The Steelers (11-2) clinched the AFC North with the victory, while Baltimore fell to 7-6.

The ejections of Jefferson and Richardson brought the NFL’s 2017 total to 15, the most in a single season since at least 2001.

Bennett cut off Jefferson’s interview with reporters in the locker room and angrily dismissed them.

“The man was disrespected,” Bennett said. “People threw food on him. He’s not an animal, he’s a human being, so get out of here. How would you like it if one of your kids was playing sports and somebody threw beer on him? Exactly. So don’t come in with that s— then.”

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU — Sutton, a 6-4, 216-pound junior often overlooked as one of the nation’s most talented receivers, went over 1,000 yards for the season with six catches for 107 yards in SMU’s wild 41-38 win over Tulane. Sutton has just 62 catches this season, but for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns.

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State — The 6-1, 205-pound Washington continued his stellar senior season with eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown against the Jayhawks. Washington has 69 receptions for an eye-popping 1,423 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

USC actually opened as the favorite in this one, before the line ended up closing at Oklahoma -3. Those who took the Sooners after the line movement are still shaking their heads at what happened in the final seconds.

Oklahoma dominated the first 24 minutes, and seemingly justified the fact that the Sooners were an unranked team favored over No. 25 USC in Los Angeles. The Sooners led 59-41 early in the second half and looked like they would run away with a blowout win. The Trojans did fight back, but still trailed 85-78 with less than 30 seconds left.

Roethlisberger completed 44 of 66 passes for 506 yards in the win, while Le’Veon Bell tallied three total touchdowns. Brown registered 213 receiving yards.

The Cardinals have the distinction of being the only sub-.500 team alive in the top-heavy NFC.

“Folks in the stands was throwing beer and throwing soda, whatever. I mean, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” said Jefferson, a second-year player. “I’m a human just like anybody else. I’m a man just like the other man in the stands. I’m not going to let somebody disrespect me, throw a beer on me.

“Just because I’m playing football, I’m still a human being. I’m still a man. I’m out there playing a game, and at the end of the day, it’s a game, and I’m a man. I’m not going to let somebody disrespect me like that.”

Army: Monken has Army on a major upswing. This victory will do wonders for a program that had suffered through the longest losing streak by either team in this rivalry.

It’s pretty impressive that Bruce Arians’ team can sniff 8-8 without David Johnson and Carson Palmer.

Derek Carr has gone from a Ferrari to a jalopy, and it’s hard to pinpoint why, other than a big mistake in changing the team’s offensive coordinator and less support from his receiving corps. It’s too bad, given how Marshawn Lynch has picked it up for the stretch run, likely to no avail.

DeShon Elliott of Texas suggested concentrating on “blitz, blitz and blitz again” vs. Oklahoma, but not to do so at the expense of leaving the back door open. He warned that it was a busted downfield coverage on a blitz that ultimately undid the Horns against the Sooners in mid-October, 29-24.

The junior out of McKinney, Texas rushed for 140 yards on 30 carries and found the end zone twice in the win and finished the regular season with 1,486 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

The game plan going in was to play him for a half and play Geno for the second half and we decided after our conversation this morning that we’ll give Geno the ball starting at the beginning of the game.

Gurley: “Not really. We’ve had some pretty tough ones.

Atkinson admittedly doesn’t truly qualify for this space, as he is rostered in more than two-thirds of ESPN leagues, but we’re making an exception, pointing to a potential end to the winger’s dry spell.

The Bills did what they were supposed to do against the Colts, even if snow and Nathan Peterman and Joe Webb made the home assignment a lot harder than it was supposed to be. Buffalo still holds a tenuous lead on that wild-card berth.

The Chiefs finally got off the mat at home and fed Kareem Hunt like it was September as they pulled away in a near must-win for a key split with the Raiders. They can’t relax with the better Chargers coming to their house on Saturday.

This is a game everybody’s been anticipating. You’ve got (2016 draft picks) No. 1 vs. No. 2 in (Jared) Goff and Carson (Wentz). That’s all they’ve been talking about, so it’ll be a good game. You get excited for games like this.

“You’ve got to beat the best to be the best and that’s what both teams are going out there to try to do.”

Q: If you’d been told last year when they were drafted that a year later Goff and Wentz would be leading their divisions late in the season, what would have been your reaction?

Gurley: “Um, I don’t think anybody would have believed that. Obviously, Philly started off (hot), and then things didn’t go as planned and obviously things didn’t go as planned for us. Just to see the turnaround for both organizations, it started with the quarterback play. Goff’s been a great leader; been able to go out there and execute. Wentz has been playing lights out as well on the opposite site.

Steelers LB Ryan Shazier transported to hospital after scary back injury

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was placed on a backboard and carted off the field at Paul Brown Stadium early in the first quarter of Monday’s game against the Bengals.

The Steelers’ leading tackler lowered his head to stop Bengals receiver Josh Malone less than four minutes into the game. Shazier, in his fourth year from Ohio State, had his hands over his head when carted off the field. Steelers linebacker Vince Williams was in tears kneeling next to Shazier as trainers tended to him.

NFL Media reported Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert took a police escort to the hospital. The team was told Shazier has a spinal contusion with some swelling is involved. They won’t know more until the swelling goes down, but it is encouraging news for Shazier. Former Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox had a similar injury in 2002 and missed just one game.

It was Harden’s turn to attack Lillard the next trip, and it resulted in an and-1 lefty layup. He followed that by driving for yet another layup on a pick-and-roll, which made it seven straight possessions that the Rockets scored on in crunch time.

“Me and James was talking about how cool it was that I went a few times, he got to go a few times and got to play off each other like that,” said Paul, who finished with 26 points and seven assists.

The Rockets never trailed again, outscoring Portland 14-6 during the final 3 minutes.

“It took everything we had to beat them,” D’Antoni said.

The two games that stand out as possible wins: Packers in Week 14, Bears in Week 16.

“Jacoby is as mentally tough as you’ll find. Those types of guys, they’re going to grow and they’re going to get better from experience they have.”

Brissett was acquired from the Patriots on Sept. 2 to take over for Andrew Luck, who has yet to play in a game this season due to ongoing complications from a shoulder surgery he had during the offseason.

The 3-9 Colts will have another chance to protect Brissett from getting sacked Sunday, when the team faces the Bills at 1 p.m. ET.

An outpouring of support for Shazier was evident at Heinz Field well before kickoff. Dozens of Steelers wore black T-shirts featuring the No. 50 with a yellow circle around it. Linebacker James Harrison stretched on the field with his shirt off, which was Shazier’s famous pregame routine.

“It was a terrific and easy trip coming down from San Antonio, we had a day off to go out and see the city, you don’t travel all this way to watch TV in your room, I’m going to need to get on a diet after this trip,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who said he visited as many cafes as possible. “It was fun but then we got back to work and we prepared good for tonight’s game.”

Portland star Damian Lillard scored a season-high 39 points with five 3-pointers playing back home in Oakland. He hit a 3-pointer late in the first half with Durant in his face and pumped his arm to celebrate.royals_012

NFL playoff picture: Scenarios for Eagles, Steelers, others to clinch in Week 15

Due to some unpredictable results over the weekend, the NFL playoff picture clinching scenarios for Week 15 are not too different than those of Week 14. With the Eagles and Steelers having clinched postseason berths with their division titles, they and four more teams are presented with a variety of clinching scenarios this week.

“Really just sitting down and watching lots of film and playing sort of the Jon Gruden quarterbacks school is the analogy that makes the most sense to me, that might make sense to everybody here,” Brown said before the Sixers’ 105-98 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.

Gruden is the former NFL coach and current Monday Night Football analyst who has a popular segment on ESPN in which he invites some of the top college quarterbacks entering the NFL draft to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, for a skull session.

Manning, of course, saw his streak of 210 consecutive games started end last week when McAdoo went with Geno Smith, a decision universally derided around the NFL.

Wednesday was the first time Spagnuolo spoke with the media since he replaced McAdoo.

Manning told WFAN Monday he approached Spagnuolo to tell him he wanted back in as the Giants’ quarterback and captain.

“I hope I’m the starting quarterback,” he said Monday, per “I went [Monday]. I did speak with Coach Spagnuolo for a little bit. It had only been 30 minutes since I had been told he was the head coach. I told him I wanted to be the starting quarterback. I want to be out there and help us go win these four games. I hope I’m out there on Sunday playing against the Cowboys.”panthers_022

The Raiders held on to defeat the Dolphins 27-24 in Miami on Sunday night.

The Dolphins scored a touchdown and followed with a successful two-point conversion to cut the margin to three in the final two minutes, but Oakland recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock to secure the victory.

After the game, Redskins coach Jay Gruden indicated that Thompson has a fractured fibula and will require surgery.

Things slowing down for Garoppolo: Jimmy Garoppolo watched the 49ers’ loss from the sideline, with C.J. Beathard somehow surviving a game in which he was sacked five times and hit on 16 occasions. Asked about his first week as a Niner and his adjustment to the playbook, Garoppolo said: “It was a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s starting to slow down, though.” Given the 49ers’ porous offensive line, Kyle Shanahan may be hesitant to put Garoppolo in regardless of how quickly he adapts.

The Seahawks got shocked by the other team from Washington, as Seattle’s one-dimensional offensive ways caught up to it a bit. On this short week, though, the Seahawks face a secondary that can be shredded. Expect them to shut down Adrian Peterson and rattle Drew Stanton while Russell Wilson rebounds with more big plays and less mistakes.

Texans receiver Will Fuller injured his ribs in Sunday’s 33-7 loss to the Rams.

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater (hamstring) left Sunday night’s game against the Broncos and did not return.

The Saints had not have five rushing touchdowns in a game since 1979. They got a franchise-record six in their 47-10 rout of the Bills. Mark Ingram led the way with three scores and 131 rushing yards, but even quarterback Drew Brees ran one in from 7 yards out. nike_steelers_3449


Saints control NFC South, but Panthers, Falcons in position to steal division

The NFC South was touted by some as the best division in the NFL before the 2017 season. It has been even stronger than expected, with the potential of three teams from the division making the playoffs. Consider that after Week 10, New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta have a combined points differential of plus-154.

“It is different,” Fox said. “His brother [LaMelo] is the most famous high school player ever.”

Walters is less impressed.

“I don’t think anyone takes [Big Baller Brand] really seriously,” he said. “Have they sold shoes more than to curious people? I have friends that have sold that much on their own.”

In turn, the Jaguars can be put even in more control of game flow, meaning Bortles can improve as a better “game manager” than Peyton Manning was when the Broncos won it all going defense-heavy just two seasons ago.

From introducing a $495 signature sneaker to changing his shoes – and brand – every game at summer league, Lonzo Ball’s entry into the signature sneaker market is like nothing we’ve ever seen. What does it all mean for the multi-billion dollar industry?

The stars shined bright this week, as Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and LeBron James all rocked special-edition sneakers. But who had the best pair?
Ultimately, there was a familiarity and love for the Swoosh’s sneakers that drove Fox’s decision.nike_steelers_1978

After holding off the Cardinals last Thursday, the Seahawks have a mini-bye before hosting the Falcons on Monday.

“We got some nice 2-point conversions,” said Wentz, who was 14 of 27 for 168 yards. “Now we’ve got to go back to the drawing board with our 2-point plays.”

The Cowboys appeared to have fixed the problems of missing injured left tackle Tyron Smith and 2016 All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee from a week earlier, when they allowed eight sacks of Prescott along with three Atlanta scoring drives following Lee’s injury in a 27-7 loss to the Falcons.

But after protecting Prescott fairly well before halftime, Dallas allowed three sacks and 180 of Philadelphia’s season-high 215 yards rushing in the second half. Lee’s replacement at weakside linebacker, Anthony Hitchens, left with a groin injury after halftime.

Prescott was 18 of 31 for 145 yards for a career-worst 30.4 passer rating before backup Cooper Rush took mop-up duty.

If Del Rio actually calls up (or signs) an actual cornerback this week and plays Melifonwu at safety for the majority of his snaps on Sunday, the rookie will get a chance to show his closing speed and athletic ability against the Broncos… in the high altitude of Denver’s Mile High Stadium.

Hammered by the Steelers last Thursday in one of their worst games of the season, the Titans have had a couple extra days to stew while getting ready for Sunday’s game in Indianapolis.

The Ravens have three shutouts this season and three of the previous four teams to accomplish the feat during that span won the Super Bowl in that season.

The 2017 Chiefs are looking like the 2016 Vikings, who started 5-0 only to miss the playoffs. Kansas City looks to snap its skid Sunday against the Bills.nike_steelers_715

Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz need to be moving up the ratings as well.

When coaches and scouts find a quarterback who can “make all the throws” and possesses the physical traits often associated with NFL success, the player’s college career plays out on a two-track path with attention paid to both how he’s developing and his impact on the team.

Out in Los Angeles, there are three quarterbacks under the age of 25 with expectations of professional success. With reports circulating that Sam Darnold is planning to spend another year at USC, expect the NFL Draft spotlight to zero in on Josh Rosen at UCLA and in particular the similarities and differences to former Cal and current Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

Both times, Stiegelmeier took the call, but he’d never even heard of the kid. In fact, in his 30 years at SDSU as both an assistant and head coach, he’d never even had a player from Britton on the team. Between the football and track seasons, Stiegelmeier took the trip to Britton to watch Goedert play a basketball game, and came away with mixed feelings.

Landry has a tough matchup against Baltimore’s stingy pass defense that’s only allowed three touchdowns to receivers this season, so you can use that as a negotiation metric. Or if Landry ends up struggling on Thursday night, buy low on him after the game. Either way, keep Landry on your trade-for radar with an eye on those juicy fantasy playoff matchups.

Carson Wentz Jersey and Zach Ertz also need to be moving up the ratings as well. Wentz showed his great ability to escape pressure and then emerge on the other end, like a bunny who had been flushed from the bushes to gain a first down. Wentz also showed a pretty strong arm as well, going deep on a number of occasions against a decent Redskins defense.