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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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GREEN BAY, Wis. — If Aaron Rodgers plays Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings — and that remains an if — coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t want his quarterback to take the kind of punishment he did in his return from his collarbone injury on Sunday.

Rodgers was sacked three times and took seven hits from the Carolina Panthers during his first game in two months.

“Aaron Rodgers is sore — rightfully so,” McCarthy said Monday evening. “He was hit too many times, took two big hits. So we’re working through that. So we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
By then, the Packers (7-7) will know if they have any chance at the postseason. Their streak of eight straight playoff appearances will end if the Atlanta Falcons beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

McCarthy wouldn’t say if that would impact his decision to play Rodgers in either of the final two games.

“Well, we’re obviously watching the game tonight,” McCarthy said. “It impacts our opportunity to move forward, so you’re definitely aware of it. We treated today as a Tuesday with the coaching staff, no different for our players. They were all in here pretty much getting treatment and going through the weight room and strength and conditioning. We’re going to start having a little lighter start tomorrow, and we’re on a six-day week. But our preparation is getting ready to beat Minnesota. That’s our focus.”

Rodgers threw three touchdown passes in Sunday’s 31-24 loss but also had his first three-interception game since 2009. He completed 26 of 45 passes in his first game since Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr hit him and broke his right clavicle. Rodgers underwent surgery and was brought back off injured reserve at the earliest possible mark last week.

Rodgers said after the game that he was “disappointed in my performance … I obviously didn’t play very well.”
McCarthy wasn’t nearly as critical.

“I thought [he] did a lot of good things,” McCarthy said. “I think when you see him come back and not playing for two months, there’s so many things he makes look easy. For the most part, a number of throws, the plays he made with his feet, the awareness of plays, handling short-yardage situations, fourth-and-1, just a lot of critical decisions that he made in the game. We obviously did a lot more at the line of scrimmage with run-pass calls.

“They played us extremely aggressive — as aggressive as anybody played us all year. Handling that challenge. … If you go through it and you look at the three interceptions, two of them were like long punts. Those were all throws he’s made throughout his career. I think it was just a product of not playing for as long as he has because he’s made those throws. Those are routine throws for him. I thought he did a lot of really good things.”

The Packers re-signed backup quarterback Joe Callahan on Monday, which could be an indication that they will play Brett Hundley the rest of the way if they are eliminated from the postseason.

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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).