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Dolphins’ interest in receivers raises questions about Wallace’s future

Mike Wallace

The Dolphins have denied reports that they want to trade wide receiver Mike Wallace, and it appears highly unlikely that Wallace will play anywhere other than Miami this season. But there are big questions about whether Wallace has a future in Miami beyond 2014.

The latest question comes from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who reports that the Dolphins are closely scrutinizing several receivers they could take in the first or second round, including LSU’s Odell Beckham, USC’s Marqise Lee, Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin. Jackson adds that “if the Dolphins do add a receiver in the first three rounds, it will raise questions about their intentions with Wallace in 2015 and beyond.”

The reality is that Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey probably doesn’t have any intentions with Wallace in 2015 and beyond. Hickey wasn’t in Miami when former G.M. Jeff Ireland signed Wallace, and Hickey probably thinks what most people think, which is that Ireland overpaid to acquire Wallace last year.

The Dolphins won’t trade Wallace not because they don’t want to, but because his contract makes it all but impossible. First, Miami would take an immediate cap charge of $8.8 million if Wallace is traded before June 1. Secondly, any team that trades for Wallace would be taking on his fully guaranteed salary of $15 million this season. That’s not going to happen.

So don’t be surprised if Hickey drafts a receiver this year who could replace Wallace as Miami’s No. 1 receiver next year.

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Chargers hold off Rams, move to 7-4

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With their final five games against clubs with winning records, the Chargers absolutely had to have a win Sunday vs. St. Louis.

And they got it.

Overcoming several big mistakes, getting a lift from multiple Rams penalties and making a game-saving interception in the final minute, the Chargers held on for a 27-24 win in San Diego.

With the victory, the Chargers move to 7-4, which places them one game behind Denver in the AFC West. San Diego is also one of four 7-4 teams vying for two wild-card spots, with Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Cleveland the others.

The Rams (4-7) gave the Chargers all they could handle, and they looked likely to take the lead or send the game into overtime in the final minute. However, quarterback Shaun Hill was picked by Chargers safety Marcus Gilchrist in the endzone, and San Diego ran out the clock.

This was a roller-coaster game for both clubs. Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins set the tone early, picking off Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and taking it back for a 99-yard second-quarter TD to give St. Louis a 10-3 lead.

But the Rams missed a couple of chances to add to their edge in the first half. A penalty nullified a long Kenny Britt TD catch, and the Rams also had a field goal blocked.

Those squandered opportunities loomed large as the Chargers scored two TDs in a 21-second span in the third quarter. First, tailback Ryan Mathews — again bothered by a shoulder ailment — rushed for a 32-yard TD about five minutes into the period. Then, the Chargers got a big play from the defense, with Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget causing Hill to fumble and Andrew Gachkar taking it in for a 13-yard score.

Suddenly, the Chargers had a 20-10 lead. But San Diego couldn’t put away St. Louis. A fumbled punt set up the Rams’ second TD of the game, a six-yard run by Tavon Austin that cut the lead to 20-17. On their next drive, the Chargers would then turn the ball over deep in Rams territory, with Jenkins causing Keenan Allen to fumble.

But as the fourth quarter began, the Chargers were in the midst of one of their classic clock-chewing drives, and when Rivers hit Allen for a 29-yard TD with 8:09 left, the Rams found themselves down 27-17.

The Rams’ subsequent drive looked set to be a three-and-out, but St. Louis, backed up on its 26 and facing a 4th-and-4, faked the punt, with punter Johnny Hekker hitting Stedman Bailey for 19 yards. The Rams would capitalize, with Hill connecting with Bailey for a seven-yard score with 2:04 left.

The Rams would then hold on defense, and on the ensuing punt, Austin would break a 73-yard return down to the San Diego 5. However, a questionable holding call would take that off the board.

Still, the Rams would again get off the mat, and when Hill hit Britt for 27 yards down to the San Diego 6 with about a minute left, the Chargers had their backs against the wall. But Gilchrist would then make a potentially season-saving play for San Diego.

Rivers completed 29-of-35 passes for 291 yards with the touchdown and the pick, with Allen hauling in six passes for 104 yards and a TD. Hill was just 18-of-35 passing for 194 yards with the scoring pass and two interceptions.

Mathews racked up 105 yards rushing on 12 carries for San Diego, which plays at Baltimore next Sunday. The Rams host 1-10 Oakland.

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NFL, NFLPA to meet this week

Green Bay Packers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

In a week that will include fairly little work (especially in those states where deer hunting is a big deal), the NFL and NFL Players Association will carve out some time to get together before they commence carving the carcass of a large bird with intelligence inversely proportional to its tastiness.

Per a league source, the league and union will meet this week to discuss, among other things, potential revisions to the personal conduct policy.  The two sides have met three prior times, with the NFLPA wanting formal “collective bargaining” over possible changes to the policy and the NFL not wanting to make the possible tweaks a subject of formal bargaining.

Regardless of whether it is or isn’t deemed bargaining in the classic labor-relations sense, the players want all appeals of employee discipline to be handled by an independent third-party arbitrator.  The NFL wants to retain the Commissioner’s ability to impose discipline and to handle the appeal directly or to designate the responsibility to someone of the Commissioner’s choosing.

The issue takes on greater importance given the decision of Commissioner Roger Goodell to appoint former NFL executive Harold Henderson as the hearing officer in the Adrian Peterson appeal.  The NFLPA doesn’t regard Henderson as truly independent, in part due to his track record of upholding the NFL’s decisions.

It’s believed that, since 2008, Henderson has affirmed 90 percent or more of the NFL’s decisions in the nearly 90 appeals he has handled under various league policies, with the only widely-known reduction coming in the case of receiver Brandon Marshall, whose three-game suspension was reduced to a one-game suspension and a one-game fine by Henderson.  The union prefers the use of an arbitrator with no connection to the NFL; the league used that approach in selecting a hearing officer for the Ray Rice appeal.

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49ers escape with win after late Carlos Hyde touchdown

Jim Harbaugh AP

The 49ers didn’t make many big plays on offense Sunday, but wide receiver Anquan Boldin came up with one at exactly the right moment in the fourth quarter.

Boldin caught a pass in traffic and shrugged off a hit from Redskins safety Ryan Clark, who led with his helmet, to gain 29 yards. Clark’s penalty added 15 more yards to the total, pushing the 49ers into the red zone. Carlos Hyde scored three plays later and the 49ers had a 17-13 lead with three minutes left to play.

That was plenty of time for the Washington offense to make something happen, but they weren’t able to do it. Aldon Smith sacked Robert Griffin III to help thwart one drive and the final Redskins possession of the day ended when Griffin lost a fumble on a sack by Justin Smith. Those were two of the five sacks that the 49ers racked up along with numerous other big hits on Griffin that left the quarterback even more beleaguered than he was during a week that saw him torn apart by fans, the media and coach Jay Gruden.

Nothing Griffin did on Sunday will stop the criticism from mounting. He was 11-of-19 for 109 yards and the Redskins couldn’t take enough advantage of three 49ers turnovers. It was never bad enough that it felt like Colt McCoy would be getting the call from the sideline, if only because the pass rush would have suffocated him as well, but it wasn’t good enough to make anyone feel better about the overall offensive situation either.

Neither was the 49ers offense for much of the day. Colin Kaepernick was 20-of-29 for 256 yards and Boldin caught nine balls for 137 yards, but Hyde and Frank Gore each fumbled while combining for 52 yards on 20 carries.

The Niners have now scored 33 points in the last two weeks against two NFC East teams going nowhere and they’ll need to find a way to generate more points if they are going to win the games against the Seahawks and Cardinals that they’ll need to win to ensure themselves a playoff spot. The defense will make it hard for anyone to blow them out, but close losses will be just as costly.

They’ll get their first chance to do better on Thanksgiving night against Seattle.

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Broncos turn it on late to beat the Dolphins, 39-36

broncos AP

After getting off to a sluggish start, the Broncos turned in a dominant fourth quarter today to beat the Dolphins in Denver.

The Broncos, who have been getting off to sluggish starts for about a month now, looked early on like something might be really wrong: Peyton Manning wasn’t connecting with his receivers, and the Dolphins’ offense was moving down the field easily. But when the Broncos needed to make plays, they made them.

Manning threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and C.J. Anderson ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown as well, and the Broncos’ defense played well against the Dolphins in the final 15 minutes, and Denver won 39-36.

Although it hasn’t always been pretty for the Broncos recently, by winning they improved to 8-3 and are the clear favorites in the AFC West. If the Broncos win next week in Kansas City, they’ll be in great shape to win their division again.

The Dolphins, however, have just been dealt a blow from which they may not recover. At 6-5 Miami is still in the hunt, but this was the type of game the Dolphins needed to win if they wanted to be contenders. With their disappointing fourth quarter, the Dolphins showed they aren’t on the same level as the Broncos.

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Ravens bus involved in minor accident

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Earlier this year, a Washington bus was involved in a crash that could have resulted in serious injuries, but didn’t.  On Sunday in New Orleans, a Baltimore Ravens bus was involved in a far less significant accident.

According to CSNBaltimore.com, one of Baltimore’s six buses was involved in a minor wreck while taking personnel from the airport to the hotel.

The bus reportedly struck a car.  No injuries were reported.

The Ravens face the Saints on Monday night at the Superdome.

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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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