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Tebowmania has been extended a week

Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Tim Tebow pulled the trigger.

On the first and only play from scrimmage in the shortest overtime in NFL history, Tebow saw Demaryius Thomas streaking over the middle and hit him in stride for a stunning 80-yard touchdown and 29-23 overtime victory.

Cornerback Ike Taylor had Thomas one-on-one on the play and allowed Thomas to take the middle of the field. Tebow hit him perfectly in stride.  Thomas showed off his strength with a stiff arm and his speed to take it the distance.

It was a perfect play call by the Broncos. As pointed out by Chris Brown here, they motioned a wide receiver to block before the snap. That is a heavy run tendency for the Broncos, so the Steelers rotated a safety down into the box to stop the run like they did most of the game. Nine Steelers were in the box.

That left Thomas against Taylor. Thomas won, like he did most of the game. The second-year player finished with 204 yards on only four catches. Tebow threw for 316 yards on only 10 completions.

Taylor looked a little old on that play, like the Steelers defense did for much of the day. Defensive linemen Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton couldn’t finish the game. LaMarr Woodley was limited and effective.

This was a night for youth. A night for Tebow to show that he could hit vertical throws into small windows; for Denver’s defense to come up with the big sack of Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers threatening to win in regulation; for Thomas to show that he’s one of the league’s most promising young receivers.

Tebow Time has been extended a week. Now he and Thomas get to face the man that drafted them next week in New England, with a trip to the AFC Conference Championship on the line.

If someone was writing this stuff into a Tim Tebow movie, they would have been fired by now because it all sounds too unbelievable.

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Mike Zimmer calls out “soft” offensive line after “embarrassing” loss

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings walks out of the tunnel before taking on of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Notoriously blunt Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer had little to be blunt about through five straight wins to start the season. After Sunday’s 21-10 loss at Philly, Zimmer had plenty to be blunt about.

The primary target of Zimmer’s candor was the offensive line, which was repeatedly overrun by the Eagles’ defense.

“We didn’t block anybody,” Zimmer told reporters after the game, via Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We were soft. We got overpowered.”

It could have been worse, but for the performance of the team’s defense.

“It was embarrassing in at least two of the phases, and I’m very disappointed in the performance that we gave today,” Zimmer said. “We turned the ball over offensively, we didn’t block people, we dropped balls, we got the quarterback hit, we [need] two inches and we can’t convert on third down or fourth down, we got three shots in the red zone in the first half, we throw an interception, we gave up a 98-yard kickoff return, we fumbled a punt. If you’re going to do those things, you have no chance to win.”

As to the offensive line, a lack of cap space prevents the Vikings from making further upgrades.

“We’re not going to go down the street and pick up a bunch of guys,” Zimmer said. “We need to get these guys better and we need to do it quickly.”

The Vikings next play in eight days, at Chicago on Halloween night. The good news is that, at 5-1, the Vikings are tied with the Cowboys for the best record in the conference. The bad news is that the most recent game was the team’s worst loss in a long time.

And if the Eagles provided the blueprint for shutting down the Minnesota offense, it could be a long season over the Vikings over its final 10 weeks.

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Patriots up 14-10 at the half

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  James White #28 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a 18 yard touchdown in the first quarter during the game Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers are missing several key players with injuries this Sunday and it looked for a while like they might not be able to keep pace with the Patriots.

After fumbling the ball away on their first offensive play of the game, the Patriots went on back-to-back touchdown drives to take a 14-0 lead with 11 minutes to play in the second quarter. The Steelers had punted twice and turned the ball over on a Landry Jones interception in the end zone at that point, but the rest of the quarter was more to Pittsburgh’s liking.

Jones hit Antonio Brown for 51 yards to set up a 14-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey that got the Steelers on the board in the second quarter. Jones then led two more good drives over the rest of the half, but Chris Boswell could only make one of his two field goal attempts and that leaves the score 14-10 in the Patriots’ favor after the first half.

Jones was 14-of-20 for 179 yards and Le’Veon Bell has 83 yards from scrimmage as the Steelers have found their footing both on the ground and through the air as the game has unfolded. Tom Brady was 13-of-18 for 128 yards and a score and had a third-down conversion pass dropped by running back James White after the Steelers’ touchdown. He’s also run three times for 11 yards, although LeGarrette Blount’s 53 yards on the ground figure to keep him as the focal point of that part of the attack.

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Falcons build lead with monster second quarter

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) is tackled by San Diego Chargers cornerback Steve Williams (41) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) AP

The Falcons needed a quarter or so to get going Sunday, but they dominated the Chargers in the second quarter.

It’s been the track meet most expected it would be, and the Falcons hold a 27-17 halftime lead.

The Falcons trailed, 10-6, early in the second quarter but Matt Ryan threw a touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme, Tevin Coleman had a 30-yard touchdown run and Adrian Clayborn had a fumble recovery for a touchdown after a Vic Beasley sack of Philip Rivers.

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has two touchdown runs. Rivers had 205 yards passing in the first half, and Tyrell Williams has four catches for 113 yards.

Julio Jones has five catches for 107 yards. Ryan is 11-of-15 for 155 yards.

The Falcons have 10 points off turnovers. In addition to Clayborn’s touchdown, a Deion Jones interception in the first quarter set up a field goal.

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Aaron Williams left stadium in ambulance after head/neck injury

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23: Aaron Williams #23 of the Buffalo Bills is escorted off the field during a game against the Miami Dolphins on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills safety Aaron Williams left Sunday’s game against the Dolphins in the first half after he was injured on a block by Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

Landry was penalized for unnecessary roughness after he left his feet and drilled Williams in the head on a play that left Williams down on the ground for several minutes. Some of his teammates appeared to be upset with Landry while trainers attended to Williams, although nothing flared up between the teams.

Williams was quickly ruled out with a head/neck injury and center Eric Wood said after the game that Williams was taken from Hard Rock Stadium in an ambulance. Mike Rodak of reports that members of the Bills staff are packing up Williams’ things as the team prepares to leave Miami.

Williams suffered a serious neck injury last season and there was some doubt about whether he would be able to play again. That makes any other injury to that area scary, although there’s no word on Williams’ condition at this point.

Landry spoke to Williams on the field after the hit and said after the game, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, that he apologized to Williams for a hit he wishes he could take back.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick: Coaches, front office stopped believing in me

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks on from the sidelines in the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets coach Todd Bowles isn’t answering questions about who will start at quarterback for the Jets in Week Eight, but Ryan Fitzpatrick was willing to offer his two cents after replacing an injured Geno Smith in Sunday’s 24-16 win over the Ravens.

Fitzpatrick was 9-of-14 for 120 yards and a touchdown after entering the game in the second quarter and he avoided the interceptions that were a major issue while he was guiding the team to a 1-5 record in the first six weeks of the year. Fitzpatrick picked himself as the right choice to face the Browns next weekend.

“I think I should start every week,” Fitzpatrick said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

Fitzpatrick said he felt he played better this week because he was “an underdog pissed off” and said that he felt the decision to bench him this week showed that the team’s coaches, ownership and front office stopped believing in him.

“When the owner stops believing in you and the G.M. stops believing in you and coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be an NFL quarterback without confidence in himself or his abilities, but the team’s decision to go another direction this week hardly came out of left field. Fitzpatrick had played well in one of the first six games before the team turned to Smith, which provided plenty of reason for the team to wonder if he was the right man for the job.

His relief performance may have changed their minds, although any decision about what to do next week may be made easier for the team based on what turns up during tests on Smith’s knee.

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Rivers, Chargers having early success

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 24:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers drops back to pass against Oakland Raiders in the first quarter of their NFL football game at Coliseum on December 24, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers have moved the ball early in Sunday’s game at Atlanta, and they may come to regret not having more points to show for it.

Philip Rivers is 8-of-11 passing for 130 yards, and Melvin Gordon has a touchdown run. But a Rivers pass was tipped and intercepted late in the first quarter, and the Chargers stalled deep in Falcons’ territory on their next possession.

A 40-yard field goal by Chargers kicker Josh Lambo made it 10-6 early in the second quarter. The Falcons answered with a touchdown drive capped by a Matt Ryan pass to Jacob Tamme to make it 13-10.

Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams has three catches for 75 yards.

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Patriots, Steelers trade turnovers early

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback  Landry Jones #3 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots turned the ball over on their first offensive play of Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers weren’t able to turn Chris Hogan’s fumble into points.

Landry Jones hooked up with Antonio Brown to move the Steelers into the red zone, but a second try for Brown in the end zone on third down was thwarted by cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler picked off the pass, giving the Patriots the ball on their own 20-yard-line.

Hogan fumbled on a hit by Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones, who also recovered the ball, after a 10-yard gain on a pass from Tom Brady. Replays made it look like Hogan’s knee may have been down, but the call on the field was upheld after the customary review of a turnover.

Landry Jones is 3-of-4 overall, but that one miss could be a big one as the Patriots gave Pittsburgh a big opportunity at an early lead. The Steelers may also have to go without wide receiver Sammie Coates, whose return is called questionable after he aggravated his hand injury. Markus Wheaton is inactive for the Steelers due to a shoulder injury.

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Raiders win fourth straight on the road, beat Jaguars 33-16

Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) celebrates with quarterback Derek Carr (4) after Murray's two-yard touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack) AP

The Raiders are trying to make their way to Las Vegas for the long-term. But in the short-term, you’ll have to pardon them if they don’t want to go to Oakland anyway.

The Raiders cruised to an easy 33-16 win over the Jaguars Sunday, improving them to 5-2 on the season.

The win was the fourth straight on the road for the Raiders this season, which is great news considering they stay in Florida to play the Buccaneers next week. They’re camping out in Sarasota this week rather than going back west, and they’re doing so with an easy win in their pocket.

Latavius Murray ran for two touchdowns and their defense forced three turnovers, more than enough on a day when the Jaguars kind of rolled over.

The Jaguars had a number of problems, but lost defensive tackle Roy Miller to an Achilles injury, and he did not return.

That left them short in the middle, when defensive tackle Malik Jackson was ejected in the fourth quarter after his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was also ejected (along with Raiders wideout Johnny Holton) after a late-game fight borne out of frustration.

And on a day when their offense couldn’t do a thing, those losses were more metaphorical than a reason the Jaguars lost to fall to 2-4.

Blake Bortles was 23-of-43 for 246 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions. And aside for a 42-yard gallop by Chris Ivory, the Jaguars only added 63 yards on their other 15 rushing attempts.

The game also featured a season-high 239 penalty yards, as referee Jeff Triplette got more screen time than either presidential candidate.

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Goodell cites “public misunderstanding” of domestic violence cases

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on stage during an NFL Fan Rally at the NFL House in Victoria House, in London, Saturday Oct. 22, 2016. Los Angeles Rams are due to play the New York Giants at Twickenham stadium in London on Sunday in a regular season NFL game. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) AP

What was lack of transparency in August has become an exercise in damage control in October, with a league office that wasn’t saying anything before Giants kicker Josh Brown received a one-game suspension saying plenty, now that public and media reaction has been loud and negative in the wake of the disclosure of information that the league could have/should have had before it disciplined Brown the first time.

Commissioner Roger Goodell recently attributed the bad optics not to bad decisions by the league or bad work by its investigators but, essentially, to bad brains on the part of those reacting to the circumstances.

“I understand the public’s misunderstanding of those things and how that can be difficult for them to understand how we get to those positions,” Goodell told BBC as part of the pre-Giants-Rams media push, via “But those are things that we have to do. I think it’s a lot deeper and a lot more complicated than it appears but it gets a lot of focus.”

Currently getting plenty of focus is the treatment of Brown, whose case has now been re-opened given the emergence of evidence that the league previously didn’t have.

“Well you have to go and get the facts,” Goodell said. “We have asked repeatedly for those facts and the information that’s been gathered by law enforcement both orally and in writing. And we weren’t able to get access to it. So you have to make decisions on whatever information you have. We take this issue incredibly seriously. This is something we’ve been working on with policy changes, to educating our players to make sure they understand how they deal with issues with their family, give them resources to be able to deal with this.

“But when it happens we’re not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we’ll evaluate that in the context of our policy and we’ll take it from there.”

The problem for the league is that it believed something happened to justify a one-game suspension of Brown, but made no meaningful effort (or really any effort at the time) to explain why the NFL had deviated from its supposed baseline of six games for one incident of domestic violence. Which makes phrases like “when it happens we’re not going to tolerate it” sound hollow and meaningless.

Important questions remain regarding how the Brown case got to this point, and we’ll have some specific answers on Sunday night’s edition of Football Night in America on NBC.

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Geno Smith doesn’t think knee injury is “significant”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets looks on from the sidelines after their 24-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets quarterback Geno Smith left his first start since Week 17 of the 2014 season in the second quarter after being sacked by Ravens linebacker Matt Judon and did not return to action due to a knee injury.

Smith did return to the sideline during the second half while wearing street clothes and watched as Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense took advantage of two Joe Flacco interceptions to come back for a 24-16 victory. Smith said after the game that he expects to get an MRI, but doesn’t expect anything too bad from the results.

“I don’t think it will be anything too significant,” Smith said, via Rich Cimini of

Coach Todd Bowles wouldn’t answer a question about who would start if Smith is healthy enough to play, saying it’s “too early” to make such a determination.

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This time, Colts survive a wild fourth quarter

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 37-yard pass reception against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) AP

The Colts lost another fourth quarter lead Sunday. This time, though, they got it back.

Andrew Luck led a long touchdown drive to give the Colts the lead in the last two minutes, then Marcus Mariota was strip-sacked on first down and Robert Mathis returned the ball for a Colts touchdown to put the game out of reach.

The final score was 34-26. The Colts led, 20-13, at the start of the fourth quarter.

Luck played his best game of the season, throwing for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Jack Doyle caught the go-ahead touchdown with 1:55 left to make it 27-23.

T.Y. Hilton led all receivers with seven catches for 133 yards.

The Colts had blown a fourth-quarter lead last Sunday in Houston, but with this win they’re back to 3-4. The Titans lose a golden opportunity and slip to 3-4.

An unnecessary roughness penalty on Colts linebacker Josh McNary in the third quarter cost the Colts an interception and briefly forced Titans tight end Delanie Walker out of the game. Walker returned to catch a touchdown pass to tie it early in the fourth quarter.

DeMarco Murray ran for 107 yards for the Titans, but the Titans went flat after scoring easily on the game’s first drive. The Colts led 17-6 in the second quarter before a Murray touchdown run made it 17-13 at halftime.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was 22-of-37 for 232 yards.

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Dolphins rally in second half, knock off Bills 28-25

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) runs ahead of Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (57), during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) AP

The Dolphins were down 11 points in the third quarter of a game that saw them getting the better of the Bills everywhere outside of the scoreboard, which would have made for another painful loss had things remained that way for the rest of the afternoon.

Things went the other way, though, and the Dolphins closed with a convincing win over their AFC East rivals. The Dolphins scored three touchdowns and their defense shut down the Bills for most of the final 20 minutes to emerge with a 28-25 victory.

Reggie Bush scored a touchdown with 14 seconds left to play to cut the Dolphins lead down from 11 points, but the Dolphins recovered the onside kick to ice their third win of the year.

Jay Ajayi did a lot of the heavy lifting on offense for the Dolphins as he ran for 214 yards and a touchdown while becoming the fourth player in NFL history to run for 200 yards in back-to-back games. Ajayi set up the go-ahead touchdown with a 14-yard run before leaving the game briefly, but came back before the day was out and appeared to be fine.

Ryan Tannehill put the finishing touches on the win by hitting wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 66-yard touchdown with a little more than two minutes left to play in the game. Tannehill was 15-of-25 for 198 yards overall and converted several key third downs through the air over the course of the afternoon.

Tyrod Taylor couldn’t do the same for the Bills. He hit Marquise Goodwin for a 67-yard touchdown in the third quarter and converted short fields into 10 first-half points, but the Bills couldn’t consistently move the ball. LeSean McCoy left after his hamstring flared up and the Bills ended the afternoon with 67 rushing yards and just 267 yards overall with 75 of those yards coming once the Bills were already down 11 in the fourth quarter.

The Bills had been hot on the ground heading into Miami, but the Dolphins defense was in fine form Sunday. Ndamukong Suh had a sack and three quarterback hits, Mario Williams was active in both phases against his former team and Cameron Wake added 1.5 more sacks of Taylor

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Bengals roll up 559 yards, keep Browns winless

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) celebrates with teammates after catching a touchdown in the end zone in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores) AP

The Bengals and Browns played a wild one Sunday in Cincinnati.

The Bengals ended up having too much firepower and pulled away in the second half for a 31-17 win. A 48-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the first half to A.J. Green certainly helped, but the Bengals moved the ball pretty much at will throughout the game.

Andy Dalton had 308 yards passing and two touchdowns. Green had eight catches for 169 yards, and Jeremy Hill ran for 168 yards on just nine carries.

At one point in the third quarter, the Bengals were averaging 12.5 yards per carry. The Bengals finished the game averaging 9.0 yards per carry and rolled up 559 yards of offense. Their 559 yards and 31 points were a season high.

The Browns had to make another quarterback change after Cody Kessler suffered a concussion in the second quarter. Rookie Kevin Hogan became the sixth player to take snaps at quarterback for the Browns this season.

Hogan ran for 104 yards and a 28-yard touchdown, the longest by a quarterback in Browns history. But that run early in the third quarter was the last score for the Browns; Hill went 74 yards for a touchdown two plays later.

Hogan was 12-of-24 passing for 100 yards. He threw two interceptions and was sacked twice.

The Bengals moved to 3-4 and play the Redskins in London next week. The Browns fall to 0-7.

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Chiefs hang on for 27-21 win over Saints

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas (13) is brought down by New Orleans Saints defensive back Ken Crawley (46) with wide receiver Albert Wilson, top left, watching during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley) AP

By Saints standards, it was a pretty good defensive day.

But this week, they were playing a team that could play a little defense of their own.

The Chiefs held on for a 27-21 win over the Saints to improve to 4-2, and they had to work to do it.

The Saints (2-4) entered the game allowing a league-high (and record pace) 33.6 points per game. They stiffened a bit, but still made mistakes at inopportune times. A Nick Fairley unnecessary roughness penalty just before the two-minute warning gave the Chiefs an extra few downs to waste time.

Kansas City was able to do it while not getting much from running back Jamaal Charles, who had just one carry as they ease him back from last year’s knee injury.

Alex Smith threw for two touchdowns, and an interception return for a touchdown by safety Daniel Sorensen gave them the cushion they needed.

Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and had a chance with 28 seconds and no timeouts left, but ran out of time when Michael Thomas went down in bounds, eliminating a chance at a Hail Mary.

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Jets snap losing streak with 24-16 win over Ravens

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Matt Forte #22 of the New York Jets celebrates his third quarter touchdown with teammate Brandon Shell #72 against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets have dug themselves a big hole to start this season, but they took one step in the right direction on Sunday afternoon against the Ravens.

The Jets defense shut out the Ravens in the second half and forced a pair of Joe Flacco interceptions that turned into 10 points that turned a 16-14 Ravens lead into a 24-16 Jets victory. The Ravens lost six yards trying to run the ball in the second half of the game and Flacco threw for just 32 yards over the final 30 minutes as Baltimore lost in New Jersey for the second straight week.

It was also their fourth straight loss overall, which was the same position the Jets were in when Sunday’s game got underway. Geno Smith started the game and hit Quincy Enunwa for a 69-yard touchdown before hurting his knee and handing the offense back over the Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick led a touchdown drive in the second quarter and used short fields to get those 10 points in the second half.

Any discussion of who will start for the Jets against the Browns next weekend will likely wait for word on Smith’s condition. Fitzpatrick went 9-of-14 for 120 yards and didn’t turn the ball over, although the Jets clearly opted for a conservative approach by running Matt Forte 29 times over the course of the afternoon. Forte ran for 98 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a reception during a strong day overall for a player who’d been losing time to Bilal Powell in recent weeks.

The Ravens will have a bye next week and it’s a good time for it as the team is racked by injuries on both sides of the ball. Cornerback Tavon Young and safety Lardarius Webb were added to the list during Sunday’s game and we’ll see if there’s been any recurrence of Flacco’s shoulder problem after another rough day at MetLife Stadium.

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