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Richard Sherman had knee injury, Seahawks didn’t report it

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks talks with cornerback Richard Sherman #25 prior to the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

For much of the 2016 season and into this year’s playoffs, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman would get days off practice that the Seahawks would claim on their official injury report were “not injury related.”

Now the Seahawks are admitting that an injury did affect Sherman for much of the season.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said today on 710 ESPN in Seattle that Sherman suffered an MCL injury during the season. Carroll said the injury was affecting Sherman both physically and mentally.

That raises an obvious question: Why did the Seahawks’ injury report repeatedly list Sherman’s days off as “not injury related” when an injury was affecting him physically and mentally? The whole point of the injury report is that the NFL wants teams to be transparent about which players are ailing and which players are healthy. The Seahawks were less than transparent.

Carroll surely believes the Seahawks’ decision not to list Sherman on the injury report violated the letter of the law, or else he wouldn’t have mentioned it today. And he might be right: Not every bump and bruise has to be listed on the injury report, and if the Seahawks were certain Sherman was going to be able to play through the injury, they may be in the clear as far as the league office is concerned.

Still, it’s odd that Carroll is talking about injuries affecting Sherman now, when the official word from the Seahawks all season was “not injury related.”

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Brady, Ben, Peyton are 14 of the last 16 AFC Super Bowl quarterbacks

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers speak before the game at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the 14th time in the last 16 years, the AFC Super Bowl team will be quarterbacked by Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning.

That became certain when Brady’s Patriots and Roethlisberger’s Steelers won this weekend to meet in the AFC Championship Game. Either Brady will start his seventh Super Bowl, adding to his own NFL record, or Roethlisberger will start his fourth. Manning also started four.

The only other quarterback to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl in the last 13 years was Joe Flacco, whose team topped Roethlisberger’s Steelers to win the AFC North in 2012, then beat Manning’s Broncos in the divisional playoffs and Brady’s Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Before that, the last other quarterback to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl was Rich Gannon, whose 2002 Raiders dethroned Brady’s 2001 Patriots as reigning AFC champions.

Sunday will be, incredibly, the 11th time Brady has started in the AFC Championship Game. It will be Roethlisberger’s fifth AFC Championship Game. Manning also started five AFC Championship Games.

Since 2001, the Patriots have advanced to 11 AFC Championship Games, the Steelers six (five with Roethlisberger, one without), the Colts four (three with Manning, one without) and the Broncos three (two with Manning, one without). So counting this year, those four teams will have accounted for 24 AFC Championship Game appearances since the 2001 season, with the other 12 AFC teams accounting for a combined eight AFC Championship Game appearances.

Here’s a list of the starting AFC quarterbacks in the Super Bowl for every season in the 21st Century:

2001: Tom Brady, Patriots

2002: Rich Gannon, Raiders

2003: Tom Brady, Patriots

2004: Tom Brady, Patriots

2005: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

2006: Peyton Manning, Colts

2007: Tom Brady, Patriots

2008: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

2009: Peyton Manning, Colts

2010: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

2011: Tom Brady, Patriots

2012: Joe Flacco, Ravens

2013: Peyton Manning, Broncos

2014: Tom Brady, Patriots

2015: Peyton Manning, Broncos

2016: Brady or Roethlisberger

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Report: 49ers “honing in” on Kyle Shanahan

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan walks on the turf before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Atlanta. Shanahan, expected to be one of the top targets for teams looking to replace head coaches, could be available for interviews this week. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, “I'm sure he will be contacted by some teams.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) AP

Monday brought word that Josh McDaniels will be remaining with the Patriots as their offensive coordinator after pulling his name from consideration for the 49ers head coaching job.

That decision leaves the team with a pair of candidates that they’ve interviewed in Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team is “honing in” on hiring Shanahan as their next coach.

Shanahan interviewed during the Falcons’ bye week and can talk to the 49ers again after the NFC Championship Game. Should the Falcons win, the 49ers would have to wait until the game is over to formally hire Shanahan and they’d be able to make a hire right away if Green Bay goes to the Super Bowl.

Shanahan has had several head coaching interviews over the last couple of years. If he does wind up with the job in Santa Clara, he’ll be a bit behind — quite a bit if the Falcons get to Houston — other teams when it comes to filling out a staff.

That’s an inconvenience, but it may not be a major one for Shanahan given how it has worked out for current boss Dan Quinn, who was hired in Atlanta after the Seahawks lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl two years ago.

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Josh McDaniels withdraws from 49ers coach search

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s one head coaching vacancy in the NFL right now and it appears it will not be filled by Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

According to multiple reports, McDaniels has pulled his name from consideration for the position. He interviewed during Wild Card weekend and would be eligible to speak to the Niners again after Sunday’s game against the Steelers whether the Patriots win or lose, although any hire would obviously have to wait until after the Super Bowl if the Patriots advance.

Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reports that McDaniels gave the 49ers job a lot of consideration, but is making a “personal decision” to stay put rather than move across the country at this time. McDaniels has said that he wants another chance to be a head coach and will likely be a candidate for openings again next season.

With McDaniels out of the running, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable are the other candidates who have interviewed with the team without getting another job. The 49ers are also looking for a new General Manager after dispatching Trent Baalke along with Chip Kelly after the end of the season.

UPDATE 11:42 a.m. ET: McDaniels confirmed he’ll be staying put during a Monday conference call.

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Report: Rob Ryan to interview with Redskins

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 18:  Defensive coach Rob Ryan of the Buffalo Bills makes a call after beating the Cleveland Browns 33-13 at New Era Field on December 18, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rex Ryan’s departure from Buffalo struck a serious blow to his hopes of more head coaching work in the NFL and many have opined that his coaching future in the league would be as a defensive coordinator.

There’s been no sign that Ryan is going to go that route in 2017, but his brother appears to have interest in such a position. Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports that Rob Ryan is scheduled to interview with the Redskins for their defensive coordinator opening this week.

Ryan spent last season in Buffalo with his brother, although their combined efforts didn’t do enough to get the defense where it needed to be. He came to Buffalo after being dismissed as the Saints’ defensive coordinator during the 2015 season and Ryan has also run the defense in Dallas, Cleveland and Oakland over the course of his career.

Washington fired Joe Barry after the season and they interviewed Mike Pettine, who was a longtime Ryan assistant before becoming the Browns head coach, and Gus Bradley for the opening.

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Packers-Cowboys draws highest divisional round rating in 20 years

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after the Packers scored a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Sunday afternoon’s Packers-Cowboys game has done blockbuster TV ratings for the NFL on FOX.

Packers-Cowboys drew a 28.2 overnight rating, which is the highest rating for a divisional playoff game in 20 years.

The combination of two popular teams and a great game that was decided as time expired gave the NFL an absolutely phenomenal rating — the kind of rating that can be topped only by the conference championship games and the Super Bowls. Other sports simply can’t draw those kinds of ratings, even for the biggest and best games. For context, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series drew a 25.2 overnight rating, while Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals drew an 18.9 overnight rating.

That’s very good news from the NFL, which spent much of the 2016 season mired in low television ratings. Those ratings began to rebound after the election, and the playoffs have been particularly strong.

From a ratings standpoint, the Cowboys losing is not great news for the NFL and FOX, as the Cowboys are the league’s biggest television draw. But Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots are both attractive matchups as well, and the league should expect strong ratings for the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

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Tom Brady: I love Earl Thomas

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on after defeating the Houston Texans 34-16 in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was the subject of a tweet from Seahawks safety Earl Thomas on Saturday that had Thomas complaining that Brady “has the easiest route” to the playoffs thanks to the Patriots’ spot in the AFC East.

Thomas’ tweet was one of the topics of conversation for Brady during a Monday visit to “Kirk and Callahan” on WEEI in Boston. Brady opted not to return fire or make the case for his football life being more difficult than Thomas imagines it to be.

“I love Earl,” Brady said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “I think he’s a helluva player. I really wish him the best in his recovery.”

Brady was also asked about the video from inside the locker room that Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown shared on social media. In a response you could have almost certainly scripted yourself, Brady said he didn’t think it “would go over well” with coach Bill Belichick. Brady added that the team’s policy is to not share anything from inside the locker room.

A warning to keep cool on social media can be heard during Brown’s video, which suggests that the policy may not be followed quite as closely in Pittsburgh.

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Steelers did “enough” in KC, need more next Sunday

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  The Pittsburgh Steelers huddle up against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

After they beat the Texans on Saturday night, the word from the Patriots was that they needed to play better if they are going to advance to the seventh Super Bowl of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.

The message in the Steelers locker room after Sunday night’s 18-16 win over the Chiefs sounded pretty similar. The Steelers moved the ball for much of the game, but settled for six Chris Boswell field goals because they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said that was “enough” to get the job done on Sunday, but the consensus was that enough won’t be enough in New England.

Guard David DeCastro said the team needs to be better and running back Le’Veon Bell said they’ll need “better than our A-game.”

“There are a lot of things to do to be successful against them,” Roethlisberger said, via ESPN.com. “They are the best in the world for a reason. We’ve got to score points, can’t turn the ball over.”

The Patriots beat the Steelers 27-16 in the regular season, but Roethlisberger missed the game with an injury. He’ll be back this time for what the Steelers hope will be a better effort all around.

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Mike Tomlin calls Patriots “a–holes” in video posted by Antonio Brown

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 3: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers after their game at Gillette Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown made an odd decision to stream a Facebook live video of the team’s locker room after Sunday night’s win in Kansas City, a decision that gave fans access to to coach Mike Tomlin’s postgame speech — in which he referred to the Patriots as “a–holes.”

The video, which has been viewed more than 1 million times, also includes postgame thoughts from Steelers players. Tomlin was not directly criticizing the Patriots so much as firing his team up to have a big week against an opponent that will have more rest.

“We spotted those a–holes a day and a half,” Tomlin said of the Patriots. “They played yesterday, our game got moved to tonight. We’re going to touch down at 4 o’clock in the f–king morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for their ass.”

The video also includes the voice of one player or coach telling the Steelers to “keep it cool on social media.” Posting a video from inside the locker room is probably not what that person had in mind.

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Kelce tees off on officials, late holding call

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25:  Tight end Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs enters the field during player introductions prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on December 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Chiefs lost to the Steelers Sunday night, 18-16, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce wasn’t shy in sharing his feelings about the penalty that negated the two-point conversion pass that would have tied the game.

The Chiefs had scored on a Spencer Ware run with 2:43 left to come within two points. Quarterback Alex Smith found Demetrius Harris wide open on the ensuing two-point play, but Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher was flagged for holding Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

The Chiefs backed up 10 yards and tried the two-point conversion again, and Smith’s pass intended for Jeremy Maclin was incomplete.

After the game, Kelce said the holding call was “horses**t,” per the Kansas City Star, and said the official who threw the flag “shouldn’t be able work at Foot Locker.”

Per ESPN.com, Kelce singled out referee Carl Cheffers and said Cheffers “shouldn’t be able to wear a zebra jersey.”

Kelce had five catches for 77 yards but didn’t have a great night. He dropped a pass in the third quarter that would have put the Chiefs inside’ the Steelers’ 15-yard line, and later on that drive Kelce was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pushing Ross Cockrell after a play.

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Chiefs hold, so Steelers hold on

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tosses the ball forward after gaining a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

A two-point conversion that would have tied the game was negated by penalty, and the Steelers then killed the clock and held on to beat the Chiefs Sunday night, 18-16.

The Chiefs had scored on a Spencer Ware run with 2:43 left to come within two points. Alex Smith found Demetrius Harris wide open on the ensuing two-point play, but Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher was flagged for holding Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The Chiefs backed up 10 yards and tried the two-point conversion again, and Smith’s pass intended for Jeremy Maclin was incomplete.

The Steelers play at New England next Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

The Steelers won in Kansas City without scoring a touchdown. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell set an NFL postseason record with six field goals, and after scoring on their first drive the Chiefs didn’t find the end zone again until the final three minutes. The Steelers’ biggest third-down conversion of the season came on a 7-yard Ben Roethlisberger pass to Antonio Brown with 1:53 left.

The Chiefs were out of timeouts, and their season ended when Roethlisberger then took three knees. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell ran for 170 yards, breaking the team playoff record of 168 he set last week.

Bell ran for 101 yards in the first half as the Steelers dominated. The Chiefs didn’t get a first down from late in the first quarter until their second possession of the third quarter, leaving themselves to chase when their offense finally showed signs of life over the final 20 minutes. The Steelers finished with 389 total yards; the Chiefs had 227.

The Chiefs scored on their first drive of the game on a 5-yard Smith pass to Albert Wilson. The Steelers led 12-7 at halftime and 15-10 after three quarters.

Smith finished 20-of-34 passing for 172 yards. Roethlisberger was 20-of-31 for 224 yards, and Brown caught six passes for 108 yards.

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Chris Boswell sets NFL postseason record with six field goals

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Kicker Chris Boswell #9 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is congratulated by teammate  Jordan Berry #4 after a successful field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chris Boswell has kicked a playoff record six field goals, and the Steelers hold an 18-10 lead over the Chiefs in the final 10 minutes.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got up limping following a sack just before the sixth field goal, but that’s happened before and Roethlisberger tends to be OK. He’s been pretty good, and the Steelers have moved the ball all night but keep settling for field goals.

Le’Veon Bell has matched his team playoff record from last week with 168 rushing yards.

The Chiefs have kept it within one score, though, despite not getting a first down from late in the first quarter until their second possession of the third quarter.

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Steelers continue to push Chiefs around

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Tight end Jesse James #81 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled inside linebacker Ramik Wilson #53 of the Kansas City Chiefs and teammates Steven Nelson #20 and Defensive back Daniel Sorensen #49  in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chris Boswell has kicked five field goals, and the Steelers hold a 15-7 lead over the Chiefs in the third quarter.

The Chiefs are struggling to move the ball. The Steelers are moving it and are over 300 total yards but keep settling for field goals. The Chiefs went four series between first downs before getting one via penalty in the third quarter.

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has 150 rushing yards, 18 short of the team playoff record he set last week. Boswell’s five field goals match an NFL postseason record.

In the first half the Steelers outgained the Chiefs, 275-106.

The Chiefs got their only points and the game’s only touchdown on their first drive on a 5-yard pass from Alex Smith to Albert Wilson.

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Steelers dominant, but settling for field goals

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Free safety Ron Parker #38 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackles tight end Jesse James #81 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in after a catch for a first down in the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers dominated most of the first half but they only hold a 12-7 lead at halftime.

Chris Boswell has kicked four field goals, three from inside 40 yards, and the Steelers have to hope that their inability to get in the end zone doesn’t eventually come back to haunt them.

In the first 25 minutes the Steelers outgained the Chiefs, 213-94. At halftime the yardage differential is 275-106.

Before the third Boswell field goal, a diving Eric Berry interception on a pass that was deflected high into the air by Frank Zombo kept the Steelers out of the end zone after Ryan Shazier’s interception set them up in Kansas City territory.

The Steelers have been a little greedy with the pass instead of feeding the ball to Le’Veon Bell, who had 101 rushing yards on 18 carries in the first half. Antonio Brown has 101 receiving yards.

The Chiefs got their only points and the game’s only touchdown on their first drive on a 5-yard pass from Alex Smith to Albert Wilson.

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Packers get the game-winner as time expires over Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Mason Crosby #2 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after kicking a field goal in the second half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers wasn’t quite perfect, but Mason Crosby was.

The Packers kicker had to hit his game-winning field goal twice, but he nailed the 51-yarder twice as the Packers beat the Cowboys 34-31 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.

They’ll travel to Atlanta next week, but it will be hard to top this one for drama.

Crosby had hit a 56-yard field goal with 1:33 left, but Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey matched him with a 52-yarder with 0:35 left which seemed to point it toward overtime.

But that’s when Rodgers happened.

The Packers quarterback threaded one to tight end Jared Cook for a 35-yard gain on third-and-20, with Cook dragging his feet perfectly to set up Crosby’s kick with 0:03 left on the clock.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett used his final timeout to ice Crosby, but it didn’t work, as he nailed the second one cleaner than the first.

Rodgers was 28-of-43 passing for 356 yards and two touchdowns, with one rare interception. It wasn’t as clinical as he’s been lately, but he made the one play to Cook when he had to, breaking the hearts of the Cowboys and their fans after a 13-3 season, and what appeared to be a magical comeback by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

Trailing 21-3, Prescott brought them back to a 28-28 tie late in the fourth, with his own particular brand of special.

The rookie threw for 302 and three touchdowns, and ran for the two-point conversion to even it.

But he couldn’t match Rodgers, or at least didn’t have enough time.

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