Dell Sports – NFL News

Cardinals' Budda Baker wheeled off field after helmet-to-helmet hit

Cardinals' Budda Baker wheeled off field after helmet-to-helmet hit

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker was taken off the field on a stretcher in the third quarter of Monday's NFC wild-card game against the Los Angeles Rams at Inglewood, Calif.

With 1:45 remaining in the third quarter, Baker lowered his head to make an open-field tackle on Rams running back Cam Akers, who also lowered his head. After the players' helmets collided on the play, Baker did not get up from the turf and had limited movement as players gathered around him.

The fifth-year player, whom the Cardinals drafted in the second round in 2017, briefly raised his right hand to acknowledge the crowd before he was taken off the field.

The Cardinals announced about midway through the fourth quarter that Baker was being evaluated for a concussion and had movement in all of his extremities.

The Rams were in control with a 28-8 lead at the time of Baker's injury. The 26-year-old began the night with 98 tackles and three interceptions this season and has 539 tackles with five interceptions in 78 career games (68 starts) with the Cardinals.

Baker has been named to the Pro Bowl four times, including this season, and has been an All-Pro selection two times.

Matthew Stafford, Rams cruise past Cardinals

Matthew Stafford, Rams cruise past Cardinals

Matthew Stafford rushed for one touchdown and passed for two more as the Los Angeles Rams advanced to the NFC divisional playoff round with a convincing 34-11 victory over the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Monday night in Inglewood, Calif.

Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. had touchdown receptions for the Rams, who used a dominating performance from their defense to earn an appearance in the divisional round for the third time in the past four seasons.

Stafford threw for 202 yards on 13-of-17 passing while the Rams had 140 rushing yards, led by Sony Michel (13 carries, 58 yards) and Cam Akers (17, 55).

Fourth-seeded Los Angeles will hit the road to face the second-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the NFC Championship Game.

Quarterback Kyler Murray had just 137 passing yards and two interceptions as the Cardinals lost for the fifth time in their last six games dating back to Week 14, when they took a 30-23 home loss to the Rams.

Arizona had minus-1 net yards near the midway point of the second quarter, following its first five drives of the game, and finished with 183 total yards. Cardinals running backs Chase Edmonds and James Conner combined for just 47 yards on 12 carries.

The Rams took a 7-0 lead with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter when Stafford lobbed a 4-yard TD pass to Beckham in the back, left corner of the end zone. Stafford's 1-yard quarterback sneak with 11:58 remaining in the second quarter made it a 14-0 advantage.

Things only got worse on offense for the Cardinals when the Rams' David Long Jr. intercepted a bobbled Murray screen pass and returned it 3 yards for a TD and a 21-0 lead with 7:59 remaining before the half.

The Rams made it 28-0 on Kupp's 7-yard TD reception early in the third quarter before the Cardinals finally got on the scoreboard. Connor rushed for a 2-yard TD with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter, and Arizona added a two-point conversion to trail 28-8.

The Cardinals lost safety Budda Baker late in the third quarter when he collided helmets with Akers and appeared to be knocked unconscious. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and was evaluated for a concussion at a local hospital. According to the team, Baker never lost feeling or movement in his limbs.

Stafford earned his first playoff victory in four tries after three prior defeats with the Detroit Lions.

Murray completed 19 of 34 passes in his first career playoff game, capping his third season.

Jimmy Garoppolo suffered shoulder sprain in 49ers' playoff win

Jimmy Garoppolo suffered shoulder sprain in 49ers' playoff win

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sprained his throwing shoulder during the second quarter of Sunday's playoff win against the Dallas Cowboys.

Garoppolo is expected to be able to participate when the 49ers return to practice Tuesday, with Shanahan saying the starter's shoulder is only "slightly" sprained.

"He had to play through some pain and stuff, but he ended up checking out all right," Shanahan said. "Just a slight shoulder sprain and he should be good for (Tuesday's) practice."

Garoppolo was already dealing with a torn ligament in his right thumb, which caused him to miss one regular-season game, in which Trey Lance led San Francisco to a Week 17 win over the Houston Texans. Lance also started in place of Garoppolo in Week 5 -- a loss to the Arizona Cardinals -- while Garoppolo nursed a calf injury.

Garoppolo, 30, completed 16 of 25 passes Sunday for 172 yards and one interception and no sacks as the 49ers beat Dallas 23-17. They advanced to the divisional round and will visit the top-seeded Green Bay Packers next weekend.

Shanahan also said that linebacker Fred Warner (sprained right ankle) should be able to play against Green Bay. Defensive end Nick Bosa is in concussion protocol after suffering a head injury during the Cowboys game, with his game status unknown as of Monday.

"We're being pretty optimistic with it," Shanahan said of Bosa. "I've seen that a few times and he seems like he's in a pretty good spot right now, but I'm not going to be the one who judges that."

Bosa had three tackles and 0.5 sacks against Dallas. He hasn't missed a game this season and has piled up 15.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Raiders fire GM Mike Mayock after 3 seasons

Raiders fire GM Mike Mayock after 3 seasons

After three seasons on the job, Mike Mayock is out as the general manager of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The team announced the move Monday, just two days after the Raiders fell 26-19 in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs to the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We have relieved Mike Mayock of his duties as General Manager of the Las Vegas Raiders. We thank Mike for his contributions over the last three years in helping to form the foundation for the franchise to build upon in its future," the Raiders said in a statement.

A former defensive back with the New York Giants, Mayock, 63, had never worked in an NFL front office until the Raiders hired him during the 2019 offseason -- about a year after Jon Gruden returned to coach the team. Mayock had previously worked as a broadcaster for NBC and the NFL Network. He succeeded Reggie McKenzie as the Raiders' GM.

Gruden resigned last October in the wake of an email scandal, which revealed that he had reportedly used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language dating back to 2010. Rich Bisaccia became the team's interim head coach and guided the Raiders to a playoff berth.

During Mayock's tenure as general manager, the Raiders went 25-24.

Mayock's successor will be tasked with finding the Raiders' next permanent head coach.

Rams 3.5-point favorites despite road split with Cardinals

Rams 3.5-point favorites despite road split with Cardinals

While the Los Angeles Rams will play host to the first-ever Monday night playoff game, it is the Arizona Cardinals who are feeling completely familiar with the lead-up to the all-NFC West wild-card-round matchup.

The Rams-Cardinals primetime showdown will be the third meeting between the teams, with the road team having won the previous two. Los Angeles is a 3.5-point favorite at BetMGM and FanDuel.

While the Rams prevailed in a Monday night meeting at Arizona in December, it was the Cardinals who pronounced themselves playoff-worthy with a Week 4 victory at Los Angeles in early October.

The action has been nearly split at BetMGM with Arizona backed by 52 percent of the bets and 53 percent of the spread-line handle. However, Los Angeles has received the stronger support at FanDuel with 53 and 70 percent, respectively.

Defeats in four of their last five games cost the Cardinals an NFC West title and left them with something to prove Monday. But that was also the case in Week 4, when they arrived in Los Angeles on the heels of three consecutive wins to start the season amid questions of whether their hot start was sustainable.

The Cardinals not only delivered a resounding 37-20 victory over the Rams that day, behind two touchdown passes from Kyler Murray and 120 yards rushing from Chase Edmonds, but they went on to open the season 7-0.

Having gone 4-6 since that undefeated start, the Cardinals are once again having to prove that their time has arrived.

"It's 0-0, and no one remembers the regular season," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "It's what you do here on out, and it's a real opportunity for us to take the next step and see how good we can be."

The game will not only be Murray's playoff debut, but it will be the Cardinals' first appearance in the playoffs since 2015-16, when they defeated the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round but were blown out by the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game.

Murray averaged 270.5 yards passing per game this season with 24 TDs and 10 interceptions. He had 383 yards passing in Week 14 against the Rams but did not throw a TD pass that day and was intercepted twice in a 30-23 Los Angeles victory.

"I like that we had two games to see how we played them, how they played us and what looked good and didn't," Kingsbury said. "So we can build off that."

The Rams had a hot start of their own, despite their early loss to the Cardinals, opening with a 7-1 record. Then came a midseason slumber when they took consecutive defeats to a trio of playoff teams, the Tennessee Titans, the San Francisco 49ers and the Packers.

The Rams were just 2-5 against playoff teams this season.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford averaged 309.6 yards passing per game with 22 TDs and four interceptions over the first eight games in a Rams uniform, but those stats fell to 267.7 yards passing with 19 TDs and 13 interceptions over the final nine games as Los Angeles went 5-4.

Stafford did help wide receiver Cooper Kupp to a Rams-record 1,947 receiving yards, while Kupp also pulled off the wide receiver triple crown, leading the NFL in receptions (145), TDs (16) and receiving yards.

After their midseason swoon, the Rams pulled together a five-game winning streak that included their victory at Arizona, but questions started anew after their 27-24 defeat in overtime to the 49ers to close out the season. The Rams blew a 17-0, first-half lead.

Los Angeles' offensive and defensive lines were dominated by the 49ers in the season finale, especially in the second half as San Francisco rallied.

"Whether we're playing at home, playing on the road, things are going our way, things aren't going our way, we continue to battle," said Stafford, who has not won a playoff game in three chances. "That's what it takes to win games in the playoffs, there's no question. Right now, it's testing us ... but we're a resilient group and we'll be ready to go."

Rams safety Jordan Fuller is out for the playoffs with an ankle injury and fellow safety Taylor Rapp (concussion) was ruled out Saturday. The injuries led to the Rams signing Eric Weddle out of retirement Wednesday and McVay said he will be activated prior to Monday's game. Linebacker Leonard Floyd (back) will play.

Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (shoulder), who hasn't played since Week 7, returned to practice Thursday and was activated Monday. Watt, 32, hasn't played for the Cardinals since Oct. 24. Days later, Watt underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, bicep, rotator cuff and separated shoulder.

Edmonds (ribs, toe) is slated to play, while fellow running back James Conner (ribs) is listed as questionable. Left guard Justin Pugh (calf) also is questionable.

Cardinals activate DE J.J. Watt ahead of playoff clash with Rams

Cardinals activate DE J.J. Watt ahead of playoff clash with Rams

J.J. Watt will be eligible to play Monday night when the Arizona Cardinals face the Los Angeles Rams in their NFC wild-card playoff game.

The Cardinals moved Watt from injured reserve to its active roster Monday afternoon. The Cardinals released defensive back Breon Borders on Sunday to make room on the roster for Watt.

Watt, 32, hasn't played for the Cardinals since Oct. 24. Days later, Watt underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, bicep, rotator cuff and separated shoulder.

The Cardinals placed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year on injured reserve on Nov. 6. Watt returned to practice last week.

In seven games for the Cardinals this season, Watt tallied 16 tackles, 10 QB hits, one sack, two pass breakups and one forced fumble. With Watt in the lineup, the Cardinals were 7-0 and allowed just 16.3 points per game.

Should Watt enter Monday night's game, it will be the 11th playoff game he has featured in across 11 seasons in the NFL.

The Cardinals beat the Rams with Watt in the lineup in Week 4, taking a 37-20 victory in Los Angeles. Arizona then lost at home to the Rams in Week 14 without Watt, 30-23.

Monday night's game is the final contest of the wild-card round.

Cowboys' Mike McCarthy to return as head coach

Cowboys' Mike McCarthy to return as head coach

Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones expects head coach Mike McCarthy to return to Dallas next season.

Jones said Monday he "absolutely" felt McCarthy would be back and later in the day, Jones' father and team owner Jerry Jones, said a coaching change was "not on the table."

However, Jerry Jones said after Sunday's wildcard loss to the San Francisco 49ers that he couldn't remember being "this disappointed" after a loss.

The 49ers held on for a 23-17 victory but Dallas had a chance on its final possession despite setting a franchise record for penalties (14) in a playoff game.

With zero timeouts, the Cowboys drove into 49ers territory with quick passes toward the sideline to stop the clock. But Dallas' last chance ended when Prescott ran 17 yards up the middle to the 49ers' 24-yard line and could not spike the ball to stop the clock before time expired.

"That was the best option ... it's the right decision," McCarthy said.

McCarthy said officials told him after the play that they would review and, if necessary, put time back on the clock. Then, they announced instead that the game was over and exited the playing field.

"When you get this combination of players together, you need to have success," Jones said Sunday night.

Changes are expected to a coaching staff that could be spun into flux with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore interviewing for current NFL head-coaching openings.

Bucs All-Pro RT Tristan Wirfs (ankle) has 'chance' to play

Bucs All-Pro RT Tristan Wirfs (ankle) has 'chance' to play

All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs has a chance to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their next playoff game, despite sustaining an ankle sprain in Sunday's wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles, coach Bruce Arians said.

Arians told reporters Monday that Wirfs' right foot was in a walking boot but that he couldn't be counted out in the NFC divisional round this Sunday.

The Bucs will host the winner of Monday night's game between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals.

Wirfs, selected by the Bucs with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was injured in the first quarter. He attempted to return in the second quarter but was pulled after three snaps.

He had not missed a snap in any game since joining the Buccaneers.

Also sustaining an ankle sprain was center Ryan Jensen, who was injured as Tampa Bay scored a touchdown with 25 seconds left in the first quarter. He hobbled off after the play but returned for the next offensive series and played the rest of the game.

"His mental toughness is off the charts," Arians said of Jensen. "He's as tough a dude as there is playing this game. That thing was gonna be broken for him not to go back in."

The 30-year-old Jensen, a first-time Pro Bowl selection in 2021, played 97 percent of the snaps for the Buccaneers this season. Both he and Wirfs started all 17 regular-season games.

Wirfs, 22, was named a first-team All-Pro last week.

Arians also said backup offensive tackle Josh Wells has a "pretty good" quad injury. His availability for Sunday is unclear.

Behind the makeshift offensive line, the Eagles sacked quarterback Tom Brady four times. The Bucs allowed just 23 in the regular season.

Jim Harbaugh, Rich Bisaccia favorites for Raiders job

Jim Harbaugh, Rich Bisaccia favorites for Raiders job

The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to make a high-profile run at Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, but has Rich Bisaccia done enough to keep the job?

Bisaccia took over for Jon Gruden in October and led the Raiders to their first playoff appearance since 2016. Las Vegas' season ended with a 26-19 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday, with the former special teams coordinator posting a 7-5 record as the interim coach.

Bisaccia has received support from several Raiders players, but Harbaugh is reportedly drawing interest from several NFL teams. That includes the Raiders, who may view Harbaugh as a glitzier hire as they continue to establish their brand in Las Vegas.

Harbaugh was installed as the +200 favorite to be hired as the Raiders' next head coach by SportsBetting.ag on Monday morning, just ahead of Bisaccia at +250.

They are the top two clear favorites, with former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson next at +500.

The fourth-shortest odds belong to Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin at +700. The Steelers' season ended in a lopsided loss at Kansas City on Sunday night and the team is facing a quarterback change from Ben Roethlisberger.

Tomlin is under contract and has not indicated a desire to leave Pittsburgh, but has been tied to the Las Vegas opening as part of a potential "coach trade."

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is being offered at +800. The only other college coaches being offered are Stanford's David Shaw (+1000) and Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin, who has the longest odds at +10000.

Raiders Head Coach Odds

Jim Harbaugh: 2-1

Rich Bisaccia: 5-2

Doug Pederson: 5-1

Mike Tomlin: 7-1

Dabo Swinney: 8-1

Byron Leftwich: 10-1

David Shaw: 10-1

Eric Bieniemy: 10-1

Sean Payton: 10-1

Todd Bowles: 10-1

Brian Daboll: 14-1

Joe Brady: 16-1

Nathaniel Hackett: 20-1

Lane Kiffin: 100-1

Bengals put DT Larry Ogunjobi (foot) on IR

Bengals put DT Larry Ogunjobi (foot) on IR

The Cincinnati Bengals put starting defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi on injured reserve Monday after he suffered a foot injury in their wild-card victory.

Offensive guard Xavier Su'a-Filo was activated from IR and added to the 53-man roster. He had been on IR since Oct. 9 with a knee injury.

Ogunjobi played just 28 defensive snaps before getting carted off with the injury Saturday against Las Vegas. Ogunjobi had a fumble recovery in the game.

Ogunjobi, 27, had 49 tackles and seven sacks in 16 starts in his first season in Cincy.

Su'a-Filo, 31, started Cincinnati's first two regular-season games at right guard before getting hurt.

The Bengals visit the top-seeded Tennessee Titans on Saturday in an AFC divisional playoff game.

NFL announces divisional-round playoff schedule

NFL announces divisional-round playoff schedule

With one game still play in the opening round of the NFL playoffs, the league on Sunday announced the schedule for next weekend's divisional round.

Saturday's action kicks off with a matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS. The top-seeded Titans will be well-rested following a first-round bye, while the fourth-seeded Bengals prevailed against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday 26-19.

The Titans and Bengals did not meet during the regular season.

Saturday's nightcap (8:15 p.m. ET, FOX) features the NFC's top seed, the Green Bay Packers, playing host to the fifth-seeded San Francisco 49ers in a rematch from a wild Week 3 contest. Green Bay snuck out of the Bay Area with a 30-28 triumph in that one as Aaron Rodgers engineered a last-minute drive that Mason Crosby punctuated with a 51-yard field goal on the final play.

The Packers, who had a first-round bye, won five straight games late in the season before losing to the Detroit Lions in a meaningless Week 18 matchup. The 49ers closed the regular season with seven wins in their final nine games and then rode the momentum to a 23-17 road victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Next Sunday's first game will take place at Tampa Bay, where the second-seeded Buccaneers will play host to either the No. 4 Los Angeles Rams or the No. 5 Arizona Cardinals at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. The Rams and Cardinals are set to square off Monday night in the final game of wild-card weekend.

The defending champion Bucs disposed of the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 on Sunday. Tampa Bay lost to the host Rams 34-24 in Week 3. Tom Brady and the Bucs did not face the Cardinals this season.

The Kansas City Chiefs will play host to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET on CBS) in the final game of the divisional round. Second-seeded Kansas City routed the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21 on Sunday evening, while No. 3 seed Buffalo obliterated the New England Patriots 47-17 one day earlier.

The teams met back in Week 5, when the Bills went into Kansas City and left with a 38-20 victory behind Josh Allen's three passing TDs and one rushing score.

The conference championship games will take place on Jan. 30 and the Super Bowl will be on Feb. 13 at Inglewood, Calif.

NFL roundup: Defending champion Bucs take down Eagles

NFL roundup: Defending champion Bucs take down Eagles

Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns as the second-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened defense of their Super Bowl crown Sunday with a smooth 31-15 victory over the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC wild-card playoff game in Tampa, Fla.

Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 271 yards in an efficient performance, enabling Tampa Bay to stay home next weekend for a conference semifinal. Mike Evans caught nine passes for 117 yards and a score.

Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts struggled for most of his first playoff start, connecting on 23 of 43 passes for 258 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Eagles weren't able to run the ball successfully until the game was out of reach, enabling the Buccaneers to tee off on Hurts.

The Buccaneers set an immediate tone by marching 75 yards on the game's first possession. Giovani Bernard got the score on a 2-yard run with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.

Tampa Bay will play host next Sunday afternoon to the winner of Monday night's game between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams.

49ers 23, Cowboys 17

Elijah Mitchell ran for 96 yards and a touchdown while the San Francisco defense overcame the loss of star end Nick Bosa to hold Dallas in check during the NFC wild-card round in Arlington, Texas.

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hit 16 of 25 passes for 172 yards with an interception for the sixth-seeded 49ers, who will travel to top-seeded Green Bay next weekend to play in the NFC divisional round. San Francisco's Deebo Samuel added 110 yards from scrimmage, 72 on the ground, with a touchdown.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed 23 of 43 passes for 254 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was also sacked five times. Dallas' last chance ended when Prescott ran 17 yards up the middle to the 49ers' 24-yard line and could not spike the ball to stop the clock before time expired.

Chiefs 42, Steelers 21

Patrick Mahomes passed for 404 yards and five touchdowns as Kansas City began its bid for a third straight conference title by downing visiting Pittsburgh in the AFC wild-card round.

The loss likely will be the last NFL game for the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to announce his retirement. The 39-year-old quarterback started slowly before finishing with 215 yards passing, going 29 of 44 with two touchdowns.

Kansas City, seeded No. 2 after winning nine of its last 10 regular-season games, will play at home again next Sunday in the divisional round, hosting the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo won at Kansas City 38-20 in Week 5.

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs smash Steelers in Big Ben's likely finale

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs smash Steelers in Big Ben's likely finale

Patrick Mahomes passed for 404 yards and five touchdowns Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs began their bid for a third straight conference title by downing the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21 in the AFC wild-card round.

The loss likely will be the last NFL game for the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to announce his retirement. The 39-year-old quarterback started slowly before finishing with 215 yards passing, going 29 of 44 with two touchdowns.

Kansas City, seeded No. 2 after winning nine of its last 10 regular-season games, will play at home again next Sunday in the divisional round, hosting the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo won at Kansas City 38-20 in Week 5.

The Chiefs scored touchdowns on six straight possessions bridging the two halves. A 1-yard lob to tackle-eligible Nick Allegretti and a 31-yard strike to Tyreek Hill boosted the lead to 35-7 before six minutes had elapsed in the second half.

Mahomes, who was intercepted once, went 30 of 39 on the night and reached 400 yards passing before the end of third period.

Jerick McKinnon, who has battled injuries and played sparingly, had 18 touches for 142 yards and a TD reception. Travis Kelce gained 108 yards on five catches and threw a short TD pass, one of two caught by Byron Pringle.

The seventh-seeded Steelers did not crack Kansas City territory until the second half when Roethlisberger connected for scores to Diontae Johnson and James Washington.

The Chiefs gained 302 first-half yards and Mahomes fired three touchdowns, all in the second quarter, including a 45-yarder to Kelce with 13 seconds remaining for a 21-7 halftime margin.

McKinnon and Pringle caught first-half TDs of 4 and 12 yards, though the Chiefs had trouble getting untracked. On their first five possessions, they punted three times, Mahomes threw an interception and Darrel Williams lost a fumble.

T.J. Watt returned the fumble 24 yards to provide a 7-0 lead for the Steelers with 10:41 left in the half. However, Pittsburgh finished the half with just 45 yards, two first downs and punts on each of its seven series.

49ers hold off late push to eliminate Cowboys

49ers hold off late push to eliminate Cowboys

Elijah Mitchell ran for 96 yards and a touchdown while the San Francisco 49ers' defense overcame the loss of star end Nick Bosa to hold the Dallas Cowboys in check during a 23-17 win Sunday in the NFC wild-card round in Arlington, Texas.

Jimmy Garoppolo hit 16 of 25 throws for 172 yards with an interception for the 49ers, who will travel to top-seeded Green Bay next weekend for the NFC semifinals. Deebo Samuel added 110 yards from scrimmage, 72 on the ground, with a touchdown.

Samuel's 26-yard scoring run, one play after Dak Prescott was intercepted by K'Waun Williams, gave San Francisco a 23-7 advantage with 5:50 left in the third quarter.

Greg Zuerlein's 51-yard field goal and Prescott's 5-yard touchdown run pulled the Cowboys within six points with 8:02 left. But Dallas' last chance ended when Prescott ran 17 yards up the middle to the 49ers' 24-yard line and could not spike the ball to stop the clock before time expired. Dallas was out of timeouts.

Bosa (concussion) didn't play in the second half, but sixth-seeded San Francisco still held third-seeded Dallas to 307 total yards and sacked Prescott five times. Prescott completed just 23 of 43 passes for 254 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Dallas hurt its cause with 14 penalties for 89 yards. Four of them gave the 49ers first downs.

San Francisco initiated the scoring on the game's first possession, marching 75 yards in just seven plays. Mitchell stepped into the end zone from the 4 on a toss sweep, slicing just inside the front right pylon at the 10:54 mark.

Gould upped the lead to 10-0 on the 49ers' second drive, drilling a 53-yard field goal with 4:56 left. He connected from 40 yards out with 9:44 remaining in the first half, capping a drive of nearly eight minutes to make it 13-0.

Dallas finally got some traction on the next possession, going 67 yards in nine plays to get on the board. Prescott hooked up with Amari Cooper for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 5:24 on the clock to cut the deficit to 13-7.

Gould sent San Francisco into the locker room with a 16-7 lead after converting from 52 yards out with 3:08 left.

49ers star DE Nick Bosa (concussion) exits vs. Cowboys

49ers star DE Nick Bosa (concussion) exits vs. Cowboys

The San Francisco 49ers were dealt a blow in their bid to upset the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday when star defensive end Nick Bosa was declared out for the second half after suffering a concussion late in the first half.

Bosa was trying to get to quarterback Dak Prescott when he was held by La'el Collins. As Bosa was falling, his head hit the hip of a teammate. Bosa walked off the field under his own power but couldn't pass concussion protocol before the second half.

In the first half, Bosa had three tackles and a half-sack, helping San Francisco mount a consistent pass rush. Prescott absorbed three sacks.

At the time of the injury, the 49ers led 16-7, and they boosted the lead to 16 points later in the stanza.

Bosa had 15.5 sacks in the regular season, which ranked fourth in the NFL.

Bengals star DE Trey Hendrickson placed in concussion protocol

Bengals star DE Trey Hendrickson placed in concussion protocol

Cincinnati Bengals standout defensive end Trey Hendrickson is in the concussion protocol, coach Zac Taylor said on Sunday.

Hendrickson was injured during the third quarter of Saturday's 26-19 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Taylor said Hendrickson will need to complete the team's concussion process before he could be cleared to play in next weekend's divisional playoff round.

"It's really a daily thing, the process will start on Tuesday him getting cleared and then he's got to do physical activities and get back to contact practice," Taylor said. "There's certainly enough time in the week to get that done if he's feeling up to it and clear day-to-day."

Hendrickson had a key sack and forced fumble on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to set up a Cincinnati field goal on Saturday.

In the regular season, the 27-year-old Hendrickson racked up 14 sacks, which ranked fifth in the NFL, while earning his first Pro Bowl selection. His career-best total topped the 13.5 he had in 2020 for the New Orleans Saints.

Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi injured a foot in the third quarter and Taylor said doctors are still determining the seriousness. Ogunjobi recovered the fumble that Hendrickson forced.

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels (groin) was injured and will likely sit out next week.

Taylor said there was "a chance" defensive tackle Josh Tupou could return. He missed the game against the Raiders with a knee injury.

Report: Bengals-Raiders officiating crew done for playoffs

Report: Bengals-Raiders officiating crew done for playoffs

The officiating crew for Saturday's Las Vegas Raiders-Cincinnati Bengals AFC wild-card game is not expected to work again this postseason, according to a report from ESPN that cited an unnamed league source.

The crew, led by referee Jerome Boger, fell under scrutiny for a few issues, most notably a whistle that was blown during a play that saw Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow throw a touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd in the back of the end zone late in the second quarter.

The report indicated that the officials, an assembly of members from other regular-season crews, as is customary during the postseason, would not receive high grades for the game.

On the play, Burrow was scrambling and released the football just before he stepped out of bounds. Replay indicated that the whistle, which the officials called inadvertent, came while the ball was in the air and just before Boyd made the catch. The defender closest to Boyd appeared to ease up on the play just before the catch was made.

However, the officiating crew "determined that they had a whistle, but that the whistle for them on the field was blown after the receiver caught the ball," according to Walt Anderson, the league's senior vice president of officiating, who spoke to a pool reporter after the game.

The Bengals extended their lead to 20-6 with the score, and held on for a 26-19 win thanks to a goal-line interception of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in the closing seconds.

Buccaneers take care of business, handle Eagles 31-15

Buccaneers take care of business, handle Eagles 31-15

Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns as the second-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened defense of their Super Bowl crown Sunday with a smooth 31-15 victory over the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC wild-card playoff game in Tampa, Fla.

Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 271 yards in an efficient performance, enabling Tampa Bay to stay home next weekend for a conference semifinal. Mike Evans caught nine passes for 117 yards and a score.

Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts struggled for most of his first playoff start, connecting on 23 of 43 passes for 258 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Eagles weren't able to run the ball successfully until the game was out of reach, enabling the Buccaneers to tee off on Hurts.

While Tampa Bay sacked the mobile Hurts just twice, it mounted steady pressure and did a solid job of covering his wide receivers. Sixteen of Hurts' completions were to tight ends and running backs.

The Buccaneers set an immediate tone by marching 75 yards on the game's first possession. Giovani Bernard got the score on a 2-yard run at the 10:05 mark of the first quarter.

Tampa Bay made it 14-0 with 25 seconds left in the quarter when Ke'Shawn Vaughn plunged in from the 1 to finish a 70-yard yard that lasted four minutes. On its next possession, Tampa Bay chewed up 53 yards and nearly five minutes to set up Ryan Succop's 34-yard field goal that made it 17-0 with 9:20 remaining in the half.

By that point the Eagles had managed just one first down on three possessions.

The Buccaneers used Eagle turnovers to put the game away in the third quarter. When Jalen Reagor muffed a punt, Ross Cockrell recovered for Tampa Bay, and five plays later, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski with a 2-yard touchdown pass.

Two minutes later, Hurts was intercepted by Shaquil Barrett, and Brady hit Evans with a 36-yard touchdown on the next play.

Philadelphia made the final score respectable with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Boston Scott ran 34 yards with 12:08 left and Hurts hit Kenneth Gainwell for a 16-yard score with 4:45 remaining.

Steelers face long odds to keep season alive at K.C.

Steelers face long odds to keep season alive at K.C.

The Super Bowl defeat suffered by the Kansas City Chiefs last season provides motivation entering the playoffs but remains a setback that can be compartmentalized.

After all, considerable work remains for the two-time reigning AFC champion before booking a Super Bowl appearance in mid-February. The path begins to unravel Sunday when the Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round at Kansas City, Mo.

The Chiefs are easily the biggest favorites of Wildcard Weekend, with the line at 12.5 points at BetMGM and FanDuel. That has led to split action, with Pittsburgh backed by 55 percent of the bets and 50 percent of the spread-line money at BetMGM while Kansas City has been supported by 55 percent of both markets at FanDuel.

"It's in the back of my mind but for the most part it's a new year," Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said about the NFL's ultimate prize. "You've got to focus on things that have happened this year. We're on a goal to prove to ourselves who we think we are, and we know we are, and that's Super Bowl champions."

The Pittsburgh matchup will be a rematch of a Dec. 26 clash Kansas City dominated 36-10 with Kelce sidelined in COVID-19 protocol. The Chiefs went on to go 12-5 while winning nine of their final 10 games and claiming their sixth consecutive AFC West title.

Kansas City has reached the AFC championship game in each of the previous three seasons, primarily engineered by stalwart quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

"When you get to that playoff game day, you have a little bit different intensity knowing that every play is critical and it could really end your season by making a mistake," Mahomes said. "At the same time, you want to be loose, you want to have fun and you want to enjoy it."

Mahomes passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting with the Steelers. The Chiefs also forced three turnovers and limited Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to 159 yards passing.

The Chiefs' defensive intensity that day followed a trend that began after acquiring a longtime Steeler, Melvin Ingram. Ingram proved instrumental a week ago when he crashed into the backfield to generate a bone-jarring strip the Chiefs converted into a late touchdown return in a 28-24 win at Denver.

"He's the swag champ," Kelce said, adding that "you saw how much more fun people were having" after Ingram joined the defensive front.

At times, Mahomes has struggled with his accuracy, but he overcame an early-season rash of mistakes to lead the Chiefs to the league's third-best production, 396.8 yards on average.

He passed for 4,839 yards while counting on Kelce and Tyreek Hill as 1,000-yard receivers. The committee approach to the backfield could continue with Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) ruled out and Darrel Williams (toe) listed as questionable.

Second-seeded Kansas City, a two-time Super Bowl champion, will make its seventh consecutive postseason appearance and last faced Pittsburgh in the playoffs in 2016. The Steelers won 18-16. Pittsburgh, a six-time Super Bowl champion, reached the playoffs for the second straight season but last won a postseason game in 2016.

Roethlisberger, whose career could end with the Steelers' next loss as he considers retiring from football, lamented the long odds his team faces after going 9-7-1 and drawing the No. 7 seed.

"I would assume, as a group, you understand that we probably aren't supposed to be here," said Roethlisberger, who is dealing with a strained pectoral and shoulder.

"We probably are not a very good football team. Out of 14 teams I think are in, we're probably number 14. We're double-digit underdogs in the playoffs. So, let's just go play, have fun and see what happens."

Tongue in cheek? Probably. A dose of realism? Yes, that too.

Still, Pittsburgh got in by defeating Baltimore in the season finale and getting help from Jacksonville beating Indianapolis and Las Vegas beating the Los Angeles Chargers in overtime.

Running back Najee Harris (elbow) was deemed good to go on Saturday. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also is expected to be activated from injured reserve, where he's been since sustaining a shoulder injury in October. Cornerback Arthur Maulet (concussion) also has been cleared to play against the Chiefs.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gained some satisfaction getting to restrict the all-out aggression of Harris, a 1,200-yard rusher as a rookie.

"It's a good issue and problem to have," Tomlin said, "when you have a guy that's wired the way that he's wired."

Cowboys slight home favorite ahead of 49ers showdown

Cowboys slight home favorite ahead of 49ers showdown

The Dallas Cowboys have Super Bowl dreams but perhaps the toughest matchup of all the home teams in the NFL Wild Card round.

That's because the NFC's third seed drew the sixth-seeded San Francisco 49ers in the late-afternoon window on Sunday.

The Cowboys opened as 3.0-point favorites at BetMGM and FanDuel.

The line has moved to 2.5 at the former, with the 49ers backed by 54 percent of the bets and 51 percent of the spread-line money. The action has favored Dallas more at FanDuel, where the team is being backed by 55 percent of the bets and 67 percent of the money.

San Francisco boasts a strong running game and a stronger run defense. It enters with momentum after finishing a 10-7 season with seven wins in their last nine games.

"We know we have a chance to do something special," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. "You don't get that opportunity every year. I've been on a number of teams that went to the Super Bowl... there's a feeling and you want to make them count as long as you have them."

Some believe the 49ers' chances of making a deep postseason run hinge on what Garoppolo does. The version of him that led a rally from a 17-0 second quarter deficit in a 27-24 overtime win at the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday can help San Francisco win multiple playoff games.

Garoppolo connected on 23 of 32 passes for 316 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, spearheading an 88-yard touchdown drive in the final 90 seconds that forced overtime. And he did that with a thumb injury suffered in a Dec. 23 loss at Tennessee that will require surgery when the season ends.

When asked about the thumb on Wednesday, Garoppolo said, "It was a little sore after the (Rams) game, but it's feeling great right now."

The 49ers are seventh in the league in rushing at 127.4 yards per-game despite losing Raheem Mostert after two carries in the season opener with a knee injury. Rookie Elijah Mitchell returned from a December injury to average 102 yards per-game over his last two outings.

San Francisco also expanded Deebo Samuel's role when necessary, using him like Atlanta used Cordarrelle Patterson. In addition to his 1,405 receiving yards, Samuel rushed for 365 yards this season -- good enough for second on the team -- and led the club with eight rushing scores.

But the game's most intriguing portion figures to occur when Dallas (12-5) owns the ball. That's because its high-powered offense must cope with a defense ranked second in the league against the rush and fifth in the league in sacks with 48.

The good news for the Cowboys is that left tackle Tyron Smith has been activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and is expected to start. That should ease the mind of quarterback Dak Prescott, who will lean on Smith to keep the likes of Nick Bosa from disrupting his pocket.

Prescott is coming off a highly efficient, highly productive performance in Dallas' final regular season game. In a 51-26 road rout of Philadelphia on Jan. 8, Prescott completed 21 of 27 attempts for 295 yards and five touchdowns in three quarters and 22 seconds of action.

The Cowboys finished the season as the NFL's top-scoring team at 31.2 points per game and set a franchise record with 22 different players scoring at least one touchdown.

Prescott spread the wealth around, with CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz and Amari Cooper each catching at least 68 passes. Four other players caught between 35 and 47 balls, and Ezekiel Elliott squeaked out a 1,000-yard season on the ground with 87 yards at Philadelphia, giving him 1,002 in the regular season.

The matchup also features a reunion of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. They were together in Atlanta when the Falcons made Super Bowl 51 with Quinn as the head coach, only to infamously blow a 28-3 lead and lose in overtime to the New England Patriots.

Quinn invoked the memories of some early 90s playoff showdowns between these franchises when asked about this game.

"I can hear (John) Madden and (Pat) Summerall talking it through," Quinn said. "My first Dallas and Niner playoff game -- I'm pretty fired up to do it, man."

The 49ers and the Cowboys have met in the playoffs seven previous times, but this will be their first postseason matchup since Jan. 15, 1995, a 38-28 49ers win.

Cowboys linebacker Keanu Neal was ruled out with a biceps injury along with backup running back Tony Pollard (foot). Backups Luke Gifford and Francis Bernard are expected to be called upon to play more significant roles with Neal out.

The 49ers listed four players as questionable on their final injury report: linebackers Azeez Al-Shaair (knee) and Marcell Harris (Achilles), punter Mitch Wishnowsky (concussion) and safety Talanoa Hufanga (knee).