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Meyer defends confidence in kicker after blocked field goal seals fate


Penn State shocked the world Saturday by upsetting No. 2 Ohio State on what proved to be a game-winning touchdown on a blocked field goal, but Urban Meyer isn’t second-guessing his choice to trust his kicker.

With 4:27 left to play in the fourth quarter and a four-point lead, Meyer sent walk-on kicker Tyler Durbin to attempt the 45-yard field goal that ended up being blocked and then returned to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good. While some Buckeyes fans may have thought a different approach would have been better, Meyer doesn’t see it that way.

"He hits that in practice," Meyer said of Durbin, according to Bill Landis of Cleveland.com. Durbin was perfect on two previous attempts in Saturday's game, nailing kicks from 30 and 33 yards respectively.

Meyer could have elected to go for it on fourth-and-7 on the Penn State 28-yard line, choosing instead to put his faith in his kicking unit despite contemplating every option.

“I was going back and forth,” Meyer said. “That would’ve put us up by seven, obviously it didn’t work out. You punt it there, I think it was on the 30-something yard line. I went through it in my mind, but I had confidence in Durbin to kick that thing because he does it all the time.”

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.



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5 slow-starting teams that can keep their seasons alive Sunday


With the NFL season only 16 games long, things can change in a hurry.

It doesn't take much for a team to feel like it's out of the running, but it can take just as long to get back into the race. The Buffalo Bills looked dead in the water after two weeks and now sit just one game back of the division lead with the NFL's best point differential.

Heading into the seventh week of the 2016 season, here are five units that could go from "woe is me" to "so you're telling me there's a chance" with victories Sunday.

Arizona Cardinals (3-3)

With losses to the Tom Brady-less Patriots, 0-2 Bills, and underwhelming Rams through the first four weeks, the Cardinals appeared to have hit a wall after an impressive 2015 performance. But wins against the 49ers and Jets, both 1-5, allowed the Cardinals to get back to .500 with ease.

Hosting the Seahawks on Sunday night gives Bruce Arians and Co. a great chance to make a statement. A win would put Arizona within a game of the NFC West's top spot and in solid contention for a potential wild-card berth.

New Orleans Saints (2-3)

Unless the division-leading Falcons suffer another catastrophic collapse a la 2015, the Saints will need to nab a wild-card spot to get into the 2016 postseason. With back-to-back wins after an 0-3 start, the black and gold can get to an even record by scoring more points than the Chiefs on Sunday.

If New Orleans suckers Kansas City into a shootout, the Saints have the edge with Drew Brees at the helm, and could keep the playoffs in reach. If Sean Payton can't get his unit to the postseason for a third straight campaign, though, there could be a big shake-up in NOLA come year's end.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)

Ben Roethlisberger's injury has popped the AFC North wide open. Though the Bengals are 2-4, with their only wins coming over organizational disasters the Dolphins and Jets, they've also had one of the toughest schedules to start off. They may have already seen their toughest tests after falling to the fairly healthy Steelers, Broncos, Cowboys, and Patriots.

Good news this week: The Browns are in town!

If Cincinnati gets the win everyone's expecting and a couple losses from division rivals, the Bengals will be right back in the thick of things.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3)

Coming into the season with the highest expectations in recent memory, the Jaguars fell flat on their faces through the first three weeks. An explosive offense in 2015 and a defensive overhaul through the offseason made Jacksonville seem like the potential division favorite – and it still could be.

With the Raiders in town Sunday, a high-scoring affair could be coming. It won't be easy, but a victory would bring the Jags to a 3-3 record. With the Titans and Colts facing off as well, the Jags could be second in the AFC South by dinnertime.

San Diego Chargers (2-4)

They may be riddled with injuries and potentially cursed, but with head coach Mike McCoy’s job hanging in the balance and the end of Philip Rivers’ road in sight, the Chargers still have something to fight for. Like the Saints, a division crown is likely out of reach, but a miracle run to the wild card could start this weekend.

The Falcons have been flying high and competing with the best this season, but a win over the Broncos last week should give the Bolts some belief they can beat anybody. Rivers has fared well in his career against the Falcons' defensive scheme, and consecutive wins against Super Bowl contenders could kick-start a surprising second-half run.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.



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