Brady wins MVP, Rams get 3 awards, Allen comeback player

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) For the third time, Tom Brady is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Now he goes for his sixth Super Bowl title, and perhaps with it a fifth MVP trophy for the NFL championship.

Brady added The Associated Press 2017 NFL MVP award Saturday night at NFL Honors to his wins in 2007 and 2010. The New England Patriots quarterback was joined as an honoree by three Los Angeles Rams: Coach of the Year Sean McVay, Offensive Player of the Year running back Todd Gurley and Defensive Player of the Year tackle Aaron Donald.

Other winners in voting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league were Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen as Comeback Player; New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore as top offensive and defensive rookies, respectively; and former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, now head coach of the New York Giants, as Assistant Coach of the Year.

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Brady is the second the player in the four major professional sports to win MVP at age 40; Barry Bonds won baseball’s award in 2004.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman, who missed the entire season with a knee injury, accepted for Brady.

“Thanks, thanks. Wait up. I literally just found out I was doing this like 20 minutes ago. So, I’ve got to read the text,” Edelman said.

“No, but I’m joking. But serious, Tom said he wanted to say he’s very honored and humbled that he gets this award for MVP. Also, he wanted to thank his teammates, his friends, his family and the Patriots organization for going out and doing what they do.”

Brady competed 385 of 581 passes (66.2 percent) for 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns with eight interceptions as New England went 13-3 for the AFC’s best record. At an age when many QBs are deep into retirement, Brady is throwing deep – and short – as well as ever.

Donald was the first pure defensive tackle to win the award since Warren Sapp in 1999. He said it means “everything. That’s one of the best to ever do it. So, even for my name to be next to that guy’s name is beyond a blessing. This is what you dream about as a kid, dreaming about playing in the NFL to have success like this, to be able to (play good enough) to win this trophy.”

Gurley’s sensational turnaround season in which he ran for 13 touchdowns and caught six TD passes sparked an equally impressive reversal of fortunes by his team, which won the NFC West at 11-5.

“The Saints got the rookies and we took home the offensive and defensive” player awards,” Gurley noted. “It just tells you the type of players we have on the team. We all help each other out, absolutely. We have some talent, but we’re nothing without the whole nine yards and everybody together. And we also have a coach who’s up for Coach of the Year.”

A little while later, McVay was handed the coaching award.

In his first season running a team and as the youngest head coach in NFL history, McVay led the Rams to a seven-game improvement. McVay, who turned 32 on Jan. 24, ran away with the voting with 35 votes to 11 for Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer.

The Rams’ hat trick of awards was not unprecedented. In 2003, Baltimore’s Ray Lewis was top defensive player, Jamal Lewis won best offensive player, and Terrell Suggs was Defensive Rookie of the Year. And in 1999, the St. Louis Rams had three award winners: Kurt Warner (MVP), Marshall Faulk (Offensive Player) and Dick Vermeil (Coach).

New Orleans’ sweep of the rookie awards was the first since 1967, when Detroit running back Mel Farr and cornerback Lem Barney were honored. That was the first season for the top defensive rookie award.

“You get caught up in the season, you don’t really get time to pat yourself on the back,” Kamara said. “But when the season is over you realize what you’ve done. I’ve kind of had to time to look back and say, I made some history this season.”

Kamara shared duties with veteran Mark Ingram as the Saints won the NFC South. He rushed for 728 yards with a 6.1-yard average, and scored eight times. He also caught 81 passes for 826 yards, with five touchdowns.

The 11th overall draft pick and first from his position selected, Lattimore was a shutdown defender as the Saints went 11-5. He had five interceptions and 18 passes defensed in 13 games, was a sure tackler and, by midseason, was someone opposing quarterbacks tended to avoid. He missed three games, one because of a concussion and two with an ankle injury.

Allen returned from two devastating injuries to win the comeback honor. Allen missed half of the 2015 season with a kidney issue, then was lost in the 2016 season opener with a torn right ACL. There were questions if Allen would ever player at a high level again.

He answered those emphatically this season with the best year of his career. Allen caught 102 passes for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. He was targeted 159 times, nearly 10 per game.

The award were announced Saturday night at NFL Honors.

AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow and Arnie Stapleton contributed.

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Jaguars enter playoffs with little postseason experience

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Malik Jackson has a Super Bowl ring at home and eight playoff games on his NFL resume.

Few others in Jacksonville’s locker room can say the same.

The Jaguars (10-6) are short on postseason experience heading into Sunday’s AFC wild-card game against Buffalo , with 11 guys having played a combined 42 playoff games. Jackson (eight) and fellow defensive lineman Calais Campbell (nine) have accounted for nearly half of those games in January and February.

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By comparison, the Bills (9-7) have 20 players with a combined 80 postseason games. And that doesn’t include quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who didn’t play in any games but won a Super Bowl as Joe Flacco‘s backup in Baltimore in 2013.

Jackson believes having “been there, done that” matters and plans to do all he can to help his teammates get a grasp on what to expect.

“It’s definitely a big deal,” Jackson said Monday. “I think being able to have playoff experience just to pass that knowledge to the younger players and to people who haven’t done it is important. This can be overwhelming for some. We have a lot of guys that haven’t been here before, so it can be overwhelming.

“We just have to understand to take it day by day and treat it just like the last 16 or 17 weeks. I think we’ll be good.”

Like Jackson and Campbell, punter Brad Nortman (six) and linebacker Lerentee McCray (four) played in more than three playoffs games before joining the Jaguars.

Cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church played in three postseason games elsewhere. Running back Chris Ivory, right tackle Jermey Parnell and cornerback Tyler Patmon have played in two, and tight end James O'Shaughnessy has one.

The lone holdover from Jacksonville’s last postseason run is tight end Marcedes Lewis, who played at Pittsburgh and at New England in January 2008.

“Back when I was a young buck,” Lewis recalled. “A lot has happened between then and now.”

The Jaguars were an NFL-worst 17-63 over the previous five seasons. They enjoyed one of the league’s best turnarounds this season even though they went 3-3 down the stretch and enter the postseason with a two-game losing streak.

Still, the won the AFC South and earned their first postseason berth since 2007 and first home playoff game in 18 years.

“This is the start of a different type of season,” coach Doug Marrone said. “This is 12 teams, six in the AFC and six in the NFC. Every one of those teams has overcome something during the year and has earned the right to be here. Every one of those teams is dangerous, and it comes down to how you perform on that Sunday.”

Like most of his roster, this will be Marrone’s first playoff game in three full seasons as an NFL head coach. He was offensive coordinator for New Orleans in 2006 when the Saints made it to the NFC championship game.

“Anytime you have experience of something, it’s good,” Marrone said. “This way, as you’re up there as a coach or you’re trying to make sure you have your team focused in the direction you want to go, when you’re not around your team and the player sitting next to someone, `Hey, what is this like and that?’ You have that experience in your locker room. I think that’s important.”

Jackson hopes to answer those questions as much as possible this week.

“If anybody wants to listen,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that have at least been to one playoff game, so I think we’ll be able to pass our knowledge down and it’ll be heard very well.”

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Bengals oust Ravens from playoff hunt with 31-27 victory

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BALTIMORE (AP) The Baltimore Ravens were ousted from the playoff hunt in stunning fashion Sunday when Andy Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds, giving the Cincinnati Bengals a 31-27 victory.

Needing a win to advance to the postseason, Baltimore (9-7) rallied from a 14-point deficit to take its first lead with 8:48 left. But Dalton put together a magnificent 90-yard drive in the closing minutes before hitting Boyd over the middle on a fourth-and-12 play.

Boyd avoided a tackle by Maurice Canady and raced to the end zone to give Cincinnati (7-9) the victory in what might have been its final game under coach Marvin Lewis.

Baltimore entered knowing it could have also gotten into the postseason if either Tennessee or Buffalo tied or lost. Both those teams won, leaving the Ravens with no margin for error on a frigid and windy day.

After getting off to a horrid start, the Ravens appeared in position to end their two-year hiatus from the postseason. Plenty of players stepped up in their time of need: Chris Moore had a pivotal kickoff return, Alex Collins delivered a huge fourth-down touchdown run and quarterback Joe Flacco bounced back from a horrible 4-for-18 start.

Flacco’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace made it 27-24, but all of that was rendered meaningless after Dalton put an appropriate finish on a game filled with huge plays.

Dalton also threw a pair of touchdown passes to Tyler Kroft.

The Ravens were down 17-3 late in the first half when Moore rambled 87 yards with a kickoff before being stopped near the left sideline with 8 seconds left. He finished what he started on the next play, catching a 6-yard touchdown pass.

Thus, Baltimore trailed by only 17-10 at the break despite a 268-61 deficit in yardage and 16-2 disparity in first downs.

The Ravens took that momentum into the third quarter, moving deftly downfield before Moore juggled a pass that ended up in the hands of Cincinnati’s Darqueze Dennard, who sprinted down the left sideline 89 yards for a touchdown.

Trailing again by two TDs, Baltimore faced a fourth-and-3 from the Cincinnati 17. Collins took a pitchout designed to go around left end, reversed his field and ran around a block by Flacco to get into the right corner of the end zone.

That set the stage for a tense fourth quarter in a game Cincinnati dominated at the outset.

The Bengals moved 78 yards on eight plays following the opening kickoff and took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Kroft. That represented more points than Cincinnati scored in the first game between the teams, a 20-0 Baltimore victory in the season opener.

The Ravens’ first five possessions produced several dropped passes, one first down and five punts.

CHILLIN’ TO THE MAXX

Ravens tight end Maxx Williams went through preliminary warmups without a shirt, even though the temperature was 19 degrees. He did, however, wear a knit hat and sweat pants.

INJURY UPDATE

Bengals: LB Jordan Evans (head, shoulder) left in the third quarter. … WR Josh Malone (ankle) did not play in the second half. … S Shawn Williams (back) left in the third quarter.

Ravens: Moore sustained a concussion in the third quarter and did not return. … WR Jeremy Maclin (knee) was inactive for a second straight week. … Ravens DB Anthony Levine (foot) left in the second quarter.

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