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Rodgers sets team record as Packers hold off Browns 24-22

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Rasul Douglas and the Green Bay Packers’ pass defense didn’t let the Cleveland Browns spoil Aaron Rodgers’ milestone day.

Rodgers surpassed Brett Favre to become Green Bay’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, and the Packers intercepted Baker Mayfield four times in a 24-22 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday. Cleveland nearly came all the way back from a 12-point second-half deficit before Douglas’ second interception of the day sealed the game with 43 seconds left.

“We’ve got to do a better job of closing games out,” Rodgers said. “Our defense has closed out a lot of games, the last two weeks stopping that 2-point conversion (in a 31-30 victory at Baltimore) and Rasul coming up with that big pick. It’s nerve racking, but winning is difficult in this league.”

Rodgers went 24 of 34 for 202 yards with three touchdown passes to increase his career total to 445. Favre threw 508 touchdown passes during his Hall of Fame career, 442 of them with Green Bay.

But it was Green Bay’s defense that clinched this victory by sacking Mayfield five times and forcing him into his first career four-interception performance. All three touchdowns by the Packers (12-3) came after Mayfield interceptions.

“It was just missed throws,” Mayfield said. “Uncharacteristic, and I hurt this team. That’s the most frustrating thing for me, because I thought our defense played tremendous against a really, really good offense. But when you turn the ball over on your own territory, in the red zone and around midfield and give them extra opportunities, they’re going to take advantage of it.”

Mayfield was 21 of 36 for 222 yards with two touchdowns as well as those four picks in his return from the reserve/COVID-19 list, which caused him to miss a 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday.

Nick Chubb ran for 126 yards and a touchdown to lead the Browns’ 219-yard rushing effort that kept them in the game.

The Browns (7-8) trailed 24-22 and had third-and-10 at the 50 when Douglas picked off Mayfield’s pass intended for Donovan Peoples-Jones at the 40.

Since getting signed off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad in early October, Douglas has a team-high five interceptions. He had a game-clinching interception in the final minute of a victory at Arizona earlier this season.

“Coaches told me as long as I keep catching them, they’ll keep coming,” Douglas said. “I’m just trying to catch them when they come.”

Darnell Savage and Chandon Sullivan also had interceptions. Rashan Gary had two of the Packers’ five sacks against the Browns, whose offensive line was decimated with left tackle Jedrick Wills and center JC Tretter both on the COVID-19 list.

Until the Browns produced their second-half threat, the day belonged to Rodgers, who broke Favre’s record by throwing an 11-yard TD pass to Allen Lazard in the first quarter.

“Aaron breaks so many records,” Lazard said. “Literally every week it’s almost like I get on Instagram Monday morning and someone’s always posting some new record that Aaron’s breaking. For us, in a sense, it’s another day at the office. Obviously this one’s a bigger milestone in that sense.”

Rodgers spent his first three NFL seasons backing up Favre before taking over in 2008. Favre sent a message to Rodgers in a video that aired on the Lambeau Field scoreboard after the record-breaking touchdown pass.

“Hey, 12, congratulations, man, on passing my touchdown record,” Favre said. “I have one request. Go get us another Super Bowl. Congrats.”

“Definitely got me a little teary-eyed on the bench,” said Rodgers, who saluted the Lambeau Field crowd that gave him a hearty ovation. “A moment I’ll never forget, for sure. I’m thankful for Favre’s message, for the response from the guys and the crowd obviously was really special.”

Rodgers later threw two touchdown passes to Davante Adams, who had 10 catches for 114 yards. Adams has caught at least 10 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns in eight career games, the most of anyone in NFL history.

Adams has caught 67 touchdown passes from Rodgers, giving them the franchise record for touchdown pass combinations. Rodgers threw 65 touchdown passes to former Packers receiver Jordy Nelson.

“When you start stacking up the numbers for Davante, it’s mind blowing,” Rodgers said. “I really feel like he’s the best player that I’ve played with.”

The Packers already have clinched the NFC North title and are seeking the conference’s top playoff seed as they chase their first Super Bowl berth since their 2010 championship season. They have lost in the NFC championship game each of the last two seasons.

INJURED

Rodgers went to the locker room late in the first half after aggravating his toe injury but didn’t miss a down. Rodgers has been playing with a fractured left pinky toe. … Packers DL Tyler Lancaster left in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT

Browns: visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 3.

Packers: host the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 2 in their regular-season home finale.

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NFL

NFL and USAA Announce Finalists for the 12th Annual Salute to Service Award

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2023 NFL Honors nominees. Image: NFL.
2023 NFL Honors nominees. Image: NFL.

NEW YORK — The NFL and USAA, an official NFL Salute to Service Partner, announced Cincinnati Bengals Tight End HAYDEN HURST, San Francisco 49ers Tight End GEORGE KITTLE, and Washington Commanders Head Coach RON RIVERA as finalists for the 12th annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.

Hurst, Kittle and Rivera demonstrated exceptional effort to honor and support members of the military community. The Salute to Service Award recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards show airing live Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9 PM ET / 8 PM CT on NBC, NFL Network and Peacock from Symphony Hall in Phoenix, Arizona.

“All three of this year’s finalists for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA serve America’s military community in different but impactful ways, with each deserving recognition for their exemplary commitment to those who wear the uniform,” said Vice Admiral (Ret.) JOHN BIRD, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. “From caring for the mental health of veterans, to connecting with military families, and the unwavering support of active-duty servicemembers, USAA thanks and salutes Hayden, George, and Coach Rivera for their commitment to our military, veterans and their families, and to all NFL fans for helping determine this year’s worthy finalists.”

USAA will contribute $25,000 in the award recipient’s honor to the official aid societies representing each of the military branches. The NFL will match USAA’s donation of $25,000, which will be donated to the award recipient’s military charity of choice. The award recipient will receive a specially designed military challenge coin, recognizing their commitment to the military. In what has become a long-standing tradition, challenge coins are presented to members of the military community to demonstrate membership, recognize excellence, or boost morale.

The Salute to Service Award is part of USAA and the NFL’s year-round commitment to honor, empower, and connect with our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families. The 32 nominees were released in November and consisted of active and retired players, coaches, and team executives and personnel who best demonstrated support for the military community.

New this year, fans helped determine the three finalists by voting for their favorite nominees. Finalists were determined by a consensus vote of fans, an NFL internal committee and USAA. Nominees were evaluated on the positive effect of their efforts on the military community, the type of service conducted, the thoroughness of the program and level of commitment.

A panel of judges, consisting of representatives from the U.S. military community, the NFL and USAA, will determine the Salute to Service Award recipient, and includes:

  • VICE ADMIRAL JOHN BIRD (Ret.), U.S. Navy veteran, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs
  • LENNY BANDY, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and NFL Vice President of Security
  • CHAD HENNINGS, U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, three-time Super Bowl champion
  • JIM MORA, SR., U.S. Marine Corps veteran, former NFL head coach
  • ANDREW BECK, Denver Broncos Tight End and 2021 Salute to Service Award recipient

Since 2011, USAA has used its sponsorship to honor and appreciate service members, veterans and their families by creating unique opportunities that bring the military community and the NFL closer together.

Below is an overview on the three finalists. To learn more about the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA, please visit www.nfl.com/salute.

HAYDEN HURST (Tight End, Cincinnati Bengals)
Cincinnati Bengals Tight End Hayden Hurst has been a growing national voice in the mental health treatment, awareness and advocacy community since sharing his story of battling depression and anxiety in 2020. That year, he and his family produced a video with a message to Marines in support of Suicide Prevention Month, which helped introduce Hurst to the mental, emotional and psychological challenges faced by current and former military members. Since then, he has remained dedicated to veteran outreach, working with several organizations around the country through the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation. Hurst pledged $20,000 to Top Dogg K9 Foundation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that trains and pairs service dogs with disabled veterans struggling with mental health challenges post-deployment. At the third annual Hayden Hurst Family Foundation Golf Tournament held in February, Hurst and his mother, Cathy, worked with Acadia Healthcare to fly in a foursome of military patients that were honored before participating in the event. Proceeds from the tournament benefited the Youth Crisis Center, an organization that helps children with depression and anxiety in Hurst’s hometown of Jacksonville, FL. In August, Hurst partnered with the Cincinnati-based Armed Forces Tickets Association to provide four tickets for an active-duty service member and their family to watch the Bengals’ preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium. The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation is actively collaborating with Acadia Healthcare to host military-appreciation events in the Greater Cincinnati area, while also working with the behavioral health science department at the University of South Carolina, Hurst’s alma mater, on military engagement projects.

GEORGE KITTLE (Tight End, San Francisco 49ers)
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers Tight End, has exemplified what it means to honor, empower, and connect with military members, veterans and their families since entering the league. Kittle’s appreciation for the military community is rooted in family with his Uncle Pat, Grandfather Carl, and other loved ones who have served. He honors the sacrifices of service members and the efforts of military nonprofits through the My Cause My Cleats initiative, recognizing the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) in 2018, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) from 2019 to 2021, and Merging Vets & Players (MVP) in 2022. Since building a relationship with TAPS at the 2018 Pro Bowl, Kittle has sustained long term relationships with families who have lost a loved one to service. After gifting the family of fallen Army Sergeant Martin LaMar tickets to Super Bowl LIV, Kittle has spent multiple seasons reconnecting with the LaMars by hosting them at Training Camp practices. LaMar’s purple heart medal, gifted to Kittle by LaMar’s family in 2020, still hangs in Kittle’s locker as a reminder of the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes. In the 2021 season, Kittle purchased over 150 tickets to donate to the National Guard. This year, he hosted service members at every 49ers game, extending his displays of appreciation nationwide. Kittle and his family founded the Hidden Pearls Podcast (HPP) to connect with military veterans through storytelling. Recently, HPP joined “Diving With Heroes” in Cozumel to reflect on the benefits of scuba diving by veterans, especially those with physical disabilities. Kittle donated over $25,000 to charities selected by hosted veterans on the podcast last season.

RON RIVERA (Head Coach, Washington Commanders)
Through every hardship and challenge, Coach Rivera credits his success in the face of adversity to his military upbringing and the values instilled in him growing up the son of a 32-year-career Warrant Officer of the U. S. Army, Eugenio Rivera. Rivera has spent the entirety of his 12-year career as a Head Coach giving back to a military community that has defined his success as a leader in the league. He has continued his great work with the military by joining in a number of initiatives this year. In May, Rivera, Commanders players Jonathan Allen and Jamin Davis, and Co-Owner and Co-CEO Tanya Snyder surprised departing troops with a visit at BWI Airport where the team passed out care packages to troops as they waited to board their planes. Rivera also took time in training camp to visit with over 250 active and former members of the military at the club’s Salute to Service Day. Additionally, he brought the entire team to Joint Base Andrews for a practice in front of the troops before the first preseason game and hosted nine wounded/paralyzed veterans at Operation Warrior Wishes in Training Camp. Rivera hosted Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) families at the OrthoVirginia Training Center at Commanders Park for the second year in a row. He is also donating all the proceeds from his appearances on the league-wide SiriusXM NFL Radio channel to the United Service Organizations (USO).

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Final NFL Divisional Playoffs Schedule Announced

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (#4, center) gets sacked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea (#50, left) as he attempts to run the ball during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys Super Wild Card Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium Monday, January 16, 2023. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (#4, center) gets sacked by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea (#50, left) as he attempts to run the ball during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys Super Wild Card Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium Monday, January 16, 2023. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.

NEW YORK (NFL) – The NFL has finalized the schedule of sites, dates, and times for the Divisional Playoffs, presented by Intuit TurboTax, on January 21-22.

 

Saturday, January 21

AFC: 4:30 PM (ET) Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs (NBC, Peacock, Universo)

NFC: 8:15 PM (ET) New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (FOX, FOX Deportes)

 

Sunday, January 22

AFC: 3:00 PM (ET) Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (CBS, Paramount+)

NFC: 6:30 PM (ET) Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (FOX, FOX Deportes)

 

The AFC and NFC Championship Games, presented by Intuit TurboTax, will take place on Sunday, January 29:

Sunday, January 29

NFC: 3:00 PM (ET) NFC Championship (FOX, FOX Deportes)

AFC: 6:30 PM (ET) AFC Championship (CBS, Paramount+)

 

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Jacksonville

Jaguars Beat Cowboys in OT to End 20 Game Losing Streak Against NFC Teams

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Florida Sports Channel) – The Jacksonville Jaguars (6-8) defeated the Dallas Cowboys (10-4) 40-34 in an exciting overtime victory. This win put an end to the Jaguars’ 20 game losing streak against NFC opponents. The last time the Jaguars beat an NFC team was against the New York Giants in the 2018 season opener. Today’s game was only the second time the Cowboys have played at TIAA Bank Field. On their last visit in 2006, the Jags defeated Dallas 24-17.

The Cowboys scored the first touchdown of the game on a ten yard run up the middle by RB Ezekiel Elliott, followed by K Brett Maher’s extra point. The scored remained 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Cowboys added a second touchdown early in the second quarter on a 20 yard QB Dak Prescott pass to TE Peyton Hendershot, followed by another extra point by Brett Maher. The Jaguars responded with a touchdown midway through the quarter, as Trevor Lawrence threw a 5 yard pass to Zay Jones, capped off by an extra point by K Riley Patterson. But the Cowboys answered with a one yard touchdown pass to WR Noah Brown from Prescott on the first play after the two minute warning. The extra point by Maher put the Cowboys up 21-7.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

On the Jaguars first drive of the second half, Riley Patterson’s 33 yard field goal reduced the Cowboys lead, 21-10. But the Cowboys’ Brett Maher kicked a 24 yard field goal on their next possession to restore the lead, 24-10. Maher added a 53 yard field goal to extend the Cowboys lead to 27-10. The Jaguars began an impressive comeback to change the game’s momentum with Trevor Lawrence’s 59 yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones. An interception by the Jags’ SS Rayshawn Jenkins helped to set up another Lawrence touchdown pass, this time a 10 yarder to WR Marvin Jones Jr. Patterson’s extra points helped to narrow the Jaguars deficit to 27-24 at the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth, Trevor Lawrence again found Zay Jones in the end zone with a 3 yard touchdown pass, followed by another Riley Patterson extra point, putting the Jaguars ahead 31-27. The Cowboys scored on a 13 yard pass to WR Noah Brown by Dak Prescott, followed by Brett Maher’s extra point. The Cowboys took the lead 34-31 with just over three minutes to go. The Jaguars were marching downfield, when a fumble by Trevor Lawrence caused by Cowboys S Jayron Kearse was recovered by LB Micah Parsons. On the Jaguars’ final possession, the offense moved the ball to set up a Riley Patterson 48 yard field goal with five seconds remaining to tie it up 34-34.

In overtime, the Jaguars were unable to score on their first possession. But the Jags SS Rayshawn Jenkins intercepted a Dak Prescott pass, returning it 51 yards for the touchdown to win the game.

Trevor Lawrence finished with 318 yards and 4 touchdowns. Travis Etienne Jr. led the Jaguars rushing with 103 yards. Zay Jones was the leading receiver with 109 yards and three touchdowns.

Today’s game was a sellout, with attendance of 69,050. The Jaguars travel to MetLife Stadium to face the New York Jets this Thursday, 12/22. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. Be sure to follow www.FloridaSportsChannel.com and www.FloridaNationalNews.com for more.

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