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Cowboys come back to beat Lions after controversial call in fourth quarter

01.04.15 at 7:51 pm ET
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Tony Romo led a second half comeback for the Cowboys in their win over the Lions. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Tony Romo led a second-half comeback for the Cowboys in their win over the Lions. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

In what was the most entertaining game of wild card weekend, the Cowboys came back from 13 points down in the second half to beat the Lions, 24-20, at home in an NFC wild card matchup.

Down by 13 with 8:41 left in the third quarter, the Cowboys scored the next 17 points to come away with a four-point win.

DeMarco Murray had a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:54 left in the third to get the comeback started. A Dan Bailey 51-yard field goal cut the deficit to six, 20-14, with 12:16 left in the game. Dallas finally was able to take the lead on a Terrance Williams 8-yard touchdown catch with 2:32 left.

It came on a drive following a Lions possession that ended on a controversial call. On third down, defensive pass interference was called, but the flag was picked up late, forcing a Detroit punt. The officials also ignored Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant running onto the field to argue the initial call.

The Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead and a 17-7 lead at the half, as they scored two first half touchdowns — a 51-yard touchdown reception by Golden Tate early in the first quarter and then a Reggie Bush 18-yard rush with 1:57 to play in the opening quarter.

Romo finished the game 19-for-31 with 293 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The NFL’s leading rusher, Murray, had 75 yards on 19 carries, to go along with a touchdown. For Detroit, Matthew Stafford was 28-for-42 with 323 yards to go along with a touchdown and an interception. Calvin Johnson was limited to five catches and 85 yards.

With the win, the Cowboys will travel to Green Bay next Sunday.

For more playoff and Patriots coverage, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Dallas Cowboys, detroit lions,

Colts overwhelm shorthanded Bengals, advance to play Broncos

01.04.15 at 4:10 pm ET
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Adam Vinatieri kicked four field goals Sunday in a playoff win over the Bengals. (Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri kicked four field goals Sunday in a playoff win over the Bengals. (Getty Images)

The story remains the same.

For the fourth straight season, the Cincinnati Bengals reach the playoffs and for a fourth straight season, they are one-and-done.

Andrew Luck threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief and Adam Vinatieri kicked four field goals as the Indianapolis Colts beat the Bengals, 26-10, in an AFC wildcard game Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Colts advance to play Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the AFC divisional round next Sunday at Sports Authority Field in Denver. It will be the first time Manning has faced his former team in the playoffs.

Luck finished 31-of-44 for 376 yards for the Colts, who outgained the Bengals, 482-254.

Without injured star receiver A.J. Green (concussion) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (back), Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton again failed miserably in the postseason.

The Colts took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Boom Herron but the Bengals answered with their only touchdown of the day, a one-yard run from Jeremy Hill. Vinatieri hit two field goals to put the Colts up, 13-7, as the Bengals defense held Luck without a TD in the red zone.

The Bengals defense then gave their overwhelmed quarterback a fighting chance at halftime. Darqueze Dennard forced a turnover from Herron and converted it into a 57-yard field goal from Mike Nugent with 10 seconds left in the first half, closing the Indianapolis lead to 13-10 at the break.

But Dalton, who finished 18-of-35 for 155 yards, went three-and-out on his first three possessions of the second half, including the opening possession of the half when the Bengals had a chance at momentum. Luck found Moncrief on 36-yard connection in the third quarter and Vinatieri added two more field goals.

The remarkable losing culture continues with the Bengals. Their head coach Marvin Lewis falls to 0-6 in the playoffs. Dalton is now 0-4. And they haven’t won a playoff game since Jan. 1991, a string of seven straight losses in the postseason.

The Bengals have also never won a road playoff game, falling to 0-7 all time.

Read More: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Boom Herron, Cincinnati Bengals

Report: Josh McDaniels wanted in Atlanta by GM Thomas Dimitroff, top assistant Scott Pioli

01.04.15 at 11:12 am ET
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It’s widely reported Josh McDaniels interviewed with the Falcons this weekend for their head coaching job, but it’s now come out he is very high on their list, which stems from his time in New England as Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff and top assistant Scott Pioli were with the Patriots during the Super Bowl years when McDaniels was an assistant coach.

According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, McDaniels’ candidacy “has been championed” by both Dimitroff and Pioli. The pair isn’t safe, though, as during owner Arthur Blank‘s press conference when firing head coach Mike Smith, he didn’t entirely rule out more changes (Dimitroff and/or Pioli). A source told La Canfora their fate could tie into how the coaching search goes. Getting McDaniels on board would certainly create some stability with the trio all spending significant time together in New England.

While McDaniels removed his name from the Browns’ head coaching vacancy last year, last week on a conference call with reporters he said, “€œI’€™m very happy here. I think I have one of the best jobs,” speaking of being in New England. He has been on record in the past saying it would have to be a perfect fit for him to leave his current position. Having Matt Ryan at quarterback, along with Julio Jones and Roddy White at wide receiver, one would imagine the job at least would get some consideration.

The report also says the Falcons are interviewing Rex Ryan, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase and are waiting to interview Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Josh McDaniels, Scott Pioli, thomas dimitroff

Poll: Are you worried about Ravens?

01.04.15 at 10:07 am ET
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As a Patriots fan, are you worried about the Ravens?

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5 things you have to know about Ravens

01.04.15 at 9:54 am ET
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Terrell Suggs figures to play a sizable role for the Ravens on Saturday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Terrell Suggs figures to play a sizable role for the Ravens on Saturday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Here are five things you have to know about the sixth-seeded Ravens, who will face the Patriots in the divisional playoffs next Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

They have struggled to stop the pass.

The Ravens do have a fearsome pass rush — Elvis Dumervil had 17 sacks this year, and Terrell Suggs had 12 — but many teams have been able to beat them because of their issues in the secondary. Over the course of the regular season, the Ravens were 23rd in the league with 249 passing yards per game allowed, 22nd in completion percentage allowed (64.2) and 19th in opposing passer rating (90.6). In all, the Ravens yielded 300 or more passing yards on five occasions. As we saw Saturday night, Baltimore does have the sort of pass rush that can make life difficult on an opposing quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times by the Ravens, including twice by Dumervil), but a secondary that’€™s struggled with health and other personnel losses could have some issues with New England’s passing attack. The Patriots will likely try and utilize several different options in hopes of slowing the Baltimore pass rush, including an extra offensive lineman (possibly Cameron Fleming), more sets with multiple tight ends and putting a priority on quarterback Tom Brady getting the ball out as fast as possible to intermediate targets like tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell. Look for the quarterback to have a quick trigger this week.

Conversely, the Ravens’€™ defense does a pretty good job against the run.

Baltimore has been pretty stout against the run over the course of the regular season — the Ravens yielded more than 100 yards on the ground five times, and two of those came in the final two weeks of the season as they were trying to survive without vaunted defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, who was suspended for failing a PED test for what he said was Adderall. Suggs is underrated as a run stopper, and C.J. Mosley has also proven himself to be valuable when it comes to slowing down opposing backs. The Patriots are likely to run the ball just enough to keep the Ravens honest on Saturday.

Justin Forsett is underrated as a feature back.

Forsett won the starting job after Ray Rice was released, and he had a very impressive season. The Cal product, who ended the season with 235 carries for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns, basically came out of nowhere to become the only running back in the NFL to finish with at least 1,200 rushing yards and average at least five yards per carry (5.4). The 5-foot-8. 197-pounder struggled at times down the stretch and had just 16 carries for 36 yards on Saturday against the Steelers, but will get the bulk of the work if the Ravens try and beat the Patriots on the ground next Saturday in Foxboro. In terms of the rest of their offense, we know that quarterback Joe Flacco is the sort of signal-caller capable of getting on a postseason run, especially when the Ravens hit the road. (His seven road playoff wins are the most by a quarterback since the 1970 merger.) Flacco set career-highs for regular-season passing yards (3,986) and touchdowns (27) this year. When he does throw, he’€™ll look for veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. (79 catches, 134 targets, 1,065 yards, 6 TDs), Torrey Smith (49 catches, 92 targets, 767 yards, 11 TDs) and tight end Owen Daniels (48 catches, 78 targets, 527 yards, 4 TDs).

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Elvis Dumervil, joe flacco, Ravens

Terrell Suggs on Patriots matchup: ‘Everybody knows the storylines’

01.04.15 at 9:44 am ET
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Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a wild card win over the Steelers Saturday night. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a wild card win over the Steelers on Saturday night. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH — While most of the talk in the Ravens locker room following their 30-17 win over the Steelers on Saturday night revolved around the AFC wild card round victory, some discussion involving the Patriots couldn’t be helped.

With the Patriots having already lost one AFC championship game in Foxboro to the Ravens, while narrowly managing a victory in another, the showdown between the teams at Gillette Stadium (Saturday, 4:35 p.m.) surfaced plenty of emotion and analysis even moments after the win at Heinz Field.

Here are some of the Ravens’ comments Saturday night regarding their next playoff foe, the Patriots:

TERRELL SUGGS

“We’re going to enjoy this plane ride home, but we all know who we’re dealing with next.”

“Everybody knows the history with these two teams. We’re going to play a football game. It’s the Ravens vs. the Patriots. Everybody knows the storylines. We’re going to save that. Right now it’s still Ravens, Steelers and we’ll see you all next week.”

“We all know the matchup the NFL wants to see. Something for the TV, for the sponsors. We’ve got faith in ourselves and Ravens Nation and we’ll see if we can disrupt some people’s plans.”

STEVE SMITH

“I have to go watch some film and be prepared. [Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner are] two great corners. Me and Revis has played against each other, he’s done a very good job so I anticipate watching a lot of film like I did this week and being prepared and ready.”

“That’s been my experience since I’ve been here. That’s just the way it is. If you want to go to the Super Bowl, you have to go through the Patriots first.”

KELECHI OSEMELE

“From an emotional point of view, for the guys who have played in Foxboro, I’m not going to say can give you an edge but it gives you a sense of comfort where you’re not really shaken by the fans or how loud it is because you’ve been in that situation and you’ve had experience. For guys who have played in Foxboro I feel like they will be more comfortable. It won’t be one of those situations where they freak out or freeze up.”

ELVIS DUMERVIL

“We just have to go out and play our game. Play like Ravens. A lot of energy and just try and get after people. That’s all we can do. They’re a well-coached team. It’s going to be a tough challenge for us.”

Read More: Patriots, Ravens, Terrell Suggs,

Ravens upend Steelers, will face Patriots in divisional playoffs Saturday in Foxboro

01.03.15 at 11:25 pm ET
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Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a wild card win over the Steelers Saturday night. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a wild card win over the Steelers Saturday night. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Here come the Ravens.

Baltimore went into Pittsburgh and knocked off the Steelers by a 30-17 count Saturday night in an AFC wild card contest. With the win, the Ravens advance to the divisional playoff round and a matchup with the Patriots Saturday at 4:35 at Gillette Stadium. It will mark the fourth time in the last six postseasons the Patriots and Ravens will renew their playoff feud, a stretch that includes a pair of AFC title games. (Baltimore has won two of those previous three contests.)

Joe Flacco ended up 18-for-29 for 259 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Meanwhile, veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. had five catches on seven targets for 101 yards, and tight end Owen Daniels added four catches on five targets for 70 yards.

The Steelers were without their No. 1 offensive option, as running back Le’Veon Bell went down with a knee injury in the regular-season finale against the Bengals, and Pittsburgh struggled to find offensive rhythm for much of the evening. The Steelers, who were the seventh-highest scoring team in the league over the course of the regular season, had just one touchdown on the night as they saw their year come to a close. Ben Roethlisberger finished 30-for-44 for 327 yards and one interception. He was picked off twice and sacked five times in the loss. Antonio Brown had nine catches for 117 yards for the Steelers, who end their season with a 12-5 record.

At the start, it was a typical AFC North rockfight — tough, physical football with points at a premium. There was only one first half touchdown, that coming at the end of an impressive eight-play drive that culminated in a 5-yard run from Bernard Pierce to give Baltimore a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. Other than that, there were three field goals from the Steelers and one from the Ravens, which left it 10-9 at halftime.

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Ravens, Steelers,

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