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Injuries limit Cardinals, who suffer first loss of season vs. Packers – Arizona Cardinals Blog



GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Arizona Cardinals learned what life is like with an injured DeAndre Hopkins.

And it wasn’t pretty.

The wide receiver left Thursday night’s game midway through the first quarter because of a hamstring injury and didn’t return until midway through the third quarter. When he returned, Hopkins was little more than a decoy, and it led to Arizona’s first loss of the season, 24-21, to the Green Bay Packers.

On the Cardinals’ final offensive play, quarterback Kyler Murray looked to wide receiver A.J. Green but was picked off in the end zone, sealing the win for Green Bay. Hopkins was on the field but wasn’t the target.

Without Hopkins on the field, Arizona’s usually potent offense looked pedestrian, gaining just 54 yards on 22 plays — 2.5 yards per play — and scoring a rushing touchdown from the time Hopkins left until he returned at the 8:15 mark of the third quarter.

But Arizona struggled without a plethora of injured players including pass rusher J.J. Watt, who ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported may need season-ending surgery on a shoulder injury.

The defense also lost linebacker Zaven Collins and safety James Wiggins, who were ruled out at halftime with shoulder and knee injuries, respectively.

Not having Collins proved to be another blow for a Cardinals’ run defense that had started to find its rhythm over the last few games.

The Cardinals now have 10 days to try and heal up before heading to San Francisco to face the 49ers on Nov. 7 (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox).

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Baltimore Ravens’ defense picks up Lamar Jackson in win after QB throws career-worst 4 interceptions



BALTIMORE — Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson once again did something the football world has rarely seen. He’s just not happy about this one.

In beating the Cleveland Browns 16-10 on Sunday night, Jackson became the first quarterback in eight years to win a game after throwing four interceptions. QBs had lost 41 straight games when throwing four picks.

“I’m hot,” Jackson said. “I feel like those drives, when the interceptions came, we could’ve done something on those drives. We could’ve put points on the board.”

Jackson then tapped his chest: “I just told my team, ‘That’s me. I owe y’all.'”

The last starting quarterback to win after throwing four interceptions was Andy Dalton, who beat the Ravens in the 2013 season finale when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals.

On Sunday night, Jackson threw a career-high four interceptions, and all the picks came when he wasn’t pressured. He was intercepted three times on his final five passes of the second quarter, and he was then picked off early in the fourth quarter on an underthrown deep pass to tight end Mark Andrews.

Fortunately for Baltimore, the Browns only converted three points off those turnovers.

Asked if there is a common denominator on his interceptions, Jackson said, “I mean, it’s one game that it happened. They just made great plays on those interceptions. It wasn’t like I was throwing it right to them.”

The Ravens (8-3) now hold the AFC’s top seed with six games remaining, and they’ve won the past two games without much help from Jackson. Last week, Baltimore prevailed at the Chicago Bears without Jackson, who was sidelined with an illness. On Sunday night, the Ravens won despite Jackson turning the ball over on nearly one-third of their drives.

The reason Baltimore maintained a one-game lead atop the AFC North is because of its defense, which held the NFL’s top rushing attack to 40 yards on the ground, forced three turnovers and constantly harassed Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that [Jackson has] done some special things [and] won us a lot of games, sometimes almost by himself,” Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “If you look at the top five quarterbacks in the league, no one has a great game every time. So, for us to pick him up, it was just special — and to end the game on defense. ‘Wink’ [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] talks about, ‘Protect each other,’ and I felt like that’s kind of what we did today.”

Considered among the favorites in the NFL MVP race entering Sunday, Jackson is tied with Ryan Tannehill for the most interceptions in the NFL at 12. He has thrown three more interceptions this season than in any of his previous three campaigns.

But Jackson did show resiliency in overcoming his mistakes against the Browns. After throwing three interceptions in the second quarter, Jackson was visibly frustrated on the sideline. He then opened the second half with a fadeaway, 13-yard touchdown pass to Andrews in which he dropped back 20 yards to elude pressure. He also led Baltimore with 68 yards rushing.

“Nobody gets flustered, and it starts with Lamar,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Lamar wants those plays back, and he’s a massive competitor. Yet he doesn’t let it take control of him. He’s able to push it aside, and he’s able to go play the next series and give you great football. It’s really a rare trait. To me, that’s one of the things that makes him the quarterback that he is.”

Baltimore has won six straight one-score games (within eight points), which matches the longest win streak in these close games in franchise history. The Ravens also did so in 2012, the year of their last Super Bowl title.

“We’re determined. We know we want to win,” Jackson said. “We fight adversity, and we do it all. There’s been a lot going on throughout this whole season, and tonight was another part of it. We just have to keep on doing what we’re doing, and we’re going to click.”

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J.C. Jackson keeps picking up trash, helping the New England Patriots – New England Patriots Blog



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Who says Bill Belichick can’t deliver a witty one-liner?

In the aftermath of his New England Patriots (8-4) winning 36-13 against the visiting Tennessee Titans (8-4) on Sunday — a game that was closer than the final score indicates — the coach was answering a question about longtime captain Devin McCourty and veered off course to add cornerback J.C. Jackson to the conversation.

“You leave any trash laying around, he’s going to pick it up,” Belichick said with a smile, marveling at Jackson forcing a critical fumble in the third quarter and later coming up with a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone.

Jackson’s knack for trash pickup (aka creating takeaways) was one of several notable storylines from a Patriots victory that was defined by the team not playing its cleanest game but finding a way to win.

The interception was the 24th of Jackson’s career, which is tied with Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks, 2011-14) and Kenny Easley (Seahawks, 1981-84) for the third most of any NFL player through his first four seasons since the 1970 merger. Only Everson Walls (25, Dallas Cowboys, 1981-84) and Lester Hayes (25, Raiders, 1977-80) have more.

As for Patriots history, Jackson’s 24 interceptions increase his own lead over Mike Haynes (22), Ron Bolton (18) and Ty Law (18) for most through the first four seasons of a career.

“Mr. Picks!” outside linebacker Matthew Judon exclaimed.

McCourty called him “Johnny on the spot,” which is often the case with interceptions, but Sunday’s forced fumble was a case of Jackson hustling to the spot to make a play.

The Patriots led 19-13 early in the third quarter, but their run defense — which had shown vulnerability in the first half by giving up 142 yards on 18 carries — sprung another big leak with D’Onta Foreman running through a gaping hole and surging into Patriots territory on a 30-yard gain.

What could have been a threatening situation was extinguished when Jackson tracked Foreman down from behind, punching the ball free with his right hand. Cornerback Jalen Mills recovered it along the sideline.

“See ball, get ball,” Jackson said of the play. “He didn’t have good ball security. As a defense, we talk about creating turnovers every day. Every day we punch at the ball.”

The Patriots forced four turnovers, which helped offset giving up 270 rushing yards, the second most ever allowed by a Belichick-coached Patriots team. Surprisingly, the Patriots are 4-0 under Belichick when allowing more than 250 yards rushing.

The Patriots (plus-four) are now 173-18 under Belichick when they have a positive turnover differential (2000-present). This season, they are plus-12, with 25 takeaways and 13 giveaways.

“We’ve been creating turnovers every week,” Jackson said. “We prepare for it. When it’s time to play, we execute and get it done.”

Jackson’s seven interceptions this season lead the AFC, and are second in the NFL behind Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (eight). Jackson also leads the fan vote for the Pro Bowl among AFC cornerbacks (58,166).

“J.C. is a great player, and all the recognition he gets, he deserves,” Judon said. “The way he’s playing, and getting the ball back for our team, is amazing.”

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Leonard Fournette stars on field, in locker room as Tampa Bay Buccaneers rally past Indianapolis Colts



INDIANAPOLIS — Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette not only had four touchdowns that propelled the team to a 38-31 road victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday — including a gashing 28-yard TD run with 29 seconds left — he also gave an impassioned halftime speech that resonated with teammates after they were down 24-14 at the half.

The Bucs already had lost three games on the road this year — at the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3, at the New Orleans Saints in Week 8 and at Washington in Week 10 — a major hurdle they’ve had to try to clear as they seek to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

“I was like, ‘You have to have a will and a want,'” said Fournette, who rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries and added seven catches for 31 yards. “‘You have to be willing to risk everything. Play by play, you have to want to win, you have to want to fight, each and every play.’ I think they understood that message and played their lights out.”

The Bucs struggled to find their rhythm on offense in the first half, turning over the ball twice — first on a Chris Godwin fumble that was forced by linebacker Darius Leonard, with safety Andrew Sendejo making the recovery, then on a Tom Brady pass intended for wide receiver Scotty Miller that was picked off by Isaiah Rodgers.

On defense, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting was beaten by Ashton Dulin on a 62-yard touchdown. They also gave up a 16-yard scramble to Carson Wentz on third-and-15, and then a 22-yard reception to Jack Doyle on third-and-10 that set up a 4-yard touchdown from T.Y. Hilton just before halftime.

The Bucs expected NFL leading rusher Jonathan Taylor to run the ball more, but he had just eight carries in the first half.

“You could tell the mood — people’s energy was down. And it wasn’t like we [were] out there getting our asses whooped. It’s just the little things separating us to win the game from them,” Fournette said. “So just trying to boost everybody coming out. And thank God it worked.”

Fournette’s teammates agreed that his words inspired them.

“He just pretty much told us to keep fighting,” said safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who made a leaping interception on a jump ball intended for Michael Pittman Jr. with 5:35 to go in the third quarter. “We control our own destiny and [if] we wanna be the team we wanna be, we’re gonna have to step up and win games like this.”

“He definitely said some stuff that got us going,” said outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, whose third-quarter sack of Wentz forced a fumble he recovered. “He said we were a special group — that’s one of the reasons he came back. And we know we can play [like] a special group. We’ve just gotta show it. Show it and play out.”

Added Brady of the speech: “[It was] huge. They just made big play after big play. That’s what it takes to win. You have to make the plays. There’s not a lot of margin of error. There are really well-coached teams that have a lot of good players, and everyone’s working hard to win. So, you’re either going to make the play or you don’t. And we didn’t make them as much in the first half, but we certainly made them in the second half.”

Fournette set a personal record and tied a Bucs franchise record with four TDs from scrimmage.

“We were all watching him run and just do great things with the ball. It energizes us on the sideline,” Winfield said. “We see him running, going hard, and it makes us wanna play better.”

“He spoke at halftime, got us going, then came out there and backed it up with all the stuff he was talking about,” Barrett said. “I’m just appreciative of him doing what he did at the end of the game to seal it for us — during the whole game because he was playing good the whole game, making plays the whole game, and that was the difference in the game for us.”

Added tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught seven passes for 123 yards: “It was excellent. It got everyone fired up. He went out there and he backed it up too, and it just shows just how much we respect Lenny.

“I felt like we were flat in the first half. The energy wasn’t there. The second half, we just went out there and played as a team — offensively, defensively — the defense was creating turnovers, we were scoring, Lenny was just running the ball amazing, and we just stuck together too. And to have a win on the road like that — that was a playoff-caliber win.”

At 8-3, the Bucs still have road games left at the Atlanta Falcons next week, at the Carolina Panthers in Week 16 and at the New York Jets in Week 18, but coach Bruce Arians said he believes Sunday marked a turning point in their season as they continue to vie for top seeding, which would guarantee home-field advantage during the playoffs.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Arians said. “We’re gonna play some tough road games, but I don’t think we’re gonna play any tougher.”

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