NFL Films had Peyton Manning wired for sound last Sunday night, when he needed three touchdowns to pass Brett Favre's record. That turned out to be a wise move.

Manning got the three touchdowns he needed in the first half, including the record-breaker to Demaryius Thomas. In the video above, from the excellent "Sound FX" show on NFL Network, they use Manning's postgame comments to narrate the drive, and you can hear what was said to him on the sideline after he broke the record. You can also see, near the end of the video, Manning and Wes Welker chatting on the bench about the game of keep-away the players did with Manning and the record-setting ball after the touchdown.

The video of Manning's 510th touchdown might be even more interesting. He tells Thomas on the sideline if he points to the safety he's looking for Thomas on a post route, then you can see that exact thing happen for a 40-yard touchdown to Thomas. It's a great look inside the game. You also get the bonus material of what happens on the sideline in the fourth quarter of a blowout, as Manning was pulled for backup Brock Osweiler in a blowout win over the 49ers. You also find that Manning has to pay a few bets to fellow SEC players for his Tennessee Volunteers losing, including to former Ole Miss player and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 25, 2014, 3:25 pm

(AP)The Dallas Cowboys’ success in the running game is trickling down to the passing game.

You are starting to see defenses react to Dallas’ running game, with their great offensive line and running back DeMarco Murray. The New York Giants did last week, and the Cowboys were able to throw the ball effectively.

The main way to see how the Cowboys’ run game affected the Giants was through Dez Bryant. The Giants’ focus was on stopping the Cowboys’ run game more than Bryant, as they played almost exclusively with eight-man fronts and single-high safety coverages. The second half featured Prince Amukamara on Bryant in one-on-one coverage most of the time, and Bryant got the best of it. He had nine catches for 151 yards.

Quarterback Tony Romo played well too, and we’ll look at his three touchdown passes. The Cowboys used some good concepts on each one, and Romo made good decisions. On the third touchdown, you’ll see a Giants defense that was impacted heavily by Dallas’ running game.

On the first touchdown, a 15-yarder to tight end Gavin Escobar, the Cowboys lined up in a three-by-one set with Bryant as the “X iso” to the boundary and tight end Jason Witten as the inside slot on the three-receiver side. The Giants played man on Bryant with Amukamara and zone on the three-receiver side. Two things on the three-receiver side happened to make the play. Witten hunted up middle linebacker Jon Beason and held him low, and then Terrance Williams and Escobar each ran verticals against Antrel Rolle, the single-high safety. With Beason held low and Rolle playing the midpoint between the two verticals, Escobar was wide open on a crosser away from Rolle and behind Beason.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

The second touchdown was supposed to be a pass to Escobar too, but the Giants took that away and Romo adjusted well. The play was a double seam route with Escobar and Witten against the Giants’ single-high safety coverage. Witten was held up, so safety Quintin Demps cheated to Escobar and took away the design of the play. Romo had outstanding play extension and vision to hit Williams for an 18-yard score.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

The third touchdown was really where you saw how the Cowboys’ running game is opening things up for Romo.

The Giants had three stacked defenders against Dallas’ three tight ends to the boundary. There was hard inside run action, and the Giants’ three stacked defenders attacked downhill. You see it on film, that Romo took just one step away from center and the three defenders were attacking the line of scrimmage, taking themselves out of defending Escobar's route. Escobar ran a “shake” route, Romo made a great throw and Escobar made a great catch for the score.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

One of the stories of the season has been the Cowboys’ running game and how it has fueled Dallas’ good start. Now we’re seeing that the running game is helping Romo, Bryant and the passing offense as well.

- - - - - - -

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: October 25, 2014, 2:27 am

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16: Head Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)There's some perverse fascination in dealing with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, not unlike the days when you were back in your first apartment and you were starving. You'd go to that refrigerator, open it again and again and again, hoping against hope that there'd be something other than half-full mustard bottles and green butter in there. Nope. Same thing, every damn time.

Belichick offers up his own conversational variant of half-full mustard bottles and green butter every time the conversation swings in a direction he doesn't care to follow. Earlier this week, he sent cornerback Darrelle Revis home from practice for tardiness. Not a good look for Revis, certainly, but he apparently owned up to it and all was fine.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

That is, until someone tried to get Belichick to say something, anything about Revis. Here's how it went down, per the Boston Globe's Ben Volin.

Q. What's your version of what happened with Darrelle Revis on Tuesday?

Belichick: Anything between me and the players is between myself and the players.

Q: You sent him home, is that correct?

Belichick: I didn’t say that.

Q: He was here and then -

Belichick: I’m ready to talk about the Bears. Anything else is between myself and the players.

Q: Will his playing time on Sunday be impacted by that?

Belichick: I think the Bears are really a good team. I think they’re going to be a tough, tough matchup for us. We’re going to do the best we can to match up against them.

This, of course, follows Belichick's incessantly repeated "We're on to Cincinnati" declaration from earlier this month in the face of similar questioning. Clearly, this is a man who prefers to look forward at absolutely all costs.

Friends, we can all learn from Bill Belichick's example. Boss sweating you about getting that work in on time? "I'm ready to talk about the Bears." Significant other giving you grief for not doing your share around the house? "I'm ready to talk about the Bears." Police officer questioning why you sped? "I'm ready to talk about the Bears."

It's flawless. Thank you, Bill. Thank you. This weekend, we promise to talk about the Bears in your honor.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 24, 2014, 10:43 pm

Strawberries and cream are the delicacy of choice for Wimbledon watchers. What will you be dining on when the Detroit Lions face the Atlanta Falcons at 9:30 a.m. ET, which will be 1:30 p.m. local time at London's Wembley Stadium?

Maybe eggs? Bacon? Weetabix?

The earliest kickoff in NFL history is a fascinating experiment for the league, which only has expanded the London experience the past few seasons and has not hid the fact that it very much is exploring the viability of perhaps placing a franchise there one day.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Sunday's game in London — and the ratings it will receive — will be watched very closely by league executives, who supported the idea of kicking off the game early in American TV markets as a twofold way of making it an even longer day of NFL football and also helping work with the logistics for the teams, which can get back to the States a lot earlier.

But will it be watched a ton back home? That's the unknown.

Certainly, the television element is a crucial factor in whether the league could have a team function in London. A few executives, per MMQB.com, can't wait to see what the response is to the game.

“I am as curious as you are,” NFL executive vice president for media Brian Rolapp said. “I may have to duck out of church a little early on Sunday.”

“It’s hard to predict,” Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said. “Hopefully we’ll be on in every Waffle House in America.”

Fox will broadcast Lions-Falcons, and it will afford football-hungry fans an NFL-first quartet: games kicking off in the morning, at 1 p.m., in the 4 p.m. hour and 8:30 for the New Orleans Saints hosting the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. In that way, it almost will feel like a college football Saturday, where games stretch from noon ET into the wee hours of Sunday morning on the East Coast.

“It’s obviously an interesting time zone back in the States,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said, per The Guardian UK. “So we’ll see how it plays and I’m sure they will checks the ratings and make some determinations on that.”

Fox will have a 30-minute lead-in show before kickoff, then Lions-Falcons, followed by another short pre-game show, then their four 1 p.m. games (Bears at Patriots, Rams at Chiefs, Vikings at Buccaneers, Texans at Titans), the late-afternoon game (Eagles at Cardinals), followed by Game 3 of the World Series.

Phew! Sports!

“This is the most consecutive live-sports hours in Fox history,” Shanks told MMQB.

Will the Lions-Falcons be strong? And, then again, what would be considered strong? Do we judge it versus a typical 1 p.m. kickoff?

Another factor: It's not that sexy a game, honestly. The Falcons, never TV darlings even at their peak, are a struggling 2-5 club. The Lions, on the flip side at 5-2, might not have convinced the country they are as good as their record suggests. Plus, two marquee players — Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson — are not sure bets to play.

This one game might not be the proper lithmus test for whether an NFL franchise can thrive across the pond. But there's no question that the ratings of the broadcast are going to be interesting, one way or another.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 24, 2014, 7:41 pm

Folks in the United States are starting to understand the seriousness of the Ebola crisis worldwide now that there have been documented cases in this country, but it has plagued Western Africa with nearly 5,000 deaths.

One NFL owner is doing everything he can to help support this growing cause. Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen told the New York Times that he is pledging $100 million to the effort, which makes him one of the largest individual donors for this crisis.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

“Everybody feels called sometimes to really pursue a certain thing that resonates with them, and this has resonated with me,” Allen said on Thursday.

The owner of the Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, and also a co-founder of Microsoft, Allen said he “nagging sense” following the July outbreak of Ebola that the crisis only would grow. That's why he's stepping up to the plate financially to help out. 

“We’re up against an extremely tough opponent here,” Allen said. “The exponential nature of the growth of this disease is really a challenge — we’ve already seen in the U.S. where one case quickly became two.”

And that tough opponent poses an unknown challenge: Just how much financial support is needed to help contain the disease and treat it properly? Certainly no one knows that answer.

Allen has created a website (TackleEbola.com) where donors can make their own contributions at any level of commitment to help fund projects such as 6,000 hand-washing stations and beds for a center treating patients infected with the virus, and it highlights which organizations are helping the fight against Ebola.

“I’m trying to galvanize and coordinate some of the different groups and the attack on some of the key issues,” he said.

This a noble and significant effort by one of the world's most charitable people toward a frightening and lethal cause. We tip our hats to his donations and also to his support for a crisis that appears to be gaining a foothold in the American conscience. Let's hope others step up and donate whatever they can to help, especially in Africa where it's needed most.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 24, 2014, 7:02 pm

Since the NFL is already carving "Denver Broncos" into this season's Lombardi Trophy, there's probably no use in checking the Super Bowl odds almost halfway through the season.

But let's do so anyway, for kicks.

It's hard to figure out who the second-best team in the NFL is. Which means that there should be value in the Super Bowl odds, just in case the Broncos blow it in the playoffs again (I know, hard to imagine). Here are the odds for every semi-legitimate contender (the Raiders are 3000-to-1, if you feel like setting your money on fire), from Bovada via OddsShark.com, before Thursday's game: 

Denver Broncos, 3-to-1
Again, this was before Thursday's game. It's not good value to take any team in Week 8 at 3-to-1 to win the Super Bowl, no matter how far Denver is ahead of the rest of the NFL.

Green Bay Packers, 8-to-1
Interesting that the Packers are the second favorite. Considering that if the season ended today, they wouldn't even be NFC North champs.

Dallas Cowboys, 9-to-1
I do believe the Cowboys are good. I do also believe you're never getting good odds on anything relating to the Cowboys. I don't know if they're America's Team, but they are Las Vegas' Team.

Seattle Seahawks, 9-to-1
Hmm. Two weeks ago, you'd have jumped all over this. And i think by the end of the year this will look like a steal.

Indianapolis Colts, 12-to-1
Our second AFC favorite. With that easy schedule, could they steal the No. 1 seed? Maybe. Could Andrew Luck pull off a colossal upset even if it's in Denver? Sure. If you believe Peyton Manning will choke in January, this looks pretty good.

New England Patriots, 12-to-1
Injuries piling up, but I wouldn't blame you if you liked this.

San Diego Chargers 12-to-1
I like the Chargers well enough but I'm not feeling it. Not sure how they get past the other three AFC teams already listed.

San Francisco 49ers, 14-to-1
The argument for it: Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis will all be back soon.

Philadelphia Eagles, 16-to-1
If you're asking me who the second-best team in the NFL is right now, the Eagles are my answer. So yeah, I like this.

Baltimore Ravens, 18-to-1
Pass.

Arizona Cardinals, 20-to-1
Nah.

Detroit Lions, 28-to-1
They're technically in first in the NFC North, thanks to the tiebreaker (for now) against the Packers. They've gotten almost nothing out of Calvin Johnson yet. the defense is pretty nasty. Yeah, it's still the Lions, but 28-to-1? That'll go down, and soon. After the Eagles, this seems like the best number on the board.

Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints, 33-to-1
We'll lump them both together because this is the cutoff for making any remote case for a Super Bowl contender. And right now it's a stretch for the Bengals. But consider that the Saints are 2-4. First place in the NFC South is 3-3-1 Carolina. It's not like they're dead. And I'm not saying the Saints are gonna roll through the playoffs if they get in, but I do know you wouldn't want to face Drew Brees in January either.

Who do you like out of that group? While you decide about the game on Feb. 1, we'll look at some picks for Week 8:

Broncos (-8.5) over Chargers (picked Thursday): They're really good right now.

Lions (-3.5) over Falcons: Call the oddsmakers, there's a misprint! This should be -13.5 and not -3.5, right?

Bengals (+1) over Ravens: I can't justify it based on how the Bengals have played the last three weeks. But I still think there's a good team in there somewhere.

Zach Mettenberger (AP)Texans (-3) over Titans: Zach Mettenberger might be good at some point. I don't think he'll be good in his first start.

Rams (+7) over Chiefs: Maybe the Rams have figured some things out.

Bears (+6) over Patriots: With some key injuries on the Patriots defense, at some point all of this Bears offensive talent has to produce something, right?

Jets (-3) over Bills: A 1-6 team favored by a field goal over a 4-3 team? Seems like they're inviting you to take the Bills, right?

Buccaneers (-2.5) over Vikings: The Bucs have been terrible, but the Vikings offense is pretty bad.

Panthers (+5) over Seahawks: I'll regret this when it becomes clear this is Seattle's "never underestimate the heart of a champion" game.

Dolphins (-6) over Jaguars: An 0-6 team gets its first win. Is that a sign of a turnaround? Typically, no.

Eagles (+2.5) over Cardinals: Simply think the better team wins.

Browns (-7) over Raiders: The time to catch the Browns on a letdown was last week. And the Jaguars did. It won't happen twice.

Colts (-3) over Steelers: Remember those Super Bowl odds up top? If you like the Colts, grab them now, because they're going to embarrass the Steelers on Sunday.

Saints (-1.5) over Packers: Saints are 0-4 on the road and 2-0 at home. That's who they have been, that's who they are. That's who they'll continue to be on Sunday.

Cowboys (-9.5) over Redskins: A lot of points to lay, but I'm not picking Colt McCoy.

Last week: 6-9
Season to date: 51-55

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 24, 2014, 5:41 pm

Welcome to the latest Shutdown Corner podcast! On today's piping-hot episode, we have:

• A look at Peyton Manning vs. the Denver scoreboard operator. (Sing this ep's title to Peyton's favorite tune.)

• Are the Denver Broncos on track to be one of the best teams in history? There's evidence that points to yes.

• Why's Philip Rivers so hated?

• Overrated/Underrated, this time focusing on great receivers of the past.

• Our picks for Lock of the Week, Upset of the Week, and Game We'd Pay To See.

All this and more as part of the Shutdown Corner Podcast. Listen up, and while you're listening ...

Subscribe via iTunes right here.

Non-iTunes subscription link here.

Leave us a nice review here.

The Shutdown Corner podcast is the product of Kevin Kaduk (@KevinKaduk), Frank Schwab (@YahooSchwab) and Jay Busbee (@JayBusbee). New episodes every Tuesday and Friday, with bonus episodes when you least expect it. Enjoy!

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 24, 2014, 4:13 pm

DENVER At the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter, the Denver Broncos were up 35-21, with the ball. That last part is key to this story.

The Broncos, stealing the University of Wisconsin's bit, started playing the House of Pain song "Jump Around" in the stadium. Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, on the sideline, got into it and started dancing. They showed Talib on the big screen, the crowd got even more fired up. It was fairly typical stuff at the end of a big Broncos win.

And quarterback Peyton Manning was not happy about it.

Manning wants the crowd to be quiet when the offense has the ball. He likes calling out audibles at the line, and every once in a while he'll theatrically motion for the crowd to quiet down. After the two-minute warning the Broncos got a false-start penalty, although it didn't seem that was due to the crowd noise. He wasn't mad at the fans this time; he was mad at the Broncos scoreboard operator.

"I have no problem wih our fans, our fans are great," Manning said. "I've got a problem with our scoreboard operator. I've got to have a little talk with him." 

Some reporters in his press conference laughed. Manning did not. Manning often has a very dry delivery on his jokes, but it certainly appeared he was dead serious about not being pleased with the scoreboard operator.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

He also referenced a moment in the second half when the Broncos kept showing San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, the No. 1 enemy of Broncos fans, on the big screen repeatedly to let the crowd boo him.

"I'm not sure what he's doing," Manning said. "He's playing music and showing players dancing and getting the crowd fired up when we have the ball. I don't think we should be doing that. I don't think we should be showing their quarterback on the sideline. I thought it was disrespectful. Our fans were great, our fans were loud, but the scoreboard operator, it wasn't his best night."

Again, there was no laughter after finishing his thought and not a hint of a smile.

Manning is known for being very serious and very competitive, and will yell at a teammate for a mistake when he feels it's necessary. He apparently believes that standard should be held to everyone in the organization, even the guy showing Talib jumping around on the big screen.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 24, 2014, 6:07 am

DENVER – The Denver Broncos were really good in 2013.

They were 13-3, didn’t lose any regular-season game by more than a touchdown, outscored teams by 207 points and won the AFC. They ultimately weren’t Super Bowl champion good, partially because they ran up against a great team that was even better, but they were very good last season.

The Broncos are better this season. Clearly. Absolutely.

“Oh yeah,” cornerback Chris Harris said without any hesitation when asked if the 2014 Broncos were better than the 2013 version. “We’re a total team.”

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

The Broncos are the best team in football right now, by a wide margin. They’ve gone from a team with a historic offense and a so-so defense to a team with an even better offense on paper and a stellar defense. The Broncos gave up 61 yards rushing on Thursday night in a 35-21 win over the San Diego Chargers, and 23 of those yards came on the last play. They forced Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers into two interceptions. The offense was as good as ever, with a 100-yard rusher (Ronnie Hillman), two 100-yard receivers (Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas) and a quarterback who might win a sixth MVP award (you know who).

Hold on, hold on. Fine, the Broncos are 6-1 and the best team in the NFL … right now. That doesn’t mean they’ll win the Super Bowl, and the postseason failures of the past two seasons - and of quarterback Peyton Manning most seasons in his career - follow them around everywhere. This great football they’re playing in October means nothing if they come up short of a championship again. Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton wasn’t afraid to express that when asked if the Broncos are better this season.

“We’ll see, we’ll see. If we hoist the trophy, then yes. If not, then no,” Knighton said. “It’s that simple. There’s nothing else we can do but win the Super Bowl. If we’re not hoisting that trophy at the end, then we’ll feel let down.”

The good news for the Broncos is they should hoist that trophy. This is a much different team than the one that played in the Super Bowl last year. Between free agency and adding players back from injured reserve, the Broncos added seven top-flight starters this offseason. That's something very few teams in the NFL can pull off, yet the second-best team in the league last season did it.

The major free-agent additions are all playing as expected. Cornerback Aqib Talib broke up two passes, including a brilliant one on a deep pass down the middle to Malcom Floyd. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware didn’t record any sacks on Thursday, but he drew a 10-yard illegal hands to the face penalty on a pass rush and has seven sacks this season. Strong safety T.J. Ward is one reason the Broncos allow the fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL. Sanders has proven to be an upgrade over Eric Decker; he had three touchdown catches against San Diego.

Von Miller (USA Today Sports Images)The stars who returned from season-ending injuries have stepped right back in. Left tackle Ryan Clady is part of a great line that led Hillman’s 109-yard effort and didn’t allow a sack. Outside linebacker Von Miller is back to being one of the NFL’s best defensive players. He had a sack for the sixth consecutive game and leads the NFL with nine sacks. Underrated cornerback Chris Harris, Pro Football Focus’ eighth ranked cornerback last year based on the site’s grades, ranked third in the NFL before Thursday’s game.

All seven of those players have either been to a Pro Bowl or are capable of playing at that level, were added to a team coming off an AFC championship. And it shows. If the Broncos can maintain this level on both sides of the ball and win a Super Bowl, this team has a chance to go down as one of the all-time greats.

The running game has picked up. The passing game is unbelievably deep. The run defense is statistically the best in the league. The pass rush is led by Miller and Ware, who are on pace for more than 36 sacks. The secondary is no joke either.

“We have an identity already,” Harris said. “We’re going to stop the run, and then you all are going to have to come out and try to throw at me and Talib, and it’s going to be a long day when you have to do that.”

Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe were hanging out in the locker room long after Thursday night's game ended. Smith, the Broncos’ all-time leading receiver, said he was impressed most with this team’s offensive and defensive lines, something that doesn’t get much attention with the stars elsewhere on the team. He also marveled at how multiple the offense is, and how great the quarterback is playing.

“Peyton is ridiculous right now,” Smith said, shaking his head.

There’s another thing Smith has noticed that’s big for most championship teams: chemistry.

“You feel good energy,” Smith said.

At that point Smith called over Sharpe, the Hall of Fame tight end, and talked about the good old days. He talked about how the Broncos’ 1996 team that was upset by Jacksonville in the playoffs was great on paper, but players didn’t root for each other. That chemistry changed in 1997, the players rallied around each other and the Broncos won the Super Bowl. Sharpe nodded and agreed. And Smith sees that in this year’s Broncos.

“When you feel good about the guys you work with, that’s a part of the game that doesn’t get measured, there’s no stat for that,” Smith said.

What’s not to like about the 2014 Broncos? The roster is the most talented from top to bottom in the NFL, and it has meshed quickly. The offense is great again. The defense is much stronger. There are no real weaknesses.

The Broncos won the offseason. They’ve won the regular season so far.

And nobody will care about any of that if they don’t win the Super Bowl.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 24, 2014, 5:41 am

Through the month of September, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers became one of the NFL’s hot way-too-early MVP candidates. 

The Chargers were playing well. Rivers was on fire. All of the way-too-early MVP buzz was justified. But no matter how good Rivers is, he's not even the best MVP candidate in his own division.

Peyton Manning, who was surprisingly absent from the MVP talk in its very early stages, and the Denver Broncos dismantled the Chargers 35-21, leaving no question they are the favorite in the AFC West. The Broncos are 6-1, a game-and-a-half ahead of the second-place Chargers (5-3).

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

This was Manning's second straight dominant performance on prime time. Manning was 25-of-35 for 286 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Thursday's win. Last week, Manning was 22-of-28 for 318 yards and four touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers. 

Remember in the 1990s when NBA voters got bored giving Michael Jordan the MVP award every year, so guys like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone were given one even though Jordan was clearly the best player in the league? That might be other NFL MVP candidates’ hope this year: Manning fatigue by voters. Manning has five MVPs already and it's obvious he'll be one of the top candidates again this season.

That will be sorted out a long time from now, but what was reinforced on Thursday night is that the Broncos are the best team in football. The offense might even be more dangerous this year with additions like receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who scored three touchdown Thursday. The defense is clearly better, with a healthy Von Miller and other newcomers like end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward.

The Broncos were ahead 28-7 early in the third quarter, and although the Chargers got the ball back late in the fourth quarter down just 14 points, the game never seemed in doubt. The Broncos, who lost to these Chargers at home on a Thursday night last year, are just the better team.

In fairness to the Chargers, the Broncos are better than any other team right now. And Manning has a very good case as the league’s best player. Again.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 24, 2014, 3:30 am

John Elway is as popular as ever in Denver, but name dropping Elway did not help Broncos practice squad safety John Boyett when he was arrested on Monday. Elway, the Broncos general manager, didn't seem too impressed either, because he cut Boyett on(AP) Thursday.

Boyett allegedly had a heck of a time out, it sounds like from the police report, via the Denver Post. Take a gander at what Boyett was arrested for. It's quite the list:

"In summary, according to the police report, Boyett was highly intoxicated, threatened a bartender at a sports bar where he ate, drank and did shots, was belligerent to his fellow patrons, assaulted a cab driver, stole a shovel from a construction site so he could whack the cab driver, fled the scene and tried to hide from police by trying to bury himself under mulch."

It's really, really hard to pick a highlight out of that. Another candidate, later in the Post's story, is that Boyett "tried to take food off one woman's plate." It's like he was trying to one-up himself all night (by the way, I'm picking "stole a shovel to whack the cab driver" as the winner, although "tried to hide himself by trying to bury himself under mulch" is hard to pass up).

It's not like that report wasn't enough for the Broncos to consider cutting Boyett, who was cut by the Colts last September after being charged with disorderly public intoxication and resisting arrest (he allegedly played the "I'm a Colts player" card then), but Boyett then decided that his best move was to tell the police to "contact his boss, John Elway." He did this repeatedly, the Post said, after he was arrested and put in the back of a patrol car.

That wasn't too smart, although that shouldn't come as a big surprise given the rest of what happened on Boyett's big night out.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 24, 2014, 1:08 am

Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins is having a nice season with the Cleveland Browns after being signed away from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Apparently, though, Hawkins' 2-year-old son hasn't given up on his dad's former team.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Watch this funny Instagram video from Hawkins, who doesn't take kindly to his son's proclamation that the Bengals' A.J. Green is his favorite receiver and the mock (we hope!) eviction that follows.

We'll be curious to see if Green is healthy enough to play against Hawkins and the Browns and if his son finds a new home. We'll go ahead and assume he'll get a second chance with Dad.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 23, 2014, 9:23 pm

Had that intense stare ever since I was a little guy #TBT http://t.co/xAjox3bBIY pic.twitter.com/KZ3sehrwU6

— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) October 23, 2014

Thursday has become "Throwback Thursday" on social media, where everyone shares pictures of themselves from back in the day and we all have a good laugh about how much things have changed ... or haven't.

Of course, there hasn't been a throw in the last three years that Richard Sherman hasn't tried to claim as his own, and Throwback Thursday is no different. He offered up the above childhood photo of himself as a wee lad, right out in front and already featuring his trademark intense stare. (Sweet overalls, too.)

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Lil' Richard seems like he's ready to commandeer that camera and tell the poor hourly-rate photographer to take that weak Olan Mills junk out of here, pronto. Some things never ever change.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 7:44 pm

Denver Broncos guard Orlando Franklin, right, congratulates Peyton Manning on his touchdown pass. (USA Today Sports)
Denver Broncos offensive lineman Orlando Franklin is giving Yahoo Canada Sports an exclusive first-person account of life in the NFL. Franklin grew up in Toronto before playing at the University of Miami and was drafted by the Broncos in the second round in 2011.

Last week against the San Francisco 49ers was an amazing game, it was great to be a part of history of when Peyton Manning broke the career touchdown passes record. It was amazing to be there first hand and to be blocking on the play when he broke the record. It was great that he did it in Week 6, because not only did he break the record he’s going to get a chance to shatter the record and make it so it lasts a long time.

Playing with a guy like Peyton, he brings you to a higher standard. Peyton is the kind of player that demands accountability. He’s a perfectionist and he demands perfection from all his teammates. It’s not okay to mess up and just say “my bad” to Peyton.

I remember when Cody Latimer first got to Denver. It was Cody’s first NFL training camp, about the second week. We were running a two-minute drill against our defence and it was third down and about eight yards. Peyton threw him a route, and Cody did something wrong. Peyton went nuts on him. He went crazy. When Peyton came back to the huddle he said “That’s my bad guys, I never should have thrown him the ball.” It’s a little stressful, especially when you’re a younger guy and you’re being counted on. But it brings out the best in you.

I remember when he first got here, during our first OTA I was stressing out about it. It was different than playing with Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton back there. You’ve got arguably the best quarterback in NFL history you’re blocking for. You want to be on your toes, you want to take care of business. And you know he’s going to give you 100 percent also.

The big difference last week between us and San Francisco was just executing. We knew San Fran was banged up, but what team isn’t banged up at this point in the season? So we were able to go in there and do a couple things very well and capitalize on their mistakes.

This week we play San Diego, a division rival, in the Thursday night game. It’s gonna be a great game because it’s a Thursday night game, and we’re the only teams in the country playing. So everybody’s going to be tuned in and everybody’s going to be excited. We need to play a full 60 minutes. We can’t expect to play 30 minutes and beat San Diego.

It’s going to be tough because we’re on a short week after playing Sunday night and now on Thursday. We do more work mentally on a short week. It’s not a physical week, as opposed to a regular week when you’re gonna go full pads on Wednesday and it’s going to be a grind and you’re pretty much playing another full football game.

This week everything has been more mental. You have to be on your Ps and Qs in meetings, you gotta listen to everything that’s going on. You don’t want to miss anything because nine times out of ten what the coaches are talking about is going to show up in the game.

As an offence we just worry about ourselves and taking care of the football. Our biggest emphasis each week is that each series ends with a kick – an extra kick, a field goal, or even a punt. That means that we’re taking care of the ball. No turnovers.

Personally, there’s stuff I need to work on each week. I thought I got better last week but by no means was I flawless. There’s definitely room for improvement. Even if you’re exactly right technically, and you’re exactly right with your hands and stuff, it still only gives you a chance in this league because you’re playing against the guys that are the best in the world. I’m just trying to improve every week.

Follow Orlando Franklin on Twitter and Instagram.

More from Orlando Franklin:

-How football led me down the right path, and to protecting Peyton Manning

-Giving thanks to the mentors who helped me get where I am today

More NFL coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Author: Orlando Franklin
Posted: October 23, 2014, 7:16 pm

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 5:  Michael Vick #1 the New York Jets throws against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium on October 5, 2014 in San Diego, California. Chargers won the game 31-0. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)We have no idea how newly acquired receiver Percy Harvin will fit into the New York Jets, except to say that 1. there will be a story and 2. there will be chaos. Good chaos? Bad chaos? Who knows? We're through the looking glass at this point with New York, and here's the proof: Michael Vick is vouching for Harvin's behavior.

“He won’t be a monster here,” Vick said of Harvin, according to the New York Post. “He won’t be a monster here. I can assure all the fans of that.”

Now, the easy joke is, of course, that if Michael Vick is your character witness, you've got real problems. Truth is that Vick has done everything he could to distance himself from his, shall we say, troubles of the mid-2000s. He stood up for Riley Cooper during Cooper's post-racist outburst days in Philadelphia, and he's been a loyal soldier both there and in New York. (Perhaps not the most prepared soldier, but loyal nonetheless.)

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

"I know it won’t be a problem with Percy being here while he’s here," QB Geno Smith said. "I guarantee Percy cleans his act up while he’s here. So we ain’t gonna have no problems … So Jets fans can relax and just enjoy what Percy’s gonna bring to the table."

According to the Post, Harvin will be used as a kick returner, a wideout opposite Eric Decker, a slot receiver, a backfield threat ... apparently anything up to and including running the scoreboard. There's a lot of hope on Harvin's shoulders, and a lot of people, starting with Vick and Smith, who have plenty invested in him playing to his potential.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 7:13 pm

The conversation will grow over the next six months. So let’s start it early.

You’re a quarterback-needy team and your choice is this: Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota.

On the surface, it appears easy. Winston has trouble written all over him, with off-field problems galore, and Mariota, the clean record and clean-throwing (zero interceptions in 188 passes this season) quarterback, is the obvious choice.

Right?

It’s not that clear-cut. Not at all.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

If we are to boil the players down simply on football talent and quarterbacking potential on the next level, Winston — not Mariota — might be the more enticing prospect.

So says former NFL quarterback and Yahoo NFL analyst Shaun King. I asked King to ignore character completely, for argument's sake, and strictly grade each player on their talent and NFL upside.

“In my opinion, if I am grading them, Winston is 10 times the prospect Mariota is,” King said.

What, then, makes Winston so special?

“Physically, he has great size — 6-4, very sturdy build. Built like a pro prospect. Big-time arm — can make all the throws. Great intangibles. Winner. Big-time, big-platform résumé.

“He plays his best on the brightest stages. Last year in the Clemson game, the second half of the national title game, this year’s Notre Dame game. Early in the season, second half against [Oklahoma State], he always plays his best in those moments. He just has a knack for it.”

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports)Not that King is down on Mariota. There’s a lot to like, he says.

“I think he has elite athleticism,” King said. “Whereas Winston has great athleticism for a guy his size, Mariota has elite athleticism. He has a good arm; he doesn’t have as big an arm as Winston. He has good size. He’s tall. He’s smart, too.”

King is careful not to make too deep a character assessment on either player but says you can tell a lot about their personalities based on the way they play.

“The difference between the two … Winston is a football player. He rises to the occasion. He has that emotion in a player that you’re looking for,” King said. “That’s a question about Mariota, as is him playing his best when the lights are brightest.

“The difference in their personalities comes through in how they play. Mariota is really laid back. He plays like that. At some point, I think in football I think you have to be ratcheted up a little bit. I’ve never seen him call out one of his teammates for messing up. Winston is the polar opposite.”

We don't yet know what Mariota's plans are following his junior season, but reports have surfaced that Winston is planning to leave school after this season. At this point, it would be a surprise if either returns. NFL scouts already have done work on these underclassmen with the idea that they will be available in the 2015 NFL draft.

I suggest a Winston comparison of Ben Roethlisberger and a Mariota comparison of Alex Smith, or perhaps a slightly better-running version of Smith. King agrees on both — to a certain extent — but says he thinks he knows whose personality Mariota is most similar to.

“See, I think Mariota, personality-wise, is like Joe Flacco. He has a really laid-back off-field demeanor,” King said.

And as for Winston …

“Yeah, [Winston is] a special athlete, but he’s Big Ben special not RG3 special. For a big guy, he’s a great athlete. He’s got a lot of Big Ben to him. Gets out of a lot of sacks. He’ll pick up a first down [with his legs].”

In terms of temperament and being prone to extend plays, even when that’s not the best idea, the Roethlisberger comparison also works for King.

“Absolutely,” King said. “In my opinion, that would be one weakness right now. He’s overaggressive at times. There are some inconsistencies in his decision-making. But you’ll take that. A lot of great ones have that.”

Winston is a pro-style quarterback, King said, and Mariota still has not shown that in his mind.

“I do think there are some question marks about [whether] can Mariota adapt to a different system,” King said. “If I was a team that was really interested in him, I would have to be convinced that he can come from under center, take five- and seven-step drops, and can throw an NFL route tree.

“Winston makes those NFL-type passes. Mariota doesn’t. He throws a lot of screens. He throws a lot of gimmicky stuff with guys running wide open because of their tempo. The windows Mariota is throwing into are nowhere near as tight as the ones Winston is throwing into.”

And yet, there still remains the daunting character issue, which could be a game-changer. There will be no dirt on Mariota, unless people nitpick with his laid-back style. As for Winston, it’s not going to be pretty — from his sexual assault allegations to bouts of immaturity with suspensions at Florida State.

King says that could be a game-changing factor for their draft stocks. But in his mind, there isn’t enough dirt that he knows of to knock Winston down too far next spring. King’s belief: Teams will be enamored with his talent.

“If you’re asking will it affect him with some teams? Absolutely. Do I think he falls outside the top 10? Absolutely not,” King said. “Would it impact me if I was making that decision? No, I’d take him No. 1.”

Way-too-early look at the top 10 picks for the 2015 draft

Draft order based off the inverse of the Shutdown Corner Week 8 power rankings.

1. Oakland Raiders — Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi

They have a host of needs, and we have no idea what direction the franchise is going. A lot could depend on the new head coach, but we feel that Derek Carr has franchise potential. Even though other needs might be more pressing, we’ll project the building block Ogbuehi here for now.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Florida State QB Jameis Winston

Oh, boy. Yeah, we know there are about a million and one questions that need to be answered before this happens, and the four-hour drive from Tampa to Tallahassee might be a negative itself. Some feel Jameis — among other things — needs to be far away from FSU. But his guts and playmaking ability might be too tempting for the struggling Bucs, who have won 16 games since the start of the 2011 season, to overlook.

USC DE Leonard Williams (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)3. Jacksonville Jaguars — USC DT-DE Leonard Williams

This almost feels like too good a fit. Chris Clemons is inconsistent, Tyson Alualu might never develop as hoped, and Red Bryant is just a placeholder. Williams, who grew up just down the road in Daytona Beach, would be a multi-positional fix to help upgrade Gus Bradley’s defense that still needs a lot of work. Their offensive needs can be addressed later on.

4. Tennessee Titans — Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Suck for the Duck? That could be arranged. Ken Whisenhunt needs hope at quarterback, and Jake Locker quickly is running out of time to prove he’s the guy. Mariota’s accuracy, poise and athleticism could be a nice fit for the Titans, who also happen to need an identity and an offensive lift.

5. Washington Redskins — Iowa OT Brandon Scherff

Right tackle has been a blight all season, and Scherff could be a country-strong fit there and a possible long-term replacement for Trent Williams, whose contract runs out after the 2015 season, at left tackle. Jay Gruden prefers bigger linemen, and Scherff is 6-foot-5, 315 pounds and can power clean a house.

6. Atlanta Falcons — Missouri OLB-DE Shane Ray

What the Falcons need most are defensive playmakers — anyone, really, who can rush the passer and/or dislodge the football. That’s Ray’s calling card. He’s an ultra-athletic end (who also can rush from the inside) with disruption skills and incredible burst. If he puts on a show athletically in the run-up to the draft, some teams will project the 6-3, 248-pound Ray to rush linebacker, which is where he’d fit in the Falcons’ scheme.

7. New York Jets — Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Imagine a pass-catching group of Eric Decker, Percy Harvin (maybe), Jace Amaro, Jeremy Kerley and Cooper, and suddenly the Jets’ offense doesn’t seem so feckless. The team needs to surround quarterback Geno Smith with even more dynamic talent in order to determine if he’s the one who can lead this team. Cooper is college football’s most consistent playmaker (not named Kevin White).

8. Minnesota Vikings — Georgia RB Todd Gurley

Exit Adrian Peterson, enter Gurley. Sure, Gurley’s record was marred slightly by the autograph suspension, but it’s shouldn’t hurt his draft value any. And with the Vikings appearing to move on from Peterson, another big-framed runner is needed. Jerick McKinnon is great as a change-of-pace option, but Matt Asiata is too one-dimensional to ever be the bell-cow back. Mike Zimmer would love to pound the rock, control the ball and set up play-action passing for Teddy Bridgewater.

9. New York Giants — Nebraska DE Randy Gregory

The Giants never turn down good pass rushers. With Jason Pierre-Paul under contract only through 2015, and Mathias Kiwanuka set to make an unwieldy $7.5 million next season, more youth up front is needed. Gregory is a perfect fit in the JPP mold, with an angular build and a quick first step.

10. St. Louis Rams — Michigan State QB Connor Cook

The Rams might have something with Austin Davis, who is starting to play some solid football, but — assuming they cut ties with Sam Bradford — it would be hard to imagine the team not investing in a future alternative. Cook would make a lot of sense. Davis could go into next season as the starter, and Cook (if he declares, of course) would have ample time to develop. He needs it; for every brilliant, NFL-caliber throw he makes, there is a maddeningly bad play to match. Still, quarterbacks with his skills don’t tend to last long in the draft.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 23, 2014, 6:48 pm

(Getty Images)Players like Kevin Kolb leave our consciousness pretty fast. One year they're playing, the next they're not, and we rarely think about them again.

But Kolb still thinks about football. He has no choice. The lingering symptoms from concussions are with him every waking moment, he said.

In a first-person story on The MMQB, Kolb describes his concussion symptoms, a little more than a year after he played his last game. The former Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills quarterback suffered his last concussion in the preseason of 2013. His first concussion came in 2010, when Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews hit him. He suffered two more in 2012. He didn't even believe his last concussion was serious. It happened on a routine play. That's scary.

"The Redskins defender just ran by me at the end of a routine scramble and caught my helmet with his knee," Kolb wrote in The MMQB. "I went numb from my neck down for about three seconds, but I stayed in the game. I didn’t know what it was or how serious it would turn out to be. It couldn’t be happening again.

"But when I got to the sideline and the adrenaline wore off, I knew. The symptoms came rushing in, the pain, the noise, the queasiness. I had taken every possible step to fend off a concussion—a new helmet, staying in the best shape possible, trying to play smart. None of it mattered."

Because we don't think about guys like Kolb often once they're out of the game, we also don't think much about what the game has done to them. What Kolb outlines in The MMQB is frightening, although he doesn't dwell on any negativity. But he points out that his life is affected every day by the concussions he suffered in the NFL. Kolb said he knows he'll deal with the symptoms the rest of his life. Kolb just turned 30.

"With concussions, sometimes you don’t know what is a symptom and what is not. But some symptoms are impossible to ignore," Kolb wrote. "The ringing is like someone shooting a shotgun right next to my ear, every second of every day. It doesn’t go away.

"The sensitivity to light also has a profound impact. I’ll be in a business meeting indoors and have to politely ask to put on my sunglasses before the headaches and double vision start."

Kolb goes into more detail in the story about his concussions, symptoms and how he can lessen them. Kolb had enough cachet as a former starting quarterback that his story, which included his experience being in Hurricane Odile in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in September, was featured on a major site. But there are plenty of former players who suffered concussions, are probably dealing with similar terrible circumstances, and we don't hear about or consider them.

More NFL coverage from Yahoo Sports:

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 23, 2014, 4:42 pm

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets looks on during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)Look, the New York Jets are circling the drain. No one disputes this. The team is 1-6, and even in its best moments, it seems to somehow fall short and torpedo its own feet. But say this for head coach Rex Ryan: the dude still finds ways to remember that this is a freaking game, and games are, in theory, supposed to be fun.

Jets beat reporters were on a conference call with Buffalo Bills rookie Sammy Watkins on Wednesday at the Jets' practice facility when Ryan, also in the building for his own news conference, walked by. Hearing who was on the call, and hearing Watkins talk about the Jets defense, Ryan decided to have a little fun with the rook.

Ryan's son Seth played at Clemson last year with Watkins, and Ryan, without introducing himself, played the role of reporter:

"Sammy, I've got a question," Ryan said. "How did you help Seth Ryan out? How did he do out there? And if you could really help him, you wouldn't play this game." (Watkins is the Bills' leading receiver, so his absence would naturally help the Jets to some degree.)

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Ryan continued talking to a surely confused Watkins. "This sounds like Rex Ryan," he said, "I know it does, but this is a reporter. How you doing Sammy, you all right?"

"How you doing?" Watkins replied, on what turned out to be the last question of the conference call.

Hey, take your laughs where you can get 'em, we suppose. Next Ryan ought to prank Sammy's cell and tell him not to bother coming to the game.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 2:47 pm

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell holds a press conference on October 8, 2014 in New York City. Goodell addressed the media at the conclusion of the annual Fall league meeting in the wake of a string of high-profile incidents, including the domestic violence case of Ray Rice. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is appealing his indefinite suspension at the hands of the NFL. Now, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will have to testify at the appeal hearing in November.

Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, the neutral arbitrator with whom both sides agreed, announced Wednesday that Goodell would have to testify, according to an AP source. Still undetermined is whether Goodell's testimony will be confidential. 

NFL attorneys sought to protect Goodell from testifying, instead offering up Jeff Pash, the league's general counsel, and Adolpho Birch, the league's vice president for labor policy.

Rice was involved in an altercation with his then-fiancee´ in an Atlantic City casino in February. Rice struck his fiancee, knocking her unconscious, and the NFL initially suspended him for two games. However, when a new videotape surfaced in September, the NFL extended that suspension to "indefinite." The NFL has maintained that the videotape constituted new evidence, giving the league the right to extend the punishment for the same offense. Rice contends that Goodell knew the full extent of the evening's events when determining the first punishment.

Thus, what Goodell knew, and when he knew it, will be key questions. The NFL has maintained that Goodell did not know the full extent of Rice's actions when Goodell determined the punishment. The league bases its argument on the defense that the commissioner had not viewed the incriminating videotape and that Rice was "ambiguous," according to the league, in recounting his side of the story in a face-to-face meeting. However, Rice's attorneys say the former Raven was completely forthcoming in his meeting with Goodell, which also included Rice's now-wife Janay.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

To put it more simply: if Goodell knew of Rice's actions when levying the first punishment, Rice's attorneys can argue that Rice should not have been punished again when the videotape was made public. On a broader scale, Goodell's consistent and repeated denial of knowledge about the true extent of Rice's actions will come under scrutiny.

The hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5-6.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 1:24 pm

The Tennessee Titans, with nothing to lose in a season headed south in a hurry, plan to start rookie Zach Mettenberger at quarterback this Sunday, according to the Tennessean.

Jake Locker has been banged up and Charlie Whitehurst has played like Charlie Whitehurst in his absence, so the Titans will apparently turn to their sixth-round pick this week against the Texans. Mettenberger isn't a typical sixth-round pick, as character concerns and a torn ACL last season with LSU caused a draft drop. He looked just fine in the preseason, leading the NFL with 659 passing yards and looking very comfortable in the pocket.

(USA Today Sports Images)

The Tennessean said Mettenberger was not in the locker room after practice on Wednesday, Locker was off limits to reporters and Whitehurst was told to not talk to the media. The report said indications are Mettenberger was told of the decision on Tuesday night.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

The Titans have lost five of six, with the only win coming against Jacksonville, and some of the losses have been terrible. Mettenberger is unlikely to turn around the Titans' season. But it's a chance for the Titans to see what they have in him. It might also indicate that the team is preparing to move on without Locker, a former first-round pick who has rarely been healthy in his Titans career.

Mettenberger looked sharp in the preseason. We can see now if that was a product of facing third-string defenses that rarely blitz, or a sign of a new era starting in Tennessee.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 23, 2014, 3:07 am

Shutdown Corner Playoff Projection (Jay Busbee)
Prior to the season, we made the assumption that the wealth of quality teams in the NFC (and the lack of depth in the AFC) would mean that there would be some good NFC teams that find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in

Through seven weeks of the season, that's holding up.

Last season, the Arizona Cardinals finished 10-6 and missed the postseason. It's possible this season that two teams with that record — or better — could be staying home in January. It's just the way the thing is set up.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Consider that the NFC West has the Cardinals on top at 5-1, the 4-3 49ers a half-game back and the 3-3 Seahawks two back. What's more interesting is the Cardinals, unlike San Francisco and Seattle, have yet to lose a game in the division.

With five games left to play between these three teams, those head-to-head matchups could tilt the division. And knock one of them from the wild-card race in the process. Right now, the 49ers, having lost once to the Cardinals, are at a slight disadvantage here.

With the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, two one-loss NFC East teams, and the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, two two-loss NFC North teams, and the contenders mentioned above, it's likely two teams could win 9-11 games and still miss out.

And it's likely that the NFC South winner could be hovering around the .500 mark and hosting a playoff game. 

Now here are some answers to your likely questions:

Why the Lions over the Packers?

Honestly, we're just going off the fact that the Lions already have that head-to-head win. Are the Packers hotter right now? Yes, but honestly that matters little, especially when you consider how many ebbs and flows there are in the course of the season, which is less than halfway through. The Lions will also get a healthy Calvin Johnson back sooner than later.

So you honestly think the Cowboys keep this up, eh?

For now, yeah, I'm buying in. Aren't we all kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop? Sure, it's natural. Something — be it a DeMarco Murray injury, a Tony Romo cold snap, a Dez Bryant freak-out, a defensive regression — could happen. Right now, the team is executing on a very high level that might be a bit unsustainable. There are two games left against the Eagles, but on the flip side, the Eagles' final stretch (at Dallas, vs. Seattle, vs. Dallas, at Washington, at New York Giants) looks brutal.

More NFL coverage from Yahoo Sports:

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 23, 2014, 1:18 am

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray celebrates a 31-21 win as he walks off the field following their NFL football game agains the New York Giants, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is having a historic season, the kind that we'll be talking about for years to come. He just set an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard game to begin a season. But of course, he wouldn't be totaling anywhere near those numbers without a strong offensive line. (Isn't that right, Atlanta?)

Anyway, Murray clearly recognizes the importance of a good O-line, because on Wednesday, he brought them all brand-spanking-new iMacs. Estimated retail value: $1,300 apiece. Not bad.

“Pretty nice,” Zack Martin said. “We just walked in and he gave them to us, so it was pretty cool.”

Here's a photo of the Cowboys locker room with said iMacs already in waiting:

DeMarco Murray surprised his offensive lineman with brand new 21.5 inch iMacs at their locker. valued at $1300 each pic.twitter.com/STTDi3hf8z

— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) October 22, 2014

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

It was a small investment for Murray, considering the numbers he is putting up in a contract year. Murray leads the NFL with 913 yards, far ahead of Houston's Arian Foster, who is a distant second with 615 yards. Murray is on pace for 2,087 yards, which would put him in range of Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards, set 30 years ago.

Dallas has nine offensive linemen on its active roster, so that was mighty generous of Mr. Murray. Of course, if he breaks Dickerson's record, he'll need to come up with something even more generous. Should've led with an iPhone, DeMarco.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 12:59 am

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Even though his former college teammate and roommate has been cut by two NFL teams in a three-month span, New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson nevertheless believes that Michael Sam has a future in the league.

Richardson called Sam a teammate for one year at Missouri and the two players were also housemates in an off-campus house in 2012. Sam was a seventh-round pick of the St. Louis Rams and was cut in August after a relatively productive preseason. The Dallas Cowboys signed Sam to their practice squad but released him early this week. Sam is trying to be the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL regular-season game.

Richardson, last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, thinks Sam can play in the NFL.

“I see it, he definitely can play in this league,” Richardson told Yahoo Sports. “He needs to find a team, find his niche.”

He hasn't talked to Sam since he was initially cut by the Rams (“He's talking to a lot more people higher than me. He's meeting the President to talk to him," Richardson said), but from what he saw in college, Richardson called Sam a player with a “high motor, plays to the whistle. When a play needed to be made, he for some reason always seemed to be making a play.”

When asked, he even thinks that Sam could potentially him the Jets defense. He would give Sam an endorsement if Jets general manager John Idzik ever asked.

“It's a 3-4 defense, a multiple-defense but I think he could. I've never seen him as a linebacker so I'm not sure there,” Richardson said.

“Most definitely I would recommend him. He's a great person, a great athlete. He plays like a Jet. So most definitely.”

- - - - - - -

Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: October 22, 2014, 11:47 pm

(USA Today Sports Images)You don't want to show up late on Bill Belichick's time, even if you're one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.

New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis showed up late to a meeting at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, so Belichick sent him home, the Boston Globe's Ben Volin reported, citing three league sources. Revis wasn't allowed to participate in practice or any meetings. The players were off Saturday to Monday after beating the Jets last Thursday night.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

The Globe's story said Revis has accepted responsibility for his mistake. The Globe wrote that Belichick didn't make a "big announcement" to the team about Revis being sent home, but a source said, “The message was definitely sent. The rules apply to everybody.”

Revis is in his first Patriots season. He hasn't been his usual great self (he grades out as the 32nd best cornerback in Pro Football Focus' rankings for this season) and getting sent home on Tuesday isn't a great sign. But Belichick seems to have gotten his point across, Revis was back at practice on Wednesday, and all seems to be back on track. And it's a good bet that someone who isn't of Revis' stature won't make the same mistake he did.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 22, 2014, 9:21 pm

One of the great things about last season’s Seattle Seahawks, other than the immense talent on the roster, was the apparent togetherness.

“We all we got, we all we need,” right? The players rallied around coach Pete Carroll’s high-energy ways. They won a Super Bowl.

The last time a defending Super Bowl champion won a playoff game was the 2005 season. One of the reasons for that drought is champions dealing with inevitable coverage, real or exaggerated, that the chemistry isn't the same. Maybe over jealousy issues creeping into the locker room. Last week, the Seahawks were a pretty normal 3-2 team – maybe they didn’t run the ball enough, and the defensive line wasn’t quite as deep as last season ... normal football things. That was before the Percy Harvin trade.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Players were upset when Harvin was suddenly shipped to the Jets, Doug Baldwin said the trade affected them in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, there were stories of fights between Harvin and teammates, and a report of a near-fight between Harvin and quarterback Russell Wilson. And the latest explosive Seahawks story focuses on the latter issue, and it paints it not just as Harvin vs. Wilson, but part of the Seahawks’ locker room vs. their quarterback.

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, a widely-respected national NFL reporter, compared the Harvin-Wilson split to the famous Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens feud in Philadelphia, An unnamed Seahawks player told Freeman that “Harvin was an accelerant in a locker room that was quickly dividing between Wilson and anti-Wilson.”

Freeman said the issue with some players is they seem to think Wilson is “too close to the front office,” and that Wilson “doesn't always take the blame with teammates for mistakes he makes.” Freeman also said, based on several interviews with Seahawks players, “that some of the black players think Wilson isn't black enough," a strange claim that nonetheless paints the Seahawks situation as a little less close than we remember from last season's playoff run.

Are the players who don’t like Wilson jealous? If that's the case, it presumably won't get better after Wilson goes from his $662,000 base salary this year to a contract extension that might be about $100 million. Is the "anti-Wilson" group made up of some leaders of the team or is it just fringe guys? Do the players the Bleacher Report story cites represent a significant portion of the locker room or a tiny amount of disgruntled players? Is any of this real, or just perception from some in the locker room? Whatever is actually going on in the locker room, it’s another thing the Seahawks have to deal with during their title defense.

There was a report from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News that an upset Marshawn Lynch didn’t want to get on the team bus Friday to fly to St. Louis after he heard about the Harvin trade, something Lynch’s agent Doug Hendrickson vehemently denied on Twitter. Whether that happened or not, Baldwin’s comments made it clear the trade was a shock (“There's obviously a lot of things that went on this week that affected the team in numerous ways,” Baldwin said after Sunday’s loss, via ESPN.com), and maybe there’s more discord among the Seahawks than we ever knew. Or maybe it’s the same old story: Team wins championship, players have start worrying about their own playing time or numbers or contract situation. That’s nothing new in sports, and it’s fairly normal too. Or maybe this controversy is really nothing at all to worry about and small things are under a huge microscope because of the Harvin trade and the unexpected 3-3 start.

If the Seahawks’ locker room is becoming split over Wilson, as Freeman’s story indicates, that probably wouldn't be a small thing. It’s always hard to figure out the absolute truth in matters like this, because only the Seahawks know for sure. But now the San Francisco 49ers aren’t the only NFC West team that has to answer a lot of questions about reports of dysfunction behind the scenes.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 22, 2014, 8:41 pm

If you've traveled around this great country of ours and thought, "Man, there are Cowboys and Patriots fans everywhere," guess what: you're absolutely right.

One of the more fascinating and borderline sinister aspects of social media is the way it reduces your most heartfelt dreams, desires, and fandoms to nothing more than data for a voracious Internet. But enough of privacy concerns. Let's check out where NFL fans reside!

Twitter has created an amazing heat map that tracks where NFL fans reside. You can see the entire map, you can zero in on a single team, or you can compare two different teams head-to-head. Certain teams (Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers) boast bandwagons that stretch from coast to coast. Others are, well, not so fortunate in the breadth of their fanbases.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Digging deeper in the data, we can find some fascinating insights, like:

• Nobody much likes the Jaguars except in the immediate vicinity of Jacksonville and, for some reason, Holt County, Nebraska;

• The Cowboys have a broader fanbase than the Patriots, but fight the Steelers to almost a standstill;

• Denver pretty much owns the entire Mountain Time Zone, and Peyton Manning has probably thrown a touchdown to every single person residing within;

• The Dolphins boast a fairly robust fanbase in Montana, which makes zero sense except in the instance of wish fulfilment;

• The Giants absolutely own New York, but the farther you get from the stadium, the more popularity the Jets possess. Presumably because there's less likelihood of actually seeing the Jets play.

Have a go at the map yourself, and post your findings below. Enjoy.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 22, 2014, 7:03 pm

Robert Griffin III practiced on Wednesday for the Washington Redskins, but that doesn't mean he's going to play on Monday night. 

Griffin, who dislocated his ankle in Week 2, took some snaps in practice. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he was hopeful to make a final decision on who will start at quarterback against the Dallas Cowboys after practice on Thursday. It all sounds good for Griffin, but Gruden was cautious.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Griffin will first need to get cleared by the team doctors for full contact. Then Gruden needs to make sure Griffin feels ready.

"He was probably ready to go four weeks ago, in his mind," Gruden said after practice on Wednesday, in a news conference streamed on the team's site.

Then, a big issue: Is Griffin ready to play effectively after more than a month off? Gruden had no answers for that. Gruden said he wants to see if Griffin can see the routes clearly, throw it accurately and on time, and move around in both directions things that are hard to determine without some more practice time. But so far it sounds promising.

"In the team period he did a nice job," Gruden said. "All the quarterbacks did. We’re going to take it day by day."

Gruden wanted to make a decision as fast as possible to give Griffin or Colt McCoy, who will start if Griffin can't go, enough time to prepare. Part of the decision is seeing how Griffin feels Thursday after practicing on Wednesday.

Dianna Marie Russini of the NBC affiliate said that multiple Redskins sources told her there was "no chance" Griffin would play against Dallas.

Now that the team has effectively given up on Kirk Cousins as its quarterback of the future, benching him for journeyman McCoy after Cousins' turnover-filled stint as Griffin's replacement, how Griffin plays the rest of the season is a huge deal for the franchise moving forward. The Redskins invested a lot into Griffin, and after a great rookie season he has taken a step back. Injuries have obviously played a huge factor in his regression. That might be why Gruden is being cautious about Griffin's return, and stated on Wednesday that he's willing to sit Griffin another week or two or even after the team's Week 10 bye if that's what it takes. The Redskins need Griffin to be healthy and ready to get a clearer picture of if he can be the team's franchise quarterback.

"I’m in no rush today to make any crazy decision," Gruden said.

Your browser does not support iframes.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 22, 2014, 5:09 pm

William Powell, during training camp this year when he was with the Texans (AP)The NFL games in London are done for a public-relations reason, to lay the groundwork for the league's desire to have a team there. For the teams who travel across the pond, they still have a football game and normal business to conduct.

That stinks for a guy like William Powell, who made the trip all the way to London just to find he'd been fired and needed to take a long, lonely trip home.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Powell, a practice-squad running back with the Detroit Lions, went to London to help the team prepare for its game against the Atlanta Falcons. But the Lions have some injuries at tight end, and are getting healthy at safety, so safety Jerome Couplin was cut for tight end Kellen Davis. The Lions wanted to re-sign Couplin to their practice squad, so someone had to be cut off the practice squad to make room. 

So, cheerio, William Powell.

"It's a difficult thing to do, and you certainly would not want to do it -- a guy just gets here and, within 48 hours, he's heading back home," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "But that's kind of the nature of our business. The guys understand it, and I think, if you're up front and you tell them exactly why and what the reasons are and those kinds of things, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but they understand."

The average flight from Detroit to London is a little less than eight hours. The Lions traveled to London on Monday. Powell was cut on Wednesday, and it will be a long trip back. Maybe he'll have a job offer waiting for him when he lands.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 22, 2014, 3:29 pm

On the first play of the second quarter of Sunday's victory against the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles pulled off an impressive 16-yard broken-field run for a touchdown. However, the play ended with a vicious hit from cornerback Brandon Flowers. While Flowers left the game with a concussion, Charles stayed in ... even though he might have been at real risk for a concussion.

“It definitely hurt,” Charles told ESPN Radio. “It’s like, I woke up ... I mean, like, a couple plays later I was seeing light bulbs, like, light bulbs around my eyes, and I was trying to catch them. But I was in the game so I was like, ‘Alright, let’s get the ball and run again.'"

Was Charles concussed? Perhaps, perhaps not. As LBS notes, "light bulbs around my eyes" are a definite concussion symptom. However, Charles managed to avoid getting tested by the independent doctor on the Chiefs' sideline, in part, Charles says, because he wanted to stay in the game. Charles was taken out of the Chiefs' playoff game last year against Indianapolis, and the Chiefs ultimately lost that game.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

"I didn’t have a concussion but it definitely was a hit that shocked me," Charles said. "But I don’t think I had to go through the concussion protocols and all that. I didn’t want to go through that again because of what happened in the playoffs. I was definitely fine, I think I came out pretty good." Charles ended up rushing 22 times for 95 yards and that one touchdown.

This, then, is the key issue in the ongoing battle to take concussions seriously: if the very players getting concussed don't always want to take the necessary steps to protect themselves, what can the NFL and teams do? Doctors can and do order players out of games, but in certain borderline circumstances, unless the player self-reports, there are situations in which a concussion test isn't ordered or presumed. Obviously, there are situations in which it's obvious a player was concussed, but on many plays, it falls to the player himself for initial self-diagnosis. And if the player understands the downside of coming out of the game, the long-term health concerns take a back seat to immediate short-term gains.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 22, 2014, 3:24 pm

New Redskins logo.As if the Washington Redskins weren't having enough problems fielding a halfway competitive team, the debate on whether the team's name is racist or not simply will not go away. The Redskins-as-racially-offensive theme has hit the American mainstream, and unsurprisingly, people who aren't hardcore NFL fans or longtime "Hail to the Redskins" fanatics aren't quite as enamored with the name.

Here's the thing, though: surveys have consistently shown that a majority — a declining majority, yes, but still a majority — of Americans support the continued use of the "Redskins" name. Team owner Daniel Snyder himself has said he will NEVER (he insists on using all-caps) change the name.

Fair enough, says comedian Hari Kondabolu. Keep the name, just change the context a wee bit. His suggestion? Change the logo from a stylized Native American to an extremely sunburned white dude. (It's like that hack joke about changing the mascot to a redskin potato, except funnier.) Then, you're not offending anybody, you're keeping the "Redskin" name intact, and hey, there are plenty of tough, noble, proud white guys who get sunburns. Here's his full explanation:

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Kondabolu has set up a Tumblr page for logo submissions, and he's already got a few gems.

Hey @Redskins, here is a more appropriate logo! #NewRedskinsLogo pic.twitter.com/obbjlxI7Kb

— Steven Johns (@stevenjohns) October 20, 2014

For @harikondabolu's logo challenge. Apologies if someone beat me to it already! #NewRedskinsLogo #changethemascot pic.twitter.com/K9g0TLBzhh

— TracyMontoya (@TracyMontoya) October 21, 2014

Now this is a logo worthy of the name @Redskins! @harikondabolu #HTTR #NewRedskinsLogo #ChangeTheName #NoMoreSlur pic.twitter.com/2oJWVGO443

— Tragically, human (@Alhakofi) October 21, 2014

Yep, that's exactly what the NFL needs right now. You know, this might just work out OK after all.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 22, 2014, 2:55 pm

The Atlanta Falcons are flying where exactly? (Atlanta Falcons graphic)
The Atlanta Falcons have descended on London and have begun preparations for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium. We think.

Based on a graphic the team sent out on social media, we're guessing that the Falcons' marketing folks did not book the team's itinerary over there. 

Check out the graphic above. Notice anything wrong? Where to begin ...

First of all, it touts the Falcons team and staff taking THREE PLANES across the pond. Only one problem: The graphic shows them taking two — Atlanta to Baltimore, and Baltimore to London. Unless they made an unplanned stop in the Faroe Islands, or something.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

The confusion is over the "to London" part; yes, their third plane apparently will go from London back directly to Atlanta, but goodness, it's not as if we can trust their logistical information at this point. Perhaps the team is taking three planes for its players, coaches and staff, but that would seem to be a bit excessive, no?

And another thing ... whoever Photoshopped this deal also clearly has no clue where London actually is. They've got them playing somewhere outside of Barcelona, or perhaps elsewhere in Basque country.

Enjoy the game this weekend, Falcons! Let's hope you make it back from wherever you're coming or going.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 22, 2014, 1:13 pm

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 16: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens sits on the bench against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)In the wake of the outrage comes the lawyers. Pro Football Talk is reporting that former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has filed a grievance against the team for cutting him in September.

First, a refresher: In February, Rice got into an altercation with his then-fiancee (now wife) in an Atlantic City elevator, striking her and knocking her unconscious. He was suspended for two games by the NFL in July; two months later, when tape of the actual striking surfaced, Rice was suspended indefinitely by the league and cut by the Ravens.

Now, Rice is apparently protesting the Ravens' decision to cut him, on the basis that the NFL's collective bargaining agreement only permits for one punishment per infraction. This is not an insignifcant issue; while this puts the NFL Players' Association in the position of having to defend someone whose conduct was reprehensible, the larger point stands. If the NFL and teams can continue to double-dip in terms of punishment based on this precedent, the system is open to abuse.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

The NFL is already potentially close to reinstating Rice; his attorneys have contended that since commissioner Roger Goodell knew of the existence of the incriminating videotape, Rice should not be doubly punished for the same offense just because of public outrage. The hearing against the NFL is scheduled for Nov. 5 and 6. If successful in his grievances, Rice would be entitled to $3.52 million from the Ravens.

More from Yahoo Sports:

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 22, 2014, 11:28 am

The Cincinnati Bengals are in a bit of a free fall, having lost two of three games (and one tie), and there seems to be a connection with wide receiver A.J. Green having missed the past two contests.

They didn't seem to miss him in a 37-37 tie against the Carolina Panthers, but the Bengals were blanked on Sunday, 27-0, against the Indianapolis Colts, as they went three-and-out on their first eight possessions and 10 times total in the pathetic offensive showing.

Green's toe injury has kept him out, and he's questionable for Sunday's key matchup against the first-place Baltimore Ravens.

Green spoke with Yahoo Sports' Evan Doherty about the status of his toe.

"I feel good," Green said. "It definitely feels better, man, but it still up in the air if I can go on Sunday. But we'll see."

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Green said that he has pain pushing off on the toe and has had trouble getting in and out of his breaks. The problem, too, is that it has been a case of two steps forward and one back in his rehab.

"That's the frustrating part," he said. "One day it feels good and the next day I can't even walk on it. I think that's the biggest thing I am going to have to deal with: managing it throughout the season."

Green said he has been bothered by his team's recent struggles — and there has been nothing he can do about it.

"It's tough," he said. "It's tough because you see us struggle a little bit last week, and I have to watch. Just sitting there and you not being able to do anything to help your team out is very hard."

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 21, 2014, 9:22 pm

The New England Patriots needed to add linebacker depth and hope that a former second-round pick is a temporary solution.

The Tennessee Titans will trade linebacker Akeem Ayers to New England, pending a physical, according to the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt.

Been told #Titans are trading LB Akeem Ayers to the #Patriots. The only thing that would prevent is a failed physical

— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) October 21, 2014

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Per CBS's Jason LaCanfora, the price tag wasn't steep: a swap of late draft picks next year.

So, actually the Pats just trade a 6th round pick to the Titans for Ayers and a 7th round pick. He hadn't been playing. Pats need LB help

— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 21, 2014

Ayers had played only 10 snaps this season and was viewed as a poor fit in the Titans' 3-4 system. In addition, Ayers is coming off two knee surgeries (one on each leg) this offseason. Last week, Ayers was a healthy scratch against the Washington Redskins.

The Patriots lost Jerod Mayo for the season after he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in Week 6. Ayers, 25, primarily played on the strong side in the Titans' 4-3 defense from 2011 to 2013, starting 44 of the 48 games he played. He has totaled 232 tackles, nine sacks (six in 2012), 14 passes defended, two interceptions and two forced fumbled in his career. 

Ayers struggled with his demotion and told Wyatt recently that he was itching for a chance to prove himself again.

He might have just received his chance.

Your browser does not support iframes.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 21, 2014, 8:50 pm

The Dallas Cowboys might be one of the best feel-good stories of the NFL so far this season, but they will not be a part of one involving defensive end Michael Sam.

Sam, who is aiming to be the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL regular-season game, was waived from the team's practice squad on Tuesday, per various reports.

Cowboys have released DE Michael Sam from their practice squad.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 21, 2014

Sam signed with the Cowboys on Sept. 3 after the St. Louis Rams, the team that drafted Sam in the seventh round in May, cut him following the preseason. The Cowboys even had sold Sam's jerseys in its pro shop as he tried to impress the team enough to promote him to the active roster.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

That never happened. Now Sam, who spent the past seven weeks on the Cowboys' practice squad, is a free agent and will be joining his third team in three months if he lands with another club.

The hubbub over Sam's sexuality — and the perceived belief that it has roadblocked his path to the NFL — has quieted since May, when he slid in the draft, and then again in August, when the Rams cut him following a three-sack preseason effort.

The fact that the Cowboys cut him more likely is related to Sam's ability as a football player and the team's desire to add more linebacker and special-teams depth with Troy Davis, who worked out with the Cowboys on Monday and is expected to take Sam's spot on the practice squad.

Meanwhile, Sam's journey goes on, and it's difficult to project where or when he'll land.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 21, 2014, 7:49 pm

(AP)One of the overlooked elements of Peyton Manning’s game is his accuracy.

Manning rarely misses. I’m not saying he never does because that’s not true, but it’s rare you watch him and say, "Wow, he’s missing guys in this game." You’re almost surprised when he throws an incompletion.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

As Manning broke the NFL career touchdown record in the Denver Broncos' victory against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, he was spot on, especially on his two touchdown passes to Demaryius Thomas.

The record-tying score to Wes Welker wasn’t a high degree of difficulty because the design of the play was so good. Let's look at that one first.

The Broncos faked a bubble screen to Thomas, and Manning pump faked it to him, which brought safety Eric Reid up. That allowed Welker to run by Reid on a fade route to the sideline. That’s pitch and catch for Manning.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

The record-breaking score was a nice throw. The 49ers doubled both slot receivers, Welker and Emmanuel Sanders, in Denver’s empty set. 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock was matched up on Thomas on the outside. It was outstanding timing and anticipation, and, just as important, it was great ball placement on the throw. It could be put in only one spot. And Manning doesn’t miss those throws.

The 40-yard touchdown to Thomas later was a great, precision throw, and a good job by Manning to recognize Thomas had a shot at a big play. Single-high safety Antoine Bethea was on the opposite hash from Thomas and was slow to react to his deep middle responsibility – also, range is not Bethea's strength.

Thomas was matched against Perrish Cox, and Thomas got inside and on top of Cox. But it wasn’t like he was wide open. It was just a great throw from Manning to get it to him.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

It was a great performance by Manning. How do you stop him?

One unusual thing I think about Manning is that while you want to speed up almost every quarterback, you need to actually slow Manning down. His decisiveness is ridiculous. I don’t think he ever pauses. More than any other quarterback I can recall, the ball is out fast and decisively and 99 percent of the time it’s to the right receiver at the right time. When he’s playing fast, he’s at his best.

When the New york Jets slowed him down a few times two weeks ago, you’re surprised. The Jets had a coverage-based scheme, often dropping eight into coverage and rushing three. They’d line up a linebacker and a cornerback over a receiver to say, you can’t throw it here; you have to throw it somewhere else, and we’ll try to take that away too.

Or, sometimes teams get quick pressure on Manning with four rushers. That’s what happened in the Super Bowl last season against the Seattle Seahawks. Many teams try to rush Manning with four because he’s outstanding against the blitz and coaches believe if you blitz him you’re wasting a defender because that rusher won't get there anyway. So sometimes teams like the Seahawks, or to a lesser scale the Jets, affect Manning.

It’s not the first time any of these things have been tried. Strategies have worked and then you think there’s a blueprint ... like they’re the only teams to try those strategies. Other teams try. It’s just that most times, like Sunday night against the 49ers, Manning beats you anyway.

- - - - - - -

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: October 21, 2014, 7:37 pm

Welcome to the latest Shutdown Corner podcast! On today's piping-hot episode, we have:

• The return of our host Kevin Kaduk from new fatherhood-related absence

• A discussion of the most disappointing teams in the NFL (Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans ... heads up.)

• Why Peyton Manning is the best quarterback ever, and if you don't agree, you're insane

• A lightning-fast spin through all the big stories of the week so far.

All this and more as part of the Shutdown Corner Podcast. Listen below, and while you're listening ...

Subscribe via iTunes right here.

Non-iTunes subscription link here.

Leave us a nice review here.

The Shutdown Corner podcast is the product of Kevin Kaduk (@KevinKaduk), Frank Schwab (@YahooSchwab) and Jay Busbee (@JayBusbee). New episodes every Tuesday and Friday, with bonus episodes when you least expect it. Enjoy!

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 21, 2014, 6:06 pm

Peyton Manning's record setting touchdown ball traveled to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Monday, not via a special security guard or in a decorative box. It went to Canton in a plastic bag, underneath an airplane seat.

And it flew coach.

That's right: The ball that was thrown by the Denver Broncos quarterback to set the all-time mark for most touchdown passes in a career didn't receive first-class treatment. Upon arrival at the Hall of Fame, however, it will have far more prestigious accommodations.

The ball, which is now safely at the Hall of Fame and already on display, was secured via a long and rather detailed process to ensure that ensured the institution of getting the right piece of history. After Manning threw touchdown pass No. 509, surpassing Brett Favre's former all-time mark, the plan was for the record-setting ball to get into the hands of the Broncos equipment manager who would then get it to Joe Horrigan, the vice president of communications and exhibits for the Hall.

Instead, several Broncos teammates staged a game of keep-away with the record-setting ball on the field, making a smiling and laughing Manning chase the ball around.

“The idea was that Peyton would bring it over to the sideline, the equipment man would retrieve it, then bring it to me,” Horrigan told Shutdown Corner. “When the record was broken, a circle of his teammates surrounded him then the cameras. Then they played 'pickle in the middle,' and when the ball was in the air, it made my heart palpitate.”

In conjunction with the Broncos, and with the full backing of Manning as well, Horrigan was on the Broncos sideline from the start of the game until the record-setting touchdown was thrown in the second quarter. He stayed near the end zone so he'd be in prime position to nab the ball when Manning finally connected on No. 509.

Joe Horrigan with No. 509 (Eric Lars Bakke/Denver Broncos)

Instead of the ball going straight from wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to the equipment manager and then to Horrigan, it instead made its way around the field and finally ended up on the Broncos bench as Manning embraced his teammates. From there the equipment manager labeled it quickly with a silver sharpie and then handed it off to Horrigan.

The scribble on the ball was a simple 'RB' — for 'Record Ball.' Short, concise and then into Horrigan's hands.

From there, Horrigan put it in a Hall of Fame plastic bag for safe keeping. It was only out of his possession, he said, for Manning to pose for photos after the game in the Broncos locker room. Horrigan took a flight on Monday morning to get the ball to the Hall by that afternoon.

During his Monday morning flight from Denver to Charlotte, and then finally to Akron, Ohio, Horrigan kept the ball under his seat for sake keeping. He didn't even eat or drink on the flights so as to safeguard the ball from possible spills or damage.

“I'll just be reading a book,” Horrigan said before boarding the flight.

In all likelihood, the person sitting next to him didn't have any idea just what was going on with Horrigan's carry-on luggage, tucked underneath his seat.

“He or she won't know,” Horrigan said. “They will have no idea what's underneath my seat.”

Horrigan made it through airport security without anyone knowing or wondering why he was carrying a football in a plastic bag as his carry-on.

On Tuesday morning, Keith Rossell of Zionsville, Indiana. along with his twin sons, Owen and Elliott, and his father, Ted, were selected to place the ball officially on display. The boys were on fall break and were the first people in line at the Hall in the morning, earning them a chance to officially give the ball a new home.

Perhaps in this case, it is the destination — and not the journey — that matters most.

Keith and Owen Rossell of Zionsville, Ind., handling the record-setting ball (Pro Football Hall of Fame)

- - - - - - -

Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: October 21, 2014, 6:01 pm

The St. Louis Rams employed all manner of trickeration to fake out the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Apparently, they're so good at this deception that they even fool their own employees.

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 19: Austin Davis #9 of the St. Louis Rams looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on October 19, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Seahawks 28-26.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)Appearing on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Monday, quarterback Austin Davis noted that he still gets asked for ID, even after quarterbacking the team through most of their games this season.

"The guy at the front desk at the facility here actually asked who I was the other day," Davis said. "It was pretty good."

When asked why he doesn't just wear his jersey around, Davis answered earnestly, "I can't do that. It's too big without my pads on."

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Davis also noted that he had no idea that the infamous fake punt was coming; his back had been turned at the time and then he realized he would be heading back into the game. All part of the deception, apparently.

Davis has played competently enough for the Rams, throwing nine TDs against four interceptions. Even though St. Louis has pretty much zero hope in the NFC West, chances are Davis won't go unrecognized that much longer.

[Via Larry Brown Sports]

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 21, 2014, 4:39 pm

The Houston Texans already have surpassed their 2013 win total. They've been a competitive 3-4 club, with three of the four losses coming by one score.

They've done so with No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney having missed six straight games and more than half of the one game he did appear in. The Texans have forced 15 turnovers this season, which — incredibly — already has surpassed the 2013 total of 11.

Things, you could say, are slightly brighter in Houston than they were a year ago when the team opened with two straight victories and then collapsed for 14 straight losses.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

But we all know there's still a lot missing.

It's easy to pin the Texans' limitations on one man. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the unlikely placeholder at quarterback, has been no different than most observers have expected him to be based on his itinerant track record: effective enough for him to keep a job but maddeningly ineffective for a team that wants to win games via the turnover battle, clock management and game massaging.

Right now, Fitzpatrick is a back cracker. He's the chiropractor who gives you temporary relief until you get up out of the office and limp home in tears, with more nerve pain than you walked in with.

Five of Fitzpatrick's seven interceptions have come from inside the Texans' own 20-yard line. Those picks have led to 24 points for the opponents. Those points shouldn't be on the defense.

He also hasn't been effective at the ends of halves. In the final two minutes of first and second halves of games, Fitzpatrick has thrown two picks and taken three sacks on only 27 dropbacks.

Fitting both of those categories Monday night was the inexcusable interception in traffic that ended up in the hands of the Steelers' Brett Keisel. That pick fueled the Steelers' incredible end-of-half flurry that won them the game.

It has been the same story most games. Once the opponent realizes that Arian Foster is really the guy they need to stop, Fitzpatrick can sling a few balls, get Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins involved, but the inevitable game-tilting mistake is just around the corner.

That's the thing: Fitzpatrick's stats charm casual observers into the whole he's not that awful routine, as he has more passing yards (on fewer attempts) than Cam Newton; more yards per attempt than Aaron Rodgers; a better completion percentage than Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and a host of other starting quarterbacks.

But the mistakes and limitations are what undercut most of what he does. They are what hold this team back from taking the proverbial next step offensively. Every time the TV broadcast shows Bill O'Brien looking down at his Denny's menu of play calls, you almost think he's saying to himself, Hmm, what can't I call here? 

The Texans certainly know he's not the future, but is Fitzpatrick even the present? We're not aiming to pick on the hirsute Harvardian here, but the Texans had to know what they were getting when they signed him, and that's on O'Brien and GM Rick Smith. What you've seen from Fitz-pick-trick this season is exactly what he has done through his career, now with his fifth NFL team since 2006, having been released by the previous four.

There have been calls to the bullpen for Ryan Mallett, who joined the team via trade just before the start of training camp, or for Tom Savage, who barely averaged five yards an attempt in the preseason and has yet to attempt a regular-season pass.

Those calls are misaligned. Oh, sure, finding out if Mallett (he of the four career regular-season attempts himself) or Savage can play might not be a bad idea at some point. But it is both haunting and telling that Fitzpatrick likely remains the Texans' best chance right now. A win next week at Tennessee puts them at 4-4 and, at least according to logic, in the race for a playoff spot.

But we all know that's not likely to happen. This Texans team has other limitations certainly, and even a major upgrade at quarterback isn't going to magically whisk those away. But it certainly would put the defense in fewer precarious positions and help take advantage of the limited but potent offensive assets the team does have.

That solution won't come until 2015, and the options might not be plentiful to be honest.

Potential free agent Brian Hoyer leads a shockingly mediocre crop at the position, and his connection to O'Brien from their New England days will lead to a lot of speculation of a match in Houston should the Cleveland Browns opt to crank up the Johnny Football machine next season.

But the draft might not be the perfect salve, either. Maybe O'Brien would see something in Michigan State's Connor Cook if he declares, but Cook's inconsistencies have a startlingly Fitzpatrick-esque look to them, and the pricetag still certainly could cost them a first-round selection. Later options that might intrigue the team include East Carolina's Shane Carden and local product Bryce Petty from Baylor, but neither are likely first-year saviors either.

What then? Could the Texans — GULP — be forced to go another season with Fitzpatrick (or Mallett or Savage, equal parts gulp themselves) as the opening act for a yet-to-be-named headliner? If so, the reviews for the O'Brien Variety Show might get a bit ugly.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 21, 2014, 3:23 pm

Troy Polamalu has been a great player in the NFL. Few players are more synonymous with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But, Troy, we beg of you: Can the leap.

As the Steelers were protecting a two-touchdown lead in the final two minutes of Monday night's victory,  the Houston Texans had driven to the Steelers' 1-yard line on a DeAndre Hopkins 16-yard catch. As Hopkins was unable to score and the Texans were without timeouts, they were scrambling a bit, hoping to get up to the line and run a play to get into the end zone with as little time elapsed on the clock as possible.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Instead, Polamalu gave them a free timeout, essentially. He tried to time the snap and jump over the line — yeah, you've seen him do it before countless times — and short-circuit the play. We would have loved to hear Bob Uecker call this game ... juuuuuuust a bit offsides, maybe.

It was a dumb play. The Texans were frazzled. Maybe they would have spiked the ball to stop the clock and reset themselves. But that would have cost them a down in doing so. Polamalu did them a favor instead by jumping offsides and not only moving the ball a tad closer to the line of scrimmage, but saving that down and allowing the Texans to catch their collective breaths and get the proper play call in.

The Texans scored on the next play because of course they did. The break in the action from the penalty even allowed them to trot out J.J. Watt on the play as an eligible receiver, which might have drawn the Steelers' attention as Arian Foster caught the 1-yard score to make it a one-score game with 95 seconds remaining.

All for naught you say? Then you didn't watch the ensuing onsides kick — at least six different players touched the ball, and the Texans more than had their chances of recovering it. For crying out loud, for some reason the Steelers use noted stone-fingered receiver Darius Heyward-Bey on their "hands" team! That right there should have given the Texans the ball, maybe automatically.

So we can point to Polamalu's leap as an ill-timed, ill-fated decision and a maneuver he should consider retiring. Oh yes, he has pulled it off several times with incredible effect — he pulled it off in the epic body-bag game win over the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC championship game and later used it again in 2010 famously against the Tennessee Titans for a sack on Kerry Collins.

Those plays were the stuff of Steelers lore. But it's time to retire Polamalu's signature move. It's no longer effective and hasn't been for the past few seasons. He's not the same player anymore, and the move could have cost his team the lead Monday night.

May it rest in glorious peace from here on out.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 21, 2014, 2:04 pm

There are many stats that sum up how miserable the Oakland Raiders' 0-6 start has been, but we have something better than a statistic for that.

Darnell Dockett.

The injured Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman was at his trash-talking finest on Sunday, poking fun at Raiders fans as the Cards sealed up their 24-13 win.

Cardinals DE Darnell Dockett Trolls Raiders Fans With Sign On Whiteboard http://t.co/Kt9LTrbPWL pic.twitter.com/MRHbHQCNXT

— ThePostGame.com (@Post_Game) October 21, 2014

If you can't see it well, it's a hand-written message from Dockett to the fans reminding them that the Raiders are 0-6, and the worst team in the NFL. Sadly, both are indisputable facts at this point.

Even worse for the Raiders, they just got past what is the relatively easy part of their schedule. And while it's ridiculously early under most circumstances to pose the question, it needs to be asked: Is 0-16 possible for the Raiders?

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Raiders fans are thinking that Cleveland might be a possible win, but this is a Browns team that will be playing at home and refocused after losing to the Jaguars. The Browns are a seven-point favorite, so a Raiders win can't be considered likely. But if the Raiders don't win this week, then when?

Here's what's coming for the Raiders, who have the toughest schedule I've ever seen:

Week 9: at Seattle
Week 10: vs. Denver
Week 11: at San Diego
Week 12: vs. Kansas City
Week 13: at St. Louis
Week 14: vs. San Francisco
Week 15: at Kansas City
Week 16: vs. Buffalo
Week 17: at Denver

Oh my. Where's the win in there? The Raiders will be underdogs in every game from here on out, and probably by at least a touchdown in almost every one of those games. The home game against Buffalo might be less than a touchdown. Maybe the St. Louis game will be a tick under a touchdown. But that's about it.

Odds are the Raiders get a win somewhere. It's mathematically tough for an NFL team to go 16 games without winning at least once, even if they're underdogs in all 16. And this team isn't without any talent you'd hope all these old vets general manager Reggie McKenzie signed this offseason could get at least one win but it still will be scary until they post that first win.

There's only one winless team remaining in the NFL. That's a pretty lonely place to be. And based on the schedule, it's possible the Raiders will be there for a while.

Here are the post-Week 7 power rankings:

32. Oakland Raiders (0-6, Last Week: 31)
The performance against the Chargers two weeks ago has to give them hope that a win is on the way.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5, LW: 30)
Depending on what kind of draft pick the Buccaneers could get, it would make sense to trade Vincent Jackson. Seattle should be first in line if Tampa Bay is serious about dealing him.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6, LW: 32)
There's a huge difference between zero and one win.

29. Tennessee Titans (2-5, LW: 28)
They lost to a bad team. A bad team with Colt McCoy at quarterback.

28. Washington Redskins (2-5, LW: 29)
Jay Gruden didn't come out and say it, but by tabbing McCoy to start next week if Robert Griffin III isn't ready, he effectively said the team no longer thinks Kirk Cousins can be an effective NFL starting quarterback. You wouldn't bench him for McCoy if you did. Maybe Cousins gets a chance to change that perception, but that's where we are now.

27. Atlanta Falcons (2-5, LW: 25)
Julio Jones has 311 yards and no touchdowns in Atlanta's last four games. The Falcons are 0-4 in their last four games. These two sentences are closely related.

26. New York Jets (1-6, LW: 26)
Here's one problem with the Percy Harvin trade: Are the Jets really going to get a good look at him before deciding if he's worth that $10.5 million base salary next season? It's really tough to learn an offense when you join a team right before Week 8 of the regular season.

25. Minnesota Vikings (2-5, LW: 24)
A nice bright spot: Rookie Jerick McKinnon had 103 rushing yards against a good defense. That's not going to make them forget losing a game with one second left, but it was nice.

24. New York Giants (3-4, LW: 23)
Eli Manning played well. They ran the ball well enough. The defense turned a big Tony Romo interception into a short touchdown. And they still lost by 10. That can't feel too comforting.

23. St. Louis Rams (2-4, LW: 27)
I can't say this enough: Calling a fake punt on your own 18-yard line to ice a win over the defending champs is an all-time great call. It was a gamble but not reckless, because it's pretty clear the Rams knew based on Seattle's punt return scheme that they'd have that pass wide open.

22. Houston Texans (3-4, LW: 20)
They really had Monday night's game under control, then it got away in such a hurry. And despite a terrible second quarter they lost by just a touchdown. They can't afford to drop games like that.

21. New Orleans Saints (2-4, LW: 19)
That would have been an enormous win, getting a victory at Detroit with virtually nothing from injured tight end Jimmy Graham. But now it's just a 2-4 hole they're in.

20. Chicago Bears (3-4, LW: 16)
The Bears' offensive rankings: 17th in yards per game, 17th in yards per play, 18th in points scored. With all those weapons to work with, that's hard to comprehend.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3, LW: 21)
For about 27 minutes of the first half against Texans, it looked like their season was in an irreversible slide. Maybe that turnover and scoring flurry will spark something.

(USA Today Sports Images)18. Cleveland Browns (3-3, LW: 15)
There are reports the Browns briefly thought about benching Brian Hoyer for Johnny Manziel as Hoyer struggled on Sunday. There's a simple reason they didn't do it: Once you do that, the controversy begins again. Coach Mike Pettine doesn't want that now.

17. Miami Dolphins (3-3, LW: 22)
Ryan Tannehill completed his first 14 passes, and 18 of his first 19, against the Bears. It says a lot about the Bears' defense, but it shows again that there's some talent there with Tannehill.

16. Carolina Panthers (3-3-1, LW: 14)
Greg Hardy is good, but not this good. The defense has fallen apart without him.

15. Buffalo Bills (4-3, LW: 18)
The Bills gave up a fourth-round pick for Bryce Brown, just to have him be inactive for seven weeks. With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller hurt, we'll get to see if the Bills' investment was actually worth anything.

14. San Francisco 49ers (4-3, LW: 10)
Injuries are piling up. They'd have lost Sunday night at Denver anyway, but missing a ton of really good players didn't help. But what will their record be when guys start to come back?

13. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1, LW: 6)
It's fine to lose. It's even fine to go three games without a win. It's not fine to get outgained in a NFL game 506-135, as Cincinnati did on Sunday. That's one of the worst performances you'll see in the NFL all season. Embarrassing.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3, LW: 17)
Since Week 1's absolutely baffling loss to Tennessee, the Chiefs are 3-2 with close road losses at Denver and San Francisco. This is a pretty good team (with one stupefying loss).

11. Detroit Lions (5-2, LW: 13)
Remember, they're doing all this with just 348 yards and two touchdowns from the great Calvin Johnson. He'll be healthy soon.

10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2, LW: 12)
It's always funny when a player like Justin Forsett – 29 years old, seventh season, fifth NFL team, signed to a one-year $730,000 contract this offseason – produces like he never has before. Forsett is fourth in the NFL with 503 rushing yards, and nobody saw that coming. Did everyone else just miss on him for so many years?

9. New England Patriots (5-2, LW: 11)
The lack of a run defense without Jerod Mayo last week was a little concerning. But give Bill Belichick more than three days of preparation, which is all he had for the Jets, and he'll figure something out.

8. Seattle Seahawks (3-3, LW: 5)
Russell Wilson was amazing at St. Louis, becoming the first player in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a game. And Seattle still lost. That's not good. Yet, nobody should be writing them off, so don't complain they're not further down in the rankings. They'll be fine.

7. Arizona Cardinals (5-1, LW: 8)
Don't look now, but the Cardinals have two fewer losses than anyone else in the NFC West.

6. San Diego Chargers (5-2, LW: 2)
I'm just going to assume they were looking ahead to Thursday's big showdown against the Broncos. Otherwise, combine the Chiefs loss with the near-miss against the Raiders, and it's a bit worrisome.

5. Green Bay Packers (5-2, LW: 9)
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Aaron Rodgers is "much better" than he was during his unbelievable 2011 season, via Fox Sports Wisconsin. High praise since Rodgers' 2011 season is arguably the best ever. But there's no doubt Rodgers is playing at that MVP level again. The Packers were very, very impressive on Sunday.

4. Indianapolis Colts (5-2, LW: 7)
Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw played well. The defense was dominant. We all know Andrew Luck is legit. If the rest is clicking like it was Sunday, they can make the Super Bowl. The schedule sets up for them to be a top-two seed in the AFC.

3. Dallas Cowboys (6-1, LW: 4)
The win over the Giants is more impressive than it looks on the surface. If there was ever a letdown spot for Dallas, it was after winning at Seattle and hearing all week how great they were. And they still won by 10.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1, LW: 3)
The Cowboys' story is better, but I'd still pick the Eagles right now to win the East. Dallas is just overshadowing them.

1. Denver Broncos (5-1, LW: 1)
The best team in football right now, easily.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 21, 2014, 4:36 am

Before the Pittsburgh Steelers reversed their fortunes in the game, linebacker Lawrence Timmons had what the competitive-eating-circuit folks call a reversal of fortune.

Watch as Timmons, with his Steelers down 10-zip, barfs — on himself, on the field — coming off to the sidelines.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

Well, watch, that is, if you don't get queasy watching such things. And let's note: We're not poking fun at Timmons. Vomiting during a football game is a scary matter because it could be indicative of a possible concussion.

Timmons was all over the place Monday night. He made three straight tackles and four tackles in the five plays right before he came off the field while getting sick. All told, Timmons finished with a game-high 12 tackles, a sack and two tackles for losses.

And the Steelers needed every one of them in a 30-23 win in which they came back from 13 points down. 

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 21, 2014, 4:05 am

The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame a dreary start to wake up right before halftime.

After the Houston Texans took a 13-0 lead and dominated the majority of the first half, the Steelers scored 24 points in the final three-plus minutes of the second quarter — including three TDs in 73 seconds — in a 30-23 victory.

According to NFL Network, the Steelers’ 24 points in that short a span was the most in the NFL since 2002. The last time an NFL team scored three touchdowns in shorter time was the New England Patriotsin a 52-second span during the infamous “Buttfumble” game against the New York Jets in 2012.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

The Steelers raised their record to 4-3 while the Texans fell to 3-4. The Steelers have not lost a Monday night home game since Bubby Brister was quarterback, back in 1991.

The Texans looked strong early — something they hadn’t done a lot of coming into the game. After holding the Steelers on the first defensive series before they crossed midfield, the Texans embarked on a 10-play, 94-yard drive that beautifully mixed zone runs and a few timing passes.

Arian Foster ripped off a 33-yard cutback run that showed the age and lack of speed on the Steelers’ defense, and rookie back Alfred Blue capped the drive with a sneaky little screen for the touchdown from 11 yards out that seemed to surprise the Steelers.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got the ball back and had the Steelers on the move the following drive, but Whitney Mercilus — who really has come on lately — made two big plays to stunt the drive. First, he tagged Steelers running back LeVeon Bell in the backfield for a two-yard loss then took down Roethlisberger on a strip sack, which was recovered by (of course) J.J. Watt.

The Texans converted that into a nine-play drive, but quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t connect with Foster on a wheel route, and they settled on a Randy Bullock field goal for a 10-0 lead.

The Steelers’ offense continued to look stagnant and unimaginative, and Heinz Field fans started to boo after they went three-and-out on the first possession of the second quarter.

After a Fitzpatrick scramble on third down and a fourth-and-inches conversion on a Foster run for 11 yards, the Texans stalled on the edge of the Steelers’ red zone and once more turned to Bullock. His 38-yard field goal made it 13-0 Texans.

That’s when the game turned on its head.

After Watt jumped offsides on 3rd-and-15, Roethlisberger hit Bell on an angle route — catching Brian Cushing flat-footed — who ran 43 yards to flip the field. But Mercilus once again sacked Roethlisberger, and the Steelers had to settle for a 44-yard Shaun Suisham field goal.

The Steelers defense finally stepped up with a three-and-out (and a pass rush!), giving the ball back to their offense just inside the two-minute warning. Roethlisberger dumped it to Bell on a screen for 28 yards and then found rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant for his first NFL reception in his first NFL game — a 35-yard touchdown grab, burning a fellow rookie in Texans corner Andre Hal to quickly cut the Houston lead to 13-10.

Bell would finish the game with 145 yards from scrimmage, including 88 receiving.

The Texans’ implosion continued. After Danieal Manning bobbled the ensuing kickoff and only got out to the 5-yard line. Then Foster fumbled the ball on third down, which was reviewed on replay, and the Steelers took over at the Houston 3.

That’s when embattled Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley pulled out the dumbest/smartest/most amazing play call ever.

The Steelers ran a toss sweep reverse pass — with Roethlisberger blocking on Mercilus — with the lefthanded Antonio Brown throwing a touchdown pass to Lance Moore for a 17-13 Steelers lead.

Fitzpatrick then did the unimaginable (for most quarterbacks): He gave it right back to the Steelers. His off-balance pass with pressure closing in was intercepted by Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel after the ball deflected off a Texans offensive lineman’s helmet.

Two plays later, Roethlisberger hit a wide-open Bell for a touchdown — and a stunning 24-13 lead — after the Texans appeared to blow a defensive assignment. Safety D.J. Swearinger ran out late in coverage of Bell and then yelled at his teammates in disgust.

Twenty-one Steelers points on drives lasting 19, seven and 44 seconds before the end of the half — incredible.

The Steelers could have stepped on the Texans’ necks to start the second half. They had a fourth down and less than a yard to go from the Houston 40-yard line, but head coach Mike Tomlin opted to punt instead.

The Texans, meanwhile, at least were aggressive when they had the chance. They converted a fake punt from their own 40 and moved into Pittsburgh territory but were stopped on third down on their second possession of the second half. Third-down failures were a story all game for the Texans.

But they did make it interesting. After Andre Johnson caught a mere one pass for 4 yards in the first three quarters, Johnson dominated the Texans’ first possession of the fourth quarter, catching two passes for 45 yards and drawing a pass interference. But they bogged down in the red zone and had to settle for a Bulluck 31-yarder to make it 24-16, Steelers with just under 12 minutes left.

The Steelers then took over. Brown caught an amazing diving pass for 30 yards on the sideline, which was confirmed on replay, and then caught a fade from Roethlisberger on the next play for what appeared to be a 16-yard touchdown to put the game away. But replay showed Brown’s left toe touching out of bounds. Brown made another tremendous catch and run on third down but came up a yard short, and Suisham’s field goal gave the Steelers a 27-16 edge with six minutes left.

The Texans had a shot to get back into it after Fitzpatrick hit DeAndre Hopkins on a 32-yard pass past midfield, but Hopkins fumbled and the Steelers tacked on another Suisham field goal for a 30-16 lead.

Foster, who would finish with 102 yards rushing on 20 carries, caught a 1-yard touchdown pass with 1:31 left to cut the lead to seven points. But the Texans couldn’t recover the onsides kick after a mad scramble — at least six players touched the squirting ball — and the Steelers ran out the clock with Houston out of timeouts.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 21, 2014, 3:44 am

Aside from all the Peyton Manning hoopla Sunday night, you knew it was going to be a long night for the San Francisco 49ers when the Denver Broncos' defense raised its level of play to Manning's greatness.

That was on display in many forms, but it manifested most in the huge night from DeMarcus Ware, with his three sacks, four tackles and four QB hits.

The first sack was a piece of artwork — or an embarrassment, depending on your perspective.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

On the third play of the game, Ware makes 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, one of the more solid blockers at his position in the NFL, look silly on his first sack of the evening. Watch the video above as Ware goes upfield with a spin move, dips underneath when Staley gets off balance and Ware manages to spin Staley around like a top.

This is pass-rush excellence. That sack set the tone for the rest of the night.

Ware got to Colin Kaepernick two more times in the game. On the second sack, Ware again got Staley spinning around in a way such a technically sound player never should. This is unreal, although asking any tackle to single-block Ware is a tall order.

On sack No. 3, Ware basically tossed Staley aside on the pass rush. Staley was called for holding on the play, and it didn't matter. That was on second and goal with the 49ers down 42-10 in the final five minutes, and they eventually failed to convert on fourth down. Kaepernick was pulled from the game — wisely — on the next possession.

You want to know why the Broncos might be the best team in the NFL? Manning is one reason; the Broncos' improved defense — led by a resurgent Ware — is another.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 20, 2014, 10:13 pm

(AP)The NFL is the most popular sporting league in American history, and you'd be a fool to think that isn't due in part to gambling. Untold millions (billions?) are wagered on bets, fantasy leagues, office pools, survivor pools, or whatever else people figure out to wager on when it comes to football.

The NFL is continuing to play us for those fools by once again taking a public stand against legalized sports betting, according to Reuters.

The NFL, along with the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NCAA, called for an injunction, hoping to block a law that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed which would make sports gambling legal in that state. The lawsuit said the new gambling law is in violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting, according to Reuters.

"If the 2014 Sports Wagering Law is not declared unlawful... the proliferation of state-sponsored and approved sports gambling in Atlantic City casinos and at New Jersey racetracks will cause immediate and irreparable harm" to the sports leagues," the lawsuit said, according to Reuters.

Irreparable harm? Puh-lease. 

The NFL, which has fought gambling publicly for many years, is all in favor of fantasy football though because commissioner Roger Goodell thinks that's a bonding experience. There's an incredible disconnect between that view, and thinking that your three-team parlay on an NFL Sunday is going to cause the league that makes billions of dollars every year "irreparable harm." There's also a disconnect between that stance and the NFL putting out an injury report, which helps gamblers more than anyone.

Any notion that the NFL could somehow be tainted by legal gambling is absurd. The minimum salary for an NFL player is $420,000. No player is risking it all for a fraction of that salary to change the outcome of a game. Also, any potential fix is much more likely to get flagged by a legal sports book than any of the various illegal outlets that take bets on sports. One of the reasons the Arizona State basketball point shaving scandal in the 1993-94 season was uncovered was that casinos in Las Vegas reported unusual betting patterns on the games.

Yet, the NFL still fights gambling. At best that battle is just nonsensical and outdated. At worst it's terribly hypocritical and intellectually dishonest. Either way, it's hard to figure out.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 9:56 pm

We all make mistakes, present company included. But some mistakes are just really, really funny.

Like talking about Peyton Manning on air and having a photo of Gary Payton appear on the graphic behind you. Oh my.

KOMO 4 in Seattle was talking about the Denver Broncos quarterback setting the NFL's record for touchdown passes during its broadcast, but mistakenly showed the former Seattle SuperSonics guard. The person who caused it to go viral was Payton himself, by posting the screen shot on Instagram. 

(Instagram/GaryPayton_20)

 

 

That's just great.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

There are more than a few ways this is funny, starting with the fact that other than being Hall of Fame talents in their respective sports, there's not one thing the two guys really have in common. One is a basketball player from the West Coast, the other a quarterback from the South. Let's just say it wouldn't be easy to confuse them based on how they look. Manning is known for his "aw, shucks" humble Southern ways, and Payton was ... well, "The Glove" wasn't. We're pretty sure Peyton Manning was never shouted out in a Too $hort rap song. In fairness, there are probably no country music songs written about Gary Payton. The common sounding name isn't even spelled the same: Peyton and Payton.

I think life went on as normal in Seattle despite the error, and I don't think anyone thought Gary Payton suddenly threw 510 NFL touchdowns. So it was a mistake that didn't hurt anyone. It was just really hilarious.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 9:22 pm

Kirk Cousins is like the bizarro Willie Beamen from the movie "Any Given Sunday." Unlike Beamen's character, who became a star overnight, Cousins' reputation has dropped in an unbelievably precipitous manner, to the point where he has been benched for Colt McCoy.

Yep, that Colt McCoy.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

All of the talk of Cousins being the savior of the Washington Redskins after Robert Griffin III's injury was a tad much, it turns out. Cousins, who has been prone to turning the ball over in his NFL career, was benched at halftime of Sunday's win against the Tennessee Titans. If Griffin can't come back from a dislocated ankle to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 27, McCoy will get the start, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

"We'll move forward with Colt," Gruden said, according to CSN Washington.

It's not fair to declare Cousins' Redskins career dead, but it doesn't look promising. McCoy is 28, has been fairly mediocre his whole career (22 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 76.1 rating) and is not the long-term answer in Washington. But it doesn't appear Cousins is either, and he has been ruining the Redskins' chances of winning games in the present during Griffin's absence.

Cousins has 19 interceptions to 18 touchdowns in his career, and had turned the ball over 11 times in six games this season. Now that we've seen Cousins play, at least it's unlikely we'll deal with yet another offseason of the Redskins leaking to the media that many teams are interested in trading for their backup. That era seems over.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 8:22 pm

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Character concerns over the recently acquired Percy Harvin are a non-issue for the New York Jets, even as leaks from the Seattle Seahawks and his old locker room raise eyebrows over his off-field issues.

The Jets acquired Harvin on Friday to bolster a passing offense that is second worst in the league and lacking a true playmaker. Harvin became expendable in Seattle in part because of his locker room antics, which reportedly include a fight with former teammate Golden Tate on the eve of the Super Bowl this past season.

If he is healthy, Harvin can add life to a bland Jets passing attack. But the character issues are a bigger question mark for the Jets, especially given the scrutiny of the New York media market and the string of distractions that have surrounded this team over the past few years. Reports and leaks have indicated Harvin has been involved in two fights over the past year in the Seahawks locker room.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

"I'm definitely not a perfect person. I have a lot of things I wish I could have done a little differently," Harvin said on Monday. “But I'm moving forward, I'm learning from those lessons. I'm happy to be here right now. I'm looking to make the most out of this.”

The message from Jets management, according to Harvin, is to “come in and be myself.”

Harvin says Friday's trade surprised him. As far as why he was traded, he doesn't know or isn't willing to say.

“I'm leaving what's in the past in the past," Harvin said. "I'm happy to be a New York Jet and I look forward to making the most of this opportunity.”

Jets general manager John Idzik, who served for five years as the vice president of football administration for the Seahawks before he came to the Jets, didn't seem concerned over the reports about his new player. He used his contacts with his former employer to gauge the character issues and came away, he said, comfortable with Harvin as a person.

Idzik doesn't have the greatest of track record in this regard during his two years with the Jets. In 2013, free-agent signing Mike Goodson was arrested after the vehicle he was a passenger in was parked in the middle of a five-lane highway in north New Jersey in the early morning. A police officer found Goodson and the driver passed out, and the former Jets running back was arrested on drug and weapon charges. He is no longer with the team.

This past offseason, Dimitri Patterson, another Idzik signing, was supposed to bolster a weak secondary. Patterson went missing right before a preseason game and didn't return to the team until two days later. Patterson was eventually cut following a strange saga where he lashed out at the team.

Idzik cited a strong locker room on Monday as a reason why he thinks Harvin will fit in.

“I think Percy will be the benefactor of that. We got to let that play out and see how he responds,” Idzik said on Monday.

“But we've got a very healthy environment for Percy Harvin.”

- - - - - - -

Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: October 20, 2014, 6:43 pm

After the official signaled that Demaryius Thomas got in bounds and scored the 509th passing touchdowns of Peyton Manning's career, breaking the NFL record, a little more than a minute passed before the extra point was snapped. And that minute included the Denver Broncos' fun little game of keep-away.

When Thomas scored a 40-yard touchdown later in the game, 44 seconds passed from score to extra point. Which is to say, about an extra 15-20 seconds was carved out to celebrate one of the league's greatest records being broken. The NFL doesn't stop for records or ceremonies.

[Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid]

But some records do matter. Manning's touchdown record is one of the game's greatest marks. But is it the greatest? Let's find out.

In ranking the NFL's greatest records, let's set a few rules. This is just for individual accomplishments, career or season records. We'll try to avoid the arbitrary and obscure; basically whatever is on the back of a football card will be considered. This isn't the most unbeatable records or the most impressive records, just the top 10 based on what we all hold in the highest regard and got the most attention when they were broken:

Just missed the cut: Career receiving yards (Jerry Rice, 22,895)
This should be higher on the list. But do you remember when Rice broke it? Do you remember who held it before him? (Answers: 1995 on a 13-yard catch from Elvis Grbac, breaking James Lofton's record ... I had to look it up because I honestly didn't remember). And this will become like Cy Young's 511 wins record in baseball, so untouchable that we won't think of it very often. Rice is almost 7,000 yards ahead of second place. It feels like it should be on the list, but even something like Drew Brees' record of 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass might be more famous, strangely enough.

10. Single-season receiving yards (Calvin Johnson, 1,964)
Megatron's chase of Rice's record was a big deal, but maybe just because anyone breaking one of Rice's records is so unheard of. Someone will make a run at this record as teams play faster and rules keep making it easier for passing games, and we'll have the bonus of a chase for 2,000.

9. Single-season touchdowns (LaDainian Tomlinson, 31)
You don't hear a ton of early-season buzz that so-and-so might beat Tomlinson's record, but maybe that's because it's so rare to see a player anywhere near this pace. Be honest, no matter how important this record is, before you saw Tomlinson's name on the list did you remember he held the record or how many he scored? Or who held the record before him? (Shaun Alexander, with 28.)

8. Single-season passing yards (Peyton Manning, 5,477)
This record ranked higher a few years ago, when Dan Marino had owned it for more than two decades. Then Drew Brees broke it, other quarterbacks got to 5,000 yards, and it seemed a bit anti-climactic when Manning broke it last year, even though he did it on a touchdown.

7. Single-season sacks (Michael Strahan, 22.5)
Considering the controversy that still surrounds how Favre helped Strahan beat Mark Gastineau's record, I'd say this one deserves to be on the list. Sacks are the defensive stat everyone holds in the highest regard. For whatever reason, this mark is more iconic than Bruce Smith's career record of 200.

6. Single-season passing touchdowns (Peyton Manning, 55)
Dan Marino's 48, Manning's 49 and Tom Brady's 50 were all famous numbers for a while. Manning's 55 will be too. Why is this record a bigger deal than the single-season touchdowns record? I'm not sure, but it is.

(AP)5. Consecutive games started (Brett Favre, 297)
Whether it's football or baseball, we have an incredible appreciation for the iron man who can show up game after game without fail. If anyone broke Favre's record (and it doesn't seem likely considering it would take more than 18.5 seasons), it would be worth all the attention it would get.

4. Single-season rushing record (Eric Dickerson, 2,105)
The record is helped in status because it's close to a round number. The attention starts because a back is approaching 2,000 yards, then will just flow right into the chase for Dickerson's record. There has to be a reason NFL fans clearly remember "2,105," yet barely anybody knows "2,509," what it means, why it's important, or who is associated with it (it's Chris Johnson's single-season record for yards from scrimmage, which logically is a more important mark than just rushing yards alone, yet nobody really cares).

3. Career passing touchdown record (Peyton Manning, 510 and counting)
It was a great moment on Sunday night when he broke the record. And given the status quarterbacks have in the game, and Manning's place in history, if anyone breaks this mark it might be even bigger than when Manning broke it against the 49ers. You could make a great argument this deserves to be No. 1 on the list.

2. Career rushing record (Emmitt Smith, 18,355)
Maybe this will move down the list as the league trends toward more passing offense and running backs continue to decrease in value, but it was a huge deal when Walter Payton broke Jim Brown's record, it was a huge deal when Smith broke Payton's record, it was a huge deal when Barry Sanders retired to give up a shot to break Payton's record, and if anyone is lucky enough to break Smith's record, that'll be an enormous deal too.

1. Career touchdown record (Jerry Rice, 208)
The game is built around scoring touchdowns, right? Even with increases in scoring, nobody is coming close to this mark for a long time, if it ever happens. Consider this: The active leader in touchdowns scored is Antonio Gates, with 94, not even half way to Rice's mark. If someone breaks this mark, it'll be as big as it gets in the NFL.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 6:31 pm

Can't get enough Peyton Manning? Neither can we.

We bask in the glory of the wobbly passes as much as we do the ageless greatness, the oversized forehead and the NFL records, the aww-shucks approach and the killer instinct.

It's all Manning. And it's all in this video — quite simply the most amazing one we've ever come across celebrating all things Peyton.

Watch it. Watch it again. Sing the song in the shower. You know you will.

No best tribute ever should be without the line: "Really tall (oh yeah!) / red forehead (oh yeah!) / His brothers (oh yeah!) / Papa John's (oh yeah!)"

It sums up Manning better than any erudite longform feature ever could.

The second-greatest tribute for a football player ever? That's certainly up for debate. But we'll nominate one for a certain quarterback who happened to share the field with Manning on Sunday night.

Greatness has a weird way of attracting greatness.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 20, 2014, 1:21 pm

DENVER They speak of Peyton Manning with reverence in the Denver Broncos locker room  talk to any of his teammates long enough and "greatest" will be uttered  and rightfully so.

Many of them are fantastic players in their own right, but it's hard to deny they've all benefited from playing with the man who has thrown the most touchdown passes in NFL history.

Take Demaryius Thomas. He was a first-round pick, and he was obviously a special talent even with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton throwing him the ball. But now he is perhaps the best receiver in the NFL. He had 834 yards in 21 games before Manning arrived, and after his 171-yard outburst on Sunday, he has 3,526 yards in 38 games with Manning. Some of that is typical development, but it's crazy to think Manning hasn't had a huge impact on his career. 

Thomas will be a free agent after the season. Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald have contracts worth more than $100 million. It's possible Thomas, after two-plus stellar seasons with Manning elevating him to an elite level, will join them or at least come close.

"He’s the best to ever play the game," Thomas said of Manning. "He made me a better player."

Thomas said when Manning arrived before the 2012 season he changed how the receivers ran certain routes. He gave them tips on how to watch film. He said he has learned just by watching how Manning studies film.

Thomas talked about what he was thinking as he lined up for the play that became Manning's 509th touchdown, breaking Brett Favre's all-time record. He said he saw how the cornerback lined up and knew how to attack the play ("I came out of the huddle and I was thinking, he’s playing outside, so I have to get on his leverage and beat him"), and it surely seemed like Manning had rubbed off on him.

Emmanuel Sanders says he is better off for playing with Manning too. He caught some heat earlier this year for saying Manning was a better leader than Ben Roethlisberger, his old quarterback in Pittsburgh, but that was blown out of proportion. He has since clarified that he meant no disrespect toward Roethlisberger, but he thinks nobody beats Manning when it comes to leadership. Listen to Sanders talk about his mindset since joining the Broncos this year, and it's clear Manning has meant a lot to his career too. 

"You don't want to mess up," Sanders said. "So every night I go home and I study my butt off, just so I don't disappoint '18.' Everyone knows that he doesn't have too many more years left in his career, and he wants to go out a Super Bowl champion again, and I don't want to be the one holding this group back."

In Sanders' first season with the Broncos, he has 38 receptions for 514 yards in six games. He never had more than 67 catches or 740 yards with the Steelers.

There are other examples everywhere. Tight end Julius Thomas was a basketball player who played one year of college football. He now leads the NFL with nine touchdown catches and like Demaryius Thomas, is on the verge of signing an enormous contract with the Broncos or somewhere else as a free agent next spring. Eric Decker knows all about that. He signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the New York Jets this past offseason after catching 24 touchdown passes in two seasons with Manning. He has 12 touchdowns in his two-plus seasons without Manning.

Running backs benefit from Manning expertly changing the plays at the line. Receivers not only follow Manning's example but they also benefit from Manning always finding them in the right place ask Demaryius Thomas, whose second touchdown was a 40-yarder that could not have been handed to him in a better place. Or Wes Welker, who found himself wide open for Manning's 508th career touchdown off his quarterback's great pump fake.

Coaches owe Manning, too. San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy, who will face the Broncos on Thursday night, got the Chargers' job after a great 2012 season as Manning's offensive coordinator. Broncos coach John Fox had a .507 winning percentage in nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers. His winning percentage with Denver is .722, and that's after going 8-8 in his first Broncos season, which was without Manning.

The list is endless. These coaches and teammates are talented in their own right. But Manning has made everyone around him better. The Broncos celebrated him Sunday night as he broke one of the NFL's biggest records. They all owe him a debt of gratitude.

"There is no doubt we feel blessed the Broncos organization, myself personally, I think our coaching staff he's a tremendous player," Fox said. "I've competed against him for a lot of years, and it's way better having him on our side."

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 5:30 am

DENVER Peyton Manning gets the big, bold headlines from Sunday night's game, but the fine print should include that the Denver Broncos officially established themselves as the best team in the NFL at this point in the season.

What the Broncos did to the San Francisco 49ers, who have gone to the NFL's final four the past three years and were on a three-game winning streak, was shocking. Denver, behind Peyton Manning's 507th, (NFL record-tying) 508th, (NFL record-breaking) 509th and 510th career touchdown passes pummeled the 49ers 42-17. A meaningless touchdown with a minute to go is all that kept it from being the biggest loss of the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco.

The Dallas Cowboys have a good argument as the best team in football, considering they also have one loss and won at Seattle, which handed the Broncos their lone loss. But the way the Broncos are playing, nobody should be betting against them at this point. Everything is clicking at an incredibly high level for Denver.

Manning has picked up where he left off from last season, when he had the greatest season in NFL history. He didn't just inch over the finish line to get the record on Sunday, he turned in a phenomenal performance. He was 22-of-26 for 318 yards and four touchdowns. That's a 157.2 rating; a perfect rating is 158.3. Manning's third touchdown of the game, the record-breaker to Thomas, will be replayed more, but his next touchdown to Thomas was his best throw of the night. Manning had pinpoint accuracy on a 40-yard touchdown that made the score 28-10. Manning was so good, and the Broncos were so dominant, Manning was pulled and Brock Osweiler played the fourth quarter.

Denver's running game has gotten an unexpected boost from Ronnie Hillman, who has been a great find with Montee Ball out with a groin injury. He had a pair of touchdown runs, including a 37-yarder. And the defense looks the best it has been in Manning's three Denver seasons. The pass rush is excellent, with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, and there's no clear weakness elsewhere.

Can the Broncos win the Super Bowl? Dismissing the predictable jokes about Manning in the playoffs, of course they can. A lot can happen over the next few months so nothing is guaranteed, but the Broncos are the class of the NFL right now. Ask the 49ers. San Francisco isn't bad, and it had no chance Sunday night.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 3:38 am

Here are the top five must-see plays from Week 7 in the NFL:

Great Tate

The Detroit Lions looked all but cooked down 23-10 with just under four minutes left against the New Orleans Saints. But that's when they received a golden moment. Golden Tate ran a simple out route and caught the ball from Matthew Stafford with several Saints defenders closing in. And that's when Tate turned on the jets. He raced 73 yards for the score, past half the Saints' defense, in what would become an improbable 24-23 Lions victory.


Eat your heart out, Elway

John Elway's helicopter manuever after his run in Super Bowl XXXII is the most famous version of the helicopter, but Jamaal Charles' imitation in Week 7 wasn't too shabby. Charles raced 16 yards for the tone-setting score in a crucial win over the San Diego Chargers and was flung around by a hard hit near the goal line by former teammate Brandon Flowers. But don't overlook what Charles did prior to that — it was a great run.


Walk-off touchdown

The Buffalo Bills were down to their last at-bat against the Minnesota Vikings, with five seconds left and down six points. Chris Hogan set up the play from the Vikings 2-yard line with a fine 28-yard catch, but there was no doubt where the next pass was going. Kyle Orton wanted Sammy Watkins, who caught a touchdown earlier in the game, and the rookie rewarded him by hanging on for the game-winning score with two seconds left.


He went where?

In one of the more bizarre fake-outs you might ever see on a punt return, the St. Louis Rams' Stedman Bailey fielded the ball clear across the field from where nearly everyone for the Seattle Seahawks were covering the punt. That's because the majority of the Rams' blockers and decoy returner Tavon Austin were standing. Bailey, the gunner on the play, caught the kick and raced 89 yards for the completely improbable touchdown.


Walking the tightrope

Have you noticed how solid Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen has been recently? Andrew Luck has. That's why Luck was more than willing to look Allen's direction on a key third down early in the third quarter. Allen did the rest — he tightroped the sideline, evaded three Cincinnati Bengals defenders and got into the end zone for a fine 32-yard score in the shutout victory.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 20, 2014, 2:14 am

It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of giving Dez Bryant a huge contract extension seemed like tossing money into a garbage can and setting fire to it.

Bryant was undeniably talented, and a headache for the Dallas Cowboys. You haven’t thought about Bryant’s off-field issues in a while, have you? That’s because there has been nothing to think about. Bryant has been as quiet off the field as he is dynamic on it. But in July of 2012, when Bryant was arrested for allegedly attacking his mother (the misdemeanor assault charges were dropped later in the year), it didn’t seem like Bryant’s future was all that bright. He had a long line of off-field issues that had piled up. 

If suspended receivers Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon need a role model, Bryant isn’t a bad one. Bryant has completely turned his image around. His transformation in two years has been amazing, and now he’s not only one of the best players on the 6-1 Cowboys, he seems like one of the team’s leaders. It also seems like Bryant will be a sound investment for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones before he hits free agency.

There was concern about having Bryant play out his contract year, especially after left tackle Tyron Smith got a huge extension. How would Bryant react? The results have been good. Bryant had nine catches for 151 yards in a 31-21 win over the New York Giants on Sunday and it’s hard to argue he wasn’t the best player on the field (though DeMarco Murray, who had yet another 100-yard day, would have a good case). Bryant now has 45 catches for 590 yards this season, on pace for another great season.

Bryant turns 26 in November. There’s almost no chance the Cowboys are going to let him go, whether he agrees to a long-term extension or the Cowboys give him the franchise tag. A scout once said Bryant had the “worst background” he’d ever seen, but Bryant has turned that into a great story. And for Jones, whose personnel moves are often mocked, his gamble on Bryant has paid off and then some, especially with his Cowboys looking like one of the NFL’s elite teams.

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 7 in the NFL:

WINNERS

Kyle Orton and Doug Marrone: When the Buffalo Bills fell to 2-2, Marrone made a decision that was second-guessed, sitting 2013 first-round pick E.J. Manuel for journeyman veteran Kyle Orton.

Not that Manuel had played well, but it was still a bold move to give Manuel the hook so soon into a season, with the Bills still at .500. Especially since Orton has established his role in the NFL: a solid quarterback who can execute the offense but rarely will do anything special.

But lo and behold, Orton made one of the biggest plays of the NFL season so far, and Marrone looks pretty smart. Orton – who also led a last-minute drive in his first start to beat the Detroit Lions – took the Bills 80 yards in 3:06 with Buffalo trailing by six, and hit rookie Sammy Watkins with one second left to give Buffalo a dramatic 17-16 win. The degree of difficulty on the win was high after the Bills lost their top two tailbacks, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Orton came through.

Orton's career looked to be over when he threatened retirement all offseason. He did that to force the Cowboys to release him (you can argue the ethics of that), and then the Bills gave him a two-year, $11 million contract that seemed a bit expensive. But now with the Bills at 4-3 thanks to two late victories led by Orton, it all makes sense. 

Indianapolis Colts defense, and their title hopes: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck played well again, but that's to be expected by this point. He's one of the best players in the NFL. What was surprising is that the Colts once again put on a defensive clinic, this time against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Colts had their first shutout since 2008 in a 27-0 victory, and it was even more lopsided than that score indicates. The Colts outgained the Bengals 506-135. That should not happen in the NFL. Especially to a good team (though, we can argue after the last three weeks how good the Bengals really are).

A.J. Green was out with a toe injury again, and bad Andy Dalton showed up for the Bengals, but that doesn’t explain Cincinnati getting just 135 yards and eight total first downs.

The Bengals were absolutely destroyed. The Colts also dominated the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, so maybe we shouldn’t view this as a fluke.

The Colts started 0-2, with losses to the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re 5-0 since, and looking like a team that can win a Super Bowl, especially if the defense is capable of more days like these.

Denard Robinson: For his first 22 NFL games, Robinson had 48 carries. After his 22 carries on Sunday, it's hard to understand what took so long for the Jacksonville Jaguars to give him a real shot.

Robinson rushed for 127 yards in the Jaguars' first win of the season, a 24-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Robinson looked very good too, making defenders miss whenever he had the ball ... basically, what he was at the University of Michigan when he played quarterback. He looked fantastic.

Toby Gerhart hasn't worked out for the Jaguars. Storm Johnson got his shot and struggled too. After Robinson's coming-out party, the Jaguars are going to see if he's the answer. After how he played on Sunday, a lack of playing time won't be an issue for Robinson going forward.

Jeff Fisher: I’ve been critical of Fisher, especially early this year as the St. Louis Rams have underachieved. But I respect his fake punt call at the end, which was the biggest play in a 28-26 win over the Seattle Seahawks. You thought Bill Belichick was being gutsy going for it on fourth down against the Colts a few years ago? Fisher called a fake punt from his own 18-yard line in a two-point game. Wow.

That's how you play to win. Again, let’s celebrate one of the craziest play calls you’ll ever see in the NFL:

LOSERS

Drew Brees: It’s hard to totally blame a guy for a loss after he threw for 342 yards. And he had nothing to do with the Saints defense not tackling Lions receiver Golden Tate on a long touchdown that gave Detroit some hope to come back on Sunday.

But Brees’ lone interception has put the Saints’ season in a really, really bad place.

Brees didn’t see safety Glover Quin lurking in the middle of the field when he threw to Marques Colston with a little more than three minutes to go in a 23-17 game. Instead of the Saints punting and forcing the Lions into a long drive to win the game, Detroit took over at New Orleans' 14-yard line. The Lions got the game-winning score to Corey Fuller on the ensuing drive. It was a terrible mistake, especially from a future Hall of Famer.

Brees hasn’t been bad this season (he has thrown for 300 yards in four of six games and 293 in another) but the Saints are now 2-4 and Brees hasn’t been as great as he usually is. He was far from the only reason the Saints lost Sunday, but the Saints are in a full slump now and needed their quarterback to carry them to a much-needed win. It didn't happen.

Brian Hoyer: Nobody should jump off the Hoyer bandwagon after a bad day. But, most quarterbacks who have a bad week don’t have a first-round pick waiting behind them.

No need to sugarcoat what happened at Jacksonville on Sunday. Hoyer was terrible. He was 16-of-41 and threw 10 straight incompletions at one point. And the Jaguars defense isn’t very good; it was ranked 30th in total yards allowed and 30th in passing yards allowed before Sunday.

It was a terrible game for a quarterback who was pretty good in the team’s 3-2 start. He has built up enough goodwill that his job is certainly not in jeopardy. Not yet anyway. A couple more games like this, and it might need to be reevaluated.

The “Thursday Night Football” matchup: Finally, finally we were going to get a true marquee “TNF” matchup next week between the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos, a great AFC West battle between arguably the two best teams in the NFL through six weeks. And then the Chargers had to go and take some luster off it.

The Chargers have had a couple strange weeks after a great start to the season. San Diego struggled to beat the Oakland Raiders in Week 6, which could have been an excusable blip for the Chargers, had they not followed it up with a 23-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The way the Chargers lost, giving up a long drive in the final two minutes after tying the game, is a bit concerning.

Maybe the Chargers were looking ahead, because Thursday’s game still is huge in the AFC West race. But right now, it looks like there’s some separation between the best team in the division and the second best.

Panthers defense: Last year, the Panthers rode Cam Newton and a great defense to an NFC South championship. This year, at least they have Newton (and even he was off on Sunday). 

The Panthers defense has disappeared. It gave up 38 points to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, a week after giving up 37 to the Bengals, who barely cracked 100 yards against the Colts. In the Panthers' three games before that, they allowed 37, 38 and 24 points. That streak also started when defensive end Greg Hardy went on the exempt/commissioner's permission list.

Hardy's absence is not the only reason for the Panthers' struggles. The struggles are real though. If the Panthers don't figure it out fast, it's hard to see them coming close to repeating last year's success.

What in the world did the Browns think they were doing on this call?: So, Cleveland had the good idea to send out the punt team on fourth down in the fourth quarter, then run it off and run on the offense to fool the Jaguars. And was it ever bad.

The Jaguars' defense was given time to substitute, by rule, when the Browns substituted. So the Jags got their defense back on the field. Then the Browns ran a fairly hopeless option play that lost 2 yards.

That was better than just lining up and running a play on fourth-and-5? Here's the evidence of one of the strangest plays you'll see:

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 2:12 am

DENVER – The Denver Broncos had a lot of fun with No. 509. 

After Peyton Manning threw his 509th career touchdown to pass Brett Favre on the NFL's all-time list for career touchdown passes, Manning went to get the historic ball from Demaryius Thomas, who caught the record-setting 8-yard score with 3:09 remaining in the second quarter of Denver's 42-17 blowout of the San Francisco 49ers.

Thomas and his teammates hilariously played keep-away.

Thomas tossed it to Wes Welker, with Manning in the middle, then the ball went to Emmanuel Sanders and eventually over to Julius Thomas, just like they were back on the first-grade playground with Manning trying to get it from them. Manning eventually got the ball, and a big hug from coach John Fox when he got to the sideline.

 

The Broncos practiced the routine over the week, Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported:

Demaryius Thomas just said Peyton Manning called, staged and had the wideouts practice the post 509 TD keep-away prank. Can't make this up.

— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) October 20, 2014

 Manning hadn't said much about his march toward the NFL's all-time record for passing touchdowns, preferring in his normal news conference earlier this week to focus on the San Francisco 49ers and a big game for his Broncos. He rarely speaks in terms of himself and his numbers anyway, deflecting it to the next game he and his team has to prepare for.

But Manning's touchdown to Thomas was a special moment in a game that generally doesn't stop for any ceremony. 

The game didn't really stop (except for the Broncos' keep-away game), as the extra point was kicked as the public-address announcer alerted fans to the record, like nobody at Sports Authority Field knew. During the commercial break, a short video was played with kind words from Manning's teammates, and a congratulations from Favre.

"I'm not surprised," Favre said as part of his pre-taped congratulations. "I wish you great success for the rest of the season, and the rest of your career."

Manning was playing his 246th game on Sunday night. Favre set the record in 302 games, or three-and-a-half more seasons than Manning took to get 509. Manning has lapped the field.

Manning moved past Favre in a rapid pace once he moved to the Broncos, after it looked like his career might be over. He missed a season due to multiple neck surgeries, then was cut by the Indianapolis Colts. He decided to sign with the Broncos, and that has worked out incredibly well. He had 399 touchdowns with Indianapolis. His record-breaking pass was his 110th in just 38 games with the Broncos.

How many touchdowns can Manning compile before he's done? As he showed against the 49ers he hit Emmanuel Sanders for touchdown No. 507 and Wes Welker for No. 508 a little more than 12 minutes into the first quarter he's showing no signs of slowing down. Is 600 possible? Maybe, considering he had a NFL record 55 last season and 15 through Denver's first five games this season. Even with the new rules helping quarterbacks, that would make the record tough to beat for a long time. Consider it this way: A quarterback would need to have 20 seasons of 30 touchdowns to reach that.

That's for another day. Sunday night was about No. 509 and celebrating Manning, the all-time touchdown king and one of the greatest players in NFL history, even if the Broncos wanted to have a little juvenile fun with the 38-year-old man after he made history. 

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 1:54 am

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning didn't leave much suspense if he'd tie Brett Favre's all-time passing touchdowns record on Sunday night. He took care of that question quickly.

With 2:57 left in the first quarter, Manning threw his second touchdown of the game against the San Francisco 49ers and tied Favre with his 508th career touchdown pass. Wes Welker caught the pass that tied the record, a rare long score for the slot receiver. Welker was wide open, in part due to a great pump fake from the future Hall of Fame quarterback, then Welker scampered into the end zone, diving in to barely beat safety Antoine Bethea in pursuit. Welker was initially called out at the 1-yard line, then the officials changed their minds on the field. Replays showed Welker hit the pylon before he was out of bounds.

Manning, needing two touchdowns against the 49ers to tie Favre, got his first right away. On Denver's first drive he hit Emmanuel Sanders for a score. That gave him 507 for his career.

Nobody remember's Hank Aaron's 714th home run or Jerry Rice's touchdown to tie the NFL's all-time record in that category, so No. 508 just set the stage for Manning to get the score that will pass Favre and will be replayed for a long time.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 20, 2014, 1:02 am

The Kansas City Chiefs stared into the abyss in Week 7. Luckily for them, the abyss didn't stare back.

The Chiefs scored a potentially season-saving victory over the San Diego Chargers, who had won five straight coming in, with a late-second victory on the road.

A loss would have put them four back of the Chargers in the win column, but now they are 3-3 with two games (home against the St. Louis Rams and New York Jets) that should be quite winnable.

The Chiefs now have wins over the Chargers, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins — combined record: 13-7) and respectable losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. (Throw out that inexcusable Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans for just a moment, will you?)

For a team many expected to take a step back, the Chiefs are playing at a pretty high level. Alex Smith continues to make big throws. Jamaal Charles has rallied from an early-season injury. Travis Kelce has turned into a pivotal playmaker. And the much-maligned offensive line is developing more than anyone could have expected.

Sunday's victory came in a highly charged atmosphere with big AFC West ramifications. Overcoming a slew of injuries and dropped passes, the Chiefs are in good shape now and would be in terrific shape at 5-3 at the turn if they can get to that point, all things considered. They've run through a gauntlet of a schedule so far and have held up fairly well.

There were unexpected contributors all around in this game.

Cairo Santos came from nowhere to win the kicking job, beating out incumbent Ryan Succop, and he hit three key field goals in the win, including the 48-yarder in the waning moments. 

A shorthanded defense kept Chargers QB Philip Rivers, a league MVP candidate, in check with 205 passing yards on 31 attempts, none going for longer than 27 yards.

Fullback Anthony Sherman did his usual dirty-work blocking with aplomb but also added a stunning 11-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, he made a great tackle in coverage.

Castoff safety Kurt Coleman, who has been on three NFL teams since February, had the game-clinching interception. 

The Chiefs' three leading tacklers — Jamell Fleming, Husain Abdullah and Josh Mauga — are all role players and ones that other NFL teams didn't want.

Andy Reid will take them. Oh sure, he still hasn't figured out how to use timeouts properly. But he has his Chiefs back in the playoff picture and just how he likes it: When the rest of the league doubts a Reid-coached team, that's often when he's at his most dangerous.

Don't forget about these Chiefs.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 20, 2014, 12:25 am

Something's afoot here. Somehow, someway, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack got their cleats stuck together on a fourth-quarter passing play.

Thankfully, offensive linemen Jared Veldheer and Bobby Massie were on their toes, and helped the two foes get untangled.

Even weirder: While there was a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty called on Palmer's third-and-5 attempt, Mack was not the guilty party. Linebacker Sio Moore earned the flag, and the Cardinals killed another three and a half minutes off the clock in their 24-13 victory.

You could say the play gave Arizona a leg up on the win. OK, we'll stop now.

Adding to the hijinks of Sunday's game, the Cardinals' Darnell Dockett, who is out for the season with a knee injury, rubbed the loss in the faces of Raiders fans:

Injured Cardinals DL Darnell Dockett trolls Raiders fans with epic sign http://t.co/WFCTOfvZDw pic.twitter.com/2QKqNk3YUB

— Larry Brown (@LBSports) October 20, 2014

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 20, 2014, 12:22 am

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice could be reinstated by the NFL within a month, CBSSports.com reported on Sunday.

While Rice remains indefinitely suspended for punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City elevator last February, the league has set a hearing date for the former All-Pro back's appeal, according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora. A decision on Rice's future could reportedly come in mid-November.

The NFL initially suspended Rice for two games prior to TMZ releasing video of his domestic abuse. Rice's legal team allegedly contends he deserves a suspension no longer than the new NFL policy of six games for first-time offenders because commissioner Roger Goodell was made aware of what was on the video.

The hearing will be conducted by former U.S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones and is expected to be completed before erstwhile FBI director Robert Mueller completes his independent investigation into the incident on behalf of the NFL, according to La Canfora.

That creates a potential public relations nightmare for the league, since Rice could join a team before Mueller's report potentially reveals another bombshell.

However, it remains unclear whether any team would consider signing Rice prior to the end of the season, even if he is reinstated. La Canfora cites the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots as potential destinations, since both teams have had their share of running back problems this season.

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 19, 2014, 11:54 pm

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


3 + six =

Current ye@r *

Looking for older news? Search in the archive