Patriots

Giants fire head coach McAdoo, GM Reese

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Giants fire head coach McAdoo, GM Reese

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The New York Giants made a rare in-season house cleaning, firing coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese on Monday, less than a year after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2011, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not made an announcement. Co-owner John Mara planned to hold an afternoon news conference.

The dismissals came a day after the Giants lost in Oakland, with quarterback Eli Manning benched and the team dropping to 2-10. The firings cap an injury-marred season highlighted by the loss of catalyst wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on Oct. 8.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will take over as interim coach for the final four games. He coached the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11.

Assistant general manager Kevin Abrams will take over on an interim basis for Reese, who became general manager in 2007 and had two Super Bowl wins on his resume. But the Giants missed the playoffs four times in the last five years, and this year his failure to address offensive line problems played a major role in a horrible season.

The moves came less than a week after the 40-year-old McAdoo made one of his biggest mistakes of his short tenure, mishandling the decision to bench Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP. Mara was forced to address the matter the following day and said he wished the decision had been dealt with better.

McAdoo had a 13-16 record, and his firing is the first mid-season head coaching move by the Giants since Bill Arnsparger was replaced seven games into the 1976 season by John McVay.

The 2-10 mark is the Giants' worst 12-game record since they were 2-10 in 1976, and their worst since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.

A team that traces its NFL origins to 1925, the Giants have been an organization that for decades rarely shakes things up until after the season. Coaches get fired, but it's at the end of a bad run and usually they get an extra season to fix things.

The general's manager's job has been orderly succession. The late George Young turned the team around in the 1980s and was replaced by Ernie Accorsi, who eventually gave way to Reese, who joined the team as a scout and worked his way to director of player personnel before getting the GM position.

Going into this season, no one could have expected that the Giants would be replacing a coach before it finished. They came in with Super Bowl expectations coming off an 11-6 record in McAdoo's first season.

Those expectations ended quickly. The Giants lost their first five games, the last three after the defense failed to hold fourth-quarter leads.

With the losses, word started to emerge that McAdoo was losing the team. His one-game suspensions of popular cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins heightened the problem. According to several reports, some players also griped anonymously about having workouts on Saturdays, something the team also did last season.

Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch had come to McAdoo's defense after an embarrassing loss to the then-winless 49ers on Nov. 12, saying his job was safe until the end of the season. His handling of the Manning benching seemed to seal his fate.

The Giants hired McAdoo away from Green Bay in 2014 to serve as Tom Coughlin's offensive coordinator. He was elevated to head coach on Jan. 14, 2016, less than two weeks after Coughlin was forced out after missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

McAdoo had all the ingredients to succeed. He was young, ran an up-tempo West Coast offense, had worked well with Manning and he seemed to be a coach the players would like. His practices were filled with music and marked by short-interval segments.

McAdoo's first season was exceptional. Led by a revived defense, the team seemingly won every close game in a season in which most of the players stayed healthy. The only problem was the offense, which struggled to score playing with a poor offensive line, no running back and a lack of receivers other than Beckham.

Reese's failure to address the line in the offseason was a major gaffe that led to McAdoo's demise.

The line, which lost center Weston Richburg and guard D.J. Fluker to season-ending injuries and has seen guard-tackle Justin Pugh's time limited by back issues, wasn't the only problem. The receiving corps was decimated by season-ending injuries to Beckham and Brandon Marshall, who never lived up to the hype of his signing, and return man/receiver Dwayne Harris. Sterling Shepard has also been limited by ankle problems and migraines.

Before this move, the shortest stay by a Giants' head coach in recent years was that of Ray Handley — he was fired after the 1992 season. He lasted two years after replacing Bill Parcells. The only other time the team fired a head coach in midseason was in 1930 when LeRoy Andrews was replaced by Benny Friedman and Steve Owen.

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Steelers lock up AFC North with 39-38 win over Ravens

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Steelers lock up AFC North with 39-38 win over Ravens

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Shazier was everywhere. His helmet rested on the Pittsburgh Steelers' bench. His jersey too. His face and #Shalieve stitched on specially-designed cleats. His familiar No. 50 printed in white in the middle of a gold circle on T-shirts worn by teammates searching for a way to let Shazier know he is never far from their mind as he recovers from a spinal injury that put the linebacker's blossoming career in jeopardy.

Shazier may never play football again. That doesn't make him any less of a Steeler. And the men who have taken so much from him over the last three-plus years decided it was time they gave him something back in return: the AFC North title he ordered them to lock down without him.

Chris Boswell made a 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left and Pittsburgh's defense overcame a shaky night without their most dynamic player to shut down Baltimore's last-gasp drive and hold on for a 39-38 victory on Sunday night to capture their third division title in the last four years.

"We are riding with that guy," head coach Mike Tomlin said of Shazier. "He is strong. He is strengthening us."

Looked like it.

The Steelers (11-2) trailed by 11 points going into the fourth quarter but capped an emotionally draining week to rally for their eighth straight victory, one they couldn't wait to share with Shazier, who joined the giddy postgame celebration via Facetime.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards, including two long gains in the fourth quarter that allowed the Steelers to recover after blowing an early 14-point lead. Le'Veon Bell had 125 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns .

"We can win a shootout against anybody," Bell said. "I feel like we can score points whenever we need to."

Good thing, because Pittsburgh might have to. The Ravens (7-6) rolled up 414 yards against the NFL's fourth-ranked defense and recovered from a slow start to score on five consecutive drives and six out of seven to take a 38-29 lead on Javorius Allen's second touchdown with 6:44 left.

Not much time against most teams. Far too much against the Steelers.

Roethlisberger and Brown, who is mounting a legitimate MVP candidacy, hooked up on a 57-yard connection set up an 11-yard sprint by Bell with 3:29 to go. The Steelers forced the Ravens into a three-and-out and Roethlisberger calmly led Pittsburgh within field goal range, including a 34-yard lob down the sideline to Brown that set up Boswell's winner.

Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception but was strip-sacked by rookie linebacker T.J. Watt on the Ravens' final snap.

"This one hurts," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We lose to them the same way we did last year. This one sucks, but we've got to get over it. Yeah, this one's going to hurt but it's best for us to have a short memory on this one because if we win out there's a good chance we'll be in (the playoffs)."

Shazier, who's been in the hospital since injuring his spine in the first quarter of last week's victory over Cincinnati, told his teammates to finish the work he helped start. Even as they celebrated an important step in a journey they hope will carry them deep into the postseason, they were making plans to keep Shazier involved, starting with a late-night trip to the hospital to deliver him his AFC North champions' swag.

"We are going to give him the hat and T-shirt tonight," good friend and fellow inside linebacker Vince Williams said.

When someone mentioned visitor's hours were probably over, Williams repeated "tonight." Then, it was home to rest before preparing for a showdown with New England next Sunday.

"That's the crazy part about the NFL, things constantly change and you've got to keep rolling," Williams said. "So you've got to find a way to roll with the punches even though it may be a haymaker, got to find a way to recover."

HONORING SHAZIER

Linebacker James Harrison took to the field shirtless during warmups even as temperatures hovered in the low-30s, a nod to one of Shazier's pregame rituals. When Roosevelt Nix drilled Moore on the opening kickoff, Nix lifted his jersey to show the T-shirt most of the Steelers wore at some point during the night.

BRING ON THE PATS

The Steelers fell to New England in a one-sided loss in the AFC championship game 10 months ago. They're not exactly intimidated by the prospect of facing Tom Brady and company.

"You act like they're coming in with Kryptonite, Superman and Batman and Avatars and stuff," Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey said. "Heck yeah, it's a regular football game, what do you mean? We're going to go out there, tackle the football and run the football."

UP NEXT

Ravens: Visit winless Cleveland next Sunday. Baltimore beat the Browns 24-10 on Sept. 17.

Steelers: Will try to beat Brady and New England for the first time since 2011 next Sunday.

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