Sun Dec 22 4:40pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker A.J. Klein (53) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) is congratulated by running back Derrick Henry, right, after Brown scored a touchdown on a 49-yard run against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (81) gets past New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) scores a touchdown on a 1-yard run against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (87) breaks a tackle by Tennessee Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims (36) as Cook scores a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) calls a play against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) celebrates with running back Latavius Murray (28) after Kamara scored a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked for a 10-yard loss by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Drew Brees threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns and Alvin Kamara ran for two TDs as the New Orleans Saints kept their chase of the NFC's No. 1 seed alive by rallying from a 14-point deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 38-28 Sunday.
The Saints (12-3) had to win after San Francisco beat the Rams 34-31 on Saturday night. They scored 24 straight points to keep alive their chance at one of the NFC's top two seeds and a first-round playoff bye going into their regular-season finale at Carolina.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas also set the NFL record for most catches in a season. The Saints receiver needed 10 to tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison's mark of 143 catches in 2002. Thomas finished with 12 catches for 136 yards, his last reception a 2-yard TD with 2:10 left for a 38-28 lead.
The Titans (8-7) still have a shot at the AFC's final playoff berth after Houston won the AFC South title beating Tampa Bay on Saturday. The Jets beating Pittsburgh 16-10 means the Titans must beat the Texans in Houston in the finale to earn their second playoff berth in three seasons.
Tennessee had the ball with 4:24 left and down 31-28. The Saints turned over the ball after lining up for a punt and snapping the ball short to Taysom Hill. He threw to a wide-open Justin Hardee Sr., who dropped the ball.
On the next play, Ryan Tannehill threw to Kalif Raymond to the New Orleans 40. Saints rookie safety C.J Gardner-Johnson hit Raymond, knocking the ball loose. Gardner-Johnson picked it up and ran 38 yards to the Titans 25.
Tennessee had one last chance. Tannehill threw incomplete to Tajae Sharpe in the end zone with 1:44 left to turn it over on downs.
The Titans sat Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry to rest the left hamstring that has limited him the past two weeks. Even without the NFL's second-leading rusher with 1,329 yards, the Titans jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Tannehill hit Jonnu Smith for a 41-yard touchdown. Then the Titans got creative, handing off to rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown, who ran 49 yards for another TD and the 14-0 lead.
Then the Saints got going on offense, defense and special teams. New Orleans sacked Tannehill four times by halftime and finished with five.
Wil Lutz kicked a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter, his 32nd of the season and a franchise record. Brees threw to Jared Cook who ran to finish off a 61-yard TD for the Saints' longest play from scrimmage this season, pulling New Orleans within 14-10 by halftime.
Alvin Kamara scored his first touchdown since Week 3, ending the longest scoring drought of his career at nine games with a 40-yard run. He added a 1-yard TD run.
Tannehill threw two TD passes to Sharpe, the last with 7:27 left pulling them within 31-28. The Titans outgained the Saints 397-377.
Saints cornerback Eli Apple hurt an ankle late in the first quarter, and safety Marcus Williams hurt a groin. That forced New Orleans to move cornerback P.J. Williams to safety.
Titans wide receiver Corey Davis was being evaluated for a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Saints: wrap up the regular season visiting Carolina.
Titans: head to Houston trying to squeeze into the postseason.
Interview with a Champ
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.
Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford (foot) underwent surgery last week and showed his right foot in a cast after the surgery.
Denver Broncos impending free-agent S Justin Simmons is a player that head coach Vic Fangio wants to return next season.
The Baltimore Ravens will release veteran running back Mark Ingram II on Tuesday, according to league sources. The move will save the Ravens $5 million against the 2021 salary cap and will allow Ingram to get an early jump on free agency. Ingram was a healthy scratch in five of the team's final six games to close out the season, but he insists that he's healthy and has plenty to offer a team in 2021. The 31-year-old was a first-round pick out of Alabama back in 2011, but he's unlikely to be anything more than a backup if he lands with another team on the open market this offseason. J.K. Dobbins took over as Baltimore's lead back in the second half of the 2020 season, and Gus Edwards should continue spelling him next season. Ingram, a three-time Pro Bowler, had 72 carries for 299 yards (4.2 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns in 11 games (nine starts) in his second year in Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens RB Mark Ingram has been informed that he will be released Tuesday, Jan. 19, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Ingram may not be able to find a starting job this offseason but can be part of a running back committee for a team. Fantasy players can monitor the situation because Ingram can have fantasy value depending on his situation.
Free-agent CB Davontae Harris (Ravens) may re-sign with the Baltimore Ravens this offseason.
The Baltimore Ravens waived quarterback Robert Griffin III, defensive back Davontae Harris, wide receiver De'Anthony Harris and defensive back Tramon Williams on Monday. Griffin played in four games in his third season with the Ravens and made a start in place of Lamar Jackson after he contracted COVID-19 in the Week 12 loss to the Steelers. RG3 went just 7-for-12 for 33 yards and an interception in that start, also running the ball seven times for an additional 20 yards. The No. 2 overall pick might've played in his last NFL game, but he could also return to the Ravens if he goes unclaimed on waiver. The 30-year-old started just two games in three years for Baltimore and declined after he was named a Pro Bowler in his rookie season with Washington.
Seattle Seahawks practice squad LB Ray-Ray Armstrong, OG Alex Boone, RB Alex Collins, RB Bo Scarbrough and TE Stephen Sullivan had their contracts expire Monday, Jan. 18.
Chicago Bears practice squad LB Devante Bond, QB Tyler Bray, OG Eric Kush, CB Sojourn Shelton, LB Manti Te'o and RB Spencer Ware had their contracts expire Monday, Jan. 18.
Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joe Haden was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 on Monday, Jan. 18.
Baltimore Ravens QB Robert Griffin III, DB Davontae Harris, WR De'Anthony Thomas and CB Tramon Williams were waived Monday, Jan. 18.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said that the team will be careful with rookie running back A.J. Dillon (undisclosed), but he is hopeful that Dillon can play on Sunday against the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game. Dillon left the fourth quarter of the win over the Rams in the Divisional Round on Saturday with an undisclosed injury. The 22-year-old ran the ball six times for 27 yards in the win over the Rams. Keep a close eye on his practice status throughout the week. If he's inactive against Tampa Bay, Jamaal Williams would be a much more attractive DFS sleeper behind Aaron Jones. Dillon dealt with injury and was on the COVID-19 list in his rookie season, but he could have a substantial role in Green Bay's backfield in 2021 if Jones leaves in free agency.