The Latest: Falcons owner Blank tests positive for COVID-19

NFL Week 18 Latest (All Eastern Time):


3:15 pm

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the final game of the season against the New Orleans Saints.

This is the Falcons’ first regular-season game, home or away, that Blank has not attended since he bought the team in 2002.

The Falcons say Blank is fully vaccinated and “is doing well and in a great mood.” The team says Blank encourages others to get vaccinated.

The Falcons say Blank, 79, has mild symptoms. He plans to watch the game from home.

The Falcons say Blank is still within the CDC-recommended quarantine period.


3 pm

Green Bay didn’t start Aaron Rodgers in the second half against Detroit with the Packers already established as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The current NFL MVP completed 14 of 18 for 138 yards with two touchdowns in the first half. The Lions led 17-13 at halftime.

Backup quarterback Jordan Love replaced Rodgers in the third quarter.


2:50 pm

The Tennessee Titans are closing in on top seed in the AFC, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have the possibility of a surprise that could create an intriguing playoff scenario.

Ryan Tannehill had three touchdown passes in the first half to give the Titans a 21-0 lead over the Houston Texans, who have won four victories. Tennessee secures the No. 1 spot and a first-round goodbye with a win.

Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars, who have won two victories, took a 16-3 lead over Indianapolis in the third quarter. The Colts are with a win.

If the Jaguars win and Pittsburgh beat Baltimore in a game that was tied 3-3 at halftime, the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders would enter the playoffs if they tied in the night game.

The Chargers and Raiders are playing the final game of the NFL’s 17-game first regular season.


2:40 pm

Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt has tied professional football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s record for sacks in an NFL season.

Watt now has 22½ sacks after dropping Baltimore’s Tyler Huntley late in the first half.

Strahan was 22½ in 2001 for the New York Giants in a 16-game season. The NFL is wrapping up its first 17-game season, though Watt missed two of them.

The Steelers and Ravens are tied at 3 at halftime.


2:30 pm

The New York Giants were trapped within their 10-yard line late in the first half of last week’s game against Chicago and gave up five points in the final minute with a safety and a field goal after the free throw.

This week, coach Joe Judge took no chances with less than six minutes to go in the first half against Washington after Tress Way’s punt was knocked down at New York 3.

After quarterback Jake Fromm missed an open pass, fullback Eli Penny was called up for illegal procedure. That put the Giants on their 2. Fromm then ran two quarterbacks and gained 3 yards to give Riley Dixon room to punt.

The Giants have had no offenses since Daniel Jones suffered a neck injury against Philadelphia on Nov. 28. They haven’t scored a touchdown in three of their last five games. They were losing 6-0 at the half.


1:50 pm

Detroit has used a little trick to get revenge on Green Bay in an NFC North final with nothing at stake.

Catcher Tom Kennedy made a reverse pitch and stopped to throw a wide-open Kalif Raymond for a 75-yard touchdown. Raymond was 10 yards behind the defense when he made the catch and ran the final 50 yards untouched.

The Lions tied at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. The tricky TD put the Lions tied at 7-7. They went ahead with Amon-Ra St. Brown’s 2-yard touchdown reception from Jared Goff.

Last-place Detroit has long been knocked out of the playoffs. Green Bay finished top seed in the NFC last week.

Most Valuable Player candidate Aaron Rodgers started for the Packers even though the game can’t change a thing for the playoffs. Rodgers led a 13-play drive to a touchdown on the game’s first possession.


1:30 in the afternoon

The record season for Cincinnati Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase continues.

With a 24-yard reception in the first quarter at Cleveland, Chase beat Chad Johnson’s team record (1,440) for the most yards received in a single season. Chase came within 11 yards of Johnson’s mark.

He is also on the verge of setting the NFL rookie record in a single season. Bill Groman of Houston, who had 1,473 for the Oilers in 1960.

Chase’s record comes in the first 17-game NFL season.

The Bengals closed out the AFC North title last week and are sitting off several regulars, including quarterback Joe Burrow, in the regular season finale. Cincinnati will host a playoff game next week.


12:05 pm

The NFL’s first 17-game regular season is set to wrap up, and the final game will be a playoff or recession meeting between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders.

The AFC West rivals are chasing one of the AFC’s two remaining postseason spots in the night game.

Ben Roethlisberger still has playoff hopes in his final season, a week after the star quarterback fired in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have to beat Baltimore and hope Indianapolis loses at Jacksonville. With those two early-game results, the only thing that could keep Pittsburgh out is a Chargers-Raiders tie.

The Colts are either on a win or a draw against the Jaguars. The Ravens need a win and a lot of help.

San Francisco is on the inside track to the bottom of the seven NFC playoff spots. It will be decided during the last games.

The 49ers are with a win over the Los Angeles Rams, who have already qualified and can clinch the NFC West with a win. New Orleans comes in with a win over Atlanta and a loss to San Francisco.


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