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart and Jordan Whitehead didn’t look like they were in over their heads while stepping into big roles because of injuries. — Jenna Laine

The Eagles have some issues to deal with coming out of their loss to the Bucs. Key players (Jason Peters, Mike Wallace) got banged up, and there was a lack of discipline and execution on both sides of the ball. But the winds are about to shift. Carson Wentz is expected to make his return next week at home against the Colts, which will likely invigorate this team and keep the sting of this loss from lingering. — Tim McManus


Two weeks and two wake-up calls for the Saints, but at least they snuck away with a victory this time. The Saints’ offense flopped for most of the day while the defense actually kept them afloat (the exact opposite of Week 1’s 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay). Drew Brees said they might have left more “points out there” than he could ever remember. The good news: New Orleans goes into this week’s game at Atlanta with a “huge sense of urgency for our improvement,” according to Brees. — Mike Triplett

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Wil Lutz hits a 44-yard field goal to put the Saints up 21-18 against the Browns and win the game.

A quick turnaround for Thursday night’s game against the Jets awaits, so the Browns can’t wallow after another brutal loss. The team that can’t seem to get things right may face the Jets with a new place-kicker after Zane Gonzalez missed two field goals and two extra points in a three-point loss to the Saints. — Pat McManamon


Andrew Luck‘s play might no longer dictate whether the Colts win or lose, if Sunday was any indication. Luck hurt the Colts with two interceptions on their side of the field, only to be bailed out by the defense. The D, which has finished 20th or worse in five of the past six seasons, held Washington to only nine points. Second-round pick Darius Leonard was the best player on the field this week with 18 tackles, a sack and an interception. Indy faces the defending champion Eagles in Week 3. — Mike Wells

The Redskins’ offense can’t just sling the ball around and win without a consistent run game. Against the Colts, they rushed for only 65 yards — 117 fewer than a week ago. The offensive line did not handle the Colts’ movement up front, so they can expect to see more of this style moving forward. Considering they play high-powered Green Bay next week, the Redskins can’t afford another poor day in the run game. — John Keim


In Mike Vrabel’s first win as an NFL coach, creativity and tempo were key in generating a spark without quarterback Marcus Mariota and top offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Dennis Kelly. Safety Kevin Byard had a 66-yard touchdown pass on a fake punt, and Tennessee mixed in Derrick Henry in a Wildcat look. Vrabel said Mariota will be further evaluated after not playing on Sunday, as the Titans will want their QB back for next week’s road trip to Jacksonville. — Turron Davenport

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Titans’ Kevin Byard takes the direct snap in punt formation and tosses to a wide open Dane Cruikshank for a 66-yard touchdown vs. the Texans.

The Texans need better pass protection for Deshaun Watson, who was hit nine times and sacked four times Sunday. Watson constantly faced pressure and didn’t have time to throw, especially early in the game. Julie’n Davenport, who started at right tackle after Seantrel Henderson was put on IR last week, said the offensive line “has to be better” starting next week when the Texans play host to the Giants. — Sarah Barshop


The Dolphins are 2-0 for the first time since 2013, and coach Adam Gase said they plan to “keep surprising people.” An efficient Ryan Tannehill and attacking defense led the way for a team that is riding an early-season high and feels like they can be a surprise playoff contender. The field is open for them in a weak AFC. — Cameron Wolfe

Memo to those who believe Sam Darnold had arrived after his big debut: He’s a rookie. He will make mistakes. He threw two interceptions as the Jets dropped their home opener, and now he has only three days to prepare for the Browns’ blitz-heavy defense on Thursday night. This is the growing-pain phase. — Rich Cimini


The Chargers earned their first victory without the services of defensive end Joey Bosa. Melvin Ingram and Derwin James filled the void, helping the Chargers to five sacks against rookie Josh Allen. The Chargers face another tough task against the Rams — a Week 3 battle for Los Angeles at the Coliseum — which be a barometer on if the Bolts remain early favorites to reach the postseason for the first time since 2013. — Eric D. Williams

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Philip Rivers passes to Melvin Gordon, who glides in for a 9-yard score to put the Chargers up 21-3 over the Bills.

Allen’s NFL starting debut was overshadowed by another poor defensive performance, at least in the first half. After allowing 47 points to the Ravens in the opener, Buffalo trailed the Chargers at halftime, 28-6. When it returned for the second half, cornerback Vontae Davis had abruptly retired and coach Sean McDermott had taken over play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. The Bills have four of their next five games on the road, including the next two at Minnesota and Green Bay. — Mike Rodak


It may be only Week 2, but the Jaguars’ victory over the Patriots should send a message to the rest of the NFL that their success in 2017 wasn’t a fluke. The franchise had been 0-8 against Tom Brady and had beaten the Patriots just once once 12 previous meetings. The Jags can’t dwell on this victory too much, though, because they play host division-rival Tennessee on Sunday. Tennessee swept the Jaguars last season, and a victory on Sunday would give them a 2.5-game lead in the AFC South. — Michael DiRocco

The Patriots’ defense was the biggest disappointment as Blake Bortles finished with 377 yards and four scores. The Pats didn’t follow through on one of their key game-plan points of keeping Bortles in the pocket. A trip to Detroit is on deck, where the Patriots would like to show former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia that they’re better than they played against the Jaguars. — Mike Reiss


The Rams’ defense has posted six consecutive scoreless quarters, and while Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh aren’t filling up the stat sheet, their presence certainly has been felt by opposing quarterbacks. The challenge next week against the Chargers and Phillip Rivers will be to force turnovers, which they were unable to do Sunday. — Lindsey Thiry

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Todd Gurley carries the Rams with a three-touchdown day in their home opener at LA Coliseum.

There is a lot of work to be done for the Cardinals, especially on offense. Arizona has scored only six points in eight quarters, struggling to run or pass the ball. In fact, the Cardinals are only 4-of-20 on third downs this season, so unless the offense can figure something out soon, the Cardinals’ season could be lost before it even really gets going. — Josh Weinfuss


The Niners couldn’t afford a loss to Detroit, especially with difficult road games against the Chiefs and Chargers up next. With a 66-yard jolt of lightning from running back Matt Breida and a fortunate defensive holding call on the Lions, the 49ers got the job done, though it may not have felt like it. “A win is a win, but it felt like a loss,” cornerback Richard Sherman said after the game. They must be better in all phases if they’re going to slow down the Mahomes train next week in Kansas City. — Nick Wagoner

There are signs of life for the Lions, and that’s encouraging for a team that looked in real trouble after the first seven quarters of the season. Multiple players even admitted that Sunday was “progress” after 31-point loss to the Jets on Monday. Detroit gave itself a shot to win at the end, so, at least in theory, the Lions have something to build on heading into Week 3 against New England. — Michael Rothstein


Two games, two fourth-quarter comebacks and two wins for the Broncos. “We showed a lot of character and fight, and that’s good, but we can’t keep waiting like that,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. With games coming up against the Ravens, Rams and Chiefs, Denver can’t keep racing the clock in the fourth quarter to try to clean up earlier mistakes. The Broncos had one first down in the first half Sunday and didn’t have an offensive touchdown drive until their first possession of the third quarter. — Jeff Legwold

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Brandon McManus hits a 36-yard field goal with under 10 seconds to play to put the Broncos up 20-19.

Yes, 0-2 is ugly, but as down as the locker room was after the loss, there was also a strange sense of optimism because if the Raiders make one of at least 10 plays, they win the game. “We’re this close,” Derek Carr said. But offensive tackle Donald Penn pointed out, “That’s the difference between good teams and mediocre teams. Right now, we’re a mediocre team.” — Paul Gutierrez



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NFL Week 1 2018 takeaways — What we learned from every team and what it means for next week — NFL Nation


The NFL returned this weekend with an exciting slate of games. Cleveland almost ended its winless streak, a handful of contenders struggled, the Sunday night game saw an epic comeback and a number of teams got their first looks at new players at prime positions.

Here are all of the biggest takeaways from Week 1 (through Sunday’s games).

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West
AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West


AFC EAST

Bills coach Sean McDermott said after Sunday’s 47-3 loss to the Ravens that he will “look at the tape” before deciding who will start at quarterback against the Chargers on Sunday. “Overall, I thought we could have been better at a number of positions,” McDermott said. Nathan Peterman was benched for rookie Josh Allen in the third quarter after completing 5 of 18 passes for 24 yards with two interceptions.— Mike Rodak

Ryan Tannehill‘s return to real action for first time in 637 days was a success, even though it was overshadowed by four hours of lightning delays. This team experienced chaos in 2017 in nearly every area, including quarterback. And now that Tannehill is back and in rhythm, it should be a calming presence. It was a good sign for the Dolphins that they didn’t wilt when adversity struck. — Cameron Wolfe

The Patriots’ pass rush came to life against a weaker Texans offensive line to contribute to Deshaun Watson‘s shaky return, recording three sacks and 12 QB hits while forcing a fumble. With the offense trying to buy time until Julian Edelman returns from a four-game NFL suspension (Phillip Dorsett helped there with a 7-66-1 line), the defense and special teams will need to pull their share against the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday. — Mike Reiss


AFC NORTH

The Ravens’ 47-3 season-opening win not only showed the instant connection between Joe Flacco and his new weapons but could also prove valuable for Thursday night’s early battle for first place in the AFC North. Baltimore was able to rest many of its key veterans, which is big on a short week. Flacco hit each of the free-agent wide receivers — Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV — in the end zone. It’s the first time Flacco has thrown three or more touchdown passes to his wide receivers in the same game since October 2014.— Jamison Hensley

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Ravens WR Michael Crabtree brings down a Joe Flacco pass and somehow manages to get both feet in for a late first-half touchdown.

The Bengals are going to have growing pains as they work with a young roster. The linebackers weren’t great as a unit with Vontaze Burfict out, and the defensive-line rotation wasn’t very effective against the quick passing game of Andrew Luck. But they made enough plays to win, which could bode well for their growth. — Katherine Terrell

Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor called the season-opening tie a “sour feeling,” but the Browns can take heart from an active defense that forced six turnovers. The Browns have done that 45 times in their history, going 40-3-2 in those games. — Pat McManamon

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Hue Jackson discusses the Browns’ missed field goal in overtime and can’t wait to see the tape.

The Steelers passing game showed cracks in Cleveland that Pittsburgh needs to patch up entering Sunday’s matchup with the Chiefs. The Steelers should have won convincingly over the Browns — James Conner dominated with 192 total yards in Le’Veon Bell’s absence — but four sacks and six turnovers facilitated a tie. Ben Roethlisberger was under constant duress and missed on several throws he typically makes. “It’s just frustrating that you can’t make plays down the stretch,” Roethlisberger said. — Jeremy Fowler


AFC SOUTH

Deshaun Watson failed to pick up where he left off during his stellar rookie season, and the Texans offense got off to a slow start. Watson said he was “terrible” and knows he’s better than what he showed in Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Patriots. Watson finished 17-of-34 for 176 yards, with one touchdown and an interception — but 115 of those yards came in the second half. He’ll look to improve in Week 2 versus Tennessee. — Sarah Barshop

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Deshaun Watson has a rough start to the season as he fumbles and throws a pick in the first half.

Andrew Luck proved he could play a full game while also taking hits in the Colts’ loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. Luck (shoulder) threw for 319 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his first game since Jan. 1, 2017. “His accuracy was good,” coach Frank Reich said. “I thought he was really poised. I mean it was fun just seeing him for four quarters on the sideline. Seeing what they were doing. Adjusting.” — Mike Wells

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Andrew Luck throws an interception and a pair of touchdowns as the Colts drop their season opener to the Bengals.

Running back Leonard Fournette left the game in the first half because of a right-ankle injury, but coach Doug Marrone said he’s optimistic about Fournette’s prognosis. Fournette has dealt with this before and said he knows how to manage it. Still, it’s hard to see him being full strength for Sunday’s game against New England, so T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant could have to carry the Jaguars’ ground game. The Jaguars also have Brandon Wilds on the practice squad to promote if Fournette is unable to go against the Patriots. — Mike DiRocco

Marcus Mariota was taken out of the game after being hit by Dolphins defensive end William Hayes. The hit caused Mariota to lose feeling in his hand but he said he was fine after the game. He had accuracy issues on a few throws before he was injured, missing Corey Davis and Delanie Walker for would-be touchdowns on the same drive in the first quarter. His two interceptions came after he was hit by Hayes, overthrowing wide receiver Tajae Sharpe and missing running back Dion Lewis on a screen. — Turron Davenport


AFC WEST

Of all of the things the Broncos wanted to leave behind after a 5-11 finish, the biggest might be an inability to respond to adversity. When the 2017 Broncos got down, they usually stayed down. Sunday, they trailed the Seahawks by four points early in the fourth quarter, but Case Keenum led a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the Broncos’ next possession — he was 4-of-4 passing on the march — and they closed the deal from there. As wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said: “That’s how you want to bounce back. This team can do that.” — Jeff Legwold

The Chiefs might be able to consistently score enough points to cover for their shaky defense. If they can put up 38 points on the road against a good defensive opponent in Patrick Mahomes‘ second career start, they should be able to win any scoring war they get into down the line. — Adam Teicher

A point of emphasis during the offseason, special teams, remains an issue. Special-teams mistakes led to 14 points for the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill put the first points on the board with a 91-yard punt return for a score in the opening quarter, and with the Chargers in contention late, undrafted rookie J.J. Jones fumbled a punt, which James Winchester recovered at the Chargers’ 2-yard line. New kicker Caleb Sturgis also missed a 48-yard field goal wide left. “That’s something that we emphasized and we worked on,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “We knew Tyreek was going to be back there. He was back there last year and I don’t think he got 10 yards, but we just didn’t execute today.” — Eric D. Williams


NFC EAST

Dating back to last season, the Cowboys have not scored more than 20 points in their past four contests, and Dak Prescott has not thrown for 200 yards in seven of his past nine games. The last time they scored more than 20 came against the next week’s foe, the Giants, in Week 14 of 2017, but 20 of their 30 points came in the fourth quarter. In Prescott’s four career starts against New York, the Cowboys have scored 75 points (18.8 points per game). — Todd Archer

The Giants scored one touchdown, a 68-yard run by Saquon Barkley in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough, but they maintained that they’re close. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was optimistic because they had chances against the Jaguars. They were “right there,” and could’ve scored three additional TDs. Beckham (11 catches for 111 yards) and Barkley showed their playmaking ability, and there’s time for the unit to mature under coach Pat Shurmur. New York will continue its growth against Dallas on Sunday night. — Jordan Raanan

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Giants running back Saquon Barkley turns on the jets for a 68-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his career.

Quarterback Nick Foles and the offense are still searching for their rhythm. The Eagles eked out an 18-12 victory over the Falcons on Thursday on the strength of their defense. If not for a couple of goal-line stands and a little “Philly Philly” magic by coach Doug Pederson, there would be some angst heading into Week 2 against the Bucs. Foles didn’t look like his Super Bowl self in the preseason, either, but with Carson Wentz expected back soon, he should only have to hold down the fort for a bit longer. — Tim McManus

The Redskins’ offense could be fun to watch, partly because of their heavy dose of run-pass option. It’s hard to say if they’ll do that as much every game, but it will be emphasized all season. It’s one reason why they rushed for 182 yards Sunday, and it helped open outside lanes for both Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Alex Smith has run this before, both in college and in Kansas City, and makes good decisions. The Redskins believe they have the personnel to make this tactic work whether a defense is in its nickel or base package. — John Keim


NFC NORTH

The Bears let the Packers off the hook. Chicago thoroughly outplayed Green Bay for nearly three quarters, which in itself is a major development, since Chicago has been dead last in the NFC North in each of the past four seasons. But the Bears are far from a finished product. They’re not good enough yet to finish off a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, who annihilated the Bears’ defense in the final quarter. So while there’s plenty of reason for optimism, the Bears still have a ways to go on both sides of the ball. Chicago isn’t a playoff team yet, but its talent level has improved significantly across the board. — Jeff Dickerson

Last week, Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks ended his conference call with Packers media by repeating: “Khalil Mack, Khalil Mack, Khalil Mack, Khalil Mack.” On their way back to Chicago, the Bears must’ve been thinking, “Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers.” Rodgers’ comeback from his first-half knee injury not only saved this game for the Packers, it also saved their season. To lose Rodgers in Week 1 less than a year after he broke his collarbone would have been devastating for the franchise. Instead, the Packers have just another chapter to add to Rodgers’ book of legendary performances. — Rob Demovsky

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Late in the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers teams up with Randall Cobb for a 75-yard touchdown and a 24-23 Packers lead.

As Dalvin Cook pointed out postgame, the ceiling is high for the Vikings’ offense. The unit looked dynamic throughout much of Kirk Cousins‘ debut, during which he connected on two touchdown passes and carved up the 49ers’ secondary. Cousins was backed by the league’s No. 1 defense, which came through with four turnovers. Minnesota displayed the full scope of how good it can be in its 24-16 season-opening win to set up for a crucial NFC North showdown at Green Bay next Sunday. — Courtney Cronin


NFC SOUTH

The Falcons still have a lot of work to do with their red zone offense, which was an emphasis after they finished 23rd in the league last season in that area. The Falcons managed a 1-for-5 showing in Thursday’s loss to the Eagles. Yes, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian showed some new wrinkles with different personnel, and the Falcons used a power game with a blocking fullback. But they still struggled to punch the ball in and missed on five opportunities in the final seconds. — Vaughn McClure

Losing tight end Greg Olsen (foot) and right tackle Daryl Williams (knee) will distract somewhat from the Panthers’ 16-8 victory over Dallas. But it won’t distract from the fact quarterback Cam Newton will remain a running threat under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, and this defense is for real. Newton rushed 13 times for 58 yards and a touchdown, while Luke Kuechly led a smothering Carolina defense with 13 tackles. The Panthers face division rival Atlanta in Week 2. — David Newton

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Cam Newton executes the read-option for a 4-yard touchdown run, putting the Panthers up 7-0.

The Saints’ defense flopped in Week 1, as the popular Super Bowl pick lost 48-40 at home to the Buccaneers. New Orleans allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 417 yards and four touchdowns. The good news that is the Saints have been through this before. Their defense struggled heavily in the first two weeks last season, too, before they rattled off an eight-game winning streak. But this was a disturbing performance for a unit that looked like it had turned things around. “We needed to get slapped in our face one good time to see that we’re not on the level we think we’re on,” cornerback Marshon Lattimore said. “But we’re gonna get better.” — Mike Triplett

Everybody thought for the Bucs to have a chance at winning any of their first three games with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, they’d need a Herculean effort by the defense. Instead, it was Fitzpatrick making “Fitz-magic,” throwing four touchdowns and rushing for a fifth. DeSean Jackson was on the receiving end of two of those scores, but he left the game with a concussion and is now in jeopardy for the Bucs’ home opener against Philadelphia next Sunday. Whether Jackson plays or not, the Bucs need their defense to show up after surrendering 475 yards of offense. — Jenna Laine

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter reminds reporters that Ryan “Fitz magic is alive and well.”


NFC WEST

Coach Steve Wilks said Sunday’s 24-6 loss to Washington won’t define his team — but it might have been a peek into what to expect from Arizona this season. Wilks called the 182 rushing yards the Cardinals allowed “unacceptable.” The Cardinals also showed if they fall behind early, they’ll be quick to abandon the run, which changed the entire outlook. One game might not define Arizona, but the blueprint might have been drawn Sunday on how to beat the Cardinals. — Josh Weinfuss

The 49ers made mistake after mistake in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings and still had multiple end-of-game possessions with a chance to tie it. Four turnovers, a handful of drops and three missed chances to score a touchdown in four red zone trips were at the root of the loss. Many of those mistakes, such as a pick-six from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stemming from a miscommunication, were things the Niners can control. They get Detroit at home in Week 2. — Nick Wagoner

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Jimmy Garoppolo is intercepted by Mike Hughes, who returns it 28 yards for a Vikings touchdown.

Earl Thomas’ importance to the Seahawks defense — especially in its current state — was clear in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to Denver. The All-Pro free safety, who returned Wednesday from his holdout, had an interception that set up the Seahawks’ first touchdown, another pass breakup and five tackles. Seattle’s defense is inexperienced and has a major question mark with its pass rush. All of those issues were evident in this game. Just imagine where that group would be without its best playmaker holding down the back end. “It’s important to have Earl regardless if [there’s] new players or old players,” safety Bradley McDougald said. “Earl’s gonna be Earl, and he showed it today.” — Brady Henderson



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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady says he’s dealing better with drama of team


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady acknowledged that parts of the past couple of seasons were a struggle for him, saying some of that was due to his own approach, while acknowledging that he’s dealing better with media reports of drama surrounding the team.

“If I’m going to do something at this point, it’s going to be because I enjoy it. The last couple years, a lot of parts about football weren’t enjoyable when they should have been,” Brady said in an epilogue of the “Tom vs. Time” docuseries posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

“Some of it was my approach. And you know, I think any time you are together with people for a long period of time, relationships ebb and flow.”

Brady seemed to be referencing head coach Bill Belichick, who is in his 19th year in the role.

“I think people are just looking for something to write and talk about. They want to talk about a lot of drama,” Brady said in the epilogue. “I’m sure a lot of teams have things like that, but ours is just to the 10th degree. I’m learning to deal with it better. I don’t still give a f— that much anymore about anything.

“I think a lot of keeping things in perspective, like nothing is that big a deal to me anymore. Maybe I’m just caring about certain things that really matter, like my family, like people’s health, like life and death. To worry about a lot of bulls— that people may say or think or feel, like, I really don’t care anymore.”

Brady, who turned 41 on Aug. 3, explained in the epilogue that he didn’t attend voluntary spring practices because he “needed something different this year,” as did his family.

In recent weeks, Brady has stressed positivity in conversations in the locker room. In the epilogue, he reinforced his desire to play five more years.

“I’d love to play 41, 42, 43, 44, 45. It will be a challenge for me, I don’t think it’s going to be easy … but I think I can do it,” he said. “I’m not ready to say that I’m done, because I don’t feel like I am. I still feel like there’s things to accomplish.”

He added that the past eight years of his career have been better than his first 10.

“So I should just prolong it,” he said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do.”



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