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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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Three reasons why it made sense for Ravens to add LT Long

Three reasons why it made sense for Ravens to add LT Long

Jake Long was once a premier left tackle in the NFL, but he is projected to be Ronnie Stanley’s backup after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Ravens.

Here are three reasons why the Ravens felt they needed to sign Long, who will join the team for Thursday’s first full-team practice pending the outcome of his physical:

1. The Ravens needed insurance in case Stanley is injured or struggles.

Early reviews on Stanley have been good. But we’ll learn more about Stanley as he faces veterans on a consistent basis during training camp and the preseason.

The Ravens relied on James Hurst as their backup left tackle the past two seasons, but they wanted more security. Even after recent knee injuries, Long is simply more talented than Hurst.

2. Long can be a veteran mentor for Stanley.

As the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, Long knows the pressure and expectations Stanley is dealing with. When Stanley has questions, Long will be a go-to guy.

3. With quarterback Joe Flacco returning from a serious knee injury, the Ravens can’t take chances protecting his blindside.

If Flacco suffers another season-ending injury, all the talent upgrades they made this offseason won’t matter.

There’s a chance Flacco’s mobility may be hindered, especially early in the season. Adding Long makes the Ravens feel more confident about keeping Flacco healthy.

RELATED: FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE TRAINING CAMP STARTS

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Five questions to ask as Ravens open training camp

Five questions to ask as Ravens open training camp

Veterans report to Ravens training camp Wednesday, with the first full-squad practice Thursday morning. Here are five questions to ask as the Ravens try to bounce back from a 5-11 season.

1. Does the influx of new talent make the Ravens playoff contenders again?

The Ravens were more aggressive early in free agency than usual, signing safety Eric Weddle, wide receiver Mike Wallace, and tight end Ben Watson. Then they loaded up on young talent with 11 draft picks, including left tackle Ronnie Stanley who is expected to start, linebacker Kamalei Correa who should see significant playing time, and running back Kenneth Dixon who has intriguing potential. The Ravens are a better football team, but I still question if they’re good enough to make the playoffs.  In order to make the postseason, the Ravens simply must get significant contributions from a host of new players.  

2. Is quarterback Joe Flacco ready to have a stellar season coming off knee surgery?

It’s a great sign that Flacco is ready for camp. His reps may be monitored early in camp and his preseason playing time figures to be limited. But when the regular season begins, the Ravens will need Flacco to have a solid season, maybe his best for the Ravens to make the playoffs. If Flacco has any lingering doubt about how his knee will hold up, those doubts need to be erased between now and Week 1.

3. How will key players on PUP perform once they return?

Four players currently on the PUP list are expected to play crucial roles – wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Smith is 37 years old, Suggs is 33, Dumervil is 32, and Perriman has yet to play an NFL down due to knee injuries. The Ravens’ playoff prospects are better if they can squeeze another quality year out of their injured vets, and if Perriman finally plays.

4. Who starts at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley?

That could be the biggest question mark in the starting lineup. The Ravens are deep at running back and tight end, so who starts doesn’t matter as much. But the release of veteran Daryl Smith, now with the Buccaneers, leaves a void at inside linebacker. Zach Orr has the inside track to start, Arthur Brown is getting one more chance, and Correa could be moved inside. But if none of those players rise up, general manager Ozzie Newsome could be forced to sign a veteran.

5. How will the new-look left side of the offensive line gel?

Stanley is a rookie left tackle. They’ll be a new starter at left guard, as John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, and perhaps rookie Alex Lewis battle to replace Kelechi Osemele, who was lost to the Raiders in free agency. It’s not surprising the Ravens felt they needed to sign veteran left tackle Jake Long as insurance.  To protect Flacco and run the ball effectively, the new-look left side of the offensive line must play well.

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Report: Boldin to sign with Lions

Report: Boldin to sign with Lions

Former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin is back for a 14th season.

Boldin, who turns 36 in October, will sign a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. In Detroit, Boldin will be reunited with Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who became the Ravens offensive coordinator during their run to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.

The Lions had a major void at wide receiver with All-Pro Calvin Johnson's retirement.

RELATED: RAVENS AGREE TO ONE-YEAR DEAL WITH OL JAKE LONG

A former second-round draft pick, Boldin spent seven seasons with the Cardinals before the Ravens traded for him in 2010. In three seasons with the Ravens, Boldin averaged 62 catches and 882 yards. He came up huge in the 2012 playoff run, with a team-best 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He had six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl win over the 49ers.

After that Super Bowl run, though, Boldin was traded to the 49ers for a sixth-round draft pick. Boldin led the 49ers in catches and receiving yards in each of the past three years. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the 49ers in 2013 and 2014, leading many to question the Ravens decision to trade him. Last season, Boldin led the 49ers with 69 catches for 789 yards.

Boldin enters this season ranked 17th in NFL history with 13,195 receiving yards. One of the few players ahead of him is current Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr., who ranks 11th (13,392). Boldin last season became the 13th player in NFL history with 1,000 career receptions and now has 1,009. Smith, incidentally, needs 39 catches this season join Boldin in the 1,000-catch club.

MORE RAVENS: RETURNING PUNTS KEY FOR 3 RAVENS WR'S ON BUBBLE