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Steelers, WR Sanders fined for faking injury

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Steelers, WR Sanders fined for faking injury

PITTSBURGH (AP) The NFL has levied $50,000 in fines to the Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders for faking an injury during an Oct. 21 game in Cincinnati.

Sanders was fined $15,000 and the organization $35,000. Sanders grabbed the back of his leg and collapsed to the ground during the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh's 24-17 win.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson handed out the discipline after meeting with Sanders last week.

Sanders initially played coy in public comments about the incident, but in recent weeks has said the matter was being handled internally.

Also fined on Friday by the league were Panthers safety Haruki Nakamura and Packers tight end Ryan Taylor, $21,000 each; Titans safety Michael Griffin, $20,000; Raiders cornerback Tyvon Branch, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, and Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves, $15,750 each; Ravens LB Dannell Ellerbe, $10,000; Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn, and Steelers safety Will Allen, $7,875 apiece.

During the Steelers-Bengals game, NBC announcers openly discussed their belief Sanders apparently was deliberately feigning an injury for the purpose of saving a timeout.

Anderson said it found no evidence the Steelers, on an organization-wide basis, were instructing or condoning the faking of injuries for competitive purposes.

``If I believed that to be the case, the discipline would be substantially more,'' Anderson said. ``Instead, it reflects the commissioner's strong view that it is the responsibility of the club to insure that its players are familiar with and in compliance with the league's competitive rules.''

In an open letter to Sanders and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, Anderson cited video evidence to the contrary of Sanders' contention that he was in severe pain while lying on the ground, before or after the play.

Sanders sat out one play - a team trainer attended to him - and then returned to the game for the next play, a Pittsburgh punt. Anderson noted that Sanders outran his teammates and downed the ball.

``The video of the play shows Sanders running swiftly and effortlessly toward the punted ball, and then leaving the field with no sign of discomfort,'' Anderson wrote. ``Sanders also played the rest of the game without difficulty.''

The NFL sent out a memo to team general managers and coaches in September that said, ``The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries.'' The league reiterated it had the power to fine players, coaches or teams or even take away draft picks.

This is the first punishment the league has handed out for faking an injury.

When asked two days before his meeting with the league if he thought the NFL had a problem with faking, Sanders said ``Not that I know of.''

The NFL pointed out the idea of faking injuries has been ``frequently discussed'' by the league's competition committee but acknowledged the difficulties in enforcement. With player safety a hot-button issue, the NFL does not want to encourage legitimately injured players to leave the field unnecessarily.

Taylor blindsided Arizona safety Rashad Johnson to draw his fine. Nakamura hit Redskins receiver Josh Morgan in the neck and head area when Morgan was defenseless.

Griffin made a horse-collar tackle of Chicago RB Matt Forte. Branch made a horse-collar tackle of Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin.

Hardy was docked for roughing Robert Griffin III and hitting him in the head. Groves made a horse-collar tackle of Packers RB James Starks.

Ellerbe hit Browns running back Trent Richardson in the head and neck area when the rookie was defenseless.

Vick threw a low block at Saints safety Roman Harper during an interception return for a touchdown by Patrick Robinson. Allen made a late hit on Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Vaughn struck Miami RB Reggie Bush late.

After saying ``I can't talk about that,'' last week when asked about Sanders' meeting with the league, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, ``People get hurt. That's the way it is. You can't control injuries in this league.''

An injury to another Pittsburgh receiver is giving Sanders an opportunity to shine for something other than his acting skills. The team leader in receptions, Antonio Brown, has not practiced this week and almost assuredly will not play Monday night against Kansas City (1-7).

``As a third wide receiver, you've got to know multiple positions. You've got to know almost every position on the field,'' Sanders said. ``So that's my job. If someone goes down, I've got to go in and fill that void.''

A foot injury last season contributed to Sanders being limited to more of a complementary role while Mike Wallace and Brown ascended to stardom. This week, Sanders gets his turn for the Steelers (5-3).

``He's a great player; he's always been ready,'' Wallace said. ``There's never been a doubt in my mind that if anybody goes down he can step in here and not miss a beat.''

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NOTES: RT Marcus Gilbert (ankle) did not practice and will likely miss his fourth consecutive game Monday. ... RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) was limited in practice and it is not considered likely to play against the Chiefs. ... RB Chris Rainey (bruised ribs) said he will play. ... RB Jonathan Dwyer (quadriceps) also is on track to return to game action after sitting out last week.

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Online:http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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NFL Playoff Picture: A lot on the line for the Ravens heading into Week 16

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NFL Playoff Picture: A lot on the line for the Ravens heading into Week 16

Week 15 in the AFC was verrrryy interesting.

The Los Angeles Chargers went into Kansas City and handed Patrick Mahomes a loss.

Tom Brady may have to play during Wild Card weekend for just the third time in the Brady-Belichick era, and the sixth a final playoff spot is still up for grabs as the Baltimore Ravens could be eliminated this weekend.

Here's a look at where things stand in the AFC heading into Week 16.

AFC Playoff Standings:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3, 4-1)

The Chiefs have already clinched a playoff berth, but their Thursday night loss to the Chargers made things much more interesting in the AFC West. 

If they win out, the Chiefs will still claim the AFC West and the No. 1 seed. A loss over the next two weeks, however, could shift their seeding around. 

Remaining Games: @Seahawks (8-6), Raiders (3-11)

2. Houston Texans (10-4, 3-2)

The Texans moved up in the standings thanks to the New England Patriots losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Deshaun Watson closing out a win against the New York Jets.

The Texans could easily finish 12-4 after their remaining two matchups.

Remaining Games: @Eagles (7-7), Jacksonville (4-10)

3. New England Patriots (9-5, 3-1)

The Patriots' loss to the Steelers Sunday has put them in a sticky situation. 

A first-round bye is potentially in jeopardy, something Tom Brady and Bill Belichick aren't used to, and a road game in the second-round seems plausible. Their remaining games, however, could easily bounce them back from their two-game losing streak.

Remaining Games: Buffalo (5-9), Jets (4-10)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1, 3-1-1)

A win Sunday over the Patriots didn't move the Steelers any in playoff seeding, but did keep them half a game up of the Ravens for the AFC North.

It will be a race to the finish line for Ben Roethlisberger and co. as the AFC is anything but steady and they face Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 16.

Remaining Games: @Saints (12-2), Bengals (6-8)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-3, 3-2)

The Chargers secured a spot in the playoffs with their 29-28 win over the Chiefs in unexpected fashion.

They could also ruin the Ravens' season Saturday as a win will knock them out of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Remaining Games: Ravens (8-6), @Denver (6-8)

6. Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 2-3)

There are so many scenarios for the Ravens heading into Saturday's game against the Chargers. One of those includes them taking over the AFC North, and the other involves missing the postseason for the fourth year in a row.

If the Ravens win Sunday and the Steelers lose to the Saints, they will lead the AFC North. But if the Ravens lose and the Steelers, Colts and Titans all win the Ravens head back to Baltimore with nothing to show for their 2018 season. 

Not only do the Ravens have to travel across the country on a shorter week, but it will be the first time Lamar Jackson faces a top-10 defense. It's all in their hands.

Remaining Games: @Chargers (11-3), Browns (6-7-1)

In The Hunt:

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6, 3-2)

The Colts slowed down the Dallas Cowboys hype train in their shutout win Sunday. 

The Colts will need some help to make it to the playoffs and a Ravens loss on Sunday could do just that.

Remaining Games: Giants (5-9), @Tennessee (8-6)

8. Tennessee Titans (8-6, 3-2)

A shutout win over the New York Giants kept the Titans' playoff hopes alive.

The Colts have the advantage over the Titans at the moment based on their head-to-head record, but that could all change in Week 17 when the two faceoff against one another. 

Remaining Games: Redskins (7-7), Colts (8-6)

9. Miami Dolphins (7-7, 4-1)

Miami has been able to stay in the mix, but their 41-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday could have spelled the end.

They now must win out and need a lot of help from other teams to see January football. 

Remaining Games: Jacksonville (4-10), @Bills (5-9)

10. Cleveland Browns (6-7-1, 2-1-1)

The Browns need somewhat of a miracle to make the playoffs, but their season certainly hasn't been boring.

In order to make it to the postseason, the Browns have to win out AND the Titans and Colts both have to lose Week 16 AND the Titans and Colts have to tie in their Week 17 matchup. 

Eliminated: Oakland Raiders (3-11), New York Jets (4-10), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10), Buffalo Bills (5-9), Cincinnati Bengals (6-8, and the Denver Broncos (6-8). 

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4 must-see moments from the Ravens' Week 15 win over the Bucs, including Marlon Humphrey's big day

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4 must-see moments from the Ravens' Week 15 win over the Bucs, including Marlon Humphrey's big day

It was a wet and dreary day in Baltimore as the Ravens earned a 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Winning four of their last five games, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens extended their run to the postseason in a total team effort.

Here are four must-see moments from the Week 15 win.

1. Humphrey's big day

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey further cemented he's worthy of a Pro Bowl nomination during Sunday's game. The 2017 first-round draft pick laid a huge hit on Bucs running back Ronald Jones in the first quarter for a loss.

Then Humphrey picked off quarterback Jameis Winston early in the fourth quarter to earn his first interception of the season and a career-high four passes defensed on the day. 

2. Chris Moore puts Ravens on the board

After a slow start, the Ravens finally got on the board late in the second quarter thanks to a five-yard touchdown by wide receiver Chris Moore.

Jackson ran to the left to throw off the Bucs defense before shovel passing that ball to Moore who ran it into the endzone from the right. Simple yet effective.

3. Gus 'the bus' drives to the endzone

Running back Gus Edwards has taken the Ravens' running game to new levels. Ranked 27th in the league heading into Week 11, the teams run game is now ranked second in the NFL after Sunday's performance. 

This 10-yard touchdown run gave the Ravens some breathing room early in the third quarter as they took a 17-9 lead. An introvert in the locker room but an extrovert on the field, Edwards has 100 consecutive rushes without a loss of a yard marking the longest active streak in the NFL.

Edwards finished the day with a game-high 104 yards on 19 carries and his third 100-yard game this season.

4. Jackson in action...again

Five games as the starter and we know for certain that Jackson can, and will, run the ball down the field.

Facing 3rd-and-seven, the QB magically avoided a sack and ran for 11 yards to pick up the first down.

Even though Jackson's effort was offset by a 15-yard unecessary roughness penalty against running back Kenneth Dixon, the play was still impressive.

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