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Wednesday, Dec 31, 1969

AP source: Browns hiring fired Steelers coordinator Haley

CLEVELAND (AP) Hue Jackson is finally handing off his Browns offense.

Cleveland's coach, who has handled game-planning and play-calling duties while going 1-31 over two seasons with the Browns, is hiring former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Jackson interviewed other quality candidates but chose Haley, who spent six seasons guiding Pittsburgh's high-powered offense before he was fired following a playoff loss last week, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on Monday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the move.

A former head coach with Kansas City, Haley's familiarity with the AFC North will be a huge plus for Jackson as he tries to turn around the Browns following a historic 0-16 season.

The 50-year-old Haley worked in Pittsburgh with some of the NFL's best offensive players - quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. The trio made the Steelers a challenge for any defense, and the team ranked in the Top 10 in scoring in each of the past four seasons.

The Steelers averaged 25.4 points per game last season while the Browns managed a league-low 14.6.

Haley will inherit an offense in Cleveland with far less talent than he had in Pittsburgh, but the Browns are expected to upgrade their offense through free agency and in the draft. They'll likely use either the No. 1 or No. 4 overall picks on a quarterback and could land Southern Cal's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen or Wyoming's Josh Allen, the top three prospects.

Haley became the fall guy after Steelers were bounced by Jacksonville in the AFC playoffs. He was criticized for failing to have Roethlisberger sneak on two failed fourth-down plays. Haley called a wide pitch that lost yardage and Roethlisberger threw an incompletion on the second critical play as the Steelers were beaten 45-42 by the Jaguars, who advanced to the conference championship.

Haley reportedly had a strained relationship with Roethlisberger, and that disconnect could have hastened the Steelers electing not to renew his contract.

Haley went 19-27 and had one playoff appearance with the Chiefs, who fired him late in the 2011 season. Prior to that, he worked as Arizona's offensive coordinator in 2007-08. The Cardinals scored a franchise-record 427 points in Haley's second season.

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AP source: Browns hiring fired Steelers coordinator Haley

CLEVELAND (AP) A person familiar with the negotiations says the Browns are hiring former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Cleveland coach Hue Jackson is turning his offense over to Haley, who spent six seasons in Pittsburgh before he was fired last week, said the person who spoke Monday night to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the move.

A former head coach with Kansas City, Haley worked with one of the NFL's most high-powered offenses in Pittsburgh. He'll inherit one with far less talent, but Cleveland is expected to upgrade its offense in free agency and the draft.

The 50-year-old Haley will assume play-calling duties from Jackson, who is 1-31 with Cleveland.

Haley was criticized following Pittsburgh's playoff loss to Jacksonville for failing to have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sneak on two fourth-down plays. The Steelers failed to convert and were beaten 45-42.

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Hurting Vikings still processing what went wrong in Philly

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The lilt in Case Keenum's voice was missing as he spoke about the end of the Minnesota Vikings' season in a softer-than-usual tone.

His eyes misted over, Keenum carefully maintained enough composure to keep his voice from cracking. There was no hiding the hurt from the shellacking in Philadelphia, though, that left the Vikings again one victory short of reaching the Super Bowl.

''You go to bed and don't sleep, and you wake up early and don't go back to sleep,'' Keenum said on Monday in a largely empty locker room at team headquarters on the heels of the shocking 38-7 defeat by the Eagles . ''That's the what-if, could-have, should-have, would-have, but I did everything I could during the week. I prepared the best I'd been prepared. I just didn't make the plays, and the ball didn't bounce our way.''

Keenum committed three turnovers on Sunday night, after only nine giveaways in his previous 16 games. The Eagles turned those into 14 points on top of what the Vikings could have scored on the possession that ended with a sack-fumble deep in Eagles territory. The game was still within reach then, in the second quarter, but after halftime it was well out of hand.

''We believed that we were going to win that game, just like we believed every week prior to that that we could win the game that week,'' running back Latavius Murray said. ''We were capable of it. We believed in everybody in the locker room, and we had the guys to do it. We just didn't play well, and they played really well.''

The defense that was the stingiest in the NFL this season was scorched by backup quarterback Nick Foles and a bunch of receivers who appeared to do whatever they wanted to up and down the field.

''I could've called a lot better game, obviously,'' coach Mike Zimmer said. ''Point the finger at me before you point it at the players.''

Becoming the first team in history to play in a Super Bowl on home turf was the dream scenario that didn't materialize, but the Vikings were primarily stunned by how poorly they played on the next-biggest stage and disheartened by how, after 4+ months of such strong performances, they were ultimately left without the chance to play for a championship like the 29 other teams eliminated before them.

Instead, after a sixth NFC championship game loss by the Vikings since their last Super Bowl appearance 41 years ago, the Eagles will take on the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4.

''I've never had so much fun coming to work in my life, never had so much fun playing football in my life, as this year. That's not cliche. That's the honest truth,'' wide receiver Adam Thielen said. ''So I think that makes it a little tougher, too, because you really don't know what's going to happen year to year, as far as a group changing and things like that, and that's why you have to take advantage of those opportunities because you never know when you'll be back.''

The offseason uncertainty starts at quarterback, where Keenum is the consensus favorite to return after a breakout performance that altered his career narrative following five years as a backup. His contract is scheduled to expire along with Sam Bradford's and Teddy Bridgewater's, though, leaving no guarantee for any of them.

''I have an inkling that all those guys are going to be starting quarterbacks in this league for someone, and they're going to win a lot of games,'' Thielen said, ''because they're that type of character guys, they're that type of football players, they're guys you want on your team, and they're guys you want to play for.''

Bridgewater was inactive for the two playoff games, with Bradford the backup, a development that didn't bode well for his future in Minnesota. Asked whether he sees himself as a starter in the league somewhere in 2018, Bridgewater replied, ''Definitely, yeah. Without a question.''

Bradford was not in the locker room when it was open to reporters. Keenum, though unwilling yet to speculate about his pending free agency, made clear he would prefer to remain with the Vikings if it's up to him.

''Just the attitude and the character and the culture they have around here is awesome,'' Keenum said, ''and not to mention Minnesota itself. The people here have been great. My biggest fear coming here was the snow, and I didn't even shovel that. So it's been a great year.''

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Brady, Gronk begin Super Bowl bye week on mend from injuries

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) In the two-week run-up to the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots will face plenty of questions about two things critical to the team's success: Tom Brady's right hand and Rob Gronkowski's head.

Brady answered most of the concerns about whether the hand injury would hinder him with a strong performance in New England's AFC championship game victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Gronkowski, meanwhile, will likely spend at least part of this week going through the concussion protocol. He suffered the injury on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jacksonville safety Barry Church.

The game-changing tight end is Brady's favorite target, and he missed last season's Super Bowl run after undergoing season-ending back surgery.

There was no update from the Patriots on Gronk's status Monday, but he was at the facility for team meetings.

''He was in pretty good spirits today when I spoke to him,'' special teams captain Matt Slater said.

Recently, New England has fared well when Gronkowski has been sidelined. But that hasn't always been the case.

The Patriots had plenty of time to adjust to his absence in 2016, when he played just eight games before the surgery. They also had Martellus Bennett to pick up the slack.

Since the start of last season, New England is 12-1 without Gronk. In those games, the Patriots' points per game actually increased from 28.6 to 28.8, although their yards per play declined from 8.1 to 7.6.

The offense was also better without him on third down and in the red zone. Over the past two seasons it converted on 49.3 percent of its chances on third down and scored touchdowns on 66 percent of its red zone trips without him, compared to 45 percent on third down and scoring touchdowns on 62.6 percent of red zone trips when he played.

From his rookie season in 2010 through 2015, his absence had a much greater impact.

The Patriots were 12-7 without Gronkowski over that span, averaging 31.5 points per game with him and 26.3 without him. The offense's average yards per pass attempt also fell from 7.8 with him to 6.6 without him.

Before he was injured, Gronkowski passed Dallas Clark to become the NFL's career leader for postseason yards at the position. And if the concussion were to sideline him for the Super Bowl, there's not much depth behind him. The only tight ends on New England's roster are Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister.

Allen has 10 receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown this season. Hollister has four catches for 42 yards and was inactive against Jacksonville.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said there is always a plan to adapt to injuries.

''You have to make some adjustments. We always go into the game with a certain idea of how we want to try to play it,'' he said. ''It certainly doesn't always play out the way that you wanted it to or that you had hoped to or designed it to, but that happens in every game.

''So, everybody understands that that's part of the game and when that happens, you just have to embrace whatever role you need to take on to help the team win.''

Brady still has stitches in his right thumb. He hopes to have them removed sometime this week, and he doesn't expect the injury to be an issue once Super Bowl week arrives.

''And then I can just get out there and get normal treatment like I always do and be ready to go,'' Brady said.

''This was a little injury at the end of the day. ... I mean, I've had a lot worse injuries than this. If this was on my left hand, I could care less, but just based on where it was, we had to deal with it.''

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New York Giants hire Shurmur as next head coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has been hired as the New York Giants head coach.

The Giants announced the hiring late Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Shurmur and the Vikings were beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game.

The 52-year-old Shurmur replaces Ben McAdoo, who was fired in early December with the team mired with a 2-10 record and owners and fans upset with his handling of the benching of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over for the final four games and posted a 1-3 record.

''He has an outstanding track record in developing young players, and it is clear his players respond to his guidance and direction,'' co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said in a statement.

''We interviewed six talented and qualified candidates, and we feel like Pat, with his vision and experience, is the right person to lead our team.''

The Giants won't officially introduce Shurmur until Friday. A winter storm in the Midwest is preventing him from coming to New Jersey on Tuesday and he will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, from Tuesday night through Thursday.

Shurmur returns to the head coaching ranks for the first time since leading the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12. He takes over a troubled team that posted a 3-13 record a year after making the playoffs.

Shurmur was interviewed on Jan. 6 by Mara, new general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams.

Following that meeting in Minneapolis, Shurmur had an hour-long phone conversation with Tisch.

''I can't wait to start working with Pat,'' said Gettleman. ''I know he will provide the type of leadership we need to take our team back to where it belongs. I have followed Pat's career for many years, and he has had great success wherever he has been.

''What struck me during our conversation is that being the head coach of the New York Giants is not too big for him. He is made for this moment and this opportunity.''

The Giants interviewed five other candidates, kicking it off with Spagnuolo three days after the season ended.

New York also spoke with New England coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and recently fired Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville, who has since been hired as a running backs coach by the Dolphins. Wilks was hired as the head coach in Arizona on Monday

Shurmur has earned a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. NFC title game opponents Nick Foles of the Eagles and Case Keenum of the Vikings were tutored by him.

With the Giants, Shurmur will get to work with Manning and possibly the No. 2 pick in the draft, if New York uses the pick to pick an heir apparent.

But the Giants also had problems in the locker room. Three defensive backs - Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple were suspended for a game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said Shurmur constantly put players in position to contribute and he doesn't take anything for granted.

''He's not a stubborn guy. He's going to throw stuff out if it's not working, and he's going to find things that guys are good at,'' Thielen said Monday as the Vikings cleaned out their lockers.

''So I think as a head coach, he's going to do that on both sides of the ball. Special teams, he's going to find guys who can make plays and let them do what they do. So I think he's going to have a lot of success as a head coach.''

Shurmur has been a part of teams that have qualified for the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He was Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach when the Eagles played in the Super Bowl against New England in the 2004 season.

Shurmur is finishing his second year with the Vikings. He began last season as the tight ends coach and for the final nine games was also the offensive coordinator, the title he retained this season.

The Vikings finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.9 points), 11th in total yardage (356.9), and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3) this season.

Shurmur posted a 9-23 record in his two seasons with the Browns, going there after a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator with the Rams. He spent three seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator after being fired.

Shurmur's NFL coaching career began with a 10-year run (1999-2008) in Philadelphia. He coached in college at Stanford and Michigan State.

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Associated Press Writer Doug Glass and AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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Seahawks part ways with defensive assistant Travis Jones

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The Seattle Seahawks have ''mutually parted ways'' with defensive assistant coach Travis Jones after five seasons with the team.

The Seahawks announced the decision Monday. Jones served as Seattle's defensive line coach from 2013-16 and moved into a defensive assistant role with the team for the 2017 season.

Jones, 45, joined Seattle the year the Seahawks won the Super Bowl with the best defense in the NFL. Before joining the Seahawks, Jones spent five seasons as a coach with the New Orleans Saints.

Clint Hurtt was Seattle's defensive line coach in 2017.

Jones is the fifth member of Seattle's coaching staff from the 2017 season that will not be returning.

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Cardinals hire Panthers D-coordinator Wilks as head coach

PHOENIX (AP) Steve Wilks is the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, and chances are he won't tread meekly into his new job.

''Steve's personality is as an aggressive guy,'' his ex-boss, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, said.

Wilks, 48, spent last season as defensive coordinator of the Panthers after five seasons as the team's secondary coach. He's been an NFL assistant for 12 years.

Wilks replaces the colorful and outspoken Bruce Arians, who retired after five seasons and compiled a franchise-record 50 victories.

With the hiring of Wilks, all three major football programs in the state have African-American coaches - Wilks, Herm Edwards at Arizona State and Kevin Sumlin at Arizona. Wilks is the Cardinals' second African-American coach (Dennis Green was the first) and the only minority candidate to get an NFL head coaching job this hiring cycle.

The Cardinals were 8-8 last season despite a myriad of significant injuries and closed out Arians' career with a win in Seattle.

''This is not really a rebuild, this is a retool,'' Wilks told azcardinals.com. ''We have the culture of winning here. We just have to be able to sustain it. It's all about trying to get to the next level and the consistency you need to get to the next level.''

Patrick Peterson, perennial Pro Bowl cornerback and a leader of the Arizona defense, tweeted simply ''I LOVE IT.''

Azcardinals.com released a brief video of Wilks talking to Arizona fans.

''I'd like to introduce myself to the `Bird Gang,''' he said. ''This is your head coach Steve Wilks. I'm so excited about building something great here. It's all about trying to create a commitment to excellence and I can't wait to see you guys at the Red Sea.''

Wilks was in Arizona for a second interview last week and was interviewed for the Tennessee job, which went to Mike Vrabel. Wilks also coached for 11 years at the collegiate level, including a one-year stint as head coach at Savannah State in 1999.

The Cardinals planned to introduce Wilks as coach at a news conference Tuesday at team headquarters.

Wilks played defensive back at Appalachian State, attended the Seattle Seahawks training camp and played for the Charlotte Rage of the Arena Football League.

He worked his way up through the college assistant coaching ranks with stops at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte, Savannah State, Illinois State, Appalachian State, East Tennessee State, Bowling Green, Notre Dame and Washington.

Wilks' first NFL job was as defensive backs coach of the Chicago Bears. He held a similar job with the San Diego Chargers for three seasons before joining the Panthers staff.

Under Wilks this season, the Panthers ranked seventh in total defense.

Speaking about Wilks last week, his Charlotte players were supportive.

''I think he gets guys to relate to him, get on the same page, get on the same scheme,'' defensive end Charles Johnson said. ''He comes to work every day and guys respect that. Just his whole personality. His mentality of getting guys to play how you want to play. He's a good coach for that.''

In an interview last fall, linebacker Luke Kuechly said, ''Steve Wilks and all those guys are doing an excellent job of game-planning and putting us in position to be successful and utilizing what we do well. Those coaches listen (to the players).

''They're not hard-headed. They do a great job with us. They motivate us. They do a good job of making sideline corrections and in-game adjustments. It's fun to play for them.''

The Cardinals were the last team to fill a coaching vacancy, just as they were in 2013 when they hired Arians, who won his second NFL coach of the year award in his second season with the team.

Last week, Rivera talked about Wilks' coaching potential.

''I know that Steve is a hot commodity, deservedly so,'' Rivera said. `He has done a tremendous job wherever he's been, starting in Chicago and San Diego and down here with us. It's going to be a tough one. Him and Sean (McDermott) are two very good people who are very special to this organization.''

Wilks replaced McDermott as Carolina defensive coordinator when McDermott was named head coach at Buffalo a year ago.

The Cardinals have a head coach with a background in defense for the first time since Dave McGinnis was hired 17 years ago. Wilks' first task probably is to hire an offensive coordinator, a move that's particularly important because the retirement of Carson Palmer left Arizona with no quarterback.

And general manager Steve Keim is turning his attention full-time to finding that elusive quarterback, through a trade, free agency, the draft or any combination of the three.

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AP Pro Football Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville and AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte contributed to this report.

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New York Giants hire Shurmur as next head coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has been hired as the New York Giants head coach.

The Giants announced the hiring late Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Shurmur and the Vikings were beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game.

The 52-year-old Shurmur replaces Ben McAdoo, who was fired in early December with the team mired with a 2-10 record and owners and fans upset with his handling of the benching of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over for the final four games and posted a 1-3 record.

''He has an outstanding track record in developing young players, and it is clear his players respond to his guidance and direction,'' co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch said in a statement.

''We interviewed six talented and qualified candidates, and we feel like Pat, with his vision and experience, is the right person to lead our team.''

The Giants won't officially introduce Shurmur until Friday. A winter storm in the Midwest is preventing him from coming to New Jersey on Tuesday and he will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, from Tuesday night through Thursday.

Shurmur returns to the head coaching ranks for the first time since leading the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12. He takes over a troubled team that posted a 3-13 record a year after making the playoffs.

Shurmur was interviewed on Jan. 6 by Mara, new general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams.

Following that meeting in Minneapolis, Shurmur had an hour-long phone conversation with Tisch.

The Giants interviewed five other candidates, kicking it off with Spagnuolo three days after the season ended.

New York also spoke with New England coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and recently fired Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville, who has since been hired as a running backs coach by the Dolphins. Wilks was hired as the head coach in Arizona on Monday

Shurmur has earned a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. NFC title game opponents Nick Foles of the Eagles and Case Keenum of the Vikings were tutored by him.

With the Giants, Shurmur will get to work with Manning and possibly the No. 2 pick in the draft, if New York uses the pick to pick an heir apparent.

But the Giants also had problems in the locker room. Three defensive backs - Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple were suspended for a game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said Shurmur constantly put players in position to contribute and he doesn't take anything for granted.

''He's not a stubborn guy. He's going to throw stuff out if it's not working, and he's going to find things that guys are good at,'' Thielen said Monday as the Vikings cleaned out their lockers.

''So I think as a head coach, he's going to do that on both sides of the ball. Special teams, he's going to find guys who can make plays and let them do what they do. So I think he's going to have a lot of success as a head coach.''

Shurmur has been a part of teams that have qualified for the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He was Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach when the Eagles played in the Super Bowl against New England in the 2004 season.

Shurmur is finishing his second year with the Vikings. He began last season as the tight ends coach and for the final nine games was also the offensive coordinator, the title he retained this season.

The Vikings finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.9 points), 11th in total yardage (356.9), and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3) this season.

Shurmur posted a 9-23 record in his two seasons with the Browns, going there after a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator with the Rams. He spent three seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator after being fired.

Shurmur's NFL coaching career began with a 10-year run (1999-2008) in Philadelphia. He coached in college at Stanford and Michigan State.

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Associated Press Writer Doug Glass and AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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Eagles fan who slammed into pole in subway says he's OK

PHILADELPHIA (AP) A Philadelphia Eagles fan whose attempt to rally subway passengers for a playoff game ended with him running into a concrete pole says he's doing OK and a viral video shows the ''passion'' of Philly fans.

Jigar Desai said his pain eased with the Eagles' 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game Sunday night.

The mishap occurred while Desai was heading to the game after having a few drinks while watching the New England Patriots defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship game.

The 42-year-old Eagles season ticket holder from suburban Philadelphia said he got pumped up watching a group of Eagles fans on a train heading in the opposite direction and wanted to get them excited. Video captured Desai, wearing a Brian Dawkins jersey, running with the train car - then hitting the pole and bumping into the train.

''Yeah, I hit the pole, but the passion is there,'' Desai said. ''It reflects the passion of the entire city. We are good fans. Yeah, there are a couple of bad apples in the mix, in any city you're going to find that, but I think as a whole we have supported this team for years and years and years. I think this city is ready to bring home the hardware.''

The Eagles will face the Patriots, the reigning NFL champions, in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4. It'll be the 10th appearance in the Super Bowl for the Patriots but just the third for the Eagles, who've never won it.

Desai, who described himself as a ''10-pound baby from India'' who moved to Pennsylvania when he was a child, said his postgame celebration was a lot tamer and he went to his job at a pharmaceutical company on Monday, although he was a bit sore. He said he may go to the doctor on Tuesday.

The subway platform run was perhaps the most viral moment from Sunday's festivities in Philadelphia, which included video of fans climbing light poles slicked with Crisco, Eagles fans throwing beer at Vikings fans and a fan arrested for punching a police horse.

''I'm not throwing bottles or punching horses,'' Desai said. ''It was just running into a pole.''

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Eagles fan who collided with pole in subway is OK

PHILADELPHIA (AP) An overzealous Philadelphia Eagles fan whose attempt to rally subway passengers went viral when he ran into a concrete pole says he's doing OK.

Jigar (JIG'-gur) Desai told The Associated Press that his pain eased after the Eagles' 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game Sunday night.

The mishap occurred while Desai was heading to the game after having a few drinks while watching the New England Patriots defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship game.

He says he got pumped up watching a group of Eagles fans on a train heading in the opposite direction and wanted to get them excited. Video captured him running with the train car, before hitting the pole and bumping into the train.

Desai says his post-game celebration was a lot tamer.

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Jaguars head into offseason with more hope than heartache

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars won't shock anyone next season.

A day after a disappointing loss to New England in the AFC championship game, players packed up their belongings and headed into the offseason. They carried with them more hope than heartache.

The Jaguars were one of the NFL's biggest surprises in 2017. They ended a six-year run with double-digit losses by winning the AFC South for the first time in franchise history.

They hosted a playoff game for the first time in 18 years, stunned Pittsburgh in the divisional round and had a 10-point lead on Tom Brady and the Patriots in the fourth quarter.

It was far from a fluke. With young and still-emerging talent on both sides of the ball, the Jaguars look poised to be a postseason participant for at least the next few years.

''Going forward, we know that this team is going to be a true contender and we're going to go out there and earn it,'' All-Pro defensive end Calais Campbell said Monday.

Campbell was quick to point out that meeting higher expectations will only happen if they take the same approach to next season.

''You don't get nowhere off of what you did last year,'' he said. ''It's only what have you done for me lately. I've been a part of a team that went to the NFC championship and the next year we missed the playoffs. It happens quite a bit. This team is definitely, I feel like, we should be able to go out there and be a great team next year, but we're going to have to put the work in.''

Before the next phase begins, the Jaguars will have to get over a stinging loss at New England.

They surely will be haunted by four plays that were as much a part of the outcome as Brady:

-The league's best pass defense gave up a 21-gain on a third-and-18 play early in the fourth quarter. The Patriots went on to score a touchdown that cut the lead to 20-17.

-Linebacker Myles Jack stripped the ball from Dion Lewis at the end of a 20-yard gain in the third quarter. Jack picked up the fumble and started running the other way, but officials whistled the play dead. The Jaguars felt like it should have been a touchdown. Instead, the offense went three-and-out.

-With 55 seconds to play remaining in the first half and two timeouts, Jacksonville took a knee on consecutive plays instead of trying to make something happen.

''Let's get ourselves going and let's take this lead into halftime,'' coach Doug Marrone said. ''That is exactly how I thought, right or wrong.''

-Blake Bortles was flagged for delay of game - following a timeout, no less - and negated a 12-yard completion to Marcedes Lewis on a third-and-7 play in the second quarter. Instead of moving the chains and milking the clock, the Patriots got the ball back and scored a momentum-turning touchdown heading into the locker room.

''It was just a lapse on our part,'' Marrone said.

All of those contributed to Jacksonville's collapse.

By Monday, players and coaches had started to recover. Soon, they will turn the page.

''Getting there and showing the world that we can play good ball and be consistent against a good team like that and not fold under pressure was big,'' Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. ''We answered a lot of critics now. People want to give us our respect; they don't have to. We proved a lot to ourselves, and I think we're going to continue to build from there.''

Here are some other things to know about Jacksonville heading into the offseason:

QB DECISION: The biggest question centers on Bortles and his future . Jacksonville picked up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract, meaning he has one year remaining at $19.053 million. Bortles showed progress in 2017 and played well at times in the playoffs, but the Jaguars could decide they want to try to lure a free agent with fewer flaws to complement a dominant defense.

''I would love to be able to play here for as long as they would let me,'' Bortles said. ''What they do and all the decisions that are made are kind of out of my control. I'd be thrilled to be able to stay here and play here, and hopefully that can happen.''

MOVING ON: Jacksonville is likely to part ways with receiver Allen Hurns ($7 million) and running back Chris Ivory ($6.97 million), and they could lose cornerback Aaron Colvin and linebacker Paul Posluszny to free agency.

NEW LOOK: The Jaguars are expected to unveil new uniforms in April, making the two-tone helmets a collector's edition. The black-and-gold helmets were mostly mocked the last five years.

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Backups help resilient Eagles overcome major injuries

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Using a cane to walk on his surgically repaired left knee, Carson Wentz celebrated a victory with his teammates that many thought the Philadelphia Eagles couldn't secure without him.

Wentz led them to a division title. Nick Foles is taking them to the Super Bowl.

Losing Wentz in Week 14 after the second-year quarterback had an MVP-caliber season was supposed to be a crippling blow to a team that had already lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking linebacker Jordan Hicks, versatile returner/running back Darren Sproles and special teams ace Chris Maragos.

But the Eagles are one victory away from the franchise's first NFL title since 1960 thanks to key contributions from several backups.

''It's the next-man-up mentality,'' coach Doug Pederson said Monday. ''It also means that you have some veteran players that keep things together, and good coaching staffs. I think it's a tribute to the players and everyone involved that they can keep things going even through that adversity.''

Foles led the way with a spectacular performance in a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game . He threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns while joining Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to complete 75 percent of their passes in consecutive playoff games.

''We lean on each other and we play for each other and that's what's special about this team,'' Foles said. ''There's never going to be a time when we're going to turn on each other. We're always going to be there to support each other and that's the beautiful thing about the Philadelphia Eagles.''

Even team owner Jeffery Lurie couldn't have predicted this success.

''It surprised me because of all the injuries,'' Lurie said. ''The resiliency among this group is phenomenal.''

Sproles, one of the best returners in league history and a major part of the offense, tore his left ACL and broke his right forearm on the same play against the Giants in the home opener on Sept. 24.

The team signed Kenjon Barner to replace him on punts and rookie Corey Clement has stepped up to fill Sproles' role as a third down specialist.

Maragos tore his right PCL at Carolina on Oct. 12. The unit struggled without him until Bryan Braman re-signed with the team in December.

Peters tore his right ACL and MCL in a Monday night game against the Redskins on Oct. 23. Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced him in the starting lineup and has improved with more playing time.

Vaitai gained valuable experience as a rookie last year filling in for Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson when he was suspended 10 games.

''Had a lot of confidence in (Vaitai),'' Pederson said. ''These are obviously the things we've seen in him: his maturity, his growth as a left tackle.''

Hicks ruptured his right Achilles in the same game Peters went down. It was a big loss because Hicks calls the defensive signals and is a playmaker. He has seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries in 31 games.

Joe Walker and Najee Goode replaced him initially before the Eagles signed former Ravens starter Dannell Ellerbe to take his spot. Ellerbe missed the victory over Minnesota because of a hamstring injury and Goode was beat on a touchdown pass in the first quarter.

''I think that's what makes it more special with these guys,'' Pederson said. ''You start losing some of your top players to injury. You just kind of see the fight in the guys and the resiliency in the guys. The guys just keep battling. For us to believe in one another and to be now in this spot, I'm just so happy for those guys, and hat's off to them.''

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New coach Mike Vrabel: Titles proof Titans' approach works

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson got his NFL start as a scout with the New England Patriots, the same team his new head coach Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowl rings as a linebacker.

Yes, it seems like the Titans are trying to implement the Patriot Way in Music City.

Vrabel said that's what it looks like - until the Titans win big themselves.

''You have to be able to win championships before people start giving you ways to do things,'' Vrabel said Monday. ''So that'll be our ultimate goal. ... Until we can win a championship doing that, there's not going to be this Titan Way. It will be talked about in the building. But people from outside the building, they won't believe in us, they won't have faith in us until you win.''

The Titans introduced Vrabel as their new coach Monday. They agreed to terms with Vrabel on Saturday , just five days after firing Mike Mularkey coming off the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years.

This is the first head coaching job for Vrabel, 42.

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk noted Robinson and Vrabel have known each other for years. She also likes Vrabel's experience and vision for building on back-to-back 9-7 seasons.

''I believe he will do everything he can to bring this town a championship,'' Strunk said.

Vrabel is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel started his NFL career in Pittsburgh under coach Bill Cowher before signing with New England under coach Bill Belichick, and he finished in Kansas City. In 2011, he joined the staff at his alma mater, Ohio State, coaching linebackers and then defensive linemen.

He said nobody's ever really ready to be a head coach for the first time in the NFL, though Vrabel feels as ready as he can be thanks to his doctorate degree in coaching he picked up working with some of the best in the game.

''There will be things that I take from New England, from Pittsburgh, from Ohio State, from Houston,'' Vrabel said. ''I mean there will be things that I take from everywhere. You draw on these experiences just like everybody else would in life ... The nice thing is now there's things that I didn't like that Billy did, I get to change them. So there's things I like that he did, I get to use them.''

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator. The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks in part to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season amid injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Building on the Titans' playoff win in Kansas City means putting Marcus Mariota in position to blossom. Whoever Vrabel hires as his offensive coordinator will be Mariota's third going into his fourth NFL season, and Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day reportedly is the early favorite for the job in Tennessee.

''I think Amy's going to trust me to hire the right guy for Marcus,'' Vrabel said. ''Jon's going to trust me to hire the right guy for Marcus or I wouldn't have been hired.''

And Vrabel made it very clear he knows the potential for Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 pick overall in 2015. He recalled Mariota pulling a hamstring Oct. 1 against the Texans.

''A special talent, a special kid, and I can't wait to work with him and help him through taking that next step in his career,'' Vrabel said.

This was Robinson's first head coaching search since being hired in January 2016, two days before the Titans took the interim tag off Mularkey. The Titans went 21-22 with Mularkey taking a team that had the NFL's worst record at 5-27 combined over 2014 and 2015 to a team that lost in the AFC divisional round to New England.

Mularkey was fired less than 48 hours after that loss. The Titans interviewed only three people with Vrabel first to meet with them Thursday. The Titans also interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur .

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Panthers name Washington new defensive coordinator

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Panthers wasted little time naming a new defensive coordinator after Steve Wilks left to become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera promoted defensive line coach Eric Washington as Wilks' replacement on Monday, just hours after the hiring of Wilks became official. Rivera said after the season that had a hunch Wilks would get a head coaching job, and was prepared in the event that it happened.

Wilks' departure means the Panthers will enter next season with three new coordinators.

Rivera fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula two days after the season and replaced him with Norv Turner. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey was replaced by former assistant coach Chase Blackburn. McGaughey's contract was up and he wanted to pursue other options.

It's the second straight season the Panthers have lost a defensive coordinator to a head coaching gig.

Last year the Buffalo Bills hired Sean McDermott as their new head coach.

It's expected that Wilks will take a few current Carolina assistants with him, including linebackers coach Al Holcomb and assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown.

Washington has served as the Panthers defensive line coach for the past seven seasons. During that span the Panthers defensive line has recorded more sacks (219) than any team in the NFL.

Washington's defensive line has not only been productive in getting to the quarterback, but also fared well against the run. Carolina has ranked in the top six in the NFL in four of the past six seasons in run defense, including a No. 2 ranking in 2013.

Under Washington, the Panthers defensive line has featured two All-Pro selections and two Pro Bowl selections. Since 2013, a Panthers defensive lineman has earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week three times and NFC Defensive Player of the Month twice.

The Panthers defense has finished in the top 10 in defense five of the last six seasons, including four consecutive from 2012-15. Washington has been a part of a Carolina coaching staff that has led the Panthers to playoff appearances in four of the past five seasons, including a Super Bowl 50 appearance two seasons ago.

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Cardinals hire Panthers D-coordinator Wilks as head coach

PHOENIX (AP) Steve Wilks is the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals announced Monday that the 48-year-old Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator had agreed to a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth.

Wilks spent one season as coordinator in Carolina, his 12th year as an NFL assistant. Wilks spent five seasons as Panthers secondary coach before his promotion a year ago.

Wilks replaces the colorful and outspoken Bruce Arians, who retired after five seasons and compiled a franchise-record 50 victories.

With the hiring of Wilks, all three major football programs in the state have African-American coaches - Wilks, Herm Edwards at Arizona State and Kevin Sumlin at Arizona. Wilks is the Cardinals' second African-American coach (Denny Green was the first) and the only minority to get an NFL head coaching job this hiring cycle.

The Cardinals were 8-8 last season despite a myriad of significant injuries and closed out Arians' career with a win in Seattle.

''This is not really a rebuild, this is a retool,'' Wilks told azcardinals.com. ''We have the culture of winning here. We just have to be able to sustain it. It's all about trying to get to the next level and the consistency you need to get to the next level.''

Patrick Peterson, perennial Pro Bowl cornerback and a leader of the Arizona defense, tweeted simply ''I LOVE IT.''

Azcardinals.com released a brief video of Wilks talking to Arizona fans.

''I'd like to introduce myself to the `Bird Gang,''' he said. ''This is your head coach Steve Wilks. I'm so excited about building something great here. It's all about trying to create a commitment to excellence and I can't wait to see you guys at the Red Sea.''

Wilks was in Arizona for a second interview last week and was interviewed for the Tennessee job, which went to Mike Vrabel. Wilks also coached for 11 years at the collegiate level, including a one-year stint as head coach at Savannah State in 1999.

The Cardinals planned to introduce Wilks as coach at a news conference Tuesday at team headquarters.

The Cardinals were the last team to fill a coaching vacancy, just as they were in 2013 when they hired Arians, who won his second NFL coach of the year award in his second season with the team.

Last week, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera talked about Wilks' coaching potential.

''I know that Steve is a hot commodity, deservedly so,'' Rivera said. `He has done a tremendous job wherever he's been, starting in Chicago and San Diego and down here with us. It's going to be a tough one. Him and Sean (McDermott) are two very good people who are very special to this organization.''

Wilks replaced McDermott as Carolina defensive coordinator when McDermott was named head coach at Buffalo a year ago.

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AP Pro Football Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville and AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte contributed to this report.

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New York Giants meeting with Pat Shurmur may have to wait

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants' search for a new coach may be put on a hold by winter storm in the Midwest.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a winter storm warning for Minneapolis, saying up to 13 inches of snow is expected in the area, making travel difficult. The Giants were expected to have Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur at their headquarters Tuesday for a final meeting with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and new general manager Dave Gettleman.

More than 100 flights were cancelled by noon, said Pat Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission in Minneapolis.

The 52-year-old Shurmur is one of several candidates to replace the fired Ben McAdoo.

However, the storm may force Shurmur to wait for another day before a decisive visit to a troubled team that posted a 3-13 record a year after making the playoffs.

McAdoo, who was fired in early December with the team mired with a 2-10 record and owners and fans upset with his handling of benching two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over for the final four games and posted a 1-3 record.

The Giants interviewed five other candidates after the season ended, kicking it off with Spagnuolo three days after the season ended.

New York also spoke with New England coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and recently fired Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville, who has since been hired as a running backs coach by the Dolphins.

Shurmur, who had a two-year stint as the Cleveland Browns' head coach, was interviewed by the Giants on Jan. 6. He has earned a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. NFC title game opponents Nick Foles of the Eagles and Case Keenum of the Vikings were tutored by him.

With the Giants, he would get to work with Manning and possibly the second pick in the NFL draft, if New York uses the pick to pick an heir apparent. But the Giants also had problems in the locker room. Three defensive backs - Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple were suspended for a game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Shurmur has been a part of teams that have qualified for the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He was Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach when the Eagles played in the Super Bowl against New England in the 2004 season.

Shurmur is finishing his second year with the Vikings. He began last season as the tight ends coach and for the final nine games was also the offensive coordinator, the title he retained this season.

The Vikings finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.9 points), 11th in total yardage (356.9), and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3) this season. He also helped quarterback Case Keenum have a career year.

Shurmur posted a 9-23 record in his two seasons (2011-12) with the Browns, going there after a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator with the Rams. He spent three seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator after being fired.

Shurmur's NFL coaching career began with a 10-year run (1999-2008) in Philadelphia. He coached in college at Stanford and Michigan State.

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Associated Press Writer Doug Glass in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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Panthers name Washington new defensive coordinator

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Eric Washington has been named the Carolina Panthers new defensive coordinator. He will replace Steve Wilks, who was hired earlier Monday as the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

Washington has served as the Panthers defensive line coach for the past seven seasons. During that span the Panthers defensive line has recorded more sacks (219) than any team in the NFL.

Wilks' departure, which coach Ron Rivera said he expected after the season, means the Panthers will have three new coordinators next season.

Rivera fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula two days after the season and replaced him with Norv Turner. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey was replaced by former assistant coach Chase Blackburn. McGaughey's contract was up and he wanted to pursue other options.

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Police: Eagles fan who collided with pole in subway is OK

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Transit police say an overzealous Philadelphia Eagles fan whose attempt to rally subway passengers went viral when he ran into a concrete pole is OK.

The mishap occurred as Philadelphia celebrated the Eagles' 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game Sunday night.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Thomas Emmet Ashton, who recorded the video , says the super fan in the Brian Dawkins jersey was running alongside the train trying to rally passengers before he crashed into a pole.

Transit Police Chief Tom Nestel says the man jumped up, gave his friends a high-five sign and caught the next train. He hasn't been identified.

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Analysis: Jaguars just not on same level as Brady, Belichick

The Jacksonville Jaguars frittered away a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in losing 24-20 to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, yet their unraveling really began in the final 2+ minutes of the first half.

As Jacksonville threatened to expand a 14-3 lead, New England coach Bill Belichick called a timeout with 2:20 remaining and things started falling apart for the Jaguars, who would lead until succumbing in the final minutes of a 24-20 heartbreaker.

After the timeout, Blake Bortles dropped back on third-and-7 and zinged a beautiful 12-yard pass that Marcedes Lewis caught at the New England 32, putting the Jaguars within striking distance of a 17-3 or even 21-3 halftime cushion.

Only, the Jaguars were flagged for delay of game.

''Yeah I just thought out of the timeout we lost track,'' lamented coach Doug Marrone.

Bortles was sacked for a six-yard loss on third-and-12, when the Patriots declined a holding penalty.

So the clock was running when the Jaguars inexplicably rushed their punt with 24 seconds to spare on the play clock.

Danny Amendola's fair catch of Brad Nortman's punt at his 14 came with 2:02 remaining, which essentially gave Brady and Belichick an extra timeout with which to work.

On first-and-10 from his 40, Brady threw a long pass for Rob Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church on a helmet-to-helmet hit. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at the Jacksonville 45.

''It was a tough call,'' Church said, ''but you've got to go with what they call.''

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on Brandin Cooks on the next play. The 32-yard penalty gave the Patriots the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, James White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10 with just under a minute left in the half.

That was the 14th time this season the Patriots scored in the last two minutes before halftime.

Even though they had two timeouts and 55 seconds to work with, Bortles twice took a knee and the Jaguars, who had deferred to the second half, went into the locker room up by four, yet it was the Patriots who were feeling good about things.

''We came in at halftime with a good level of confidence that it was a four-point game and we hadn't played well,'' Belichick said. ''If we could get it going then we could win the game. It took us a little while to do that, but that was a big drive for us.''

Asked afterward if he had any regrets about not trying to score in the final minute of the first half, Marrone said: ''I think more the second-half kickoff. They came down and we had to make some adjustments going into halftime. Wanted to make sure we got that done knowing we were going in getting the ball back.''

The Jaguars scored on their opening possession of the second half, and Josh Lambo followed up his 53-yard field goal with a 43-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter that made it 20-10.

No team had ever overcome a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter of an AFC championship, but coveted coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia , in what might have been their last game on the home sideline at Gillette Stadium, made all the right adjustments, further burnishing their head coaching credentials.

Brady started pushing the ball downfield to his receivers and the New England defense took away the short middle and dared Bortles to start making plays downfield, too.

While Bortles managed a single first down in the fourth quarter, Brady came through with a pair of TD throws to Amendola.

Amendola had the crucial catch on the first TD drive, hauling in a 21-yard pass from Brady on third-and-18 in front of safety Tashaun Gipson, who said he figures he'd break up that pass nine out of 10 times.

''That play kind of gave them momentum,'' Gipson said.

It was vintage Brady, too.

''He is the greatest quarterback to ever play this game,'' Gipson said. ''You can never have a safe lead with 12 at the helm. We knew we had to keep our foot on the gas.''

Which, remember, they didn't do at the end of the first half.

The Patriots' comeback set up a Super Bowl 52 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles, who were miffed last week when the NFL mistakenly released an ad that featured Brady and Case Keenum with the Super Bowl trophy between them, signifying a New England-Minnesota matchup.

Instead, it'll be Nick Foles and the Eagles, who routed the Vikings 38-7 in the NFC championship game, trying to dethrone Brady and the Patriots.

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Atlantic City longs for sports betting, action on Eagles

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Atlantic City and southern New Jersey have always been Philadelphia Eagles country.

And with the local team in the Super Bowl, the seaside gambling resort can only dream of the extra millions of dollars it might have taken in had it been able to offer sports betting.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide New Jersey's challenge to a law banning sports betting in all but four states later this year.

But the decision won't come in time to make up for the business Atlantic City thinks it would have gotten from die-hard Eagles fans, as well as casual fans, looking to bet on the Eagles-Patriots championship game on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Tropicana president (and lifelong Eagles fan) Tony Rodio said sports betting would generate a lot of new business for Atlantic City.

''The northeast corridor is a giant sports betting market,'' he said. ''If you take the Eagles and put them into the mix, I just can't even imagine how big that would be. It would take it to a whole new level.''

Alas, that is not to be, at least this season. The Supreme Court ruling might not come until June. Legal analysts predict New Jersey has a decent chance of winning the case with a ruling that would permit sports betting in the state or across the nation.

Sports betting would be offered at Atlantic City's casinos and the state's horse racing tracks.

City Councilman Marty Small, an Eagles season-ticket holder who organizes an annual flight to see an Eagles road game, said Eagles fans would have booked every available hotel room in the city weeks ago in anticipation of watching - and betting on - their team in Atlantic City.

''We would have been totally sold out by now, the whole city,'' he said. ''Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest party day of the year, and people would have come from near and far to claim Atlantic City as their party place. We're missing a golden opportunity this year.''

This year, casinos in Las Vegas expect betting on the Super Bowl to surpass last year's record of $138.5 million.

Drew Leonard, lifelong Eagles fan from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who grew up in southern New Jersey and used to visit Atlantic City twice a month, said he would go to the resort to bet a few hundred dollars on the Eagles, if it were legal.

''Anything that would bring in more people and business would definitely help,'' he said, predicting Philadelphia will beat New England by a touchdown.

Of course, if sports betting were legal, a sizeable number of people would be expected to come to Atlantic City to place bets regardless of which two teams were playing in it.

Kevin Ortzman, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, which owns three of Atlantic City's seven casinos, said the northeastern U.S. ''is probably the biggest driver of sports betting,'' noting that there are hard-core sports fans who would come to Atlantic City to bet on football, even if it involved the Cleveland Browns.

But the presence of the local market-favorite Eagles would have added some ''extreme excitement and vibe'' to the game, he said.

Even without sports betting, Atlantic City casinos are trying to cash in on Eagles mania. The Caesars Entertainment casinos (Harrah's Bally's and Caesars) are considering bringing in retired Eagles players to meet and greet customers.

The Tropicana is using green lights to illuminate two indoor fountains, and all last weekend, it sprinkled the recorded sound of an eagle screech from time to time into the overhead music playing in the casino.

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Greg Knapp returns to Atlanta Falcons as quarterback coach

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday that Greg Knapp is returning to the team as quarterback coach, working with 2016 MVP Matt Ryan.

Knapp replaces Bush Hamdan, who left to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Washington.

Knapp was the Falcons' offensive coordinator under Jim Mora from 2004-06, when Michael Vick was the quarterback. Atlanta reached the NFC title game in 2004, but Mora and his staff were dismissed after the Falcons missed the playoffs the next two seasons.

In 2006, the Falcons rushed for a team-record 183.7 yards per game as Vick became the first quarterback in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards in a season.

The most recent stop in Knapp's 30-year coaching career was Denver, where he worked from 2013-16 as quarterback coach and passing game coordinator. In 2014, Peyton Manning set NFL records by throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.

In Atlanta, the 54-year-old Knapp will work with Steve Sarkisian, whose came under fire after the Falcons' league-leading offense from 2016 struggled to put up consistent numbers in his first season as coordinator.

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Titans introduce Mike Vrabel as their latest head coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Mike Vrabel says nobody's ever really ready to be a head coach for the first time in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans' newest coach feels like he is as ready as possible thanks to the men he's worked with in the league.

''I'm lucky basically to go through basically a doctorate degree of coaching with the people that I've been around,'' Vrabel said.

The Titans introduced Vrabel as their new coach Monday. They agreed to terms with Vrabel on Saturday , just five days after firing Mike Mularkey coming off the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years.

''There will be things that I take from New England, from Pittsburgh, from Ohio State, from Houston,'' Vrabel said. ''I mean there will be things that I take from everywhere. You draw on these experiences just like everybody else would in life ... The nice thing is now there's things that I didn't like that Billy did, I get to change them. So there's things I like that he did, I get to use them.''

This is the first head coaching job for Vrabel, 42, who won three Super Bowl rings with New England during his 14-year NFL career as a linebacker.

Vrabel is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel's 14-year career as a player included stints with Pittsburgh under coach Bill Cowher and New England under coach Bill Belichick, along with Kansas City. In 2011, he joined the staff at his alma mater, Ohio State, coaching linebackers and defensive linemen.

''I'm not going to make the same mistake twice,'' Vrabel said.

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator. The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks in part to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season amid injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

This was the first head coaching search since Robinson was hired in January 2016, two days before the Titans took the interim tag off Mularkey. He went 21-22 in taking a team that had the NFL's worst record at 5-27 combined over 2014 and 2015 to a team that lost in the AFC divisional round to New England. Mularkey was fired less than 48 hours after that loss.

The Titans interviewed only three people with Vrabel first to meet with them Thursday. The Titans also interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur .

''He had a great presence about him,'' Robinson said. ''In the interview, his football intelligence showed quickly. And at the end of the day, we felt like this is the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans.''

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New York Giants meeting with Pat Shurmur may have to wait

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants' search for a new coach may be put on a hold by winter storm in the Midwest.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a winter storm warning for Minneapolis, saying up 13 inches of snow is expected in the area, making travel difficult. The Giants were expected to have Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur at their headquarters Tuesday for a final meeting with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and new general manager Dave Gettleman.

More than 100 flights were cancelled by noon, said Pat Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission in Minneapolis.

The 52-year-old Shurmur is one of several candidates to replace the fired Ben McAdoo.

However, the storm may force Shurmur to wait for another day before a decisive visit to a troubled team that posted a 3-13 record a year after making the playoffs.

McAdoo, who was fired in early December with the team mired with a 2-10 record and owners and fans upset with his handling of benching two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over for the final four games and posted a 1-3 record.

The Giants interviewed five other candidates after the season ended, kicking it off with Spagnuolo three days after the season ended.

New York also spoke with New England coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and recently fired Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville, who has since been hired as a running backs coach by the Dolphins.

Shurmur, who had a two-year stint as the Cleveland Browns' head coach, was interviewed by the Giants on Jan. 6. He has earned a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. NFC title game opponents Nick Foles of the Eagles and Case Keenum of the Vikings were tutored by him.

With the Giants, he would get to work with Manning and possibly the second pick in the NFL draft, if New York uses the pick to pick an heir apparent. But the Giants also had problems in the locker room. Three defensive backs - Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple were suspended for a game for conduct detrimental to the team.

Shurmur has been a part of teams that have qualified for the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He was Philadelphia's quarterbacks coach when the Eagles played in the Super Bowl against New England in the 2004 season.

Shurmur is finishing his second year with the Vikings. He began last season as the tight ends coach and for the final nine games was also the offensive coordinator, the title he retained this season.

The Vikings finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.9 points), 11th in total yardage (356.9), and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3) this season. He also helped quarterback Case Keenum have a career year.

Shurmur posted a 9-23 record in his two seasons (2011-12) with the Browns, going there after a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator with the Rams. He spent three seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator after being fired.

Shurmur's NFL coaching career began with a 10-year run (1999-2008) in Philadelphia. He coached in college at Stanford and Michigan State.

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Associated Press Writer Doug Glass in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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Cardinals hire Panthers D-coordinator Wilks as head coach

PHOENIX (AP) Steve Wilks is the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals announced Monday that the 48-year-old Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator had agreed to a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth.

Wilks spent one season as coordinator in Carolina, his 12th year as an NFL assistant. Wilks spent five seasons as Panthers secondary coach before his promotion a year ago.

Wilks replaces Bruce Arians, who retired after five seasons and compiled a franchise-record 50 victories.

Wilks was in Arizona for a second interview last week. He also coached for 11 years at the collegiate level, including a one-year stint as head coach at Savannah State in 1999.

The Cardinals planned to introduce Wilks as coach at a news conference Tuesday at team headquarters.

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Fans Behaving Badly: Pats, Eagles bring out worst in fans

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Binge drinking for hours in stadium parking lots, a few Philly fans flexed their beer muscles with throws that were as on point as Nick Foles connecting with his Eagles receivers.

Sure, the Minnesota Vikings fans who walked through hostile enemy territory that would set the stage for malfeasance at the NFC championship game had to expect the boos, the four-letter words, the obscene gestures, the shouts to go home, the, well, the misconduct list goes on for churlish Eagles fans.

On a few occasions, cooler heads prevailed.

As in fans opened coolers, plucked cheap beers and chucked unopened cans at Vikings fans.

This was a dangerous twist on Target Field for the Minnesota faithful.

Social media users captured snapshots of fans dodging and weaving cans, crushed red solo cups and all kinds of trash launched toward anyone in purple and gold, and many more Vikings fans complained on Twitter of witnessing random acts of violence. Some fans whined their Vikings hats were swiped off their heads and tossed into urinals before Eagles fans showed why their team was No. 1 in the NFC.

Mongo from "Blazing Saddles" would surely tip his cap at the way Eagles fans can sock a horse .

Philly boos were supplanted by Minnesota boo-hoos .

Beware, Minneapolis.

Eagles fans are coming to your city.

And the Massholes are joining in on the Super Bowl bash.

Patriots-Eagles is more than a 2005 Super Bowl rematch. It sticks two of the more maligned - and misunderstood - fanbases in the NFL within striking distance of each other at US Bank Stadium.

It's time to line `em up - the Santa Snowball Hurlers vs. the Deflategate Truthers in a fight for the checkered flag of most obnoxious fans.

But certainly not the most violent.

The West Coast takes a (tarnished) gold among American sports fans, with stabbings reported at games in San Diego and San Francisco; while fan arrests at New York Giants games generally lead the league.

Eagles fans involved were in a scuffle with and police officers in one parking lot that left at least one fan beaten and bloodied before the NFC championship game. Police only reported two arrests for disorderly conduct and one for assault on police. They also reported three arrests for counterfeit ticket sales.

Patriots fans invoke a different kind of hate.

NFL fans from Kansas City to Jacksonville are just sick - or jealous - of the Patriots going to the Super Bowl and watching New England celebrate on duck boats and parade routes. Patriots fans are often called entitled or nauseating for their Super Bowl gloating. There are New England teens who believe Super Bowl appearances are as much a given right as lobster rolls and clam chowder.

It wasn't all serious in Philly.

After the game, huge crowds gathered in neighborhoods around the city cheering and chanting.

Earlier in the day, workers in Philadelphia who jokingly called themselves the ''Crisco Cops'' greased light poles to try to prevent fans from climbing up them after the game.

During the fourth quarter, Philadelphia police posted an image of Crisco on Twitter . While urging fans to celebrate responsibly, they wrote, ''Now comes the time in the night where we must warn everyone about the dangers of Saturated Fats.''

Just don't tell Vikings fans about frivolity in Philly.

Jana Hokinson of Manson, Iowa, was one Vikings fan who traveled to Philadelphia for the game. She told Minneapolis' WCCO-AM radio that she walked into the stadium with a group of other Vikings fans. Suddenly, two men in the front of the group were hit in the head with something and bleeding.

''One guy had a cracked forehead and the back of his right ear was just bleeding. The other guy, it was his left ear,'' she said.

She said that security told their group there was nothing they could do.

Once she got to her seat, the fans around her were giving her group some good-natured grief at first, but after the Vikings scored, one of her sisters got spit on by Eagles fans, and another sister had food thrown at her.

She said she left after the third quarter and ''security escorted us out because I got beer cans thrown at me.''

Hokinson said they were escorted to the car, but they had promised to give a man from Minneapolis a ride to the airport. Security had to go back and retrieve that Vikings fan from his club seat because Eagles fans were blocking him and wouldn't let him leave.

''It was crazy,'' she told the radio station.

When the Eagles fans come to Minnesota: ''I just hope our fans stay classy. Because that's a whole other level of crazy down there. And I know the fans up in Minnesota, they're not going to stoop that low. I hope they don't.''

Yes, that's classic sweatheart thinking that everyone in Minnesota is so nice.

Not always true. Not necessarily a problem. The all-day tailgating isn't generally in full 0.20 BAC levels at the Super Bowl as it is on NFL Sundays and the league will generally assemble a massive task force to thwart fan violence.

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen said he hopes Minnesotans hold no grudges.

''You can't group all Eagles fans into that group,'' Thielen said one day after his team bus was pelted with beer on its way out of Philly. ''It's kind of the same thing with the NFL sometimes. If somebody gets in trouble, it kind of gets put on everybody.''

Still, it might be a good thing Mary Richards isn't around to toss her winter cap in the air.

It might end up caught and tossed in a toilet by a partying Birds fan.

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Associated Press writer Amy Forliti and Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed to this report from Minneapolis.

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Few arrests as Eagles fans take to streets to celebrate

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Philadelphia police say few arrests have been made amid celebrations following the Eagles' NFC championship game victory.

The arrests came as thousands of fans took to the streets following the Eagles' 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. The Eagles advanced to their first Super Bowl since 2005, against the AFC champion New England Patriots.

After Sunday's game, huge crowds gathered around the city.

Police say one man is accused of punching a police horse and a mounted officer who was trying to disperse a crowd in a stadium parking lot before the game.

Police also reported two arrests for disorderly conduct and three arrests for counterfeit ticket sales.

Earlier in the day, workers who jokingly called themselves the ''Crisco Cops'' greased light poles to prevent fans from climbing them.

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Titans introduce Mike Vrabel as their latest head coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Mike Vrabel says nobody's ever really ready to be a head coach for the first time in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans' newest coach feels like he is as ready as possible thanks to the men he's worked with in the league.

''I'm lucky basically to go through basically a doctorate degree of coaching with the people that I've been around,'' Vrabel said.

The Titans introduced Vrabel as their new coach Monday. They agreed to terms with Vrabel on Saturday , just five days after firing Mike Mularkey coming off the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years.

''There will be things that I take from New England, from Pittsburgh, from Ohio State, from Houston,'' Vrabel said. ''I mean there will be things that I take from everywhere. You draw on these experiences just like everybody else would in life ... The nice thing is now there's things that I didn't like that Billy did, I get to change them. So there's things I like that he did, I get to use them.''

This is the first head coaching job for Vrabel, 42, who won three Super Bowl rings with New England during his 14-year NFL career as a linebacker.

Vrabel is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel's 14-year career as a player included stints with Pittsburgh under coach Bill Cowher and New England under coach Bill Belichick, along with Kansas City. In 2011, he joined the staff at his alma mater, Ohio State, coaching linebackers and defensive linemen.

''I'm not going to make the same mistake twice,'' Vrabel said.

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator. The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks in part to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season amid injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

This was the first head coaching search since Robinson was hired in January 2016, two days before the Titans took the interim tag off Mularkey. He went 21-22 in taking a team that had the NFL's worst record at 5-27 combined over 2014 and 2015 to a team that lost in the AFC divisional round to New England. Mularkey was fired less than 48 hours after that loss.

The Titans interviewed only three people with Vrabel first to meet with them Thursday. The Titans also interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur .

''He had a great presence about him,'' Robinson said. ''In the interview, his football intelligence showed quickly. And at the end of the day, we felt like this is the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans.''

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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Vikings never were in NFC title game

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Vikings would have traveled anywhere to play in their first Super Bowl since 1977.

This year, though, the game is in their stadium. They won't be in it.

''I mean, we would've loved to play in the Super Bowl if it was in China,'' coach Mike Zimmer said Sunday night after the Philadelphia Eagles humbled Minnesota 38-7 for the NFC championship. ''But we didn't play good enough to win. I know that's cliché, but it's true.

''We have to give them a lot of credit, they played great on defense, played good on offense. Some of our strengths they attacked on third downs, which was one of our strengths all along. They got after us tonight.''

Sure did. After the Vikings (14-4) took a 7-0 lead on the game's opening drive, it was all Philadelphia (15-3). One place the Eagles dominated was third downs, converting 10 of 14 against the league leader on defense in that category.

Two of those conversions were for touchdowns on Nick Foles' passes to Alshon Jeffery for 53 and 5 yards.

Was Zimmer surprised by how his team couldn't handle such situations?

''No. Actually most of the things they did, we practiced,'' he said. ''They ran them just a little better than we covered them.''

Well, a lot better.

Philly also won the turnover battle 3-0, another significant contribution to one of Minnesota's worst playoff defeats.

''One of the things we preached coming in was turnovers,'' said Case Keenum, who threw a pick-6 to Patrick Robinson that tied the game 7-7 and began the Eagles onslaught.

''They took care of the football and we didn't. We were still winning at that point, obviously, but we couldn't execute on the critical situations that we needed to on third downs or scoring in the red zone.''

The outcome pretty much was decided by halftime, when it was 24-7. Philadelphia was winning in the trenches, the Vikings couldn't cover tight end Zach Ertz, and the secondary was torched for a 53-yard TD catch by Alshon Jeffery and a 41-yarder by Torrey Smith.

It all made for a long night two weeks before Minneapolis hosts the Super Bowl that the Eagles and Patriots now have reached.

''They're all hard to swallow,'' Keenum said of the loss. ''Once you get a game away from playing in the Super Bowl, that's going to be hard to swallow. The way it happened, I mean, they played really well and we didn't. It's unfortunate.''

Zimmer praised his team's performance this season, and rightfully so. For portions of the schedule, the Vikings were as good as anyone, particularly on defense, where they allowed a league-low 252 points.

But they also were extremely fortunate to get to the NFC title game, winning on a last-play 61-yard TD pass to Stefon Diggs.

''I love this football team, they're great kids, great competitors,'' Zimmer said. ''I love how they go about their business. I love everything about this football team. I love the organization. We just didn't get it done tonight.

''I'm not going to grade anybody's performance tonight. I think there's a lot of performances that could've been a lot better, including myself.''

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Atlantic City longs for sports betting, action on Eagles

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Atlantic City and southern New Jersey have always been Philadelphia Eagles country.

And with the local team in the Super Bowl, the seaside gambling resort can only dream of the extra millions of dollars it might have taken in had it been able to offer sports betting.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide New Jersey's challenge to a law banning sports betting in all but four states later this year.

But the decision won't come in time to make up for the business Atlantic City thinks it would have gotten from die-hard Eagles fans, as well as casual fans, looking to bet on the Eagles-Patriots championship game on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Tropicana president (and lifelong Eagles fan) Tony Rodio said sports betting would generate a lot of new business for Atlantic City.

''The northeast corridor is a giant sports betting market,'' he said. ''If you take the Eagles and put them into the mix, I just can't even imagine how big that would be. It would take it to a whole new level.''

Alas, that is not to be, at least this season. The Supreme Court ruling might not come until June. Legal analysts predict New Jersey has a decent chance of winning the case with a ruling that would permit sports betting in the state or across the nation.

Sports betting would be offered at Atlantic City's casinos and the state's horse racing tracks.

City Councilman Marty Small, an Eagles season-ticket holder who organizes an annual flight to see an Eagles road game each year, said Eagles fans would have booked every available hotel room in the city weeks ago in anticipation of watching - and betting on - their team in Atlantic City.

''We would have been totally sold out by now, the whole city,'' he said. ''Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest party day of the year, and people would have come from near and far to claim Atlantic City as their party place. We're missing a golden opportunity this year.''

This year, casinos in Las Vegas expect betting on the Super Bowl to surpass last year's record of $138.5 million.

Drew Leonard, lifelong Eagles fan from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who grew up in southern New Jersey and used to visit Atlantic City twice a month, said he would go to the resort to bet a few hundred dollars on the Eagles, if it were legal.

''Anything that would bring in more people and business would definitely help,'' he said, predicting Philadelphia will beat New England by a touchdown.

Of course, if sports betting were legal, a sizeable number of people would be expected to come to Atlantic City to place bets regardless of which two teams were playing in it.

Kevin Ortzman, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, which owns three of Atlantic City's seven casinos, said the northeastern U.S. ''is probably the biggest driver of sports betting,'' noting that there are hard-core sports fans who would come to Atlantic City to bet on football, even if it involved the Cleveland Browns.

But the presence of the local market-favorite Eagles would have added some ''extreme excitement and vibe'' to the game, he said.

Even without sports betting, Atlantic City casinos are trying to cash in on Eagles mania. The Caesars Entertainment casinos (Harrah's Bally's and Caesars) are considering bringing in retired Eagles players to meet and greet customers, and possibly having Eagles-clad cheerleaders on site.

The Tropicana is using green lights to illuminate two indoor fountains, and all last weekend, it sprinkled the recorded sound of an eagle screech from time to time into the overhead music playing in the casino.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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Titans introduce Mike Vrabel as their latest head coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Mike Vrabel says nobody's ever really ready to be a head coach for the first time in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans' newest coach feels like he is as ready as possible thanks to the men he's worked with in the league.

Vrabel says he's gotten a doctorate in coaching from men like Bill Cowher, Bill Belichick, Urban Meyer and Bill O'Brien.

The Titans introduced Vrabel as their new coach Monday. They agreed to terms with Vrabel on Saturday, just five days after firing Mike Mularkey coming off the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years.

This is the first head coaching job for Vrabel, 42, who won three Super Bowl rings with New England during his 14-year NFL career as a linebacker.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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Atlantic City longs for sports betting, action on Eagles

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Atlantic City and southern New Jersey have always been Philadelphia Eagles country.

And with the local team in the Super Bowl, the seaside gambling resort can only dream of the extra millions it might have taken in had it been able to offer sports betting.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide New Jersey's challenge to a law banning sports betting in all but four states later this year.

But the decision won't come in time to make up for the business Atlantic City thinks it would have gotten from die-hard Eagles fans, as well as casual fans, looking to bet on the Eagles-Patriots championship game on Feb. 4.

Tropicana president Tony Rodio says he can't even imagine how big the boost from Eagles fans would be, but thinks it would be significant.

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Few arrests as Eagles fans take to streets to celebrate

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Philadelphia police say few arrests have been made amid celebrations following the Eagles' NFC championship game victory.

The arrests came as thousands of fans took to the streets following the Eagles' 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. The Eagles advanced to their first Super Bowl since 2005, against the AFC champion New England Patriots.

After Sunday's game, huge crowds gathered in neighborhoods around the city. Police reported two arrests for disorderly conduct and one for assault on police. They also reported three arrests for counterfeit ticket sales.

Earlier in the day, workers who jokingly called themselves the ''Crisco Cops'' greased light poles to prevent fans from climbing them.

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The Patriots and Eagles will square off in Super Bowl 52

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl in search of a sixth title.

They'll face a Philadelphia Eagles team looking for their first Lombardi Trophy.

Brady led the Patriots (15-3) back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game Sunday.

Starting his 36th playoff game, Brady shook off an injury to his right hand and the loss of top target Rob Gronkowski to rally the Patriots to their record 10th Super Bowl appearance.

The Patriots will try to match the Pittsburgh Steelers' six Super Bowl trophies when they face the Eagles (15-3) on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Nick Foles, the backup QB who was thrust into the starting role when Carson Wentz blew out his left knee last month, led the Philadelphia to a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise and moxie in going 26 for 33.

The Vikings were hoping to become the first NFL team to serve as host to a Super Bowl in its own stadium, but they followed up their ''Minneapolis Miracle '' with a ''Flop in Philly.''

So, they'll clear out their lockers long before the Eagles and Patriots and their fans take over U.S. Bank Stadium for Super Bowl 52 in two weeks.

Oddsmakers like the chances of Brady winning a sixth Super Bowl ring , making the Patriots nearly a touchdown favorite to beat the Eagles.

The Patriots and Eagles, who last won an NFL title in 1960, several years before the first Super Bowl, met in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season with the Patriots prevailing 24-21.

Hours after Brady's game-winning 4-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining in Foxborough, the Eagles won for the fourth time in five tries under Foles.

It started out ominously, however.

The Vikings celebrated Kyle Rudolph's 25-yard touchdown catch from Case Keenum on their opening drive by mimicking the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

It was the Eagles who had all the fun after that.

Patrick Robinson's spectacular 50-yard interception return got Philadelphia started. Then Foles and his offense tore up the league's stingiest scoring defense, with long TD throws to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. LeGarrette Blount had an 11-yard scoring run when things were decided in the first half, and the Eagles were headed to an NFL title game the Vikings (14-4) hoped to be in at their own stadium.

''You know everyone was against us,'' Foles said. ''Coming out here and stick together and (we) come away with an amazing victory against a great team.''

Blake Bortles and the stingy Jaguars (12-7) led New England 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions.

The NFL's second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game, but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England's winning drive.

It was New England's 13th win in 14 games since their 2-2 start. Their only stumble since September was a 27-20 loss at the Dolphins on Dec. 11.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and the season - possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

''I've had a lot worse,'' Brady said. ''I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win.''

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Falcons.

''It's pretty amazing,'' Brady said. ''Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it's just a great accomplishment.''

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Eagles fans take to streets to celebrate after team's win

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Thousands of Philadelphia Eagles fans have taken to the streets to celebrate following their team's 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

The Eagles will be playing in their first Super Bowl since they lost to this year's AFC champions the New England Patriots in 2005.

After the game, huge crowds gathered in neighborhoods around the city. There were no immediate reports of any problems.

Earlier in the day, workers who jokingly called themselves the ''Crisco Cops'' greased light poles to prevent fans from climbing them.

During the fourth quarter, Philadelphia police posted an image of Crisco on Twitter. While urging fans to celebrate responsibly, they wrote, ''Now comes the time in the night where we must warn everyone about the dangers of Saturated Fats.''

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Eagles fans take to streets to celebrate after team's win

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Thousands of Philadelphia Eagles fans have taken to the streets to celebrate following their team's 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

The Eagles will be playing in their first Super Bowl since they lost to this year's AFC champions the New England Patriots in 2005.

After the game, huge crowds gathered in neighborhoods around the city. There were no immediate reports of any problems.

Earlier in the day, workers who jokingly called themselves the ''Crisco Cops'' greased light poles to prevent fans from climbing them.

During the fourth quarter, Philadelphia police posted an image of Crisco on Twitter. While urging fans to celebrate responsibly, they wrote, ''Now comes the time in the night where we must warn everyone about the dangers of Saturated Fats.''

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NFL Today, Conference Championships

SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Feb. 4

Philadelphia vs New England, 6:30 p.m. EST. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl in search of a sixth title. They'll face a Philadelphia Eagles team looking for their first Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots will try to match the Pittsburgh Steelers' six Super Bowl trophies when they face the Eagles in Minneapolis.

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STARS

Passing

- Tom Brady, Patriots, was 26 for 38 for 290 yards with two touchdowns passes, both in the fourth quarter, in New England's 24-20 win over Jacksonville in the AFC championship game.

- Nick Foles, Eagles, was 26 for 33 for 352 yards and three touchdowns in Philadelphia's 38-7 win over Minnesota in the NFC championship game.

- Blake Bortles, Jaguars, was 23 for 36 for 293 yards and a touchdown in Jacksonville's 24-20 loss to New England.

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Rushing

- Leonard Fournette, Jaguars, had 24 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown in Jacksonville 24-20 loss to New England.

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Receiving

- Danny Amendola, Patriots, had seven catches for 84 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns in New England's 24-20 win over Jacksonville.

- Alshon Jeffery, Eagles, had five catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in Philadelphia's 38-7 win over Minnesota.

- Brandin Cooks, Patriots, had six catches for 100 yards in New England's 24-20 win over Jacksonville.

- Torrey Smith, Eagles, had five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown in Philadelphia's 38-7 win over Minnesota.

- Zach Ertz, Eagles, had eight catches for 93 yards in Philadelphia's 38-7 win over Minnesota.

- Allen Hurns, Jaguars, had six catches for 80 yards in Jacksonville 24-20 loss to New England.

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Special Teams

- Josh Lambo, Jaguars, went 2 for 2 on field goals, including a 54-yarder, and 2 for 2 on extra points in Jacksonville 24-20 loss to New England.

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Defense

- Patrick Robinson, Eagles, returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in Philadelphia's 38-7 win over Minnesota.

- Dante Fowler Jr., Jaguars, had two sacks in Jacksonville 24-20 loss to New England.

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SUPER BOWL SET

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl in search of a sixth title. They'll face a Philadelphia Eagles team looking for their first Lombardi Trophy. Brady led the Patriots (15-3) back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game. Starting his 36th playoff game, Brady shook off an injury to his right hand and the loss of top target Rob Gronkowski to rally the Patriots to their record 10th Super Bowl appearance. The Patriots will try to match the Pittsburgh Steelers' six Super Bowl trophies when they face the Eagles (15-3) on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. Nick Foles, the backup QB who was thrust into the starting role when Carson Wentz blew out his left knee last month, led the Philadelphia to a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise and moxie in going 26 for 33.

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STREAKS & STATS

The Patriots were called for one penalty against the Jaguars. It is the fewest penalties called on one team in a playoff game since the 2011 AFC championship when the Patriots were called for one penalty in a win over the Ravens. ... In the first three quarters against Jacksonville, the Patriots' Tom Brady had an 87.5 passer rating; in the fourth quarter, Brady had a 136.3 passer rating. ... Nick Foles' 53-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery by the Eagles in the NFC championship game is the longest touchdown pass by any player against the Vikings this season, including the playoffs. ... Philadelphia's 38 unanswered points are the most by any team in a playoff game since the Jets scored 41 straight points against the Colts in the 2002 wild-card round. ... The Eagles are the seventh team since 1970 to win a conference championship game by 30 or more points, and the first since the 2015 Panthers, who beat the Cardinals 49-15. ... The AFC has been represented by either Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger in 14 of the past 15 Super Bowls. The exception is the Ravens' Joe Flacco in Super Bowl 47.

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MILESTONES

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be making their eighth Super Bowl appearance as a quarterback-coach duo, as many as any other team (excluding the Patriots) in NFL history. ... The past four times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win. On Sunday, New England trailed 20-10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars before rallying for a 24-20 win. In Super Bowl 51, New England trailed 28-3 before rallying for a 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons. In Super Bowl 49, New England trailed 24-14 before rallying for a 28-24 win. In the AFC divisional round on Jan. 10, 2015, they trailed 28-14 before rallying for a 35-31 win over Baltimore.

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SPEAKING

''He's a tough guy, we all know that. But we're not talking about open heart surgery here.'' - Patriots coach Bill Belichick on quarterback Tom Brady playing with a right hand injury and throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally the Patriots to a 24-20 win over Jacksonville.

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''Words can't describe what I feel right now. All glory goes to God. I'm grateful and humbled to be part of this team. No one in the locker room doubted me. We kept working, I got more reps in practice and it's a rhythm thing.'' - Eagles quarterback Nick Foles on advancing to the Super Bowl after a 38-7 rout of the Vikings in the NFC championship game.

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Vikings never were in NFC title game

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Vikings would have traveled anywhere to play in their first Super Bowl since 1977.

This year, though, the game is in their stadium. They won't be in it.

''I mean, we would've loved to play in the Super Bowl if it was in China,'' coach Mike Zimmer said Sunday night after the Philadelphia Eagles humbled Minnesota 38-7 for the NFC championship. ''But we didn't play good enough to win. I know that's clich�, but it's true.

''We have to give them a lot of credit, they played great on defense, played good on offense. Some of our strengths they attacked on third downs, which was one of our strengths all along. They got after us tonight.''

Sure did. After the Vikings (14-4) took a 7-0 lead on the game's opening drive, it was all Philadelphia (15-3). One place the Eagles dominated was third downs, converting 10 of 14 against the league leader on defense in that category.

Two of those conversions were for touchdowns on Nick Foles' passes to Alshon Jeffery for 53 and 5 yards.

Was Zimmer surprised by how his team couldn't handle such situations?

''No. Actually most of the things they did, we practiced,'' he said. ''They ran them just a little better than we covered them.''

Well, a lot better.

Philly also won the turnover battle 3-0, another significant contribution to one of Minnesota's worst playoff defeats.

''One of the things we preached coming in was turnovers,'' said Case Keenum, who threw a pick-6 to Patrick Robinson that tied the game 7-7 and began the Eagles onslaught.

''They took care of the football and we didn't. We were still winning at that point, obviously, but we couldn't execute on the critical situations that we needed to on third downs or scoring in the red zone.''

The outcome pretty much was decided by halftime, when it was 24-7. Philadelphia was winning in the trenches, the Vikings couldn't cover tight end Zach Ertz, and the secondary was torched for a 53-yard TD catch by Alshon Jeffery and a 41-yarder by Torrey Smith.

It all made for a long night two weeks before Minneapolis hosts the Super Bowl that the Eagles and Patriots now have reached.

''They're all hard to swallow,'' Keenum said of the loss. ''Once you get a game away from playing in the Super Bowl, that's going to be hard to swallow. The way it happened, I mean, they played really well and we didn't. It's unfortunate.''

Zimmer praised his team's performance this season, and rightfully so. For portions of the schedule, the Vikings were as good as anyone, particularly on defense, where they allowed a league-low 252 points.

But they also were extremely fortunate to get to the NFC title game, winning on a last-play 61-yard TD pass to Stefon Diggs.

''I love this football team, they're great kids, great competitors,'' Zimmer said. ''I love how they go about their business. I love everything about this football team. I love the organization. We just didn't get it done tonight.

''I'm not going to grade anybody's performance tonight. I think there's a lot of performances that could've been a lot better, including myself.''

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Patriots' defense key to another postseason comeback

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) So many times during the Patriots' run of success over the past two decades, the defense was watching as Tom Brady sealed another victory.

In Sunday's 24-20 AFC championship victory over the Jacksonville , the defense got its chance to secure the Patriots' record 10th Super Bowl appearance.

Jacksonville entered the game with the best red-zone scoring percentage in NFL, scoring touchdowns on 67.9 percent of trips this season (40 on 56 drives). The Jaguars scored touchdowns on both of their red-zone trips in the first half, as quarterback Blake Bortles had his way with short and intermediate routes to pile up first downs.

It added up to a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead, and left Gillette Stadium in stunned silence as New England's hopes of getting a chance to defend its Super Bowl title seemed to be dwindling.

But Jacksonville got conservative over the final 30 minutes, much like the Atlanta Falcons did with 28-3 lead in last year's Super Bowl collapse against New England. The Patriots seized on it and the Jaguars' offense never got closer than the Patriots' 25 in the second half.

''We put ourselves in position to come back and just keep fighting,'' defensive end Tray Flowers said. ''We knew they were going to run the ball, but we kept fighting and it was a fourth-quarter game.''

The most telling example came after the Patriots took their final lead of the game on Danny Amendola's 4-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.

The Jaguars initially went back to their success in the first half , starting the drive with an 8-yard completion from Bortles to Marqise Lee, followed by a 29-yard pass to Dede Westbrook to set Jacksonville up on New England's 38.

But the Patriots reset, and after an incompletion by Bortles on first down, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and James Harrison got to Bortles for a sack, prying the ball loose. Jaguars tackle Cam Robinson recovered the fumble, but it set up a third-and-19.

New England kept the pressure on Bortles and he could only manage a 4-yard completion to James O'Shaughnessy.

''They had maybe one or two plays that we talk about this time of year,'' safety Devin McCourty said. ''Sixteen games, a play or two may have success, but (Patriots defensive coordinator) Matt (Patricia) said it best: It wasn't a big adjustment that you needed to do; it was just needing to play aggressively.''

With Jacksonville facing fourth-and-15 on its 43, cornerback Stephon Gilmore reached in front of Bortles' pass to O'Shaughnessy to force a turnover on downs.

It was a special moment for Gilmore, who battled injuries and inconsistent play after signing a five-year, $65 million contract in the offseason.

''It wasn't the biggest play I've made, but it was definitely one of the most important,'' he said. ''To come from where I came from last year, and be a part of this great team ... I love it and that's why I decided to come here.''

For Bortles, it was his first loss this season when he didn't commit a turnover. He was previously 8-0.

''We had a two-minute drive at the end of the game to win the AFC championship, so there's not a whole lot more you can ask for than that,'' Bortles said. ''You've got to take advantage of that and find a way to win the game.''

And now the Patriots will have a chance at their sixth Super Bowl trophy, which would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most ever.

McCourty said the defense is invigorated by the opportunity.

''This team is battle-tested,'' McCourty said. ''You go through ups and downs. You go through adversity. ... We just keep giving ourselves a chance to win, and the hard work pays off.''

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Nick Foles goes from backup to championship game hero

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles stood tall in the pocket, ignored the pressure and made one big throw after another.

On the biggest stage of his life, Foles silenced the critics who thought the Eagles couldn't get to the Super Bowl without MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Foles threw for 352 and three touchdowns to lead Philadelphia to a convincing 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game Sunday.

Now he's headed to Minnesota to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

''Words can't describe what I feel right now,'' Foles said. ''All glory goes to God. I'm grateful and humbled to be part of this team. No one in the locker room doubted me. We kept working, I got more reps in practice and it's a rhythm thing.''

While Wentz watched from the sideline, using a cane to walk following surgery to repair his torn left ACL, Foles picked apart the NFL's top-ranked defense. He tossed a perfect 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery with the pocket collapsing around him to give Philadelphia a 21-7 lead in the second quarter.

Foles then directed a 60-yard drive in 29 seconds to set up a field goal before halftime. He fired a 49-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith off a flea flicker to start the second half and tossed a 5-yard TD to Jeffery early in the fourth to make it 38-7.

Foles was at his best on third downs, completing 10 of 11 for 159 yards and two TDs. The Eagles had been 0 for 13 on third-and-10 or longer after Wentz went down. On Sunday, Foles threw an 11-yard pass to Zach Ertz on third-and-10 on the Eagles' first touchdown drive. His long TD pass to Jeffery came on third-and-10.

The Eagles (15-3) have been underdogs in both playoffs games, mostly because Wentz was no longer playing. They were the first No. 1 seed not favored in a divisional round game, a 15-10 win over the Falcons. The Vikings (14-4) were 3-point favorites despite also being led by a backup quarterback - Case Keenum, Foles' good friend and former teammate.

''You know everyone was against us,'' Foles said. ''Coming out here, stick together and come away with an amazing victory against a great team.''

Keenum congratulated Foles in the tunnel after the game.

''He did a great job,'' Keenum said.

Foles walked into the X-ray room after the game, but told The Associated Press after he came out: ''I'm good. I'm fine.''

Foles put on a passing clinic, completing 78.8 percent of his passes (26 of 33). Not bad for a guy who contemplated retirement before the 2016 season.

''I'm not surprised,'' said Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who held the same position with the Eagles in 2013. ''I've seen the best of Nick.''

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles had tremendous success as a starter under Chip Kelly his sophomore season. He threw 29 TDs and only two picks in 11 starts, including playoffs in 2013. Foles posted a passer rating of 119.2, third-highest in league history. He tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 won an offensive MVP award at a Pro Bowl.

But Foles was traded to St. Louis for Sam Bradford in March 2015. He lost his starting job to Keenum and asked for his release after Jared Goff was drafted No. 1 overall. Foles considered hanging up his cleats before Reid persuaded him to go to Kansas City to be Alex Smith's backup.

After one season with the Chiefs, Foles returned to Philly to provide insurance behind Wentz.

He'll become a folk hero if he can deliver the franchise's first ever Super Bowl title.

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Eagles fans take to streets to celebrate after team's win

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Thousands of Philadelphia Eagles fans have taken to the streets to celebrate following their team's 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

The Eagles will be playing in their first Super Bowl since they lost to this year's AFC champions the New England Patriots in 2005.

After the game, huge crowds gathered in neighborhoods around the city. There were no immediate reports of any problems.

Earlier in the day, workers who jokingly called themselves the ''Crisco Cops'' greased light poles to prevent fans from climbing them.

During the fourth quarter, Philadelphia police posted an image of Crisco on Twitter. While urging fans to celebrate responsibly, they wrote, ''Now comes the time in the night where we must warn everyone about the dangers of Saturated Fats.''

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The Patriots and Eagles will square off in Super Bowl 52

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl in search of a sixth title.

They'll face a Philadelphia Eagles team looking for their first Lombardi Trophy.

Brady led the Patriots (15-3) back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game Sunday.

Starting his 36th playoff game, Brady shook off an injury to his right hand and the loss of top target Rob Gronkowski to rally the Patriots to their record 10th Super Bowl appearance.

The Patriots will try to match the Pittsburgh Steelers' six Super Bowl trophies when they face the Eagles (15-3) on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Nick Foles, the backup QB who was thrust into the starting role when Carson Wentz blew out his left knee last month, led the Philadelphia to a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise and moxie in going 26 for 33.

The Vikings were hoping to become the first NFL team to serve as host to a Super Bowl in its own stadium, but they followed up their ''Minneapolis Miracle '' with a ''Flop in Philly.''

So, they'll clear out their lockers long before the Eagles and Patriots and their fans take over U.S. Bank Stadium for Super Bowl 52 in two weeks.

Oddsmakers like the chances of Brady winning a sixth Super Bowl ring , making the Patriots nearly a touchdown favorite to beat the Eagles.

The Patriots and Eagles, who last won an NFL title in 1960, several years before the first Super Bowl, met in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season with the Patriots prevailing 24-21.

Hours after Brady's game-winning 4-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining in Foxborough, the Eagles won for the fourth time in five tries under Foles.

It started out ominously, however.

The Vikings celebrated Kyle Rudolph's 25-yard touchdown catch from Case Keenum on their opening drive by mimicking the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

It was the Eagles who had all the fun after that.

Patrick Robinson's spectacular 50-yard interception return got Philadelphia started. Then Foles and his offense tore up the league's stingiest scoring defense, with long TD throws to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. LeGarrette Blount had an 11-yard scoring run when things were decided in the first half, and the Eagles were headed to an NFL title game the Vikings (14-4) hoped to be in at their own stadium.

''You know everyone was against us,'' Foles said. ''Coming out here and stick together and (we) come away with an amazing victory against a great team.''

Blake Bortles and the stingy Jaguars (12-7) led New England 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions.

The NFL's second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game, but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England's winning drive.

It was New England's 13th win in 14 games since their 2-2 start. Their only stumble since September was a 27-20 loss at the Dolphins on Dec. 11.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and the season - possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

''I've had a lot worse,'' Brady said. ''I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win.''

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Falcons.

''It's pretty amazing,'' Brady said. ''Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it's just a great accomplishment.''

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Patriots favored by 5-6 points over Eagles in Super Bowl

LAS VEGAS (AP) Oddsmakers like the chances of Tom Brady winning a sixth Super Bowl ring, making the New England Patriots nearly a touchdown favorite to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sports books around Las Vegas opened the Patriots around a 6-point favorite Sunday to win their second straight Super Bowl. They also made New England a big favorite to win the Super Bowl next year in Atlanta.

But the closest thing to a lock in this gambling city is that betting on this Super Bowl will smash the existing record of $138.5 million set just last year.

''Sports betting couldn't be more popular than it is now,'' said Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas sports book. ''That combined with the fan base of the Eagles and the strong economy will mean a record handle on this game.''

Bookmakers posted their opening lines early in the fourth quarter of the Eagles-Vikings game, with lines ranging between 5 and 6 1/2 points. The over/under in most books for total points scored in the game was 48.

Bettors didn't take long to weigh in themselves, with one gambler taking the 6 points and putting a big bet on the Eagles at the South Point resort before their rout of the Minnesota Vikings was even over.

''Our first bet was $10,000 on the Eagles,'' said Jimmy Vaccaro, oddsmaker at the South Point.

Bettors jammed into sports books Sunday for the two conference championship games, with millions wagered in person and millions more bet on phone apps. Bookmakers had a good day, with most winning money on both games.

That shouldn't change in the Super Bowl, where bookmakers have turned a profit every time except the 2008 game when the New York Giants upset the previously unbeaten and 12-point favorite Patriots.

At the Westgate, Kornegay said the opening line of the Patriots minus-5.5 points was made knowing there would be money coming in from both the Eagles' rabid fan base and by bettors who simply have a dislike for the dominance of Brady and the Patriots.

''This is the only event where we make a line that depends on public opinion,'' Kornegay said. ''There's so much more money from the public on this game than you would get from the so-called sharks. They come in here and they just don't want to root for the Patriots.''

Unlike the games preceding it, a lot of the money on the Super Bowl comes from so-called ''prop'' bets that often crossover to other sports. Some of the bigger sports books will put up several hundred prop bets later this week that will include the coin flip and other possibilities that having nothing to do with the final score of the game.

''It's much easier to do lots of props with Brady,'' Vaccaro said. ''Either you love him or you hate him. Half the people bet on him to see him win and half bet to see him lose.''

One of the more popular prop bets is whether there will be a safety in the game, and Vaccaro said about $15,000 was wagered on either side of that prop even before the second game ended Sunday.

Oddsmakers at the William Hill chain also made the Patriots a 9-2 favorite to win next year's Super Bowl in Atlanta, followed by the Eagles at 17-2.

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Patriots' defense key to another postseason comeback

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) So many times during the Patriots' run of success over the past two decades, the defense was watching as Tom Brady sealed another victory.

In Sunday's 24-20 AFC championship victory over the Jacksonville the Patriots' defense got their chance to secure the Patriots' record 10th Super Bowl appearance.

Jacksonville entered the game with the best red zone scoring percentage in NFL, scoring touchdowns on 67.9 percent of trips this season (40 on 56 drives). The Jaguars scored touchdowns on both of their red zone trips in the first half, as quarterback Blake Bortles had his way with short and intermediate routes to pile up first downs.

It added up to a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead, and left Gillette Stadium in stunned silence as New England's hopes of getting a chance to defend it's Super Bowl title seemed to be dwindling.

But Jacksonville got conservative over the final 30 minutes, much like the Atlanta Falcons did with 28-3 lead in last year's Super Bowl collapse against New England. The Patriots seized on it and the Jaguars' offense never got closer than the Patriots' 35 in the second half.

''We put ourselves in position to come back and just keep fighting,'' defensive end Tray Flowers said. ''We knew they were going to run the ball, but we kept fighting and it was a fourth-quarter game.''

The most telling example came following the Patriots took their final lead of the game after Danny Amendola's 4-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.

The Jaguars initially went back to their success in the first half , starting the drive with an 8-yard completion from Bortles to Marqise Lee, followed by a 29-yard pass by Bortles to Dede Westbrook to set Jacksonville up on New England's 38.

But the Patriots reset, and after an incompletion by Bortles on first down, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and James Harrison got to Bortles for a sack, prying the ball loose. Jaguars tackle Cam Robinson was able recover it for the Jaguars, but it set up a third-and-19.

They kept the pressure on Bortles on he was able to get a 4-yard completion to James O'Shaughnessy.

''They had maybe one or two plays that we talk about this time of year,'' safety Devin McCourty said. ''Sixteen games a play or two may have success, but (Patriots defensive coordinator) Matt (Patricia) said it best: It wasn't a big adjustment that you needed to do; it was just needing to play aggressively.''

With Jacksonville facing fourth-and-15 on their 43, cornerback Stephon Gilmore reached in front of Bortles pass to O'Shaughnessy to force a turnover on downs.

It was a special moment for Gilmore, who battled injuries and inconsistent play this season after signing a five-year $65 million contract this offseason.

''It wasn't the biggest play I've made, but it was definitely one of the most important,'' he said. ''To come from where I came from last year, and be a part of this great team... I love it and that's why I decided to come here.''

For Bortles it was his first loss this season when he didn't commit a turnover. He was previously 8-0.

''We had a two-minute drive at the end of the game to win the AFC championship, so there's not a whole lot more you can ask for than that,'' Bortles said. ''You've got to take advantage of that and find a way to win the game.''

And now the Patriots will have a chance at their sixth Super Bowl ring, which would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most ever.

McCourty said it has also invigorated the defense as it heads into its matchup with Philadelphia.

''This team is battle-tested,'' McCourty said. ''You go through ups and downs. You go through adversity...We just keep giving ourselves a chance to win, and the hard work pays off.''

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The Latest: Foles, Eagles will be underdogs 1 more time

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles will be underdogs one last time.

Foles threw for three touchdowns and the Eagles made big play after big play, winning the NFC title in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings.

Next up: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England. The Patriots are already being favored by 5 to 6 points by odds makers.

Foles was on fire, throwing for 352 yards in a performance that might make the Philadelphia faithful miss injured Carson Wentz a whole lot less.

Patrick Robinson `s spectacular 50-yard interception return got Philadelphia (15-3) started. Then Foles and his offense tore up the league's stingiest scoring defense, with long TD throws to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

LeGarrette Blount had an 11-yard scoring run when things were decided in the first half, and the Eagles were headed to an NFL title game the Vikings (14-4) hoped to be in at their own stadium.

- Barry Wilner reporting from Philadelphia.

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9:15 p.m.

Bradley Cooper found plenty of silver linings in the Eagles' playbook.

Cooper, a real-life Eagles fan who also played one in the hit film ''Silver Linings Playbook,'' was dressed in Eagles green and sat among the scores of famous fans who went wild when Nick Foles threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 5-yard score to Alshon Jeffrey that made it 38-7 over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Cooper and former Philadelphia 76ers great Charles Barkley were spotted cheering for the Eagles as the game turned into a rout.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:45 p.m.

Billboards went up around Philly for the holidays that read, ''Philly believes in you, St. Nick .''

Who doesn't trust in Nick Foles now?

Foles and the Eagles stayed aggressive to open the third quarter and take a 31-7 lead against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Foles threw a 41-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith off a flea-flicker , his second 40-plus touchdown of the game. Foles was knocked for not being nearly as creative or elusive as Carson Wentz was in running an offense. But Foles has dominated the NFL's top-ranked defense overall and has the Eagles thinking of playing in their first Super Bowl since they lost to, yup, this year's AFC champions the New England Patriots in 2005.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:15 p.m.

The Philadelphia Eagles are halfway to the Super Bowl.

Nick Foles stood in the pocket, had plenty of time to look for a receiver because of great protection and unloaded a 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery and Jake Elliott kicked a 38-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 24-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings at halftime of the NFC championship game.

The Eagles had rushing, receiving and a defensive touchdown that sent Eagles fans into a frenzy.

Former Flyers great Eric Lindros , ex-Phillies slugger and World Series champion Ryan Howard , and diehard Eagles fan and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout were among the star athletes at the game rooting on the Eagles.

Disgraced comedian and Philadelphia native Bill Cosby even returned home to cheer for the Eagles.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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7:30 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount powered his way up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the NFC championship game.

Blount could face a familiar team should he lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He won a Super Bowl last season with New England and led the Patriots with 18 rushing touchdowns. The Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday to win the AFC title

Blount knocked over safety Andrew Sendejo for his 10th career postseason TD. His 10 postseason touchdowns are the most for any player since 2013 and four more than any other player.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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7:10 p.m.

Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson electrified the home crowd and tied the NFC championship game with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Case Kennum was pressured by Chris Long and appeared to get his hand smacked on the throw. Robinson crisscrossed the field and directed traffic, pointing toward his blockers to guide him all the way to the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Long and Robinson signed low-money free-agent deals in the offseason and paid big dividends in the title game. Long shared a pregame embrace with his father, Hall-of-Famer Howie Long .

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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6:54 p.m

The Minnesota Vikings made it look easy on the opening drive of the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Case Keenum threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Kyle Rudolph for the 7-0 lead . Eagles linebacker Naje Goode was late to react and left Rudolph all alone in the end zone.

The Vikings moved 75 yards on nine plays and silenced what had been a crazed Eagles crowd. The Vikings may have more than the Super Bowl on their minds. Rudolph and two of his teammates mimicked the act of the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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6:47 p.m.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship.

The Patriots will play the winner of the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure an eighth Super Bowl appearance for he and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady has won five Super Bowls, including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

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6:10 p.m.

A fight broke out in a parking lot near the Philadelphia Eagles' home stadium as police tried to disperse tailgating fans hours before the NFC Championship game.

NJ.com reports a bloodied fan was taken into custody amid the chaos Sunday afternoon near Lincoln Financial Field .

It was not immediately clear what started the fight.

Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers tried to get the situation under control.

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5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots' run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

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4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

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Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Give `em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and the season - possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

''I've had a lot worse,'' Brady said. ''I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win.''

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola for the Patriots (15-3), who'll play Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

''It's pretty amazing. Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it's just a great accomplishment,'' Brady said. ''I'm just so proud of everyone on our team, we made so many great plays. Defense played so great when they needed to.''

Blake Bortles and the Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions. The NFL's second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game, but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England's winning drive.

''It's a locker room obviously with a lot of pain,'' Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. ''I'm sure they're hurting inside. I'm hurting. The players are hurting.''

With New England trailing 20-17, Amendola returned a punt 20 yards to put the ball at the Jaguars 30. Brady hit James White for 15 yards, Amendola for 8 and then the quarterback ran up the middle for 2 yards and a first down.

On first-and-goal from the 5, White ran for a yard to set up the go-ahead score from Brady to Amendola.

Jacksonville - looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history - had one more shot, but Bortles' throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.

''Guys are upset,'' Bortles said. ''It's not what anybody expects - contrary to popular belief. Those guys fully expected to win that game.''

The Patriots ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis' 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they played most of the game without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left late in the first half and didn't return.

Brady's hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since his ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's right ankle tendon - the bloody sock - in the 2004 playoffs.

Brady hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week.

''Of all the plays, my season wasn't going to end on a handoff in practice,'' Brady said.

''Mentally, it probably stressed him out a bit,'' Amendola said. ''It's hard to throw a football with stitches in your thumb. Everybody knows how tough he is.''

Some Patriots fans were worried, but not Belichick.

''He's a tough guy, we all know that,'' Belichick said. ''But we're not talking about open heart surgery here.''

Brady warmed up without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal.

A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Bortles .

Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run, hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars made some big mistakes just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game.

That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt. Jacksonville was called for six penalties that cost the Jaguars 98 yards, while New England was penalized just once.

With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England's offense took over and the fans chanted ''Braa-dy! Braa-dy!''

And their quarterback delivered - with some help from two big penalties.

On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville's 45.

''It was a tough call,'' Church said, ''but you've got to go with what they call.''

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play. The 32-yard penalty gave the Patriots the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10.

Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.

But Brady & Co. were just getting started.

After Jacksonville went three-and-out following Jack's fumble recovery of Lewis, Brady and the Patriots offense came out with a sense of urgency.

They marched 85 yards on eight plays to cut it to a three-point deficit on Amendola's 9-yard TD catch with 8:44 left. Amendola had a 21-yard catch on third-and-18 from the Patriots 25 early in the drive.

''Big play in the game,'' Brady said. ''Ended up being a huge drive for us.''

FEW FLAGS: The Patriots' one penalty against the Jaguars is the fewest called on one team in a playoff game since the 2011 AFC championship - when the Patriots were called for just one in a win over Baltimore.

BRADY'S BOUNCEBACK: Brady's passer rating during the first three quarters: 87.5. In the fourth quarter, it was 136.3.

SOLID JAGUARS: Bortles finished 23 of 36 for 293 yards and a touchdown in his first AFC title game. Fournette had 76 yards rushing on 24 carries.

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Foles, Eagles fly into Super Bowl, rout Vikings 38-7

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting ''We want Brady.''

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing ''Fly Eagles Fly'' during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4

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Patriots open as favorite over Eagles in Super Bowl

LAS VEGAS (AP) The New England Patriots are the favorite once again in this city's sports books to win the Super Bowl. They're a lopsided pick to win the one after that, too.

Do that, and Tom Brady and company may erase all arguments about the greatest NFL franchise ever.

Oddsmakers wasted little time Sunday in establishing the Patriots as between a 5-to-6 point favorite over the Philadelphia Eagles. Bettors didn't take long to weigh in themselves, with one gambler taking the points and putting a $10,000 bet on the Eagles at the South Point resort before their rout of the Minnesota Vikings was even over.

Oddsmakers at the William Hill chain also made the Patriots a 9-2 favorite to win next year's Super Bowl in Atlanta.

Sports book operators are predicting this year's game will set new betting records, continuing a trend that saw last year's game take in a record $138.5 million in legal bets.

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Nick Foles goes from backup to championship game hero

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles stood tall in the pocket, ignored the pressure and made one big throw after another.

On the biggest stage of his life, Foles silenced the critics who thought the Eagles couldn't get to the Super Bowl without MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Foles threw for 352 and three touchdowns to lead Philadelphia to a convincing 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game Sunday.

Now he's headed to Minnesota to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

While Wentz watched from the sideline, using a cane to walk following surgery to repair his torn left ACL, Foles picked apart the NFL's top-ranked defense. He tossed a perfect 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery with the pocket collapsing around him to give Philadelphia a 21-7 lead in the second quarter.

Foles then directed a 60-yard drive in 29 seconds to set up a field goal before halftime. He fired a 49-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith off a flea flicker to start the second half and tossed a 5-yard TD to Jeffery early in the fourth to make it 38-7.

Foles was at his best on third downs, completing 10 of 11 for 159 yards and two TDs. The Eagles had been 0 for 13 on third-and-10 or longer after Wentz went down. On Sunday, Foles threw an 11-yard pass to Zach Ertz on third-and-10 on the Eagles' first touchdown drive. His long TD pass to Jeffery came on third-and-10.

The Eagles (15-3) have been underdogs in both playoffs games, mostly because Foles is the quarterback. They were the first No. 1 seed not favored in a divisional round game, a 15-10 win over the Falcons. The Vikings (14-4) were 3-point favorites despite also being led by a backup quarterback - Case Keenum, Foles' good friend and former teammate.

Foles put on a passing clinic, completing 78.8 percent of his passes (26 of 33). Not bad for a guy who contemplated retirement before the 2016 season.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles had tremendous success as a starter under Chip Kelly his sophomore season. He threw 29 TDs and only two picks in 11 starts, including playoffs in 2013. Foles posted a passer rating of 119.2, third-highest in league history. He tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 won an offensive MVP award at a Pro Bowl.

But Foles was traded to St. Louis for Sam Bradford in March 2015. He lost his starting job to Keenum and asked for his release after Jared Goff was drafted No. 1 overall. Foles considered hanging up his cleats before Reid persuaded him to go to Kansas City to be Alex Smith's backup.

After one season with the Chiefs, Foles returned to Philly to provide insurance behind Wentz.

He'll become a folk hero if he can deliver the franchise's first ever Super Bowl title.

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The Latest: Celebrity Eagles fans go wild in Philadelphia

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

Bradley Cooper found plenty of silver linings in the Eagles' playbook.

Cooper, a real-life Eagles fan who also played one in the hit film ''Silver Linings Playbook,'' was dressed in Eagles green and sat among the scores of famous fans who went wild when Nick Foles threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 5-yard score to Alshon Jeffrey that made it 38-7 over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Cooper and former Philadelphia 76ers great Charles Barkley were spotted cheering for the Eagles as the game turned into a rout.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:45 p.m.

Billboards went up around Philly for the holidays that read, ''Philly believes in you, St. Nick .''

Who doesn't trust in Nick Foles now?

Foles and the Eagles stayed aggressive to open the third quarter and take a 31-7 lead against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Foles threw a 41-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith off a flea-flicker , his second 40-plus touchdown of the game. Foles was knocked for not being nearly as creative or elusive as Carson Wentz was in running an offense. But Foles has dominated the NFL's top-ranked defense overall and has the Eagles thinking of playing in their first Super Bowl since they lost to, yup, this year's AFC champions the New England Patriots in 2005.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:15 p.m.

The Philadelphia Eagles are halfway to the Super Bowl.

Nick Foles stood in the pocket, had plenty of time to look for a receiver because of great protection and unloaded a 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery and Jake Elliott kicked a 38-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 24-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings at halftime of the NFC championship game.

The Eagles had rushing, receiving and a defensive touchdown that sent Eagles fans into a frenzy.

Former Flyers great Eric Lindros , ex-Phillies slugger and World Series champion Ryan Howard , and diehard Eagles fan and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout were among the star athletes at the game rooting on the Eagles.

Disgraced comedian and Philadelphia native Bill Cosby even returned home to cheer for the Eagles.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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7:30 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount powered his way up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the NFC championship game.

Blount could face a familiar team should he lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He won a Super Bowl last season with New England and led the Patriots with 18 rushing touchdowns. The Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday to win the AFC title

Blount knocked over safety Andrew Sendejo for his 10th career postseason TD. His 10 postseason touchdowns are the most for any player since 2013 and four more than any other player.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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7:10 p.m.

Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson electrified the home crowd and tied the NFC championship game with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Case Kennum was pressured by Chris Long and appeared to get his hand smacked on the throw. Robinson crisscrossed the field and directed traffic, pointing toward his blockers to guide him all the way to the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Long and Robinson signed low-money free-agent deals in the offseason and paid big dividends in the title game. Long shared a pregame embrace with his father, Hall-of-Famer Howie Long .

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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6:54 p.m

The Minnesota Vikings made it look easy on the opening drive of the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Case Keenum threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Kyle Rudolph for the 7-0 lead . Eagles linebacker Naje Goode was late to react and left Rudolph all alone in the end zone.

The Vikings moved 75 yards on nine plays and silenced what had been a crazed Eagles crowd. The Vikings may have more than the Super Bowl on their minds. Rudolph and two of his teammates mimicked the act of the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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6:47 p.m.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship.

The Patriots will play the winner of the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure an eighth Super Bowl appearance for he and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady has won five Super Bowls, including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

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6:10 p.m.

A fight broke out in a parking lot near the Philadelphia Eagles' home stadium as police tried to disperse tailgating fans hours before the NFC Championship game.

NJ.com reports a bloodied fan was taken into custody amid the chaos Sunday afternoon near Lincoln Financial Field .

It was not immediately clear what started the fight.

Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers tried to get the situation under control.

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5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots' run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

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4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

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The Latest: Foles stretches Eagles lead to 31-7

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Billboards went up around Philly for the holidays that read, ''Philly believes in you, St. Nick .''

Who doesn't trust in Nick Foles now?

Foles and the Eagles stayed aggressive to open the third quarter and take a 31-7 lead against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Foles threw a 41-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith off a flea-flicker , his second 40-plus touchdown of the game. Foles was knocked for not being nearly as creative or elusive as Carson Wentz was in running an offense. But Foles has dominated the NFL's top-ranked defense overall and has the Eagles thinking of playing in their first Super Bowl since they lost to, yup, this year's AFC champions the New England Patriots in 2005.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:15 p.m.

The Philadelphia Eagles are halfway to the Super Bowl.

Nick Foles stood in the pocket, had plenty of time to look for a receiver because of great protection and unloaded a 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery and Jake Elliott kicked a 38-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 24-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings at halftime of the NFC championship game.

The Eagles had rushing, receiving and a defensive touchdown that sent Eagles fans into a frenzy.

Former Flyers great Eric Lindros , ex-Phillies slugger and World Series champion Ryan Howard , and diehard Eagles fan and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout were among the star athletes at the game rooting on the Eagles.

Disgraced comedian and Philadelphia native Bill Cosby even returned home to cheer for the Eagles.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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7:30 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount powered his way up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the NFC championship game.

Blount could face a familiar team should he lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He won a Super Bowl last season with New England and led the Patriots with 18 rushing touchdowns. The Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday to win the AFC title

Blount knocked over safety Andrew Sendejo for his 10th career postseason TD. His 10 postseason touchdowns are the most for any player since 2013 and four more than any other player.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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7:10 p.m.

Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson electrified the home crowd and tied the NFC championship game with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Case Kennum was pressured by Chris Long and appeared to get his hand smacked on the throw. Robinson crisscrossed the field and directed traffic, pointing toward his blockers to guide him all the way to the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Long and Robinson signed low-money free-agent deals in the offseason and paid big dividends in the title game. Long shared a pregame embrace with his father, Hall-of-Famer Howie Long .

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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6:54 p.m

The Minnesota Vikings made it look easy on the opening drive of the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Case Keenum threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Kyle Rudolph for the 7-0 lead . Eagles linebacker Naje Goode was late to react and left Rudolph all alone in the end zone.

The Vikings moved 75 yards on nine plays and silenced what had been a crazed Eagles crowd. The Vikings may have more than the Super Bowl on their minds. Rudolph and two of his teammates mimicked the act of the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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6:47 p.m.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship.

The Patriots will play the winner of the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure an eighth Super Bowl appearance for he and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady has won five Super Bowls, including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

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6:10 p.m.

A fight broke out in a parking lot near the Philadelphia Eagles' home stadium as police tried to disperse tailgating fans hours before the NFC Championship game.

NJ.com reports a bloodied fan was taken into custody amid the chaos Sunday afternoon near Lincoln Financial Field .

It was not immediately clear what started the fight.

Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers tried to get the situation under control.

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5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots' run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

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4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

---

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Jaguars collapse seals Patriots' 10th trip to Super Bowl

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack put his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart as it sank in for him that the Jaguars had fallen just short - just like the Falcons and the Seahawks and the Rams and so many other Patriots opponents had before.

''Close, man. We were almost there,'' he said after New England came back to beat Jacksonville 24-20 on Sunday for the franchise's 10th AFC championship.

''On the one hand, we could have won the game. But on the other, Tom Brady is Tom Brady,'' Jack said. ''We got Tom Bradyed again.''

Entering the game as a 9+-point underdog, the Jaguars opened a 20-10 lead early in the fourth quarter against the defending Super Bowl champions. No team had ever rallied from a double-digit, fourth quarter in the AFC title game.

But then, no team has Bill Belichick on the sideline, Brady lining up behind the center and a resume full of big-game comebacks going back to their first Super Bowl win 16 years ago.

''That's what those guys do, and they do it very well,'' Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. ''And that's why they're moving on.''

Blake Bortles completed 23 of 36 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown, Leonard Fournette ran for 76 yards and a touchdown and Allen Hurns had six catches for 80 yards for Jacksonville (12-7).

Bortles, who had never won a playoff game before this month, had outplayed Brady through three quarters, with a quarterback rating of 121.9 to the five-time NFL champion's 87.5.

But Bortles said he didn't allow himself to start thinking about making it to the Super Bowl.

''I don't think you can, especially when playing Tom Brady and the Patriots,'' he said. ''Because they're going to score. They're going to find a way to put pressure on you.''

Jacksonville took a 20-10 lead on Josh Lambo's field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter. Jack then forced the only turnover of the game - ripping the ball from Dion Lewis' hands after a 20-yard reception that would have put the Patriots at the Jaguars 33.

Jacksonville went three-and-out, but then Marcell Dareus sacked Brady. On third-and-18 from the New England 25, Brady hit Danny Amendola for 21 yards. On the next play, Brady handed off to James White, who pitched it back to the quarterback, and he lofted a pass over Jack to seldom-used receiver Phillip Dorsett for 31 yards and his only catch of the game.

Three plays later, Amendola scampered into the end zone on the first of his two fourth-quarter touchdown catches that sent New England to its eighth Super Bowl since Brady and Belichick teamed up in Foxborough.

''We were getting three-and-outs, three-and-outs, three-and-outs. And then they just found it,'' Jack said. ''They don't stop playing until the game is over.''

Jacksonville punted on its next two possessions, and Amendola returned the second for 20 yards to give New England the ball at the Jaguars 30-yard line, down 20-17, with just under five minutes remaining. Brady completed two passes to get the ball inside the 10, scrambled for 2 more and then found Amendola at the back of the end zone for the game-winner.

''Man, it hurts. It stings a lot,'' said defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who sought out Brady on the field after the game to congratulate him. ''He's the best player to ever play the game. I've got so must respect for him ... I wanted to make sure he knew it.''

For the Jaguars, who went 3-13 last season, the trip to the conference title game was a stepping stone that few expected when the season started.

''We had a two-minute drive at the end of the game to win the AFC championship, so there's not a whole lot more you can ask for than that,'' said Bortles, who had never won a postseason game before this month.

''It's been an awesome season. I think it's been a lot of fun despite what happened today,'' he said. ''It's tough to try to enjoy it right now, but I'm sure that at some point we'll be able to reflect and think about all the good things that happened.''

---

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The Latest: Blount puts Eagles ahead 14-7 in NFC title game

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount powered his way up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the NFC championship game.

Blount could face a familiar team should he lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He won a Super Bowl last season with New England and led the Patriots with 18 rushing touchdowns. The Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday to win the AFC title

Blount knocked over safety Andrew Sendejo for his 10th career postseason TD. His 10 postseason touchdowns are the most for any player since 2013 and four more than any other player.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

-----

7:10 p.m.

Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson electrified the home crowd and tied the NFC championship game with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Case Kennum was pressured by Chris Long and appeared to get his hand smacked on the throw. Robinson crisscrossed the field and directed traffic, pointing toward his blockers to guide him all the way to the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Long and Robinson signed low-money free-agent deals in the offseason and paid big dividends in the title game. Long shared a pregame embrace with his father, Hall-of-Famer Howie Long .

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

-----

6:54 p.m

The Minnesota Vikings made it look easy on the opening drive of the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Case Keenum threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Kyle Rudolph for the 7-0 lead . Eagles linebacker Naje Goode was late to react and left Rudolph all alone in the end zone.

The Vikings moved 75 yards on nine plays and silenced what had been a crazed Eagles crowd. The Vikings may have more than the Super Bowl on their minds. Rudolph and two of his teammates mimicked the act of the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

---

6:47 p.m.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship.

The Patriots will play the winner of the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure an eighth Super Bowl appearance for he and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady has won five Super Bowls, including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

---

6:10 p.m.

A fight broke out in a parking lot near the Philadelphia Eagles' home stadium as police tried to disperse tailgating fans hours before the NFC Championship game.

NJ.com reports a bloodied fan was taken into custody amid the chaos Sunday afternoon near Lincoln Financial Field .

It was not immediately clear what started the fight.

Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers tried to get the situation under control.

The Eagles are hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the championship game on Sunday night. The winning team will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

---

6 p.m.

The New England Patriots have taken the lead in the AFC championship game.

After trailing by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots cut it to three on Tom Brady's 9-yard pass to Danny Amendola and then went ahead on a 4-yard throw to Amendola in the back of the end zone with just under 3 minutes left. Amendola also had a 20-yard punt return that allowed New England to start the go-ahead drive at the Jaguars' 30.

The Patriots have won the last three playoff games they've trailed by double-digits in, including a 25-point deficit they erased in last year's Super Bowl.

---

5:55 p.m.

Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack had to be helped off the field, unable to put any weight on his left leg, late in the fourth quarter.

On the very next play, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was slow getting up and needed attention from the trainers.

There was no immediate information about their conditions.

---

5:40 p.m.

The Patriots are looking for another comeback.

Less than a year after rallying from a record 25-point deficit to win the Super Bowl, the Patriots were trying to be the first team ever to overcome a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game.

Jacksonville led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady drove New England 85 yards in eight plays, hitting Danny Amendola for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

The New England defense then forced Jacksonville to punt.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

(Corrects earlier item that Patriots would be first to overcome 10-point deficit in fourth quarter)

---

5:26 p.m.

Josh Lambo's second field goal of the game has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 20-10 early in the fourth quarter as the AFC title game turned into a defensive battle.

Jacksonville drove for a 54-yard field goal on its opening drive of the second half, then the teams traded punts.

The Patriots started one drive on their own 46-yard line after a punt, but went three-and-out. New England is one for eight on third down through three quarters.

The Jaguars then drove 66 yards to set up Lambo's 43-yarder.

---

5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots' run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

---

4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4 p.m.

Leonard Fournette has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 14-3 lead over the heavily favored New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Fournette bulled his way into the end zone from 4 yards out midway through the second quarter . He carried the ball five times for 23 yards on the 10-play, 77-yard drive.

Fournette ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns in last week's divisional round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the first NFL rookie to surpass 100 yards rushing with three scores in a postseason game.

Fournette was limited in practice all week with a sore ankle. He was also involved in a fender-bender back in Jacksonville, but was not injured.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken the lead early in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Blake Bortles found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Jags a 7-3 lead. Bortles was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on the drive.

Running back Corey Grant caught two passes for 44 yards on the 76-yard drive. He had only 41 total receiving yards during the season.

Tom Brady's only comeback wins in an AFC championship were from a four-point deficit against Baltimore after the 2011 season and a three-point deficit against San Diego after the '07 season. The Patriots also rallied from a four-point hole against Miami en route to the 1986 Super Bowl.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

---

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The Latest: Vikings score on opening drive of NFC title game

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

6:54 p.m

The Minnesota Vikings made it look easy on the opening drive of the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Case Keenum threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Kyle Rudolph for the 7-0 lead . Eagles linebacker Naje Goode was late to react and left Rudolph all alone in the end zone.

The Vikings moved 75 yards on nine plays and silenced what had been a crazed Eagles crowd. The Vikings may have more than the Super Bowl on their minds. Rudolph and two of his teammates mimicked the act of the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

---

6:47 p.m.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship.

The Patriots will play the winner of the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure an eighth Super Bowl appearance for he and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady has won five Super Bowls, including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

---

6:10 p.m.

A fight broke out in a parking lot near the Philadelphia Eagles' home stadium as police tried to disperse tailgating fans hours before the NFC Championship game.

NJ.com reports a bloodied fan was taken into custody amid the chaos Sunday afternoon near Lincoln Financial Field .

It was not immediately clear what started the fight.

Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers tried to get the situation under control.

The Eagles are hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the championship game on Sunday night. The winning team will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

---

6 p.m.

The New England Patriots have taken the lead in the AFC championship game.

After trailing by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots cut it to three on Tom Brady's 9-yard pass to Danny Amendola and then went ahead on a 4-yard throw to Amendola in the back of the end zone with just under 3 minutes left. Amendola also had a 20-yard punt return that allowed New England to start the go-ahead drive at the Jaguars' 30.

The Patriots have won the last three playoff games they've trailed by double-digits in, including a 25-point deficit they erased in last year's Super Bowl.

---

5:55 p.m.

Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack had to be helped off the field, unable to put any weight on his left leg, late in the fourth quarter.

On the very next play, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was slow getting up and needed attention from the trainers.

There was no immediate information about their conditions.

---

5:40 p.m.

The Patriots are looking for another comeback.

Less than a year after rallying from a record 25-point deficit to win the Super Bowl, the Patriots were trying to be the first team ever to overcome a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game.

Jacksonville led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady drove New England 85 yards in eight plays, hitting Danny Amendola for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

The New England defense then forced Jacksonville to punt.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

(Corrects earlier item that Patriots would be first to overcome 10-point deficit in fourth quarter)

---

5:26 p.m.

Josh Lambo's second field goal of the game has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 20-10 early in the fourth quarter as the AFC title game turned into a defensive battle.

Jacksonville drove for a 54-yard field goal on its opening drive of the second half, then the teams traded punts.

The Patriots started one drive on their own 46-yard line after a punt, but went three-and-out. New England is one for eight on third down through three quarters.

The Jaguars then drove 66 yards to set up Lambo's 43-yarder.

---

5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots' run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

---

4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4 p.m.

Leonard Fournette has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 14-3 lead over the heavily favored New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Fournette bulled his way into the end zone from 4 yards out midway through the second quarter . He carried the ball five times for 23 yards on the 10-play, 77-yard drive.

Fournette ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns in last week's divisional round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the first NFL rookie to surpass 100 yards rushing with three scores in a postseason game.

Fournette was limited in practice all week with a sore ankle. He was also involved in a fender-bender back in Jacksonville, but was not injured.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken the lead early in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Blake Bortles found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Jags a 7-3 lead. Bortles was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on the drive.

Running back Corey Grant caught two passes for 44 yards on the 76-yard drive. He had only 41 total receiving yards during the season.

Tom Brady's only comeback wins in an AFC championship were from a four-point deficit against Baltimore after the 2011 season and a three-point deficit against San Diego after the '07 season. The Patriots also rallied from a four-point hole against Miami en route to the 1986 Super Bowl.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

---

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The Latest: Brady and Belichick headed 8th Super Bowl

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

6:47 p.m.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship.

The Patriots will play the winner of the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure an eighth Super Bowl appearance for he and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady has won five Super Bowls, including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

---

6:10 p.m.

A fight broke out in a parking lot near the Philadelphia Eagles' home stadium as police tried to disperse tailgating fans hours before the NFC Championship game.

NJ.com reports a bloodied fan was taken into custody amid the chaos Sunday afternoon near Lincoln Financial Field .

It was not immediately clear what started the fight.

Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers tried to get the situation under control.

The Eagles are hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the championship game on Sunday night. The winning team will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

---

6 p.m.

The New England Patriots have taken the lead in the AFC championship game.

After trailing by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots cut it to three on Tom Brady's 9-yard pass to Danny Amendola and then went ahead on a 4-yard throw to Amendola in the back of the end zone with just under 3 minutes left. Amendola also had a 20-yard punt return that allowed New England to start the go-ahead drive at the Jaguars' 30.

The Patriots have won the last three playoff games they've trailed by double-digits in, including a 25-point deficit they erased in last year's Super Bowl.

---

5:55 p.m.

Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack had to be helped off the field, unable to put any weight on his left leg, late in the fourth quarter.

On the very next play, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was slow getting up and needed attention from the trainers.

There was no immediate information about their conditions.

---

5:40 p.m.

The Patriots are looking for another comeback.

Less than a year after rallying from a record 25-point deficit to win the Super Bowl, the Patriots were trying to be the first team ever to overcome a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game.

Jacksonville led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady drove New England 85 yards in eight plays, hitting Danny Amendola for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

The New England defense then forced Jacksonville to punt.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

(Corrects earlier item that Patriots would be first to overcome 10-point deficit in fourth quarter)

---

5:26 p.m.

Josh Lambo's second field goal of the game has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 20-10 early in the fourth quarter as the AFC title game turned into a defensive battle.

Jacksonville drove for a 54-yard field goal on its opening drive of the second half, then the teams traded punts.

The Patriots started one drive on their own 46-yard line after a punt, but went three-and-out. New England is one for eight on third down through three quarters.

The Jaguars then drove 66 yards to set up Lambo's 43-yarder.

---

5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots' run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

---

4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4 p.m.

Leonard Fournette has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 14-3 lead over the heavily favored New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Fournette bulled his way into the end zone from 4 yards out midway through the second quarter . He carried the ball five times for 23 yards on the 10-play, 77-yard drive.

Fournette ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns in last week's divisional round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the first NFL rookie to surpass 100 yards rushing with three scores in a postseason game.

Fournette was limited in practice all week with a sore ankle. He was also involved in a fender-bender back in Jacksonville, but was not injured.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken the lead early in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Blake Bortles found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Jags a 7-3 lead. Bortles was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on the drive.

Running back Corey Grant caught two passes for 44 yards on the 76-yard drive. He had only 41 total receiving yards during the season.

Tom Brady's only comeback wins in an AFC championship were from a four-point deficit against Baltimore after the 2011 season and a three-point deficit against San Diego after the '07 season. The Patriots also rallied from a four-point hole against Miami en route to the 1986 Super Bowl.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

---

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The Latest: Patriots looking for another postseason comeback

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

The Patriots are looking for another comeback.

Less than a year after rallying from a record 25-point deficit to win the Super Bowl, the Patriots were trying to be the first team ever to overcome a double-digit deficit in the AFC championship game.

Jacksonville led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady drove New England 85 yards in eight plays, hitting Danny Amendola for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

The New England defense then forced Jacksonville to punt.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

5:26 p.m.

Josh Lambo's second field goal of the game has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 20-10 early in the fourth quarter as the AFC title game turned into a defensive battle.

Jacksonville drove for a 54-yard field goal on its opening drive of the second half, then the teams traded punts.

The Patriots started one drive on their own 46-yard line after a punt, but went three-and-out. New England is one for eight on third down through three quarters.

The Jaguars then drove 66 yards to set up Lambo's 43-yarder.

---

5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots' run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

---

4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4 p.m.

Leonard Fournette has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 14-3 lead over the heavily favored New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Fournette bulled his way into the end zone from 4 yards out midway through the second quarter . He carried the ball five times for 23 yards on the 10-play, 77-yard drive.

Fournette ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns in last week's divisional round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the first NFL rookie to surpass 100 yards rushing with three scores in a postseason game.

Fournette was limited in practice all week with a sore ankle. He was also involved in a fender-bender back in Jacksonville, but was not injured.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken the lead early in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Blake Bortles found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Jags a 7-3 lead. Bortles was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on the drive.

Running back Corey Grant caught two passes for 44 yards on the 76-yard drive. He had only 41 total receiving yards during the season.

Tom Brady's only comeback wins in an AFC championship were from a four-point deficit against Baltimore after the 2011 season and a three-point deficit against San Diego after the '07 season. The Patriots also rallied from a four-point hole against Miami en route to the 1986 Super Bowl.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

---

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Eagles linebacker Dannell Ellerbe out vs. Vikings

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Eagles starting linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is inactive for Sunday's NFC championship game against Minnesota because of a hamstring injury.

Ellerbe was Philadelphia's third middle linebacker after Jordan Hicks and then backup Joe Walker sustained season-ending injuries. Najee Goode will likely take his spot in the lineup.

Other inactive players for Philadelphia: RB Wendell Smallwood, OT Will Beatty, WR Marcus Johnson, CB Sidney Jones, DE Steven Means and DT Elijah Qualls.

Inactive players for Minnesota: QB Teddy Bridgewater, QB Kyle Sloter, RB Mack Brown, G Danny Isidora, C Cornelius Edison, DE Tashawn Bower and DT Shamar Stephen (knee).

---

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Watt, Olsen, Watson NFL Man of Year finalists

J.J. Watt, Greg Olsen and Benjamin Watson are finalists for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

The recipient of the award that recognizes a player's contribution in his community and to society in general will be revealed on Feb. 3 at NFL Honors, when The Associated Press announces its individual NFL awards.

Houston defensive end Watt, in his seventh NFL season and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, had the goal of raising $200,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston.

His fundraising did a whole lot more, bringing in an incredible $37 million in 19 days. Watt has dedicated himself to finding organizations that will apply the funds in a way he has promised both donors and victims of the storm.

''For me, this nomination is about so much more than one man,'' Watt tells The Associated Press. ''It's about the hundreds of thousands of people who helped donate to those who went through an extremely difficult time and rose above it all.

''I also know this is about honoring the city and its people.''

Watt says he noticed something special evolving from his involvement in the fundraising efforts.

''I learned how much good there is in the world, how humanity steps up to the plate when they see fellow humans going through difficult times,'' he says. ''From my high school and from kids with their lemonade stands ... to seeing people putting aside any differences and rivalries and helping out ... and how they wanted to donate to be good people and help their fellow humans. It shows how much good light there is in the world.''

Carolina tight end Olsen, who just finished his 11th pro season, has put together two initiatives, one to fight breast cancer, the other to help youngsters with a congenital heart defect.

Olsen's mother is a breast cancer survivor, and in 2009 he founded Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. The Foundation's ''Receiving Hope'' focuses on cancer research and education programming.

In early 2013, Greg and his wife Kara founded the HEARTest Yard Fund after a routine examination of their unborn son, T.J., revealed the infant had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). It's a family service program administered in conjunction with Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte.

''We meet with the hospital staff and the nurses and doctors and go into these homes,'' Olsen explains. ''Just to see and hear the families and have them relay the stories about this program and ... what the lives of these families would be like without our program. To hear how it is helping their family life and family dynamic is something far beyond what we imagined.

''It's been fun watching it grow and have such an impact.''

Baltimore tight end Watson, a 14-year pro, assists countless people through his charitable arm, the One More Foundation.

Most recently, One More partnered with the International Justice Mission (IJM), the world's largest international anti-slavery organization working to combat human trafficking, modern day slavery and other forms of violence against the poor. Benjamin and his wife, Kirsten, joined the global fight to end the scourge of sex trafficking.

''There are 2 million children worldwide involved in sex traffic and exploitation,'' he says. ''This slavery issue is really a big deal that kind of goes on unnoticed and unheralded.

''People want to help, a lot of times people don't know how. The problems of the world seem so overwhelming that they do not know where to start. We provide people the opportunity to do something for someone.

''Whenever you help somebody, they end up helping you and you learn as much from them as they do from you.''

Olsen broke into the NFL with the Bears. So the Payton legacy is more than a familiar one for him.

''Playing in Chicago for four years, I saw firsthand what the Payton family has meant to the city and the community,'' he says. ''I was a teammate with Walter's son, Jarrett, at the University of Miami for a year, kept in contact with him. It's interesting how many parallels there are. They have a great foundation that does a lot of great work.''

The three finalists emphasize that hundreds of their peers are doing similar work, selflessly and without fanfare.

''A lot of guys are doing those things, more than what people know,'' Watson notes. ''One thing I always wanted to do is take advantage of the opportunities as long as I play and after I play.

''We obviously have some influence. Yes, as NFL players ... we have the ability to be more visible. Everybody has a sphere of influence they can affect positively, whether it is 10 people or 10,000 people. I want to use it to help people and advocate for people whenever I can, to be someone who stands for what is just and kind and right.''

---

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Watt, Olsen, Watson NFL Man of Year finalists

J.J. Watt, Greg Olsen and Benjamin Watson are finalists for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

The recipient of the award that recognizes a player's contribution in his community and to society in general will be revealed on Feb. 3 at NFL Honors, when The Associated Press announces its individual NFL awards.

Houston defensive end Watt, in his seventh NFL season and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, had the goal of raising $200,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston.

His fundraising did a whole lot more, bringing in an incredible $37 million in 19 days. Watt has dedicated himself to finding organizations that will apply the funds in a way he has promised both donors and victims of the storm.

---

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The Latest: Patriots say Gronkowski questionable to return

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts

---

4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England's last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

4 p.m.

Leonard Fournette has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 14-3 lead over the heavily favored New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Fournette bulled his way into the end zone from 4 yards out midway through the second quarter . He carried the ball five times for 23 yards on the 10-play, 77-yard drive.

Fournette ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns in last week's divisional round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the first NFL rookie to surpass 100 yards rushing with three scores in a postseason game.

Fournette was limited in practice all week with a sore ankle. He was also involved in a fender-bender back in Jacksonville, but was not injured.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken the lead early in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Blake Bortles found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Jags a 7-3 lead. Bortles was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on the drive.

Running back Corey Grant caught two passes for 44 yards on the 76-yard drive. He had only 41 total receiving yards during the season.

Tom Brady's only comeback wins in an AFC championship were from a four-point deficit against Baltimore after the 2011 season and a three-point deficit against San Diego after the '07 season. The Patriots also rallied from a four-point hole against Miami en route to the 1986 Super Bowl.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

---

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AP Source: Browns meet with Haley about coordinator job

CLEVELAND (AP) Todd Haley has experience calling plays, beating AFC North teams and working with star quarterbacks.

Just the kind of coach who could help the Browns win.

Haley, who was fired last week by Pittsburgh, has discussed Cleveland's offensive coordinator position with Browns coach Hue Jackson, according to a person who spoke Sunday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team is not confirming any interviews.

Haley spent six years with the Steelers before he was let go following a playoff loss to Jacksonville.

Jackson has handled offensive coordinator duties the past two seasons, but after going 0-16, he said he was open to hiring a coordinator. Jackson has previously interviewed Houston quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan and fired New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo about the job.

ESPN first reported the Browns were in ''serious talks'' with Haley, whose contract expired after the Steelers were stunned 45-42 by the Jaguars.

Jackson is very familiar with the 50-year-old Haley after years spent facing each other as division foes.

Haley worked as Arizona's coordinator and was Kansas City's head coach for two years before joining Mike Tomlin's staff in Pittsburgh.

He occasionally butted heads with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but Haley also oversaw one of the NFL's most elite offenses spearheaded by wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell.

The Browns have struggled to score under Jackson, but Cleveland's offense is set to get an infusion of talent. New general manager John Dorsey is likely to use either the No. 1 or No. 4 overall draft pick on a quarterback this year and the Browns are expected to be $100 million under the salary cap, money they can use for roster upgrades.

Jackson has overhauled his offensive staff this offseason.

---

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The Latest: Fournette scores to give Jags 14-3 lead

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

4 p.m.

Leonard Fournette has given the Jacksonville Jaguars a 14-3 lead over the heavily favored New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Fournette bulled his way into the end zone from 4 yards out midway through the second quarter . He carried the ball five times for 23 yards on the 10-play, 77-yard drive.

Fournette ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns in last week's divisional round playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the first NFL rookie to surpass 100 yards rushing with three scores in a postseason game.

Fournette was limited in practice all week with a sore ankle. He was also involved in a fender-bender back in Jacksonville, but was not injured.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken the lead early in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Blake Bortles found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Jags a 7-3 lead. Bortles was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on the drive.

Running back Corey Grant caught two passes for 44 yards on the 76-yard drive. He had only 41 total receiving yards during the season.

Tom Brady's only comeback wins in an AFC championship were from a four-point deficit against Baltimore after the 2011 season and a three-point deficit against San Diego after the '07 season. The Patriots also rallied from a four-point hole against Miami en route to the 1986 Super Bowl.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

---

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The Latest: Jags take lead on Bortles pass to Lewis

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have taken the lead early in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Blake Bortles found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Jags a 7-3 lead. Bortles was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on the drive.

Running back Corey Grant caught two passes for 44 yards on the 76-yard drive. He had only 41 total receiving yards during the season.

Tom Brady's only comeback wins in an AFC championship were from a four-point deficit against Baltimore after the 2011 season and a three-point deficit against San Diego after the '07 season. The Patriots also rallied from a four-point hole against Miami en route to the 1986 Super Bowl.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady's injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots' opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England's first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate's helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

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Patriots' Brady throwing without glove before AFC title game

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was on the field for warmups at Gillette Stadium on Sunday wearing black tape over the inside part of his injured right hand - but no glove.

Brady was throwing passes - with a glove only on his non-throwing left hand - to his receivers and tight ends about 45 minutes before kickoff for the AFC championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brady was listed as questionable after he hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week. He was limited Wednesday, sat out Thursday and was limited again Friday because of the injury.

Brady has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career and is expected to be under center as the Patriots try for their third Super Bowl trip in four years. The quarterback said only, ''We'll see,'' on Friday when asked if he would play.

''Sometimes freak accidents happen,'' Patriots owner Robert Kraft said during an interview with NFL Network on Sunday.

''Thank goodness it wasn't as severe as we thought it could be. But you don't know and today will be a great test. There isn't anyone who's mentally tougher or prepares harder than Tommy, and we'll see.''

The crowd at Gillette Stadium cheered loudly as Brady jogged onto the field from the locker room. He didn't appear to be hampered as he zipped passes during warmups.

Brady's hand has been the most-scrutinized body part of Boston athletes since the quarterback's right ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's right ankle tendon - the bloody sock - in the 2004 playoffs.

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The Latest: Kraft says Pats targets of "jealousy and envy"

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against ''jealousy and envy'' from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it's only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, ''But when you've got something good going, everyone's got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.''

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick's plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

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Title games: Brady vs. Bortles, then the matchup of backups

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.

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Jaguars safety Gipson active for AFC title game vs. Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson is active for Sunday's AFC championship game against the Patriots.

Gipson had been listed as questionable with a foot injury. The inactive players for Jacksonville are running back Chris Ivory, defensive ends Eli Ankou and Carrol Phillips, linebacker Deon King, and offensive linemen Chris Reed, Josh Walker and Williams Poehls.

The Patriots will be without running back Mike Gillislee (knee), defensive lineman Alan Branch (knee), offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle (knee), tight end Jacob Hollister, receivers Kenny Britt and Bernard Reedy and linebacker David Harris.

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AFN to broadcast NFL's championship games despite shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) The American Forces Network will broadcast the NFL's conference championship games on Sunday despite the federal government shutdown.

There was some question about access to the games for the U.S. military after the AFN put a message on its Facebook page on Saturday that its services would not be available because of the shutdown. The network airs American radio and television programming in Europe and other locations outside the U.S.

AFN programming relies on civilian government employees, according to Department of Defense spokeswoman Dana W. White, and they were furloughed at midnight Saturday. Two of AFN's eight channels - one for news and a second for sports - will remain on.

''Thanks to uniform leadership at AFN, our comptroller and legal team, we were able to turn on one channel based on operational necessity and FY17 funds had already been paid on the contract,'' White said in a release. ''The sports channel was turned on because it doesn't cost any more money or manpower to manage a second channel.''

New England takes on Jacksonville in the AFC championship, and Minnesota faces Philadelphia in the NFC championship.

''We appreciate the efforts of everyone who made it possible for our brave service members around the world to get a taste of home and enjoy today's games,'' NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.

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AP Source: Browns meet with Haley about coordinator job

CLEVELAND (AP) A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cleveland Browns have discussed their offensive coordinator position with former Pittsburgh play-caller Todd Haley.

Haley has interviewed with Browns coach Hue Jackson, according to the person who spoke Sunday to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team is not confirming any interviews. Haley spent six years with the Steelers before he was fired last week.

Jackson has handled offensive coordinator duties the past two seasons. But after going 0-16, Jackson said he was open to hiring a coordinator. He also has met with Houston quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan and fired New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo about the job.

Haley was dismissed after the Steelers lost 45-42 to Jacksonville in the playoffs.

ESPN first reported the Browns' interest in Haley.

Haley's familiarity with the AFC North and his knowledge of the Steelers would be a major asset for the Browns.

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Philadelphia greasing light poles to stop fans from climbing

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Workers in Philadelphia are greasing light poles in a bid to prevent fans from climbing up them after the NFC Championship game.

Officials say the grease should make the poles too slippery to climb.

The workers applying the grease are jokingly calling themselves the ''Crisco Cops.''

The Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the championship game on Sunday night. The winning team will earn a spot in the Super Bowl.

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Defense wins championships, or at least the NFC title

PHILADELPHIA (AP) One team has a suffocating defense. The other has the NFL's No. 1 unit.

Defense should win at least the NFC championship.

Two of the league's elite defenses go at it Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) in the conference title game.

''They have a great defense, we have a great defense,'' Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said. ''Whoever is most complete will win.''

The Vikings allowed the fewest yards (275.9) and fewest points (15.8) per game. The Eagles were fourth in yards allowed (306.5) and fourth in points (18.4).

May the best defense reach the Super Bowl.

''Typically, when you're good defensively, you're going to stay in the ballgames,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. ''Then you have a chance to win them at the end.''

Minnesota has three Pro Bowl players on defense: end Everson Griffen, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Safety Harrison Smith and Rhodes are All-Pros.

''It's just a smothering defense,'' Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. ''(Griffen) is a game wrecker. They just mix it in. You don't know necessarily what's coming. Rhodes is a tremendous corner, safeties are playing extremely well.''

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins are Philadelphia's Pro Bowl picks. Defensive end Brandon Graham had an excellent season and cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are solid.

Hearing about Minnesota's defense all week is extra motivation for Philadelphia, which is a home underdog for the second straight game.

''When you've got the No. 1 defense coming in statistically, obviously, it fires us up,'' Cox said. ''We know going into this game that whoever's defense plays better is going to win the game. The way we're prepared, we won't change nothing that we do. We'll just go out and be ourselves.''

Here are things to watch for in the NFC championship game:

BATTLE OF THE BACKUPS: Case Keenum and Nick Foles were teammates in St. Louis in 2015 and began this season as backups. Keenum had a breakout season for the Vikings after Sam Bradford was injured. Foles is 3-1 since MVP candidate Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Expect defenses to focus on the running backs and challenge the quarterbacks.

''We've got to make Nick Foles win the game,'' Griffen said. ''We've got to make him win the game but we've got to stop the running game, affect him and give the ball back to our offense as much as possible so that they can score points.''

OWNING MINNESOTA: Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery has more catches (45), yards (685), and touchdowns (7) against the Vikings than he has against any other team. But Jeffery, who spent his first five seasons with the Bears, did most of his damage against other cornerbacks while also being the featured guy in Chicago's offense. The Eagles spread the ball around, so Jeffery had only 789 yards receiving, but his nine TDs were the second most in his career. Jeffery, by the way, turned down more money in free agency from Minnesota to join the Eagles on a one-year deal. Philadelphia gave him a four-year, $52 million extension during the season.

BROTHERLY LOVE: The Kendricks family from Northern California is guaranteed to have a son playing linebacker in the Super Bowl. Eric Kendricks is in his third season with the Vikings, and Mychal is in his sixth year with the Eagles.

Eric had his best season with 136 tackles to lead the team for the third straight time, nine passes defended and one interception return for a touchdown. Mychal was fifth on the Eagles with 72 tackles in 2017, adding two sacks.

Both were second-round draft picks, Eric out of UCLA with the 45th overall selection in 2015 and Mychal from Cal with the 46th overall pick in 2012. Their father, Marvin, was UCLA's leading rusher in 1970 and 1971 and went on to play in the CFL.

With both teams at the top of the NFC and both defenses at the top of the league all season, the two siblings have traded their share of friendly trash talk along the way. Family members have been known to wear split jerseys to support both players.

''I always make jokes: I feel like my brother gets a little bit of the advantage as far as who the family roots for, because he's the first born,'' Eric said. ''It's all love, though.''

FIND THEIR FOOTING: The Eagles laid fresh sod between the hash marks this week to help improve the conditions at Lincoln Financial Field. The weather should help, with a dry forecast and expected temperatures in the 40s, but the Vikings have been preparing for the worst.

Zimmer had a video put together of Falcons players sliding and slipping on the field last weekend. Players have been encouraged to try seven-stud cleats in pregame

NOT YET: The Vikings are 0-3 against the Eagles in the postseason. Philadelphia won a wild-card game in Minnesota after the 2008 season and home games in the divisional rounds on the way to Super Bowl appearances following the 1980 and 2004 seasons. Minnesota has not been to the Super Bowl since 1977 and is 0-4 in them.

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AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed.

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AFN to broadcast NFL's championship games despite shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) The American Forces Network will broadcast the NFL's conference championship games despite the federal government shutdown.

There was some question about access to the games for military outside the U.S. after the AFN put a message on its Facebook page on Saturday that its services would not be available because of the shutdown. The network airs American radio and television programming in Europe and other locations outside the U.S.

But White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders posted Sunday on her Twitter account that the AFN had been restored. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy also tweeted that the games would be on the network and called it ''great news.''

New England takes on Jacksonville in the AFC championship, and Minnesota faces Philadelphia in the NFC championship.

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Titans hire Mike Vrabel as new coach after quick search

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans hired Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel as their new coach in a fast search that wrapped up after three interviews and just five days after firing Mike Mularkey.

The Titans announced Saturday they have agreed to terms with Vrabel. A news conference was scheduled for Monday.

Vrabel was the first person Tennessee interviewed after firing Mularkey on Monday. Mularkey, who also coached Buffalo and Jacksonville, went 21-22 and led the franchise to its first playoff victory in 14 years . This will be Vrabel's first head coaching job after 18 years in the NFL - 14 as a player and four as a coach.

Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement it was easy to see Vrabel's commanding presence and relationship with general manager Jon Robinson. The GM got his start in the NFL as a scout with the New England Patriots, where Vrabel won three Super Bowls as a linebacker.

''Mike has a commanding presence and a deep understanding for how he will attack this head coaching opportunity,'' Strunk said.

''Throughout his football career, he has played for, been mentored by and coached with successful teams and organizations. He knows what it takes to reach that level of sustained success - he has seen it firsthand. We have a chance to build on the solid foundation that we established over the past couple of years and I believe Mike is the right person to continue that progress.''

The Titans became the seventh NFL team to change coaches since the start of the season, and now they are the third to hire their replacement, joining Oakland and Chicago. The Indianapolis Colts are closing in on Josh McDaniels but can't hire him until the Patriots' season ends. Arizona , Detroit and New York Giants have yet to hire new coaches.

Tennessee also interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks - who satisfied the Rooney rule requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate - and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.

In a statement, Vrabel thanked Strunk, Robinson and the Titans for putting their faith in him.

''We want to build a culture around winning, competitiveness and toughness,'' Vrabel said. ''Everything we do is going to be geared toward winning and being physical. We want to prepare our players so they know what to do, which will allow them to play fast and aggressive.''

The 42-year-old Vrabel is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel's 14-year career as a player included stints with Pittsburgh under coach Bill Cowher and New England under coach Bill Belichick, along with Kansas City. In 2011, he joined the staff at his alma mater, Ohio State, coaching linebackers and defensive linemen.

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator. The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks in part to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season amid injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus .

This was the first head coaching search since Robinson was hired in January 2016, two days before the Titans took the interim tag off Mularkey. Robinson said in a statement he always has had a great deal of respect for Vrabel as a player and as a coach.

''He was the ultimate team-first player, and he embodies that same mindset as a coach,'' Robinson said. ''He is intelligent, energetic, detailed and a leader whose deep passion for this game will resonate with our players. As a coach, I have seen him develop talent at both the college and NFL level, and put players in position for them to be successful.''

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Titans hire Mike Vrabel as new coach after quick search

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans hired Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel as their new coach in a fast search that wrapped up after three interviews and just five days after firing Mike Mularkey.

The Titans announced Saturday they have agreed to terms with Vrabel. A news conference was scheduled for Monday.

Vrabel was the first person Tennessee interviewed after firing Mularkey on Monday. Mularkey, who also coached Buffalo and Jacksonville, went 21-22 and led the franchise to its first playoff victory in 14 years . This will be Vrabel's first head coaching job after 18 years in the NFL - 14 as a player and four as a coach.

Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement it was easy to see Vrabel's commanding presence and relationship with general manager Jon Robinson. The GM got his start in the NFL as a scout with the New England Patriots, where Vrabel won three Super Bowls as a linebacker.

''Mike has a commanding presence and a deep understanding for how he will attack this head coaching opportunity,'' Strunk said.

''Throughout his football career, he has played for, been mentored by and coached with successful teams and organizations. He knows what it takes to reach that level of sustained success - he has seen it firsthand. We have a chance to build on the solid foundation that we established over the past couple of years and I believe Mike is the right person to continue that progress.''

Tennessee also interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks - who satisfied the Rooney rule requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate - and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.

In a statement, Vrabel thanked Strunk, Robinson and the Titans for putting their faith in him.

''We want to build a culture around winning, competitiveness and toughness,'' Vrabel said. ''Everything we do is going to be geared toward winning and being physical. We want to prepare our players so they know what to do, which will allow them to play fast and aggressive.''

The 42-year-old Vrabel is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel's 14-year career as a player included stints with Pittsburgh under coach Bill Cowher and New England under coach Bill Belichick, along with Kansas City. In 2011, he joined the staff at his alma mater, Ohio State, coaching linebackers and defensive linemen.

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator. The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks in part to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season amid injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus .

This was the first head coaching search since Robinson was hired in January 2016, two days before the Titans took the interim tag off Mularkey. Robinson said in a statement he always has had a great deal of respect for Vrabel as a player and as a coach.

''He was the ultimate team-first player, and he embodies that same mindset as a coach,'' Robinson said. ''He is intelligent, energetic, detailed and a leader whose deep passion for this game will resonate with our players. As a coach, I have seen him develop talent at both the college and NFL level, and put players in position for them to be successful.''

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Blount and Long brought winning ways to the Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) When Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount joined the Philadelphia Eagles after winning a Super Bowl in New England, both players envisioned another title run with a team on the rise.

They had more faith than most, but the Eagles are two wins away from a parade.

''I knew we'd be a playoff team and that's why I decided this would be a good place to be and then what separates you is winning a game or two,'' Long said as Philadelphia prepared for Sunday's NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Eagles were 7-9 last year in the first season under coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz. Expectations were moderate entering 2017 with many experts projecting the team to be a year away from serious playoff contention.

But Blount saw a team that was close. The Eagles added receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, traded for defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and signed Long before giving Blount a one-year deal in May.

''I chose the Eagles for the reason of me fitting in really good here, having a championship run, having a banner season,'' Blount said after he signed. ''And they're a really good team. They're a really good team before I came. I just want to fit in.''

He was right and he's fit in perfectly.

Wentz had an MVP-caliber season before he tore his ACL in Week 14 and the Eagles (14-3) secured the NFC's No. 1 seed. Blount was the team's leading rusher, though he's played a secondary role since Jay Ajayi was acquired in a trade in October.

Blount hasn't complained about fewer carries and has provided veteran leadership. He led the NFL with 18 touchdowns rushing last year when he earned his second Super Bowl ring in three seasons with the Patriots.

''We're winning and that's the overall goal,'' Blount said. ''We don't care about personal success. You can't be selfish when everybody has one common goal. You have to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team. We've done that and it's gotten us this far.''

Long played 65 percent of the snaps last season and posted four sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble. His role has decreased in Philadelphia - he played 48 percent of the snaps - but he's been an instrumental part of the team's success and keeping a deep defensive line fresh.

''His attitude and the way he approaches things, coming from New England, coming off winning a Super Bowl, I think the biggest thing that Chris has brought here is a bunch of leadership, especially being the older guy in our room,'' Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. ''Not being here, coming in the room with a bunch of new guys, man, he fit right in. I think the thing about Chris is when he goes out on the field, he means a lot. He doesn't play a whole lot, but when he is in the game, man, he wrecks shop.''

Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky said Long is the one player on Philadelphia's defense that he would be concerned with most because ''he never stops.''

''He has a next-level motor,'' Orlovsky told The Associated Press . ''It's unusual.''

The Eagles have other players who've won Super Bowls - Smith, Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, Dannell Ellerbe, Chris Maragos, and Will Beatty - but Blount and Long did it most recently and were part of the Patriot Way so they've shared valuable experiences.

''There's a lot of good resources on this team for Super Bowl experience,'' Long said. ''Younger players really need to stick to the script, prepare hard and don't try to do too much. The key is to take it out of your head that it's the playoffs and show up and do your work.''

Blount echoed those feelings.

''You have so many things going on and it's not something you can get away from it because it's on TV, it on your phone, it' on every bit of social media,'' Blount said. ''So you have to make sure you zoom in and zone in on what you have to do and focus on what our goal is and the task at hand.''

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The NFL's final 4 all overcame injuries to star players

The list of players sitting out this weekend's conference championships is almost as impressive as the starting lineups: Julian Edelman. Carson Wentz. Dalvin Cook. Dont'a Hightower. Allen Robinson. Sam Bradford.

Following the NFL's season of carnage that claimed the likes of, among others, Aaron Rodgers, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, J.J. Watt, DeShaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Joe Thomas, this year's final four all overcame not only the odds - ''Minneapolis Miracle , anyone?'' - but devastating injuries to key starters.

''We have a tough and resilient team,'' Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long said of the NFC's top seed , which is missing its second-year QB in Wentz, an MVP hopeful when he blew out a knee in December.

Even before Wentz's injury thrust backup Nick Foles into the starting job for the playoffs, the Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, versatile return specialist Darren Sproles, and special teams captain Chris Maragos.

Yet, here they are, 60 minutes from Minneapolis and Super Bowl 52.

''I think that starts at the top with Doug, because he sets the tone for being resilient and even keeled,'' Long said of his coach, Doug Pederson. ''At the end of the day, we have a tough group of guys.''

So do the Minnesota Vikings, who are trying to reach their first Super Bowl in more than four decades and fulfill the mantra to ''Bring it Home'' and become the first NFL team to play the title game in its own stadium.

And they're doing so behind Case Keenum, who crashed Tom Brady's playoff party along with fellow perennial backup Foles and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Together, the four quarterbacks left standing have a combined five Super Bowl rings, two NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVP trophies. Brady, of course, owns all of that hardware himself.

Such is the panorama of these playoffs following a season of pain in which so many superstars were rendered sideline spectators with broken bones, snapped ligaments, torn muscles.

Keenum replaced an injured Bradford, who had replaced an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford, now back in uniform as Keenum's backup, blew out a knee in the first month of the season, as did rookie running back in Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Behind resilient coach Mike Zimmer , who resisted the urge to quit just before he got the Vikings' head coaching gig in 2014, Minnesota rolled right along. Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem.

''We've got a bunch of fighters on this team,'' Zimmer said. ''They've been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.''

The Patriots are also a bunch of fighters; they reached their seventh straight AFC title game despite losing Edelman, Brady's top target, to a torn ACL in the preseason, and Hightower to a torn chest muscle in November.

Play caller Josh McDaniels and Brady, who led New England to a fifth Super Bowl title last year despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski, adjusted accordingly to Edelman's absence with another terrific year.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy stepped in for Hightower and ranked third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5+ sacks despite missing three of the final five games with a calf injury.

Van Noy's sack total was just a half-sack shy of Hightower's career high set in 2014.

''The thing about K.V. is he's very versatile,'' said Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty. ''So we've used him a bunch of different ways. ... He's been a big asset to our team.''

The Jaguars are the healthiest of the remaining playoff teams. They have only one opening-day starter on injured reserve: former Pro Bowl receiver Robinson, who tore his left ACL on Jacksonville's opener.

Four months removed from reconstructive surgery, Robinson is now traveling with the team, so he'll be on the sideline Sunday at New England, serving as a mentor to a raw receiving corps.

''Every person in this locker room put in a lot of work to get to this point, with me being one of them,'' said Robinson, who was poised for another big year after dominating the league's best secondary in training camp.

His injury on Jacksonville's third offensive snap created a huge void for the offense. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns tried to pick up the slack, but they ended up on the sideline at one point with injuries, too, leaving rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook to assume bigger roles.

Cole, an undrafted rookie from tiny Kentucky Wesleyan, had 42 catches for 748 yards and three scores in the regular season. He added a clutch 45-yard catch that set up a late TD in Jacksonville's 45-42 stunner at Pittsburgh last week.

''I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and feel like I did Sept. 9,'' Robinson said, ''but I understand it's going to be a process. I know I'll be back to that point and better.''

Like so many other stars, Robinson will be in street clothes Sunday, cheering on his teammates in hopes of getting a sideline pass to the Super Bowl.

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With contributions from AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Kyle Hightower.

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Vikings-Eagles Capsule

MINNESOTA (14-3) vs. PHILADELPHIA (14-3)

Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - Vikings by 3 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Minnesota 12-4-1, Philadelphia 11-5-1

SERIES RECORD - Tied 13-13

LAST MEETING - Eagles beat Vikings 21-10, Oct. 23, 2016

LAST WEEK - Vikings beat Saints 29-24; Eagles beat Falcons 15-10

AP PRO32 RANKING - Vikings No. 2, Eagles No. 5

VIKINGS OFFENSE - OVERALL (11), RUSH (7), PASS (11).

VIKINGS DEFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (2), PASS (2).

EAGLES OFFENSE - OVERALL (7), RUSH (3), PASS (13).

EAGLES DEFENSE - OVERALL (4), RUSH (1), PASS (17).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Eagles are 3-0 vs. Vikings in playoffs. ... Vikings seeking first trip to Super Bowl in 41 years. Eagles seeking first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years. Neither team has won a Super Bowl. ... Vikings are 6-16 on road in playoffs. ... Vikings were 6-2 on road this season. ... Minnesota led NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (275.9) for first time since 1993 and also allowed fewest points (15.8). ... Vikings held opponents to 25.2 percent conversion on third downs, best mark in league. ... Offense converted 43.5 percent on third down, third in league. ... QB Case Keenum was second in NFL with 67.6 completion percentage. ... RB Latavius Murray had 842 yards rushing and eight TDs. RB Jerick McKinnon had 570 yards rushing and three TDs. ... WR Adam Thielen was fifth in NFL with 1,276 yards receiving and eighth with 91 receptions. ... DE Everson Griffen tied for fourth in league with career-high 13 sacks. ... LB Eric Kendricks has led team in tackles each of his first three seasons. His brother, Mychal, is LB for Philadelphia. ... All-Pro S Harrison Smith tied career high with five picks. ... WR Stefon Diggs had 137 yards receiving vs. Saints last week, including 61-yard game-winning reception on final play. ... Eagles have reached conference championship six times since 2000, most appearances by NFC team in that span. ... Eagles in NFC championship game for first time since losing 32-25 at Arizona on Jan. 18, 2009. ... Eagles host NFC title game for first time since beating Atlanta 27-10 on Jan. 23, 2005. ... Philadelphia is 14-7 at home in playoffs, including 5-3 at Linc. ... Eagles are 14-3 at home under coach Doug Pederson, best home record in NFL over last two seasons. ... Philly has outscored opponents 244-117 at home this season. ... QB Nick Foles set franchise playoff record with 76.7 completion percentage vs. Falcons. ... Foles has completed 46 of 63 (73 percent) for 441 yards, two TDs, no picks and 102.7 passer rating in two playoff starts. ... RB LeGarrette Blount scored ninth career postseason rushing TD last week. ... RB Jay Ajayi had 98 scrimmage yards (54 rushing, 44 receiving) vs. Atlanta. ... K Jake Elliott's 53-yard field goal vs. Falcons last week was longest in team's postseason history. Elliott is 6 of 7 from 50 or more yards, but he's 39 of 43 on extra points and missed one against Atlanta.

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Jaguars-Patriots Capsule

JAGUARS (12-6) at PATRIOTS (14-3)

Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Patriots by 9 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Jaguars 9-7, Patriots 11-5

SERIES RECORD - Patriots lead 10-1

LAST MEETING - Patriots beat Jaguars 51-17, Sept. 27, 2015

LAST WEEK - Jaguars beat Steelers 45-42; Patriots beat Titans 35-14

AP PRO32 RANKING - Jaguars No. 10, Patriots No. 1

JAGUARS OFFENSE - OVERALL (6), RUSH (1), PASS (17)

JAGUARS DEFENSE - OVERALL (2), RUSH (21), PASS (1)

PATRIOTS OFFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (10), PASS (2)

PATRIOTS DEFENSE - OVERALL (29), RUSH (20), PASS (30)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES -Patriots are 3-1 in playoffs against Jaguars. Lone Jacksonville win was 25-10 in 1998 wild-card round when Tom Coughlin was Jacksonville's coach and Pete Carroll coached New England. ... Patriots have won past seven meetings overall and two straight in postseason. ... Since Jaguars entered NFL in 1995, they are 1-10 (.091) against Patriots, including playoff games. That's worst winning percentage of any team vs. one opponent (minimum 10 games) in that span. ... Jaguars seeking first trip to Super Bowl, one of four franchises (Lions, Texans, Browns) never to get there. ... Jaguars are making third appearance in AFC title game in their 23-year history and first since 1999 season. ... Jacksonville lost 20-6 to New England in AFC title game on Jan. 12, 1997. ... Jacksonville can become 11th team to defeat top two seeds from their conference in same postseason since 1990 when current playoff format was adopted. ... Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone is 1-3 all-time vs. Patriots ... Jaguars are 8-0 this season when QB Blake Bortles doesn't have turnover and 4-6 when he does. ... Jags have plus-7 turnover margin on road this season (including playoffs), best mark in franchise history. They have 22 takeaways in nine road games this season, most in NFL and most in single season in franchise history. ... Including playoffs, Jacksonville's defense has scored eight touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. It is most defensive TDs scored in season by one team since 2012 Bears. ... In addition to being ranked fourth in NFL in opponent's red zone TD percentage (43.8), Jacksonville also has best red zone scoring percentage in NFL, scoring TDs on 67.9 percent of trips this season (40 TDs on 56 drives). ... RB Leonard Fournette rushed for 109 yards and three TDs in last week's divisional win. He is only rookie in NFL history with 100-plus yards rushing and three or more rushing TDs in postseason game. ... LB Telvin Smith tied career high with 16 tackles and returned fumble for TD last week. He has 27 tackles, forced fumble and fumble return in his two career playoff games. ... DE Calais Campbell led AFC with franchise-record and career-high 14 1/2 sacks. ... DE Yannick Ngakoue was one of two NFL players (Aaron Donald) with 10 or more sacks (12) and five or more forced fumbles (six). ... LB Myles Jack had sack, INT and three pass defenses in first two playoff games. ... CB A.J. Bouye has two INTs, forced fumble and seven pass defenses in his past four postseason games. ... Patriots playing in seventh straight AFC title game, a record. ... New England is 9-4 in AFC championship game overall. Patriots' 14 appearance rank behind only Pittsburgh (16) and San Francisco (15) for conference title contests. ... Coach Bill Belichick is 7-2 all-time vs. Jaguars. ... QB Tom Brady is 2-0 in playoffs against Jaguars, throwing for six TDs and no interceptions. ...Jacksonville is one of seven NFL teams that Brady has undefeated regular-season record against (5-0). ... Jaguars had NFL's No. 2-ranked scoring defense. Brady has faced top-two scoring defense in playoffs three times (2014 Seahawks, 2004 Eagles, 2004 Steelers). He is 3-0 with passer rating above 100 in each game. ... Brady led NFL with 4,577 yards passing and ranked first in AFC with 32 TDs. Both are most by QB at age 40 or older. ... RB Dion Lewis has 507 scrimmage yards (126.8 per game) with 5 TDs (three rushing, two receiving) in his past four games, including playoffs. ... TE Rob Gronkowski led all NFL tight ends with 1,084 yards receiving, his fourth career 1,000-yard season. That is tied with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten for most among tight ends in NFL history. ... In his past six postseason games, Gronkowski has 512 yards receiving (85.3 per game) and seven TDs. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in row with TD catch. ... WR Danny Amendola has 190 yards receiving (95 per game) and TD in past two playoff games. ... DE Trey Flowers had sack last week. He has 3 1/2 sacks in past two playoff games. ... LB James Harrison has 11 career sacks in postseason, tied for fifth most in NFL history.

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Jaguars don't fear Patriots' history in AFC title matchup

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The week started with a little trash talk from the underdog . The rest of it was dominated by speculation about a certain 40-year-old quarterback's injured throwing hand .

Plenty of intrigue for when the Jaguars and Patriots meet in Sunday's AFC championship game?

New England (14-3), the defending Super Bowl champion, is favored heading into its seventh straight conference title game. But the polished veneer it normally displays at this time of year is showing flecks of imperfection after Tom Brady injured his right hand during practice.

The injury kept Brady limited in workouts to begin the week and caused him to sit out practice entirely on Thursday.

Brady has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career that includes four Super Bowl MPV honors. He said a bit contentiously only ''We'll see'' on Friday when asked if he would play Sunday.

He wore red gloves and responded to other questions about the hand's status by saying ''I'm not talking about that.''

The Patriots' top-ranked offense will need another signature performance from Brady against the Jaguars' second-ranked defense .

Jacksonville (12-6), trying to earn a trip to its first Super Bowl, has scored eight defensive touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. That's the most defensive touchdowns in a season by one team since the 2012 Bears.

Brady has faced a top-2 scoring defense in the playoffs three times, going 3-0 with a passer rating of 100-plus in each game.

Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said their respect for Brady is high. Then he dismissed the notion that anyone in Jacksonville felt like the Jags were simply playing with ''house money'' after surprising Pittsburgh in the divisional round.

''We have earned the right to be here,'' he said. ''We have put a lot of time and effort in, so this is an opportunity we feel like we deserve and we have prepared for. I can honestly say I expected to be here.''

Jacksonville also will be up against history: The Patriots have won the past seven meetings with the Jaguars and two straight in the postseason. Since Jacksonville entered the NFL in 1995, it is 1-10 against the Patriots, including playoff games.

''We are going to go out and there do everything possible to stay alive and earn the right to be in the Super Bowl,'' Campbell said. ''They say you have to beat the best to be the best, so I can't wait to get out there and try.''

Quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been the subject of criticism at times during his career , said Sunday isn't about trying to prove anyone wrong.

''I don't think so. Personally, I do not care,'' he said.

Here are some things to watch for:

FOURNETTE'S HEALTH: Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette said he is feeling "good" after he was rear-ended in what authorities say was a minor three-car crash early in the week.

Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns against the Steelers despite reinjuring his right ankle in the first half. It was his most productive game in three months.

''I feel good in spite of the ankle and stuff,'' Fournette said. ''Just taking care of my body, but overall I feel good.''

BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL? All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey caused a stir when he told thousands of fans awaiting the team's return after their win over the Steelers that the Jaguars ''are going to the Super Bowl and we are going to win that (expletive).''

Asked about Ramsey's comment, Patriots special teams captain Matt Slater said Ramsey has reason to show confidence.

''He should be confident, because he is very, very good,'' Slater said. ''The good Lord made that guy, and he said, `Let there be corner.' And there he is. I'd be confident if I were him as well.''

CONTAINING GRONK: Coach Doug Marrone has seen plenty of Rob Gronkowski dating back to his stint as Buffalo's head coach. His approach to trying to slow down a tight end he calls a ''nightmare'' of a matchup hasn't changed much.

''Hope they do not throw him the football. Hope he drops it,'' Marrone said. ''There is no secret formula. I'd like to watch a game where someone has been able to do it. He is going to make his plays and you hope those plays don't end up killing you.''

In his past six postseason games, Gronk has 512 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in a row with a TD catch.

SIZING THEM UP: Brandin Cooks is used to being underestimated because of his size. So the 5-foot-10 Patriots receiver isn't worried about matching up against the taller players in Jacksonville's secondary.

Both Jaguars starting cornerbacks, Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, are listed at 6-foot-1 and 6-0 respectively.

''I mean, you go and play,'' Cooks said. ''We're not talking measurements at this point in the season, you know?''

Cooks said Bouye he's gotten better since he faced him during joint practices this summer.

''At the end of the day, they're physical. And that's how they play,'' Cooks said. ''And they use that to their strength. So we gotta be ready to be able to match that physicality.''

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AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida, contributed to his report.

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Jets WR Anderson arrested in Florida on slew of charges

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson faces a slew of charges in Florida, including threatening a police officer's family and saying he would rape the officer's wife.

A Sunrise police report shows the 24-year-old Anderson was stopped early Friday in a sport utility vehicle after it ran two red lights and was swerving while traveling about 105 mph (170 kph) in a 45 mph zone.

After he was stopped, police say he made the threats and then boasted about how much money he has. Jail records show Anderson faces nine charges, including threatening harm to a public servant, resisting arrest and traffic violations.

The records don't list an attorney for Anderson.

''This is a pending legal matter and we will have no further comments,'' the Jets said in a statement.

The NFL is also aware of the situation and league spokesman Brian McCarthy said ''we will be looking into this matter.''

This is the latest legal trouble for Anderson, a 2011 graduate of South Plantation High School. He was arrested in May and charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice after sparring with officials who asked him to leave a Miami music festival. Anderson's next scheduled court date for that incident is on March 19.

The league is also investigating that incident, and Anderson could face punishment from the NFL under its conduct policy.

Anderson set career highs with 63 catches, 941 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in his second season with the Jets. He was a bright spot in the team's 5-11 season and appeared on his way to a 1,000-yard campaign until quarterback Josh McCown went down with a broken left hand in Week 14.

Anderson went undrafted out of Temple in 2016 and signed with New York as a free agent. He made the opening day roster with an outstanding training camp and finished with 42 catches for 587 yards and two TDs. Anderson flourished in the Jets' offense this season, establishing himself as one of the top young speed receivers in the league.

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Cardinals' pool dwindles as search goes on for coach

PHOENIX (AP) Back when Bruce Arians announced his retirement, Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said he would be in no rush to find a new coach.

He pointed out that Arians was the last coach hired in 2013.

But while the Cardinals have followed their methodical, and quite secretive, process, the pool of potential candidates has dwindled.

Two, according to multiple reports, are taking other head coaching jobs - Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur with the New York Giants and New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia with the Detroit Lions. Another, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, publicly declined a second interview with Arizona.

''The timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity,'' he said in a statement this week, ''but I am very excited with the decision to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.''

That leaves six of the nine initially interviewed by Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim: Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Cardinals defensive coordinator James Boettcher and Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong.

Bidwill wants second interviews with the finalists and wants the candidates to come to Arizona to see the team's training facility and stadium.

But Schwartz, DeFilippo and Flores can't talk again until next week because their teams are still in the playoffs.

Armstrong was to have a second interview in Arizona on Friday. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn confirmed Armstrong's second interview, initially reported by NFL Network.

''He is terrifically qualified to lead a team,'' Quinn said at his season-ending news conference on Thursday. ''And I've thought this for a long time.''

Wilks also had a second interview in Arizona on Friday, the Arizona Republic reported. He was interviewed Thursday for the vacant head coaching job in Tennessee.

Recruiting a new coach in Arizona is made more difficult by the fact the Cardinals have no established quarterback following the retirement of Carson Palmer. There's also uncertainty about the return of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the impact the coaching choice will have on the star receiver's decision. The rest of the Cardinals' receiving corps is thin.

Whoever takes the job will join an NFC West where the other three teams are set at quarterback - Jared Goff in Los Angeles, Russell Wilson in Seattle and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.

The Cardinals do have a strong returning defense and will have one of the NFL's best running backs in David Johnson, who will be back from a broken wrist, an injury that occurred in the 2017 opener and sidelined him the rest of the season.

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AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Jets WR Anderson arrested in Florida on slew of charges

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson faces a slew of charges in Florida, including threatening a police officer's family and saying he would rape the officer's wife.

A Sunrise police report shows the 24-year-old Anderson was stopped early Friday in a sport utility vehicle after it ran two red lights and was swerving while traveling about 105 mph (170 kph).

After he was stopped, police say he made the threats and then boasted about how much money he has. Jail records show Anderson faces nine charges, including threatening harm to a public servant, resisting arrest and traffic violations.

The records don't list an attorney for Anderson.

A 2011 graduate of South Plantation High School, Anderson caught 63 passes for 941 yards and seven touchdowns this season with the Jets.

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What matters more than a good QB in these playoffs? A good D

Four of the five teams that gave up the fewest points during the regular season are the last four left with a shot at the Super Bowl, something that had never happened since the NFL-AFL merger nearly a half-century ago.

And three of the four toughest to gain yards against are still around, too.

Still think that all a team needs to succeed in the modern game is an elite QB? Go ahead and take a close look at Sunday's matchups for the conference championship games.

Sure, Tom Brady (assuming his injured right hand is good to go) and the New England Patriots will be playing for the AFC title, just like they always do, but they'll be going up against Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles will send Nick Foles out to face the Minnesota Vikings and Case Keenum, hardly a marquee matchup between quarterbacks, and one set up by injuries to other signal-callers.

What this quartet of teams does have in common is solid defense, showing once again that while everyone is paying so much attention to one side of the ball, it's the other that might truly matter the most. The more league rules and officiating tend to favor offenses, the more figuring out ways to slow that down is imperative.

''When you have a defense that can shut that type of firepower down,'' said Brian Robison, a linebacker on the Vikings defense that ranked No. 1 in yards and points allowed, ''it allows you to win ballgames.''

Minnesota gave up 15.8 points per game. Jacksonville was No. 2 at 16.8, followed by No. 4 Philadelphia's 18.4 and No. 5 New England's 18.5.

''There's teams that have really good defenses that aren't talked about,'' Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. ''We're one of them.''

It's the first time since the 1970 merger there has been that sort of defensive dominance among the NFL's final four. The closest was at the end of the 2010 season, when teams that ranked No. 1 (Steelers), No. 2 (Packers), No. 4 (Bears) and No. 6 (Jets) in points allowed reached the conference title games.

''The most heralded guys on the field are the quarterbacks. So I would say, nine times out of 10, your detail goes into your offensive planning and things like that,'' said Jacksonville's leading tackler, Telvin Smith, who returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown last weekend. ''Offense sells tickets, and defense wins championships. I'm happy I'm on the defensive side.''

He is part of a young, talented and speedy D that rose to prominence quickly via a combination of shrewd drafting (linebackers Smith and Myles Jack, defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr., cornerback Jalen Ramsey) and free-agent signings that panned out (defensive lineman Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson).

Take a look at the regular-season rankings in various defensive categories, and you can't miss the Jaguars. That helps explain how they made it this far with Bortles, whose 84.7 rating ranked 22nd among QBs with at least 100 pass attempts and whose 13 interceptions were exceeded by only six players.

Campbell tied for second in NFL with 14.5 sacks, while Ngakoue added 12 and led the league by forcing six fumbles. Bouye tied for third with six interceptions, while Ramsey, Gipson and Church each had four. As a unit, the Jaguars were No. 2 in yards allowed at 286.1, trailing the No. 1 Vikings (275.9), with the Eagles (306.5) at No. 4. The Jaguars were also second in sacks and total takeaways, while they topped the NFL with seven defensive TDs.

Exceptional defense can carry a team far: In nine of the last 10 seasons, the No. 1 or No. 2 team in points allowed participated in a conference championship game. The exception was 2015, when the Seahawks led the league in that category but lost in the divisional round, and the Bengals ranked second but lost in the wild-card round.

''Now it's down to, `May the best defense win,''' Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said. ''We each get to showcase what we can do.''

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AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Kyle Hightower in Foxborough, Massachusetts; Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida; and Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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A look at the defensive rankings for the NFL's final 4 teams

The four teams in the NFL conference championship games Sunday are among the league's best at playing defense .

Here is a look at how the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots ranked in some key statistical categories during the regular season:

POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME

1. Vikings, 15.8

2. Jaguars, 16.8

4. Eagles, 18.4

5. Patriots, 18.5

YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME

1. Vikings, 275.9

2. Jaguars, 286.1

4. Eagles, 306.5

29. Patriots, 366

RUSHING TDS ALLOWED

2. Patriots, 6

3. Eagles, 7

6. Jaguars, 9

9. Vikings, 10

SACKS

2. Jaguars, 55

7. Patriots, 42

15. Eagles, 38

17. Vikings, 37

OPPONENT PASSER RATING

1. Jaguars, 68.5

3. Vikings, 73.0

9. Eagles, 79.5

17. Patriots, 89.5

INTERCEPTIONS

2. Jaguars, 21

4. Eagles, 19

13. Vikings, 14

18. Patriots, 12

TAKEAWAYS

2. Jaguars, 33

4. Eagles, 31

23. Vikings, 19

25. Patriots, 18

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Cardinals' pool dwindles as search goes on for coach

PHOENIX (AP) Back when Bruce Arians announced his retirement, Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said he would be in no rush to find a new head coach.

He pointed out that Arians was the last coach hired in 2013.

But while the Cardinals have followed their methodical, and quite secretive, process, the pool of potential candidates has dwindled.

Two, according to multiple reports, are taking other head coaching jobs - Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur with the New York Giants and New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia with the Detroit Lions. Another, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak publicly declined a second interview with Arizona.

''The timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity,'' he said in a statement this week, ''but I am very excited with the decision to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.''

That leaves six of the nine initially interviewed by Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim: Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Cardinals defensive coordinator James Boettcher and Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong.

Bidwill wants second interviews with the finalists and wants the candidates to come to Arizona to see the team's training facility and stadium.

But Schwartz, DeFilippo and Flores can't talk again until next week because their teams are still in the playoffs.

Armstrong was to have a second interview in Arizona on Friday. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn confirmed Armstrong's second interview, initially reported by NFL Network.

''He is terrifically qualified to lead a team,'' Quinn said at his season-ending news conference on Thursday. ''And I've thought this for a long time.''

Wilks may have already had a second interview with Arizona and was being interviewed Thursday for the vacant head coaching job in Tennessee. The Indianapolis Colts also are seeking a replacement for the fired Chuck Pagano.

Recruiting a new coach in Arizona is made more difficult by the fact the Cardinals have no established quarterback following the retirement of Carson Palmer. There's also uncertainty about the return of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the impact the coaching choice will have on the star receiver's decision. The rest of the Cardinals receiving corps is thin.

Whoever takes the job will join an NFC West where the other three teams are set at the quarterback position - Jared Goff in Los Angeles, Russell Wilson in Seattle and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.

The Cardinals do have a strong returning defense and will have one of the NFL's best running backs in David Johnson, who will be back from a broken wrist, an injury that occurred in the 2017 opener and sidelined him an entire season.

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AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Brady mum on status for AFC title game after hand injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady is staying mum on his status for the AFC championship game after suffering a right hand injury earlier in the week.

Brady said a bit contentiously only ''We'll see'' on Friday when asked whether he would play in Sunday's conference title game against Jacksonville.

The quarterback wore red gloves and responded to several other questions about how much he practiced or how he sustained the injury by saying ''I'm not talking about that.''

Brady is listed as questionable for Sunday after being a limited participant in practice Friday. He was also limited on Wednesday. He sat out practice Thursday, but wore a glove on his injured hand during the stretching period open to reporters. He usually only wears a glove on his non-throwing hand.

One thing Brady was clear about was the test he expects from a Jaguars unit ranked second in the NFL in total and scoring defense.

''It's a very unique challenge,'' Brady said. ''I think their front three, their linebackers, are very instinctive and very fast. And great cover guys in the secondary. Ball-hawking defense. They strip it off you, they sack you. ... So they're a good defense."

Brady appeared on the Patriots' weekly injury report several times during the latter half of this season with injuries to both his Achilles tendon and his left shoulder. The four-time Super Bowl MVP has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career.

''Tom always tends to show up in big games. This is a big game,'' receiver Danny Amendola said. ''(He's) super tough. The toughest. He's a warrior, he's a competitor and there's really only one reason why he's here, and that's to play football. ''

Jacksonville is preparing like Brady will be in the huddle as usual Sunday. Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus said typical methods of rattling a quarterback don't apply when it comes to him.

''You can hit Brady, but hitting him isn't what's going to get to him. It's constantly being that gnat in his face. He just hates that gnat just always around,'' said Dareus, who might be more familiar than any Jacksonville player with Brady, having spent six-plus seasons with the Bills.

''You sack him he's going to get up and just keep rolling. He's that competitive spirit, like, `OK, you got me. Now I'm fixing to go throw this touchdown the next play. Forty yards. You happy about that sack? But there you go.' That's just his mentality. I like it. I love playing against the guy. He's phenomenal to watch.''

If for some reason Brady can't go - no, the Earth won't stop rotating on its axis and New England still would show up to play - the Patriots would look to backup Brian Hoyer. His last playoff start was the antithesis of a Brady performance. For Houston in its 2015 AFC wild-card matchup with Kansas City, Hoyer completed 15 of 34 passes for 136 yards, with no touchdowns and five turnovers (four interceptions) in a 30-0 loss.

Hoyer, a former Patriot, was acquired in midseason when the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco.

''I'm always preparing to play because the truth of reality is you never know when your name's gonna be called,'' he said Thursday.

The Patriots haven't called any QB's name in the postseason other than Brady's since the 1990s.

Including the playoffs, the Jaguars scored eight defensive touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey had four interceptions during the regular season and also had one in the wild-card win over Buffalo.

He also fully expects to see Brady on the field Sunday.

''He's going to be out there, he's going to play, he's going to play to his best of ability and do what he does,'' Ramsey said.

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NFL: Raiders complied with 'Rooney Rule' when hiring Gruden

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The NFL said Friday that the Oakland Raiders complied with the ''Rooney Rule'' when they hired Jon Gruden as head coach.

The league said a review found the Raiders conducted ''bona fide'' interviews with minority candidates during their search for a replacement for Jack Del Rio, who was fired after a disappointing six-win season. The ''Rooney Rule'' requires NFL teams to consider at least one minority candidate before making an offer to a head coaching candidate. The team officially hired Gruden on Jan. 6.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which had called for an investigation out of concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis came to an agreement with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates, released a statement saying the NFL made the wrong call in not penalizing Davis.

''In his enthusiasm to hire Jon Gruden, Raiders' owner Mark Davis failed to fulfill his obligation under the Rule and should step forward and acknowledge he violated the Rule,'' the alliance statement said.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance is dedicated to promoting diversity and equality of job opportunity on the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams.

Gruden is in his second stint as coach of the Raiders after being traded by Oakland to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season. He led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl title over Oakland the following season. He has been out of coaching since being fired by Tampa Bay after the 2008 season.

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Dolphins hire Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator

MIAMI (AP) Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is two weeks into a new job, and with his family back in Chicago he has been working late.

The head coach works later.

''When I leave the office every night, the only person left is Adam Gase,'' Loggains said Friday. ''When you're sitting in your office at 10:30 at night in the offseason, trying to figure out corrections you need to make when the season didn't go the way you wanted it to, I have tremendous respect for that. Those are the type of people I want to be around.''

The Dolphins announced the hiring of Loggains and other changes in the coaching staff as Gase begins the process of trying to rebound from a 6-10 season.

Three assistants changed titles. Shawn Jefferson will become assistant head coach/offense, Ben Johnson will become wide receivers coach, and Clyde Christensen will become director of football and player development.

Jeremiah Washburn was hired as offensive line coach. Defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo, running backs coach Danny Barrett and defensive line coach Terrell Williams were not retained.

Gase will continue to call plays. Loggains was the Bears' offensive coordinator the past two years, and he and Gase were on the Chicago staff together in 2015.

''We've had a really good working relationship,'' Loggains said. ''We see football the same way - offensive football and quarterback play. So for me it was a no-brainer when I had a chance to come here and join up with him.''

Loggains, 37, made the team at Arkansas as a quarterback even though he's 5-foot-6, and said he overcame any size disadvantage with his work ethic.

''It's the same way in coaching,'' he said. ''You might not be the smartest guy. You've got to know your limitations and try to work harder than the next guy. That's how you stay in this league - try to outwork as many people as you can.''

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Regents approve agreement for UNLV use of Raiders stadium

LAS VEGAS (AP) Nevada's Board of Regents has approved a joint-use agreement that will allow the UNLV football team to use the $1.9 billion stadium planned for the Oakland Raiders when the NFL team moves to Las Vegas in 2020.

The board approved the measure Friday on an 11-1 vote.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports Regent Rick Trachok was the only one opposed.

He said he wanted greater assurance of UNLV's financial commitment in the event it decides not to use the stadium because of the costs.

Trachok's father, Dick, is a former athletic director at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The joint-use deal is expected to be reviewed by the Las Vegas Stadium Authority on Feb. 15 when it plans to consider an overall stadium development agreement.

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Ramsey says Gronk 'hasn't played a corner like me before'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey wants to cover the No. 1 receiver each opponent has to offer. He welcomes the challenge. He even requests it.

In the AFC championship game at New England on Sunday, it's a tight end. Rob Gronkowski is considered the NFL's best at the position, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound behemoth and a daunting matchup for nearly every defender in the league.

Not for Ramsey, who might get a chance to test his skills against the fellow All-Pro.

''He hasn't played a corner like me before,'' Ramsey said Friday.

Ramsey has held his own and then some against a handful of the most dynamic receivers in the league: DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Keenan Allen, Larry Fitzgerald, Doug Baldwin, Marqise Goodwin and others.

The 6-foot-1, 208-pound Ramsey has the size, speed, athleticism, instincts and body control to stay with anyone. Gronkowski would create other issues, mainly because of his strength and agility.

Asked what advantage he would have against Gronk, Ramsey replied: ''Everything.''

The Jaguars certainly have faith in their trash-talking, second-year pro.

''If I had to bet on a corner to cover (Gronk), I'd put money on Jalen Ramsey for sure,'' quarterback Blake Bortles said. ''I've been impressed with everything I've ever seen out of him. His physical tools and obviously his mental toughness and what he's able to do throughout the game and kind of getting in guys' heads and doing different things.

''I think it'll be awesome, and I think it's a great challenge for him, and I think it'll be a cool experience to watch those guys go head to head if they get the opportunity to.''

It wouldn't be the first time a cornerback has lined up across from Gronkowski. Teams often do it when he shifts wide in hopes of getting a favorable matchup against a linebacker or safety.

Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash, as expected, offered few hints about what could be in store for Gronkowski, who caught 69 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season.

''We have to get the right guy on him in man situations and obviously know where he is at in zone coverage,'' Wash said. ''Nobody around the league has stopped him, so we have to have a plan. We feel very confident with our plan and we have to go in there and execute it.''

Is Ramsey covering Gronk part of the plan?

''In a basketball game, I think we would,'' Wash said. ''But Jalen is a corner and we're going to run our system. I think the last thing you can do is to go into a game like this and you try and reinvent the wheel. ... Jalen is a good corner and he plays against wide receivers.''

Gronk is as dangerous as any receiver in the league, and the Jaguars know it. So don't count out seeing Ramsey across from him at some point.

''Jalen is a freak,'' Jaguars veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ''Tall, rangy, long arms and physical and can run. It's tough for a tight end because a lot of us are long striders. When you get a guy disrupting stuff and punching you and messing up your stride, it can be tough.

''Even if you come off the line and try to do something early, he's probably going to punch you in the mouth right back. He doesn't shy away from anything. It'd be a matchup that would be interesting.''

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Jets WR Anderson arrested in Florida on slew of charges

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson faces a slew of charges in Florida, including threatening a police officer's family and saying he would rape the officer's wife.

A Sunrise police report shows the 24-year-old Anderson was stopped early Friday in a sport utility vehicle after it ran two red lights and was swerving while traveling about 105 mph (168 kph).

After he was stopped, police say he made the threats and then boasted about how much money he has. Jail records show Anderson faces nine charges, including threatening harm to a public servant, resisting arrest and traffic violations.

The records don't list an attorney for Anderson.

A 2011 graduate of South Plantation High School, Anderson caught 63 passes for 941 yards and seven touchdowns this season with the Jets.

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Brady mum on status for AFC title game after hand injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady is staying mum on his status for the AFC championship game after suffering a right-hand injury earlier in the week.

Brady said a bit contentiously only ''We'll see'' on Friday when asked whether he would play in Sunday's conference title game against Jacksonville.

The quarterback wore red gloves and responded to several other questions about how much he practiced or how he sustained the injury by saying ''I'm not talking about that.''

Brady is listed as questionable for Sunday after being a limited participant in practice Friday. He was also limited on Wednesday. He sat out practice Thursday, but wore a glove on his injured hand during the stretching period open to reporters. He usually only wears a glove on his non-throwing hand.

One thing Brady was clear about was the test he expects from a Jaguars unit ranked second in the NFL in total and scoring defense.

''It's a very unique challenge,'' Brady said. ''I think their front three, their linebackers, are very instinctive and very fast. And great cover guys in the secondary. Ball-hawking defense. They strip it off you, they sack you. ... So they're a good defense."

Brady appeared on the Patriots' weekly injury report several times during the latter half of this season with injuries to both his Achilles tendon and his left shoulder. The four-time Super Bowl MVP has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career.

Jacksonville is preparing like Brady will be in the huddle as usual Sunday. Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus said typical methods of rattling a quarterback don't apply when it comes to him.

''You can hit Brady, but hitting him isn't what's going to get to him. It's constantly being that gnat in his face. He just hates that gnat just always around,'' said Dareus, who might be more familiar than any Jacksonville player with Brady, having spent six-plus seasons with the Bills.

''You sack him he's going to get up and just keep rolling. He's that competitive spirit, like, `OK, you got me. Now I'm fixing to go throw this touchdown the next play. Forty yards. You happy about that sack? But there you go.' That's just his mentality. I like it. I love playing against the guy. He's phenomenal to watch.''

If for some reason Brady can't go - no, the Earth won't stop rotating on its axis and New England still would show up to play - the Patriots would look to backup Brian Hoyer. His last playoff start was the antithesis of a Brady performance. For Houston in its 2015 AFC wild-card matchup with Kansas City, Hoyer completed 15 of 34 passes for 136 yards, with no touchdowns and five turnovers (four interceptions) in a 30-0 loss.

Hoyer, a former Patriot, was acquired in midseason when the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco.

''I'm always preparing to play because the truth of reality is you never know when your name's gonna be called,'' he said Thursday.

No QB's name has been called in the playoffs other than Brady's since the 1990s.

Including the playoffs, the Jaguars scored eight defensive touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey had four interceptions during the regular season and also had one in the wild-card win over Buffalo.

He also fully expects to see Brady on the field Sunday.

''He's going to be out there, he's going to play, he's going to play to his best of ability and do what he does,'' Ramsey said.

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Rams coordinator Matt LaFleur 3rd to interview with Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans have interviewed three candidates in their search for new coach and none have had any NFL head coaching experience. Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur was the third to interview for the job.

The Titans announced Friday they had concluded LaFleur's interview.

LaFleur, 38, is coming off his first season as offensive coordinator, though Rams coach Sean McVay called the plays. LaFleur was quarterbacks coach with Atlanta in 2015 and 2016, the year Matt Ryan was named NFL MVP and offensive player of the year. He also coached quarterbacks at Notre Dame in 2014 working with Everett Golson.

In four seasons with the Washington Redskins, LaFleur was quarterbacks coach and worked with Robert Griffin III. Griffin became the first Redskins rookie quarterback named to the Pro Bowl. LaFleur started in the NFL as an offensive assistant with the Houston

He started coaching at his alma mater Saginaw Valley State where he played quarterback. He also coached at Central Michigan and Northern Michigan.

The Titans interviewed a pair of defensive coordinators Thursday in Houston's Mike Vrabel and Carolina's Steve Wilks to start their search to replace Mike Mularkey, fired Monday after going 21-22 with the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years .

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Dolphins hire Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator

MIAMI (AP) The Miami Dolphins have announced several changes in Adam Gase's coaching staff, including the hiring of Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator.

Jeremiah Washburn was hired as offensive line coach. Defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo, running backs coach Danny Barrett and defensive line coach Terrell Williams were not retained, the Dolphins said Friday.

Three assistants changed titles. Shawn Jefferson will become assistant head coach/offense, Ben Johnson will become wide receivers coach, and Clyde Christensen will become director of football and player development.

Gase will continue to call plays. He and Loggains were on the Chicago Bears' staff together in 2015, and Loggains was the Bears' offensive coordinator the past two years.

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Cardinals' pool dwindles as search goes on for coach

PHOENIX (AP) Back when Bruce Arians announced his retirement, Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said he would be in no rush to find a new head coach.

He pointed out that Arians was the last coach hired in 2013.

But while the Cardinals have followed their methodical, and quite secretive, process, the pool of potential candidates has dwindled.

Two, according to multiple reports, are taking other head coaching jobs - Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur with the New York Giants and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Mike Patricia with the Detroit Lions. Another, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak publicly declined a second interview with Arizona.

''The timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity,'' he said in a statement this week, ''but I am very excited with the decision to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.''

That leaves six of the nine initially interviewed by Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim: Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Cardinals defensive coordinator James Boettcher and Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong.

Bidwill wants second interviews with the finalists and wants the candidates to come to Arizona to see the team's training facility and stadium.

But Schwartz, DeFilippo and Flores can't talk again until next week because their teams are still in the playoffs.

Armstrong was to have a second interview in Arizona on Friday. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn confirmed Armstrong's second interview, initially reported by NFL Network.

''He is terrifically qualified to lead a team,'' Quinn said at his season-ending news conference on Thursday. ''And I've thought this for a long time.''

Wilks may have already had a second interview with Arizona and was being interviewed Thursday for the vacant head coaching job in Tennessee. The Indianapolis Colts also are seeking a replacement for the fired Chuck Pagano.

Recruiting a new coach in Arizona is made more difficult by the fact the Cardinals have no established quarterback following the retirement of Carson Palmer. There's also uncertainty about the return of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the impact the coaching choice will have on the star receiver's decision. The rest of the Cardinals receiving corps is thin.

Whoever takes the job will join an NFC West where the other three teams are set at the quarterback position - Jared Goff in Los Angeles, Russell Wilson in Seattle and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.

The Cardinals do have a strong returning defense and will have one of the NFL's best running backs in David Johnson, who will be back from a broken wrist, an injury that occurred in the 2017 opener and sidelined him an entire season.

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AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Rams coordinator Matt LaFleur 3rd to interview with Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans have interviewed Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur as the third candidate for their head coach opening.

The Titans announced Friday they had concluded the interview.

LaFleur, 38, is coming off his first season as offensive coordinator, though Rams coach Sean McVay called the plays. LaFleur was quarterbacks coach with Atlanta in 2015 and 2016 with Matt Ryan named NFL MVP and offensive player of the year in 2016. He also coached quarterbacks at Notre Dame in 2014 with four seasons with Washington in the NFL.

The Titans interviewed a pair of defensive coordinators Thursday in Houston's Mike Vrabel and Carolina's Steve Wilks in their search to replace Mike Mularkey, fired Monday after going 21-22 with the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years.

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Jenkins made sure Eagles knew they can win without Wentz

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Shortly after franchise quarterback Carson Wentz left the field with a torn ACL, Malcolm Jenkins gathered his teammates following a comeback win that clinched a division title. He gave an emotional speech, imploring them to believe they can win the Super Bowl without the guy who got them to that point.

The Philadelphia Eagles are two wins away from their goal. First up is the NFC championship game Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

''Carson being out of this, that sucks,'' Jenkins told the team in the locker room after a 43-35 win at the Los Angeles Rams on Dec. 10. ''But dig this, we set this up for whoever (is) in this room, that's who we ride with, man. We said, `we all we got, we all we need.' Believe that.... We got bigger goals ... championships and that's it.''

Wentz is the franchise quarterback and a leader by example. Jenkins, the two-time Pro Bowl safety, is the in-your-face leader. He's the first one to address the group after coach Doug Pederson gives his post-game speech.

''He's embraced it and guys look forward to it,'' Pederson said. ''He's got a lot of profound messages. He speaks from the heart and he speaks truth. So that's been a positive.''

Jenkins says he always has a purpose when he speaks.

''I kind of try to analyze the situation of where we are as a team, do a little bit of reflection, but make sure that it's not just an emotional response to keep everybody in perspective,'' he said. ''A lot of times I'm talking to myself to be most honest.''

As the underdog Eagles (14-3) prepare to host the Vikings (14-3), Jenkins reflected on his inspirational message following Wentz's injury.

''Knowing that the media was getting ready to come in right after and those seeds of doubt, words of doubt were getting ready to come, I wanted to make sure there was a message of confidence and perspective before they had to actually address the media,'' Jenkins said. ''Obviously, we all hurt for Carson. It's a huge blow to the team, but in no way does it change our goals. No way does it change our demeanor. Nothing's changed, and that was kind of the message.''

Wentz's injury was the latest and biggest blow for a team seeking its first NFL title since 1960. The Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, versatile running back/return specialist Darren Sproles, playmaking linebacker Jordan Hicks, and special-teams captain Chris Maragos to season-ending injuries.

''We always focused on the guys we had in the huddle,'' Jenkins said. ''Losing the amount of guys that we've lost and facing a lot of the adversity that we have, to have that mentality that we are sufficient, that the guys we have in this room can get it done, no matter what's in front of us, has kind of been the story line of this team. Obviously I think everybody has kind of embraced that mentality.''

Jenkins spent his first five seasons with the New Orleans Saints and won a Super Bowl his rookie year. He joined the Eagles in free agency four years ago and has started every game, developing into one of the league's best players at his position.

''Malcolm is always in the right place as a safety,'' former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky told The Associated Press. ''He just takes a level of confidence away from you because you can't manipulate him, you can't get him to do what you want him to do.''

Jenkins is not only a team leader, but has earned the respect of his peers. He's very active in the community and established The Players' Coalition to help advance players' activism efforts. Jenkins led a meeting that included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and teammates with police, policy leaders and public defenders in Philadelphia to discuss criminal justice reform.

''I think that we can play a major role in changing the narrative from this argumentative, combative narrative to one of solutions, one that is aimed at bringing people together, because that's what unique about this game,'' Jenkins said.

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Jaguars don't fear Patriots' history in AFC title matchup

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The week started with a little trash talk from the underdog . The rest of it was dominated by speculation about a certain 40-year-old quarterback's injured throwing hand .

Plenty of intrigue for when the Jaguars and Patriots meet in Sunday's AFC championship game?

New England (14-3), the defending Super Bowl champion, is favored heading into its seventh straight conference title game. But the polished veneer it normally displays at this time of year is showing flecks of imperfection after Tom Brady injured his right hand during practice.

The injury kept Brady limited in workouts to begin the week and caused him to sit out practice entirely on Thursday.

Brady has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career that includes four Super Bowl MPV honors. He said a bit contentiously only ''We'll see'' on Friday when asked if he would play Sunday.

He wore red gloves and responded to other questions about the hand's status by saying ''I'm not talking about that.''

The Patriots' top-ranked offense will need another signature performance from Brady against the Jaguars' second-ranked defense .

Jacksonville (12-6), trying to earn a trip to its first Super Bowl, has scored eight defensive touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. That's the most defensive touchdowns in a season by one team since the 2012 Bears.

Brady has faced a top-2 scoring defense in the playoffs three times, going 3-0 with a passer rating of 100-plus in each game.

Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said their respect for Brady is high. Then he dismissed the notion that anyone in Jacksonville felt like the Jags were simply playing with ''house money'' after surprising Pittsburgh in the divisional round.

''We have earned the right to be here,'' he said. ''We have put a lot of time and effort in, so this is an opportunity we feel like we deserve and we have prepared for. I can honestly say I expected to be here.''

Jacksonville will also be up against history: The Patriots have won the past seven meetings with the Jaguars and two straight in the postseason. Since Jacksonville entered the NFL in 1995, it is 1-10 against the Patriots, including playoff games.

''We are going to go out and there do everything possible to stay alive and earn the right to be in the Super Bowl,'' Campbell said. ''They say you have to beat the best to be the best, so I can't wait to get out there and try.''

Quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been the subject of criticism at times during his career , said Sunday isn't about trying to prove anyone wrong.

''I don't think so. Personally, I do not care,'' he said.

Here are some things to watch for:

FOURNETTE'S HEALTH: Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette said he is feeling "good" after he was rear-ended in what authorities say was a minor three-car crash early in the week.

Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns against the Steelers despite reinjuring his right ankle in the first half. It was his most productive game in three months.

''I feel good in spite of the ankle and stuff,'' Fournette said. ''Just taking care of my body, but overall I feel good.''

BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL? All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey caused a stir when he told thousands of fans awaiting the team's return after their win over the Steelers that the Jaguars ''are going to the Super Bowl and we are going to win that (expletive).''

Asked about Ramsey's comment, Patriots special teams captain Matt Slater said Ramsey has reason to show confidence.

''He should be confident, because he is very, very good,'' Slater said. ''The good Lord made that guy, and he said, `Let there be corner.' And there he is. I'd be confident if I were him as well.''

CONTAINING GRONK: Coach Doug Marrone has seen plenty of Rob Gronkowski dating back to his stint as Buffalo's head coach. His approach to trying to slow down a tight end he calls a ''nightmare'' of a matchup hasn't changed much.

''Hope they do not throw him the football. Hope he drops it,'' Marrone said. ''There is no secret formula. I'd like to watch a game where someone has been able to do it. He is going to make his plays and you hope those plays don't end up killing you.''

In his past six postseason games, Gronk has 512 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in a row with a TD catch.

SIZING THEM UP: Brandin Cooks is used to being underestimated because of his size. So the 5-foot-10 Patriots receiver isn't worried about matching up against the taller players in Jacksonville's secondary.

Both Jaguars starting cornerbacks, Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, are listed at 6-foot-1 and 6-0 respectively.

''I mean, you go and play,'' Cooks said. ''We're not talking measurements at this point in the season, you know?''

Cooks said Bouye he's gotten better since he faced him during joint practices this summer.

''At the end of the day they're physical. And that's how they play,'' Cooks said. ''And they use that to their strength. So we gotta be ready to be able to match that physicality.''

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AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida contributed to his report.

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NFL: Raiders complied with 'Rooney Rule' when hiring Gruden

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The NFL said Friday that the Oakland Raiders complied with the ''Rooney Rule'' when they hired Jon Gruden as head coach.

The league said a review found the Raiders conducted ''bona fide'' interviews with minority candidates during their search for a replacement for the fired Jack Del Rio. The ''Rooney Rule'' requires NFL teams to consider at least one minority candidate before making an offer to a head coaching candidate. The team officially hired Gruden on Jan. 6.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance had called for an investigation last week out of concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis came to an agreement with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance is dedicated to promoting diversity and equality of job opportunity on the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams.

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2 Vikings starters questionable for Sunday's game

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Vikings starters WR Adam Thielen (lower back) and S Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable for Sunday's NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday after not practicing Wednesday. Sendejo is still in concussion protocol after being hurt in last Sunday's playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints, but he was a full participant in Friday's practice.

The veteran safety still must be tested Friday to see if he clears the protocol. Coach Mike Zimmer said Friday he is optimistic Sendejo will play. If Sendejo can't play, Anthony Harris will likely take his place.

Backup CB Mackensie Alexander (rib) is also questionable, while backup DT Shamar Stephen has been ruled out (knee/ankle).

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Brady mum on status for AFC title game after hand injury

Tom Brady is staying mum on his status for the AFC championship game after suffering a right-hand injury earlier in the week.

Brady said a bit contentiously only ''We'll see'' at a news conference Friday when asked whether he would play in Sunday's conference title game against Jacksonville.

The quarterback wore red gloves and responded to several other questions about how much he practiced or how he sustained the injury by saying ''I'm not talking about that.''

Brady was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. He sat out practice Thursday and wore a glove on his injured hand. He usually only wears a glove on his non-throwing hand.

Brady appeared on the Patriots' weekly injury report several times during the latter half of this season with injuries to both his Achilles tendon and his left shoulder.

The four-time Super Bowl MVP has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career.

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Defense, prosecution spar as McKnight slaying trial opens

GRETNA, La. (AP) Claims of self-defense by the man who killed former NFL player Joe McKnight withered under scrutiny, a prosecutor told jurors Friday, but a defense lawyer insisted the shooter fired as McKnight approached his car, spewing obscenities and threats following a traffic confrontation in December 2016.

The conflicting claims were made in opening statements in the second-degree murder trial of Ronald Gasser, 56.

Defense lawyer Matthew Goetz said authorities in suburban New Orleans were under political pressure to make an arrest when Gasser was jailed days after the shooting. Goetz alluded to racial unrest that year in American cities, including the St. Louis area and Baton Rouge. Gasser is white; McKnight was black.

Seth Shute, an assistant District Attorney in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish, acknowledged that Gasser was initially freed after the shooting. But Shute said Gasser was arrested after investigators talked to numerous witnesses and assembled physical evidence contradicting Gasser's claim that McKnight, 28, had tried to lunge into his car through a passenger window after both vehicles stopped at a busy intersection.

Jurors were selected Tuesday. Opening statements were delayed because unusually frigid winter weather in south Louisiana prompted a two-day closure of the parish courthouse in the New Orleans suburb of Gretna.

Shute said jurors will hear from dozens of witnesses. Some will testify about what Shute called a ''mobile shouting match'' that began on a bridge spanning the Mississippi River in New Orleans and continued into neighboring Jefferson Parish, Shute said. Others will talk about hearing the pop-pop-pop of three gunshots, seeing McKnight fall and watching as Gasser exited his car with his handgun still smoking.

Jurors also will hear a police officer recount Gasser's first words at the shooting scene: ''He cut me off and got out on me.''

McKnight drove his gray SUV aggressively that afternoon, Shute acknowledged. There was a small amount of marijuana in his system and a ''therapeutic dose level'' of Oxycodone in his system, he added, having noted that McKnight was training in hopes of returning to the NFL after an injury cut his pro career short.

But he said there was no gunpowder residue on McKnight, indicating he was not shot at the close range Gasser had indicated. And an examination of the wounds indicated that McKnight's hands were resting on the window of Gasser's car, with no sign that he had aggressively moved to get inside.

''His version of events does not match the physical evidence,'' Shute said.

But Goetz countered that, ''Ronnie believed he (McKnight) was coming after him.''

He also claimed that, McKnight ''was trying to kill'' Gasser by running him off the road in traffic, before the shooting.

McKnight was considered the No. 1 running back recruit in the country when he came out of John Curtis Christian School in Louisiana in 2006. He signed with the University of Southern California, where he ran for 2,213 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 66 passes for 542 yards and two scores in three seasons.

In the NFL, he played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent a season in the Canadian Football League, playing two games for the Edmonton Eskimos and three for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

He was shot Dec. 1, 2016. Gasser never left the shooting scene and was initially freed after more than eight hours of questioning - which Shute said jurors will see.

Gasser's release sparked protests, and some said race played a role in his release. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who has since retired, angrily denied that race played any role in the case. He recounted a painstaking investigation with more than 160 interviews.

Arrested on a manslaughter charge four days after the shooting, Gasser was indicted by a grand jury on the second-degree murder charge in February. If convicted as charged he would be sentenced to life in prison.

The trial is expected to last well into next week with state District Judge Ellen Kovach presiding.

The case echoes another New Orleans-area road-rage shooting from 2016. Former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was gunned down that April. The shooter was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years.

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Rob Riggle to host NFL Honors when AP awards are announced

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Emmy-nominated actor and comedian Rob Riggle will host NFL Honors on Feb. 3, when The Associated Press hands out its individual league awards.

The two-hour prime-time show on NBC will take place at Northrop at the University of Minnesota.

Riggle, who recently retired from the Marine Corps Reserve after 23 years of service, has been a staple in comedy for more than 15 years, starring in ''The Hangover,'' ''Step Brothers,'' and ''The Other Guys,'' among his films. He currently can be seen in ''12 Strong,'' his first dramatic turn.

Riggle has been a correspondent on the Emmy Award-winning ''The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,'' and a cast member on ''Saturday Night Live.''

NFL Honors which debuted in Indianapolis in 2012, is held in the Super Bowl city the evening before the AFC and NFC champions meet. The 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class also will be introduced during the program.

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Unfinished biz: Coughlin gets 2nd shot to make Jags a champ

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) It's no exaggeration to say Tom Coughlin built the Jaguars from the ground up.

It's also no exaggeration to say Coughlin's last piece of unfinished business would be bringing a Super Bowl title to the town he helped put on the NFL map.

Fifteen years after being unceremoniously booted by the franchise he shaped, Coughlin is back in the front office, where he has helped guide the team in one of the league's smallest markets to within two wins of the championship he came oh-so close to the first time around.

The 71-year-old executive VP of football operations started this franchise in 1995, working from an office in a trailer outside the stadium then known as the Gator Bowl. He was the head coach and the one voice who made every decision - from who threw the passes to who ran the calculator for the salary cap to what color paint was on the walls.

Denied not once, but twice, in the AFC title game where the Jaguars find themselves again this week, Coughlin chased the final pieces of the puzzle too hard. He wrecked the salary cap and left Jacksonville with the reputation of a man who had few equals on the sideline but lots of flaws in the front office.

Now, with two Super Bowl rings from New York as a coach in his back pocket, Coughlin is working his magic this time from that same front office. He has shown no interest in coaching and has sought zero attention this season, and especially this week, as the Jaguars get ready to play at New England in the AFC championship game Sunday - 21 years after Coughlin took them to the same place for the same stakes in only their second year of existence.

He may be deflecting the credit, but anyone who knows Coughlin knows what this means.

''He was the architect who built this thing, and he had his hands in every aspect of it,'' said Tony Boselli, the Hall of Fame finalist who was the team's first draft pick. ''Knowing him and as competitive as he, I think he would love (it). It would be a really special, and almost a finishing of what he started back in 1995.''

Of course, there are no regrets about the 12 years Coughlin spent with the Giants in between these jobs in Jacksonville. The league changed, and Coughlin changed with it. He shed the reputation of the unbending taskmaster (though clocks are still set 5 minutes ahead), dealt less with off-the-field decisions and more with the X's and O's, and won two Super Bowls, both against the Patriots, both as an underdog.

Coughlin's mastery of the Patriots and Bill Belichick, with whom he worked as an assistant coach under Bill Parcells back in the day, has been no small part of the conversation this week. But if Coughlin will be calling any shots on game day - or has been at any point this season - nobody is the wiser. Doug Marrone is the head coach, although Coughlin is always around.

''I don't think I can lean on him anymore because I'm a big guy,'' Marrone said, only half-joking.

To focus on Coughlin this week is to focus on how he transformed this roster and made sure the franchise, in owner Shad Khan's words , no longer ''lacked football IQ.''' The smarter look helped push a team that fired its coach and went 3-13 in 2016 to within a game of the Super Bowl for the first time since January 2000.

Coughlin was instrumental in signing the best free-agent class in franchise history. All-Pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell ranked second in the NFL with a team-record 14 + sacks, making him the most impactful free agent in 2017. Cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church helped make Jacksonville's secondary the best in the league.

Top pick Leonard Fournette and second-rounder Cam Robinson, both college stars from NFL factories, reinforced the team's new identity as a tough, physical group that expects to win every game.

All those moves allowed the Jaguars to win around quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been dreadful at times and efficient at best, and a beneficiary of a defense that looks like a monster. The unit ranked second in points, yards, sacks and takeaways.

''One of Tom's greatest skills is making people believe they can do more than they think is possible, work harder than they thought they could and achieve more than they ever imagined,'' said Brian Sexton, the longtime radio voice of the team and one of the handful of people who have been with the team since its inception. ''I never met anybody who worked with him that didn't want to do their best and have him see them doing their best. It's a unique skill of his.''

In many ways, this season's roster successes have mirrored those Coughlin produced during his first few years, when it seemed like he couldn't miss.

Though it wasn't a sexy pick, he declared Boselli would serve as the franchise's cornerstone at left tackle. He went all-in with a little-known Packers backup quarterback named Mark Brunell and found receivers Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith in the bargain bin.

The upset over the Broncos and John Elway in the 1996 playoffs is part of NFL lore, but coming up short that year - then again in 1999 after a 14-2 season - sowed the seeds of Coughlin's undoing.

Hardy Nickerson, Bryce Paup and troubled receiver R.J. Soward were among the players for whom he overpaid or overreached. The Jaguars became a well-coached but cap-strapped and talent-deficient franchise that kept games close, but went 19-29 from 2000-02. (Exhibit A: They had a plus-12 turnover differential in Coughlin's last season yet finished 6-10.)

There was only one person to blame for that roster: Coughlin. The owner who fired him, Wayne Weaver, enjoyed only one more playoff win before selling the team in 2011. He later said getting rid of Coughlin was one of his biggest regrets.

After a few months to reflect following his firing, Coughlin conceded it still stung. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said, ''What if I had left after five years, just walked away? But I felt that was my team. I really did.''

Fifteen years later, it is once again.

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Defense: McKnight killing self-defense. Prosecutor: not so

GRETNA, La. (AP) The man who killed former NFL player Joe McKnight was terrified and fired in self-defense as the athlete spewed obscenities and threats following a traffic confrontation in December 2016, a defense attorney told a jury Friday.

Lawyer Matthew Goetz added that the arrest of Ronald Gasser, 56, came days after the shooting amid political pressures. Goetz alluded to racial unrest that year in American cities, including the St. Louis area and Baton Rouge. Gasser is white; McKnight was black.

Goetz delivered his opening statement to the jury in Gasser's second-degree murder trial after Seth Shute, an assistant District Attorney in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish, acknowledged that Gasser was initially freed after the shooting. But Shute said Gasser was arrested after investigators talked to numerous witnesses and assembled physical evidence contradicting Gasser's claim that McKnight, 28, had tried to lunge into his car through a passenger window after both vehicles stopped at a busy intersection.

Jury selection began Tuesday, and opening statements were delayed because unusually frigid winter weather in south Louisiana prompted a two-day closure of the parish courthouse in the New Orleans suburb of Gretna.

Shute said jurors will hear from dozens of witnesses. Some will testify about what Shute called a ''mobile shouting match'' that began on a bridge spanning the Mississippi River in New Orleans and continued into neighboring Jefferson Parish, Shute said. Others will talk about hearing the pop-pop-pop of three gunshots, seeing McKnight fall and watching as Gasser exited his car with his handgun still smoking.

Jurors also will hear a police officer recount Gasser's first words at the shooting scene: ''He cut me off and got out on me.''

McKnight drove his gray SUV aggressively that afternoon, Shute acknowledged. There was a small amount of marijuana in his system and a ''therapeutic dose level'' of Oxycodone in his system, he added, having noted that McKnight was training in hopes of returning to the NFL after an injury cut his pro career short.

But he said there was no gunpowder residue on McKnight, indicating he was not shot at the close range Gasser had indicated. And an examination of the wounds indicated that McKnight's hands were resting on the window of Gasser's car, with no sign that he had aggressively moved to get inside.

''His version of events does not match the physical evidence,'' Shute said.

''They're going to say, `His hands were here, his hands were there,''' Goetz countered. ''Ronnie believed he (McKnight) was coming after him.''

McKnight was considered the No. 1 running back recruit in the country when he came out of John Curtis Christian School in Louisiana in 2006. He signed with the University of Southern California, where he ran for 2,213 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 66 passes for 542 yards and two scores in three seasons.

In the NFL, he played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent a season in the Canadian Football League, playing two games for the Edmonton Eskimos and three for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

He was shot Dec. 1, 2016. Gasser never left the shooting scene and was initially freed after more than eight hours of questioning - which Shute said jurors will see.

Gasser's release sparked protests at the time, and some said race played a role in his release. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who has since retired, angrily denied that race played any role in the case. He recounted a painstaking investigation that included more than 160 interviews.

Arrested on a charge of manslaughter four days after the shooting, Gasser was indicted by a grand jury on the second-degree murder charge in February. If convicted as charged he would be sentenced to life in prison.

The trial is expected to last well into next week with state District Judge Ellen Kovach presiding.

The case echoes another New Orleans-area road-rage shooting from 2016. Former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was gunned down in that April incident. The shooter was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years.

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Defense wins championships, or at least the NFC title

PHILADELPHIA (AP) One team has a suffocating defense. The other has the NFL's No. 1 unit.

Defense should win at least the NFC championship.

Two of the league's elite defenses go at it Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) in the conference title game.

''They have a great defense, we have a great defense,'' Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said. ''Whoever is most complete will win.''

The Vikings allowed the fewest yards (275.9) and fewest points (15.8) per game. The Eagles were fourth in yards allowed (306.5) and fourth in points (18.4).

May the best defense reach the Super Bowl.

''Typically, when you're good defensively, you're going to stay in the ballgames,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. ''Then you have a chance to win them at the end.''

Minnesota has three Pro Bowl players on defense: end Everson Griffen, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Safety Harrison Smith and Rhodes are All-Pros.

''It's just a smothering defense,'' Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. ''(Griffen) is a game wrecker. They just mix it in. You don't know necessarily what's coming. Rhodes is a tremendous corner, safeties are playing extremely well.''

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins are Philadelphia's Pro Bowl picks. Defensive end Brandon Graham had an excellent season and cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are solid.

Hearing about Minnesota's defense all week is extra motivation for Philadelphia, which is a home underdog for the second straight game.

''When you've got the No. 1 defense coming in statistically, obviously, it fires us up,'' Cox said. ''We know going into this game that whoever's defense plays better is going to win the game. The way we're prepared, we won't change nothing that we do. We'll just go out and be ourselves.''

Here are things to watch for in the NFC championship game:

BATTLE OF THE BACKUPS: Case Keenum and Nick Foles were teammates in St. Louis in 2015 and began this season as backups. Keenum had a breakout season for the Vikings after Sam Bradford was injured. Foles is 3-1 since MVP candidate Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Expect defenses to focus on the running backs and challenge the quarterbacks.

''We've got to make Nick Foles win the game,'' Griffen said. ''We've got to make him win the game but we've got to stop the running game, affect him and give the ball back to our offense as much as possible so that they can score points.''

OWNING MINNESOTA: Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery has more catches (45), yards (685), and touchdowns (7) against the Vikings than he has against any other team. But Jeffery, who spent his first five seasons with the Bears, did most of his damage against other cornerbacks while also being the featured guy in Chicago's offense. The Eagles spread the ball around, so Jeffery had only 789 yards receiving, but his nine TDs were the second most in his career. Jeffery, by the way, turned down more money in free agency from Minnesota to join the Eagles on a one-year deal. Philadelphia gave him a four-year, $52 million extension during the season.

BROTHERLY LOVE: The Kendricks family from Northern California is guaranteed to have a son playing linebacker in the Super Bowl. Eric Kendricks is in his third season with the Vikings, and Mychal is in his sixth year with the Eagles.

Eric had his best season with 136 tackles to lead the team for the third straight time, nine passes defended and one interception return for a touchdown. Mychal was fifth on the Eagles with 72 tackles in 2017, adding two sacks.

Both were second-round draft picks, Eric out of UCLA with the 45th overall selection in 2015 and Mychal from Cal with the 46th overall pick in 2012. Their father, Marvin, was UCLA's leading rusher in 1970 and 1971 and went on to play in the CFL.

With both teams at the top of the NFC and both defenses at the top of the league all season, the two siblings have traded their share of friendly trash talk along the way. Family members have been known to wear split jerseys to support both players.

''I always make jokes: I feel like my brother gets a little bit of the advantage as far as who the family roots for, because he's the first born,'' Eric said. ''It's all love, though.''

FIND THEIR FOOTING: The Eagles laid fresh sod between the hash marks this week to help improve the conditions at Lincoln Financial Field. The weather should help, with a dry forecast and expected temperatures in the 40s, but the Vikings have been preparing for the worst.

Zimmer had a video put together of Falcons players sliding and slipping on the field last weekend. Players have been encouraged to try seven-stud cleats in pregame

NOT YET: The Vikings are 0-3 against the Eagles in the postseason. Philadelphia won a wild-card game in Minnesota after the 2008 season and home games in the divisional rounds on the way to Super Bowl appearances following the 1980 and 2004 seasons. Minnesota has not been to the Super Bowl since 1977 and is 0-4 in them.

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AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Bipartisan effort would ban bidding war for Redskins stadium

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Three politicians in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are teaming up across partisan lines, seeking to prevent their governments from waging a bidding war with public money to build a new stadium for the Washington Redskins.

The liberal Democrat in Maryland, conservative Republican in Virginia and left-leaning independent District of Columbia Council member have introduced legislation to set up an interstate compact barring any public spending on incentives for a new stadium.

The idea is to prevent the jurisdictions from competing against each other with lucrative offers of public assistance for the new facility. The team's current lease at FedEx Field in suburban Maryland ends in 2027 and it is exploring new potential locations.

''By taking money off the table, it would be better for all three of us,'' said Michael Webert, a conservative Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He said Virginia, Maryland and the District could still compete with each other through other means, such as streamlined business regulations.

''By the way, I'm a diehard fan, I just don't think we need to pay for their stadium,'' he said.

Maryland Del. David Moon, a progressive Democrat and a former season ticket holder, said a similar interstate compact might not work with other businesses because they could just choose a different region altogether. But a franchise with the word ''Washington'' in its name and a strong local fan base has limited options, he said.

''It's a lot more plausible to try this with a sports team,'' Moon said.

He said the joint effort by lawmakers with different backgrounds and political views points to widespread opposition to spending public funds for a football stadium.

''That's one of the fascinating aspects to this whole debate, this is not a partisan issue,'' Moon said.

Joining them is District Council member David Grosso, a political independent who said last year that ''a football team worth over $1 billion should not need to rely on special government assistance to fund their facilities.''

Team spokesman Tony Wyllie declined to comment.

Whether all three jurisdictions will approve a compact remains to be seen. Landing a new stadium deal could be an attractive political legacy item for a governor or mayor.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's spokesman Brian Coy said the governor wants to ''structure a creative deal'' to bring the team to Virginia, but opposes public subsidies. Coy was noncommittal on whether Northam supported the idea of an interstate compact.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe aggressively pursued a stadium deal. A Virginia stadium would most likely be built in Loudoun County, where the Redskins have their practice facility and a majority of players live.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan previously told The Washington Business Journal that he would do ''whatever it takes'' to keep the team. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

District Mayor Muriel Bowser has also said she doesn't support using public money to bring the team back to the city, where it used to play before moving to Maryland.

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Bipartisan effort would ban bidding war for Redskins stadium

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Three politicians in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are teaming up across partisan lines to try and prevent their governments from waging a bidding war with public money to build a new stadium for the Washington Redskins.

The liberal Democrat in Maryland, conservative Republican in Virginia and left-leaning independent District of Columbia Council member have introduced legislation to set up an interstate compact barring any public spending on incentives for a new stadium.

The idea is to prevent the jurisdictions from competing against each other with lucrative offers of public assistance for the new facility. The team's current lease at FedEx Field in suburban Maryland ends in 2027 and it is exploring new potential locations.

''By taking money off the table, it would be better for all three of us,'' said Michael Webert, a conservative Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He said Virginia, Maryland, and the District could still compete with each other through other means, such as streamlined business regulations.

''By the way, I'm a diehard fan, I just don't think we need to pay for their stadium,'' he said.

Maryland Del. David Moon, a progressive Democrat and a former season ticket holder, said a similar interstate compact might not work with other businesses because they could just choose a different region altogether. But a franchise with the word ''Washington'' in its name and a strong local fan base has limited options, he said.

''It's a lot more plausible to try this with a sports team,'' Moon said.

He said the joint effort by lawmakers with different backgrounds and political views points to widespread opposition to spending public funds for a football stadium.

''That's one of the fascinating aspects to this whole debate, this is not a partisan issue,'' Moon said.

Joining them is District Council member David Grosso, a political independent who said last year that ''a football team worth over $1 billion should not need to rely on special government assistance to fund their facilities.''

Team spokesman Tony Wyllie declined to comment.

Whether all three jurisdictions will approve a compact remains to be seen. Landing a new stadium deal could be an attractive political legacy item for a governor or mayor.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's spokesman Brian Coy said the governor wants to ''structure a creative deal'' to bring the team to Virginia, but opposes public subsidies. Coy was noncommittal on whether Northam supported the idea of an interstate compact.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe aggressively pursued a stadium deal. A Virginia stadium would most likely be built in Loudoun County, where the Redskins have their practice facility and a majority of players live.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan previously told The Washington Business Journal that he would do ''whatever it takes'' to keep the team. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

District Mayor Muriel Bowser has also said she doesn't support using public money to bring the team back to the city, where it used to play before moving to Maryland.

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Defense: McKnight killing self-defense. Prosecutor: not so

GRETNA, La. (AP) Attorneys have made their opening statements in the trial of the man who fatally shot former NFL player Joe McKnight.

Defense attorneys say 56-year-old Ronald Gasser fired in self-defense when McKnight approached his car after a traffic confrontation in December 2016.

Prosecutors say Gasser falsely claimed McKnight tried to lunge into Gasser's car when it was stopped at a traffic light. They say physical evidence indicates he made no such aggressive move.

Gasser is charged with second-degree murder.

Defense attorney Matthew Goetz claims Gasser was jailed amid political pressure for an arrest of a white man who had shot a popular black athlete. Goetz said the shooting happened in a year of racial unrest in American cities.

The trial resumed Friday after two days of weather-related delays.

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Q&A: James Patterson on Aaron Hernandez's fall from grace

BOSTON (AP) Eight months after ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in prison, a new book by bestselling author James Patterson is reviving unanswered questions.

Patterson spoke with The Associated Press on Friday about what he calls ''the most fascinating, complicated and troubling crime story of our times.''

Hernandez, a former standout tight end for the New England Patriots, was found hanging by a bedsheet in his cell on April 19, hours before his ex-teammates were due to visit the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. The 27-year-old athlete had been serving life without parole for a 2013 murder. Just days earlier, he had been acquitted of a separate double murder.

After his death, Hernandez was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease tied to head blows which can cause depression and violent mood swings.

Patterson's book on the case, ''All-American Murder,'' is set to be released Monday by Little, Brown and Company, and CBS is airing a companion ''48 Hours " special Saturday night.

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AP: Most of your work tends to be fiction. What drew you to this real-crime story?

Patterson: I don't usually do nonfiction, but I was compelled to do this story. You can't take your eyes off this guy because of all his gifts: his good looks, the smile, the beautiful fiancee, the baby girl, the $40 million NFL contract. When I was in my teens, my family moved up near Boston, and I became a fan of the Patriots and the other Boston teams. I still am to some extent.

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AP: Why do you think Hernandez killed himself if there was a chance - however small - of overturning his conviction and winning his freedom?

Patterson: Most people who suffer from brain damage do not become murderers. My take is if you take somebody with a psychopathic personality - somebody who enjoyed killing people - hit him in the head a few thousand times and add some PCP and weed, you have a nightmare. And there are a lot of suicides with CTE.

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AP: What do you make of the rumors that Hernandez may have been gay or bisexual and had a prison lover?

Patterson: We never talked to anybody who said there was something to that. He was in his cell 22+ hours a day. He had virtually no contact with any prisoners. What could he do?

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AP: Did Hernandez have some kind of jailhouse conversion? He wrote ''John 3:16'' in ink on his forehead and in blood on a cell wall.

Patterson: He was clinging to this notion, real or imagined, that if he believed in Jesus he could be saved. But he was over the top with everything. His thinking was scrambled big-time.

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AP: Why does this case captivate people so powerfully?

Patterson: This is the most dramatic and surprising murder mystery in the last 25 years - including O.J. (Simpson). The story is just stunning, from his days as a well-behaved kid in high school to his time at the University of Florida to the NFL. It's the most amazing fall from grace imaginable.

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Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole . His work can be found here .

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Q&A: James Patterson on Aaron Hernandez's fall from grace

BOSTON (AP) Eight months after ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in prison, a new book by bestselling author James Patterson is reviving unanswered questions.

Patterson spoke with The Associated Press on Friday about what he calls ''the most fascinating, complicated and troubling crime story of our times.''

Hernandez, a former standout tight end for the New England Patriots, was found hanging by a bedsheet in his cell on April 19, hours before his ex-teammates were due to visit the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. The 27-year-old athlete had been serving life without parole for a 2013 murder. Just days earlier, he had been acquitted of a separate double murder.

After his death, Hernandez was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease tied to head blows which can cause depression and violent mood swings.

Patterson's book on the case, ''All-American Murder,'' is set to be released Monday by Little, Brown and Company.

---

AP: Most of your work tends to be fiction. What drew you to this real-crime story?

Patterson: I don't usually do nonfiction, but I was compelled to do this story. You can't take your eyes off this guy because of all his gifts: his good looks, the smile, the beautiful fiancee, the baby girl, the $40 million NFL contract. When I was in my teens, my family moved up near Boston, and I became a fan of the Patriots and the other Boston teams. I still am to some extent.

---

AP: Why do you think Hernandez killed himself if there was a chance - however small - of overturning his conviction and winning his freedom?

Patterson: Most people who suffer from brain damage do not become murderers. My take is if you take somebody with a psychopathic personality - somebody who enjoyed killing people - hit him in the head a few thousand times and add some PCP and weed, you have a nightmare. And there are a lot of suicides with CTE.

---

AP: What do you make of the rumors that Hernandez may have been gay or bisexual and had a prison lover?

Patterson: We never talked to anybody who said there was something to that. He was in his cell 22+ hours a day. He had virtually no contact with any prisoners. What could he do?

---

AP: Did Hernandez have some kind of jailhouse conversion? He wrote ''John 3:16'' in ink on his forehead and in blood on a cell wall.

Patterson: He was clinging to this notion, real or imagined, that if he believed in Jesus he could be saved. But he was over the top with everything. His thinking was scrambled big-time.

---

AP: Why does this case captivate people so powerfully?

Patterson: This is the most dramatic and surprising murder mystery in the last 25 years - including O.J. (Simpson). The story is just stunning, from his days as a well-behaved kid in high school to his time at the University of Florida to the NFL. It's the most amazing fall from grace imaginable.

---

Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole . His work can be found here .

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AP Source: Panthers part ways with special teams coordinator

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) There has been another coaching shake-up with the Carolina Panthers.

The Panthers have parted ways with special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, said a person familiar with the situation. The team has promoted Chase Blackburn to take McGaughey's place after his contract was not renewed.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the news.

The Charlotte Observer was first to report the news.

McGaughey is the second coordinator to leave since the end of the season.

Carolina abruptly fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula two days after the season and replaced him with Norv Turner despite a season in which they finished 11-5 and made the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

Quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey was also fired.

Blackburn has served as the team's assistant special teams coordinator under McGaughey for the past two seasons. The 34-year-old Blackburn played nine seasons in the NFL, finishing his career with the Panthers in 2014.

McGaughey could draw interest from the New York Giants, where former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is now in charge.

The Cleveland Browns are also looking for a special teams coordinator.

The Panthers are coming off a successful season on special teams. They returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown this season, kicker Graham Gano is headed to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after missing just one field goal during the regular season and punter Michael Palardy ranked fifth in the league with a net average of 42.4 yards.

Carolina's kickoff coverage unit only had to cover 12 kickoffs all season because Gano led the league in touchbacks.

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AP Source: Panthers part ways with special teams coordinator

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) There has been another coaching shake-up with the Carolina Panthers.

The Panthers have parted ways with special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, said a person familiar with the situation. The team has promoted Chase Blackburn to take McGaughey's place after his contract was not renewed.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the news.

The Charlotte Observer was first to report the news.

McGaughey is the second coordinator to leave since the end of the season.

Carolina abruptly fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula two days after the season and replaced him with Norv Turner despite a season in which they finished 11-5 and made the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

Quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey was also fired.

Blackburn has served as the team's assistant special teams coordinator under McGaughey for the past two seasons. The 34-year-old Blackburn played nine seasons in the NFL, finishing his career with the Panthers in 2014.

McGaughey could draw interest from the New York Giants, where former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is now in charge.

The Cleveland Browns are also looking for a special teams coordinator.

The Panthers are coming off a successful season on special teams. They returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown this season, kicker Graham Gano is headed to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after missing just one field goal during the regular season and punter Michael Palardy ranked fifth in the league with a net average of 42.4 yards.

Carolina's kickoff coverage unit only had to cover 12 kickoffs all season because Gano led the league in touchbacks.

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Titans kick off coaching search interviewing Vrabel, Wilks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans kicked off their search for a new head coach Thursday with a pair of interviews - both defensive coordinators who've never been NFL head coaches.

The Titans confirmed they interviewed Houston's Mike Vrabel and Carolina's Steve Wilks. Tennessee is looking to replace Mike Mularkey, fired Monday after he went 21- 22 and won the franchise's first playoff game in 14 years.

Vrabel, 42, has never been a head coach at any level. He is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel played 14 years in the NFL with Pittsburgh, New England where he won three Super Bowl titles and Kansas City before going into coaching. He started coaching in 2011 at his alma mater, Ohio State. He coached linebackers and defensive linemen.

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator. The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season with the Texans' defense decimated by injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus .

General manager Jon Robinson gave little indication Monday of what he's looking for in the man who will be the Titans' fourth head coach eight seasons and third in quarterback Marcus Mariota's fourth season.

''Leader of men,'' Robinson said of what he wants in a new head coach. ''Obviously, the things that are stamped out there on those pillars: team-first, detailed, tough, dependable. One that's going to, like I said, maximize the abilities of the players in all three phases of the game.''

Wilks has only been a head coach in college at Savannah State in 1999. His first season as defensive coordinator with the Panthers was 2017, but he has coached with Chicago, the Chargers and joined Carolina in 2012. Wilks was assistant head coach in 2015 and 2016.

Interviewing Wilks helped the Titans satisfy the league's Rooney Rule, and Wilks also interviewed with the New York Giants about their opening. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis certainly thinks Wilks has earned the right to be a head coach.

''He has done a tremendous job of coming in and taking over this defense and really giving us a chance to be successful,'' Davis said.

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AP Sports Writer Steve Reed contributed to this report from Charlotte.

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All eyes on Brady as he misses practice with hand injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady hasn't missed many starts during his 18-year NFL career, and no one sounds too worried that he'll be sidelined for Sunday's AFC championship game.

Nonetheless, after Brady sat out the Patriots' practice on Thursday - and did not speak to reporters as scheduled - there was plenty of speculation about the 40-year-old quarterback's health.

Brady sat out with a right-hand injury after being limited by the same issue a day earlier as New England prepares for its matchup with Jacksonville.

Brady wore a glove on the injured hand during the stretching portion of practice that was open to reporters. He usually wears a glove only on his non-throwing hand. He was listed as a non-participant on the injury report, and his news conference was postponed until Friday.

With scant official information about the nature of Brady's injury, it fell to backup quarterback Brian Hoyer to address the situation. More than 50 reporters swarmed his locker as he walked through the locker room, and after stepping into the training room, Hoyer returned to find the assembled group.

''You guys waiting for Phil?'' Hoyer asked wryly, referring to receiver Phillip Dorsett's adjacent locker.

For the next six minutes he was asked a half-dozen questions about Brady, a quarterback he has now backed up twice. Hoyer said he didn't see Brady get hurt and wouldn't elaborate on how much he's been able to do in practice the last two days.

''I'm always preparing to play, because the truth of reality is you never know when your name's gonna be called,'' he said.

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone expects his defense to line up against Brady, not Hoyer, on Sunday.

''I'm sure he can throw left-handed if he has a problem with his right hand, you know, and throw it just as well,'' Marrone said Thursday.

Hoyer was Brady's backup for three seasons from 2009 through 2011. After leaving in 2012, he started for at least five-game stretches during stops in Cleveland, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.

Hoyer was cut by the 49ers on Oct. 31 after they traded a second-round pick to New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. He signed as Brady's backup the following day.

''I prepare every week like I'm gonna play,'' Hoyer said. ''Whether I do or I don't, that's not really up to me.''

Having coached in Brady's division in Buffalo, Marrone is familiar with Brady's ability to play through pain.

Brady appeared on the Patriots' weekly injury report several times during the latter half of this season with injuries to both his Achilles tendon and his left shoulder.

He has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career. He hasn't missed any start because of an injury since he sat out the final 15 games of the 2008 season after tearing ligaments in his left knee during New England's season opener.

Brady missed the first four games of 2016 while serving his ''Deflategate'' suspension. He also popped up on the injury report late that season, but he didn't miss a game and capped the season with his MVP performance in the Patriots' comeback win over Atlanta in the Super Bowl.

Devin McCourty chuckled when he was asked about the frenzy created this week by Brady's injury.

''When you're a good-looking guy, a good quarterback, people want to know about you. I understand,'' McCourty said. ''My people want to know about him, too. I get text messages and phone calls. When I first got here it was, `Did you meet Tom? Are you and Tom friends?' I'm happy now. Eight years in, I consider us friends. So I'm kind of a big deal back home.''

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Jags' Fournette feels fine after ankle injury, fender-bender

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Fournette was sitting in his wrecked Mercedes-Benz on Interstate-295 earlier this week, waiting for the police to arrive, when he got an unusual request.

One of the first responders wanted Jacksonville's rookie running back to sign something.

It wasn't a hat, a jersey or a football, either. The man asked Fournette to autograph the damaged bumper off his $200,000 car.

''The bumper was on the ground and he just came out of nowhere like, `Man, can you sign this for me?'" Fournette said Thursday. ''I'm like, `You want me to sign a bumper?'"

Fournette said it's ''the first and hopefully last'' automotive part that garners his signature.

If the former LSU star keeps playing like he did at Pittsburgh last week, there's no telling what he'll be asked to sign next.

Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns against the Steelers despite re-injuring his right ankle in the first half. It was his most productive game in three months, a positive sign for the Jaguars (12-6) as they prepare for the AFC championship game at New England (14-3).

''I feel good in spite of the ankle and stuff,'' Fournette said. ''Just taking care of my body, but overall I feel good.''

Jacksonville's ground game looked better than it has in weeks. The NFL's top rushing attack stalled down the stretch , averaging 3.58 yards a carry over the final seven weeks of the regular season, and was mostly inept in a wild-card victory against Buffalo until quarterback Blake Bortles started scrambling.

Fournette's return to form couldn't have come at a better time.

''Collectively, as a group, I feel like everyone came to play their part,'' Fournette said. ''Everyone come out with it on their minds, especially from the get-go with being physical.''

Fournette averaged 4.4 yards a rush against the Steelers, finding room to run outside and turning small holes between the tackles into big gains. He scored three times, using his speed to get to the corner on one and leaping over defenders and across the goal line for another.

''We challenged these guys early,'' offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. ''Just because you have success one week doesn't mean you're going to have success the next. It's just one of those things where it's on the line, on Leonard, on the group, on Blake, all the things that were going on.

''It's about wanting to do it and understanding what you're trying to do.''

Now the Jaguars hope to have a repeat performance against the Patriots, who ranked 20th against the run this season.

Fournette looked as healthy as he has since initially spraining his right ankle in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in mid-October. Fournette ran for 130 yards in that game, which followed a season-high, 181-yard performance the week before at Pittsburgh.

Fournette missed three of the next eight games because of the ankle and a bruised quadriceps muscle. And in the games he did play, instead of ripping off long runs and grinding out tough yards, Fournette was slowed to a crawl.

The Jaguars were ecstatic to see him get back on track last week even though he left the game briefly to get his ankle checked out and taped up.

Concerns returned Tuesday after his fender-bender.

''You know what I always say about car accidents?'' coach Doug Marrone said. ''It's one of those things. You can get into a car accident and feel pretty good, (and) two days later, you wake up and I don't know. That hasn't happened yet. I never put that past car accidents.''

Fournette was limited in practice this week, but insists he'll be good to go for the game.

His car won't be so lucky. It's in the shop getting repaired.

''The bumper's probably like $50,000 by itself,'' Fournette said. ''I don't know what insurance they have or who they're with, but ...''

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Steelers select Randy Fichtner as offensive coordinator

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Steelers didn't look very far for offensive coordinator Todd Haley's replacement, promoting longtime quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to the position on Thursday, four days after Pittsburgh's season ended with a divisional round playoff loss to Jacksonville.

The Steelers chose not to renew Haley's contract, opening the door for Fichtner to take over one of the league's most dynamic offenses. The 54-year-old Fichtner last called plays while serving as offensive coordinator at Memphis from 2001-06.

He joined Pittsburgh's coaching staff in 2007 as one of coach Mike Tomlin's initial hires. Fichtner spent three seasons as wide receivers coach before becoming the quarterbacks coach in 2010, where he developed a close rapport with Ben Roethlisberger.

''We have a tremendous roster, and it will be my charge to continue putting our offensive players in position to succeed and score points,'' Fichtner said in a statement.

''We have the nucleus to be successful, and I am thrilled about the chance to lead the offense as we have already started preparing for the 2018 season.''

Pittsburgh finished third in total yards and eighth in scoring in 2017 and put up 42 points against the Jaguars, but that wasn't enough for the Steelers to keep Haley. Pittsburgh parted ways with Haley on Wednesday after six successful, if occasionally, volatile seasons.

Fichtner has a more low-key approach to his job and a long relationship with Tomlin. Fichtner was quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 1997 when the program hired Tomlin as a wide receivers coach.

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Sendejo limited in practice after concussion vs Saints

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo is working his way back from a concussion that forced him out of the previous game.

Sendejo took part in a limited portion of practice Thursday for the second straight day, after a hit to the head from New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas knocked him to the turf and out of the game. The Vikings beat the Saints to advance to the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.

Wide receiver Adam Thielen was also a limited participant at practice Thursday after being held out the day before because of a lower back injury.

Wide receiver Michael Floyd didn't practice on Thursday because of an illness. Another backup, defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, was held out Thursday for the second straight day with knee and ankle injuries.

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Falcons' offensive coordinator Sarkisian to return in 2018

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Steve Sarkisian will return as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator despite a decline in production in his debut 2017 season.

Sarkisian has been the target of criticism as the Falcons, who lost at Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs last week, fell short of a return trip to the Super Bowl.

Coach Dan Quinn announced Thursday that Sarkisian will return in 2018.

After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons fell to 15th this season . Quinn said Sarkisian doesn't deserve the full blame for the offense's struggles.

''To be clear with you, if this was about one person, that decision already would have been made,'' Quinn said, adding he has ''no issue with making changes, no problem with that but I have no interest in making change just for the sake of change.''

The Falcons finished 10-6 in the regular season and won a wild card game at the Los Angeles Rams before the 15-10 loss to the Eagles . The Falcons were scoreless in the second half. Sarkisian's play-calling was second-guessed when Atlanta couldn't score after having a first down at the Eagles 9. A fourth-and-2 pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones was incomplete.

Sarkisian was hired from Alabama after Kyle Shanahan was hired as San Francisco's coach. Quinn offered the reminder that Shanahan also faced harsh criticism following is first season leading the offense in 2015. Atlanta led the league with 33.8 points per game in 2016.

''A number of people wanted his head'' after the 2015 season, Quinn said. ''What has stayed the same and what I learned during that process is what you're doing in order to build consistency, you better be consistent.''

Quinn said the struggles on offense were ''not an indication of one play-caller or one player. It's on all of us.''

Meanwhile, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said reaching an agreement on a contract extension with Ryan will be ''the number one focus'' of the offseason.

Ryan is entering the final year of his six-year, $103.75 million contract. He will be 33 next season but is still seen as the team's long-term starter who, like New England's Tom Brady, can play to or beyond the age of 40.

''Personally that is my feeling,'' Dimitroff said. ''He's a guy who takes care of his body both on and off the field properly. ... And of course we're fortunate with the way the rules are set up in the league, they're going to preserve our quarterback, hopefully. Again, we want him to be part of this organization for a long time coming.''

Dimitroff expressed optimism an agreement on Ryan's contract extension could come quickly.

''I think it's not going to be that difficult of a negotiation, quite honestly,'' he said. ''I think we're going to be in a good spot with it.''

NOTES: Quinn confirmed special teams coach Keith Armstrong will have a second interview in Arizona's search for a coach . Quinn said Armstrong ''is terrifically qualified to lead a team.'' ... Quinn said he is ''in the middle'' of his search to replace quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan, who left to become the offensive coordinator at University of Washington. Among the candidates are longtime NFL assistant coach Greg Knapp, the Falcons' former offensive coordinator under Jim Mora, and Jedd Fisch, who was UCLA's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season.

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Bears taking a different approach with new coaching staff

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) It's apparent the coaching change to Matt Nagy will mean anything but business as usual for the Chicago Bears on offense.

Whether it's hiring former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, coming from an up-tempo college attack, as offensive coordinator, or quarterback Mitchell Trubisky running Nagy's pet run-pass options, the Bears anticipate becoming less predictable than under former coach John Fox.

Nagy, former Kansas City offensive coordinator, is still completing his coaching staff, and the most surprising hire so far was bringing in Helfrich to help revive the league's 30th-ranked attack.

''As you could tell from some of the things we did in Kansas City offensively, we were trying to be a little bit out of the box and new wave type of stuff,'' Nagy said. ''It was easy when I was approached, and started researching different names, that he was the guy.''

Developing Trubisky is the key for the Bears' offense, and Nagy cited it as a reason for hiring Helfrich.

''It's such an important position in this league and it's a delicate position that has to be done the right way,'' Nagy said. ''It was a slam dunk.

''The second I knew he was interested and got to talk football with him and people skills, it was a no-brainer.''

Helfrich was head coach at Oregon when his quarterback was current Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota, and he sees Trubisky as someone with similar abilities - and flaws.

''Mitchell has a tight release, he's an accurate passer,'' Helfrich said. ''They also have a couple things similar that makes them inaccurate. Their feet take them out of position.''

Whether due to poor footwork or other reasons, Trubisky completed only 59.4 percent of passes as a rookie. He had seven touchdowns to seven interceptions.

''He had, I think was a 3-to-1 or maybe even a 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in college,'' Helfrich said. ''That works. That's a good thing. We need to continue that.

''We can't put the defense in a bad situation, our team in a situation, because there's times in the NFL they're going to get you, and I think a quarterback kind of has that innate ability to take care of the football versus turning it over when he, for lack of a better word, panics.''

Nagy will call plays, and referred to Helfrich's role as a ''conduit'' between himself and the offense.

''The communication process is so big, so Mark's been there, done that as a head coach,'' Nagy said. ''He's been there as an offensive coordinator, so the process whether you want to compare it from college to the NFL, it's the same.''

While Helfrich lacks any NFL experience, the same isn't true for Nagy's defensive or special teams coordinators. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was retained from Fox's staff, while former Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor returned for his second stint as an assistant in Chicago.

Fangio's defense finished 10th and he was a candidate for the Bears' head coaching position. He had interest from other teams as a coordinator, but found returning his best option after Nagy was hired.

''I just had to feel comfortable with everything, you know, with who the head coach was going to be, the continued direction of the team as far as where we were headed roster-wise, things of that nature,'' Fangio said.

Having personnel back from an effective defense was an enticement, but Fangio sees work ahead. The Bears had eight interceptions in each of his three seasons as coordinator - each a franchise single-season low.

''I think it's a wrong picture to paint that the defense was great and the rest of the team wasn't,'' he said. ''We were 5-11. If we were a great defense we'd have more than five wins.''

Tabor was a special teams assistant under coordinator Dave Toub from 2008-2010 in Chicago and inherits an immediate problem at kicker. The Bears went through three last season and have no one under contract for 2018. It's much different than when Tabor left, with Robbie Gould as a mainstay and the Bears coming off an NFC title game.

''When you have a great one, you want to ride that horse all the way, there's no doubt about that,'' Tabor said. ''And then when teams are looking for guys, I think there's going to be growing pains.''

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Nick Foles and Case Keenum have strong career connections

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles contemplated retirement after a miserable season with the Rams in which he ended up losing his starting job to Case Keenum.

That's just one spin of a unique quarterback carousel that'll be on display when Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) in the NFC championship game Sunday.

''It pretty wild,'' Foles said. ''Case's success and the way he plays doesn't surprise me because him and I were together and we prepared together. We were around each other every day. But I think the big message there is no matter what happens, you've just got to keep believing in yourself, keep working hard and just never give up.''

The cycle began when former Eagles coach Chip Kelly traded Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford in March 2015. A day later, the Rams acquired Keenum from the Houston Texans to back up Foles.

Foles went 4-7 in 11 starts for the Rams before he was benched for Keenum. Meanwhile, Bradford had a decent season with the Eagles, but was traded to Minnesota a week before the 2016 season opener to pave the way for Carson Wentz. The Vikings needed Bradford to replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford had a career year in 2016.

Foles asked for his release from the Rams after they moved to Los Angeles and drafted Jared Goff No. 1, one pick ahead of Wentz. Foles seriously considered hanging up the cleats before Andy Reid - who drafted him in third round in Philadelphia in 2012 - persuaded him to join the Kansas City Chiefs as a backup to Alex Smith.

Foles played well in two games in relief and then returned to Philly on a two-year deal to provide insurance behind Wentz this season. Keenum helped groom Goff in Los Angeles last year and then went to Minnesota to back up Bradford.

Keenum stepped into the lineup in September after Bradford was injured and had by far the best season of his career, passing for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Foles took over in Philadelphia after Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14.

Now, the former teammates are one win away from starting in the Super Bowl.

''I know this is what all of you guys predicted back in the day, a Foles vs. Keenum NFC championship,'' Keenum joked. ''So good job to all of you guys who predicted that.''

The Eagles are fortunate Foles chose to keep playing a year ago.

''I talked a lot to my wife and I remember just saying a prayer,'' Foles recalled. ''Going to back to play for coach Reid, I am a better person because of that decision. It wasn't an easy decision. But I leaned on my wife, I leaned on my family and I leaned on my faith in those moments, and I'm very grateful I made the decision.''

Foles started six games his rookie season, going 1-5 on a 4-12 team that got Reid fired after 14 seasons in Philadelphia. He began 2013 as the backup to Michael Vick in Kelly's first season in the NFL and ended up having a sensational year, leading the Eagles to an NFC East title.

He threw 29 TDs and only two picks - including playoffs - and posted a passer rating of 119.2, third highest in league history. He tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013.

Foles wasn't quite as spectacular in 2014, but the Eagles were 6-2 in his eight starts. He tossed 13 TDs, 10 interceptions and missed the final eight games after breaking his collarbone.

Then he went to St. Louis and struggled on another one of Jeff Fisher's losing teams. Keenum, an undrafted free agent in 2012 who bounced around from with the Texans and Rams, also didn't have much success playing for Fisher. Neither did Goff. All three have thrived playing for other coaches.

''You've just always got to believe and you always have to prepare,'' Foles said. ''Sometimes things happen where unfortunately guys get injured and you have to step in and it's your job to lead the team. (Keenum) has really done an amazing job. It doesn't surprise me. That was my job stepping in for Carson to lead this team like I have before.''

Foles completed 77 percent (23 of 30) for 246 yards in a 15-10 win over Atlanta last week.

Keenum, 9-15 as a starter before joining the Vikings, followed his breakout season by leading Minnesota to an improbable comeback win against the Saints, tossing a 61-yard TD pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired.

The two quarterbacks are good friends off the field.

''Nick is a great guy,'' Keenum said. ''Great faith, great family. My wife and his wife are great friends. His entire family are good people. Great football player. Prepares well, extremely talented, big arm and he's really, really athletic, too. I know he's got a lot of confidence and I'm looking forward to playing against him.''

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AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed.

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Houston coordinator Mike Vrabel interviews for Titans' job

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans kicked off their search for a new head coach by interviewing Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.

The Titans announced they concluded the interview early Thursday afternoon.

Tennessee is looking to replace Mike Mularkey, fired Monday after he went 21-22 and won the franchise's first playoff game in 14 years.

Vrabel, 42, has never been a head coach at any level. He is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel played 14 years in the NFL with Pittsburgh, New England where he won three Super Bowl titles and Kansas City before going into coaching. He started coaching in 2011 at his alma mater, Ohio State. He coached linebackers and defensive linemen.

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator . The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season with the Texans' defense decimated by injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

General manager Jon Robinson gave little indication Monday of what he's looking for in the man who will be the Titans' fourth head coach eight seasons and third in quarterback Marcus Mariota's fourth season.

''Leader of men,'' Robinson said of what he wants in a new head coach. ''Obviously, the things that are stamped out there on those pillars, team-first, detailed, tough, dependable. One that's going to, like I said, maximize the abilities of the players in all three phases of the game.''

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Steelers select Randy Fichtner as offensive coordinator

PITTSBURGH (AP) Randy Fichtner is the Pittsburgh Steelers new offensive coordinator.

Fichtner replaces Todd Haley, who was not retained following Pittsburgh's divisional round playoff loss to Jacksonville.

Fichtner has been an assistant with Pittsburgh since 2007 and spent the past eight seasons as quarterbacks coach, where he developed a strong rapport with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Fichtner will take over an offense that ranked third or better in total yards in three of the past four seasons and features Roethlisberger, All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown and All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell.

Fichtner's previous experience as offensive coordinator came at the collegiate level, when he served in the role at Memphis from 2001-06. Fichtner previously worked with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin in the late 1990s when both were assistants at Arkansas State.

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Raiders bring back ex-coach Tom Cable as O-line coach

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Former Raiders head coach Tom Cable is back on the Oakland staff to coach the offensive line.

The team made the announcement that Cable was rejoining the organization as fellow returning head coach Jon Gruden filled out his coaching staff Thursday with the addition of 13 assistants.

The 53-year-old Cable coached the Raiders for three seasons from 2008-10 and finished with a record of 17-27. He had been the assistant head coach and offensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks since 2011 until his firing last week from Pete Carroll's staff.

In addition, Edgar Bennett was named wide receivers coach and Jim O'Neil senior defensive assistant.

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Patriots' Brady misses practice with right hand injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed practice with a right hand injury a day after being limited by the same issue as New England prepared for its AFC championship game matchup with Jacksonville.

Brady was present and wore a glove on the injured hand Thursday during the stretching portion of practice open to reporters. But he was listed as a non-participant on the injury report. He usually only wears a glove on his non-throwing hand.

His scheduled news conference was also postponed until Friday.

Brady appeared on the Patriots' weekly injury report several times during the latter half of the regular season with both an Achilles tendon and left shoulder injury.

But the 40-year-old has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career. He hasn't missed any start because of an injury since he sat out the final 15 games of the 2008 season with a knee injury.

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Houston coordinator Mike Vrabel interviews for Titans' job

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans have finished interviewing Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, the first candidate for their head coach opening.

The Titans announced they concluded the interview early Thursday afternoon.

Tennessee is looking to replace Mike Mularkey, fired Monday after he went 21-22 and won the franchise's first playoff game in 14 years.

Vrabel is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. He played 14 years in the NFL with Pittsburgh, New England where he won three Super Bowl titles and Kansas City before going into coaching. He started coaching in 2011 at his alma mater, Ohio State. He coached linebackers and defensive linemen.

He went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator.

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Ravens defensive coordinator Martindale welcomes 2nd chance

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Don Martindale wondered if he would ever get a second chance to be an NFL defensive coordinator after his one-and-done disaster with the Denver Broncos in 2010.

The Broncos went 4-12 that season and gave up more points (29.4 per game) and yards (390.8) than any team in the league. Those miserable numbers, not surprisingly, cost Martindale his job.

He latched on with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 as linebackers coach. After working diligently with several stars, including Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Zachary Orr and C.J. Mosley, the 54-year-old Martindale last week was promoted to defensive coordinator.

To say he's pleased to be in charge of an NFL defense again would be a profound understatement.

''Without a doubt,'' Martindale said Thursday. ''My family knows it. Everybody knows it. My players know it. I can't wait.''

His performance in Denver eight years ago is hardly worth putting on a resume, but Martindale believes it was a worthwhile experience.

''Even though the stats were what they were, I was really proud with how we played,'' he said. ''I'm glad I went through that process because I think that makes me a better coach today. It's like I tell my guys: You either win or you learn.''

Martindale's new job with the Ravens carries the responsibility of overseeing a unit that has long been among the best in the NFL, thriving under notable leaders such as Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano and Dean Pees, who retired on Jan. 1.

''I've been preparing for this job all my life,'' Martindale said. ''It's very humbling, but I understand the pressure and I look forward to the challenge.''

Martindale takes over a defense that this season ranked 12th in net yards allowed, first in takeaways (34) and sixth in fewest points allowed (18.9). He has no plans to revamp the unit or change the philosophy, especially since head coach John Harbaugh stressed the need to retain continuity before launching his search for Pees' replacement.

Martindale will, however, put his own stamp on the unit.

''I think personality-wise, and just calls, there's going to be some things that are the same. And then there are going to be sometimes where I'm going to pressure more,'' Martindale said. ''I just think I have a more aggressive personality in calling the game. Sometimes, too aggressive. That's some of the things I've learned from the past.''

His most daunting task will be finding a way to make the defense to come up big late in the game. In 2016, a fourth-quarter collapse in Pittsburgh cost Baltimore a playoff berth. This season, a fourth-down touchdown pass in the final minute by Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton bounced the Ravens from the postseason chase.

''Our mantra has always been to finish,'' Martindale said. ''We're close. Obviously, the last two years, it's been the last play that's knocked us out of it. We are going to work diligently - all of us - with our package and situational football.

''That's going to be the next step, I think, that will skyrocket us. That's the big thing that I see. We were really good. Let's make it great.''

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Falcons' offensive coordinator Sarkasian to return in 2018

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Steve Sarkasian will return as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator despite a decline in production in his debut 2017 season.

Sarkasian has been the target of criticism as the Falcons, who lost at Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs last week, fell short of a return trip to the Super Bowl.

Coach Dan Quinn announced Thursday that Sarkasian will return in 2018.

After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons fell to 15th this season . Quinn said Sarkasian doesn't deserve the full blame for the offense's struggles.

''To be clear with you, if this was about one person, that decision already would have been made,'' Quinn said, adding he has ''no issue with making changes, no problem with that but I have no interest in making change just for the sake of change.''

The Falcons finished 10-6 in the regular season and won a wild card game at the Los Angeles Rams before the 15-10 loss to the Eagles . The Falcons were scoreless in the second half. Sarkasian's play-calling was second-guessed when Atlanta couldn't score after having a first down at the Eagles 9. A fourth-and-2 pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones was incomplete.

Sarkasian was hired from Alabama after Kyle Shanahan was hired as San Francisco's coach. Quinn offered the reminder that Shanahan also faced harsh criticism following is first season leading the offense in 2015. Atlanta led the league with 33.8 points per game in 2016.

''A number of people wanted his head'' after the 2015 season, Quinn said. ''What has stayed the same and what I learned during that process is what you're doing in order to build consistency, you better be consistent.''

Quinn said the struggles on offense were ''not an indication of one play-caller or one player. It's on all of us.''

Meanwhile, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said reaching an agreement on a contract extension with Ryan will be ''the number one focus'' of the offseason.

Ryan is entering the final year of his six-year, $103.75 million contract. He will be 33 next season but is still seen as the team's long-term starter who, like New England's Tom Brady, can play to or beyond the age of 40.

''Personally that is my feeling,'' Dimitroff said. ''He's a guy who takes care of his body both on and off the field properly. ... And of course we're fortunate with the way the rules are set up in the league, they're going to preserve our quarterback, hopefully. Again, we want him to be part of this organization for a long time coming.''

Dimitroff expressed optimism an agreement on Ryan's contract extension could come quickly.

''I think it's not going to be that difficult of a negotiation, quite honestly,'' he said. ''I think we're going to be in a good spot with it.''

NOTES: Quinn confirmed special teams coach Keith Armstrong will have a second interview in Arizona's search for a coach . Quinn said Armstrong ''is terrifically qualified to lead a team.'' ... Quinn said he is ''in the middle'' of his search to replace quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan, who left to become the offensive coordinator at University of Washington. Among the candidates are longtime NFL assistant coach Greg Knapp, the Falcons' former offensive coordinator under Jim Mora, and Jedd Fisch, who was UCLA's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season.

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Lawyer: OJ Simpson is golfing a lot, staying in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) O.J. Simpson is not planning to move from Nevada to Florida like he told state parole officials before he was released in October from Nevada state prison, his Las Vegas lawyer said Thursday.

The 70-year-old former football hero, acquitted murder defendant and armed robbery inmate has not filed paperwork with parole officials to move to a different state, attorney Malcolm LaVergne said.

''Mr. Simpson has no immediate plans to return to Florida,'' LaVergne told The Associated Press. ''He's very much enjoying his time here in Vegas. It's January, he gets to play golf every day.''

A Nevada state parole and probation officer handling Simpson's case did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment, and Florida prisons spokeswoman Ashley Cook said her agency has not received documents from Simpson seeking interstate custody.

Simpson has been spotted in public in and around Las Vegas several times during the more than three months he has been living in a friend's five-bedroom home in a gated and guard-patrolled community several miles (kilometers) from the Las Vegas Strip.

He drew a crowd of selfie-seekers Jan. 7 at a Las Vegas bar and pizza shop during an NFL playoff game featuring one of his former teams, the Buffalo Bills.

An outing in November to a steakhouse and a lounge at the Cosmopolitan resort is in dispute, after officials ordered Simpson off the Las Vegas Strip property and prohibited him from returning.

LaVergne denies claims that Simpson was intoxicated or disruptive, and alleges in a Dec. 29 letter to hotel officials that the incident was a malicious and racially prejudiced effort to embarrass Simpson and jeopardize his parole status.

The Cosmopolitan has not responded, company spokeswoman Samantha Grimes said Thursday.

Simpson has earned almost eight months of good time credit since his release from prison, bumping up his expected release from parole to Jan. 18, 2022, from the original Sept. 29, 2022.

He was released to parole Oct. 1 after nine years in prison for leading five men, including two with guns, in a September 2007 confrontation with two sports collectibles dealers at a Las Vegas casino hotel.

Simpson insisted he only wanted to retrieve personal mementoes and items stolen from him following his acquittal in Los Angeles in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson was found liable for the killings in 1997 and ordered by a California civil court jury to pay $33.5 million to victims' families.

David Cook, a lawyer continuing to pursue payment for Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, said this week that with interest accruing daily, the total amount owed his client now is nearly $71 million.

Cook is asking a California judge Jan. 30 to let Goldman claim any money Simpson makes from celebrity appearances or the sale of autographs and memorabilia.

Simpson's attorney in that case, Ronald Slates, declined comment on Wednesday.

LaVergne denied Simpson has income beyond what he termed a modest NFL pension. He said Simpson has no intention of paying the Goldman judgment.

''He's publicly said he's never willingly going to pay them a dime,'' the lawyer said. ''He doesn't have any income to pay. This is all about publicity.''

LaVergne added: ''Everything going on about Mr. Simpson now is about publicity.''

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This version corrects the last name of the lawyer in the last sentence, LaVergne not Lavergne

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Jaguars' Smith pleads for leniency after $10K taunting fine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith is pleading for leniency after being fined $10,000 for taunting Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell during his fumble return for a touchdown last week.

Smith pointed at Bell near the goal line and drew a 15-yard penalty. He says he will appeal the fine.

The team's leading tackler issued a public apology to the NFL on Thursday, saying, ''I wish I had not pointed. Give me a camera to talk to the league, too. NFL, please listen. I'm sorry. I got the fine today. I apologize. I take the point back, the taunting. I'm a great player.''

A second-team All-Pro selection, Smith had 102 tackles during the regular season and has 27 in two postseason games, including 16 against the Steelers.

He adds: ''Y'all make sure y'all put that video up about the fine. Trying to get that appealed.''

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Falcons' offensive coordinator Sarkasian to return in 2018

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Steve Sarkasian will return as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator despite a decline in production in his debut 2017 season.

Meanwhile, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff says reaching an agreement on a contract extension with quarterback Matt Ryan will be ''the number one focus'' of the offseason.

Sarkasian has been the target of criticism as the Falcons, who lost at Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs last week, fell short of a return trip to the Super Bowl.

Coach Dan Quinn announced Thursday that Sarkasian will return in 2018. Quinn says Sarkasian doesn't deserve the full blame for the offense's struggles. After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons fell to 15th this season.

Ryan is entering the final year of his six-year, $103.75 million contract.

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Jaguars-Patriots Matchups

Matchups for the AFC championship game Sunday between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots:

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When the Jaguars (12-6) have the ball:

That impressive performance in Pittsburgh very likely will be needed for the Jaguars to have a chance. That means QB Blake Bortles (5) must get time from his blockers, led by C Brandon Linder (65) and rookie LT Cam Robinson (74), who is big and nasty and plays with an edge, against a spotty pass rush. New England doesn't have any studs in the front seven, but everyone is effective. Last week, Geneo Grissom (92) and Deatrich Wise (91) each had two sacks. Who? Exactly the Patriots' way.

Jacksonville will look to run with stud rookie Leonard Fournette (27) and valuable backup T.J. Yeldon (24). The Patriots held Tennessee, a decent run team, to 65 yards. The Jags, though, led the league in rushing yardage, and Bortles is a threat to run.

Jaguars receivers Marqise Lee (11) and Allen Hurns (88) can be a dangerous pair - Lee is vastly improved - and with the Patriots likely to try to take Fournette out of the game, how those two manage against an inconsistent secondary will be a key. In the playoffs, however, New England's DBs, particularly S Devin McCourty (32) and CB Malcolm Butler (21) tend to step up big time.

The Jags hurt the Steelers with big plays, and the Patriots have been vulnerable to those at times. Jacksonville will require a bunch of them to stay close.

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When the Patriots (14-3) have the ball

Start with Tom Brady (12). We could almost end there, too.

At 40, the four-time Super Bowl MVP plays as if he's 30. He might have slowed down in December, but does anyone think the All-Pro quarterback won't be on-target to fellow All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski (87) or WRs Brandon Cooks (14), Danny Amendola (80), Chris Hogan (15) and RBs James White (28) and Dion Lewis (33)?

The caveat comes from Jacksonville's pass rush. Sacksonville had 55 in 2017, then four more in the playoffs. The biggest threat, All-Pro DL Calais Campbell (93) had 14+ during the regular season and has none in January. He must be itching to get a QB down on the ground.

Fellow pass rushers Yannick Ngakoue (91), a strip-sack artist, Dante Fowler Jr. (56), Marcell Dareus (99) and Malik Jackson (97) could add to Brady's discomfort; Brady's biggest dislike is not being able to set himself to throw.

Trying to keep that pass rush honest will be the most underrated O-line in the game, paced by LT Nate Solder (77) and C David Andrews (60).

White has been super reliable in past postseasons, but Lewis has become the primary running back.

Jacksonville's cocky secondary features All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey (20) and solid A.J. Bouye (21), and two castoff safeties who have been solid, Barry Church (42) and Tashaun Gipson (39). They will unquestionably be challenged by Brady's receiving group.

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Special Teams

After struggling by his standards in 2016, Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski (3) is back to being close to automatic: 37 out of 40 in 2017, 4 for 4 on kicks of 50 or more yards. Gostkowski's 165 postseason points trail only Adam Vinatieri (234) and David Akers (175).

Lewis is the only player on the four remaining teams in the playoffs to have returned a kickoff for a touchdown this season. He ranked fourth in the NFL with a 24.8 yards per return.

Amendola is also a threat on punt returns. He averaged 8.6 yards per return during the regular season, including a long of 40 yards.

Jacksonville's penchant for trick plays on special teams is something to watch. The Jaguars turned three fake punts into touchdowns during the regular season.

Josh Lambo, signed in mid-October to replace errant Jason Myers, is a former Major League Soccer goalkeeper who has made 21 of 22 field goals, including both in the postseason, and 29 of 31 extra points.

Brad Nortman ranked 31st in the league in net average (44.1) and had two punts blocked, including one last week at Pittsburgh.

Returners Corey Grant and Jaydon Mickens have the speed and agility to break long returns.

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Coaching

Give Doug Marrone tons of credit for changing the culture in Jacksonville. No more Lax Jax. This is a tough, relentless bunch on defense, and one that while up and down has become more threatening with the ball. Marrone has the Jags believing, and when was the last time folks in North Florida could say that?

Defensive coordinator Todd Wash should be getting looks for a top job. Yes, the roster was vastly improved on D over the past two years and Wash has molded it well.

OC Nathaniel Hackett isn't nearly as accomplished, but he outcoached his Steelers counterparts last week.

What else needs to be said about the Patriots' leadership, which gets them this far all the time? Suffice to point out that OC Josh McDaniels and DC Matt Patricia both have been front-runners for head coaching jobs this offseason.

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Intangibles

The Jaguars are one of four teams never to make a Super Bowl. Their win in Pittsburgh has them stoked, and their youthful exuberance that some might describe as over the top actually has served them well so far. Then again, riling up Brady's bunch rarely is a good strategy.

Somehow, the Patriots have convinced themselves they are either disrespected, distrusted or dismissed outside of New England. Not a bad motivational tool, even if it seems to ring hollow for a five-time champion.

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AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Kyle Hightower contributed.

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Vikings-Eagles Matchups

Matchups for the NFC championship game Sunday between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles:

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When the Vikings (14-3) have the ball

Watch out for Stefon Diggs (14) on a desperation pass!

Seriously, Vikings receivers are more dangerous than given credit for. Indeed, that's also true for Philadelphia's wideouts.

Diggs, breakout star Adam Thielen (19), Jarius Wright (17) and even journeyman Michael Floyd (18) can make plays, though the big confrontations will be Thielen and Diggs against CBs Jalen Mills (31) and Ronald Darby (41). These matchups favor QB Case Keenum (7), who has gone from undistinguished fill-in to standout clutch passer.

The passing game will be a key for the Vikings, who will want to get TE Kyle Rudolph (82) involved early. Although the Vikes rank seventh in rushing yardage gained this season - Latavius Murray (25) led the way with 842 yards and eight touchdowns, and was backed by Jerick McKinnon (21) - the Eagles, led by DT Fletcher Cox (91) on a solid front seven, were stingiest against the ground game.

If DLs Cox, Brandon Graham (55), rookie Derek Barnett (96), Chris Long (56) and some of the linebackers can win against an offensive line filled mostly with castoffs - but an efficient enough unit to help Minnesota's offense score 40 touchdowns - Keenum will need to improvise.

Of course, he's shown he's pretty good at that.

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When the Eagles (14-3) have the ball:

The Vikings have the NFL's top-ranked defense overall, with splits of second against the rush and the pass. It is led by cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) and safety Harrison Smith (22), both All-Pros, and a terrific line featuring ends Everson Griffen (97) and Danielle Hunter (99). Few teams have a better linebacking group, with Anthony Barr (55) the main playmaker.

Philly's challenges include protecting QB Nick Foles (9), who's not nearly as creative or elusive as Carson Wentz was. Foles needs time to connect with the likes of WRs Alshon Jeffery (17), Nelson Agholor (13) and Torrey Smith (82) and TE Zach Ertz (86). Ertz's matchups with Barr or Smith could be decisive.

The Eagles have a deep backfield, though the way they use Jay Ajayi (36), LeGarrette Blount (29) and Corey Clement (30) can be confounding.

If they get room to run, it will be because All-Pros center Jason Kelce (62) and RT Lane Johnson (65) won against that impressive D-line on the other side.

Foles comes off a strong performance that should silence the doubters. He also is facing a better defense - the best D - this week.

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Special Teams

Kai Forbath (2) has missed 8 of 55 extra points in 24 games with Minnesota. After going 15 for 15 on field goals in 2016, he fell off in 2017 by converting 32 of 38. But Forbath went 3 for 3 in single-digit temperatures at Green Bay on Dec. 23, including a 49-yarder. In the divisional-round win at home over New Orleans, he went 3 for 4, including the go-ahead 53-yard kick with 1:23 left.

Marcus Sherels (35) is one of the smallest players in the NFL, but one of the most accomplished punt returners with five touchdowns over the past six seasons. He ranked seventh with an average of 9.5 yards in 2017.

Ryan Quigley (4) finished his first regular season with the Vikings without a touchback, just the second punter to do so in a full season since the NFL began tracking the statistic in 1991.

The player to watch the most is long snapper Jeff Overbaugh (44), who became an emergency replacement after Kevin McDermott hurt his shoulder at Green Bay.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott (4) set a postseason club record with a 53-yard field goal last week, but he missed his fourth extra point in 43 tries this season. Elliott is 6 of 7 from 50 or more yards, including a 61-yarder.

P Donnie Jones (8) ranked 17th in net average and Kenjon Barner (38) filled in nicely after Darren Sproles (43) was injured. Barner's best return went for 76 yards.

Coverage units are solid despite losing special-teams captain Chris Maragos

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Coaching

Two longtime assistants who have had impressive success in charge.

Mike Zimmer achieved plenty as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, but often was passed over for head coach openings. That changed in 2014 when the Wilf family turned to Zimmer, whose upfront style has been refreshing in the Twin Cities. He is 40-26.

In Pat Shurmur (offense) and George Edwards (defense), he has two top coordinators. Shurmur, a former head coach in Cleveland, has been on several team's radars for such openings this month.

Former NFL QB Doug Pederson was a loyal assistant for Andy Reid, and he's got Reid's former team back in contention for the big game. Pederson's best skill might be finding the right players for each situation.

He's 21-12, and he got the Eagles this far despite losing MVP contender QB Carson Wentz in December.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich also has plugged in plenty of players - including Foles - and prospered. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could be headed for another head coaching opportunity.

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Intangibles

Neither team has won a Super Bowl. The Vikings haven't even been to one since their fourth loss in as many tries, in the 1977 game. No member of the current team was born then.

Minnesota's incentive is enhanced by the chance to become the first franchise to host the big game in its stadium. Don't underestimate that kind of motivation.

And don't overlook the impetus the Eagles are getting from being a top-seeded underdog in successive playoff home games.

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AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell contributed.

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The NFL's final 4 all overcame injuries to star players

The list of players sitting out this weekend's conference championships is almost as impressive as the starting lineups: Julian Edelman. Carson Wentz. Dalvin Cook. Dont'a Hightower. Allen Robinson. Sam Bradford.

Following the NFL's season of carnage that claimed the likes of, among others, Aaron Rodgers, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, J.J. Watt, DeShaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Joe Thomas, this year's final four all overcame not only the odds - ''Minneapolis Miracle , anyone?'' - but devastating injuries to key starters.

''We have a tough and resilient team,'' Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long said of the NFC's top seed , which is missing its second-year QB in Wentz, an MVP hopeful when he blew out a knee in December.

Even before Wentz's injury thrust backup Nick Foles into the starting job for the playoffs, the Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, versatile return specialist Darren Sproles, and special teams captain Chris Maragos.

Yet, here they are, 60 minutes from Minneapolis and Super Bowl 52.

''I think that starts at the top with Doug, because he sets the tone for being resilient and even keeled,'' Long said of his coach, Doug Pederson. ''At the end of the day, we have a tough group of guys.''

So do the Minnesota Vikings, who are trying to reach their first Super Bowl in more than four decades and fulfill mantra to ''Bring it Home'' and become the first NFL team to play the title game in its own stadium.

And they're doing so behind Case Keenum, who crashed Tom Brady's playoff party along with fellow perennial backup Foles and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Together, the four quarterbacks left standing have a combined five Super Bowl rings, two NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVP trophies. Brady, of course, owns all of that hardware himself.

Such is the panorama of these playoffs following a season of pain in which so many superstars were rendered sideline spectators with broken bones, snapped ligaments, torn muscles.

Keenum replaced an injured Bradford, who had replaced an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford, now back in uniform as Keenum's backup, blew out a knee in the first month of the season, as did rookie running back in Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Behind resilient coach Mike Zimmer , who resisted the urge to quit just before he got the Vikings' head coaching gig in 2014, Minnesota rolled right along. Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem.

''We've got a bunch of fighters on this team,'' Zimmer said. ''They've been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.''

The Patriots are also a bunch of fighters; they reached their seventh straight AFC title game despite losing Edelman, Brady's top target, to a torn ACL in the preseason, and Hightower to a torn chest muscle in November.

Play caller Josh McDaniels and Brady, who led New England to a fifth Super Bowl title last year despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski, adjusted accordingly to Edelman's absence with another terrific year.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy stepped in for Hightower and ranked third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5+ sacks despite missing three of the final five games with a calf injury.

Van Noy's sack total was just a half-sack shy of Hightower's career high set in 2014.

''The thing about K.V. is he's very versatile,'' said Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty. ''So we've used him a bunch of different ways. ... He's been a big asset to our team.''

The Jaguars are the healthiest of the remaining playoff teams. They have only one opening-day starter on injured reserve: former Pro Bowl receiver Robinson, who tore his left ACL on Jacksonville's opener.

Four months removed from reconstructive surgery, Robinson is now traveling with the team, so he'll be on the sideline Sunday at New England, serving as a mentor to a raw receiving corps.

''Every person in this locker room put in a lot of work to get to this point, with me being one of them,'' said Robinson, who was poised for another big year after dominating the league's best secondary in training camp.

His injury on Jacksonville's third offensive snap created a huge void for the offense. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns tried to pick up the slack, but they ended up on the sideline at one point with injuries, too, leaving rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook to assume bigger roles.

Cole, an undrafted rookie from tiny Kentucky Wesleyan, had 42 catches for 748 yards and three scores in the regular season. He added a clutch 45-yard catch that set up a late TD in Jacksonville's 45-42 stunner at Pittsburgh last week.

''I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and feel like I did Sept. 9,'' Robinson said, ''but I understand it's going to be a process. I know I'll be back to that point and better.''

Like so many other stars, Robinson will be in street clothes Sunday, cheering on his teammates in hopes of getting a sideline pass to the Super Bowl.

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With contributions from AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Kyle Hightower.

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Jaguars-Patriots Capsule

JAGUARS (12-6) at PATRIOTS (14-3)

Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Patriots by 9 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Jaguars 9-7, Patriots 11-5

SERIES RECORD - Patriots lead 10-1

LAST MEETING - Patriots beat Jaguars 51-17, Sept. 27, 2015

LAST WEEK - Jaguars beat Steelers 45-42; Patriots beat Titans 35-14

AP PRO32 RANKING - Jaguars No. 10, Patriots No. 1

JAGUARS OFFENSE - OVERALL (6), RUSH (1), PASS (17)

JAGUARS DEFENSE - OVERALL (2), RUSH (21), PASS (1)

PATRIOTS OFFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (10), PASS (2)

PATRIOTS DEFENSE - OVERALL (29), RUSH (20), PASS (30)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES -Patriots are 3-1 in playoffs against Jaguars. Lone Jacksonville win was 25-10 in 1998 wild-card round when Tom Coughlin was Jacksonville's coach and Pete Carroll coached New England. ... Patriots have won past seven meetings overall and two straight in postseason. ... Since Jaguars entered NFL in 1995, they are 1-10 (.091) against Patriots, including playoff games. That's worst winning percentage of any team vs. one opponent (minimum 10 games) in that span. ... Jaguars seeking first trip to Super Bowl, one of four franchises (Lions, Texans, Browns) never to get there. ... Jaguars are making third appearance in AFC title game in their 23-year history and first since 1999 season. ... Jacksonville lost 20-6 to New England in AFC title game on Jan. 12, 1997. ... Jacksonville can become 11th team to defeat top two seeds from their conference in same postseason since 1990 when current playoff format was adopted. ... Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone is 1-3 all-time vs. Patriots ... Jaguars are 8-0 this season when QB Blake Bortles doesn't have turnover and 4-6 when he does. ... Jags have plus-7 turnover margin on road this season (including playoffs), best mark in franchise history. They have 22 takeaways in nine road games this season, most in NFL and most in single season in franchise history. ... Including playoffs, Jacksonville's defense has scored eight touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. It is most defensive TDs scored in season by one team since 2012 Bears. ... In addition to being ranked fourth in NFL in opponent's red zone TD percentage (43.8), Jacksonville also has best red zone scoring percentage in NFL, scoring TDs on 67.9 percent of trips this season (40 TDs on 56 drives). ... RB Leonard Fournette rushed for 109 yards and three TDs in last week's divisional win. He is only rookie in NFL history with 100-plus yards rushing and three or more rushing TDs in postseason game. ... LB Telvin Smith tied career high with 16 tackles and returned fumble for TD last week. He has 27 tackles, forced fumble and fumble return in his two career playoff games. ... DE Calais Campbell led AFC with franchise-record and career-high 14 1/2 sacks. ... DE Yannick Ngakoue was one of two NFL players (Aaron Donald) with 10 or more sacks (12) and five or more forced fumbles (six). ... LB Myles Jack had sack, INT and three pass defenses in first two playoff games. ... CB A.J. Bouye has two INTs, forced fumble and seven pass defenses in his past four postseason games. ... Patriots playing in seventh straight AFC title game, a record. ... New England is 9-4 in AFC championship game overall. Patriots' 14 appearance rank behind only Pittsburgh (16) and San Francisco (15) for conference title contests. ... Coach Bill Belichick is 7-2 all-time vs. Jaguars. ... QB Tom Brady is 2-0 in playoffs against Jaguars, throwing for six TDs and no interceptions. ...Jacksonville is one of seven NFL teams that Brady has undefeated regular-season record against (5-0). ... Jaguars had NFL's No. 2-ranked scoring defense. Brady has faced top-two scoring defense in playoffs three times (2014 Seahawks, 2004 Eagles, 2004 Steelers). He is 3-0 with passer rating above 100 in each game. ... Brady led NFL with 4,577 yards passing and ranked first in AFC with 32 TDs. Both are most by QB at age 40 or older. ... RB Dion Lewis has 507 scrimmage yards (126.8 per game) with 5 TDs (three rushing, two receiving) in his past four games, including playoffs. ... TE Rob Gronkowski led all NFL tight ends with 1,084 yards receiving, his fourth career 1,000-yard season. That is tied with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten for most among tight ends in NFL history. ... In his past six postseason games, Gronkowski has 512 yards receiving (85.3 per game) and seven TDs. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in row with TD catch. ... WR Danny Amendola has 190 yards receiving (95 per game) and TD in past two playoff games. ... DE Trey Flowers had sack last week. He has 3 1/2 sacks in past two playoff games. ... LB James Harrison has 11 career sacks in postseason, tied for fifth most in NFL history.

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Lawyer: OJ Simpson is golfing a lot, staying in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) O.J. Simpson is not planning to move from Nevada to Florida like he told state parole officials before he was released in October from Nevada state prison, his Las Vegas lawyer said Thursday.

The 70-year-old former football hero, acquitted murder defendant and armed robbery inmate has not filed paperwork with parole officials to move to a different state, attorney Malcolm LaVergne said.

''Mr. Simpson has no immediate plans to return to Florida,'' LaVergne told The Associated Press. ''He's very much enjoying his time here in Vegas. It's January, he gets to play golf every day.''

A Nevada state parole and probation officer handling Simpson's case did not immediately respond to messages, and Florida prisons spokeswoman Ashley Cook said her agency has not received documents from Simpson seeking interstate custody.

Simpson has been spotted in public in and around Las Vegas several times during the more than three months he has been living in a friend's five-bedroom home in a gated and guard-patrolled community several miles (kilometers) from the Las Vegas Strip.

He drew a crowd of selfie-seekers Jan. 7 at a Las Vegas bar and pizza shop during an NFL playoff game featuring one of his former teams, the Buffalo Bills.

An outing in November to a steakhouse and a lounge at the Cosmopolitan resort is in dispute, after officials ordered Simpson off the Las Vegas Strip property and prohibited him from returning.

LaVergne denies claims that Simpson was intoxicated or disruptive, and alleges in a Dec. 29 letter to hotel officials that the incident was a malicious and racially prejudiced effort to embarrass Simpson and jeopardize his parole status.

The Cosmopolitan has not responded, company spokeswoman Samantha Grimes said Thursday.

Simpson has earned almost eight months of good time credit since his release from prison, bumping up his expected release from parole to Jan. 18, 2022, from the original Sept. 29, 2022.

He was released to parole Oct. 1 after nine years in prison for leading five men, including two with guns, in a September 2007 confrontation with two sports collectibles dealers at a Las Vegas casino hotel.

Simpson insisted he only wanted to retrieve personal mementoes and items stolen from him following his acquittal in Los Angeles in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson was found liable for the killings in 1997 and ordered by a California civil court jury to pay $33.5 million to victims' families.

David Cook, a lawyer continuing to pursue payment for Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, said this week that with interest accruing daily, the total amount owed his client now is nearly $71 million.

Cook is asking a California judge Jan. 30 to let Goldman claim any money Simpson makes from celebrity appearances or the sale of autographs and memorabilia.

Simpson's attorney in that case, Ronald Slates, declined comment on Wednesday.

LaVergne denied Simpson has income beyond what he termed a modest NFL pension. He said Simpson has no intention of paying the Goldman judgment.

''He's publicly said he's never willingly going to pay them a dime,'' the lawyer said. ''He doesn't have any income to pay. This is all about publicity.''

Lavergne added: ''Everything going on about Mr. Simpson now is about publicity.''

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Rivera, Mularkey, Roberts finalists for military salute

NEW YORK (AP) Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera, former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey, and Atlanta Falcons receiver Andre Roberts are the finalists for the NFL's Salute to Service Award.

The recipient of the award, presented by USAA, will be revealed at the NFL Honors show on Feb. 3, when The Associated Press announces its individual NFL awards.

Roberts, Rivera and Mularkey were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. USAA, which provides insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the award recipient's honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches.

''Each having grown up in a military family, all three finalists for the `Salute to Service Award' ... share a common understanding of the sacrifices that our service members and their families face in their daily lives,'' said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. ''We thank and salute Andre and coaches Rivera and Mularkey for their continued strong commitment to America's military community.''

Last October, all 32 NFL teams nominated coaches, active and retired players, and team executives and personnel who best demonstrated support for the military. Those submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges that included last year's award recipient, Falcons coach Dan Quinn.

Also on the panel were Bird; Rocky Bleier, a U.S. Army veteran and four-time Super Bowl champion; Chad Hennings, an Air Force Academy graduate and three-time Super Bowl champion; Tod Leiweke, NFL chief operating officer; Jim Mora, a Marine Corps veteran and former NFL head coach; and Roger Staubach, a Naval Academy graduate, Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl MVP.

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Jaguars coach Doug Marrone gets advice on beating Patriots

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone has some tips on how to beat the New England Patriots.

And not all of them are from Tom Coughlin.

Marrone received a folder Thursday filled with notes from first-graders at The Bolles School in Jacksonville.

The folder read, ''Dear Jags, Want to beat the Patriots? Here's how: Advice from your (hash)1 fans in Bolles First Grade.''

Marrone held it up during his news conference and said, ''I've got to get through this. This is from the Bolles first grade and this has the answers that maybe I'm looking for, maybe how we can stop the Patriots.''

He later added, ''We're just taking as much advice as we can because we need it.''

The five-time Super Bowl champion Patriots (14-3) will host the Jaguars (12-6) in the AFC championship game Sunday.

Marrone jokes that it's ''hard to believe how so many people have an opinion on how to beat the New England Patriots and no one's really done that.''

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Vikings-Eagles Capsule

MINNESOTA (14-3) vs. PHILADELPHIA (14-3)

Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - Vikings by 3 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Minnesota 12-4-1, Philadelphia 11-5-1

SERIES RECORD - Tied 13-13

LAST MEETING - Eagles beat Vikings 21-10, Oct. 23, 2016

LAST WEEK - Vikings beat Saints 29-24; Eagles beat Falcons 15-10

AP PRO32 RANKING - Vikings No. 2, Eagles No. 5

VIKINGS OFFENSE - OVERALL (11), RUSH (7), PASS (11).

VIKINGS DEFENSE - OVERALL (1), RUSH (2), PASS (2).

EAGLES OFFENSE - OVERALL (7), RUSH (3), PASS (13).

EAGLES DEFENSE - OVERALL (4), RUSH (1), PASS (17).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Eagles are 3-0 vs. Vikings in playoffs. ... Vikings seeking first trip to Super Bowl in 41 years. Eagles seeking first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years. Neither team has won a Super Bowl. ... Vikings are 6-16 on road in playoffs. ... Vikings were 6-2 on road this season. ... Minnesota led NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (275.9) for first time since 1993 and also allowed fewest points (15.8). ... Vikings held opponents to 25.2 percent conversion on third downs, best mark in league. ... Offense converted 43.5 percent on third down, third in league. ... QB Case Keenum was second in NFL with 67.6 completion percentage. ... RB Latavius Murray had 842 yards rushing and eight TDs. RB Jerick McKinnon had 570 yards rushing and three TDs. ... WR Adam Thielen was fifth in NFL with 1,276 yards receiving and eighth with 91 receptions. ... DE Everson Griffen tied for fourth in league with career-high 13 sacks. ... LB Eric Kendricks has led team in tackles each of his first three seasons. His brother, Mychal, is LB for Philadelphia. ... All-Pro S Harrison Smith tied career high with five picks. ... WR Stefon Diggs had 137 yards receiving vs. Saints last week, including 61-yard game-winning reception on final play. ... Eagles have reached conference championship six times since 2000, most appearances by NFC team in that span. ... Eagles in NFC championship game for first time since losing 32-25 at Arizona on Jan. 18, 2009. ... Eagles host NFC title game for first time since beating Atlanta 27-10 on Jan. 23, 2005. ... Philadelphia is 14-7 at home in playoffs, including 5-3 at Linc. ... Eagles are 14-3 at home under coach Doug Pederson, best home record in NFL over last two seasons. ... Philly has outscored opponents 244-117 at home this season. ... QB Nick Foles set franchise playoff record with 76.7 completion percentage vs. Falcons. ... Foles has completed 46 of 63 (73 percent) for 441 yards, two TDs, no picks and 102.7 passer rating in two playoff starts. ... RB LeGarrette Blount scored ninth career postseason rushing TD last week. ... RB Jay Ajayi had 98 scrimmage yards (54 rushing, 44 receiving) vs. Atlanta. ... K Jake Elliott's 53-yard field goal vs. Falcons last week was longest in team's postseason history. Elliott is 6 of 7 from 50 or more yards, but he's 39 of 43 on extra points and missed one against Atlanta.

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America might be yawning at another Patriots AFC title

YAWN!

That seems to be the reaction from everywhere except New England when Pro Picks has asked folks about the prospect of the Patriots being in yet another Super Bowl.

Apparently, they have become the team people love to hate: America's Team they ain't.

And they care not a bit about their popularity, or about what they've already achieved.

''I think it's a mistake if you take anything we've ever done in the past and translate it to what we're doing now,'' left tackle Nate Solder says.

''I think it's a different story. We're writing our own story this year, so what we're doing is preparing to see the Jacksonville team of this year and how we're going to beat them and be as ready as we can go to play our best football.''

That might elicit more yawns, but it's indicative of how things work in Foxborough.

But there's a sneaking suspicion that the Patriots (14-3) are well aware of what All-Pro safety Jalen Ramsey of the Jaguars (12-6) has been saying about Sunday's AFC championship game, in which host New England is a 9-point choice. Ramsey guaranteed a Jacksonville victory.

''I think what I have learned for a long time is it's how you play, it's not what you say,'' Tom Brady said during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI in Boston.

''Everyone has different ways of handling things. Players do, coaches do. We do what works for us, other players do what works for them. The game is going to be decided by who plays the best, not who hypes the best or speaks the best.''

This is a meeting of the No. 2 (Jags) and No. 5 (Pats) scoring defenses in the league. It's also a meeting of Brady against Blake Bortles.

Enough said.

YAWN!

PATRIOTS, 31-16

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Minnesota (minus 3) at Philadelphia

No shortage of attention here after both of these teams went down to the wire to advance.

This one figures to come down to defense: Minnesota allowed the fewest points in the NFL, 252, while Philadelphia was fourth stingiest.

That could mean it will be decided by the pass rush, and each team has some dynamic sack threats. The Eagles' Fletcher Cox was sensational against Atlanta last weekend, and is complemented by Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Chris Long. For the Vikings, it's Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter causing problems.

''We don't want to steer away from nothing different than what we do,'' Graham says, ''and we're going to go out there and we're going to wreak havoc. We're going to go out there and give it everything because it's the championship, baby.''

Philadelphia last made the Super Bowl for the 2004 season, losing to New England. The Vikings haven't been in the big game since - get this - 1977, their fourth loss in as many tries.

That's ancient history, of course. After what's been dubbed the ''Minneapolis Miracle'' that lifted them past New Orleans last Sunday, they believe anything is possible.

If they do things right.

''What matters is how we play on Sunday, how we execute today in practice, how we do those things,'' coach Mike Zimmer says. ''I feel like I have a pretty smart, level-headed football team. They understand the magnitude of things and they know what's at stake, so let's just go out, let's continue to do what we've been doing all year long, let's play good, let's play together as a team, take care of the football. All of the things you talk about all year long, really.''

As they say in politics, this one is too close to call. So going with the hosts.

EAGLES, 21-20

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2017 RECORD:

Last week: Against spread (3-1). Straight up (2-2)

Season Totals: Against spread (122-124-10). Straight up: (165-97)

Best Bet: 10-9 against spread, 11-8 straight up.

Upset special: 10-8 against spread, 9-9 straight up

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Holding: Browns tackle Thomas still undecided about future

CLEVELAND (AP) Joe Thomas remains torn about his football future.

He's still holding.

Cleveland's star left tackle, who played more than 10,000 consecutive snaps before suffering a season-ending left triceps injury on Oct. 22, said Wednesday night that he's undecided about continuing his Hall of Fame-caliber career - or retiring.

''Making progress,'' the 10-time Pro Bowler said. ''Had a lot of time to think and spend some time with the family, but not ready definitively to make a decision one way or the other just yet. Really for me, my decision is just going to come down to do I feel like I'm healthy enough to survive another season?''

One of the NFL's premier tackles, Thomas was on the field for 10,363 straight plays before his triceps ripped while blocking on a running play against Tennessee. Thomas planned to take the offseason to weigh his options, and he remains unsure if he wants to make a comeback or move on to a new career, perhaps in the TV broadcast booth.

Thomas isn't leaning in either direction.

''There's some days you go back and forth,'' he said.

Thomas was a presenter at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, which he attended with his wife, Annie. Thomas said he has not received any pressure to make his decision from the Browns, who are coming off a historic 0-16 season.

''I don't think there's any real rush at this point,'' he said. ''Obviously, they want to know before the draft and free agency, so that if they have to make different plans if I'm not going to be there, they want to know about it. I told them I'll make a decision when I'm ready and let them know and give them as much time as I possibly can.''

Thomas said he won't be medically cleared to play until summer, but that timeframe has no bearing on his decision.

''It's seven-to-nine months from surgery, so that would put me in June or July,'' he said. ''But I'm not worried about that. The elbow is something that'll take care of itself. I feel confident the rehab has gone well and it will continue to go well. Really for me, knee and back are the primary issues that I've been dealing with a number of years.''

Thomas came close to quitting before when a back spasm in 2007 lasted four weeks.

''Couldn't practice. Basically couldn't tie my own shoes,'' he said. ''And I go, `This is my last year. There's no way I can do this another season.' And I made it four more after that. So it's weird the highs and lows that you go through during a season, especially because of the emotional and physical toll a game takes on you.''

The 18th annual sports awards brought out some of Cleveland's biggest sports movers and shakers, including former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, Indians manager Terry Francona and Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman. The event was hosted by ESPN's Tom Rinaldi.

Former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas received a lifetime achievement award at the gala event. The 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas was affectionately known simply as ''Z'' by Cleveland fans who embraced the Lithuania native and made him one of their own.

Ilgauskas overcame two major foot injuries early in his career and played 13 seasons in the NBA before retiring in 2011 after one year in Miami. The Cavs retired his No. 11 in 2014.

Ilgauskas recalled that early in his career, owner Gordon Gund had a deal worked out to trade him to Detroit. He turned it down.

''I didn't stay because of the weather,'' he told the Cleveland crowd. ''I didn't stay because of the food, but that's gotten a lot better since 1996. I stayed because of you guys. You guys make this city what it is.''

LeBron James said Ilgauskas was one of his favorite teammates.

''We had a heck of a chemistry with our pick and pop,'' James said. ''Multi-talented guy but even greater person to be around every day. Came to work every day, showed up every day and he gave everything he could to this franchise and the Heat franchise.''

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Brian Gaine introduced as Texans general manager

HOUSTON (AP) Brian Gaine has had a long journey to the top.

After 19 years serving in various roles in the personnel departments of several NFL teams, Gaine is the one calling the shots now.

''I started at the bottom and worked my way to the top at every level of every organization that I've been in,'' said Gaine, who was introduced as the Houston Texans' general manager on Wednesday.

Gaine spent time as a player for three seasons before turning to the other side of the game in 1999 as a scout with the New York Jets. He has also worked with Dallas (2005-07), Miami (2008-13), Houston (2014-16) and Buffalo (2017) - most recently as the vice president of player personnel.

''I do believe, with a great amount of humility, I've been in five different organizations, so I have a unique perspective on what it has taken to win and what it has taken to achieve,'' Gaine said. ''I've had a chance to play a small part in going to the playoffs and winning division titles in each of those organizations. But most importantly, I think it requires good people, people that love football and are passionate about winning. Equally, a good process.

''I've seen varying processes in terms of how to build a roster and how to build a championship-caliber team, and I hope to implement some of those things here at the Texans.''

When Gaine last worked for the Texans, he served as the director of pro personnel in 2014 and then as the director of player personnel for two years. Heading into this new role with Houston, Gaine said he will work collaboratively with Texans coach Bill O'Brien, who recently received a four-year extension.

''What you see on Sundays obviously is the result of player acquisition and coaching, but there's a process that's involved in terms of getting to Sunday,'' he said. ''Bill and I are very philosophically aligned in terms of how to do that, how to build a right program, how to build a right culture, and it's not just the football roster, but it's also the football operation and that requires every aspect that touches the game and touches the locker room.

''All those aspects of the football operation, Bill and I are philosophically aligned in terms of how to run it and how to do it.''

One position on the Texans' roster that Gaine won't have to worry much about is quarterback - once Deshaun Watson returns from injury.

Watson tore a knee ligament during a practice on Nov. 2, but quickly established himself as an exciting playmaker. He finished his rookie season passing for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns - the most TD throws in a quarterback's first seven career games since 1970.

''He's certainly a foundational piece for us, in terms of what we can build around,'' Gaine said. ''It certainly would be an advantage for any general manager coming into a team to have a quarterback in place that you believe in, that you know that can help you win football games.''

Having a high-caliber player such as Watson at their disposal, Gaine - who has been evaluating players since arriving back in Houston - understands they have to put pieces around him to help him succeed on the field.

Some of that will be done through free agency, but also in the draft, in which the Texans will not have a pick in the first or second rounds this year.

''We will pursue every avenue to improve this roster, as it relates to the draft, to free agency, to waiver claims, to trades, to practice squad steals, to tryouts, workouts,'' Gaine said. ''Whatever we have to do to upgrade the roster in any aspect of the operation, we'll continue to do that. If free agency presents the opportunity for us to add a championship piece to the roster, we certainly will pursue that.''

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Trial in former NFL player McKnight's death to resume Friday

GRETNA, La. (AP) The trial of the man who fatally shot former NFL football player Joe McKnight in 2016 has been delayed another day because of harsh winter weather in Louisiana.

Ronald Gasser is charged with second-degree murder in McKnight's death.

His trial opened Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb with jury selection. Icy weather prompted closure of the courthouse Wednesday. It will be closed again Thursday.

Opening arguments could come Friday.

The shooting followed a traffic confrontation. Police said the men cut each other off in traffic on a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish. The vehicles had stopped and McKnight was standing outside Gasser's car when he was shot. Gasser's attorneys say McKnight was the aggressor and are expected to pursue a self-defense argument.

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Van Noy's versatility key in Patriots defensive improvement

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Not being in the limelight has never bothered Kyle Van Noy.

He didn't start a NFL game until his third season when he was with the Detroit Lions, and even then was thought of as a role player.

So now being considered one of the leaders on a Patriots defense that is on the cusp of making a return trip to the Super Bowl seems somewhat out of place for the fourth-year linebacker as he heads into Sunday's AFC championship game against Jacksonville.

''I've been in so many situations since I've been here,'' Van Noy said of the increased role he's had in New England.

''I mean going deep in the playoffs last year and then playing all of the games this year. ... Each and every game there's different situations, different scenarios that come up. So I would say that my awareness has gone up a lot since I've been here.''

The same could be said about his value.

When linebacker Dont'a Hightower went down with a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in the Patriots' win over the Falcons in Week 7, it left a void in the side of a defense that entered 2017 young and inexperienced up front.

New England had already given up 30 or more points three times to that point and was ranked 23rd in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 23.7 points per game.

Van Noy began the season starting at outside linebacker alongside Elandon Roberts in the middle and Hightower at the other outside spot.

But when Hightower went down, the coaching staff asked Van Noy to handle multiple roles, playing both on the edge and middle of the field at times.

Safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty said that the 26-year-old showed glimpses of that versatility even last season.

It's why it wasn't strange for him to see Van Noy tackle the responsibility of receiving the defensive play call from the sideline, another role that he's inherited with Hightower out.

He flourished in them all, and over the final nine weeks of the season New England got stingier on defense.

By the end of the season it was allowing just 18.5 points per game - the fifth-best mark in the league.

Van Noy missed three of the final four games with a calf injury, but still finished the regular season third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5+ sacks. Van Noy's sack total was just a half-sack short of Hightower's career-high of six in 2014.

''It helps our defense out a lot, and he's one of a lot of guys on our defense that have been able to play different positions that allow us to do different things defensively,'' McCourty said. ''He's been a leader, he's run the huddle kind of since he's been in there.''

Coach Bill Belichick said continuity and execution has improved all over the defense, with lots of contributions from Van Noy and others such as Trey Flowers, Marquis Flowers, Adam Butler, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Ricky Jean Francois.

''Some of the guys that are playing now weren't playing. If we had had this conversation in the middle of the season, you wouldn't be asking about them,'' Belichick said.

''They've stepped into different roles and they've worked together more, gotten a better feel for each other, execution's better, so it's good.''

Van Noy said any success he's had is simply a product of his environment.

''There are a lot of superstar defensive players that aren't even talked about,'' he said. ''When I was with the Detroit Lions there was a guy named DeAndre Levy who never made a Pro Bowl, but who everybody knew, if you played football, who he was. There are situations like that all the time. And there's teams that have really good defenses that aren't talked about. We're one of them.''

NOTES: The Patriots placed defensive back and special teamer Jonathan Jones on injured reserve. They also announced the signing of receiver Bernard Reedy. Reedy was a member of the Patriots' practice squad.

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Jets fire offensive coordinator John Morton after 1 season

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Jets are looking for someone to lead their offense - again.

The Jets announced Wednesday night that they fired offensive coordinator John Morton after just one season. His departure means the franchise will have its sixth offensive coordinator in eight years next season.

Morton replaced the retired Chan Gailey last year after two seasons in New Orleans as the Saints' wide receivers coach. Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is a candidate to be promoted by head coach Todd Bowles. Bates served as Seattle's offensive coordinator in 2010.

''We appreciate John's contributions and wish him the best moving forward,'' coach Todd Bowles said in a statement posted on the team's website.

The New York Daily News first reported the decision by the Jets to part ways with Morton, whose offense finished ranked No. 28 overall.

Morton's play-calling came into question at times during an up-and-down season with the Jets, particularly when running back Matt Forte publicly criticized the game plan against Atlanta in Week 10 because New York got away from the run.

Both Morton and Forte said they spoke, and that the offensive coordinator was always open to discussions with his players and tweaking things.

''I've learned a lot,'' Morton said in his last meeting with reporters on Dec. 28. ''As far as my personality, being more vocal with the offense, with the team. Listening. We had a period there where some players said some certain things and I listened. I think you should listen to the players and if it's good for the team, then we'll do it. So I'm kind of happy with myself that I listened because, listen, I didn't do this by myself. It's all with the coaches, it's all with the players. They make it all work.''

Morton added that there were several things he wished he had done differently, but insisted that he would get better over time.

''I've had a blast,'' he said. ''It's been fun. There's been ups and downs, but I've always stuck with my preparation. That's the way I was taught. Stick with your preparation and trust it. I think I've done that. I'll learn as I go as long as I do this job, but it's been fun.''

Under Morton and Bates, quarterback Josh McCown had the best season of his career, throwing for a career-high 2,926 yards and 18 touchdowns before being lost for the final three games with a broken left hand.

The Jets had a better-than-expected passing game with McCown leading the way with wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson having career seasons. But New York's inconsistency was glaring on that side of the ball, and with Bryce Petty at quarterback, the Jets couldn't manage much on offense while ending the season 5-11.

Offensive coordinator has been a revolving door for New York in recent years. Brian Schottenheimer served in the role for six years from 2006-11, but there's been little continuity since with Tony Sparano (2012), Marty Mornhinweg (2013-14), Gailey (2015-16) and Morton (2017) all lasting two years or less.

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Steelers part ways with offensive coordinator Todd Haley

PITTSBURGH (AP) Todd Haley spent six seasons helping turn the Pittsburgh Steelers offense into one of the most dynamic in the NFL.

All the yards and all the touchdowns weren't enough, however, for the fiery offensive coordinator to keep his job.

The Steelers chose not to renew Haley's contract on Wednesday, three days after the AFC North champions were ushered out of the playoffs in a 45-42 divisional round loss to Jacksonville.

''I have made the decision to not renew the contract for offensive coordinator Todd Haley,'' coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. ''I would like to thank Todd for his contributions to our offense the past six years, and we wish him the best in his coaching future.''

The 50-year-old Haley, whose father Dick spent two decades as Pittsburgh's director of player personnel in the 1970s and 80s, was hired in 2012 and tasked with developing an offense around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Though there appeared to be some tension between the two early in Haley's tenure, the results rewrote much of the team record book.

The Steelers finished in the top seven in total offense in each of the past four seasons, including third in 2017.

Pittsburgh won three division titles and reached the playoffs in each of those seasons thanks in part to Haley's playcalling, the ascension of All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to one of the best players in the league and the arrival and development of All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell.

Brown is the only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions. Bell is one of the best all-around backs in the league and his 406 touches in 2017 were 60 more than any other player.

Roethlisberger tied for the NFL lead in yards passing in 2014 and just as importantly saw the number of times he was sacked decrease substantially even as he put the ball in the air more frequently.

Haley and Roethlisberger downplayed any discord between the two, though Haley swapped places with Randy Fichtner in the middle of the season, moving from the sideline to the coach's box.

Haley was injured during an incident at a bar near Heinz Field on New Year's Eve shortly after the Steelers wrapped up a 13-3 season with a victory over Cleveland.

Haley was not considered a direct party to the incident and he said afterward he had the team's full support and was told it was not an issue moving forward.

Less than two weeks later, Haley finds himself looking for work. Tomlin declined to endorse Haley's return during his season-ending news conference on Tuesday. A day later Haley's productive if tumultuous time with the Steelers was over.

Whoever replaces him will have one of the most talented offenses in the NFL at his disposal. The entire starting offensive line is under contract for 2018. Roethlisberger has already stated publicly he will be back for a 15th season.

Brown is signed through 2021. Bell's situation is a little more unclear. The team can place the transition tag on him as it did this season, though he told ESPN.com he could sit out or retire if he and the Steelers do not reach a long-term agreement. Bell said on Sunday his hope is to remain in Pittsburgh.

Fichtner is the leading in-house candidate to take over for Haley. Fichtner has been with the team since 2007 and has spent the past eight years as quarterbacks coach. He has a solid rapport with Roethlisberger and the transition would likely be very easy for a team built to win now.

For all of Haley's acumen, Pittsburgh's offense came undone this season in critical moments due to curious playcalling.

Twice the Steelers were stopped in fourth down situations against Jacksonville. A first-quarter drive ended when Bell lost yards on fourth-and-inches.

Pittsburgh had the ball and a chance to tie the game early in the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger threw incomplete to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster on fourth down when advancing the ball a mere foot would have extended the drive.

Those sequences came a month after the Steelers lost to New England at home on Dec. 17 when a potential go-ahead touchdown pass to Jesse James in the final seconds was overturned on replay and Roethlisberger attempted a pass after a fake spike two plays later.

The pass was picked off and the Steelers lost, costing them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, a sequence that helped cost Haley his position with the team.

NOTES: Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak will remain with the team. The Hall of Fame offensive lineman and former head coach of the Tennessee Titans had interviewed for the vacant head coaching job in Arizona but removed himself from contention saying ''the timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity.'' ... Longtime wide receivers coach Richard Mann announced his retirement after 33 seasons as an assistant, including the past five with Pittsburgh.

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Vikings deep in playoffs, thanks in part to diligent Diggs

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The path for Stefon Diggs to last-play touchdown fame and sudden Minnesota savior didn't start with such brilliance.

Diggs has only arrived at this stage of his life and his career, a Vikings standout on the verge of a Super Bowl, with an unrelenting diligence and a dose of humility.

For all the natural talent of a consensus five-star recruit coming out of high school, he's sure had to work hard to get here.

''He's my guy. I love him to death. I appreciate all he does for this team, and I appreciate all he's done for me,'' fellow wide receiver Adam Thielen said. ''He's pushed me harder than anybody has pushed me in my life.''

Remember those first three regular-season games in the NFL? Not really. He was a healthy scratch on the sideline.

That's a long way from the 61-yard catch-turn-run sequence that Diggs produced as time expired on Sunday that sent the Vikings to the NFC championship game with a 29-24 victory over New Orleans .

''He continually has gotten better over the past three years,'' tight end Kyle Rudolph said.

''It's awesome to see guys like that who work so hard have an opportunity in such a big moment and for them to make the most of it.''

Treating each practice as if it's a game is a common response from teammates asked about Diggs and his work ethic. Thielen and Diggs are widely considered to be two of the sharpest and savviest route runners in the league.

''He wants to win. Whether he's getting the ball or he's not getting ball, blocking or not, whatever he's doing, he wants to win,'' Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander said, adding: ''The thing I love about Diggs is he doesn't let the game be bigger than him. He just kind of goes in the game, and it's just another game. That allows you to play well.''

Setbacks became a recurring theme for Diggs, who chose to stay in his home state and play for Maryland so his family could watch him more often despite offers from powerhouse programs such as Auburn, Florida and USC.

With the Terrapins, though, he caught passes from four different quarterbacks over three seasons, with more than one starter used each year.

Injuries each season kept him from playing a full schedule, including a broken leg as a sophomore and a lacerated kidney as a junior.

When he declared for the draft a year early, there were also questions from NFL teams about his attitude and compliance.

After high stepping and somersaulting into the end zone in one game in 2013, coach Randy Edsall pulled him aside for a mild admonishment to remind him about the importance of reputation.

With substandard 6-foot height also a factor, Diggs fell to the fifth round for the Vikings to find one of the true steals of that 2015 draft. He made an immediate impact in his debut at Denver, with six receptions for 87 yards. Four games in, he had 419 yards and two touchdowns.

''When I was going into the combine and stuff like that, I had 100 percent confidence in myself,'' Diggs said on Wednesday, as the Vikings reconvened for practice in preparation for their game Sunday at Philadelphia.

''I had a lot of support along the way. I had some great coaches and some great teammates that pushed me in the right direction. I'll never take all the credit.''

His production waned down the stretch of his rookie season, with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater still developing on the job.

In Sam Bradford's first game for Minnesota in 2016, the lid-lifter at U.S. Bank Stadium against rival Green Bay, Diggs hauled in 13 catches for 182 yards and a score in front of a prime time Sunday night audience.

But a groin injury cost him one game and some momentum. Then he hurt his knee and missed another game.

His first two games at home in 2017 were showstoppers, with two touchdowns apiece, but that groin injury popped up again at Chicago and kept him out for the next two weeks. Thielen, meanwhile, surpassed him as Case Keenum's favorite target.

There was Diggs in the huddle on Sunday, though, with 10 seconds left listening to Keenum tell the receivers he was going to give somebody a shot.

''It meant so much to me to see my quarterback believe in me the last play of the game,'' said Diggs, who began crying hard enough to cut short and turn away from one of his on-field TV interviews after the winning touchdown.

His younger brother, Trevon Diggs, happened to be in the stadium that evening for his first live NFL game. He's a cornerback and punt returner for Alabama who just won a national championship. Their father, Aron Diggs, died 10 years ago of heart failure .

''He started me in football. He played a huge part in what's going on now. That's the biggest thing. Kind of try and thank him prior to the game, him and God,'' Diggs said, ''and try and keep that thing going.''

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AP source: Jets fire offensive coordinator John Morton

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Jets are looking for someone to lead their offense - again.

A person with direct knowledge of the decision says the Jets have fired offensive coordinator John Morton after just one season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the move.

Morton's firing means the Jets will have their sixth offensive coordinator in eight years next season.

Morton replaced the retired Chan Gailey last year after two seasons in New Orleans as the wide receivers coach. Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is a candidate to be promoted by head coach Todd Bowles. Bates served as Seattle's offensive coordinator in 2010.

The New York Daily News first reported the decision by the Jets to part ways with Morton, whose offense finished ranked No. 28 overall.

Morton's play-calling came into question at times during an up-and-down season with the Jets, particularly when running back Matt Forte publicly criticized the game plan against Atlanta in Week 10 because New York got away from the run.

Both Morton and Forte said they spoke, and that the offensive coordinator was always open to discussions with his players and tweaking things.

''I've learned a lot,'' Morton said in his last meeting with reporters on Dec. 28. ''As far as my personality, being more vocal with the offense, with the team. Listening. We had a period there where some players said some certain things and I listened. I think you should listen to the players and if it's good for the team, then we'll do it. So I'm kind of happy with myself that I listened because, listen, I didn't do this by myself. It's all with the coaches, it's all with the players. They make it all work.''

Morton added that there were several things he wished he had done differently, but insisted that he would get better over time.

''I've had a blast,'' he said. ''It's been fun. There's been ups and downs, but I've always stuck with my preparation. That's the way I was taught. Stick with your preparation and trust it. I think I've done that. I'll learn as I go as long as I do this job, but it's been fun.''

Under Morton and Bates, quarterback Josh McCown had the best season of his career, throwing for a career-high 2,926 yards and 18 touchdowns before being lost for the final three games with a broken left hand.

The Jets had a better-than-expected passing game with McCown leading the way with wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson having career seasons. But New York's inconsistency was glaring on that side of the ball, and with Bryce Petty at quarterback, the Jets couldn't manage much on offense while ending the season 5-11.

Offensive coordinator has been a revolving door for New York in recent years. Brian Schottenheimer served in the role for six years from 2006-11, but there's been little continuity since with Tony Sparano (2012), Marty Mornhinweg (2013-14), Gailey (2015-16) and Morton (2017) all lasting two years or less.

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Steelers part ways with offensive coordinator Todd Haley

PITTSBURGH (AP) Todd Haley spent six seasons helping turn the Pittsburgh Steelers offense into one of the most dynamic in the NFL.

All the yards and all the touchdowns weren't enough, however, for the fiery offensive coordinator to keep his job.

The Steelers chose not to renew Haley's contract on Wednesday, three days after the AFC North champions were ushered out of the playoffs in a 45-42 divisional round loss to Jacksonville.

''I have made the decision to not renew the contract for offensive coordinator Todd Haley,'' coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. ''I would like to thank Todd for his contributions to our offense the past six years, and we wish him the best in his coaching future.''

The 50-year-old Haley, whose father Dick spent two decades as Pittsburgh's director of player personnel in the 1970s and 80s, was hired in 2012 and tasked with developing an offense around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Though there appeared to be some tension between the two early in Haley's tenure, the results rewrote much of the team record book.

The Steelers finished in the top seven in total offense in each of the past four seasons, including third in 2017.

Pittsburgh won three division titles and reached the playoffs in each of those seasons thanks in part to Haley's playcalling, the ascension of All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to one of the best players in the league and the arrival and development of All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell.

Brown is the only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions. Bell is one of the best all-around backs in the league and his 406 touches in 2017 were 60 more than any other player.

Roethlisberger tied for the NFL lead in yards passing in 2014 and just as importantly saw the number of times he was sacked decrease substantially even as he put the ball in the air more frequently.

Haley and Roethlisberger downplayed any discord between the two, though Haley swapped places with Randy Fichtner in the middle of the season, moving from the sideline to the coach's box.

Haley was injured during an incident at a bar near Heinz Field on New Year's Eve shortly after the Steelers wrapped up a 13-3 season with a victory over Cleveland.

Haley was not considered a direct party to the incident and he said afterward he had the team's full support and was told it was not an issue moving forward.

Less than two weeks later, Haley finds himself looking for work. Tomlin declined to endorse Haley's return during his season-ending news conference on Tuesday. A day later Haley's productive if tumultuous time with the Steelers was over.

Whoever replaces him will have one of the most talented offenses in the NFL at his disposal. The entire starting offensive line is under contract for 2018. Roethlisberger has already stated publicly he will be back for a 15th season.

Brown is signed through 2021. Bell's situation is a little more unclear. The team can place the transition tag on him as it did this season, though he told ESPN.com he could sit out or retire if he and the Steelers do not reach a long-term agreement. Bell said on Sunday his hope is to remain in Pittsburgh.

Fichtner is the leading in-house candidate to take over for Haley. Fichtner has been with the team since 2007 and has spent the past eight years as quarterbacks coach. He has a solid rapport with Roethlisberger and the transition would likely be very easy for a team built to win now.

For all of Haley's acumen, Pittsburgh's offense came undone this season in critical moments due to curious playcalling.

Twice the Steelers were stopped in fourth down situations against Jacksonville. A first-quarter drive ended when Bell lost yards on fourth-and-inches.

Pittsburgh had the ball and a chance to tie the game early in the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger through incomplete to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster on fourth down when advancing the ball a mere foot would have extended the drive.

Those sequences came a month after the Steelers lost to New England at home on Dec. 17 when a potential go-ahead touchdown pass to Jesse James in the final seconds was overturned on replay and Roethlisberger attempted a pass after a fake spike two plays later.

The pass was picked off and the Steelers lost, costing them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, a sequence that helped cost Haley his position with the team.

NOTES: Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak will remain with the team. The Hall of Fame offensive lineman and former head coach of the Tennessee Titans had interviewed for the vacant head coaching job in Arizona but removed himself from contention saying ''the timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity.'' ... Longtime wide receivers coach Richard Mann announced his retirement after 33 seasons as an assistant, including the past five with Pittsburgh.

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Aggressive Eagles set to face Minnesota's top-ranked defense

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles threw a deep pass into the wind on the first play from scrimmage against the Falcons, LeGarrette Blount scored the only touchdown on fourth down and wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on a new play.

The Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) are aggressive no matter what.

They'll need that approach when they face the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) and their top-ranked defense in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

''You'd probably call me unorthodox with some of the decisions I've made on fourth downs and going for it, 2-point conversions, things like that,'' Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday.

''Sometimes you just don't do the norm, you just don't do what everybody expects you to do and sometimes that can help you. I'm calculated by it, but at the same time, I'm going to make sure that I'm putting our guys in a good position.''

Foles underthrew the long pass to Torrey Smith to start the divisional playoff game, but a pass interference call gave the Eagles a 42-yard gain to the Falcons 25.

Jay Ajayi fumbled on the next play or perhaps the game wouldn't have come down to a defensive stand at the end to preserve Philadelphia's 15-10 win.

''Take a shot,'' Pederson said explaining his decision to throw long into a stiff wind.

On the touchdown drive early in the second quarter, Philadelphia faced third-and-3 from the Falcons 24. Foles faked a pitch to running back Corey Clement and handed off to Agholor on an inside counter with Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson pulling out and leading the way. Agholor took it to the Falcons 3. It was the first time Pederson called the play this season.

''Coach has just had a knack of seemingly calling those at the right time,'' offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.

''It comes up different every week. We really work well as a staff together in game planning. Sometimes we think we like something and we go out on the practice field and it doesn't quite look like it's ready. So, we have to keep it in the crock pot for another week or start over with a new recipe.''

Three plays later, tight end Trey Burton lined up at fullback and Blount followed his block into the end zone for a 1-yard TD run. Pederson didn't think twice about going for it instead of kicking a game-tying field goal.

''The ball was just inside the 1-yard line, and we had confidence to go for it in that situation,'' Pederson said. ''We were real close and the guys did a great job.''

During the regular season, only Green Bay (28) went for it on fourth down more than Philadelphia (26). The Eagles converted 17 times for 65.4 percent, third-best behind New Orleans (80 percent on 12 for 15) and Jacksonville (76.9 percent on 10 for 13). Minnesota is 1 for 7 on fourth down, fewest attempts in the league.

''You always want to be aggressive,'' Foles said. ''I love Coach's calls.''

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Steratore will lead 7-person officiating crew for Super Bowl

NEW YORK (AP) Referee Gene Steratore will lead the seven-person crew of on-field game officials working the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The other members of the officiating crew for the Feb. 4 game are Roy Ellison (umpire), Jerry Bergman (down judge), Byron Boston (line judge), Tom Hill (field judge), Scott Edwards (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge).

The crew has 127 years of NFL officiating experience and 101 combined playoff game assignments.

Steratore entered the league in 2003 as a field judge and was promoted to referee in 2006. He has officiated 11 playoff games, including two conference championships. He was the alternate referee for the 2010 Super Bowl.

Under the NFL officiating program's evaluation system, officials must be rated in the top tier at their position to be eligible for the Super Bowl. They must have at least five years of NFL experience and previous playoff assignments.

Paul Weidner is the replay official.

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Jaguars practice for Pats without starters Gipson, Omameh

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson and guard Patrick Omameh missed practice Wednesday.

Gipson sat out because of a foot injury suffered in last weekend's victory at Pittsburgh. Omameh was held out of because of an undisclosed illness.

Running back Leonard Fournette (ankle), defensive tackle Malik Jackson (ankle) and safety Barry Church (shoulder) were limited participants. Fournette tweaked his right ankle in the second quarter against the Steelers, but later returned and finished with 109 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

All of the injuries are considered minor, and the five players are expected to return to practice Thursday or Friday.

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50 women set to participate in football careers forum

NEW YORK (AP) The NFL will host a forum on women's careers in football next week before the Pro Bowl.

Fifty women representing five countries (U.S., Canada, Panama, Germany and Australia) will participate in the event on Jan. 26-27 in Orlando. The Pro Bowl is Jan. 28.

The forum will feature panel discussions and networking sessions aimed at educating and preparing women for careers in football operations, including coaching, officiating, scouting and front-office positions.

Twenty-two women who participated in the inaugural forum last year got jobs in football operations across the professional, collegiate and high school levels, including nine who obtained internships in the NFL.

Featured speakers and presenters include CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, NFL chief football administration officer Dawn Aponte, Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli, NFL director of football development Samantha Rapoport, Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Stanford coach David Shaw.

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Jaguars' Ngakoue trying to turn heads on AFC's biggest stage

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Yannick Ngakoue has a knack for the strip-sack, an innate ability to knock balls out of the hands of quarterbacks.

The Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end has 11 forced fumbles in two seasons, including a momentum-turning one in a victory at Pittsburgh last week. Ngakoue led the NFL with six forced fumbles during the regular season to go along with 12 sacks, and could pose significant problems for the New England Patriots (14-3) in the AFC championship game Sunday.

If so, he might even get the recognition he feels he deserves.

A third-round draft pick from Maryland in 2016, Ngakoue has been somewhat overshadowed with the Jaguars (12-6). Those perceived slights keep him motivated and define him like no one else in Jacksonville's locker room.

''Those scouts who passed me up and didn't think I was good enough probably feel stupid right now,'' Ngakoue said Wednesday.

The Jaguars feel fortunate to have him.

Although cornerback Jalen Ramsey , defensive end Calais Campbell and linebacker Telvin Smith have garnered more accolades than Ngakoue, it would be easy to argue that the pass-rushing specialist is as important to one of the league's top defenses as anyone.

Ngakoue has been involved in five of the eight touchdowns scored by Jacksonville's defense this season. Four of his strip-sacks went for touchdowns, and he recovered a fumble in Week 17 at Tennessee that he returned 67 yards for a score.

Overlooked? Not by his coaches and teammates.

''I tell him all the time, `When you start getting it like you're going to get very soon, just make sure you stay focused cause that is a motivating factor and it should be,'" Campbell said. ''Everybody wants to get your accolade and get your respect for how hard you work, but at the end of the day, his biggest motivation is providing for his family and his mother and really just trying to be the best.

''He wants to hopefully have a gold jacket one day. He has the potential to do so, too.''

Ngakoue has 20 career sacks, the most by anyone in franchise history during a two-year span.

But his reputation around the league seems to be more as a hot-headed player than a can't-block edge rusher.

That was evident in the wild-card game against Buffalo, when Bills guard Richie Incognito seemingly targeted Ngakoue with trash talk that the defensive end said went over the line and became ''weak racist slurs.''

''He is a very emotional player,'' Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. ''I think people can feed off of that. He has had a very good year. He is still the same type of guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder. I think we all know that when we see him. He plays extremely hard. He goes 100 mph every single play.''

Ngakoue's approach wasn't ideal as rookie. He often missed tackles and ran past the ball in an attempt to get to quarterbacks. But he's been more sound in his second season, although his 30 tackles is what probably kept him getting more Pro Bowl attention. He was a third alternate, which left him feeling snubbed.

''I want to be the best at my position, period,'' Ngakoue said. ''When you talk about guys like Von Miller, you talk about guys like Khalil Mack, you've got to put my name in there.

''I don't feel like (I get enough credit). When you talk about our defense, when you talk about edge rushers, I should be one of the guys being talked about. There's not too many guys who get the ball out and get strip-sacks. Why am I not being talked about with the other guys?''

Another big game on the AFC's biggest stage could change that.

''I want to wake guys up and for people to see,'' he said.

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Developing Derek Carr is top priority for new Raiders staff

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson was quite clear about what the top priority will be for coach Jon Gruden's new staff with the Raiders.

Everything from the smallest details like how practice is conducted to bigger decisions about personnel and scheme will be made with the thought of how it will help Derek Carr develop into a top-flight NFL quarterback.

''We grow as Derek Carr grows,'' Olson said Wednesday. ''We drafted this guy to be that franchise quarterback. We feel like he has the potential to be that guy that can be here and play for 10 more years. It's up to us to try and get that out of him. We'll do everything in our power to make sure that that happens, from practice to offseason programs, to what we're doing defensively in practice, all those things will be designed to help Derek's growth.''

Carr showed steady improvement from his spotty play as a rookie in 2014 when Olson served his first stint as offensive coordinator in Oakland to a breakthrough 2016 season under Bill Musgrave that garnered him MVP support and helped him earn a $125 million, five-year contract extension.

That steady ascension hit a speed bump last season as Carr played under his third coordinator in four years after Todd Downing replaced the fired Musgrave. Carr matched his career high with 13 interceptions and recorded his worst totals in yards, touchdowns and passer rating since his rookie year.

''This guy has to get some continuity,'' Olson said. ''The fact that they signed Jon Gruden to a 10-year contract, that's going to provide that stability that he needs and the continuity that he's going to need. He's going to be in a system now. He's going to be coached by a head coach that's going to be the play-caller. He's completely hands on with the quarterback position, and that's the first time Derek will have, first time he's going to have an offensive head coach that has a quarterback background and will be hands on with him on a day-to-day basis. I just see that growth curve skyrocketing because of that.''

Olson and new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther spoke to the media for the first time since officially joining Gruden's staff last week. Both coaches have ties to Gruden, with Olson having worked as Gruden's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay in 2008 and Guenther considering Gruden's younger brother, Jay, one of his closest friends after spending three years together as assistants in Cincinnati.

The two coordinators had talked to Jon Gruden over the years about the possibility of being on his staff if Gruden ever decided to return to coaching and leaped at the chance soon after Gruden returned to the Raiders.

''Cincinnati made a strong push to keep me there, but the opportunity to come out here with Jon and start this thing from the ground up was way too intriguing,'' Guenther said. ''I just looked at it as an opportunity I couldn't refuse.''

Guenther will be tasked with rebuilding a defense that struggled the past two seasons, leading to the midseason firing of coordinator Ken Norton Jr. The Raiders improved a bit in the final six games under John Pagano but didn't make nearly enough impactful plays despite the presence of 2016 AP Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack.

The Raiders lacked enough consistent pass rushers and the secondary got picked apart at times with rookies Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu missing almost the entire season with injuries.

Guenther called Conley his ''favorite'' cornerback in last year's draft and believes the pieces are in place starting with Mack to build a capable defense.

''Having a talent like that and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense,'' he said. ''We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency. He's a guy that you can really build a foundation through and around. He's an exciting guy to be able to coach for sure.''

NOTES: Guenther called NaVorro Bowman a ''prototypical'' middle linebacker and hopes he doesn't leave in free agency. ... Olson was noncommittal about the status of RB Marshawn Lynch, saying he would be doing him a ''disservice'' by evaluating his play in 2017 before taking a more thorough look at the film.

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Brady limited participant in practice with right hand injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots say quarterback Tom Brady did not attend a scheduled AFC championship news conference Wednesday because he was meeting with the team medical staff for a right hand injury.

According to New England's first injury report of the week, Brady was a limited participant in the practice held earlier in the day.

It was the Patriots' first practice in preparation for Sunday's conference title game against Jacksonville. Defensive lineman Alan Branch and running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead also were limited by knee injuries.

Brady appeared on the Patriots' weekly injury report several times during the latter half of the regular season with both an Achilles tendon and left shoulder injury.

The 40-year-old has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career.

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Brady misses news conference to meet with medical staff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots say quarterback Tom Brady did not attend a scheduled AFC championship news conference Wednesday because he was meeting with the team medical staff.

Team spokesman Stacey James didn't say why Brady was with medical personnel, but said he will be listed on the team's first injury report for the week.

New England held its first practice earlier in the day in preparation for Sunday's conference title game against Jacksonville.

Brady appeared on the Patriots' weekly injury report several times during the latter half of the regular season with both an Achilles tendon and left shoulder injury.

Brady has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career.

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Steelers part ways with offensive coordinator Todd Haley

PITTSBURGH (AP) Todd Haley spent six seasons helping turn the Pittsburgh Steelers offense into one of the most successful in the NFL.

All the yards and all the touchdowns weren't enough, however, for the fiery offensive coordinator to keep his job.

The Steelers chose not to renew Haley's contract on Wednesday, three days after the AFC North champions were ushered out of the playoffs in a 45-42 divisional round loss to Jacksonville.

''I have made the decision to not renew the contract for offensive coordinator Todd Haley,'' coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. ''I would like to thank Todd for his contributions to our offense the past six years, and we wish him the best in his coaching future.''

The 50-year-old Haley, whose father Dick spent two decades as Pittsburgh's director of player personnel in the 1970s and 80s, was hired in 2012 and tasked with developing an offense around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Though there appeared to be some tension between the two early in Haley's tenure, the results rewrote much of the team record book.

The Steelers finished in the top seven in total offense in each of the past four seasons, including third in 2017.

Pittsburgh won three division titles and reached the playoffs in each of those seasons thanks in part to Haley's playcalling, the ascension of All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to one of the best players in the league and the arrival and development of All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell.

Brown is the only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions. Bell is one of the best all-around backs in the league and his 406 touches in 2017 were 60 more than any other player.

Roethlisberger tied for the NFL lead in yards passing in 2014 and just as importantly saw the number of times he was sacked decrease substantially even as he put the ball in the air more frequently.

Haley and Roethlisberger downplayed any discord between the two, though Haley swapped places with Randy Fichtner in the middle of the season, moving from the sideline to the coach's box.

Haley was injured during an incident at a bar near Heinz Field on New Year's Eve shortly after the Steelers wrapped up a 13-3 season with a victory over Cleveland.

Haley was not considered a direct party to the incident and he said afterward he had the team's full support and was told it was not an issue moving forward.

Less than two weeks later, Haley finds himself looking for work. Tomlin declined to endorse Haley's return during his season-ending news conference on Tuesday. A day later Haley's productive if tumultuous time with the Steelers was over.

Whoever replaces him will have one of the most talented offenses in the NFL at his disposal. The entire starting offensive line is under contract for 2018. Roethlisberger has already stated publicly he will be back for a 15th season.

Brown is signed through 2021. Bell's situation is a little more unclear. The team can place the transition tag on him as it did this season, though he told ESPN.com he could sit out or retire if he and the Steelers do not reach a long-term agreement. Bell said on Sunday his hope is to remain in Pittsburgh.

Fichtner is the leading in-house candidate to take over for Haley. Fichtner has been with the team since 2007 and has spent the past eight years as quarterbacks coach. He has a solid rapport with Roethlisberger and the transition would likely be very easy for a team built to win now.

For all of Haley's acumen, Pittsburgh's offense came undone this season in critical moments due to curious playcalling.

Twice the Steelers were stopped in fourth down situations against Jacksonville. A first-quarter drive ended when Bell lost yards on fourth-and-inches.

Pittsburgh had the ball and a chance to tie the game early in the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger through incomplete to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster on fourth down when advancing the ball a mere foot would have extended the drive.

Those sequences came a month after the Steelers lost to New England at home on Dec. 17 when a potential go-ahead touchdown pass to Jesse James in the final seconds was overturned on replay and Roethlisberger attempted a pass after a fake spike two plays later.

The pass was picked off and the Steelers lost, costing them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, a sequence that helped cost Haley his position with the team.

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AP source: Steelers part ways with Todd Haley

PITTSBURGH (AP) A person with direct knowledge of the decision says the Pittsburgh Steelers will not renew offensive coordinator Todd Haley's contract.

The person confirmed the decision to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because there was no formal announcement from Haley or the team.

The 50-year-old Haley spent six seasons calling the plays in Pittsburgh, guiding one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell. The Steelers finished in the top three in total yards in three of the past four years.

The decision comes three days after the AFC North champions were upset at home by Jacksonville in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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Embrace the Bold North in Minneapolis for Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minneapolis is the northernmost city to host a Super Bowl. Tourism officials are making the most of that as they prepare to welcome visitors to the ''Bold North.'' Many activities surrounding Super Bowl will take advantage of Minnesota's wintry weather, including outdoor concerts, ice sculptures and opportunities for winter sports.

Super Bowl events will be held around the metro area during the week leading up to the Feb. 4 game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The city's unique skyway system of enclosed footbridges will let visitors get from place to place without going outside. A trip to the Mall of America is also a must-do for those needing retail therapy to escape the cold.

A look at some things to do:

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SUPER FUN

At Super Bowl Experience, the NFL's interactive theme park, fans can get NFL players' autographs, play games, take photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and more. Super Bowl Experience will be at the Minneapolis Convention Center Jan. 27-Feb. 3. Tickets are $35 ($25, children 12 and under).

The party continues down the street at Super Bowl Live , a 10-day, free outdoor festival and concert series on Nicollet Mall, a five-minute walk from Super Bowl Experience. The concerts, presented by Minnesota music legends Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, will have a distinctly Minnesotan flavor, featuring a Prince tribute and local bands like Soul Asylum, Mint Condition, the Suburbs and others.

A free snowmobile stunt show takes place Feb. 3. The American Birkebeiner International Bridge, a bridge that's part of a Wisconsin ski race, is being rebuilt over Nicollet Mall to showcase events like skijoring (cross-country skiers pulled by dogs) and fat-tire bike racing. Nearby, adventure seekers will soar across the Mississippi River on the Bold North Zip Line .

Super Bowl Opening Night will be held in St. Paul, a 15-minute drive from Minneapolis, on Jan. 29 at the Xcel Energy Center. The sold-out event gives fans a chance to see players and coaches. Also starting Jan. 29, fans can see players and celebrities in media interviews on Radio Row, at the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington.

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PLENTY OF PARTIES

Nomadic Entertainment Group is bringing a VIP experience called Nomadic Live! to the refurbished Minneapolis Armory building just blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium. Headliners there include Imagine Dragons, Pink and Jennifer Lopez. Tickets are here . While a traveling venue called Club Nomadic has been cancelled, most of the acts initially scheduled for that venue- including The Chainsmokers, Florida Georgia Line and Gwen Stefani - will now perform inside Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.

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EMBRACE THE BOLD NORTH

Can you try cross-country skiing, ice fishing or even dog sledding? You betcha!

Many state and local parks have cross-country ski rentals , snowshoe rentals or fat-tire biking on winter trails. Local rinks offer ice skating.

Adventurous tourists can head a couple hours out of town to find snowmobile rentals. Snow tubing or downhill skiing and snowboarding are also available within a 90-minute drive. And those who need to cross dog sledding or ice fishing off their bucket lists can find outfitters and fishing guides in northern Minnesota.

St. Paul's annual Winter Carnival coincides with Super Bowl. The carnival features a 70-foot (21-meter) Ice Palace, live music, ice carvings and more. The Luminary Loppet on Feb. 3 includes an ice pyramid and fire dancers.

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MINNESOTA MUST-DOS

Even hearty Minnesotans need a break from cold weather. One must-do includes a trip to the Mall of America , the nation's largest entertainment and shopping complex. The mall has roller coasters, restaurants, a sea exhibit and other attractions - and is always 70 degrees F (21 C) inside. The mall is just 11 miles (18 km) from Minneapolis and an easy train ride from downtown or the airport.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have a vibrant art and theater scene. The metro area has more than 50 museums. The Minneapolis Institute of Art , always free, will have an outdoor ice maze from Feb. 1 through Feb. 4. The Science Museum of Minnesota , in St. Paul, is a hit with all ages. Its interactive Sportsology exhibit lets visitors analyze their movements and race against professional athletes.

Fans of the late singer Prince can tour his famed Paisley Park studio, or stop by to see his star, and others, painted outside First Avenue , the Minneapolis nightclub made famous in ''Purple Rain.'' Fans can also take a self-guided tour of Prince's Minneapolis haunts, including his childhood home and high school.

Minnesota's craft brewery scene is booming, and several breweries in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area can be visited in one afternoon. The Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy) - a hamburger with molten hot cheese oozing out of the middle - is a unique Minnesota specialty worth trying.

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GETTING AROUND

While events surrounding Super Bowl are spread across several cities, the area is relatively compact and easy to navigate by bus, train , taxi or ride services like Uber. One note: The light rail will be open only to Super Bowl ticket holders on game day, as those attending the game will be screened for security off-site en route to U.S. Bank Stadium. Other riders can take free buses along the route. Metro Transit recommends that visitors download its app for real time information or call 612-373-3333 with questions.

Volunteers will be stationed throughout the city, and in the skyway system, to help direct visitors.

---

http://superbowl.com

https://www.mnsuperbowl.com

https://www.minneapolis.org/superbowl/

---

Listen to the AP Travel "Get Outta Here!" podcast about Minneapolis hosting Super Bowl: https://apnews.com/afs:Content:1730910008

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Embrace the Bold North in Minneapolis for Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minneapolis is the northernmost city to host a Super Bowl. Tourism officials are making the most of that as they prepare to welcome visitors to the ''Bold North.'' Many activities surrounding Super Bowl will take advantage of Minnesota's wintry weather, including outdoor concerts, ice sculptures and opportunities for winter sports.

Super Bowl events will be held around the metro area during the week leading up to the Feb. 4 game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The city's unique skyway system of enclosed footbridges will let visitors get from place to place without going outside. A trip to the Mall of America is also a must-do for those needing retail therapy to escape the cold.

A look at some things to do:

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SUPER FUN

At Super Bowl Experience, the NFL's interactive theme park, fans can get NFL players' autographs, play games, take photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and more. Super Bowl Experience will be at the Minneapolis Convention Center Jan. 27-Feb. 3. Tickets are $35 ($25, children 12 and under).

The party continues down the street at Super Bowl Live , a 10-day, free outdoor concert series on Nicollet Mall, a five-minute walk from Super Bowl Experience. The series, presented by Minnesota music legends Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, will have a distinctly Minnesotan flavor, featuring a Prince tribute and local bands like Soul Asylum, Mint Condition, the Suburbs and others.

A free snowmobile stunt show takes place Feb. 3. The American Birkebeiner International Bridge, a bridge that's part of a Wisconsin ski race, is being rebuilt over Nicollet Mall to showcase events like skijoring (cross-country skiers pulled by dogs) and fat-tire bike racing. Nearby, adventure seekers will soar across the Mississippi River on the Bold North Zip Line .

Super Bowl Opening Night will be held in St. Paul, a 15-minute drive from Minneapolis, on Jan. 29 at the Xcel Energy Center. The sold-out event gives fans a chance to see players and coaches. Also starting Jan. 29, fans can see players and celebrities in media interviews on Radio Row, at the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington.

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PLENTY OF PARTIES

Nomadic Entertainment Group is bringing a VIP experience called Nomadic Live! to the refurbished Minneapolis Armory building just blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium. Headliners there include Imagine Dragons, Pink and Jennifer Lopez. Tickets are here. While a traveling venue called Club Nomadic has been cancelled, most of the acts initially scheduled for that venue- including The Chainsmokers, Florida Georgia Line and Gwen Stefani - will now perform inside Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.

---

EMBRACE THE BOLD NORTH

Can you try cross-country skiing, ice fishing or even dog sledding? You betcha!

Many state and local parks have cross-country ski rentals , snowshoe rentals or fat-tire biking on winter trails. Local rinks offer ice skating.

Adventurous tourists can head a couple hours out of town to find snowmobile rentals. Snow tubing or downhill skiing and snowboarding are also available within a 90-minute drive. And those who need to cross dog sledding or ice fishing off their bucket lists can find outfitters and fishing guides in northern Minnesota.

St. Paul's annual Winter Carnival coincides with Super Bowl. The carnival features a 70-foot (21-meter) Ice Palace, live music, ice carvings and more. The Luminary Loppet on Feb. 3 includes an ice pyramid and fire dancers.

---

MINNESOTA MUST-DOS

Even hearty Minnesotans need a break from cold weather. One must-do includes a trip to the Mall of America , the nation's largest entertainment and shopping complex. The mall has roller coasters, restaurants, a sea exhibit and other attractions - and is always 70 degrees F (21 C) inside. The mall is just 11 miles (18 km) from Minneapolis and an easy train ride from downtown or the airport.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have a vibrant art and theater scene. The metro area has more than 50 museums. The Minneapolis Institute of Art , always free, will have an outdoor ice maze from Feb. 1 through Feb. 4. The Science Museum of Minnesota , in St. Paul, is a hit with all ages. Its interactive Sportsology exhibit lets visitors analyze their movements and race against professional athletes.

Fans of the late singer Prince can tour his famed Paisley Park studio, or stop by to see his star, and others, painted outside First Avenue , the Minneapolis nightclub made famous in ''Purple Rain.'' Fans can also take a self-guided tour of Prince's Minneapolis haunts, including his childhood home and high school.

Minnesota's craft brewery scene is booming, and several breweries in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area can be visited in one afternoon. The Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy) - a hamburger with molten hot cheese oozing out of the middle - is a unique Minnesota specialty worth trying.

---

GETTING AROUND

While events surrounding Super Bowl are spread across several cities, the area is relatively compact and easy to navigate by bus, train , taxi or ride services like Uber. One note: The light rail will be open only to Super Bowl ticket holders on game day, as those attending the game will be screened for security off-site en route to U.S. Bank Stadium. Other riders can take free buses along the route. Metro Transit recommends that visitors download its app for real time information or call 612-373-3333 with questions.

Volunteers will be stationed throughout the city, and in the skyway system, to help direct visitors.

---

http://superbowl.com

https://www.mnsuperbowl.com

---

Listen to the AP Travel "Get Outta Here!" podcast about Minneapolis hosting Super Bowl: https://apnews.com/afs:Content:1730910008

Read more

Embrace the Bold North in Minneapolis for Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minneapolis is the northernmost city to host a Super Bowl, and tourism officials are making the most of that as they prepare to welcome visitors to the ''Bold North.''

Many activities surrounding Super Bowl will highlight winter, including outdoor concerts, ice sculptures and plenty of opportunities for winter sports. The Super Bowl Experience is an interactive theme park that anyone can visit, and the Science Museum of Minnesota has a ''Sportsology'' exhibit.

A trip to the Mall of America is also a must-do for visitors who need some retail therapy to escape the cold. Other visitors may want to tour Paisley Park, the studio of the late singer Prince.

Read more

Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette uninjured in car accident

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette escaped injury after he was involved in what authorities say was a minor three-car crash.

The team says the rookie's car was rear-ended about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, and that he was not hurt. He was able to drive home after the crash.

The Jaguars also say Fournette signed the rear bumper of his 2017 Mercedes-Benz Maybach - it was knocked off in the wreck - and gave it to one of the first responders on the scene.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Fournette was not at fault in the crash.

Fournette and the Jaguars play at New England on Sunday in the AFC championship game.

Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns in Jacksonville's 45-42 victory at Pittsburgh last Sunday.

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Trial set to begin in ex-NFL player's road-rage killing

GRETNA, La. (AP) The trial in a road-rage shooting that took the life of former NFL football player Joe McKnight began Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb, where a judge and attorneys were questioning dozens of potential jurors.

Ronald Gasser, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 2016, shooting of the player who began his career as a local high school football star. Initially charged with manslaughter, Gasser was indicted on the more serious charge last February. He has pleaded not guilty.

Gasser, who remains jailed with bond set at $750,000, was dressed in a dark blue pinstripe suit as he entered the courtroom, accompanied by sheriff's deputies.

McKnight, 28, was a running back, considered a top recruit when he came out of John Curtis Christian School. He played college ball at Southern California before three seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

A jury was seated late Tuesday in the courtroom of state District Judge Ellen Kovach but the trial will be delayed due to icy weather conditions. Opening arguments could begin Thursday. Gasser's attorneys have cast McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser fired in self-defense.

If convicted as charged, Gasser would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Police said the confrontation took place as the men traveled across a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Authorities said the shooting happened after both cars had stopped and McKnight approached Gasser's vehicle. Gasser shot McKnight three times.

Defense attorneys said last year that they believe McKnight tried to enter Gasser's car through the passenger window. They noted that Gasser stayed on the scene after the shooting and said he cooperated with police.

The case bore striking similarities to an earlier 2016 shooting death involving another former NFL player. Will Smith, who retired after starring on New Orleans Saints teams that inspired the city after Hurricane Katrina with winning seasons and a 2010 Super Bowl victory, was shot to death during a confrontation following a traffic crash. A 29-year-old New Orleans man, Cardell Hayes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

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This story has been corrected to show that Gasser is 56.

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The Latest: Icy weather delays trial in death of ex-NFL back

GRETNA, La. (AP) The Latest on the trial of Ronald Gasser, on trial in the December 2016 shooting death of former NFL football player Joe McKnight (all times local):

9:10 p.m.

The trial of a man who shot former NFL player Joe McKnight has been postponed due to weather conditions.

The Jefferson Parish Courthouse will be closed due to icy weather. Jurors were seated late Tuesday and opening arguments could start Thursday.

Fifty-six-year-old Ronald Gasser is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting. His lawyers have laid the groundwork for a self-defense case, casting McKnight as the aggressor in a road rage incident.

Police said they had crossed a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and pulled over in neighboring Jefferson Parish, where the shooting occurred.

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10:40 a.m.

Jury selection has begun in the trial of a man who shot former NFL football player Joe McKnight to death in December of 2016.

Fifty-six-year-old Ronald Gasser is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting. His lawyers have laid the groundwork for a self-defense case, casting McKnight as the aggressor in a road rage incident.

Trial began Tuesday in the New Orleans suburb of Gretna.

Police said they had crossed a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and pulled over in neighboring Jefferson Parish, where the shooting occurred.

---

6 a.m.

The trial in a road-rage shooting that left a former NFL football player Joe McKnight dead is set to begin in a New Orleans suburb.

Fifty-six-year-old Ronald Gasser is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 2016, shooting of the former running back.

McKnight played college ball at Southern California before three seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police said the confrontation took place as they were traveling over a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Gasser's attorneys have cast the 28-year-old McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser shot in self-defense.

Jury selection was set to begin Tuesday.

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The 6 a.m. item has been corrected to show that Gasser is 56.

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Seahawks hire Schottenheimer, Norton as coordinators

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The Seattle Seahawks have hired Brian Schottenheimer as their offensive coordinator and are bringing back Ken Norton Jr. to oversee the defense.

The Seahawks officially announced the anticipated hires Tuesday after reports surfaced over the holiday weekend of agreements with the pair. San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan released a statement Monday that Norton had been offered a coordinator position less than a week after Norton was hired by the 49ers. The Seahawks did not confirm Norton's hiring until Tuesday.

Norton was the defensive coordinator in Oakland before getting fired after 10 games last season. He was subsequently hired by the 49ers last week as an assistant head coach before taking the job with Seattle. Norton replaces Kris Richard, who was Seattle's defensive coordinator for the past three seasons and was selected ahead of Norton for the job in 2015.

Norton served as linebackers coach for Seattle from 2010-14, but when he was bypassed for the job three years ago jumped at the chance to be a coordinator in Oakland. Along with firing Richard, the Seahawks let go of linebackers coach Michael Barrow.

Schottenheimer takes over for Darrell Bevell, who was fired last week after seven seasons in charge of Seattle's offense. Bevell was let go along with offensive line coach Tom Cable following a disappointing season where the Seahawks offense was defined by inconsistency.

Seattle also hired veteran Mike Solari as offensive line coach, replacing Cable.

Schottenheimer was an offensive coordinator from 2006-2014 with the New York Jets and the St. Louis Rams. He spent the 2015 season as the offensive coordinator at Georgia before returning to the NFL the past two seasons as the quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts.

Schottenheimer will inherit an offense that has great potential but significant problems to solve.

Russell Wilson led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes this season but was regularly underwhelming during slow first-half performances that put stress on Seattle's defense and often had the Seahawks playing from behind.

Schottenheimer's biggest challenge will be re-energizing a Seattle running game that disappeared this season. Wilson was the Seahawks' leading rusher by more than 500 yards. No running back for Seattle had more than 240 yards rushing and the six running backs who carried the ball for the Seahawks in 2017 averaged a mere 3.3 yards per carry.

His final three seasons in New York were the most optimistic sign that Schottenheimer can help the Seahawks return to the run-first style that head coach Pete Carroll desires. The Jets were the No. 9 run team in the NFL in 2008; No. 1 in 2009; and No. 4 in 2010.

With the return of Norton, Seattle chose a return to the past. There was a belief Seattle was trying to bring back Gus Bradley, but the former Seahawks defensive coordinator opted to remain with the Los Angeles Chargers. Norton knows much of Seattle's veteran personnel and will be more apt to run what Carroll wants defensively.

Richard's units slipped the past two seasons, but that was partly due to critical injuries. Seattle lost safety Earl Thomas for the final month of the 2016 season and played half of the 2017 season without Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. Seattle's defense ranked 11th overall and 13th in points allowed this season.

Solari joins Seattle from the New York Giants. He has ties to the Seahawks after serving as offensive line coach in 2008-09.

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Titans' Delanie Walker replaces Travis Kelce at Pro Bowl

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker has replaced Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce on the AFC roster for the Pro Bowl.

Walker was named as Kelce's replacement Tuesday.

This will be the third straight Pro Bowl appearance for Walker, who was an alternate this season. Walker led the Titans with 74 catches and 807 yards receiving, and he also scored three touchdowns.

The 12-year veteran now has 5,621 yards receiving for his career.

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Saints QB Brees: No plans to field offers from other teams

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Drew Brees dispensed with technicalities regarding his contract and spoke as if his return to New Orleans next season was virtually assured.

''It's the same way I felt two days ago. It's the same way I felt 12 years ago. I'll be here as long as they'll have me,'' Brees said Tuesday in the locker room at Saints headquarters, where players were packing up for the offseason following their dramatic elimination from the playoffs in Minnesota last weekend.

Brees acknowledged he'd have leverage if he chose to listen to offers from other clubs, but asserted that he has no plans to do so for professional and personal reasons.

The Saints have pieces in place to be a contender in upcoming seasons, having nearly advanced to the NFC title game with a roster featuring numerous first- and second-year regulars.

''Do I feel like this team has what it takes? Yes, I do,'' Brees said.

Then there are Brees' ever-deepening ties to New Orleans. He was 27 and childless when he arrived. Now he's a father of four who turned 39 on Monday.

''Certainly, the relationship with this city will always play a strong role in me wanting to be here and ... wanting to finish my career here,'' Brees said.

And there's no guarantee he'll have better synergy with any coach than he's had with Sean Payton.

''We have a great history together,'' Brees said, recalling how Payton courted him in 2006 while he was still rehabilitating from major throwing-shoulder surgery. ''I'm here because he believed in me.''

Brees has since passed for 58,097 yards and 408 touchdowns, won a Super Bowl and led New Orleans to six playoff berths. This season, his completion rate of 72 percent set an NFL record.

Payton on Tuesday declined to discuss how the team will address Brees' contract, saying now is ''not the time.''

But letting Brees go would be costly for New Orleans - financially and on the field.

Brees' contract technically runs through 2018, but voids automatically when the new league year begins on March 14. That was done for two reasons. The Saints received salary cap flexibility they needed in 2016 by spreading Brees' guaranteed money over two more years. Brees gained leverage because the Saints lose $18 million in salary cap space in 2018 if they fail to re-sign him.

That's given Brees confidence that an extension is inevitable.

''I don't plan on this being something that goes until March 14th,'' said Brees, who also spoke about the 2018 Saints as if presuming he'll be their QB.

''We have a great window of opportunity,'' Brees said. ''I've been a part of talented teams in the past, though, that have not lived up to expectations. I've also been a part of teams that were just gutsy and gritty, and surpassed expectations.

''Bottom line - success is dependent upon your willingness to work and the way that guys care about one another and the sense of urgency,'' Brees continued. ''So while I think we do have a talented team, I know that each year you have to go out and prove it.''

Several players said they were still struggling to come to grips with the sudden, stunning end of their season on a 61-yard Vikings touchdown as time expired Sunday.

''I couldn't stop thinking about it if I wanted to,'' defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. ''Hopefully it'll be more fuel than anything and I can just go train as hard as I can.''

Payton wore a black track suit with Saints emblems on it, as if to symbolize that he is off and running in his effort to build upon the success of 2017.

''We have to look at every area we can improve - every area, not just one specific area,'' Payton declared. ''There's nothing promised. We've got a lot of work to do.''

Three significant contributors are entering free agency: safety Kenny Vaccaro, defensive end Alex Okafor and offensive lineman Senio Kelemete.

Meanwhile, 34-year-old right tackle Zach Strief, a Week 1 starter who spent most of the season on injured reserve, said he hasn't decided whether he'll retire. Strief likely would have to accept a pay cut and possibly a backup role if he returns. He's due about $3.9 million next season and his successor, 2017 first-round draft choice Ryan Ramczyk, proved this season he was ready to step in. Strief also is rehabilitating from reconstructive knee surgery.

''No matter how you feel in the moment, sometimes when you're in training camp and in your 12th year, you're like, `Man, this is ridiculous. I'm tired of this,''' Strief said. ''I felt like I was playing at a high level through training camp, and last year was one of my better years. So I think physically, it's something I can do. But the reality is there's as much mental preparation as physical.''

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Doug Pederson emerges from Class of 2016 NFL coaches

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Doug Pederson was too close to Andy Reid to get fan approval when the Philadelphia Eagles hired him to replace Chip Kelly.

Pederson was Reid's first starting quarterback in Philadelphia back in 1999 when he groomed rookie Donovan McNabb. Then Pederson served as an assistant coach under Reid for seven seasons with the Eagles and Chiefs.

Because Reid never won the Big One - he's the winningest coach in franchise history and led Philadelphia to five NFC title games and a Super Bowl loss in 14 seasons between 1999-2012 - fans didn't want his protege.

Adam Gase and Ben McAdoo were popular choices during the 2016 coaching search, but Gase went to Miami and McAdoo stayed with the Giants. The Eagles even considered Tom Coughlin, but chose Pederson instead.

Gase is 16-17 in two seasons in Miami. McAdoo was fired already. Other coaches hired that year: Hue Jackson is 1-31 in Cleveland; Dirk Koetter is 14-18 in Tampa Bay; Tennessee fired Mike Mularkey on Monday; and San Francisco fired Chip Kelly after one season.

Even longtime NFL executive Mike Lombardi was critical of Pederson after he led the Eagles to a 7-9 record in his first season.

''Everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach,'' Lombardi said before this season started. ''He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.''

Lombardi finally admitted he was wrong, but it wasn't until Pederson guided the Eagles to a 15-10 victory over Atlanta in the divisional playoff game.

''I'm wrong,'' Lombardi said on his podcast afterward. ''Doug Pederson was way better than I thought he was going to be in terms of his ability to lead that team. .... For me, when you win a playoff game and you beat a team you're an underdog to, and you beat Matt Ryan and Nick Foles played well, I think you deserve it. I think I was wrong on how far I went with Doug. I'm not sure if he's a great coach, but I was wrong in terms of how far I went with it.''

Pederson lost MVP candidate Carson Wentz, nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking linebacker Jordan Hicks, return specialist Darren Sproles, and special-teams captain Chris Maragos. Yet his team tied a franchise record with 13 wins, earned the NFC's No. 1 seed, and now is one win away from the Super Bowl.

The Eagles (14-3) host the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) on Sunday in the NFC championship game. Once again, Philadelphia is a home underdog.

Pederson doesn't care about public opinion.

''I don't pay much attention to it,'' he said earlier in the season. ''I'm focused on this football team, this roster, these guys.''

Pederson is popular in the locker room. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL mainly as a backup quarterback with Miami, Green Bay, Philadelphia and Cleveland. He consults with a council of players to make sure any issues are handled. After holding walk-through practices before the final regular-season game, players wanted to put pads on during the bye week. They told Pederson and he quickly agreed.

''He relates to us,'' safety Corey Graham said. ''He knows exactly what we're going through in certain situations. We want to play for a guy like that who understands you and wants to help you.''

Pederson didn't have much of a coaching pedigree before owner Jeffery Lurie took a chance on him. He was the offensive coordinator his last three seasons in Kansas City, but Reid usually called the plays. Pederson, unlike Reid, prefers a more-balanced offense. The Eagles run the ball more now than they did under Reid. Pederson also is aggressive. He likes to go on fourth down. Against the Falcons, LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

''He's unorthodox at times in a good way,'' offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. ''There is an art to play calling and Doug has had a phenomenal year calling plays.''

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Resilient Vikings have taken their cue from Zimmer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Mike Zimmer was already smiling more than usual, sporting a relaxed look of satisfaction rarely revealed in public during the NFL season, when he really let his guard down a few minutes into his postgame news conference deep inside Minnesota's still-buzzing stadium.

''Hey, let's open these things up!'' Zimmer blurted out mid-sentence, prodding a Vikings official to push the button that removes the window shades and allows the premium ticket-holders in an adjacent lounge to peer in the room.

His wish to interact with the customers who cheered the Vikings on to a last-play divisional round victory was granted.

Zimmer then proceeded to slowly and rhythmically clap above his head, dignifying the ritual ''Skol'' chant performed by the purple-clad fans at each game honoring the area's Scandinavian heritage and the team's nickname.

''You deserve it!'' Zimmer said, again interrupting his own answer to acknowledge the crowd.

From peers around the league to players in the locker room to people up and down the organization, there's a strong sentiment that Zimmer has earned this, too, pulling within one win of a Super Bowl appearance.

The way the Vikings finished their 29-24 victory over New Orleans on a last-chance 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs suggested they're on some kind of charmed path, an uncharted territory for this championship-deprived franchise. Zimmer, for his part, has experienced his own share of painful setbacks.

''I just think he was so proud of us,'' tight end Kyle Rudolph said. ''Proud of us for fighting until there were zeros on the clock.''

Zimmer is only here, preparing the Vikings for the NFC title game in Philadelphia on Sunday, because he himself resisted the urge to quit.

After being passed over for so many head coach vacancies during a six-year run as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, Zimmer nearly canceled a second interview in Minnesota in 2014 after a different team that considered him chose a different candidate. He ignored the discouragement in his head, instead accepting the offer to become the ninth head coach in team history at age 57.

''Sometimes you wonder, but I have a lot of confidence in myself,'' Zimmer said at his introductory news conference at team headquarters. ''I feel like I was destined to do this.''

That first season, the Vikings improved by two wins to finish 7-9 with rookie Teddy Bridgewater forced into action ahead of schedule at quarterback and running back Adrian Peterson absent for all but one game because of the child abuse case and subsequent NFL discipline dispute he was involved in. In 2015, they went 11-5 and ended Green Bay's four-year hold on the NFC North title.

The potholes in the road were waiting, though.

Blair Walsh's 27-yard field-goal try went wide left at the end of the one-point wild-card round loss at home to Seattle.

The 5-0 start in 2016 was washed away by a torrent of season-ending injuries, including Bridgewater, Peterson and several offensive linemen.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned the day after Zimmer had the first of eight eye surgeries to address a torn retina. The third procedure forced him to miss a game for the first time in his career .

The first quarter of the 2017 season brought knee injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL.

The Vikings didn't blink, though, particularly with the experience of 2016 so fresh. Case Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem.

All of these on-field hurdles have paled next to the pain Zimmer has endured in his personal life. His wife, Vikki, died suddenly in 2009. His father and former high school coach, Bill, passed away during training camp in 2015.

Zimmer was hired by the Vikings because of his acumen as a defensive strategist and teacher, having started his 24-year NFL career as the defensive backs coach for Dallas before a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2000.

Calling plays has been his forte, a responsibility he has yet to give up despite his duty as the main man on the staff on game day, but his ability to mold a disciplined, selfless unit from a collection of alpha males and high draft picks helped the Vikings' defense rank first in the league in 2017 in both fewest yards and points allowed.

Beneath the gruff exterior is a deep affection for his players, an emotion that has caused his voice to crack and his eyes to well up several times over the years in various public discussions of their development or character.

He's a football coach just like his father, though, and the critical eye and demanding approach are always quick to come out.

''We can't make these mistakes in playoff games or we'll be going home,'' Zimmer said on Monday, reflecting on the reality of the performance after the euphoria of the winning play had worn off.

Now the Vikings must go on the road to face a team with a 14-3 record just like theirs, the last and biggest obstacle looming before they can experience a Super Bowl.

''We've got a bunch of fighters on this team,'' Zimmer said. ''They've been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.''

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Bengals thank Jaguars by donating to Bortles' foundation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Cincinnati Bengals fans are thanking Blake Bortles for helping the Jacksonville Jaguars eliminate Pittsburgh from the playoffs.

The Blake Bortles Foundation says more than 100 Bengals fans have combined to contribute nearly $5,000 since Jacksonville beat Cincinnati's biggest rival, the Steelers, 45-42 last Sunday.

Bortles says ''fans are at the core of the football experience, and it's truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others.''

Bortles threw for 214 yards and a touchdown in the victory. He says he appreciates the contributions and adds that Bengals fans ''should know their support will make a difference.''

A Cincinnati sports radio host encouraged Bengals fans to ''pay it forward'' and support the Bortles Foundation. Earlier this year, Buffalo fans donated generously to the Andy Dalton Foundation after Cincinnati stunned Baltimore and sent the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years.

Established in 2016, the Blake Bortles Foundation supports first responders in Florida and helps children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead pursue full, independent lives.

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Tomlin not ready to endorse Haley's return in 2018

PITTSBURGH (AP) Todd Haley's contract as the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers is up.

And coach Mike Tomlin doesn't sound as if he's in a rush to decide whether Haley will be back next season.

Tomlin sidestepped several attempts to endorse Haley's return on Tuesday as the AFC North champions continued to dissect what went wrong in an upset home playoff loss to Jacksonville . Asked if he anticipated any changes to his staff, Tomlin demurred.

''I don't know where these roads are going to lead,'' Tomlin said. ''Some contracts are up. Some aren't. I'm not ready to discuss that.''

Haley just finished his sixth season with the Steelers and has helped design one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses.

Led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell and All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (13-3) has finished in the top three in total yards in three of the past four years.

Though Haley and Roethlisberger have found a level of detente following a somewhat bumpy start to their relationship, Haley's occasionally fiery approach has made him a touchstone when things don't go well.

While the Steelers piled up more than 500 yards against the NFL's top-ranked defense on Sunday, they also made a couple of curious play calls on fourth down that halted their momentum.

Bell was stuffed for a loss on a toss play when Pittsburgh needed just 1 yard in the first quarter and Roethlisberger threw incomplete to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster on fourth down in the fourth quarter when advancing the ball a matter of inches would have extended the drive.

The Steelers, however, have gone away from using the quarterback sneak in recent years to help Roethlisberger avoid the contact.

Tomlin brushed off the notion that the sneak is no longer a part of the playbook, saying ''to suggest there's a resistance to it in concept, I'm not ready to say that.''

Tomlin also isn't ready to say much about his staff.

Offensive line coach Mike Munchak has interviewed for the open head coaching job in Arizona and wide receivers coach Richard Mann is retiring.

Hines Ward, a two-time Super Bowl winner who is also the leading receiver in franchise history, spent time with the team during the season as a volunteer assistant, though Tomlin declined to get into any specifics about any sort of future role for Ward or anybody else for that matter.

''I'm not going to have a lot of definitive answers (right now),'' Tomlin said. ''I don't want to provide you misinformation.''

Tomlin called his 11th season a ''wild and challenging and fun ride.''

One with more than its fair share of bumps created from within.

From the ''botched'' decision to stay out of sight during the national anthem in Chicago in September to wide receiver Martavis Bryant's trade demand to Tomlin openly talking about having to face New England twice - hinting he expected the Steelers to face the Patriots in the AFC championship game more than a month before it would become a reality - hardly a week passed with the attention focused somewhere other than the field.

''We realize oftentimes it may create a storm around us, but that's not us,'' Tomlin said. ''We don't care. We can't care. We can't control it anyway.''

Not exactly.

Outside of linebacker Ryan Shazier's life-altering spinal injury, the Steelers created most of the noise that surrounded them.

While Tomlin said it's on him to help his players learn to use the attention directed at them and their own social media agendas ''for good'' he's also aware that none of it matters so long as his team wins.

For a franchise where success is only measured in Lombardi Trophies, 2017 ended in disappointment, one the Steelers will have a longer than expected offseason to process.

''It ended the way it ended and looking back at it, there's nothing we can do about that other than learn from the experience,'' Tomlin said. ''Hopefully that strengthens us for our next journey.''

One the Steelers are starting earlier than expected.

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Man ejected from Eagles game is charged with punching horse

PHILADELPHIA (AP) A man accused of being ejected from a Philadelphia Eagles playoff game because he was intoxicated and didn't have a ticket and then punching a police horse in the face has been charged with assault.

Police say 22-year-old Taylor Hendricks was turned away from Saturday's game between the Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons and then approached a mounted police officer and started punching a horse named Nicky in the face, neck and shoulder. Police say some blows landed on the officer's legs.

Court records indicate Hendricks is charged with aggravated assault, trespassing and taunting a police animal.

Court records don't list a defense attorney for Hendricks. A phone number listed in his name rang unanswered Tuesday.

Police say the horse and the officer weren't injured.

The Eagles won the game 15-10.

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Jaguars running back Fournette not hurt in car accident

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette escaped injury after what authorities say was a minor, three-car crash.

The team said its star running back's car was rear-ended about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, and that he was not hurt. He was able to drive home after the crash.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Fournette was not at fault in the crash.

News agencies report that Fournette was driving his 2017 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S 600.

Fournette and the Jaguars play the New England Patriots on Sunday in the AFC Championship game.

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Minneapolis improves connectivity to prepare for Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minneapolis has the signal strength, data speed and reliability to handle the onslaught of service demands that come with hosting a Super Bowl, according to a wireless coverage mapping company.

OpenSignal said the metro area has been performing well in similar studies for years, KSTP-TV reported .

''Our city is the Midwest's premier tech hub and quickly becoming a serious player nationally,'' Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. ''To keep that momentum trucking and continue recruiting top talent, we'll need a 21st century communication infrastructure - and these investments will help make sure that we have one.''

Efforts to improve connectivity in preparation for the Super Bowl began more than a year ago. Major wireless carriers have been working to boost small-cell and other technologies to increase wireless capacity.

The Xcel Energy Center, the Minneapolis Convention Center and the Mall of America have also been working to improve their distributed antenna systems.

''The upgrade has been going on and off for the better part of a year,'' said Lane Carlson, facilities manager for the convention center. ''But it's been hot and heavy for the last three or four months.''

The improvements will also make the facility a more appealing location for future conventions, Carlson said.

The Mall of America has added 1,200 antennas, 50 miles of cable and numerous temporary Wi-Fi access points, according to a spokesman.

Officials hope the efforts will allow the influx of Super Bowl week visitors to be able to take selfies, record video and seamlessly post content on their social media accounts.

The city expects to see about 1 million visitors during the week of the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Opening Night is on Jan. 29, and the game itself is Feb. 4.

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Earnhardt interested in becoming minority owner of Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhard Jr. says he is interested in becoming a minority owner with the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Earnhardt told The Associated Press he was not asked by local businessmen Felix Sabates to join a potential ownership group, but said he did contact Marcus Smith, the CEO of Speedway Motorsports, to say he'd be interested.

Current Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced in December he's selling the team.

Earnhardt, who lives in Kannapolis, North Carolina, says he told the CEO of Speedway Motorsports, ''`Hey, Marcus, if you guys get in the middle of it and you think it's a good business deal, I definitely have some interest,''' Earnhardts says he ''wouldn't have the kind of money where I would move the needle too much, but it would be something to have a lot of pride in.''

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AP Motorsports Writer Jenna Fryer contributed to this report.

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AP source: Browns interviewing former Giants coach McAdoo

CLEVELAND (AP) Bounced from New York, Ben McAdoo might get a new opportunity with the Browns.

McAdoo, who was fired as Giants coach in December after going 2-10 and benching star quarterback Eli Manning, is interviewing Tuesday to be the offensive coordinator for Cleveland coach Hue Jackson.

The 40-year-old McAdoo is meeting with general manager John Dorsey and Jackson, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not confirming any coaching interviews.

Jackson is still considering whether to bring on a coordinator after handling those duties the past two seasons. But after going 0-16, Jackson said he was open to handing over play-calling duties and McAdoo has done that in the past.

McAdoo was New York's offensive coordinator for two seasons before taking over as coach when Tom Coughlin left. McAdoo went 11-5 in 2016, but things unraveled for him after he demoted Manning, a two-time Super Bowl champion.

McAdoo has connections with Dorsey as they worked together for seven seasons in Green Bay. McAdoo coached the Packers tight ends and quarterbacks.

Jackson, who has overhauled his offensive staff, previously met with Houston quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan about the coordinator's position. Also, former Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey, who was fired Monday, could be on the Browns' radar.

Last week, Jackson hired former Giants wide receivers coach Adam Henry and Ken Zampese as his new quarterbacks coach. Zampese was fired last season as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator.

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Minneapolis improves connectivity to prepare for Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A wireless coverage mapping company says Minneapolis has the signal strength, data speed and reliability to handle the onslaught of service demands that come with hosting a Super Bowl.

KSTP-TV reports that OpenSignal says the metro area has been performing well in similar studies for years.

Efforts to improve connectivity in preparation for the Super Bowl began more than a year ago. Major wireless carriers have been working to boost small-cell and other technologies to increase wireless capacity.

The Xcel Energy Center, the Minneapolis Convention Center and the Mall of America have also been working to improve their distributed antenna systems.

The city expects to see about 1 million visitors during the week of the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Opening Night is on Jan. 29.

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Saints QB Brees: No plans to field offers from other teams

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Drew Brees says he still expects to remain with the New Orleans Saints as long as they'll have him.

The quarterback says he knows he'd have leverage to shop around if the Saints don't reach an extension with him before the new league year starts in March. However, the 39-year-old Brees says he doesn't plan on that.

Because of the way Brees' contract is structured, the Saints would lose $18 million in salary cap space if they fail to reach an extension with Brees, who says he sees potential for New Orleans to build on a season that was on the brink of continuing to the NFC title game until a stunning, last-second Minnesota touchdown Sunday.

Meanwhile, veteran right tackle Zach Strief, a Week 1 starter who spent most of the season on injured reserve, says he hasn't yet decided whether he'll retire.

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Jags 'threw a tantrum' when Marrone started making changes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville's locker room was abuzz late last season. Four guys played table tennis while others crowded around a small table for dominoes. Two 80-inch televisions were tuned to a sports highlight show, and music blared from one corner of the room.

Doug Marrone, the team's offensive line coach at the time, walked through and shook his head.

''Can you believe this?'' Marrone whispered.

The Jaguars were in the middle of a nine-game losing streak that would ultimately cost coach Gus Bradley his job. Marrone had watched from afar for two years, witnessing an atmosphere he felt was too loose, too laid-back and too lenient amid losing.

So when Marrone was hired to replace Bradley last January, high on his to-do list was to change the culture in Jacksonville. His success is one reason the Jaguars (12-6) are in the AFC championship game against New England (14-3).

The ping pong table was the first to go. Dominoes followed. The locker room stalls were overhauled, too, with Marrone mixing and matching position groups and putting certain players next to veteran leaders and/or NFL role models.

''We definitely threw a tantrum,'' Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. ''Went in there and talked to him about it. Definitely wasn't happy. I learned just to be quiet, you know, and go with the flow. He's been at it longer than I have, and I'm just the football player. He says do this and I go do it. Just learn to follow him, and I'm glad I did.''

Marrone saved the most significant changes for the practice fields.

Marrone, top executive Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell wanted a much tougher and more physical team. They drafted bruising running back Leonard Fournette and fiery left tackle Cam Robinson to complement a defense that was significantly beefed up in free agency with the addition of All-Pro pass-rusher Calais Campbell, Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye and veteran safety Barry Church.

They also designed an offseason program that was more grueling than most players had experienced. Marrone's message was clear: Go hard or go home.

''You remember guys in camp talking about this took a few years off their lives,'' Jackson said. ''It's pretty funny just to see us now. I guess he does know what he's doing.''

The Jaguars were in full pads nearly every day during training camp, a tortuous stretch in draining heat and humidity that left rookies and veterans questioning the process and wondering if it would pay off. It was the NFL's version of boot camp. Break them down, then build them up.

It ultimately brought players closer, making them accountable to each other and causing them to care more for each other. Winning was the final piece, and thumping Houston 29-7 in the season opener was all the proof players needed.

''It was the toughest training camp I've ever been a part of,'' said linebacker Paul Posluszny, in his 11th season. ''Coach Marrone would talk to us and say, `Listen, I have a plan and you have to trust me.' With that, guys were able to say, `OK, we haven't gotten what we wanted in years past doing things a certain way, so we have to buy in, trust the head man and know that that'll bring us success when it's time.'

''It was difficult just because of so many changes from what we were used to. I think the most important thing is we always said, `Well, if it helps us win, then it's all good.'"

Jacksonville had lost 63 of 80 games over the previous five seasons - the worst record in the NFL during that span - and had been through two coaching changes.

Coughlin's return was a key part of the team's revival, and although the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach with the New York Giants gets much of the outside credit for the team's turnaround, the reality is Marrone was the one pushing all the right buttons.

Marrone has been other places where players resisted, prompting personnel moves that would slow progress. That wasn't the case in Jacksonville, and he credited his players for being open to change.

''They gave our staff the opportunity to say, `This is what we want to do. This is what we believe in as coaches or as an organization. This is how we want to handle ourselves,''' Marrone said. ''We are still working toward that. It is not perfect by any means.''

It's clearly working, though. The Jaguars are in the title game for the third time in franchise history, one victory away from their first Super Bowl appearance.

''They say (stuff) rolls downhill,'' Jackson said. ''Well, the good stuff rolls downhill, too. ... It's all worth it when you win.''

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Trial set to begin in ex-NFL player's road-rage killing

GRETNA, La. (AP) The trial in a road-rage shooting that took the life of former NFL football player Joe McKnight began Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb, where a judge and attorneys were questioning dozens of potential jurors.

Ronald Gasser, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 2016, shooting of the player who began his career as a local high school football star. Initially charged with manslaughter, Gasser was indicted on the more serious charge last February. He has pleaded not guilty.

Gasser, who remains jailed with bond set at $750,000, was dressed in a dark blue pinstripe suit as he entered the courtroom, accompanied by sheriff's deputies.

McKnight, 28, was a running back, considered a top recruit when he came out of John Curtis Christian School. He played college ball at Southern California before three seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jury selection was set to begin in the courtroom of state District Judge Ellen Kovach. Gasser's attorneys have cast McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser fired in self-defense.

If convicted as charged, Gasser would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Police said the confrontation took place as the men traveled across a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Authorities said the shooting happened after both cars had stopped and McKnight approached Gasser's vehicle. Gasser shot McKnight three times.

Defense attorneys said last year that they believe McKnight tried to enter Gasser's car through the passenger window. They noted that Gasser stayed on the scene after the shooting and said he cooperated with police.

The case bore striking similarities to an earlier 2016 shooting death involving another former NFL player. Will Smith, who retired after starring on New Orleans Saints teams that inspired the city after Hurricane Katrina with winning seasons and a 2010 Super Bowl victory, was shot to death during a confrontation following a traffic crash. A 29-year-old New Orleans man, Cardell Hayes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

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This story has been corrected to show that Gasser is 56.

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The Latest: Jury selection starts in shooting of ex-NFL back

GRETNA, La. (AP) The Latest on the trial of Ronald Gasser, on trial in the December 2016 shooting death of former NFL football player Joe McKnight (all times local):

10:40 a.m.

Jury selection has begun in the trial of a man who shot former NFL football player Joe McKnight to death in December of 2016.

Fifty-six-year-old Ronald Gasser is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting. His lawyers have laid the groundwork for a self-defense case, casting McKnight as the aggressor in a road rage incident.

Trial began Tuesday in the New Orleans suburb of Gretna.

Police said they had crossed a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and pulled over in neighboring Jefferson Parish, where the shooting occurred.

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6 a.m.

The trial in a road-rage shooting that left a former NFL football player Joe McKnight dead is set to begin in a New Orleans suburb.

Fifty-six-year-old Ronald Gasser is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 2016, shooting of the former running back.

McKnight played college ball at Southern California before three seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police said the confrontation took place as they were traveling over a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Gasser's attorneys have cast the 28-year-old McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser shot in self-defense.

Jury selection was set to begin Tuesday.

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The 6 a.m. item has been corrected to show that Gasser is 56.

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AP source: Browns interviewing former Giants coach McAdoo

CLEVELAND (AP) A person familiar with the situation says former New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo is interviewing with the Cleveland Browns to be their offensive coordinator.

McAdoo, who was fired by New York in December, is meeting Tuesday with Browns general manager John Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not confirming any coaching interviews.

Following a 0-16 season, Jackson said he was open to hiring a coordinator after doing that job over the past two seasons. Jackson is 1-31 with the Browns.

Jackson has previously met with Houston quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan. Former Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey, who was fired Monday, could be on the team's radar.

McAdoo went 11-5 in his first season with the Giants, but was dismissed after the team went 2-10 and he benched star quarterback Eli Manning.

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Trial set to begin in ex-NFL player's road-rage killing

GRETNA, La. (AP) The trial in a road-rage shooting that left former NFL football player Joe McKnight dead was set to begin with jury selection Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb.

Ronald Gasser, 55, is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 2016, shooting of the local high school football star.

McKnight, 28, was a running back, considered a top recruit when he came out of John Curtis Christian School. He played college ball at Southern California before three seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police said the confrontation took place as the men were traveling over a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Jury selection was set to begin in the courtroom of state District Judge Ellen Kovach. Gasser's attorneys have cast McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser shot in self-defense.

If convicted as charged, Gasser would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Authorities said the shooting happened after both cars had stopped and McKnight approached Gasser's vehicle. Gasser shot McKnight three times.

Defense attorneys said last year that they believe McKnight tried to enter Gasser's car through the passenger window. They noted that Gasser stayed on the scene after the shooting and said he cooperated with police.

The case bore striking similarities to an earlier 2016 shooting death involving another former NFL player. Will Smith, who retired after starring on New Orleans Saints teams that inspired the city after Hurricane Katrina with winning seasons and a 2010 Super Bowl victory, was shot to death during a confrontation following a traffic crash. A 29-year-old New Orleans man, Cardell Hayes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

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Trial set to begin in ex-NFL player's road-rage killing

GRETNA, La. (AP) The trial in a road-rage shooting that left former NFL football player Joe McKnight dead was set to begin with jury selection Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb.

Ronald Gasser, 55, is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 2016, shooting of the local high school football star.

McKnight, 28, was a running back, considered a top recruit when he came out of John Curtis Christian School. He played college ball at Southern California before three seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Police said the confrontation took place as the men were traveling over a Mississippi River bridge in New Orleans and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Jury selection was set to begin in the courtroom of state District Judge Ellen Kovach. Gasser's attorneys have cast McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser shot in self-defense.

If convicted as charged, Gasser would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Authorities said the shooting happened after both cars had stopped and McKnight approached Gasser's vehicle. Gasser shot McKnight three times.

Defense attorneys said last year that they believe McKnight tried to enter Gasser's car through the passenger window. They noted that Gasser stayed on the scene after the shooting and said he cooperated with police.

The case bore striking similarities to an earlier 2016 shooting death involving another former NFL player. Will Smith, who retired after starring on New Orleans Saints teams that inspired the city after Hurricane Katrina with winning seasons and a 2010 Super Bowl victory, was shot to death during a confrontation following a traffic crash. A 29-year-old New Orleans man, Cardell Hayes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

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Vikings pivot to Eagles, after big break to beat Saints

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Their minds still racing with childlike exuberance over the stunning last-snap victory that sent them to the NFC championship game, many of the Minnesota Vikings remained awake several hours past midnight.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes replayed the video clip of the winning touchdown ''about a thousand times'' at home, searing the image of Stefon Diggs leaping to catch the pass from Case Keenum and sprinting for the end zone into his memory forever so the details of the sequence that beat New Orleans were no longer foggy.

Ten seconds left.

Trailing by one point.

Sixty-one yards to go.

The outcome that produced the 29-24 victory was so improbable that the Vikings were predictably continuing to process their status as the first team in NFL history to score a winning touchdown on the final play of regulation in a postseason game.

''The Minneapolis Miracle'', as it was dubbed in trending on social media, was as unfathomable as the name sounds.

''We still can't believe it in the locker room,'' wide receiver Adam Thielen said. ''I woke up this morning and made sure it wasn't a dream.''

The Vikings were about a field-goal favorite on the early betting lines to beat the Eagles on Sunday and become the first team to play a Super Bowl on home turf.

''I believe anything is possible at any moment, as you can see what happened yesterday,'' Rhodes said.

Such an emotional ending carries the potential to distract from preparation for and focus on the next game at Philadelphia, when the winner's high will be worn off and the Vikings will be in an unfriendly stadium without the advantages and comforts of their own place.

They wouldn't have advanced this far without an unassuming attitude, though, so they were quick on Monday to dismiss the danger of savoring the moment too long.

''I think it took a little bit longer yesterday to probably get over it, but, no, today I think guys are ready,'' Thielen said. ''We know how tough this game's going to be for us, and we know that we still have a long ways to go.''

For those anxiously and impatiently long-waiting fans of one of the NFL's most agonized franchises, the victory on Sunday was evidence that whatever curse existed in their minds might no longer be relevant.

Sure, most of these players endured the missed 27-yard field-goal try by Blair Walsh in the closing seconds of the wild-card round defeat two years ago against Seattle.

Defensive end Brian Robison, at least, was on the 2009 team that lost in overtime at New Orleans in the NFC championship game.

Except for Thielen and the handful of Minnesota natives on the roster, though, those crushing losses of the past that helped shape Vikings lore have not been a part of this team's experience, let alone the lives of most of the players.

''We're not playing to make up for anything,'' Thielen said. ''We're just playing to win football games.''

To beat the Eagles, the Vikings have some more work to do. They won't have the crowd noise or the fast surface, for one.

They'll have to face a defense just as strong if not stronger than the Saints. That's why coach Mike Zimmer, who let his guard down during an uncharacteristically playful postgame news conference , was all business at the podium inside the team's practice facility on Monday.

''We can't make these mistakes in playoff games or we'll be going home,'' Zimmer said. ''There's always good and always bad in some of the games, but we made some critical errors in that game that could have gotten us beat.''

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Titans fire coach Mike Mularkey after playoff win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans believe the potential reward from quarterback Marcus Mariota working with his third head coach in his fourth NFL season outweighs the risk of change.

Or sticking with the same coach.

So now the Titans are looking for a new coach to replace Mike Mularkey and build off the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years to make them a true NFL contender.

''There's nothing more that I want for our fans than to bring a championship here,'' general manager Jon Robinson said Monday afternoon . ''I feel like it's my charge to put the team in the best position to do that.''

The Titans fired Mike Mularkey on Monday, less than 48 hours after a 35-14 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round. Mularkey revived a team with the NFL's worst record over two seasons and led them to their first playoff victory in 14 years only to become the first coach let go after winning a playoff game since San Francisco fired Steve Mariucci after the 2002 season.

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk turned to Mularkey in November 2015 when she fired Ken Whisenhunt after 23 games . Mularkey went 2-7 down the stretch as the Titans finished 3-13 to land the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016. That capped a 5-27 record over 2014 and 2015 that was the NFL's worst.

Mularkey led the Titans to back-to-back 9-7 records - their first consecutive winning records since 2007-08. He finished with a 21-22 record after a season in which the Titans cost themselves the AFC South title with a three-game skid in December and needed to beat the Jaguars, now in the AFC championship game, to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008.

His devotion to an offense he's known since being offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh between 2001 and 2003 may have cost him. He said Sunday he was prepared to move ''full speed'' ahead after talking with Strunk. He defended offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie's play-calling, saying he was happy with Mariota's development.

Mularkey also said he didn't anticipate any changes on his coaching staff a week after Strunk issued a statement on his job security . But talk of an extension since a 22-21 comeback win against Kansas City in the wild-card round ended Monday morning when Robinson and president and chief executive officer Steve Underwood told Mularkey he was being let go.

Strunk called it ''unfortunate'' that they couldn't find common ground on how to improve.

''I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field,'' Strunk said in a statement.

Now Robinson will oversee his first coaching search with the Titans the seventh NFL team to change coaches since the start of the season. He was hired two days before Mularkey had the interim title removed in January 2016.

''This boils down to doing what we think is best for the football team moving forward, taking the next step,'' Robinson said.

Robinson said interviews with candidates could be held as early as this week, though the Titans will confirm a candidate only after an interview is completed. The general manager declined to discuss Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, saying he couldn't comment on coaches under contract.

''This is a very attractive job for a lot of candidates,'' Robinson said. ''I look forward to working with whoever the next head coach is. I think that they will see that myself and Amy will be unified with them in our vision for the football team.''

In Mularkey's first full season, the Titans led the NFL scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, and they led the AFC while ranking third in rushing offense. Mariota also threw 26 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

This season, the Titans failed to take advantage of an AFC South in which Andrew Luck did not play for Indianapolis and two-time defending division champ Houston lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to an injury early.

Mariota also had his worst season yet with a career-worst 15 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. The run game, the basis of Mularkey's offense, slumped to 15th in the NFL.

Robinson said the key is finding the right coach to get the best out of the Titans' roster, and the general manager isn't worried about Mariota working with yet another head coach.

''Marcus is a pretty resilient guy,'' Robinson said. ''He's a very mentally tough guy. He takes a lot from the standpoint of ownership in things. I have zero concern in Marcus being able to adapt and learn, and do what's best to get the offense going.

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AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.

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AP source: Colts closing in on deal to hire McDaniels

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could soon be on the other side of an AFC rivalry.

A person familiar with the negotiations said Monday the Indianapolis Colts are ''close'' to reaching a deal that would make McDaniels their next head coach. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the two sides had not yet agreed to terms.

Even if they did reach a deal, though, league rules prohibit the Colts from making an official announcement until after the Patriots' season ends. New England will host Jacksonville in Sunday's AFC Championship game. If the Pats win, the announcement wouldn't come until at least Feb. 5.

McDaniels has been one of the league's most coveted coordinators since returning to New England in 2012. Since then, the Pats have reached six consecutive conference championship games and won two Super Bowls.

With Indianapolis, McDaniels would inherit an injured franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, and a backup, Jacoby Brissett, who he worked with for almost 16 months in New England. McDaniels struggled to an 11-17 record in 2009 and 2010 with Denver, where he didn't have a franchise quarterback.

He wound up as the St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator in 2011 before returning to New England, where he worked with Brady as the longtime Colts-Pats rivalry entered a new era with Luck behind center.

Now, after winning five Super Bowl rings and in the running for a sixth, it looks like he will get a second chance as a head coach.

The Colts job opened Dec. 31 when owner Jim Irsay fired Chuck Pagano within hours of the end of the season. Pagano was in charge for six seasons, and Indianapolis missed the playoffs each of the last three.

Indianapolis' future still depends on Luck's health.

In November, one month after cutting short his throwing program, the top overall pick in the 2012 draft went on season-ending injured reserve. Luck then went to Europe, where he continued to rehab his throwing shoulder, and didn't return to team headquarters until the final days of the season.

It's unclear if Luck has resumed throwing as the one-year anniversary of his surgery nears. He had a partially torn labrum.

A healthy Luck would make Indianapolis one of the league's more attractive jobs because general manager Chris Ballard also has the No. 3 draft pick and almost $90 million to spend in free agency.

McDaniels was with the Patriots for the 2014 season, when the Colts and Patriots met in the infamous ''deflategate'' AFC title game.

The Colts reportedly interviewed at least five candidates before McDaniels and Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel became the finalists.

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AP source: Colts closing in on deal to hire McDaniels

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could soon be on the other side of an AFC rivalry.

A person familiar with the negotiations said Monday the Indianapolis Colts are ''close'' to reaching a deal that would make McDaniels their next head coach. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the two sides had not yet agreed to terms.

Even if they did reach a deal, though, league rules prohibit the Colts from making an official announcement until after the Patriots' season ends. New England will host Jacksonville in Sunday's AFC Championship game. If the Pats win, the announcement wouldn't come until at least Feb. 5.

McDaniels has been one of the league's most coveted coordinators since returning to New England in 2012. Since then, the Pats have reached six consecutive conference championship games and won two Super Bowls.

With Indianapolis, McDaniels would inherit an injured franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, and a backup, Jacoby Brissett, who he worked with for almost 16 months in New England. McDaniels struggled to an 11-17 record in 2009 and 2010 with Denver, where he didn't have a franchise quarterback.

He wound up as the St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator in 2011 before returning to New England, where he worked with Brady as the longtime Colts-Pats rivalry entered a new era with Luck behind center.

Now, after winning five Super Bowl rings and in the running for a sixth, it looks like he will get a second chance as a head coach.

The Colts job opened Dec. 31 when owner Jim Irsay fired Chuck Pagano within hours of the end of the season. Pagano was in charge for six seasons, and Indianapolis missed the playoffs each of the last three.

Indianapolis' future still depends on Luck's health.

In November, one month after cutting short his throwing program, the top overall pick in the 2012 draft went on season-ending injured reserve. Luck then went to Europe, where he continued to rehab his throwing shoulder, and didn't return to team headquarters until the final days of the season.

It's unclear if Luck has resumed throwing as the one-year anniversary of his surgery nears. He had a partially torn labrum.

A healthy Luck would make Indianapolis one of the league's more attractive jobs because general manager Chris Ballard also has the No. 3 draft pick and almost $90 million to spend in free agency.

McDaniels was with the Patriots for the 2014 season, when the Colts and Patriots met in the infamous ''deflategate'' AFC title game.

The Colts reportedly interviewed at least five candidates before McDaniels and Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel became the finalists.

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Wheelchair found after disappearing during Pats' playoff win

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) A wheelchair that a New England Patriots fan thought had been stolen from Gillette Stadium while she watched the team's playoff win over the Tennessee Titans has been found.

Season ticket holder Cindy Morais, of Providence, Rhode Island, has cerebral palsy.

Her friend, Samantha Medeiros, writes in a Facebook post that she joined Morais at Saturday's game, and she left her wheelchair where she always does, under the stairs of Section 304. But Medeiros says when they returned after the game, it was gone.

On Monday afternoon, Medeiros updated her Facebook post to say the wheelchair had been found at the stadium.

Medeiros also says Patriots owner Robert Kraft reached out to her friend. She writes that on Sunday, Morais ''will be receiving a customized Patriots wheelchair and will be on the field with Mr. Kraft.''

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Vikings pivot to Eagles, after big break to beat Saints

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Their minds still racing with childlike exuberance over the stunning last-snap victory that sent them to the NFC championship game, many of the Minnesota Vikings remained awake several hours past midnight.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes replayed the video clip of the winning touchdown ''about a thousand times'' at home, searing the image of Stefon Diggs leaping to catch the pass from Case Keenum and sprinting for the end zone into his memory forever so the details of the sequence that beat New Orleans were no longer foggy.

Ten seconds left.

Trailing by one point.

Sixty-one yards to go.

The outcome that produced the 29-24 victory was so improbable that the Vikings were predictably continuing to process their status as the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown on the final play of regulation in a postseason game.

''The Minneapolis Miracle'', as it was dubbed in trending on social media, was as unfathomable as the name sounds.

''We still can't believe it in the locker room,'' wide receiver Adam Thielen said. ''I woke up this morning and made sure it wasn't a dream.''

The Vikings were about a field-goal favorite on the early betting lines to beat the Eagles on Sunday and become the first team to play a Super Bowl on home turf.

''I believe anything is possible at any moment, as you can see what happened yesterday,'' Rhodes said.

Such an emotional ending carries the potential to distract from preparation for and focus on the next game at Philadelphia, when the winner's high will be worn off and the Vikings will be in an unfriendly stadium without the advantages and comforts of their own place.

They wouldn't have advanced this far without an unassuming attitude, though, so they were quick on Monday to dismiss the danger of savoring the moment too long.

''I think it took a little bit longer yesterday to probably get over it, but, no, today I think guys are ready,'' Thielen said. ''We know how tough this game's going to be for us, and we know that we still have a long ways to go.''

For those anxiously and impatiently long-waiting fans of one of the NFL's most agonized franchises, the victory on Sunday was evidence that whatever curse existed in their minds might no longer be relevant.

Sure, most of these players endured the missed 27-yard field-goal try by Blair Walsh in the closing seconds of the wild-card round defeat two years ago against Seattle.

Defensive end Brian Robison, at least, was on the 2009 team that lost in overtime at New Orleans in the NFC championship game.

Except for Thielen and the handful of Minnesota natives on the roster, though, those crushing losses of the past that helped shape Vikings lore have not been a part of this team's experience, let alone the lives of most of the players.

''We're not playing to make up for anything,'' Thielen said. ''We're just playing to win football games.''

To beat the Eagles, the Vikings have some more work to do. They won't have the crowd noise or the fast surface, for one.

They'll have to face a defense just as strong if not stronger than the Saints. That's why coach Mike Zimmer, who let his guard down during an uncharacteristically playful postgame news conference , was all business at the podium inside the team's practice facility on Monday.

''We can't make these mistakes in playoff games or we'll be going home,'' Zimmer said. ''There's always good and always bad in some of the games, but we made some critical errors in that game that could have gotten us beat.''

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Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey tells fans 'we're going to Super Bowl'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey did pretty much the same thing that upset his Jacksonville Jaguars teammates last week.

He started looking ahead.

Ramsey told thousands of fans awaiting the team's return from Pittsburgh late Sunday that the Jaguars ''are going to the Super Bowl and we are going to win that (expletive).''

Jacksonville (12-6), of course, has the AFC championship game at New England remaining before even getting to the Super Bowl. The small-market franchise is winless in seven games in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and 1-10 all-time against the Patriots (14-3).

Ramsey's comments surely will find their way north.

''You come back and you've got all the fans here and things of that nature,'' Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.

''Obviously that's something that everybody, they want to do when you get close. Whether you have to say it or not? The one thing I do know is the road to it always leads through New England.

''Our focus isn't on anything else but the New England Patriots. It will be a great challenge for us obviously.''

The Jags took exception to the Steelers talking about facing the Patriots instead of them, and used it as motivation in a 45-42 victory Sunday.

Nonetheless, they stood behind their outspoken and ultra-talented defender.

''To me, it's just a man that has confidence in his team,'' defensive tackle Abry Jones said. ''What's he going to say? He knows what we're going up there to do. It's not like he ain't saying nothing that's not true.''

Fellow defensive tackle Malik Jackson said the difference between Ramsey's remarks and comments from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, running back Le'Veon Bell and safety Mike Mitchell is the timing.

''We're so close that I think it's OK to say, `Hey, we're going to do this,''' Jackson said. ''It's one of those things that I think he believes in himself after the game he just had, locking down one of the best receivers in the game.

''He's pretty hyped and he wants to let everybody know he's hyped, so I think he's just happy and he understands that we have a giant in front of us and we've just got to pay all the attention to this team.

''We don't even know who's going to play in the Super Bowl because we're not looking ahead to that.''

Ramsey was unavailable during the team's open locker room session Monday.

''He's going to talk, but we're going to show up,'' defensive end Yannick Ngakoue said. ''I just don't like when people talk all week. You talk reckless and you lose.''

The Jaguars voiced their displeasure with being overlooked by the Steelers last week and were really vocal after the victory at Heinz Field. Players yelled, ''Where's Mike Mitchell at now'' as they came off the field.

''I feel like they took us lightly. I don't know why because we whooped them the first time,'' Ngakoue said. ''You've got to respect all your opponents. That's why we're not big in trash-talking. We're big in playing on Sunday.

''Real guys, real people don't talk. We throw the first punch. We threw the first punch and we got the victory.''

And now they have a matchup against the NFL's most successful franchise over the past two decades.

The Jaguars are 1-3 against New England in the postseason, with the lone victory coming after the 1998 season - before coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady teamed up to take five Super Bowl titles.

Jacksonville's win came against coach Pete Carroll and backup quarterback Scott Zolak.

The Jags are 0-7 against the Brady-Belichick combination.

''We're not going to go out there like the Steelers the week before and talk about people in a bad way and give them bulletin board news,'' Jackson said.

''We just continue to work and earn respect. ... We just keep proving people wrong. (Blake Bortles) keeps proving people wrong, and we just keep going on it and pounding people. It's just awesome to see and awesome to be a part of.

''We understand we have to do what we have to do or we'll be watching the Super Bowl at home like everybody else.''

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Titans fire coach Mike Mularkey after playoff win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans believe the potential reward from quarterback Marcus Mariota working with his third head coach in his fourth NFL season outweighs the risk of change.

Or sticking with the same coach.

So now the Titans are looking for a new coach to replace Mike Mularkey and build off the franchise's first playoff win in 14 years to make them a true NFL contender.

''There's nothing more that I want for our fans than to bring a championship here,'' general manager Jon Robinson said Monday afternoon . ''I feel like it's my charge to put the team in the best position to do that.''

The Titans fired Mike Mularkey on Monday, less than 48 hours after a 35-14 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round. Mularkey revived a team with the NFL's worst record over two seasons and led them to their first playoff victory in 14 years only to become the first coach let go after winning a playoff game since San Francisco fired Steve Mariucci after the 2002 season.

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk turned to Mularkey in November 2015 when she fired Ken Whisenhunt after 23 games . Mularkey went 2-7 down the stretch as the Titans finished 3-13 to land the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016. That capped a 5-27 record over 2014 and 2015 that was the NFL's worst.

Mularkey led the Titans to back-to-back 9-7 records - their first consecutive winning records since 2007-08. He finished with a 21-22 record after a season in which the Titans cost themselves the AFC South title with a three-game skid in December and needed to beat the Jaguars, now in the AFC championship game, to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008.

His devotion to an offense he's known since being offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh between 2001 and 2003 may have cost him. He said Sunday he was prepared to move ''full speed'' ahead after talking with Strunk. He defended offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie's play-calling, saying he was happy with Mariota's development.

Mularkey also said he didn't anticipate any changes on his coaching staff a week after Strunk issued a statement on his job security . But talk of an extension since a 22-21 comeback win against Kansas City in the wild-card round ended Monday morning when Robinson and president and chief executive officer Steve Underwood told Mularkey they was being let go.

Strunk called it ''unfortunate'' that they couldn't find common ground on how to improve.

''I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field,'' Strunk said in a statement.

Now Robinson will oversee his first coaching search with the Titans the seventh NFL team to change coaches since the start of the season. He was hired two days before Mularkey had the interim title removed in January 2016.

''This boils down to doing what we think is best for the football team moving forward, taking the next step,'' Robinson said.

Robinson said interviews with candidates could be held as early as this week, though the Titans will confirm a candidate only after an interview is completed. The general manager declined to discuss Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, saying he couldn't comment on coaches under contract.

''This is a very attractive job for a lot of candidates,'' Robinson said. ''I look forward to working with whoever the next head coach is. I think that they will see that myself and Amy will be unified with them in our vision for the football team.''

In Mularkey's first full season, the Titans led the NFL scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, and they led the AFC while ranking third in rushing offense. Mariota also threw 26 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

This season, the Titans failed to take advantage of an AFC South in which Andrew Luck did not play for Indianapolis and two-time defending division champ Houston lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to an injury early.

Mariota also had his worst season yet with a career-worst 15 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. The run game, the basis of Mularkey's offense, slumped to 15th in the NFL.

Robinson said the key is finding the right coach to get the best out of the Titans' roster, and the general manager isn't worried about Mariota working with yet another head coach.

''Marcus is a pretty resilient guy,'' Robinson said. ''He's a very mentally tough guy. He takes a lot from the standpoint of ownership in things. I have zero concern in Marcus being able to adapt and learn, and do what's best to get the offense going.

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AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.

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Patriots won't bite on Ramsey's trash talk

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) As they normally do when the opposition says something you might post on a bulletin board, the New England Patriots reacted diplomatically Monday to Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey guaranteeing his team is ''going to the Super Bowl and we gonna win that b----.''

''Man, that guy's really good,'' said a smiling Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater, asked to react to Ramsey. ''He should be confident, because he's very, very good.

''The good lord made that guy and he said, `let there be corner' and there he is, so I'd be confident if I were him as well.''

That's just the way the Patriots, who never say anything negative about their opponents, handle these things.

Safety Duron Harmon, asked the same question, said, ''Hey, man, Jalen Ramsey's a good player. He talks a lot of trash, that's part of his game and you can't take it away from him. He's confident - he should be confident in his team. He has a really good football team.

''The top two AFC teams are left and he's a part of one of them, so . his approach to the game is different than ours, but we can't knock him for it,'' Harmon said. ''We know they're going to come ready to play and we just gotta match their type of physicality, and also just their emotion and their readiness to get ready to play.''

The Patriots, appearing in their seventh straight AFC title game and seeking the sixth Super Bowl trip of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady (in their 12th title game), got an early taste of the Jaguars way back in August. That's when the teams held three days of joint practices before a preseason game won by Jacksonville 31-24.

''That was like eons ago, when you think about the course of a football season and how long it is and what happens over the course of the football season,'' said Slater. ''You look at those joint practices, for example, Jalen Ramsey wasn't even out there and this guy . he's elite. There are different dynamics to both teams. I don't know how much we'll look at those practices and that preseason game; I'm sure we'll take a look at it, but both teams are very different.''

Veteran offensive lineman Nate Solder was impressed with what he saw from the Jaguars on Sunday.

''Their front stood out to me, the way they get after the quarterback, the way they stop the run . they were ball hawks, went after the ball on every play,'' he said.

Looking back on the Jaguars in August and now in the conference title game, Solder said, ''It's a unique scenario, but I'm not surprised because we knew that they were good then as we know that they're good now.''

Asked about how impressive it was for the Jaguars to go into Pittsburgh and win, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, ''Very impressive; yeah. They did a great job. Again, they do a lot of things well, play good defense, can rush the passer, can stop the run, turn the ball over, can run the ball, have a lot of explosive players in the passing game, they're good in the kicking game, they're very aggressive in the kicking game.''

''They're well coached. I know that, for sure. They've handled the situations that have come up in those games very well - fourth-and-1 in the first quarter, things like that. They've really done a good job, so yeah, it's impressive.''

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Correction: AP Was There-Immaculate Reception story

PITTSBURGH (AP) In a story Jan. 14 about the Immaculate Reception game in 1972, The Associated Press erroneously said in the publishable Editor's Note at the end of the story that the touchdown came on the final play of the Raiders-Steelers game. There were 5 seconds left when Harris scored, it was not the final play.

A corrected version of the story is below:

AP Was There: Harris' miracle TD gave Steelers playoff win

AP Was There: The Immaculate Reception led Steelers to playoff win over Raiders on Dec. 23, 1972

By HUBERT MIZELL

AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) - It may not happen again for a thousand Christmases the way it happened Saturday for Franco Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Oakland Raiders under the dark skies in Three Rivers Stadium.

Harris, the Steelers' own black Italian Santa Claus, caught a fluttering Steeler pass that Oakland defender Jack Tatum had batted away and danced 42 yards for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh an incredible 13-7 National Football League playoff victory.

The last-gasp effort by Pittsburgh's Central Division champions to leapfrog the Steelers into the American Conference finals came on fourth down play with five seconds left on the clock.

Oakland, king of the West Division, had seemingly been rescued after a miserable offensive afternoon when backup quarterback Kenny Stabler scrambled 30 yards to the goal with 1:13 remaining to give the Raiders a 7-6 edge.

When Pittsburgh lined up for its last shot at glory, the clock showed 51 seconds and the end zone was 80 yards away.

Quarterback Terry Bradshaw hoped to pass for quick gains, charging within range for a third Roy Gerela field goal that could win it.

The blond from Louisiana Tech rifled a nine-yard pass to Harris. An 11-yarder to John Fuqua pushed the ball to the Steeler 40, but the clock was down to 0:37.

And then: Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. That led to fourth down and Oakland was 22 seconds away from bringing tears to the eyes of most of the 50.350 in the big circular stadium.

Bradshaw tried one last time, evading a rush by Oakland's Tony Clines and Horace Jones. He threw up the middle toward Fuqua near the Raider 30.

Tatum slammed into Fuqua just as the ball arrived, sending the lootball sailing back toward the Pittsburgh goal. Harris, trailing the play, grabbed the ball and dashed toward the left sideline.

The left side began to open. Jimmy Warren, a veteran Oakland defensive back, had the last shot at the 230-pound rookie from Penn State , He missed and the Steeler faithful exploded from their seats.

Pittsburgh not only won, but sewed up the homefield advantage for the Dec. 31 steppingstone to Super Bowl VII against the winner of today's other American Conference playoff between Cleveland and Miami.

''Fourth down, fourth down,'' muttered John Madden, the losing coach from Oakland. ''It's really unfair to lose like that. It wouldn't happen that way again in a million years.''

Excited fans had to be hustled off the field by police as the Raiders protested that Tatum had not touched the ball, making it an illegal pass with two offensive men touching it in succession.

''He went up for the ball,'' Tatum said later. ''I believe it bounced off Fuqua. He was in front of me and I just hit him, not the ball.''

Fred Swearingen, the referee, talked with Art McNally, NFL supervisor of officials, in the press box by telephone. McNally had seen the replay on television.

After the discussion, the touchdown was allowed, although NFL officials later said the conversation between Swearingen and McNally had no actual bearing on the ruling.

The stadium almost cracked at the seams when the touchdown was signaled.

Finally authorities harnessed the bedlam so the final five seconds could be played.

All that happened was a kickoff return and one incomplete pass before time ran out for Oakland. Pittsburgh had waited 40 years to win even a division crown and now Chuck Noll, in his fourth season as the Steelers' head coach, had them one step away from the Super Bowl.

For most of the game it seemed that Gerela's field goals of 18 and 29 yards would stand up for a 6-0 victory in what had been a bitter battle of defenses.

Then came Stabler, a substitute near-hero. Then came Harris, the man who is half Italian, half black and all football player.

''I couldn't even see what was happening because somebody rapped me,'' said Bradshaw. ''But I'll watch it all day Sunday on television reruns and enjoy it every time.''

Saturday's first half was scoreless as the two man-handling defenses played to a standstill.

Noll passed up a shot at a 38-yard field goal and it appeared a crucial move when the Steelers ran short on a fourth-and-one situation.

Bradshaw came out firing in the second half, hitting five times for 55 yards as Pittsburgh moved 67 yards to the Oakland 11. The march stalled there and Gerela's 18-yard field goal made it 3-0 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.

Oakland's offense continually sputtered under No. 1 quarterback Daryle Lamonica and the onrushing Pittsburgh defense held him to 6-of-18 passing for 44 yards.

Stabler, the shaggy-haired former Alabama star, trotted onto the field with 11:2 to go in the game. He seemed to ignite Oakland a bit, but then fumbled when rapped by Steeler defensive end Dwight White at the Raider 35 with 5:50 on the clock.

Mike Wagner covered Stabler's fumble and it led to Gerela's three-pointer from 29 yards that made it 6-0 with 3:50 remaining. It seemed enough at the time.

Stabler fired for nine yards to tight end Raymond Chester on a crucial third down play, but Oakland laced a fourth-and-one at its 29-yard line with 2:30 left. The Raiders went for it and Charlie Smith gained five for a first down.

Stabler picked away, finding Pete Banaszak for 12 yards and Fred Biletnikoff for 12. Then it went to Mike Siani for seven and a first down at the Steeler 30.

Pittsburgh fans squirmed in their seats and suddenly gasped when Stabler eluded a pass rush and streaked 30 yards down an open lane to the left to score with 1:13 left. Old pro George Blanda's extra point made it 7-6.

Then came the miracle play, the one NFL watchers will remember for years.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: After the Vikings' playoff win over the Saints as time expired Sunday, The Associated Press is republishing its story about the most famous touchdown in the closing seconds in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception on Dec. 23, 1972. Like the Vikings, the Steelers were trailing by one point and out of field goal range when they scored with 5 seconds left in a divisional playoff game. Terry Bradshaw's pass to John Fuqua was deflected into the arms of Franco Harris, who ran in for the touchdown to beat the Raiders. The AP's story contains a racial and ethnic description of Harris that would violate current standards. The AP has republished the text without editing.

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Humbled Steelers face questions heading into offseason

PITTSBURGH (AP) It wasn't the pregame talk about New England.

Or the seemingly weekly distractions that piled up one on top of the other, some of them self-created and others the byproduct of circumstances far beyond their control.

The Pittsburgh Steelers spent Monday cleaning out their lockers instead of getting ready for the AFC championship game because they were outplayed and outclassed by Jacksonville in a wild 45-42 loss .

That's it. That's all.

''I don't think (the outside noise) had anything to do with it,'' guard David DeCastro said. ''They just made more plays than us. I don't mean to sound cliche, but I thought we did a great job blocking all that stuff out all year and didn't make too big a deal of it.''

If anything, the Steelers seemed to thrive off adversity while going 13-4 and earning a second straight AFC North title.

Yet all that swagger, all that confidence eroded over the course of three difficult hours against the Jaguars.

The defense that set a franchise record and led the NFL with 55 sacks couldn't get a hand on Blake Bortles.

The offense piled up 534 yards, but also committed two turnovers that gift-wrapped Jacksonville 14 points.

Running back Le'Veon Bell stressed there were ''no excuses'' heading into the postseason.

And as they met for the last time before the cycle begins anew in March, they didn't offer any.

Four consecutive playoff berths have yielded zero parades through downtown in mid-February with the Lombardi Trophy in hand.

They're well aware the issue isn't talent.

''Every time you don't win the Super Bowl, it's a wasted opportunity,'' linebacker Vince Williams said.

Asked if he believes the pieces are in place for the current core to take the step that's proven elusive, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he ''absolutely'' does while promising to return for a 15th season.

It's an assurance that at least will help the Steelers avoid the weeks of ''will he or won't he'' Roethlisberger put the team through while he pondered his future last spring.

''I don't know about contracts and who's coming back, but I know the guys up front are,'' Roethlisberger said. ''That makes it good for me.''

It just might not make it good for everyone.

A look at what went wrong and what may be in store between now and when the Steelers report for organized team activities in May.

RUN OVER: The Steelers finished fifth in the league in total defense and 10th against the rush, but had issues getting dominated at times. Jacksonville combined to pile up 395 yards on the ground while winning twice at Heinz Field.

''The things that happened this year can't happen next year,'' defensive end Cam Heyward said. ''There are going to be new problems and new things we need to correct, but let's find a different problem.''

REPLACING RYAN: Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier's season and likely his NFL career ended when he suffered a spinal injury against Cincinnati on Dec. 4. He underwent spinal stabilization surgery two days later and his upbeat approach to his recovery (highlighted by the (hash)Shalieve hashtag) gave the Steelers an emotional rallying point.

The business side of the equation, however, will need to be addressed in the offseason. Pittsburgh signed Sean Spence to take Shazier's place in October, but the defense as a whole struggled at times over the final weeks.

A major priority heading into the draft will be finding a player who can inherit Shazier's spot in the huddle, though Shazier's role as a leader will be far more difficult to fill.

WHAT ABOUT TODD?: Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has helped Roethlisberger put together the most productive seasons of his potentially Hall of Fame career.

And while the two have never been close, they've found enough common ground to help the Steelers and their ''Killer B'' offense rank among the most consistently dynamic attacks in the league.

It may be time, however, to move on. The Steelers made a pair of questionable play calls on fourth-and-1 against Jacksonville, both of which ended with Pittsburgh failing to convert.

Throw in Haley's peripheral involvement in an incident at a bar on New Year's Eve in which he was injured and Pittsburgh could decide to find someone else to run an offense that includes Roethlisberger, Bell, Antonio Brown, rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant.

HAPPY RETURNS?: Bell skipped training camp while waiting to sign his one-year, $12 million franchise tender. The Steelers will have a chance to sign him to a long-term deal or franchise him yet again next year, a move that Bell told ESPN would force him to consider retiring or sitting out the entire season.

Bell, who led the NFL in touches this season (404) said Sunday his preference is to remain in Pittsburgh. Bryant, who made an ill-advised trade request in September after returning from a drug suspension, has one year left on his deal and wants to stay in Pittsburgh. Bryant came on late and made a spectacular diving touchdown grab against Jacksonville.

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Steelers, Saints staffs to coach in Pro Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The coaching staffs of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints have been selected to work the Pro Bowl on Jan. 28.

Mike Tomlin and his coaches, who lost Sunday to Jacksonville in the divisional round of the playoffs, will handle the AFC squad. Sean Payton and his coaches, who fell to Minnesota on Sunday, will guide the NFC.

Each conference will also be led by two legends captains, one on offense and one on defense. Hall of Famers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and defensive end Jason Taylor will lead the AFC. Three-time Pro Bowl RB Warrick Dunn and Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks will help the NFC.

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Kick it or not, extra point makes a big difference in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) The clock had ticked down to zero, and Minnesota fans were already deep into a celebration like no other.

In this city's legal sports books, though, the outcome was still in doubt.

An extra point that wasn't needed had to be attempted anyway. New Orleans players had to be brought back from the locker room to make a token effort to defend it.

In the minutes it took for the Vikings to finally line up and take a knee, many bettors who wagered on the point spread didn't know whether to stand in line to cash their tickets or tear them up and toss them in the garbage.

''Millions and millions of dollars exchanged hands when they kneeled down at goal line,'' said Jimmy Vaccaro, oddsmaker at the South Point hotel.

One of the most unimaginable endings in a playoff game made for some dicey moments in sports books around Las Vegas. While bettors on the money line either cursed or celebrated the final touchdown play, those who bet the point spread weren't sure whether they were winners or losers.

If the Vikings had kicked the extra point, those who took the Saints at plus 5 1-2 points would go from winners to losers. Those who had the Vikings minus the points would swap places with them.

Just another playoff Sunday in a world where it's not so much who wins, but which team covers the spread.

''When that play took place, the ones that knew they won were headed to the cashing line,'' said Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas sports book. ''Then the reality of the extra point came into play and everybody started talking about what they were going to do.''

The game capped a weekend that for the most part was spectacular for sports books, which won big on Jacksonville's, win over Pittsburgh and also cashed in on Philadelphia's home underdog win over Atlanta.

Though many books lost money on the Vikings game, they would have been even worse off without the final touchdown because so much money was bet on the Saints to win straight up on the money line.

''We did really well overall,'' said Nick Bogdanovich of the William Hill chain. ''We just murdered those two games, Jacksonville and Philly.''

Things would have been even better had Tennessee not scored a meaningless touchdown in the final seconds that pushed the game against New England past the over/under and rewarded bettors who tend to favor the over in most games.

''In our world all those games came down to the last second,'' Kornegay said. ''Even in the one blowout the total was hinging on the last drive by the Titans.''

Oddsmakers said they had packed houses for both games, thanks to a strong economy and the exploding popularity of sports betting. Wagering on the NFL is up again this year, and most bookies say they expect a record Super Bowl handle, no matter which teams make it to the big game.

At the South Point, Vaccaro said he judged the crowd by the line at the hot dog cart, which was 25 long most of the weekend.

''All I can tell you is the handle is through the roof,'' Vaccaro said. ''We did as much on the two games each day as we do on a full plate of NFL on a regular season Sunday. It's incredible to see.''

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Home underdogs again, Eagles embrace their role

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The dog masks aren't going anywhere.

The Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) are home underdogs again. Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) opened the week as 3+-point favorites in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

That's just fine with the Eagles, who embraced their underdog role against sixth-seed Atlanta. Philadelphia was the first No. 1 seed in league history not favored to win its first playoff game.

After beating the Falcons 15-10, Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson and veteran defensive end Chris Long mocked doubters by wearing German Shepherd dog masks as they walked off the field.

The dog masks have become a popular item in Philly since the players wore them Saturday night. The team announced fans can wear them on Sunday as long as they take them off during security check entering the stadium.

''To have a lot of people not having a lot of confidence in us and yet to find ways to win just makes it that much more special for this group,'' coach Doug Pederson said Monday.

Expectations for the Eagles have dropped since Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14. Nick Foles is 3-1 in his place with the only loss coming in Week 17 when the starters only played one quarter.

But the offense clearly isn't the same without Wentz, who is an MVP candidate after tossing 33 touchdown passes in 13 games.

''Since that point, no one has given us a chance,'' Pederson said. ''Nobody has given us a chance. And I understand, Carson's a great player, but every week, our guys are hearing the same thing; that now we are all of a sudden not good enough. We're 13-3 and have the best record in football, we've got home-field advantage throughout.

''The guys are going to motivate themselves just based on what they have done and heard for the last month of football.

''Listen, it really doesn't matter what you guys talk about because that locker room in there is united and I'll go to bat for every one of those guys and I'll go to war with every one of those guys in that dressing room.''

The Eagles were on the opposite side the previous time they played for a trip to the Super Bowl nine years ago. They were 4-point road favorites in the conference championship game at Arizona, but Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals to a 32-25 comeback win.

Since 2000, the home team has been an underdog four times in the NFC title game. The underdog Giants beat the Vikings in January 2000 and the Cardinals beat the Eagles in January 2009. The Bears lost to the Packers in Chicago in January 2010 and the Falcons lost to the 49ers in Atlanta in January 2012.

''I'm glad they're not in charge of my finances,'' tight end Zach Ertz said of prognosticators. ''It feels like all of those guys that pick the games are typically wrong. Same with the guys that usually do the draft stuff, the mock draft, kind of the same thing. All these guys that think they know everything typically don't.''

The Eagles are using critics for extra motivation as they pursue the franchise's first Super Bowl title and first NFL championship since 1960.

''Just keep on disrespecting and we're going to keep proving people wrong,'' receiver Alshon Jeffery said. ''We just believe in one another, we don't care what anybody else says. We're just going to keep believing in one another and just keep fighting.''

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Seahawks' Jeremy Lane arrested on investigation of DUI

SEATTLE (AP) Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane has been arrested on investigation of driving under the influence.

King County Jail records show he was booked at 5:30 a.m. Sunday. He was released less than four hours later on his own recognizance after posting $1,000 bail.

Additional details were not immediately available. The Seahawks say they are aware of the arrest but had no further comment. Lane responded to his arrest with brief series of tweets Monday that were later deleted.

The 27-year-old player has been with the Seahawks since 2012. He has appeared in 70 games and started 21. He was briefly traded to Houston this season but returned to Seattle after failing his Texans physical. Lane is under contract for two more seasons but could be cut by Seattle this offseason to save salary cap space.

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Titans split with Mularkey after 1st playoff win in 14 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans and Mike Mularkey couldn't agree on how to build off the team's first playoff berth since 2008 and become a true NFL contender.

That job will now fall to a new coach.

The Titans split with Mularkey on Monday after he revived a team with the NFL's worst record over two seasons and led them to their first playoff victory in 14 years. The Titans announced the move two days after a 35-14 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round.

''It became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success,'' controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said.

Mularkey had one year left on his contract and refused to discuss his status Sunday.

But he said he had talked with Strunk and was ready to move ''full speed'' ahead. Mularkey also defended offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie's play-calling with quarterback Marcus Mariota and said his coaching staff would be back as well.

Strunk said in a statement Monday she talked with Mularkey about extending his contract over the past week since a 22-21 comeback win against Kansas City in the wild-card round. Mularkey is the first coach let go after winning a playoff game since San Francisco fired Steve Mariucci after the 2002 season.

''It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn't find enough common ground,'' she said. ''I generally believe that continuity is the best path for success, but I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field.''

General manager Jon Robinson will oversee his first coaching search with the Titans. He was hired two days before Mularkey had the interim title removed in January 2016. The Titans are the seventh NFL team to change coaches since the start of the season.

Robinson said he and Titans president and chief executive officer Steve Underwood told Mularkey on Monday morning that they had decided to let him go.

''This boils down to doing what we think is best for the football team moving forward, taking the next step,'' Robinson said at a news conference.

Robinson said interviews with candidates could be held as early as this week, though the Titans will only confirm a candidate only after an interview is completed. The general manager declined to comment when asked about Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, saying he couldn't comment on coaches under contract.

''This is a very attractive job for a lot of candidates,'' Robinson said. ''I look forward to working with whoever the next head coach is. I think that they will see that myself and Amy will be unified with them in our vision for the football team.''

Strunk turned to Mularkey in November 2015 when she fired Ken Whisenhunt after 23 games . Mularkey went 2-7 down the stretch as the Titans finished 3-13 to land the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016. That capped a 5-27 record over 2014 and 2015 that was the worst in the NFL.

Mularkey led the Titans to back-to-back 9-7 records - their first consecutive winning records since 2007-08. He finished with a 21-22 record after a season in which the Titans cost themselves the AFC South title with a three-game skid in December.

That left Tennessee needing to beat the Jaguars, now in the AFC championship game, in the regular-season finale to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Missing out on the AFC South title was enough for fans who hadn't been happy since Mularkey had the interim tag taken off his title in January 2016 after a short coaching search.

In Mularkey's first full season, the Titans led the NFL scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, and they led the AFC while ranking third in rushing offense. Mariota also threw 26 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

But in Mularkey's second full season, the Titans failed to take advantage of an AFC South in which Andrew Luck did not play for Indianapolis and two-time defending division champ Houston lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to an injury early.

Mariota also had his worst season yet with a career-worst 15 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. The run game, the basis of Mularkey's offense, slumped to 15th in the NFL. Mularkey frequently defended his offense, which he ran as an offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh between 2001 and 2003, which had been successful over the years.

Mularkey talked about the speculation over his job security after the Titans turned in one of the NFL's biggest playoff comebacks by a road team in beating the Chiefs.

But their playoff run ended in a rout in New England, and now Mularkey already is being mentioned as a candidate elsewhere, including in Cleveland where Hue Jackson is considering whether to hire an offensive coordinator after also holding that position the past two seasons.

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AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.

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Defense rises, but offense is a new concern for Falcons

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons enter the offseason forced to address this startling new reality: Defense is the team's new strength.

That means there are new concerns on offense.

Only one year after Atlanta led the league in scoring in its 2016 Super Bowl season, the offense was no better than middling in the league.

It was appropriate that a season of regression on offense - and improvement on defense - ended with a scoreless second half in a 15-10 divisional round playoff loss at Philadelphia on Saturday.

First-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian was the easy target to blame for Atlanta's sharp decline in scoring , but there were other problems.

Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman each missed time with concussions. Left guard Andy Levitre was placed on injured reserve before a wild-card win over the Rams with a triceps injury.

Quarterback Matt Ryan couldn't repeat his 2016 MVP production. Julio Jones was held to only three touchdown catches - his low total since having two in 2013, when he played only five games. He couldn't catch a last-chance, fourth down pass in the end zone from the Eagles 2.

The Falcons tumbled from first to 15th in scoring.

''I think that's certainly something that we have to look at and evaluate this offseason,'' Ryan said. ''There were too many times that we were a little bit inconsistent.''

While the core of the defense is young, the window is closing for the leaders of the offense. Ryan will be 33 next season - the last year on his six-year, $103.75 million contract. Jones will be 29.

Recent history provides a reason to give Sarkasian another season with the offense.

There was much talk that Ryan and Kyle Shanahan were not on the same page in Shanahan's first year leading the offense in 2015, and Shanahan then won praise when the Falcons led the league with 33.8 points per game in 2016. The turnaround helped Shanahan land a job as San Francisco's head coach.

Jones noted the Falcons had ''new pieces'' this season, including Sarkasian.

''Everybody has to be on the same page and it takes time,'' Jones said. ''It takes more than one year. ... We are a much better offense than we showed for sure. That is just on us, on all of us.''

Here are some things to know about the Falcons following their 11-7 season:

FREE AGENCY: Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are expected to talk on Wednesday about their offseason plans. Decisions must be made on attempts to re-sign such key free agents as defensive tackle Dontari Poe, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and kicker Matt Bryant. Ben Garland, who took over for Levitre at left guard, and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel also are set to enter free agency, as is return specialist Andre Roberts and defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw.

YOUNG D: Linebackers Deion Jones and DeVondre Campbell and safety Keanu Neal were the leaders of a defense which finished in the top 10 in scoring and total yards for the first time since Atlanta's 1998 Super Bowl season. Those three players, as well as 2016 NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr. and rookie Takkarist McKinley, who had sacks in both playoff games, were drafted following Quinn's arrival in 2015.

WIN-WIN FOR QUINN: Sure, Atlanta again fell short of its first Super Bowl championship, but there was one postseason first for the franchise. Quinn is the first Atlanta coach to win at least one playoff game in back-to-back seasons. He is 32-21 in three seasons, including the playoffs.

FREEMAN MAY FACE SURGERY: Freeman told ESPN.com he finished the season with a sprained knee. He had 10 carries for only 7 yards against the Eagles despite sprained posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee. He was on the injury report with a knee injury before each playoff game but the details of the injury were not known. He said he didn't know if surgery would be needed.

STILL KICKING: The 42-year-old Bryant was good on each of his five field goals in the postseason after making 34 of 39 in the regular season. He is 12 for 12 in the postseason since joining the Falcons in 2009.

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Stefon Diggs erased decades of Minnesota heartache

An exceptional medley of great awareness, terrific balance and deft reflexes allowed Stefon Diggs to ad lib and seize both the ball and the moment in the Vikings' demon-exorcising ''Minneapolis Miracle .''

Diggs was supposed to go out of bounds if Case Keenum threw his way on the play dubbed ''Seven Heaven,'' although in countless rehearsals at practice never did the pass go to the deep receiver, according to teammate Jarius Wright.

Ten seconds and no timeouts remained when Keenum dropped back from his 39 on third-and-10 in the hushed U.S. Bank Stadium, another haunting playoff heartbreak looming for Minnesota . New Orleans had taken a 24-23 lead just 15 seconds earlier.

The Saints had three defensive backs guarding the sideline as Kyle Rudolph, Wright and Diggs all ran sideline routes from the right of their formation.

Diggs was the deepest, with his break coming at about 25 yards, and just as he swiveled his hips he noticed nothing but green grass and purple end zone behind rookie free safety Marcus Williams, who was closing fast.

Diggs turned back to see the ball heading his way.

''I was thinking, `Catch it, get out of bounds and maybe kick a field goal,'' Diggs said. ''I took a picture before I turned around to catch the ball. There was only one guy there. If he slipped, then I was going to try to stay up and keep it going.''

Williams, who had a key interception on a floater to Diggs in the third quarter, arrived a tad early. A pass interference flag would stop the clock with about 5 seconds left, giving the Vikings a chance at a field goal.

Williams awkwardly whiffed on Diggs, taking out cornerback Ken Crawley as Diggs came down, tucked the ball in his right arm and stuck his left hand in the turf to stay up.

If he stumbles there, maybe he gets caught and time runs out. But he kept his balance, his cool - and stayed in bounds - shooting toward the end zone like a sprinter coming out of the blocks.

His 61-yard touchdown catch was one of the NFL's all-time last-play stunners and it erased four decades of heartache for a franchise that was victimized by Drew Pearson's original ''Hail Mary'' catch; Gary Anderson missing his only field goal of the season in the NFC title game; Brett Favre throwing across his body for a game-destroying pick in another NFC championship contest; and Blair Walsh shanking a short field goal against Seattle.

While the delirium echoed, Williams, the 42nd overall selection in last April's NFL draft, sat sobbing in front of his cubicle in the Saints' locker room.

''I'm going to take it upon myself,'' Williams said after composing himself for a stand-up performance in front of the assembled media, ''to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.''

While the magical ending in Minnesota dominated the playoff discussions, there were other notable calls in the divisional round:

PAYTON'S CHALLENGES: Saints coach Sean Payton unsuccessfully challenged two calls on the same series in the fourth quarter: Wright's 27-yard catch and Keenum's knee not being down before he released the ball.

''Two very bad challenges by the Saints,'' tweeted Tony Dungy. ''Not sure who is talking to Sean Payton in the Coaches booth but they have given him poor information.''

Payton explained afterward that the monitor in the team's booth was malfunctioning, so he didn't have an assistant coach warning him not to throw his red challenge flag.

MOVING ON: Tennessee's 35-14 loss at New England turned out to be Mike Mularkey `s last as head coach of the Titans. He was fired Monday after leading them to their first playoff victory in 14 seasons.

A week after controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said Mularkey ''will be our head coach moving forward,'' she dismissed him, saying, ''It became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success.''

Of the six head coaches ousted this cycle, only Mularkey made it to the playoffs.

FORGETTABLE FOURTH-AND-1s: Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley made two curious calls on fourth-and-1 in Pittsburgh's 45-42 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

One was a pitch to Le'Veon Bell, who was dropped for a loss, and the other an incompletion to Juju Smith-Schuster.

Maybe Haley didn't know Ben Roethlisberger is 18 for 19 on fourth-and-1 keepers in his career.

LOOKING AHEAD? On Saturday, Bell riled up the Jaguars and their fans when he tweeted, ''I love round 2's ... we'll have two round 2's in back to back weeks ...''

Bell was assuming a rematch with the Patriots next weekend to avenge a 24-21 loss last month, the Steelers' only defeat since a 30-9 home loss to Jacksonville early in the season.

Bell wasn't the only one presuming a Steelers-Patriots conference championship rematch.

In response to a recent quote from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, who said Pittsburgh would beat New England no matter where the AFC championship was played, the Jaguars had some fun following their big win Sunday, tweeting: ''You can play them on (at)EAMaddenNFL all offseason.''

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With contributions from AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell.

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Titans split with Mularkey after 1st playoff win in 14 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans and Mike Mularkey couldn't agree on how to build off the team's first playoff berth since 2008 and become a true NFL contender. That job will now fall to a new coach.

The Titans split with Mularkey on Monday after he revived a team with the NFL's worst record over two seasons and led them to their first playoff victory in 14 years. The Titans announced the move two days after a 35-14 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round.

''It became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success,'' controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said.

Mularkey had one year left on his contract and refused to discuss his status Sunday. But he said he had talked with Strunk and was ready to move ''full speed'' ahead. Mularkey also defended offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie's play-calling with quarterback Marcus Mariota and said his coaching staff would be back as well.

Strunk said in a statement Monday she talked with Mularkey about extending his contract over the past week since a 22-21 comeback win against Kansas City in the wild-card round. Mularkey is the first coach let go after winning a playoff game since San Francisco fired Steve Mariucci after the 2002 season.

''It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn't find enough common ground,'' she said. ''I generally believe that continuity is the best path for success, but I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field.''

General manager Jon Robinson will oversee his first coaching search with the Titans. He was hired two days before Mularkey had the interim title removed in January 2016. The Titans are the seventh NFL team to change coaches since the start of the season.

The Titans scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon.

Strunk turned to Mularkey in November 2015 when she fired Ken Whisenhunt after 23 games . Mularkey went 2-7 down the stretch as the Titans finished 3-13 to land the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016. That capped a 5-27 record over 2014 and 2015 that was the worst in the NFL.

Mularkey led the Titans to back-to-back 9-7 records - their first consecutive winning records since 2007-08. He finished with a 21-22 record after a season in which the Titans cost themselves the AFC South title with a three-game skid in December.

That left Tennessee needing to beat the Jaguars, now in the AFC championship game, in the regular-season finale to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. Missing out on the AFC South title was enough for fans who hadn't been happy since Mularkey had the interim tag taken off his title in January 2016 after a short coaching search.

In Mularkey's first full season, the Titans led the NFL scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, and they led the AFC while ranking third in rushing offense. Mariota also threw 26 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

But in Mularkey's second full season, the Titans failed to take advantage of an AFC South in which Andrew Luck did not play for Indianapolis and two-time defending division champ Houston lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to an injury early.

Mariota also had his worst season yet with a career-worst 15 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. The run game, the basis of Mularkey's offense, slumped to 15th in the NFL. Mularkey frequently defended his offense, which he ran as an offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh between 2001 and 2003, had been successful over the years.

Mularkey talked about the speculation over his job security after the Titans turned in one of the NFL's biggest playoff comebacks by a road team in beating the Chiefs. But their playoff run ended in a rout in New England.

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AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.

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Titans split with Mularkey after 1st playoff win in 14 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans split with coach Mike Mularkey on Monday after he revived a team with the NFL's worst record over two seasons and led them to their first playoff victory in 14 years.

The Titans announced the move two days after a 35-14 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round.

''It became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success,'' controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said.

Mularkey had one year left on his contract and refused to discuss his status Sunday. But he said he had talked with Strunk and was ready to move ''full speed'' ahead. Mularkey also defended offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie's play-calling with quarterback Marcus Mariota and said his coaching staff would be back as well.

Strunk said in a statement Monday she talked with Mularkey about extending his contract over the past week since a 22-21 comeback win against Kansas City in the wild-card round.

''It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn't find enough common ground,'' she said. ''I generally believe that continuity is the best path for success, but I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field.''

General manager Jon Robinson will oversee his first coaching search with the Titans. He was hired two days before Mularkey had the interim title removed in January 2016. The Titans now are the seventh NFL team to change coaches since the start of the season.

The Titans have scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon.

Strunk turned to Mularkey in November 2015 when she fired Ken Whisenhunt after 23 games . Mularkey went 2-7 down the stretch as the Titans finished 3-13 to land the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016. That capped a 5-27 record over 2014 and 2015 that was the worst in the NFL.

Mularkey led the Titans to back-to-back 9-7 records - their first consecutive winning records since 2007-08. He finished with a 21-22 record after a season in which the Titans cost themselves the AFC South title with a three-game skid in December.

That left the Titans needing to beat the Jaguars, now in the AFC championship game, in the regular-season finale to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. Missing out on the AFC South title was enough for fans who hadn't been happy since Mularkey had the interim tag taken off his title in January 2016 after a short coaching search.

In Mularkey's first full season, the Titans led the NFL scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, and they led the AFC while ranking third in rushing offense. Mariota also threw 26 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

But in Mularkey's second full season, the Titans failed to take advantage of an AFC South in which Andrew Luck play a down for Indianapolis and two-time defending division champ Houston lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to an injury early.

Mariota also had is worst season yet with a career-worst 15 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. The run game, the basis of Mularkey's offense, slumped to 15th in the NFL.

Mularkey talked about the speculation over his job security after the Titans turned in one of the NFL's biggest playoff comebacks by a road team in beating the Chiefs. But their playoff run ended in a rout in New England.

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Vikings top Saints rally with last-play stunner in 29-24 win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings, after watching their late-third-quarter 17-point lead vanish at the hands of the indefatigable Drew Brees, went back in front of the New Orleans Saints on a field goal with 1:29 left.

Trailing by two with that much time? That was no trouble for Brees, who moved the Saints in position for the responding field goal with 25 seconds remaining.

The problem was they left just enough space for Case Keenum and the Vikings to answer with one of the NFL's all-time last-play stunners.

Keenum completed his last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game's final play to Stefon Diggs, who slithered away from the Saints for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 29-24 victory and a spot in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.

''I don't know what the percentage was,'' Keenum said, ''but just try to give the guy a chance.''

The play the Vikings ran, believe it or not, is called ''Seven Heaven.'' Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright and Diggs all ran sideline routes from the right of the formation, with Diggs the deepest with his break coming at about 25 yards.

This wasn't quite as improbable of a play as Franco Harris on the Immaculate Reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 playoffs , which was also in the divisional round, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path.

The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum took the snap with 10 seconds left and dropped back from his 39-yard line. He lofted a throw to Diggs, who jumped in front of Marcus Williams before the Saints rookie whiffed on his awkward attempt to cut underneath Diggs for a tackle.

Nobody was behind him in the secondary, as Diggs knew before he pivoted to keep his balance, keep his feet in bounds and keep running across the goal line.

''I had a pretty good view of it,'' Rudolph said. ''I couldn't believe it. Things just don't work out that way.''

Particularly for the Vikings, whose previous victory in the playoffs had been after the 2009 season at home against Dallas in the divisional round. They lost in overtime the following week in the NFC championship game that year at New Orleans, one of the many late collapses in team lore that have conditioned Minnesotans to brace for the worst. So while only defensive end Brian Robison is still around from that painful loss to the Saints, this thriller at least served as a leveler of sorts for a fan base accustomed to being on the other side.

''It's a turning point for everybody,'' Diggs said. ''The majority of people doubt us. They don't think it's going to happen, especially because of history. People have a way of saying history repeats itself. I guess this is not one of those cases.''

Now the Vikings can become the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home turf, if they beat the Eagles. Instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they're in a win-and-go-home situation.

''It would've been nice to be home, but I feel like if we take care of business the way we're supposed to we'll have another chance to see our fans,'' Diggs said.

Here are some other key developments during the game:

NOT-SO-HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Brees will turn 39 on Monday, a celebration that's sure to be muted so soon after this crushing loss. After finishing 7-9 in four of the previous five seasons, the Saints were one of the NFL's biggest breakout stories in 2017 with an energized and revamped defense and the potent running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. But how long will Brees, whose contract is expiring, want to stick around with a Super Bowl ring already in hand?

''I'm more toward the end of my career than I am at the beginning, I know that,'' Brees said. ''That's all I'll divulge.''

PICKED OFF

Brees finished 25 for 40 for 294 yards and three touchdowns, all in the final 16:16 of the game, but his performance was tainted a bit by two costly interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo that set up a touchdown drive for the Vikings in the second quarter. The other came off a tip by Everson Griffen at the line that sent the ball fluttering into Anthony Barr's arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line to thwart the next possession.

Ted Ginn had broken open on a post pattern on the first one, a first-and-10 play from the New Orleans 15, and Brees saw an opportunity.

''I just forced it. There was no reason to do that,'' Brees said.

FORBATH FINISHES STRONG

Kai Forbath missed a 49-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the first half, but he was good from the same distance in the fourth quarter and again from 53 yards to put the Vikings up 23-21 with 89 seconds to go. That gave him three makes against the team that cut him right before the 2016 season in favor of Wil Lutz, whose 43-yard kick gave the Saints the lead before the Keenum-to-Diggs stunner.

''I was ready to kick another one,'' Forbath said, ''but what an incredible way to win.''

WOE FOR WILLIAMS

Williams was sobbing in front of his cubicle in the locker room afterward, his face buried in a folded white towel, before composing himself for a stand-up performance in front of the assembled press.

''I'm going to take it upon myself,'' Williams said, ''to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.''

---

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Vikings top Saints rally with last-play stunner in 29-24 win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings, after watching their late-third-quarter 17-point lead vanish at the hands of the indefatigable Drew Brees, went back in front of the New Orleans Saints on a field goal with 1:29 left.

Trailing by two with that much time? That was no trouble for Brees, who moved the Saints in position for the responding field goal with 25 seconds remaining.

The problem was they left just enough space for Case Keenum and the Vikings to answer with one of the NFL's all-time last-play stunners.

Keenum completed his last-ditch heave near the sideline Sunday on the game's final play to Stefon Diggs, who slithered away from the Saints for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 29-24 victory and a spot in the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.

''I don't know what the percentage was,'' Keenum said, ''but just try to give the guy a chance.''

The play the Vikings ran, believe it or not, is called ''Seven Heaven.'' Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright and Diggs all ran sideline routes from the right of the formation, with Diggs the deepest with his break coming at about 25 yards.

This wasn't quite as improbable of a play as Franco Harris on the Immaculate Reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 playoffs , which was also in the divisional round, but these Vikings are on some kind of special path.

The Vikings were out of timeouts and nearly out of options when Keenum took the snap with 10 seconds left and dropped back from his 39-yard line. He lofted a throw to Diggs, who jumped in front of Marcus Williams before the Saints rookie whiffed on his awkward attempt to cut underneath Diggs for a tackle.

Nobody was behind him in the secondary, as Diggs knew before he pivoted to keep his balance, keep his feet in bounds and keep running across the goal line.

''I had a pretty good view of it,'' Rudolph said. ''I couldn't believe it. Things just don't work out that way.''

Particularly for the Vikings, whose previous victory in the playoffs had been after the 2009 season at home against Dallas in the divisional round. They lost in overtime the following week in the NFC championship game that year at New Orleans, one of the many late collapses in team lore that have conditioned Minnesotans to brace for the worst. So while only defensive end Brian Robison is still around from that painful loss to the Saints, this thriller at least served as a leveler of sorts for a fan base accustomed to being on the other side.

''It's a turning point for everybody,'' Diggs said. ''The majority of people doubt us. They don't think it's going to happen, especially because of history. People have a way of saying history repeats itself. I guess this is not one of those cases.''

Now the Vikings can become the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their home turf, if they beat the Eagles. Instead of the usual win-or-go-home stakes, they're in a win-and-go-home situation.

''It would've been nice to be home, but I feel like if we take care of business the way we're supposed to we'll have another chance to see our fans,'' Diggs said.

Here are some other key developments during the game:

NOT-SO-HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Brees will turn 39 on Monday, a celebration that's sure to be muted so soon after this crushing loss. After finishing 7-9 in four of the previous five seasons, the Saints were one of the NFL's biggest breakout stories in 2017 with an energized and revamped defense and the potent running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. But how long will Brees, whose contract is expiring, want to stick around with a Super Bowl ring already in hand?

''I'm more toward the end of my career than I am at the beginning, I know that,'' Brees said. ''That's all I'll divulge.''

PICKED OFF

Brees finished 25 for 40 for 294 yards and three touchdowns, all in the final 16:16 of the game, but his performance was tainted a bit by two costly interceptions before halftime. One came on a leaping grab by safety Andrew Sendejo that set up a touchdown drive for the Vikings in the second quarter. The other came off a tip by Everson Griffen at the line that sent the ball fluttering into Anthony Barr's arms at the Minnesota 10-yard line to thwart the next possession.

Ted Ginn had broken open on a post pattern on the first one, a first-and-10 play from the New Orleans 15, and Brees saw an opportunity.

''I just forced it. There was no reason to do that,'' Brees said.

FORBATH FINISHES STRONG

Kai Forbath missed a 49-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the first half, but he was good from the same distance in the fourth quarter and again from 53 yards to put the Vikings up 23-21 with 89 seconds to go. That gave him three makes against the team that cut him right before the 2016 season in favor of Wil Lutz, whose 43-yard kick gave the Saints the lead before the Keenum-to-Diggs stunner.

''I was ready to kick another one,'' Forbath said, ''but what an incredible way to win.''

WOE FOR WILLIAMS

Williams was sobbing in front of his cubicle in the locker room afterward, his face buried in a folded white towel, before composing himself for a stand-up performance in front of the assembled press.

''I'm going to take it upon myself,'' Williams said, ''to make sure nothing like this happens again to me.''

---

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Saints safety Williams suffers sad ending to rookie season

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Marcus Williams sat sobbing in front of his cubicle in the silenced New Orleans locker room, his face buried in a folded white towel.

Deep inside Minnesota's stadium that erupted in victorious euphoria a few minutes earlier, Williams was having a hard time grappling with what had just happened. The rest of his Saints teammates were, too, after a 61-yard touchdown pass by Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs burned Williams on the game's final play and gave the Vikings a 29-24 victory for a place in the NFC championship game .

''You can't let it beat you down,'' Williams said, his eyes still reddened by the tears. ''I'm going to take it upon myself to do all I can to never let that happen again. If it happens again, then I shouldn't be playing.''

Williams, the rookie free safety and second-round draft pick from Utah who was one of several new players who helped the Saints transform a once-lagging defense, was the last man in coverage when the Vikings sent Kyle Rudolph, Jarius Wright and Diggs on routes toward the sideline with no timeouts remaining. Diggs was the deepest, and as he jumped to catch the ball, Williams went low to try to undercut him with an awkwardly executed attempt at a tackle.

''It was just my play to make,'' Williams said. ''The ball was in the air. I can go attack it.''

Diggs, who made sure to note right before the catch that Williams was the only one behind him, kept his balance as he landed and deftly kept his feet in bounds. Then he spun around and kept on running into the end zone to queue up the celebration.

''As a safety back there, you've got to be the eraser,'' Williams said. ''Last play of the game, you've got to go do it. You know you've got to save the game.''

The Saints were both defensive and supportive of their first-year teammate, who could play another decade in the NFL and not experience a similar devastation with the stakes so high and the chance for failure so low.

''He's got to keep his head up,'' said cornerback and fellow rookie Marshon Lattimore. ''I'm not going to say he's not feeling bad about the play, but we've got his back. We're young, and we're trying to come back next year. Marcus is a special player. You can't let that one play, as big as it was, turn you against him. He's been playing great all year. Just didn't get the tackle this time.''

Defensive end Cameron Jordan tried to take on some of the blame.

''Had I been a half-step faster and been able to get off the tight end and the tackle and completely take over that play,'' Jordan said, he could have sacked Keenum before the ''Minneapolis Miracle,'' or the modern-day ''Immaculate Reception,'' ever made it to the air.

The Vikings finished with 403 total yards, though the defense recovered well enough from a 17-0 deficit to give Drew Brees the opportunity to throw for three touchdown passes over the final 16:16 of the game and drive the Saints in position for Wil Lutz's go-ahead field goal with 25 seconds left.

Williams intercepted Keenum earlier to set up the second touchdown drive, and the Saints sacked Keenum twice. In the end, though, all that mattered was the failure to tackle Diggs on the fateful final play.

''You work so hard for a goal. It's right there, and you come up short,'' linebacker Manti Te'o said. ''You can imagine anybody, how they would feel. It's just a learning opportunity for all of us.''

---

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AP Was There: Harris' miracle TD gave Steelers playoff win

PITTSBURGH (AP) It may not happen again for a thousand Christmases the way it happened Saturday for Franco Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Oakland Raiders under the dark skies in Three Rivers Stadium.

Harris, the Steelers' own black Italian Santa Claus, caught a fluttering Steeler pass that Oakland defender Jack Tatum had batted away and danced 42 yards for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh an incredible 13-7 National Football League playoff victory.

The last-gasp effort by Pittsburgh's Central Division champions to leapfrog the Steelers into the American Conference finals came on fourth down play with five seconds left on the clock.

Oakland, king of the West Division, had seemingly been rescued after a miserable offensive afternoon when backup quarterback Kenny Stabler scrambled 30 yards to the goal with 1:13 remaining to give the Raiders a 7-6 edge.

When Pittsburgh lined up for its last shot at glory, the clock showed 51 seconds and the end zone was 80 yards away.

Quarterback Terry Bradshaw hoped to pass for quick gains, charging within range for a third Roy Gerela field goal that could win it.

The blond from Louisiana Tech rifled a nine-yard pass to Harris. An 11-yarder to John Fuqua pushed the ball to the Steeler 40, but the clock was down to 0:37.

And then: Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. That led to fourth down and Oakland was 22 seconds away from bringing tears to the eyes of most of the 50.350 in the big circular stadium.

Bradshaw tried one last time, evading a rush by Oakland's Tony Clines and Horace Jones. He threw up the middle toward Fuqua near the Raider 30.

Tatum slammed into Fuqua just as the ball arrived, sending the lootball sailing back toward the Pittsburgh goal. Harris, trailing the play, grabbed the ball and dashed toward the left sideline.

The left side began to open. Jimmy Warren, a veteran Oakland defensive back, had the last shot at the 230-pound rookie from Penn State , He missed and the Steeler faithful exploded from their seats.

Pittsburgh not only won, but sewed up the homefield advantage for the Dec. 31 steppingstone to Super Bowl VII against the winner of today's other American Conference playoff between Cleveland and Miami.

''Fourth down, fourth down,'' muttered John Madden, the losing coach from Oakland. ''It's really unfair to lose like that. It wouldn't happen that way again in a million years.''

Excited fans had to be hustled off the field by police as the Raiders protested that Tatum had not touched the ball, making it an illegal pass with two offensive men touching it in succession.

''He went up for the ball,'' Tatum said later. ''I believe it bounced off Fuqua. He was in front of me and I just hit him, not the ball.''

Fred Swearingen, the referee, talked with Art McNally, NFL supervisor of officials, in the press box by telephone. McNally had seen the replay on television.

After the discussion, the touchdown was allowed, although NFL officials later said the conversation between Swearingen and McNally had no actual bearing on the ruling.

The stadium almost cracked at the seams when the touchdown was signaled.

Finally authorities harnessed the bedlam so the final five seconds could be played.

All that happened was a kickoff return and one incomplete pass before time ran out for Oakland. Pittsburgh had waited 40 years to win even a division crown and now Chuck Noll, in his fourth season as the Steelers' head coach, had them one step away from the Super Bowl.

For most of the game it seemed that Gerela's field goals of 18 and 29 yards would stand up for a 6-0 victory in what had been a bitter battle of defenses.

Then came Stabler, a substitute near-hero. Then came Harris, the man who is half Italian, half black and all football player.

''I couldn't even see what was happening because somebody rapped me,'' said Bradshaw. ''But I'll watch it all day Sunday on television reruns and enjoy it every time.''

Saturday's first half was scoreless as the two man-handling defenses played to a standstill.

Noll passed up a shot at a 38-yard field goal and it appeared a crucial move when the Steelers ran short on a fourth-and-one situation.

Bradshaw came out firing in the second half, hitting five times for 55 yards as Pittsburgh moved 67 yards to the Oakland 11. The march stalled there and Gerela's 18-yard field goal made it 3-0 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.

Oakland's offense continually sputtered under No. 1 quarterback Daryle Lamonica and the onrushing Pittsburgh defense held him to 6-of-18 passing for 44 yards.

Stabler, the shaggy-haired former Alabama star, trotted onto the field with 11:2 to go in the game. He seemed to ignite Oakland a bit, but then fumbled when rapped by Steeler defensive end Dwight White at the Raider 35 with 5:50 on the clock.

Mike Wagner covered Stabler's fumble and it led to Gerela's three-pointer from 29 yards that made it 6-0 with 3:50 remaining. It seemed enough at the time.

Stabler fired for nine yards to tight end Raymond Chester on a crucial third down play, but Oakland laced a fourth-and-one at its 29-yard line with 2:30 left. The Raiders went for it and Charlie Smith gained five for a first down.

Stabler picked away, finding Pete Banaszak for 12 yards and Fred Biletnikoff for 12. Then it went to Mike Siani for seven and a first down at the Steeler 30.

Pittsburgh fans squirmed in their seats and suddenly gasped when Stabler eluded a pass rush and streaked 30 yards down an open lane to the left to score with 1:13 left. Old pro George Blanda's extra point made it 7-6.

Then came the miracle play, the one NFL watchers will remember for years.

---

EDITOR'S NOTE: After the Vikings' playoff win over the Saints as time expired Sunday, The Associated Press is republishing its story about the most famous game-ending touchdown in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception on Dec. 23, 1972. Like the Vikings, the Steelers were trailing by one point and out of field goal range when they scored on the final play of a divisional playoff game. Terry Bradshaw's pass to John Fuqua was deflected into the arms of Franco Harris, who ran in for the touchdown to beat the Raiders. The AP's story contains a racial and ethnic description of Harris that would violate current standards. The AP has republished the text without editing.

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AP Was There: Harris' miracle TD gave Steelers playoff win

PITTSBURGH (AP) It may not happen again for a thousand Christmases the way it happened Saturday for Franco Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Oakland Raiders under the dark skies in Three Rivers Stadium.

Harris, the Steelers' own black Italian Santa Claus, caught a fluttering Steeler pass that Oakland defender Jack Tatum had batted away and danced 42 yards for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh an incredible 13-7 National Football League playoff victory.

The last-gasp effort by Pittsburgh's Central Division champions to leapfrog the Steelers into the American Conference finals came on fourth down play with five seconds left on the clock.

Oakland, king of the West Division, had seemingly been rescued after a miserable offensive afternoon when backup quarterback Kenny Stabler scrambled 30 yards to the goal with 1:13 remaining to give the Raiders a 7-6 edge.

When Pittsburgh lined up for its last shot at glory, the clock showed 51 seconds and the end zone was 80 yards away.

Quarterback Terry Bradshaw hoped to pass for quick gains, charging within range for a third Roy Gerela field goal that could win it.

The blond from Louisiana Tech rifled a nine-yard pass to Harris. An 11-yarder to John Fuqua pushed the ball to the Steeler 40, but the clock was down to 0:37.

And then: Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. That led to fourth down and Oakland was 22 seconds away from bringing tears to the eyes of most of the 50.350 in the big circular stadium.

Bradshaw tried one last time, evading a rush by Oakland's Tony Clines and Horace Jones. He threw up the middle toward Fuqua near the Raider 30.

Tatum slammed into Fuqua just as the ball arrived, sending the lootball sailing back toward the Pittsburgh goal. Harris, trailing the play, grabbed the ball and dashed toward the left sideline.

The left side began to open. Jimmy Warren, a veteran Oakland defensive back, had the last shot at the 230-pound rookie from Penn State , He missed and the Steeler faithful exploded from their seats.

Pittsburgh not only won, but sewed up the homefield advantage for the Dec. 31 steppingstone to Super Bowl VII against the winner of today's other American Conference playoff between Cleveland and Miami.

''Fourth down, fourth down,'' muttered John Madden, the losing coach from Oakland. ''It's really unfair to lose like that. It wouldn't happen that way again in a million years.''

Excited fans had to be hustled off the field by police as the Raiders protested that Tatum had not touched the ball, making it an illegal pass with two offensive men touching it in succession.

''He went up for the ball,'' Tatum said later. ''I believe it bounced off Fuqua. He was in front of me and I just hit him, not the ball.''

Fred Swearingen, the referee, talked with Art McNally, NFL supervisor of officials, in the press box by telephone. McNally had seen the replay on television.

After the discussion, the touchdown was allowed, although NFL officials later said the conversation between Swearingen and McNally had no actual bearing on the ruling.

The stadium almost cracked at the seams when the touchdown was signaled.

Finally authorities harnessed the bedlam so the final five seconds could be played.

All that happened was a kickoff return and one incomplete pass before time ran out for Oakland. Pittsburgh had waited 40 years to win even a division crown and now Chuck Noll, in his fourth season as the Steelers' head coach, had them one step away from the Super Bowl.

For most of the game it seemed that Gerela's field goals of 18 and 29 yards would stand up for a 6-0 victory in what had been a bitter battle of defenses.

Then came Stabler, a substitute near-hero. Then came Harris, the man who is half Italian, half black and all football player.

''I couldn't even see what was happening because somebody rapped me,'' said Bradshaw. ''But I'll watch it all day Sunday on television reruns and enjoy it every time.''

Saturday's first half was scoreless as the two man-handling defenses played to a standstill.

Noll passed up a shot at a 38-yard field goal and it appeared a crucial move when the Steelers ran short on a fourth-and-one situation.

Bradshaw came out firing in the second half, hitting five times for 55 yards as Pittsburgh moved 67 yards to the Oakland 11. The march stalled there and Gerela's 18-yard field goal made it 3-0 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.

Oakland's offense continually sputtered under No. 1 quarterback Daryle Lamonica and the onrushing Pittsburgh defense held him to 6-of-18 passing for 44 yards.

Stabler, the shaggy-haired former Alabama star, trotted onto the field with 11:2 to go in the game. He seemed to ignite Oakland a bit, but then fumbled when rapped by Steeler defensive end Dwight White at the Raider 35 with 5:50 on the clock.

Mike Wagner covered Stabler's fumble and it led to Gerela's three-pointer from 29 yards that made it 6-0 with 3:50 remaining. It seemed enough at the time.

Stabler fired for nine yards to tight end Raymond Chester on a crucial third down play, but Oakland laced a fourth-and-one at its 29-yard line with 2:30 left. The Raiders went for it and Charlie Smith gained five for a first down.

Stabler picked away, finding Pete Banaszak for 12 yards and Fred Biletnikoff for 12. Then it went to Mike Siani for seven and a first down at the Steeler 30.

Pittsburgh fans squirmed in their seats and suddenly gasped when Stabler eluded a pass rush and streaked 30 yards down an open lane to the left to score with 1:13 left. Old pro George Blanda's extra point made it 7-6.

Then came the miracle play, the one NFL watchers will remember for years.

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NFL Today, Divisional Playoffs

SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Jan. 21

Jacksonville at New England, 3:05 p.m. EST. New England (14-3) has reached the AFC championship game for the seventh consecutive season and the 12th time overall in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. The Jaguars (12-6) are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season.

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Minnesota at Philadelphia, 6:40 p.m. EST. Nick Foles and the resilient Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host Case Keenum and the surprising Minnesota Vikings (14-3) - in a matchup of teams that overcame losing their starting quarterbacks. Philadelphia is playing for the NFC title for the 11th time, but hasn't won it since the 2004 season - when the Eagles went on to lose to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Vikings reached their 10th NFC title game and first since the 2009 season.

---

STARS

Passing

- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, was 37 for 58 for 469 yards with five touchdown passes and an interception in Pittsburgh's 45-42 loss to Jacksonville. Roethlisberger is the first player in the Super Bowl era to have at least 400 passing yards and five or more passing touchdowns in a playoff game.

- Case Keenum, Vikings, was 25 for 40 for 318 yards, including a stunning 61-yard touchdown to Stefon Diggs with no time remaining to give Minnesota an improbable 29-24 win over New Orleans.

- Drew Brees, Saints, was 25 for 40 for 294 yards with three second-half touchdowns and two interceptions in New Orleans' 29-24 loss to Minnesota.

---

Rushing

- Leonard Fournette, Jaguars, had 25 carries for 109 yards and three touchdowns in Jacksonville's win over Pittsburgh.

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Receiving

- Antonio Brown, Steelers, had seven catches for 132 yards, including touchdown catches of 23 and 43 yards in Pittsburgh's loss to Jacksonville.

- Stefon Diggs, Vikings, had six receptions for 137 yards, including a stunning 61-yard touchdown with no time remaining, in Minnesota's win over New Orleans.

- Vance McDonald and Le'Veon Bell, Steelers. McDonald had 10 catches for 112 yards and Bell had nine receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh's loss to Jacksonville.

- Michael Thomas, Saints, had seven receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns in New Orleans' loss to Minnesota.

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Special Teams

- Josh Lambo, Jaguars, made a 45-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining in Jacksonville's win over Pittsburgh.

- Kai Forbath, Vikings, made three of four field goals, including a 53-yarder in Minnesota's victory over New Orleans.

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Defense

- Telvin Smith, Jaguars, had 16 combined tackles and returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown in Jacksonville's win over Pittsburgh.

- Anthony Barr and Andrew Sendejo, Vikings. Each had interceptions in Minnesota's win over New Orleans.

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FINAL FOUR

New England has reached the AFC championship game for the seventh consecutive season and the 12th time overall in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. The Jaguars are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season. Philadelphia is playing for the NFC title for the 11th time, but hasn't won it since the 2004 season - when the Eagles went on to lose to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Vikings reached their 10th NFC title game and first since the 2009 season. If the Patriots win next week, the AFC will be represented by either Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger in 14 of the past 15 Super Bowls. The exception is the Ravens' Joe Flacco in Super Bowl 47.

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SAINTS-VIKINGS: DOWN TO THE WIRE

Case Keenum completed a last-ditch heave near the sideline on the game's final play, and Stefon Diggs slithered away for a 61-yard touchdown to give Minnesota a 29-24 victory over New Orleans and send the Vikings to the NFC championship game, with one more win needed to become a first-time Super Bowl host. The game had four lead changes in the final three minutes and it was the first game in NFL playoff history to end on a game-winning touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter.

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STREAKS & STATS

The Jaguars and Steelers combined for 77 points in Jacksonville's 45-42 win. It is the most points in a playoff game since the Colts and Chiefs combined for 89 points in the 2013 wild-card round. ... The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger had 469 yards passing against the Jaguars. He is the only player to throw for at least 300 yards against the Jaguars this season. Wide receiver Antonio Brown had 132 yards. He is the only player with at least 100 receiving yards in a game against the Jaguars this season. Both Roethlisberger and Brown both have done it twice against Jacksonville. ... The Jaguars have scored eight defensive touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. It is the most defensive TDs scored in a season by one team (including playoffs) since the 2012 Bears who had nine.

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MILESTONES

The Vikings' 29-24 win over the Saints was the first game in NFL playoff history to end on a game-winning touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter. ... Jacksonville's 45 points tied the most ever allowed by the Steelers in the playoffs. The Steelers lost 45-28 to Miami in the AFC title game after the 1984 season.

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SPEAKING

''I don't know if they misread the schedule or didn't play us this week, but they didn't acknowledge us at all. And we didn't take that too kindly.'' - Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack on the Steelers after beating Pittsburgh 45-42 to advance to the AFC title game.

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''A heck of a game, wasn't it? And the good guys won.'' - Vikings coach Mike Zimmer after his team beat the Saints 29-24 on Case Keenum's 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs with no time remaining to advance to the NFC title game.

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Showdowns set: Jags-Patriots in AFC, Vikings-Eagles in NFC

NEW YORK (AP) Watch out, New England. Here comes Sacksonville.

Get ready, Philly. The Vikings are sailing into town.

Tom Brady and the big game-tested Patriots (14-3) square off against the sack-happy Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) next Sunday in the AFC championship game in Foxborough, Massachusetts - with the winner headed to the Super Bowl.

''It's been an awesome year,'' Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said, ''and we want to keep it going.''

In the NFC, Nick Foles and the resilient Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host Case Keenum and the surprising Minnesota Vikings (14-3) - in a matchup of teams that overcame losing their starting quarterbacks.

''They count us out all the time,'' said Minnesota's Stefon Diggs, whose 61-yard touchdown catch as time expired Sunday gave the Vikings a stunning 29-24 victory. ''Nobody thinking we can do it. This game was over. I don't stop playing till the clock hit zero. That's it.''

The Vikings open as a 3 +-point favorite against the Eagles, while the Patriots open favored by 9 1/2 in their game.

Being here is nothing new, of course, for New England, which has advanced to the Super Bowl in three of the past six seasons.

For fresh-faced Jacksonville, however, this is all rare territory.

The Jaguars are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season. Jacksonville is also one of four franchises to never play in the Super Bowl.

''I'm sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove or talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,'' Bortles said. ''But we get to keep playing. We get an opportunity to go play in Foxborough for another week, so I'm just honored to be able to do this and especially with this group of guys.''

And, it has all come full circle for Tom Coughlin, who was Jacksonville's coach the previous time the franchise got this far in the postseason.

He went on to win two Super Bowls with the New York Giants - both against Bill Belichick's Patriots - but is now the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations. He helped assemble a squad with coach Doug Marrone that has been powered by a tenacious defense that ranked second in the NFL during the regular season in sacks.

After a few ho-hum games, Bortles, running back Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars offense showed it isn't too shabby, either, outslugging Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a stunning 45-42 victory Sunday.

''Obviously, with what they have on their side of the ball, it's a good team and we know they've got a good offense,'' Bortles said. ''We knew we had to keep scoring.''

There's also this neat nugget: Jacksonville's first AFC championship game appearance came during the 1996 season - against New England, which went on to play in the Super Bowl under then-coach Bill Parcells and lost to the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers.

The Patriots have made it to the AFC championship game for seven straight seasons, clinching this trip with a 35-14 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

''The reality of the NFL is what we did this week will have nothing to do with what happens next week,'' Brady said. ''We're going to have to go repeat it, so you've got to get right back to work, right back to the process of trying to figure out how to break down our opponent.

''Everyone's got to feel good physically and mentally and go out there and try to cut it loose one more time in a huge game.''

The Patriots know how to do that, and they're masters of tuning out distractions. Despite a published report during the week that raised questions about the relationships between Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, New England was all business on the field against the Titans.

''It's pretty incredible to be a part of that,'' Brady said. ''I think the thing is that we don't really take it for granted around here. I know how hard it is to get to this game. We're very blessed to do it.''

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is playing for the NFC title for the 11th time, but hasn't won it since the 2004 season - when the Eagles went on to lose to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

''We'll be ready for next week,'' defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said.

The Eagles used steady play by Foles and a late goal-line stand by their defense to beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 on Saturday. It set up Philadelphia's first conference championship appearance since the 2008 season.

And it comes despite the Eagles losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz, a leading MVP contender, to a season-ending knee injury last month.

''Our team never wavered, defense did an amazing job, special teams,'' Foles said. ''That's just been the story this year is that we just all stuck together.''

The same can be said of the Vikings, who entered the season with Sam Bradford as their quarterback and had big playoff hopes. But he went down with a knee injury after the first week - and it appeared Minnesota's dreams might be dashed.

Enter Keenum, an unheralded and undrafted backup who ended up having the best season of his career.

To top it off, Keenum combined with Diggs on one of the most stunning plays in NFL playoff history, a winning TD that sent the Vikings to their 10th NFC title game and first since the 2009 season.

''I don't even know right now,'' Keenum said. ''I have no words.''

And now, the Vikings, Eagles, Patriots and Jaguars are all one win away from the Super Bowl.

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Defense rose to challenge for Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) When Carson Wentz went down for the Philadelphia Eagles, the pressure fell on backup Nick Foles and everyone else to step up.

The defense rose to the challenge in the first playoff game.

They harassed Matt Ryan, contained Julio Jones and made a goal-line stand at the end in a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

''We know defense wins championships. You say it all the time. You hear it. It's clich� but it's true, especially where we are now at home,'' Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins said.

The strong defensive effort helped the underdog Eagles (14-3) advance to the NFC championship game for the sixth time since 2001. They'll host the Vikings (14-3) next Sunday. Minnesota advanced with a thrilling 29-24 win over New Orleans.

''We don't even care,'' linebacker Nigel Bradham said about a preferred opponent. ''Obviously, we'll see a good game and get ready to prepare for whoever we're going to play next.''

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's unit was No. 1 against the run, 17th against the pass and fourth in points allowed.

They held the Falcons to 281 yards, no points in the second half and Atlanta's only touchdown drive came after a fumbled punt at the Eagles 18.

''We don't point fingers,'' defensive end Brandon Graham said. ''Just stay the task and keep playing your technique. Keep playing with effort. The second half, we went out there and did that. Nobody gave us a shot. We have another 60 minutes next week. I'm happy with this team because we are a great team. We stay together even through adversity.''

Eagles coach Doug Pederson showed his confidence in the defense when he chose to have Jake Elliott kick a 21-yard field goal instead of going for fourth-and-1 at the Falcons 3 with a 12-10 lead and 6:05 remaining.

The defense had forced two three-and-outs and held Atlanta to only 49 yards in the second half. But Ryan led the Falcons on a long drive, converting a fourth-and-6 along the way. Atlanta had a first down at the Eagles 9 with 1:19 left.

Ryan threw incomplete to Jones and T.J. Ward. After a 7-yard pass to Jones to the 2, the season came down to one play.

Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian inexplicably called a rollout, taking half the field away for Ryan.

The defense read the play when they saw the formation, pressured Ryan and forced him to throw it up to Jones in the corner of the end zone. Jalen Mills had tight coverage and the ball sailed over Jones' hands.

''We probably had three guys calling out the play on that one just based on our preparation, our study,'' Jenkins said.

Jones had nine catches for 101 yards, but Mills and Ronald Darby kept him out of the end zone.

''The whole motto and the slogan was just `do your job,''' Mills said. ''Nobody has to go out there and be superman. Know what you have to do for one, then go out there and execute.''

The defense did its part. The defense will have to do it again next week because the offense isn't going to win a shootout.

''It was on us and we wouldn't want it any other way,'' Bradham said. ''That's how you feel when you're on (defense) and you feel like we lead this team. We set the tone for this team and we set the pace for this team. That's how we feel. We feel like all the energy and everything comes through us and everybody feeds off of it.''

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Bills hire Alabama's Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills hired Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator Sunday.

Coach Sean McDermott announced Daboll's hiring two days after firing Rick Dennison.

The 42-year-old Daboll was the offensive coordinator for national champion Alabama. It was the sixth time he was part of the coaching staff for a national championship team.

Prior to last season, Daboll was the tight end's coach for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. He has 17 seasons of coaching experience in the NFL, including stints as the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2009-10), Miami Dolphins (2011) and Kansas City Chiefs (2012).

Daboll has previous ties to McDermott, as he was a restricted-earnings coach at William & Mary when McDermott was a senior safety in 1997. Daboll also has western New York roots, having graduated from St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, a few miles away from the Bills' facility.

''We are excited to hire Brian as our offensive coordinator and welcome him back to western New York,'' McDermott said in a statement posted to the team's website. ''I know how much this area means to him. He is a good coach and a good teacher and has been part of winning programs in the NFL and in college.''

Daboll will be the Bills' fifth offensive coordinator in six seasons.

The Bills finished 29th in offense this past season and their running attack fell to sixth after leading the league the past two seasons. Dennison's play-calling was questioned after Buffalo scored just three points against Jacksonville in the franchise's first playoff game in 18 years.

Daboll coordinated an Alabama offense that ranked 15th in the nation in scoring at 37.1 points per game and 13th in rushing. The Crimson Tide overcame a 10-point deficit to win the national championship game in overtime after freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was inserted into the game at halftime.

As a Patriots assistant from 2000-06 and 2013-16, Daboll won five Super Bowl rings.

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Showdowns set: Jags-Patriots in AFC, Vikings-Eagles in NFC

NEW YORK (AP) Watch out, New England. Here comes Sacksonville.

Get ready, Philly. The Vikings are sailing into town.

Tom Brady and the big game-tested Patriots (14-3) square off against the sack-happy Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) next Sunday in the AFC championship game in Foxborough, Massachusetts - with the winner headed to the Super Bowl.

''It's been an awesome year,'' Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said, ''and we want to keep it going.''

In the NFC, Nick Foles and the resilient Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) host Case Keenum and the surprising Minnesota Vikings (14-3) - in a matchup of teams that overcame losing their starting quarterbacks.

''They count us out all the time,'' said Minnesota's Stefon Diggs, whose 61-yard touchdown catch as time expired Sunday gave the Vikings a stunning 29-24 victory. ''Nobody thinking we can do it. This game was over. I don't stop playing till the clock hit zero. That's it.''

The Eagles open as a 3 +-point favorite against the Vikings, while the Patriots open favored by 9 1/2 in their game.

Being here is nothing new, of course, for New England, which has advanced to the Super Bowl in three of the past six seasons.

For fresh-faced Jacksonville, however, this is all rare territory.

The Jaguars are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season. Jacksonville is also one of four franchises to never play in the Super Bowl.

''I'm sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove or talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,'' Bortles said. ''But we get to keep playing. We get an opportunity to go play in Foxborough for another week, so I'm just honored to be able to do this and especially with this group of guys.''

And, it has all come full circle for Tom Coughlin, who was Jacksonville's coach the previous time the franchise got this far in the postseason.

He went on to win two Super Bowls with the New York Giants - both against Bill Belichick's Patriots - but is now the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations. He helped assemble a squad with coach Doug Marrone that has been powered by a tenacious defense that ranked second in the NFL during the regular season in sacks.

After a few ho-hum games, Bortles, running back Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars offense showed it isn't too shabby, either, outslugging Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a stunning 45-42 victory Sunday.

''Obviously, with what they have on their side of the ball, it's a good team and we know they've got a good offense,'' Bortles said. ''We knew we had to keep scoring.''

There's also this neat nugget: Jacksonville's first AFC championship game appearance came during the 1996 season - against New England, which went on to play in the Super Bowl under then-coach Bill Parcells and lost to the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers.

The Patriots have made it to the AFC championship game for seven straight seasons, clinching this trip with a 35-14 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

''The reality of the NFL is what we did this week will have nothing to do with what happens next week,'' Brady said. ''We're going to have to go repeat it, so you've got to get right back to work, right back to the process of trying to figure out how to break down our opponent.

''Everyone's got to feel good physically and mentally and go out there and try to cut it loose one more time in a huge game.''

The Patriots know how to do that, and they're masters of tuning out distractions. Despite a published report during the week that raised questions about the relationships between Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, New England was all business on the field against the Titans.

''It's pretty incredible to be a part of that,'' Brady said. ''I think the thing is that we don't really take it for granted around here. I know how hard it is to get to this game. We're very blessed to do it.''

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is playing for the NFC title for the 10th time, but hasn't won it since the 2004 season - when the Eagles went on to lose to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

''We'll be ready for next week,'' defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said.

The Eagles used steady play by Foles and a late goal-line stand by their defense to beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 on Saturday. It set up Philadelphia's first conference championship appearance since the 2008 season.

And it comes despite the Eagles losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz, a leading MVP contender, to a season-ending knee injury last month.

''Our team never wavered, defense did an amazing job, special teams,'' Foles said. ''That's just been the story this year is that we just all stuck together.''

The same can be said of the Vikings, who entered the season with Sam Bradford as their quarterback and had big playoff hopes. But he went down with a knee injury after the first week - and it appeared Minnesota's dreams might be dashed.

Enter Keenum, an unheralded and undrafted backup who ended up having the best season of his career.

To top it off, Keenum combined with Diggs on one of the most stunning plays in NFL playoff history, a winning TD that sent the Vikings to their 10th NFC title game and first since the 2009 season.

''I don't even know right now,'' Keenum said. ''I have no words.''

And now, the Vikings, Eagles, Patriots and Jaguars are all one win away from the Super Bowl.

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Jaguars ride offense, swagger to AFC title game

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars haven't faced the New England Patriots in a game that matters in more than two years. That's OK. They know a pretty good place to go to get a heads up on their opponent in the AFC title game.

''We need the notes the Steelers have on the Patriots because they were doing a lot of advanced scouting,'' safety Barry Church said Sunday after the Jaguars stunned Pittsburgh 45-42 to earn a trip to Foxborough next weekend to face the defending Super Bowl champions. ''We need all the notes they got on the Patriots. Other than that, it's time to roll to New England baby.''

With their brute force rookie running back, their enigmatic quarterback and more than a little bit of swagger in tow.

''You can do all the talking you want on Twitter, to the media, all of that,'' Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. ''But when you get on the field you're going to have to produce, you're going to have to show us what you're about. We're confident because we know the work we put in. We're going to go out there confident.''

It showed.

Ticked off by several Steelers openly talking about a rematch with the Patriots with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line, the Jaguars took it out on Pittsburgh one touchdown at a time. They earned the franchise's third trip to the conference championship game in the process.

Now it's on to New England, a place they've never won and where the Patriots hung 51 on them in 2015. But that was before coach Doug Marrone put together the NFL's best defense. Before Leonard Fournette arrived. Before Blake Bortles embraced his role as the enigmatic touchstone for a team that suddenly looks like a threat on both sides of the ball.

Third-seeded Jacksonville (12-6) never trailed and was only rarely threatened on an afternoon it matched the most points the Steelers have given up in their storied playoff history. Fournette churned for 109 yards and three scores . Bortles bounced back from an ugly performance against Buffalo by throwing for 214 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to at least temporarily hit mute on his critics.

''I have no animosity against anyone who said anything,'' Bortles said. ''I'm happy to be able to come here and do this with this team. There are a lot of guys on the couch watching this.''

That group now will include the Steelers. Pittsburgh (13-4) lost at home in the divisional round for the second time in 11 tries, unable to overcome a sluggish start that allowed the Jaguars to take a 21-point lead.

The Steelers only had the ball with a chance to tie once over the final three quarters, the lone shot evaporating when Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete on fourth-and-1 at the Jacksonville 39 early in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars responded with a drive that culminated in Fournette's third touchdown, and that was it.

Roethlisberger, who finished with 469 yards passing and a franchise-record five touchdowns , said he will be back in 2018, though the sting of a stunning upset will linger into an offseason longer than planned.

''If you don't win the Super Bowl, you've underachieved, right?'' Roethlisberger said. ''Because that is always our goal. It wasn't our day. It wasn't our year.''

JUGGERNAUT JAGUARS: Though Jacksonville's offense has endured dry spells this season, the Jaguars did finish the regular season fifth in scoring. While the defense chipped in a touchdown on a 48-yard fumble return by linebacker Telvin Smith, Bortles kept the Jaguars moving. Jacksonville converted 8 of 14 third downs and its lone fourth-down conversion came on Fournette's 1-yard leap in the first quarter.

''All week everybody was talking about our offense wasn't going to do good, they were going to shut down our offense,'' Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said. ''As you saw, Blake Bortles, he was hitting the open man. He had a plethora of big throws. Fournette was running the ball the hardest I've seen them. The offense did a hell of a job.''

INSPIRING STEELER: Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier tried to rally the Steelers with a halftime visit to their locker room.

Shazier, who underwent surgery to stabilize his spine last month, spoke with his teammates as they were fighting back from a 28-14 deficit. Still in a wheelchair during his recovery, Shazier was also around following the 45-42 loss, a stunning setback that concluded a challenging season for the AFC North champions.

The 25-year-old Shazier has made significant progress, but his playing future remains uncertain because of the injury he suffered making a routine tackle on Dec. 4 against Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh's crowd roared when Shazier was shown on the Heinz Field scoreboard in the third quarter.

UNDERACHIEVERS: Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown returned from a left calf injury to catch seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns . Yet, the only player in NFL history with five consecutive 100-catch seasons will again watch the Super Bowl at home.

''We cannot seem to get the job done,'' Brown said. ''That's what's so sad about the journey. You come so close.''

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed.

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Mularkey: Titans taking "next step" means lot of work ahead

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans won more games inside the AFC South, won the franchise's first playoff game in 14 years and reached the divisional round for the first time since 2008.

Being embarrassed by the Patriots 35-14 has only reminded the Titans of how big a gap remains.

''We have a lot of work to do if we want to take the next step,'' coach Mike Mularkey said Sunday.

Mularkey took a team that finished 3-13 for the No. 1 pick in the draft just two seasons ago to back-to-back 9-7 seasons and a 22-21 wild-card win in Kansas City before the ugly loss in New England on Saturday night.

Yet a statement from the team's controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk a week ago has not ended speculation over Mularkey's job security.

The coach said Sunday he has spoken with Strunk about the season and the future. He would not discuss if they talked about an extension with 2018 the last year on his contract, but he anticipates no changes on his coaching staff.

''We're moving forward full speed ahead,'' Mularkey said.

Mularkey also defended his offensive coordinator, saying Terry Robiskie did a ''very good job.'' Mularkey also says he's happy with the development of his quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Mularkey says inconsistency was his offense's biggest issue, and he believes Mariota will benefit from an offseason focused on football and not recovering from an injury.

Mariota finished the season on the field for the first time in his three seasons in the NFL, but he was limited after straining a quadriceps muscle early against the Patriots. He threw four touchdown passes with only one interception in the playoffs after throwing more interceptions (15) than TDs (13) in the regular season.

Here are some things to watch from the Titans this offseason:

WHITHER DICK LEBEAU

The defensive coordinator turned 80 in September and has been on a year-to-year basis with the Titans. Mularkey hasn't talked to LeBeau yet. If he returns for the 2018 season, it would be LeBeau's 60th season in the NFL as a player and coach overall.

The Titans led the AFC and ranked fourth in the league in rushing defense and fifth with 43 sacks in the regular season.

But the Titans finished 17th in points allowed per game and 25th against the pass after adding two new starters to the secondary in cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Johnathan Cyprien.

HENRY'S TIME?

DeMarco Murray, the three-time Pro Bowl running back, finished with the worst season of his career with 659 rushing yards. He missed the final three games with an injured right knee.

Murray, who turns 30 on Feb. 12, still has two years left on the deal the Titans reworked when trading for the running back in March 2016. But Murray is due $6.25 million in 2018.

Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, struggled running in two of his three starts without Murray.

But he ran for a career-high 156 yards in the Titans' comeback win in Kansas City , and Henry still has two years left on his rookie contract.

RECEIVER ISSUES

The Titans invested heavily in the draft trying to give Mariota help. But Corey Davis, the fifth pick overall out of Western Michigan, didn't catch his first TD pass until the playoff loss to the Patriots after injuries cost him significant practice time.

Mularkey says he wants to see Davis and fellow rookie receiver Taywan Taylor benefit from an offseason in the weight room and on the field. Davis finished with 34 catches for 374 yards, while Taylor had just 16 for 231.

BOLSTER OFFENSIVE LINE

The Titans slipped from a year ago when they blocked for the AFC's top rushing offense and tied for seventh in the league for fewest sacks allowed. The Titans ranked 15th in rushing and gave up more sacks (35) than a year ago.

Right guard Josh Kline will be a free agent, and left guard Quinton Spain dealt with injuries that kept him out of two games this season. They'll likely start training camp with right tackle Jack Conklin on the physically unable to perform list after he tore his left ACL in New England .

OFFSEASON NEEDS

The Titans have fewer holes, but not pressuring Tom Brady makes clear they need someone on defense who can make a difference. They will have the 25th pick in the first round in the draft.

They also have plenty of salary cap space with only a handful of pending free agents in defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, linebacker Avery Williamson, kicker Ryan Succop, receiver Eric Decker and linebacker Erik Walden.

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The Latest: Vikings lead Saints 20-14 early in 4th quarter

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

7:20 p.m.

The Vikings expanded their lead in their divisional round game at Minnesota.

Kai Forbath's second field goal, a 49-yarder in the early in the fourth quarter gave the Vikings a 20-14 lead over the Saints.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.

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7:15 p.m.

Drew Brees and the Saints are getting closer in their divisional round game at Minnesota.

Brees connected with wide receiver Michael Thomas for the second time in the game. The second score was a 3-yarder early in the fourth quarter to make it 17-14.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.

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7 p.m.

The New Orleans Saints are climbing back into their divisional round game at Minnesota.

Drew Brees found Michael Thomas for a 14-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to finally get on the scoreboard and cut the Vikings' lead to 17-7. Then on the next play, Case Keenum was intercepted by Marcus Williams to give the Saints the ball again deep in Vikings territory.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

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6:25 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have blanked Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints for the first half of their NFC divisional round game, taking a 17-0 lead into the locker room.

The Vikings forced punts on the first three possessions for the Saints. Then they intercepted Brees on consecutive drives before Will Lutz pulled a 58-yard field-goal try wide left. The Saints are 0 for 4 on third down conversions against the league's top-ranked defense.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game in Philadelphia next weekend to play the Eagles.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

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5:40 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken a commanding 17-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints, early in the second quarter of their divisional round.

Latavius Murray powered the ball in from the 1-yard line, after a pass interference call on Saints safety Marcus Williams against wide receiver Stefon Diggs gave the Vikings first-and-goal.

Andrew Sendejo's diving interception of a long pass by Drew Brees gave the Vikings the ball back near midfield before the end of the first quarter to set up their second touchdown drive. Brees and the Saints are also 0 for 3 on third down conversions against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

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5:30 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have a 10-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints at the end of the first quarter of their divisional round game.

Andrew Sendejo's diving interception of a long pass by Drew Brees gave the Vikings the ball back near midfield. Brees and the Saints are also 0 for 3 on third down conversions against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

The Vikings have outgained the Saints 106-33 in total yards.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

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5:05 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken an early 10-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round game at deafening U.S. Bank Stadium.

Jerick McKinnon took a pitch from Case Keenum around left end for a 14-yard touchdown run that capped an eight-play, 55-yard drive for the Vikings.

On the other side, the Vikings have forced punts on the Saints' first two possessions.

The Vikings made it 10-0 when Kai Forbath made a 20-yard field goal to finish off a seven-play, 79-yard drive.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game next weekend at Philadelphia.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

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4:35 p.m.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns, Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a vital fourth-quarter score and the relentless Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42.

The third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) will face top-seeded New England next week in Foxborough, Massachusetts, after jumping on Pittsburgh early, then holding on late. Jacksonville raced to a 21-point lead, fended off a Steelers rally and responded every time Pittsburgh (13-4) challenged.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score.

All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Le'Veon Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.

But Pittsburgh's vaunted ''Killer Bs'' couldn't keep pace with Jacksonville.

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4:15 p.m.

Josh Lambo's 45-yard field goal with 1:45 left may have finally booted Jacksonville past Pittsburgh and into the AFC title game.

Lambo's clutch kick - the first field goal of the game after 11 TDs - put the Jaguars ahead 45-35. Jacksonville got to work with a short field after the Steelers failed to execute an onside kick.

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4:10 p.m.

The Steelers aren't going down easily.

Le'Veon Bell took Ben Roethlisberger's lateral and ran 8 yards for a TD as Pittsburgh cut Jacksonville's lead to 42-35 with 2:18 left.

Big Ben scrambled from the pocket and ran for 1 yard before swinging the ball to Bell, who beat one Jaguars defender for the game's 11th TD.

Pittsburgh then tried an onside kick that was recovered by the Jaguars.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:55 p.m.

The Jaguars answered back.

Blake Bortles threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon with 4:19 left to give Jacksonville a 42-28 lead over the Steelers.

After Pittsburgh closed within seven for the second time in the half, Bortles drove the Jags 75 yards for the crucial score. Bohanon got behind Pittsburgh's linebackers and Bortles completed the scoring toss with ease.

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3:45 p.m.

Here come the Steelers again.

Antonio Brown caught a 43-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 9:05 left to bring Pittsburgh within 35-28 of Jacksonville.

It was Brown's second TD and it revived the Steelers, who fell behind by 14 moments earlier.

The Steelers have come back after trailing 21-0 and 28-7.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:40 p.m.

The Jaguars are 10 minutes away from a spot in the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette's 3-yard touchdown run with 10:34 remaining gave Jacksonville a 35-21 lead over the Steelers.

After Jacksonville's defense stopped Pittsburgh on fourth down, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed a 45-yard pass to Keelan Cole to set up Fournette's third TD. The rookie running back was sidelined for part of the first half with an ankle injury.

Jacksonville was trying to hang on after seeing a 28-7 lead trimmed to seven.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:20 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to hold on against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The upstart Jaguars hold a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter at chilly Heinz Field. Jacksonville led by 21 points in the second quarter after a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Telvin Smith but Pittsburgh has responded behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 258 yards and three scores through three quarters. Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell has 116 yards and a score for the Steelers.

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3 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is heating up and the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in it against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Roethlisberger hit a diving Le'Veon Bell for a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to pull the Steelers within 28-21 of the Jaguars in their divisional round showdown.

The touchdown was Roethlisberger's third of the game. He's also thrown an interception that led to a Jacksonville score and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers trailed by 21 points late in the first half. The biggest playoff comeback in franchise history came 15 years ago when they rallied from 17 down to beat Cleveland in the wild-card round.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette returned in the second half after leaving in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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2:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 30 minutes from a trip to New England for the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette ran for a pair of touchdowns and the upstart Jaguars have a 28-14 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime of their divisional round showdown before leaving with an ankle injury.

T.J. Yeldon also has a touchdown run for the Jaguars and linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and returned it for a score.

Roethlisberger has touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant but has also committed two turnovers.

The Jaguars are looking for their third trip to the AFC title game in franchise history.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2:15 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette has gone to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared to tweak his ankle on a spin move after catching a 10-yard pass from Blake Bortles in the second quarter. Fournette, who earlier scored on a 1-yard dive, was checked on the sideline before he limped to the locker room for treatment and evaluation.

The Jaguars said Fournette's return is questionable.

Jacksonville led 21-7 when Fournette got hurt.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2 p.m.

The Steelers are down on the scoreboard and a starting right tackle.

Marcus Gilbert is being evaluated for a concussion after he was injured when Pittsburgh was stuffed on a fourth down running play late in the first quarter by Jacksonville's swarming defense. Gilbert walked to the sideline without assistance, but the team said his return is questionable.

He was replaced on Pittsburgh's next possession by Chris Hubbard.

The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon's 4-yard run.

Also, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams is being evaluated for a concussion.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are taking it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon bulled in from 4 yards to give the Jaguars a stunning 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh early in the second quarter. The Jaguars stuffed Pittsburgh on fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 21 then rolled 79 yards behind rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette already has 80 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have never come back from a 21-point deficit to win in the playoffs. Their biggest comeback came from down 17 against Cleveland in the 2002 wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

---

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Just Terrible: Steelers season ends with shocking 45-42 loss

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh's drama-filled season ended shockingly. A final, forgettable act.

No shot at the Patriots. No seventh Super Bowl trophy. No tomorrow.

And when it ended following a game no one expected, Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the rest of the dejected Steelers searched to find words to describe all that had gone wrong.

This was a struggle from the start.

''It wasn't our day,'' Roethlisberger said. ''It wasn't our year.''

Doomed by two first-half turnovers and a pair of head-scratching play calls on fourth down, Pittsburgh was stunned in the AFC playoffs by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who outslugged the Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to earn a trip to New England for next week's conference championship.

Roethlisberger, who had wondered if he was washed up after throwing five interceptions in a loss to the Jags on Oct. 9, set a franchise postseason record with five touchdown passes but it wasn't enough as the Steelers (13-4) couldn't stop a Jacksonville offense that was supposedly weak.

''It's disheartening,'' said Brown, who caught two TD passes and played at his All-Pro level while battling a calf injury. ''I thought we had the right guys. As a player, you live for these moments. Now we start all over.''

As Roethlisberger dressed at one end of Pittsburgh's locker room, a few of his teammates sat at their stalls in disbelief.

This wasn't the plan.

Cam Heyward handled wave after wave of questions about the team's numerous defensive lapses. Bell downplayed that his messy contract situation created an unnecessary distraction in the days leading up to the game, and cornerback Artie Burns sat in his uniform and stared blankly at the floor.

The Steelers never recovered from a 21-0 first-half deficit and are now left to wonder what might have been. Twice they got within seven in the second half only to give up back-breaking plays to the Jaguars, who rushed for 168 yards and seemed to come up with a big play whenever they needed one.

''It's crazy that we couldn't get off the field,'' Heyward said. ''They played better than us - simple as that.''

The Jaguars had the Steelers out of step early on. After rookie Leonard Fournette's second TD, the score set up by linebacker Myles Jack's interception of Roethlisberger, Jacksonville was up 14-0 and Pittsburgh's rowdy fans were using their Terrible Towels to muffle their disgust.

The Steelers seemed to panic when coach Mike Tomlin elected to go on fourth-and-inches and then inexplicably ran a sweep to Bell that got snuffed. Later, Roethlisberger threw an incompletion on fourth down when a simple sneak might have moved the chains.

''We didn't execute well enough and they did,'' Tomlin said when asked about his decisions.

Roethlisberger went 37 of 58 for 469 yards and the five TDs, the last coming with 1 second left.

It was a sobering moment for the star quarterback who has orchestrated so many comeback wins during a 14-year career. Roethlisberger found some solace in his final throw.

''Nobody quit and that speaks volumes about this team,'' he said.

Roethlisberger also dismissed any talk the Steelers were looking past the Jaguars and a rematch with the Patriots, who handed Pittsburgh its only loss in the last 11 games.

''We were dialed in,'' he said. ''I know I wasn't looking forward.''

Bell finished with 155 total yards and afterward sidestepped much talk about his contract. He was franchise tagged by the team for $12 million this season and has made it clear he wants more money.

''I wasn't thinking about it,'' he said. ''All I was thinking about was getting to the Super Bowl.''

As for his own future, Roethlisberger indicated that he intends to return next season. The 35-year-old has hinted at retirement, but that seemed far from his mind as he swallowed a loss few saw coming.

''I don't know what's going on with people's contracts,'' he said. ''I don't know how many years guys have left. I know the guys up front are all under contract and that's a good feeling. I definitely have a desire to play football. I love this game. I love these guys. It's tough. It stings.

''You hate losing at home. I feel bad because I feel like I let the fans down and my teammates down. I feel like I let a lot of people down and I'll take it all myself. I look forward to next year with those guys.''

---

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Just Terrible: Steelers season ends with shocking 45-42 loss

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh's drama-filled season ended shockingly. A final, forgettable act.

No shot at the Patriots. No seventh Super Bowl trophy. No tomorrow.

And when it ended following a game no one expected, Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the rest of the dejected Steelers searched to find words to describe all that had gone wrong.

This was a struggle from the start.

''It wasn't our day,'' Roethlisberger said. ''It wasn't our year.''

Doomed by two first-half turnovers and a pair of head-scratching play calls on fourth down, Pittsburgh was stunned in the AFC playoffs by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who outslugged the Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to earn a trip to New England for next week's conference championship.

Roethlisberger, who had wondered if he was washed up after throwing five interceptions in a loss to the Jags on Oct. 9, set a franchise postseason record with five touchdown passes but it wasn't enough as the Steelers (13-4) couldn't stop a Jacksonville offense that was supposedly weak.

''It's disheartening,'' said Brown, who caught two TD passes and played at his All-Pro level while battling a calf injury. ''I thought we had the right guys. As a player, you live for these moments. Now we start all over.''

As Roethlisberger dressed at one end of Pittsburgh's locker room, a few of his teammates sat at their stalls in disbelief.

This wasn't the plan.

Cam Heyward handled wave after wave of questions about the team's numerous defensive lapses. Bell downplayed that his messy contract situation created an unnecessary distraction in the days leading up to the game, and cornerback Artie Burns sat in his uniform and stared blankly at the floor.

The Steelers never recovered from a 21-0 first-half deficit and are now left to wonder what might have been. Twice they got within seven in the second half only to give up back-breaking plays to the Jaguars, who rushed for 168 yards and seemed to come up with a big play whenever they needed one.

''It's crazy that we couldn't get off the field,'' Heyward said. ''They played better than us - simple as that.''

The Jaguars had the Steelers out of step early on. After rookie Leonard Fournette's second TD, the score set up by linebacker Myles Jack's interception of Roethlisberger, Jacksonville was up 14-0 and Pittsburgh's rowdy fans were using their Terrible Towels to muffle their disgust.

The Steelers seemed to panic when coach Mike Tomlin elected to go on fourth-and-inches and then inexplicably ran a sweep to Bell that got snuffed. Later, Roethlisberger threw an incompletion on fourth down when a simple sneak might have moved the chains.

''We didn't execute well enough and they did,'' Tomlin said when asked about his decisions.

Roethlisberger went 37 of 58 for 469 yards and the five TDs, the last coming with 1 second left.

It was a sobering moment for the star quarterback who has orchestrated so many comeback wins during a 14-year career. Roethlisberger found some solace in his final throw.

''Nobody quit and that speaks volumes about this team,'' he said.

Roethlisberger also dismissed any talk the Steelers were looking past the Jaguars and a rematch with the Patriots, who handed Pittsburgh its only loss in the last 11 games.

''We were dialed in,'' he said. ''I know I wasn't looking forward.''

Bell finished with 155 total yards and afterward sidestepped much talk about his contract. He was franchise tagged by the team for $12 million this season and has made it clear he wants more money.

''I wasn't thinking about it,'' he said. ''All I was thinking about was getting to the Super Bowl.''

As for his own future, Roethlisberger indicated that he intends to return next season. The 35-year-old has hinted at retirement, but that seemed far from his mind as he swallowed a loss few saw coming.

''I don't know what's going on with people's contracts,'' he said. ''I don't know how many years guys have left. I know the guys up front are all under contract and that's a good feeling. I definitely have a desire to play football. I love this game. I love these guys. It's tough. It stings.

''You hate losing at home. I feel bad because I feel like I let the fans down and my teammates down. I feel like I let a lot of people down and I'll take it all myself. I look forward to next year with those guys.''

---

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The Latest: Vikings lead Saints 17-0 at the half

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

6:25 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have blanked Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints for the first half of their NFC divisional round game, taking a 17-0 lead into the locker room.

The Vikings forced punts on the first three possessions for the Saints. Then they intercepted Brees on consecutive drives before Will Lutz pulled a 58-yard field-goal try wide left. The Saints are 0 for 4 on third down conversions against the league's top-ranked defense.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game in Philadelphia next weekend to play the Eagles.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

---

5:40 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken a commanding 17-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints, early in the second quarter of their divisional round.

Latavius Murray powered the ball in from the 1-yard line, after a pass interference call on Saints safety Marcus Williams against wide receiver Stefon Diggs gave the Vikings first-and-goal.

Andrew Sendejo's diving interception of a long pass by Drew Brees gave the Vikings the ball back near midfield before the end of the first quarter to set up their second touchdown drive. Brees and the Saints are also 0 for 3 on third down conversions against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

---

5:30 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have a 10-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints at the end of the first quarter of their divisional round game.

Andrew Sendejo's diving interception of a long pass by Drew Brees gave the Vikings the ball back near midfield. Brees and the Saints are also 0 for 3 on third down conversions against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

The Vikings have outgained the Saints 106-33 in total yards.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

---

5:05 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken an early 10-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round game at deafening U.S. Bank Stadium.

Jerick McKinnon took a pitch from Case Keenum around left end for a 14-yard touchdown run that capped an eight-play, 55-yard drive for the Vikings.

On the other side, the Vikings have forced punts on the Saints' first two possessions.

The Vikings made it 10-0 when Kai Forbath made a 20-yard field goal to finish off a seven-play, 79-yard drive.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game next weekend at Philadelphia.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

---

4:35 p.m.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns, Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a vital fourth-quarter score and the relentless Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42.

The third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) will face top-seeded New England next week in Foxborough, Massachusetts, after jumping on Pittsburgh early, then holding on late. Jacksonville raced to a 21-point lead, fended off a Steelers rally and responded every time Pittsburgh (13-4) challenged.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score.

All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Le'Veon Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.

But Pittsburgh's vaunted ''Killer Bs'' couldn't keep pace with Jacksonville.

---

4:15 p.m.

Josh Lambo's 45-yard field goal with 1:45 left may have finally booted Jacksonville past Pittsburgh and into the AFC title game.

Lambo's clutch kick - the first field goal of the game after 11 TDs - put the Jaguars ahead 45-35. Jacksonville got to work with a short field after the Steelers failed to execute an onside kick.

---

4:10 p.m.

The Steelers aren't going down easily.

Le'Veon Bell took Ben Roethlisberger's lateral and ran 8 yards for a TD as Pittsburgh cut Jacksonville's lead to 42-35 with 2:18 left.

Big Ben scrambled from the pocket and ran for 1 yard before swinging the ball to Bell, who beat one Jaguars defender for the game's 11th TD.

Pittsburgh then tried an onside kick that was recovered by the Jaguars.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:55 p.m.

The Jaguars answered back.

Blake Bortles threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon with 4:19 left to give Jacksonville a 42-28 lead over the Steelers.

After Pittsburgh closed within seven for the second time in the half, Bortles drove the Jags 75 yards for the crucial score. Bohanon got behind Pittsburgh's linebackers and Bortles completed the scoring toss with ease.

---

3:45 p.m.

Here come the Steelers again.

Antonio Brown caught a 43-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 9:05 left to bring Pittsburgh within 35-28 of Jacksonville.

It was Brown's second TD and it revived the Steelers, who fell behind by 14 moments earlier.

The Steelers have come back after trailing 21-0 and 28-7.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:40 p.m.

The Jaguars are 10 minutes away from a spot in the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette's 3-yard touchdown run with 10:34 remaining gave Jacksonville a 35-21 lead over the Steelers.

After Jacksonville's defense stopped Pittsburgh on fourth down, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed a 45-yard pass to Keelan Cole to set up Fournette's third TD. The rookie running back was sidelined for part of the first half with an ankle injury.

Jacksonville was trying to hang on after seeing a 28-7 lead trimmed to seven.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:20 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to hold on against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The upstart Jaguars hold a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter at chilly Heinz Field. Jacksonville led by 21 points in the second quarter after a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Telvin Smith but Pittsburgh has responded behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 258 yards and three scores through three quarters. Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell has 116 yards and a score for the Steelers.

---

3 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is heating up and the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in it against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Roethlisberger hit a diving Le'Veon Bell for a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to pull the Steelers within 28-21 of the Jaguars in their divisional round showdown.

The touchdown was Roethlisberger's third of the game. He's also thrown an interception that led to a Jacksonville score and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers trailed by 21 points late in the first half. The biggest playoff comeback in franchise history came 15 years ago when they rallied from 17 down to beat Cleveland in the wild-card round.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette returned in the second half after leaving in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

2:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 30 minutes from a trip to New England for the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette ran for a pair of touchdowns and the upstart Jaguars have a 28-14 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime of their divisional round showdown before leaving with an ankle injury.

T.J. Yeldon also has a touchdown run for the Jaguars and linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and returned it for a score.

Roethlisberger has touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant but has also committed two turnovers.

The Jaguars are looking for their third trip to the AFC title game in franchise history.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2:15 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette has gone to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared to tweak his ankle on a spin move after catching a 10-yard pass from Blake Bortles in the second quarter. Fournette, who earlier scored on a 1-yard dive, was checked on the sideline before he limped to the locker room for treatment and evaluation.

The Jaguars said Fournette's return is questionable.

Jacksonville led 21-7 when Fournette got hurt.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Steelers are down on the scoreboard and a starting right tackle.

Marcus Gilbert is being evaluated for a concussion after he was injured when Pittsburgh was stuffed on a fourth down running play late in the first quarter by Jacksonville's swarming defense. Gilbert walked to the sideline without assistance, but the team said his return is questionable.

He was replaced on Pittsburgh's next possession by Chris Hubbard.

The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon's 4-yard run.

Also, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams is being evaluated for a concussion.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are taking it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon bulled in from 4 yards to give the Jaguars a stunning 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh early in the second quarter. The Jaguars stuffed Pittsburgh on fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 21 then rolled 79 yards behind rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette already has 80 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have never come back from a 21-point deficit to win in the playoffs. Their biggest comeback came from down 17 against Cleveland in the 2002 wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

---

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Titans right tackle Jack Conklin tore left ACL in loss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey says right tackle Jack Conklin tore his left anterior cruciate ligament and likely will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

Mularkey said Sunday that Conklin will have surgery to repair the ACL within the next two weeks.

Conklin, the eighth pick overall out of Michigan State in 2016, was hurt with 3:14 left in the first quarter of the 35-14 loss to New England. Patriots lineman Malcolm Brown appeared to roll up on Conklin's leg on a run play.

Mularkey says the timing of Conklin's injury is unfortunate heading into the offseason. Conklin was an All-Pro as a rookie for Tennessee.

Tight end Jonnu Smith hurt his right medial collateral ligament, but Mularkey says he won't need surgery.

---

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The Latest: Vikings lead Saints 17-0 in second quarter

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

5:40 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken a commanding 17-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints, early in the second quarter of their divisional round.

Latavius Murray powered the ball in from the 1-yard line, after a pass interference call on Saints safety Marcus Williams against wide receiver Stefon Diggs gave the Vikings first-and-goal.

Andrew Sendejo's diving interception of a long pass by Drew Brees gave the Vikings the ball back near midfield before the end of the first quarter to set up their second touchdown drive. Brees and the Saints are also 0 for 3 on third down conversions against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

---

5:30 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have a 10-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints at the end of the first quarter of their divisional round game.

Andrew Sendejo's diving interception of a long pass by Drew Brees gave the Vikings the ball back near midfield. Brees and the Saints are also 0 for 3 on third down conversions against the NFL's top-ranked defense.

The Vikings have outgained the Saints 106-33 in total yards.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

---

5:05 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken an early 10-0 lead on the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round game at deafening U.S. Bank Stadium.

Jerick McKinnon took a pitch from Case Keenum around left end for a 14-yard touchdown run that capped an eight-play, 55-yard drive for the Vikings.

On the other side, the Vikings have forced punts on the Saints' first two possessions.

The Vikings made it 10-0 when Kai Forbath made a 20-yard field goal to finish off a seven-play, 79-yard drive.

The winner advances to the NFC championship game next weekend at Philadelphia.

- Dave Campbell, reporting from Minneapolis

---

4:35 p.m.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns, Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a vital fourth-quarter score and the relentless Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42.

The third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) will face top-seeded New England next week in Foxborough, Massachusetts, after jumping on Pittsburgh early, then holding on late. Jacksonville raced to a 21-point lead, fended off a Steelers rally and responded every time Pittsburgh (13-4) challenged.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score.

All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Le'Veon Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.

But Pittsburgh's vaunted ''Killer Bs'' couldn't keep pace with Jacksonville.

---

4:15 p.m.

Josh Lambo's 45-yard field goal with 1:45 left may have finally booted Jacksonville past Pittsburgh and into the AFC title game.

Lambo's clutch kick - the first field goal of the game after 11 TDs - put the Jaguars ahead 45-35. Jacksonville got to work with a short field after the Steelers failed to execute an onside kick.

---

4:10 p.m.

The Steelers aren't going down easily.

Le'Veon Bell took Ben Roethlisberger's lateral and ran 8 yards for a TD as Pittsburgh cut Jacksonville's lead to 42-35 with 2:18 left.

Big Ben scrambled from the pocket and ran for 1 yard before swinging the ball to Bell, who beat one Jaguars defender for the game's 11th TD.

Pittsburgh then tried an onside kick that was recovered by the Jaguars.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:55 p.m.

The Jaguars answered back.

Blake Bortles threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon with 4:19 left to give Jacksonville a 42-28 lead over the Steelers.

After Pittsburgh closed within seven for the second time in the half, Bortles drove the Jags 75 yards for the crucial score. Bohanon got behind Pittsburgh's linebackers and Bortles completed the scoring toss with ease.

---

3:45 p.m.

Here come the Steelers again.

Antonio Brown caught a 43-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 9:05 left to bring Pittsburgh within 35-28 of Jacksonville.

It was Brown's second TD and it revived the Steelers, who fell behind by 14 moments earlier.

The Steelers have come back after trailing 21-0 and 28-7.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:40 p.m.

The Jaguars are 10 minutes away from a spot in the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette's 3-yard touchdown run with 10:34 remaining gave Jacksonville a 35-21 lead over the Steelers.

After Jacksonville's defense stopped Pittsburgh on fourth down, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed a 45-yard pass to Keelan Cole to set up Fournette's third TD. The rookie running back was sidelined for part of the first half with an ankle injury.

Jacksonville was trying to hang on after seeing a 28-7 lead trimmed to seven.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:20 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to hold on against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The upstart Jaguars hold a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter at chilly Heinz Field. Jacksonville led by 21 points in the second quarter after a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Telvin Smith but Pittsburgh has responded behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 258 yards and three scores through three quarters. Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell has 116 yards and a score for the Steelers.

---

3 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is heating up and the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in it against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Roethlisberger hit a diving Le'Veon Bell for a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to pull the Steelers within 28-21 of the Jaguars in their divisional round showdown.

The touchdown was Roethlisberger's third of the game. He's also thrown an interception that led to a Jacksonville score and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers trailed by 21 points late in the first half. The biggest playoff comeback in franchise history came 15 years ago when they rallied from 17 down to beat Cleveland in the wild-card round.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette returned in the second half after leaving in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

2:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 30 minutes from a trip to New England for the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette ran for a pair of touchdowns and the upstart Jaguars have a 28-14 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime of their divisional round showdown before leaving with an ankle injury.

T.J. Yeldon also has a touchdown run for the Jaguars and linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and returned it for a score.

Roethlisberger has touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant but has also committed two turnovers.

The Jaguars are looking for their third trip to the AFC title game in franchise history.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2:15 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette has gone to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared to tweak his ankle on a spin move after catching a 10-yard pass from Blake Bortles in the second quarter. Fournette, who earlier scored on a 1-yard dive, was checked on the sideline before he limped to the locker room for treatment and evaluation.

The Jaguars said Fournette's return is questionable.

Jacksonville led 21-7 when Fournette got hurt.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Steelers are down on the scoreboard and a starting right tackle.

Marcus Gilbert is being evaluated for a concussion after he was injured when Pittsburgh was stuffed on a fourth down running play late in the first quarter by Jacksonville's swarming defense. Gilbert walked to the sideline without assistance, but the team said his return is questionable.

He was replaced on Pittsburgh's next possession by Chris Hubbard.

The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon's 4-yard run.

Also, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams is being evaluated for a concussion.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are taking it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon bulled in from 4 yards to give the Jaguars a stunning 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh early in the second quarter. The Jaguars stuffed Pittsburgh on fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 21 then rolled 79 yards behind rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette already has 80 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have never come back from a 21-point deficit to win in the playoffs. Their biggest comeback came from down 17 against Cleveland in the 2002 wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

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Bills hire Alabama's Daboll to be offensive coordinator

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Bills have hired Alabama assistant coach Brian Daboll as their offensive coordinator.

Coach Sean McDermott announced Daboll's hiring Sunday, two days after firing Rick Dennison.

Daboll, 42, was most recently the offensive coordinator for national champion Alabama. It was the sixth time he was part of a national title-winning team's coaching staff.

Before joining the Crimson Tide last season, Daboll was the tight ends coach for Super Bowl-champion New England. He has 17 seasons of NFL coaching experience, including stints as the offensive coordinator for Cleveland, (2009-10), Miami (2011) and Kansas City (2012).

Daboll has previous ties to McDermott, serving as an assistant at William & Mary when McDermott was a senior safety in 1997. Daboll also has western New York roots, having graduated from St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, a few miles from the Bills' facility.

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Showdown set: Battle-tested Patriots vs. fresh-faced Jaguars

NEW YORK (AP) Watch out, New England. Here comes Sacksonville.

Tom Brady and the big game-tested Patriots square off against the sack-happy Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday in the AFC championship game in Foxborough, Massachusetts - with the winner headed to the Super Bowl.

That's nothing new for New England, of course, which has been there three of the past six seasons.

For fresh-faced Jacksonville, however, this is all rare territory.

The Jaguars are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season. Jacksonville is also one of four franchises to never play in the Super Bowl.

''I'm sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove or talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,'' quarterback Blake Bortles said.

''But we get to keep playing. We get an opportunity to go play in Foxborough for another week, so I'm just honored to be able to do this and especially with this group of guys.''

And, it has all come full circle for Tom Coughlin, who was Jacksonville's coach the previous time the franchise got this far in the postseason.

He went on to win two Super Bowls with the New York Giants - both against Bill Belichick's Patriots - but is now the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations. He helped assemble a squad with coach Doug Marrone that has been powered by a tenacious defense that ranked second in the NFL during the regular season in sacks.

After a few ho-hum games, Bortles, running back Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars offense showed it isn't too shabby, either, outslugging Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a stunning 45-42 victory Sunday .

''Obviously, with what they have on their side of the ball, it's a good team and we know they've got a good offense,'' Bortles said. ''We knew we had to keep scoring.''

There's also this neat nugget: Jacksonville's first AFC championship game appearance came during the 1996 season - against New England, which went on to play in the Super Bowl under then-coach Bill Parcells and lost to the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers.

''It's been an awesome year,'' Bortles said, ''and we want to keep it going.''

The Patriots have made it to the AFC championship game for seven straight seasons, clinching this trip with a 35-14 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night . New England has advanced to the Super Bowl in three of the past six seasons.

''The reality of the NFL is what we did this week will have nothing to do with what happens next week,'' Brady said. ''We're going to have to go repeat it, so you've got to get right back to work, right back to the process of trying to figure out how to break down our opponent.

''Everyone's got to feel good physically and mentally and go out there and try to cut it loose one more time in a huge game.''

The Patriots know how to do that, and they're masters of tuning out distractions. Despite a published report during the week that raised questions about the relationships between Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, New England was all business on the field against the Titans.

''It's pretty incredible to be a part of that,'' Brady said. ''I think the thing is that we don't really take it for granted around here. I know how hard it is to get to this game. We're very blessed to do it.''

Meanwhile, Philadelphia awaits the winner of the New Orleans-Minnesota game later Sunday to find out who it will face in the NFC title game. The Eagles used steady play by Nick Foles and a late goal-line stand to beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 on Saturday.

''We'll be ready for next week,'' defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said.

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The Latest: Jags stun Steelers 45-42, reach AFC title game

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

4:35 p.m.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns, Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a vital fourth-quarter score and the relentless Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42.

The third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) will face top-seeded New England next week in Foxborough, Massachusetts, after jumping on Pittsburgh early, then holding on late. Jacksonville raced to a 21-point lead, fended off a Steelers rally and responded every time Pittsburgh (13-4) challenged.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score.

All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Le'Veon Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.

But Pittsburgh's vaunted ''Killer Bs'' couldn't keep pace with Jacksonville.

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4:15 p.m.

Josh Lambo's 45-yard field goal with 1:45 left may have finally booted Jacksonville past Pittsburgh and into the AFC title game.

Lambo's clutch kick - the first field goal of the game after 11 TDs - put the Jaguars ahead 45-35. Jacksonville got to work with a short field after the Steelers failed to execute an onside kick.

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4:10 p.m.

The Steelers aren't going down easily.

Le'Veon Bell took Ben Roethlisberger's lateral and ran 8 yards for a TD as Pittsburgh cut Jacksonville's lead to 42-35 with 2:18 left.

Big Ben scrambled from the pocket and ran for 1 yard before swinging the ball to Bell, who beat one Jaguars defender for the game's 11th TD.

Pittsburgh then tried an onside kick that was recovered by the Jaguars.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:55 p.m.

The Jaguars answered back.

Blake Bortles threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon with 4:19 left to give Jacksonville a 42-28 lead over the Steelers.

After Pittsburgh closed within seven for the second time in the half, Bortles drove the Jags 75 yards for the crucial score. Bohanon got behind Pittsburgh's linebackers and Bortles completed the scoring toss with ease.

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3:45 p.m.

Here come the Steelers again.

Antonio Brown caught a 43-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 9:05 left to bring Pittsburgh within 35-28 of Jacksonville.

It was Brown's second TD and it revived the Steelers, who fell behind by 14 moments earlier.

The Steelers have come back after trailing 21-0 and 28-7.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:40 p.m.

The Jaguars are 10 minutes away from a spot in the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette's 3-yard touchdown run with 10:34 remaining gave Jacksonville a 35-21 lead over the Steelers.

After Jacksonville's defense stopped Pittsburgh on fourth down, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed a 45-yard pass to Keelan Cole to set up Fournette's third TD. The rookie running back was sidelined for part of the first half with an ankle injury.

Jacksonville was trying to hang on after seeing a 28-7 lead trimmed to seven.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:20 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to hold on against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The upstart Jaguars hold a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter at chilly Heinz Field. Jacksonville led by 21 points in the second quarter after a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Telvin Smith but Pittsburgh has responded behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 258 yards and three scores through three quarters. Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell has 116 yards and a score for the Steelers.

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3 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is heating up and the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in it against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Roethlisberger hit a diving Le'Veon Bell for a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to pull the Steelers within 28-21 of the Jaguars in their divisional round showdown.

The touchdown was Roethlisberger's third of the game. He's also thrown an interception that led to a Jacksonville score and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers trailed by 21 points late in the first half. The biggest playoff comeback in franchise history came 15 years ago when they rallied from 17 down to beat Cleveland in the wild-card round.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette returned in the second half after leaving in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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2:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 30 minutes from a trip to New England for the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette ran for a pair of touchdowns and the upstart Jaguars have a 28-14 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime of their divisional round showdown before leaving with an ankle injury.

T.J. Yeldon also has a touchdown run for the Jaguars and linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and returned it for a score.

Roethlisberger has touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant but has also committed two turnovers.

The Jaguars are looking for their third trip to the AFC title game in franchise history.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2:15 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette has gone to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared to tweak his ankle on a spin move after catching a 10-yard pass from Blake Bortles in the second quarter. Fournette, who earlier scored on a 1-yard dive, was checked on the sideline before he limped to the locker room for treatment and evaluation.

The Jaguars said Fournette's return is questionable.

Jacksonville led 21-7 when Fournette got hurt.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2 p.m.

The Steelers are down on the scoreboard and a starting right tackle.

Marcus Gilbert is being evaluated for a concussion after he was injured when Pittsburgh was stuffed on a fourth down running play late in the first quarter by Jacksonville's swarming defense. Gilbert walked to the sideline without assistance, but the team said his return is questionable.

He was replaced on Pittsburgh's next possession by Chris Hubbard.

The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon's 4-yard run.

Also, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams is being evaluated for a concussion.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are taking it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon bulled in from 4 yards to give the Jaguars a stunning 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh early in the second quarter. The Jaguars stuffed Pittsburgh on fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 21 then rolled 79 yards behind rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette already has 80 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have never come back from a 21-point deficit to win in the playoffs. Their biggest comeback came from down 17 against Cleveland in the 2002 wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

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The Latest: Jags lead Steelers 42-35 late in 4th quarter

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

4:10 p.m.

The Steelers aren't going down easily.

Le'Veon Bell took Ben Roethlisberger's lateral and ran 8 yards for a TD as Pittsburgh cut Jacksonville's lead to 42-35 with 2:18 left.

Big Ben scrambled from the pocket and ran for 1 yard before swinging the ball to Bell, who beat one Jaguars defender for the game's 11th TD.

Pittsburgh then tried an onside kick that was recovered by the Jaguars.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:55 p.m.

The Jaguars answered back.

Blake Bortles threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to fullback Tommy Bohanon with 4:19 left to give Jacksonville a 42-28 lead over the Steelers.

After Pittsburgh closed within seven for the second time in the half, Bortles drove the Jags 75 yards for the crucial score. Bohanon got behind Pittsburgh's linebackers and Bortles completed the scoring toss with ease.

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3:45 p.m.

Here come the Steelers again.

Antonio Brown caught a 43-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 9:05 left to bring Pittsburgh within 35-28 of Jacksonville.

It was Brown's second TD and it revived the Steelers, who fell behind by 14 moments earlier.

The Steelers have come back after trailing 21-0 and 28-7.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:40 p.m.

The Jaguars are 10 minutes away from a spot in the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette's 3-yard touchdown run with 10:34 remaining gave Jacksonville a 35-21 lead over the Steelers.

After Jacksonville's defense stopped Pittsburgh on fourth down, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed a 45-yard pass to Keelan Cole to set up Fournette's third TD. The rookie running back was sidelined for part of the first half with an ankle injury.

Jacksonville was trying to hang on after seeing a 28-7 lead trimmed to seven.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:20 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to hold on against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The upstart Jaguars hold a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter at chilly Heinz Field. Jacksonville led by 21 points in the second quarter after a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Telvin Smith but Pittsburgh has responded behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 258 yards and three scores through three quarters. Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell has 116 yards and a score for the Steelers.

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3 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is heating up and the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in it against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Roethlisberger hit a diving Le'Veon Bell for a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to pull the Steelers within 28-21 of the Jaguars in their divisional round showdown.

The touchdown was Roethlisberger's third of the game. He's also thrown an interception that led to a Jacksonville score and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers trailed by 21 points late in the first half. The biggest playoff comeback in franchise history came 15 years ago when they rallied from 17 down to beat Cleveland in the wild-card round.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette returned in the second half after leaving in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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2:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 30 minutes from a trip to New England for the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette ran for a pair of touchdowns and the upstart Jaguars have a 28-14 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime of their divisional round showdown before leaving with an ankle injury.

T.J. Yeldon also has a touchdown run for the Jaguars and linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and returned it for a score.

Roethlisberger has touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant but has also committed two turnovers.

The Jaguars are looking for their third trip to the AFC title game in franchise history.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2:15 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette has gone to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared to tweak his ankle on a spin move after catching a 10-yard pass from Blake Bortles in the second quarter. Fournette, who earlier scored on a 1-yard dive, was checked on the sideline before he limped to the locker room for treatment and evaluation.

The Jaguars said Fournette's return is questionable.

Jacksonville led 21-7 when Fournette got hurt.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2 p.m.

The Steelers are down on the scoreboard and a starting right tackle.

Marcus Gilbert is being evaluated for a concussion after he was injured when Pittsburgh was stuffed on a fourth down running play late in the first quarter by Jacksonville's swarming defense. Gilbert walked to the sideline without assistance, but the team said his return is questionable.

He was replaced on Pittsburgh's next possession by Chris Hubbard.

The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon's 4-yard run.

Also, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams is being evaluated for a concussion.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are taking it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon bulled in from 4 yards to give the Jaguars a stunning 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh early in the second quarter. The Jaguars stuffed Pittsburgh on fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 21 then rolled 79 yards behind rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette already has 80 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have never come back from a 21-point deficit to win in the playoffs. Their biggest comeback came from down 17 against Cleveland in the 2002 wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

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Defense rose to challenge for Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) When Carson Wentz went down for the Philadelphia Eagles, the pressure fell on backup Nick Foles and everyone else to step up.

The defense rose to the challenge in the first playoff game.

They harassed Matt Ryan, contained Julio Jones and made a goal-line stand at the end in a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

''We know defense wins championships. You say it all the time. You hear it. It's clich� but it's true, especially where we are now at home,'' Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins said.

The strong defensive effort helped the underdog Eagles (14-3) advance to the NFC championship game for the sixth time since 2001. They'll host the Saints-Vikings winner next Sunday.

''We don't even care,'' linebacker Nigel Bradham said about a preferred opponent. ''Obviously, we'll see a good game and get ready to prepare for whoever we're going to play next.''

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's unit was No. 1 against the run, 17th against the pass and fourth in points allowed.

They held the Falcons to 281 yards, no points in the second half and Atlanta's only touchdown drive came after a fumbled punt at the Eagles 18.

''We don't point fingers,'' defensive end Brandon Graham said. ''Just stay the task and keep playing your technique. Keep playing with effort. The second half, we went out there and did that. Nobody gave us a shot. We have another 60 minutes next week. I'm happy with this team because we are a great team. We stay together even through adversity.''

Eagles coach Doug Pederson showed his confidence in the defense when he chose to have Jake Elliott kick a 21-yard field goal instead of going for fourth-and-1 at the Falcons 3 with a 12-10 lead and 6:05 remaining.

The defense had forced two three-and-outs and held Atlanta to only 49 yards in the second half. But Ryan led the Falcons on a long drive, converting a fourth-and-6 along the way. Atlanta had a first down at the Eagles 9 with 1:19 left.

Ryan threw incomplete to Jones and T.J. Ward. After a 7-yard pass to Jones to the 2, the season came down to one play.

Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian inexplicably called a rollout, taking half the field away for Ryan.

The defense read the play when they saw the formation, pressured Ryan and forced him to throw it up to Jones in the corner of the end zone. Jalen Mills had tight coverage and the ball sailed over Jones' hands.

''We probably had three guys calling out the play on that one just based on our preparation, our study,'' Jenkins said.

Jones had nine catches for 101 yards, but Mills and Ronald Darby kept him out of the end zone.

''The whole motto and the slogan was just `do your job,''' Mills said. ''Nobody has to go out there and be superman. Know what you have to do for one, then go out there and execute.''

The defense did its part. The defense will have to do it again next week because the offense isn't going to win a shootout.

''It was on us and we wouldn't want it any other way,'' Bradham said. ''That's how you feel when you're on (defense) and you feel like we lead this team. We set the tone for this team and we set the pace for this team. That's how we feel. We feel like all the energy and everything comes through us and everybody feeds off of it.''

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Vikings slot Bradford as No. 2 QB, deactivate Bridgewater

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Sam Bradford is suited up for the Minnesota Vikings as the backup to quarterback Case Keenum, with Teddy Bridgewater on the inactive list for the divisional round playoff game against New Orleans.

Bradford played in only 1+ games this season because of a knee injury he eventually had surgery on.

He was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8 so the Vikings could activate Bridgewater, who took only 10 snaps at the end of the game on Dec. 17 and has not seen significant action in a meaningful game in two years.

Bradford started the opener against the Saints, posting a career-best 143.0 passer rating in leading the Vikings to a 29-19 victory.

Also inactive on Sunday for the Vikings: quarterback Kyle Sloter, wide receiver Stacy Coley, running back Mack Brown, defensive end Tashawn Bower, center Cornelius Edison and guard Danny Isidora.

The Vikings moved right tackle Mike Remmers to left guard, with Nick Easton out with a broken ankle. Rashod Hill took Remmers' spot.

For the Saints, wide receiver Brandon Coleman was ruled out with a neck injury.

Also inactive: running back Jonathan Williams, defensive end Kasim Edebali, center Cameron Tom, tight end John Phillips, offensive tackle Bryce Harris and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad.

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The Latest: Jaguars lead Steelers 35-28 in 4th quarter

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

3:45 p.m.

Here come the Steelers again.

Antonio Brown caught a 43-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 9:05 left to bring Pittsburgh within 35-28 of Jacksonville.

It was Brown's second TD and it revived the Steelers, who fell behind by 14 moments earlier.

The Steelers have come back after trailing 21-0 and 28-7.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

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3:40 p.m.

The Jaguars are 10 minutes away from a spot in the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette's 3-yard touchdown run with 10:34 remaining gave Jacksonville a 35-21 lead over the Steelers.

After Jacksonville's defense stopped Pittsburgh on fourth down, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed a 45-yard pass to Keelan Cole to set up Fournette's third TD. The rookie running back was sidelined for part of the first half with an ankle injury.

Jacksonville was trying to hang on after seeing a 28-7 lead trimmed to seven.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

3:20 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to hold on against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The upstart Jaguars hold a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter at chilly Heinz Field. Jacksonville led by 21 points in the second quarter after a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Telvin Smith but Pittsburgh has responded behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 258 yards and three scores through three quarters. Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell has 116 yards and a score for the Steelers.

---

3 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is heating up and the Pittsburgh Steelers are back in it against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Roethlisberger hit a diving Le'Veon Bell for a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to pull the Steelers within 28-21 of the Jaguars in their divisional round showdown.

The touchdown was Roethlisberger's third of the game. He's also thrown an interception that led to a Jacksonville score and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers trailed by 21 points late in the first half. The biggest playoff comeback in franchise history came 15 years ago when they rallied from 17 down to beat Cleveland in the wild-card round.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette returned in the second half after leaving in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

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2:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 30 minutes from a trip to New England for the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette ran for a pair of touchdowns and the upstart Jaguars have a 28-14 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime of their divisional round showdown before leaving with an ankle injury.

T.J. Yeldon also has a touchdown run for the Jaguars and linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and returned it for a score.

Roethlisberger has touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant but has also committed two turnovers.

The Jaguars are looking for their third trip to the AFC title game in franchise history.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2:15 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette has gone to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared to tweak his ankle on a spin move after catching a 10-yard pass from Blake Bortles in the second quarter. Fournette, who earlier scored on a 1-yard dive, was checked on the sideline before he limped to the locker room for treatment and evaluation.

The Jaguars said Fournette's return is questionable.

Jacksonville led 21-7 when Fournette got hurt.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Steelers are down on the scoreboard and a starting right tackle.

Marcus Gilbert is being evaluated for a concussion after he was injured when Pittsburgh was stuffed on a fourth down running play late in the first quarter by Jacksonville's swarming defense. Gilbert walked to the sideline without assistance, but the team said his return is questionable.

He was replaced on Pittsburgh's next possession by Chris Hubbard.

The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon's 4-yard run.

Also, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams is being evaluated for a concussion.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are taking it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon bulled in from 4 yards to give the Jaguars a stunning 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh early in the second quarter. The Jaguars stuffed Pittsburgh on fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 21 then rolled 79 yards behind rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette already has 80 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have never come back from a 21-point deficit to win in the playoffs. Their biggest comeback came from down 17 against Cleveland in the 2002 wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

---

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The Latest: Jaguars up 28-14 over Steelers at half

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

2:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 30 minutes from a trip to New England for the AFC championship game.

Leonard Fournette ran for a pair of touchdowns and the upstart Jaguars have a 28-14 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at halftime of their divisional round showdown before leaving with an ankle injury.

T.J. Yeldon also has a touchdown run for the Jaguars and linebacker Telvin Smith scooped up Ben Roethlisberger's fumble and returned it for a score.

Roethlisberger has touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant but has also committed two turnovers.

The Jaguars are looking for their third trip to the AFC title game in franchise history.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

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2:15 p.m.

Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette has gone to the locker room with an ankle injury.

Fournette appeared to tweak his ankle on a spin move after catching a 10-yard pass from Blake Bortles in the second quarter. Fournette, who earlier scored on a 1-yard dive, was checked on the sideline before he limped to the locker room for treatment and evaluation.

The Jaguars said Fournette's return is questionable.

Jacksonville led 21-7 when Fournette got hurt.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Steelers are down on the scoreboard and a starting right tackle.

Marcus Gilbert is being evaluated for a concussion after he was injured when Pittsburgh was stuffed on a fourth down running play late in the first quarter by Jacksonville's swarming defense. Gilbert walked to the sideline without assistance, but the team said his return is questionable.

He was replaced on Pittsburgh's next possession by Chris Hubbard.

The Jaguars took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on T.J. Yeldon's 4-yard run.

Also, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams is being evaluated for a concussion.

- Tom Withers reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

2 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are taking it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon bulled in from 4 yards to give the Jaguars a stunning 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh early in the second quarter. The Jaguars stuffed Pittsburgh on fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 21 then rolled 79 yards behind rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette already has 80 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have never come back from a 21-point deficit to win in the playoffs. Their biggest comeback came from down 17 against Cleveland in the 2002 wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

---

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The Latest: Fournette's 2nd TD gives Jags 14-0 lead

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

1:35 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette sprinted 18 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown of the first quarter as the Jaguars took a quick 14-0 lead over the Steelers. Fournette's second score came one play after Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack made an acrobatic interception on a third down pass by Ben Roethlisberger.

The pick was Jacksonville's sixth against Roethlisberger in just five quarters this season. Jacksonville is looking for its first road playoff win since Jan. 5, 2008, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the wild-card round.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh.

---

1:15 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up to their old tricks in Pittsburgh.

Leonard Fournette's fourth down leap into the end zone from 1 yard gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter.

Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles completed 3 of 4 passes for 53 yards on the drive. Bortles had all of 87 yards passing in last week's wild-card round victory over Buffalo.

Fournette scored on a similar play in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in October.

- Will Graves reporting from Pittsburgh

---

12:05 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

---

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Jags-Steelers, Vikings-Saints playoff ready

The NFL divisional playoffs wrap up with a doubleheader Sunday starting in Pittsburgh where the AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) host the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.

The winner earns a trip to New England to face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in next week's AFC title game.

The third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) drilled the Steelers 30-9 back in October. Jacksonville picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the victory.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown is active after missing the final two games of the regular season with a left calf injury.

In the NFC, second-seeded Minnesota (13-3) welcomes fourth-seeded New Orleans (12-5) for the second time this season. The Vikings dominated the Saints 29-19 in the season opener. The winner will play in Philadelphia against the top-seeded Eagles in next week's NFC championship game.

The weather could be a factor in Pittsburgh. The temperature is expected to hover in the teens throughout the day. The Jaguars are 1-8 all time in games played when the temperature at kickoff is 25 degrees or colder.

It's even chillier in Minneapolis, but the Vikings will have the roof closed when they host the Saints.

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Steelers star Antonio Brown active against Jaguars

PITTSBURGH (AP) Antonio Brown is good to go against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' All-Pro wide receiver is active for the first time in a month as the AFC North champions host the Jaguars with a spot in the AFC title game on the line.

Brown injured his left calf in the first half of a loss to New England on Dec. 17 and missed Pittsburgh's final two games.

Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who was limited this week with an elbow injury, is also active. So is Pittsburgh cornerback Artie Burns, who was limited this week because of a hyperextended right knee.

Running back Chris Ivory is inactive for the Jaguars.

Other Steelers inactives include QB Josh Dobbs, WR Justin Hunter, CB Coty Sensabaugh, S J.J. Wilcox, OT Jerald Hawkins, G Matt Feiler and NT Daniel McCullers.

Other Jaguars inactives include OL Chris Reed, OL Josh Walker, WR Jaydon Mickens, OL William Poehls and DL Eli Ankou.

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Eagles use goal-line stand, Elliott FGs to beat Falcons

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles was steady, Jake Elliott had a big leg and the defense made one final stop.

The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the NFC championship game following a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. They'll host the Saints-Vikings winner next Sunday.

Despite going 13-3 to earn the No. 1 seed, the Eagles entered the game as 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seeded Falcons (11-7). They used it as motivation and now it's onto the next one as they continue pursuit of the franchise's first Super Bowl title.

''If we believe the outsiders, we will be all messed up,'' Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. ''We went out and proved we can be the real winning team.''

Matt Ryan's final pass sailed through Julio Jones' arms in the corner of the end zone as Jalen Mills had tight coverage on fourth down from the 2 to secure Philadelphia's win. It was another disappointing finish for the Falcons, who blew a 25-point lead against the Patriots in last year's Super Bowl.

''The reason I play this game is to win a championship,'' Ryan said. ''That's why we put all of the hard work we put in. When you don't get that result, it's difficult.''

Foles outplayed Ryan, bouncing back from a pair of subpar games with an efficient performance. He completed 77 percent of his passes (23 of 30) for 246 yards, no touchdowns and no turnovers.

''The biggest thing in our locker room is that we believe in one another and that showed,'' Foles said. ''We kept working, kept grinding, had faith in one another. In any sport there's going to be criticism. You're aware of it because you're human but we blocked it out.''

Here's some things we learned following Philadelphia's first playoff win in nine years:

OVERCOMING TURNOVERS: The Eagles committed the only two turnovers and won anyway. Jay Ajayi fumbled on the second play from scrimmage inside Falcons territory and a short punt bounced off an Eagles player setting up Atlanta's 18-yard touchdown drive.

INCONSISTENT OFFENSE: These weren't the Falcons who lit up the scoreboard on their way to winning the NFC championship last year. Under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons weren't quite as sharp throughout the season and their inconsistency showed up at the wrong time. They were shut out in the second half and held to just 118 yards in the final two quarters.

''I think that's something we have to look at and evaluate this offseason,'' Ryan said. ''There were too many times we were a little bit inconsistent.''

JAY TRAIN: Ajayi shook off the fumble and ran well until he inexplicably went to the bench for a long stretch. Ajayi had 50 yards rushing on eight carries through Philadelphia's first drive of the second quarter, but didn't get the ball again until the second half. He finished with 54 yards on 15 carries and also dropped a third down pass. He did have 44 yards receiving on three catches.

''I feel like I played poorly,'' Ajayi said. ''The fumble, can't do that in a big game. I feel like I could have executed a lot better. A lot of the teammates picked up the slack. The defense played lights out.''

CALL OF THE GAME: Eagles coach Doug Pederson ran an inside counter to wide receiver Nelson Agholor that went for 21 yards to the Falcons 3 on third-and-3 on Philadelphia's touchdown drive. It was the first time he called that play this season.

''It's a play we've had in our arsenal, but never got to it,'' Pederson said. ''This was just an opportunity to put it in Nelson's hands with Lane Johnson as a puller and just executed extremely well.''

JAKE'S LEG: Elliott, who joined the Eagles after Caleb Sturgis was injured in Week 1, bounced back after missing his fourth extra point of the season by connecting on all three of his field goals. His 53-yarder at the end of the first half was his sixth in seven tries from beyond 50. That includes a game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants in Week 3.

''It was definitely tricky out there, just really gusty (wind),'' Elliott said. ''You don't know what it's really going to do out there so you just have to hit the best ball you can and take care of what you can control.''

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed.

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Patriots back in AFC title game, Titans trip into offseason

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The New England Patriots have handled every bit of adversity that has been thrown at them this season - from a string of injuries to the recent off-field firestorm created by reports of purported discord within the core of the franchise.

Now, they'll have a chance to play for yet another AFC championship.

The Patriots' 35-14 victory over the Titans in Saturday's divisional round was yet another reminder of the defending Super Bowl champion's unique ability to not only compartmentalize, but play some of their best football in the face of it.

Tom Brady chuckled when he was asked after the game about his name being mentioned in a swirl of media reports last week about alleged bickering between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.

''Noooo,'' he responded sarcastically, when a reporter asked about Brady's name being mentioned in a negative light.

But Brady said it ''just goes with the territory.

''I just try to be consistent, show up and do the best I can do every week for the team and regardless of whether I'm the worst quarterback in the league or the best quarterback in the league or somewhere in-between,'' he said.

It was Brady's 10th career postseason game with at least three TD tosses, moving him past Joe Montana for the most in NFL history. It also brought out some of the best football in his teammates.

James White caught a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Danny Amendola had 11 catches for 112 yards - his first career 100-yard receiving game.

''All the hard work we put in is for these moments,'' White said. ''We have to make the most of these opportunities.''

Marcus Mariota tossed an early touchdown pass to give the Titans an early 7-0 lead. But Tennessee faltered down the stretch as the Patriots defense swarmed the third-year quarterback and sacked him a Patriots playoff-record eight times.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey revealed after the game that Mariota suffered a strained quadriceps muscle in the first quarter. But Mariota said it was no excuse.

''Everybody plays with something,'' he said.

He said he walked off the field feeling ''embarrassed'' a week after leading his team back from 18 points down against Kansas City. But he said watching the efficiency of Brady and the Patriots was a learning experience he will take with him moving forward.

''You don't play to come and lose in the divisional playoff. You play to win the whole thing,'' Mariota said. ''Obviously, this is the blueprint. New England's been in the playoffs consistently. We can learn a lot from them.''

FAMILIAR POSITION

Brady will be making his 12th AFC championship game appearance in his 18 NFL seasons. He now has 221 career wins as a starting quarterback (regular season and playoffs), extending his NFL record. Peyton Manning is next with 200 career victories.

RARE COMPANY

Gronkowski finished with six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. It was his 10th career postseason TD. He's tied with five others for third all-time. But it's the most for a tight end. Only two players in NFL history have more receiving touchdowns in the playoffs: Jerry Rice with 22 and John Stallworth with 12.

But Gronkowski said it's not something that is even registering right now.

''That's great to hear and everything, but that's not really the main goal,'' he said. ''Maybe down the road you can look back and look at that stuff, but as of right now, what our main goal is just keep on grinding, get the win and that's what we did tonight.''

HARD CRITIQUE

The Patriots feasted on third down against the Titans' defense, going 11 of 17 in those situations.

Titans safety Kevin Byard said they allowed Brady to control the game.

''We didn't play well enough to give our offense a chance,'' Byard said. ''We were giving up too much, especially on early downs.''

He said New England's 31 first downs stood out.

''(Brady) definitely outplayed us tonight.''

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Mariota limps away from first playoff loss, 'embarrassed'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Marcus Mariota threw for a touchdown to give the Tennessee Titans an early lead, and had another TD pass that was the final score of the game.

In between, he spent a lot of time trying to limp away from the New England Patriots rush.

One week after leading the Titans to victory in his first career playoff game, Mariota took his first postseason loss - and took it hard - absorbing eight sacks while the Patriots scored five touchdowns in a row on their way to a 35-14 victory in the AFC divisional round Saturday night.

''Man, embarrassed,'' said Mariota, who sustained what coach Mike Mularkey said was a strained quadriceps muscle in the first quarter and went 44 minutes between scores.

''It felt like the momentum was on our side'' after a 15-yard pass to Corey Davis gave the Titans a 7-0 lead, Mariota said. ''They're a team that's been here before, and they didn't blink an eye. They just stuck to their game plan and it worked out for them.''

Just two seasons after going 3-13 when Mariota was a rookie, the Titans (10-8) reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Last week, they earned their first postseason victory in 14 years , rallying from a 21-3 halftime deficit to beat Kansas City in the wild-card round.

Against the defending Super Bowl champions, the two-touchdown underdogs jumped out to a surprising early lead but still trailed 21-7 at the half.

''We saw what happened last week in Kansas City, when Kansas City had a lead at the half similar to the one that we had,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ''Our guys did a real good job of kind of keeping their foot on the gas and keep pressing it.''

Mularkey said Mariota's leg prevented him from scrambling away from the New England rush. The Patriots sacked him four times in the third quarter - including back-to-back plays that left Tennessee with a third-and-31 from their own 2 - and three more in the fourth.

''They did a good job with the line game,'' Mularkey said. ''Marcus was hampered. Tough to get away.''

Mariota completed 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns in the game, both of them to Davis. He also ran four times for 37 yards.

But Tom Brady was even better in leading New England to its seventh consecutive AFC championship game, completing 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Danny Amendola caught 11 passes for 112 yards, Rob Gronkowski had six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown and James White scored twice, once running and one receiving.

The Patriots will host the AFC title game on Jan. 21 against the winner of Sunday's game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It will be Brady's 12th appearance in the conference championship.

''Obviously, this is the blueprint,'' Mariota said. ''New England has been in the playoffs consistently. They've won a bunch of championships and we can learn a lot from this, and I think we will.''

The Titans also committed 10 penalties in the game after a season in which they had the second-fewest in the NFL. One of the calls was for an offside that allowed the Patriots to avoid punting from their own end zone; they went on to score and extend the lead to 21-7.

''You can't make those mistakes against a really good team that's waiting for you to do it,'' said Mularkey, whose job was reportedly in jeopardy even after reaching the playoffs.

''They didn't make a lot of mistakes. That's why they've been successful all these years. You can't go and beat yourselves,'' he said. ''I'd like to see us play a complete game. ... We didn't.''

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NFL Today, Divisional Playoffs

SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Jan. 14

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. EST. The Jaguars (11-6) and Steelers (13-3) meet in the postseason for just the second time, and first since Jacksonville stunned Pittsburgh 31-29 at Heinz Field in the wild-card round of the 2007 playoffs. Blake Bortles looks to lead the Jaguars to the franchise's third AFC title game, and first since 1999. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will try to get to the conference championship for the second straight year.

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New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:40 p.m. EST. The Vikings (13-3) have dominated against the Saints at home, going 13-3 including a victory in the 2000 divisional round. The game marks Vikings quarterback Case Keenum's first career playoff start - and the first postseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium - site of next month's Super Bowl. Saints quarterback Drew Brees will make the 13th postseason start of his career and he and his teammates have some history up against them: New Orleans is 1-6 in in the playoffs on the road, including 1-4 under coach Sean Payton.

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STARS

Passing

- Tom Brady, Patriots, passed for three touchdowns and 337 yards to help New England cruise past Tennessee 35-14.

- Nick Foles, Eagles, went 23 of 30 for 246 yards in Philadelphia's 15-10 victory over Atlanta.

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Rushing

- Tevin Coleman, Falcons, ran for 79 yards on just 10 carries in Atlanta's loss at Philadelphia.

- Dion Lewis, Patriots, had 62 yards on 15 attempts and added nine catches for 79 yards in New England's rout of Tennessee.

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Receiving

- Danny Amendola, Patriots, caught 11 passes for 112 yards in New England victory over Tennessee.

- Corey Davis, Titans, had two touchdown catches in Tennessee's loss at New England.

- Julio Jones, Falcons, caught nine passes for 101 yards in a losing cause as Atlanta fell to Philadelphia.

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Special Teams

- Jake Elliott, Eagles, atoned for missing an extra point by kicking a 53-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter and added kicks of 37 and 21 yards in the second half of Philadelphia's win over Atlanta.

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Defense

- Fletcher Cox, Eagles, had seven tackles and a sack to help lead Philadelphia past Atlanta.

- Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom, Patriots, each had two sacks in New England's win over Tennessee.

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STREAKS & STATS

New England clinched its seventh straight appearance in the AFC championship game with a 35-14 victory over Tennessee. ... Philadelphia's Nick Foles became the first quarterback since Minnesota's Randall Cunningham (1997) to win a playoff game after starting three or fewer games during that regular season. ... Including their 15-10 victory over Atlanta, the Eagles have won 16 straight games when leading after three quarters. They're 12-0 this season in that scenario. ... New England set a franchise playoff record with eight sacks against Tennessee, including two each by Deatrich Wise and Geneo Grissom. ... The Patriots are 8-0 this season when Dion Lewis has 100 or more yards from scrimmage. Lewis ran for 62 yards and had 79 yards receiving, along with a 27-yard kickoff return against Tennessee.

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MILESTONES

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes in New England's 35-14 win over Tennessee, giving him 10 such games in his career - breaking a tie with Joe Montana for the most since the 1970 merger. At 40 years and 163 days old, Brady also became the oldest quarterback to win a playoff game. ... New England's Rob Gronkowski caught his 10th playoff touchdown in the Patriots' 35-14 win over Tennessee, tying him with five others. Only Jerry Rice (22) and John Stallworth (12) have more.

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HOT DOGS

The Philadelphia Eagles were 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seed Atlanta Falcons, the first time a No. 1 seed wasn't favored to win its first playoff game. They needed a stop on fourth down from the 2 in the final minute to beat the Falcons 15-10 and advance to the NFC title game for the first time since the 2008 season. Right tackle Lane Johnson walked off the field wearing a dog mask while teammates barked after the win.

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SEEING YELLOW

Tennessee had the second-fewest penalties during the regular season with 85, but was flagged 10 times for 62 yards against New England. It marked just the second time the Titans had 10 or more this season.

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INJURIES

New England right tackle LaAdrian Waddle left the Patriots' 35-14 victory over Tennessee with a knee injury early in the third quarter. Cornerback Jonathan Jones was helped off the field late in the fourth quarter. ... Tennessee right tackle Jack Conklin walked off on his own power after injuring a knee in the first quarter, but did not return. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith was carted off in the third quarter with a right leg injury.

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SPEAKING

''Just keep on disrespecting and we're going to keep proving people wrong.'' - Philadelphia wide receiver Alshon Jeffery after the Eagles topped the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 after being largely considered an underdog despite being the NFC's No. 1 seed.

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''It definitely sounds crazy. But you have to keep ignoring the noise on the outside, just keep working every time you walk into the building and just keep grinding.'' - New England tight end Rob Gronkowski after the Patriots advanced to their seventh straight AFC championship game.

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The Latest: Pats dominate 35-14 to return to AFC title game

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

11:50 p.m.

Tom Brady passed for three touchdowns and 337 yards, and the New England Patriots cruised past the Tennessee Titans 35-14 to advance to their seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

New England (14-3) will host the winner of Sunday's divisional matchup between Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.

It was Brady's 10th postseason game with at least three TD tosses, moving him past Joe Montana for the most in NFL history. James White caught a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Danny Amendola had 11 catches for 112 yards.

The Titans (10-8) took an early 7-0 lead, but New England scored 35 straight points to take control.

Marcus Mariota completed 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, but was under duress for most of the second half. He was sacked eight times, a Patriots playoff record.

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11:05 p.m.

Another touchdown for the Patriots.

And more milestones for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

Brady hit Gronk for a 4-yard TD early in the fourth quarter to give New England a 35-7 lead over the Tennessee Titans.

It was Brady's 10th playoff game with three or more passing touchdowns, passing Joe Montana for the most in NFL history.

And it was Gronkowski's 10th postseason TD. He's tied with five others for third all time. But it's the most for a tight end.

Gronk also moved into second all time for a tight end with 835 postseason receiving yards.

He passed Keith Jackson, and only Dallas Clark is ahead of him.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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10:45 p.m.

The Patriots have run off 28 straight points against the Tennessee Titans in their AFC playoff game. Brandon Bolden ran for a 2-yard score to give New England a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter.

Since taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Titans have punted five times and turned the ball over on downs once.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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10:40 p.m.

Injury updates from New England: Titans tight end Jonnu Smith needed a cart to get off the field after a third-quarter kickoff. He could not put any weight on his leg as he climbed into the cart.

Patriots lineman LaAdrian Waddle has a knee injury and his return was questionable.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

10:35 p.m.

Rob Gronkowski is third on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end.

Gronk caught a 27-yard pass from Tom Brady midway through the third quarter to give him 815 yards receiving in his career. That passed Shannon Sharpe for No. 3 on the career list. Dallas Clark is first with 847 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

10:30 p.m.

Both teams are down a right tackle in the AFC playoff game in New England.

Early in the second half, Patriots lineman LaAdrian Waddle limped off the field to the sideline. There was no immediate information about his condition. Tennessee's Jack Conklin left in the first quarter. The Titans say he had a leg injury and will not return.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

10 p.m.

The Patriots took a 21-7 lead into halftime in their AFC playoff game against Tennessee, but it could have been worse.

After the Titans went for it on fourth-and-1 from the New England 46 - and lost 5 yards - the Patriots got the ball just over midfield with 17 seconds left.

That was enough for Tom Brady to run three plays. On the third, he hit Danny Amendola for an 11-yard gain in the middle of the field before the receiver went down to kill the clock with 1 second remaining.

But Stephen Gostkowski's 53-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

It was the only time the Titans stopped the Patriots in the second quarter, when New England rallied from a 7-0 deficit with three straight touchdowns.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

9:45 p.m.

Tom Brady has his second touchdown pass of the game, connecting with Chris Hogan from 4 yards to give the Patriots a 21-7 lead with under two minutes left in the first half.

After punting on its first two possessions and falling behind 7-0, New England scored on three straight drives to pull away.

It's the 21st time in his career that Brady has thrown for two or more TDs in a postseason game. That extends his own NFL record.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

9:25 p.m.

James White has made it 14-7 for the Patriots with his second touchdown of the game.

White ran it in from 6 yards midway through the second quarter, carrying a tackler over the goal line just inside the pylon to give New England its first lead of the game.

White also scored early in the quarter on a 5-yard pass that was essentially a handoff.

White had three TDs in the Patriots' previous playoff game - the victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. White had one TD receiving in that game and two running, including the game-winner in overtime.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

9 p.m.

The Patriots have quickly tied their AFC divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

Tom Brady threw a short shuttle pass to James White, who ran it in from the 5-yard line to make it 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Patriots appeared to have a touchdown three plays earlier, when Dion Lewis caught a pass from Brady and was tackled by Wesley Woodyard at the 19.

Lewis landed on top of the defender, then got up and continued to the end zone.

The officials initially ruled that he had never been down and called it a touchdown. But replays showed Lewis' butt hit the ground at the 19.

---

8:50 p.m.

The Tennessee Titans have opened the scoring in their AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Corey Davis made a one-handed catch on a 15-yard pass from Marcus Mariota in the corner of the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots were 13-point favorites at home. They punted on their first two offensive possessions.

---

8:45 p.m.

Titans tackle Jack Conklin was slow to get up after a second down running play in the first quarter. Patriots lineman Malcom Brown appeared to roll on his leg. Conklin walked off to the locker room.

Conklin was a first-round pick the Titans acquired after trading away the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams in 2016. He was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2016.

---

7:55 p.m.

Philadelphia's defense staged a last-minute goal-line stand and Jake Elliott atoned for a missed extra point with three field goals as the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 to move into the NFC championship game.

Despite being underdogs as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles (14-3) showed plenty of moxie in the tightest spots of the fourth quarter.

They stopped sixth-seeded Atlanta (11-7) after it got to the 9 with a first down, and then on fourth down from the 2 when Matt Ryan's pass sailed over Julio Jones' head in the end zone.

It was the first playoff win for Philadelphia since the 2008 season, and they will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference title next Sunday.

The Falcons, who so memorably blew a 28-3 second-half lead in last year's Super Bowl, won't get a chance to atone for that defeat.

---

7:20 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend Philadelphia's lead to 15-10 over the Falcons with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Nick Foles completed a pair of third down passes to extend the drive and coach Doug Pederson called a timeout on fourth-and-1 from the 3 before electing to let Elliott kick the field goal.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:55 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead over the Falcons late in the third quarter.

Nick Foles completed three passes to Alshon Jeffery for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-8 to extend it.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:10 p.m.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

Nick Foles completed a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second remaining to set up the field goal.

Elliott missed an extra point earlier in the quarter. The Falcons will receive the kickoff to start the third quarter.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

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Patriots beat Titans 35-14 to head back to AFC title game

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady passed for three touchdowns and 337 yards, and the New England Patriots cruised past the Tennessee Titans 35-14 on Saturday night to advance to their seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

New England (14-3) will host the winner of Sunday's divisional matchup between Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.

It was Brady's 10th career postseason game with at least three TD tosses, moving him past Joe Montana for the most in NFL history. James White caught a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Danny Amendola had 11 catches for 112 yards.

The Titans (10-8) took an early 7-0 lead, but New England scored 35 straight points to take control.

Marcus Mariota completed 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, but was under duress for most of the second half. He was sacked eight times, a Patriots playoff record.

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The Latest: Brady, Pats dominating Titans 28-7 in 2nd half

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

10:45 p.m.

The Patriots have run off 28 straight points against the Tennessee Titans in their AFC playoff game. Brandon Bolden ran for a 2-yard score to give New England a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter.

Since taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Titans have punted five times and turned the ball over on downs once.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

10:40 p.m.

Injury updates from New England: Titans tight end Jonnu Smith needed a cart to get off the field after a third-quarter kickoff. He could not put any weight on his leg as he climbed into the cart.

Patriots lineman LaAdrian Waddle has a knee injury and his return was questionable.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

10:35 p.m.

Rob Gronkowski is third on the NFL's all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end.

Gronk caught a 27-yard pass from Tom Brady midway through the third quarter to give him 815 yards receiving in his career. That passed Shannon Sharpe for No. 3 on the career list. Dallas Clark is first with 847 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

10:30 p.m.

Both teams are down a right tackle in the AFC playoff game in New England.

Early in the second half, Patriots lineman LaAdrian Waddle limped off the field to the sideline. There was no immediate information about his condition. Tennessee's Jack Conklin left in the first quarter. The Titans say he had a leg injury and will not return.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

10 p.m.

The Patriots took a 21-7 lead into halftime in their AFC playoff game against Tennessee, but it could have been worse.

After the Titans went for it on fourth-and-1 from the New England 46 - and lost 5 yards - the Patriots got the ball just over midfield with 17 seconds left.

That was enough for Tom Brady to run three plays. On the third, he hit Danny Amendola for an 11-yard gain in the middle of the field before the receiver went down to kill the clock with 1 second remaining.

But Stephen Gostkowski's 53-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

It was the only time the Titans stopped the Patriots in the second quarter, when New England rallied from a 7-0 deficit with three straight touchdowns.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

9:45 p.m.

Tom Brady has his second touchdown pass of the game, connecting with Chris Hogan from 4 yards to give the Patriots a 21-7 lead with under two minutes left in the first half.

After punting on its first two possessions and falling behind 7-0, New England scored on three straight drives to pull away.

It's the 21st time in his career that Brady has thrown for two or more TDs in a postseason game. That extends his own NFL record.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

9:25 p.m.

James White has made it 14-7 for the Patriots with his second touchdown of the game.

White ran it in from 6 yards midway through the second quarter, carrying a tackler over the goal line just inside the pylon to give New England its first lead of the game.

White also scored early in the quarter on a 5-yard pass that was essentially a handoff.

White had three TDs in the Patriots' previous playoff game - the victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. White had one TD receiving in that game and two running, including the game-winner in overtime.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

9 p.m.

The Patriots have quickly tied their AFC divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

Tom Brady threw a short shuttle pass to James White, who ran it in from the 5-yard line to make it 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Patriots appeared to have a touchdown three plays earlier, when Dion Lewis caught a pass from Brady and was tackled by Wesley Woodyard at the 19.

Lewis landed on top of the defender, then got up and continued to the end zone.

The officials initially ruled that he had never been down and called it a touchdown. But replays showed Lewis' butt hit the ground at the 19.

---

8:50 p.m.

The Tennessee Titans have opened the scoring in their AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Corey Davis made a one-handed catch on a 15-yard pass from Marcus Mariota in the corner of the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots were 13-point favorites at home. They punted on their first two offensive possessions.

---

8:45 p.m.

Titans tackle Jack Conklin was slow to get up after a second down running play in the first quarter. Patriots lineman Malcom Brown appeared to roll on his leg. Conklin walked off to the locker room.

Conklin was a first-round pick the Titans acquired after trading away the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams in 2016. He was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2016.

---

7:55 p.m.

Philadelphia's defense staged a last-minute goal-line stand and Jake Elliott atoned for a missed extra point with three field goals as the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 to move into the NFC championship game.

Despite being underdogs as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles (14-3) showed plenty of moxie in the tightest spots of the fourth quarter.

They stopped sixth-seeded Atlanta (11-7) after it got to the 9 with a first down, and then on fourth down from the 2 when Matt Ryan's pass sailed over Julio Jones' head in the end zone.

It was the first playoff win for Philadelphia since the 2008 season, and they will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference title next Sunday.

The Falcons, who so memorably blew a 28-3 second-half lead in last year's Super Bowl, won't get a chance to atone for that defeat.

---

7:20 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend Philadelphia's lead to 15-10 over the Falcons with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Nick Foles completed a pair of third down passes to extend the drive and coach Doug Pederson called a timeout on fourth-and-1 from the 3 before electing to let Elliott kick the field goal.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:55 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead over the Falcons late in the third quarter.

Nick Foles completed three passes to Alshon Jeffery for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-8 to extend it.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:10 p.m.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

Nick Foles completed a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second remaining to set up the field goal.

Elliott missed an extra point earlier in the quarter. The Falcons will receive the kickoff to start the third quarter.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

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Eagles use goal-line stand, Elliott FGs to beat Falcons

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles was steady, Jake Elliott had a big leg and the defense made one final stop.

The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the NFC championship game following a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. They'll host the Saints-Vikings winner next Sunday.

Despite going 13-3 to earn the No. 1 seed, the Eagles entered the game as 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seeded Falcons (11-7). They used it as motivation and now it's onto the next one as they continue pursuit of the franchise's first Super Bowl title.

''If we believe the outsiders, we will be all messed up,'' Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. ''We went out and proved we can be the real winning team.''

Matt Ryan's final pass sailed through Julio Jones' arms in the corner of the end zone as Jalen Mills had tight coverage on fourth down from the 2 to secure Philadelphia's win. It was another disappointing finish for the Falcons, who blew a 25-point lead against the Patriots in last year's Super Bowl.

''The reason I play this game is to win a championship,'' Ryan said. ''That's why we put all of the hard work we put in. When you don't get that result, it's difficult.''

Foles outplayed Ryan, bouncing back from a pair of subpar games with an efficient performance. He completed 77 percent of his passes (23 of 30) for 246 yards, no touchdowns and no turnovers.

''The biggest thing in our locker room is that we believe in one another and that showed,'' Foles said. ''We kept working, kept grinding, had faith in one another. In any sport there's going to be criticism. You're aware of it because you're human but we blocked it out.''

Here's some things we learned following Philadelphia's first playoff win in nine years:

OVERCOMING TURNOVERS: The Eagles committed the only two turnovers and won anyway. Jay Ajayi fumbled on the second play from scrimmage inside Falcons territory and a short punt bounced off an Eagles player setting up Atlanta's 18-yard touchdown drive.

INCONSISTENT OFFENSE: These weren't the Falcons who lit up the scoreboard on their way to winning the NFC championship last year. Under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons weren't quite as sharp throughout the season and their inconsistency showed up at the wrong time. They were shut out in the second half and held to just 118 yards in the final two quarters.

''I think that's something we have to look at and evaluate this offseason,'' Ryan said. ''There were too many times we were a little bit inconsistent.''

JAY TRAIN: Ajayi shook off the fumble and ran well until he inexplicably went to the bench for a long stretch. Ajayi had 50 yards rushing on eight carries through Philadelphia's first drive of the second quarter, but didn't get the ball again until the second half. He finished with 54 yards on 15 carries and also dropped a third down pass. He did have 44 yards receiving on three catches.

''I feel like I played poorly,'' Ajayi said. ''The fumble, can't do that in a big game. I feel like I could have executed a lot better. A lot of the teammates picked up the slack. The defense played lights out.''

CALL OF THE GAME: Eagles coach Doug Pederson ran an inside counter to wide receiver Nelson Agholor that went for 21 yards to the Falcons 3 on third-and-3 on Philadelphia's touchdown drive. It was the first time he called that play this season.

''It's a play we've had in our arsenal, but never got to it,'' Pederson said. ''This was just an opportunity to put it in Nelson's hands with Lane Johnson as a puller and just executed extremely well.''

JAKE'S LEG: Elliott, who joined the Eagles after Caleb Sturgis was injured in Week 1, bounced back after missing his fourth extra point of the season by connecting on all three of his field goals. His 53-yarder at the end of the first half was his sixth in seven tries from beyond 50. That includes a game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants in Week 3.

''It was definitely tricky out there, just really gusty (wind),'' Elliott said. ''You don't know what it's really going to do out there so you just have to hit the best ball you can and take care of what you can control.''

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed.

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Falcons' offense falters, costs them at Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons nearly won a Super Bowl a year ago behind the NFL's most potent offense.

It was that side of the ball that ended their chances to get to the big game again.

Atlanta managed only 10 first-half points, both coming off Philadelphia turnovers, and lost 15-10 to the Eagles on Saturday. While Philadelphia advances to the NFC championship game, the Falcons (11-7) go home.

''I think that's certainly something that we have to look at and evaluate this offseason,'' Matt Ryan said after concluding a somewhat down season for him in the wake of his 2016 league MVP campaign. ''There were too many times that we were a little bit inconsistent.''

That was exemplified against the Eagles (14-3), who like the Falcons sputtered in the red zone. But Philly got three field goals from Jake Elliott and a touchdown run from LeGarrette Blount.

Most damaging for Atlanta was how it came up empty deep in Eagles territory on its final drive. The Falcons had first-and-goal at the 9, and got to the 2 on fourth down before Ryan's pass to Julio Jones soared over his head in the end zone.

''Certainly in those situations you want to go to your best players,'' Ryan explained. ''You know, obviously rolled to the right and had an opportunity to Julio. It just didn't work out and that's disappointing.''

Atlanta was the NFL's highest-scoring team last season, but its lowest production was in a 24-15 defeat to the Eagles. The offense wasn't nearly as productive this season, falling to 15th, from 33.8 points a game to 22.1.

The Falcons didn't come close to their season's average, or to the 26 they put on the board in beating the Rams in a wild-card matchup last weekend.

So while the defense was vastly improved, particularly in the pass rush, the Falcons fell flat with the ball far too many times.

''That's one of the areas we are dialed in from the beginning of the season to where how we make sure those aren't field goals and they turn into touchdowns,'' coach Dan Quinn said. ''Was there plays that knocked us out? Could we have done better in the run game down there?

''Those are certainly topics we are going to look long and deep into.''

Star receiver Jones had a strong game with nine receptions for 101 yards. He was targeted 16 times.

But he couldn't get free downfield, except for a 20-yard reception on fourth down on the final drive. For the Falcons to be Super Bowl threats down the road, Jones must be nearly unstoppable.

Atlanta's running game was spotty against the Eagles, too. Several times, Tevin Coleman had open lanes and got nice gains. On other plays, he and Devonta Freeman didn't have an inch to run when Ryan handed off.

Coleman, usually the backup, had 79 yards on 10 carries, with a long of 23. Freeman had only 7 yards on his 10 carries.

In contrast, the Eagles ran for 96 yards and had several big plays on the ground.

Now, the Falcons must cope with a much earlier and nearly as dramatic defeat as what they sustained last February.

''It's difficult when you get to the playoffs and you've put in all the work throughout the year,'' Ryan said. ''You're in a competitive game like tonight. There's a lot of back and forth. It's disappointing to not get the outcome that you want.

''The finality of it sometimes is difficult, so we're disappointed for sure.''

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The Latest: Brady, Pats dominating Titans with 21-7 lead

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

9:45 p.m.

Tom Brady has his second touchdown pass of the game, connecting with Chris Hogan from 4 yards to give the Patriots a 21-7 lead with under two minutes left in the first half.

After punting on its first two possessions and falling behind 7-0, New England scored on three straight drives to pull away.

It's the 21st time in his career that Brady has thrown for two or more TDs in a postseason game. That extends his own NFL record.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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9:25 p.m.

James White has made it 14-7 for the Patriots with his second touchdown of the game.

White ran it in from 6 yards midway through the second quarter, carrying a tackler over the goal line just inside the pylon to give New England its first lead of the game.

White also scored early in the quarter on a 5-yard pass that was essentially a handoff.

White had three TDs in the Patriots' previous playoff game - the victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. White had one TD receiving in that game and two running, including the game-winner in overtime.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

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9 p.m.

The Patriots have quickly tied their AFC divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

Tom Brady threw a short shuttle pass to James White, who ran it in from the 5-yard line to make it 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Patriots appeared to have a touchdown three plays earlier, when Dion Lewis caught a pass from Brady and was tackled by Wesley Woodyard at the 19.

Lewis landed on top of the defender, then got up and continued to the end zone.

The officials initially ruled that he had never been down and called it a touchdown. But replays showed Lewis' butt hit the ground at the 19.

---

8:50 p.m.

The Tennessee Titans have opened the scoring in their AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Corey Davis made a one-handed catch on a 15-yard pass from Marcus Mariota in the corner of the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots were 13-point favorites at home. They punted on their first two offensive possessions.

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8:45 p.m.

Titans tackle Jack Conklin was slow to get up after a second down running play in the first quarter. Patriots lineman Malcom Brown appeared to roll on his leg. Conklin walked off to the locker room.

Conklin was a first-round pick the Titans acquired after trading away the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams in 2016. He was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2016.

---

7:55 p.m.

Philadelphia's defense staged a last-minute goal-line stand and Jake Elliott atoned for a missed extra point with three field goals as the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 to move into the NFC championship game.

Despite being underdogs as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles (14-3) showed plenty of moxie in the tightest spots of the fourth quarter.

They stopped sixth-seeded Atlanta (11-7) after it got to the 9 with a first down, and then on fourth down from the 2 when Matt Ryan's pass sailed over Julio Jones' head in the end zone.

It was the first playoff win for Philadelphia since the 2008 season, and they will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference title next Sunday.

The Falcons, who so memorably blew a 28-3 second-half lead in last year's Super Bowl, won't get a chance to atone for that defeat.

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7:20 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend Philadelphia's lead to 15-10 over the Falcons with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Nick Foles completed a pair of third down passes to extend the drive and coach Doug Pederson called a timeout on fourth-and-1 from the 3 before electing to let Elliott kick the field goal.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

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6:55 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead over the Falcons late in the third quarter.

Nick Foles completed three passes to Alshon Jeffery for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-8 to extend it.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:10 p.m.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

Nick Foles completed a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second remaining to set up the field goal.

Elliott missed an extra point earlier in the quarter. The Falcons will receive the kickoff to start the third quarter.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

---

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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The Latest: Brady, Pats take 14-7 lead over Titans

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

9:25 p.m.

James White has made it 14-7 for the Patriots with his second touchdown of the game.

White ran it in from 6 yards midway through the second quarter, carrying a tackler over the goal line just inside the pylon to give New England its first lead of the game.

White also scored early in the quarter on a 5-yard pass that was essentially a handoff.

White had three TDs in the Patriots' previous playoff game - the victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. White had one TD receiving in that game and two running, including the game-winner in overtime.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.

---

9 p.m.

The Patriots have quickly tied their AFC divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

Tom Brady threw a short shuttle pass to James White, who ran it in from the 5-yard line to make it 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Patriots appeared to have a touchdown three plays earlier, when Dion Lewis caught a pass from Brady and was tackled by Wesley Woodyard at the 19.

Lewis landed on top of the defender, then got up and continued to the end zone.

The officials initially ruled that he had never been down and called it a touchdown. But replays showed Lewis' butt hit the ground at the 19.

---

8:50 p.m.

The Tennessee Titans have opened the scoring in their AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Corey Davis made a one-handed catch on a 15-yard pass from Marcus Mariota in the corner of the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots were 13-point favorites at home. They punted on their first two offensive possessions.

---

8:45 p.m.

Titans tackle Jack Conklin was slow to get up after a second down running play in the first quarter. Patriots lineman Malcom Brown appeared to roll on his leg. Conklin walked off to the locker room.

Conklin was a first-round pick the Titans acquired after trading away the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams in 2016. He was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2016.

---

7:55 p.m.

Philadelphia's defense staged a last-minute goal-line stand and Jake Elliott atoned for a missed extra point with three field goals as the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 to move into the NFC championship game.

Despite being underdogs as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles (14-3) showed plenty of moxie in the tightest spots of the fourth quarter.

They stopped sixth-seeded Atlanta (11-7) after it got to the 9 with a first down, and then on fourth down from the 2 when Matt Ryan's pass sailed over Julio Jones' head in the end zone.

It was the first playoff win for Philadelphia since the 2008 season, and they will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference title next Sunday.

The Falcons, who so memorably blew a 28-3 second-half lead in last year's Super Bowl, won't get a chance to atone for that defeat.

---

7:20 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend Philadelphia's lead to 15-10 over the Falcons with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Nick Foles completed a pair of third down passes to extend the drive and coach Doug Pederson called a timeout on fourth-and-1 from the 3 before electing to let Elliott kick the field goal.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:55 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead over the Falcons late in the third quarter.

Nick Foles completed three passes to Alshon Jeffery for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-8 to extend it.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:10 p.m.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

Nick Foles completed a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second remaining to set up the field goal.

Elliott missed an extra point earlier in the quarter. The Falcons will receive the kickoff to start the third quarter.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

---

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Eagles embrace underdog role, beat Falcons

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Lane Johnson walked off the field wearing a dog mask while teammates barked after the Philadelphia Eagles squeaked out an upset to move within one victory of the Super Bowl.

Keep calling them underdogs. They embraced the role.

''It's what makes sports fun,'' said Johnson, the All-Pro right tackle. ''Anything more we can use to motivate us, we'll use.''

The Eagles (14-3) were 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seed Atlanta Falcons (11-7), the first time a No. 1 seed wasn't favored to win its first playoff game. They needed a stop on fourth down from the 2 in the final minute to beat the Falcons 15-10 and advance to the NFC title game for the first time since the 2008 season.

After Philly's newly formed dog pound celebrated on the field, owner Jeffrey Lurie joined the fun by dancing in the circle in the middle of the locker room.

Expectations for Philadelphia plummeted after Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14. They went 2-1 with Nick Foles, losing a meaningless game in Week 17 after starters only played one quarter. Still, oddsmakers and pundits picked the defending NFC champion Falcons to win.

''Since that point Carson went down, nobody has given us a chance,'' coach Doug Pederson said. ''I understand Carson is a great player, but every week our guys hear we're not good enough.''

Foles bounced back from a pair of subpar games with a steady performance. He completed 77 percent of his passes (23 of 30) for 246 yards, no touchdowns and no turnovers.

''The biggest thing in our locker room is that we believe in one another and that showed,'' Foles said. ''We kept working, kept grinding, had faith in one another. In any sport there's going to be criticism. You're aware of it because you're human but we blocked it out.''

Foles outplayed Matt Ryan, last year's NFL MVP. He led two impressive drives, one into the wind and one with it. Foles made a big-time 15-yard throw to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second left in the first half to set up Jake Elliott's 53-yard field goal that cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

''You guys doubted him, we never doubted him,'' Jeffery said. ''We believe in anybody lining up back there at quarterback. We believe we still have 21 other guys out there.''

Losing Wentz, an MVP candidate, was the biggest blow during a season in which several standout players were hurt.

Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, versatile back/return specialist Darren Sproles, playmaking linebacker Jordan Hicks and special teams captain Chris Maragos each suffered season-ending injuries.

''Biggest emotion is for the team, for the guys, the resiliency, backs against the wall, people discounting us,'' Pederson said.

The Eagles will host the winner of the Saints-Vikings game next Sunday. They've haven't reached the Super Bowl since Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and Co. lost to the New England Patriots 24-21 in February 2005.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

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The Latest: Davis' TD grab gives Titans 7-0 lead over Pats

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

8:50 p.m.

The Tennessee Titans have opened the scoring in their AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Corey Davis made a one-handed catch on a 15-yard pass from Marcus Mariota in the corner of the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots were 13-point favorites at home. They punted on their first two offensive possessions.

---

8:45 p.m.

Titans tackle Jack Conklin was slow to get up after a second down running play in the first quarter. Patriots lineman Malcom Brown appeared to roll on his leg. Conklin walked off to the locker room.

Conklin was a first-round pick the Titans acquired after trading away the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams in 2016. He was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2016.

---

7:55 p.m.

Philadelphia's defense staged a last-minute goal-line stand and Jake Elliott atoned for a missed extra point with three field goals as the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 to move into the NFC championship game.

Despite being underdogs as the No. 1 seed, the Eagles (14-3) showed plenty of moxie in the tightest spots of the fourth quarter.

They stopped sixth-seeded Atlanta (11-7) after it got to the 9 with a first down, and then on fourth down from the 2 when Matt Ryan's pass sailed over Julio Jones' head in the end zone.

It was the first playoff win for Philadelphia since the 2008 season, and they will host either Minnesota or New Orleans for the conference title next Sunday.

The Falcons, who so memorably blew a 28-3 second-half lead in last year's Super Bowl, won't get a chance to atone for that defeat.

---

7:20 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend Philadelphia's lead to 15-10 over the Falcons with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Nick Foles completed a pair of third down passes to extend the drive and coach Doug Pederson called a timeout on fourth-and-1 from the 3 before electing to let Elliott kick the field goal.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:55 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead over the Falcons late in the third quarter.

Nick Foles completed three passes to Alshon Jeffery for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-8 to extend it.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:10 p.m.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

Nick Foles completed a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second remaining to set up the field goal.

Elliott missed an extra point earlier in the quarter. The Falcons will receive the kickoff to start the third quarter.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

---

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Patriots RBs Burkhead, Gillislee inactive against Titans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots will be without running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee when they host the Titans in the divisional round Saturday night.

Both Burkhead and Gillislee are out with knee injuries. With them out, the primary rushing duties will fall to Dion Lewis and James White.

Other New England players inactive for the matchup are defensive lineman Alan Branch (knee), receiver Kenny Britt, offensive lineman Cole Croston, linebacker David Harris and cornerback Johnson Bademosi.

Running back DeMarco Murray is out for the Titans with a knee injury. Joining him on their inactive list are third-string quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Khalfani Muhammad, defensive back Curtis Riley, linebacker Josh Carraway, offensive lineman Corey Levin and defensive end David King.

---

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The Latest: Elliott hits 3rd FG to give Eagles 15-10 lead

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

7:20 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend Philadelphia's lead to 15-10 over the Falcons with 6:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Nick Foles completed a pair of third down passes to extend the drive and coach Doug Pederson called a timeout on fourth-and-1 from the 3 before electing to let Elliott kick the field goal.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:55 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead over the Falcons late in the third quarter.

Nick Foles completed three passes to Alshon Jeffery for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-8 to extend it.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:10 p.m.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

Nick Foles completed a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second remaining to set up the field goal.

Elliott missed an extra point earlier in the quarter. The Falcons will receive the kickoff to start the third quarter.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

---

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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The Latest: Elliott hits 2nd FG to give Eagles 12-10 lead

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

6:55 p.m.

Jake Elliott kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 12-10 lead over the Falcons late in the third quarter.

Nick Foles completed three passes to Alshon Jeffery for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard gain on third-and-8 to extend it.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

6:10 p.m.

Philadelphia's Jake Elliott kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to cut Atlanta's lead to 10-9.

Nick Foles completed a 15-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery with 1 second remaining to set up the field goal.

Elliott missed an extra point earlier in the quarter. The Falcons will receive the kickoff to start the third quarter.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

---

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The Latest: Ryan's TD pass gives Falcons 10-6 lead

The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):

5:45 p.m.

Matt Ryan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Freeman to give the Atlanta Falcons a 10-6 lead over the Eagles with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons took over at the Eagles 18 after a short punt hit a Philadelphia player in a crowd and was recovered by LaRoy Reynolds.

The Eagles then committed a pair of penalties to move the ball to the 8. On third down from the 6, Ryan escaped a sack, stepped up and tossed a pass to Freeman in the end zone.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

5:25 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount ran in from the 1 on fourth down to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor ran 21 yards on an inside counter on third-and-3 to the Falcons 3.

Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1.

Blount took a pitch and scored on the next play. Jake Elliott hit the left upright on the extra point.

The 86-yard drive took 14 plays and 6:44.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

4:47 p.m.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead after Eagles running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on the opening possession.

Nick Foles underthrew Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage but Brian Poole was called for a 42-yard pass interference penalty to put the Eagles at the Atlanta 33.

Ricardo Allen forced Ajayi to fumble on the next play and Matt Ryan drove the Falcons 59 yards into field-goal range. It was Ajayi's second fumble in two games.

- Rob Maaddi reporting in Philadelphia.

---

3:45 p.m.

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

---

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49ers linebacker Reuben Foster arrested on marijuana charge

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster is free on bond after his arrest in Alabama on a charge of second-degree possession of marijuana.

The Tuscaloosa News reports the 23-year-old, who just finished his rookie season, was arrested about 9 p.m. Friday.

Tuscaloosa Police, in a news release Saturday, acknowledged officers encountered Foster and ''found probable cause to arrest him.'' The release did not address whether he was pulled over, why police suspected he had marijuana or how much they say he had.

A statement from the 49ers Friday night said: ''The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the matter involving Reuben Foster and we are currently gathering all relevant facts.''

The former Alabama linebacker was a first-team All-American for the Crimson Tide in 2016 and won the Butkus Award. He was a first-round pick in last year's NFL draft.

Foster started all 10 games he played in this season and posted 72 tackles.

He was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in November.

---

Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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Brees-Keenum: Will playoff savvy prevail in Saints-Vikings?

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Drew Brees will lead the New Orleans offense onto the field at Minnesota and commence the 13th postseason game of his stellar career, already armed with seven such victories and one Super Bowl ring for the Saints.

''I prepare for every game as if it's that magnitude,'' Brees said.

''When you're in games of that magnitude, it's as if you've been there and done it many times before, even if it was just in your mind.''

For Case Keenum, it's truly all in his mind.

His first start in the NFL playoffs will come when the Vikings kick off their divisional round game on Sunday.

''I'm going to play like I know how to play. I don't have to be anybody but myself. Not more conservative or less conservative. Either way, I'm going to be me,'' said Keenum, whose successful takeover for the injured Sam Bradford helped lead the Vikings (13-3) to their best record in 19 years. ''That's all I have to be. I've got a great squad in this room.''

Solely measuring quarterback experience and accomplishment, the Saints have a clear advantage over the Vikings in this divisional round game to help determine the matchup in the NFC championship game. Keenum, though, has been overcoming the odds all season, let alone his career .

''I always root for guys like that. Kind of the undersized guy that is coming out and nobody wants to give him any credit and always plays with a chip on his shoulder,'' Brees said.

Though he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round in 2001 out of Purdue, with Keenum going undrafted out of Houston and needing the Texans practice squad to get his career going in 2012, Brees can relate. He's shorter than the NFL standard for their position, too. Oh, and they're both from Texas.

Brees added another highlight last week, with 376 passing yards to help the Saints (12-5) advance with a 31-26 victory over Carolina while the Vikings had a bye.

''Just a guy that I really admire in how he moves the ball down the field and how he operates, what kind of leader he is,'' Keenum said.

''I read his book a long time ago. I think he's someone to learn from. I try to watch all of the really good quarterbacks in the offseason and take little things to try to work on my game.''

Here are some other angles to follow with the game:

SLOWED UP: The Pro Bowl pair of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara had the least productive combined performance for the Saints against Carolina, with just 68 total yards from scrimmage. They each had more than 1,500 total yards in 2017.

The Panthers brought one safety closer to the line of the scrimmage to spy on the running back, and it worked.

''This league is a copy-cat league so I wouldn't be surprised if Minnesota did it,'' Kamara said, expressing no concern about the strategy by pointing to Brees, whose passing yardage total against the Panthers was his second-highest of the season.

The Vikings, led by the speed of linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, have held several pass-catching running backs to minimal production this season.

LINE ITEM: The Saints will be without starting left guard Andrus Peat, a versatile former first-round draft choice who also filled in for Terron Armstead at left tackle this season when he was injured. Peat broke his fibula against the Panthers.

Senio Kelemete, who has filled in at both guard spots and right tackle this season, is slated to start for Peat. Armstead, meanwhile, said he's never been close to 100 percent healthy this season.

''But it doesn't matter,'' Armstead said. ''I'm willing and able to put my body on the line for an opportunity to play again next week.''

ZONED OUT: New Orleans defensive coordinator Dennis Allen called for a relatively zone-heavy scheme in the opener, and rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore recalled feeling ''confused about everything'' in his NFL debut other than the man-to-man coverage the Saints have been more inclined to let Lattimore play on top opposing receivers. He had five interceptions and was picked for the Pro Bowl.

''That was something that we felt like in that game was going to give us a chance to win the game, and obviously we didn't play as well as we needed to,'' Allen said of Minnesota's 29-19 victory fueled by a career-best 143.0 passer rating for Bradford . ''Obviously, we've looked at that game and how we've changed and how we've evolved as a defense.''

SUPER BOWL ENVY: New Orleans' bid for the Super Bowl this season and was considered a favorite given the city is celebrating its 300th anniversary and has long been a popular host for the NFL's marquee event. But Minnesota's bid, combining its new stadium and winter carnival approach to related festivities, won out.

Now the Vikings have an opportunity to become the first team to play a Super Bowl on home turf, a feat the Saints would be happy to deny.

''If we want to add a little underlying story to us trying to win this game, it would be nice to be able to do that,'' Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said.

''We've always talked about, `We want to start the season at Minnesota. We want to end the season in Minnesota,' and for us that means playing in the Super Bowl.''

SITE MAP: The Saints are 1-6 in their history in the playoffs on the road, including 1-4 under coach Sean Payton. Their first and only such win came after the 2013 season, when they edged the Eagles in a wild-card round game in Philadelphia before losing the following week at Seattle.

One of those losses came in the 2000 divisional round at Minnesota. The Vikings are 13-8 in home playoff games in their history, including 6-4 indoors.

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NFL divisional playoffs kick off with doubleheader

The NFL divisional playoffs kick off Saturday with a doubleheader starting in Philadelphia where the Eagles (13-3) are the first No. 1 seed to enter their first postseason game as an underdog against the Atlanta Falcons.

The sixth-seeded Falcons (11-6) beat the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 in a wild-card game last week, slightly erasing the sting of their Super Bowl loss to New England. Atlanta is a 3-point favorite because Philadelphia is missing MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Nick Foles makes his fourth start.

The nightcap features the AFC's top seed, the New England Patriots (13-3), and the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans (10-7) at Foxborough, Massachusetts.

If Philadelphia wins, it will host the New Orleans-Minnesota winner next Sunday. If Atlanta wins, it will play the NFC championship game on the road at the Saints or Vikings.

The Titans-Patriots winner will play the Jaguars-Steelers winner next Sunday in the AFC title game.

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Cornerback Sidney Jones inactive for Eagles vs Falcons

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Eagles rookie cornerback Sidney Jones is inactive for Saturday's divisional playoff against the Atlanta Falcons.

Jones, a second-round pick, returned for Week 17 after missing the first 15 games following offseason surgery on his Achilles. He strained his hamstring and was uncertain to play even if healthy because of his inexperience.

Also inactive for Philadelphia: OL Will Beatty, RB Wendell Smallwood, WR Marcus Johnson, DT Elijah Qualls, DT Destiny Vaeao, DE Steven Means.

Inactive for the Falcons: WR Marvin Hall, RB Terrence Magee, CB Leon McFadden, LB Sean Weatherspoon, OL Sean Harlow, OT Austin Pasztor, TE Eric Saubert.

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Jaguars surging, Steelers wary in high-stakes rematch

PITTSBURGH (AP) At the time the score looked like a misprint.

Jacksonville 30. Pittsburgh 9 .

On the road.

A result so stunningly one-sided Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stood in the locker room on that gray October afternoon only half-jokingly wondered if he still had ''it.''

Throwing five interceptions, two of which the Jaguars returned for momentum-swinging, confidence-sapping touchdowns, will do that.

Yet Roethlisberger insists he's not out for revenge in the rematch on Sunday when the Jaguars (11-6) visit Heinz Field in the divisional round with a trip to the AFC title game on the line.

There's too much at stake for him to settle some sort of personal vendetta.

Or so he says.

''I'll play anyone in the postseason,'' Roethlisberger said.

Only Jacksonville isn't ''anyone.'' Not anymore. Not after the NFL's top-ranked defense proved that breakout performance three months ago was a sign of things to come.

The Jaguars don't play a particularly pretty brand of football. They also don't particularly care.

Doubt them all you want. Mock their offense at your leisure.

Last they checked, there will be 24 teams watching the playoffs this weekend and Jacksonville isn't one of them.

''We've just got to score one more point than they do,'' Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said.

''It doesn't matter who scores it, where it comes from, how we do it, what it looks like, we score one more than them and I'm happy with how we did it.''

Bortles and the other 52 guys on the roster might be the only ones.

The Steelers (13-3) entered the season as one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl.

Despite a fall filled with drama (much of it self-created) Pittsburgh was really only pushed around once. By the Jaguars.

Take Jacksonville lightly at your peril, something the Steelers found out on Oct. 8.

''Some people come in thinking a team may be easier by their record or tougher by their record, but we know that can't be on our mind,'' Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell said.

''I think that kind of got us in the first game because the Jacksonville Jaguars, they're normally not a good team but those guys got players this year. They've been making plays.''

If the Jaguars can do it for another 60 minutes, they'll reach the NFL's final four for just the third time in franchise history.

Yes, really.

Some things to look for as the Jaguars try to pull off a second stunner against a team that believes its season is destined to end with a trip to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.

AB's BACK: Pittsburgh All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is expected to play after missing the final 2+ games of the regular season with a left calf contusion. Brown practiced all week, though he was sent home on Friday because of an illness.

Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards in the first meeting with Jacksonville and his return means all of Pittsburgh's ''Killer Bs'' will be ready to go.

''If he's out there, I expect him to be AB,'' Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said.

LEONARD'S LEAP: Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette hammered the Steelers for a season-high 181 yards in October, including a 2-yard touchdown leap and a 90-yard sprint to the end zone in the final two minutes that sealed it. Fournette's production has dipped in recent weeks. He's only averaged higher than 3.9 yards per carry once over the past eight weeks, though Bortles doesn't think Fournette has smacked into the rookie wall.

''There has obviously been some hiccups and bumps in the road with different things,'' Bortles said. ''It's not on him, it's on guys up front, it's on me getting us in the right play, receivers blocking. It's on everyone.''

CHILL OUT DUDE: Temperatures are expected to be in the teens at kickoff, a decided departure for the Jaguars.

While Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone downplayed the elements, Bell believes he has an advantage when the mercury drops.

A year ago against Miami in the wild-card round, he pounded the Dolphins for 167 yards and two touchdowns as the temperature hovered around 17 degrees.

''It definitely affects guys who are tackling,'' Bell said. ''That's why when it's cold outside I take a lot of pride because I know guys don't want to tackle.''

COACH SHAY: Injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier spent some time at the team's facility this week, getting around in a wheelchair while recovering from spinal stabilization surgery last month following a hit against Cincinnati that left his lower body motionless.

Shazier's presence has provided the Steelers with a boost, and while his football career is likely over, he remains intent on finding a way to contribute. Shazier, who would get to work as early as 6 a.m. to break down film when he was playing, is now serving as equal parts advance scout and motivational speaker.

''He loves football so much,'' guard David DeCastro said. ''It's amazing to see and just to have the attitude he has after all he's been through man, it's pretty impressive. I don't know if I'd be able to do the same.''

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Texans hire Brian Gaine as GM, extend Bill O'Brien's deal

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans have hired Brian Gaine as general manager and extended the contract of coach Bill O'Brien through 2022.

The team announced the deals Saturday. Gaine signed a five-year contract and O'Brien was extended for four years.

Gaine brings 19 years of NFL personnel experience to Houston. He spent the 2017 season as the Buffalo Bills' vice president of player personnel. He also served as the Texans' director of player personnel from 2015-16 and director of pro personnel in 2014.

Texans owner Bob McNair calls Gaine an ''incredibly smart, hardworking individual that understands the importance of good communication.''

Houston finished 4-12 this season after consecutive AFC South titles the previous two years. O'Brien's 31 career victories in four years are tied for the most by a coach in franchise history.

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Vikings take Bradford off IR for playoffs; 4th QB on roster

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have activated quarterback Sam Bradford from injured reserve, putting their original starter this season on the roster before their first playoff game.

The Vikings waived tight end Kyle Carter on Saturday to make room for Bradford, who last played at Chicago on Oct. 9 and returned to practice last week after recovering from a left knee injury. The Vikings host New Orleans on Sunday.

Bradford was stellar in the opening win against the Saints, but unable to play the following week. Case Keenum started the next three games. Bradford was back for the Bears game, but hobbled around in the first half before being pulled for Keenum.

Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter give the Vikings four quarterbacks on the active roster.

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Vikings take Bradford off IR for playoffs; 4th QB on roster

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have activated quarterback Sam Bradford from injured reserve, putting their original starter this season on the roster before their first playoff game.

The Vikings waived tight end Kyle Carter on Saturday to make room for Bradford, who last played at Chicago on Oct. 9 and returned to practice last week after recovering from a left knee injury. The Vikings host New Orleans on Sunday.

Bradford was stellar in the opening win against the Saints, but was unable to play the following week. Case Keenum started the next three games. Bradford was back for the Bears game, but he hobbled around in the first half before being pulled for Keenum.

Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter give the Vikings four quarterbacks on the active roster.

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Texans hire Brian Gaine as GM, extend Bill O'Brien's pact

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans have hired Brian Gaine as general manager and extended the contract of coach Bill O'Brien through 2022.

The team announced the deals Saturday. Gaine signed a five-year contract and O'Brien was extended for four years.

Gaine brings 19 years of NFL personnel experience to Houston. He spent the 2017 season as the Buffalo Bills' vice president of player personnel. He also served as the Texans' director of player personnel from 2015-16 and director of pro personnel in 2014.

Texans owner Bob McNair calls Gaine an ''incredibly smart, hardworking individual that understands the importance of good communication.''

Houston finished 4-12 this season after consecutive AFC South titles the previous two years. O'Brien's 31 career victories in four years are tied for the most by a coach in franchise history.

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Atlanta's Matt Ryan aims for happy homecoming in Philly

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Quarterback Matt Ryan has another shot at a happy homecoming.

A berth in the NFC championship game is at stake when Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff Saturday. Ryan, who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia's William Penn Charter School, is 1-3 at the Linc.

''I'm used to it now,'' Ryan said about returning home. ''Playing as long as I have, I understand regardless of where we play you have to be at your best every week. The one nice part is there will be a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces after the game, which is always nice.''

Ryan had his worst game of his MVP season last year in Atlanta's 24-15 loss in Philly on Nov. 13, 2016. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

''Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we'll take, what went well and what didn't go well and try to improve on that,'' Ryan said. ''We're a different team than we were last year when we played them and they're a different team. It will be some carry over, but it will be a little bit different.''

Here's some things to watch for when the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since Philadelphia's win over Michael Vick's Falcons in the 2005 NFC championship game:

NICK'S UP: Nick Foles makes his fourth start since replacing Carson Wentz after the MVP candidate tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. He's certainly a drop-off from Wentz, but he's also capable of spectacular performances. Foles once tossed seven TDs in a game in 2013. He had four TDs in his first start in Week 15.

''There's enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence,'' Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.

`NORTHEAST' NOISE: There's crowd noise, and then there's the noise generated by Philadelphia fans known for their intensity.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed to search for a polite term to compare Eagles fans with the fans the team heard in last week's wild-card win at the Los Angeles Rams.

''I'm not going to say more passionate, but I would say more Northeast,'' Quinn said with a smile.

The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals.

''That's huge,'' said tight end Levine Toilolo. ''That's where it all starts, coming off the ball, the cadence and stuff like that. We definitely work on that every week. Their fans, we're expecting a loud crowd in a big playoff game.''

Mack said he expects Philadelphia's fans ''to be really dedicated, really loud, really involved. So it's going to be a challenge just in terms of crowd noise.''

COMFORT ZONE: After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons finished the regular season 15th with first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

Atlanta averaged 22.1 points per game, down from 33.8 last season.

Ryan says he has become more comfortable with Sarkisian, especially the last two weeks in wins over Carolina and the Rams.

''I think Sark has done a great job of finding who we are week to week, specifically the last two weeks I think he's done a great job,'' Ryan said.

STOPPING JULIO: The Eagles had some success against Julio Jones in their win last year, keeping him out of the end zone but allowing 10 catches for 135 yards. Jalen Mills held him to four catches for 48 yards when he was matched up against Jones. The second-year pro is confident he can contain Jones again. Ronald Darby will have to cover Jones when he's on his side.

''You have to think the ball is coming to him each and every play,'' Mills said. ''Whether they're having a run or a pass play, you've just got to think the ball is coming to him.''

MULTIPLE BACKS: Both teams have options in the backfield. The Falcons are led by Devonta Freeman, who had 865 yards rushing and seven TDs. Tevin Coleman had 628 yards rushing and five TDs. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing and scored two TDs. Jay Ajayi had 873 yards rushing and one TD combined with the Dolphins and Eagles. He ran for 130 yards against Atlanta in Miami's win on Oct. 15.

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AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.

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49ers linebacker Reuben Foster arrested on marijuana charge

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has been arrested in Alabama and charged with second-degree possession of marijuana.

AL.com (http://bit.ly/2moysWi ) says the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office arrest database indicates Foster, who just finished his rookie season, was arrested Friday. Bond was set at $2,500.

A statement from the 49ers Friday night said: ''The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the matter involving Reuben Foster and we are currently gathering all relevant facts.''

The former Alabama linebacker was a first-team All-American for the Crimson Tide in 2016 and won the Butkus Award. He was a first-round pick in last year's NFL draft.

Foster started all 10 games he played in this season and posted 72 tackles.

He was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in November.

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49ers linebacker Reuben Foster arrested on marijuana charge

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has been arrested in Alabama and charged with second-degree possession of marijuana.

AL.com (http://bit.ly/2moysWi ) says the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office arrest database indicates Foster, who just finished his rookie season, was arrested Friday. Bond was set at $2,500.

A statement from the 49ers Friday night said: ''The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the matter involving Reuben Foster and we are currently gathering all relevant facts.''

The former Alabama star linebacker was a first-team All-American for the Crimson Tide in 2016 and won the Butkus Award. He was a first-round pick in last year's NFL draft.

Foster started all 10 games he played in this season and posted 72 tackles, including 64 during the 49ers' final eight games.

He was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in November.

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Carolina LB Davis announces retirement following 2018 season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says the 2018 season will be his last.

Davis confirmed his decision during an appearance on NFL Network on Friday. While the Panthers didn't make an official announcement, the team posted a picture of Davis on its Twitter page with the word ''Respect.''

Davis said he made his decision when the team signed him to a contract extension through 2018. He said he had been seeking an extension through 2019.

''For me, it was a no-brainer,'' Davis said. ''Like, `This is how long they want me here for.' This is how much time I have to dedicate to this organization to try to win a Super Bowl, and that's my mindset.''

Davis, 34, was Carolina's first-round draft pick in 2005 and has spent his entire career with the Panthers. He's seventh in team history with 13 career interceptions and eighth with 28 sacks.

In 2014, Davis was named the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year. Sandwiched around that honor were All-Pro honors in 2013 and 2015. During the last six seasons, Davis has missed just three games despite the last of three ACL repairs.

After the Panthers lost to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last weekend, Davis said he expects to have a reduced role in 2018 as Shaq Thompson gets more time.

Davis was suspended for one game late in the season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams.

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Carolina LB Davis announces retirement following 2018 season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says the 2018 season will be his last.

Davis confirmed his decision during an appearance on NFL Network on Friday. While the Panthers didn't make an official announcement, the team posted a picture of Davis on its Twitter page with the word ''Respect.''

Davis said he made his decision when the team signed him to a contract extension through 2018. He said he had been seeking an extension through 2019.

''For me, it was a no-brainer,'' Davis said. ''Like, `This is how long they want me here for.' This is how much time I have to dedicate to this organization to try to win a Super Bowl, and that's my mindset.''

Davis, 34, was Carolina's first-round draft pick in 2005 and has spent his entire career with the Panthers. He's seventh in team history with 13 career interceptions and eighth with 28 sacks.

In 2014, Davis was named the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year. Sandwiched around that honor were All-Pro honors in 2013 and 2015. During the last six seasons, Davis has missed just three games despite the last of three ACL repairs.

After the Panthers lost to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last weekend, Davis said he expects to have a reduced role in 2018 as Shaq Thompson gets more time.

Davis was suspended for one game late in the season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams.

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New fantasy sports game revives sports betting concerns

BOSTON (AP) A new daily fantasy sports game that lets users hone in on a single NFL playoff game has some gambling experts wondering if the contest inches the industry closer to the territory of sports betting that remains illegal in most of the United States.

The ''Showdown'' variant offered by leading fantasy sports company DraftKings allows users to pick six athletes from two teams playing against each other in a real-life football game, racking up fantasy points based on stats like touchdowns, receptions and yards passing, rushing or receiving. That means users playing ''Showdown'' this weekend can wager on performances in the Jaguars-Steelers game Sunday without having to wait for the Saints-Vikings game to play out several hours later.

The 2006 federal law that effectively banned online gambling but gave rise to daily fantasy sports requires daily fantasy contests to be based on the performances of athletes in ''multiple real-world'' sporting events - not just single games. That detail is leading some advocates to question how DraftKings and regulators operate.

''This new game continues the industry trend of trying to get as close as possible to single game betting,'' said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, which is neutral on legalized gambling but pushes for strong regulations and consumer protections.

Whyte said the games ''further blur the largely fictional line between daily fantasy sports and sports betting.''

DraftKings says the federal law - the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act - only applies if there's an underlying violation of state gambling statutes first, and, so far, no state has objected to the competition.

State laws vary widely, but policymakers in 18 states responded to the industry's popularity by legalizing and regulating daily fantasy sports. Many of those regulations were developed with heavy lobbying from DraftKings and other industry leaders. Daily fantasy companies largely avoid another 10 states where laws are worded in ways that make it more difficult to operate.

''This act is basically irrelevant. Everything defaults to state law now,'' said Anthony Cabot, the company's outside legal counsel, referring to the federal law that the industry has long cited for justifying its existence. ''If it's not in violation of state law, then there's no violation of the federal act. It's a big red herring.''

The Boston-based company has also offered contests for other one-off events like NASCAR races and golf tournaments since 2015, without any complaints from regulators, he added.

Daniel Etna, a New York sports lawyer who closely follows the sports gambling industry, said the game appears to comply with most if not all new state laws approved in recent years to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports.

''Contests like these push the very fine line between fantasy sports contests and general sports wagering,'' said Jay McDaniel, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. ''It does, however, fall within our law's definition of a fantasy contest.''

In New York, the state Gaming Commission determined in December that the contest was legal because it's based off how individual players perform in the game, and not the ''score, point spread or team's performance,'' said commission spokesman Brad Maione.

One key is that ''Showdown'' requires users to pick at least one player from each team in a single game. So fans choosing from the Titans-Patriots game on Saturday can't just stack their lineup with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and other New England stars without any Tennessee players.

Jeffrey Ifrah, a Washington-based attorney specializing in online gambling, isn't convinced there's much appetite to enforce the laws, even if there was a conflict. Many of the new fantasy sports laws don't even require states to approve new contests.

''None of these states really thought about this,'' he said. ''They were given these laws to pass and they did it. There wasn't a lot of legislative debate.''

The U.S. Supreme Court is also weighing a bid by New Jersey to overturn the sports betting ban in effect in all but four states (Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon). A favorable ruling this year could make handwringing over daily fantasy sports moot.

''We would only look into a particular game if we received a complaint about it, which we have not in this case,'' said Edward Grewach, general counsel for the Missouri Gaming Commission.

''We do not require review of every new game, so no, we have not looked into it,'' said Elaine Lidholm, a spokeswoman for Virginia's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees the industry.

The single-game format could have implications beyond the early rounds of the NFL playoffs, where eight teams play in each of the first two weeks and four teams play during the conference championships. DraftKing's chief rival, New York-based FanDuel, says it has ''exciting plans'' for the Super Bowl, the most gambled on single game in the world.

If successful during the NFL playoffs, variants like ''Showdown'' could extend into the regular season next year and even potentially be offered for single games in other sports.

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Atlanta's Matt Ryan aims for happy homecoming in Philly

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Quarterback Matt Ryan has another shot at a happy homecoming.

A berth in the NFC championship game is at stake when Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff Saturday. Ryan, who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia's William Penn Charter School, is 1-3 at the Linc.

''I'm used to it now,'' Ryan said about returning home. ''Playing as long as I have, I understand regardless of where we play you have to be at your best every week. The one nice part is there will be a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces after the game, which is always nice.''

Ryan had his worst game of his MVP season last year in Atlanta's 24-15 loss in Philly on Nov. 13, 2016. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

''Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we'll take, what went well and what didn't go well and try to improve on that,'' Ryan said. ''We're a different team than we were last year when we played them and they're a different team. It will be some carry over, but it will be a little bit different.''

Here's some things to watch for when the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since Philadelphia's win over Michael Vick's Falcons in the 2005 NFC championship game:

NICK'S UP: Nick Foles makes his fourth start since replacing Carson Wentz after the MVP candidate tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. He's certainly a drop-off from Wentz, but he's also capable of spectacular performances. Foles once tossed seven TDs in a game in 2013. He had four TDs in his first start in Week 15.

''There's enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence,'' Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.

`NORTHEAST' NOISE: There's crowd noise, and then there's the noise generated by Philadelphia fans known for their intensity.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed to search for a polite term to compare Eagles fans with the fans the team heard in last week's wild-card win at the Los Angeles Rams.

''I'm not going to say more passionate, but I would say more Northeast,'' Quinn said with a smile.

The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals.

''That's huge,'' said tight end Levine Toilolo. ''That's where it all starts, coming off the ball, the cadence and stuff like that. We definitely work on that every week. Their fans, we're expecting a loud crowd in a big playoff game.''

Mack said he expects Philadelphia's fans ''to be really dedicated, really loud, really involved. So it's going to be a challenge just in terms of crowd noise.''

COMFORT ZONE: After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons finished the regular season 15th with first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

Atlanta averaged 22.1 points per game, down from 33.8 last season.

Ryan says he has become more comfortable with Sarkisian, especially the last two weeks in wins over Carolina and the Rams.

''I think Sark has done a great job of finding who we are week to week, specifically the last two weeks I think he's done a great job,'' Ryan said.

STOPPING JULIO: The Eagles had some success against Julio Jones in their win last year, keeping him out of the end zone but allowing 10 catches for 135 yards. Jalen Mills held him to four catches for 48 yards when he was matched up against Jones. The second-year pro is confident he can contain Jones again. Ronald Darby will have to cover Jones when he's on his side.

''You have to think the ball is coming to him each and every play,'' Mills said. ''Whether they're having a run or a pass play, you've just got to think the ball is coming to him.''

MULTIPLE BACKS: Both teams have options in the backfield. The Falcons are led by Devonta Freeman, who had 865 yards rushing and seven TDs. Tevin Coleman had 628 yards rushing and five TDs. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing and scored two TDs. Jay Ajayi had 873 yards rushing and one TD combined with the Dolphins and Eagles. He ran for 130 yards against Atlanta in Miami's win on Oct. 15.

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AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.

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Chiefs hire McCullough off USC staff to coach running backs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs hired Deland McCullough off the staff at Southern California on Friday to coach their running backs, taking the place of recently promoted assistant coach Eric Bieniemy.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid moved Bieniemy into the offensive coordinator job shortly after Matt Nagy, who had excelled in the role this past season, took the head job with the Chicago Bears.

McCullough spent six seasons with Indiana before coaching the Trojans' running backs last season.

He played at Miami of Ohio before stints with the Bengals and Eagles in the NFL, two seasons with Winnipeg in the Canadian Football League and a season in the short-lived XFL.

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Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio returning to Bears

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Vic Fangio is returning to the Chicago Bears as defensive coordinator after being passed up for their head coaching job.

Fangio re-signed Friday and will continue to lead a defense he helped transform the past three seasons. He was the first candidate to interview for the Bears' coaching job after John Fox was fired, but general manager Ryan Pace ultimately decided to go with former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.

Fangio was free to go elsewhere after his contract expired. Before he arrived in Chicago, the Bears' defense ranked among the worst in franchise history. They were more than respectable in 2017 under Fangio despite losing several players to injuries, including linebacker Leonard Floyd.

Chicago's defense ranked 10th overall, seventh against the pass, ninth in scoring and 11th against the run.

With Fangio back, the Bears have filled all three coordinator spots.

The team announced Friday that it has hired former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator and Chris Tabor as special teams coordinator. The Bears also brought in Charles London to coach running backs and Mike Furrey as wide receivers coach.

Helfrich led Oregon to a 37-16 record in four seasons. That included a run to the first College Football Playoff championship game during the 2014 season with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota at quarterback. He was fired after a 4-8 finish in 2016.

Before becoming the Ducks' coach, Helfrich was their quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 2009-12 under Chip Kelly. With their fast-paced and prolific spread-option offense, the Ducks went 46-7 during that span.

Helfrich didn't call plays as Oregon's offensive coordinator and he won't in Chicago. Nagy plans to do that.

The Bears are looking to get the most out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and emerge from one of the worst runs in franchise history.

They fired Fox after three seasons with a 14-34 record that gave him the second-worst winning percentage for a Chicago coach. Nagy spent the past decade working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City and served as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator this past season.

He is trying to help turn around a team that missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season and hasn't finished above .500 since Lovie Smith was fired after going 10-6 in 2012. The Bears were 5-11 in 2017.

The development of Trubisky, the No. 2 overall draft pick last spring, could go a long way toward lifting an offense that ranked 30th overall and last in passing. But the Bears will need to acquire some playmaking receivers.

Tabor spent the past seven seasons as Cleveland's special teams coordinator. The Browns ranked sixth in kickoff return average against (21.8), seventh in the NFL in punt return average (9.9), ninth in total kick return yards (8,974) and 10th in total return yards allowed (7,627) during that time. Tabor was Chicago's assistant special teams coach from 2008-2010.

London has spent nine seasons in the NFL - the past four as Houston's running backs coach. He was an offensive assistant with the Bears from 2007-09.

Furrey played eight seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. With Detroit in 2006, he ranked second in the league with 98 receptions while recording 1,086 yards and six touchdowns.

Furrey spent the past two years coaching at Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C.

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Steelers' Brown sent home sick, questionable for Sunday

PITTSBURGH (AP) Antonio Brown was sent home from Steelers practice Friday, but it wasn't because of the calf injury he's been nursing fo