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Andre Reed thinks Richard Sherman wouldn’t have been able to cover Andre Reed

Reed Getty Images

News flash:  Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman loves him some him.  Which makes plenty of people feel the opposite of love for him.

Former Bills receiver Andre Reed, who’ll finally enter the Hall of Fame later this year, was asked by a participant at the 27th Annual Jim Kelly Football Camp whether Sherman could have covered Reed in Reed’s prime.

Hell no,” Reed told the kids, to their delight, via Syracuse.com.  (Calm down, Church Lady; they’ve heard — and said — a lot worse than “hell”.)

“Look, Richard Sherman is a really good player,” Reed added.  “But he isn’t a Deion [Sanders] or a [Rod] Woodson yet, even if he thinks he is.”

The most common criticism of Sherman comes from the system the Seahawks use.  Sherman stays on the left side of the formation, and he’s never asked to spend the game shadowing the opposition’s best receiver.  Sherman also benefits from the presence of a potent pass rush and two of the best safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, of the last generation.

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Tom Brady: We’re so far from the Super Bowl

Detroit Lions Vs. New England Patriots At Gillette Stadium Getty Images

The Patriots won for the seventh straight week on Sunday and they won by at least 22 points for the fourth week in a row, a run that has led some, including our own MDS, to start talking about a sixth Super Bowl trip for coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

With the Packers playing better than anyone in the NFC right now, that’s given the Patriots’ upcoming trip to Lambeau Field the look of a possible Super Bowl preview. Brady won’t be selling that line of thought this week, however.

“We are so far from [the Super Bowl],” Brady said on WEEI, via ESPN.com. “We have so many games [left]. If we are lucky enough to make it there, no one ever cares who we play. But that’s so far down the road. We think about the one game we have ahead of us, which is a good opponent. We have nine wins. We’ve done a good job getting ourselves to this position. This is when the weather turns, the mental toughness, the discipline, how much we’ve improved really comes into play.”

There are plenty of similarities between the Patriots and Packers this season. They are scoring the most points in the league, have the biggest positive point differentials in the league and both teams had plenty of people concerned after shaky performances early in the season. Brady never went down the spelling bee route that Aaron Rodgers took, but patience proved to be just as wise a course of action in both cases.

None of that means that they’re destined to meet in the Super Bowl because there’s way too much football left to play when we haven’t reached Thanksgiving, but that’s not likely to stop the hype from building ahead of Sunday’s kickoff.

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Cowboys know they have to get right back to work

Tony Romo AP

The Cowboys ought to enjoy last night’s win.

But there isn’t really time to.

The relief or excitement of beating the Giants 31-28 last night also brings the realization they have to turn things around quickly to prepare for Thursday’s game with the Eagles.

“When we land in Dallas, [this] game no longer matters,” wide receiver Dez Bryant said, via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com.

The Cowboys got home in the wee hours and will practice this afternoon, but coaches got a head start on game-planning for the Eagles during their post-London bye week, which is why owner Jerry Jones wasn’t griping about the turnaround from playing a Sunday night road game to a short-week special.

“That’s three hours, that’s really nothing,” Jones said of the travel difference. “We’ll get rest on the plane and go in there, but we’ve got three more hours to prepare than Philadelphia, I guess. Did Philadelphia get a bye last week? OK, we got one, so we got the edge. . . .

“And we’re playing at home, so when you look at the edges, which edge would you rather have?” Would you rather have Philadelphia’s having to travel or us when we had a bye week?”

Either way, this week’s game is crucial. Even though the two teams are tied at 8-3, the Eagles have a better division record which will benefit them in case of a tie. But with two games between them in the next three weeks, they have a chance for that to not matter.

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Jadeveon Clowney still being affected by knee injury

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans Getty Images

We’re 11 games into the 2014 season and Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney still hasn’t made the kind of impact that many were expecting based on his collegiate exploits.

Clowney had three tackles in Sunday’s loss, one for a loss, to the Bengals and he also was guilty of a neutral zone infraction that helped the Bengals get into position for a field goal. It was just his fourth game of the season as Clowney missed a big chunk of time after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus suffered in Week One and Clowney said after the game that he was still being affected by the injury.

“Somewhat,” Clowney said, via the Houston Chronicle. “Some things are holding me back still but I’m just out here trying to do what I can do and have fun. You never know if you’re going to have an injury or not coming into the league. So when that happened to me, it was a setback. I’m just trying to do everything I need to do to get back to where I need to be to help the team out.”

With a 5-6 record at this point in the year, the Texans are pretty much left to hope that Clowney can stay healthy and start making progress that will help him make more of the impact they imagined in his second NFL season.

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NFL will look at Raiola’s late-game knee dive

Raiola Getty Images

No rule prohibits an offensive lineman from firing out into the knees of a defensive lineman.  But after Lions center Dominic Raiola did it to Patriots defensive tackle Zach Moore on the final play of Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium, Raiola admitted to doing it intentionally, deliberately, and maliciously.

Angered by a decision by the Patriots to score a garbage-time touchdown, Raiola decided to retaliate against the Patriots on a play in which the Lions, down 34-9, lined up in non-victory victory formation.  The result became the bizarro version of Greg Schiano’s approach to the kneel-down play, with a member of the offense opting to be overly aggressive at a time when the rest of the offense opts to be docile.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL will review the play.  Whether any action is taken in response to it is anyone’s guess.  But the rule book provides the league office with ammunition to take action against Raiola.

Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6(g) prohibits a player from “unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting, or throwing the body against or on a player who . . . should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead.”  In this specific case, with the Lions lined up to take a knee and end the game, Moore shouldn’t have reasonably anticipated Raiola diving at Moore’s knees.  Coupled with Raiola’s admission of intent and malice, and given the NFL’s enhanced sensitivity to player safety, Raiola could be hearing from the league office soon.

He’s due to make his 200th career start on Thursday against the Bears.  A suspension is unlikely, since the action happened during the play.  But a stiff fine should surprise no one, given the circumstances, Raiola’s actions, and most importantly his post-game words.

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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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