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Colts RB Marlon Mack hits spin button on video game-like TD run

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INDIANAPOLIS — Running back Marlon Mack showed off his elusiveness during a touchdown run on the Colts’ second offensive series of the game against Jacksonville. Mack started his run up the middle, where he it looked like he was going to be stopped for a minimal gain, before he went video game-style by spinning off Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon.

Former Colts linebacker Najee Goode had what appeared to be a clear shot at Mack after he spun off Herndon. Nope. Mack hit the spin button again, spinning to the right and racing into the end zone just inside of the pylon for the 13-yard touchdown.



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Rams keep playoff hopes alive with win over Seahawks – Los Angeles Rams Blog

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LOS ANGELES — Remember the fun Los Angeles Rams? The ones who lit up the scoreboard and ignited the NFL on their way to the Super Bowl last season?

Those Rams, not this season’s impostors who have been teetering on the verge of playoff elimination, made an appearance Sunday night at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

The result? A 28-12 takedown of the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks.

The Rams improve to 8-5 as they continue to chase the Minnesota Vikings in the wild-card race. They’ll likely need to win their remaining three games, which include road contests against the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers and a regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, to earn a playoff bid.

But after a dominant win Sunday, a playoff run appears within reach.

QB breakdown: Jared Goff appeared every part of a franchise quarterback Sunday night — at least in the first half, when he passed for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Goff finished 22 of 31 for 293 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a pick-six. The performance served as a reminder as to why the Rams signed Goff to a four-year extension with $110 million in guarantees before the season. On the Rams opening possession, Goff orchestrated an eight-play, 75-yard drive that included 19- and 15-yard passes to receiver Robert Woods and a 33-yard pass to tight end Tyler Higbee. On their second possession, he found an open Woods for a two-yard touchdown pass, and then later in the first half delivered a strike to receiver Cooper Kupp for another score. In the third quarter, safety Quandre Diggs intercepted passes from Goff on back-to-back series, but Goff later rebounded to lead a seven-play, 95-yard scoring drive to take a 28-9 lead.

Promising trend I: The Rams defense was 8:35 away from posting a shutout last Sunday, but that was against rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and the struggling Cardinals. Against the Seahawks, who are among the top-rated offenses in the league, the defense wreaked havoc for Russell Wilson, as Samson Ebukam and Dante Fowler Jr. each sacked him twice and Aaron Donald also added a sack. The Seahawks did not score a touchdown on offense.

Promising trend II: Two games, two career-best performances. Last Sunday, in a 34-7 win over the Cardinals, Higbee caught seven passes for a career-best 107 yards. That was a breakout performance. Against the Seahawks, Higbee caught seven passes for a career-best 116 yards, and suddenly becoming a key playmaker in McVay’s offense. Higbee’s 33-yard reception in the first half is his longest of the season. He averaged 29 receiving yards per game in his first 11 games of the season, according to ESPN Stats and Information Research.

Pivotal play: The Rams offense appeared to be headed for a three-and-out on its opening possession after Todd Gurley rushed for 6 yards on consecutive carries. But, on third-and-four, Goff completed a 19-yard pass to Woods and from there, the offense took off. Running back Malcolm Brown capped the eight-play, 75-yard opening possession with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Rams a 7-3 lead.

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Birthday boy Philip Rivers helps Chargers snap 3-game losing streak – Los Angeles Chargers Blog

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Playing on his 38th birthday, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers celebrated by helping lead his team to a cathartic 45-10 road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

After three straight frustrating losses against AFC West rivals, the Chargers thoroughly handled the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field, improving their record to 5-8 on the season.

Rivers was efficient, completing 16 of 22 passes for 314 passing yards and three touchdowns. In doing so, Rivers eclipsed 3,500 passing yards for a 12th straight season, the third-longest streak in NFL history.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rivers was a perfect 5-of-5 for 186 yards and two touchdowns against the blitz, his most such passing yards in the last three seasons. Rivers’ 37.2 yards per attempt against the blitz is the most by any quarterback since ESPN began tracking in 2006.

Rivers likes playing against the Jaguars. He’s thrown for 2,668 passing yards (296.4 yards per game), completing 69.4% of his passes, with 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Chargers are now 7-2 against the Jaguars with Rivers as the starter.

Promising trend I: Austin Ekeler put on a show. Ekeler took a short pass from Philip Rivers on a bubble screen and scampered through the middle of Jacksonville’s defense untouched for an 84-yard touchdown reception. The pitch and catch was the longest touchdown pass of Rivers’ 16-year NFL career. Ekeler has 11 total touchdowns on the year. Ekeler finished with 213 total yards from scrimmage (101 rushing and 112 receiving on just 12 total touches), becoming the first Charger to accomplish that feat since Lionel James in 1985. He is the first player in the NFL to accomplish the feat since Christian McCaffrey did it in Week 12 last season.

Promising trend II: Mike Williams also continued to amaze on Sunday. The Clemson product made another circus catch on a deep ball from Rivers for 44 yards, Williams’ first touchdown of the season after scoring 11 last year. Williams leads all players with at least 30 receptions this season with a 20.5 yards-per-catch average. He is currently riding a streak of six straight games with a catch of at least 40 yards.

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Undrafted rookie QB Devlin Hodges wins first 3 starts for Steelers

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GLENDALE, Arizona — There’s plenty about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges that isn’t like most other NFL starting quarterbacks.

For one, there aren’t any other starting NFL quarterbacks with their own custom duck caller from Duck Commander. And Uncle Si Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” isn’t giving pregame shoutouts to any other starting NFL quarterbacks.

Plus, how many have a beer company designing customized “Fowl Towels?”

With Sunday afternoon’s 23-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Hodges distinguished himself from the pack yet again when he became the first undrafted rookie NFL quarterback to win his first three starts since Ed Rubbert in 1987 for the Washington Redskins.

“I heard a lot of people talking about it this week, and in my mind, I was like, ‘Well, I guess I need to be the first undrafted QB to do that just so we can win this week,'” Hodges said. “My job is to win the game each and every week and that’s what I want to do, and that’s all I’m worried about.”

Only Hodges and Craig Krenzel in 2004 have won two road games in their first three starts as rookies. Hodges completed 16 of 19 attempts for 152 yards and a touchdown Sunday. He also ran five times for 34 yards — including a 22-yard scramble.

In the fourth quarter, Hodges helped seal the game with a field goal drive during which he threw across his body to connect with receiver Diontae Johnson for a 17-yard gain on third-and-13.

“I trust his judgement,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “That’s been a part of his game. He did a really good job of managing his emotions in the midst of tough circumstances and being prudent, yet aggressive. We’re getting more and more comfortable.”

In three starts and two appearances in relief of Mason Rudolph, Hodges has completed 41 of 61 attempts for 530 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Tomlin famously said the quarterback “doesn’t kill us” prior to his start against the Cleveland Browns, but in Sunday’s game, Hodges did more than that. He began to show the offense could operate beyond just survival mode with plays like his 22-yard scramble — something that didn’t come from a designed run.

“I’ve been telling y’all since I came in here from OTAs, that’s just how he is,” running back Benny Snell said. “That’s him. He is calm and collected, a playmaker.”

Since taking over for Rudolph after halftime of Pittsburgh’s Week 12 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Hodges has settled into his role as the team’s third starting quarterback of the season, even as he has played without the team’s top two offensive playmakers in wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner.

“The confidence and the comfort level just comes with playing a lot and practicing,” he said. “Obviously, the more you practice, the more you play, the more comfortable you get.”



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