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Vikings grab 13-10 halftime lead in sloppy game

Blair Walsh

There’s been good things, bad things and ugly things for both the Bills and Vikings on Sunday with the last category being filled with the same things on both sides of the ball.

The Bills have fumbled twice and Kyle Orton threw an interception while Teddy Bridgewater has thrown two picks of his own as the Bills and Vikings have taken turns trying to hand the game away on the way to halftime. The Vikings were able to hold onto the ball long enough to get a 55-yard Blair Walsh field goal just before the end of the half to give them a 13-10 lead.

Bridgewater’s two interceptions came before he threw the first touchdown pass of his NFL career, a four-yarder to the recently MIA Cordarrelle Patterson that briefly lifted the Vikings to a 10-7 lead. The Bills were able to tie the score a short time later despite adding a C.J. Spiller injury to the one that knocked Fred Jackson out of the game earlier in the half. Spiller’s big run before his injury helped the Bills outgain the Vikings, but their persistent giveaways have made that yardage advantage moot.

Orton is 16-of-23 for 124 yards and a touchdown to Sammy Watkins, who continues to look the part of the No. 1 receiver the Bills clearly thought he was on draft day. Jerick McKinnon has run well for Minnesota, which is still having trouble protecting Bridgewater. The rookie has had a rough day, but he looked sharp leading them to the field goal before the half so perhaps the second half will bring better results for the Vikings passing game.

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NFL doesn’t plan to investigate Harvin fights with Seattle teammates

Harvin AP

As accounts emerge of Seahawk-on-Seahawk violence, with former Seattle receiver Percy Harvin fighting separately with former Seattle receiver Golden Tate and current Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin, an obvious question arises:  What will the NFL do about this?

A source with direct knowledge of the league’s current thinking says that no investigation or discipline is planned.

But the personal conduct policy expressly encompasses incidents between teammates.  “Violent or threatening behavior among employees, whether in or outside the workplace” appears in the policy as one of the specific circumstances that could trigger discipline.

The league isn’t inclined to intervene, in large part because the players involved in the altercations with Harvin didn’t complain or cause any other problem about it.  Likewise, the league views Seattle’s decision to unload Harvin on the Jets as an appropriate sanction for the player (who’s now quite possibly on his last chance in the NFL) and the the team (which gave up $19 million for eight games and wasted a first-round, third-round, and seventh-round pick to get him).

Another possible reason for staying out of the Harvin situation arises from the current efforts to revamp the conduct policy.  Action taken against Harvin could be viewed as an effort to take full advantage of power that soon will be modified via discussions with the NFL Players Association.

Thus, while the policy as written specifically covers situations in which a player hits another player in their workplace or elsewhere, the league won’t be doing anything about it, any time soon.

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Ravens rolling the Falcons 20-0 to start the second half

Matt Ryan AP

The Ravens haven’t been good, but the Falcons can’t get out of their own way.

The Ravens just went up 20-0 to start the third quarter, thoroughly dominating the Falcons throughout the day.

The Falcons gained just 61 yards and four first downs in the first half, and still haven’t converted a third down on the day.

So the Ravens are doing just enough, with Steve Smith’s 49-yard catch-and-run the offensive highlight of the day.

 

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Saints lose center Jonathan Goodwin to leg injury

drewbrees AP

The Saints took a 10-3 lead into halftime at Detroit, but the second half could be rough for the New Orleans offensive line.

Center Jonathan Goodwin was taken to the locker room on a cart after suffering a leg injury. His leg was rolled on in a pileup.

The Lions, with defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, are not a defense you want to face without your starting center. And the Saints were already struggling in the interior of the offensive line even before Goodwin went down.

The good news for New Orleans is that the Lions’ offense has been terrible. If Detroit doesn’t move the ball more effectively in the second half, the 10 points the Saints have scored may be enough.

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Erik Walden ejected, which allows Bengals a first down

Baltimore Ravens v Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

The Bengals finally got a first down with 48 seconds left in the first half, but it took an unusual play to get it.

The lonely first down came by penalty, as Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden was ejected for putting his hands on an official.

Walden was jawing back and forth with Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham, when the official got between them. As Walden pushed away, his arm brushed against the ref, who immediately went to his pocket for the flag.

Walden took a few moments to leave the field, seemingly confused as to why he was being thrown out.

The Bengals tackled on another first down of their own, and finished the first half with a grand total of 27 yards.

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Jaguars make Browns pay for fourth-down gamble, take 7-6 halftime lead

Cleveland Browns v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

Holding a 6-0 lead with less than two minutes left in the first half in Jacksonville, the Browns faced a 4th-and-1 at the Jaguars 24. Cleveland had controlled the game to that point, and a field goal would have given the Browns a two-score lead.

However, Cleveland passed on the 42-yard attempt, and when quarterback Brian Hoyer’s pass to tight end Jordan Cameron fell incomplete, the Jaguars got the ball back.

Then, the Jaguars’ offense came to life.

In three plays, the Jaguars were in the endzone, with quarterback Blake Bortles‘ 31-yard TD pass to Allen Robinson giving the Jaguars a 7-6 lead near the end of the half.

Bortles hasn’t been perfect on Sunday. In fact, he had struggled early on, throwing two picks, including an ill-advised throw off his back foot.

But when the Jaguars benched Chad Henne for Bortles in Week Three, they committed to letting him learn on the job. This includes making — and bouncing back from — mistakes.

He’s done a little of both on Sunday, and his resilience helped the Browns pay for getting a little greedy late in the first half.

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Rams get another chance to protect a second-half lead

Tre Mason, Tharold Simon AP

The Rams led the Cowboys by a lot and lost a few weeks ago. They led the 49ers by 14 in the first half last Monday and lost.

Can they hold on to a lead this week?

The Seahawks cut the Rams’ lead with a field goal just before halftime, but St. Louis still leads 21-6 after seeing their pass rush and special teams come to life in the first half. The Rams came into the game with one sack on the season, but they tripled that number in the first half against a Seahawks offensive line that struggled against Dallas last week as well. Robert Quinn got one of the sacks, giving him his first of 2014 after dropping quarterbacks 19 times last year.

Seattle was only in last week’s game against Dallas because of Cowboys special teams blunders, but things have gone the other way this week. Benny Cunningham had a 75-yard kickoff return to set up one score and Stedman Bailey scored on a 90-yard punt return set up by some clever misdirection by the Rams punt return unit.

Russell Wilson is 9-of-17 for 150 yards and the Seahawks have fed Marshawn Lynch the ball 10 times, but he’s produced just 23 yards as the Seahawks continue to search for a consistent offensive gear. The Rams defense isn’t making that easy for them, which could mean a two-game losing streak for the defending champs if the Rams solve their own problems with playing from in front.

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C.J. Spiller carted off as well

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Bills are down to Anthony Dixon at running back as the first half winds down in Buffalo.

Fred Jackson was carted off and almost immediately ruled out with a groin injury and now C.J. Spiller is going to join him in the locker room.

Spiller flashed the playmaking ability that the Bills have been missing this season with a 52-yard run deep into Vikings territory, but Spiller didn’t pop to his feet to celebrate at the end of the play. He grabbed his left shoulder instead and the team’s medical staff quickly came on the field to tend to Spiller before calling for the cart.

He’s already been ruled out for the rest of the contest and, like Jackson, Spiller’s response made it look like the kind of injury that will keep him out of the lineup in the future as well.

Dixon and the Bills will go forward in a game that’s tied at 10 in the second quarter.

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Colts defense pitching a shutout, haven’t allowed a first down yet

Andy Dalton AP

The Colts aren’t playing the most polished game offensively.

But they’re fortunate their pitching a shutout on defense.

They’ve held the Bengals without a first down the entire first half, and just forced another three-and-out with 4:23 left in the half.

At the moment, the Colts have outgained the Bengals 263-18.

Which makes it surprising the lead’s only 10-0.

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Rams up 21-3 after outwitting Seahawks on punt return

St. Louis Rams v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The Rams are rolling over the Seahawks in the first half.

St. Louis upped their lead to 21-3 in the second quarter after a bit of trickery on a punt return. Tavon Austin and several members of the Rams punt return team made it look as if Austin would be fielding Jon Ryan’s punt on the left side of the field and the Seahawks bit on the fake while the ball actually went to Stedman Bailey. Bailey took the ball 90 yards for a touchdown and Pete Carroll’s pleas that it shouldn’t have counted because he thought Austin signaled for a fair catch fell on deaf ears.

The Rams set up that punt by sacking Russell Wilson twice on Seattle’s possession, doubling their total for the season in a flash and continuing an impressive performance across the board.

Rookie running back Tre Mason has run for 44 yards on seven carries, Austin Davis has completed all eight of the passes he’s thrown and the Seahawks offense has done nothing since kicking a field goal on their first possession. Seattle may feel they don’t need Percy Harvin, but they are going to need something more than they’ve had thus far to get back into this one.

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Bears’ home struggles continuing Sunday vs. Miami

Charles Clay, Mike Wallace AP

Once again, the Bears are faltering on their home turf.

Ryan Tannehill’s 10-yard TD pass to Mike Wallace extended the Dolphins’ lead to 14-0 with 5:20 left in the first half in Chicago. The Bears have had no answers for Tannehill, who completed his first 12 passes for 148 yards, including a TD toss to Charles Clay to start the scoring for Miami.

The touchdown was set up by Dolphins safety Rashad Jones’ 50-yard interception return. On the pick, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw in the direction of tight end Martellus Bennett, who appeared to be the closest receiver. However, the manner of the interception suggested something went very wrong, either in the pass, the route or the communication on the play, as Cutler missed badly. Making matters worse, wideout Alshon Jeffery had a chance to stop Jones around midfield but could not do so, and Jones advanced all the way to the Chicago 23.

Three plays later, Tannehill had his second TD pass, and the Bears — 0-2 this season at Soldier Field — were left with a two-score deficit.

UPDATE 2:10 p.m. ET: A fast-moving first half ended with Miami still holding a 14-0 lead. But it hasn’t been all perfect for the Dolphins. A sack pushed the Dolphins out of field goal range late in the second quarter. Also, Caleb Sturgis missed a 50-yard field goal earlier in the contest.

Tannehill finished the first half with 14-of-15 completions for 176 yards with the two scores. However, he’s been sacked four times by Chicago.

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Ahmad Bradshaw makes up for earlier fumble, gives Colts 10-0 lead

Ahmad Bradshaw AP

Ahmad Bradshaw had something to atone for.

And he didn’t wait long to start.

The veteran running back made up for an earlier fumble which killed a scoring chance, scoring a touchdown to give the Colts a 10-0 lead over the Bengals.

The scoring chance was set up by a 46-yard pass from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton, leaving Bradshaw a single yard to cover.

Bradshaw and Trent Richardson have combined to give the Colts an utterly respectable running game (12 carries for 71 yards between them), and that’s the kind of balance they’ve been needing.

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Vontaze Burfict leaves game with another possible head injury

Tennessee Titans v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Vontaze Burfict is having a hard time learning not to make illegal hits.

He’s also struggled with taking his own head out of the game.

Burfict just left the game and was getting medical attention after dropping his helmet into the chest of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

He has gone back to the locker room to be checked by trainers.

Burfict’s been plagued by concussion problems as well as fines, leaving last week’s game briefly with the former, then drawing the latter for twisting the ankles of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen.

UPDATE 1:53 p.m.: They announced it as a neck injury, and said his return was questionable.

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Vikings down two offensive linemen, Bills lose Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson, Jasper Brinkley AP

Earlier this season, the Falcons were forced to use tight end Levine Toilolo as their right tackle after injuries ate up all of their depth on the offensive line.

The Vikings are playing without two of their starting offensive linemen in the first quarter of their game against the Bills because of injuries. Center John Sullivan and right guard Vladimir Ducasse were both out of the game as the Vikings turned a Robert Woods fumble into a Blair Walsh field goal that gave them a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. Sullivan has returned to the locker room with his helmet off, although the team has not announced anything about his condition at this point.

Joe Berger took over for Sullivan and Mike Harris was in at guard. They are the only two Vikings offensive line reserves on Sunday’s 46-man roster.

Woods’s fumble was the second turnover for the game for the Bills. Wide receiver Chris Hogan also lost the ball after catching a Kyle Orton pass with Hogan’s costing the Bills a chance for at least three points when he fumbled in the red zone.

In addition to the fumbles, the Bills have lost running back Fred Jackson at least temporarily. Jackson left the game on the Bills drive that followed Walsh’s field goal and has also made a trip back to the locker room. Jackson’s came on a cart, however, and Jackson had his head in his hands as the cart made its way to the back.

UPDATE 1:50 p.m. ET: Sullivan and Ducasse are both questionable to return. Sullivan is being evaluated for a concussion and Ducasse has a knee injury.

UPDATE 1:55 p.m. ET: Jackson’s day is done and given the way things looked as he left the field, it could be a while before he returns from a groin injury.

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Green Bay rolling Panthers, 21-0 in first quarter

Jordy Nelson AP

The Panthers are missing defensive end Greg Hardy, and having their franchise-tagged pass-rusher on the commissioner’s exempt list doesn’t help.

But there’s no reason one player should make this much of a difference.

The Panthers have yielded in every way possible, as the Packers have rolled to a 21-0 first-quarter lead.

Aaron Rodgers is making this one look easy, rolling up 168 yards of total offense in three possessions.

The Panthers aren’t getting pass rush like they used to, but they’re making basic mistakes in run defense, and are giving stupid penalty yards to an offense that doesn’t need the gift.

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