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NFL Week 9 live: Rams cruise past Giants 51-17

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Welcome to NFL Week 9.

The Rams (5-2) take on the New York Giants (1-6) today at MetLife Stadium (10 a.m., Ch. 11).

Keep it here for updates from the Rams-Giants game and other happenings around the league.

Rams make a statement with 51-17 victory over Giants

Rams Sammy Watkins (12), Robert Woods, center and Todd Gurley (30) accounted for five touchdowns against the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Rams Sammy Watkins (12), Robert Woods, center and Todd Gurley (30) accounted for five touchdowns against the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
(Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)

The Rams finally return to the Coliseum next week.

After a long road trip to Florida and London, an open date and a cross-country trek to New York, the Rams are coming home a different team — with a quarterback who appears to be moving toward the next level.

Jared Goff passed for a career-best four touchdowns, the defense forced three turnovers and special teams came up with big plays as the Rams routed the struggling New York Giants 51-17 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium before a crowd significantly smaller than the announced 76,871.

Running back Todd Gurley also rushed for two touchdowns as the Rams improved to 6-2 and cemented their status as a playoff contender under first-year coach Sean McVay.

The Rams led 27-10 at halftime and then pulled away with Gurley’s touchdowns and Goff’s second touchdown pass to Robert Woods.

The Rams will begin the second half of the season next Sunday against the Houston Texans.

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Rams 51, Giants 17: Zuerlein makes a field goal to extend the lead

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Rams 48, Giants 17: Manning crosses 50,000-yard mark en route to TD

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Rams 48, Giants 10: Gurley gets his second touchdown of the third quarter

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Rams 41, Giants 10: Robert Woods catches a four-yard TD pass from Jared Goff

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Rams 34, Giants 10: Todd Gurley finds paydirt

Rams running back Todd Gurley scored his first touchdown of the game on an 11-yard carry.

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Bengals’ A.J. Green and Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey ejected after fight

Apparently Bengals receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey couldn’t wait until halftime to get to the locker room.

Both players were ejected just before halftime after an altercation on the field.

After Ramsey pushed Green to the field, the star receiver decided he’d had enough and jumped on the Jaguars player’s back, putting him in a chokehold.

From there things got more and more out of hand with Green appearing to throw a few punches before twirling Ramsey to the ground.

The Jaguars lead the Bengals 13-7 at halftime.

Green had one catch for six yards on two targets. Ramsey had been credited with one tackle.

Ramsey and Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins have gotten noticeably chippy with each other on and off the field.

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Rams 24, Giants 10: New York settles for a field goal

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Rams 24, Giants 7: Sammy Watkins goes 67-yards for a touchdown

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Rams 17, Giants 7: Rams convert third and 33 into 52-yard touchdown

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Rams 10, Giants 7: Greg Zuerlein makes a 27-yard field goal

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Was Trump behind a 2014 effort to block Jon Bon Jovi from buying the Buffalo Bills?

Jon Bon Jovi
(Darryl Dyck / Associated Press)

Was Donald Trump the secret force behind the seemingly grassroots 2014 campaign to block Jon Bon Jovi from buying the NFL’s Buffalo Bills?

That’s what those involved are saying now, three years after the billionaire and the rocker were competing to buy the Bills. At the heart of the effort was the creation of a fan group called 12th Man Thunder that pushed to keep the team in Buffalo and exploited already rampant speculation Bon Jovi planned to move the franchise to Canada.

Among the group’s antics in the spring of 2014 were the collection of thousands of petition signatures and distribution of “Bon Jovi Free Zone” posters calling for a boycott of the band’s music in bars, shops and on radio stations. All of it received widespread media coverage, including from the Associated Press.

“At the time I wish I could have told people,” said Charles Pellien, one of the group’s leaders. “I just wanted to blurt out, `Donald Trump is behind this!’”

Neither the White House nor the Trump organization responded to requests for comment on the claim, which was first mentioned on a Buffalo-area radio show in March and reported last month by GQ magazine.

But according to Michael Caputo, a Buffalo public relations consultant who would go on to work on Trump’s presidential campaign, Trump himself came up with the idea for the group at a Trump Tower meeting in early 2014 as a way to tap into widespread fan anxiety at the time over a potential Bills move to Canada.

“Mr. Trump was convinced that the community wouldn’t stand for a move,” Caputo told the AP. “So he sent me off to try to organize something with local fans to get that rolling.”

Once back in Buffalo, Caputo enlisted Pellien, a truck driver who lives near the Bills’ stadium in Orchard Park, and others to form the volunteer group, which quickly amassed an email database of 15,000 fans.

Speculation that Bon Jovi’s group intended to move the team was fueled by the fact that it included two Canadian heavyweights, Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, and the Rogers family, which controls Toronto-based Rogers Communications.

And with the Bon Jovi group expected to bid more than Trump was willing to pay, Caputo said, Trump believed tapping the fan emotion would improve his position.

“He wanted to be the hometown favorite because he would keep the Bills in Buffalo,” Caputo said. “It was always his intention to come in here on a white horse and save the team.”

The group’s first move was the petition drive that had people vowing to wash their hands of the Bills — no buying tickets or jerseys or watching games on TV — if the team moved.

Organizers said Trumped stepped away from even behind-the-scenes involvement after signing a nondisclosure agreement attached to the bidding process that barred him from doing public outreach around it.

Bon Jovi, whose representatives declined to comment for this story, responded to the 2014 campaign with a letter to the Buffalo News that said his ownership group’s objective was “to make the Bills successful in Buffalo.” The letter came a little more than a week after AP reported that the singer’s ownership group conducted a feasibility study into building a stadium in Toronto.

In the end, 12th Man Thunder’s efforts were for naught because Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula submitted a bid no one could top — $1.4 billion — and became the new owners.

After the sale, the fan group, now known as Bills Fan Thunder and still led by Pellien, transformed into a charitable group that brings underprivileged children to their first Bills game.

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Rams 7, Giants 7: Manning connects with King for a touchdown

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Rams 7, Giants 0: Gurley’s big run sets up a Higbee touchdown

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Vin Scully says he’ll never watch an NFL game again because of anthem protests

It’s not that I’m some great patriot. I was in the Navy for a year. Didn’t go anywhere, didn’t do anything, but I have overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war.    So, the only thing I can do, in my little way is not to preach, I will never watch another NFL game.

Vin Scully, former Dodgers broadcaster

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Is Tom Brady available? 49ers general manager John Lynch reportedly asked for TB12

It never hurts to ask.

San Francisco 49ers rookie general manager John Lynch must live by the rule. Earlier this week the 49ers traded the New England Patriots their second-round pick in the 2018 draft for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

But that’s not the most interesting part of the story. According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, the 49ers were originally told Garoppolo was off limits.

So Lynch apparently called back to ask if four-time Super Bowl MVP, five-time champion, 12-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady was available.

Yeah, that would be a “no.”

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Rams uniform update: They’re wearing white and blue today

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Surprise! Jaguars bench Leonard Fournette for violation of team rules

Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will be inactive for Jacksonville's game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday because of an unspecified violation of team rules.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running Leonard Fournette is back! No, wait, he’s not.

Jacksonville declared Fournette inactive for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Twitter with a statement from coach Doug Marrone:

The rookie out of Louisiana State has 596 yards on 130 carries with a team-leading six rushing touchdowns.

Fournette missed the Jaguars’ 27-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts with an ankle injury. Fournette appeared to suffer an injury to his ankle during the team’s 27-17 loss to the Rams in Week 6, though he did return to the game.

So this week, Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, who rushed for 122 yards in nine carries with one touchdown in Fournette’s absence last week, will be splitting carries again.

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Who’s in, who’s out: Rams and Giants inactives

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Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel has special memories of the Giants

John Fassel serves as Rams interim head coach during a game on Dec. 15, 2016, against the Seahawks.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

We were like the players’ personal assistants. We all split up Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, and they tipped like maybe $200 a week.

Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel on working as a training camp ball boy

Veteran running back Ottis Anderson was a good tipper. Likewise, quarterback Phil Simms and linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

Those former New York Giants players stick out in the mind of Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel, who worked as a training camp ball boy for the Giants during the early 1990s when his father, Jim, was a Giants assistant.

“Great, great guys,” said Fassel, who returns to East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday when the Rams play the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Fassel, 43, had been around college football for years during his father’s career, but the Giants provided his first exposure to the pro game.

“If I was ever home, I was at the stadium and offices,” he said. “I just lived in there like any coach’s kid.”

Jim Fassel was the Giants’ head coach from 1997 to 2003, but it was his stint as an assistant that left an indelible impression on John, who was in high school when he worked Giants training camp at Farleigh Dickinson University.

John Fassel said he was responsible for putting pads in Anderson’s pants, for putting his jersey over his shoulder pads and for making sure he had ice water waiting in his locker after every training camp practice.

“We were like the players’ personal assistants,” Fassel said of the ball boys. “We all split up Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, and they tipped like maybe $200 a week.”

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AFC notes: From A to Z

Jets running back Matt Forte scores a touchdown against the Bills during a game on Thursday Night Football.
(Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)

Baltimore Ravens: Ravens coach John Harbaugh seeks his 100th victory. Baltimore leads the NFL with 12 interceptions and is tied with Buffalo for lead in takeaways (17).

Buffalo Bills: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sacked a season-high seven times by the New York Jets in the Bills’ 34-21 loss on Thursday. He’s been sacked 26 times.

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton needs one touchdown pass to tie Carson Palmer for third on the Bengals’ all-time list with 154. He’s 3-0 against the Jaguars.

CHARGERS: Denzel Perryman is expected to make his regular-season debut next week vs. the Jaguars after missing the first eight games because of a left ankle injury.

Cleveland Browns: Receiver Josh Gordon was conditionally reinstated by the NFL and could return to the field for the Browns’ last five games of the season.

Denver Broncos: Brock Osweiler will start for the Broncos in place of the benched Trevor Siemian, his first start for Denver since 2015 when he backed up Peyton Manning.

Houston Texans: Tom Savage returns to the starting quarterback role with Deshaun Watson lost for the season with a torn ACL. Savage started Week 1 and lost.

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts put Andrew Luck (shoulder) on injured reserve. The quarterback will have missed 26 games over the last three seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars are 9-29 at home since 2011, not including five London games. Jacksonville hasn’t won back-to-back games since last October.

Kansas City Chiefs: Corner Marcus Peters has 21 takeaways since entering the league in 2015. Linebacker Justin Houston has had 17 games with at least two sacks since 2011.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have been shut out twice for the first time since 2001 and outscored in their losses 80-6, the only points in a loss coming on the final play against the Jets on Sept. 24.

New England Patriots: The Patriots agreed to a three-year deal with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer days after trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers.

N.Y. Jets: Running back Matt Forte rushed for 77 yards in 14 carries while picking up his first two touchdowns of the season in a victory over the Bills on Thursday.

Oakland Raiders: Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson ranks second in the league with 30.9 average on kickoff returns. He’s returned two kicks for touchdowns.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster is the Steelers’ second-leading receiver with 424 yards in 24 catches, and a team-leading four touchdowns.

Tennessee Titans: The Titans have allowed two offensive touchdowns in the last three games. DeMarco Murray has eight rushing touchdowns in the last 10 home games.

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NFC notes: From A to Z

Buccaneers rookie linebacker Kendall Beckwith tackles Patriots running back James White during the first half of a game on Oct. 5.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

Arizona Cardinals: Adrian Peterson needs one touchdown run Sunday at San Francisco to be the ninth player with 100, and 17 yards to be the 16th with 12,000 rushing.

Atlanta Falcons: Sunday’s foe Carolina has the top-five defense, but the Falcons’ Vic Beasley has 18 1/2 sacks since 2016, second most in the NFC. Deion Jones has three straight games with 11 tackles.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers traded receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo, leaving rookie Christian McCaffrey as the team’s leading receiver with 378 yards in 49 catches.

Chicago Bears: Adding insult to injury for linebacker Jerrell Freeman, he was suspended 10 games for a second failed test for performance-enhancing drugs. Bears have a bye.

Dallas Cowboys: Former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, in his first season as lead analyst for CBS, will call Sunday’s game against Kansas City.

Detroit Lions: Matt Prater, who just got a contract extension, is the only kicker to make at least 20 field goals of 50 yards or longer with two teams. He did it for Denver too.

Green Bay Packers: Linebacker Vince Biegel, a fourth-round draft pick, will make his debut Monday night vs. Detroit after coming off the physically unable to perform list.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings, off this week, have until Wednesday to activate quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee) from the PUP list.

New Orleans Saints: Corner Marshon Lattimore is tied for first among NFC rookies with nine passes defended and has an interception in his last two home games. Saints host Tampa Bay Sunday.

N.Y. Giants: Cornerback Janoris Jenkins will sit vs. his old Rams team Sunday, suspended indefinitely after missing a workout following the team’s bye week.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles, who host Denver Sunday, are the only team to score at least 20 points each game in 2017 and have done so in 12 in a row, best in the NFL.

RAMS: Jared Goff is 3-0 in three road games with 671 yards passing, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He has 1,719 yards and nine TD passes overall.

San Francisco 49ers: Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon had his first career interception last week and is now a starter following the trade of Rashard Robinson.

Seattle Seahawks: Tight end Jimmy Graham had two touchdowns last week, his second time since joining the Seahawks in 2015. They host the Redskins on Sunday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Former Louisiana State linebacker Kendell Beckwith leads the Buccaneers, and all NFL rookies, with 47 tackles, 40 of them solo.

Washington Redskins: Vernon Davis leads tight ends with 10 or more catches in yards per catch at 18.4. Tight end Jordan Reed has five TD catches in his last six road games.

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Giants’ Devon Kennard looking forward to playing the Rams and his former USC teammates

Giants linebacker Devon Kennard (59) tackles Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on Oct. 22.
Giants linebacker Devon Kennard (59) tackles Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on Oct. 22.
(Al Bello / Associated Press)

The thickest jacket I owned was a normal USC hoodie.

Giants linebacker Devon Kennard

It took a while for Devon Kennard to acclimate to the East Coast.

He was raised in Arizona and played college football at USC.

“I was West Coast through and through,” he said.

So when the New York Giants selected the linebacker in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft, Kennard began a new adventure.

“The thickest jacket I owned was a normal USC hoodie,” Kennard said in a phone interview. “I had no idea what a pea coat or anything like that was about.

”I had to go shopping when it got cold.”

Kennard is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces on Sunday when the Rams play the Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Former USC receiver Robert Woods, running back Justin Davis and cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman are on the Rams roster.

“I hope I get a hit on Woody, a good clean hit,” Kennard said, chuckling. “I’ll be talking a little mess if I do. “

Said Woods: “I see him on film and know where he’s at. I’m sure we’ll end up in the same spot a few times.”

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NFL Week 9 scores and schedule

Today’s schedule

RAMS 51, at New York Giants 17

at Tennessee Titans 23, Baltimore Ravens 20

at New Orleans Saints 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

at Philadelphia Eagles 51, Denver Broncos 23

at Carolina Panthers 20, Atlanta Falcons 17

at Jacksonville Jaguars 23, Cincinnati Bengals 7

Indianapolis Colts 20, at Houston Texans 14

Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks, 1:05 p.m.

Arizona Cardinals 20, at San Francisco 49ers 10

at Dallas Cowboys 28, Kansas City Chiefs 17

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins, 5:30 p.m.

Monday’s schedule

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, 5:30 p.m.

Thursday’s result

at New York Jets 34, Buffalo Bills 21

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Rams vs. New York Giants: How they match up

Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of a game against the Cardinals in London.
(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)

RAMS (5-2) AT NEW YORK GIANTS (1-6)

When Rams have the ball

The Rams return from a week off as the NFL’s second-highest scoring team, averaging 30.3 points per game. The offense demonstrated improved capability to score touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line in a 33-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in London. But it still must improve. Quarterback Jared Goff is completing 60% of his passes, nine for touchdowns, with four interceptions. Running back Todd Gurley has rushed for more than 100 yards in four of the last five games. He is averaging 4.3 yards per carry and has rushed for five touchdowns. Gurley is tied for the team lead with 27 receptions, three for touchdowns. Receiver Robert Woods also has 27 catches but is still looking to score his first touchdown. Coach Sean McVay has found ways to utilize rookie receiver Cooper Kupp (23 catches, three touchdowns), but Sammy Watkins (18 catches) apparently remains a work in progress. Giants safety Landon Collins, who returned an interception for a touchdown last season against the Rams, is the leading tackler for a defense that ranks 27th in the NFL, giving up 379.4 yards per game. Lineman Jason Pierre-Paul has a team-best 4½ sacks. The Giants will be without cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The former Rams standout this week was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.

When Giants have the ball

Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is sidelined because of an ankle injury, hampering an offense that ranks 27th in the NFL. Veteran quarterback Eli Manning is completing 64% of his passes, 10 for touchdowns, with five interceptions. Without Beckham, Manning has most often turned to tight end Evan Engram, receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Shane Vereen. Engram has a team-best 30 catches for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Shepard and Vereen each have 22 receptions. Orleans Darkwa has rushed for a team-best 274 yards, Wayne Gallman 141. The Rams’ defense is coming off a shutout over Arizona, the franchise’s first shutout since 2014. As the Rams approach the season midpoint, they appear to have grasped coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. Lineman Aaron Donald leads a unit that ranks 15th in total defense, giving up 328.1 yards per game. The Rams rank 11th in scoring defense, giving up 19.7 points per game. The open date last week enabled players to rest and heal minor injuries, which was key for a group that has avoided major issues. Linebacker Mark Barron leads the team in tackles and also is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. Backup lineman Matt Longacre has a team-best four sacks.

When they kick

Special teams are a big reason why the Rams are tied atop the NFC West. Kicker Greg Zuerlein has scored a league-leading 84 points, and this week he was named the NFC special teams player of the month for October. He has made 21 of 22 field-goal attempts. Punter Johnny Hekker is not getting the opportunities he did previously because the offense is improved under McVay, but he is still averaging 47.9 yards per kick. Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas has made seven of 10 field-goal attempts. Brad Wing averages 44.5 yards per punt.

Gary Klein’s prediction

The Rams are 4-0 away from the Coliseum, including their last two victories at Jacksonville and in London. It looks like a potential trap game, but a cross-country trip should not faze a team with an eye toward the playoffs.

RAMS 30, GIANTS 13

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