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Knighton fined $25,000 for hit on Luck

Knighton fined $25,000 for hit on Luck

NEW YORK (AP) Jacksonville defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali and New England LB Brandon Spikes were fined $25,000 each by the NFL on Friday for hits in recent games.

Knighton was fined for making helmet-to-helmet contact with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who was defenseless at the time. The hit came in Indianapolis' victory Nov. 8 at Jacksonville and negated an interception by Aaron Ross.

Hali was docked for striking Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich with his helmet.

Spikes got a roughing-the-passer penalty on Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick that drew the fine. He hit Fitzpatrick with his helmet. The players later jawed at each other and after the Patriots' win, Fitzpatrick called Spikes ``a punk.''

In all, 17 players drew fines Friday for their actions in Week 10 games.

Oakland linebacker Aaron Curry was given two fines: $15,750 for striking Baltimore RB Ray Rice late, and $7,875 for unnecessary roughness on a special teams play. Raiders LB Phillip Wheeler was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness when he grabbed Rice by the facemask.

Fined $21,000 were 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford last Sunday, and Minnesota linebacker Jasper Brinkley for a helmet hit on a defenseless Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.

AFC players fined that amount were Broncos LB Von Miller for striking Carolina QB Cam Newton below the knee; and Colts defensive end Jerry Hughes for a late hit on Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert.

Docked $15,750 were Cincinnati LB Rey Maulaluga for striking defenseless Giants WR Dominek Hixon in the head and neck area; and Denver DT Kevin Vickerson for a horse-collar tackle on Newton.

Jaguars safety Dawan Landry was fined $10,000 for a fourth-quarter hit on Luck that made contact to the head and neck area after Luck declared himself down by sliding feet first. Lions receiver Ryan Broyles was fined $10,000 for an illegal crackback block on Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield.

Others docked $10,000 were Patriots LB Jerod Mayo for a late hit on Bills RB C.J. Spiller when he was out of bounds; and Dolphins guard Richie Incognito for striking Tennessee LB Colin McCarthy late. Incognito was benched for a few plays by Dolphins coach Joe Philbin after the incident.

Justin Houston of Kansas City was fined $7,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct when he began a group celebration in the end zone. Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard lost the same amount for hitting Fitzpatrick out of bounds.

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Playoff winners expose Ravens shortcomings

Playoff winners expose Ravens shortcomings

And then there were four.

Four teams remain in the hunt for Super Bowl LI, and this weekend's games showed exactly what it takes to survive and advance this time of year. They also illustrated, quite clearly, how the current Ravens simply don't rise up to that level.

Here are two ways in particular:

* Strong quarterback play

Aaron Rodgers needed less than a minute to move his team into position for a game-winning field goal against Dallas.

Then again, the Cowboys' Dak Prescott needed less than a minute to move his team into position to tie the game moments earlier.

Did the Ravens offense under Joe Flacco this year ever appear capable of pulling off such a feat?

Atlanta's Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns without an interception as the Falcons rolled past Seattle. He averaged 9.1 yards per pass play, above their league-best regular-season average of 8.8. That's what an efficient, potent passing game looks like. The Ravens ranked 26th this year, averaging 6.04 yards per pass play.

[Related: NFL Mock Draft 1.0]

* Playmakers

When Dallas got inside the Packers' 10-yard line in the final four minutes, trailing 28-20, was there any doubt that the ball was going to Dez Bryant? The Packers had to know it. They just couldn't stop it. Bryant reached up with his 6-2, 220-pound frame and hauled in the inside slant that made it 28-26, and then Prescott scored on a quarterback draw for a two-point conversion to tie the game.

Did the Ravens this year ever have such a proven, go-to target near the goal line? If they did, they probably wouldn't have ranked 20th in red zone percentage this year and relied so heavily on kicker Justin Tucker. Too many field goals instead of touchdowns doomed this team.

Aaron Rodgers had to improvise, then made a great throw with an even better catch by Jared Cook to set up the winning field goal. Could the Ravens have pulled off that play this year?

When the Steelers were trying to close out their win over the Chiefs, they opted to throw a pass, knowing an incompletion would stop the clock and possibly give the ball back to the Chiefs. It carried some risk, but Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown for a game-clinching first down.

The Steelers could have opted to run the ball with Le'Veon Bell, who piled up 170 yards on 30 carries. That's what a commitment to the run looks like.

Brown, Bryant and Julian Edelman all finished with more than 100 receiving yards.

Each of these teams has playmakers, and they all stepped up.

Related: Ray Lewis tells Tom Brady to quit complaining 

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AFC North: Steelers' Antonio Brown posts, deletes video of Mike Tomlin insulting Patriots

AFC North: Steelers' Antonio Brown posts, deletes video of Mike Tomlin insulting Patriots

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has created a new firestorm heading into the Patriots-Steelers AFC championship game, by posting a Facebook Live video from the locker room in which coach Mike Tomlin referred to the Patriots as “a--h----s”.

Tomlin was giving his postgame address to the team after the Steelers’ 18-16 playoff victory over the Chiefs.

While Tomlin was speaking, Brown was streaming the locker room scene on Facebook, unbeknownst to Tomlin.

The coach talked about the Patriots having a head start in preparation, because they won their divisional game Saturday night, while the Steelers-Chiefs game did not end until late Sunday night in Kansas City.

“When you get to this point in the journey, man, not a lot needs to be said,” Tomlin said in the video, which Brown has since deleted from social media.

“Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We just spotted these a--h---s a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We’re going to touch down at 4 o’clock in the f---king morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for their a--. But you ain’t got to tell them we’re coming.

“Keep a low profile, and let’s get ready to ball like this up again here in a few days and be right back at it. That’s our story.”

Well, it’s a little late for the Steelers to keep a low profile now, after Brown’s video went viral.

This is why most coaches don’t like cameras in the locker room immediately after games. The statements are candid. The concept of what is said in the locker room, staying in the locker room, is lost.

Now Tomlin, Brown, and the Steelers will have to deal with the fallout. But it will only raise the AFC showdown, with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.

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