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Bears need help from Packers after beating Arizona

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Bears need help from Packers after beating Arizona

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Now the Chicago Bears are in the odd position of cheering on the Green Bay Packers, their age-old nemesis.

The Bears kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Arizona Cardinals 28-13 on Sunday. To earn a wild-card spot, they need to win at Detroit in their regular-season finale and have the Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings.

`` (The Packers) put up 55 points today,'' Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said, ``so hopefully (Aaron) Rodgers can put on another show next week.''

After losing five of six, the Bears (9-6) lost control of their playoff fate and need some help.

First, though, they had to beat the punchless Cardinals, and they did it with a defense that returned to the opportunistic ways that had helped the team race to a 7-1 start to the season.

Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score and Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another TD.

``It was the third pick Tillman has brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. Julius Peppers had three of the Bears' four sacks.

``Defensively we asked them to take over and play the way they have been capable of doing,'' Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. ``Of course, how we played early, taking the ball away specifically, is what I am talking about. It was an added bonus getting a couple of scores. ``

A gigantic contingent of Bears fans cheered on their team.

``The Chicago fan support was amazing out there,'' Tillman said. ``It felt like a home game.''

Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 68 yards and a TD, breaking the Bears' franchise record for yards receiving in a season in the process. But, especially after calling out his team to show accountability, Marshall was highly critical of his performance.

``I stunk the field up,'' he said. ``Throwing around that word accountability, I can't do that, especially in this situation. For the defense to step up and other guys in offense to step up, that says a lot. I am proud that guys were able to make big plays, huge plays. Now we need to go out next weekend and control what we can control.''

Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.

``I can't even state how big this is. It is either win or you are done,'' Peppers said. ``We can't control what happens next week with other teams, but if we don't win today, we don't have a shot.''

Matt Forte gained 88 yards in 12 carries, including a 4-yard TD run for Chicago before aggravating a right ankle injury and leaving early in the second half.

Cutler completed just one of his first 11 passes, then went 5 of 5 on a touchdown drive in the final minutes of the first half. He finished 12 of 26 for 146 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinals, with the NFL's worst offense, continued to search for someone to move the ball.

After he threw the interception to Tillman that put Chicago up 28-6 on Arizona's first offensive series after halftime, rookie Ryan Lindley was benched in favor of Brian Hoyer, claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh 13 days earlier.

``It's obviously not ideal, but football is football,''' said Hoyer, who spent three seasons as a backup in New England. ``You just want to go out and play the best you can and definitely improve off of this and just try to make the most of the opportunity.''

Hoyer completed 11 of 19 passes for 105 yards and one interception. Kelvin Hayden picked off his pass late in the game and returned it 39 yards to the Arizona 10.

But Adrian Wilson, the 12-year NFL veteran who might have been playing his last home game for the Cardinals, blocked Olindo Mare's 20-yard field goal try and Justin Bethel returned it 82 yards with 1:46 to play for the Cardinals' lone TD.

Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 111 yards, just his second 100-yard receiving game of the season. The first was in Week 3 against Philadelphia when the Cardinals were headed to a 4-0 start.

``It's been a long season, man,'' Fitzgerald said. ``Whenever I can make a play and make an impact, I try to do it. Today some things opened up. We were able to make some plays. But it didn't equate to a win, so it's all for nothing.''

Chicago pinned the Cardinals deep and, on second-and-11 from the 3, Beanie Wells' right knee gave way and he dropped the ball as he went backside first to the ground. Bowman grabbed it and skidded over the goal line for the first touchdown for the Bears' defense since Nov. 4.

Jay Feely's 49-yard field goal cut it to 7-3.

But Forte rambled 36 yards on the final play of the first quarter and Cutler threw 30 yards to Marshall to the Arizona 4 - the quarterback's first completion of the game in seven throws. Forte carried it in from there and Chicago led 14-3.

Chicago gave Arizona another chance when Dave Zastudil's punt careened off the Bears' D.J. Moore. The Cardinals recovered at the 36, leading to Feely's 35-yard field goal that cut the lead to 14-6.

With no timeouts and after completing just one of his first 11 passes, Cutler went 5-for-5, capped by an 11-yarder to a wide-open Marshall with 19 seconds left in the half.

``We were really struggling and got into a two-minute situation and guys were still working to get open,'' Cutler said. ``They made some great catches for me. It wasn't the best game. It wasn't the prettiest game, but we got done what we needed to get done.''

NOTES: The record for interceptions returned for TDs is nine by San Diego in 1961. ... Cardinals have not thrown a TD pass in six games. In last five games, Arizona has thrown 12 interceptions, four returned for TDs. ... Zastudil set the NFL season record with 44 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, for the second week in a row a franchise record six of them against the Bears. ... Chicago S Chris Conti left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury.

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

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Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

With less than a week to go until their July 15 deadline, "there isn't much optimism" that the Redskins and Brandon Scherff will be able to nail down a long-term contract, per an ESPN report.

If the two sides can't come together, then Scherff will play out the 2020 season on the franchise tag.

On the surface, there's obvious reasons for both the team and the player to commit to a multi-year agreement.

For the former, the reason is that Scherff is a very useful asset on the offensive line, making him a very useful asset for another very useful asset, Dwayne Haskins.

For the latter, the reason is that Washington is where Scherff wants to spend the rest of his career, which is according to Scherff himself.

If things keep tracking the way they appear to be going, though, then that one-year pact will kick in and some drama will follow after that. 

Here are four factors that could be to blame, should that conclusion come to fruition.

A lack of familiarity 

Thanks to the pandemic, Scherff and Ron Rivera haven't had a chance to really get to know each other as well as they normally would. That matters. 

Rivera is clearly in control of the Burgundy and Gold now, meaning he has a very strong influence on how hard the organization is trying to lock up the 28-year-old. Perhaps there's some uncertainty on his end because he simply isn't that familiar with Scherff. The same could be said for Scherff, too.

The previous regime clearly valued Scherff from the day they selected him fifth overall in the draft. This new one, unfortunately, just hasn't had the opportunity yet to build up the same appreciation.

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Uncertainty about 2020

This is another pandemic-related one, and it's something that could be particularly affecting Scherff.

While the NFL clearly plans to go full-speed ahead with its schedule, there's tons of skepticism that they'll actually be able to pull off a season. Just look at how much trouble the other leagues are having, then think about how football — with its large swath of large men and constant contact — may have the most difficult time of all.

Does now seem like the most solid ground for Scherff to sign on the dotted line? When it's still so unclear what 2020 will look like? Not exactly.

Injury history

Factor No. 3 is one that surely is having some impact on the Redskins' viewpoint.

Scherff ended both 2018 and 2019 on injured reserve, due to a torn pec and then elbow and shoulder injuries, respectively. To take it a step further, he's missed 15 contests out of a possible 48 since 2017.

For the team to ink Scherff to a hefty contract, they're going to want to feel confident he'll be on the field to earn it. Right now, that confidence may not be there.

Money

People seem to care about this green stuff, right?

While Scherff would no doubt find security in a potential multi-year deal with the Redskins, he may simply have more interest in just accepting the franchise tag, which will pay him $15 million in 2020. That's a huge number that could be dissuading him from negotiating much.

As for the team, because of things like the staff's newness and the concern for Scherff's health, they may rather see Scherff for an (albeit expensive) season before deciding whether they want him on the roster for the rest of the rebuild.

These back-and-forths are always complicated, but this time around, there seems to be more variables than usual. The NFL is known as a "deadline league," but the above factors could prove to be too much to overcome before the July 15 buzzer.

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Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

A part of a series of statements defending DeSean Jackson following the wide receiver's posting of anti-Semitic comments falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler, Stephen Jackson revealed he received a call from the distressed veteran after the incident. 

According to Stephen, DeSean said the Eagles were threatening to release him without an apology. 

"My whole reason for supporting D-Jack was, before I got on Instagram, he called me on the phone and told me that they was threatening to fire him," Jackson said. "But they didn't do that to [Riley] Cooper. And I was like, 'You're right, you shouldn't have to apologize if they didn't make him apologize."

Riley Cooper was caught on video saying the n-word at a concert in 2013, and after the now-retired receiver made his apology, the Eagles fined him an undisclosed amount. He was then re-signed to a five-year extension in 2014, though he'd eventually be released two years later. 

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DeSean ultimately apologized, saying his posts were, "definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community."

The Eagles then released a statement condemning their wide receiver's actions, calling the messages he shared, "offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling." They were not clear on what Jackson's punishment would be in their statement. 

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This, of course, was not all Jackson said in defense of DeSean. The 14-year NBA veteran claimed Jackson was speaking the truth through the messages he shared.

"He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he's speaking the truth. Right? He's speaking the truth,” Stephen Jackson said. “You know he don't hate nobody, but he's speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others."

Jackson played three seasons with the Redskins from 2014-16 after then Eagles head coach Chip Kelly cut him following the 2013 campaign. He then returned to Philadelphia before the 2019 season by signing a three-year contract with the franchise who drafted him.

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