Breaking NFL News
- Brady sits out with left shoulder injury
- Manning leaves practice with 'stomach bug'
- Giants' Manning leaves Wednesday's practice with illness
- Titans promote Reinfeldt to COO; name Webster GM
- Steelers RB coach Wilson remains in critical condition
- Colts fire Jim Caldwell
- Falcons name Nolan defensive coordinator
- Fisher set to rebuild Rams
- Ravens need more from Flacco, Rice
- Elway: Tebow has earned starter's role
- The long-last vindication of Alex Smith
- NFL Playoff Game Capsules
- Packers' Joe Philbin will coach Sunday
- NFL Inactives (Sunday, January 15, 2012)
- Falcons name Koetter as offensive coordinator
- Brady ties playoff record with 6 TD passes
- Broncos S Dawkins out against Patriots
- Saints RB Thomas leaves with head injury
Brady sits out with left shoulder injury
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed practice Wednesday because of a lingering left shoulder injury.
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed practice Wednesday because of a lingering left shoulder injury.
Brady has been bothered by the injury since last month and has been a limited participant in practice in recent weeks to rest the shoulder, but practiced fully last week.
He was at the Patriots' facility and spoke during his press conference about facing Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday -- particularly about the vaunted Ravens defense.
"They're great players," Brady said. "You always enjoy going up against the best because you can really measure where you're at. You can't take plays off against them."
The Patriots listed 14 players as limited participants in practice Wednesday, including tight end Aaron Hernandez (concussion), wide receivers Deion Branch (knee) and Wes Welker (knee), guard Logan Mankins (knee), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), safety Patrick Chung (knee) and offensive tackles Nate Solder (concussion) and Sebastian Vollmer (back/foot).
Manning leaves practice with 'stomach bug'
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning left practice Wednesday with a stomach illness that head coach Tom Coughlin was hopeful wouldn't keep him off the field much longer.
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning left practice Wednesday with a stomach illness that head coach Tom Coughlin was hopeful wouldn't keep him off the field much longer.
The Giants started their first practice for Sunday's NFC Championship Game in San Francisco with Manning on the field, but ended it without him.
"He has a stomach bug," Coughlin said. "Hopefully it's just a 24-hour deal and he'll feel better tomorrow."
Manning was listed as a limited participant on the injury report. Backup David Carr took over at practice after he left.
"He wasn't feeling great. But it's not like we're re-inventing the wheel if I have to go in there," Carr said. "If he didn't have the kind of red-belt mastery of the offense, then [it hurts not having him out there]. But he does. It's not something that's going to affect him."
Manning passed for a career-high 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns in the regular season and has thrown for 607 yards and six scores in playoff wins over the Falcons and Packers.
Giants' Manning leaves Wednesday's practice with illness
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning left Wednesday's practice with a stomach illness.
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning left Wednesday's practice with a stomach illness.
Manning was listed as a limited participant on the injury report. David Carr took over for Manning at practice.
The Giants head to San Francisco on Sunday to play the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
Titans promote Reinfeldt to COO; name Webster GM
The Titans have made Mike Reinfeldt their chief operating officer and senior executive vice president, among other promotions.
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - The Titans have made Mike Reinfeldt their chief operating officer and senior executive vice president, among other promotions.
Reinfeldt had been the team's general manager for the last five seasons, and Ruston Webster was promoted to fill that role. Webster will also be the Titans' executive vice president.
Reinfeldt will oversee all aspects of the organization in Nashville, while Webster will assume control of all football operations for the team.
"Mike has done a nice job for us as our general manager, but I believe we need someone in place who oversees the entire franchise there in Nashville," said owner Bud Adams. "Mike is uniquely qualified for that position with his previous experience. Our VPs have done an outstanding job over the past couple of years managing their departments, but this will streamline things to have someone on site to direct the entire organization and who will execute things the way I want them done."
Additionally, Lake Dawson was promoted to vice president of player personnel, the role Webster previously held.
Steelers RB coach Wilson remains in critical condition
Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson remains hospitalized with burns on more than 45 percent of his body.
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson remains hospitalized with burns on more than 45 percent of his body.
Wilson was severely burned during an early morning fire on January 6 at his home in a Pittsburgh suburb.
Wilson's family issued the following statement on his condition on Tuesday:
"Mr. Kirby Wilson remains in critical condition in the Trauma Burn Center at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh. In addition to burns sustained over 45 percent of his body, he has suffered a smoke inhalation injury and will require multiple operative procedures in the future."
Colts fire Jim Caldwell
The Indianapolis Colts have fired head coach Jim Caldwell.
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - The Indianapolis Colts have fired head coach Jim Caldwell.
It took new general manager Ryan Grigson about a week to make his first big move. He was hired last Wednesday and decided to make the coaching change in the wake of a 2-14 season that will give the Colts the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
"Change sometimes isn't always the easiest transition to make but it's part of this game, part of this league and part of the steps needed for us to get going in this new era of Colts football," Grigson said.
Caldwell's three-year run as Colts coach ran full circle. He took over for Tony Dungy to start the 2009 season and led the Colts to a record of 14-2 with a Super Bowl loss to New Orleans. A mark of 10-6 with a first-round playoff loss to the Jets followed in 2010 before the injury to quarterback Peyton Manning led to a dismal 2011 campaign.
The Colts were awful in Manning's absence, losing their first 13 games before winning two in a row. A loss to Jacksonville in the season-finale secured the top overall pick in the upcoming draft and began an offseason housecleaning.
Longtime executive Bill Polian and his general manager son Chris were the first to go. Grigson was then brought in to begin reshaping a franchise that had won eight division titles and suffered through just one losing season between 1999 and 2010.
"This was a difficult decision," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "I think that it was based on the feeling that this was the direction the franchise needed to go. I wanted to make sure we took all the time we needed to make sure it was the right decision."
Caldwell took over in January 2009, one day after Dungy's retirement and went 28-24 during his brief tenure. He had been a member of Dungy's staff for each of the previous eight years, starting in 2001 with Tampa Bay and for the next seven years with the Colts. He served as quarterbacks coach for the first three seasons with Indianapolis before earning the title of assistant head coach before the 2005 campaign.
Prior to joining Dungy in Tampa, Caldwell was the head coach at Wake Forest from 1993-2000, guiding the Demon Deacons to a record of 26-63 with one winning season and one bowl appearance.
Falcons name Nolan defensive coordinator
The Atlanta Falcons named Mike Nolan as their new defensive coordinator on Tuesday.
Flowery Branch, GA (Sports Network) - The Atlanta Falcons named Mike Nolan as their new defensive coordinator on Tuesday.
Nolan spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Dolphins and has previously worked as a defensive coordinator with the Broncos, Ravens, Jets, Redskins and Giants.
The 52-year-old Nolan had a four-year tenure as the head coach of the 49ers from 2005-2008.
Nolan takes over for Brian VanGorder, who left to become the defensive coordinator at Auburn.
Fisher set to rebuild Rams
Jeff Fisher was officially introduced as the new head coach of the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday and said he is ready to get the franchise "back on the map."
St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Jeff Fisher was officially introduced as the new head coach of the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday and said he is ready to get the franchise "back on the map."
Fisher will take over a Rams team that was 2-14 under Steve Spagnuolo in 2011 and has a record of 15-65 since 2007 -- the worst five-year stretch in NFL history. The franchise was among the best in the NFL from 1999 through 2004, reaching the playoffs in five of those six years with a pair of trips to the Super Bowl and a championship over Fisher's Titans after the '99 season.
"This is a tremendous opportunity... to get this football team back on the map and get back on a winning track," Fisher said Tuesday. "It's [about] restoring this franchise to a place of significance."
Fisher stepped away from the NFL in 2011 after 17 years as head coach of the Titans franchise. He guided the team to a record of 142-120 with four division titles and six postseason appearances, the most notable of which came in 1999 when the Titans famously came up a yard short of tying Super Bowl XXXIV and dropping a thrilling 23-16 decision to the Rams.
While taking his one-year sabbatical, Fisher said he was asked by the NFL to be a consultant, but declined. He added that it was always his intention to return to coaching right away.
"I intended on getting back into coaching when I stepped away," Fisher stated. "I love this game. I love the competitive aspects of this game. I was looking for the opportunity to do it someplace else."
It came down to St. Louis and Miami, and Fisher refuted the notion that the Dolphins were his first choice.
"That's not true. Miami responded first," he noted. "We addressed the issues with Miami and addressed the issues with St. Louis."
The issues apparently centered on ownership and the most important position on the field -- quarterback. St. Louis has Sam Bradford, a former top overall pick who has yet to fully flourish, while Miami currently has journeyman Matt Moore at the helm.
"When I set out [on the process of returning], I had two factors -- one was a good owner and one was a good quarterback," he stated matter-of-factly, adding that money was not a priority.
"Non-economic issues were more important," he continued, "what we're going to do with the coaching staff and the front office staff. The decision became very clear for me."
The Rams still have a general manager vacancy, as Billy Devaney was fired along with Spagnuolo the day after the 2011 regular season concluded.
"This team's got a chance of winning some games," Fisher said. "This team played very, very hard all year for coach Spags. They played hard. It's a talented team. It has some holes. I'm looking forward to filling the void."
Fisher wouldn't comment when asked if he will have final say in personnel matters, only indicating that such decisions will be made jointly with the new general manager.
As for assistant coaches, he said there is no timetable for filling out a staff. There has been speculation that former Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson is being considered for the offensive coordinator position, while former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is also reportedly a candidate.
Ravens need more from Flacco, Rice
Joe Flacco and Ray Rice have been waiting three years to get back to this spot, and if the Baltimore Ravens hope to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2001, they'll need their dynamic duo to take their game up another level.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Joe Flacco and Ray Rice have been waiting three years to get back to this spot, and if the Baltimore Ravens hope to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2001, they'll need their dynamic duo to take their game up another level.
As a pair of rookies following selections in the 2008 draft, Flacco and Rice were a part of a Ravens club that was dealt a 23-14 setback at Pittsburgh in Baltimore's last trip to the AFC Championship Game. It was a forgettable day for Flacco, who was picked off three times and held to under 150 passing yards.
Rice, meanwhile, had just four touches in a reserve role to Willis McGahee as he was still in the process of making his mark on the team.
With much more experience under their respective belts, Rice and Flacco have transformed into premier players in the NFL. Rice is one of the top dual threats in the league, logging over 1,300 yards rushing with 76 receptions for another 704 yards while finding the end zone a total of 15 times during the 2011 regular season.
Flacco has been a consistent winner since coming into the league as a first- round draft pick, but has a reputation of not being able to come through in the big game thanks to Baltimore's losses in the Divisional Playoff round to end each of the previous two seasons.
The 27-year-old didn't shake that stigma in a 20-13 win over the Houston Texans in last weekend's AFC Divisional Playoffs. Though he threw a pair of touchdown passes, Flacco was sacked five times and held to 176 yards passing. He did play it safe with the football and didn't turn it over, but also got little help from Rice. The shifty back ran for just 60 yards on 21 carries while catching four passes.
With a date this weekend against the high-flying New England Patriots, the offense -- specifically Flacco and Rice -- will need to put up better numbers.
"As an offense, an offensive guy, I would think so." Flacco responded when asked after last week's win if the offense needs to put up more points this Sunday. "At the same time, we have a good defense. The way [the Patriots] played all year, the way they've played in the past, they put points on the board. So I think as an offense, you have to go in there and put points on the board too."
With linebacker Ray Lewis the face of the franchise, defense is what keyed the Ravens to their Super Bowl XXXV victory over the Giants over a decade ago. But Flacco needs to be wary about living in the past, especially in today's video game-like NFL, even if the Baltimore defense is coming off another solid effort.
Baltimore ranked third in both total and scoring defense in the regular season, but this Sunday will be going against the league's second-ranked offense and a proven winner in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
The Ravens suffered an overtime loss in New England last season after beating the Patriots on their own field in an AFC Wild Card game the season prior. Rice had an 83-yard touchdown run just 17 seconds into that game and posted 22 of Baltimore's 52 runs on the day.
Flacco was allowed to throw the ball just 10 times, but will certainly see more action this weekend.
"We've gone out there and played before," said Flacco of this weekend's trip to Gillette Stadium. "We've gone on the road and played a championship game since I've been here. We didn't win that game. We have won in New England. They are one of the teams, just like us, that's tough to beat at home. They play very well up there, but we know how tough it is to go into a place like that, a place like here, and win a football game. So we're going to have to make sure we prepare well all week and bring our A-game up there."
Veterans such as Lewis and safety Ed Reed are always willing and able to shine come postseason, and Reed is one of those that isn't worried about his offense coming up shy in a big spot on Sunday. If anything, the duo will likely serve as just as big a motivator for the offense as the defense.
"We feel like we're the big brother so [to speak] of the team, but our offense will get going," said Reed.
"It takes a team effort. It's not just offense out there on the field or defense on the field or special teams. It took a team effort [to beat the Texans]."
The Ravens were the lone team to win in last weekend's playoff round while putting up less than 36 points. A similar outing isn't likely to be enough against a Patriots team coming off a 45-10 dismantling of the Denver Broncos.
Flacco will surely attempt more than 10 passes in this meeting, and a healthy number of those could find their way into Rice's hands.
If a Super Bowl berth is in the cards for the Ravens, they'll need Flacco and Rice to be more like Batman and Robin or risk looking like Jokers to Brady's Patriots.
Elway: Tebow has earned starter's role
Tim Tebow will apparently enter the 2012 season as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
Englewood, CO (Sports Network) - Tim Tebow will apparently enter the 2012 season as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos held their season-ending press conference Monday after the team's 45-10 loss to New England in the AFC Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and executive vice president of football operations John Elway said Tebow has earned the starting nod.
"Tim has earned the right to be the starting quarterback going into training camp next year," Elway said Monday. "He made some good strides."
Tebow's style of play has come under scrutiny because he is not the most efficient passer. However, he did become the starter after the Broncos opened 1-4, helped the team to an AFC West title with a record of 8-8 and produced a stunning wild card victory over Pittsburgh before Saturday's setback.
The second-year signal-caller completed just 46.5 percent of his passes for 1,729 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions during the regular season. He was also the team's second-leading rusher with 660 yards and led the squad with six scores on the ground.
"There are things that I can add," Elway said when asked how a Hall of Fame quarterback of his stature can help in Tebow's progression. "I'm looking forward to being able to [help]. I want to be able to be involved with Tim, give him my advice, what I see."
There could be competition for Tebow in camp next year, as the Broncos only have two quarterbacks under contract.
"We have to, obviously, be in the market to find some more QBs in free agency or the draft," Elway remarked.
Elway also credited first-year Broncos head coach John Fox for the team's turnaround and first playoff appearance since 2005.
"A lot of the credit goes to John Fox," Elway stated. "He's done a tremendous job. He was able to pull everything he could out of the players that we had. I can't say enough about John and the job he did this year."
Fox joined the Broncos after a nine-year run as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
The long-last vindication of Alex Smith
It's taken just one year for Jim Harbaugh to undo nearly a decade's worth of missteps and restore the San Francisco 49ers back to prominence.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's taken just one year for Jim Harbaugh to undo nearly a decade's worth of missteps and restore the San Francisco 49ers back to prominence.
But for the quarterback who helped steer the previously-fallen franchise to its first NFC Championship Game appearance since the 1997 season, the road to validation has been anything but a short and smooth trip.
Alex Smith hadn't envisioned the wait to experiencing one of the pinnacle moments of the life of an NFL player -- relishing in the ecstasy of playoff victory -- would take nearly seven full years, nor could have anybody connected with the 49ers back when the organization made the former University of Utah standout a controversial first overall selection of the 2005 draft.
It would be the last time in quite some time that both Smith and the Niners were associated with being at the top. A chaotic combination of injuries, coaching instability and a damaged psyche had turned the mild-mannered triggerman from promising prospect to colossal bust, and the gradual rise to stardom of Aaron Rodgers -- taken 23 spots behind Smith in that same draft and a local favorite from his exploits at nearby Cal-Berkeley -- further reinforced the prevailing sentiment that then-personnel director Scot McCloughan had made one of the egregious errors in judgement in recent memory.
McCloughan wouldn't be around for San Francisco's meteoric turnaround under the boundlessly-spirited Harbaugh, having been removed from his post in the 49ers' latest administrational overhaul following the 2009 season, but he too received a measure of redemption when Smith and tight end Vernon Davis -- the first pick of McCloughan's second draft class of 2006 -- teamed up to create one of the most dramatic events for a franchise renowned for producing periods of postseason poignancy.
The 14-yard connection that capped San Francisco's heart-stopping 36-32 win over the more publicly-acknowledged New Orleans Saints in Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoffs should also serve as the play that shatters the dreaded stigma that Smith has been forced to bear all throughout his star-crossed tenure as a professional.
Clearly galvanized by Harbaugh's positive energy -- a complete contrast to the confidence-sapping methods of maniacal predecessor Mike Singletary -- and the stress-relieving scenario of having the starter's role all to himself, Smith delivered by far his best season in helping the 49ers become this year's overnight sensation. The cerebral 27-year-old eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark for the first time in his career, while his 1.1 percent interception rate was the best in the NFL and third-lowest in league history.
Yet despite those overall solid numbers, Smith still ranked at best a distant third to his team's ultra-opportunistic defense and Harbaugh's culture-changing leadership in the credit department when assessing San Francisco's sudden shift from 6-10 also-ran in Singletary's swan song to a 14-win powerhouse that's now one game away from an unforeseen Super Bowl trip. His once-soiled reputation may have been substantially repaired, but Smith continued to carry a label that no quarterback wants to wear -- that of a game manager.
But when a defense that had been so good at warding off the Herculean challenge of the ever-explosive Saints for most of the afternoon finally broke in the game's furious final minutes, the 49ers needed Smith to be more than a mere caretaker.
And the young man who had endured seven years of nearly every imaginable hardship, everything from a revolving door of play-callers (the Niners are on their seventh offensive coordinator since drafting Smith), a career-threatening shoulder injury and several justified benching, was more than ready for the task.
Smith came through with a pair of throws that fell into the category of world- class on the thrilling game-deciding drive, dropping in a perfect deep strike to Davis for a 47-yard gain before skillfully threading the needle to his beastly tight end for the go-ahead score with a mere nine seconds to spare on the game clock. He also had a nifty 28-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left that briefly put San Francisco in front before New Orleans quickly responded.
"Might be time to give Alex a little credit, huh?," Harbaugh quipped in his postgame press conference.
Davis, another who's been through the lean years, also raised his game to the next level to assist in the 49ers' first playoff win since 2002. The determined sixth-year pro racked up an astounding 180 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches to break Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow's 30-year-old postseason record for receiving yards by a tight end.
"I'm so glad for [Smith] and Vernon, the guys who've been here a long time," said Niners special-teams ace Blake Costanzo. "It's a tribute to their success."
DIVISIONAL ROUND QUICK HITS
With the exception of New England's obliteration of the grossly-overmatched Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, turnovers were the principal theme of this past weekend's matchups. The 49ers' trademark of forcing and capitalizing on mistakes continued in Saturday's rousing victory over New Orleans, in which the NFC West champs took advantage of five Saints giveaways, while both the Giants and Ravens induced four takeaways to land spots in their respective conference title games with wins on Sunday.
Top-seeded Green Bay's stunning 37-20 loss to resurgent New York -- an outcome that wasn't even as close as the final score indicated -- offered the latest example of a team ramping down the intensity at the end of the regular season once its playoff positioning was secured and paying the price. After not committing more than two turnovers in any game while building their sensational 15-1 record, the Packers had four against the Giants. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also didn't seem as sharp in the MVP candidate's first outing since Christmas, and poor tackling by his team's problematic defense also played a big part in Green Bay extending the strange streak of defending Super Bowl champions not winning in the playoffs the following season to six consecutive years.
Hands-down winner of the Divisional Round's Bonehead of the Week award goes to Houston wide receiver Jacoby Jones for his inexplicable decision to field a Baltimore punt near his own goal line. His subsequent first-quarter fumble set up an easy Ravens' touchdown that proved to be critical to the Texans' 20-13 defeat, and three interceptions from rookie quarterback T.J. Yates were fatal blows as well to a Houston squad that dominated Baltimore across both lines of scrimmage for the majority of the day.
Sure seemed like the time off helped the Patriots overcome their late-season issues of starting slow. New England put up a pair of touchdowns in the opening nine minutes of its emphatic 45-10 trouncing of the Broncos, and five of Tom Brady's playoff record-tying six scoring passes came prior to intermission as the Pats roared out to a overwhelming 35-7 advantage. And even though the pass- deficient Broncos weren't really a true test, New England's maligned defense did look as good as it has all season.
Finally, a little food for thought for the wagering population. Six of the eight games held over the past two weeks have gone over the expected total, and this year's playoffs nearly became the first since the 1970 merger in which the home team prevailed all throughout the initial two rounds. The Giants have been the lone entry to win on the road so far in this tournament.
THE FINAL FOUR AT A GLANCE
Baltimore at New England (Sunday, 3:00): Patriots have won six of their seven lifetime meetings with Baltimore, but the Ravens' lone triumph in the series occurred in a 2009 AFC First-Round Playoff clash at Gillette Stadium in which Baltimore rushed for a whopping 234 yards and intercepted Brady three times en route to a 33-14 verdict. New England's last three victories over the Ravens have all been by six or less points.
N.Y. Giants at San Francisco (Sunday, 6:30): These teams played one another to the wire at Candlestick Park back on Nov. 13, with the 49ers holding on for a 27-20 decision after coming up with a fourth-down stop at their own 10-yard line with under a minute left. History will be on San Francisco's side in this one, as the home team has won six of the seven all-time postseason bouts between the two and the NFC has sent a different representative to the Super Bowl in each of the last 10 seasons (the Giants went in 2007, while the Niners haven't been there since 1994).
NFL Playoff Game Capsules
Turnovers can be the ultimate difference maker. The Baltimore Ravens scored 17 points off four Houston giveaways and emerged with a 20-13 victory over the Texans in an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are headed to the AF
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Turnovers can be the ultimate difference maker. The Baltimore Ravens scored 17 points off four Houston giveaways and emerged with a 20-13 victory over the Texans in an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are headed to the AFC championship game for the third time in franchise history and first since the 2008 season. They will travel to Foxboro next Sunday to meet the Patriots, who dismantled Denver on Saturday night in a 45-10 rout. Joe Flacco threw two first-quarter touchdown passes for Baltimore, which notched its second postseason home win. The AFC North champs only previous playoff victory at home was a 21-3 wild-card win over Denver on December 31, 2000, the first step on the way to winning Super Bowl XXXV.
Final Score: NY Giants 37, Green Bay 20
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) - Hakeem Nicks' 37-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first half proved to be huge, as the New York Giants stunned the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, 37-20, in an NFC divisional playoff game from historic Lambeau Field. Holding onto a 13-10 lead with six seconds remaining in the first half, Eli Manning launched a Hail Mary-type pass into the end zone. Nicks managed to come down with the ball, giving New York a 10-point cushion at the break. Mario Manningham essentially put the game away in the fourth quarter with a four-yard TD catch for the Giants, who dominated the Falcons, 24-2, last weekend in the wild card round. Brandon Jacobs added a 14-yard TD run late in the final period.
Packers' Joe Philbin will coach Sunday
Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will return to his coaching duties Sunday, when the Packers host the New York Giants in an NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) - Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will return to his coaching duties Sunday, when the Packers host the New York Giants in an NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.
Philbin had been away from team due to the death of his son, Michael, this past week. The 21-year-old was found in a river on Monday and a preliminary autopsy has found that he died from drowning.
The Oshkosh Police Department released a statement Wednesday, saying the cause of Michael Philbin's death was from fresh water drowning. The release said no other evidence of foul play was discovered during the autopsy.
NFL Inactives (Sunday, January 15, 2012)
The following is a list of inactive players for today's NFL Divisional Playoff games.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The following is a list of inactive players for today's NFL Divisional Playoff games.
NEW YORK GIANTS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS, 4:30 P.M. (ET)
Giants - RB Da'Rel Scott, WR Ramses Barden, T James Brewer, C Jim Cordle, DT Jimmy Kennedy, DE Justin Trattou, LB Mark Herzlich
Packers - QB Graham Harrell, TE D.J. Williams, T Herb Taylor, DT Howard Green, LB Robert Francois, LB Vic So'oto, CB Davon House
HOUSTON TEXANS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS, 1:00 P.M. (ET)
Texans - QB Jeff Garcia, WR Jeff Maehl, TE Garrett Graham, T Andrew Gardner, G Thomas Austin, CB Brandon Harris, S Troy Nolan
Ravens - RB Anthony Allen, WR Tandon Doss, G Justin Boren, LB Josh Bynes, LB Sergio Kindle, CB Chykie Brown, CB Chris Carr
Falcons name Koetter as offensive coordinator
The Atlanta Falcons have named Dirk Koetter their new offensive coordinator.
Flowery Branch, GA (Sports Network) - The Atlanta Falcons have named Dirk Koetter their new offensive coordinator.
Coincidentally, Koetter spent the past five years as offensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who just named former Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey as their new head coach.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith was the defensive coordinator for the Jaguars from 2003-07 before taking the Atlanta job and spent one season on the same staff with Koetter in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars were the lowest-ranked offense in the NFL this past season, due mostly in part to a poor passing offense with rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert at the helm. They did rank 12th in rushing behind league leader Maurice Jones-Drew.
In Koetter's first season with the Jaguars, Smith's last with the team, the offense ranked seventh in the NFL and set franchise records for points (411, 25.7 avg.), touchdowns (50), touchdown passes (28) and yards per play (5.6).
Koetter had never been a coach on the pro level before joining Jacksonville. He was the head coach at Arizona State from 2001-06, guiding the Sun Devils to a record of 40-34.
Arizona State had a prolific offense under Koetter, who doubled as the team's offensive coordinator. The Sun Devils averaged about 30 points per game and went to four bowl games during Koetter's tenure.
Koetter was also 26-10 as Boise State's head coach from 1998-2000. He also had collegiate coordinator posts at San Francisco State, UTEP, Missouri, Boston College and Oregon.
Brady ties playoff record with 6 TD passes
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tied an NFL playoff record by throwing six touchdown passes in their AFC divisional postseason contest against the Denver Broncos.
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tied an NFL playoff record by throwing six touchdown passes in their AFC divisional postseason contest against the Denver Broncos.
And the game was only early in the third quarter when Brady equaled the mark.
Brady connected on 18-of-25 passes for 246 yards and was picked off once in throwing five TD passes in the opening half. Three of the scoring tosses went to tight end Rob Gronkowski, including a 19-yarder with five seconds left in the half that yielded a 35-7 lead for the top-seeded Patriots.
Brady then connected with Aaron Hernandez for a 17-yard score early in the third quarter. That sixth TD pass equaled the mark held by Daryle Lamonica of the Oakland Raiders in a 1969 game against Houston and San Francisco's Steve Young in the Super Bowl against San Diego following the 1994 season.
The 42 points scored by the Patriots are the most in postseason franchise history.
Broncos S Dawkins out against Patriots
Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins will miss tonight's playoff game against the New England Patriots due to a neck injury.
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins will miss tonight's playoff game against the New England Patriots due to a neck injury.
The veteran has missed three of the team's last four games.
Broncos long snapper Lonie Paxton is also out for tonight's divisional playoff contest, as he reportedly is back home to take care of his wife. The Denver Post reports Meghan is having complications in her pregnancy with twins.
On Friday, the Broncos signed long-time San Diego Chargers' long-snapper David Binn.
The Broncos announced earlier in the week they'd be without wide receiver Eric Decker because of a sprained knee.
The Patriots will be without offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer due to a back and foot injuries.
Saints RB Thomas leaves with head injury
Saints running back Pierre Thomas left Saturday's divisional round game at San Francisco with a head injury after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit.
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Saints running back Pierre Thomas left Saturday's divisional round game at San Francisco with a head injury after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Thomas caught a short pass from Drew Brees on the game's first drive and was met near the two-yard line by 49ers safety Donte Whitner, whose hard hit caused a fumble.
San Francisco recovered the ball, likely taking New Orleans points off the board, and Thomas never returned to the field.