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Bucs re-do Jackson and Nicks deals to create cap room

Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Vincent Jackson AP

The Buccaneers were among the most active teams in free agency last year, and they’re setting the stage to be able to again next year if they choose.

According to Pat Yasinskas of, the Bucs restructured the deals of wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks to create nearly $18 million more cap room in 2013.

The Bucs simply turned guaranteed salaries next year into roster bonuses this year, allowing them to prorate the money over the length of the deals.

That gave $12.16 million to Jackson and an extra $11.875 million for Nicks in exchange for the space next year. The Bucs now have $98 million committed to next year’s cap, which is projected to be around $121 million.

Whether they spend to that limit for a team which hasn’t created much buzz remains to be seen. The Bucs haven’t been selling out on a regular basis, or even getting to the 85 percent threshold to get on local television.

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Sam Bradford to throw today as he comes back from shoulder injury

Sam Bradford AP

We can debate later whether it’s a good thing, but it appears Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is closer to being back.

According to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Bradford’s apparently been cleared from the left AC joint sprain that’s kept him out the last two weeks, along with the concussion which he was cleared from last week.

I just don’t know where we are from a throwing standpoint with him,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “He threw a little bit on Thursday in Detroit, . . . The big test will be [Tuesday] in terms of him throwing the ball around and seeing if there is residual soreness.”

While the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder, Kelly still worried whether it will affect Bradford’s throws.

“If you have some instability in there, you’re susceptible to something if you get hit,” he said. “Can he handle that? Can he take a hit? It’s not something that’s going to affect him long-term.”

Of course, unless Bradford can play defense, it might not be enough to help things, as the Eagles have been rather porous in his absence (90 points in two games), knocking Mark Sanchez way down the list of concerns.

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NFL really is doing a better job of spotting concussions

Brian Hoyer AP

In Week 11, the NFL’s current system for spotting a concussed player and getting him off the field failed, badly. Rams quarterback Case Keenum, clearly in distress, remained in the game when he shouldn’t have, due in large part to a too-many-chefs system that allows the buck to be passed like the salt and pepper when it fails.

But despite the periodic mishaps (and even one mishap per season is far too many), the NFL has truly made strides when protecting players from themselves. Peter King of explains that, in the same game that saw Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger self-report concussion symptoms (a headache), Steelers coach Mike Tomlin ensured that linebacker Ryan Shazier would submit to the concussion protocol, against his wishes.

Richard Ellenbogen, the co-chair of the NFL’s head, neck, and spine committee, told King that the ATC spotter noticed that Shazier was woozy in the second quarter. Video showed a helmet-to-helmet hit, with Shazier’s head also hitting the ground. As doctors attempted to evaluation Shazier, he insisted he was fine. And then Tomlin intervened, telling Shazier, “You will listen to these doctors, and you’ll do it now.”

Shazier was later ruled out for the game, and he now resides in the league’s concussion protocol.

“This was a very good day for culture change,” Ellenbogen told King. “The team was all-in. The coach was involved, and he was fully supportive of what the medical people were doing. He couldn’t have been more supportive. Then we had a player self-report in the middle of an intense game, which is exactly what we want. He put health and safety over the competition. Concussions sometimes can take a few minutes to appear, as in this case. Today the system worked. The humans worked.”

It was a fortuitous turn of events for the NFL, which only six days earlier saw the ESPN Monday Night Countdown crew properly chastising the league for its handling of the Keenum situation — with a commercial for the new movie Concussion playing during a break later in the show. And it was smart for the league to ensure that a positive story regarding the handling of concussions has made it to light.

But even before Keenum, the system worked in Houston, where quarterback Brian Hoyer was removed from play not because of anything the ATC spotter saw or anything Hoyer said but because others noticed Hoyer wasn’t right.

“I think the guys just recognized on the sideline I wasn’t acting normal and then you get checked out,” Hoyer told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “I think it was a little bit of everything teammates, coaches, trainers I mean it’s kind of a collective thing where I think for me you know I was lucky they spotted it. . . . [Y]ou’re kind of so used to playing and you get dinged a little bit. . . . [A]drenaline is carrying you, autopilot I guess you would call it. You can still function, but I think when you’re missing certain things some of those guys around kind of notice and did the right thing.”
It’s important that the league has plenty of eyes watching for signs of concussions. But unless the lines of responsibility and accountability are clear and unambiguous, it remains possible that a player from time to time will fall through the cracks.
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Rams owner Stan Kroenke meets with Missouri governor

Kroenke Getty Images

With increasing signs that his wish to move the Rams to Los Angeles lacks the support of the majority of owners, perhaps Stan Kroenke is looking at options closer to his current home.

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kroenke met with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at Rams Park Monday. The chair of the St. Louis stadium task force, Dave Peacock, was also at Rams Park but didn’t take part in the meeting. A spokesperson for Nixon would confirm the meeting but provided no other details.

The meeting might be the first face-to-face meeting between Kroenke and the Governor regarding the possibility of relocation, or the state’s effort to keep the team in place.

While details are scarce, it seems that the league may be trying to nudge Kroenke in the direction of a new stadium in St. Louis. Already, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has voiced his support for the Chargers (and possibly Raiders) and the competing Carson project.

The league’s oft-stated stance is that they’d prefer to keep teams in their existing markets if there’s a viable stadium plan in place. St. Louis has at least made an effort in that regard, while the Chargers and Raiders seem stuck in a years-long holding pattern looking for new buildings to replace their decrepit ones.

While Kroenke could just be checking off a box before he packs up and moves, the possibility of a thaw between him and the locals who want to keep his team could be an interesting development, on the eve of this week’s owners meetings in Dallas.

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Cromartie on Beckham: Still so much room for him to grow

Odell Beckham, Darrelle Revis AP

Earlier this year, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham a “one-year wonder” because he felt that he had not seen enough of Beckham to know that he could produce on an every-week basis.

Cromartie made those comments in early October and Beckham has done a pretty good job of proving that he can thrive every time out since then. He has 72 catches for 1,005 yards and nine touchdowns on the year, putting him on pace to end the year with the kind of production rarely seen from wide receiver in their first two years.

On Monday, Cromartie again referenced that youth while discussing the potential for growth that he feels Beckham has within his reach.

“I still feel like there’s still so much room for him to grow,” Cromartie said, via “He’s a young, athletic guy that can go out and make plays, and make unbelievable catches. He’s proven that over and over. He does have a lot of room to grow, because he’s so young. He’s only in his second year, so he only can evolve in that offense. Being around the guys, like Eli Manning, [can] make him evolve more. Yes, he has a lot of room to grow, to be the guy that everyone knows he can be.”

Beckham has played 23 NFL games, so it would be rather silly to think that he’s a fully formed player even if what we’ve seen puts him squarely in the upper tier of NFL wideouts. With Darrelle Revis still in the concussion protocol, Marcus Williams battling a knee injury and Cromartie still prone to getting burnt, his current level may be more than enough to make nightmares for the Jets this Sunday.

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NFL convening “health and safety” call on Tuesday

nfl Getty Images

The NFL’s quarterly meetings will occur in Dallas on Tuesday. On the docket is an item that is drawing some attention.

Per multiple sources, the league has scheduled for Tuesday a conference call between the NFL, the NFL Players Association, and the players regarding player “health and safety.”

The email message scheduling the call, according to one source, explains that the conference call is required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Another source suggested that the plan will be for all players to participate in the call.

It’s unclear whether this is an annual event. Regardless, it has gotten extra attention in light of last week’s Case Keenum concussion debacle, along with the looming release of the film Concussion, which based on the now-rampant TV commercials clearly hopes to make the NFL look bad for its mishandling of the concussion problem. In every version of the spots being televised pretty much everywhere (except NFL Network), a member of Congress is grilling the Commissioner, played by an actor who looks nothing like the Commissioner.

As it relates to the issue of concussions, the NFL looks nothing like it did prior to October 2009, when Roger Goodell and others were summoned to Capitol Hill and sufficiently intimated to take action. Still, the Keenum situation from nine days ago demonstrates that plenty still needs to be done.

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Pagano finally plays the “100 percent” card on Luck

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwqzzwu0ntvjmdi5zgqwnjzimtfmzjyzyji3nmmzyzjk AP

The initial Twitter-fueled headline emerging from Monday’s Chuck Pagano press conference focused on the adjectives he used to describe the question of whether 40-year-old Matthew Hasselbeck is supplanting Andrew Luck as the team’s starting quarterback. The far more significant comment from Pagano arose from the specific number he uttered.

“Andrew is our starting quarterback and when he is healthy and he is 100 percent healthy and the doctors and our trainers say he is ready to roll then he is going to be under center,” Pagano said, via comments distributed by the team.

And there it is. The “100 percent” rule. The standard that PFT argued Pagano should use on Luck back in Week Six, after Hasselbeck’s Jimmy Connors/Michael Jordan/Willis Reed performance against the Texans and when Luck still was nursing a shoulder and/or rib injury. (Heck, we even prefaced that explanation by saying it would be “ludicrous” to even suggest benching Luck for Hasselbeck; “ludicrous” is one of the terms Pagano used when addressing the possibility on Monday.)

So when is a guy with a lacerated kidney and a separate abdominal strain truly “100 percent”? February? April? May?

For all the clarity implied in the three digits, it’s a loose, vague, fuzzy standard, allowing Pagano to go with Hasselbeck’s hot hand as long as it stays hot, keeping Luck on the bench without ever benching him.

From the perspective of Pagano’s long-term employment prospects in a job he has said repeatedly will be his last, there’s nothing ridiculous or ludicrous about that.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles Danny Woodhead #39 of the San Diego Chargers during a game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 22, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills parted ways with LB A.J. Tarpley.

Is firing offensive coordinator Bill Lazor now too little and too late for the Dolphins?

A look at the Patriots’ clock management on Sunday night.

Jets S Calvin Pryor got the support of coach Todd Bowles after Ryan Tannehill called Pryor “classless.”

A blocked field goal made for a happy NFL debut for Ravens DE Brent Urban.

The Bengals defensive backs tackled well against the Rams.

With Josh McCown injured again, what do the Browns do at quarterback?

Steelers WR Markus Wheaton took advantage of increased opportunities in Week 12.

There was no “Victory Monday” day off for the Texans.

WR Andre Johnson played 33 snaps for the Colts last Sunday.

Jaguars WR Allen Hurns’s status for this week hasn’t been determined yet.

How does the Titans’ home losing streak measure up to other extended bouts of futility?

A breakdown of playing time for the Broncos in their win over the Patriots.

Chiefs LB Tamba Hali’s NFL career has exceeded his own expectations.

The Raiders running game never caught fire against the Titans.

Youth is being served on the Chargers defense.

Rookie T Chaz Green is expected to return to action for the Cowboys.

Giants players say the playoffs, not beating the Jets, is the biggest motivation this week.

The Eagles added C Barrett Jones to the roster.

Redskins DL Ricky Jean Francois thinks his team can make a Super Bowl run.

Everybody around the Bears was in a dancing mood on Thanksgiving.

CB Alex Carter won’t get back on the field for the Lions this year.

The Packers got TE Andrew Quarless back at practice Monday.

Coach Mike Zimmer praised the Vikings for playing like a “smart football team.”

The Falcons hope RB Devonta Freeman and WR Devin Hester can provide some spark upon their returns to the lineup.

Said newly signed Panthers CB Cortland Finnegan, “Any guy who ever plays the game, they just want one more snap, let’s just be honest. I got giddy just putting on the helmet today.”

What approach should the Saints employ for their final five games?

Losing to the Colts hasn’t dampened good spirits around the Buccaneers.

It looks like rookie David Johnson will be the No. 1 running back for the Cardinals this week.

Rams RB Todd Gurley got emotional over his college coach Mark Richt’s ouster at Georgia.

RB Shaun Draughn is making the most of his chance with the 49ers.

TE Luke Willson’s importance to the Seahawks will go up with Jimmy Graham injured.

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Matt Millen: “Sorry, Detroit, it didn’t quite work out”

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Getty Images

After failing as the Lions’ team president, Matt Millen settled back into a career as a broadcaster and rarely discussed the mistakes he made in Detroit. But on Sunday, he apologized.

Millen, working the Buccaneers-Colts game on FOX, chuckled as he acknowledged that he never should have been trusted with running a franchise.

“A little bit of a tactical error on my part, I had this fleeting dream that I thought maybe I could run a team,” Millen said. “Sorry, Detroit, it didn’t quite work out.”

Millen is obviously right that it didn’t work out: In 2001 he took over a team that had gone 9-7 the year before, promptly turned them into a 2-14 team his first year, and never even reached .500, with his tenure culminating in the NFL’s only 0-16 season ever in Millen’s final year, in 2008.

The Lions are currently looking for a new General Manager, having just fired Martin Mayhew, who was promoted to the job after Millen was finally fired. The good news for the Lions is that whoever they hire, it can’t possibly be worse than Millen.

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PFT’s Week 13 Power Rankings

Cam Newton AP

1. Panthers (11-0; last week No. 2): It’s been a year since they’ve lost a regular-season game. The real question for the rest of the current year is whether they’ll win three games in the postseason.

2. Broncos (9-2; No. 6): The Broncos could be paying a quarterback $19 million next year, after all. Just not the one they thought.

3. Patriots (10-1; No. 1): Will Tom Brady eventually be throwing passes to Tony Gonzalez, Randy Moss, and/or Terrell Owens?

4. Bengals (9-2; No. 4): The Bengals are back. As long as they don’t have to play at night.

5. Cardinals (9-2; No. 3): Good teams find a way to win even when they’re playing the opposite of good.

6. Vikings (8-3; No. 8): The Steve Hutchinson/Nate Burleson Tit-for-Tat Bowl finally has both teams playing for something other than spite.

7. Packers (7-4; No. 5): If Peyton Manning or Tom Brady had young teammates who weren’t spending enough time preparing to play, the last thing either of them would need to do is complain about it publicly.

8. Seahawks (6-5; No. 9): Russell Wilson played better than ever with Marshawn Lynch not in the building. Which may not be a coincidence.

9. Chiefs (6-5; No. 10): Yes, the 49ers kept the wrong guy.

10. Steelers (6-5; No. 7): That fake field goal was so bad that the Colts were laughing at it.

11. Colts (6-5; No. 14): 4-0 is the new 40.

12. Texans (6-5; No. 15): Few teams have improved more than this one during the season, and few can figure out how they did it.

13. Raiders (5-6; No. 13): Every time the Raiders give us a reason to give up on them, they give us a reason not to.

14. Bills (5-6; No. 12): They need to finish 4-1 to match what they did without LeSean McCoy, Tyrod Taylor, Charles Clay, and Rex Ryan.

15. Jets (6-5; No. 16): Stephen Ross no longer owns the Dolphins; the Jets do.

16. Bears (5-6; No. 20): Thirty years after a team to never forget, the Bears are gradually piecing together a season to remember.

17. Washington (5-6; No. 25): I like that at home; I hate that on the road.

18. Giants (5-6; No. 11): How bad would they have played in Washington if they hadn’t had two weeks to get ready?

19. Falcons (6-5; No. 17): Matty Ice has a modified nickname.

20. Buccaneers (5-6; No. 18): Is it a drop if it never actually touches your hands?

21. Lions (4-7; No. 24): The Lions have mastered Cooterball.

22. Ravens (4-7; No. 28): Thanks, Ravens, for the annual reminder that the Texans actually paid many millions of dollars to Matt Schaub.

23. Rams (4-7; No. 21): Apparently, “kiss my ass” comes from the Competition Committee’s special parliamentary procedures known as Robert’s Rules of Odor.

24. Dolphins (4-7; No. 22): If the Dolphins fire someone every time they lose to the Jets, the Dolphins may eventually have no one left to fire.

25. Jaguars (4-7; No. 23): At least folks in Jacksonville can enjoy the holidays without being distracted by playoff seedings.

26. Eagles (4-7; No. 26): At this rate, the Eagles may give the Titans a first-round pick to take Chip Kelly.

27. Saints (4-7; No. 27): Drew Brees will make it to 45 only if he becomes a kicker.

28. Chargers (3-8; No. 31): The Chargers are so bad that beating the Jaguars is actually an upset.

29. 49ers (3-8; No. 29): The 49ers are so bad that Rob Schneider is calling them out.

30. Cowboys (3-8; No. 19): At least the expectations won’t be quite as high next year.

31. Titans (2-9; No. 30): If the NFL played 45 minutes game, the Titans would be a lock for the Super Bowl.

32. Browns (2-9; No. 32): A Pick Six and a Kick Six and anyone who watched that one got sick at least six times.

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Stedman Bailey improving, still in intensive care

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 04: Wide receiver Stedman Bailey #12 of the St. Louis Rams (right) celebrates his third quarter touchdown with wide receiver Kenny Britt #18 (left) during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey remains in a Florida hospital after being shot in the head twice last week, but word on Monday was positive about the process he’s making after having surgery.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher offered an update on Bailey’s condition during his meeting with the media and said that the wideout was still in intensive care as he recovers, but that there was an encouraging development that he was able to share with the team over the weekend.

“He’s improving,” Fisher said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “One thing that was really, really cool [and] really, really emotional was that he obviously had intensive surgery — he was in surgery for over six hours — to remove one bullet. There were two wounds to the head, two shots. He was in a medically induced coma for obvious reason to keep the swelling down in the brain. … His girlfriend texted a picture to some of his teammates yesterday in the locker room [before the game] of him signing his name on a piece of paper, so [we] got to share that with the team yesterday and it was good news.”

Fisher said he didn’t have any more information on the investigation into the shooting, which saw Bailey and another man injured while sitting in a car with three others, including two minors, who were not injured.

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Rex Ryan: Bills have to get better challenge system in place

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills reacts during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 23, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Sunday, Bills coach Rex Ryan responded to questions about not challenging a Jeremy Maclin catch that looked like an incompletion on replays with an answer that included complaints about the lack of replays on the video board at Arrowhead Stadium.

Those replays would have helped Ryan on the sideline, but there’s little reason why coaches up in the booth wouldn’t have been able to notice that it didn’t appear to be a catch. It was a rough day all around on the challenge front.

The Bills were 0-2 on their challenges and they failed to challenge two other plays that could have gone their way, leaving Ryan with little choice but to promise changes to the team’s system in the weeks to come.

“There is a process in place,” Ryan said, via the Buffalo News. “Did that process let us down? Absolutely did. It failed on a couple of occasions, obviously. There’s something we clearly have to improve in. I thought it was going well this year, but obviously we need to find a way to get it where it’s better, where something like where people at home can see something and we don’t see it. To me, that can’t happen. It won’t happen in the future.”

Ryan didn’t outline what changes would be made or who was responsible for advising him, although he did say that team chaplain James Trapp, who was seen on TV talking to Ryan during a possible challenge, wasn’t involved. Sticking with the men in the booth over the man further upstairs would seem to be the best approach to replays, although Buffalo’s experience last Sunday probably could have been improved just by flipping a coin.

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Pernell McPhee gleeful about spanking Bears gave Aaron Rodgers

Pernell McPhee

As thinly veiled shots at opponents go, the latest to come back and bite Aaron Rodgers was fairly innocuous.

This is the same guy who in discussing a 24-game winning home streak over the Lions said: “It’s just kind of fell our way the last 20 times or whatever but it’s always been very competitive.”

So when he followed with “It’s always fun to beat the Bears,” after a Week One victory, it didn’t seem like that big a diss.

But Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee certainly took it that way.

“C’mon, the quarterback said he loved beating up on us. Who he think we are?” McPhee said, via Jeff Dickerson of “We ain’t the team from last year, or two years ago, or three years ago. You know what I’m saying? This is the 2015 Chicago Bears. A lot of guys took it personal, especially when some guy says he love beating up on your brother. I ain’t going to let nobody come and beat my little brother up.

You know, we went in there and slapped him on his ass. They need to go ask him how that feels.”

Considering it was their fourth loss in five games, it likely stings a little. But Rodgers also continued a run of ineffectiveness on his own, completing just 22-of-43 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The 62.4 rating was the lowest of his career at Lambeau Field.

And limiting to that was gratifying to McPhee, who clearly took offense at Rodgers’ Soldier Field gloating.

“This game, it can get real personal,” McPhee said. “When you are winning, it is all fun. When you are losing, it is very personal. I think the last two games we lost, Denver and Minnesota, a lot of guys took it upon themselves that this, going in, that this Green Bay game was going to be personal.”

We’ll have to wait a year to see how Rodgers responds to the Bears in particular, though we’ll see Thursday against the Lions if the recent backside-smacking got his attention.

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Jason Garrett says Tony Romo “has a lot of football left in him”

Tony Romo AP

Tony Romo’s turning 36 next offseason, and will be coming off a twice-broken collarbone that turned this into a nightmare season for him and the Cowboys.

But coach Jason Garrett can easily think of the future, because he thinks Romo will be back, and better than ever.

We think Tony has a lot of football left in him,” Garrett said, via Todd Archer of

The list of recent surgeries for Romo is long, including the two on his back in 2013. And though this is his third time breaking his left collarbone since 2010, this one won’t require another surgery, and they expect him to be fully healed by camp next season. But Garrett said the mental hurdle will be as hard to clear as the physical one.

“Tony’s a great competitor, Tony wants to play as much as anybody, wants to play at a high level and help our team, and when that gets taken away from you early on in the season, you have to watch, that’s challenging. And then you get a chance to come back and then it happens again, those are not easy,” Garrett said. “There’s a tremendous investment that everybody makes in this, and the commitment that he’s made to our team over the course of his career, the investment he has made has been significant — when you can’t go out there and play because of injury — that can be frustrating for everybody.

“But somehow, some way, you’ve got to get your mind right, and you’ve got to start again. It’s a clean slate, think about the right things to get yourself back with your rehab and your treatment and get focused on the future. And he’s certainly doing that even though it’s not an easy thing to do.”

And for now, he’s their quarterback of the future, though the clock is ticking on that particular designation as well.

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Ravens win an emotional one for Will Hill, Brent Urban

Atlanta Falcons v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

When the story of the 2015 NFL season is written, last night may not even be a footnote, one bad team beating another bad team in a mildly interesting fashion.

But for the guys involved in the game-deciding play, it was a novel, full of redemption and reward for years pf perserverance.

The Ravens won on a last second field goal block by defensive end Brent Urban, returned for a touchdown by safety Will Hill. And their reactions should tell you why it was a big deal, at least to them.

Urban called the moment “surreal” and said he was nearly speechless. The 2014 fourth-round pick lost his rookie season to a knee injury, then tore his biceps in training camp and was just activated last week, making it his first NFL game. He was so caught up in the moment he thought he had blocked the kick with his surgically repaired right arm instead of his left.

“It’s great for it to go our way at the end of the game with a big play,” Urban said, via Jeff Zrebeic of the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a great feeling. Things just happened our way, finally, and we’re ecstatic.”

For Hill, the relief was more temporary, since he had just given up a game-tying touchdown to Travis Benjamin with a blown coverage, so picking up the block and returning it 64 yards capped a two minutes that took him from being the cause for a loss to the cause for a win.

The swing left him a little queasy, and he admitted he nearly threw up after scoring his touchdown.

“It was almost a game of redemption,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Will Hill didn’t do a very good job on that coverage. He got fooled a little bit, gave up a touchdown pass, and then comes back and picks it up and runs it in. All the guys on the field-goal block team that set the wall down the sidelines, it was just a thing of beauty.”

It might have fallen short of that standard for most. But for Urban and Hill, it created lifelong memories.

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Browns facing another Manziel decision, and soon

Johnny Manziel AP

Just a week ago, Browns coach Mike Pettine finally got permission to publicly discipline Johnny Manziel.

The team released a statement last Tuesday that said Manziel had been demoted from starter to No. 3 quarterback for Monday night’s game against the Ravens. A follow-up report said Manziel had lied to Pettine and others about the video and photos that showed up on social media from his weekend off.

Now, the Browns probably have a few hours to decide if they want to make Manziel their starter again.

Nobody inside the team will get much sleep after the way the Browns lost to the Ravens, but Tuesday morning the Browns have to start getting ready for next Sunday’s game vs. the Bengals under the assumption that Josh McCown will not be available.

At 2-9, the Browns are clearly playing for next year. We don’t know who in the front office or coaching staff will be around then, but we’ll soon know if Pettine thinks Manziel deserves another shot to start.

McCown got hurt in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss — that’s three times in McCown’s last three starts — and Pettine went to Austin Davis instead of Manziel. Davis had not previously played in a game with the Browns since being signed in September.

Manziel threw for a career-best 373 yards in a 30-9 loss at Pittsburgh on Nov. 15. It was his fifth career start and third this season, and the team announced two days later that he’d been named the starter for the rest of the season.

Despite the demotion, the Browns made Manziel active for the game vs. the Ravens. In only one of their previous 10 games had the Browns made three quarterbacks active. Last Wednesday, Pettine said Manziel was not at “a dead end” with the Browns and wouldn’t rule out the team going back to him.

But after talking about “a violation of trust,” Pettine’s next decision will reveal whether he was handing out a punishment or trying to get Manziel to learn a lesson.

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