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NFL Today, Week 16

NFL Today, Week 16

SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Dec. 30

Dallas at Washington (8:20 p.m.). The winner of the game between the rival Cowboys (8-7) and Redskins (9-6) clinches the NFC East.

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STARS

Passing

-Drew Brees, Saints, finished 37 for 53 for 446 yards and three touchdown passes in New Orleans' 34-31 overtime win over Dallas. Brees has 4,781 yards passing and is the first player in NFL history to have at least 4,500 yards in three consecutive seasons. Over the past three seasons, Brees has 14,877 yards passing, the most in any three-year span in NFL history.

-Aaron Rodgers, Packers, was 27 of 38 for 342 yards and three touchdown passes in Green Bay's 55-7 win over Tennessee.

-Peyton Manning, Broncos, was 30 for 43 for 339 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception in Denver's 31-12 win over Cleveland. He moved past John Elway and Jake Plummer for second on the franchise's single-season passing list.

-Matt Ryan, Falcons, was 25 for 32 for 279 yards and four touchdown passes in Atlanta's 31-18 win over Detroit on Saturday night.

-Tony Romo, Cowboys, finished 26 for 43 for 416 yards and four touchdown passes in Dallas' 34-31 overtime loss to New Orleans. Romo broke his franchise record for yards passing in a season. He has 4,685.

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Rushing

-Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, Chiefs. Charles had 19 carries for a 219 yards and a touchdown and Hillis added 14 carries for 103 yards in Kansas City's 20-13 loss to Indianapolis. The last time the Chiefs had two running backs go over 100 yards rushing was Oct. 7, 1991, when Christian Okoye and Harvey Williams did it against Buffalo. Charles has three touchdown runs of at least 80 yards this season, tied with Chris Johnson (2009 and 2012) and Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (1997) for the most in a season in NFL history.

-Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, Ravens. Rice had 24 carries for 107 yards and added six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown; Pierce had 14 carries for 123 yards in Baltimore's 33-14 win over the New York Giants.

-Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks, had 26 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown in Seattle's 42-13 win over San Francisco.

-Reggie Bush, Dolphins, had 19 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown and added four catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns in Miami's 24-10 win over Buffalo.

-Alfred Morris, Redskins, finished with 22 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown in Washington's 27-20 victory over Philadelphia.

-C.J. Spiller, Bills, had 19 carries for 128 yards in Buffalo's 24-10 loss to Miami.

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Receiving

-Calvin Johnson, Lions, had 11 catches for 225 yards in Detroit's 31-18 loss to Atlanta on Saturday. Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season yards receiving record. He has 1,892 yards. He also became the only player in NFL history with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games.

-Dez Bryant, Cowboys, had nine receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns in Dallas' 34-31 overtime loss to New Orleans.

-Marques Colston, Saints, had 10 catches for 153 yards in New Orleans' 34-31 win over Dallas.

-Roddy White, Falcons, had eight catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta's 31-18 win over Detroit on Saturday.

-Lance Kendricks, had four catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in St. Louis' 28-13 win over Tampa Bay.

-A.J. Green, Bengals, had 10 catches for 116 yards in Cincinnati's 13-10 win over Pittsburgh.

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Special Teams

-Richard Sherman, Seahawks, returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown in Seattle's 42-13 victory over San Francisco.

-Justin Bethel, Cardinals, returned a blocked field goal 82 yards for a touchdown in Arizona's 28-13 win over Chicago.

-Micheal Spurlock, Chargers, returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown in San Diego's 27-17 victory over the New York Jets.

-Kai Forbath, Redskins, was 2 for 2 on field goals in Washington's 27-20 win over Philadelphia. Forbath set the NFL record for consecutive field goals to begin a career with 17.

-Josh Brown, Bengals, made a 43-yard field goal with 4 seconds left and Cincinnati clinched a playoff berth with a 13-10 win over Pittsburgh.

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Defense

-Kendall Reyes and Shaun Phillips, Chargers. Reyes had 3 1/2 sacks and Phillips had 2 1/2 sacks with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. San Diego tied a team record with 11 sacks in San Diego's 27-17 win over the New York Jets.

-Janoris Jenkins, Rams, returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown in St. Louis' 28-13 win over Tampa Bay. Jenkins has returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season, tied for the most by a rookie in NFL history. The other two rookies to accomplish the feat are Hall of Famers Lem Barney (1967) and Ronnie Lott (1981).

-Darius Butler, Colts, returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown in Indianapolis' 20-13 win over Kansas City.

-Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers and Zack Bowman, Bears. Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a touchdown, Peppers had three sacks and Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for a touchdown in Chicago's 28-13 win over Arizona. Tillman's interception returned for a touchdown was the eighth interception return for a touchdown scored by the Bears, tied with the 1998 Seattle Seahawks for the second most in a season in NFL history. The 1961 San Diego Chargers hold the NFL record with nine.

-Leon Hall, Bengals, returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown in Cincinnati's 13-10 win over Pittsburgh.

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PLAYOFF BOUND

One year after putting together the NFL's worst record, the Indianapolis Colts are headed to the playoffs. Joining them on Sunday were the Cincinnati Bengals, finishing out the field in the AFC. The Colts (10-5) equaled the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season. Top overall draft pick Andrew Luck completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter for a 20-13 victory at Kansas City. Cincinnati qualified for a second straight postseason berth for only the second time in franchise history, edging archrival Pittsburgh 13-10. The Bengals have never gone to the playoffs in successive years that did not involve a strike-shortened season. New England has won the AFC East, Denver the West. Baltimore clinched the North by beating the New York Giants 33-14, sending the defending Super Bowl champions to the brink of elimination. Washington's 27-20 win at Philadelphia, combined with New Orleans beating Dallas 34-31 in overtime means the Redskins will win the NFC East by beating the Cowboys next week. Green Bay clinched at least the third seed in the NFC when it routed Tennessee 55-7. The NFC North champs (11-4) still could wind up second overall in the conference and get a bye and move into the No. 2 slot when Seattle romped over San Francisco 42-13. The 49ers (10-4-1) will win the NFC West by beating Arizona next weekend. Seattle (10-5) earned at least a wild-card spot and finishes at home against St. Louis.

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STATS

The Colts' Andrew Luck broke Cam Newton's rookie record of 4,051 yards passing. Luck has seven winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That is tied for the most by a quarterback in a single season since the 1970 merger. The most recent QB to accomplish the feat was Peyton Manning in 2009. ... The Colts joined the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season. ... Dallas tight end Jason Witten had two catches in OT, breaking Tony Gonzalez's NFL season record of 102 catches for a tight end, set in 2004. Witten has 103. ... Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has an NFL- record nine field goals of 50 yards or longer this season. ... The Packers beat the Titans 55-7. It was the most points by the Packers since they put up the same number against Tampa Bay on Oct. 2, 1983, and their largest margin of victory since a 52-3 win over New Orleans on Oct. 9, 2005. ... The 55 points were the most allowed since Tennessee was shut out 59-0 by the New England Patriots on Oct. 18, 2009, and second time this season it had allowed 51 or more. ... Peyton Manning threw an interception late in the first half for Denver's first turnover inside the opponent's 10-yard line all season in the Broncos' 34-12 win over the Browns. ... Linebacker Luke Kuechly finished with a game-high 13 tackles for the Panthers. At one point he had six tackles in seven plays after he got fired up when officials flagged him for hitting a defenseless receiver. The Panthers-Raiders matchup was a heated game featuring several shoving matches, plenty of verbal exchanges and six unnecessary roughness penalties - including one that sidelined Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer in the first quarter for the rest of the day. ... The Vikings' Adrian Peterson has 1,898 yards rushing this season and needs 208 to break the NFL single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson. ... Cincinnati's 14 yards rushing against Pittsburgh were the second fewest in franchise history. The Bengals had 4 yards rushing against Baltimore in 2000. ... Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has 174 wins, including postseason. He tied Mike Holmgren for 11th in NFL history.

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PATRIOT MILESTONES

New England receiver Wes Welker had 10 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' 23-16 win at Jacksonville. Welker has 18 career games with at least 10 catches and passed Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and the Texans' Andre Johnson (17) for the most such games in NFL history. ... Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, his 47th consecutive game with a TD pass. Brady tied Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas for the second-longest streak in NFL history.

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STREAKS

The Chiefs had 352 yards rushing in a losing effort - the first time that's happened in NFL history. ... Baltimore has won 10 straight regular-season home finales and has 13 consecutive home victories over NFC foes. ... The Packers have been one of the NFL's best teams over the past two months, winning nine of 10 games. ... Denver's 10-game win streak matches the second longest in franchise history, in 1984, when John Elway was quarterback. ... The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games. ... The Raiders have lost seven of eight. ... The Dolphins will miss the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 years. ... The Steelers have lost five of six. ... The Giants have lost five of seven.

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SIDELINED

Starting running backs Arian Foster of Houston, Matt Forte of Chicago and Trent Richardson of Cleveland were sidelined for part of their games. With one week remaining in the regular season, the Texans will be monitoring Foster's heart after he was removed from a loss to Minnesota with an irregular heartbeat. Foster, the team's leading rusher, left the game after gaining 15 yards on 10 carries. He also had two catches for 14 yards. His last play came with about nine minutes left in the third quarter. Forte gained 88 yards in 12 carries, including a 4-yard TD run in a win at Arizona before leaving with a right ankle injury early in the second half. Late in the fourth quarter of a loss at Denver, Richardson was carted off with a left ankle injury; the Browns offered no report on the injury. Also, fellow rookie Brandon Weeden hurt his right shoulder when Von Miller crashed into the quarterback. Earlier in the game, cornerback Sheldon Brown left with a head injury after colliding with Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley. Brown was trying to cover Demaryius Thomas over the middle of the field when he bumped into Stokley. Broncos cornerback Tracy Porter left with a concussion in the first quarter. Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer hurt his back in a loss at Carolina.

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SPEAKING

``You take our guy out, we're going to go and try to take your guy out. We're not out to hurt someone, but when that happens....'' - Raiders defensive lineman Tommy Kelly on his team going after Carolina's Cam Newton following Greg Hardy's hard hit to Carson Palmer's back that sidelined their starting quarterback.

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``Mission accomplished. That's all I can say. Without getting emotional again, knowing that (coach Chuck Pagano) is going to be back Monday, the work week shouldn't be as stressful.'' - Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said on his team clinching a playoff berth with a 20-13 win over Kansas City.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

According to a report from ProFootballTalk, the NFL has scrapped its first and fourth preseason games this season and cut the preseason in half. 

The Ravens were scheduled to play the Bills at home on Aug. 14 to open the season, then end the preseason on Sept. 3 against the Redskins. 

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Now, the Ravens’ tentative preseason schedule will have one road game, at the Cowboys on Aug. 22, and home against the Panthers on Aug. 30. 

According to the report, the move was spurred on by two factors: Firstly, that road teams would have trouble moving that many bodies and risk spreading COVID-19. Secondly, that no team has had on-field workouts this summer. Now, with training camps scheduled to start on July 28, teams will have more time to prepare for the season. 

The move came with coronavirus cases continually rising in the United States a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said new cases could reach 100,000 per day if more preventative measures were not taken. On June 30, the U.S. had 46,042 new cases, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.

Baltimore is still set to report to camp at the end of the month, as is the rest of the NFL. With the new preseason schedule, they’ll have about three weeks to prepare for the first on-field game action of the season. 

The Ravens haven’t lost in the preseason since Sept. 3, 2015, when they lost 20-19 to the Falcons. 

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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What if Ravens beat the Patriots in the 2012 AFC Championship Game?

What if Ravens beat the Patriots in the 2012 AFC Championship Game?

It’s not a stretch to say the 2012 AFC Championship Game was one of the most painful losses in Baltimore sports history.

The Ravens went to New England off a 20-13 win in the divisional round and were a game away from the Super Bowl for the first time since 2008. 

And one of their biggest rivals stood in the way of the Ravens and their second Super Bowl appearance in history. 

Baltimore and New England went back and forth for the entire game, before a one-yard Tom Brady plunge on 4th and goal gave the Patriots a 23-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. 

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Despite a Joe Flacco interception midway through the fourth quarter, the Ravens held the Patriots out of the end zone and gave the ball back to their offense with under two minutes to play. 

Then, the Ravens marched into Patriots territory and found themselves at the 14-yard line with 27 seconds left. 

On second down, Flacco fired a pass to wide receiver Lee Evans in the right corner of the end zone. Evans had it in his hands — then he dropped it. A Patriots defender came in late to knock the ball out of his hands, a catch that would’ve assuredly lifted the Ravens to the Super Bowl. 

Evans never played a regular season game again. 

"It was an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl," he said after the game. "And I let it go."

Two plays after Evans’ drop, kicker Billy Cundiff trotted onto the field to attempt a game-tying 32-yard field goal. The kick hooked badly to the left, and the Ravens lost 23-20 just a few plays short of the Super Bowl.

Cundiff, who had made the Pro Bowl with the Ravens in 2010 and signed a five-year contract extension in January of 2011, suffered the lowest moment of his professional career 364 days after he put pen to paper. He was released in August.

But if the Ravens had won that game, whether through Evans’ touchdown or another play in overtime, it’s reasonable to assume things wouldn’t have turned out as well long-term for the team. 

The Patriots lost the Super Bowl two weeks later to the Giants, 21-17, as the Ravens regrouped and made additions. 

One of those additions was Justin Tucker, who signed as an undrafted free agent and beat Cundiff out for the job in training camp. Tucker is currently the most accurate kicker in NFL history. 

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The next season, the Ravens finished the regular season 10-6 and though they had to play in the Wild Card round, found themselves in Foxboro once again for the AFC Championship Game. They dominated the Patriots 28-13 and went on to win the Super Bowl two weeks later. 

So while Evans’ drop, and Cundiff’s miss, might’ve been painful in the moment, that game led to a Super Bowl victory a year later, as well as one of the best special teams players the league has ever seen.

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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