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49ers beat Seahawks in NFC West grudge match

frankgore AP

For the last week, the entire NFL world has hailed the Seattle Seahawks as the best team in football. Today the San Francisco 49ers reminded everyone that there’s still a whole lot of football to play.

In a tough, physical battle between these two NFC West rivals, the 49ers won 19-17 and made a big statement that they’re still Super Bowl contenders, even if the Seahawks remain atop the division.

San Francisco running back Frank Gore had a big day that was topped with a 51-yard run late in the fourth quarter, which helped set up the game-winning field goal in the final minute. That field goal made Phil Dawson a perfect 4-for-4 on the day.

The 49ers’ defense did a good job of keeping Marshawn Lynch in check, and although Russell Wilson was efficient and effective with his passing, the 49ers were able to contain him for the most part, and he didn’t make many big plays. If the 49ers’ defense can hold Seattle’s offense to 17 points, they’ll take that every time.

The Seahawks are still the favorites to win the division and earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but the 49ers, who will likely be an NFC wild card team, have at least made the case that they’re a team to be reckoned with in the postseason.

Still, the good news for the Seahawks is that if these teams meet a third time, it will be in Seattle.

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Johnny Manziel’s 39-yard catch nullified by penalty

Johnny Manziel AP

On Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, the Browns came oh-so-close to pulling off one of the more unique trick plays of recent seasons, but a penalty scuttled it, taking a 39-yard Johnny Manziel reception right out of the box score and into the footnotes of history.

The play occurred in the second quarter in today’s game vs. the Ravens. On the sideline, Manziel feigned a discussion with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and another Browns assistant, then stepped on to the field and caught a pass from Brian Hoyer.

However, tailback Terrance West was penalized for an illegal shift, nullifying the gain.

In the end, the Browns got an A-plus for creativity and an F for execution.

But it was fun to watch.

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Dennis Pitta carted off in Cleveland

Pitta Getty Images

Last year, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta suffered a serious hip injury in training camp.  He has now injured it again.

Pitta’s right leg gave out after catching a pass in the backfield at Cleveland.  He stumbled to the ground, and he has been carted off.

Pitta had three catches for 12 yards.  The Ravens lead, 10-7.

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Alfred Morris questionable to return from knee injury

Alfred Morris

The Eagles saw running back LeSean McCoy make a quick return to the game after being evaluated for a concussion and the Redskins will be hoping that Alfred Morris can make a similar turnaround.

Morris is being called questionable to return to the game after injuring his knee in the second quarter. Morris was hurt when he and quarterback Kirk Cousins bounced into one another at the end of a running play and he went to the sideline for the final play of the drive to get evaluated by medical personnel.

Morris had seen a lot of work up to that point in the game, running 14 times for 46 yards on the team’s first three possessions. All three of those possessions ended in points for the Redskins, who led 17-7 after a Kai Forbath field goal.

Their lead shrank a short time later when Nick Foles hit Jordan Matthews for a touchdown to close within a field goal in what’s been a game light on defensive stands in Philadelphia.

UPDATE 2:12 p.m. ET: Morris has returned to the game.

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Rams run out out to big lead over Cowboys

zacstacy AP

No team got off to an uglier start today in the NFL than the Cowboys.

In the second quarter in St. Louis, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo threw a pass right to Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who took it to the house for the Rams’ third touchdown of the day, giving St. Louis an early 21-0 lead.

The Rams had previously had two touchdown passes from quarterback Austin Davis, who looked surprisingly good: He hit Lance Kendricks for a one-yard score and Brian Quick for a 51-yard score.

Dallas finally got on the board when DeMarco Murray plunged up the middle for a one-yard touchdown to make it 21-7. The Cowboys will need a lot more from Murray, who is running well but has also lost a fumble, if they’re going to come back in this one.

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Titans shooting themselves in the (kicking) foot

Tennessee Titans v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Titans aren’t playing horribly, but their special teams are keeping them from keeping it close against the Bengals.

They just committed a holding penalty in the end zone for a safety while trying to punt, giving the Bengals a 12-0 lead.

This comes after kicker Ryan Succop missed a pair of field goals, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson committed a facemask penalty on a punt return.

Wilson was also the culprit who gave up a touchdown pass to Andy Dalton, when he looked like he was caught somewhere between trying to light up the quarterback or play a lofted pass, and ended up failing at both.

This should be a one-score game, but they’re handing it to the Bengals on a platter.

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Teddy Bridgewater era begins for Minnesota

Bridgewater Getty Images

As the current face of the franchise has gotten a stiff arm to the face from the franchise, the next face of the franchise will be getting his first crack at making an impact on the field.

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassell has left the playing area on a cart, with a toe injury.  Which means that rookie Teddy Bridgewater has entered the game.

Even without the injury, it was looking shaky for the veteran.  The Vikings fell into a quick 13-0 hole, after losing 30-7 last week.

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Bengals up 10-0 after touchdown pass to Andy Dalton

Mohamed Sanu AP

Maybe the Bengals shouldn’t have paid Andy Dalton.

Because Mohamed Sanu is becoming quite a passer.

Sanu just hit Dalton with an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the Bengals a 10-0 lead over the Titans, which required his quarterback to make a move to get the end zone. It could have easily been picked off and returned for a touchdown, but Dalton was able to climb the ladder and scamper for the score.

On the heels of last week’s 50-yard pass to Brandon Tate, Sanu now has a passer rating of 158.3 for his career. He’s 4-of-4 for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

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Colts not having much trouble with Jaguars

Andrew Luck AP

Down two games to the Texans in the AFC South, the Colts entered Sunday’s game at Jacksonville in desperate need for a victory.

Well, Indianapolis is off a good start in its quest for its first win of the season.

Led by strong defense and sharp play on offense, the Colts are out to a 17-0 second quarter lead at Jacksonville.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has starred early, completing 15-of-18 passes for 145 yards, including a six-yard first quarter TD pass to Ahmad Bradshaw and a one-yard second quarter scoring toss to tight end Dwayne Allen. Tailback Trent Richardson has also played well, racking up 35 yards on five carries.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars’ offense has done little early, going three-and-out on its first two drives.

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LeSean McCoy helped off after blow to head, cleared to return

LeSean McCoy AP

The Eagles defense hasn’t been able to stop the Redskins on either of Washington’s first two drives, leaving them in a 14-7 hole.

They may not have running back LeSean McCoy’s help in their effort to come back. McCoy took a shot to the head from Redskins cornerback David Amerson during a running play in the first quarter and was immediately met by members of the Eagles training staff on the field.

They helped McCoy to the sideline, where he was evaluated by a couple of members of the medical team. McCoy, who was seen pleading with trainers to get his helmet back, then headed back to the locker room where there will presumably be concussion testing done to see the extent of the injury.

If McCoy is out the rest of the way, the Eagles will need Darren Sproles to repeat some of the production he gave them on Monday night against the Colts if they are going to wind up winners of this divisional battle.

UPDATE 1:56 p.m. ET: McCoy has been cleared to return to the game by the Eagles, who saw Sproles lose a fumble in the Washington red zone while he was out of the game.

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Broncos say no timetable in place for ownership transition

Pat Bowlen AP

In response to a report from the Denver Post that the Broncos may have as little two years to determine whether a member of Pat Bowlen’s family will assume ownership of the franchise or sell it, the team says that no deadlines exists.

“Owner Pat Bowlen has indicated a strong desire to keep specifics of his estate planning private, and the Denver Broncos intend to honor his wishes,” the team said in a statement.

“While Mr. Bowlen’s long-term hope is for one of his children to run the team, any speculation on the transition of his ownership to one of them is premature. No timetable has been set for that process by the organization or the National Football League.

“There are no plans for the sale of the Denver Broncos, and the Pat Bowlen Trust will continue to implement the provisions set forth by Mr. Bowlen to keep the team in the Bowlen family.”

Bowlen, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, stepped away from any activities with the organization in July.  His wife has said that the plan is to keep the team in the family.

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Lions’ Stephen Tulloch hurts himself celebrating

Detroit Lions Stephen Tulloch celebrates in the end zone his touch down against Minnesota Vikings during the first half of their NFL football game in Detroit Reuters

Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch has pulled a Gramatica.

Tulloch jumped up and down celebrating a big play today against the Packers, but he came down too hard and fell awkwardly, appearing to hurt his leg. It was reminiscent of the infamous Bill Gramatica celebration.

The Lions didn’t have much to celebrate after Tulloch left the game; the Packers marched right down the field against Detroit’s depleted defense and got a 10-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Andrew Quarless.

Late in the first quarter in Detroit it’s tied, 7-7.

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Saints rolling the inoffensive Vikings early

Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

As if the Vikings didn’t have enough problems, they’re getting their doors blown off at New Orleans.

The Saints sandwiched a pair of touchdown drives around a lonely Vikings three-and-out, for a quick 13-0 lead.

The Vikings were being outgained 162-2 at that point, with Matt Cassel throwing two incomplete passes and Mat Asiata gaining all their yards on one rush.

Meanwhile, the Saints are as sharp as expected offensively.

Drew Brees is a perfect 9-of-9 passing for 108 yards, hitting Josh Hill for a touchdown to go with Pierre Thomas‘ scoring run.

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Kirk Cousins opens 7-for-7 with a touchdown

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has gotten off to a fast start in his first start of the 2014 season.

Cousins, filling in for the injured Robert Griffin III, completed all seven passes he tried on the team’s first possession. The last of those passes was a four-yard toss to fullback Darrel Young for a touchdown that gave the Redskins a 7-0 lead a little more than six minutes into the first quarter.

Cousins spread the ball around on the drive with five different receivers catching passes as they marched down the field. Two of those passes were to DeSean Jackson, who is playing with an injured shoulder, and the Redskins got 15 extra yards at the end of one of them when safety Nate Allen got flagged for unnecessary roughness after getting involved in a shoving match with Jackson.

The Redskins’ lead was short lived, however. Chris Polk took the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown to tie the score.

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Danny Woodhead carted off for RB-thin Chargers

Danny Woodhead, Kam Chancellor AP

The Chargers were thin at running back anyway, and they just got thinner.

Danny Woodhead was just carted off the field with what appears to be a right ankle injury, and his return was announced as questionable.

They were already without Ryan Mathews (sprained MCL), so they could ill afford any injury there.

Donald Brown and Branden Oliver are their lone remaining backs, so expect them to keep it in the air.

It’s working so far, as Philip Rivers just capped a long drive with a touchdown pass to Eddie Royal for a 7-0 lead.

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How strong is owner support of Goodell?

Goodell Getty Images

While the Commissioner in theory represents all constituents of pro football, only one set of constituents controls his ongoing employment status — 31 owners and the CEO of the Packers.  At Friday’s press conference, Peter King asked Goodell whether he still enjoys the support of the owners.

“I believe I have the support of the owners,” Goodell said.  “That has been clear to me.  They obviously expect us to do a better job.  As I said to several, I don’t like to let down anybody, Peter.  I hold myself to the highest possible standards.”

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the support may not be as strong as Goodell believes. Some owners, per Mortensen, have adopted a wait-and-see posture, given the not-so-independent investigation from Robert Mueller and the pending Ray Rice appeal.  Adam Schefter of ESPN points out that, when Goodell was elected in 2006, 15 owners voted for Gregg Levy, a lawyer at Covington & Burling. Per Schefter, there were certain characteristics of Goodell that troubled those 15 owners at the time.

“The characteristics that bothered those 15 then have been on abundant display the last few weeks,” Schefter said.

Those characteristics (whatever they may be) could result in more troubling findings and conclusions from the Mueller investigation and the Rice appeal.

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