Bulls

Tim Tebow does it again

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Tim Tebow does it again

From Comcast SportsNet

DENVER (AP) -- "Pull the trigger," John Elway told his Denver Broncos star, Tim Tebow, trying to shake the quarterback from a three-game funk. Tebow went one better -- he pulled off an upset. A rejuvenated Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas on an electrifying 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime and the Broncos defeated the stunned Pittsburgh Steelers 29-23 in the AFC wild-card game on Sunday. Wild doesn't begin to describe it. The play took 11 seconds and was the quickest ending to an overtime in NFL history. It was also the longest overtime touchdown in playoff history. Thomas hauled in a high play-action pass at the Denver 38, stiff-armed Ike Taylor and then outraced backup safety Ryan Mundy to the end zone. "I was just saying, Man trust your speed. Trust your speed. Don't cut back. Don't cut back.' And he kept it straight. He outran the guy," said Willis McGahee, whose fourth-quarter fumble helped Pittsburgh tie it. "I was like, Oh my God, is he still running?' Please just go. Please. Please." Tebow, who had done next to nothing in the second half after a 20-point explosion in the second quarter, looked as startled as everyone else. He chased down Thomas and knelt on one knee -- Tebowing as it's known -- in the end zone while the crowd was going crazy. Then he pounded a fist in triumph and took a victory lap. "When I saw him scoring, first of all, I just thought, Thank you, Lord,'" Tebow said. "Then, I was running pretty fast, chasing him -- like I can catch up to D.T! Then I just jumped into the stands, first time I've done that. That was fun. Then, got on a knee and thanked the Lord again and tried to celebrate with my teammates and the fans." Behind Tebow's season-high 316 yards passing, the Broncos (9-8) are heading to New England for a second-round game against the top-seeded Patriots (13-3) on Saturday night. The Patriots walloped the Broncos 41-23 last month, sending Tebow into a funk that included seven turnovers and a 40 percent completion clip -- and prompting Elway to implore him to "pull the trigger" in the playoffs. Did he ever. And unlike Elway, who lost his first postseason start -- to the Steelers at home in 1984 -- Tebow is 1-0 in the playoffs. "We're just a fighting team. A lot of resilience," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "In any adverse situation, we'll find a way to get out of it. Everybody says we backed into the playoffs, we're in. We did something right along the way. We're in it. We won a game. Now, we've got to go try to win another one." The Steelers (12-5) lost despite Ben Roethlisberger rallying injury-depleted Pittsburgh from a two-touchdown halftime deficit with 10 points in the final 10 minutes. Pittsburgh called tails for the overtime coin toss, and it came up heads. Tebow, who engineered five fourth-quarter comebacks and three OT wins in the regular season, wasted no time finding Thomas over the middle with just his second pass on first down all night -- and his first completion. Thomas also had receptions of 51 and 58 yards to set up second-quarter touchdowns after Tebow lost his top target, Eric Decker, to a seriously injured left knee, in the first half. "They were the No. 1 defense and we are the No. 1 offense running the ball," Thomas said. "So, I feel like they wanted to make a statement and stop the run. I don't know if they forgot about the passing game. The last couple of games that we had, we were not passing the ball that great." Thus, Elway's admonition. "I feel like he came out and played confident," Eddie Royal said. "And I think that's what John was trying to tell him: Play the way you know how to play. And Tim did that. He was smart with the ball and really led this offense today." Tebow's passer rating of 125.6 was the highest in Broncos postseason history. "He showed he's a quarterback in the NFL, case closed," McGahee said. "They say he couldn't throw. They said we wouldn't be able to run the ball on them. We did that. I wonder what they're going to say next week." Mundy was playing in place of Ryan Clark, the Steelers' leading tackler who sat this one out because of a blood condition that's exacerbated at altitude. "We lost, and it's not because I didn't play; we had very capable guys that played well," said Clark, who was one of several Steelers sidelined or injured. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was out, replaced by Doug Legursky, who had a bad snap right before halftime that moved Pittsburgh out of field goal range. On the first snap of overtime, Thomas pulled in Tebow's high pass and raced down the Broncos sideline, sending the crowd, including Elway, the Broncos executive vice president, into a frenzy at Sports Authority Field, which was rocking like the old Mile High Stadium back in the 1990s. McGahee sold the play-action well, drawing safety Troy Polamalu and others up to the line to defend the run and leaving Thomas with room on the crossing pattern to grab the pass and turn on the jets for the 80-yard score, Tebow's longest pass play as a pro. "It was a little surprising," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "But I guess he's been working hard. He's taken a lot of criticism over the past few weeks about his throwing motion, his passing game. Like I said earlier, he's a competitor. You keep trying to down a guy, and a guy like him who's a tough competitor, he's going to get you one time." Hines Ward called this defeat "just as disappointing" as last year's loss to Green Bay in the Super Bowl. "I've been on a lot of really good teams, thank God, and I felt this team was up there with them," Polamalu said. "We weren't able to stay healthy and keep a cohesiveness like we wanted to." Tebow completed 10 of 21 passes and Thomas hauled in four of them for 204 yards after Decker was injured on a hit by linebacker James Harrison. Thomas, who missed training camp while recovering from a torn Achilles and the start of the season while dealing with a fractured finger, has come on strong of late, averaging 109 yards over the last six games. But the Broncos' top pick in 2010 -- taken three slots ahead of Tebow in the first round -- hadn't had done anything like this. "It's amazing because I haven't played explosive like I did in college in a long time," Thomas said. Tebow threw two TD passes and also ran 10 times for 50 yards and a touchdown. "I think we executed a little bit better. We tried to step up," he said. "We knew it was win or go home. This team wanted to fight. We wanted to play another game." These two teams had played the first ever regular season overtime game on Sept. 22, 1974, in Denver. Now, they played the first non-sudden death playoff game in history. The new rules called for both teams to get the ball in the extra period providing there wasn't a touchdown by either the offense or defense. Tebow took care of that in a hurry. Making his first appearance in the playoffs after going 7-4 as Denver's starter, Tebow outplayed Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winner playing on a bad ankle, who fell to 10-4 in the playoffs. Roethlisberger was 22 for 40 for 289 yards with one TD, one interception and five sacks. Tebow wasn't taken down once by the league's top defense. The Broncos snapped a three-game losing streak that had many wondering if they were even worthy of their first playoff in six seasons, and it kept the Steelers from their 34th playoff win, which would have broken a tie with the Cowboys for the most ever. Tebow led Denver to 20 second-quarter points -- they had scored just 13 in the quarter in his 11 starts -- but a 20-6 halftime lead didn't last long. Receiver Mike Wallace had a 1-yard TD run, Shaun Suisham kicked a short field goal and Jerricho Cotchery grabbed a 31-yard TD pass with 3:48 left in regulation to tie it. The Steelers were nearing field goal range in the final minute of regulation but the Broncos sacked Roethlisberger three times on that final drive, forcing a fumble that Roethlisberger recovered. "We were moving it and we had a shot," Roethlisberger said. "Someone got, it felt like a finger, on the ball and knocked it out. After that, you're trying to throw a 70-yard Hail Mary and that's hard." Roethlisberger never got the ball back as Tebow added to his growing list of impossible victories in the blink of an eye and a flick of the wrist. "He gets a lot of flak when things go wrong," Clark said, "but he played phenomenal today." Notes: This was the Broncos' second playoff win since Elway retired following his second straight Super Bowl triumph in 1999, and their first since Jan. 14, 2006, when they handed Tom Brady his first playoff loss. The Broncos lost to the Steelers the following week. ... This was the first OT playoff game since the Saints beat the Vikings 31-28 in the NFC championship on Jan. 24, 2010.

Season in Review: Wayne Selden gives Bulls house money after Justin Holiday deal

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USA TODAY

Season in Review: Wayne Selden gives Bulls house money after Justin Holiday deal

Over the next month we'll be recapping each of the Bulls' individual 2018-19 regular seasons.

Previous reviews: Lauri Markkanen | Shaq Harrison | Ryan Arcidiacono | Otto Porter 

Midseason expectations: The Justin Holiday trade was far more about the second-round picks the Bulls acquired than the players. MarShon Brooks never even came to Chicago, and Wayne Selden was expected to get some run on the wing as an end-of-the-bench rotation player. His expectations shifted slightly when Chandler Hutchison suffered a broken toe and ultimately missed the remainder of the season. Selden was expected to log minutes, keep the ball moving and hit a few shots here and there. Again, whatever he provided was simply house money after acquiring a pair of second-round picks from Memphis.

What went right: Well, he was just about as subpar as Justin Holiday was? Seriously, the Bulls were buyers at the trade deadline and Selden was essentially a throw-in to match up salaries, and Selden’s 8.1 PER in Chicago was slightly worse than Holiday’s 8.8 in Memphis. Selden had a terrific January and with the Bulls prior to the All-Star break, he averaged 7.1 points on 44 percent shooting. Nothing to write home about, but solid (and hit 44 percent of his 3-pointers). Also, while Selden only averaged 1.7 assists he did a nice job on the second unit pushing pace by himself, driving and kicking and finding open shooters. He wasn’t necessarily a positive defensively but wasn’t poor on that end, either.

What went wrong: He showed very little consistency. As always, it was difficult for any of these young players to put together good stretches of play given the injuries and roster turnover, but Selden was up and down once the All-Star break rolled around. His shooting dipped down to 39 percent and he hit just 24 percent of his triples in his last 21 games. He popped up now and again with a 20-point outing or a double-double, but it was few and far between a simply average season.

The Stat: 20-8-4

Alright, so we cherry-picked it. But work with us. Selden had an outstanding night in the final game of January, scoring 20 points on 6 of 10 shooting along with four 3-pointers and eight assists. That statline of 20 points, 8 assists and 4 3-pointers was accomplished only one other time by a Bulls player in 2018-19, when Zach LaVine had 47 points, 9 assists and 6 3-pointers in the quadruple-overtime game. LaVine accomplished his feat in 56 minutes; Selden needed just 36.

2019-20 Expectations: Will he be back next season. He’d be a cheap option and the Bulls are going to have to fill out their roster. It might depend on what happens with Ryan Arcidiacono in restricted free agency and what the Bulls do in the draft. For the sake of this story we’ll assume he’s back on a small, one-year deal.

Selden’s goal will be consistency from beyond the arc and pushing in transition. The return of Denzel Valentine could give the Bulls two nice options on the wing behind Arcidiacono (or even Kris Dunn) to provide some offense. Even if Selden can work his way up from 31.6 percent to 34 or 35 percent it’ll make a world of difference for his NBA future. Past that, he’s simply going to be a practice body behind the Bulls’ starting wings and Hutchison.

Should the Bears trade for Robbie Gould? The answer is not a cut-and-dry 'yes'

Should the Bears trade for Robbie Gould? The answer is not a cut-and-dry 'yes'

Just as Ryan Pace’s pre-draft press conference was wrapping up Tuesday afternoon at Halas Hall, a report — which NBC Sports Chicago confirmed — dropped: Robbie Gould wants out of San Francisco, pulling his contract proposals and formally requesting a trade. 

Gould did not report to the voluntary beginning of the San Francisco 49ers’ offseason program, which started earlier this month, and he told ESPN he wants to play closer to his family — which resides in Chicago. 

The 49ers don’t have to do anything, given they placed the franchise tag on the 36-year-old in February, and could hope that Gould ultimately shows up for their season opener on Sept. 8. That’s important to note. It’s conceivable that a kicker with the kind of track record of Gould could show up the day the regular season begins and be fine. 

So that’s where a dive into Gould’s trade request begins. The 49ers can claim they have leverage, and figure a guy who still has some good years left in his leg will ultimately show up. In other words: John Lynch isn’t going to give Gould up for nothing. 

Kicker trades, though, are rare in recent NFL history. A few recent ones: The Pittsburgh Steelers traded a sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Josh Scobee in 2015; in 2014, the Denver Broncos traded a conditional seventh-round pick to the New York Giants for Brandon McManus, who was likely to be released prior to the season anyway. And Cody Parkey, way back in 2014, was traded from the Indianapolis Colts (who didn't need him) to the Philadelphia Eagles (who did) for a running back during the preseason. 

The Scobee trade may be the best measuring stick, given he was expensive (he earned $3.45 million in 2015) and effective (he made 87.5 percent of his kicks in the four years prior to the trade). So for these purposes, let’s say it’ll take a sixth-round pick to acquire Gould. A few things to consider: 

1. The money.

The Bears have $16 million in cap space right now, which will decrease to around $13 million after this week’s NFL Draft. So they have the money to acquire Gould right now, though presumably trading for him would require a contract extension. Currently, the Bears are $12 million over the cap in 2020, and still need to hammer out a contract extension for offensive lineman Cody Whitehair and, possibly, edge rusher Leonard Floyd. Cap space is exceedingly fluid — more likely, the Bears are actually about $2 million over next year’s cap, if it rises by $10 million, and that doesn’t include rollover cap — and the Bears could make Gould work. It’d take some creativity, and perhaps a difficult cut here or there, but it could work. 

2. The draft.

They could offer a 2020 sixth round pick, either their own or the conditional one they acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles for Jordan Howard, which could rise to a fifth-round pick if Howard meets a certain threshold of production (fans frustrated with the Howard trade likely wouldn’t be if the pick the Bears got for him got them Gould, right?). After cashing in to acquire edge rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Anthony Miller, the Bears only have five picks in 2019. Draft picks are an incredibly valuable resource — it’s the best way to add good players on cheap contracts — and trading more away to bring in a kicker may give Pace some pause. 

3. The market.

Another place that’s close to home for the Gould family: Green Bay. Could the Packers jettison Mason Crosby — who’s in the last year of his contract and has shown signs of decline the last few years — in favor of Gould? A few other teams close to Chicago either don’t need a kicker (the Colts have Adam Vinatieri, the Lions have Matt Prater, the Chiefs have Harrison Butker), don’t have the money to pull off a trade (the Vikings have just under $2 million in cap space) or don't look ready to contend (the Bengals are...just kind of there).

The Browns could be a fit, given Gould’s proven ability to kick in poor weather and their designs on competing in 2019, though rookie Greg Joseph hit 85 percent of his kicks in 2018 and is inexpensive. So the question here: What would other teams offer for Gould? Better than a sixth-round pick? And how many teams would actually have interest?

4. The guys on the roster. The Bears signed three kickers over the last few months: First Redford Jones, then Chris Blewitt, then Elliott Fry. A handful of tryouts isn’t enough to get the full picture of who these guys are, but the best solution for the Bears would be to solve their kicking problems with an effective, inexpensive player. That being said: None of those three players has ever kicked in an NFL game, and it’d be hard to criticize the Bears if they didn’t give any of them a shot in favor of adding Gould. 

“For us, and I've said this all along really since the offseason started, it's (about) let's increase our competition there,” Pace said Tuesday. “As you know, we have three on the roster currently. Doesn't mean we can't add to that still going forward and creating as many pressure situations here as we can and just let the dust settle where it may.”

5. The pressure.

Windows to win open and shut awfully quickly in the NFL. For all we know, the Bears’ best chance to win a Super Bowl with this current core of players — or with this coaching staff and front office — was in 2018, only to have it brutally end with Cody Parkey’s infamous double-doink. It would be one of the greatest failures in franchise history if another team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations saw their season end because of a missed field goal.

Gould's only missed three of his 85 field goals in the last three years, having re-made himself after being released by the Bears (under a previous coaching staff) prior to the 2016 season. If he indeed is available, he represents the Bears’ best shot at fixing the kicking issues that’ve plagued this team since letting him go. 

So clearly, if Gould indeed is available, the Bears have plenty about which to think. It’s not as cut-and-dry as simply shouting “bring back Robbie!” in the general direction of Halas Hall. But if it takes a sixth-round pick, and a contract is worked out with Gould that minimizes his cap hit in at least 2020, it’s easy to see why the pros would outweigh the cons for the Bears. 

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