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Goodell says league wants the Dolphins to stay in Miami

Goodell AP

As the stadium situation in Miami suddenly becomes complicated, to say the least, Commissioner Roger Goodell has weighed in with a predictable yet ominous observation on the situation.

We do want to see the Dolphins stay in Miami,” Goodell told Steve Wyche of NFL Network.  “We want to see them stay in a facility that will allow them to compete, and to bring in other big events, including Super Bowls.  That takes work, it takes investment, and [owner] Steve Ross was doing the investing and was really the guy who was putting his heart and soul into this and his passion into this.  What’s frustrating is that it didn’t get a chance to get to the voters.”

The difference between “want” and “will” is subtle yet significant.  Yes, we “want” the Dolphins to stay, in a facility better than the one they now have.  So if they can’t get that, then anything is possible.

The situation has yet to approach the not-so-subtle-threat phase.  Last year, Goodell and Steelers president Art Rooney II (chair of the stadium committee) traveled to Minnesota to explain to legislators that another year of governmental foot dragging would potentially result in moving truck loading.

The Dolphins tried in 2013 to finagle a partial public contribution to stadium upgrades without having to twist arms.  The next phase surely will involve arm twisting.  And if politicians like Will Weatherford refuse to say “uncle,” what the league wants could become what it had wanted.

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Danny Trevathan expected back at practice for Broncos

Denver Broncos vs New York Jets, NFL Getty Images

The Dolphins hung 36 points on the Broncos on Sunday, which wasn’t enough for the Broncos to lose the game but was enough to know that the Broncos Defense has to be better if they want to make a deep playoff run this season.

It looks like they’ll have some help getting better in the near future. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that linebacker Danny Trevathan is expected back at practice this week and that he hopes to be back in the lineup when eligible to return from injured reserve on December 14.

Trevathan suffered a fracture near his kneecap in the team’s Week Six loss to the Jets. That was just his second appearance of the regular season as Trevathan also fractured his leg during training camp, which kept him out of the first three games of the season.

Trevathan started every game for the Broncos last season and they could use him back in the mix with Nate Irving out of the picture.

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Anquan Boldin on running through Ryan Clark hit: The game was on the line

Washington Redskins v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

During the drive that led to Carlos Hyde’s game-winning touchdown run, wide receiver Anquan Boldin came up with a key 29-yard catch to get the team closer to the Washington end zone.

Boldin making a big catch is nothing new, but this one came with a twist. Boldin took a shot to the helmet from Redskins safety Ryan Clark’s helmet that drew a flag and left Clark on the ground, but the receiver bounced off and gained more yards before the defense could finally bring him down.

“At that point, the game’s on the line,” Boldin said, via ESPN.com. “There’s no way that I cannot go for the ball at that point. You’re called upon in that moment, and your teammates are expecting you to come through for them. It’s part of football.”

Boldin, who had nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, learned the downside of such hits in 2008 when he suffered a concussion, sinus fracture and other injuries on a hit from Jets safety Eric Smith. Boldin missed just two games despite those injuries and said Sunday that he doesn’t “need to play this game anymore if I’m thinking about a hit that happened five, six, however long it was.”

It was a big moment for the 49ers, who may have wound up with a bad loss if Boldin weren’t able to deliver a blow instead of succumbing to one.

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Peyton credits Gase for game-changing play call

peytongase AP

As the third quarter wound down in Denver on Sunday, the Broncos appeared to be in trouble: Trailing the Dolphins 28-17, the Broncos faced a fourth-and-2 and decided to go for it. Get stuffed there, and the Dolphins have a two-possession lead and the ball as the fourth quarter begins.

But the Broncos pulled off a great call, changing the formation and the play at the line of scrimmage, and going with a handoff to C.J. Anderson that picked up 20 yards. Denver scored a touchdown three plays later, took the lead on its next possession and won the game 39-36.

Usually, when the Broncos change a play at the line, Peyton Manning gets the credit. But Manning said it was offensive coordinator Adam Gase in his ear, telling him what to call.

“To tell you the truth, Adam made the change,” Manning said. “We got to the line of scrimmage pretty early and we had time on the clock and so Adam actually made the change from the sideline. It was critical. We ran the ball to the left and it was a good thing that we changed it because we really didn’t have a good play based on the look that they were showing early and we did make the change. I think it was what Adam wanted to get to all along.”

Anderson had a huge day, with 27 carries for 167 yards and a touchdown, and he said Gase told him the Broncos would need to win with the running game.

“Coach Gase came to me and said, ‘If you give me four here, we’re going to call another one.’ And if the O-line is like, ‘Man, keep calling them,’ the O-line wants to keep punishing, they want to keep pushing, they want to keep grinding,” Anderson said. “That’s just amazing.”

The Broncos will always be a pass-first team, as long as Manning is the quarterback. But on Sunday they showed they can win games on the ground as well. And they can win games with someone other than Manning calling all the plays.

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Golden Tate on Sunday’s loss: It’s embarrassing

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Getty Images

The Lions came into their Week 11 game against the Cardinals with a 7-2 record and a grip on first place in the NFC North.

Monday morning finds them 7-4 and a game behind the surging Packers and the offense is the biggest reason why. The Lions didn’t play well in any phase of Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, but their offense is in the spotlight after failing to score a touchdown for the second straight week. It’s the first time a Detroit team has done that since 2000, which is saying something given some of the teams they’ve trotted out since then.

Whether it was Matthew Stafford sliding a yard short of a first down, dropped passes by receivers or the team’s conservative approach on numerous fourth downs, the Lions Offense was a mess once again. Wide receiver Golden Tate said after the game that the team has to find a way to restore confidence in a short week.

“It’s one of those games, we just … it’s embarrassing,” Tate said, via ESPN.com. “We’ve got to chalk it up and have a short-term memory. That’s the most important thing, not to lose our swagger, not to lose our confidence. Just come out with a mission, come out on a mission to really take it out on our next opponent, which happens to be Chicago, who is also another good team regardless of what their schedule says.”

The margin for error in Detroit has dropped to almost zero and it isn’t a coincidence that the offense has produced the same amount of touchdowns the last two weeks. That needs to change quickly or the Lions will see hopes for a winning season disappear down the stretch for the second straight year.

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Monday morning one-liners

Andy Dalton AP

The Bills will be trying to put a difficult week behind them on Monday night.

Things were going well for the Dolphins in Denver until the fourth quarter.

TE Tim Wright continues to be a productive receiver for the Patriots.

The Jets are looking for some payback after losing to the Bills earlier this season.

Some of the key matchups for the Ravens on Monday night.

Sunday’s trip home went well for Bengals QB Andy Dalton.

Browns G Joel Bitonio made a key tackle on Devin Hester to end the first half.

A look at the playoff picture for the Steelers.

The Texans running game never found its footing against the Bengals.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano called his team a “resilient bunch” after Sunday’s win.

DB Aaron Colvin made his NFL debut for the Jaguars after a long rehab for a torn ACL.

A bad start helped bury the Titans on Sunday.

RB C.J. Anderson made the most of his chance to play a lead role in the Broncos backfield.

Rookie RB De’Anthony Thomas’s role with the Chiefs is growing.

Ranking the Raiders’ overzealous sack celebration from last Thursday against past over-the-top moments.

CB Chris Davis was almost a goat for the Chargers.

The Cowboys showed they know how to finish on Sunday night.

An argument against Giants WR Odell Beckham’s catch ranking among the best in the history of the game.

The Eagles Defense is preparing for a tougher test on Thursday.

Said Redskins WR Pierre Garçon, “Oh we had a lot of opportunities to score. We weren’t taking none. Being conservative. That’s what it is.”

Bears DT Stephen Paea earned compliments from the Buccaneers.

S James Ihedigbo said the Lions Defense remains strong despite its play in the loss to the Patriots.

Packers guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang played through injuries on Sunday.

An interception thrown by QB Teddy Bridgewater loomed large in Sunday’s Vikings loss.

The storm clouds are gathering for Falcons coach Mike Smith.

Panthers CB Josh Norman doesn’t miss playing with Captain Munnerlyn, who he’ll see when the Panthers face the Vikings in Week 13.

What will the Saints do at safety on Monday night?

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans tied a franchise record with a touchdown catch for the fourth straight game.

The Cardinals pass rush did its part against the Seahawks.

Rams WR Tavon Austin was happy to find the end zone for the first time this season.

It was a happier Sunday for 49ers LB Ahmad Brooks this week.

TE Cooper Helfet had a couple of big plays in the Seahawks’ win.

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Chiefs nabbing defensive lineman off Steelers practice squad

Carolina at Pittsburgh Getty Images

The Steelers practice squad is becoming the place to go for contenders looking for defensive line depth.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Chiefs are signing 2013 seventh-rounder Nick Williams away from the Steelers today.

The former Samford product spent last year on injured reserve, and was on the practice squad this season.

The Cardinals plucked Josh Mauro off the Steelers practice squad two weeks ago, and he played significant snaps for them in yesterday’s loss to the Seahawks.

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Colin Kaepernick’s a better leader than pre-game speaker

Colin Kaepernick AP

The 49ers are used to listening to Patrick Willis get them ready for games.

But with Willis on injured reserve after toe surgery, somebody else had to talk to the team. Even if the guy in question speaks slightly more than Marshawn Lynch.

“Pat wasn’t here today and everyone told me to step up, so I did,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “To me it’s a big honor that your teammates want to hear from you before the game.”

So what did he tell them? What eloquent words of wisdom inspired them to grind out a win over Washington?

Let’s win,” he said.

Of course, they’re not paying Kaepernick to talk, which is good for all of us. But his coach had plenty to say about his performance, after he led them to an opening-drive touchdown and a late clincher in a 17-13 win.

“I love to see the quarterback play the way he plays, the way he competes,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “That speaks volumes to me and is the most important thing. He’s a tremendous competitor at the highest level. Made just so many good throws today over and over again. He played a great game. Had one ill-advised throw the entire game. Bought time in the pocket. Was excellent at the line of scrimmage in the checks.

“He’s a great player. I don’t know how everybody else doesn’t see it that way. Great with a capital ‘G’ — at the highest level of great.”

As an orator, perhaps not so much.

Asked afterward if he’d be speaking again, Kaepernick replied: “That’ll be up to my teammates.”

As long as he keeps playing great with a captital G, I’m guessing they won’t mind.

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Josh Gordon knocks the rust off in Browns win

Josh Gordon ,Kroy Biermann AP

Wide receiver Josh Gordon got thrown back into the fire in his first game back from a 10-game suspension on Sunday afternoon and there were ups and downs for him and quarterback Brian Hoyer on the way to a 26-24 victory over the Falcons.

On the down side were a pair of fourth quarter interceptions, one of which came in the end zone, that came when Hoyer was targeting Gordon and a few other missed connections that made it clear that these two have only worked together for a few days in the last few months. The good came on eight catches for 120 yards that helped set up a few of the Cleveland scores over the course of the afternoon.

“I think it we just had to knock the rust off and that’s all it was,” Gordon said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s kind of crazy to knock the rust off in the middle of a game, especially a big game like this. That’s not what we were hoping for, but I think we’re exactly where we need to be. Moving forward, we’re going to get better.”

Whatever rust Gordon had wasn’t easy to find while watching him play. He played a full role, didn’t look out of sync with the offense and was the same physical presence he was while lighting up the league last season.

The Browns threw Gordon’s way 16 times overall and you’d expect the hit rate to improve the more that Hoyer and Gordon get to work together in the coming weeks. That would make for a major boost to a team that saw another key defensive player — safety Tashaun Gipson — hurt on Sunday as they try to navigate their way to the postseason.

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Jay Gruden: This wasn’t a good day in the passing game

Robert Griffin III AP

The fate of quarterback Robert Griffin III was on minds everywhere on Sunday afternoon as the Redskins took on the 49ers hours after reports indicated that coach Jay Gruden wouldn’t hesitate to pull the plug on the quarterback that the organization moved heaven and earth to get in 2012.

Neither Griffin nor anyone else involved in the Washington passing offense played well in a 17-13 loss, but Colt McCoy remained on the bench for the entire game. After the game, Gruden didn’t sugarcoat the performance and didn’t assign much blame, but did indicate that the offensive line’s inability to block pass rushers impacted both the game plan and the performance.

“He’s made strides ya know, but there’s a lot of other things that go into the passing game. We’ve got a rookie left tackle playing his first game with significant time on the road. So we didn’t air it out, wanted to try to get the running game going. We had positive field position and didn’t want to take any chances down the field. This wasn’t a good day in the passing game,” Gruden said, via the Washington Post. “No question, we had some opportunities. I’ll check out the film, I’m not going to lay any blame to anybody just offensively. We just didn’t play good enough on third downs. Obviously didn’t convert any, and left some plays out there.”

The Redskins ran the ball a lot with Alfred Morris on Sunday and Morris ran well, leaving Griffin to be pretty much a game manager when he wasn’t being sacked by a member of the 49ers. That’s not as bad as being benched, but it’s also not really what anyone envisioned Griffin looking like in his third season when he was in the playoffs as a rookie.

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Tom Benson makes record donation to Hall of Fame

Benson Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has embarked on an ambitious plan to construct a Hall of Fame Village.  Saints owner Tom Benson has given the project an enormous chunk of seed money.

As reported last night by Peter King of TheMMQB.com on NBC’s Football Night in America, Benson has made an historic donation to the Hall of Fame.

A statement released confirming the $11 million gift reveals that the Hall of Fame will rename the venue that hosts the annual Hall of Fame game and enshrinement ceremony as the “Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.”  Of Benson’s gift, $10 million will be used to upgrade the facility that also serves as the home for two high school teams and two college teams.

The other $1 million from Benson will be devoted to the Hall of Fame’s Legends Landing Program, which is intended to provide assistance and housing for Hall of Famers and former NFL players who are in grave financial need.

“My donation to the Hall of Fame was an easy decision,” Mr. Benson said in a statement.  “It was a right decision and it was a decision that I believe will have great impact on the current game and help foster a better game in the future while also having direct and tangible impacts on the Legends of our game with the Legends Landing.”

Mr. Benson, who purchased the Saints in 1985, also sent a letter to his fellow owners requesting that they match his $1 million gift to the Legends Landing Program.

“While recognition for a gift like this is nice, it is not the point,” Benson said.  “The point is understanding what is behind the plans for the Hall of Fame Village. . . .  Once I learned them I wanted to play a role. . . .  I feel this small part I am playing here is my way of saying thank you to the great game of football.”

It’s a great gesture, and here’s hoping that others who have benefited from the game of football will follow Mr. Benson’s lead.

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Eddie Lacy runs through illness to push the Packers

Eddie Lacy AP

Eddie Lacy was too sick to talk to reporters after the game.

Which makes what he did during the game that much more impressive.

Lacy pushed through an illness to run for 125 yards on 25 carries, a season high and the only time he’s topped 17 carries on the year. That, more than the passing of Aaron Rodgers, propelled them to a grind-it-out road win at Minnesota.

That’s what we get paid for, man,” Packers right guard T.J. Lang said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “That’s what we take a lot of pride in, is being able to run the ball when everybody in the damned stadium knows you’re going to run it.”

That doesn’t mean it was easy. Of Lacy’s 125 yards, 70 came after contact, showing the kind of determination he was playing with. And on a day when Aaron Rodgers passed for just 209 yards, it’s the kind of performance that caused him to trust his back with a late audible which gave them a game-clinching first down.

“The way that Eddie was running the football, and the line, you have to give the line a voice,” Rodgers said. “Those guys know the pulse of the game there, especially late in the game there. They felt like a run was something we could get. Came to the sidelines and kind of had the choice there, but I liked the play to Eddie, the inside handoff, and he did a good job of getting the necessary yards.”

Having that physical element will also come in handy next week against the Patriots, who are no strangers to grinding away at teams either.

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Between the touchdown and the new daughter, T.Y. Hilton had quite a Sunday

T.Y. Hilton AP

For most people, the birth of a child is enough activity for one day.

Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton did a bit more than just support his wife during the birth of their daughter, however. He was roused from sleep at 5 a.m. by a team manager at the team’s hotel and found out his little girl was on the way, went to the hospital for the birth and then returned to Lucas Oil Stadium in time for the game. He had four catches for 122 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown that he celebrated by cradling the ball like it was his second newborn of the day.

“Before I left the hospital, I told her, ‘You want a touchdown ball, or do you want the game ball?’ I wanted to just go out there and play for her and give her my all,” Hilton said, via the team’s website. “I’m tired. I didn’t have no problems with my body while I was playing. So when I got in the endzone, I just rocked the baby to sleep.”

Hilton’s emotions bubbled over during a postgame interview that reflects just how hard it is to put a day like that into words other than to say it was a very good one that Hilton and his family won’t ever forget.

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NFL morning after: Brady and Belichick seeking their fourth ring

brady AP

The Patriots are the best team in the NFL, and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are 10 weeks away from earning their fourth Super Bowl rings.

That’s what I was thinking as I watched the 34-9 beatdown the Patriots put up on a previously pretty good Lions team on Sunday. This New England team has the best offense in the NFL, an offense that, for the last seven games, hasn’t been far off from the insanely great offense of the 16-0 Patriots team in 2007.

Seven games. That’s how many the Patriots have played since that ugly meltdown against the Chiefs, the 41-14 loss in Kansas City that had people claiming Tom Brady was washed up and the New England dynasty was done. Here’s all the Patriots have done in the seven games since then:

– For starters, they’ve won seven straight games. That alone is remarkable in this NFL season, when it seems like every other week the team that we’re sure is on top of the league gets knocked off its perch. No other team is currently on a win streak of more than three games. Seven in a row in today’s NFL is extraordinarily hard to do.

– And they’re not just winning. They’re dominating. Six of the Patriots’ seven wins during their current streak are by margins of 15 points or more. The Patriots have outscored their opponents by a total score of 277-137. That’s an average score of 40-20. A three-touchdown victory is the norm.

– Tom Brady has multiple touchdown passes in each of the last seven games. He’s thrown 22 scores and only four interceptions during this winning streak.

Rob Gronkowski has gotten back to being Gronk, which means he’s emerged as a matchup nightmare, just like he always is when he’s actually healthy enough to play like himself. But perhaps more importantly, Brady has been spreading the ball around to a whole lot of different receivers. Those 22 touchdown passes in the last seven games include six to Gronk, six to Timothy Wright, four to Brandon LaFell, three to Shane Vereen, one to Danny Amendola, one to Brian Tyms and one to Julian Edelman.

– The Patriots can run the ball any way they want. LeGarrette Blount was signed last week, had a couple days of practice, and carried 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions yesterday. That came a week after newcomer Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a win over the Colts. When the Patriots started this streak, it was Stevan Ridley who had 113 rushing yards in a win over the Bengals. Shane Vereen has also taken a couple turns as the Patriots’ top rusher.

The Patriots’ defense isn’t great, but it’s good enough, and I wouldn’t bet against Belichick having his defense playing its best football in January. Belichick is just so good at what he does. If he wins his fourth Super Bowl ring, there will be a case that he’s the best coach in NFL history. And in turning this team around like he has over the last seven weeks, Belichick may be doing his best coaching job yet.

New England was the best team in the NFL on Sunday. Here are my other thoughts:

Here’s why people love Bruce Arians. ESPN aired a segment Sunday morning called “My Best Day,” in which NFL players and coaches talked about the best day of their lives. Arians chose the day that he was able to relinquish his job as the Colts’ interim head coach because his boss, Chuck Pagano, had recovered from cancer treatments and was ready to take over again. That’s the kind of man Arians is: He was in the midst of a very successful year in which he finally got to live his dream as an NFL head coach, and the day that he stepped aside to give the head-coaching job back to Pagano is the day he chose as the best of his life, because he cares so deeply about Pagano as a person that Pagano’s health means far more to him than his own personal achievements. I watched that segment and I wanted to run through a brick wall for Arians. I can’t imagine what it’s like to play for him. The Cardinals lost on Sunday, but Arians remains the leading candidate for the coach of the year.

Jim Caldwell needs to get more aggressive. As the Lions fell behind the Patriots early on Sunday, Caldwell sent the punt or field goal teams onto the field on a fourth-and-6, a fourth-and-goal from the 2, a fourth-and-3 and a fourth-and-1. Later, Caldwell wasted a timeout on fourth-and-14 because he couldn’t make a decision about whether to go for it or kick a field goal. (The Lions kicked after the timeout.) I don’t know how many opportunities Caldwell thought he was going to get, but if you want to win at New England, you’re going to need to take some chances. Caldwell wouldn’t, and his team paid for it.

Teddy’s not ready. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater may one day become a very good NFL quarterback, but he’s not there yet. Sunday’s loss to the Packers showed why Bridgewater would still be on the sideline if Matt Cassel hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury. Bridgewater’s stats don’t look terrible — he completed 21 of 37 passes for 210 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception — but he missed open receivers several times early in the game, and that cost the Vikings the game. On a day when Minnesota’s defense played well enough to win, Bridgewater couldn’t deliver.

Welcome back, Josh Gordon. In his first game of the season after serving a substance-abuse suspension, Gordon was the Browns’ best player on Sunday. Gordon, who led the NFL with an average of 117.6 receiving yards per game last year, caught eight passes for 120 yards to lead Cleveland to a win at Atlanta. Gordon is picking up right where he left off, and the Browns have a good chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Your weekly reminder that the NFC South is terrible. The Falcons are 4-7, and they’ll be in first place if the Ravens beat the Saints tonight. The Falcons still haven’t beaten a single team from outside their division: They’re 4-0 against their fellow NFC South teams and they’re 0-7 against the rest of the NFL after yesterday’s loss to the Browns. It’s entirely possible that a five-win team could win the NFC South.

Think Mark Sanchez likes playing for Chip Kelly? Sanchez completed 30 of 43 passes for 307 yards in the Eagles’ 43-24 win over the Titans on Sunday. Sanchez never even had two straight 300-yard games in his 68 career starts with the Jets, but he now has three straight 300-yard games after his first three starts with the Eagles.

What Dominic Raiola did was bush league. Raiola, the Lions’ center, admitted that he took a shot at the knees of Patriots defensive tackle Zach Moore because he didn’t like the Patriots running up the score. The NFL should discipline Raiola and send a message that such cheap shots are unacceptable. The Patriots are running it up on everyone because they’re better than everyone. They shouldn’t have to take cheap shots just because they’re winning big.

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Bills president says “no red flags” to prevent home game Sunday

LOCAL STORM AP

Even as they prepare to play a “home” game in Detroit tonight, the Bills are committed to playing at home next week.

Via Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com, Bills president Russ Brandon said there were “no red flags,” which would prevent playing next Sunday’s game against the Browns at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The biggest concern at the moment is flooding, the eventual result of seven feet of snow melting.

But Brandon said the team was planning to take a charter flight home tonight as normal for a “road” game, and practice at their facility this week.

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Falcons clock management comes into focus after loss

Smith AP

It looked like the Falcons had done just enough to win Sunday’s game against the Browns.  As it turned out, they left Cleveland just enough time to turn that victory into a defeat.

On second and nine from the Cleveland 42 with 1:03 to play, the Falcons gained seven yards on a passing play.  Coach Mike Smith promptly called for a time out, leaving 55 seconds on the clock as Atlanta faced a third and two from the Browns’ 35.

On the next play, quarterback Matt Ryan threw deep to receiver Devin Hester. The pass fell incomplete, stopping the clock with 49 seconds left.  With the down marker now showing a “4″, it was time for Matt Bryant to convert a 53-yard field goal.

He did.  And the crowd went wild.  And owner Arthur Blank, who had migrated to the sidelines, was happy.

And then the Browns got the ball back with 44 seconds left.  And that ended up being just enough time — especially with three time outs on the board — to drive into position for the game-winning field goal.

Smith has received plenty of criticism for his mismanagement of the clock in the aftermath of the team’s seventh defeat of the year.  After the game, Smith attempted to explain his reasoning to reporters.

“Again you can definitely ask that question,” he said regarding the wisdom (or lack thereof) of burning the time out. “Fifty-three yarder was outside the range we had set prior to the game.  We wanted to get a first down.  We had a play, that’s why we called the timeout.  Came over and used it.  They would’ve used the timeout probably if we hadn’t, so . . . .”

If the Browns had used a time out, they would have had one fewer time out for their final drive — so why not make them use it?  If they didn’t use it, the clock would have ticked down to under 30 seconds before the third-down play.

Either way, calling the time out resulted in more time on the clock for the Browns and one more time out for Browns coach Mike Pettine.

While it’s challenging at times to make the right decision when in real time, especially as that real time is ticking away really loudly like the opening of 60 Minutes through a megaphone, managing the clock represents one of the primary game-day duties of a head coach.  Nothing will hasten the cessation of head-coaching duties faster than a failure to manage the clock properly.

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