Antonio Brown’s 632nd career catch might just be his masterpiece

The snapshot of Brown stretching over the goal line with two Baltimore Ravens draped over him could inspire museum photos and “I was there that day” stories to kids 20 years from now. This was a 5-foot-10 man refusing to be outmuscled, and refusing to let Baltimore win a fifth straight game over the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will celebrate this play for years.

Authentic Mens Kyle Long Jersey The five seconds it took from Ben Roethlisberger snapping the ball at the 4-yard line to a contorted Brown securing the score deserves about 30 replays to truly appreciate.

The message was clear in the Steelers’ locker room the day after a 31-27 victory over the Ravens to secure the AFC North: Their smallest man might be their toughest.

Authentic Mens Ladarius Green Jersey Locked in as the No. 5 seed, the Giants are going to play the division winner with the worst record in the NFC on the road. That doesn¡¯t necessarily mean they will play the worst division winner or the opponent that gives them the best chance to win. Matchups are everything this time of year. Some stadiums are more hostile environments than others. Seattle falls into that category.

Here is how I rank the potential opponents, in terms of which team the Giants should most want to face in their first playoff game in five years:

Detroit Lions: They¡¯re the least impressive of the potential opponents by a wide margin. They aren¡¯t great offensively. They aren¡¯t great defensively. They don¡¯t put a ton of points on the board, nor are they especially stingy on defense. The Lions are in contention for the NFC North because quarterback Matthew Stafford pulled off a few fourth-quarter miracles along the way.

Packers vs. Cardinals 2015 live stream: Time, TV schedule and how to watch online

The NFC playoff field is all but set heading into Week 16, though the No. 2 seed remains up for grabs. The Arizona Cardinals can secure that spot, as well as a first-round bye, by defeating the Green Bay Packers at home on Sunday.

While the Carolina Panthers have run away with the conference, the Cardinals have arguably outplayed them over the course of the year. Quarterback Carson Palmer has delivered one of the best seasons of his career and has Arizona leading the entire league in scoring at 32.1 points per game.

Anthony DeSclafani Youth Jersey Veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald has also enjoyed a bounce-back campaign, eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2011. Fitzgerald also appears likely to set a new career-high in receptions. He has 99 entering Sunday’s game and needs just five more catches to top his career-best of 103 in 2005.

Seattle can improve their chances and potentially play spoiler in Arizona’s bid for a first-round bye with a game against the Cardinals in Week 17. But first, they need to concentrate on the team that handed them their first loss of the season: the rival St. Louis Rams.

St. Louis traded away Sam Bradford, acquired Nick Foles and gave him the starting job. He hasn’t played great football over the course of the season, but he’s shown flashes of strong play.

Jonas Valanciunas Youth Jersey In the first game between the two, Foles completed 18 of 27 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. The Rams rushed for just 76 yards on the ground, but were able to punch in a pair of rushing touchdowns. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completed 32 of 41 passes for 251 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and the Seahawks rushed for 124 yards as a team.

If there is any position where Cleveland could ill afford to lose a rotation player

If there is any position where Cleveland could ill afford to lose a rotation player, it’s at guard. With no true backup point guard — Iman Shumpert has certainly done an admirable job in the meantime — the temptation for Lue to play Irving extended minutes, as he did by having him out there for 45 minutes on the front end of a back-to-back just days after giving Irving a week off to rest his weary legs, is palpable.

Mens Luis Gonzalez Jersey It’s been a tough week in particular for general manager David Griffin. He was already tasked with finding a backup point guard on the open market who can help the Cavs get to mid-April without burning out their stars; his shopping list has lengthened after Chris Andersen’s season-ending ACL tear makes the team thin at backup big man.

Yes, this was Boston’s first signature win of the season. After a bumpy start in part due to a road-heavy schedule early in the season, you can see the Celtics starting to look more like the team that has made second-half surges in each of the past two seasons. The Celtics rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating over the past 20 games.

Even in an East loaded with talented guards, Thomas has positioned himself again for All-Star consideration. Al Horford has been excellent but his quiet nature allows Thomas to remain the face of the franchise.

Mens Braydon Coburn Jersey And as this killa’s fourth-quarter performances show, Thomas loves that spotlight.

The players who were drafted over the past few years will get their salaries automatically boosted next year, too. That way they don’t get penalized when the rookies in 2017 get the new salaries. Other mechanisms were built in to help middle-class players get more money. The mid-level exceptions were bumped by 45 percent starting next season, too.

Had the Thunder known this, they might not have signed him to an extension last summer when Durant left. Like I said, it’s a major bummer.

Golden Tate to honor Craig Sager on cleats this weekend

Lions wide receiver Golden Tate is doing something special Sunday for a late member of the media.

Tate posted on Instagram that he will be wearing cleats honoring broadcaster Craig Sager on Sunday when the Detroit Lions face the New York Giants.

Sager died Thursday at age 65 after a long battle with leukemia. He was one of the most well-known sideline reporters in the business for his sartorial style, his dogged questioning, and his interviews with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
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Tate earlier honored American troops and his Golden Futures Foundation on his cleats this season.

The good news is that the hip strain and knee sprain the Chargers say Gordon suffered are far less serious than what might have been. Although the Chargers will be cautious with him, Gordon is eager to return to action before the season ends. It won’t be this week though, as Kenneth Farrow — who stepped in and rushed 16 times for 55 yards with a handful of receptions to boot — will get the start at running back for the Chargers.

Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles, concussion: Sproles took a big hit in Week 14 and to no one’s surprise, suffered a concussion in the process. He did not practice all week and will miss his first game of the season.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans, concussion: Fiedorowicz has been a pleasant surprise for many fantasy owners, but this week they will need a replacement. He suffered a concussion in Week 14 and has not practiced. Ryan Griffin is expected to see a workload increase in Week 15 as a result.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins, knee: The Dolphins believed Tannehill had suffered an ACL tear after his knee was forcibly hyperextended when he took a hit from Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell. It turned out to be an ACL/MCL sprain that will not require surgery, according to the Dolphins.
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Although the door is open for Tannehill to return this season, it is not clear whether or not that will happen. In the meantime, Matt Moore will start on Saturday night against the New York Jets.

Khalil Mack already is an All-Pro at two positions

A mutual admiration sack society may be forming in the AFC West that spans from Oakland to San Diego and maybe, just maybe, will stretch from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in the near future.

In his third season with the Raiders, Khalil Mack already is an All-Pro at two positions — defensive end and outside linebacker — and Chargers rookie Joey Bosa is on the rise as a 3-4 defensive end. It¡¯s a young rivalry that would survive potential relocation for both franchises, given their relative youth.

Authentic Youth J.J. Wilcox Jersey In any case, fans of the blue-white format have had a lot to be excited about this season. The Rams have worn solid white for many of their home games (not the same as the vintage blue-white design, of course, but it still has some of that old flavor), and much of the team’s stadium signage and online branding has been rendered in blue and white. Toss in last night’s revival of the white helmet horns and you end up with the obvious question: Is the team planning a blue-white makeover?

It’s too soon to know for sure. The feeling here at Uni Watch HQ is that the Rams probably won’t go for a full-scale redesign until they move into their new stadium in 2019. But a blue-white throwback in the interim? It’s easy to imagine them going that route. Let’s see if that happens.

Would you like to nominate a uniform or uni element to be showcased in a future Friday Flashback installment? Send your suggestions here.
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Paul Lukas pulled an April Fool’s prank in 2009 about the Seahawks adding a neon-green alternate jersey — and then it came true six months later! If you like this column, you’ll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you’ll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

It seems a little cliché to give Texans quarterback Christian Hackenberg of Penn State

Indianapolis Colts: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Unless the Colts sign a starting offensive tackle this offseason, it’s hard to justify a bigger need than someone who can keep Andrew Luck from lacerating his organs. Conklin, a good starting left tackle, plays with power and aggression up front.

Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Buffalo will go into the offseason likely needing a five-technique defensive lineman. Ideally a player like Nkemdiche will slide this far, but that may not happen. If not, Lawson would be a smart pickup. He’s a big end who plays with enough strength to handle two gaps.

“I played my first NFL game here Mens Brian Roberts Jersey in Kansas City in 1998 and now here we are for my last one,” Woodson, 39, said. He was appreciative of his 18-season NFL career and disappointed in the final outcome, a 23-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs (11-5) are in the playoffs. The Raiders (7-9) are not.

It is over for Woodson.

“When I made the decision to retire a Patrick Marleau Jersey few weeks ago, the games kept coming faster,” Woodson said. “This final game and week kept coming closer and closer. You know, they say the NFL means not for long. It especially seems that way when your days are numbered.”

They are for every player. They all enter dreaming about their first NFL play. Seldom do they consider the last one.

It always comes. It did for Woodson on Sunday after being drafted by the Raiders with the fourth overall pick of the 1998 draft, after leaving to spend the 2006-2012 seasons with Green Bay and after returning for the 2013 season until now to Oakland. He arrived in the NFL as a Heisman Trophy and national championship winner at Michigan. He won Super Bowl 45 in 2011 with the Packers. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl player. He is Hall of Fame bound.

But he leaves the NFL with more.

Source: Kenley Jansen agrees to 5-year, $80M deal with Dodgers

Kenley Jansen and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal, a Dodgers source confirmed to ESPN’s Jim Bowden on Monday.

Days after his wedding, Kenley Jansen closed the deal on an $80 million contract that keeps him in Dodger blue and locks in L.A. as NL West favorites.

The Nationals need a closer. Kenley Jansen, the Jerick McKinnon Kids Jersey last star left on the market, is headed back to L.A. So what now?

Jansen had a trio of teams chasing him as finalists for his services: the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and Dodgers. League sources told Bowden that Jansen had better offers from both the Nationals and Marlins but wanted to stay home and was willing to take less to do it.

“We feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways,” Farrell said.

Jesse Rogers’ take: Wade Davis would definitely Kedric Golston Kids Jersey fill a need, as the Cubs want to be deeper at the back end of their bullpen. The team is unwilling to commit long-term to a closer, as they believe they can develop one from within, but in the meantime, Davis would help in their goal of a repeat. Hector Rondon would set up, as he did for Aroldis Chapman, and he would continue to get save opportunities on days Davis couldn’t go. The best part of a Davis deal for the Cubs would be that he’s a free agent after next season, so they can expect his best effort, and they don’t have to commit big dollars beyond the $10 million he’ll make in 2017. By then, Carl Edwards Jr. — or someone else — could be ready to take over the role.

Jayson Stark’s take: Chris Archer might be the closest thing to Sale any team could theoretically trade for right now. But he’s under control for the next five years, for a total of $39 million. As such, the Rays’ asking price for him is even higher than what the White Sox wanted for Sale, according to one team that checked in, and the Rays have no incentive to lower it. “So they’re on the clock,” one AL executive said. “But they’re not necessarily on the clock with Archer.”

NFL decides to let Titans, Browns wear cleats for good causes despite bye week

This season, the NFL allowed players to wear personalized cleats for a special cause in Week 13. Since the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns were on a bye week last week, it was expected that players from both teams couldn’t participate in My Cause My Cleats. However, the NFL has changed its mind.

According to ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky, players from the Titans and the Browns will be able to participate in Week 14. Initially, according to Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, the NFL told his team that they can wear their personalized cleats during pregame, not during the game.

However, the veteran cornerback told Kuharsky that he would have been willing to wear his cleats and take the fine. Titans tight end Delaine Walker was in the same boat as McCourty.

With Cutler due to make $12.5 million in 2017, in addition to a $2.5 million roster bonus, it’s possible that the Bears will cut ties with the quarterback as they embarks on a full-scale rebuild. However, that’s not a terribly expensive price tag for Chicago to take on if it feels Cutler can contribute as a backup, so it’s still a possibility he could return another year.

The question for the Bears will be how they improve the quarterback position in the offseason, whether that’s through free agency or the 2017 NFL draft.

Cutler was the No. 11 overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft of the Denver Broncos and spent three seasons with the team, making a Pro Bowl in 2008. Following his first and only career trip to the Pro Bowl, the Broncos traded Cutler to the Bears along with a fifth-round pick in exchange for Kyle Orton, first-round selections in 2009 and 2010, and a third-round pick in 2009.

Steelers need Sammie Coates, Eli Rogers down the stretch

While Ladarius Green quickly has emerged as Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 2 passing target, the window hasn’t closed for Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers.

Roethlisberger always seems to mention Rogers in news-conference settings and his desire to get him the ball. Rogers has averaged 25 yards per game the last three weeks but says “the middle of the field is open” for him. Rogers isn’t concerned about getting the ball but about being in position to receive the ball.

“Every chance I get, I focus on getting open and killing a [defender],” Rogers said.
“We need him down the stretch,” Haley said.

Defenses will eventually key on Green, forcing Big Ben to either keep feeding Antonio Brown or spread to Rogers over the middle or Coates deep. At least one should benefit.

Kelly, 56, is proud to see the growth in Roethlisberger, 34, who once upon a time showed up to an event in Buffalo with security guards. Roethlisberger, who long ago admitted to being humbled by his early career travails, has “no ego, down to earth, cool with everybody,” Kelly said.

The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly have become good friends in recent years.

“Without a doubt, playing for a franchise like the Steelers, there’s a certain graduation, and when you’re young and going from nothing to a millionaire, that changes you,” Kelly said of Roethlisberger. “But he’s handling himself pretty darned good. He’s far from that. That was a phase.”

The two hit it off instantly, prompting Roethlisberger and several other mutual friends to make the trip to Ellicottville every offseason for the last seven years or so. They slice through the snow outdoors and play pool indoors, with Kelly providing laughter at a no-huddle pace.

What’s next for the Chargers and Raiders now that the Rams are moving to LA?

The new home of the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, Calif. won’t be finished until 2019, making the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum the team’s temporary home until then. But it’s unlikely that the Rams will be alone in Los Angeles, and it’s probable that the San Diego Chargers opt to move 120 miles north to join the Rams.

The problem for the Chargers is that the team never intended to move to Inglewood and had its sights set on sharing a home in Carson, Calif. with the Raiders. Now the team has been given the option to share a stadium with the Rams and owner Dean Spanos has some options to mull over.

While some candidates are still likely to pop up and earn interviews, there are a handful of assistant coaches who have drawn the majority of the interest from teams looking to hire new head coaches. Some assistants, like Adam Gase of the Chicago Bears, have been a top candidate in the past and are looking to finally take their shot at being a head coach. Others, like Hue Jackson of the Cincinnati Bengals, have head coaching experience already.

Even Mike Shanahan, a former head coach for three NFL teams who hasn’t coached since 2013, has come out of the weeds to establish himself as a possible head coach for a fourth time.

As of now, here are the candidates to be head coaches in 2016:

The shine of Austin’s résumé faded some when the Lions dropped from No. 2 in total defense in 2014 to No. 18 in 2015, but the 50-year-old’s experience in bringing along defensive backs has earned him interest from a few NFL franchises. During the 2015 offseason, Austin was twice interviewed by the Atlanta Falcons before the team settled on Dan Quinn and he turned down an interview request from the Denver Broncos.

Bevell only worked with Aaron Rodgers for one year in Green Bay and was never able to bring along Tarvaris Jackson to the level of a competent NFL starter in Minnesota. However, he had his first real chance to mold a top talent into an elite quarterback with Russell Wilson and he passed that test with flying colors. Under the tutelage of Bevell, Wilson has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with consistent improvement in each season, and that has earned the coach plenty of praise.