Best of NFL: Giants lose Beckham, remain winless as Chargers snap 9-game losing streak

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Best of NFL: Giants lose Beckham, remain winless as Chargers snap 9-game losing streak

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Los Angeles Chargers finally grabbed a win, while the New York Giants just about lost everything.

Philip Rivers threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Gordon with 2:58 to play and the Chargers rallied for a 27-22 victory Sunday in an ugly game between teams that each went 0-4 in the first month of the season. For New York, it was a fifth straight defeat, and dynamic wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. departed with a broken left ankle.

The worst of all was the injury to Beckham on the series before the Chargers' winning touchdown. He jumped to catch a high Eli Manning pass and had Los Angeles cornerback Casey Hayward pin his ankle making a tackle. Players immediately signaled the sideline and Beckham was eventually carted off in obvious pain with a hand covering his face.

The touchdown pass was Rivers' third of the game and came three plays after Kyle Emanuel had a sack, forced fumble and recovery against Manning at the Giants 11-yard line. It also came four plays after Beckham became the fourth Giants receiver knocked out of the game.

"We found a way," said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn after his first win. "We've been looking for a way to win close games and we found a way. Now we're going to enjoy this one, and tomorrow we'll work on what that lesson really was."

Rivers also hit Gordon on a 6-yard TD pass in the second quarter and had a 25-yarder to tight end Hunter Henry in the third as the Chargers ended a nine-game losing streak dating to late November (see full recap).

Rodgers lifts Packers over Cowboys in another thriller
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Aaron Rodgers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining, lifting Green Bay over the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 Sunday in another thriller nine months after the Packers' divisional playoff win on the same field.

Rodgers capped a 75-yard drive in just 1:02, going toward the same end zone as in the playoff game. Then, Rodgers' long completion to Jared Cook on third-and-20 in the final seconds set up Mason Crosby's winning field goal as time expired in a 34-31 win.

Adams was active 10 days after leaving the field on a stretcher on a helmet-to-helmet hit that resulted in a suspension for Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan. He had seven catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

Dak Prescott had given Cowboys the lead on an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:13 remaining to cap a 17-play drive that lasted almost nine minutes. Dallas (2-3) has already matched the number of losses from the magical rookie season for Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott (see full recap).

Pick 6s fuel Jaguars in sloppy upset over Steelers
PITTSBURGH -- The new-look Jacksonville Jaguars just might be for real.

Telvin Smith and Barry Church returned a pair of Ben Roethlisberger's interceptions for touchdowns and Jacksonville stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-9 on Sunday.

Jacksonville (3-2) beat the Steelers for the first time in a decade by relying heavily on the NFL's top-ranked pass defense. The Jaguars picked Roethlisberger off five times in all and sacked him twice. Rookie Leonard Fournette ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars, who are over .500 after five games for the first time since 2010 and have already matched their victory total from 2016.

Roethlisberger completed 33 of 55 for 312 yards and his career-high five interceptions, the most by a Pittsburgh quarterback since Mark Malone threw five against Cleveland in 1987.

A week after a sideline outburst generated headlines and drew Roethlisberger's ire, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards (see full recap).

Cam Newton's 3 TD passes help Panthers beat Lions 27-24

Cam Newton's 3 TD passes help Panthers beat Lions
DETROIT -- Cam Newton showed he was very focused on football, throwing three touchdowns to help the Carolina Panthers build a lead big enough to hold off the Detroit Lions for a 27-24 win Sunday.

The Panthers (4-1) scored 24 straight points after trailing the Lions 10-3 early in the second quarter. Detroit rallied, but could not stop Newton on his last drive to get the ball back.

Newton came under fire for making sexist comments to a female reporter this week. He apologized after losing an endorsement deal and getting criticized by the NFL.

He was 26 of 33 for a season-high 335 yards. On perhaps the game's key play, he converted a third-and-19 from the Carolina 24 with a sharp, 17-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 2:00 left while clinging to a three-point lead against a team out of timeouts.

Newton threw a 6-yard TD pass to rookie Christian McCaffrey to pull the Panthers into a 10-10 tie early in the second quarter and a 10-yard pass to Devin Funchess for a tiebreaking score with 48 seconds left in the first half. With a perfectly lofted 31-yard pass to Benjamin, the 2015 NFL MVP put Carolina up 24-10 early in the third (see full recap).

NFL Notes: League looking into Terrelle Pryor racism claims against KC fans

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NFL Notes: League looking into Terrelle Pryor racism claims against KC fans

WASHINGTON -- The NFL is looking into a situation Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City during which Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor says he was called racist names and cursed at by a fan.

Pryor posted on Instagram story on Wednesday that it got so bad during the game against the Chiefs that a league employee had to stand by him from the second quarter on. Pryor apologized to teammates and the organization for "flicking the person off."

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said the league is looking into "all aspects" of Pryor's claim and will report back when the review is complete. Lockhart added that the league has "no tolerance for racial remarks directed at anyone in a stadium" and said those fans are not welcome to come back "this week, next week or any time."

On Instagram, Pryor says the comments are the reason players are kneeling during the national anthem. He says he didn't kneel because he and his teammates decided to stand together (see full story).

Raiders: Carr returns to practice after back injury
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr returned to the practice field four days after breaking a bone in his back.

Carr took snaps and threw a few light passes Thursday during the open period of practice. E.J. Manuel is expected to start Sunday for the Raiders (2-2) against Baltimore (2-2).

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Monday that Carr has a transverse process fracture in his back after taking a hard hit last week in Denver. Del Rio says the injury usually takes between two and six weeks to heal, although Cam Newton and Tony Romo came back after missing one game with similar injuries in 2014.

Left tackle Donald Penn talked to Carr earlier in the day and said the quarterback told him he was "very ahead of schedule."

Chargers: Rookie kicker Koo waived, Novak re-signed
COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers have re-signed kicker Nick Novak, waiving rookie Younghoe Koo after just four games.

The Chargers (0-4) made the moves Thursday.

Novak is a 13-year NFL veteran who has kicked for eight franchises, including the San Diego Chargers from 2011-14. He made 101 of his 117 field goal attempts for the Chargers before spending the past two seasons with Houston.

Novak was released by the Texans last month after losing a competition with Ka'imi Fairbairn, the former UCLA kicker.

Koo became the fourth NFL player born in South Korea after winning the job in a camp competition with incumbent Josh Lambo.

Koo went 3 for 6 on field goal attempts for Los Angeles. The Georgia Southern product's potential tying field goal was blocked in the Chargers' season opener at Denver.

Koo then missed two field goals in their 19-17 loss to Miami one week later, including a 44-yarder at the final gun.

Giants: Banged-up defense now proving unreliable
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The defense that a year ago carried the New York Giants to their first playoff berth since 2011 has suddenly become unreliable.

Steve Spagnuolo's unit is no longer stopping the run, it is giving up big plays, missing tackles, and now it is fighting injuries heading into Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers, who like they Giants are winless in four games.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon both missed their second straight practice Thursday and that never bodes well for playing the weekend.

Vernon, who has never missed a game, aggravated a sprained ankle against the Buccaneers and missed the second half. Pierre-Paul hurt a shoulder early but never left the game. However, he was never a factor in the game and he said he didn't like what he put on film.

The Giants will have a recovery day on Friday and a final practice Saturday.

"Definitely expect to practice on Saturday and be playing Sunday," Pierre-Paul said Thursday. "It's not a secret. Everybody that knows me knows I'm going to play" (see full story).

Eagles Film Review: How the run game erupted against the Chargers

Eagles Film Review: How the run game erupted against the Chargers

In his press conference earlier in the week Doug Pederson said, as a team, “every week you go in and try to establish your run game.” Last week, the Eagles did this by utilizing a zone run scheme.

The reason: The Chargers' defense under Anthony Lynn and Gus Bradley specializes in slanting defensive linemen one direction while the linebackers head the opposite direction to fill running lanes. A man-to-man blocking scheme against this type of scheme could mean a long day for the best of offensive lines. To lighten the load on his hogs up front, Pederson gave the Chargers defense a heavy dose of zone runs. 

There are some keys in the zone-blocking scheme that the Eagles executed nicely in Week 4.

PIN AND PULL
Here, in the beginning of the second quarter, is an example of a zone run using the technique called pin and pull. The guard and tackle pin down their side of the line. On the backside, whichever player is uncovered with no defender in front of him will pull around the formation and block the first opposite color he sees. 

Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks (pointed out with black arrows) are your pin-down men. Chance Warmack is your pulling man with the yellow arrow.

With Johnson squarely in front of his man, Brooks sealing off the defensive tackle and working to the second level and Warmack on the kick-out block, LeGarrette Blount is able to pick his running lane and go for 10 yards.

 

RAILROADING
With this zone scheme, you have to imagine a railroad laid down on the line of scrimmage going from sideline to sideline. Each blocker's job within the box is to move themselves and anyone in front of them left or right down the line of scrimmage depending on the play call. Here the play call is to the left.

You see that each blocker's first steps are to the left, where the play is headed. Each blocker is responsible for an area, not a man. The objective is to keep the defensive line moving, allowing the running back to pick a lane to hit.

Now, this particular play was a 5-yard loss, but it's good to show why keeping your shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage is important. Stefen Wisniewski turns his shoulders to seal off the defensive tackle, but that opens up a gap for a linebacker to shoot, resulting in a negative play for the Eagles.

 

DOUBLE TEAM
This, along with pin and pull, provided Pederson with his most running success Sunday. Here, on first down midway through the second quarter, the Chargers have both defensive tackles either shading one side of an Eagles' lineman or directly in a gap.

The Eagles do a great job of collapsing both defensive tackles, creating multiple lanes for Blount to run through.