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Saints bungle the clock at the end of the first half

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

An entertaining first half in Atlanta ended with the Saints wishing they could buy another timeout.

After the Falcons jumped out to an early 17-0 lead, the Saints’ offense began to turn things around. Drew Brees engineered an outstanding 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Mark Ingram scoring on a one-yard touchdown run, and the Saints cut the deficit to 17-7. Then New Orleans got the ball again late in the second quarter, and began marching down the field again, and had second-and-goal at the 5-yard line with a few seconds left in the half.

Unfortunately, Brees threw to Darren Sproles in the middle of the field, and Sproles was tackled inbounds, and the Saints were out of timeouts, and they couldn’t stop the clock. The half ended with the Saints desperately trying to line up to spike the ball to stop the clock. New Orleans easily could have cut the deficit to 17-14 or at least 17-10 before halftime, but instead it’s 17-7.

Part of the reason the Saints’ offense is moving so well is that the Falcons have lost cornerback Asante Samuel, who appeared to aggravate the same shoulder injury that had him listed as questionable for tonight’s game. Without Samuel, the Saints’ offense should continue to move the ball well in the second half. But if this game comes down to the final seconds, the Saints would be wise to save a timeout.

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Bengals run through, past Chiefs

Jeremy Hill AP

The Chiefs managed seven field goals Sunday afternoon.

They didn’t much manage to slow down the Bengals.

Twice in six days the Chiefs have played unbeaten teams and haven’t been good enough to keep up. Andy Dalton was sharp again Sunday for the Bengals and Jeremy Hill ran for three touchdowns in a 36-21 Bengals win.

Yep. The Chiefs managed only those seven Cairo Santos field goals.

Hill had just 40 yards on nine carries but he scored the game’s first touchdown, its last and one in between. Giovani Bernard again led the Bengals with 62 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown of his own.

Dalton was 17-of-24 for 321 yards and a touchdown to Brandon Tate. He completed passes to six different receivers and wasn’t sacked.

The Bengals sacked Alex Smith five times. Smith threw for 386 yards but the Chiefs couldn’t find the end zone. They were 0-for-3 in the red zone.

At 4-0, the Bengals lead the AFC North by two games and it must feel like more given the injuries the Steelers and Ravens are battling. The Bengals host the Seahawks next week.

The Chiefs lost their third straight to slip to 1-3. They host the Bears next week.

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Colts in first place after overtime win over Jaguars

Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee AP

The Indianapolis Colts aren’t pretty, but they are all alone in first place in the AFC South.

The Colts made a statement today, and that statement is that they’re the best team in a bad division. With an injured Andrew Luck out and the Colts led by 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, Indianapolis needed overtime but managed to win, 16-13.

Jaguars kicker Jason Myers missed two potentially game-winning field goals, one wide right at the end of the fourth quarter and one wide left in overtime. That second miss set up the Colts to drive down the field, with a long Frank Gore run doing the damage and setting up Adam Vinatieri for the game-winning chip shot.

The win improves the Colts’ record to 2-2 and drops the Jaguars to 1-3. With the Texans also dropping to 1-3 today and the 1-2 Titans off, the Colts are a first-place team.

Jacksonville got a solid game from quarterback Blake Bortles (28-for-49 for 298 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions) and from rookie running back T.J. Yeldon (22 carries for 105 yards). But that wasn’t enough.

Instead, the Colts, who have dominated the division of late, remain on top. These Colts aren’t as good as they were the last few years, but they’re still good enough in the AFC South.

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Giants outlast Bills to improve to 2-2

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 04:   Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants celebrates a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills came off of last week’s big win against the Dolphins feeling pretty good about themselves, but no one in Buffalo will be feeling too good about the Bills this week.

After being outplayed by the Giants in the first half, the Bills shot themselves in the foot over and over again in the second half to eliminate any chance of coming out with their third win of the season. That had been the Giants’ fate in the first two weeks of the season, but they were the cleaner team on Sunday and that left them with a 24-10 victory.

The Bills committed 17 penalties over the course of the game, including a chopblock by Richie Incognito that wiped out a touchdown that would have drawn them within seven points in the final minute of the game. There will be quibbles with some of the calls, but the Bills lost control of their emotions at multiple times during the game to pick up dead ball fouls that just handed yards to the Giants. It’s not the first time we’ve seen that happen to a Rex Ryan team and not the first time it had a lot to do with costing his team a game.

Eli Manning threw his first interception of the season in the fourth quarter as the Bills were trying to get back into the game, but that wound up being another wasted chance for the Bills. They also missed a 30-yard field goal and got stopped on four plays inside the 10-yard-line during the second half.

Perhaps the biggest misses were the tackles that the Bills whiffed on to turn a short pass into a 51-yard Rashad Jennings touchdown. That came just after they’d cut the score to 16-10 in the fourth quarter and gave the Giants breathing room that they’d use to improve to 2-2.

It was an impressive defensive outing for the Giants, who slowed down a Bills attack that put a lot of points on the board in the first three weeks of the season. The fourth quarter skewed the final numbers, but the Bills were stuck in the mud for most of the first three quarters thanks to the Giants defense.

The win makes their chances of contending in the NFC East look a lot better than they did after those two season-opening losses. They still need to find a way to put teams away for good as both the Redskins and Bills hung around a lot longer than they deserved to in the last two weeks, but a visit from the 49ers next week is followed by games against the Eagles and Cowboys that offer the Giants a chance to take control in their division.

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Seahawks downgrade Marshawn Lynch to out

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptc2ntdjogezztc5zdq5ndq4ownjnja4ztk5ndi4mzu2 AP

The kid who played college football in Michigan will have a chance to shine against Michigan’s only NFL team.

Via Curtis Crabtree of KJR and PFT, the Seahawks have downgraded running back Marshawn Lynch to out with a hamstring injury. The move means that undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls, who transferred from Michigan to Central Michigan, will have a chance to build on last week’s 104-yard performance on Monday night.

Also out for the game against the Lions is defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Which means that Jordan Hill, who looked very good last week against Chicago, will have plenty of chances to perform well.

Lynch, who played sparingly in Week Three, has only 128 rushing yards on the season.

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Bears get their first win in back-and-forth battle with Raiders

Martellus Bennett AP

In a game with six lead changes, the Bears had the last one.

Bears kicker Robbie Gould nailed a 49-yard field goal with two seconds left, and the Bears beat the Raiders, 22-20. It was a back-and-forth battle that looked late in the game like it would go to the Raiders, but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler managed to drive the Bears into field goal range, and Gould took care of the rest. The Raiders tried a multiple-lateral desperation return on the ensuing kickoff as time expired, but they ultimately fell short.

It was a solid game from Cutler, who had 281 passing yards after missing last week with a hamstring injury, and also a big game from Martellus Bennett, who had 11 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Bears improved to 1-3.

For the Raiders, falling to 2-2 on a day when they could have won hurts. But they can be happy that Derek Carr and Amari Cooper continued to play well. The Raiders have the pieces of a good team, even if they’re not a good team yet.

There were a few injuries of note: Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree hurt his ankle but managed to return to the game; Bears safety Antrel Rolle hurt his ankle and did not return.

The Bears still don’t look like a team going anywhere, but a win may quiet the calls for a fire sale in Chicago. The Raiders still look like a team with promise, but a loss shows that they still have plenty of work to do.

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Ted Ginn leads Panthers to win over Bucs, and a 4-0 start

Ted Ginn Jr. AP

There’s only one place on Earth where Ted Ginn looks like a legitimate offensive threat in the NFL.

Fortunately for the Panthers, he found his place.

The former first-round bust, turned free agent-riches-seeker, turned comeback kid, led his favorite team to a win Sunday. Finn caught a pair of touchdown passes to lead the Panthers to a 37-23 win over the Buccaneers.

The win extends the Panthers’ hot start to 4-0, and underscores how good Ginn has been with the Panthers.

in 20 career games with the Panthers, he has eight receiving touchdowns. In 104 other games with the Dolphins, 49ers and Cardinals, he has six.

Ginn has always been a competent return man, who offers a vertical threat. But nowhere else has he delivered on that potential quite like he has with the Panthers. They need it too, after losing Kelvin Benjamin for the season with a torn ACL in training camp, they had few targets for Cam Newton.

But Ginn has delivered, and against a Bucs team intent on shooting their cannons into their own feet, it was enough.

The Buccaneers turned it over five times, dropping to 1-3 on a wet and sloppy day. Jameis Winston threw four interceptions and fumbled once, negating his two touchdowns and Doug Martin’s 106-yard rushing day.

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Kirk Cousins leads Washington back, getting his team to .500

Kirk Cousins AP

For long stretches, the game was as ugly as they feared the weather in Washington was going to be.

But Kirk Cousins did just enough, at the right time, to escape with a win.

Washington beat the Eagles 23-20, with Cousins leading a late touchdown drive. The 15-play, 90-yard drive was a workmanlike one, with Cousins pecking away at a worn-down Eagles defense which was plagued by injuries throughout the day.

Cousins completed 31-of-46 passes for 290 yards. But none of those throws were bigger than the touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds remaining.

Washington had allowed the Eagles back into the game after leading 13-0 at halftime, with Sam Bradford leading his side on a 20-3 run, hitting touchdown passes of 61, 39 and 10 yards.

But Washington was able to kill it with defense, with back-to-back sacks by Trent Murphy pushing the Eagles backward, before he picked off their attempt at a Stanford band lateral play to seal it.

The loss drops the Eagles to 1-3, and they have plenty of problems to deal with in the coming weeks, as injuries piled up, and their receivers routinely drop passes, and they haven’t established much of a run game despite the money spent there.

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Giants answer after Bills pull within a score in fourth quarter

XXX during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York. Getty Images

The Giants blew double-digit fourth quarter leads in the first two weeks of the regular season and they’re going to have to find a a way to avoid a third late-game meltdown in Buffalo.

Karlos Williams caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor with just under 10 minutes to play to pull the Bills within 16-10. The Giants are a bit lucky that it isn’t closer because Dan Carpenter joined the parade of underwhelming kickers by missing a 30-yard field goal earlier in the second half.

The Giants also stuffed the Bills on the goal line earlier in the fourth quarter, so they’ve shown some spine during a second half that saw the Bills take control of the momentum of the game even as they remain behind on the scoreboard.

After forcing quick Giants punts on their first four possessions of the second half, the Bills defense broke down after Williams’s score, though. Rashad Jennings broke a tackle and went 51 yards for a touchdown on a short pass from Eli Manning and a successful two-point conversion has them back up 24-10.

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Cordarrelle Patterson gets another chance to show what he can do

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, one of three first-round picks in 2013, has yet to justify his draft status. On Sunday, he’ll get another chance to show what he can do.

Starter Charles Johnson is out due to injury, and slot receiver Jarius Wright is banged up. That should give Patterson more opportunities.

The bad news for Patterson? With Johnson, the guy who took Patterson’s starting job in 2014, out for Sunday, Adam Thielen not Patterson gets the start.

Through three games, Patterson has only one catch for three yards. Apparently Patterson doesn’t see that lack of production as cause for showing the team something more.

I don’t know how much more I need to prove,” Patterson said Friday, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Plenty is what Patterson needs to prove, especially with the Vikings facing a May 3 decision on whether to pick up Patterson’s option for 2017. At this point, there’s no way they’d squat on Patterson for another year.

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Hoyer replaces Mallett, leads TD drive

Denver Broncos v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Texans are finally on the scoreboard in Atlanta and trail the Falcons 42-7.

That touchdown came after the Texans benched Ryan Mallett and replaced him with Brian Hoyer. In Week 1, Hoyer was benched in a blowout loss to the Chiefs and Mallett has been the starter since.

Hoyer came in and led a scoring drive capped by a touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz that helped the Texans avoid a shutout. It’s been a miserable day for the Texans in every aspect of the game.

Mallett completed 12-of-27 passes for 150 yards. The Texans missed a field goal late in the first half and really never threatened otherwise.

The Falcons are going to be 4-0. The Texans are going to be 1-3 headed into a short week of preparation for Thursday night’s game with the Colts.

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Joe Philbin “not at all” worried about job security

Miami Dolphins/New York Jets during the game at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England. Getty Images

When the Dolphins went to London last season, they beat the Raiders in what turned out to be Dennis Allen’s final game as Oakland’s head coach.

The Dolphins’ trip across the pond didn’t work out nearly as well this year. They lost 27-14 to the Jets in a game that never felt as close as that final score indicates. Before the game, there were reports that the futures of both coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle were in jeopardy with another bad performance.

Philbin met with team owner Stephen Ross after the loss and said that he wasn’t concerned that he was about to get the same welcome home present that Allen received last year.

“No, not at all,” Philbin said, via “I’m worried about getting this team straightened out and fixed and getting our team ready to play the Tennessee Titans.”

Philbin said it wasn’t time to panic, a message he also sent after the team was routed by the Bills in Week Three, which fits with his plan to keep Coyle in charge of the defense. Philbin confirmed that there was a defensive meeting this week between players and coaches about changes to Coyle’s scheme, but said that it was not “contentious” in reference to reports about Coyle’s future.

Ross didn’t speak to the media, so we don’t know if his plan for the staff involves more changes than Philbin is expecting.

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Panthers catching breaks, Brindza, leading Buccaneers 31-10

On a day of bad football in Tampa, the Panthers are at least lucky to be lucky.

They’re getting breaks left and right to lead the Buccaneers 31-10 in the third quarter, including turning their own turnover into a score.

Backup tight end Ed Dickson just plucked running back Jonathan Stewart’s fumble out of mid-air and rambled 57 yards for a touchdown, with the Buccaneers seemingly confused as to what was happening around them.

That’s reasonable, the way the day has gone for them so far.

Bucs kicker-for-now Kyle Brindza has missed a pair of field goals and an extra point, points which might help on a sloppy day. Brindza has now missed five of his last seven field goal attempts, which could make him an endangered species in Florida soon.

The Panthers then got another Ted Ginn touchdown reception, and appear to be on their way to an easy win for a change.

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60 percent of San Diego starting offensive line out for Sunday

San Diego Chargers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Chargers head home after losing a pair of road games. They’ve also lost three fifths of their starting offensive line.

Center Chris Watt, left guard Orlando Franklin, and left tackle King Dunlap (pictured) all are inactive. They’ll be replaced by Trevor Robinson, Kenny Wiggins, and Chris Hairston, respectively.

Also out with injury for the Charters is starting safety Jahleel Addae.

The 1-2 Chargers host the 1-2 Browns at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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Caleb Sturgis struggling in Eagles debut, but he’s not alone

Chip Kelly, Caleb Sturgis AP

Even when things go well for the Eagles today, there’s something amiss.

And a week after welcoming kicker Caleb Sturgis, they may be back in the market sooner than expected.

Sturgis missed a 33-yard field goal attempt just before halftime, and then missed a 33-yard extra point after the Eagles finally made a play on offense in the second half.

They barely got to celebrate Riley Cooper’s 61-yard touchdown, a rare moment of offensive competence, when Sturgis missed the point after, leaving them down 13-6 in Washington.

The Eagles made a few big plays in the first half, with DeMarco Murray popping a 30-yard run and Sam Bradford hitting Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard gain. But Agholor also fumbled away a reverse attempt, which was kind of emblematic of their day.

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Rib, finger injuries sideline Browns CB Joe Haden

2015 Cleveland Browns Mini Camp Practice Getty Images

A week after suffering a rib contusion while Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper was running circles around him, Browns cornerback Joe Haden will be inactive against the Chargers.

The Browns had listed Haden as probable with rib and finger injuries. A team spokesman told PFT that Haden is inactive due to the injuries despite the probable listing.

With Haden and top nickel corner K’Waun Williams (concussion) out, the Browns have to try to keep up with Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson and the Chargers with second-year man Pierre Desir starting and Justin Gilbert, a 2014 first-round pick who has yet to play a defensive snap this season, likely in the rotation.

Safety Tashaun Gipson will start for the Browns. He had been questionable with a groin injury. Backup safety Jordan Poyer could see some time at cornerback with Haden and Williams out.

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Bills offense nowhere to be found in first half

XXX during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York. Getty Images

The Bills came into Sunday’s game averaging over 33 points and 370 yards per game, but their offense has been stopped cold by the Giants.

Buffalo picked up two first downs and 78 yards against the Giants defense in the first half and a Tyrod Taylor interception set up a Giants touchdown that helped them to a 16-3 lead after two quarters. Taylor is 6-of-13 for 36 yards overall in a shaky performance that hasn’t been helped by some shaky hands in his receiving corps.

Unlike their offensive success, the Bills have carried their problems with penalties into Sunday’s game. They’ve been flagged nine times, helping the Giants to their second touchdown with three on one drive. Cyrus Kouandjio, playing left tackle with Cordy Glenn out with an ankle injury, has committed two false starts and tight end Charles Clay was penalized for offensive pass interference to wipe out a first down.

The Giants have capitalized on Buffalo’s mistakes and have not made any of their own while building a two-score lead. Eli Manning is 13-of-22 for 107 yards and two touchdowns and their backs have picked up 65 yards on 14 carries behind a line that’s kept the Bills defense in check so far this afternoon.

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Texans fail to get off the bus, trail 28-0 at half

Bill O'Brien AP

The Texans are in Atlanta, but they’re not really in the game with the Falcons.

It’s 28-0 at halftime. The Falcons are doing pretty much whatever they want to do on offense and have been good defensively, too, forcing two turnovers. Desmond Trufant returned the first one, a fumble, 24 yards for a touchdown.

The fumble happened when Arian Foster ran into a teammate and the ball popped in the air. It’s been that kind of afternoon.

Foster is back after missing the first three games, but the Texans still seem to be a team searching for an identity and any positives from which to build. The defense is supposed to be good but is getting gashed by Devonta Freeman. Matt Ryan has been efficient, too. Barring a total change of fortunes, Ryan might get the fourth quarter off.

Freeman racked up 134 all-purpose yards in the first half.

The Falcons are trying to get to 4-0. The Texans look like they’re headed for 1-3 and into a miserable short week of preparation for Thursday night’s game with the Colts.

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Joe Lombardi seems to blame predictability on stolen signals

Detroit Lions Training Camp Getty Images

One of the big stories from the past week came from Lions receiver Golden Tate, who said opposing defenses in every game have said that they knew at times what Detroit was doing on offense.

Tate later tried to say he wasn’t criticizing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, and Rodney Harrison of NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk criticized Tate for raising such concerns publicly.

Lombardi, in his weekly press conference, had an interesting explanation for the situation.

Everyone’s signals sometimes get stolen,” Lombardi said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “So I’m sure it’s happened, yeah.”

But defenses can know what offenses are doing without stealing signals — especially when there are no signals because the quarterbacks now get the calls directly into their ears. The concern is that the Lions have too many tendencies and tells, making it easier for defenses that have spent the time studying game film to know what’s coming based on formation, down, and distance.

While what happens after the snaps is more important than what happens before it, defenders who know what’s coming after the snap are in much better situation to stop it.

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Giants jump out to 13-point lead

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 04:   Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks to throw against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills were sizzling against the Dolphins in Miami last week.

They’re fizzling back at home against the Giants in the first half this week. Rueben Randle caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 10:42 left in the second quarter to give the Giants a 16-3 lead. The Bills did plenty to help the Giants to that score.

Jerry Hughes was flagged for a personal foul to hand over 15 yards, but the Bills held to force a field goal attempt that was wiped out because Kyle Williams covered the center on Josh Brown’s try. The Giants took the five yards for a first down and cornerback Ronald Darby was penalized for holding a couple of plays before Randle’s touchdown to gift the Giants another one.

Manning also threw a touchdown to Dwayne Harris in the first quarter that was set up by a Devon Kennard interception. Kennard outfought Charles Clay for a ball on the sideline, adding to Tyrod Taylor’s rough start. He’s 2-of-8 for 10 yards and the Bills have just 36 yards on offense thus far.

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Jason Peters questionable to return, and the Eagles could use him

Jason Peters AP

The Eagles have issues on offense anyway, and now they’re forced to adjust on the fly.

Left tackle Jason Peters has left the game with a quad injury, and has been announced as questionable to return.

The Eagles have had issues on offense all day, trailing Washington 13-0. Midway through the second quarter, they’re stuck on 25 total yards, and minus-3 yards passing.

And that total includes a 30-yard run by DeMarco Murray in his return from a hamstring injury.

Suffice it to say it’s a slow-starting team, as they haven’t scored a touchdown in the first quarter this season, and look nothing like the polished offense Sam Bradford ran during his limited preseason work.

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