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Griffin doesn’t believe he tore his ACL

Griffin Reuters

When the leg of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III whipped violently during a fourth-quarter hit from Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, it looked like the injury to his right knee could be bad.

It still may not be great, but Griffin said after the game that he doesn’t believe he suffered a torn ACL.

“I know what an ACL feels like,” Griffin said, via multiple reporters on Twitter.

Indeed he does.  Griffin once tore the ACL in that same knee.

Coach Mike Shanahan said that Griffin will have an MRI to determine the extent of the damage.  Griffin returned to the game after missing one snap, but then left after he was badly limping.  Griffin, according to Shanahan, wanted to return a second time.

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Chip Kelly’s father died on Friday night

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the sidelines during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 4, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers coach Chip Kelly missed some time with the team ahead of Sunday’s game against the Bears and he’ll be away from the team in the near future as well.

Kelly traveled from Chicago to New Hampshire late on Friday after learning that his father Paul died and the players were informed of the news on Saturday morning. He returned for Sunday’s loss and said that he’ll be traveling back to be with his family on Sunday night, but that he didn’t consider missing the game.

“My mom wanted me to coach,” Kelly said, via CSNBayArea.com.

Our condolences to Kelly and his family on their loss.

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Why did Rams, Jeff Fisher conceal contract extension for so long?

Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

We’d been hearing for weeks that Rams coach Jeff Fisher already had a contract extension in place. On Sunday, we all heard it — directly from Fisher.

So why was it kept secret for so long?

The easy explanation is that the Rams were waiting to announce it at a time when the fan base would says, “That makes sense.” Instead, the announcement came after a multi-day barrage from Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, who has made it his mission in life to end Fisher’s tenure with the team.

The fact that the extension was signed so long ago could actually work against Fisher. Apart from the question of whether the two-year deal has a clause allowing the Rams to escape the contract after one year (more on that is coming during NBC’s Football Night in America) is the reality that, based on what owner Stan Kroenke sees from the team over the balance of the season, Kroenke could decide to make a change, in theory.

If Fisher had gotten the extension in December, firing him in January would make Kroenke look wishy-washy. Because (as Fisher explains it) he got the extension before the 2016 season even began, it would make plenty of sense if Kroenke changes his mind based on the full results of the team’s first season back in L.A.

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Chargers lead; Cecil Shorts carted off

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 30:  Wide receiver Cecil Shorts #10 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before the start of an NFL game against the Oakland Raiders on October 30, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chargers scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead over the Buccaneers.

Philip Rivers didn’t miss on the first drive and hit Dontrelle Inman on a 35-yard touchdown pass to cap a 75-yard touchdown drive.

Buccaneers wide receiver Cecil Shorts was carted off after taking a low but clean hit from Jahleel Addae on his team’s first drive. Almost the entire Bucs’ team came out to wish Shorts well as he was helped to the cart.

A few plays later, Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward intercepted Jameis Winston. The ensuing drive ended with Josh Lambo missing a 54-yard field goal.

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Safety puts Steelers up early

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:   Referee Terry McAulay signals for a safety after ceneter Justin Hartwig #62 of the Pittsburgh Steelers was called for holding in the endzone in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals as Mewelde Moore #21 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks towards the sideline during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers offense has punted twice, but the team still leads late in the first quarter.

Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers was flagged for holding linebacker James Harrison on a third down passing play and the foul took place in the Giants’ end zone, which means it was ruled a safety and the Steelers lead 2-0. Eli Manning’s pass to wide receiver Odell Beckham was good for a first down on the play, although the Giants were backed up in the first place after Beckham was penalized for offensive pass interference on a deep pass down the left sideline.

A penalty hurt the Steelers on their previous drive as a foray into Giants territory was wiped out by a holding call on fullback David Johnson. The Giants’ penalties were much costlier, though, and Pittsburgh grabbed a slim lead as a result of those miscues.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m. ET: A Randy Bullock field goal extended the lead to 5-0 after the Steelers moved the ball to the Giants’ 26-yard-line on the ensuing drive.

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Cardinals off to a good start, up early on Washington

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AP

The Cardinals have been a frustrating lot this year, but on their opening drive against Washington, looked like the team people were expecting this year.

Cardinals running back David Johnson scored from a yard out for a 7-0 lead over Washington.

That capped a 15-play, 75-yard drive to open the game, which occupied nearly half the first quarter.

Johnson had 39 of those yards himself, as the Cards made a concerted effort to get it in his hands. They also found veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, extending his streak of games with at least one catch to 191. That broke a tie with Marvin Harrison and moved him into sole possession of third place on the all-time list.

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Jeff Fisher: I signed extension in the offseason

Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

It feels like we’ve been talking about Rams coach Jeff Fisher getting a contract extension since the offseason before news broke on Sunday morning of agreement on a two-year extension, but it was actually old news.

Reports that Fisher signed the extension weeks ago were off by a bit as well. It was actually months ago. Fisher confirmed that he signed an extension with the team after the Rams fell to 4-8 in a 26-10 loss to the Patriots on Sunday afternoon.

“This was done well before the season started,” Fisher said.

The team’s performance this season could affect the team’s decision to see out even the first year of the extension, but the fact that the Rams have made it clear that they are looking at more than wins and losses suggests he remains on track for 2017 at this point.

Fisher, who now stands one loss away for tying Dan Reeves with the most of any coach, has four weeks to avoid 7-9 BS, although the Rams will have to win out for that to be a good thing.

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Sean Payton calls report of possible Brandin Cooks trade “garbage” and “false”

Detroit Lions free safety Glover Quin (27) tries to break up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) AP

Before Sunday’s game against the Lions, Saints coach Sean Payton expressed his displeasure with the report regarding a possible offseason trade of receiver Brandin Cooks indirectly. After the game, Payton made his views known.

That’s garbage,” Payton told reporters, via Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate. “It’s a false report. It’s an agent picking up the phone and calling a reporter.”

If that’s what happened, it possibly happened at the behest of and/or with the knowledge of Cooks, who based on his remarks from this past week may want to play for a team that feeds him the ball more frequently.

Cooks had seven catches for 73 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Lions.

A first-round pick in 2014, Cooks is eligible for a new contract after the regular season ends.

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Bengals come alive, rout Eagles

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 4:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass over the defense of Rodney McLeod #23 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had a big game, and the Eagles could neither keep up nor keep the Bengals from marching up and down the field.

The Bengals won, 32-14, and scored the game’s first 29 points. Dalton threw a touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert late in the first half to make it 19-0 and another to Brandon LaFell on the first drive of the second as the Bengals put it out of reach.

Dalton threw for 332 yards as the Bengals won for the first time since Oct. 23.

The Bengals punted once all day, and they were up 29-7 when they did. The Eagles lost their third straight and fifth in their last six to fall to 5-7.

The Bengals improve to 4-7-1 and play at winless Cleveland next week. They’re mathematically still alive in the AFC North.

The Bengals ran up 412 yards of offense, more than making up for settling for field goals as they moved the ball early in the game. The home crowd gave struggling kicker Mike Nugent a sarcastic cheer when he opened the scoring with a 32-yard field goal.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw 60 passes. He completed 36 of them for 308 yards and was intercepted three times.

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Chiefs hold on for 29-28 win in Atlanta

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 28:  Defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches #99 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates a tackle in the fourth quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 28, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs offense wasn’t on the field for several of the biggest plays of Sunday’s game against the Falcons and that worked out just fine for Kansas City.

Eric Berry returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half to put the Chiefs in the lead and he returned an interception on a two-point conversion for two more points late that put them back in the lead late in the fourth quarter. Alex Smith completed passes to Travis Kelce and Albert Wilson for first downs on the ensuing drive and the Falcons couldn’t stop the clock on what ended as a 29-28 Kansas City win.

Berry’s second big play came just after the Falcons erased what had been a 27-16 Chiefs lead on the back of two fourth quarter touchdowns. The second came on a five-yard pass to Aldrick Robinson as Julio Jones battled an apparent lower body injury on the sideline, but the attempt to extend the lead flopped when Berry jumped a route and took it to the house for the second time on the day. It’s the first time an interception has been returned for two points since the league began allowing it last year.

Wilson added another big play with a 55-yard run for a touchdown on a third quarter fake punt that caught the Falcons totally unaware. That was the biggest play from scrimmage for the Chiefs and Kelce’s 140 receiving yards provided much of the heavy lifting on offense for Kansas City on the day. Alex Smith completed 14 straight passes at one point and finished the day 21-of-25 for 270 yards.

Jones nearly matched Kelce as he caught seven passes for 113 yards before leaving the proceedings and the Falcons were able to roll up 418 yards overall, but three trips into the red zone that ended without points will sting as the Falcons consider their home loss. It drops them to 7-5 on the year and opens the door for the Buccaneers to join them on the top rung in the division if they win in San Diego later on Sunday.

The good news for the Falcons is that the Rams and 49ers are next on the schedule. The Chiefs will have a stiffer test in Week 14 when they host the Raiders in a Thursday night game that will weigh heavily in figuring out who wins the AFC West this year.

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Defense delivers as Broncos hold off Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 04:  Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for yardage as  Shaquil Barrett #48 of the Denver Broncos pursues the play at EverBank Field on December 4, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos were bailed out Sunday by their defense. Again.

An interception return touchdown by Bradley Roby in the third quarter provided the Broncos’ only touchdown of the second half as they held off the Jaguars, 20-10.

The Broncos couldn’t generate any offense in the second half, keeping the door open for the Jaguars, but the Broncos got two late stops to seal it. Rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch only threw for 104 yards while subbing for the injured Trevor Siemian, but the Broncos just kept forcing punts and forcing Blake Bortles into turnovers.

Bortles was intercepted twice and also lost a fumble in the final two minutes with the score 17-10. It was his fifth multiple interception game of the season.

The Broncos won despite producing just 10 first downs and converting 1-of-13 third downs. The Jaguars ran 81 plays; the Broncos ran 54.

Roby’s interception return midway through the third quarter covered 51 yards and made it 17-3. A 22-yard run by Bortles early in the fourth quarter was the Jaguars’ only touchdown.

The Broncos are 8-4, and their final four games — at Tennessee, vs. New England, at Kansas City and vs. the Raiders — are all against fellow playoff contenders.

The Jaguars fall to 2-10.

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Lions play their best game of the season in win over Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 04:  Eric Ebron #85 of the Detroit Lions is tackled by Jairus Byrd #31 of the New Orleans Saints druing the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 4, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the first 11 games of the season, the Lions won more than they lost, but always struggled. Not today in New Orleans.

Today the Lions controlled the game throughout, jumping out to an early 10-0 lead and never looking back as they beat the Saints.

This was the first game all season that the Lions didn’t trail in the fourth quarter: Until today, they had been losing at some point in the fourth quarter of all 11 games, although they managed to come from behind and win seven of them. Today they had a comfortable lead throughout the fourth quarter. The win improves the Lions’ record to 8-4 and makes clear that they’re the favorites to win the NFC North.

Lions receiver Golden Tate had an outstanding game against a weak Saints secondary, getting open repeatedly and finishing with over 100 yards, including a game-sealing 66-yard touchdown. Matthew Stafford had one of his best games of the season.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw three late interceptions that ended any hope the Saints might have had of winning. The Lions’ defense played better than expected, while the Saints’ offense was hampered by the loss of tight end Josh Hill to a leg injury.

The Saints, at 5-7, are probably out of playoff contention. But the Lions look like a playoff team. They have a two-game lead in the NFC North, with only four games to play.

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Titans, Browns won’t get to wear their non-conforming cleats

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Reggie Bush #22 of the Buffalo Bills wears special cleats in memory of former NFL player Joe McKnight prior to their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 4, 2016 in Oakland, California. McKnight was shot and killed in Terrytown, Louisiana on Thursday.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans and Browns have a post-Thanksgiving break, the last two byes of the season. That scheduling quirk also kept the players on both teams from joining in the wearing of cleats that deviate from the NFL’s normal uniform requirements.

According to the league, Titans and Browns players won’t be permitted to wear the clears at a later date. However, the players on both teams had their personalized cleats made. The cleats will be auctioned, and the causes reflected by the cleats will be promoted.

It’s still not the same as actually wearing the cleats. It would be nice if the NFL would reconsider that position and allow Titans and Browns players to wear their cleats next weekend. Based on the Week 13 games, during which the sky did not fall even though players wore cleats that deviated from the norm, there’s no harm in letting the two teams that missed out on it this week doing it next week.

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No Gronk is no problem as Patriots roll over Rams

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 04:  Chris Long #95 of the New England Patriots reacts after sacking Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots may have a tough time living life without tight end Rob Gronkowski at some point in the coming weeks, but they barely had to break a sweat to knock off the Rams on Sunday.

LeGarrette Blount and Chris Hogan scored touchdowns early, Stephen Gostkowski kept making field goals and the defense stonewalled pretty much everything that the Rams threw at them in a 26-10 victory. The win moves the Patriots to 10-2 on the season and the Dolphins’ loss to the Ravens puts them on the brink of another division title.

In a season filled with rancid offensive performances by Los Angeles, Sunday’s was among the worst. The only touchdown came with 1:15 left to play in a game that had long been decided in New England’s favor and it took the 66 yards they gained on that drive to push them over 100 total yards for the game. Before that, the Rams turned the ball over twice and allowed four sacks while sprinkling in dropped passes, holding penalties and another dud in the running game.

That’s probably not going to lead to many cheers for the news of Jeff Fisher’s contract extension, although punter Johnny Hekker might be a fan. He got to uncork a 76-yard boot to continue his impressive season as the only thing worth watching when the Rams have the ball.

The Patriots found success on the ground with Blount and through the air with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell on their way to 402 yards and nearly 38 minutes of possession. There was never a moment when it felt like the outcome of the game was in doubt, largely because of how in command Tom Brady was on offense while Jared Goff was flailing his way to a 14-of-32 game on the other side.

The biggest negatives for the Patriots on the day were injuries to wide receiver Danny Amendola and cornerback Eric Rowe in the second half. Amendola hurt his ankle, Rowe hurt his hamstring and neither returned to action, although the lack of competition on the other side may have made discretion the wisest choice for the Patriots.

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Bears do enough to send 49ers to 11th straight loss

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) fumbles as he is tackled by Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) and linebacker Leonard Floyd (94) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

It was far from a thing of beauty for the Bears, but it beats losing.

A second-half surge helped the Bears to a 26-6 win over the 49ers, extending San Francisco’s losing streak to 11 games.

And perhaps to commemorate that first win of the season, the 49ers went back to the guy who started the opener, with Blaine Gabbert replacing Colin Kaepernick in the fourth quarter.

Kaepernick only completed one pass, and Gabbert wasn’t much better, and was sacked by Leonard Floyd for a safety late. But Kaepernick was sacked five times, which is a lot of the reason they couldn’t move the ball against the Bears.

The 49ers only managed 147 total yards.

By comparison, the Bears were a flying circus, with Jordan Howard running 32 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Matt Barkley overcoming a slow start to finish 11-of-18 for 192 yards passing.

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Ravens throttle the Dolphins to improve to 7-5

Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, left, tackles Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill after losing his helmet in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) AP

For a pair of teams that are each 7-5, the Ravens and Dolphins couldn’t look any more different.

The Ravens dominated the Dolphins, beating them 38-6 to snap Miami’s six-game winning streak.

The thrashing was a thorough one, as they were up 24-0 at halftime and kept building.

And Baltimore did it almost exclusively through the air, as Joe Flacco threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

They only ran well late, but they didn’t really need to, as Flacco got into an early rhythm and that was enough to sustain them.

All the progress Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had shown lately was not evident, as he was intercepted three times and never looked able to work them out of a hole.

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