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Brady Defends Deception Against Ravens

Brady Defends Deception Against Ravens

Jim Rogash/Getty Images(BOSTON, Ma.) -- Tom Brady respects Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh, but believes the Patriots did nothing wrong in their win over the Ravens in Saturday's AFC Divisional match.

Brady, on his weekly radio appearance on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show, explained that trick plays, deception and misdirection are all part of football.

"Let me say first, I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, and obviously that team is one of the toughest teams we face. It's always a tough match-up," Brady said.

"It was a play that we liked and we thought would work. We had a couple versions of it. It's kind of an alert play for our team, and we made them figure out what to do," Brady continued. "I think that's what it looked like to me. We had to execute it, we had to make the appropriate calls and block it and make the plays, and I was proud of us. That was a good weapon for us. That's part of football. You have to prepare for everything."

The issue lies in the Patriots lining up four offensive linemen and one wide receiver that declares as ineligible. A player that is ineligible cannot cross the line of scrimmage until a pass is thrown or on a running play.  The Patriots did this on three plays.

The Ravens took exception to this because of the difficulty in figuring out whom to cover.  Harbaugh was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the game when he ran onto the field to alert an official of the issue. 

The NFL ruled that what the Patriots was legal as defined by the rule book.

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Broncos & Head Coach John Fox Mutually Agree to Part Ways

Broncos & Head Coach John Fox Mutually Agree to Part Ways

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- The Denver Broncos and head coach John Fox have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced on Monday.

“John Fox and I met for more than an hour on Monday afternoon to discuss the 2014 season and our goals for the future,” said Broncos president of football operations and general manager John Elway. “During our open and candid conversation, it became clear that it was best for both the Denver Broncos and coach Fox to move on and make this change.”

In four seasons roaming the sidelines for the Broncos, Fox went 46-18 (.719) in the regular season and 3-4 (.429) in the postseason. He led Denver to four consecutive AFC West division titles and an appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII.

“It was an honor to coach the Denver Broncos, a first-class franchise with great fans and a winning tradition,” Fox said in a statement. “I am thankful to John, Mr. Bowlen and Joe Ellis for allowing me and my family to be part of this team and community.”

Fox departs a day after the Broncos were eliminated from the postseason by the Indianapolis Colts, 24-13.

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Ravens’ Steve Smith Plans to Play Next Season

Ravens’ Steve Smith Plans to Play Next Season

J. Meric/Getty Images(OWINGS MILLS, Md.) -- After completing his 14th NFL season, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith plans to come back next season. He'll be 36 years old.

In his first season in Baltimore, Smith proved he can still be a number on receiver as he led the team in receptions (79) and receiving yards (1,065). It was the most receiving yards in a single season by a player 35 or older since Rod Smith had 1,105 yards in 2005.

"It was a GREAT season this old man played for you and my teammates," Smith said in post on Instagram. "I've enjoyed every moment and couldn't have asked for a better fan base. Look forward to a better season next year and watch us go WIN IT ALL."

On Saturday, Smith became the 13th player in NFL history with 1,000 career receiving yards in the playoffs.

After 13 seasons with the Carolina Panthers, the team let Smith go despite being the best receiver in team history.

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Ravens Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak Will Return Next Season

Ravens Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak Will Return Next Season

National Football League(OWINGS MILLS, Md.) -- Despite the chance to become a head coach once again, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will return next season.

"It is flattering and humbling to be invited to interview for a number of NFL head coaching positions, and I greatly appreciate these opportunities, but I have decided to stay with the Ravens," Kubiak said in a statement released by the team.

Kubiak had spent eight seasons as the head coach of the Houston Texans from 2006-2013, but was fired following a 2-14 season. He came over to Baltimore and led the Ravens to their highest offensive ranking in 17 years.

"This is a special organization and we, like [Head] Coach [John] Harbaugh says, are building something great," Kubiak said. "I want to be a part of that and contribute in whatever ways I can."

The Ravens set a franchise record for points scored in a season (409) in 2014.

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Manning Retirement Questions Begin

Manning Retirement Questions BeginJustin Edmonds/Getty Images(DENVER, Co.) -- After another disappointing playoff performance, the retirement question for Peyton Manning has become more intense. The Denver Broncos fell 24-13 at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts Sunday. Manning had an...

Seahawks Rip Panthers to Advance to NFC Championship

Seahawks Rip Panthers to Advance to NFC Championship

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Russell Wilson throws for 268 yards and three touchdowns to lead the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks past the No. 4 seed Carolina Panthers 31-17 Saturday in their NFC divisional playoff game.The game was tight at first. Nobody scored until 56 seconds were remaining in the first quarter when Doug Baldwin caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Wilson. Carolina answered back on their next drive when Cam Newton led the team on a 79-yard drive ending with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin.Seattle would score a touchdown on their next drive, but Carolina's Graham Gano kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired sending the Panthers into the half down four.The third quarter was a defensive battle with neither team scoring. Seattle erupted in the fourth quarter for 17 unanswered points, the final seven coming off a Kam Chancellor 90-yard pick-six to seal the game.Newton completed 23 of 36 passes for 246 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss.Seattle becomes the first team since since New England in January 2006 to win a playoff game the year after winning a Super Bowl.Seattle will take on the winner of Sunday's playoff matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers next weekend in the NFC  Championship game.

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Dick LeBeau Resigns as Steelers Defensive Coordinator

Dick LeBeau Resigns as Steelers Defensive Coordinator

Pittsburgh Steelers/NFL(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) -- Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers are going thier separate ways. 

The longtime Steelers defensive coordinator told the Urbana Daily Citizen:

“I’m resigning this position, not retiring,” LeBeau said. “I had a great run in Pittsburgh. I’m grateful for all the things that have happened to me and thankful for all the support I had in Pittsburgh.”

The Steelers hired LeBeau as a defensive backs coach in 1992 and he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1995.  He would leave the Steelers in 1996 to join Cincinnati for the next six seasons, including leading the Bengals as head coach from 2000-2002.  

LeBeau rejoined the Steelers in 2004 as their defensive coordinator. In that span Pittsburgh has had three Super Bowl appearances, including two victories over the Seahawks and Cardinals. 

In 1959, The Cleveland Browns drafted LeBeau in the fifth round.  He was cut in training camp, but caught on with the Detroit Lions.  For the next 14 years, LeBeau was a part of a secondary that included Dick "Night Train" Lane, Yale Lary and Lem Barney. 

LeBeau is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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RB Chris Johnson Arrested For Carrying Unconsealed Handgun

RB Chris Johnson Arrested For Carrying Unconsealed Handgun

Leon Halip/Getty Images

(ORLANDO, Fl. ) -- New York Jets running back Chris Johnson was arrested Friday after a police officer discovered a handgun in his car.

The officer pulled Johnson's car over after he passed through a traffic stop.  Upon approaching the car, the handgun was discovered between the seats.

Johnson was charged with the open carry of a firearm -- a second degree misdemeanor. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Johnson does have a license to carry the gun in the state of Florida.

In 2014, Johnson rushed for 663 yards on 155 carries and one touchdown.

If the Jets were to cut Johnson this offseason, they could save $3.75 million.

 

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Bears Introduce Ryan Pace

Bears Introduce Ryan Pace

iStock/Thinkstock(LAKE FOREST, Ill.) -- The Chicago Bears introduced the youngest general manager in the NFL, Ryan Pace, on Friday.

Pace replaces Phil Emery, who was fired after the season ended, and spent the previous 14 seasons working in the New Orleans Saints front office, the last two serving at the director of player personnel.

Pace will now have the duty of finding a head coach after the Bears fired Marc Trestman when the season ended.

"It doesn't matter if it's an offense or defensive coach, if it's a 3-4 or 4-3 [defensive system]," Pace said. "I'm looking for the head coach that has the traits we're looking for. That's confidence, charisma, discipline, leadership; the best man for the job."

Pace will have to decide the future of starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who was benched late in the season because of poor play. He will also have to improve a defense that ranked 30th overall in the NFL.

"In 2005, we came into that season when Sean [Payton] got there in '06 and everyone thought, 'This is a massive rebuild," Pace said.  "This team has been decimated.' And we quickly put together a team to go the NFC championship that very next year." 

"But then if you think about the next two years, we were continuing to build, continuing to progress. So 2007, [we were] progressing, 2008 progressing, 2009 we won a Super Bowl," Pace continued.  "The most important thing is we have an aggressive plan and we're improving, [we] developed an organizational philosophy right then and there on the players that we wanted to acquire, and the whole building was on the same page. Everything was focused on winning games, everyone dropped their egos, and the rest is history."

Chicago has missed the postseason seven out of the last eight years.

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Patriots Reward Patrick Chung and Brandon Bolden with Contract Extensions

Patriots Reward Patrick Chung and Brandon Bolden with Contract Extensions

Jim Rogash/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The New England Patriots are already looking ahead to the future as they have agreed on contract extensions with safety Patrick Chung and running back Brandon Bolden.

ESPN reports Chung's deal is for three years and worth up to $8.2 million, with $3.4 million of that guaranteed.

Meanwhile Bolden signed a two-year deal worth $2.32 million

Chung spent the first four years of his career with the Patriots and was a solid defender for them as they made the playoffs on an annual basis. He played for the Philadelphia Ealges in 2013, but re-signed with the team in 2014 and recorded 85 tackles -- the most he's had in a season 2010.

The 24-year-old Bolden is in his third season with the Patriots. He had just 28 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown, but his true value comes on special teams. He's considered one of the team's best special teams players so his value does not also show up in the box score.

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ESPN: Kyle Shanahan Parts Ways with Browns

ESPN: Kyle Shanahan Parts Ways with Browns

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kyle Shanahan has resigned as the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator, according to ESPN.ESPN also reports quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains has been fired.Shanahan spent only one season in Cleveland and, according to ESPN, left because he did not agree with the front office about Johnny Manziel. Shanahan didn't believe the team could win with Manziel as the starter, but the front office insisted on starting him.The Browns' offense was 20th in passing yards per game and 17th in rushing yards per game last season.

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Bears Name Saints Executive Ryan Pace General Manager

Bears Name Saints Executive Ryan Pace General Manager

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAKE FOREST, Ill.) -- The Chicago Bears have named New Orleans Saints executive Ryan Pace as general manager, replacing the fired Phil Emery, the team announced on Thursday.

Pace spent the previous 14 seasons working in the Saints' front office, the last two serving as the director of player personnel. From 2007 to 2012, he was New Orleans’ director of pro scouting.

The Bears fired general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman in late December after they finished the 2014 season with a 5-11 record.

Pace will have to decide the future of starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who was benched late in the season because of poor play. He will also have to improve a defense that ranked 30th overall in the NFL.

The Bears have missed the postseason seven of the past eight seasons.

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Andrew Luck: Broncos Present ‘a lot of Challenges’

Andrew Luck: Broncos Present ‘a lot of Challenges’

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The Indianapolis Colts' trip to the AFC Championship game will have to go through Denver on Sunday in the divisional round.

It's the third showdown between Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and former Colt, now Bronco, Peyton Manning.

Luck said this week that the game isn't about their matchup, but rather him facing their defense.

In speaking about the defense he'll be facing, Luck said there's "a lot of challenges, [it's] hard to say the biggest one. I think obviously [Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware] stand out and their d-line is very good."

"I think our offensive line is up for that challenge," Luck continued. "[There's a] bunch of good players all over the field."

Manning and the Broncos lost to Luck in their first game 39-33 last season and bounced back this year with a 31-24 win on Sept. 7.

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Joe Flacco: Need a Fast Start Against Patriots

Joe Flacco: Need a Fast Start Against Patriots

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- The Baltimore Ravens will have the tough task of beating the New England Patriots on the road Saturday in the divisional round.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco stressed the importance of getting off to a fast start.

"It's great when you can score a touchdown and then put another on top of that," Flacco said of quieting the home crowd. "I don't think I'm always thinking about that, but it is pretty cool."

The Ravens have yet to beat the Patriots in the playoffs on the road, but Flacco is looking forward to the opportunity of going up against Tom Brady.

"Tom was playing for who knows how many years before I got in here," Flacco said. "I was in high school, sitting there watching him watching those guys win Super Bowls."

"It's not really about me outdueling Tom or him outdueling me," Flacco continued. "We're not playing against each other. I think these guys on defense present more challenges then they normally do."

This will be the fourth postseason meeting between the two teams. The Patriots are 18-8 in the playoffs since 2000.

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Rodgers Says He Will Play Sunday

Rodgers Says He Will Play Sunday

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(GREEN BAY, Wis.) -- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has not practiced since re-injuring his left calf on Dec. 28 against the Detroit Lions, says he will be ready to play Sunday when the team hosts the Dallas Cowboys in a NFC divisional playoff game."I'm going on Sunday," Rodgers said Wednesday. "It's just a matter of how."Rodgers missed the Packers' two practices last week during the bye as well as practice Wednesday. Despite that, there still is a chance Rodgers could practice Thursday."It just kind of depends on how it feels," Rodgers said Wednesday. "I met with Doc. I've seen him every day. Nothing really changed on the schedule. This was kind of the plan from the start. It's progressing, but we'll see how it feels tomorrow."Rodgers has started all 16 games for the Packers (12-4) this season. During that time, he's completed 65.6% of his passes for 4,381 yards, 38 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.

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Colts Owner Jim Irsay Confident Headed into Denver

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Confident Headed into Denver

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay believes his team has what it takes to win a Super Bowl this year.

The Colts are preparing for a showdown with the Broncos in Denver on Sunday and Irsay told reporters in a rare media appearance on Tuesday that this could be a special run to the Super Bowl.

"I definitely feel that," Irsay said. "The expectation is again that we haven't played our best game, and that we have to play it [Sunday at Denver]."

"I like the fact that we've already won a playoff game and we're on a roll," he continued. "[Former Colts coach] Tony Dungy always said that the first one's the hardest to get. Coming out of the [Cincinnati] game healthy with the confidence of a 16-point win, that goes a long way."

The Colts were in a similar position last season after beating the Chiefs 45-44 in the wild card round, but fell to the Patriots 43-22 in New England.

"Peyton [Manning] is still playing at such a high level," Irsay said of the Colts former quarterback. "I thought that he would. It was, again, great that he was able to go to a team and get surrounded with great players like they've surrounded him with."

Still, Irsay has faith that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will deliver on Sunday.

"To be in the playoffs three straight years, win 33 games over three years, to have already won two playoff games, that's something that you don't take for granted," Irsay said of Luck's run. "This is really exciting, obviously, to have this context, but again, both teams want to advance. Our goal is to win the game."

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Report: Rams Owner Will Move Team Without Permission

Report: Rams Owner Will Move Team Without Permission

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) -- St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is buying land in Los Angeles and is intent on using it.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, Kroenke will move the Rams from St. Louis with or without NFL approval.  To move, a team needs 24 (or three fourths of the other owners) votes of approval.

Kroenke recently purchased 60 acres of land next to the Forum in Los Angeles and joined the owners of Hollywood Park to build an 80,000 seat stadium.

ProFootballTalk also reports that Kroenke has informed the mayor of Inglewood that his team will be moving to the area. 

It is possible that Kroenke could enter into a legal dispute with the NFL if enough owners intend to block the move.

The Raiders, under the ownership of Al Davis, were the last team to sue the league in an effort to move, ironically to Los Angeles. Davis, filed an anti-trust lawsuit and in 1982 a district court ruled in the Raiders favor. They then moved to Los Angeles. 

 

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Dolphins Hire Mike Tannenbaum as Head of Football Operations

Dolphins Hire Mike Tannenbaum as Head of Football Operations

George Gojkovich/Getty Images

(MIAMI, FL.) -- The Miami Dolphins have named Mike Tannenbaum the Executive Vice President of Football Operations.

Tannenbaum, 45, spent six seasons with the New York Jets as their General Manager.  He initially joined the team in 1997 as Director of Player Contract Negotiations."

"Football's in my blood. I spent two years away from it, and I missed it dearly," Tannenbaum said via a conference call. "I missed the competition. I missed getting in a foxhole with a bunch of people that are committed to a cause. At the end of the day, I was very comfortable with that's who I am."

Tannenbaum was hired as a consultant last year by team owner Stephen Ross.  Simultaneously, Tannenbaum worked for Priority Sports as an agent for professional coaches, such as Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn. Upon being hired for his new role, Tannenbaum will no longer represent coaches.

Last season the Dolphins hired Dennis Hickey, a long time personnel expert, from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be their General Manager.  Hickey was brought in to replace Jeff Ireland. 

In an interesting power structure, Hickey will report to Tannenbaum, however Coach Joe Philbin will report directly to Ross.

Tannenbaum said that Hickey will maintain final say over the team's draft but managing the team will be "a collaborative effort." 

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Former Giants Coach Sherman Passes Away at 91

Former Giants Coach Sherman Passes Away at 91

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Allie Sherman, one of the most successful coaches in New York Giants franchise history, has passed away at 91 years of age.

Sherman, who led New York to three championship games, died Saturday in his home in Manhattan.

Before becoming a head coach, Sherman played four seasons;  in 1943 with the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Steagles, a two-team merger as a result of World War II, then the remaining three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a two-way player, at both quarterback and defensive back.

Upon taking the advice of Hall of Fame coach Earl Neale, Sherman entered into coaching, getting his start with New Jersey's Paterson Panthers. The next season he joined the Giants as a defensive backs coach and then spent several seasons as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.  

Sherman would gain the top job for the Giants in 1961 and led the team to the title game three straight years, losing to the Green Bay Packers in '61 and '62, then to the Bears in 1963. 

After his coaching career, Sherman worked alongside Chris Berman at ESPN as an analyst in 1987.

Sherman was born in Brooklyn in 1923.

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Bengals’ Head Coach Marvin Lewis Hopes to Return Next Season

Bengals’ Head Coach Marvin Lewis Hopes to Return Next Season

David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Marvin Lewis is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the Cincinnati Bengals franchise, but his future is in doubt after another playoff loss.

"Tomorrow's not promised for anyone," Lewis said. "That's part of life in the NFL and the finality of losing when you lose in the playoffs."

Lewis took over the team in 2003 when the franchise was among the worst in the NFL. Lewis made them among the best teams in the AFC.

Despite his success, including four-straight postseason appearances (a team record), Lewis is 0-6 in the playoffs.

On Sunday, Lewis joined Jim Mora, Steve Owen and Marty Schottenheimer as the only coaches with at least six consecutive postseason losses.

"The only way to do it is to at some point -- whoever it is, whatever it will be -- to go back to work, put their heads down and kick the door down," Lewis said about winning in the playoffs. "That's all you can do. There's no other words about it."

In 12 seasons, Lewis is 100-90-2 as the team's head coach. In the previous 12 seasons, the Bengals went 55-137.

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