Maryland Terps

Browns clock Chiefs 30-7

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Browns clock Chiefs 30-7

CLEVELAND (AP) With just minutes left in a rare blowout win, new owner Jimmy Haslam leaned over the railing of his open-air suite and pumped his fist in celebration.

Down below, Cleveland fans jumped and screamed in delight.

Their team is rolling.

Yep, the Browns, masters of disaster for years, are winning.

On a day when an attempt to block a punt turned into a record return for a touchdown, the Browns showed some offensive creativity and did just about everything right in a 30-7 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, extending Cleveland's longest winning streak since 2009 to three games.

Travis Benjamin's electrifying 93-yard TD return in the second quarter gave the Browns (5-8) momentum they never gave back and Cleveland posted its most lopsided win since 2003.

``It's big for us,'' said tight end Ben Watson, who had three receptions for 43 yards and prevented the Chiefs from intercepting one of quarterback Brandon Weeden's passes. ``We've had a lot of very close games that we haven't won and had some heartbreakers. So it's good to put it all together as a total team - offense, defense and special teams - and to come out with a win.''

Benjamin's game-changer helped the Browns continue their resurgence under second-year coach Pat Shurmur, who is beginning to build a strong case to keep his job. With three games left, the Browns have surpassed their win total from last season.

``It's all kind of coming together,'' said 14-year veteran kicker Phil Dawson, who made three field goals, including the 300th of his career. ``We're just doing all the little things right now. Guys are hungry to come back to work every day. There's some energy around here that I haven't felt. This is all good.''

Rookie running back Trent Richardson had two 1-yard TD runs for the young-and-improved Browns, who seem to be getting better every week. They've been competitive since the opener, but they're beginning to win close games, a sure sign of maturity and a major plus for Shurmur, whose team is 3-1 since the bye with the only loss in overtime at Dallas.

``These guys in that locker room have continued to buy in,'' Weeden said. ``Early in the year we faced a lot of adversity and we weren't winning games, but we've stayed true to what we do. It's paid off. We've found a way to win these last three weeks.''

Jamaal Charles ran for 165 yards, breaking off an 80-yard TD run on the game's first play for the Chiefs (2-11), playing their first road game following linebacker Jovan Belcher's suicide. The 25-year-old killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, at their home before driving to the team's practice facility on Dec. 1 and shooting himself.

This week, the Chiefs adjusted their practice schedule to attend a memorial service for Belcher. On Saturday, Charles and several other teammates attended a service for Perkins in Austin, Texas. The shocking tragedy has been especially troubling for Charles, whose wife was Perkins' first cousin.

Charles has not spoken to the media since the deaths. He left the stadium following the game wearing a heart-shaped badge bearing Perkins' initials.

A week ago, the Chiefs, united by coach Romeo Crennel, pulled together and won at home over Carolina, less than one day after Belcher's stunning act. The emotions of the past few days seemed to take their toll and contribute to an uneven performance against the Browns.

``It's something that I think we'll carry with us for the rest of the season,'' quarterback Brady Quinn said. ``But it's not a distraction for us. We're doing our best to move forward. Football, and the fact that these guys love to play the game, is a great outlet, or a great way to get our minds off of it.''

Richardson's second TD early in the fourth quarter gave the Browns a 27-7 lead and finally put away the Chiefs (2-11),

Charles returned after sustaining a rib injury knocked him out one series. Kansas City, though, lost leading receiver Dwayne Bowe, who injured his ribs in the first half and didn't come back.

Without Bowe, Quinn was without his top target and finished 11 of 22 for 159 yards and one interception.

Benjamin's 93-yard punt return - the longest in team history - gave the Browns a 10-7 lead and seemed to demoralize the Chiefs.

Just before the snap, Benjamin lined up to block Kansas City's gunner before sprinting 50 yards and switching spots with Josh Cribbs, who rushed up the middle. Benjamin fielded the kick inside his 10, cut sharply left, picked up a few key blocks and outran the rest of Kansas City's coverage unit.

The Browns worked on the play, called ``Banzai'' in practice and sprung it on the Chiefs.

``We schemed it up perfect,'' Cribbs said. ``We tried to get a punt block up the middle, but a touchdown is always better.''

The return by the speedy Benjamin was 1 yard longer than Eric Metcalf's TD at Cincinnati on Sept. 4, 1994.

``It was a huge lift,'' Shurmur said. ``It puts us ahead in a game. We just took an 80-yard punch for a touchdown. That was a punch in the gut. To get a play like that to put you back on top, is something that you always hope for in a game.''

There's no denying Shurmur and his staff have the Browns headed in the right direction, but there's also no guarantee Haslam will allow them to stay next season.

For Dawson, who has seen it all during his time with Cleveland, the winning streak is a nice change of pace.

``I can get used to this,'' he said.''

NOTES: With nine rushing TDs, Richardson tied Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1957) for the team rookie record. ... His 10 overall TDs tie him with Brown and Metcalf (1989) for the most in a season. ... Crennel did not have an update on Bowe, who had two catches for 70 yards before getting hurt. ... Weeden joined Derek Anderson (2007) and Tim Couch (2001) as the only Browns QBs with 3,000 passing yards since '99. ... Chiefs LB Tamba Hali had two of KC's three sacks. ... The Browns host Washington next week in their final home game.

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Mike Locksley reportedly makes big addition to Terps staff with former Tennessee head coach

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Mike Locksley reportedly makes big addition to Terps staff with former Tennessee head coach

When Mike Locksley was hired to become the University of Maryland's newest head football coach earlier this month, it was expected that his biggest impact would come on the recruiting trail. Locksley has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best recruiters of talent in the DMV, and his hometown connections were a major draw for the university and its boosters.

His recruiting acumen doesn’t just apply to players, it seems. He’s begun putting together a coaching staff at Maryland, and many of the rumored candidates would represent major “gets” for a school of Maryland’s stature and reputation.

Former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has accepted a position as tight ends coach and associate head coach for the Terps, Jeff Ermann of InsideMdSports reported on Tuesday.

Jones was a head coach for a decade prior to spending 2018 as an offensive analyst for Alabama, an off-field position. In the years prior, he spent time at Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and most recently Tennessee. He holds a career record of 84-54, and is 4-2 all-time in bowl games. He had a winning record at each school.

The title of associate head coach is a nice addition for Jones, but a former SEC head coach who experienced some success would seem to be somewhat overqualified for a position coach. Jones, similarly to Locksley, was attempting to rehabilitate his reputation under Nick Saban at Alabama, and is likely aiming to return to head coaching one day.

It’s still a nice coup for Maryland, as Jones comes to College Park with a reputation as a good offensive mind and a stellar recruiter. Jones signed multiple top-10 recruiting classes at Tennessee, and while coaching in the SEC has certain advantages, his recruiting acumen fits in well with Locksley.

It remains unclear how much of an overhaul Maryland’s coaching staff will undergo under Locksley, though it stands to reason there will be some turnover. 24/7 Sports is also reporting that Locksley will be bringing on John Papuchis to coach special teams and linebackers, and Cory Robinson, a former director of player personnel at Maryland under Randy Edsall. Robinson’s role is not yet specified, though based on his experience it is assumed he’ll be working with defensive backs.

Elijah Brooks, longtime head coach at local powerhouse DeMatha, has also been rumored to be joining the Maryland staff, though it has not been reported at this time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: Who's currently in and currently out in the AFC heading into Week 15

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NFL Playoff Picture: Who's currently in and currently out in the AFC heading into Week 15

It was a wild Week 14 for the AFC to say the least.

There was the Miami Miracle and the Indianapolis Colts bringing the Houston Texans' nine-game winning streak to a halt.

January football is so close we can almost taste it. Here's where things stand in the AFC as we head into Week 15.

AFC Playoff Standings:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2, 4-0)

The Baltimore Ravens weren't going to make this easy for the Chiefs, but Patrick Mahomes' ridiculous playmaking couldn't be stopped.

The Chiefs clinched a playoff berth in the 27-24 overtime win and can clinch the AFC West with a win over the Los Angeles Chargers Thursday night. 

Remaining Games: Chargers (10-3), @Seahawks (8-5), Raiders (3-10).

2. New England Patriots (9-4, 3-1)

A crazy 69 yard walk off touchdown from Dolphins' Kenyan Drake put the Patriots two games back of the Chiefs for the one seed and without home field advantage if they face them in the postseason.

Now as they head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers, a bye week in January could be on the line.

Remaining Games: @Steelers (7-5-1), Buffalo (4-9), Jets (4-9)

3. Houston Texans (9-4, 3-2)

The Texans' nine-game win streak came to an end Sunday when Andrew Luck and the Colts earned a 24-21 win in Houston. 

Still two full games up of the Colts and Tennessee Titans in the AFC South, a bye week seems far-fetched as the Patriots hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them. 

Remaining Games: @Jets (4-9), @Eagles (6-7), Jacksonville (4-9)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1, 3-1-1)

Sunday was a debacle for the Steelers. Big Ben suffered a rib injury but came back in the fourth to lead his team down the field before kicker Chris Boswell's foot slipped out from underneath of him in what would have been the game-winning field goal. 

The 24-21 loss leaves the Steelers just half a game up of the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North as they host the Patriots Sunday and still have to visit the Saints. The division, and the playoffs, aren't a lock for the Steelers.

Remaining Games: Patriots (9-4), @Saints (11-2), Bengals (5-8)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-3, 2-2)

After narrowly beating the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 Sunday, the Chargers have a short week as they head to Kansas City to face their division rivals on Thursday night.

A win over the Chiefs keeps the AFC West title up for grabs.

Remaining Games: @Chiefs (11-2), Ravens (7-6), @Denver (6-7)

6. Baltimore Ravens (7-6, 2-3)

Ravens-Chiefs was one of the most entertaining games of the 2018 season and proved that Lamar Jackson and the No. 1 overall defense can hang with the best. 

The good news is that they're still half a game back of the Steelers in the AFC North. The bad news is that they're in a four-way race with the Colts, Titans and Dolphins for the final playoff spot.

Three wins to close out the season is crucial. 

Remaining Games: Buccaneers (5-8), @Chargers (10-3), Browns (5-7-1)

In The Hunt:

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

Ending the Texans' nine-game win streak on the road is certainly impressive as it kept the Colts' playoff hopes alive.

Their remaining games won't make the road to the playoffs easy, but they do hold the tiebreaker over the Dolphins.

Remaining Games: Cowboys (8-5), Giants (5-8), @Tennessee (7-6)

8. Miami Dolphins (7-6, 4-1)

The Dolphins just continue to surprise us. Their 34-33 win over the Patriots was the highlight of everyone except Patriots fans' Sunday. 

The final playoff spot will be hard to reach as they sit behind the Colts but ahead of the Titans in head-to-head record.

Remaining Games: @Vikings (6-6-1), Jacksonville (4-9), @Bills (4-9)

9. Tennessee Titans (7-6, 3-2)

The Titans earned an AFC win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, but their playoff hopes aren't within close reach.

They are no longer in the sixth playoff spot tiebreaker as they are behind both the Colts and the Dolphins. 

Remaining Games: @Giants (5-8), Redskins (6-7), Colts (7-6)

10. Denver Broncos (6-7, 2-2)

The Broncos lost to the San Francisco 49ers 20-14 Sunday, which some would say is not great for a team trying to wiggle their way into the playoffs.

Remaining Games: Browns (5-7-1), @Raiders (3-10), Chargers (10-3)

11. Cleveland Browns (5-7-1, 2-1-1)

Browns fans have a lot to be excited about as Baker Mayfield is a force and they earned another home win on Sunday against the spiraling Carolina Panthers.

With two division games still to be played, the Browns have a slight chance at the playoffs. Nonetheless, the 2018 season is hopefully the start of a new era for this organization.

Remaining Games: @Broncos (6-7), Bengals (5-8), @Ravens (7-6)

12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-7, 1-3)

Hue Jackson's bad luck continues with the Bengals as the playoffs are nowhere in sight.

Remaining Games: Raiders (3-10), @Browns (5-7-1), @Steelers (7-5-1)

Eliminated: Oakland Raiders (3-10), New York Jets (3-10), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) and the Buffalo Bills (4-9)

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