Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Around the NFL

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck pulled off some Tom Brady-like comebacks. • Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III stole the show on highlight reels. • As the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the draft, respectively, the rookies have led their franchises to turnaround seasons and potential playoff berths. • But you can make a strong case for another QB when it comes to the rookie of the year. • That would be Seattle's Russell Wilson, the lesser-known third-round pick out of Wisconsin who leads the red-hot Seahawks into a prime-time Puget Sound showdown tonight with the 49ers. • Wilson, who had to beat out high-priced free agent Matt Flynn in the preseason, has impressed with his mobility and intangibles. He has thrown for more touchdowns — and has a better quarterback rating — than Luck. And though he has fewer rushing yards than Griffin, unlike Griffin, he has avoided injuries. • "If it wasn't for RG3, Russell Wilson would actually have played the best out of any rookie quarterback: completion percentage, passer rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio," NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson said on SiriusXM radio. "What he has done in getting this team to this point is really remarkable. And so really and truly, at this time, I think Russell Wilson is your rookie of the year." • Said CBS analyst Rich Gannon: "He has been very special." • Tonight could be a major showcase for Wilson and the Seahawks, who have won five of six and scored a combined 108 points over the past two weeks. Seattle is 6-0 at home, and with a win tonight, it clinches a playoff berth and keeps its division title hopes alive. It's an intriguing matchup with two coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, who feuded in college (Stanford and USC, respectively). There are two talented young quarterbacks, Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, and two top-five defenses. • "We're fighting for a championship," Carroll said. "That's all I could ever ask for. We've got a chance to do something special."

Fab five

1. Broncos 2. 49ers

3. Patriots 4. Texans

5. Falcons

Fighting for Flacco

You think Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is under fire? Just look at Ravens QB Joe Flacco, left. Not long ago, it seemed like a slam dunk that Flacco, who can become a free agent after this season, would get a long-term deal. Coach John Harbaugh said after the opener, when Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-13 win over the Bengals: "Pay him whatever he asks for." But with the Ravens on a three-game losing streak, Flacco has become a target for criticism and doubters (despite his six touchdowns and three interceptions). Clark Judge of, however, says the Ravens will keep him for one reason: He wins. Flacco has led Baltimore to the playoffs in each of his first five season as well as two AFC title games. Writes Judge: "The Ravens ran a lot of guys through the door at quarterback, and only one stuck. You're looking at him, people, and you should be looking at him for a long, long time."

Boo birds

The Bears, apparently, aren't too high on the home crowd booing them after last week's loss to the Packers. "I know there are a lot of experts in the media, a bunch of smart guys out there who know exactly what they're talking about all the time," linebacker Brian Urlacher, above, said. "They don't know what they're talking about. The only team in our division that gets booed at home is us. It's incredible to me. Believe it. Don't believe it. We don't care." Said linebacker Lance Briggs: "I've been here for a long time, too, and I've seen a lot of boos; for a lot of the wrong reasons. Nobody on any team that I've ever been on gets booed more at home than here in Chicago."

Times wires contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at

Best bet

Giants (8-6) over Ravens (9-5)

The defending champions looked bad in a blowout loss at Atlanta last week but are in a must-win situation in a crowded NFC East.

Tough luck Tebow

Remember all the back-page headlines and nonstop ESPN coverage Tim Tebow received during training camp? Well, with the Jets benching struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez and bypassing the ex-Gator for Greg McElroy, there are reports they will trade or release Tebow after the season. Acquired from Denver as the league's most popular backup and a wildcat threat, the Tebow trade "hasn't panned out to my expectations and, maybe, to Tim's either," coach Rex Ryan said. Tebow has won a Heisman, spurred several fourth-quarter rallies in the NFL and led the Broncos to an unforgettable playoff win. But some believe he will never again be an NFL starting quarterback.

Best news of the week

Colts coach Chuck Pagano, left, who has inspired many during his battle with leukemia, is expected to return to work Monday, according to the Indianapolis Star. With his leukemia in remission, Pagano, 52, can resume full duties, and he'll likely take over a playoff team. (The Colts can clinch a berth with a win over the Chiefs today.) Buoyed by Pagano's "ChuckStrong" movement, Indianapolis has been one of the league's biggest surprises, going 8-3 under interim coach Bruce Arians. Said Arians: "Hopefully, we can get this victory and secure our playoff spot and turn it back over to Chuck."

Around the NFL 12/22/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 7:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 5


    Team of the Week | Armwood

    Armwood High School defensive end and outside linebacker Fitzroy Gardner during the first half of the Armwood at Jefferson football game in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, September 22, 2017.
  2. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  3. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  5. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.