Eagles

Best of NFL: Giants end Cowboys' 11-game win streak

Best of NFL: Giants end Cowboys' 11-game win streak

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With a no-huddle offense and no-fooling-around defense, the New York Giants snapped the Cowboys' 11-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory Sunday night, preventing Dallas from clinching the NFC East.

Dallas (11-2) hadn't lost since the season opener against the Giants (9-4), who solidified their position in the NFC playoff chase as the top-wild card team. New York still hopes to catch Dallas in the division, and it can thank a stingy, aggressive defense for still having that opportunity.

Missing star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants couldn't stop rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott from rushing for 107 yards. But New York's pressure stymied the other Cowboys rookie standout, quarterback Dak Prescott, blanked receiver Dez Bryant until 2:13 remained -- he fumbled away the ball on that play -- and held Dallas to one conversion in 15 third-down attempts.

The Giants had three sacks, continually made Prescott uncomfortable, and he threw two picks.

New York's offense was unsightly much of the night, blanked at halftime with only 84 net yards. Then it switched to the no-huddle and put together a short drive to Robbie Gould's 39-yard field goal, making it 7-3.

But Odell Beckham Jr., stepped up, as he often does, and sped through the Cowboys on a 61-yard touchdown play. Beckham caught Eli Manning's pass at the Giants 48 and raced all the way to the end zone for the lead the defense preserved.

Manning was 17 for 28 for 193 yards, one TD, one interception and two fumbles. His main adversary was linebacker Sean Lee, who had 18 tackles (see full recap).

Le'Veon Bell scores 3 TDs with 236 rushing yards in win over Bills
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Le'Veon Bell scored three times and set a franchise record with 236 yards rushing in finding traction on a slick, snow-covered field, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon.

The Steelers overcame three interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger to win their fourth straight and improve to 8-5 and keep pace in the AFC playoff race. The loss all but mathematically eliminated the Bills (6-7) from contention, and puts them in jeopardy of extending the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 17 years -- the longest since New Orleans ended a 20-year drought by reaching the postseason for their first time in 1987.

After scoring in the first half on 3- and 7-yard runs, Bell put the game away on the opening drive of the third quarter. He had nine rushes for 72 yards alone and capped the 82-yard drive by waltzing into the end zone from 5 yards .

Bell also had 62 yards receiving to account for 298 of the 460 yards gained by Pittsburgh. It was the second three-TD game of his career, and first in which he scored three times rushing.

Bell broke the franchise rushing record set by Willie Parker, who had 223 yards against Cleveland on Dec. 7, 2006

He also extended his streak to four-straight games with 100 yards or more rushing, a span in which he's combined for 620 yards on the ground (see full story).

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay rout Seahawks 
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A hobbled Aaron Rodgers passed for 246 yards and three touchdowns and the Green Bay Packers routed the Seattle Seahawks 38-10 on Sunday.

Seattle's Russell Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions and the Packers (7-6) won their third straight game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

They're two games back of first-place Detroit in the NFC North, but play division opponents in the last three weeks of the season.

Green Bay gained 330 yards in Seattle's first game without former All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, who is out for the season with a broken leg.

Rodgers set the tone on the opening drive after connecting with receiver Davante Adams on a perfectly-thrown pass down the right sideline for a 66-yard touchdown. Cornerback Jeremy Lane slipped on the play.

Rodgers, who is already playing with a sore left hamstring, said he also hurt his right calf on that play. He finished 18 of 23 and left in the fourth quarter with his team leading by 25.

Stafford runs for go-ahead TD in Lions' win over Bears
DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford ran for a go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left after throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter, one that was returned for a score, and the Detroit Lions held on for a 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

"It's fourth quarter, go time, you've got to make a play," Stafford recalled thinking when he ran up the middle on the play designed for him to run. "I surely wasn't going to slide on the 2."

Matt Barkley completed two passes that put the Bears in a position to at least attempt a tying field goal in the final minute, but both were negated by flags, before turning the ball over on downs from the Detroit 44.

"You can't really recover from two holding penalties back to back," said Bears guard Ted Larsen, who was called for holding as was left tackle Charles Leno.

Chicago's chances of pulling off an upset were also hurt by three penalties for pass interference for a total of 74 yards, helping Detroit score both of its TDs.

The NFC North-leading Lions (9-4) have won five straight and eight of nine, moving them a step closer to winning a division title for the first time in 23 years.

"Our goals are much bigger than winning this game," receiver Anquan Boldin said.

Surging Bucs hold off Saints for 5th straight victory
TAMPA, Fla. -- The streaking Tampa Bay Buccaneers bolstered their playoff hopes by building an early lead and holding off Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 16-11 for their fifth straight victory on Sunday.

Doug Martin scored on a 1-yard run, Roberto Aguayo kicked three field goals and an improving defense intercepted Brees three times while holding the NFL passing leader without a touchdown pass.

Brees began the day leading the league in completions, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards and TD passes, but failed to throw for a touchdown for the second straight week, the first time he's done that in consecutive games since 2009.

Rookie Vernon Hargreaves III and Brent Grimes, cornerbacks brought during the offseason, to overhaul a secondary, had two of the interceptions.

Safety Keith Tandy picked off the quarterback's final pass on fourth-and-1 from near midfield in the final minute.

The Bucs (8-5) have won five straight for the first time since 2002, the season they went on to win their only Super Bowl. The surge has them in contention for their first playoff berth since 2007.

Tannehill hurt as Dolphins beat Cards on late kick
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Tannehill threw three touchdown passes before being sidelined with a knee injury that could end his season, and Andrew Franks kicked a 21-yard field goal as time expired to help the Miami Dolphins beat the Arizona Cardinals 26-23 Sunday.

Coach Adam Gase said the Dolphins fear Tannehill tore his ACL, which would sideline him for the rest of the season.

"Doesn't look good," Gase said.

Tannehill limped to the locker room late in the third quarter after being hit around the legs by defensive tackle Calais Campbell as he released a completion.

The Dolphins led 21-9 when Tannehill left, and backup Matt Moore failed to lead Miami to a first down in his first three series (see full story).

Browns fall to 0-13 with loss to Bengals
CLEVELAND -- Robert Griffin III returned from injury but couldn't keep Cleveland from falling closer to infamy as the Cincinnati Bengals built a big early lead and held off the winless Browns 23-10 on Sunday in the snow.

Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes to Tyler Eifert as the Bengals (5-7-1) kept their playoff chances pulsating for another week.

Griffin started for the first time since getting hurt in the opener. He couldn't produce a win for the Browns (0-13).

RG3 did score on a 1-yard sneak in the third quarter, but the Browns lost their 16th straight dating to Dec. 13 last season. Cleveland has lost 23 of 24 and 31 of 34 since the end of 2014.

The Browns have three games left to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL's only 0-16 teams.

Rick Lovato explains why he got a huge Lombardi Trophy tattoo

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Rick Lovato

Rick Lovato explains why he got a huge Lombardi Trophy tattoo

After the Eagles beat the Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII, there will be a Vince Lombardi Trophy living in Philadelphia permanently. 

There will also be one on Rick Lovato forever. 

On Wednesday, the Eagles' long snapper tweeted out a photo of some new ink, a huge Lombardi Trophy on the left side of his torso. Lovato isn't the only Eagles player or fan to get a tattoo after the Super Bowl, but it looks like his tattoo might be one of the biggest. 

On Thursday, Lovato went back on Twitter to explain why he decided to get the trophy tattooed on himself. 

Two years ago, in April of 2016, Lovato visited the grave of Vince Lombardi, which happens to be in his hometown of Middletown, N.J. He said that's also where his grandfather is buried. 

"I still pray and thank Coach Lombardi to this day because of how my life has changed since the day I visited his grave," Lovato explained in his tweet. 

A couple months before Lovato's visit, MMQB's Jenny Vrentas took a trip to Mount Olivet Cemetery to learn a little bit about the legendary coach's unassuming grave.

When Lovato visited Lombardi's final resting place, the long snapper was still playing for the Packers. After a college career at Old Dominion, Lovato spent that first summer with the Bears but didn't make the team and wasn't signed by the Packers until December of 2015 when their long-snapper suffered an injury. 

Lovato spent the rest of the season with the Packers and was with them for the next whole spring and summer. But just a few months after his visit to the cemetery, he was released. 

During the 2016 season, he was signed by Washington to fill in for 10 days before he was again cut. Lovato was back working at his family's restaurant, "Joyce's Subs and Pizza" in Lincroft, N.J. after that, but Jon Dorenbos got hurt and the Eagles needed a replacement. Lovato did a good enough job at the end of last season to warrant a position battle this past summer. He won the competition and was the Eagles' long snapper in their Super Bowl season. 

It seems like the tattoo is a reward for finally making it to the pinnacle. 

Here's Lovato's full explanation of his new ink and what it means to him: 

"For those who want some more background on my tattoo, 2 years ago I visited Vince Lombardi's grave in my hometown of Middletown, NJ where my grandfather is buried. Not having a full time job in the NFL yet and not knowing where this career would take me, I trusted my passion and faith to keep reaching my dreams. Since then I was cut two more times and could've given up on those dreams, but it made me want it more than ever. After a heated battle with my friend Jon Dorenbos in training camp I had finally found my place in this league. Through the ups and the downs of my first full season in the NFL, I have fulfilled my dream of playing and winning the Super Bowl. It has brought me more joy in my life than I could've ever imagined. I still pray and thank Coach Lombardi to this day because of how my life has changed since the day I visited his grave. This tattoo means much more than just winning a Super Bowl. It represents my journey, everyone who's supported me and my faith in God." 

Eagles Stay or Go — Young CBs and a new return man?

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — Young CBs and a new return man?

As we continue our offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. 

We go alphabetically — Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett, Part 2 was De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks, Part 3 was Billy Brown to Vinny Curry. Today is Ronald Darby to Zach Ertz. 

Ronald Darby
Roob: I’m still not completely sold on Darby. He made some big plays but also needs to be more consistent. That’s probably true of every young cornerback, and Darby certainly has all the tools to be a very good corner in the NFL. He just turned 24, he’s got world-class speed and when he gets his hands on the ball he’s always a threat to go the distance. The Eagles have a whole stable of young corners, and he’s in a similar position to Jay Ajayi in that he has one year left on his rookie four-year deal with another team, an AFC East team — in this case the Bills — and 2018 will give the Eagles a long look at him with a full training camp and season in an Eagles uniform. Darby will definitely be here in 2018. Beyond that, we’ll see.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: When you think about Darby's road to becoming a Super Bowl champion last season, it's pretty crazy. He gets traded to the Eagles during training camp, has to catch up and learn the defense and then dislocates his ankle in Week 1. He eventually came back as the Eagles' starter and never looked back. He's still just 24 and is really talented. Darby is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, so the Eagles are going to have a decision to make about him soon enough. But for now, this is a no-brainer. 

Verdict: STAYS

Rashard Davis
Roob: Davis came and went on the practice squad throughout the year, but he was along for the Super Bowl ride in Minneapolis as a practice squad receiver, so the Eagles must like him. Davis had a decorated career at James Madison, where he was a record-setting punt returner, and that’s something the Eagles could be looking for depending what happens with Darren Sproles. Davis remains a long-shot, but he is an interesting guy. Stranger things have happened. Especially around here lately. 

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Davis didn't even spend all year on the Eagles' practice squad in 2017, but the team did bring him back and he'll be with them this spring. An undrafted receiver out of James Madison University, there's not a ton of people who even know about him. His best chance to make the Eagles' roster is as a returner, especially if Kenjon Barner isn't back. Not completely out of the question, but he has a steep uphill climb. 

Verdict: GOES

Rasul Douglas
Roob: I really like Douglas. What he lacks in pure speed he makes up for with intelligence and preparation. He’s a physical corner, likes to support the run, a sure tackler. He started five games while Ronald Darby was out and played surprisingly well for a rookie third-round pick, even picking up two interceptions in the first month of his pro career, both in key situations in close games. Whether or not he eventually moves into the slot or even safety remains to be seen, but I expect Douglas to be around here for quite a while. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Douglas had a pretty weird year. He was a third-round pick and would have had the opportunity to win a starting job but struggled some early during training camp. If he didn't, the team might not have made the move to trade for Darby. But when Darby went down, Douglas became a starter and played really well, finishing with two interceptions. He's not the fastest guy, but his length and ballhawk skills make up for it. With Darby and Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones all in the mix, how does Douglas fit in? That's not clear yet, but he'll be back for his second year. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dannell Ellerbe
Roob: Ellerbe gave the Eagles functional linebacker play after joining the Eagles late in the season to provide defensive depth in place of Jordan Hicks. He was solid against the run and provided veteran leadership during the postseason run. He essentially did exactly what the Eagles brought him in to do. But Ellerbe is 32 and has nine years under his belt, and the Eagles will no doubt go younger at linebacker moving forward. Whatever happens, Ellerbe now has two Super Bowl rings — one with the Ravens and one with the Eagles. Not a bad career!

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles were looking for a veteran to play on base downs, so they went out and got Ellerbe from the street in November. The 32-year-old eventually became a starter, but never played much. He then missed the NFC Championship Game with an injury and played just a few snaps in the Super Bowl. The Eagles need to upgrade and get younger at linebacker. Ellerbe shouldn't be back. 

Verdict: GOES

Jake Elliott
Roob: Yeah, he missed too many PATs, but the positives sure outweigh the negatives with Elliott. If Elliott didn’t prove his worth with the 61-yard game-winner against the Giants, he sure did with fourth-quarter field goals of 42 and 46 yards in the Super Bowl. Those are incredibly tough pressure kicks with the whole world watching, and Elliott crushed them. Caleb Sturgis is a very good kicker. Elliott is a potentially great one.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: This time last year, Elliott was still at Memphis getting ready for the draft. A lot has happened since then. He went in the fifth round to the Bengals, but he lost the competition in Cincinnati, was placed on their practice squad, and stayed there until Sturgis got hurt in the first week of the season. Elliott came to the Eagles and in his second game, he became a hero when he made a 61-yard, game-winner against the Giants. The crazy thing about it is, if Elliott missed the 46-yarder just before the game-winner, he would have been 2-for-5 and in jeopardy of getting cut. But that didn't happen and now it's his job for good. 

Verdict: STAYS

Zach Ertz
Roob: Ertz has established himself as a top-three tight end in this league, behind Gronk and probably a little behind Travis Kelce, although it’s close. As good as Ertz was during the regular season, earning his first Pro Bowl honor, he was massive in the postseason, with 8-for-93 against the Vikings and 7-for-67 with two huge catches in the Super Bowl — the two-yard gain on a fourth-quarter 4th-and-1 with the Eagles trailing by one at their own 45 and his go-ahead touchdown a few moments later. Ertz has the sixth-most catches by any tight end in NFL history after five seasons and the 10th-most yards. He’s already the greatest tight end in Eagles history, and he just turned 27. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: There's no question about it. Ertz has grown into one of the best and most complete tight ends in the NFL. He's one of the best weapons on the team and he's going to have a chance to continue to grow his already-impressive chemistry with Carson Wentz. 

Verdict: STAYS