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Buffalo Bills make good on thank-you gift, send wings to Bengals

The Buffalo Bills are making good on a promise they made Sunday, sending 1,440 chicken wings to the Cincinnati Bengals as a thank you for their last-minute win against Baltimore on Sunday, according to the Dayton Daily News. Cincinnati’s come-from-behind 31-27 win sent the Bills into the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

>> Read more trending news

The Bills announced the shipment Thursday evening in a tweet:

The Bills had thanked the Bengals on Twitter after Sunday’s games and promised to send some wings to Cincinnati.

>> Bills fans make more than $104K in donations to Dalton’s foundationThe gesture came after Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton announced that more than $315,000 had been raised by his charitable foundation in the wake of the team’s win over Baltimore. Fans had taken to celebrating the victory, and Dalton’s game-winning touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd -- by donating to the foundation in increments of $17. The dollars represent each year of the Bills’ playoff drought.

Fans also donated thousands of dollars to Boyd’s cause, the Western Pennsylvania Youth Athletic Association, WPXI reported.

Grateful Bills fans donate more than $104K to Andy Dalton’s foundation 

Buffalo fans exulted Sunday when the Bills ended a 17-year drought and qualified for the NFL playoffs. Buffalo had defeated Miami 22-16, but the postseason berth was made possible later when the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-27. 

>> Read more trending news

Bills fans showed their gratitude by donating to a foundation started by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in increments of $17, WLWT reported.

Dalton’s game-winning touchdown to Tyler Boyd on a fourth-and-12 play with 44 seconds to go Sunday, coupled with Tennessee’s victory against Jacksonville, helped the Bills punch a ticket to the playoffs. 

I think I'm the hottest guy in Buffalo right now," Dalton told ESPN on Monday. "According to my Twitter, I think everybody's loving us right now."

Bills fans continued to show their love by donating cash. As of Tuesday, more than 4,500 Bills fans have donated more than $104,000, officials with the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation said.

In a tweet, foundation officials said they were “blown away” by the generosity of the Bills’ fans.

Dalton began the foundation in 2011. Two college roommates of his wife, Jordan, are special education teachers, and their encouragement inspired the Daltons to form the foundation.

Donations will benefit the foundation's community outreach programs, including the Pass It On Fund, which aims to provide medical equipment and financial relief to families with seriously ill or physically challenged children, WLWT reported.

Donations will benefit the foundation's community outreach programs, including the Pass It On Fund, which aims to provide medical equipment and financial relief to families with seriously ill or physically challenged children, WLWT reported.

Here is the game-winning pass from Dalton that brought joy to Buffalo fans:

And here is the reaction by Buffalo fans:

The Bills, meanwhile, are sending wings to the Bengals, since Buffalo needed a Dalton wing and a prayer to get to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Photos: Alabama beats Clemson to win Sugar Bowl

It was a real slug fest on the way to a 24-6 win for Alabama.

Alabama beats Clemson in Sugar Bowl, will face Georgia in national championship

The much anticipated Alabama-Clemson rematch didn’t quite give us everything we hoped for as the offense was not nearly as exciting as the last two matchups. It was a real slug fest on the way to a 24-6 win for Alabama.

>> UGA wins Rose Bowl, heading to National Championship game

Both teams went three-and-out on their first offensive possessions, but Alabama put up three points on the board on their second possession. Clemson failed to get anything done on yet another possession after that field goal and the Tide ended up going down the field and scoring on a pretty much broken play:

>> PHOTOS: Alabama beats Clemson to win Sugar Bowl

Clemson got its initial first down of the game about a minute into the second quarter and seemed to get a little more comfortable on that drive. It ended with a field goal, though, to make it 10-3 with about 10 minutes left in the half. However, they lost star freshman running back Travis Etienne early in the game to concussion-like symptoms.

 >> PHOTOS: UGA wins Rose Bowl

Fortunately for Clemson, a missed field goal by Alabama kept the deficit to only seven points. Neither team got a foothold on offense, but the Crimson Tide just seemed to dominate and even held Clemson to 73 total yards in the first half. Alabama also more than doubled thatwith 182 of their own in the half.

Despite a fumble by Alabama to start the second half, Clemson was only able to get three points out of it to make it a 10-6 game as the offense still couldn’t get anything going. On the next possession, they seemed to be getting momentum as Kelly Bryant had gotten a few passes to go and was converting third downs, but had a costly turnover due to bad protection.

That led directly to a touchdown from Alabama and ironically enough, the receiver who caught it was the same guy who got the interception to get the Crimson Tide the ball in the first place. 

And when Clemson got the ball back, things really unraveled as Bryant threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Mack Wilson.

That 24-6 score would hold to the fourth quarter as the total yards advantage went up to 225-99 in favor of Alabama after three quarters of play. This game was easily the worst offensive output of the season, if not the last few seasons, for Clemson and will surely send them back to the drawing board next season.

>> Read more trending news 

Clemson finished with 188 total yards while Alabama had 259 and the Tigers’ two turnovers were just too much to overcome as they both resulted in touchdowns for the other team. Crimson Tide running back Damien Harris had 18 carries for 75 yards while quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns on the game.

Georgia and Alabama will meet for an all-SEC National Championship Game after the Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in overtime in the Rose Bowl. The game will be played Jan. 8 with a kickoff set for 8 p.m.

Detroit Lions fire Jim Caldwell as coach

Detroit fired coach Jim Caldwell and assistant head coach Ron Prince on Monday, a day after the Lions ended their season with a 35-11 victory against the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Free Press reported.

>> Read more trending news

Caldwell posted the highest regular-season winning percentage (.563) of any full-time Lions coach in the Super Bowl era, but his 36-28 record in four seasons included only four wins against teams with winning records. The Lions also finished 0-2 in the playoffs under Caldwell.

Caldwell led the Lions to an 11-5 record in 2014 and a wild-card appearance in his first season as coach, before leveling off the past three seasons. The 11 wins tied for the second most in franchise history.

The Lions started the 2015 season with seven losses in their first eight games, then rebounded to go 6-2 in the second half of the season. 

Last year, the Lions reached the playoffs with a 9-7 record but lost their final three regular-season games and were eliminated in the wild-card round by Seattle.

The Lions also went 9-7 in 2017.

Here are the NFL wild-card schedules

The NFL playoff field has finally been determined. Over the next few weeks, 12 teams will vie for berths in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, which will be played Feb. 4. 

>> Read more trending news

The top seeds in the AFC and NFC are the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. Both teams will receive a bye during the first week of the playoffs. The No. 2 seeds, Pittsburgh (AFC) and Minnesota (NFC) also receive a bye.

Rounding out the seeds in the AFC are No. 3 Jacksonville, followed by Kansas City, Tennessee and Buffalo. The Los Angeles Rams are the No. 3 seed in the NFC, followed by three teams from the NFC South -- New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta.

Here is the playoff schedule for both leagues. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.

The Wild Card round begins Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri, as Kansas City hosts Tennessee at 4:20 p.m. in a game televised by ESPN. The second game of the day pits Atlanta at Los Angeles in an 8:15 p.m. game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. That game will be televised by NBC.

On Sunday, Buffalo makes its first playoff appearance in 17 years as the Bills travel to Jacksonville for a 1:05 p.m. game that will be televised by CBS. 

In the NFC that day, Carolina travels to New Orleans for a 4:40 p.m. game that will be aired on Fox.

The Divisional Round will be played the weekend of Jan. 13-14, with conference finals the following weekend.

Raiders fire Jack Del Rio as coach; Jon Gruden mentioned as replacement

The Oakland Raiders fired Jack Del Rio as coach Sunday after the team’s season-ending 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, The Oakland Tribune reported.

>> Read more trending news

Speculation immediately focused on ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, who coached the team from 1998 to 2001, as the Raiders’ next coach.

Del Rio, who went 7-9, 12-4 and 6-10 in his three years as Raiders coach, said team owner Mark Davis broke the news to him after Sunday’s game.

“I spoke to Mark Davis after the game and Mark let me know that he’s not going to be bringing me back,” Del Rio said. “He told me he loved me and appreciated all that I did to kind of get this program going in the right direction, but that he felt the need to change.”

Del Rio signed a three-year contract extension following last year’s playoff season.

On Saturday night, ESPN reported that Davis was prepared to pursue Gruden with a strong offer that could include an ownership stake in the team.

A contract including an ownership stake would have to be approved by NFL owners.

Gruden reacted with a chuckle when asked about the report.

“C’mon man, I’m out with my wife. This is crazy,” Gruden told the Tribune in a telephone interview. “I was supposed to be going to Tampa last week. What have they got? I don’t know.

“I’ve got nothing to report. I’m at an Outback Bowl event with my wife.”

Woe-for-16: Browns finish winless season with loss to Steelers

The Cleveland Browns completed their woe-for-’17 season with an oh-for-16 finish.

>> Read more trending news

The Browns became the second team in NFL history to go 0-16, losing 28-24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday to finish a frustrating 2017 season.

Cleveland joins the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only NFL teams to complete a 16-game schedule with a winless record. In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 0-14 during their inaugural season, when the NFL regular-season schedule had 14 games.

It is the worst season record in Browns franchise history, and gives coach Hue Jackson a 1-31 record through two seasons -- the worst start for a coach in NFL history. The Browns are also 4-49 in their last 53 games.

For the second straight years, the playoff-bound Steelers used backup players at key positions but still eked out a victory. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell were inactive for Sunday’s game.

“This football team has given me everything we have," Jackson said after the game. “This is just where we are. We're 0-16. I know about the parade and everything that's going to be said. ... But these guys continued every week to go out and fight.

“This is going to stay next to my name and the organization's name for the rest of our lives. … There's nothing we can do. We'll turn the page on this and move forward.”

Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer put the Browns within reach of an elusive victory late in game. Facing fourth-and-2 from the Steelers’ 27, Kizer eluded a sack, rolled to his left and threw a pass to a wide-open Corey Coleman near the sideline at the Pittsburgh 11. But Coleman dropped the pass and the Steelers took over on downs, handing the Browns their 17th consecutive regular-season loss.\

The last time Cleveland won a game was Dec. 24, 2016, when the Browns edged San Diego 20-17 in their next-to-last game of the season.

Wisconsin football players catch 450-pound shark days before Orange Bowl win

You can’t do this at every bowl destination. Wisconsin’s football team landed in Miami for the Orange Bowl earlier in the week, and between practices and team outings, a few teammates had the chance to schedule some deep-sea fishing.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

Members of Wisconsin’s football team went fishing somewhere near Miami this week and caught a 450-pound hammerhead shark. The Badgers’ Twitter account posted a photo of the impressive catch Wednesday.

>> See the photo here

The Badgers’ Orange Bowl gift bag included a PlayStation 4, wireless headphones, a 39-inch television and more, but none of the gadgets compare to a huge hammerhead. 

>> Read more trending news 

Wisconsin went on to defeat Miami 34-24 on Saturday night.

CFL clears Johnny Manziel to play for Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Johnny Football has been cleared to play north of the border.

>> Read more trending news

Officials with the Canadian Football League announced Thursday it would approve a contract for Johnny Manziel if it is negotiated with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, CTV reported. The Tiger-Cats have the rights to the quarterback, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2012.

In August, Manziel worked out for the Tiger-Cats, who passed on making him an offer. But Manziel's camp activated Hamilton's 10-day window, forcing the CFL club to make a decision on whether to sign, trade or release him, CTV reported.

The CFL then stepped in and extended the window for further evaluation.

“As a result of this process, the commissioner has now informed Mr. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats he is prepared to approve a contract for Mr. Manziel should one be negotiated,” the CFL said in its statement. “The process that led to this decision, however, will continue.

“Mr. Manziel has been informed he must continue to meet a number of conditions in order to remain eligible. These conditions, while extensive and exacting, remain confidential.”

Manziel, 25, was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy when he starred at Texas A&M. He was drafted in the first round -- No. 22 overall -- in 2014 by the Cleveland Browns.

But the native of Tyler, Texas, was released after two seasons and has been out of football since.

Erik Burkhardt, Manziel's agent, did not immediately return a telephone message Thursday, CTV reported.

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