NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers advance with wild-card routs

NFL Playoff Wrap: Packers, Steelers advance with wild-card routs

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers, master of the Hail Mary pass, struck again in another big moment.

Rodgers overcame a sluggish start and finished with four touchdown passes, including a momentum-swinging 42-yard heave to Randall Cobb at the end of the second quarter, to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 38-13 win Sunday over the New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game.

The Packers move on to face the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round next week.

Rodgers was 25 of 40 for 362 yards, continuing a remarkable run of quarterback play that helped the Packers win their final six games of the regular season to take the NFC North. Cobb finished with five receptions for 116 yards and three scores.

For much of the first half, the Giants' defense flustered the two-time NFL MVP. They got pressure on Rodgers and the secondary blanketed the Packers' talented receiving corps , and a few boos even rained down from the stands after New York built a 6-0 lead on two field goals by Robbie Gould.

As it turned out, Rodgers was just getting started.

Green Bay scored two touchdowns in the final 2:20 of the second quarter, punctuated by another remarkable desperation pass by Rodgers.

With the ball on the Giants 42, Rodgers took the snap with 6 seconds left. He rolled to his right before heaving a throw from about the Packers 47. Cobb somehow got behind three defensive backs near the back of the end zone to haul in the pass, getting both feet down before falling out of bounds.

The Giants looked stunned, just like how the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals looked last season after Rodgers pulled off similar feats.

Rodgers and Cobb weren't done.

They connected again on a 30-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for a 21-13 lead. That score answered a Giants scoring drive that briefly cut the deficit to one.

A Packers defense ranked 21st in points allowed (24.3) coming into the game limited the production of Odell Beckham Jr., and the Giants' receiving corps in spite of a battered secondary.

Beckham finished with four catches for 28 yards. Eli Manning was 23 of 44 for 299 yards, including the 41-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King in the third quarter.

But the Giants were plagued by a series of drops by their receivers .

Rodgers began dissecting the secondary after coach Mike McCarthy had his quarterback roll more outside the pocket, and the Packers started working the middle of the field.

Cobb had a big night after missing the last two games of the regular season with an ankle injury. Davante Adams had eight receptions for 125 yards and a score.

Top receiver Jordy Nelson was knocked out of the game with 11 minutes left in the second quarter with a rib injury (see full recap).

Bell, Brown lead Steelers' rout of Dolphins
PITTSBURGH -- Injuries forced Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell to wait three seasons for the chance to run onto the field together in the playoffs. The wait for the Pittsburgh Steelers' "Big Three" to do it again won't be nearly as long.

Bell ran for a franchise postseason record 167 yards and two scores, Brown caught five passes for 124 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from Roethlisberger as the Steelers overwhelmed the beaten-up and mistake-prone Miami Dolphins, 30-12, on Sunday.

Pittsburgh (12-5) ran off its eighth straight victory by avenging a whipping by the Dolphins (10-7) in mid-October to set up a visit to AFC West champion Kansas City (12-4) next Sunday. The Steelers rolled by the Chiefs 43-14 on Oct. 2.

The Dolphins tried to hype themselves up by running around in shirt sleeves in the single-digit wind chill during warmups. Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier did them one better, racing around shirtless -- as if to send a message that his team is plenty comfortable playing this time of year.

It sure looked like it.

The Steelers scored on their first three possessions, and Miami's playoff victory drought was wall on its way to 17 years and counting.

Brown turned a pair of short passes into long scores. The first, a 50-yard sprint down the left sideline, came after Brown patiently waited for tight end Jesse James to provide the one block he needed. The second, a crossing pattern Brown turned into a 62-yard touchdown, ended with the All-Pro receiver pointing at a Miami defender as he crossed the goal line to put the Steelers up 14-0 before the game was 10 minutes old.

Matt Moore, making the first playoff start of his decade-long career with Ryan Tannehill still sidelined by a sprained knee, played on despite taking a helmet-to-chin shot from Pittsburgh linebacker Bud Dupree in the second quarter. Moore returned just minutes after sitting dazed on the turf and completed 29 of 36 passes for 289 yards with a touchdown and an interception. But he fumbled twice with the ball in Steelers territory and the game still in doubt.

The first fumble, caused by an unblocked James Harrison, ended a Miami drive at the Pittsburgh 13. The second, when Moore collided with running back Jay Ajayi, set up a Chris Boswell field goal that pushed Pittsburgh's lead to 23-6 midway through the third quarter.

Shazier stepped in front of Moore's pass on Miami's next possession, and when Bell darted it from eight yards, the Steelers were up 30-6 (see full recap).

NFL Notes: Cowboys DE David Irving suspended 4 games for PEDs

NFL Notes: Cowboys DE David Irving suspended 4 games for PEDs

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas defensive end David Irving has been suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

The ban announced Wednesday leaves the Cowboys without two potential starting pass rushers because of suspensions. Randy Gregory, a second-round pick who slid in the 2015 draft because of concerns over marijuana use, is likely to miss the entire season for multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy.

Irving, one of the team's best pass rushers at the end of last season, can return Oct. 8 against Green Bay at home. The third-year player is eligible for training camp and preseason practices and games.

It's the third straight year that Dallas will begin the season with at least two defensive players suspended, and the Cowboys could have a third. Cornerback Nolan Carroll, a free agent pickup from Philadelphia, faces a two-game ban over his arrest on a drunken-driving charge in Dallas.

NFL: Marijuana ring accused of bilking investors, including ex-NFLers
DENVER -- A mammoth marijuana trafficking ring that pretended to be growing weed for sick people was instead illegally shipping the drug to a half-dozen other states and bilking investors, including former NFL players, Colorado officials announced Wednesday.

A Denver grand jury indicted 62 people and 12 businesses in the case that involved federal and state agents executing nearly 150 search warrants at 33 homes and 18 warehouses and storage units in the Denver area.

"The black market for marijuana has not gone away since recreational marijuana was legalized in our state, and in fact continues to flourish," state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a statement.

The indictment targets the largest illegal marijuana operation discovered since Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2012, Coffman said.

It says the enterprise produced more than 100 pounds of illegal pot each month for shipment to Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and other states.

The ring operated from 2012 until 2016 and raked in an estimated $200,000 a month, Coffman said.

The defendants were charged with 31 felony counts of money-laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes. Most are now under arrest awaiting trial dates in Denver District Court.

Report: Eagles work weight incentive into LeGarrette Blount's contract

Report: Eagles work weight incentive into LeGarrette Blount's contract

The Eagles' biggest back might be getting a bit smaller in the coming weeks.

According to a tweet from ESPN's Field Yates, LeGarrette Blount has an incentive in his contract with the Eagles that will net him $50,000 if he weighs in between 240 and 245 pounds when the team reports for training camp on July 24. Blount's one-year deal carries a $1.25 million cap, including a $900,000 base salary as well as a $200,000 signing bonus.

Currently, the Eagles' website lists the two-time Super Bowl champion running back at 6-foot, 250 pounds — at least 30 pounds heavier than any back currently on the roster. 

When asked how much he weighs at an introductory press conference last month, Blount responded, "The weight I need to be at."

Weight clauses have become more and more common, especially with running backs. Seattle's Eddie Lacy earned $55,000 in May when he tipped the scales at 255 pounds (or fewer) and the Seahawks' bruising back will have the chance to earn another $330,000 over the course of six more weigh-ins through the end of the regular season.

The same goes for Atlanta defensive lineman Dontari Poe, who could bank as much as $500,000 in bonuses if he slims down to 330 pounds from his listed 346 pounds.