AP source: Browns' Mayfield still out, Mullens starting QB
A person familiar with the Cleveland Browns' situation tells The Associated Press that quarterback Baker Mayfield didn't clear COVID-19 testing in time to be activated and play Monday, so third-stringer Nick Mullens will start against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Rodgers wins 3rd MVP, Donald gets 3rd top defensive player
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers earned his third Associated Press Most Valuable Player award, while Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald took his third top defensive player prize at NFL Honors. Titans 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry won Offensive Player of the Year, and the offensive rookie honor went to Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. Cleveland's Kevin Stefanski was the Coach of the Year, and Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll earned assistant coach honors. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his work in the community. Rodgers had perhaps the best season of his 16-year career, leading Green Bay to a 13-3 regular season, the NFC’s best mark.
The Latest: Packers' Aaron Rodgers wins 3rd MVP Award
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Rodgers received 44 votes, followed by Buffalo’s Josh Allen with four, and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 MVP, with two. ___9:52 p.m.For turning around a moribund Cleveland franchise, overcoming injuries and COVID-19 concerns, Kevin Stefanski is The Associated Press 2020 NFL Coach of the Year. Ad___9:20 p.m.Justin Herbert is the latest quarterback to win The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award. ___8:08 p.m.Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has won The Associated Press NFL Assistant Coach of the Year award.
Somehow, the NFL pulled off playing every game in a pandemic
TAMPA, Fla. – Playing a contact sport in the middle of a pandemic seemed unthinkable to everyone except the NFL when the novel coronavirus shut down the country in March. The league played 256 games in the regular season without any cancellations and made it through the playoffs to get here. “There’s so many people that had to work together to get this done,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday. Though stadiums were empty most of the season, 1.2 million fans attended NFL games when they were allowed. “They need to be smart.”Just as it seems the NFL was for much of the last five months.
Retirement age? Super Bowl coaches just getting started
Theres no retirement age in the NFL, and thats a good thing for Super Bowl-bound Kansas City and Tampa Bay. (AP Photo/File)There’s no retirement age in the NFL, and that’s a good thing for Super Bowl-bound Kansas City and Tampa Bay. The Bucs signed Brady, now 43, to a two-year contract that created a small Super Bowl window. Now, the Bucs get to face Kansas City at home — the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in its normal venue. New England’s Bill Belichick is the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl.
Analysis: Backup QBs saw plenty of action in NFL playoffs
Jameis Winston threw a 56-yard trick-play touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith on his first playoff action after 76 regular-season games over six seasons. In his 72nd NFL game, Henne atoned for an end zone interception with two huge plays to allow the Chiefs to escape with a 22-17 win over the Browns. Rodgers and Tom Brady, making his 14th conference championship appearance in 21 seasons, square off next week at Lambeau Field. If this was it, Brees went out with a whimper: 134 yards passing and three interceptions in the worst playoff game of his career. The Chiefs forced a punt and Henne got the ball back with just over four minutes left.
After losing Mahomes, Chiefs and Henne hold off Browns 22-17
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne celebrates after a run during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. – The Kansas City Chiefs had lost Patrick Mahomes to a concussion and were in danger of losing the game. With their star quarterback reduced to a spectator, the oft-forgotten bunch opposite Mahomes' high-powered offense forced the Browns to punt in the waning minutes. After the teams swapped field goals, with Butker breaking the Chiefs playoff record with a 50-yarder into the wind, the Browns marched for what could have been a momentum-swinging score heading into halftime. First, the Browns held the Chiefs when Mayfield threw an interception and Butker missed a field goal.
Rodgers leads Packers into title game with 32-18 win vs Rams
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers pumps his fist after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers defeated the Rams 32-18 to advance to the NFC championship game. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are making a return trip to the NFC title game and this time they get to play it at home. Rodgers and the Packers will host the winner of Sunday’s game between Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game Jan. 24. Green Bay allowed no sacks and committed no turnovers.
Top cornerbacks standing out on NFL's Super Bowl hopefuls
Nearly every team still vying for the Super Bowl has an elite cornerback often capable of shutting down an opponent's top receiver all by himself. The NFC playoff bracket has three of the conference's four Pro Bowl cornerbacks: Green Bay's Jaire Alexander, Los Angeles' Jalen Ramsey and New Orleans' Marshon Lattimore. Staley's scheme has employed Ramsey in multiple roles throughout the season, and his job often changes from play to play. Oddly enough, the remaining playoff team perceived to have the least dominant cornerbacks is defending champion Kansas City, the favorite to make it back to the Super Bowl. “Some of the best cornerbacks happen to play on the best teams, that’s all I can say,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said.
Browns Pro Bowl guard Bitiono back for playoffs after COVID
FILE - Cleveland Browns offensive guard Joel Bitonio (75) blocks in the third quarter an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Cleveland, in this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, file photo. Browns Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio will be activated from the COVID-19 list Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, after missing last weeks playoff win over Pittsburgh. The Pro Bowl left guard has was activated from the COVID-19 list Friday after missing last week’s wild-card win over Pittsburgh. It was a devastating development for Bitiono, who had endured so much losing with the Browns before this turnaround season. On Wednesday, coach Kevin Stefanski returned in person to the team after also missing last week's game with COVID-19.
Similarities abound for Browns, Chiefs in first playoff game
Then consider the quarterbacks: The Browns' Baker Mayfield hosted the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes during a visit to Texas Tech, before he transferred to Oklahoma. Browns running back Kareem Hunt got his start in Kansas City before off-field issues led to his release. Kansas City has won five straight AFC West titles and still has the tailwind of winning its first Lombardi Trophy in five decades. Very young team,” Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said. We have to play this game like any other game, come out and play hard and be the Chiefs."
Stefanski out of basement, back with Browns after COVID-19
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski looks on from the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Pittsburgh. Positive COVID-19 tests have knocked Stefanski out of Cleveland's wild-card game at Pittsburgh on Sunday night the Browns' first playoff appearance since the 2002 season. (AP Photo/Justin Berl, File)CLEVELAND – Browns coach Kevin Stefanski doesn't plan a trip downstairs to his basement any time soon. Stefanski returned to the team's facility Thursday, 10 days after the first-year coach tested positive for COVID-19 and he was forced to miss Cleveland's playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Stefanski will make his playoff debut on the sideline this week when the Browns play the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The Latest: ACC postpones women's top-five matchup
Also, Thursday night’s Southeastern Conference women’s basketball game featuring No. 12 Kentucky at Auburn has been postponed because of positive tests, contact tracing and quarantining within the Tigers’ program. ___Georgetown has canceled its men’s basketball game against DePaul on Wednesday night, citing a COVID-19-related issue with the program. Also, offensive line coach Bill Callahan returned to the team after being one of four assistants sidelined by the virus. He missed last week’s game as well with coronavirus, along with Ward, Johnson, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and four assistant coaches.
The Latest: Browns coach Kevin Stefanski expected back soon
3 UConn after Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___Browns coach Kevin Stefanski expects to be back with his team this week after missing Sunday night’s playoff win over Pittsburgh with COVID-19. Stefanski tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week and had to watch Cleveland’s 48-37 victory over the Steelers from his home’s basement. ___The Baylor women’s basketball team has had another game postponed because of COVID-19 issues. Coach Kim Mulkey missed that game after being exposed at Christmas to a family member who tested positive for the virus.
Same old Browns? Hardly. Cleveland drills Steelers 48-37
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates as he walks off the field following a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. The Cleveland Browns overcame all of it. The Browns dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 in the wild-card round Sunday night, picking up the franchise’s first postseason victory in more than a quarter-century and earning a trip to Kansas City next Sunday to face the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. The kick bounced into the end zone for a touchback and Mayfield calmly took Cleveland 80 yards in six plays. So much for the Browns being the Browns, a winking assessment Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster made about Cleveland in the middle of the week.
The Latest: Browns open 28-0 lead over Steelers
The Browns have raced to a 28-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns’ 28 points are the most by any team in the first quarter of a playoff game since the 1970 merger. So, this will be the first NFL playoff game ever pitting two quadragenarian quarterbacks. Drew Brees is trying to join Brett Favre and Tom Brady as quarterbacks to win a playoff game after turning 40. That was his third career playoff game with 150 or more rushing yards, one game shy of Hall of Famer Terrell Davis’ record.
Brady and Bucs, plus Bills and Rams win NFL wild-card games
The first tripleheader of NFL wild-card games saw Tom Brady extend his postseason record for victories to 31 with a 31-23 win for Tampa Bay at Washington on Saturday. After a quarter-century, the Bills got one of those triumphs that Brady collects — and they even figured out how to stop a Hail Mary. The previous playoff win was over Miami on Dec. 30, 1995. And it came in the Bills’ first home playoff game in 24 years, with a limited number of fans in attendance (6,700) for the first time this season. The Ravens averaged an NFL-best 191.9 yards rushing per game and their 3,071 yards rushing were third highest in NFL history.