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Gus Bradley hopes loss to Bucs shocks Jags to get things right

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts  in the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars fell to 1-4 on Sunday in a 38-31 loss to the Buccaneers that left coach Gus Bradley with a bad taste in his mouth for the 29th time in 37 games as the team’s head coach.

Bradley watched his team get gashed by Doug Martin on the ground, fail to force a turnover against a Tampa team that’s been prone to them, turn the ball over twice themselves and allow six sacks in a dispiriting loss. Tight end Marcedes Lewis said Bradley “went in on us” after the game that “enough is enough” for a team that the coach believes is lacking “the grit needed to sustain things.”

“I’m hoping that this setback shocks us to get things right,” Bradley said, via “I believe in these guys. The reason I’m upset is they’re capable of better. That’s the reason I’m upset. I’m not upset because we’re not very good. We’re capable of being better and we’re not showing it. That’s what frustrating. You say, ‘Hey, Gus, you said this was built.’ It is built. We’ve got enough good players in that locker room do better than what we’re doing on the field today. That’s a fact. I’ve always tried to be honest with everybody, the fans, and you guys, and that’s how I’m feeling. I don’t know — maybe tomorrow I’ll come back and I’ll go, ‘I looked at things [and they weren’t as bad].’ But that’s how I’m feeling right now.”

The frustration is understandable, but so would be frustration with Bradley in his third year as the team’s head coach. It’s not the first time Bradley has castigated his team for failing to overcome adversity this season and it’s a continued refrain that reflects poorly on the people charged with getting the Jaguars ready to play every week.

Everyone knew that Bradley was taking over a team at rock bottom and that buys time to build a roster that can bring better results. Those results need to start coming, though, or it is going to be harder and harder to come up with arguments for why someone else shouldn’t be in charge of getting them.

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Dez Bryant gets therapeutic injection in rehab from foot surgery

Dez Bryant AP

Dez Bryant has promised to be aggressive in his rehabilitation from foot surgery, and that included traveling to Colorado last week to get a therapeutic injection.

According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys wide receiver had bone marrow stem cells removed from his hip and injected into his ankle in hopes of speeding the process of healing.

Bryant had surgery Sept. 14 which included a bone graft to help repair the fractured fifth metatarsal bone.

“It will do two things,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of the injection. “It has the potential to improve the healing time but more important gives him and everyone more confidence that when he comes back, at whatever the time is, it will be sounder and I think that was the overriding reason for doing it. It will be sounder even if he kept the same timeframe. It could easily speed it up, but if not, what you’re always going to be worried about [is] if you wait another week maybe you’ve got less chance of reinjuring it or basically rushing it. That will give us more peace of mind on rushing it. . . .

“He’s shown exceptional in his healing,” Jones said. “I feel the procedure and how he’s doing gives us a good feeling that if we feel like he can handle the sensitivity then you feel like you aren’t being too aggressive in letting him get back out there. That’s the big thing.”

The Cowboys are hoping he can return by the end of the month against the Giants, and they’ll take all the help they can get offensively.

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Frustration beginning for Saints on both sides of the ball

Drew Brees, Fletcher Cox

It’s not just that the Saints aren’t scoring enough points, it’s that they’re not scoring them at the rate they’re accustomed to.

And that identity crisis seems to be causing frustration on both sides of the ball.

In addition to coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan having animated sideline conversations, the signs of strain are visible in quarterback Drew Brees.

Via Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Brees going after the side judge to protest a non-call on a pass to C.J. Spiller (he thought Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins knocked him out of bounds) showed how real the frustration has become for the 1-4 Saints.

“It’s not like you say we’re talented or we’ve got this young talent, but man, it’s just that we don’t have good guys that’s not coming together,” Brees said. “That’s just not the case. We have great guys. We have great leaders.

“Guys want to do the right thing. Guys want to be great. So it’s frustrating to sit here at 1-4 and say we’re not getting the production out of that. We feel like we’ve got the right pieces in place. They just haven’t come together yet. And it will.”

That’s becoming debatable. While there were fantasy stats that point to a degree of competence, it’s not showing itself during actual games. They lack weapons in the passing game for the first time in recent memory, they’ve only run for 100 yards twice this year and injuries up front have depleted the line and caused Brees to take too many hits on a shoulder that may or may not be sound.

“Obviously offensively, we’re not doing our job collectively in getting beat the way we are,” tight end Benjamin Watson said. “The most disappointing thing in any occupation is when you put in a lot of work, hard consistent work, like we do in this game and not have the fruit of winning. Last week, we got to reap the benefits of winning. This is a winning business. We all understand that. Bottom line, that’s what it’s about. It doesn’t matter how you do it. It just matters that you do it. It’s as disappointing for us as it is for the fans or it is for you guys covering us.

“There’s really no excuse.”

Not if you begin with the assumption the Saints are good at offense. Because at the moment, they are not.

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Cardinals got key interception on Lions play they saw coming

Cory Redding, Matthew Stafford AP

Lions wide receiver Golden Tate said a couple of weeks ago that opposing defensive players told him that they knew what the Lions were going to run during games because it was easy to figure out Detroit’s intentions after studying their offense leading into the game.

The problem reared its head on Sunday afternoon against the Cardinals and led to a big play for the Arizona defense. As the Lions lined up for a play with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter, Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner started yelling to his charges that a screen pass was coming. Defensive end Cory Redding picked off that pass and returned it inside the five-yard-line to set up a touchdown that helped turn a 7-7 game into a 42-17 laugher.

“Buck called it out from the sidelines, ‘Screen! Screen!’ He saw the formation, saw the guy crossing,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, via “We still have to catch it.”

Arians said that was the only time the Cardinals correctly guessed a play, but it’s safe to say they had a pretty good idea on some of the others as they wound up with six takeaways overall.

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Monday morning one-liners

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 11: Marquess Wilson #10 of the Chicago Bears catches a touchdown pass over the outstretched arm of Marcus Peters #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Ron Parker #38 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium during the game on October 11, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills QB Tyrod Taylor saved his best play for last against the Titans.

The Dolphins get back to workr with their new coach on Monday.

Halftime proved to be a positive turning point for the Patriots offensive line.

The Jets defense is off to its best start since 2009.

There’s not much hope left for the 2015 Ravens.

The Bengals had the Earth’s rotation on their side while trying the game-winning field goal.

Big plays went the Browns’ way on Sunday afternoon against the Ravens.

Steelers CB William Gay is likely to be tested on Monday night.

Slow starts are one of the problems the Texans need to work out.

The Colts are going to face a lot of questions this week about their recent lack of success against the Patriots.

The Jaguars couldn’t force a turnover against the Buccaneers.

Titans DT Jurrell Casey blamed himself for a key run by Bills QB Tyrod Taylor.

CB Aqib Talib doesn’t expect to be out of the Broncos lineup for long.

The Chiefs turned to Charcandrick West at running back after losing Jamaal Charles.

RB Latavius Murray wasn’t part of the game plan for the Raiders in the second half of their loss.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon’s quest for his first touchdown continues on Monday night.

LB Rolando McClain was in the center of the Cowboys defense in his first 2015 appearance.

An interception at the end of the first half put Giants QB Eli Manning in position to play hero in the fourth quarter.

RB Ryan Mathews turned in another strong effort for the Eagles.

Redskins QB Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions for the third time in five starts this season.

WR Marquess Wilson stepped up on a day when the Bears were short of wideouts.

Sunday’s report card isn’t one the Lions will enjoy seeing.

The Packers had four interceptions in a game for the first time since 2012.

Nine storylines to follow as the Vikings return from their bye week.

An underwhelming performance didn’t stop the Falcons from continuing their winning streak.

A review of the first quarter of the Panthers season.

What changes do the Saints need to make after Sunday’s loss to the Eagles?

Buccaneers DE Howard Jones had a couple of sacks in his NFL debut.

The Cardinals backfield had a great day against the Lions.

Giveaways and special teams errors helped sink the Rams on Sunday.

The offensive improved for the 49ers on a night when the defense let them down.

Running for 169 yards didn’t help RB Thomas Rawls stay on the field for the Seahawks in crunch time.

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Bengals players call Sunday’s win “a big statement”

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 11: Domata Peko #94 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after making a defensive stop during overtime against the Seattle Seahawks at Paul Brown Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Seattle 27-24 in overtime. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals safety George Iloka didn’t make too much of Sunday’s comeback from 17 points down to beat the Seahawks in overtime and said that the victory “means nothing” in the big picture when talking to reporters after the game.

Iloka’s not wrong about what an October win will mean come January, but it was certainly a win that felt like it counted for a little bit more. The Bengals were down 24-7 to the Seahawks and facing another round of “same old Bengals” if they lost the game, but they rallied behind Andy Dalton on offense and the defense turned up the heat on Seattle to put themselves in position to win the game in overtime.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth said winning the game sent “a heck of a message” about this year’s Bengals and his longtime teammate Domata Peko said that the two men had been on plenty of other teams in Cincinnati that couldn’t have pulled it off.

“That’s a big statement. Seattle’s been to the last two Super Bowls and they play just like us,” Peko said, via the team’s website. “Their defense flies around, they have offensive weapons. To be down 17 points, other teams I’ve been on probably would have folded. This is a different team. Our eyes were still on the prize. We endured hardships and we bent, but we never broke.”

It’s certainly worth celebrating a win like that, even if Iloka’s view should return if the team is going to keep the undefeated run alive. Given the way the Bengals have been defined by their January flops, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince anyone that the biggest fish remain unfried.

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NFL morning after: Andy Dalton, MVP candidate

Andy Dalton AP

In a big game on Sunday, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton came through in the clutch.

I know, I know, Dalton has had some high-profile playoff failures, and therefore we’re supposed to laugh at the notion that he’s a guy who can put a team on his back and win. But that’s exactly what Dalton did yesterday against the Seahawks, throwing for 331 yards and two touchdowns and leading the game-winning drive for a field goal in overtime as the Bengals beat the Seahawks 27-24.

The Bengals are 5-0, and Dalton is an MVP candidate.

Dalton now has a league-leading 1,518 passing yards, along with 11 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He’s first in the NFL with 9.5 yards per pass and third with a passer rating of 115.6. If you think he’s not one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, you haven’t been paying attention. Dalton is on pace to finish this season with a career-high 35 touchdown passes, a career-high 4,858 yards, a career-high 67.5 percent completion rate and a career-low six interceptions. Even if you weren’t a fan of Dalton’s before, you can’t deny that he’s off to an unbelievable start this year.

And yet . . . I get it. Dalton has started four playoff games in his career, the Bengals have lost all four of them, and Dalton has thrown just one touchdown pass to six interceptions in those four games. As long as Dalton has that playoff record, he’s going to have the “choker” label attached to his name.

But I have a feeling this is the year Dalton will change those perceptions. No player in football is playing any better than Andy Dalton right now.

Here are my other thoughts on this week’s games:

I’m skeptical of the Seahawks. Maybe it sounds strange to laud praise on Andy Dalton for leading the Bengals to a win over the Seahawks and then say I’m skeptical of the Seahawks, but let me be clear: I think the Seahawks’ defense is good, and I’m impressed with the way Dalton played against that defense. But the Seahawks’ offense, and particularly the offensive line, is a huge question mark. The line wasn’t great last year, either, but it got worse this offseason when they lost guard James Carpenter in free agency, traded away center Max Unger, moved Justin Britt from right tackle to left guard, made Garry Gilliam the starting right tackle and made Drew Nowak the starting center. Russell Wilson was sacked four times yesterday and is often running for his life. The Seahawks are 2-3, and they’re one bad call against the Lions from being 1-4. If they don’t get that offensive line straightened out, they’re not going to the playoffs.

NFL’s awful catch rule strikes again. On Sunday in Atlanta, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman caught a pass, had both feet on the ground and lunged the ball forward across the end zone. The official who had a perfect view of the play signaled touchdown. But this is the NFL, where what looks like a touchdown is often an incomplete pass. The referee reviewed the replay and ruled that because Freeman dropped the ball after he put it across the goal line, the pass was incomplete. By the letter of the law, it was the right call. But as noted NFL fan Charles Dickens once said, the law is an ass. The NFL needs to change the rules, because any play on which a receiver can catch a pass, get his feet down and lunge the ball across the goal line should be a touchdown.

This just in: Jim Harbaugh can coach. As you watch Harbaugh turn Michigan back into a college football powerhouse, remember that 49ers owner Jed York and General Manager Trent Baalke decided to replace him with Jim Tomsula at the end of last season. Whether coaching in college or the pros, Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in all of football. Tomsula is not. York and Baalke set their franchise back immeasurably because they couldn’t get along with a great coach.

No quarterback controversy in Cleveland. No, Johnny Manziel will not be starting for the Browns any time soon. Josh McCown was outstanding yesterday in a 33-30 overtime win over the Ravens: McCown passed for 457 yards, with two touchdowns and no turnovers. McCown 356 yards and 341 yards in his two previous games, making him the first quarterback in the history of the Cleveland Browns franchise to have three-straight 300-yard games.

The Lions are terrible. After a beatdown from the Cardinals yesterday, the Lions are 0-5 and the NFL’s only winless team. I don’t think they’re going to match the disaster of 2008, when the Lions were the only 0-16 team in NFL history, but they might just be looking at the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Whether they have the first pick or not, they’re going to have to answer a hard question about Matthew Stafford, the quarterback they’ve paid a fortune. If Stafford can’t play a lot better over the next 11 games than he’s played over the first five, the Lions will need to bite the bullet, cut their losses and release him after the season.

An interception for the ages. Charles Woodson intercepted Peyton Manning twice yesterday, and that was really something: Woodson, who turned 39 last week, is the NFL’s oldest defensive player. Manning, who turned 39 in March, is the NFL’s oldest regular starter. Woodson beat out Manning for the 1997 Heisman Trophy, and they’ve been two of the best NFL players in the 18 years since then. Now both of their careers are winding down, and Woodson finally gets to check “Pick off Peyton” off his bucket list. This was the first time in NFL history that a 39-year-old intercepted another 39-year-old, and Woodson is the first 39-year-old ever to have a two-interception game. The only other players in NFL history to intercept a pass after turning 39 are Darrell Green and Clay Matthews Jr., the father of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III.

The best Sunday of football yet. Wasn’t the end of the early kickoff window fun? Overtime in Baltimore. Overtime in Cincinnati. Overtime in Atlanta. A one-point game in Tennessee. A one-point game in Kansas City. All in all, yesterday was the best Sunday of football yet. And Andy Dalton may have been the best player on the field in any of those games.

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Roddy White wants to stay a Falcon his whole life

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

With his recent comments about his changing role in the offense, and pregame reports about teams calling the Falcons to see if he’s available in trade, it was reasonable to wonder about Roddy White’s future there.

But Falcons officials vehemently denied he was on the block, and White himself said he wanted to spend his whole career in Atlanta.

“I haven’t heard any of that,” White said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m a Falcon. I’ll be a Falcon for life. I’ve dedicated everything I’ve got to this team and this organization. I’m going to continue to do that. I’m going to continue each and every week to get better, be a better football player and try to win.”

The veteran wideout had his biggest contribution in weeks, with a pair of key catches and a pass interference call during their fourth-quarter touchdown drive in an overtime win over Washington. That included a fourth-down conversion in the final minute, showing the implicit trust they have in him.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking team official threw an exclamation point in for good measure when asked if they might be willing to move him, since he’s fallen to their third option behind Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson.

“No!,” the official said. “[We’ve] had no calls and most importantly he is a Falcon and an important part of this offense.”

At least Sunday he was, as the Falcons stayed perfect at 5-0.

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After fourth straight loss, Kaepernick says 49ers can still go 12-4

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptq3zja3otbhndexyjg1ztgxm2y3njg3n2jjm2qxyme3 AP

The 49ers lost their fourth consecutive game on Sunday night to fall to 1-4 on the season, but quarterback Colin Kaepernick has not lost his confidence.

“We still have 11 more games,” Kaepernick said. “We still have the opportunity to go 12-4.”

That is technically true, just as it’s technically true that Kaepernick still has the opportunity to be the MVP this year and Jim Tomsula still has the opportunity to be Coach of the Year. Realistically, the 49ers look like one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Although he fumbled twice and the 49ers ultimately fell short, Kaepernick had his best game of the season on Sunday night. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 262 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was a solid all-around game. But Kaepernick still has a lot of work to do. And the 49ers still look like a last-place team.

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Super Bowl XLVII rematch looms, as potential elimination game

OB-WF201_0203sb_G_20130203173234 Getty Images

Three years ago, the season ended with the Ravens and 49ers battling it out in the Super Bowl. Next Sunday, they’ll square off at the site of this year’s Super Bowl, and the stakes will be similar for the team that loses.

Because the team that loses will essentially be done.

Through five weeks, the Ravens and 49ers are each 1-4. Whoever loses next Sunday will drop to 1-5, making it difficult if not impossible to climb to the postseason.

The winner may not be in much better shape, unless the victory becomes the first in the kind of streak that would continue. Neither team has shown much to make anyone believe that they can reel off 10 or 11 wins the rest of the way, despite the unbridled optimism of Colin Kaepernick.

Adding to the drama will be the first attempt by John Harbaugh to get back at the team that pushed out his brother, Jim.

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Giants dedicate win to Daniel Fells

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwvlotfmodkxnjg2m2rmytu0nmvmnddhytm3ode3zmfi AP

When Giants tight end Larry Donnell pulled in Eli Manning’s pass for a touchdown with seconds to play on Sunday night, he did more than give his team a victory.

Donnell also got his fellow tight end Daniel Fells a game ball. Coach Tom Coughlin said after the game that the team dedicated the win to Fells, who remains hospitalized with a MRSA infection that has led to five surgeries and concerns that he could lose his foot as doctors continue to work on a solution.

“Thank God we were able to get him the game ball,” Coughlin said, via Newsday.

Coughlin also delivered an update about Fells’ condition that was a bit more positive than the ones earlier on Sunday.

“He has had two very good days in a row,” Coughlin said. “His MRIs have come back without any issues the last couple of days, thank God. Hopefully, he’ll just continue in that direction and have this cleared up so he can go home and see his kids.”

Regardless of how quickly he’s out of the hospital, Fells won’t return to action this season although his football future is secondary to bigger life matters at the moment.

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Aaron Rodgers: It’s nice our defense is playing so well

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzknjzhzju2mdm5yjc3ntc3ogzhndcxngzhndnhywvk AP

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw his first interception at Lambeau Field since 2012 on Sunday, ending a streak of 586 passes without one on his home field.

His subsequent streak was much shorter. Rodgers was intercepted again six throws later and also lost a fumble in his first three-turnover game since 2009. Coach Mike McCarthy more or less shrugged his shoulders after the game, pointing out that Rodgers is human and that attitude was easier to espouse when all of the giveaways don’t stop you from beating the Rams 24-10 to move to 5-0 on the season.

Rodgers was a bit less reflective on his own humanity after the game, saying that he needs to play better and sharper even if his miscues didn’t stop the Packers from winning on Sunday.

“That might make some guys sleep tonight, but it won’t make me sleep tonight,” Rodgers said, via the team’s website. “It’s nice our defense is playing so well.”

The Packers played without Davante Adams on Sunday and they’ve been without Jordy Nelson all season, leaving Rodgers to say after the game that the team needs to “find somebody who can attack the outside.” Adams should return at some point in the not too distant future, which goes along with the team’s record to make it a bit easier for Packers who aren’t Rodgers to get some sleep.

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Pete Carroll “baffled a little bit” by Seahawks collapse

Pete Carroll AP

Pete Carroll was being dutiful, saying the blame for the Seahawks’ collapse at Cincinnati and fall to 2-3 “starts with me.”

That just means, basically, that he’s the first person to not understand what’s wrong with them right now.

To say they allowed the Bengals to come back from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win in overtime undersells the work Andy Dalton and the men in orange did, but the Seahawks’ falling apart was memorable.

I’m baffled a little bit,’’ Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

So are a lot of people, after they blew the biggest lead of his six years in charge, and for the third time this season let a fourth-quarter lead slip away.

“Look, we’re not anywhere like we are dead and gone,’’ Carroll said. “We don’t feel like that at all. We’ve just got some things we have to get fixed up, and I think we can.

“These guys are forthright, and they are strong individuals, and they will hang together, and they will work to get it done. The baffling part is that we played so well for three quarters.’’

They did that, but then went flat on both sides. Their offense punted on their last six possessions, gaining just 53 yards on their final 25 plays. At the same time, the vaunted Seahawks defense allowed 203 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“It’s very, very tough,’’ safety Earl Thomas said. “Especially when you lead a game, you kind of scratch your head like, ‘What just happened?’ ”

They’re not the only ones wondering that right now.

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Jerry Jones, seer of things: “We’re not a good team right now”

Jerry Jones AP

You don’t get to be a billionaire businessman without being an astute observer of current events.

So it occurs to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that something’s amiss.

After his team was throttled Sunday by the Patriots, their third straight loss and the first such streak under coach Jason Garrett, Jones began to realize he had problems without injured stars Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

We’re not a good team right now,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “They were a much better team than we were out here today, a much better team. But lesser teams win ballgames. But they’re just a better team. They’re something for us to achieve. I think what we saw out there today was what New England was, more than what Dallas was not.

“We’ve got to get to be a better team overall, a better football team, a better everything.”

Time’s really the only thing that’s going to help, since Romo can’t return until Nov. 22, a point at which it might not matter. They’re now 6-12 without their starting quarterback, and have upcoming games with the Giants, Seahawks, Eagles and Buccaneers before Romo is eligible to come back against the Dolphins.

“I don’t know that nine wins can get you in the tournament, and so, however you want to count them up,” Jones said. “We really do need to get to playing better than we’re playing. If we don’t do that, then no matter how good we might get relative to right now, it’ll be too late.”

It’s hard to know how many they can count on as presently constructed, as the loss of Bryant is tougher to swallow. Weeden didn’t play terribly, he just had no one to throw to once the Patriots decided it wasn’t going to be Jason Witten. So until that changes, they might be stuck on two and demanding more out of Romo than he can deliver.

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Sunday Night wrap-up: Eli Manning overcomes his mistakes

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The last drive will be the one people remember.

But despite a late rally to lead the Giants to a 30-27 win over the 49ers, there were still many, many things to be worried about for Eli Manning and their passing game.

He hit Larry Donnell for the game-winning touchdown with 26 seconds left, capping an impressive-looking stat line. He finished with a career-high 41 completions for 441 yards and three touchdowns.

But there were just enough bad plays mixed in to make a game far more interesting than it should have been. The interception he threw just before halftime could have been three free points, and he nearly threw another pick prior to a go-ahead field goal late in the fourth. And the accidental timeout call (which may have been confused for something else) was nearly another late-game clock management snafu.

The touchdown pass to Donnell will be described as clutch, but it was also extremely fortunate since Manning was running out of people to throw to.

Star wideout Odell Beckham left in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury and returned for the final drive well enough to draw a penalty. And when Rueben Randle was lost with his own hamstring problem, the Giants were playing in a tie game with Dwayne Harris, Myles White and Geremy Davis at wide receiver.

(Is this where we’re obliged to mention what James Jones is doing for the Packers? We think it is. Five touchdowns since being cut by the Giants and rejoining Aaron Rodgers. Sorry.)

But Manning made enough things happen at the right time to make it moot. For a moment.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The 49ers hadn’t looked competent on offense for a month.

Maybe what they needed most was to get to a fourth quarter against the Giants. For a team that lost its last three games by a combined score of 107-28, getting to 27 was an achievement.

But behind the running of Carlos Hyde (21 rushes for 93 yards) and some efficient play by quarterback Colin Kaepernick (who threw for 250 yards), things began to click in the fourth quarter.

It was a sign of progress for a team that lacks downfield targets, and something they can build on if it’s not too late.

2. The NFC East is quickly turning into the AFC South, except without a stable franchise like the Colts.

With the win, the Giants vaulted into sole possession of first with a 3-2 record. Of course, the rest of the division is 2-3.

Every team in the NFC East has deep and fundamental flaws, and it’s hard to see which one might emerge. It might end up like the NFC South last year, where a sub-.500 team ends up in the postseason.

3. The University of Michigan is up from 18th to 12th in this week’s Associated Press poll.

The Wolverines are 5-1, and since a loss in the opener at undefeated and No. 5 Utah, they have given up 14 total points, and have shut out three straight opponents.

That is all.

4. While he might not have the same kind of range he used to, Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason leaves a hole when he’s not on the field.

After suffering a concussion in the first quarter, Beason didn’t return. He was replaced by Unai ‘Unga, who looked lost and undisciplined at times. ‘Unga has shown some promise, and is certainly more mobile than Beason. But there’s a difference that’s clear.

5. Here’s a sign of the lack of respect people have for the 49ers offense.

In the third quarter, the Giants held on third-and-10 from the 49ers 34. But when 49ers guard Alex Boone was flagged for holding, the Giants took the yardage and let them try a third-and-20 from the 24 rather than make them punt.

It’s hard to imagine that happening against many other opponents.

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Peyton Manning: I want to do better

Gary Kubiak, Peyton Manning AP

The Broncos are 5-0 because they have the No. 1 defense in the NFL, a unit that sparked and sealed another win Sunday in Oakland.

The Broncos held off the Raiders, 16-10, despite not scoring an offensive touchdown. The Broncos are using the defense that’s leading the league in sacks and among the best at forcing turnovers to do the heavy lifting.

Peyton Manning has thrown five interceptions in the last three weeks. He’s thrown an interception in each of the first five games of a season for the first time since 1999.

In a turn of events that can’t be blamed solely on the team’s coaching change or the offensive line struggles, the Broncos’ offense ranks near the bottom of the NFL in yards per game, rushing and third-down conversions.

“We want to play better offensively,” Manning said, per the Broncos official website. “It’s about helping the Denver Broncos get a win. But there’s no question, offensively, we certainly want to play better. We’re going to stay committed to it, and everybody wants to try to do a better job and that certainly starts with me. I want to do a better job and do a better job playing quarterback to help our team get into the end zone more.”

Asked about the struggles of the offense after the game, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas offered an interesting thought.

Unfortunately, we’re getting used to it,” Thomas said.

The Broncos were 0-for-3 in the red zone in Oakland and are 1-of-6 in the last two weeks.

“I think we’re doing some good things. We’re moving the ball,” Manning said. “It would be one thing if we weren’t getting down there at all. So we’re able to get the ball down there. We’ve got to find a way. Like I said, I think a couple close plays here or there and probably we’d have some touchdowns.”

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Report: Man hospitalized after shooting outside Patriots-Cowboy game


A shooting victim was taken to the hospital Sunday night after gunshots were fired outside the site of the Patriots-Cowboys game.

Police outside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas blocked off an area of the parking lot as they investigated the incident.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported a man was shot about two hours after the game and a suspect was arrested. The victim is still alive, the paper reported.

There’s heavier than usual volume in the area Sunday night with the Texas Rangers also playing a playoff game at their nearby ballpark.

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Odell Beckham questionable to return with hamstring injury

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The one dynamic offensive player in this game might not return to it.

The Giants just announced that wide receiver Odell Beckham was questionable to return, after apparently tweaking his hamstring on the go-ahead touchdown pass.

Trainers immediately went to work on Beckham on the sidelines, and it appeared he was trying to loosen himself up.

The score gave the Giants a 20-13 lead, though it probably should have been more than that considering the current state of the 49ers.

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49ers come back to tie the game with long touchdown drive

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The Giants might be regretting skipping an easy field goal just before halftime.

Because somehow or other, the 49ers just tied this thing at 13-13 in the third quarter.

Colin Kaepernick led what looked like a competent NFL drive, or at least as close as they’ve seen lately, traveling 88 yards in 10 plays.

There were still enough things about it to be concerning, as chances at deep plays were overthrown.

The 49ers also announced that running back Reggie Bush was questionable to return with a calf injury, and that left rugby player Jarryd Hayne as the only backup to running back Carlos Hyde. But even Hayne had some decent runs.

The Giants aren’t doing enough to put away a bad offense, so the 49ers decided to do something about it.

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Golden Tate pleads for fan support

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He has called out offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterback Matthew Stafford. Now, Lions receiver Golden Tate is calling out the fans.

“I’m the first one to say I love our fans,” Tate said after Sunday’s 42-10 loss, via Tony Paul of the Detroit News.  “I think our fans are amazing and they’ve been patient for a long time. Before the game started, I looked up, there were a lot of empty seats. Early on in the game, our team is getting booed. Later in the game, it sounded like the loudest they got was when Stafford was leaving the game and Dan [Orlovsky] was coming in. And that’s not the support that we want.

“When we win, we all win together — the city, as an organization, as a state. When we lose, we all lose together. And today, I felt like, at times, our fan base kind of turned their back on us.”

Unlike past situations, when Tate’s clarifying comments came at a later date, Tate explained that he’s simply pleading for support from the fan base.

“We have a lot of confidence in our fan base and we can’t do that without our fan base,” Tate said. “We expect them to be with us a little bit better next week. We’ve got a chance to still be special. I know that we’re not playing the type of football that we want to play right now, but we need our fans. We need them. . . .

“I consider us family. I think there’s gonna be times where family goes through trials and tribulations. There’s gonna be times where we don’t agree with each other as far as family, but at the end of the day, we’ve still gotta find a way to come together. It’s how I see it.”

Tate possibly sees it that way because he spent four seasons in Seattle, where the bond with the fans is so strong the team retired No. 12 in honor of the 12th man.

“I don’t see our fan base as just Lions fans,” Tate said. “I consider us family and what I mean by that, it’s more than football to me. It’s being out in the community trying to bring this city together, helping whoever I can who’s down. Right now, we’re just done. But we need the continuous support from our family, at the end of the day.”

No matter how hard Tate asks for it, he may not get it. Because no matter what he says, the Lions are 0-5 and showing no signs of life. Even if they win 10 of the next 11, there’s no guarantee they’ll earn a seat at the postseason table. Which means that the Lions family will, once again, be waiting for next year long before next year comes.

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