NFL Today, Week 15

NFL Today, Week 15

SCOREBOARD

Monday, Dec. 17

N.Y. Jets at Tennessee (8:30 p.m.) Coach Rex Ryan and the Jets (6-7) continue their late-season playoff push against the Titans (4-9). New York needs to win to stay alive in the playoff race.

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STARS

Passing

-Tony Romo, Cowboys, was 30 for 42 for 341 yards and two TD passes in a 27-24 overtime win over Pittsburgh. Romo surpassed 25,000 yards passing in the win and is the 64th NFL player to go over the 25,000-yard mark.

-Kirk Cousins, Redskins, was 26 for 37 for 329 yards with two TD passes and an interception in his first career start in Washington's 38-21 win over Cleveland.

-Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, threw for four touchdowns in San Francisco's 41-34 win over the New England Patriots.

-Drew Brees, Saints, finished 26 for 39 for 307 yards with four TD passes in New Orleans' 41-0 win over Tampa Bay. Brees has at least 300 yards passing and four touchdowns in a game 17 times and passed Hall of Famer Dan Marino (16) for the most in NFL history.

-Aaron Rodgers, Packers, was 23 for 36 for 291 yards with three TD passes in Green Bay's 21-13 win over Chicago. The Packers clinched the NFC North title for the second consecutive season with the victory. Rodgers, who has 32 touchdown passes this season, joined Dan Marino and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with three seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes before age 30.

-Matt Ryan, Falcons, finished 23 for 28 for 270 yards with three TD passes in Atlanta's 34-0 win over the New York Giants.

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Rushing

-Adrian Peterson, Vikings, had 24 carries for a season-best 212 yards, including an 82-yard TD in Minnesota's 36-22 win over St. Louis. Peterson has a career-best 1,812 yards rushing, leaving him 294 shy of breaking the NFL mark of 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984.

-Arian Foster, Texans, finished with 27 carries for 165 yards in Houston's 29-17 victory over Indianapolis. He has 1,313 yards rushing, giving him his third straight year with at least 1,200.

-Knowshon Moreno, Broncos, had 22 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown in Denver's 34-17 win over Baltimore.

-Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson, Seahawks. Lynch had 10 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown and Wilson had nine carries for 92 yards and three touchdowns rushing in Seattle's 50-17 win over Buffalo. Wilson is the first player in NFL history to have three touchdowns rushing and a passing touchdown in the first half of a game.

-Darren McFadden, Raiders, had 30 carries for 110 yards in Oakland's 15-0 win over Kansas City.

-Reggie Bush, Dolphins, had 21 carries for 104 yards in Miami's 24-3 win over Jacksonville.

-Beanie Wells, Cardinals, had 17 carries for 67 yards and three touchdowns in Arizona's 38-10 win over Detroit.

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Receiving

-Andre Johnson, Texans, had 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in Houston's 29-17 win over Indianapolis.

-Eric Decker, Broncos, finished with eight catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in Denver's 34-17 win over Baltimore.

-Randall Cobb and James Jones, Packers. Cobb had six catches for 115 yards and Jones had five catches for 60 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay's 21-13 win over Chicago.

-Calvin Johnson, Lions, had 10 catches for 121 yards in Detroit's 38-10 loss to Arizona. Johnson became the first player in NFL history with consecutive 1,600-yard receiving seasons and tied an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game. Johnson has recorded at least 100 yards receiving in seven consecutive games, tied with Charley Hennigan (1961) and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (1995) for the longest streak in NFL history.

-Dennis Pitta, Ravens, had seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns in Baltimore's 34-17 loss to Denver.

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Special Teams

-Blair Walsh, Vikings, was 5 for 5 on field goals in Minnesota's 36-22 win over St. Louis.

-Shayne Graham and Bryan Braman, Texans. Graham was 5 for 6 on field goals and Braman returned a blocked punt 8 yards for touchdown in Houston's 29-17 victory over Indianapolis.

-Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders, was 5 for 6 on field goals in Oakland's 15-0 win over Kansas City.

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Defense

-Greg Toler and Rashad Johnson, Cardinals. Toler returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown and Johnson returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown in Arizona's 38-10 victory over Detroit.

-J.J. Watt, Texans, had three sacks in Houston's 29-17 victory over Indianapolis. He finished with 10 tackles. He also forced a fumble for the third straight game.

-Chris Harris, Broncos, returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in Denver's 34-17 win over Baltimore. It was the longest regular-season interception return in Broncos history.

-Earl Thomas, Seahawks, returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown in Seattle's 50-17 win over Buffalo.

-Everson Griffen, Vikings, returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown in Minnesota's 36-22 win over St. Louis.

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PLAYOFF BOUND

Two teams clinched division titles Sunday. The Green Bay Packers, who defeated Chicago 21-13, won the NFC North. The Houston Texans, who defeated Indianapolis 29-17, clinched the AFC South. ... The Baltimore Ravens also secured a playoff berth when the Steelers lost in overtime to Dallas.

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STATS

The Seahawks became the NFL's third team to score 50 points in consecutive weeks, joining the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, who both did it in 1950, according to STATS. ... The Rams' Steven Jackson became the 15th player to rush for 10,000 yards. Teammate Sam Bradford has been sacked in 30 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. ... Randall Cobb had 150 all-purpose yards, leaving him 10 shy of Ahman Green's single-season Packers record (2,250 in 2003). ... The Giants' Eli Manning finished 13 of 25 for 161 yards, leaving him with a dismal 38.9 rating - his worst since a Dec. 23, 2007, win at Buffalo. ... The Giants, Bucs and Chiefs were each shut out on Sunday. The previous time there were three shutouts on the same day in the NFL was Dec. 28, 2008, according to STATS. The last time the Raiders recorded a shutout came in the 2002 regular season finale when they beat Kansas City 24-0. That was also the only other time they shut out the Chiefs in the long rivalry. The Saints had their first shutout since a 12-0 win in the 1995 season finale against the Jets in New York. ... Denver quarterback Peyton Manning had 204 yards passing and a touchdown in the Broncos' 34-17 win at Baltimore. Manning, who has 4,016 yards passing this season, extended his NFL record by getting his 12th career 4,000-yard season. Manning, in his first season with Denver, is the fifth player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards with two different teams. He joins Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre, Hall of Famer Warren Moon and Kurt Warner. The Chargers clinched their first losing season since 2003.

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STREAKS

New England, which had won seven in a row, trailed 31-3 at one point and lost for the first time at home in December in 21 games, falling 41-34 on Sunday night. The Patriots also had won 21 in a row in the second half of the schedule before San Francisco somehow regrouped late in a game it seemingly had clinched long before. ... The Broncos have won nine in a row. ... The Redskins have won five in a row. ... The Cowboys have won five of six. ... The Lions have lost six in a row. ... The Bears have lost five of six, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy. ... San Diego lost for the eighth time in 10 games, and dropped its third straight home game. Carolina won consecutive games for the first time since last December. ... The Bills were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for a 13th season - the NFL's longest active drought. ... The Chiefs have lost 10 of 11 games and are tied for the second most losses in franchise history behind a 2-14 mark in 2008.

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SIDELINED

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews broke his left collarbone in the second quarter of San Diego's 31-7 loss to Carolina. The injury-prone Mathews broke his right collarbone in the exhibition opener and missed the first two weeks of the regular season. ... Redskins right tackle Tyler Polumbus suffered a concussion, but coach Mike Shanahan had no updates on linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder) or offensive lineman Will Montgomery (knee). ... Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith left the Ravens' 34-17 loss to Denver with a concussion after hitting his head while attempting to make a leaping catch near the sideline in the third quarter. Ravens backup running back Bernard Pierce also left with a concussion. ... Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison sprained the AC joint in a shoulder during the first quarter of the Vikings' 36-22 win at St. Louis.

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SPEAKING

``We're a 9-5 football team and we feel like we're 0-14 right now.'' - Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco after Baltimore dropped its third straight in a 34-17 loss to Denver.

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``As a player, I am embarrassed for our city.'' - Ravens safety Ed Reed after Sunday's loss.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

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AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

Here’s a key AFC North question. Will Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell stay healthy?

Bell is without question one of the league’s most talented backs. However, knee injuries have ended his season the past two years, leaving the Steelers without him when they were eliminated from the playoffs.

De’Angelo Williams did a superb job in place of Bell last season, rushing for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns. But Bell is a better pass receiver and more elusive – capable of turning almost any play in to a big play. In 2014, Bell had over 2,000 yards combined from scrimmage – 1,316 yards rushing and 854 yards receiving.

Bell doesn’t want to be labeled as injury-prone, yet some people already view him that way. But at Steelers OTA’s, Bell showed up looking healthy, while vowing not to run cautiously next season.

“I’m going to be physical,” Bell told ESPN.com. “I’m out here with no knee brace or anything, didn’t wear a sleeve or anything. I’ve been training my knee for everything I’m about to go through, so when September gets here I’ll be even better than I am now. That’s even crazy to think about. But I’m excited.”

When Bell has been healthy, putting up numbers has not been a problem. The more Bell plays next season, the better the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs.

Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

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Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

If the NFL had an All-Academic team, Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel would be on it.

In February, Urschel began the Ph.D program in mathematics at MIT. How’s he doing so far? Here’s a hint. When it comes to grades, Urschel is only familiar with one letter in the alphabet.

“My first semester in school in nearly three years,” Urschel wroter on Twitter. “Four PhD classes at MIT. Four A’s. The streak continues!!!”

Entering his third season with the Ravens, Urschel has found a way to juggle his love for football with his love for mathematics. He posted an interesting article on The Players Tribune this week in which he described training with the football team at MIT this spring.

“I probably had about 50 or 60 pounds on the biggest guy on MIT’s O-line,” Urschel wrote. “But when we ran, they put me to shame. They could outsprint me.

“What I found is that the team at MIT is no joke. It is a football team – in some ways, more of a football team than any I’d ever seen. These guys love football. They are playing the game because they want to. No one is making them come to practice, no one is checking up on them. They know as well as anyone about head injuries; they know that football is dangerous; they know the feeling of exhaustion and pain. They still play. They don’t do it for money, and they don’t do it for status.

“We talk about dedication and passion in the pros, but the truth is, sometimes the game feels like a job. You start to think of the paycheck. You feel the grind. But training with the team at MIT, I started thinking about what had drawn me to football as a kid. It felt like a game again. I had thought I might have something to teach the team. I never imagined they’d have so much to teach me.”

That guy in the Dos Equis beer commercials might be the most interesting man in the world. But Urschel has built a strong resume as the most interesting player on the Ravens.

RELATED: NFL ANNOUNCES LOCATIONS FOR 2019, 2020 AND 2021 SUPER BOWLS

NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

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NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

The NFL has decided on the locations of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls. The vote took place at the NFL owners meetings in Charlotte on Tuesday. 

Atlanta will host Super Bowl LIII in 2019, while South Florida (Miami) will get the event in 2020 and Los Angeles will host in 2021. 

The cities chosen each included new or upgraded stadiums in their pitches to the league. 

Atlanta will be home to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opening in 2017. 

Miami's stadium (Sun Life Stadium from 2010-2016) is undergoing a $400 million renovation that will include an open-air canopy to provide shade for 92 percent of seats, according to Sports Illustrated. Construction should be complete before the 2017 season. 

And Los Angeles will boast a new 300-acre, campus-style stadium housing the Rams and potentially a second team. The $2.6 billion project will be the most expensive sports arena in the world, reports CNN, and should be ready before the 2019 NFL season.