Raiders key matchup No. 3: Palmer vs. Suggs


Raiders key matchup No. 3: Palmer vs. Suggs

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Ravens matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at M&T Bank Stadium.Raiders QB Carson Palmer vs.
Ravens OLB Terrell SuggsTale of the tape
Palmer (3): 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, 10th season, USC
Suggs (20): 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, 10th season, Arizona StateALAMEDA -- The rivalry between Carson Palmer and Terrell Suggs goes back to their college days in the old Pac-10, reached a boiling point in the AFC North and rekindles this weekend."Me and him come from the same draft class, 2003," Suggs said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week. "He also played at USC, I was at Arizona State. So, this guy has kind of tortured me through all my college and professional career. Im very aware of the talent. I know he can make every throw. If you ask me, hes very highly underrated. Hes definitely one of the premier quarterbacks in the league."Palmer went No. 1 overall in 2003, Suggs No. 10 overall to Baltimore.With the Cincinnati Bengals, Palmer went 9-4 against the Ravens, the most wins against Baltimore by any quarterback. He has a career 84.4 QB rating against the Ravens, having thrown for 3,202 yards on 61 percent passing with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions."Hes definitely still the same guy," Suggs said. "Im talking about that from a good standpoint. I dont fear any quarterbacks, but he definitely, Im always worried when I play Carson Palmer."I would say his poise, his decision making (stand out). He can make every throw. He has phenomenal talent. That's why he's the Heisman winner. All that into one."Suggs, meanwhile is returning from a torn Achilles' suffered in an offseason workout in April. He was not expected back until November but was playing on Oct. 21. The reigning NFL defensive player of the year had a sack in his first game back, and the mutual admiration society was in full bloom."I mean, its amazing he is playing," Palmer said of Suggs' return from injury. "I remember when it happened, I remember thinking'That sucks for Terrell, but hell be (playing) by the time we get out in Baltimore.' And sure enough, he was playing two or three weeks ago against Houston. Thats the type of guy he is. Hes an extremely hard worker. Hes going to come back early, and just when you doubt him, he proves people wrong."Suggs is a five-time Pro Bowler."I played against him for 15 years now, a phenomenal football player, phenomenal against the pass and phenomenal against the run," Palmer added. "There arent a lot of guys who are good at both, like he is. I dont know if there is another one, as good as he is, at playing them both."And with the Raiders most likely missing their top two running backs in Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson to high ankle sprains, Oakland's gameplan figures to depend heavily on the passing arm of Palmer.Besides, Baltimore's defense is not as fearsome on paper as it has been in recent years with Ray Lewis lost for the year with a torn right triceps and the Ravens having only the No. 26 overall-ranked defense, No. 22 against the pass and No. 28 against the run."As far as playing against Baltimore, its always an uphill battle," Palmer said. "Their numbers are not statistically where they normally are, and theyve had some injuries, but they are still 6-2, and theyre still very good at home. Their crowd is phenomenal. They make it a hostile environment to come in and try to communicate and play."You have to play great, you cant play okay and win. You have to put together four quarters and put together a complete game, if you want to get out of there with a win. Its difficult to do there."

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


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


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


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.