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Golden Tate: “I know I had the ball”

Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Although the vast majority of fans and members of the media agree that the officials botched the Seahawks’ game-winning Hail Mary touchdown on the final play of Monday night’s controversial 14-12 win over the Packers, the man who was awarded the touchdown insists that he did, in fact, catch the ball.

Seahawks receiver Golden Tate said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he caught the pass in the end zone at the same time as Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings, and the officials ruled the play correctly by giving simultaneous possession to the offense.

“Yes, I did,” Tate said. “I know I had the ball in my hands the entire — from the moment that it was catchable. I had my hands on the ball, just fought for it and tried to come down with it.”

Tate said he was as confused as anyone when the two officials on top of the play initially signaled two different things — one official signaled touchdown, while the other signaled timeout without clarifying who caught the ball.

“I didn’t know what they called, I just know that I had the ball in my hands and at the bottom of the pile I was just fighting to maintain that,” Tate said.

While Tate is celebrating, Green Bay players are furious. Packers receiver Greg Jennings said after the game that he’d like Tate to take a lie detector test. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers pronounced the ending “awful.” And several Packers have taken to Twitter for a series of profane messages about the NFL and the replacement officials.

Tate may “know” he had the ball. And the officials may think he had it. Almost everyone else thinks the Packers got screwed.

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Chargers rally from 17-point deficit for overtime win

San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Denzel Perryman (52) picks off Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman) AP

The Chargers don’t play boring games.

They rallied from a 17-point deficit Sunday to top the Falcons in overtime, 33-30, on a 42-yard field goal by Josh Lambo. The Chargers trailed 27-10 in the second quarter and twice trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter.

Philip Rivers threw for 371 yards and Melvin Gordon scored three touchdowns, but the Chargers also needed timely defensive plays. A Denzel Perryman interception in the fourth quarter set up the drive to tie it.

The Falcons went for it on fourth and one on their first overtime possession and got stopped. Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missed a 58-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.

With two rushing and one by passing, Gordon is up to 10 touchdowns on the season. He didn’t score a touchdown last year as a rookie.

The Falcons scored three touchdowns in the second quarter but scored just three points the rest of the way.

The Chargers keep playing close games and have now won two in a row for the first time for improve to 3-4. The Falcons are 4-3 after losing their second straight.

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught nine passes for 174 yards but the Chargers limited Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to 273 yards and one touchdown pass and also sacked him three times.

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Aaron Williams rejoins Bills for flight back to Buffalo

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Aaron Williams #23 of the Buffalo Bills leaves the field injured in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

A scary situation regarding Bills defensive back Aaron Williams has ended with good news.

After being taken to a Miami-area hospital by ambulance after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, Williams has been released and will return to Buffalo with his teammates. According to the Bills, Williams had a precautionary MRI.

Dubbed as dealing with a head/neck injury, a source with knowledge of the situation told PFT that there was no concern regarding a head injury.

Williams absorbed a big hit from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry during Sunday’s game. Landry expressed regret regarding the outcome.

“Just playing football, man, just playing football,” Landry said, via the Palm Beach Post. “If I could take that hit back, I would. The guy has a family to feed and this is his livelihood. You never want to see that with anybody. You never want to see that happen to anybody. But it’s football. Injuries like that are not something that sit well.”

Landry was penalized for the block. Whether he’s fined is something that will be determined by the league office this week.

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No Kam Chancellor or John Brown on Sunday night

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown against strong safety Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals and Seahawks will be in action on Sunday night and the release of their inactive lists shows that there wasn’t any late good news for either John Brown or Kam Chancellor.

Brown is inactive for the Cardinals as a result of the leg issues that he’s been dealing with this week. The wide receiver learned that they are the result of a sickle cell trait and coach Bruce Arians said during the week that Brown and doctors were working to come up with a solution to the problem.

The Seahawks ruled out Chancellor for the second straight week. The safety has a groin injury and Kelcie McCray is expected to start in his place.

Running back C.J. Spiller, running back Thomas Rawls, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, guard Rees Odhiambo, tight end Luke Willson and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson are also inactive for the Seahawks. The Cardinals will be without cornerback Brandon Williams, linebacker Gabe Martin, guard Cole Toner, defensive tackle Olsen Pierre, defensive tackle Ed Stinson and defensive tackle Xavier Williams.

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Patriots ride LeGarrette Blount, beat Steelers 27-16

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  LeGarrette Blount #29 of the New England Patriots reacts after rushing for a 3 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers made seven trips into Patriots territory over the course of Sunday’s game against the Patriots, including a pair of drives that started there after Patriots turnovers.

The Steelers didn’t get any points on either of those drives, however, and they only scored one touchdown over the course of the game. The Patriots got over midfield four times during the game and they scored touchdowns on all four of those possessions, which makes for a tidy way of explaining why they’re headed home from Pittsburgh with a 27-16 victory.

They got those touchdowns by riding LeGarrette Blount to the tune of 24 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Blount, who was cut by the Steelers before returning to the Patriots in 2014, kept the chains and the clock moving all afternoon and the Steelers run defense has now been gashed in two straight losses. The Patriots generally kept things on the short side when they did put the ball in the air, although Tom Brady used play action to hit a couple of big gains to tight end Rob Gronkowski.

One of those was a 36-yard touchdown that gave Gronkowski 68 touchdowns on his career. That ties former wide receiver Stanley Morgan for the most in Patriots history.

Landry Jones threw an interception in the end zone on the first of those failed forays into Patriots territory and the inability to get in the end zone will burn, but he didn’t play badly as a replacement for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Jones finished the day 29-of-47 for 281 yards and may have had more luck if Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates didn’t miss chunks of the game as the latest additions to the lengthy injury list in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers go into a bye week now and they’ll hope to have Roethlisberger back in the lineup when they return to work. The Patriots will head to Buffalo to try for a 7-1 record and a little bit of payback for their 16-0 home loss to the Bills earlier this season.

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Trade winds blow regarding Joe Thomas . . . again

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns cools off during the 4th quarter against the Miami Dolphins on September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Getty Images

A year after the Browns nearly traded tackle Joe Thomas to the Broncos (unless they didn’t), the question of whether the long-time fixture on the team’s offensive line will be shipped to a contender will once again land in the middle of the league’s radar screen.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a trade is possible this year. However, real obstacles exist to getting a deal done.

The Vikings, for example, would be very interested in Thomas. However, with a first-round pick and more already shipped to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford and little cap space remaining, it’s a long shot that he’d go to Minnesota. The Cardinals, Giants, and Seahawks have varying degrees of interest in Thomas as well; the challenge would be coming up with what the Browns want (the source says it’s a second-round pick) and the cap space.

If a deal happens, it likely would come at the deadline, after the Browns pay Thomas another $488,000 for Week Eight. And if the Browns opt for a take-what-they-can-get fire sale for Thomas, the Patriots would be interested in providing the landing spot.

Ultimately, the Browns could simply decide to keep Thomas for the rest of the year and then trade Thomas after the season ends and before the draft.

The chances of a trade happening this year currently are regarded as smaller than the chances of a trade were a year ago. With the Browns skewing younger and determined to stockpile draft picks, an eventual trade of Thomas would hardly be regarded as surprising.

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Buccaneers get to .500 with easy win over 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with teammates after catching a touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

This season has been rocky at times for the Buccaneers, but a trip to San Francisco can make any team look good.

The Bucs took on the 49ers today and beat them easily, earning a 34-17 win that improved the Bucs to 3-3 on the season.

It was a particularly big game for Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who carried 26 times for 154 yards. Backup running back Peyton Barber added seven carries for 67 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed the win. Jameis Winston was solid as well, completing 21 of 30 passes for 269 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.

The Bucs were aided, of course, by a lousy 49ers defense that sometimes looked like it was playing two-hand touch. The 49ers’ offense wasn’t much better, with Colin Kaepernick making some big plays with his feet but failing to do much of anything with his arm.

At 3-3, the Bucs can still harbor realistic hopes that they could compete for an NFC playoff spot. Tampa might be a year away from real playoff contention, but the Bucs will be playing meaningful games down the stretch.

The 49ers, on the other hand, are 1-6 and may be the worst team in football. San Francisco is a mess.

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League, union dispute whether NFLPA pressed for Josh Brown ruling

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Kicker Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants kicks the game-winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Giants won 16-13.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

One lingering question regarding the NFL’s badly unforced error in the Josh Brown case arises from the league’s decision to impose discipline on the Giants kicker before the authorities in King County, Washington concluded their investigation.

Making that question more legitimate is the fact that Brown was arrested in May 2015, and that Brown’s one-game suspension was finalized more than 14 months later. With the media nor the public aware of the arrest, no one was clamoring for a resolution of a coldish case that could have grown a little colder, with no one objecting.

Well, not no one, according to the NFL. Per a source with knowledge of the league’s position on the matter, the league contends that it was receiving pressure from the NFL Players Association to finalize Brown’s case.

The NFLPA strongly disagrees with that characterization, according to a source with knowledge of the union’s approach to the case. Moreover, the NFLPA scoffs at the suggestion that pressure would have even mattered, given that the league has full control over the application of the Personal Conduct Policy, with unfettered ability to take as much time as the league believes it needs to take to reach a reliable, responsible, and complete decision.

In this case, the league waited 14 months to finalize the case. It could have waited another two months to obtain the final police report. It chose not to, opting for a half measure that has created a perception of gross incompetence at best and a bungled cover up at worst.

A true cover up would be incomprehensible in this case, given that it involved a kicker. But the perception exists, and the league’s efforts to control the damage have done little to alter that sense.

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Antonio Brown in and out of game as Steelers try to rally back

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is pursued by Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots after making a catch in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers offense opened the day without Markus Wheaton and they lost Sammie Coates on one of the first plays, but Antonio Brown was still around so they were OK at wide receiver.

It looks like they might have lost him for at least the rest of Sunday as well, however. Brown went to the locker room in the final minute of the third quarter after getting his leg checked out by members of the training staff on the sideline, but returned on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Steelers couldn’t convert a third down before kicking a field goal and Brown has not returned to the game since that point. The field goal pulled the Steelers to within 20-16 of the Patriots, but a 37-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski set up a LeGarrette Blount touchdown run and New England extended the lead to 27-16.

The Steelers went three and out quickly, but got the ball back when Julian Edelman fumbled on a punt return. Chris Boswell wound up missing a 54-yard field goal, however. It was Boswell’s second miss of the game and the sixth time in seven trips into New England territory that they’ve come away without a touchdown.

UPDATE 7:11 p.m. ET: Brown returned to the game with a little more than six minutes to play. He has a noticeable limp as he moves around the field, but did add his seventh catch of the game before a Steelers punt.

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Chargers keeping it close

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 22:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at the Georgia Dome on November 22, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers are hanging around.

They’ve cut their deficit to a field goal, at 30-27, with 5:59 left. Melvin Gordon’s third touchdown of the game — two by run, the latest by pass from Philip Rivers — cut the lead to three.

The Falcons scored three touchdowns in the second quarter but have just three points in the second half.

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman had a quiet first half but accounted for 66 total yards on the Falcons’ field goal drive early in the fourth quarter. He’s approaching 100 total yards for the game.

Gordon is up to 10 touchdowns on the season. He didn’t score a touchdown last year as a rookie.

Both teams’ young pass rushers have been productive. Vic Beasley of the Falcons and Joey Bosa of the Chargers each have two sacks.

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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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