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Stephen Ross: I feel confident we can improve quickly

Joe Philbin AP

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross extended Joe Philbin’s contract through the 2016 season six months ago, but Philbin was fired on Monday after a 1-3 start to a season that started with much higher expectations in Miami.

In a statement about the firing, Ross called it a difficult decision to make but one that he thinks can lead to improved results on the field.

“This was a tough decision for me to make knowing how tirelessly Joe worked in his four years here to make this a winning team,” Ross said. “He is a man of the highest character and integrity that I developed a close personal relationship with. I am extremely disappointed with how we have started the season, but I feel confident that we can improve quickly with the talent we have on our roster. We will soon be announcing an interim coach to lead the team going forward.”

Philbin, who was 24-28 in three-plus years with the team, also released a statement thanking Ross for the opportunity and the team’s players for representing the team with “dignity and class.”

Tight end coach Dan Campbell is expected to be the interim coach and it’s not clear at this point if there are other changes coming to the coaching staff, although there have been reports that defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s job is also at risk. Campbell could wind up with the job for the long term, but the fact that the Dolphins have now fired their last two head coaches in the middle of a season suggests that better work needs to be done behind the scenes in the organization before the next permanent hire is made.

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Buccaneers decide to cut bait on kicker Kyle Brindza

Kyle Brindza AP

The Great Kicker Panic of Week Four has claimed its next victim.

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers have decided to cut beleaguered Kyle Brindza, despite previous shows of support.

Of course, Brindza didn’t really give them any choice, after he missed five of his last seven field goal attempts, and a pair of extra points.

The Bucs will now have to schedule the obligatory workout, although those guys have travel options this week, with a number of teams having reasons to consider making a change following a week in which 14 field goals and four extra points were missed.

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Benching Kaepernick not on Jim Tomsula’s mind

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Colin Kaepernick threw four interceptions in a Week Three loss to the Cardinals, 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said he wasn’t thinking about making a quarterback change.

In as clear a sign as you could hope for about the state of things with the 49ers right now, Tomsula faced the same questions after Sunday’s 17-3 loss to the Packers. The answer wasn’t any different.

“Won’t even go into that discussion,” Tomsula said, via “It’s not on my mind.”

Kaepernick was 13-of-25 for 160 yards in a game that saw him get sacked six times while playing behind an offensive line that rarely gave him time to look downfield. Kaepernick completed just three passes that traveled more than five yards in the air and said after the game that he’s “not just going to throw a ball into coverage” after that approach led to his disaster against the Cardinals.

While Kaepernick and the 49ers offense aren’t playing well, it’s hard to imagine that things would make a serious move in the right direction if the team opted to roll with Blaine Gabbert instead. At some point making a change for the sake of making a change might enter the equation, but that moment hasn’t come for the 49ers yet.

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Numbers show the Great Kicking Panic of 2015 may be overstated

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Yes, the kicking was bad in the NFL this weekend. And it’s early yet, with one game left to play.

But it’s not the historical, hysterical collapse some are making it out to be.

According to Kevin Seifert of, the last time the NFL saw a weekend with this many field goal misses was only six weeks ago — Week 15 of 2014. While winter weather could easily be blamed for part of that, Week Two in 2013 also featured 14 missed field goals.

League-wide, kickers are making field goals at a 84.9 percent rate this season, compared to 84.7 percent in 2014 and 82.4 in 2013.

The big difference is the number of short misses, including four extra points, which have been made something other than automatic by moving them to the 15 (i.e. a 33-yarder). Over the past three seasons (including the first three weeks of this season), the league-wide rate on kicks under 40 yards was 80.6 percent. This week, it was 68.2, with kickers hitting 15 of 22.

Those extra points tend to get lumped in with the field goal misses when it comes to spotting a trend, as seeing 18 missed kicks seems more alarming.

But in Week 10 of 2011, there were 20 misses, so it has been worse, and not all the way back in the leather-helmet era.

Kickers have extra stuff to worry about now, and perhaps that worry contributes to their performance. Or maybe it was just a set of random occurrences.

Either way, there may not be cause for a full-blown panic yet. Besides, there are probably still more qualified NFL kickers than there are quarterbacks.

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PFT Live: T.J. Ward, Dolphins talk with Armando Salguero

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Another Sunday has come and gone and we’ll spend Monday’s edition of PFT Live running through the biggest developments from the field.

That will cover both ends of the spectrum. Mike Florio will talk to Broncos safety T.J. Ward about the team’s 23-20 victory over the Vikings that was fueled by a defense that has been among the league’s very best through the first four weeks. We’ll find out what they’re doing to create such success and whether Ward thinks there’s room to get even better over the final 12 games of the year.

While the Broncos are riding high, the Dolphins are stuck at the bottom of the barrel after a 27-14 loss to the Jets that made it three losses in a row. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald will check in with the latest on coach Joe Philbin’s status and tell us if he thinks the Dolphins can right the ship this season.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour by clicking right here.

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Josh Norman draws flag for TD celebration he thought was legal

Josh Norman, Jameis Winston, Bene' Benwikere AP

Not much has gone wrong for Panthers cornerback Josh Norman this season.

Norman was named the NFC defensive player of the month for September after intercepting two passes and returning one for a touchdown during Carolina’s 3-0 start to the season and he kept up the good work as they moved to 4-0 on Sunday. Norman intercepted Jameis Winston twice in the 37-23 win over the Buccaneers and returned one for a touchdown that he celebrated by pretending to ride the football like it was one of the horses he raises when away from the field.

Norman drew a flag for that celebration for using the football as a prop, which came as a surprise because he’s done it before without being penalized. He also said Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who serves as a fine appeal officer appointed by the NFL and NFLPA, told him it wouldn’t draw a penalty.

“He said I was fine,” Norman said, via “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have never did it. … Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. Guess we’re just going to have to keep putting more money in our savings account.”

The good news for Norman is that he’s headed toward free agency while playing corner at a very high level. That should leave him with a well-funded savings account whether the Panthers or someone else is depositing the money.

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Through 16 games, Odell Beckham leads all receivers in NFL history

Odell Beckham AP

Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t just off to a great start in his NFL career. He’s off to the greatest start in NFL history.

Beckham played the 16th game of his career on Sunday, and through 16 games he has 115 catches for 1,612 yards. No player in NFL history has had those kinds of numbers in the first 16 games of his career.

The prior record for most catches in the first 16 games was set by then-Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin, who had 101 catches in his first 16 games. And the prior record for most receiving yards in the first 16 games was set by Bill Groman of the 1960-61 Houston Oilers, who had 1,593 yards in his first 16 games.

The one receiving mark Beckham doesn’t have for the first 16 games of his career is touchdowns: Randy Moss caught 17 touchdowns in the first 16 games of his career. With 14 touchdown catches, Beckham is second to Moss on that count.

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Browns GM returns to work after four-game suspension

Ray Farmer AP

After serving a four-game suspension to start the season, Monday marks the first day Browns general manager Ray Farmer is allowed to return to the team.

There will not be a parade.

The Browns are 1-3 after losing Sunday in San Diego on a field goal with no time left. The offense has shown signs of life over the last six quarters but the defense has allowed 102 points in four games and has surrendered more yards than any other in the league.

In Farmer’s absence the Browns cut Terrelle Pryor, their summer wide receiver project, and added Austin Davis and Robert Turbin to the mix at quarterback and running back, respectively. Davis is the third quarterback but got a contract extension last week; Turbin is still recovering from a high ankle sprain and has not played.

The roster Farmer has been charged with assembling still has holes. The struggling defense is full of high-priced veterans. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe got a $9 million guarantee in a two-year deal last spring but does not have a catch this season. The Browns were down two cornerbacks Sunday due to injury, and the coaches chose to play backup safety Johnson Bademosi over 2014 first-round pick Justin Gilbert.

Farmer drafted Gilbert and Johnny Manziel in the first round of his first draft. Last spring, he drafted nose tackle Danny Shelton and offensive lineman Cameron Erving in the first round. Shelton is a starter for a defense that’s 31st against the run on this young season after being 32nd last year; Erving is a backup.

There’s a lot of season left, and both Farmer and Browns coach Mike Pettine would like to think they have time to clean things up. But the Browns have won once since late last November, and it’s fair to wonder how patient owner Jimmy Haslam will be if more wins don’t come soon.

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Chuck Pagano: Andrew Luck “trending in the right direction”

Matt Hasselbeck, Andrew Luck AP

The Colts tried to get Andrew Luck back as soon as they could, but after testing the quarterback’s arm on Saturday, it was clear he wasn’t ready to play yesterday.

They survived in overtime against the Jaguars, but now have to wonder if he’ll be ready in time to play the Texans Thursday night.

He made progress all week,” coach Chuck Pagano said, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “He made progress. So we’re going to continue, . . . he’s getting treatment right now. He’ll work out tomorrow and we’ll just take it day-by-day and see where he’s at.”

The Colts needed the Jaguars to miss a pair of late field goals to have a chance to sneak out with a win, but sneak out they did. The competition may not necessarily be better this week, but that’s not as much concern as Luck’s shoulder.

“He was trending in the right direction throughout the course of the week,” Pagano said. “Maybe he could come in this morning, we were going to evaluate him, see how he felt and [he] just wasn’t ready.”

So the most-watched shoulder in Indiana will be under scrutiny the rest of the week, now that it’s clear the Colts are going to struggle unless Luck single-handedly drags them to success.

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Monday morning one-liners

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04:  Chris Ivory #33 of the New York Jets is tackled by  Michael Thomas #31 of the Miami Dolphins during the game at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills’ penalty problems have been spread across all three phases of the game.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald calls Dolphins coach Joe Philbin “delusional” about the state of his team.

Depth on the defensive line has been a Patriots strength this season.

RB Chris Ivory turned in a strong performance for the Jets in London.

There are plenty of wide receiver questions for the Ravens.

Sunday was another good one for the Bengals defense.

At least the Browns have plenty of experience with losing games in heartbreaking fashion.

Backups have filled several key roles for the Steelers this season.

WR DeAndre Hopkins posted good numbers in the latest Texans loss.

Colts RB Frank Gore said he has to play smarter after another key fumble.

The Jaguars are gaining yards, but they aren’t scoring touchdowns.

Said Titans WR Kendall Wright of QB Marcus Mariota, “He always puts the ball in a spot for you to run after the catch. He doesn’t throw it to where it’s a bang-bang play or where you’re going to get hit right afterward.”

There’s no shortage of believers in the Broncos locker room.

K Cairo Santos set a Chiefs record with seven field goals on Sunday.

Raiders T Donald Penn lamented missed opportunities in a loss to the Bears.

The Chargers are excited to get TE Antonio Gates back in the lineup.

WR Terrance Williams bounced back even though the Cowboys couldn’t beat the Saints.

Victor Cruz remains out of the Giants lineup, but WR Rueben Randle did his touchdown dance on Sunday.

Eagles WR Nelson Agholor followed up a big gain with a fumble on a reverse.

Coach Jay Gruden was happy with the way his team battled through adversity.

Bears TE Martellus Bennett mentioned Jesus and Shane Falco from The Replacements while discussing QB Jay Cutler’s play.

The Lions believe better days are ahead for their offensive line.

The Packers offensive line struggled during Sunday’s win.

A missed block, not his 48-yard touchdown run, was on Vikings RB Adrian Peterson’s mind after Sunday’s loss.

The Falcons say they aren’t getting ahead of themselves after moving to 4-0 on the season.

Panthers CB Josh Norman’s hot start to the season continued in Sunday’s win.

RB C.J. Spiller made his first big play for the Saints.

The Buccaneers defense did a better job of limiting yards than points against the Panthers.

Rookie Cardinals RB David Johnson had a rocky day against the Rams.

Said Rams DE Chris Long, “We are not where we wanted to be, but we are certainly happy to get the win. We’ve had some ups and downs these last two weeks. It has been a long couple of weeks.”

A rough season continued for 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick.

Are expectations for Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham’s production realistic?

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Panthers find a pass-rusher, not the one they expected

Ryan Delaire, Jameis Winston, A.J. Klein, Mario Addison AP

The Panthers went out and got a pass-rushing defensive end last week, and they were hoping he’d have a loud two-sack-and-nearly-more debut.

They got it, but not from the expected source.

It was rookie Ryan Delaire, not trade acquisition Jared Allen, who had the big day in the Panthers’ win at Tampa. Delaire  was claimed off the Washington practice squad, and had a pair of sacks, and a third was only wiped out by a Jameis Winston grounding penalty.

“What an awesome debut. That was the coolest thing ever. I’m stoked for him,” Allen said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I love to see young guys have success. You could see it ear to ear.”

Allen wasn’t bad, but didn’t add to his 134.0 career sacks in his first game since coming over from the Bears. But he also didn’t have the same motivation, as Delaire, who was cut by the Buccaneers after training camp this year.

“I actually never really got a shot,” Delaire said. “I was in practice. I didn’t get as much reps. I couldn’t really perform the way I wanted to.”

The Panthers tried to work him out immediately after he was cut, but Washington offered a practice squad job so he went there instead. He made his way to the Panthers just in time, as they put veteran end Charles Johnson on IR/designated for return last week.

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Lance Dunbar likely done for season, as Cowboys injuries mount

Lance Dunbar AP

Not only did they lose more key pieces, it was the timing of those injuries contributed to the Cowboys losing another game.

According to Todd Archer of, running back Lance Dunbar is “almost certainly” lost for the season with last night’s knee injury, the most dramatic of a long list.

They were also without linebacker Sean Lee for the second half with a concussion, but it was another linebacker injury that left them thin at the wrong moment.

On the play before C.J. Spiller’s game-winning touchdown in overtime, Cowboys linebacker Andrew Gachkar went out with a foot injury. That left rookie Damien Wilson chasing Spiller in vain, with the Saints taking advantage of his inexperience for the 80-yard winner.

The Cowboys will get defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain back from suspensions, but they’ll be without Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and likely Randy Gregory either.

“You’ve got no choice [but to bounce back],” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “That’s our job. Even though you don’t want to or not, you have to because that’s the only way. We’ve got another game next week.

“It’s a long season. Our destiny isn’t written yet. We’ve just got to put this one behind us and find a way. We’ve got a lot of guys injured, but they’re going to be out and injured next week too. And the guys in the locker room, we’re going to have to find a way to get it done.”

Of course, the number of guys in there who are healthy enough to help is dwindling, and continues to shrink by the week.

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Todd Gurley “exploded” this week

during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images

Rams running back Todd Gurley took more than a half to get rolling against the Cardinals on Sunday, but the train really picked up speed once it left the station.

Gurley ran for more than 100 yards in the fourth quarter and finished with 146 yards on 19 carries that did plenty to show why the Rams made him a first-round draft choice this year. Gurley reeled off several big plays, including a 52-yard jaunt that set up a touchdown, on his first big day as a professional player.

“He came out this week and he exploded,” wide receiver Tavon Austin said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The only thing Gurley didn’t do was score a touchdown as he wisely gave himself up in bounds at the end of a 30-yard run late in the fourth quarter so that time could run out on the 24-22 Rams victory. Gurley said he was “gonna think about [getting his first pro score] tonight” after the game, but he didn’t need it to make Sunday the first of what the Rams hope will be many special days in their uniform.

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Three female reporters kept out of locker room in Indianapolis

Indianapolis Exteriors And Landmarks Getty Images

NFL policy says that all credentialed media get access to the locker rooms after games. Someone working the Jaguars-Colts game in Indianapolis on Sunday violated that policy, keeping three female reporters out because of their gender.

Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports, Joey Chandler of the Tuscaloosa News and Katie McInerney of the Tulsa World all said someone working at the stadium kept them out of a locker room after the game. They were detained for a few minutes before a Jaguars staffer let them in.

“I have covered male sporting events all over the world and it took coming to Indianapolis to face my first gender discrimination,” Watson wrote on Twitter.

The name of the man who kept the women out of the locker room has not been released, but it’s incumbent on the Colts to make sure the people working at their stadium don’t discriminate. PFT has reached out to both the NFL and the Colts to request a comment; neither responded to our request.

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Jets defense gets Sheldon Richardson back this week

New England Patriots v New York Jets Getty Images

Sunday’s victory over the Dolphins was another good outing for the Jets defense.

They sacked Ryan Tannehill three times, intercepted him twice and allowed just 226 yards on their way to a third win in the first four weeks. Those efforts kept the Dolphins from sustaining long drives in the 27-14 victory, something highlighted by the fact that Miami was 0-for-12 on third downs over the course of the game.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News points out that the Jets have now held on 18 consecutive third downs dating back to Week Three, which gives them plenty to like about the unit as they head into the bye week. And the group is only getting stronger.

Defensive end Sheldon Richardson rejoins the team this week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy, which gives coach Todd Bowles yet another weapon to deploy in his aggressive, attacking scheme. Richardson may face further league discipline at some point after an offseason arrest, but nothing is on the books right now and that means he’ll be free to resume working with the team this week.

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Buccaneers could be looking for a new kicker

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In Week Three, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith stood behind kicker Kyle Brindza after Brindza missed three field goals and an extra point in a 19-9 loss to the Texans.

Smith wasn’t quite so supportive after Brindza had another awful game against the Panthers this Sunday. Brindza missed field goals from 29 and 43 yards and missed another extra point to run his total of missed kicks to seven in the last two weeks. Smith didn’t guarantee a change would be made, but it sounds like they’re going to at least take a look.

“We’re not going to start kicking people off in the press conference after the game,” Smith said, via the Tampa Tribune. “We’re disappointed in Kyle’s play today. We have to do a better job with extra points, with field goals when we need them. Those were critical parts of the game. We need to get more production from there.”

There were kicking disasters all around the league on Sunday which could make this a banner week for players looking for work at the position. It would be surprising if Tampa isn’t one of the teams doing the hiring.

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Brandon Weeden, once a “thing of beauty,” now “limited”

Brandon Weeden AP

Apparently, the list of passers more gifted than Brandon Weeden includes Drew Brees.

After last night’s overtime loss to the Saints, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was generally OK with the performance of backup quarterback, though he admitted his Saints counterpart was in a different category.

“I thought he did real good,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He did good all night long. He took his initial look and threw it. He does some real good things, though it’s not quite apples and oranges when the guy on the other side of the deal is Brees and you’re dealing with a guy who is as limited as Weeden. We got in it even running out of time, or short-handed, in 2-minute or what have you, then these quarterbacks like Brees make a difference.”

Weeden had performed his own late-game magic, driving the Cowboys to a game-tying touchdown, with a 91-yard drive in the fourth quarter which ended with a diving touchdown grab by Terrance Williams with under two minutes left. He was 16-of-26 for 246 yards, but hasn’t won any of his starts in relief of Romo.

So while his ball might be a “thing of beauty,” Brees was a little more beautiful last night after throwing an 80-yard game-winner in overtime.

Losing to the Saints is a bad one for the Cowboys, who need a few wins in Romo’s absence to stay competitive, even in the NFC East.

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Suh’s shoe choice at practice seen as a message to Coyle

spi20110496 Getty Images

As the Dolphins season continues to unravel and owner Stephen Ross considers making a change in the coaching staff, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald shares a story regarding the manner in which the current dissatisfaction with one of Joe Philbin’s top lieutenants is being manifested.

Per Salguero, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh wore sneakers to a full-padded practice on Thursday. A “prominent handful” of teammates viewed the choice in footwear as an expression of dissatisfaction with defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.

The gesture came three days after a closed-door meeting in which defensive players aired out grievances regarding Coyle’s system, which for lineman employs a two-gap approach, with one player responsible for the hole on both sides of an offensive lineman. The players, according to Salguero, want Coyle to switch to a one-gap attack.

Salguero asked Suh about the gear he wore to practice after Sunday’s game in London, and Suh responded with, “Next question.”

Salguero also was next-questioned in response to questions for Suh regarding the Monday meeting and why the defense has started slowly, giving up a score on the opening drive of every game this season.

The only real question that remains is whether Ross will decide to send Philbin packing as soon as Monday. And then whether Ross will give the interim job to someone on the staff or hire someone from the outside. While the notion of bringing in an outsider is impractical for various reasons, Peter King and I spitballed last night on the question of whether one specific outsider who used to be an insider is the answer — former Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who coached quarterback Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M and has worked with much of the personnel still on the team.

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Saints kicker calls regulation miss “unacceptable,” “unfortunate”

Zach Hocker AP

Not only did Drew Brees take Zach Hocker off the hook, he did it quickly enough and heroically enough that Hocker’s miss might fade from memory.

Hocker had a chance to end last night’s game with the Cowboys in regulation, but he bounced a 30-yard field goal attempt with 16 seconds left off the left upright, forcing Brees to win it himself with an 80-yard touchdown seconds later in overtime.

It’s unacceptable,” Hocker said, via Christopher Dabe of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “The win feels great.

“It definitely never feels good when you can put your team over the edge, get the walk-off ‘W.’ There’s absolutely no excuse for it.”

Hocker had hit game-tying field goals from 51 and 29 before the fateful clank, one he couldn’t blame on the snap, hold or weather — “I just hit a bad ball,” he said.

It’s the third miss of the season, including a dropped hold on a PAT kick last week.

“We were fortunate to avoid losing on a game like that, where you lose it on a pretty makable field goal,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We were setting it up on the left hash. All the spots that we feel we’re comfortable kicking in a game.”

“We got to clean up that operation, because it’s three now. . . .We’ll look at that when we get started up again this week.”

Of course, the rash of high-profile misses around the league might make it hard for the Saints to line up a workout if they wanted to (the kicker bus is definitely going to be rolling around the league this week). But Hocker can at least point to his emergency punting duties as a positive, after Thomas Morstead was injured.

“They called my number and I was excited to go out there and do it,” Hocker said. “Thankfully we got one punt off that was a good punt. But my job is to make field goals, too. So that’s going to be nagging at me for a while. . . .

“I’ve made game-winners before. It’s just unfortunate.”

At least he had Brees on his side, as his sore-armed quarterback bailed him out with a play Saints fans will be talking about for years to come, an 80-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller which brought overtime to a thunderous end.

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Devonta Freeman gets off to a great start as a starter

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In his second NFL season, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman hadn’t started a game before Week Three. He has now started two in a row. And, according to the NFL, he’s the first player at least since the merger to score three touchdowns in each of his first two NFL starts.

With seven total touchdowns this year, Freeman is the first player since Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 to rush for at least seven touchdowns in the first four games of a season.

Also, and as Field Yates of ESPN noted during the game, Freeman is the first player to score three touchdowns in consecutive weeks since Tomlinson in his MVP season of 2006.

Freeman also has 252 yards rushing, four more than he had in 16 games as a rookie in 2014.

More importantly, the Falcons are 4-0 with five winnable games coming up before their Week 10 bye.

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