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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers has paid off for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles in more ways than one.

Cincinnati Bengals fans have been donating money to the Blake Bortles Foundation as a way to say thank you for the Jaguars’ 45-42 victory last Sunday, which knocked one of the Bengals’ biggest rivals out of the playoffs. According to the Blake Bortles Foundation, more than 100 fans have donated close to $5,000 since the game ended.
“Fans are at the core of the football experience and it’s truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others,” Bortles said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate the support displayed by Bengals fans and they should know their support will make a difference.”

Bortles threw for 214 yards and a touchdown and led two critical fourth-quarter touchdown drives. His touchdown pass was a 14-yarder to fullback Tommy Bohanon, which came on a play that Bortles checked to at the line of scrimmage.

According to the foundation, Cincinnati sports radio host Mo Egger encouraged Bengals fans to donate as a way to pay it forward. Buffalo Bills fans donated more than $300,000 to Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s foundation (The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation) in appreciation of the Bengal’s Week 17 victory over Baltimore, which gave the Bills a playoff berth for the first time since 1999.

Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd to give the Bengals the victory over the Ravens.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey laid another hit on the Jacksonville Jaguars, this time calling out quarterback Blake Bortles for choking in key moments.

“As long as Bortles is back there, if the ballgame is in his hands, he’s going to choke,” Casey told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville on Tuesday.
Casey’s most recent comments come two days after he challenged the Jaguars’ credentials as true contenders following the Titans’ 15-10 win to complete a regular-season sweep of the AFC South champions.

“We didn’t want their offense to score at all,” Casey said. “And it looks like that’s what happened. It looks like that’s what happened. Sorry. At the beginning of the week, I was talking about that.

“King of the South? King of the South? Sounds great, but gotta be able to beat us. Jacksonville didn’t play great today. Appreciate the turnovers. Helped us out a lot.”

Titans tackle Jurrell Casey, right, has no faith that Blake Bortles can lead the Jaguars to postseason success, saying, "if the ballgame is in his hands, he's going to choke."

Titans tackle Jurrell Casey, right, has no faith that Blake Bortles can lead the Jaguars to postseason success, saying, “if the ballgame is in his hands, he’s going to choke.”

Titans safety Kevin Byard intercepted Bortles twice on Sunday.

Casey was also in the center of a postgame scuffle with Jaguars linebackers Blair Brown and Donald Payne. Casey and Brown both threw punches, and the incident could be subject to NFL fines.
Jaguars defensive lineman Marcell Dareus also made waves in this back-and-forth, saying he hoped the Jaguars could play the “sorry ass” Titans again in the playoffs.

Jacksonville won the AFC South by one game over Tennessee, which plays the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round of the playoffs Saturday.

Jacksonville hosts the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The Titans and Jaguars could only meet in the playoffs if both teams advance to the AFC Championship. However, these past few days have provided enough ammunition to ignite the rivalry when they play next season.

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The New York Giants cleaned house on Monday, firing coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese in the midst of a 2-10 season.

McAdoo told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen in a text message Monday morning that he was out after two seasons on the job. Giants co-owner John Mara confirmed the changes in a news conference Monday afternoon.

Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch met after Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders and again in the morning. They decided they couldn’t wait any longer.

“We agreed that wholesale changes needed to be made in this organization to get us back to the team that we expect to be,” Mara said.
Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be the interim head coach, while assistant GM Kevin Abrams will be the Giants’ interim general manager, Mara announced. A search for Reese’s full-time replacement will begin immediately, and it will be led by former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, Mara said. Abrams and Spagnuolo will be candidates.

Mara said he and Tisch “agreed it was pointless to wait any longer to make these changes.”

“This has been the perfect storm this season,” Mara said. “Everything that could have gone wrong this season has gone wrong.”

The breaking point appears to have been the benching of franchise quarterback Eli Manning. Geno Smith started for the Giants on Sunday, but a source told ESPN on Monday that the team is going back to Manning.

Mara would not confirm that Manning will return as starter on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He said the decision will be up to Spagnuolo.

He denied that the Manning situation had anything to do a reorganization of the team’s brass.

“Had no effect whatsoever. 2-10 is 2-10,” Mara said. “Public reaction to that was not pleasant but didn’t really have any effect on our decision.”

He later added: “You ought to stop blaming Ben and Jerry on that. If you want to blame anyone on that, blame me. I certainly had the power to overrule it if I wanted to. I chose not to do it.”

The Giants host the Cowboys on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. McAdoo and a quarterback other than Manning would have been met with resistance.

There has been talk about former Giants showing up to the game and standing on the sideline in No. 10 jerseys in a show of solidarity to Manning.

“I was certainly cognizant of what the fan reaction was likely to be over the last four weeks, but that wasn’t the final determining factor,” Mara said. “We had reached the point where we felt, ‘You know what, we’re going to be making these changes probably at the end of the season, so what was the point in prolonging this any further?”

Reese has been with the Giants in various roles since 1994, serving as general manager since 2007. He won two Super Bowls with the team but has been criticized in recent seasons for failing to address problems on the Giants’ offensive line.

Mara called Monday’s dismissal of Reese “as difficult a meeting as I’ve ever had.” He thinks it will not take long for him to land a similar job with another franchise.

McAdoo took over for Tom Coughlin after the 2015 season. His first year as Giants coach was encouraging. They had an 11-5 record and ended a five-year playoff drought.

Year 2 didn’t quite go as planned, with the Giants struggling from the start. They lost their first five games and were officially eliminated from playoff contention before December.

“Our offense was supposed to be better, and we added some receivers and a couple tight ends. We were supposed to be better,” Mara said. “We got off to a very poor start on offense, our defense did not play as well as they could have and then everybody got hurt.”

McAdoo had to suspend two players (veteran cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) for a violation of team rules, and the controversies persisted throughout the season. They also lost star wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall to injuries in the same Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

It reached a point where Giants ownership felt a need to release a statement after an embarrassing 31-21 loss to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers that McAdoo would not be fired before the end of the season. The statement noted a desire to evaluate the season as a whole.

Several weeks later, after Manning was benched, Mara wouldn’t guarantee McAdoo’s safety through even the end of the season. It set the stage for McAdoo’s ouster during a season that began with Super Bowl expectations but crashed and burned early.
“There’s no guarantees in life,” Mara said at the time. “[We] made [our] statement on that a couple of weeks ago, but there’s no guarantees in life.”

McAdoo joined the Giants from the Green Bay Packers before the 2014 season. He served as the team’s offensive coordinator for two seasons under Coughlin before being promoted to head coach. The Giants’ offense under McAdoo showed improvement during those first two years. Manning was coming off an awful 2013 season and managed to thrive working with his new offensive coordinator.

The Giants averaged 25 points per game in McAdoo’s first two seasons with the team. They averaged 19.4 points per game last season and 15.6 this year with him as the head coach.

McAdoo also wasn’t especially well-received by fans as the public face of the franchise, beginning with the oversized suit on the day he was hired to his appearance on the sideline and at news conferences. Fans had been calling for his firing for weeks.

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PITTSBURGH — The NFL has suspended Pittsburgh Steelers starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert four games for violating the league policy against performance-enhancing substances.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement that the organization was “disappointed” and that Gilbert will not appeal his suspension.

Gilbert will not be permitted inside the Steelers’ facilities until after the suspension is served. He will be eligible to return to the team on Dec. 18, a day after the Steelers’ anticipated clash with the New England Patriots at Heinz Field.

Marcus Gilbert, suspended for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, will be eligible to return to the Steelers' active roster a day after the team's Dec. 17 game against the Patriots.

Marcus Gilbert, suspended for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, will be eligible to return to the Steelers’ active roster a day after the team’s Dec. 17 game against the Patriots.

Gilbert issued a statement via his official Twitter account.

“I apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire steelers family,” Gilbert wrote. “Regretfully I inadvertently took a banned substance. I promise to come back in great shape and will be ready to play when my suspension is over.”

The 29-year-old Gilbert has missed three games this season because of a lingering hamstring issue. He is in the third year of a five-year, $30 million contract he signed in 2015, and Gilbert’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, met with the Steelers last offseason about a potential contract extension down the road. His base salary for 2017 is $4 million, meaning he could miss up to $1 million during the four-game ban.

Though Chris Hubbard acquitted himself well in relief of Gilbert, the Steelers will be without a player offensive coordinator Todd Haley has called the best right tackle in the game. Many of the Steelers’ designed runs go to the right side behind guard David DeCastro and Gilbert, who’s played a big role in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s declining sack numbers in recent years.
Still, head coach Mike Tomlin recently used Hubbard as an example of his expectation to see no dropoff when subs play significant snaps.

“Marcus Gilbert missed a significant amount of time. Chris Hubbard’s play made it a nondiscussion,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t talk about it a bunch because his play was above the line. … You guys know our mentality. The standard is the standard.”

For insurance, the Steelers have second-year tackle Jerald Hawkins and have added tackle Jake Rodgers to their practice squad.

Gilbert is the third Steeler in as many years to miss multiple games because of suspension, joining Martavis Bryant (four games in 2015, all of 2016) and Le’Veon Bell (two games in 2015, three in 2016).