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Redskins win NFC East, Broncos get top seed in AFC

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Redskins win NFC East, Broncos get top seed in AFC

RG3 and the Washington Redskins are heading to the playoffs as NFC East champions.

By winning their seventh straight game, the Redskins rolled to their first division title in 13 years with a 28-18 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Next up for Robert Griffin III & Co.: a home playoff matchup next Sunday with the Seahawks - the third straight postseason game for Washington against Seattle.

``It's just a mindset change,'' the rookie quarterback said. ``When you have all these guys coming to work every day, putting it on the line, we knew we couldn't afford to lose one game, we made sure we didn't''

Thanks to Houston's late-season slump, Denver and New England will have byes when the AFC playoffs begin next week.

The Texans fell from first to third in the conference Sunday when they lost 28-16 at Indianapolis, which welcomed back coach Chuck Pagano after nearly three months of treatments for leukemia.

AFC West champion Denver won its 11th straight game, 38-3 over Kansas City to secure the top seed. New England blanked Miami 28-0 for the second spot.

Minnesota edged Green Bay 37-34 to grab the final NFC wild card, sinking the Packers to the third seed. Those teams will meet again next Saturday night at Lambeau Field.

The other NFC matchup will have Seattle (11-5), which beat St. Louis 20-13, at Washington on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Cincinnati (10-6) will be at Houston on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET, and Indianapolis (11-5) goes to at Baltimore (10-6) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the AFC wild-card rounds.

The divisional round games will be hosted by Denver on Saturday, Jan. 12, followed by San Francisco (11-4-1) at night. On Sunday, Jan. 13, Atlanta (13-3) will host the early game, followed by New England (12-4).

Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns as Denver (13-3) routed the Chiefs. New England got the second seed despite having the same record as Houston because it beat the Texans, who lost three of their final four games.

Adrian Peterson had 199 yards against the Packers, finishing with 2,097 - Dickerson's single-season rushing mark in 2,105. But it was rookie kicker Blair Walsh who won it with a 29-yard field goal as time expired.

``Ultimately we got the `W,''' Peterson said. ``I told myself to come into this game focused on one thing, and that's winning.''

Green Bay would have been seeded second in the NFC by beating Minnesota.

``The road got a little tougher having to play on opening weekend, but we've got a home game and that's why you win the division,'' Aaron Rodgers said. ``We get to go back home, and the game will be different. They won't have home-crowd advantage, and hopefully that will make a difference.''

Baltimore Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed is looking forward to a reunion with Pagano. He wishes it would come a little later in the postseason.

``Chuck's like a dad to me,'' Reed said ``He means a lot to me. I would have much rather seen them in the AFC championship game than the first game.''

But Reed will see him next week at Baltimore.

The Ravens had a chance to move up to the AFC's third seed with a win and a New England loss. But Baltimore lost at Cincinnati as both teams played backups for much of the game.

Pagano coached the Ravens' secondary for three seasons and was promoted to coordinator last year. Players and coaches in Baltimore have kept in touch, offering encouragement as he fought through the cancer treatments.

``Going back to Baltimore, obviously there's some familiarity there,'' Pagano said. ``We had four great years there as a family. It's a top-notch organization, you know, really good football club. It's a great challenge and they have a great team and they have great players all over the place.''

The Colts were 2-14 last season and chose quarterback Andrew Luck with the top selection in the draft. Luck and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who stepped in as interim coach with Pagano sidelined, led the turnaround.

Next week, Pagano goes up against former boss John Harbaugh.

``I love his family, and he's one of my closest personal friends in coaching,'' Harbaugh said. ``What he's been through is phenomenal, but we're all competitors so that gets set aside.''

Houston beat Cincinnati in the opening round of last year's playoffs.

``I think it will be good,'' said Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who grew up in suburban Houston. ``We played there last year and know the atmosphere and what it's going to be like. The experience last year will definitely help us.''

The defending Super Bowl champion Giants are out of contention. When Chicago beat Detroit 26-24, the Giants (9-7) were eliminated, even though they routed Philadelphia 42-7.

``It hurts,'' said Eli Manning. ``Each year you want to make the playoffs to give yourself an opportunity to win a championship; 9-7 last year was good enough. It wasn't good enough this year and we knew it wouldn't be.''

Minnesota's win eliminated Chicago.

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Ravens Training Camp Recap: Day 1 news and notes

Ravens Training Camp Recap: Day 1 news and notes

It's only the first day of training camp and so much has already happened for the Ravens.  

Here are all the news and notes from Day 1 of the Baltimore Ravens training camp in Owings Mills, Md.

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Joe Flacco out with disk issue:

The Ravens starting QB wasn't in attendance for the first day of camp due to a disk issue in his back. Coach John Harbaugh told the media he is expected to only miss one week.

John Harbaugh: "I guess it's been something that's been bothering him for a week or two. He didn't say anything about it, wasn't really that bad. It flared up a little bit, went and saw a back specialist. So, they're recommending about a week of rest. They say that should take care of it. I guess with the back you can always say, 'we'll see'. But, all indications from a back specialist are that he should be fine in about a week and that's what we'll be hoping for and praying for." Harbaugh said he had no idea that Urschel was considering retirement and that he had attended workouts all summer. He called the decision a "personal decision."

Eric Weddle: "Joe's gonna be back. We're not worried about how long is he going to be out. He's one of the toughest guys on the team. He'll be leading us out whenever he wants to come back."

Jeremy Maclin: "This is football man, stuff like that happens. I think the most important thing right now for Joe is to get healthy. We gotta roll with what we got."

Danny Woodhead: "I think Joe's played a few years, so I think he'll be able to figure it out. I think it's going to be ok. He's a professional, he knows how to throw the football, he knows how to read defenses, so I think that's going to be ok."

John Urschel announces his retirement:

The Ravens' guard made the phone call to coach John Harbaugh around 6:30 this morning to inform the team he wouldn't be returning. 

John Harbaugh: "That was something that's been on his mind for quite a while throughout the offseason. That's what he decided to do. We respect John tremendously. Probably the rest of it's for him to answer." Harbaugh said he had no idea that Urschel was considering retirement and that he had attended workouts all summer. He called the decision a "personal decision."

Eric Weddle: It's unfortunate. Obviously Ursch is a great dude, competitor, great teammate. You know, it's unfortunate but that's his decision. As a team, and as a leader, you can't worry about the outside or what individuals do per say. We're gonna go out and play with who we have and move forward. We wish him the best and know he's going to do great things in his future but it's not with us, so we gotta move forward.'

Danny Woodhead: Honestly, Ursch is a great dude. That was his decision. Obviously, we support him. Great guy and that's what's best for him."

Overall takeaways of Day 1 of camp: 

It's only the first day, but the coaches and players are liking what they are seeing.

John Harbaugh: "I thought it was an outstanding first day of training camp. You know, the guys were good. I thought they did a good job. They pressed through, it's a little muggy and it's new for them. They gotta get their sea legs underneath themselves a little bit, and they did a good job of it. I'm proud of the way they practiced. Tight ends are all healthy, you saw that. Ben Watson's out there practicing. We've got all those guys healthy. Not ruling out another tight end to give us another set of legs."

Eric Weddle: " First practice, great. There weren't many repeats, efficient, both sides making plays, competing. It was a great start, especially on the back end and as a whole. It's a long process.  [We're] just trying to reiterate, you know, to get the most out of today, don't worry about tomorrow, don't worry about last night, what's going on at home or what you cant control. We want to be locked in everyday. We can't have a day when you're not focused and not giving it your all."

Jeremy Maclin: "I'm excited, man. I'm excited from a personal standpoint but also from a team standpoint. You know, everybody's kinda been saying this is a good group and a very, very talented group. So, I'm excited about us building that chemistry and taking the proper steps to become a successful football team.

Danny Woodhead: "It's good. Offseason was great and getting that time to prepare in the summer was really good too. Now it's here, it's been a long time coming. From the day I signed to offseason workouts beginning. It's an exciting time for us."

Marlon Humphrey: A little tiring. I don't know if we practiced three hours back in college. It was fun. I like that one on one thing, I like the competitiveness. I think that's a a big part of this team; the competitive nature, big game like battles. That's going to happen in games a lot. First practice went pretty good, a little winded, I think everybody's a little winded. I think it went good."

Expectations for the camp/season:

The time to set goals for the season is now.

Jeremy Maclin: " I think we (Wallace, Perriman and himself) should expect to be the best trio in the league. That's what we should expect and work for. You look at all three of us, and we all add something different to the table. We're also three guys who have the ability to do it all. I think that's what everyone should expect from us, and that's what we're going to work towards."

Marlon Humphrey: "For me, just to get better. There are a lot of things I want to work on, so I'm just trying to learn the defense, get myself better, and hopefully be a part in this team winning games."

Other notes:

— The team signed Bobby Rainey. Harbaugh said it has been in the works for quite some time and they may have signed him even if Kenneth Dixon didn't get injured.

— Jeremy Maclin passed his conditioning test on second try. Harbaugh said he was close the first time but, "close doesn't count in conditioning tests."

— Tight end Maxx Williams was fully participating after having a rare knee operation.

 

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Harbaugh hoping back injury sidelines Flacco for only one week

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Harbaugh hoping back injury sidelines Flacco for only one week

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were without their starting quarterback for their first day of training camp.

Joe Flacco is dealing with a disk issue in his lower back and is expected to miss 3-6 weeks of training camp, Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday.

Head coach John Harbaugh addressed the matter Thursday morning after their first day of practice and it sounds like Flacco isn't expected to miss that much time.

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"We found out yesterday," Harbaugh said on Thursday.

"I guess it's been something that's been bothering him for a week or two. He didn't say anything about it, wasn't really that bad. It flared up a little bit, went and saw a back specialist. So, they're recommending about a week of rest. They say that should take care of it. I guess with the back you can always say, 'we'll see'. But, all indications from a back specialist are that he should be fine in about a week and that's what we'll be hoping for and praying for."

The Super Bowl XLVII MVP is entering his 10th season with the Ravens. Flacco tore both his MCL and ACL in 2015 but returned to form in 2016, throwing for 4,317 yards and 20 touchdowns. 

His fellow teammates however, aren't concerned about him missing time. 

"Joe's gonna be back, safety Eric Weddle said. "We're not worried about how long is he going to be out. He's one of the toughest guys on the team. He'll be leading us out whenever he wants to come back."

For new Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, he's not worried about missing out on gaining chemistry with his QB during his absence."There's plenty of time for that," Maclin said. "

This is football man, stuff like that happens. I think the most important thing right now for Joe is to get healthy. We gotta roll with what we got."