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NFL Today, Week 15

NFL Today, Week 15

SCOREBOARD

Monday, Dec. 17

N.Y. Jets at Tennessee (8:30 p.m.) Coach Rex Ryan and the Jets (6-7) continue their late-season playoff push against the Titans (4-9). New York needs to win to stay alive in the playoff race.

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STARS

Passing

-Tony Romo, Cowboys, was 30 for 42 for 341 yards and two TD passes in a 27-24 overtime win over Pittsburgh. Romo surpassed 25,000 yards passing in the win and is the 64th NFL player to go over the 25,000-yard mark.

-Kirk Cousins, Redskins, was 26 for 37 for 329 yards with two TD passes and an interception in his first career start in Washington's 38-21 win over Cleveland.

-Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, threw for four touchdowns in San Francisco's 41-34 win over the New England Patriots.

-Drew Brees, Saints, finished 26 for 39 for 307 yards with four TD passes in New Orleans' 41-0 win over Tampa Bay. Brees has at least 300 yards passing and four touchdowns in a game 17 times and passed Hall of Famer Dan Marino (16) for the most in NFL history.

-Aaron Rodgers, Packers, was 23 for 36 for 291 yards with three TD passes in Green Bay's 21-13 win over Chicago. The Packers clinched the NFC North title for the second consecutive season with the victory. Rodgers, who has 32 touchdown passes this season, joined Dan Marino and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with three seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes before age 30.

-Matt Ryan, Falcons, finished 23 for 28 for 270 yards with three TD passes in Atlanta's 34-0 win over the New York Giants.

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Rushing

-Adrian Peterson, Vikings, had 24 carries for a season-best 212 yards, including an 82-yard TD in Minnesota's 36-22 win over St. Louis. Peterson has a career-best 1,812 yards rushing, leaving him 294 shy of breaking the NFL mark of 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984.

-Arian Foster, Texans, finished with 27 carries for 165 yards in Houston's 29-17 victory over Indianapolis. He has 1,313 yards rushing, giving him his third straight year with at least 1,200.

-Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, had 22 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown in Denver's 34-17 win over Baltimore.

-Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, Seahawks. Lynch had 10 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown and Wilson had nine carries for 92 yards and three touchdowns rushing in Seattle's 50-17 win over Buffalo. Wilson is the first player in NFL history to have three touchdowns rushing and a passing touchdown in the first half of a game.

-Darren McFadden, Raiders, had 30 carries for 110 yards in Oakland's 15-0 win over Kansas City.

-Reggie Bush, Dolphins, had 21 carries for 104 yards in Miami's 24-3 win over Jacksonville.

-Beanie Wells, Cardinals, had 17 carries for 67 yards and three touchdowns in Arizona's 38-10 win over Detroit.

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Receiving

-Andre Johnson, Texans, had 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in Houston's 29-17 win over Indianapolis.

-Eric Decker, Broncos, finished with eight catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in Denver's 34-17 win over Baltimore.

-Randall Cobb and James Jones, Packers. Cobb had six catches for 115 yards and Jones had five catches for 60 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay's 21-13 win over Chicago.

-Calvin Johnson, Lions, had 10 catches for 121 yards in Detroit's 38-10 loss to Arizona. Johnson became the first player in NFL history with consecutive 1,600-yard receiving seasons and tied an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game. Johnson has recorded at least 100 yards receiving in seven consecutive games, tied with Charley Hennigan (1961) and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (1995) for the longest streak in NFL history.

-Dennis Pitta, Ravens, had seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns in Baltimore's 34-17 loss to Denver.

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Special Teams

-Blair Walsh, Vikings, was 5 for 5 on field goals in Minnesota's 36-22 win over St. Louis.

-Shayne Graham and Bryan Braman, Texans. Graham was 5 for 6 on field goals and Braman returned a blocked punt 8 yards for touchdown in Houston's 29-17 victory over Indianapolis.

-Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders, was 5 for 6 on field goals in Oakland's 15-0 win over Kansas City.

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Defense

-Greg Toler and Rashad Johnson, Cardinals. Toler returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown and Johnson returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown in Arizona's 38-10 victory over Detroit.

-J.J. Watt, Texans, had three sacks in Houston's 29-17 victory over Indianapolis. He finished with 10 tackles. He also forced a fumble for the third straight game.

-Chris Harris, Broncos, returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in Denver's 34-17 win over Baltimore. It was the longest regular-season interception return in Broncos history.

-Earl Thomas, Seahawks, returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown in Seattle's 50-17 win over Buffalo.

-Everson Griffen, Vikings, returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown in Minnesota's 36-22 win over St. Louis.

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PLAYOFF BOUND

Two teams clinched division titles Sunday. The Green Bay Packers, who defeated Chicago 21-13, won the NFC North. The Houston Texans, who defeated Indianapolis 29-17, clinched the AFC South. ... The Baltimore Ravens also secured a playoff berth when the Steelers lost in overtime to Dallas.

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STATS

The Seahawks became the NFL's third team to score 50 points in consecutive weeks, joining the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, who both did it in 1950, according to STATS. ... The Rams' Steven Jackson became the 15th player to rush for 10,000 yards. Teammate Sam Bradford has been sacked in 30 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. ... Randall Cobb had 150 all-purpose yards, leaving him 10 shy of Ahman Green's single-season Packers record (2,250 in 2003). ... The Giants' Eli Manning finished 13 of 25 for 161 yards, leaving him with a dismal 38.9 rating - his worst since a Dec. 23, 2007, win at Buffalo. ... The Giants, Bucs and Chiefs were each shut out on Sunday. The previous time there were three shutouts on the same day in the NFL was Dec. 28, 2008, according to STATS. The last time the Raiders recorded a shutout came in the 2002 regular season finale when they beat Kansas City 24-0. That was also the only other time they shut out the Chiefs in the long rivalry. The Saints had their first shutout since a 12-0 win in the 1995 season finale against the Jets in New York. ... Denver quarterback Peyton Manning had 204 yards passing and a touchdown in the Broncos' 34-17 win at Baltimore. Manning, who has 4,016 yards passing this season, extended his NFL record by getting his 12th career 4,000-yard season. Manning, in his first season with Denver, is the fifth player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards with two different teams. He joins Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre, Hall of Famer Warren Moon and Kurt Warner. The Chargers clinched their first losing season since 2003.

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STREAKS

New England, which had won seven in a row, trailed 31-3 at one point and lost for the first time at home in December in 21 games, falling 41-34 on Sunday night. The Patriots also had won 21 in a row in the second half of the schedule before San Francisco somehow regrouped late in a game it seemingly had clinched long before. ... The Broncos have won nine in a row. ... The Redskins have won five in a row. ... The Cowboys have won five of six. ... The Lions have lost six in a row. ... The Bears have lost five of six, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy. ... San Diego lost for the eighth time in 10 games, and dropped its third straight home game. Carolina won consecutive games for the first time since last December. ... The Bills were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for a 13th season - the NFL's longest active drought. ... The Chiefs have lost 10 of 11 games and are tied for the second most losses in franchise history behind a 2-14 mark in 2008.

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SIDELINED

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews broke his left collarbone in the second quarter of San Diego's 31-7 loss to Carolina. The injury-prone Mathews broke his right collarbone in the exhibition opener and missed the first two weeks of the regular season. ... Redskins right tackle Tyler Polumbus suffered a concussion, but coach Mike Shanahan had no updates on linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder) or offensive lineman Will Montgomery (knee). ... Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith left the Ravens' 34-17 loss to Denver with a concussion after hitting his head while attempting to make a leaping catch near the sideline in the third quarter. Ravens backup running back Bernard Pierce also left with a concussion. ... Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison sprained the AC joint in a shoulder during the first quarter of the Vikings' 36-22 win at St. Louis.

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SPEAKING

``We're a 9-5 football team and we feel like we're 0-14 right now.'' - Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco after Baltimore dropped its third straight in a 34-17 loss to Denver.

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``As a player, I am embarrassed for our city.'' - Ravens safety Ed Reed after Sunday's loss.

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Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

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AP Images

Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Don Martindale wondered if he would ever get a second chance to be an NFL defensive coordinator after his one-and-done disaster with the Denver Broncos in 2010.

The Broncos went 4-12 that season and gave up more points (29.4 per game) and yards (390.8) than any team in the league. Those miserable numbers, not surprisingly, cost Martindale his job.

He latched on with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 as linebackers coach. After working diligently with several stars, including Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Zachary Orr and C.J. Mosley, the 54-year-old Martindale last week was promoted to defensive coordinator.

RELATED: WHO WERE THE RAVENS' MVP'S IN 2017?

To say he's pleased to be in charge of an NFL defense again would be a profound understatement.

"Without a doubt," Martindale said Thursday. "My family knows it. Everybody knows it. My players know it. I can't wait."

His performance in Denver eight years ago is hardly worth putting on a resume, but Martindale believes it was a worthwhile experience.

"Even though the stats were what they were, I was really proud with how we played," he said. "I'm glad I went through that process because I think that makes me a better coach today. It's like I tell my guys: You either win or you learn."

Martindale's new job with the Ravens carries the responsibility of overseeing a unit that has long been among the best in the NFL, thriving under notable leaders such as Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano and Dean Pees, who retired on Jan. 1.

"I've been preparing for this job all my life," Martindale said. "It's very humbling, but I understand the pressure and I look forward to the challenge."

Martindale takes over a defense that this season ranked 12th in net yards allowed, first in takeaways (34) and sixth in fewest points allowed (18.9). He has no plans to revamp the unit or change the philosophy, especially since head coach John Harbaugh stressed the need to retain continuity before launching his search for Pees' replacement.

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Martindale will, however, put his own stamp on the unit.

"I think personality-wise, and just calls, there's going to be some things that are the same. And then there are going to be sometimes where I'm going to pressure more," Martindale said. "I just think I have a more aggressive personality in calling the game. Sometimes, too aggressive. That's some of the things I've learned from the past."

His most daunting task will be finding a way to make the defense to come up big late in the game. In 2016, a fourth-quarter collapse in Pittsburgh cost Baltimore a playoff berth. This season, a fourth-down touchdown pass in the final minute by Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton bounced the Ravens from the postseason chase.

"Our mantra has always been to finish," Martindale said. "We're close. Obviously, the last two years, it's been the last play that's knocked us out of it. We are going to work diligently -- all of us -- with our package and situational football.

"That's going to be the next step, I think, that will skyrocket us. That's the big thing that I see. We were really good. Let's make it great."

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Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

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USA Today Sports

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

The Ravens' season had it's ups and down, but out of it came some bright spots.

The defense continued to prove dominate and the offense found its groove during the second half of the season, but who stood out the most?

Offensive MVP: RB Alex Collins

Collins was a late preseason pickup after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks and Ravens fans are grateful they let him go. After new acquisition Danny Woodhead injured his hamstring on the first drive in Week 1 and Terrance West injured his calf Week 5 in Oakland, Allen emerged as a saving grace. He finished the season with 973 yards, six touchdowns and 212 attempts averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry. His longest rushing attempt was 50-yards against the Steelers in Week 4, and then in Week 14, rushed 120-yards on their defense. 

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Defensive MVP: OLB Terrell Suggs

This one was a toss up between Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but considering the level at which Sizzle is playing at in his 15th season, his 2017 performance is MVP worthy.

The 35-year old finished the season with 49 combined tackles, 12 assist, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Suggs ranks 11th in the league in sacks and was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl, something that should be expected from the leader of a defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in points allowed. During the Ravens' Week 12 matchup, Suggs proved he doesn't age when he strip sacked Texans QB Tom Savage with 4:44 remaining in the fourth, shifting the momentum back to the Ravens who were clinging on to a 23-16 win. He's suffered two Achilles tears and a torn bicep over the last 5.5 seasons but has remained Hall of Fame worthy. As of right now, T-Sizzle has no plans of retiring. 

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Rookie of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

The Ravens' 2017 first-round pick stepped up to the plate when starting CB Jimmy Smith's season was over after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. The rookie out of Alabama finished the season with 34 combined tackles, four assists and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Humphrey the fifth-best cover corner in the league. QBs only had a 53.5 rating when they threw in his direction. PFF also gave Humphrey a 82.7 rookie rating. 

Humphrey will continue to prove his worth during the 2018 season if Jimmy Smith is still recovering come Week 1.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

Special Teams MVP: P Sam Koch

Koch is in his 12th season with the Ravens and he's continuing to prove how efficient that leg of his is. He had a season long of 67-yards and placed 40 of 84 punts inside the 20-yard line. Koch's accuracy earned him AFC special teams player of the week not once, but twice this season. The first came in Week 12 against the Houston Texans when he not only placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, but also faked a punt and threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore for a first down. The second honor came in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns after placing four punts inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the five. While neither Koch or kicker Justin Tucker were named to the Pro Bowl, Ravens fans never break a sweat when the game is in their hands, or should we say, legs.