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NFL morning after: Cam Newton silences his critics

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

If you don’t like Cam Newton after watching him on Sunday against the Falcons, it says more about you than it does about him.

It was such a pleasure to see Newton, the Panthers’ second-year quarterback, look like Cam Newton again in Sunday’s 30-20 upset of the Falcons. Newton was absolutely amazing, throwing the ball with velocity and accuracy on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen and having one of the best runs in the NFL all season and then doing a flip into the end zone on a 72-yard touchdown. That score gave Carolina a 23-0 lead against an Atlanta team that entered Sunday’s game with the best record in football.

The Panthers blowing out the Falcons on Sunday was a big surprise, but this was the Cam Newton I expected to see all season.

Of course, I’m the idiot who picked the Panthers to win the NFC South this season, so perhaps I was a little too optimistic about Newton. But while I may have been too quick to anoint Newton a star after his excellent rookie season, much of the football world was way too quick to jump all over Newton when he struggled at some points this season. The negative stories got really silly, with people getting on his case for everything from supposedly taking too long to get dressed after a game and holding up the team bus (which the Panthers said didn’t happen) to allegedly failing to show the proper deference to veterans at last year’s Pro Bowl (which was a bizarre story to surface 10 months later). Just as I didn’t understand the obsession so many people had with all of his off-field activities when he was winning the Heisman Trophy at Auburn, and didn’t understand the pre-draft criticisms of his allegedly fake smile, I don’t understand why so many people try so hard to paint Newton in a negative light this season.

It’s true that early in the season, Newton’s performance on the field did give his critics some ammunition. He had two interceptions in a loss to the Buccaneers, three interceptions in a loss to the Giants, an interception and a fumble in a loss to the Cowboys, two interceptions and two fumbles in a loss to the Bears and two interceptions and a fumble in a loss to the Broncos. He’s made his share of mistakes.

But the thing we have to remember is, that’s what 23-year-old quarterbacks do. Newton’s shockingly good rookie season last year and the success of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson may have made us forget this, but playing quarterback in the NFL is hard. Really hard. And not many people can walk right out of college football and perform at a high level in the NFL. Newton played at such a high level as a rookie that maybe we should treat a step back in his second season not as an invitation to rip him mercilessly, but as a simple example of regression to the mean.

And after Sunday’s game against the Falcons, I’m not so sure that Newton has really regressed anyway. He’s now on pace to throw for 3,963 yards this season, just short of his rookie record 4,051 last year. And he’s on pace to run for 788 yards, even better than the impressive 706 he gained as a rookie. In the last four games, Newton has a total of 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions and zero fumbles.

The 4-9 Panthers have plenty of problems. Their defense is mediocre, their special teams are terrible, and their much-hyped running back trio of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert isn’t playing well enough to merit their hype — or their contracts. But one problem they don’t have is a question mark at the quarterback position. They answered that question for years to come on the day they drafted Cam Newton.

Newton was the player who impressed me most on Sunday. Here are my other thoughts:

Rex Ryan’s decision to deactivate quarterback Greg McElroy tells me a lot about the Jets. It tells me that they think Mark Sanchez is so mentally weak that he would have been looking over his shoulder if the option of benching him for McElroy existed. That’s not a good sign. Ryan’s decision to go back to Sanchez after benching him for McElroy last week worked, in the sense that the Jets won. But it worked out for the Jets because they were playing the terrible Jaguars, not because Sanchez played well. Sanchez completed just 12 of 19 passes for 111 yards against one of the worst defenses in the NFL in Jacksonville. Ryan won’t bench Sanchez, but he should.

We still have some great running backs in this league. The NFL has become, more than ever before, a passing league. But there are still some phenomenal running backs, and two of them got off to phenomenal starts on Sunday: Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles had 103 yards in the first quarter against the Browns, and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson had 104 yards in the first quarter against the Bears. Charles and Peterson are both coming off major reconstructive knee surgery, and yet Charles is 11 carries away from surpassing Jim Brown for the NFL record for yards-per-carry average (a record that requires a minimum of 750 career carries; Charles has 739), while Peterson is closing in on a 2,000-yard season.

The officials are using automatic replay reviews as a crutch for getting calls wrong on the field. In the second quarter of Jets-Jaguars, the Jets fumbled and Jacksonville’s Dwight Lowery recovered. Lowery was obviously down when he jumped on the ball, and yet the officials allowed him to get up and race to the end zone for a touchdown, without blowing the play dead. The reason? The officials are now letting plays go because they know scoring plays are automatically reviewed, and they figure replay will bail them out if they get it wrong. But that’s not what instant replay is intended to do: The officials should call every play as well as they can, not just abdicate their responsibility on the field and waste a bunch of time afterward when their mistakes get corrected on replay.

And sometimes even when they have a replay review the officials get the call wrong. In the second quarter of Titans-Colts, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck threw the ball just as he was being tackled, and Tennessee’s Will Witherspoon grabbed it and raced 40 yards to the end zone. Fortunately for the Colts, a replay angle clearly showed that Luck’s knee was down before he let go of the ball, so the interception would be overturned, right? Wrong. The referee somehow looked at the replay and allowed the Titans’ touchdown to stand. If the officials are going to use replay as a crutch, and then they’re going to get the call wrong even when they have that crutch, then the NFL has a serious problem on its hands.

Seattle may be the toughest place to play in the NFL. The Seahawks improved to 6-0 at home on Sunday with their demolition of the Cardinals, and it’s a good thing for the rest of the NFC that the Seahawks are probably going to have to go on the road in the playoffs, because I wouldn’t pick anyone to beat the Seahawks in Seattle. The Seahawks are winning with a great defense, an excellent running back in Marshawn Lynch and a good young quarterback in Russell Wilson. If only the Panthers could put that kind of team around Cam Newton.

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Kelce tees off on officials, late holding call

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25:  Tight end Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs enters the field during player introductions prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on December 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Chiefs lost to the Steelers Sunday night, 18-16, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce wasn’t shy in sharing his feelings about the penalty that negated the two-point conversion pass that would have tied the game.

The Chiefs had scored on a Spencer Ware run with 2:43 left to come within two points. Quarterback Alex Smith found Demetrius Harris wide open on the ensuing two-point play, but Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher was flagged for holding Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

The Chiefs backed up 10 yards and tried the two-point conversion again, and Smith’s pass intended for Jeremy Maclin was incomplete.

After the game, Kelce said the holding call was “horses**t,” per the Kansas City Star, and said the official who threw the flag “shouldn’t be able work at Foot Locker.”

Per ESPN.com, Kelce singled out referee Carl Cheffers and said Cheffers “shouldn’t be able to wear a zebra jersey.”

Kelce had five catches for 77 yards but didn’t have a great night. He dropped a pass in the third quarter that would have put the Chiefs inside’ the Steelers’ 15-yard line, and later on that drive Kelce was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pushing Ross Cockrell after a play.

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Chiefs hold, so Steelers hold on

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

A two-point conversion that would have tied the game was negated by penalty, and the Steelers then killed the clock and held on to beat the Chiefs Sunday night, 18-16.

The Chiefs had scored on a Spencer Ware run with 2:43 left to come within two points. Alex Smith found Demetrius Harris wide open on the ensuing two-point play, but Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher was flagged for holding Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The Chiefs backed up 10 yards and tried the two-point conversion again, and Smith’s pass intended for Jeremy Maclin was incomplete.

The Steelers play at New England next Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

The Steelers won in Kansas City without scoring a touchdown. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell set an NFL postseason record with six field goals, and after scoring on their first drive the Chiefs didn’t find the end zone again until the final three minutes. The Steelers’ biggest third-down conversion of the season came on a 7-yard Ben Roethlisberger pass to Antonio Brown with 1:53 left.

The Chiefs were out of timeouts, and their season ended when Roethlisberger then took three knees. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell ran for 170 yards, breaking the team playoff record of 168 he set last week.

Bell ran for 101 yards in the first half as the Steelers dominated. The Chiefs didn’t get a first down from late in the first quarter until their second possession of the third quarter, leaving themselves to chase when their offense finally showed signs of life over the final 20 minutes. The Steelers finished with 389 total yards; the Chiefs had 227.

The Chiefs scored on their first drive of the game on a 5-yard Smith pass to Albert Wilson. The Steelers led 12-7 at halftime and 15-10 after three quarters.

Smith finished 20-of-34 passing for 172 yards. Roethlisberger was 20-of-31 for 224 yards, and Brown caught six passes for 108 yards.

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Chris Boswell sets NFL postseason record with six field goals

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Kicker Chris Boswell #9 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is congratulated by teammate  Jordan Berry #4 after a successful field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chris Boswell has kicked a playoff record six field goals, and the Steelers hold an 18-10 lead over the Chiefs in the final 10 minutes.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got up limping following a sack just before the sixth field goal, but that’s happened before and Roethlisberger tends to be OK. He’s been pretty good, and the Steelers have moved the ball all night but keep settling for field goals.

Le’Veon Bell has matched his team playoff record from last week with 168 rushing yards.

The Chiefs have kept it within one score, though, despite not getting a first down from late in the first quarter until their second possession of the third quarter.

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Steelers continue to push Chiefs around

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Tight end Jesse James #81 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled inside linebacker Ramik Wilson #53 of the Kansas City Chiefs and teammates Steven Nelson #20 and Defensive back Daniel Sorensen #49  in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chris Boswell has kicked five field goals, and the Steelers hold a 15-7 lead over the Chiefs in the third quarter.

The Chiefs are struggling to move the ball. The Steelers are moving it and are over 300 total yards but keep settling for field goals. The Chiefs went four series between first downs before getting one via penalty in the third quarter.

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has 150 rushing yards, 18 short of the team playoff record he set last week. Boswell’s five field goals match an NFL postseason record.

In the first half the Steelers outgained the Chiefs, 275-106.

The Chiefs got their only points and the game’s only touchdown on their first drive on a 5-yard pass from Alex Smith to Albert Wilson.

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Tornado warning forces players, fans to stay put at AT&T Stadium

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Any Cowboys who hoped to make a quick exit from AT&T Stadium after a painful 34-31 loss to the Packers were blocked from doing so by Mother Nature.

A tornado warning in the Dallas area has led security at the stadium to have people shelter in place away from windows until the storm makes its way through the area. That’s kept fans in the stands and it’s brought a couple of Cowboys players back out to the field.

Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News reports that quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are back where they spent the final moments of their rookie seasons. They are watching the goal posts get taken down, which is never all that fun unless you’ve just beaten your biggest rival in a college football game.

There are reportedly 14,000 people without power as a result of the storm, so we’ll hope that everyone stays safe even if they may have to stay somewhere they’d rather not be for a few extra minuts.

[Photo via David Helman of DallasCowboys.com on Twitter]

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Steelers dominant, but settling for field goals

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Free safety Ron Parker #38 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles tight end Jesse James #81 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in after a catch for a first down in the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers dominated most of the first half but they only hold a 12-7 lead at halftime.

Chris Boswell has kicked four field goals, three from inside 40 yards, and the Steelers have to hope that their inability to get in the end zone doesn’t eventually come back to haunt them.

In the first 25 minutes the Steelers outgained the Chiefs, 213-94. At halftime the yardage differential is 275-106.

Before the third Boswell field goal, a diving Eric Berry interception on a pass that was deflected high into the air by Frank Zombo kept the Steelers out of the end zone after Ryan Shazier’s interception set them up in Kansas City territory.

The Steelers have been a little greedy with the pass instead of feeding the ball to Le’Veon Bell, who had 101 rushing yards on 18 carries in the first half. Antonio Brown has 101 receiving yards.

The Chiefs got their only points and the game’s only touchdown on their first drive on a 5-yard pass from Alex Smith to Albert Wilson.

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2003 sexual assault allegations against Vance Joseph resurface

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 12:  Vance Josepf addresses the media after being introduced as the Denver Broncos new head coach during  a press conference at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on January 12, 2017 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

New Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was accused of sexually assaulting two women at the University of Colorado in 2003, allegations that resurfaced after he was hired in Denver last week.

Joseph was not arrested or charged, but the Boulder Daily Camera reported this weekend that the a woman talked to police about the incident during a 2004 investigation into widespread corruption within the Colorado football program, where Joseph had been a player and then an assistant coach.

The Broncos have acknowledged that they knew about the allegations, noting that no charges were brought against Joseph and police did not question him.

A woman told police that she and a friend had been drinking and smoking marijuana with Joseph, and that when she went to bed, Joseph took off his clothes, got into her bed and was “touching her all over with his hands and rubbed his body against her,” according to the police officer’s report. The woman said she pretended to be passed out, and Joseph left the room. The next morning, the woman said, the other woman told her that Joseph had gotten into her bed and done the same thing to her until she told him to “get the hell out.”

The women declined to press criminal charges.

Not long after that, Joseph was suspended from Colorado’s coaching staff and then left the school. The university’s then-president has said Joseph was being investigated for sexual harassment in connection with a different incident in which he had sex with a trainer in a campus athletic facility.

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Steelers keeping Chris Boswell busy, missing opportunities

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Kicker Chris Boswell #9 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores the first points of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs kicking a field goal from the hold of teammate punter Jordan Berry #4 in the first quater of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chris Boswell has three field goals, and the Steelers hold a 9-7 lead over the Chiefs in the second quarter.

The Steelers have moved the ball and have to hope settling for field goals won’t come back to bite them later in the game. The Steelers have nine first downs and just as many points about 20 minutes into the game.

The Chiefs have the game’s only touchdown on a 5-yard Alex Smith touchdown pass to Albert Wilson on their first drive.

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is off to a strong start and has rushed for 56 yards on his first 11 carries.

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Jared Cook: It was a perfect throw by Aaron Rodgers

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Jared Cook #89 of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch past Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers are headed to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game next Sunday thanks to some last-second heroics by tight end Jared Cook and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Facing third-and-20 with the score tied and 12 seconds left in regulation, Rodgers rolled to his left and fired a strike to Cook down the sideline. Cook made a remarkable sliding catch that one official initially ruled out incomplete, but another correctly ruled as a catch with Cook getting both feet in while controlling the ball.

Mason Crosby hit a 51-yard field goal on the next play for a 34-31 win. Cook undersold things by answering “probably not” when asked if he’s ever made a more important catch as it is hard to beat his play when it comes to the difficulty of the catch matched with the magnitude of the moment. Cook threw some light on the other end of the connection after the game.

“I knew it was good,” Cook said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It was a perfect throw by Aaron.”

Rodgers made more than one perfect throw on Sunday and Matt Ryan did the same in Saturday’s Falcons win, which suggests we’ll be seeing a lot of offense next Sunday.

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Albert Wilson touchdown gives Chiefs early 7-3 lead

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 20: Wide receiver Albert Wilson #12 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arrowhead Stadium during the fourth quarter of the game on November 20, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs hold an early 7-3 lead on the Steelers after both teams scored on their initial possessions.

Alex Smith threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson, capping a six-play, 55-yard drive, to give the Chiefs the lead.

The Steelers got what they wanted on the game’s first drive until they got inside the Chiefs’ 10-yard line, then settled for a 22-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.

The Steelers went 66 yards in 11 plays. Le’Veon Bell ran three times for 25 yards on the opening drive.

The Chiefs started at their own 45 because the Steelers didn’t want to kick to Tyreek Hill. On the touchdown pass to Wilson, Hill was the decoy and Smith rolled out and found Wilson open.

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Packers get the game-winner as time expires over Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Mason Crosby #2 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after kicking a field goal in the second half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers wasn’t quite perfect, but Mason Crosby was.

The Packers kicker had to hit his game-winning field goal twice, but he nailed the 51-yarder twice as the Packers beat the Cowboys 34-31 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.

They’ll travel to Atlanta next week, but it will be hard to top this one for drama.

Crosby had hit a 56-yard field goal with 1:33 left, but Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey matched him with a 52-yarder with 0:35 left which seemed to point it toward overtime.

But that’s when Rodgers happened.

The Packers quarterback threaded one to tight end Jared Cook for a 35-yard gain on third-and-20, with Cook dragging his feet perfectly to set up Crosby’s kick with 0:03 left on the clock.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett used his final timeout to ice Crosby, but it didn’t work, as he nailed the second one cleaner than the first.

Rodgers was 28-of-43 passing for 356 yards and two touchdowns, with one rare interception. It wasn’t as clinical as he’s been lately, but he made the one play to Cook when he had to, breaking the hearts of the Cowboys and their fans after a 13-3 season, and what appeared to be a magical comeback by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

Trailing 21-3, Prescott brought them back to a 28-28 tie late in the fourth, with his own particular brand of special.

The rookie threw for 302 and three touchdowns, and ran for the two-point conversion to even it.

But he couldn’t match Rodgers, or at least didn’t have enough time.

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Josh McDaniels conflicted about taking 49ers job

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the 49ers search for a new coach and a new General Manager, they have one overriding priority: Making sure the coach and G.M. will get along well.

One of the leading candidates to become the next head coach has one overriding priority: Making sure his next NFL head-coaching job will work out far better than his first one.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is regarded as being the top candidate for the job. Some league insiders believe the job is his if he wants it. Indeed, one league source tells PFT that McDaniels has been reaching out to potential assistant coaches and urged them to remain available.

That said, others believe McDaniels is conflicted about the job. He has four young children, and there’s a strong desire to not uproot the family for a short-term stint on the other side of the country. As the Broncos coach in 2009 and most of 2010, McDaniels didn’t even two full seasons to turn around the Broncos. Given San Francisco’s recent trend of  parting ways with coaches (three left in roughly 24 months), there’s legitimate concern that McDaniels possibly won’t be coaching for an extended period of time.

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan also is believed to be one of the top candidates, and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable could emerge as a dark horse for the job — especially if he could be paired with someone from the Seattle front office in an anti-Baalke/Harbaugh arrangement that would stabilize the 49ers and pluck a couple of key pieces away from a top rival.

Another factor could be availability to be hired. Neither Shanahan nor McDaniels can get the job until the Falcons’ and Patriots’ seasons end, respectively. Cable can be hired now.

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NFL still reviewing Joey Porter case under personal conduct policy

CORRECTS THAT THE ALTERCATION WAS OUTSIDE A PITTSBURGH BAR, NOT A MIAMI BAR AS ORIGINALLY SENT -  Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter works with players during an NFL football practice, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Porter is back with the team in time for Sunday's playoff game in Kansas City after several charges were dropped following an altercation outside a Pittsburgh bar last weekend. The Steelers face the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional NFL playoff game on Sunday. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) AP

Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter will work on Sunday night in Kansas City. Whether he will be missing any work in the future remains to be seen.

A league spokesman tells PFT that Porter’s situation is still being reviewed under the personal conduct policy. The Steelers initially placed Porter on leave but then reinstated him when the charges arising from an incident last Sunday night, which initially included aggravated assault, were reduced significantly by a local prosecutor, who has broad discretion when deciding on charges — and who ultimately will be subject to re-election in an electorate chock full of Steelers fans. (Just saying.)

Porter currently faces charges of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct only.

The league consistently has said that non-players are held to a higher standard than players. Given the high standard to which players are routinely held, incidents involving coaches and front-office executives typically are monitored closely by the NFL Players Association for signs of a double standard or other inconsistency in treatment.

Among other things, the league office could choose to place Porter on paid leave pending the resolution of his criminal case and/or the outcome of his internal review under the conduct policy. In theory, the NFL could implement paid leave at any point, including before next weekend’s AFC title game, if the Steelers prevail on Sunday night.

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Cowboys come back to tie it with Packers in fourth

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball while being pursued by Morgan Burnett #42 of the Green Bay Packers in the first half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys had every reason to go away. They didn’t.

With Dak Prescott making plays in the passing game and the running game eventually wearing Green Bay down, the Cowboys have come back to tie the NFC Divisional Round game with the Packers 28-28 with 4:08 left in the game.

Prescott hit Dez Bryant with the touchdown pass, and then ran in the two-point conversion to tie. But it was their patience on offense that allowed them back into a game they trailed 21-3 at one point.

Ezekiel Elliott has 22 carries for 125 yards so far, and has provided the kind of rhythm Prescott has enjoyed all year.

And finally, we have a playoff finish that lives up to the hype.

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Mathews, Toussaint, Green inactive for Steelers

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 17:  Fitzgerald Toussaint #33 of the Pittsburgh Steelers fumbles the ball against the Denver Broncos  during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers defensive end Ricardo Mathews, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and tight end Ladarius Green will not play in Sunday night’s divisional playoff game at Kansas City.

The Steelers had listed Green as doubtful. He’s now missed four straight games due to a concussion. Mathews (ankle) and Toussaint (concussion) had been listed as questionable.

The Steelers had previously listed linebacker Anthony Chickillo as out due to an ankle injury. Also inactive for the Steelers are Zach Mettenberger, Brian Mihalik and Al-Hajj Shabazz.

The Chiefs have no injury-related absences. Inactive for the Chiefs are Victor Ochi, Tyler Bray, Knile Davis, D.J. White, T.J. Barnes, Mike Person and Ross Travis.

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