The NFL’s final 4 all overcame injuries to star players

Leave a comment

The list of players sitting out this weekend’s conference championships is almost as impressive as the starting lineups: Julian Edelman. Carson Wentz. Dalvin Cook. Dont'a Hightower. Allen Robinson. Sam Bradford.

Following the NFL’s season of carnage that claimed the likes of, among others, Aaron Rodgers, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Joe Thomas, this year’s final four all overcame not only the odds – “Minneapolis Miracle , anyone?” – but devastating injuries to key starters.

“We have a tough and resilient team,” Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long said of the NFC’s top seed , which is missing its second-year QB in Wentz, an MVP hopeful when he blew out a knee in December.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

Even before Wentz’s injury thrust backup Nick Foles into the starting job for the playoffs, the Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, versatile return specialist Darren Sproles, and special teams captain Chris Maragos.

Yet, here they are, 60 minutes from Minneapolis and Super Bowl 52.

“I think that starts at the top with Doug, because he sets the tone for being resilient and even keeled,” Long said of his coach, Doug Pederson. “At the end of the day, we have a tough group of guys.”

So do the Minnesota Vikings, who are trying to reach their first Super Bowl in more than four decades and fulfill mantra to “Bring it Home” and become the first NFL team to play the title game in its own stadium.

And they’re doing so behind Case Keenum, who crashed Tom Brady‘s playoff party along with fellow perennial backup Foles and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

Together, the four quarterbacks left standing have a combined five Super Bowl rings, two NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVP trophies. Brady, of course, owns all of that hardware himself.

Such is the panorama of these playoffs following a season of pain in which so many superstars were rendered sideline spectators with broken bones, snapped ligaments, torn muscles.

Keenum replaced an injured Bradford, who had replaced an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford, now back in uniform as Keenum’s backup, blew out a knee in the first month of the season, as did rookie running back in Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Behind resilient coach Mike Zimmer , who resisted the urge to quit just before he got the Vikings’ head coaching gig in 2014, Minnesota rolled right along. Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem.

“We’ve got a bunch of fighters on this team,” Zimmer said. “They’ve been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.”

The Patriots are also a bunch of fighters; they reached their seventh straight AFC title game despite losing Edelman, Brady’s top target, to a torn ACL in the preseason, and Hightower to a torn chest muscle in November.

Play caller Josh McDaniels and Brady, who led New England to a fifth Super Bowl title last year despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski, adjusted accordingly to Edelman’s absence with another terrific year.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy stepped in for Hightower and ranked third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5+ sacks despite missing three of the final five games with a calf injury.

Van Noy’s sack total was just a half-sack shy of Hightower’s career high set in 2014.

“The thing about K.V. is he’s very versatile,” said Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty. “So we’ve used him a bunch of different ways. … He’s been a big asset to our team.”

The Jaguars are the healthiest of the remaining playoff teams. They have only one opening-day starter on injured reserve: former Pro Bowl receiver Robinson, who tore his left ACL on Jacksonville’s opener.

Four months removed from reconstructive surgery, Robinson is now traveling with the team, so he’ll be on the sideline Sunday at New England, serving as a mentor to a raw receiving corps.

“Every person in this locker room put in a lot of work to get to this point, with me being one of them,” said Robinson, who was poised for another big year after dominating the league’s best secondary in training camp.

His injury on Jacksonville’s third offensive snap created a huge void for the offense. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns tried to pick up the slack, but they ended up on the sideline at one point with injuries, too, leaving rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook to assume bigger roles.

Cole, an undrafted rookie from tiny Kentucky Wesleyan, had 42 catches for 748 yards and three scores in the regular season. He added a clutch 45-yard catch that set up a late TD in Jacksonville’s 45-42 stunner at Pittsburgh last week.

“I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and feel like I did Sept. 9,” Robinson said, “but I understand it’s going to be a process. I know I’ll be back to that point and better.”

Like so many other stars, Robinson will be in street clothes Sunday, cheering on his teammates in hopes of getting a sideline pass to the Super Bowl.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

With contributions from AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Mark Long and Kyle Hightower.

Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Seahawks place Chancellor on injured reserve, promote two

Leave a comment

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The Seattle Seahawks placed safety Kam Chancellor on injured reserve, waived guard Mark Glowinski, and promoted linebacker Kache Palacio and cornerback Mike Tyson from the practice squad Saturday.

Chancellor wasn’t expected to play again this season due to a neck injury sustained against the Arizona Cardinals in November. He had remained on the roster for weeks for salary cap purposes.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

Glowinski started 16 games at left guard last season for Seattle and the first two games of this season at right guard before losing his starting job. He was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2015.

The promotion of Palacio provides Seattle with additional depth at linebacker as K.J. Wright is doubtful to play Sunday due to a concussion and Bobby Wagner is questionable with a hamstring strain.

Tyson was a sixth-round pick in May’s NFL draft and has spent the entire season on the team’s practice squad.

Listen to Carrie Underwood’s new song, “Oh, Sunday Night” (VIDEO)

9 Comments

Ready for Sunday Night? Carrie Underwood and friends are here to ensure you are.

Underwood, a seven-time Grammy winner, has a new song for Sunday Night Football, which returns for another season on Sept. 11 with the Patriots vs. the Cardinals. The song, “Oh, Sunday Night,” is set to “Somethin’ Bad,” a chart-topping duet from Underwood and Miranda Lambert which was released in 2014.

Among the 12 NFL players seen with Underwood during the open include: Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Von Miller, Dez Bryant and Clay Matthews, among others.

Listen to the full song below. And remember, you can watch the song on NBC and NBCSports.com on Sept. 11.

The full release is below:

NEW NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL OPEN SONG – CARRIE UNDERWOOD’S “OH, SUNDAY NIGHT” – LISTEN NOW ON NBCSPORTS.COM

New Sunday Night Football Show Open Starring Carrie Underwood & 12 NFL Players Premieres on Sun., Sept. 11 Patriots-Cardinals SNF Opener

Super Bowl MVPs Von Miller & Eli Manning Take Part alongside Russell Wilson, Dez Bryant, Clay Matthews, Patrick Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Kam Chancellor, Tyrann Mathieu, Khalil Mack & Earl Thomas

STAMFORD, Conn. – August 29, 2016 – Seven-time Grammy Award-winner and multi-platinum recording artist Carrie Underwood’s new song “Oh, Sunday Night,” the new opening theme for primetime television’s No. 1 program, NBC’s Sunday Night Football, is now available to listen to in its entirety on NBCSports.com.

The open makes its television debut on Sunday, September 11, before the kickoff of New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Underwood is joined in the show open by 12 NFL players, who have accounted for 41 Pro Bowl selections, seven Super Bowl rings, and eight first-round draft picks. Following is the complete list of the players:

  • New York Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown
  • Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
  • Seattle Seahawks S Kam Chancellor
  • Oakland Raiders LB Khalil Mack
  • New York Giants QB Eli Manning
  • Arizona Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu
  • Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews
  • Denver Broncos LB Von Miller
  • Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson
  • Seattle Seahawks S Earl Thomas
  • Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

“Oh, Sunday Night” is set to the music of “Somethin’ Bad,” a chart-topping duet from Underwood and Miranda Lambert which was released in 2014 and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Underwood worked with the songwriters of “Somethin’ Bad”– Chris DeStefano, Brett James, and Priscilla Renea – to rewrite the lyrics for Sunday Night Football. The result, “Oh, Sunday Night,” was produced by Mark Bright and Chris DeStefano.

SNF IS TV’S NO. 1 PRIMETIME PROGRAM FOR 5 YEARS RUNNING: For the historic fifth consecutive Sept.-May television season, NBC’s Sunday Night Football finished as television’s No. 1 primetime show in household rating (13.0) and viewership (22.5 million average), as well as the coveted Adult 18-49 demographic (8.0), based on live plus same day data from The Nielsen Company (September-May). Sunday Night Football is one of only four shows since 1950 to rank No. 1 in primetime for five consecutive TV seasons.

About Carrie Underwood:

Carrie Underwood emerged from the promise of her 2005 American Idol win to become a true multi-format, multi-media superstar, spanning achievements in music, television, and film.  A seven-time GRAMMY® Award winner, she has amassed over 100 major honors, sold 58 million records worldwide, and recorded 24 #1 singles, 13 of which she co-wrote, with a catalog of songs that have been streamed more than 1.9 billion times worldwide.  The first female artist to be twice named the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year, Underwood was recognized as Pollstar’s top female country touring artist for her headlining tours in 2008, 2010, and 2012.  Her first four studio albums, Some Hearts, Carnival Ride, Play On, and Blown Away – each certified multi-Platinum or Platinum, and each an American Music Awards winner as Country Album of the Year – tallied an incredible 38 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.  In 2013, Underwood starred as Maria von Trapp in NBC’s three-hour holiday blockbuster, the Emmy®-winning The Sound of Music Live!, whose airings attracted 44 million viewers.  In December of 2014, the Grand Ole Opry member released her first hits collection, Greatest Hits: Decade #1.Billboard’s best-selling hits album of 2015, the chart-topping package was certified Platinum in January of 2016, making Underwood the only country artist – and one of only six all-genre artists – to launch an album to Platinum success since the time of its release in December of 2014.  Celebrating her first 10 years of music, the collection’s 25 songs included two new #1 hits co-written by Underwood: the Platinum-certified, GRAMMY-winning “Something in the Water,” as well as the Gold-certified “Little Toy Guns.”  This year, she will begin her fourth season as the voice of primetime television’s #1 program, Sunday Night Football, and return for a ninth consecutive year as co-host of the CMA Awards. Underwood’s chart-topping, Gold-certified fifth studio album, Storyteller, has produced three #1 singles with “Smoke Break,” “Heartbeat” and “Church Bells.”

 

 

2016 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Thurs. Sept. 8 NFL Kickoff  Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos
Sun. Sept. 11 Week 1   New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
Sun. Sept. 18 Week 2   Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Sun. Sept. 25 Week 3   Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
Sun. Oct. 2 Week 4 Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
*Sun. Oct. 9 Week 5   New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
*Sun. Oct. 16 Week 6 Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
*Sun. Oct. 23 Week 7 Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
*Sun. Oct. 30 Week 8 Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
*Sun. Nov. 6 Week 9 Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
*Sun. Nov. 13 Week 10 Seattle Seahawks at New England Patriots
*Sun. Nov. 20 Week 11  Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
**Thurs. Nov. 24 Week 12 Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts
*Sun. Nov. 27 Week 12 New England Patriots at New York Jets
*Sun. Dec. 4 Week 13 Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
*Sun. Dec. 11 Week 14 Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
*Sun. Dec. 18 Week 15 Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Sun. Dec. 25 Week 16 Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
*Sun. Jan. 1 Week 17 TBD

*Flex Week

** Thanksgiving Night Game

–NBC Sports Group—