Ravens commit holding penalties, take safety to seal win vs. Bengals

Leading by a touchdown with the clock winding down, the Baltimore Ravens successfully ran out the game’s final 11 seconds on fourth down by intentionally committing holding penalties against all nine Cincinnati Bengals players who rushed their punter, giving Sam Koch the time to dance around the end zone before finally conceding a safety.

“I tried to mention that was the best safety ever taken, and what I meant was, it was the best-executed safety ever because we kept him clean the whole time,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after his team’s 19-14 victory. “But [linebacker Terrell Suggs] says nothing can top the Super Bowl safety.”

Suggs was referring to the safety that clinched Super Bowl XLVII — which, not coincidentally, came on the very same playcall. Back then, the Ravens decided to punt from their end zone while clinging to a five-point lead over the San Francisco 49ers with 12 seconds remaining.

Harbaugh ordered a play that called for his punt protectors to intentionally hold the 49ers’ rushers, giving his punter, Koch, a better opportunity to kill time before stepping out of bounds for a safety.

There was no downside to that decision, or the one on Sunday. The Ravens would either give up two points or have to punt again after a minimal markoff for a holding penalty

They probably wouldn’t have been able to do it two plays in a row if there had been time left on the clock. Referee Clete Blakeman could have declared it a “palpably unfair act,” and the clock would have been restored to its original time if they had tried it again.

Bengals cornerback Adam Jones called it a “smart play,” and Koch said it worked even better than it did in the Super Bowl.

“We know what we did wrong in the Super Bowl,” he said, “and we kind of learned from it and just made sure that everybody did what they needed to and hold on as long as they could and ended up winning the game.”

He said the team practices the play, and everyone knew that a penalty would not lead to an untimed down “as long as a hold wasn’t in the end zone.”

“With [special-teams coach] Jerry [Rosburg] and Harbaugh, even though it may only happen once or twice in four years, it’s something that we practice yearly, and we make sure we have all of our stones unturned, and when situations like that arrive, we can have them at our disposal,” Koch said.

Andrew Luck won’t face Steelers on Thursday night

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has officially been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a concussion.

Luck didn’t practice all week after suffering the concussion on a sack in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Luck has to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol before he’s allowed to play.

Speaking Wednesday, Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he was surprised Luck was not pulled from Sunday’s game with the concussion.

“Very surprised, based on how important it is to the NFL that they protect our players,” Mularkey said.

The Colts’ next game after the Steelers is Dec. 5 at the New York Jets.

Luck played in the first 51 regular-season games of his NFL career. But Thursday will mark the 10th game that he has missed since Week 4 of last season.

Scott Tolzien is expected to start in Luck’s place against the Steelers. Tolzien is 56-of-91 for 721 yards, a touchdown and five interceptions in six career appearances. His last meaningful playing time was against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24, 2013, when he was with the Green Bay Packers.

The Colts elevated Stephen Morris from the practice squad Wednesday to back up Tolzien.

Colts starting safety Clayton Geathers (concussion) also has been ruled out of Thursday’s game. Wide receiver Donte Moncrief, meanwhile, was a late add with a hamstring injury and is questionable.

The Colts (5-5), who are on a two-game winning streak, are a game behind the first-place Houston Texans in the AFC South. The Steelers have beaten Indianapolis in each of the past two seasons by a total of 52 points.

Bears LB Leonard Floyd taken off field on stretcher

Chicago Bears rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd was taken off the field on a backboard and a cart after a frightening injury Sunday in his team’s 22-16 loss to the New York Giants.

While Floyd and teammate Akiem Hicks were converging on Giants running back Rashad Jennings, the crown of Floyd’s helmet led into Hicks’ leg and compressed. The injury happened with 5 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in Sunday’s game.

The entire Bears team and several Giants gathered around in a show of support. Floyd pumped his fist and showed some movement while being carted off.

“It hurt us mentally and physically to see Leonard go down like that,” Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee said. “That’s one of our young bucks. That’s one of our playmakers. That’s one of the guys we depend on. He’s a great guy. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, and our prayers go out to him. Hopefully he’s back soon.”

As is standard NFL protocol, Floyd was taken to the hospital for observation.

Bears coach John Fox said following the game that Floyd’s movement looked good and was encouraging.

“It’s difficult to see a young guy like that [who has] made the strides that he’s made get hurt,” Bears linebacker Willie Young said. “It’s definitely tough. But I’ve been around long enough to know that’s just the game that we play.”

The first-round pick joins tight end Zach Miller, left guard Josh Sitton and cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc as Bears knocked out of Sunday’s game.

Floyd was taken with the No. 9 pick of the 2016 NFL draft. The Bears traded the No. 11 pick and a fourth-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move up to get him.

He started the season slowly and was sidelined for three games after hurting his calf in Week 4. Since returning to the field in Week 7, Floyd has had 10 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown.

His five sacks this season lead all rookies.

Seahawks release struggling RB Christine Michael

The Seattle Seahawks have waived running back Christine Michael, the team announced on Tuesday.

Michael started seven games this season, running 117 times for 469 yards (4.0 YPC). With Thomas Rawls having suffered a fibula injury in Week 2, Michael had a chance to resurrect his career but was never able to get going.

In Week 9, rookie C.J. Prosise played more snaps than Michael, and Sunday against the New England Patriots, Prosise got the start.

Michael popped up on the injury report last Friday with a hamstring injury and was listed as questionable. He dressed for the game but played only 11 snaps.

Asked about Michael’s injury Monday, Pete Carroll said simply, “He’s fine.”

Michael was originally a second-round pick by the Seahawks in 2010. After two seasons in Seattle, the team traded him to the Dallas Cowboys. Michael was released by the Cowboys during last season and caught on with the Washington Redskins before returning to Seattle for the final three games.

He was a free agent in the offseason and ended up signing a one-year, $765,000 deal to return to Seattle.

During the summer, coaches and teammates raved about Michael making the most of his second chance. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell described Michael’s new attitude as “an awakening.” But he was unable to take full advantage of his opportunity.

Prosise had 24 touches for 153 yards last week and figures to play a big role going forward. The Seahawks are also expecting to get Rawls back in Week 11.

“With C.J., the versatility of all the things he seems to be able to do at this point, and knowing that there’s a real style to Thomas that we’re really looking forward to seeing, it could be a real nice matchup,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how that works.”

The Seahawks have running back Alex Collins on their roster and Troymaine Pope on the practice squad as well.

The team also waived nose tackle Sealver Siliga and signed defensive lineman John Jenkins, who was recently released by the New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks currently have one open spot on their 53-man roster.

Chiefs’ Travis Kelce fined $24,309 for tossing towel at official

NEW YORK — Turns out that was one costly towel toss for Travis Kelce.

The Kansas City Chiefs tight end was fined $24,309 by the NFL on Friday after he protested a non-call by mockingly chucking his towel toward an official and being ejected.

Kelce thought Jacksonville’s Prince Amukamara should have been called for pass interference in the end zone during the Chiefs’ 19-14 victory last Sunday. The tight end grabbed his towel and threw it at one of the officials. The official hurled his hat in response; another official tossed a penalty flag on Kelce, and the tight end was tossed from the game.

Chiefs teammate Daniel Sorensen was also fined $9,115 for a late hit out of bounds on Allen Robinson.

Cleveland center Cam Erving and Dallas defensive end David Irving were each docked $9,115 for their tussle in the Cowboys’ 35-10 win Sunday. Irving punched Erving before getting his helmet ripped off.

Miami’s Andre Branch, San Francisco’s Quinton Patton and Los Angeles’ William Hayes were all fined $18,231 for horse-collar tackles in their respective games.

Branch was called for a penalty after he took down Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall for a 1-yard loss in the first quarter of the Dolphins’ 27-23 win. Also in that game, New York cornerback Buster Skrine was fined $9,115 for unnecessary roughness, as was defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.

Patton’s penalty came when he tackled New Orleans linebacker Craig Robertson during an interception return that led to a touchdown in the Saints’ 41-23 win.

Hayes’ horse-collar tackle came in the fourth quarter of Los Angeles’ 13-10 loss to Carolina.

Detroit’s Johnson Bademosi and Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery were both fined $9,115 for roughing-the-kicker penalties in their games.

Also docked $9,115 were San Diego’s D.J. Fluker and Dexter McCoil for unnecessary roughness infractions against Tennessee, and Seattle’s George Fant was fined $9,115 for a clipping penalty against Buffalo.

Pete Carroll thinks Rex Ryan should just coach his own team

SEATTLE — After his interception in the third quarter Monday night, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman stared down the Buffalo Bills’ sideline and drew the ire of Bills coach Rex Ryan.

“I had some words,” Ryan said afterward. “I think I said, ‘You’re too good of a player to act like an ass.’ I think that’s what I said.”

During his weekly appearance on the “Brock and Salk” show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked about Ryan’s comments.

“I just wish he’d coach his own team,” Carroll said. “Just coach your own guys.”

“As a matter of fact I do coach my own guys and I’m proud of the team that I coach,” Ryan responded on a conference call on Tuesday. “We haven’t had the results that we shoot for every time but I’m proud of this group and yeah, I have no problem.

“I do coach my own guys but I forgot, I guess I should have asked Pete when somebody asked me a question about one of his players, I should have asked Pete about the appropriate response I guess.”

In a bizarre sequence at the end of the first half, Sherman jumped offside on a Bills field goal attempt and brought down kicker Dan Carpenter.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said that Sherman should have been penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play, but no flag was thrown. The NFL has said that it will review the performance of referee Walt Anderson and his officiating crew. The crew will not work a game Week 10, but a league source told ESPN’s Ed Werder that those assignments were predetermined before the season started.

“That guy [Carpenter], he hams it up a little bit, too, which made it bad,” Carroll said. “But he was able to play that same play, fortunately.”

Carroll said the officials should have blown the whistle and ruled that Sherman was unabated to the quarterback.

“Then if a guy comes off the edge, they blow the whistle, and he comes and drills the quarterback, then they give you unnecessary roughness,” Carroll said. “That’s what the call should have been in that case.”

Sherman said after the game that he didn’t hear the whistle and noted that Carpenter continued on trying to kick the ball.

“He should avoid the contact if he hears the whistle,” Carroll said. “Otherwise he plays the play out.”

The Bills weren’t ready to let the controversy go on Tuesday. They tweeted a picture of the collision, the words “For all those in need of clarification…” and an excerpt from the NFL rulebook on unnecessary roughness.

Rex Ryan optimistic RB LeSean McCoy can play Monday night

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan was optimistic Friday that running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) will be able to play Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

“I feel like he’s really close,” Ryan said. “Hopefully … I’m thinking he’s going.”

McCoy was listed as a limited participant in practice both Thursday and Friday. The Bills will practice again Saturday before declaring McCoy’s status for the game.

McCoy did not practice last week or play in a 41-25 loss Sunday to the New England Patriots. He initially injured his hamstring in practice Oct. 19 before aggravating the injury during an Oct. 23 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Despite McCoy’s injury, he played nearly every offensive snap in the first half of that game and was ineffective. McCoy totaled 11 yards on eight carries before leaving the contest in the third quarter when he experienced pain in his injured left hamstring.

Asked Friday if McCoy’s workload could be limited if he is active Monday night, Ryan said, “I don’t know. We’ll see how the thing plays out. I think if he put him out there, he’s full go. He looks full go to me. Obviously the experts will handle it, but he looks pretty good to me.”

McCoy has 598 rushing yards on 112 carries this season, including six touchdowns. His backup, Mike Gillislee, gained 85 yards on 12 carries in in the loss to New England.

Marcus Gilbert Elite Jersey

PITTSBURGH — Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert said he doesn’t understand reigning MVP Cam Newton’s complaints about cheap shots when the Carolina Panthers quarterback delivers his own hits to opposing defenders.

After absorbing a low hit from defensive tackle Calais Campbell in the Panthers’ 30-20 victory Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals, Newton said he doesn’t feel safe at times and planned to file a grievance over late hits to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell because “enough is enough.”

Gilbert protects Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is 6-foot-5, like Newton, and has been sacked 450 times in 12-plus seasons.

“Ben gets hit more than anybody in the league, and he never complains. C’mon, man. This is the game of football,” Gilbert said. “If you’re out there and you’re scared to take a shot, then don’t be out there, especially if you’re a running quarterback. [Defenses] are going to take shots at you. Just the way, his style of playing football, how he celebrates, I guess he gives the guys a chip, like let’s go hit the reigning NFL MVP.”

Gilbert, a six-year NFL veteran who played briefly with Newton at the University of Florida, stressed that Newton is a “great player” and that he doesn’t believe players are trying to intentionally hurt him.

But defenders might be trying to affect Newton mentally with physical play as a response to what Newton does during and after successful runs, Gilbert said.

“When he’s running over people, he’s going to stand right up and he’s going to celebrate,” Gilbert said. “This is the game of football. I’m sure there are cornerbacks or linebackers, whoever he’s running over, the safeties, they aren’t complaining about getting run over or getting crowned, facemask to facemask with the quarterback from a guy his size. Of course, guys are going to take shots … I don’t think anybody is trying to purposefully hurt him, but you’re going to get those extra hits, especially against such a great player.”

Newton’s playing style came into focus after the quarterback missed Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a concussion. Newton also took several physical hits from the Denver Broncos in Week 1 that did not elicit penalties.

For his career, Newton has 637 rushes for 3,398 yards and 46 scores.

“If you don’t like it, then tell the coach or the coordinator to change the whole game plan,” Gilbert said. “Try to do something to protect you, because back a couple of years ago, when Ben was getting hit a lot, we had to change our offense a little bit, put in a little extra protection to help him stay upright because he is the franchise player.”

Since 2014, Roethlisberger has averaged less than two sacks per game as part of a quick-strike passing game.

That being said, many of the worst hits on Newton have occurred in the pocket.

From Newton to Roethlisberger to the Patriots’ Tom Brady, the game’s best quarterbacks will always be a target for eager defensive players, Gilbert said.

“I’m sure all the other 53 guys on that team are hurting just as bad and pretty much take a lot of shots, too,” Gilbert said. “Look at the running backs, look at the receivers going across the middle, the linemen, you get rolled up on all the time. It’s just a football game, bro. You’ve got to embrace it, you’ve got to accept the challenge that’s ahead of you, you have to go out there and play ball.”