Raiders

Chiefs playing with heavy hearts

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Chiefs playing with heavy hearts


ALAMEDA -- The Kansas City Chiefs are coming into Oakland for the Raiders' home finale riding a wave of emotion.

It was on Dec. 1 when Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, who was also the mother of their infant child, before driving to the team's practice facility and turning the gun on himself. Belcher killed himself in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.

A day after the murder-suicide, the Chiefs played a home game and defeated Carolina, 27-21, for just their second victory of the season, before losing at Cleveland, 30-7, last weekend.

Crennel spoke with Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday and was asked how the team recovers from such an event.

"I think you just have to understand that reality is reality and you cannot undue what's been done and you have to try to move on as best you can," Crennel said. "I think in the business we're in, moving on is our hours on the football field, because we have to focus on football at that time and not focus on all those other problems that life presents. I think that has been good therapy for the team, for the coaches and even for the organization. That's what we've been trying to focus on, moving forward, because we have to."

Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry agreed.

"We’ve just been trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to do," he said, "but I ain’t going to lie, it’s been tough. Everybody’s trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to take care of, but at the end of the day we are human, and we’ve got emotions and feelings and stuff like that.

"Getting away from that situation, playing ball, just trying to stay busy for the most part (helps), but it’s always going to be in the back of your minds. It’s somebody you’re with every day…then he’s gone the next day. It’s something you’ve got to deal with but it’s nothing that won’t be forgotten."

Last weekend, Dallas endured a death when practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident in which the driver, Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent, was charged with intoxicated manslaughter as he was driving in the single-car accident.

It makes one wonder if two deadly incidents in as many weeks can serve as a teaching tool for the NFL or if the players will remain convinced of their invincibility.

"I think the biggest thing about players is they are young," Crennel said. "When you're young you think you're going to be able to last forever and you don't think about what may happen and things like that. So I think it's the youngness that gets these guys, gets young people in general to make some of the choices being made. After they mature and get more responsibilities then they look at things differently.

"I think it's the age and not so much how they look at life. They're young and they think life if going to be great for a long time and they don't understand how the choices they make impact their life."

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

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AP

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Give `em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after hurting it during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and possibly the season - on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

"I've had a lot worse," Brady said. "I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win."

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots (15-3), who'll play the winner of Sunday night's game between Minnesota and Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions.

Jacksonville - looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history - had one more shot, but Bortles' throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots then ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis' 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they did it mostly without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left the game late in the first half and didn't return.

Brady's hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since the quarterback's right ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's right ankle tendon - the bloody sock - in the 2004 playoffs.

Brady was listed as questionable after he hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week. He was limited Wednesday, sat out Thursday and was limited again Friday because of the injury.

That caused some panic among the Patriots faithful.

Turns out, it was nothing to fret about.

Brady came out for warmups without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes - including a 20-yarder to Amendola on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 30 - for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal.

A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Blake Bortles, who was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on an impressive and efficient seven-play, 76-yard drive.

Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run, hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars made some big mistakes that hurt them just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game - after New England called a timeout.

That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt.

With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England's offense took over and the fans chanted "Bra-dy! Bra-dy!"

And their quarterback delivered - with some help from the Jaguars on two long penalties.

On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church just as the ball was arriving. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville's 45.

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play on an incomplete throw for Brandin Cooks. The 32-yard penalty put the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, James White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10 with 55 seconds left.

Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.

But Brady & Co. were just getting started.

Report: Before hiring Olson as OC, Gruden interviewed ex-Texas A&M coach

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USATSI

Report: Before hiring Olson as OC, Gruden interviewed ex-Texas A&M coach

Greg Olson is back as the Raiders offensive coordinator, but he may not have been Jon Gruden's first choice.

Before hiring Olson, Gruden interviewed former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin for the OC position, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Despite not getting the Raiders' job, Sumlin was able to find work as he was announced as the new head coach of the Arizona Wildcats on Jan. 14.

Sumlin went 51-26 in six seasons with the Aggies and was 35-17 in four prior seasons with the Houston Cougars. The 53-year-old Sumlin has no NFL coaching experience.

Olson served as the OC in Oakland in 2013 and 2014. He spent this past season as the Rams quarterback coach.

“Greg Olson coached Derek Carr for a year here. His intel there will be very important. He coached with me in Tampa and he coached with Sean McVay, one of my ex-assistants, in LA. So, the system of football that we run will be a real natural flow,” Gruden said when the Raiders announced Olson's hiring on Ja. 12.