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Witten understands losing John Garrett part of business

2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award Press Conference Getty Images

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said it saddened him to see his position coach (who happens to be his head coach’s brother) go, but chalked it up to “a bottom line business”

Witten actually invited John Garrett to be with him at the Super Bowl, before he heads back to his new job as wide receivers coach in Tampa Bay.

John Garrett was one of many changes to head coach Jason Garrett’s staff, which still isn’t complete and included Garrett giving up play-calling.

It was a tough stretch [of coaching changes],” Witten said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Obviously, I hate to see John Garrett go. What a run we had for the last six years. It’ll be hard pressed to see a tight ends coach be able to accomplish what we did. I just respect him as a man.

“I know we’ve got to build something. The foundation is being laid. Ultimately, we know it’s a bottom line business, and the results have to come. I know Jason [Garrett] is doing everything he can to put this in place to give us a chance to do that. I know Mr. [Jerry] Jones and their crew is doing everything he can. But we as players know the results have got to come. That is what we’re working to do. It’s got to happen. You can’t just talk about it.”

The Cowboys aren’t just talking, they’ve sufficiently shaken things up. But if they continue to underperform, the changes are going to have to be more significant.

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Seahawks step up, shut down the Cardinals 19-3

Russell Wilson AP

The Seahawks have had plenty of issues this season. But for a moment, they looked like the team that won the Super Bowl last year.

And it took that kind of effort to beat what might be the best team in the NFC this year.

The Seahawks snapped Arizona’s six-game hot streak with a 19-3 win at home, keeping the defending champions in the NFC playoff chase.

They put the shackles on the Cardinals, limiting them to 204 total yards.

The Cardinals had won six in a row, and they played the kind of defense for most of the day to extend that streak. But they couldn’t get into the end zone with chances, and couldn’t match the Seahawks when they finally woke up.

After a first half which saw the two teams combine for 232 yards, the Seahawks finally put together something resembling offense in the third quarter.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was 7-for-7 for 75 yards and a touchdown in the third, finally answering the Cardinals pressure. A scrambling, ducking-out-of-a-sack pass to Marshawn Lynch went for a 23-yard gain, and gave Seattle the spark it was looking for. Wilson finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cooper Helfet.

But it was far from a polished effort for Wilson and the Seahawks, as he was sacked seven times.

But the Cardinals finally looked like a team that was forced to go next-man-up one too many times, falling to 9-2. They’re still a game clear of the rest of the NFC in pursuit of home field advantage for the playoffs, but their schedule stiffens after next week’s game against the Falcons, closing with the Chiefs and three division games.

The Seahawks improved to 7-4, but they’re still on the outside looking in for a wild card spot.

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Lions’ Dominic Raiola admits going at a Patriot’s knees

Dominic Raiola AP

Lions center Dominic Raiola admitted after today’s blowout loss at New England that he purposely went at the knees of Patriots defensive tackle Zach Moore on the final play of the game.

Raiola said he was angry that the Patriots scored a late touchdown to go up 34-9 instead of just taking a knee. Raiola said his shot at Moore was retaliation.

I cut him,” Raiola said, via the Detroit Free Press. “We took a knee, so I cut the nose [tackle]. They went for six. They went for a touchdown at two minutes. They could have took three knees and the game could have been over. It’s football. He wants to keep playing football, let’s play football. Not a big deal. It’s football.”

Raiola was not penalized, and he may not be fined, either. It’s not illegal for an offensive lineman to go low on a defensive lineman, as long as that defensive lineman isn’t also engaged up high and as long as the hit isn’t from behind. But the Patriots weren’t happy about it, and understandably so.

“I just heard what happened, but that was stupid,” Wilfork said. “I didn’t see it, but from what I heard . . . you’re taking a knee. They’d get mad if we were just to blow up one of their players, so I mean, it’s just uncalled for. But at the same time, you always have to protect yourself, so you always have to play with your neck on a swivel and being alert for 60 minutes, and it came down to it today on a bonehead play like that. But luckily no one got hurt and we can move on.”

Greg Schiano may not see anything wrong with trying to take out an opponent on a kneel-down play, but most NFL linemen will. Raiola was at the very least being unsportsmanlike. And by admitting it afterward, he was also being stupid.

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Rams battling back vs. Chargers

St Louis Rams v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Chargers began the third quarter looking like they would roll on by the Rams.

But not so fast.

Tavon Austin’s six-yard TD run on a sweep cut San Diego’s lead to 20-17, an edge the Chargers still hold as the fourth quarter begins.

Austin’s TD run was set up by a Chargers punt mishap. Defensive back Chris Davis ran into wideout Keenan Allen, causing a muff recovered by St. Louis. Three plays later, the Rams had cut the lead to three points.

Then, on the Chargers’ next drive, Allen fumbled at the St. Louis 16, with the Rams recovering.

The Chargers trailed 10-6 at halftime, but they scored the first two touchdowns of the third period, with tailback Ryan Mathews‘ 32-yard run giving San Diego the lead. On the Rams’ ensuing series, Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget sacked Rams quarterback Shaun Hill, with outside linebacker Andrew Gachkar returning it for a 13-yard score to extend San Diego’s lead to 20-10.

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Bashaud Breeland, Tracy Porter leave with injuries in third quarter

Washington Redskins v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The Redskins are running low on cornerbacks in the third quarter of their game against the 49ers.

They opened the day without David Amerson, who reportedly broke a team rule and was declared inactive, and lost E.J. Biggers to a concussion in the first half of the game. Their defense has held up well, but they’ll be further tested with two more corners leaving on successive third quarter series.

Tracy Porter left with a shoulder injury and he’s been labeled questionable to return by the team. Bashaud Breeland left a short time later and the team is yet to update his situation, although trainers were working on his back earlier in the game.

That didn’t cause the 49ers to test the beleaguered secondary, however. On a third-and-one in their own territory after Breeland went out, the 49ers tried a quarterback sneak and Colin Kaepernick got stuffed. Of course, their previous possession ended with Greg Ducre picking off Kaepernick so that might have something to do with their planning.

Kai Forbath hit a field goal with 31 seconds left in the third quarter to cap a drive that saw Robert Griffin III connect with DeSean Jackson for a long gain and then take a big hit from 49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch that was flagged as a personal foul. It was a questionable call, but it definitely helped Washington move back into a tie heading into the final quarter.

UPDATE 6:35 p.m. ET: Breeland has returned to the game in the fourth quarter, but Porter has been ruled out for the duration.

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Chargers take lead vs. Rams

Philip Rivers AP

With the Chiefs falling to the Raiders on Thursday night and the Broncos looking wobbly against the Dolphins this afternoon, the Chargers can really help their cause in the AFC West with a win vs. St. Louis.

And they have started the second half on the right foot.

Tailback Ryan Mathews‘ 32-yard TD run gave the Chargers a 13-10 third-quarter lead over the Rams at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Chargers trailed 10-6 at halftime after a major defensive play by St. Louis. With the teams even at three, Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins picked off Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and took it back 99 yards for a touchdown, giving St. Louis a seven-point lead.

The Rams later missed a couple of other chances to add to their lead. A field goal attempt was blocked, and a facemask penalty on rookie offensive tackle Greg Robinson nullified a Kenny Britt TD reception.

The Chargers, meanwhile, would edge to within four points at half’s end on a Nick Novak 48-yard-field goal, which capped a 10-play, 55-yard drive.

The Chargers (6-4) are currently a half-game behind Kansas City (7-4) and a full game behind Denver (7-3), pending Sunday’s results.

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Broncos continue to struggle, fall behind Dolphins

tannehill AP

Things are not going well in Denver.

The Broncos, losers of two of their last three games, trail the Dolphins at halftime at home, 21-17.

Peyton Manning wasn’t able to get much going downfield at all for most of the second half, but he finally engineered a couple of good drives late in the second quarter, each culminating in touchdown passes to Demaryius Thomas. Until those two drives, it felt like a game the Dolphins would dominate.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has played well, completing 11 of 14 passes for 122 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Tannehill also ran for a touchdown.

The Broncos lost last week to the Rams, struggled for much of the game in a win over the Raiders a week earlier, and lost to the Patriots the game before that. Whatever is going wrong in Denver, the Broncos need to get it fixed. Preferably within the next 30 minutes.

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49ers grab lead just before halftime

Colin Kaepernick AP

Jay Gruden hasn’t had to avail himself of Colt McCoy just yet.

The Redskins came into Sunday’s game with the 49ers on the heels of another drama-filled week mostly centered on quarterback Robert Griffin III that culminated with a Sunday report that Gruden is prepared to pull Griffin in favor of McCoy during the matchup in Santa Clara. The offense got off to a slow start, but Griffin looked better on the fourth possession of the day and drove the team for a touchdown.

It wasn’t enough to give the Redskins the lead, however. Colin Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree for 25 yards on fourth down with 11 seconds left in the half to set up a Phil Dawson field goal that gave the 49ers a 10-7 lead at the break. Crabtree did a great job of going up for the ball and then getting his feet down inbounds on a play that would have offered Washington a Hail Mary chance if it had gone incomplete.

Kaepernick was 10-of-14 for 155 yards overall in the first half, which saw Washington do a good job of stopping the 49ers on the ground. Griffin is 5-of-8 for 54 yards and Alfred Morris has run for 57 yards and a touchdown.

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Suh, Blount exchanged words after Patriots beat Lions

suh AP

Two NFL players with reputations for being hotheads got into it in New England today.

As players walked off the field following the Patriots’ win over the Lions, New England running back LeGarrette Blount and Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were seen yelling at each other. Several players were between them, and it didn’t appear that it was close to getting physical, but both men were heated.

Blount first came to national attention in a post-game altercation in college at Oregon, when he punched a Boise State player and was suspended from the team by then-Ducks coach Chip Kelly. Suh has a well-worn reputation for on-field altercations.

Whatever happened after the game, Blount got the better end of things during the game: He ran 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

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Seahawks lead Cardinals 9-3 in a defensive war

Drew Stanton AP

The Cardinals have a three-game lead on the NFC West, but this game against the Seahawks is being decided three points at a time.

The Seahawks are up 9-3 at the break, as neither team can get into the end zone, and both sides are hitting hard.

The two teams have combined for just 232 yards at halftime, which is more of a function of strong defense than bad offense.

The Cardinals have sacked Russell Wilson five times and blocked a field goal. The Seahawks have dropped Drew Stanton twice and picked him off.

And with Marshawn Lynch in and out of the game with a sore back, and the Cardinals depleted, it might continue that way.

With Larry Fitzgerald out with a knee injury, the Cards were down a dependable red zone weapon. The absence was obvious when Jaron Brown dropped a touchdown pass just before halftime.

That’s the kind of mistake which could haunt them, as it’s unclear if either team will be able to do much with the ball.

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Janoris Jenkins’ interception return TD gives Rams the lead

St. Louis Rams v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

With a golden opportunity to take a second-quarter lead vs. the Rams, the Chargers saw themselves fall behind in no more than 15 seconds time.

With the game tied at three, Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins stepped in front of Chargers wideout Keenan Allen and intercepted a Philip Rivers pass near the goal line. From there, Jenkins was on his way to a 99-yard touchdown, giving visiting St. Louis a 10-3 lead with less than 12 minutes left in the first half.

After upsetting Denver last week, the Rams are seeking their second straight win, and they are off to a solid start, thanks in part to Jenkins.

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E.J. Biggers departs with a concussion

Jordan Matthews, E.J. Biggers AP

The Redskins knew there was a good chance they’d be shorthanded on the offensive line this week, but they weren’t expecting to be down two cornerbacks before the end of the first half.

That’s just where they find themselves, however. E.J. Biggers has been knocked out of their game against the 49ers with a concussion, which means he’ll join David Amerson on the bench for the rest of the afternoon. Amerson was declared inactive before the game for reasons that are unclear since he was not on the injury report during the week.

The defense has held up well enough to force two punts and a Carlos Hyde fumble, but they gave up a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin on the Niners’ opening drive and trail 7-0 with under 12 minutes to play in the half.

Given the way the Washington offense is playing, those seven points might be enough. They’ve allowed two sacks with left tackle Trent Williams inactive because of ankle and knee injuries and have picked up just 31 yards in their first three possessions.

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Bears win second straight, beat Buccaneers 21-13

Christian Jones AP

Led a playmaking defense, the Bears rallied for a 21-13 victory over the visiting Buccaneers and former Chicago head coach Lovie Smith on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.

In securing their second straight win, the Bears (5-6) forced four turnovers, including three in the third quarter, two of which led to Matt Forte TD runs as Chicago turned a 10-0 halftime deficit into a 21-10 third-quarter lead.

The Buccaneers (2-9) would draw within eight points with about five minutes left on a Patrick Murray 39-yard field goal, and their defense would force a three-and-out on Chicago’s next possession. But the Bears’ defense came up big one more time, stopping the Bucs’ Josh McCown on a 4th-and-1 QB sneak with about two minutes left.

McCown, the Bears’ top backup a season ago, completed 25-of-48 passes for 341 yards, including a 19-yard TD to rookie Mike Evans. However, McCown committed two turnovers in the third quarter, including a lost fumble when sacked by Bears defensive end David Bass. That set up Forte’s first TD run, a 13-yarder giving Chicago the lead for good at 14-10. Then, on the Bucs’ next series, a deflected pass was picked by Bears safety Ryan Mundy, which helped lead to a one-yard Forte scoring run.

Later, Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson would fumble deep in Chicago’s territory, ending a promising scoring chance.

Forte racked up 89 yards on 23 carries for Chicago, which was held to a paltry 204 yards on 56 plays. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw for just 130 yards on 17-of-27 passing, with his two-yard TD toss to Alshon Jeffery first getting Chicago on the board to start the third quarter.

Then, Chicago’s defense would take over. Even more impressively, the Bears’ skilled defensive play came with outside linebacker Lance Briggs (groin) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) out with injuries.

The Bears’ next game is in just four days at rival Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Buccaneers will host the Bengals on Sunday.

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Browns’ illegal formation wouldn’t have triggered runoff

Flag Getty Images

With 16 seconds on the clock, no time outs remaining, and the ball at the Atlanta 30, the Browns opted to throw caution to the windless Georgia Dome and try to get the ball closer than what would have been a field goal of Norwoodian distance.

The gamble worked.  Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw a 10-yard pass to receiver Miles Austin in the middle of the field.  Hoyer and the Browns rushed to the line, and Hoyer took the snap and spiked it with six seconds left.

On the next play, Billy Cundiff converted easily from 37 yards instead of 47.

But it appears that the Browns had lined up in an illegal formation.  With the “X” and “Y” receivers to the left side of the formation both on the line of scrimmage.  While it’s permissible for more than seven guys to be on the line of scrimmage, the outside receivers can’t “cover up” other eligible receivers.

Per a league source, it’s a close call that could have drawn a flag.  However, it’s not the type of violation that would have resulted in a 10-second runoff.  Instead, it would have resulted in a five-yard penalty.

That would have made the field goal a little tougher.  But if an NFL kicker can’t make a 42-yard field goal in a dome, he shouldn’t be an NFL kicker.

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Marshawn Lynch’s back tightens up, Seahawks lead 9-0

Marshawn Lynch AP

The Seahawks have moved the ball well, but they haven’t made it pay off so well.

With running back Marshawn Lynch in and out of the lineup, the Seahawks have had to settle for a pair of short field goals and a 52-yarder as they lead the Cardinals 9-0 in the second quarter.

Lynch’s problematic back has flared up and he was getting worked on by trainers on the sidelines, with Robert Turbin subbing in for him.

He returned to the game later in the second, splitting wide as a receiver on a series, so it appears he’s going to be good to go.

We’ll keep you posted as to whether he makes it in for halftime this week.

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Eagles cruise past Titans to move to 8-3

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwy1odvjmti3ymy1y2q1otywywi5ztuzmjg5ztrhy2vh AP

When people talk about trap games, games like the Eagles’ date with the Titans on Sunday come to mind.

A two-win team coming to town a few days before a Thanksgiving trip to play the Cowboys, who are tied with the Eagles for the lead in the NFC East, certainly has the potential to be overlooked. The Eagles weren’t looking ahead, though.

Things stayed close into the third quarter, but a pair of fumbles by the Titans and bushels of pressure from the Eagles Defense helped them pull away for a 43-24 win that felt like it was headed Philly’s way from the opening kickoff. That’s when Josh Huff went 107 yards for a touchdown and the Eagles never really looked back.

There were a pair of bad Mark Sanchez interceptions, but Titans running back Bishop Sankey fumbled on the next play to hand the ball right back and Sanchez had plenty of good throws over the course of the day on his way to a line of 30-of-43 and 307 yards. LeSean McCoy chipped in with 130 yards and the Eagles might have reached 50 if their red zone work was a bit sharper. That will have to change, as will the turnovers and the habit of giving up big passing plays, once the caliber of competition rises again.

The Eagles sacked Zach Mettenberger five times, but the Titans got back into the game in the second quarter on the back of two long gains on passes to Justin Hunter and Delanie Walker. The Titans had no running game to speak of, however, and the pass rush was clearly too much for the Titans line to handle all afternoon.

Even with the flaws in mind, it was a big step in the right direction after last week’s debacle against the Packers. Beating the Cowboys and grabbing control of the division next week would be an even bigger one.

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