Cincinnati Bengals

Panthers star LB suspended 2 games for hit

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Panthers star LB suspended 2 games for hit

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has been suspended for two games by the NFL following his helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams.

The league announced the decision Monday.

Adams left Sunday's 31-24 loss to Carolina in the third quarter with a concussion after being blindsided by Davis following a Carolina interception. Davis was penalized 15 yards, but not ejected.

Davis, the 2015 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, was visibly upset on the sideline after the play.

Adams, who has suffered two concussions this season, took to social media on Monday to criticize Davis, saying there is no room in the game for hits like that.

"We supposed to be in this together n look out for one another not mess with a mans livelihood and hand out unnecessary concussions," Adams said on Twitter. "We all got mouths to feed what if I did that to him and his kids can't eat."

Adams also Tweeted: "I'll never understand it. Game is already dangerous enough and we got Pro Bowl players out here head hunting and saying they "didn't mean to harm me"

Davis responded to Adams on Twitter, offering an apology.

"I understand your frustration and I do apologize for the hit! In no way was I trying to hurt you," Davis tweeted. "My first instinct was turn and make a block. In all sincerity I do apologize. I truly respect you as a player and I made a mistake!"

Davis has three days to appeal (see story).

Panthers: Becker promoted, to run day-to-day operations
The Panthers have announced Tina Becker has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer and been given full control of the day-to-day management of the organization.

The move comes after the NFL launched an investigation into alleged sexual and racist misconduct by longtime owner Jerry Richardson. The 81-year-old is stepping away from the daily operation of the team and will focus on the pending sale of the franchise.

"These have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers, but I am lifted up by the strong resolve and the commitment our employees have shown to this organization," Becker said in a news release Monday. "Our team on the field is performing at a very high level, and I believe is bound for the Super Bowl.

"My immediate focus will be to ensure the corporate side of the organization performs at the same high level, while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days."

Team president Danny Morrison had resigned earlier in the year, and there was no COO before, or after, his resignation (see full story).

Texans: O'Brien emphatically says he'll never resign
HOUSTON -- Coach Bill O'Brien was emphatic on Monday about his desire to remain with the Houston Texans, a day after the team dropped to 4-10 with an embarrassing 45-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I will never quit as the head football coach of the Houston Texans," he said. "Ever."

O'Brien, who has one more season left on his contract, was asked if he had thought about resigning after the Texans complete what will be the first losing season in his time with the team.

"I'm not a quitter," he said. "I was raised in a family that believed in family, faith, education and never quit. So, I never will."

O'Brien's job security has become a topic of discussion in recent weeks as injuries and inconsistent quarterback play have led to four straight losses, one win in the last eight games. He spent a sizable chunk of his media availability Monday discussing his future, his relationship with general manager Rick Smith, and whether he would like to sign an extension to remain with the Texans (see full story).

Bengals: Lewis noncommittal about next year
CINCINNATI -- Marvin Lewis went to sit in his customary chair for his Monday media availability and discovered that it had been adjusted to a lower setting.

He laughed after discovering that his seat at the front of the room no longer fit.

The Bengals' coach will finish his 15th season in Cincinnati amid a full-blown discussion about whom the chair will fit in a few weeks. Lewis said Monday that he hasn't talked to owner Mike Brown about his contract, which ends after this season.

Although he emphatically denies a report that he's decided to leave, Lewis was noncommittal Monday about what happens next.

Asked if he wants to be back in Cincinnati next year, he replied by saying only, "I want to coach football." Asked again if he wants to coach in Cincinnati next year, he simply said, "Sure" (see full story).

Vikings' win means Eagles must wait for home-field advantage

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Vikings' win means Eagles must wait for home-field advantage

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eric Kendricks had an interception return for a touchdown, Case Keenum passed for 236 yards and two scores, and the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North title with a 34-7 victory over the depleted and disinterested Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for 37 touches and 242 yards from scrimmage for the Vikings (11-3), who were given quite the reprieve on the schedule a week after their eight-game winning streak ended at Carolina in the last of three consecutive road trips. They were never challenged by a Bengals team missing more than half of its starting defense to injuries and met with a morning report by ESPN that head coach Marvin Lewis will not return next season.

The game went so smoothly that Teddy Bridgewater even made his grand entrance, his first live action in 16 months since a massive knee injury. Bridgewater's first pass was intercepted, a high throw that bounced off McKinnon's hands and into the arms of strong safety Shawn Williams deep in Vikings territory. That set up a short touchdown run by Giovani Bernard to keep the Bengals from being shut out for a second time this year.

Terence Newman also picked off former teammate Andy Dalton, who went just 11 for 22 for 113 yards and three first downs before the Bengals (5-9) turned to backup quarterback A.J. McCarron midway through the fourth quarter after the interception by Williams (see full recap).

Brady, Patriots do it again to Steelers
PITTSBURGH -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski did it to the Pittsburgh Steelers again.

One questionable decision by Ben Roethlisberger helped.

Brady fed Gronkowski repeatedly to set up Dion Lewis' go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 56 seconds remaining and Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone with 5 seconds left as the New England Patriots rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 on Sunday.

The Patriots (11-3) gained the inside track for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs by ending Pittsburgh's eight-game winning streak. Brady threw for 298 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Gronkowski, fresh off a one-game suspension, finished with nine receptions for 168 yards, including four on the game-winning drive.

It briefly looked like it wouldn't be enough.

The Steelers (11-3), who played most of the game without injured wide receiver Antonio Brown, appeared to take the lead when Roethlisberger connected with tight end Jesse James for a 10-yard touchdown with 28 seconds to left. The play was overturned on review, with official Tony Corrente saying the ball did not "survive" the completion of the catch (see full recap).

Rams rout Seattle for control of division
SEATTLE -- Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored four total touchdowns in just 2 quarters, and the Los Angeles Rams moved to the cusp of their first division title since 2003 with a 42-7 thumping of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The matchup to determine first place in the NFC West was completely one-sided.

Los Angeles (10-4) was dominant, embarrassing Seattle into the worst loss during Pete Carroll's eight seasons in charge.

Taking advantage of field position, the Rams scored on six of seven first-half drives, including a 21-point scoring blitz in the second quarter capped by a 57-yard TD run by Gurley on third-and-20 with less than a minute remaining in the first half to take a 34-0 lead at the break.

Gurley had 144 yards rushing in the first half, twice scoring from the 1. He added a 14-yard TD reception midway through the third quarter for a 40-0 Rams lead and spent the rest of his day watching. The 152 yards rushing were the second-best of his career.

The Rams don't have the division wrapped up, but have a two-game lead with two weeks to play. A win against either Tennessee or San Francisco is enough for their first division title in 14 years (see full recap).

Saints beat Jets for 10th win
NEW ORLEANS -- Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns and gained 151 yards from scrimmage, including a late 50-yard TD run, and the New Orleans Saints overcame three turnovers to defeat the struggling New York Jets, 31-19 on Sunday.

Michael Thomas became the second NFL player with at least 90 receptions in his first two seasons. He caught nine passes for 93 yards, including a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown on a short slant for New Orleans (10-4), which retained its tenuous hold on first place in the NFC South heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Alvin Kamara turned a short catch into a 10-yard TD in his return from a concussion that knocked him out of the Saints' loss at Atlanta a week earlier.

Bryce Petty made his first start at quarterback this season for the Jets (5-9), who were eliminated from playoff contentions. Petty completed 19 of 39 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice -- once on a tipped pass and once on a long, inconsequential throw as the game ended.

His 2-yard touchdown pass to former Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire cut New Orleans' lead to 24-19 with 1:51 left. But the Jets' onside kick failed and Ingram broke loose for his long score while the Saints were really just trying to run down the clock (see full recap).

NFL Notes: Steelers LB Ryan Shazier remains in hospital

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NFL Notes: Steelers LB Ryan Shazier remains in hospital

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will remain in a Cincinnati hospital until at least Wednesday to undergo further testing on a spinal injury suffered in the first quarter of Monday night's win over the Bengals.

Shazier left Paul Brown Stadium on a stretcher less than four minutes into his team's 23-20 victory over Cincinnati following a tackle that left the 25-year-old writhing on the turf, his legs motionless. He underwent extensive testing overnight, with the team saying Shazier's injury did not require surgery "at this time."

The Steelers had hoped Shazier would be able to return to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The timetable has been pushed back at least 24 to 48 hours. He will remain at University of Cincinnati Medical Center under the care of neurosurgeons David Okonwko and Joseph Cheng. Shazier is expected to be transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital later in the week.

While the severity of the injury will remain unknown until the swelling subsides, the relentlessly upbeat Shazier offered a bit of hope Tuesday evening.

"Thank you for the prayers," Shazier tweeted . "Your support is uplifting to me and my family. (hash)SHALIEVE" (see full story).

Bengals: Fallout from Steelers-Bengals clash
CINCINNATI -- Two players carted off, two others suspended, many fines to follow. One of the NFL's nastiest rivalries set new lows in prime time, forcing fans to avert their eyes.

What's to be done about this long-running animosity between the Steelers (10-2) and Bengals (5-7)? Do the teams encourage the mayhem by downplaying it? Do the NFL and the networks promote it by showing it in prime time every season?

Those questions were raised in the aftermath of a game so brutal that it made viewers cringe. Pittsburgh rallied for a 23-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night, its sixth straight win over the Bengals.

What it'll be remembered for, though, is how it felt more like a street brawl at times. The NFL responded by suspending Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bengals safety George Iloka for one game each on Tuesday, and fines for other players are expected later in the week.

"I'll acknowledge there were some unfortunate things in that game that we don't need in our game -- by both sides," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

Patriots: Gronkowski’s 1-game suspension upheld
BOSTON -- The NFL has denied Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's appeal of a one-game suspension for a late, gratuitous hit to the head of Bills defensive back Tre'Davious White.

The league announced the decision of appeals officer Derrick Brooks on Tuesday.

White was face down on the sideline after intercepting a pass in Buffalo on Sunday when Gronkowski body-slammed him, driving his forearm into White's back and head. Gronkowski was called for unnecessary roughness, but not kicked out of the game. White went into the concussion protocol.

Gronkowski, who apologized for the hit , will serve his suspension against Miami next Monday night.

Giants: Reese thanks team for 23 years
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Former New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese says his 23 years with the NFL team were filled with great memories and he will always treasure his time with the organization.

A day after being fired along with coach Ben McAdoo with the team reeling with a 2-10 record, Reese released a short statement in which he thanked the Mara and Tisch families for putting their confidence in him. He also thanked McAdoo and predecessor Tom Coughlin for their time and commitment to the Giants.

He also expressed his thanks to the late George Young, the general manager who hired him, and to Ernie Accorsi, who replaced Young and groomed Reese in preparation for taking over the general manager's job before the 2007 season.

"Many thanks to the front office, personnel staff, support staff, scouts, coaches, and current and former players for your dedication to a first-class organization," Reese wrote in wrapping up his statement.

"My family, friends and many fans that have supported me, and I sincerely appreciate all of you. I am truly grateful and blessed for my time with the NYG. All the best to you. Go Giants."

During Reese's 11-year tenure as general manager, the Giants won Super Bowls after the 2007 and '11 seasons. Including this season, they have missed the playoffs in five of the past six seasons.