Big brother's Ravens beat up on little brother's 49ers


Big brother's Ravens beat up on little brother's 49ers

BALTIMORE -- The 49ers' eight-game win streak came to an unceremonious end Thursday night to the Baltimore Ravens.And the ultra-competitive 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh, was transformed into a gracious loser.Big brother John's Ravens pummeled the 49ers, 16-6, on Thanksgiving night to win the NFL's first encounter that matched brothers as head coaches.The Ravens sacked quarterback Alex Smith nine times and forced an intentional grounding in a game in which the 49ers were outschemed and, simply, outplayed."There's a saying that 'As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another,'" Jim Harbaugh said. "And let's say my brother John is the sharpest iron I've ever encountered.
"This game was about the players. It was highly competitive and it didn't go our way. We're disappointed about it. But our team has steel in our spine, and this will make us stronger for our ultimate goal."The 49ers (9-2) lost for the first time since a Week 2 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys. And they will have to wait at least another week to clinch the NFC West title."To the 49ers, I just can't say enough," John Harbaugh said. "The job that he's done building that football team. That's a good football team. When you try to figure out a way to play those guys and beat those guys the way they're built, it's pretty hard."It didn't look so hard, as the Ravens dominated key areas on both sides of the ball.Smith completed 15 of 24 passes for 140 yards and one interception for a season-low passer rating of 61.1. He was sacked nine times for minus-44 yards. And running back Frank Gore managed just 39 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
Coincidence or not, the 49ers offense struggled as they reverted back mostly to their lineup of the first two-and-a-half games of the season when Chilo Rachal played right guard and Moran Norris was at fullback. Guard Adam Snyder sustained a hamstring strain that knocked him out of action in the first half. And rookie fullback Bruce Miller was not active due to a concussion he sustained Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.The Ravens (8-3) were playing without future Hall-of-Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, who missed the game with a toe injury. But it didn't seem to matter. Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded three sacks and defensive tackle Cory Redding added 2.5 to lead a defense that limited the 49ers to 170 total yards.
The 49ers converted just two of 12 third-down opportunities, and they never drove into the red zone. The deepest finishing point of a 49ers drive was the Baltimore 27-yard line. David Akers made field goals of 45 and 52 yards to account for the only 49ers points."First and second downs, we weren't very good," Alex Smith said. "And on third downs, we were worse."Meanwhile, the 49ers' defense wasn't so hot on third downs, either.Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio decided to play coverage, in much the same fashion as the 49ers had success Sunday against Cardinals quarterbacks John Skelton and Richard Bartel.Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco made the 49ers pay the price for their inability to record a sack -- or much pressure.Given ample time to throw, Flacco converted all six of his second-half pass attempts on third downs. The Ravens finally broke into the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter when Flacco tossed an 8-yard scoring pass to tight end Dennis Pitta.The 49ers' best offensive and defensive plays on this night never happened.Smith hit receiver Ted Ginn on an apparent 75-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. But the play was wiped out when running back Frank Gore was called for a chop block on blitzing safety Bernard Pollard.Gore's portion of the play, a cut block, was legal. But what drew the penalty was when Rachal got his hands on Pollard after Gore made the block. That high-low action is illegal, and a call that Jim Harbaugh did not dispute."It certainly was a chop block and a good call," Harbaugh said. "You had one guy going low and then Chilo put his hands on the defender, which turned into a chop block. (That) took away a big play and that was unfortunate."Another big play occurred on the next series when cornerback Tarell Brown appeared to intercept a deep pass intended for rookie Torrey Smith. But Brown, instead, was called for a 50-yard pass interference penalty.The Ravens converted that huge chunk of yardage into a field goal for a 6-3 lead.Before returning home with his team late Thursday, a clearly disappointed Harbaugh spoke with his parents, Jack and Jackie, outside the 49ers locker room for several minutes."I think it will harden up our club," Jim Harbaugh said. "I know our guys to be a resilient, tough bunch. And I think it will make us stronger even more."Said 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, "Tonight, I don't see it as anything bad. We lost tonight. But I don't think it's anything detrimental. It only breaks us down to build us up stronger for what we have ahead of down the road. I feel like we're a good football team."Who knows, maybe we'll get to see them again this season."

With star TE Reed out again, Washington to lean on Vernon Davis


With star TE Reed out again, Washington to lean on Vernon Davis

ASHBURN, Va. -- First-round draft pick Josh Doctson was put on injured reserve by Washington on Friday with an injured left Achilles tendon.

Doctson has missed the past four games for Washington (4-2) after making just one catch in each of the team's first two games.

The wide receiver was the 22nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft but has been troubled by the Achilles tendon problem since rookie minicamp in May. Doctson did not play at all in the preseason.

"With all the work that we've put in, we thought it was best to immobilize him for a little bit of time and see if that can help," coach Jay Gruden said Friday.

Gruden raised the possibility of bringing Doctson back from IR later on - each team can do that with one player per season - saying, "Hopefully we'll get him back for the last, maybe, two games of the year."

Said teammate DeSean Jackson: "Hopefully he'll get right and get the treatment he needs and be back out there for us as soon as possible."

Doctson had one catch for 9 yards in Week 1, and one catch for 57 yards in Week 2. Washington was hoping he could contribute this season and be ready to step into a bigger role next season if Jackson or Pierre Garcon leaves via free agency.

Gruden also said tight end Jordan Reed will miss Sunday's game at the Detroit Lions (3-3) with a concussion. Reed, who leads the team with 33 catches in 2016, also sat out last week's win over Philadelphia after hitting his head during a victory over Baltimore a week earlier.

He participated somewhat in practice Wednesday - wearing a yellow, noncontact jersey - before being held out entirely Thursday and Friday.

"I don't think he had a setback," Gruden said. "I just think they didn't really clear him. ... That's all I can say. I don't even try to argue or ask why. I just (ask) if he's cleared or not - and the answer is `No.' So hopefully we'll get him back next week."

Jackson, the receiver whose left shoulder has been bothering him, practiced Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. He was listed as questionable against Detroit.

Gruden said the team would see how Jackson feels Saturday before determining whether he would play at Detroit.

"That's a decision they've got to make," Jackson said. "I think I'll be all right, though."

NFL places Giants' Brown on 'exempt' list amid domestic abuse case


NFL places Giants' Brown on 'exempt' list amid domestic abuse case

LONDON -- The NFL placed Josh Brown on paid leave Friday hours after coach Ben McAdoo struggled to answer questions about how the New York Giants might discipline the kicker for abusing his wife.

In a letter to the 14-year veteran, NFL senior vice president of labor policy Adolpho Birch said Brown was being placed on the league's "exempt list" while the league investigates whether he should be suspended as punishment for several alleged acts of spousal abuse. Birch said the move "does not represent a finding that you have violated the personal conduct policy," but does pave the way toward potential further sanctions.

Being placed on Commissioner Roger Goodell's "exempt" list means Brown cannot attend practices or Giants games but can go to Giants headquarters for meetings and workouts. It also means Brown continues to be paid and his presence won't be counted on the Giants' 53-man roster. Brown could appeal the decision.

"The NFL has the ability to place a player on the exempt list and the player has the right to appeal that decision, if he chooses," the NFL Players Association said in a statement. "The League office wanted unilateral control of this process and accordingly, their system lacks transparency."

The action on Brown came hours after McAdoo had trouble explaining the Giants' intentions toward Brown, their kicker since 2013. The questions about how much the Giants knew about Brown's off-field troubles have overshadowed preparations for Sunday's game in London against the Los Angeles Rams.

Brown did not travel to London following Wednesday's release of police records which contained the player's written admissions that he physically abused his wife, Molly, over a protracted period. She told police in the documents released by the King County Sheriff's Office in Washington state that the abuse and other threatening behavior stretched from 2009, when she was pregnant with their daughter, to the Pro Bowl in January 2016.

In May 2015, Molly Brown sought and was granted a temporary protection order against her husband. A King County Superior Court commissioner issued the temporary restraining order on May 27, 2015. The order was reissued several times until July 24, 2015 when the order was terminated by the court at Molly Brown's request.

At the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Brown's wife said she called NFL security to move her and her three children to another hotel to avoid harassment from her estranged husband. She said he had pounded on their hotel door seeking to get in. The allegation is included in the final report filed last month by the local investigating detective, Robin Ostrum.

Brown's former wife did not respond to messages seeking comment from The Associated Press. A law firm representing the kicker declined to comment.

When asked whether the Giants knew about Brown's behavior at the Pro Bowl, McAdoo repeatedly said the Giants were still gathering information on the 9-month-old event. Finally, he said: "I'm not going to answer that."

When a reporter asked McAdoo about his comments in August suggesting he would show no tolerance for players abusive of their family members, McAdoo said his comments then were more nuanced.

"When did I say zero tolerance?" he said, adding: "I do not support domestic violence, if that's what you're asking. I do not condone it."

McAdoo described Brown as a "man of faith" who was trying to improve his behavior and the Giants organization was supporting him in this. But when asked to explain how the Giants provided this or monitored his off-field behavior, McAdoo said he couldn't detail any specific acts of support.

The NFL's official policy is to suspend players guilty of domestic abuse for six games on their first offense. Brown was suspended for one game, the Giants' season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys, in punishment for his May 2015 arrest at his family home in Woodinville, Washington, on suspicion of assaulting his wife by grabbing one of her wrists as she tried to reach for a phone, leaving an abrasion and bruising. No charges were filed but the detective, Ostrum, gathered detailed statements from Molly Brown who also provided her husband's written admissions of abuse in diary and email entries.

The NFL said its investigators asked to see these records but were denied.

Earlier Friday, Goodell suggested in a BBC interview that Brown could face further punishment now that league officials can see the full King County evidence file detailing Molly Brown's allegations of more than 20 episodes of abuse and other threatening behavior to herself, her two sons from a previous relationship and the couple's daughter.

"We have asked repeatedly for those facts and the information that's been gathered by law enforcement both orally and in writing. And we weren't able to get access to it. So you have to make decisions on whatever information you have," Goodell said in a transcript of the London interview provided by the BBC.

"We take this issue incredibly seriously. ... When it happens we're not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we'll evaluate that in the context of our policy and we'll take it from there," Goodell said.

The Giants in April re-signed Brown to a two-year contract valued at $4 million. When facing his one-game suspension, Brown in August said he was divorced from his wife, although police documents released Wednesday suggested that civil proceedings remain incomplete.

The Giants have signed kicker Robbie Gould, an 11-year veteran of the Chicago Bears who was cut in September for salary cap reasons. The 34-year-old is expected to practice with the team Saturday.

"I've seen him (Gould) make a lot of kicks against me in the past. He's been successful, and we're hoping that continues," McAdoo said.