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Transcript of Andy Reid interview from PFT Live

Former Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid gestures during a news conference with Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt introducing Reid as the Chiefs new coach in Kansas City, Missouri Reuters

[Editor’s note:  Chiefs coach Andy Reid appeared as a guest of the January 9 edition of PFT Live.  A full transcript of the interview appears below.]

Mike Florio: Now that you’re the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, the most immediate question is, will there be a play in the new playbook called the 65 toss power trap?

Andy Reid: (laughing) You’ve been talking to Gruden man.  We’ve got some good stuff in there.

MF: Well, one thing that was obvious to me watching your press conference Monday coach is you seem to be genuinely rejuvenated by this new opportunity in Kansas City.  Talk about how this change has changed you and how you feel after 14 years in Philly now getting started with the Kansas City Chiefs.

AR: Well listen, Mike, I enjoyed every minute in Philadelphia. The fans were passionate, the Luries were tremendous, and it was a good, solid — it was a great organization.  I had an opportunity to work with Joe Banner who did a phenomenal job and Howie Roseman who did a phenomenal job, Tom Heckert, all these guys, you know, the people that you deal with there as a whole, players, coaches, it was a good bunch.  This was an opportunity here to work for one of the great families in the National Football League.  So I’ve sat through all the owner/coach meetings and all that down at the owners meetings, and I’ve looked around the rooms and I understand.  I understand what the Kansas City Chiefs are all about, I’ve been in it long enough to figure it out. So when Clark Hunt came calling, I listened and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  And as he presented his side and I was able to talk to him about my side and what kind of my makeup and how I go about my business and so on, it just seemed to click and work and thus I decided to come here.

MF: And, Coach, there was all sorts of reports and speculation last week linking you to other jobs, most notably the Arizona Cardinals. Was anyone else ever in this seriously or was it all Chiefs from the get-go?

AR:  Well, listen. My wife’s from Phoenix and the Cardinals have a great organization so I, they were interested, I was interested, there was, you know, I’ve got a place out in California close to San Diego and there was some interest there and so, listen, when it was all, and they’ve got a great organization there.  So there were decisions that had to be made.  I would tell you, I just kind of came back to, like I said, there are three or four families in this league that are just, that you’d love to work for as you get old and grey like I’m getting, quickly.  So, this is one of those, one of the franchises and I was lucky enough where they came calling and lucky enough where they offered me a job.

MF: What’s the one thing you’ll carry from your 14 years of experience as a head coach with the Eagles that you think will help you the most as you start your career with the Kansas City Chiefs?

AR: Well, you know, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing really.  Until you’ve walked in a head coach’s shoes, you feel like you really know nothing.  So I’ve had that opportunity to do it and you go, doggone, all those years of experience as a coach, this is so different.  This is a different, different deal as a head football coach in this league.  So, every day from that point on that you’re appointed the head coach, you learn and that’s, it keeps your mind fresh and every day is a new day and it’s a pretty exciting thing.  So, there are only 32 of them in the whole world, man, so it’s pretty exciting.  I would tell you the same thing.  There’s a bunch of things I learned there, I’m going to try to do better here with.  I take full responsibility for the last couple years.  It wasn’t good enough, absolutely wasn’t good enough.  Learned some great lessons, I’m going to bring those with me along with all the other 12 years I was there.  I look at it as sort of 14 great years, I take that, I take all the experience of all 14 years, and try to do a better job.  We didn’t get the Super Bowl ring doggone it, Mike, and you know that’s what we’re all shooting for and we didn’t get it.  I’m going to try to do my best for this organization and allow them, all of us, to get a ring.

MF: The team that you’re with now, at least according to last year’s record, has the longest path to get to the top of the mountain.  When you look at what the Chiefs have, what happened to the Chiefs in 2012, what’s you’re assessment of why they finished 2-14?

AR:  Things didn’t work out.  Whether it was injuries or whatever, it just didn’t work out for them.  Specifically at specific positions, it didn’t work out.  I would take you to the other side of that and I just say good coaches and good players, if you can combine those things you’re going to win a lot of games.  If you can eliminate distractions, if there’s no pulling one way or the other, and this isn’t saying that that’s what happened there, I’m saying in general in this league.  If everyone is pulling in the same direction, front office, coaching staff, players, if you’re pulling in the same direction, when those things get out of whack, normally good things don’t happen.  So, you take those few facets, everyone pulling in the same direction, you take the combination of good players and good coaches, I think those are all important for teams to win.  And normally if they’re not something in those areas there, there’s a problem.

MF: You had a great comment the other day about looking for the next Len Dawson, the only quarterback who has led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl win.  The obvious question in response to that Coach is how do you go about finding the next Len Dawson in Kansas City?

AR: Well you better start by looking at the guys who are here.  And you better start with how many coordinators, well look at skill level, and then how many coordinators have these guys had?  How many changes?  That’s a fragile position right there, man.  If you’re talking about guys that you’re asking ‘Am I going to be a cardiologist or an orthopod?,’ one of those deals, and all of a sudden you’re going to change on them and make them overnight, in one year go from being the cardiologist to the orthopod, that’s a tough thing to do.  So that’s how it is when you have to learn new offenses and new ways, it’s not easy.  But you better analyze what’s there, and then you always keep your eyes open for that position, you’re always going to do that.  So, if you have a great player, you’re going to make sure you have a great backup, and so we’re going to do that.  We’ll look at it in draft, we’ll look at in in trade, we’ll look at it in free agency, we’ll keep our eyes open.  But first we’re going to look at what we have and analyze that.

MF: You’ve got a track record of getting the absolute most out of whatever quarterback you put on the field, you’ve done that consistently.  What is it that you do with a quarterback that gets him to be the best that he can be?  What is it that’s coachable that isn’t already part of that quarterback’s makeup?

AR:  As a coach, we’re here to teach, and to teach you better know your system.  As a coach, I’ve been lucky enough to have the Marty Mornhinwegs of the world, the Brad Childressess of the world, I mean I’ve had some good quarterback coaches of late, Doug Pederson, these are good football coaches, Pat Shurmur, good football coaches that can teach, most of all teach. And so, and then the players have been good players. It’s just a matter of being able to pull it out of that player and try to find what makes him tick and evaluate him the right way.  Make sure you find guys you can work into your system and then have the aptitude and ability, skill and ability, and can think on their feet maybe. You’ve got to do it quick, I mean real quick, and so you’ve got to be able to make accurate decisions in a very short amount of time.

MF: When do you anticipate making decisions about which coaches are going to be joining you as members of the staff in Kansas City?

AR: Doing it right now. Right now. We’ve been interviewing general managers and that process is still going on. And then I’ve made calls to coaches and I’m starting to bring them in here now. We’ve got the first ones on campus right now, so working through that process right now too.

MF: Any names you want to announce? No one’s really watching this, so, you know. . . .

AR: (laughing) That’s what I want to do right here. You are the best, man.

MF: You’ve got that first overall pick in the draft and it doesn’t seem like there are any quarterbacks out there that are worthy of being taken first overall, is that going to be the first thing you do when you evaluate the draft class?  Is there a quarterback that would be worthy of that first selection?

AR:  We’ll look at that position; we’re going to do that. We’ll look at all positions but we’re going look at that position. You’ve got to go through and analyze that, and that’s time right now.  We’re early in the process so we’ve got to get in and do all that, do all the evaluations and that’s a long tedious deal, but let’s get it knocked out.  A lot of the scouts and personnel guys have been doing that throughout the year and then what they do is, they bring the information in and then the coaches are part of the evaluation and then you build yourself up to a draft after having an opportunity to meet with these kids. We’ll see how it goes. Mike, the most important thing is that it’s the right pick.  So, we get so caught up, and you can’t get caught up right now and say you have to have a quarterback. You do that and it’s not the right guy, that’s a problem, that’s a real problem, that sets you back.  So whoever you take at that spot, it better be the right guy, that’s the most important, it doesn’t matter the position, really doesn’t matter, as long as he’s a good football player.

MF: One other area there’s been a lot of discussion on lately, and you played there this year, you go back there next year, FedEx Field. You’ve been there every year since it opened, a lot of criticism of the quality of the surface there. You were there in November, what’s your assessment of the condition, the quality, the overall playing surface at FedEx Field?

AR: The actual field itself?

MF: Yes, the actual turf itself.

AR: Well, Mike, it, it’s not bad (laughs). It’s not bad.

MF: Does that mean it’s not good?

AR: Well, I can’t tell you that it’s, it’s not bad. Listen, those grounds guys bust their tails to make sure it’s right, we played there this year. I’ve found in years past that it’s fine.

MF: But isn’t there a deeper issue that the NFL needs to be looking out now, Coach, that the NFL needs to be ensuring that these fields are always good, that they’re always the same. You’re talking about huge financial investments in the players, you want to keep them healthy, you don’t want them to get injured by anything other than the contact they experience on the football field and we know that’s inevitable, but you don’t what them to be injured by where they’re playing, where they’re running, how they’re setting their feet. Hasn’t the time come for the NFL to say we want the field to be as good as it can possible be in every NFL stadium?

AR: Listen, the field when we played there, it had rained, so there was a weather issues. In the years past the field’s been fine. I don’t know what happened the other day, I actually didn’t have a chance to see the game because I was doing this here.  You’re going to have to make that decision on that.  The one thing that I think people need to know, is that those grounds crew people spend so much time and effort there trying to make it right.

MF: Well, we know you’re going to be spending a lot of time and effort trying to make things right in Kansas City. It’s a new day for the Chiefs, a new day for you, and we wish you all the best. Congratulations on your success, best wishes going forward and we hope to talk to you soon.

AR: Listen Mike, it was my pleasure. Thank you.

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Rams won’t comment on details of Jeff Fisher’s contract

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Jeff Fisher of the Los Angeles Rams walks on the field before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Getty Images

It took the Rams months to leak (and then to confirm) the news that coach Jeff Fisher has a new contract. More months and weeks likely will go by before the team leaks and/or confirms any details about the deal.

Asked specifically about the question of whether Fisher’s new deal contains a one-year escape clause for the team, Rams COO Kevin Demoff declined to address any aspect of the contract.

Some league insiders who had been saying that Fisher has had a new contract in place for months also believe that the deal (reported as a two-year extension) gives the Rams the ability to pull the plug after one year, technically making it a one-year extension with a one-year option held by the team.

Regardless of whether it’s a one-year or two-year extension, the fact that Fisher got the contract before the season began makes it possible that owner Stan Kroenke will decide to move on after 2016, if for example the team finishes with a 4-12 or 5-11 record.

Asked by reporters on Sunday whether Fisher expects to be the coach in 2017, he didn’t dismiss the question as ridiculous in light of his newly-disclosed extension.

“Yes, I do,” Fisher said. “I’ve got some work to do here to finish up strong. You know, we have some personnel issues to deal with and get better. And we have some issues to deal with from an offensive side of the ball.”

This response implies that if the team doesn’t “finish up strong” Kroenke could decide to make a change. If the new contract has only one year guaranteed, the buyout would necessarily be lower.

And with the Rams becoming able to sell premium products at their new stadium no later than February 15, 2017, a buyout for Fisher could become a loss leader for Kroenke.

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Trading injuries, then big plays, Seahawks go up 17-7

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Free safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

This Panthers-Seahawks game certainly doesn’t lack for subplots.

But there’s a pretty insane game going on at the same time.

Immediately after Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was carted off with an apparent lower leg injury, the Panthers cut the Seahawks lead to 10-7 when previously benched Cam Newton aired out a 55-yard touchdown to Ted Ginn Jr., who caught it.

Roll that around in your head for a minute.

And then the Seahawks went back up 17-7 when Thomas Rawls popped a 45-yard touchdown run.

The plays have been coming as quickly as the injuries and the storylines, as Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson has also hobbled off with a hamstring. Like Thomas, he’s questionable to return.

No matter who’s left or who wins, this game is certainly going to be exciting the rest of the night.

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Seahawks take advantage, up 10-0 on Panthers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throws before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear) AP

Well, Cam Newton is back on the field. But he’s in a hole, already.

The reigning MVP has returned to the field after his one-play benching, but he’s in a 10-0 hole at Seattle.

The Panthers started Derek Anderson for what was termed a coaches decision, but after he threw an interception that led to a quick field goal, the Seahawks have stretched their lead to 10-0 on Thomas Rawls‘ touchdown run.

Whether or not we get a clear explanation for what Newton did to get benched for a down remains to be seen, but the Panthers generally struggle offensively when they can’t play from ahead, which could make this one fascinating for a number of reasons.

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Blake Bortles: This season is “the biggest nightmare possible”

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 04:   Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars passes against the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field on December 4, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles‘ bad 2016 season may have hit a new low on Sunday.

Bortles was intercepted twice by the Broncos and lost a fumble in a 20-10 loss that saw him complete 19-of-42 passes to register the lowest quarterback rating of his career. One of the interceptions was returned for a touchdown, making it three times in the last four weeks that a defense has done that against the Jags.

Bortles has now thrown 15 interceptions and lost four fumbles for the 2-10 Jaguars in a season fit for a horror movie.

“It’s the biggest nightmare possible,” Bortles said after Sunday’s 20-10 loss to Denver in which he committed three turnovers. “But what are you going to do about it? You can’t sit there in a corner and pout. You can’t blame people. You can’t feel sorry for yourself because I think all that’s going to do is affect the way I play.”

Bortles has been dealing with a shoulder injury, but said that wasn’t the cause of his problems. The issues have appeared more mechanical and Bortles has brought in outside help during the season in an attempt to get back on track. It hasn’t worked and it feels like there’s a pretty good chance that it’s going to be up to a new coaching staff to correct them come 2017.

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Jay Gruden not happy after latest loss

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins watches warm ups prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

Two weeks ago tonight, Washington obliterated Green Bay to move to 6-3-1. Since then, Washington has lost at Dallas and now at Arizona and coach Jay Gruden isn’t happy about it.

Via Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Gruden could be heard yelling at the team after the 31-23 loss to the Cardinals. Gruden specifically was complaining that the team hadn’t given its all during the week.

The loss, which has dropped Washington to 6-5-1, will make it harder to get back to the postseason. Paraphrasing Jim Mora’s epic rant from 15 years ago, Gruden told reporters, “There’s no talk about the playoffs. We’re just trying to win the next game.”

The next game will be at Philadelphia, followed by a home game againt the Panthers, a trip to Chicago, and a regular-season finale vs. the Giants.

 

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Derek Anderson starts instead of Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The first surprise for the Panthers Sunday night came on the first snap.

Derek Anderson started at quarterback in place of reigning MVP Cam Newton, and promptly threw an interception on the first play of the game.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Newton is healthy and it was a coaches decision.

That may have to do with their ability to protect him, as their offensive line has been scrambled by injuries, and they have a center making his first NFL start among the other switches.

Still, it’s a surprise, as Newton is ostensibly healthy.

UPDATE 8:45 p.m. ET: Newton returned to the field for the second series, which makes this an apparent benching.

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Chip Kelly doesn’t commit to Colin Kaepernick next week

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 04:  Mitch Unrein #98 of the Chicago Bears attempts to sack Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers, but is held back by  Daniel Kilgore #67 in the third quarter at Soldier Field on December 4, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers benched quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Sunday. It’s unclear whether he’ll remain on the bench next Sunday against the Jets.

“We haven’t had any discussions about it,” coach Chip Kelly told reporters after the loss in Chicago regarding whether Kaepernick will return in Week 14. “It was my decision to make and made a move to see if we can get a spark and to see where we were. At that point of time of the game we were down a couple of scores and obviously we got throw it to see if we can get a spark for the team. There are no permanent decisions.”

Still, it sounds as if Kaepernick will be back, given Kelly’s explanation for making the change.

“I thought we needed a spark on offense and needed to get something going, give Blaine [Gabbert] a shot at throwing,” Kelly said. “Knew we were going to be throwing every down, so give Blaine a shot. That was it, nothing more.”

Kaepernick said he was “surprised” to be benched, and he sidestepped the question of whether he believes he’ll play next week.

“That’s not my decision,” Kaepernick said. “My feelings on it really don’t matter at this point. I’m just going to do everything I can to make sure I’m prepared.”

The 49ers have now lost 11 games in a row, following a Week One win over the Rams. The visit from the Jets, who’ll be crossing the country on a short week, could be their best chance to avoid matching the 2001 Panthers, who won in Week One and then lost 15 in a row.

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Apparently overdue for a decision on his status, Aldon Smith is ready to go

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Aldon Smith #99 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the second half of their NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at O.co Coliseum on September 13, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders and defensive end Aldon Smith continue to be at the mercy of Commissioner Roger Goodell, even at a time when Goodell seems to be in violation of the relevant terms of the substance-abuse policy.

For a player who is banished from the league with the ability to apply for reinstatement after one year, the policy itself says nothing about the timetable for making a decision. However, Appendix B to the policy provides in part as follows: “All individuals involved in the process will take steps to enable the Commissioner to render a decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application [for reinstatement].”

Curiously, the policy doesn’t expressly state that a decision will be or shall be made within 60 days after application. Instead, it only requires the persons responsible for setting the table for the Commissioner’s decision to enable him to do so within 60 days after the application.

Aldon Smith applied for reinstatement on October 3. The 60-day deadline (if it’s really a deadline) came and went on Friday, with no decision made. As a result, a source with knowledge of the process tells PFT that a decision is expected soon.

Complicating matters for Smith and the Raiders is the fact that they play on Thursday night, in Kansas City. Smith will be ready to suit up and play, if he’s given the green light to return, a source tells PFT.

Whenever the decision is made, the Commissioner will make it in his “sole discretion.” Given the language of Appendix B, it seems that the decision should have been made already. At a minimum, the league should address whether it believes the 60-day provision requires a decision within that window.

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The Cowboys are going to the playoffs

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with Gavin Escobar #89 after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

This year’s playoff field has its first entrant.

The Cowboys didn’t play on Sunday, but they have booked a ticket to the postseason. Their win over the Vikings on Thursday night gave them routes into the playoffs with losses by either the Buccaneers or the Redskins.

Tampa rallied to win in San Diego, but the Redskins couldn’t do the same in Arizona. That makes the loss of a divisional rival even sweeter than it might have been under other circumstances.

Another divisional rival lost on Sunday when the Giants saw their six-game winning streak end in Pittsburgh. That means the Cowboys can clinch the divisional crown if they beat the Giants next Sunday night.

It would also give them payback for their only loss of the 2016 season and push them a little closer to the No. 1 seed in the conference, so there’s still plenty to play for with a playoff trip already assured.

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Bucs rally to beat Chargers, move to 7-5

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Melvin Ingram #54 of the San Diego Chargers chases Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the pocket during the first half of a game  at Qualcomm Stadium on December 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers dominated the fourth quarter Sunday and scored an important victory over the Chargers, 28-21.

After trailing 14-10 at halftime, the Buccaneers took their first lead on a Lavonte David interception return in the third quarter, then scored the only 11 points of the fourth quarter. Safety Keith Tandy had an interception in the end zone with 3:04 left, and the Bucs successfully killed the clock to lock up their fourth straight win.

At 7-5, the Bucs are now tied with the Falcons atop the AFC South. The teams split their season series.

The Bucs took the lead for good with 9:01 left when Jameis Winston hit tight end Cameron Brate on a 12-yard touchdown. Winston found Mike Evans, who otherwise had a quiet day, for a two-point conversion to make it 28-21.

The Chargers only got the ball one more time and got into Tampa Bay territory before Tandy’s interception.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers followed David’s touchdown by throwing a 40-yard pass to Tyrell Williams for a touchdown to put the Chargers back in the lead, 21-17. It seemed the stage was set for a wild finish, but the Bucs made the biggest plays from there.

The Chargers fall to 5-7 and are probably going to miss the playoffs. All of the Chargers’ games seem to come down to the final minutes, but this time the Bucs delivered in the end.

Winston threw for 280 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Rivers threw for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Julio Jones “OK” after lower body injury

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons is tackled by Derrick Johnson #56 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was in and out of the game during the final quarter of Sunday’s 29-28 loss to the Chiefs while getting attention from trainers for what appeared to be a leg injury.

When Jones was in the game, he wasn’t moving with his usual ease and served as a decoy after playing a major role on offense in the first three quarters of the game. Falcons coach Dan Quinn called it a lower body injury after the game and Jones said he’d be fine for their Week 14 trip to Los Angeles.

“It’s football,” Jones said, via ESPN.com. “You’re going to get banged up. You’re going to get little nagging injuries here and there from the game. I’m OK. I’ll be good to go.”

The Falcons also had left tackle Jake Matthews and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu depart with injuries during the game. Updates on Matthews’ knee and Sanu’s groin are expected when Quinn meets with the media on Monday.

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Cardinals outlast Washington in a wild one, win 31-23

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs for a touchdown as Washington Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller (38) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AP

The Cardinals still aren’t .500, but showed signs Sunday that they’re still going to be a tough out for the rest of their schedule.

Led by running back David Johnson’s 175 yards from scrimmage, the Cardinals held off Washington at home for a 31-23 win, moving their record to 5-6-1 and showing they still have some degree of a pulse.

Of course, they need help, but they showed they can be a dangerous team down the stretch.

The game went back and forth in the second half, with Washington taking the lead twice. But each time, the Cards answered, with Carson Palmer’s 42-yard touchdown to J.J. Nelson providing the final margin, and Patrick Peterson’s interception of Kirk Cousins sealing the win.

Palmer finished with an even 300 yards passing and three touchdowns, and Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 passes to move into third on the all-time receptions list.

Washington fell to 6-5-1, leaving them on the fringes of the Wild Card chase, but trailing the 7-5 Buccaneers for the final spot at the moment.

And while they turned the ball over more than they’re accustomed to, the fact they made multiple runs on the road suggests they’re far from finished.

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Steelers stifle Giants offense to move to 7-5

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04:  William Gay #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a defensive stop with James Harrison #92 in the first half during the game against the New York Giants at Heinz Field on December 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants came into Pittsburgh with a six-game winning streak despite some sputtering performances from their offense in recent weeks, but they couldn’t overcome the unit again this week.

The Steelers intercepted Eli Manning twice, sacked him twice and held the Giants to 234 yards of offense in a 24-14 win that moved them to 7-5 on the season. That’s the same record that the Ravens have after beating the Dolphins on Sunday and leaves things tightly knotted at the top of the AFC North with four games left to play.

Lawrence Timmons had the first interception of the game, thwarting a Giants scoring chance and setting the Steelers up for their first touchdown after a long return into Giants territory. Antonio Brown scored that touchdown on a fairly quiet day that saw tight end Ladarius Green lead the team in receiving yards.

Green caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown to fill exactly the role that the Steelers had in mind when they signed Green this offseason. Injuries kept him out of the lineup for the first half, but it looks like he’ll be a major part of the offense down the stretch.

Le’Veon Bell chipped in 182 total yards and Ben Roethlisberger completed 24-of-36 passes for 289 yards. Both players turned the ball over in the second half to give the Giants some hope of climbing back into the game, but their offensive ineptitude proved to be too deeply seated for the team to muster much fight as the game wound down.

They’ll need to find their footing this week because a loss to the Cowboys next Sunday will end any hope of contending for the division title while several other teams remain in the hunt for Wild Card spots in the NFC. The Steelers will be in Buffalo and Cincinnati the next two weeks before returning home for a matchup with those Ravens in Week 16.

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Mike Zimmer’s follow-up appointments will determine his status for Week 14

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 1: Head coach Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Rams on September 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Rams 27-25. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer missed Thursday night’s home game againt the Cowboys. It’s still not known whether he will be available for next Sunday’s visit to Jacksonville.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Zimmer’s recent procedure to repair a detached retina ended in a “good result.” However, follow-up appointments with his physicians will determine whether he’ll be able to coach on Sunday, December 11.

The first question is whether he’ll be able to coach in the game at Jacksonville. The second question is how he’ll get to Jacksonville.

It’s “all to be determined,” the source said, with Zimmer flying to Jacksonville in a pressurized cabin (which could negatively affect the healing of his eye), in a non-pressurized cabin, or by car. Driving would be a major ordeal, with a trip of nearly 1,500 miles each way from Minneapolis to Jacksonville.

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Raiders surge late to beat the Bills, improve to 10-2

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Amari Cooper #89 of the Oakland Raiders dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during their NFL game at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

If a team is judged by how it bounces back from adversity, this Raiders team may be something special.

After falling behind 24-9 midway through the third quarter today against the Bills, the Raiders turned things around with a late-game surge that saw them score four touchdowns in 12 minutes and turn what looked like an ugly loss into an easy win.

With the victory over the Bills, the Raiders improved to 10-2 on the season, tied for the best record in the AFC. Not many people would have predicted before the season that the Raiders would be in contention for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, but that’s exactly where Oakland is.

On a good day for the Raiders on both sides of the ball, the best player on the field may have been Khalil Mack, the pass rusher who first hit Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to force an interception to set up a Raiders touchdown, then on the next possession knocked the ball out of Taylor’s hand and recovered the fumble, clinching the win. Mack is perhaps the most talented of the very good nucleus of young players the Raiders have acquired in the last few years.

The Raiders also have a talented quarterback in Derek Carr and talented receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabrtee, each of whom caught touchdown passes from Carr. Latavius Murray scored two rushing touchdowns on a day when the Raiders got a complete team effort.

The Bills got solid work from LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee in the running game, but otherwise it was a rough day. The loss drops them to 6-6, and realistically it’s hard to see Buffalo making the playoffs. Rex Ryan may not have much of a future with this team.

Jack Del Rio’s squad, however, has a bright future. This is a team that can contend for a Super Bowl.

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