Sun Dec 29 7:54pm ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
Players: DeSean Jackson, Golden Tate, Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Joshua Perkins, Carson Wentz, Nelson Agholor, Jake Elliott, Boston Scott, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Deontay Burnett, Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Josh Perkins (81) scores a touchdown in front of New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Josh Perkins (81) celebrates scoring a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) celebrates with Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) after sacking New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New York Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer (12) is stopped by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Genard Avery (58) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) is sacked by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (88) is stopped after a catch by New York Giants defensive back Michael Thomas (31) NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the playoffs thanks to a group of players off the practice squad.
Boston Scott ran for three touchdowns in the second half and the injury-ravaged Eagles beat the New York Giants 34-17 on Sunday to win the NFC East title.
Philadelphia hosts either San Francisco (12-3) or Seattle (11-4) in a wild-card game next weekend. The 49ers and Seahawks battle for the NFC West title Sunday night with the loser getting the No. 5 seed and a trip to Philly.
Already missing three starting wide receivers for the fourth straight game, the Eagles also began the game without Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson.
Then they lost running back Miles Sanders and three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks in the first half.
But Wentz guided the Eagles (9-7) to their fourth straight win and second division title in three seasons.
Wentz threw for 289 yards, including a 24-yard TD pass to Josh Perkins, who was promoted from the practice squad on Nov. 30.
Scott had TD runs of 7, 2 and 2 yards. He came off the practice squad earlier in the season. Scott had 54 yards rushing and 84 receiving.
While the Eagles head to the playoffs for the third straight year seeking their second Super Bowl title, the Giants (4-12) face more uncertainty. Coach Pat Shurmur's job status is a question after going 9-23 in two seasons.
Scott turned a screen pass into a 39-yard gain, spinning and twisting his way to the 2 to set up his last touchdown that made it 34-17.
The Giants stayed close into the fourth quarter. Saquon Barkley's 68-yard TD run tied it at 17-17 in the third quarter.
But Deontay Burnett, another player off the practice squad, made a sliding 41-yard catch to set up Jake Elliott's 50-yard field goal that gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead in the fourth.
After Fletcher Cox scooped up Daniel Jones' fumble and ran it to the 2, Scott ran it in for a 27-17 lead.
Scott's first TD run gave Philadelphia a 17-10 lead. The Eagles started that drive at their 38 after Cre'Von LeBlanc batted down a pass on fourth down.
Jones tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate to tie it at 10-10 on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Scott made a one-handed, over-the-shoulder grab on a screen pass and turned it into a 29-year gain earlier on Philadelphia's first TD drive. Wentz kept it going with a successful sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Giants 26 one play before his TD toss to Perkins.
Wentz set a single-season franchise record with 4,039 yards passing despite not having one wide receiver reach 500 yards. Alshon Jeffery had 490, Nelson Agholor had 363 and DeSean Jackson had 159.
Sanders became the first Eagles player since Don Johnson in 1953 to lead all rookies in scrimmage yards, finishing with 1,327. He surpassed Oakland's Josh Jacobs before getting injured.
Eagles: Sanders injured his ankle. Brooks was carted off the field after suffering a shoulder injury on the first extra point. CB Avonte Maddox left with an undisclosed injury. CBs Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills already were out of the lineup.
Giants: RB Eli Penny left with a back injury in the first half.
Eagles: Host a playoff game.
Giants: Season over.
Interview with a Champ
Free-agent wide receiver Corey Coleman has been suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2021 season due to a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Coleman was the 15th overall pick of the Cleveland Browns back in 2016. He played in just 19 games for Cleveland in his first two seasons before joining the Giants in 2018. Most recently, the 26-year-old from Baylor was released from the Giants practice squad in November of last season. Coleman hasn't played in an NFL game in the last two years, and this off-the-field setback won't help him as he tries to land a gig with a new team heading into the 2021 season.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (knees) said he had surgery on both of his knees on Tuesday. He also said he would have been out for the season after Week 2, but instead he battled through his injuries and made the Pro Bowl. The second-year wideout did miss two games, but he managed to finish as the 10th-ranked fantasy wideout in standard scoring after catching 70 passes on 106 targets for 1,073 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 23-year-old is expected to be ready for the 2021 season and is an easy top-10 fantasy wideout after going over 1,000 yards receiving in his first two NFL seasons while hauling in 19 total touchdowns. On top of it all, Brown is one of the best pass-catchers in the league at racking up yards after the catch.
Buffalo Bills rookie running back Zack Moss (ankle) underwent a minor surgical "tight rope" procedure on his ankle on Tuesday. Moss is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for offseason workouts and training camp. The 23-year-old was injured in the wild-card win over the Colts and won't be available for the rest of Buffalo's postseason run. But Moss impressed as a rookie, carrying the ball 112 times for 481 yards and four touchdowns while also catching 14 passes on 18 targets for 95 yards and an additional score. He should continue to be featured alongside Devin Singletary in 2021, but Moss should be the more attractive RB3/flex if the Bills continue to use him more than Singletary in the red zone and near the goal line. With quarterback Josh Allen breaking out in 2020, Buffalo's offensive arrow is only pointing up, giving Moss plenty of room for improvement going into Year 2.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers designated running back Kenjon Barner (groin) for return from Injured Reserve on Tuesday, allowing him to resume practicing with the team. The team also placed linebacker Jack Cichy (arm) on Injured Reserve after he broke his arm in the Divisional Round against the Saints and signed linebacker Deone Bucannon from the practice squad to the active roster in a corresponding move. Barner will be allowed to practice with the team this week, but it doesn't mean he'll come off IR and join the active roster for the NFC Championship against the Packers on Sunday. Barner, a sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2013, was active for six games this season but didn't receive a single carry and was targeted once in the passing game.
A misdemeanor battery charge against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander was dismissed on Tuesday. The charge stemmed from last August in relation to the disappearance of his father. Alexander entered deferred prosecution on Dec. 8, which led to the charges being dismissed. Part of the terms of the agreement included 24 hours of community service and participation in an anger-management course. Alexander allegedly went to a man's house to discuss the incident with his father, hit him and caused minor injuries. He pleaded not guilty and completed the pretrial diversion program on Jan. 13. The fifth-year player started in 10 of his 13 games in 2020 and recorded 47 tackles and one interception.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (concussion) cleared "some big steps" on Monday, but he remains in the league's concussion protocol, and it's too early to say definitively that he will play in the AFC Championship against the Bills, according to sources. We'll have a better idea of Mahomes' chances of playing this Sunday once the Chiefs begin practicing on Wednesday, but he'll need full clearance from the protocol in order to play against Buffalo. If the 25-year-old cannot play, veteran Chad Henne would likely start under center after replacing Mahomes in the Divisional Round against the Browns. Mahomes threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 6 win over Buffalo, but he'll be riskier than usual at his high price in DFS if he plays this weekend.
The Los Angeles Rams are focusing on former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator/interim head coach Raheem Morris as their new defensive coordinator, according to sources. It's looking like Morris will be the one to replace Brandon Staley, who was hired as the Chargers new head coach. Morris was Atlanta's interim head coach for the last 11 games of the 2020 season after Dan Quinn was fired, and he went 4-7 to close out the year. The Falcons Defense allowed 30-plus points in four of their first five games, but they turned things around on that side of the ball once Morris took over. The 44-year-old was Tampa's head coach from 2009-11, with the team going 17-31 in that stretch. Morris worked with Rams head coach Sean McVay in Tampa and also in Washington.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) is likely to have surgery on the torn deltoid and other ligaments in his ankle this offseason, according to a source. Thomas knew it was likely quarterback Drew Brees' last year and didn't want to miss out on a possible Super Bowl run. A high-ankle sprain limited the All-Pro wideout to just seven games this year. He often was playing at far less than 100 percent, catching just 40 passes for 438 yards and no touchdowns during the regular season. The 27-year-old did find the end zone in the wild-card win over the Bears, but he was a massive fantasy bust as the first receiver off the board in the first round in most drafts after his 149-catch, 1,725-yard season in 2019. Thomas should be a top-10 wideout, if healthy, in 2021, but losing Brees will also be a downgrade for his overall outlook moving forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) did not suffer a serious knee injury in the Divisional Round win over the Saints, according to sources. Brown is considered day-to-day after undergoing an MRI exam on Monday. The 32-year-old should have a chance to suit up in the NFC Championship against the Packers on Sunday, but we'll keep a close eye on his practice participation throughout the week. If Brown is unable to go or is limited, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson could see more opportunities in the passing game behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Brown played only 27 offensive snaps last weekend, missing most of the second half with his injury. He caught one of three targets for 10 yards against the Saints. Brown will be a touchdown-dependent fantasy option if he plays against Green Bay.
The Atlanta Falcons officially named Terry Fontenot as their new general manager on Tuesday. Fontenot spent the last 18 years of his career with the New Orleans Saints, most recently completing his first season as the team's vice president/assistant general manager for pro personnel. He initially got his foot in the door as a marketing intern with the Saints. New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009 and has claimed seven NFC South titles in the last 15 years while Fontenot was around. Fontenot will now move to a Falcons team that has not been to the playoffs since 2017. He will be replacing Thomas Dimitroff, who was fired during the 2020 season. Fontenot will be working with new head coach Arthur Smith, with one of the main priorities being to figure out whether quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones are part of the organization's immediate future.
The Washington Football Team is finalizing a deal with Marty Hurney on Tuesday to be its new general manager, according to sources. The move should be officially announced later in the day. Hurney will be reunited with head coach Ron Rivera after the two worked together in the early part of the last decade with the Carolina Panthers. Hurney will join the team with hopes of improving a team that released first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins after less than two full seasons. With Alex Smith potentially retiring, Washington faces plenty of uncertainty at the position in the short and long term. But Washington's defense proved to be a force in 2020 after the team finished 7-9 with a playoff berth.
Ohio State star quarterback Justin Fields announced on Twitter his intentions to forego his remaining eligibility and enter the 2021 NFL draft. He is considered one of the nation's top prospects after leading the Buckeyes to the national championship game, where they fell to Alabama. Fields beat Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the semifinals by throwing six touchdowns despite suffering a hip pointer in the game. The 6-foot-3, 228-pounder was 20-2 in his time as the Ohio State starter while completing 68.4 percent of his passes and a 63:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his two seasons with the Buckeyes. Fields also ran for 867 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns. Lawrence is projected to go to the Jaguars at No. 1 overall, but the Jets could snag Fields with the No. 2 pick this April.
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff's recent inconsistent play has left his status as the starting quarterback for the 2021 season in the air and may lead the team to bring in someone who can push him, according to comments made by the NFL Network's Steve Wyche. 'The people I've spoken to said basically at this moment the relationship with Goff and (head coach Sean) McVay: not great. They need marriage counseling is what one person said to me. I think this is something that they're going to be able to work through, but there's got to be some healing and that's not just with Jared Goff's injured thumb,' Wyche said.
Fantasy Spin: Goff was very good in McVay's first two seasons (2017 and 2018), but it would seem that once opponents figured out how to slow down Todd Gurley late during the second half of the 2018 campaign, Goff started to get exposed. It's also possible that the defections of Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks have given defenses less to worry about vertically or that he is feeling the pressure of playing under his four-year, $134 million contract that he signed in September of 2019. Whatever the reason(s), fantasy owners should expect him to compete for his job in camp this summer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Deone Bucannon, DB Javon Hagan and OG Ted Larsen were restored to the practice squad Monday, Jan. 18.
Green Bay Packers DT Brian Price and DB KeiVarae Russell were restored to the practice squad Monday, Jan. 18.
Los Angeles Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant, Chicago Bears safeties coach Sean Desai and Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris are most likely candidates to replace Brandon Staley as the Rams' defensive coordinator, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Rodrigue is reporting a decision to fill the vacancy could happen as soon as Tuesday, Jan. 19.
New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore has forced 37 incompletions since 2018 - tied for the second-highest total in the league - according to Pro Football Focus.
New York Giants CB James Bradberry has forced a league-high 42 incompletions since 2018, according to Pro Football Focus.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis has forced 37 incompletions since 2018 - tied for the second-highest total in the league - according to Pro Football Focus.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Vita Vea (ankle) will return to practice this week, and the team hopes he will be available for the NFC Championship game.