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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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Lamar Jackson stymies Seahawks' defense, runs wild in 30-16 road victory

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USA Today Sports Images

Lamar Jackson stymies Seahawks' defense, runs wild in 30-16 road victory

Lamar Jackson was incensed coming off the field at the end of the third quarter. 

His most reliable offensive weapon, Mark Andrews, had just dropped two passes, and Jackson’s rush on third down only left the Ravens with fourth and two. So coach John Harbaugh asked his quarterback if he wanted to go for it on 4th down. The answer was a definitive yes.

The offense trotted back onto the field and Jackson scored a touchdown on the ensuing conversion as the Ravens, from that fourth down on, ended the game on a 17-3 run to pull out a 30-16 victory against the Seahawks in Seattle.

“I decided to stay with the field goal, play it safe a little bit,” coach John Harbaugh explained. “He came off, you could just see it in his face. I asked him, ‘You want to go for it?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I wanna go for it.’ I was told that Marshal (Yanda) said, ‘If he wants to go for it, I want to go for it.’ I felt the same way. If he wants to go for it, I want to go for it, too.”

Jackson’s run on a quarterback power — and his confidence in the decision — inspired the rest of the team.

"I was just charged up,” Jackson said. “I was tired of not scoring."

But while the fourth down was where the game turned on its head, Baltimore’s next drive was its most impressive of the afternoon.

The Ravens, more specifically Jackson, drove 96 yards down the field on 13 plays and used nine minutes of game clock as a Justin Tucker field goal put the the team ahead by 10.

“He’s a competitor,” Harbaugh said. “This guy is a competitor of the Nth degree. I don’t know how to describe what a competitor Lamar Jackson is. He wants to win at everything all the time. We feed off that, he carries that. I think that’s who we are as a team, I think that’s why he fits us so well.”

On the following Seattle drive, Marlon Humphrey picked up a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown to put an exclamation point on the Ravens’ biggest win of the season

The Ravens defense played its best game of the season against the MVP favorite through six weeks of the season. 

Still, the story of the game was Jackson and his ability to seemingly drag the Ravens offense down the field by himself for first downs. 

“People just don’t really want to give Lamar the respect he deserves,” Humphrey said. “But what I saw today, I felt like football is a game of a lot of aggression, a lot of emotions. We had the little snap count infraction with our center, when I saw Lamar...I felt like from there, it was something different that came out of Lamar. That’s a quarterback I really like to see.”

Jackson finished with 116 yards rushing on 14 carries and 143 yards through the air. But while his passing numbers weren’t eye-popping, his runs were what extended the game and gave the Ravens a chance to win. 

In just his 15th career start, Jackson is rapidly growing into the quarterback the Ravens hoped they were getting they drafted him in 2018. And through seven games this year he’s on pace to place fifth all-time in total offense, with a projected 5,088 total yards. 

Jackson went into perhaps the toughest venue in the NFL and escaped with a convincing victory, a win in which no one will dispute who was the best player on the field. 

He’s also just 22-years old.

“We have yet to see the best of Lamar Jackson,” Peters said. “I don’t know how to stop him.”

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Ravens establish themselves as contenders with their biggest win of the season

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USA Today Sports Images

Ravens establish themselves as contenders with their biggest win of the season

The Ravens already have five wins this season, a total topped by just four other teams so far. At 5-2 with a two-and-a-half game lead in the AFC North, they’ve certainly enjoyed a strong start to the season.

As many fans and national pundits have been quick to point out, however, the Ravens’ first four wins didn’t come against the strongest level of competition.

You can only play the teams on your schedule, of course, but that didn’t make Baltimore’s 4-2 start any more impressive. Their first four wins came against the Dolphins (a threat to go 0-16), the Cardinals (worst record in the NFL last season), the Steelers (finished on their third-string QB) and the Bengals (also a threat to go 0-16). Two of those games even came at home.

Those teams are a combined 5-20-1. The Ravens entered Sunday having faced just one opponent with a winning record -- the Chiefs -- and they lost.

It was easy, and probably accurate, to point out the Ravens had yet to beat a good team this season. That statement may have been true before Sunday.

But not anymore.

The Seahawks entered Sunday’s game 5-1, looking like one of the NFC’s strongest contenders fresh off wins over preseason darlings Browns and Rams.

Russell Wilson has been something close to the consensus MVP in the NFL this season, throwing for 1,704 yards, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions, all while leading the NFL in yards per attempt (9.0).

Moreover, CenturyLink Field is notoriously one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL. Every Raven at the podium after the game mentioned how loud and difficult the atmosphere was. Lamar Jackson was beside himself after a red zone delay of game penalty caused by crowd noise.

It’s easy to see why the Seahawks rarely lose at home.

On top of all that, the Ravens are dealing with major injury issues. The secondary, having to face an elite quarterback, was without preseason starters Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, and Tony Jefferson. The defense was also without its best linebacker, Patrick Onwuasor.

The offense, playing in poor weather conditions in the most difficult environment in football, was without the field-stretching Marquise Brown.

And yet, not only did the Ravens overcome these obstacles to win, but they did it with surprising ease. A few optimistic fans may have predicted a Ravens win, but no one expected it to come by two touchdowns.

This win was especially critical, considering the slate of games Baltimore has ahead. After the bye comes New England, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Buffalo sandwiched around a trip to Cincinnati. 

Those are five of the better teams in football, with very little chance to regain their breath. But Sunday’s victory shows that the Ravens actually can play with the cream of the crop around the league. 

Stop saying the Ravens haven’t beaten a good team yet this season. Now they have. And with it, they’ve announced themselves as contenders in the top-heavy AFC.

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