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ProFootballTalk: Who can turn Saints’ defense around?

Sean Payton wasted no time when firing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Who’s next up in New Orleans?

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Doug Baldwin’s third touchdown caps Seahawks victory

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks scores a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks and Steelers traded haymakers all afternoon in Seattle, but the Seahawks struck last and that made them winners when the clock ran out.

On third-and-9 from their 20 just before the two-minute warning, Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin crossing the field for a first down but Baldwin shook off Steelers tacklers as he turned upfield and sprinted for an 80-yard touchdown that put Seattle up 39-30 after Steve Hauschka’s extra point.

It was Baldwin’s third touchdown on a day when he caught six passes for 145 yards. It was also Wilson’s fifth touchdown pass of the day, setting a personal record and tying the franchise record. Wilson was 21-of-30 for 345 yards overall, marking the first time that he’s been over 300 yards this season and the Seahawks surely hope to see more of the same in the weeks to come.

The Seahawks also set a franchise record for passing yards allowed as Ben Roethlisberger rolled up 456 yards through the air on a day when both passing offenses were clicking. Roethlisberger wasn’t around for the final two minutes of the game, however. He went to the locker room shortly after Baldwin’s touchdown to be evaluated for a concussion.

All of the big plays made for a wild second half as the lead swung from the Steelers to the Seahawks back to Pittsburgh before the Seahawks took command for good. There were strange decisions, questionable officiating and a huge performance by Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton mixed in along the way, making for a long and entertaining ending to the afternoon’s contests.

Roethlisberger’s final play was a six-yard scramble from the Seattle 10-yard-line, after which Mike Tomlin elected to kick a field goal and give his defense a chance to get the ball back. They weren’t able to do it and a Landry Jones throw to Martavis Bryant down the sideline with 1:37 left was intercepted by Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Tomlin will likely face questions about the decision to kick rather than go for it, especially after he eschewed three points in the first half in favor of having Jones pass out of what was initially a field goal alignment.

That pass was picked off, one of four Seattle interceptions on the day, and the Steelers are left to rue the missed opportunities on their flight back to Pittsburgh. They’ll host the Colts next Sunday night in a game that they’ll need to solidify their Wild Card chances.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, will take their 6-5 record to Minnesota for their own game with major playoff implications. The Cardinals win on Sunday means that the Wild Card remains their best chance of getting to the postseason, something they may need to pull off without the help of tight end Jimmy Graham after he was hurt on Sunday. If Wilson can keep putting up big numbers while the defense finds ways to take the ball away, their chances of doing it will look much stronger.

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Vikings mum on whether Irvin was recruited to help Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson AP

On Sunday morning, Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin said on NFL Network that he’d been asked by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner to work during the past offseason with receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

After Sunday’s 20-10 win over the Falcons, coach Mike Zimmer was asked whether Irvin was the possible mentor Zimmer had mentioned at the end of the 2014 season.

“I don’t know,” Zimmer said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I’ll leave that to Michael.’’

Tomasson also notes that he asked Patterson about Irvin’s comments, and that Patterson walked away without answering.

Irvin prefaced his remarks by suggesting that he possibly was “talking out of school.” Based on the reactions from Zimmer and Patterson, Irvin apparently was.

Patterson had no catches during the game. For the year, he has two.

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Roughing call helps Cardinals drive for late victory

Carson Palmer AP

The Cardinals drove 85 yards for the game-winning score Sunday, then sealed a 19-13 win at San Francisco with a defensive stand.

A controversial roughing the passer call on Quinton Dial on a second and 10 from the Cardinals’ 32 extended the winning drive, then Carson Palmer hit Larry Fitzgerald and J.J. Nelson on big passes to keep the Cardinals moving.

An 8-yard scramble by Palmer provided the winning touchdown with 2:28 left and capped a 14-play drive. The 49ers had tied the game late in the third quarter on a 33-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.

The 49ers got to the Cardinals’ 30 on their final drive before giving up a sack and then coming 2 yards short on fourth down.

Palmer was 24-of-40 for 271 yards. 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert was 25-of-36 for 318 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

The Cardinals won in San Francisco for the first time since 2008. The Cardinals move to 9-2, while the 49ers fall to 3-8.

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Evan Mathis, Keshawn Martin active for Sunday night

Greg Toler, Keshawn Martin AP

We knew most of the big names that wouldn’t be playing for the Patriots and Broncos well before they handed in their list of inactives on Sunday evening, but there were some question marks lingering on both sides.

For the Patriots, wide receiver Keshawn Martin is active after being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Martin will help fill in for the absences of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, both of whom were ruled out well ahead of kickoff. Linebacker Jamie Collins won’t play after being listed as doubtful as he returns from an illness.

Defensive lineman Trey Flowers, defensive back Justin Coleman, safety Jordan Richards and tight end Michael Williams round out the New England inactives.

Left guard Evan Mathis was also listed as questionable for the Broncos, but he’ll play despite an ankle injury. Max Garcia will start ahead of him, however. Quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Christian Ponder are both inactive, leaving rookie Trevor Siemian as the backup to Brock Osweiler. Linebacker DeMarcus Ware, wide receiver Jordan Norwood, cornerback Lorenzo Doss, tight end Richard Gordon and offensive lineman Sam Brenner are also inactive.

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Seahawks grab lead, Jimmy Graham carted off

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Tight end Jimmy Graham #88 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch against cornerback Ross Cockrell #31 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks are trying to come back from an 18-14 halftime deficit to beat the Steelers, but they’ll have to go without tight end Jimmy Graham for the rest of the afternoon.

Graham stayed down with what appears to be a right knee injury after a Russell Wilson pass sailed incomplete in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Trainers immediately immobilized Graham’s leg and loaded him onto a cart to head back to the locker room.

Graham had four catches for 75 yards before getting hurt in one of his most productive days as a member of the Seahawks. It’s speculative at this point, but the reaction to his injury suggests it might be a while before he gets a chance to top this outing.

Jermaine Kearse caught a touchdown a few plays later to give the Seahawks a 26-21 lead. A two-point try was unsuccessful when Kevin Smith caught a Russell Wilson pass out of bounds.

The drive was set up by Richard Sherman’s first interception of the year as he ran down a deep ball intended for Antonio Brown, who fell down with a little help from Sherman’s hands as they went downfield. The Seahawks picked up 15 yards on their first offensive play when officials determined that Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons pushing Wilson while the quarterback was in bounds constituted unnecessary roughness.

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NFL won’t discipline officials for latest Monday night mistakes

Gene Steratore AP

Earlier this year, a pair of Monday night officiating errors resulted in extra discipline from the league. The most recent Monday night game, which included a pair of officiating blunders, will not lead to a similar outcome.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL will not suspend or reassign any of the officials from referee Gene Steratore’s crew for the inadvertent whistle during a Patriots offensive play or the faulty decision to keep the clock running after Bills receiver Sammy Watkins caught a pass and rolled out of bounds with two seconds left in the game.

Following a Monday night game in San Diego, side judge Rob Vernatchi was suspended with pay for a week after failing to notice that 18 seconds accidentally had been allowed to run off the clock before the final offensive drive by Pittsburgh. Likewise, back judge Greg Wilson was reassigned away from a Sunday night game between the Patriots and Colts after he failed to call an illegal bat on Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright during a Monday night game between Detroit and Seattle.

As to the latest Monday night mistakes, the NFL said this regarding the officials, in an email to PFT: “Their performance was evaluated, just as it is for officials every week.”

In the aftermath of the Vernatchi and Wilson punishments, PFT reported that the NFL and NFL Referees Association were talking about adopting a specific formula for imposing suspensions with and without pay for officials who make mistakes. That process wouldn’t be launched until 2016.

For now, it appears that the NFL has decided not to continue to take specific action against officials who make mistakes, beyond the grading process.

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Rex Ryan unhappy Chiefs’ video board didn’t show some replays

Rex Ryan AP

After his team lost at Kansas City today, Bills coach Rex Ryan was unhappy with someone you might not expect: The Chiefs’ video board operator.

Ryan said after the game that today’s game was the first time he ever experienced an inability to get another look at a close play by looking up at the Jumbotron. Ryan seemed to think the Chiefs weren’t showing close plays to avoid helping the Bills decide whether to challenge.

“That’s the first time you don’t see any plays,” Ryan said, via ESPN. “I think there’s a league rule that you need to usually get to see some. Maybe I’m wrong on that.”

One of the turning points of the game came when the Chiefs hit a 37-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin. Replays appeared to show that Maclin didn’t make the catch, but the officials ruled that he caught it, and Ryan didn’t challenge.

“The 37-yarder, I wasn’t aware of it because again, I wasn’t seeing the video on it, and again, so from my vantage point, I thought he caught the ball,” Ryan said. “That was from my vantage point. Obviously, I would have challenged it if I would have known there was any question whatsoever on a 37-yard play that flipped the game. We were in complete control of that game and then they threw some balls over our heads. Obviously I would have challenged.”

Ryan said he doesn’t have one member of his staff who is tasked with monitoring replays and telling him when to challenge.

“A lot of times everybody will be up there, but I’m not saying anybody in particular is advising me because it never worked out,” he said. “Every decision is my decision, and so it’s my responsibility.”

It’s Ryan’s responsibility, but he also wishes the Chiefs’ video board operator would have taken responsibility for putting all close plays on the big screen.

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Seahawks turn interception into TD, but missed PAT keeps Steelers in front

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse #15 of the Seattle Seahawks is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks offense got off to a slow start in the second half against the Steelers, but their defense helped give them another chance in the third quarter.

Russell Wilson made the most of it. Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for a 36-yard juggling catch to the 1-yard-line and Thomas Rawls punched the ball in one play later to draw the Seahawks within a point. That’s where they stayed, however, as kicker Steve Hauschka had his extra point try blocked by defensive end Cam Heyward. It’s the third missed extra point in the last two weeks for Hauschka.

The touchdown was set up by Pittsburgh’s second turnover of the game. Ben Roethlisberger either lost his grip on the ball or tried to pull it back just before it flew into the air and directly into defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin’s hands for an interception.

The Steelers drove to the Seattle 1-yard-line on their first possession of the third quarter, but kicked a field goal after failing to get the Seahawks to jump offside on fourth down.

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Andy Reid: Justin Houston has sprained knee

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 29:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills avoids a sack attempt by Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium during the first quarter of the game on November 29, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs rallied to beat the Bills 30-22 on Sunday, extending their winning streak to five games and improving their record to 6-5 on the season.

The win didn’t come without some setbacks, however. Linebacker Justin Houston was forced out of the game in the first half with a knee injury.

After the game, coach Andy Reid said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, that Houston suffered a knee sprain. PFT has learned that Houston will have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, but that the team is optimistic that Houston, who walked out of the locker room on his own power, avoided anything too serious.

The Chiefs also lost left tackle Eric Fisher during the game after he suffered what they called a head/neck injury.

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Jeff Fisher says critics of team’s effort can “kiss my ass”

Jeff Fisher AP

Rams coach Jeff Fisher made an early exit from his post-game press conference following Sunday’s 31-7 loss to the Bengals. Before he left, Fisher said something that will generate plenty of attention.

When discussing a four-game losing streak that has seen the team plunge from 4-3 to 4-7, Fisher said, “Anyone who implies that it’s an effort issue and they can kiss my ass, OK? Because there’s no effort problems.”

Whatever the actual problems, there are plenty for the Rams. They looked to be poised to make a run at the NFC West crown after beating the Seahawks and Cardinals. But after convincing back-to-back wins over the 49ers and Browns at home, the Rams have fallen apart.

The struggles have sparked speculation in some league circles as to whether Fisher will survive this season, regardless of whether the team relocates. As the thinking goes, a move to L.A. could require a new coach in order to create buzz in the new market. Staying put, which will require some damage to be undone locally, could compel a coaching change if only to give the folks in St. Louis a reason for hope for whatever future there may be in Missouri.

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Cards lose Powers, two backs to injuries

Chris Johnson, NaVorro Bowman AP

The Cardinals lost cornerback Jerraud Powers and running back Chris Johnson to injuries in the third quarter of Sunday’s game at San Francisco.

Powers suffered a calf injury and team announced his return is doubtful. Johnson has a knee injury and the team announced his return is questionable.

Johnson walked to the locker room escorted by team trainers about midway through the third quarter. Doctors were also examining running back Andre Ellington on the sideline.

The team announced that Ellington’s return is also questionable.

David Johnson scored a touchdown in the third quarter. The Cardinals lead, 13-10.

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Jaguars WR Hurns released from hospital

Rashad Greene, Allen Hurns AP

Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns was released from a local hospital late Sunday afternoon, about two hours after he smacked his head on the turf while trying to make a catch.

Hurns was taken off the field via stretcher in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game vs. the Chargers and taken to a local hospital. The team first announced that Hurns suffered a concussion and was taken to the hospital for further evaluation, then later announced that he had been released.

The game was stopped for several minutes while medical staff attended to Hurns. He flashed a thumbs up to the crowd as the stretcher left the field.

Hurns caught 4 passes for 42 yards in the game. The Chargers won, 31-25, to snap a six-game losing streak.

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Steelers take 18-14 lead into halftime

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown against strong safety Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

There have been a lot of balls in the air through the first 30 minutes in Seattle, but the Steelers have a pair of rushing touchdowns to thank for a 18-14 lead.

DeAngelo Williams plunged into the end zone with 56 seconds left in the first half and the Steelers converted a two-point conversion — see what happens when you use the offense to gain two yards? — to go up 18-14 after a half of football. Martavis Bryant ran 10 yards on an end around to account for their other score.

Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t thrown a touchdown, but the passing game has been the primary mover for Pittsburgh on Sunday. Roethlisberger is 19-of-28 for 206 yards, including a 41-yard bomb to Markus Wheaton that set up the Williams touchdown.

Russell Wilson found Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse for touchdowns in the second quarter of the game to put the Seahawks up 14-10. Wilson was particularly sharp on the drive that ended with Kearse’s score as he completed 7-of-8 passes for 90 yards to drive Seattle down the field. Two of the throws were big gainers to Jimmy Graham, something that the Seahawks would surely like to see more of as the rest of the game and rest of the season unfold.

They’ll need better work from the defense to make any further gains stand up, though. Roethlisberger has shown no qualms about attacking the Seahawks defense down the field and the defense has done nothing to make him pay at either the front or back end thus far. That will have to change if the Seahawks want to avoid a return to sub-.500 waters when Sunday comes to a close.

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Ryan Shazier heads to locker room

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers by grabbing his jersey in the third quarter during the game at Heinz Field on September 20, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game because of a knee injury, but he got the green light to play in Seattle.

A different injury has Shazier questionable to remain in the game until the final whistle, however. Shazier has returned to the locker room with Steelers medical personnel in the second quarter of the game.

Shazier looked dazed on his way back to the locker room for what appeared to be a concussion evaluation and the Steelers quickly confirmed that was the case. Vince Williams took over for Shazier in the Pittsburgh defense.

Tight end Heath Miller also went to the locker room for the Steelers, but he’s expected to return after suffering a rib injury.

The Steelers lead 10-7 after a 10-yard run by Martavis Bryant on an end around put the Steelers back on top in the second quarter.

UPDATE 5:39 p.m. ET: Miller has returned to the game with the Steelers trailing 14-10 with two minutes left in the half.

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Steelers try to get cute, get picked off instead

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15:  Head Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers had the ball on fourth down from the Seahawks’ 27-yard-line as the first quarter came to a close with Ben Roethlisberger and the offense still on the field.

It appeared the Steelers changed their mind about going for it once the second quarter kicked off because they had the field goal team on the field, but so was backup quarterback Landry Jones and the Steelers shifted to a traditional offensive formation with Jones taking a shotgun snap.

Jones lofted a pass in the direction of tackle Alejandro Villanueva, but Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane read it the entire way and intercepted the pass. He returned it 54 yards to the Pittsburgh 24-yard-line and the Seahawks were able to capitalize on the gift from Mike Tomlin with a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin that gave them a 7-3 lead.

One has to wonder why Tomlin thought it was better to try to gain two yards with his backup quarterback throwing to an offensive tackle rather than letting Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and the rest of a talented offense have a go at it. Being aggressive on the road is a good idea, but, as Walter White would be the first to tell you, half-measures like Tomlin’s aren’t really being aggressive.

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