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Wilson, Seahawks top Wentz-less Eagles – TSN

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PHILADELPHIA — Jadeveon Clowney knocked out Carson Wentz. Then, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks knocked off the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wilson threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf, Marshawn Lynch had a rushing score and the Seahawks beat the Eagles 17-9 in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs on Sunday night.

“To come back here, back East, it’s a long ways, we were able to do it, pull through,” Wilson said. “We’ve been road warriors and it’s exciting. We’ve got a great defence, too.”

Making his first career playoff start, Wentz lasted two series before exiting with a head injury following a helmet-to-helmet hit from Clowney.

Nick Foles wasn’t around to rescue Philadelphia this time.

“I didn’t intend to hurt him. I hope he’s OK,” Clowney said.

Referee Shawn Smith told a pool reporter: “He was a runner and he did not give himself up. We saw incidental helmet contact, and in our judgment, we didn’t rule it a foul.”

Forty-year-old Josh McCown stepped in, becoming the oldest quarterback to make his playoff debut. But he couldn’t lead the Eagles (9-8) into the end zone.

“I didn’t get the job done,” said McCown, who was quite emotional on the field afterward.

The Seahawks (12-5) lost three of their final four games, including a 26-21 defeat at home against San Francisco in Week 17 that cost them the NFC West title.

But they travelled to Philadelphia for the second time in six weeks and became the third team to win on the road this weekend, improving to 8-1 away from home this season.

Wilson threw for 325 yards and led the team with 45 yards rushing. Metcalf had seven catches for 160 yards.

The Seahawks had a season-high seven sacks from six players.

“We made up our mind to not let them score,” All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “It was a mental thing more than execution.”

Wilson drove Seattle 82 yards late in the second quarter and Lynch powered in from the 5 for a 10-0 lead.

Wilson connected with Metcalf for 26 yards and David Moore for 38 on third-down, catch-and-run passes to keep that drive going.

McCown finally got the offence going on the opening drive of the third quarter. He connected with Zach Ertz for 32 yards and Boston Scott ran 15 yards to the 5. But a false start, fumbled snap and sack followed. Jake Elliott‘s 26-yard field goal cut the deficit to 10-6.

The Seahawks answered quickly. Metcalf stretched to catch Wilson’s deep pass, got up and tumbled into the end zone for a 17-6 lead.

“I caught the ball, I didn’t feel anybody touch me,” Metcalf said. “I got back up and I wanted a touchdown. I wanted a touchdown, real bad.”

Down 17-9, Eagles coach Doug Pederson passed up a 42-yard field goal attempt with 6:24 left and went for fourth-and-4 from the Seahawks 24. Miles Sanders couldn’t catch McCown’s pass.

Philadelphia had another chance after Shelton Gibson, just signed earlier in the week, drew a 39-yard pass interference penalty to the Seahawks 13.

On fourth-and-7 from the 10 with two minutes left, Clowney sacked McCown.

Wentz was forced to watch from the sideline following knee surgery when Foles led the Eagles to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title two years ago. He was out with a back injury last year when Foles led Philadelphia to a wild-card win in Chicago.

The Eagles were decimated by injuries throughout the season and had to rely on five offensive players off the practice squad during a four-game winning streak that sealed the NFC East title.

Wentz started all 16 games for the second time in his four seasons and played his best down the stretch with backups surrounding him. But he finished the season injured the same as the previous two.

“I’m disappointed for him,” Pederson said. “I wanted this for him. I think a lot of his teammates did, too. The team and the organization did. He’s battled through a lot.”

Seattle had plenty of injuries, too. The Seahawks lost running backs Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise, forcing them to sign Lynch.

But Seattle has Wilson — and he has the Seahawks heading to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the divisional round.

“We’re anticipating some snow,” Wilson said with a smile. “They obviously have Aaron, they have a lot of great players, they have a great defensive line.”

RECORD BREAKER

Metcalf set a franchise record for yards receiving in a playoff game.

“It’s exciting to see a young dude come in and dominate the league like that,” Seattle’s Quinton Jefferson said. “A lot of people said he can’t run routes. He silenced a lot of people. Glad to have him on my team.”

DEJA VU

The Seahawks also beat the Eagles 17-9 on Nov. 24.

INJURIES

Seahawks: Defensive tackle Ziggy Ansah left with a neck injury.

Eagles: Wentz stayed in the game after the shot from Clowney, threw two passes and left for the locker room late in the first quarter. … Defensive end Brandon Graham left with a knee injury.

NEXT UP

Seahawks: will go to Green Bay to face the Packers (13-3) next Sunday.

Eagles: start the off-season.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Cam Newton: Starting Job In Danger If Poor Play Continues – RealGM.com

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Cam Newton admitted his job as quarterback of the New England Patriots will be in jeopardy if he struggles like he did against the San Francisco 49ers. 

“The first thing I said to myself coming home was, ‘You keep playing games like that, bro, and it’s going to be a permanent change,'” Newton said Monday morning on Boston sports radio WEEI.

“You don’t need to tell me that for me to understand that. I get it loud and clear.”

Bill Belichick said he’s “absolutely” sticking with Newton as his starter despite giving Jarrett Stidham some reps in the fourth quarter.

“For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah,” Newton said Monday in the radio interview. “I don’t feel offended by what was done. I don’t feel offended having this type of conversation. I’m a realist.

“I don’t fear my position stability more so than controlling the locker room. Performances like yesterday jeopardizes [that]. It’s like ‘Oh my God!’ Players talk and that’s what’s most important to me. Knowing you have your coaches’ belief [is good], but my belief is that I want to have the whole facility … It doesn’t start with no miraculous play. It’s a whole body of work that goes into performing on Sunday.”

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Rams dominate matchup of tough defences to prevail over Bears – TSN

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Rams could tell Leonard Floyd was playing with an uncommon fury against his old team, and the rest of the Los Angeles defence followed his lead.

By the time the Rams were done with the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Floyd had two sacks and the game ball — and Los Angeles had a decisive, energizing victory over a fellow NFC contender.

Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett caught touchdown passes from Jared Goff, and the Rams won a matchup of dominant defences, beating the Bears 24-10.

“We proved that we were the better defence today,” Floyd said after a six-tackle performance in his first game against Chicago since the Bears released him last off-season.

After his first sack, Floyd jumped up and went toward the Bears sideline, shouting and gesticulating at the team that let him go. Floyd already knows he landed in a good spot with the Rams (5-2), who remained unbeaten at brand-new SoFi Stadium and reasserted themselves in the conference hierarchy with a rebound performance one week after a rough loss at San Francisco

“I thought our defence was outstanding from start to finish,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “They did such a great job. Some key stops, some key turnovers. Offensively, we did enough to get that lead and then really just run out the clock on that game.”

Goff passed for 219 yards and Malcolm Brown rushed for a score for the Rams, but their defence did the hardest work.

Taylor Rapp made an end-zone interception on a pass deflection by Troy Hill while the Rams held Chicago (5-2) to 182 yards in the first three quarters and built a 24-3 lead.

Eddie Jackson returned a fumble 8 yards for Chicago’s only touchdown with 7:30 to play, but Los Angeles’ defence stayed in control, yielding 279 total yards and three points. The Rams have won twice in three defence-dominated games between these longtime rivals over the past three seasons.

“Obviously, stating the obvious, the offence, we’ve got to get this stuff figured out,” Chicago coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s not good enough, and to be outscored by your defence, obviously, is unacceptable, too. So that part is frustrating.”

Nick Foles passed for 261 yards for the Bears, who dropped out of the NFC North lead and fell to 3-1 on the road with their latest discouraging offensive performance. Chicago managed just 49 yards rushing and has 175 yards on the ground in the past four games.

Jackson insisted the defence won’t get discouraged by the offence’s struggles.

“It’s a team sport, and we know the type of players we have on offence,” Jackson said. “We’ll put ’em against any defence any day. You’re going to come up short in some games … but we’re going to continue to rally around one another and do our best.”

The Rams’ defence, now co-ordinated by former Bears outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley, sacked Foles four times and picked off two of his passes, including Jalen Ramsey‘s first interception of the season near midfield to clinch the victory with 3:13 to play.

Staley also was awarded a game ball by McVay after the latest in a strong line of performances by his defence.

“The defence, we’re playing aggressive, we’re playing physical, and we’re making all the right plays,” said linebacker Justin Hollins, who had a huge fourth-down sack in the red zone after Aaron Donald flushed Foles from the pocket in the fourth quarter. “Everybody is on one page. We’re just one tight unit right now.”

The Rams led 10-3 at halftime after holding the Bears to 126 yards. Reynolds made his 4-yard TD reception in the first quarter, but the Bears stopped two additional drives just outside field goal range to keep the deficit manageable.

The Rams went up 17-3 midway through the third quarter on a TD drive capped by Brown’s 1-yard run.

Chicago mounted its best drive immediately thereafter, but its 71-yard march ended when Hill deflected a pass intended for Darnell Mooney in the end zone and Rapp snagged it for an interception.

The Rams followed with a crisp 80-yard drive capped by a 12-yard TD catch-and-run by Everett, their big-play tight end.

Chicago showed life when Jackson returned Robert Woods‘ fumble on a jet sweep for the sixth defensive touchdown of his four-year career, but the Bears couldn’t ride any momentum.

PRIMO PUNTING

Even Rams punter Johnny Hekker dominated the Bears, pinning them inside their 10 with all five of his punts in a superb performance by the four-time Pro Bowler.

“Johnny is the best punter in the league, and he showed it tonight,” Goff said. “He really was a weapon for us.”

The Rams celebrated his big kicks as a team, and Hekker even got a chest bump from Donald, LA’s All-Pro defensive tackle.

“It’s just great to know that Aaron Donald knows my name sometimes,” Hekker said with a laugh.

INJURY REPORT

Bears: WR Allen Robinson was evaluated for a concussion after he left the game late in the fourth quarter. He led the Bears with 70 yards receiving. … C Cody Whitehair injured his calf in the second half.

Rams: Rookie S Terrell Burgess was taken off the field on a cart in the fourth quarter with an air cast around his left leg. He has an ankle injury. … TE Tyler Higbee was inactive with a hand injury, missing his second game since 2016. Johnny Mundt had a career-high 47 yards receiving in his absence, including a career-best 34-yard catch in the second quarter.

UP NEXT

Bears: Host New Orleans on Sunday.

Rams: Visit Miami on Sunday as the opponent in Tua Tagovailoa‘s debut start.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Naylor: David Braley symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL – TSN

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How to sum up David Braley’s meaning to the Canadian Football League?

Braley, the Ontario-based businessman and former Senator who passed away Monday at the age of 79, was at various times the owner of three teams in a nine-team league, including the Toronto Argonauts in whom he held a secret ownership position at the same time he owned the BC Lions.

He served as the CFL’s chairman of the board and took on the commissioner’s role in 2003 after he led the charge to oust Michael Lysko in 2002.

And until recently, when poor health interfered with his ability to participate in the business of the CFL, he was a powerful presence among league governors, so much so that every commissioner had to be aware of where Braley stood on key issues and be prepared to deal with being on the opposite side.

It became a common refrain among people within the league that there would be no Canadian Football League without Braley. And yet, he was both loved and loathed by those within it. Some considered him the league’s biggest benefactor, while others considered him a ruthless profiteer.

Braley grew up in Hamilton, Ont., rooting for the Tiger-Cats. He had played football in high school and at McMaster University, and was a Tiger-Cat season ticket holder before, during and after his ownership of the team, which went from 1989 until he sold the team in 1992 over his opposition to the CFL’s plan to expand to the U.S.

He re-entered the CFL officially as the savior of the Lions in late 1996, one of three CFL franchises insolvent by the end of that season. Braley claimed a federal cabinet minister had warned him that the CBC would bail as a TV partner if the league couldn’t field a Vancouver franchise the next season, so he stepped up.

When the Toronto Argonauts went bankrupt in 2003 under the ownership of Sherwood Schwartz, Braley was front and centre in the search for new owners, trying to broker a deal with Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.

The pair balked at the losses they’d be inheriting with the Argonauts. So Braley offered to be their partner, an arrangement that was known only by then-commissioner Tom Wright and select others before it was revealed in a 2009 Globe and Mail story.

The league subsequently passed bylaws requiring internal disclosure of all financial arrangements between teams. Braley eventually took over full ownership of the Argos in 2010, then sold the team to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum in 2016.

In its darkest hours, the CFL could always count on Braley, or so it seemed. He was there when the Lions and Argos needed new ownership, but also at various times over the past three decades when teams found themselves short on cash.

It’s believed he loaned money to every team in the CFL at least once, except for the Edmonton Eskimos. That includes to the Tiger-Cats during the years after he sold them to a non-profit group when he would continue to quietly write cheques to help the team make payroll. Braley’s name may not have been on the franchise, but he remained its primary financial backer.

That kind of financial influence in such a small league granted him enormous power, and Braley was never shy about trying to wield his influence over the direction of the league.

He also appeared to be rewarded with a disproportionate number of occasions to host the Grey Cup, which, in most circumstances, is a surefire money-maker. The Braley-owned Lions or Argos hosted the game five times over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2014.

Braley had created his wealth from scratch, taking a loan to purchase an industrial distributing company from a former neighbour, then shifting its focus into becoming a global auto parts manufacturing giant.

He was a well-known for his frugality as his wealth, a pattern demonstrated when he purchased the Tiger-Cats from an ailing Harold Ballard for $500,000, financed with proceeds from the team’s five-year sponsorship agreement with Player’s Tobacco.

That frugality was legendary in the CFL. Despite his wealth, Braley was known to be reluctant to spend on what he considered unnecessary frills for his teams and the league.

His views on the business of the CFL were rooted in traditional approaches to marketing and selling tickets, and he privately railed against the league putting every game on television, favouring blackouts because he believed it would mean better business at the turnstiles.

He had waxed about selling the Lions for at least a decade, engaging with different groups of potential owners but always deciding either the timing or the group itself and what it was willing to pay for the team wasn’t right.

That seemed to do the franchise no favours as he continued to hang on as both his own health and that of his franchise was slipping.

Though the belief in Vancouver is that any Lions business turnaround has to start with new ownership, Braley’s ownership has been viewed as a safety net for the franchise during the pandemic, given his willingness to financially stabilize the franchise.

He was believed to be among the owners who were willing to play a shortened 2020 season, even without government support.

Braley in so many ways symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL: rooted in tradition, dependent on philanthropy and run by a powerful few.

There will never be another like him.

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