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Monday Night Football Preview

Monday Night Football Preview

Tom Lynn /Getty Images(GREEN BAY, Wisc.) -- The Green Bay Packers will host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday in a battle of two first place teams.

Green Bay is coming off an impressive 26-21 win over the Patriots last Sunday and quarterback Aaron Rodgers knows how critical winning in the final stretch of the season is.

"We have some big goals, and we're getting into December football now with a chance with everything right in front of us," Rodgers said.

Rodgers has completed 66.3 percent of his passes and has thrown 32 touchdowns this year..

"No disrespect to any quarterback in the NFL, but right now he's at a level that much higher than anybody else," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said this week.  "I don't know that there's been a quarterback that's had a stretch like he's had in the history of the NFL." 

The Falcons have won their last three out of four games, but are 2-4 on the road this year.

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Buccaneers Part Ways with Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford

Buccaneers Part Ways with Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Jeff Tedford's short tenure as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator has come to an end as he and the Buccaneers have parted ways.

Tedford was hired in January by first-year Bucs head coach Lovie Smith, but had been on an indefinite leave of absence due to health reasons and was released from his contract over the weekend to "pursue other opportunities."

After having heart surgery prior to the start of preseason, Tedford hasn't called a play for the called a play for the team since the third preseason game.

"When my health issues arose, I simply tried to ignore them, and then I made the mistake of twice trying to come back too early," Tedford said in a statement. "At that point, the organization proposed, and I agreed, that an indefinite leave of absence would allow me the proper amount of time to rest and rehabilitate myself. I am happy to state that I'm healthy now and feeling great."

Without Tedford, the Buccaneers have the 26th ranked offense in the NFL.

Tedford was the head coach at California from 2002-12.

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Andy Dalton: ‘A lot You’re Playing for in December’

Andy Dalton: ‘A lot You’re Playing for in December’

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) -- The Bengals are preparing for a tough divisional game against the Steelers on Sunday.

Cincinnati sits atop the AFC North and quarterback Andy Dalton is expecting one of the toughest games of the season against Pittsburgh.

"There's a lot you're playing for in December," Dalton said.  "December usually decides a lot of things, that's when you have to be playing well."

The Steelers are averaging 26.7 points this season and giving up 24.8.

"These games are always really physical," Dalton said of the matchup.  "These are important games because it's a division game, its Pittsburgh, and it's the rivalry.  Everybody gets up for these."

The Bengals are 4-1-1 at home this year and Pittsburgh is 3-3 on the road.

"Really good defense," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.  "Their secondary is playing as good as any secondary in the NFL right now."

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Brandon Marshall Out for Season With Rib Injury

Brandon Marshall Out for Season With Rib Injury

Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images(LAKE FOREST, Ill.) -- On Thursday, Brandon Marshall was taken to an area hospital after taking a knee to the back during a 41-28 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Chicago Bears wide receiver was still there on Friday with two fractured ribs and a lung injury, causing him to miss the rest of the season.

Sources close to the team told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Friday that Marshall will miss the remaining three games of the 2014 slate, though the team has yet to confirm it. A team official would only say that the wide out will not dress for the team's contest against the New Orleans Saints next Monday.

Marshall was injured midway through the second quarter after catching a fourth-down pass. After securing the football, Dallas' Barry Church came up to make a tackle, placing his knee into the lower back area. The 30-year-old eventually walked off the field under his own power before going into the locker, and eventually was taken to the hospital.

A nine-year veteran, Marshall had made three catches for 61 yards prior to the injury. So far in 2014 he amassed 721 yards, 61 receptions, and eight touchdowns.

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Ravens Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata Suspended 4 Games by the NFL

Ravens Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata Suspended 4 Games by the NFL

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(OWINGS MILLS, Md.) -- The Baltimore Ravens will be without one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL for the rest of the regular season. Haloti Ngata has been suspended four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Ngata will be eligible to return to the field if the Ravens make the playoffs, but he will lose $2.1 million because of the suspension.

"I made a mistake, and I own this," Ngata said in a statement. "I took Adderall and take full responsibility for doing this. I am deeply sorry and broken up over this. I let down my family, my teammates, Ravens fans and myself. My hope is that the Ravens make the playoffs, and I believe they can do this. And, then I can come back and help us win."

The 30-year-old Ngata has been with the Ravens for his entire nine-year career and is a five-time Pro Bowler.

Ngata is eligible to return on Monday, Dec. 29.

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Carolina Panthers Waive Carson & Williams

Carolina Panthers Waive Carson & Williams

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- The Carolina Panthers waived starting cornerback Antonie Carson and linebacker Jason Williams on Tuesday, and promoted cornerback Carrington Byndom and linebacker Horace Miller from the practice squad.

Carson was benched for the second time this season during Sunday's 31-13 loss at Minnesota, after allowing a 17-yard touchdown catch to Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings with 16 seconds left in the second quarter. The seven-year NFL veteran had 58 tackles and two interceptions in 12 games this season.

Williams was in his fifth season with Carolina, where he had four tackles in 11 games.

The Panthers signed Byndom this past offseason as an undrafted rookie out of Texas. In college, he had 189 tackles and five interceptions, with two of them returned for touchdowns. 

Miller signed with Carolina on Oct. 1 after spending the preseason with the Seattle Seahawks. While at Texas-El Paso, he had 120 tackles and 12 sacks.

After finishing the 2013 season winning the NFC South with a 12-4 record, the Panthers are 3-8-1 this year.

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Jim Harbaugh Not Concerned with Future

Jim Harbaugh Not Concerned with FutureRalph Freso/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rumors have swirled regarding the future of San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, and they only escalated on Thursday with a 19-3 loss to Seattle. The one person who does not seem to be concerned with those...

Dolphins Rally to Beat Jets, 16-13

Dolphins Rally to Beat Jets, 16-13

Marc Serota/Getty Images(EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.) -- The New York Jets held a 13-6 lead going into the fourth quarter and looked to be in complete control over Miami. However, the Dolphins rallied for 10 points in the final frame, beating the Jets 16-13 on Monday night. 

Caleb Sturgis' third field goal of the night, a 26-yarder, was the go-ahead score for the Dolphins (7-5) while the game was sealed when Geno Smith threw an interception with less than a minute to play.

It was the second straight loss for the Jets (2-10) who dominated in the first half and put on an impressive running display, racking up 277 yards on the ground.

"We had to draw a line in the dirt. No more," Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said after his team gave up 210 rushing yards in the first half. "We came out in the second half scheme-wise the same, but guys played the way they're supposed to play."

New York ran just 13 pass plays, with Smith completing seven, while running the ball 49 times as part of a concerted effort to control the game. It was a game plan that worked until Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins marched down the field in the fourth. A holding penalty helped Miami extend the drive and Lamar Miller rushed in from 4-yards out to tie the game. 

That was one of many mistakes the Jets made, including a pair of missed field goals from Nick Folk. New York had a chance to take the lead back after Miami tied it up, entering field goal range before a sack of Smith forced them to punt. 

With the win, Miami remains in a wild card spot with four games left to play.

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St. Louis Police Officers Angered by Rams Players Protest

St. Louis Police Officers Angered by Rams Players Protest

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) -- As the Rams began their player introductions Sunday against the Raiders, five players on St. Louis' squad drew the ire of the local police for raising their arms in support of the protests that have swept Ferguson, Missouri. 

Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens were seen on CBS with the "hands up, don't shoot" pose as they ran onto the field.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association issued a statement with a harsh criticism of the players' statement, demanding punishment be issued by the league and the team:

"...now that the evidence is in and Officer Wilson's account has been verified by physical and ballistic evidence as well as eye-witness testimony, which led the grand jury to conclude that no probable cause existed that Wilson engaged in any wrongdoing, it is unthinkable that hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven over-and-over again."

"All week long, the Rams and the NFL were on the phone with the St. Louis Police Department asking for assurances that the players and the fans would be kept safe from the violent protesters who had rioted, looted, and burned buildings in Ferguson. Our officers have been working 12 hour shifts for over a week, they had days off including Thanksgiving cancelled so that they could defend this community from those on the streets that perpetuate this myth that Michael Brown was executed by a brother police officer and then, as the players and their fans sit safely in their dome under the watchful protection of hundreds of St. Louis's finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer, that is way out-of-bounds, to put it in football parlance," Roorda said.

The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology. Roorda said he planned to speak to the NFL and the Rams to voice his organization's displeasure tomorrow. He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be. Roorda warned, "I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Well I've got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours. I'd remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser's products. It's cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it's not the NFL and the Rams, then it'll be cops and their supporters."

This comes after the announcement last week from St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCullough that officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown. 

 

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Texans Dominate Titans

Texans Dominate Titans

Scott Halleran/Getty Images(HOUSTON, Tx.) -- Ryan Fitzpatrick returned as the starting quarterback for the Texans Sunday, when Houston hosted the Tennessee Titans.

He took out his frustrations of being benched on the Titans, as he threw for six touchdowns in the Texans' 45-21 victory. Fitzpatrick finished the day completing 24 of 33 passes for 358 yards. 

"I didn't know if I'd ever have a chance to play again," Fitzpatrick said. "It was eye-opening for me not to take it for granted and to embrace it."

Fitzpatrick had been benched for poor performance two weeks ago in favor of Ryan Mallett. He returned to the starting lineup after Mallett was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. 

DeAndre Hopkins was his prime target as he reeled in nine catches for 238 yards and two touchdowns. 

Another touchdown pass went to defensive end J.J. Watt.  Watt now has five touchdowns on the season. This was his third receiving score on the season to go with two defensive touchdowns (one fumble return, one interception return).

The Texans move to 6-6 and travel to face the Jaguars next weekend.

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Manziel Enters As Bills Bully Browns

Manziel Enters As Bills Bully Browns

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- The Buffalo Bills beat up on the Cleveland Browns to the point that they forced Brian Hoyer to the bench.

Sunday, the Bills witnessed what could be the start of the Johnny Manziel era in Cleveland as they defeated the Browns 26-10. Manziel came in to relieve Hoyer with 12:01 left in the fourth quarter.

Buffalo's defense rattled Hoyer all game, forcing two interceptions and sacking the Browns signal caller twice. 

Manziel entered and the impact was immediate. Trailing by 17, Manziel marched the Browns 80 yards on eight plays and scored a touchdown from 10 yards out to cut Buffalo's lead to 20-10. 

"It felt great," Manziel said. "Anytime you can drive 80 yards on a defense like that, with a defensive front like that and make a couple plays."

The Bills quickly put an end to the Manziel Mania. On the Browns' next possession, Manziel fumbled a third down shotgun snap and defensive lineman Kyle Williams forced an incomplete pass. The play was initially ruled a fumble but reversed by the replay official. The Browns would then fail to convert on fourth down.

Both teams now sport a 7-5 record but the Browns face the question of who will start at quarterback for the final month of the season.

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Rodgers Outduels Brady in Win Over Patriots

Rodgers Outduels Brady in Win Over Patriots

Tom Lynn /Getty Images(GREEN BAY, Wisc.) -- The Green Bay Packers went up 13-0 in the first quarter and held on late as Aaron Rodgers outdueled Tom Brady, beating the New England Patriots 26-21 on Sunday afternoon. The matchup was the first ever meeting between two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

The Packers (9-3) got a pair of Mason Crosby field goals to open the scoring, before Rodgers found Richard Rodgers for a 32-yard touchdown pass and a 13-0 advantage. New England (9-3) got on the board quickly in the second with a 6-yard run from Brandon Bolden, making it a 13-7 game. After a third Crosby field goal the two teams traded touchdown passes, giving Green Bay a 23-14 lead at halftime.

A scoreless third quarter set up a dramatic final frame with the Patriots closing the gap almost immediately. Just over a minute into the period, Brady connected with Brandon LaFell on a 15-yard scoring play that brough New England within two at 23-21. Crosby would add another field goal, his fourth of the game, to make it a five point lead with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.

New England looked to drive down the field and had a 3rd-and-nine at the Packers 20-yard line. Brady, who had not been sacked all game, was brought down for a 9-yard loss. That was followed by a missed field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, giving the ball back to Green Bay. With no timeouts, the Patriots could not stop the clock as the Packers improved to 6-0 at home.

Both quarterbacks performed well with each tossing a pair of touchdowns and neither throwing an interception. However, Rodgers was 24-for-38 for 368 yards while Brady was just 22-for-35 for only 245 yards.

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Rivers Helps San Diego Stun Baltimore for Victory

Rivers Helps San Diego Stun Baltimore for Victory

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images(BALTIMORE, Md.) -- Eddie Royal's one yard touchdown catch with 38 seconds left gave San Diego a 34-33 lead as the Chargers (8-4) stunned the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday afternoon. San Diego scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and were able to keep pace with Kansas City and Denver in the AFC West.

The Ravens (7-5) opened up a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter, 30-20, with less than seven minutes to play in regulation. Philip Rivers then marched San Diego 77 yards in just over two minutes, finding Keenan Allen on a 23-yard strike to pull his team within three.

Baltimore added a field goal, one of four by Justin Tucker on the day, to lead by six with 2:22 remaining in the game. Once again, it was Rivers leading the Chargers down the field. With under a minute to go and the ball on the Ravens 24-yard line, Rivers launched a deep ball to the endzone intended for Royal. The pass was incomplete by a pass interference call on Anthony Levine put the ball on the 1-yard line. San Diego then ran a bubble screen to the left where Royal walked into the endzone untouched.

San Diego's defense held on the final possession, not allowing Baltimore to get within field goal range. Rivers finished the day with 383 passing yards and three touchdowns, also throwing one interception. Joe Flacco tossed for 225 yards and a pair of scores while Justin Forsett rushed for 106 yards for the Ravens.

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Jaguars Rally to Beat Giants, 25-24

Jaguars Rally to Beat Giants, 25-24

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- Despite trailing 21-0 in the first half, the Jacksonville Jaguars rallied and defeated the New York Giants 25-24 on a late Josh Scobee field goal on Sunday. The Jaguars (2-10) forced three fumbles in the win, returning two of them for touchdowns.

The Giants (3-10) got on the board first when Rashad Jennings scored on the first play of the second quarter, running in from two yards out. New York added another score less than four minutes later as Eli Manning found Preston Parker for a three yard touchdown strike. Jennings then rumbled for another touchdown, this one from 17 yards out, to put the Giants up 21-0 with 6:30 to play in the half.

Jacksonville finally scored when Scobee knocked home a 28-yard field goal just before the two minute warning. That was the start of 22 unanswered points for the Jaguars, helping to complete the comeback. Aiding in the effort was a pair of New York fumbles. Geno Hayes stripped Manning early in the third quarter and J.T. Thomas recovered in the endzone to make it a 21-10 Giants lead.

After the defense was able to hold off the Giants again, Blake Bortles found Marqise Lee for a 30 yard touchdown to bring the Jaguars within one possession. New York looked to drive and regain momentum, but a Larry Donnell fumbled was picked up Aaron Colvin and returned 41 yards for a touchdown. A failed two-point conversion put Jacksonville ahead 22-21 with just under 13 minutes left in regulation.

The Giants took the lead back on a Josh Brown 33-yard field goal with 3:26 remaining. Jacksonville's offense powered through, going 55 yards in three minutes, culminating in a 43-yard field goal from Scobee to take a 25-24 advantage.

Manning was stripped on the next play, the third fumble of the day for New York, ultimately ending the game. Despite the two fumbles, Manning was 24-for-34 passing for 247 yards and one touchdown while Jennings ran for 91 yards and two scores. Jacksonville was paced by 194 passing yards from Bortles, one touchdown and 68 rushing yards.

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Rice Wins Appeal, is Reinstated

Rice Wins Appeal, is Reinstated

(NEW YORK) --  Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice won his appeal of an indefinite suspension from the NFL and has been reinstated into the league.

The 27-year-old Rice is now free to sign with any NFL team.

"I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisors, family, friends and fans -- but most importantly, my wife Janay," Rice said in a statement released by the NFLPA on Friday. "I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions.

"I am thankful that there was a proper appeals process in place to address this issue. I will continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes."

Rice received an indefinite suspension from the league on Sept. 8 when it was found he violated the NFL's personal conduct policy after a video surfaced of him hitting his then-fiancée Janay Palmer.

Rice was originally suspended two games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the incident. That prompted Rice to appeal the indefinite suspension saying the NFL couldn't suspend him a second time for conduct the league already knew about.

Rice has played in six NFL seasons, all with the Ravens. During that time he's rushed for 6,180 yards and 37 touchdowns while also catching 369 balls for 3,034 yards and six touchdowns.

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Report: Former Bills Star Contemplated Suicide

Report: Former Bills Star Contemplated Suicide

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- One of the star members of the Buffalo Bills four consecutive AFC Championship teams, Darryl Talley, is suffering from chronic depression and has contemplated suicide.

Talley tells the Buffalo News that he believes the ill effects he is experiencing are a result of incurring numerous severe hits from his playing days as a linebacker. 

Now 54, Talley stated "When you go through the s--- that I’ve gone through, you start to wonder: Is this really worth it? Is it worth being here, worth being tortured anymore?"

He continues to explain that one of the the reasons he continues to fight the depression is the desire to see his grandchildren grow up. 

Talley was one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against the NFL which claimed that the league hid evidence that playing the game posed risks to players’ mental health.

The NFL initially settled the lawsuit for $675 million over 65 years.  A federal judge later removed the cap on the settlement after seeing that the more than 20,000 players could qualify for treatment. 

 

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Seattle Stymies San Francisco

Seattle Stymies San Francisco

Steve Dykes/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO, Ca.) -- The Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers 19-3 Thursday with a dominating defensive effort.

Cornerback Richard Sherman reasserted himself as he intercepted Colin Kaepernick twice and could have had a third if not for a drop.

"The second one was pretty entertaining," Sherman said. "I was laughing the whole time because I told their sideline 'if they throw it my way, I'd end the game.'" 

Quarterback Russell Wilson was efficient, completing crisp passes and methodically moving the ball against the 49ers.  He completed 15 of 22 passes for 236 yards. Wilson also completed the only touchdown of the game to running back Robert Turbin who took the ball in from 13 yards out.

The Seahawks are now 8-4 and appear to be returning to the form that led them to a championship run last season. 

"These guys have really joined together and really recaptured what it was that we played with last year," said head coach Pete Carroll. "It took us some time to figure it out, but we have.

For the second straight week the Seahawks have defeated a division opponent by the score of 19-3. They beat up on the previously 9-1 Arizona Cardinals who were under the charge of new starting quarterback Drew Stanton.

"There is no question, in the last two weeks that we have elevated our game," Carroll said.

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Eagles Route the Cowboys, 33-10

Eagles Route the Cowboys, 33-10

Rob Carr via Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Texas) -- In a game between two of the top teams in the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles proved to be better on Thanksgiving as they easily defeated the Dallas Cowboys 33-10.

The Eagles struck first in the game as quarterback Mark Sanchez commanded the team to a 7-0 in their first possession in furious fashion, and never looked back.

Sanchez completed 20 of 29 passes for 217 yards and one touchdown through the air while adding another on the ground. It was his first game of the season without a turnover.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy had arguably his best game of the season on Thursday, as he carried the ball 25 times for 159 yards and a touchdown.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray each failed to get into a rhythm during the game. Romo completed 18 of 29 yards for 199 yards and two interceptions. He snapped his streak of 38-straight games with at least one TD pass.

Murray was held to a season-low 73 yards.

With the win, the Eagles now sit at 9-3 on the season and hold sole possession of first place in the NFC East over the Cowboys who fell to 8-4 with the loss.

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Lions Defeat the Bears, 34-17

Lions Defeat the Bears, 34-17

Leon Halip.Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Megatron simply could not be stopped on Thursday as the Detroit Lions improved to 8-4 on the season after taking down the Chicago Bears 34-17.

Johnson dominated the game as he caught 11 passes for 146 yards two touchdowns. He also crossed the 10,000 receiving yards mark for his career, and became the fastest player in NFL history to do so.

"Guys still believe in what we got going here," Johnson said. "We had a good week of practice -- it was a very short week, but we were very detailed in what we did on the field, coaches taking care of us. It's our part to come out here and do our job on the field."

Lions running back Joique Bell also had a great day, as he carried the ball 23 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He was the only Lion with a rushing attempt.

The Lions defense also handled the Bears run game. The team carried the ball eight times for a grand total of 13 yards, good for just 1.6 yards per attempt.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed 31 of 48 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Jets Name Geno Smith Starter for Monday’s Game Against Dolphins

Jets Name Geno Smith Starter for Monday’s Game Against Dolphins

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After losing his starting spot to Michael Vick Week 9, Geno Smith has gotten his old job back.

The New York Jets announced Wednesday that Smith will be the starting quarterback during their game Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.

"As an organization, all of our decisions are organizational driven," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said during a conference call Wednesday. "We just want to get Geno another opportunity to show what he can do. Obviously we like the way he finished last season. We've had some bumps in the road this year. We sat him down for a few weeks and we'll see how he responds."

Smith relieved Vick during the Jets' 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills Monday. Vick had completed 7 of 19 passes with an interception before giving way to Smith. Smith played solid completing 10 of 12 passes for 89 yards.

The 24-year-old Smith, who the Jets selected with the 39th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, has played in 25 games during his career with Gang Green. During that time he has completed 56.4 percent of his passes throwing for 4,505 yards, 19 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. Smith has also ran for 509 yards and seven touchdowns.

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