NFL

NFL notes: Baltimore's Reed suspended after latest safety violation

Patriots will be without tight end Gronkowski

November 20, 2012 

Baltimore Ravens star safety Ed Reed was suspended for one game by the NFL on Monday for repeated hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.

The 11-year veteran will miss Sunday's game against San Diego.

Reed is suspended for three violations of the player safety rules in the past three seasons. The latest came in Sunday night's 13-10 victory over Pittsburgh when he was penalized for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter for a hit to the head of receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Reed also was penalized Sept. 23 against the Patriots for unnecessary roughness and fined $21,000 for striking Deion Branch when the receiver was defenseless. Before that, Reed hit Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Dec. 19, 2010, and was fined $10,000.

"We cannot tolerate repeated violations of rules, especially rules related to player safety," NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said Monday. "We will continue to take the strongest possible action to deter these types of violations and protect our players."

Steelers smarting after loss

Byron Leftwich trudged off the Heinz Field turf, hand on his aching ribs, an expression that became all too familiar during his last stint as an NFL starting quarterback three years ago.

The Pittsburgh Steelers refused to place blame on Sunday night's 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on the veteran backup, but Leftwich has been around long enough to know where the blame goes when things don't turn out as planned.

"I don't know if it's a setback, it's a loss," Leftwich said. "I don't really want to look at it as a setback. We just have to find a way to win next week."

Even with lowly Cleveland on the horizon, that hardly seems like a given.

The Ravens did more than give themselves a nice two-game cushion over Pittsburgh (6-4) with six weeks remaining in the season, they also exposed the Steelers' flaws with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sidelined indefinitely with shoulder and rib injuries.

Pressuring Leftwich at every opportunity, the Ravens disrupted the unit that worked like an 11-man metronome with Roethlisberger under center. Leftwich completed just 18 of 39 passes for 201 yards. He ran for a stunningly athletic 31-yard touchdown in the first quarter but also threw an interception and was sacked three times.

Even worse, the Steelers converted just 5 of 17 (30 percent) of their third-down opportunities, well off their 49 percent conversion rate with Roethlisberger taking the snaps.

"We just never could put two, three, four, five, six plays together," Leftwich said. "We would make a big play and then we were right back to third-and-9, third-and-8 ... You've just got to be better on first and second down."

Packers stick with Crosby

Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after the Packers' 24-20 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday that the team won't "blink" in its commitment to Crosby.

Crosby has missed seven of the 18 field goals he's attempted so far this season. His 61 percent accuracy rate is second-to-last in the NFL. He missed a 50-yarder and a 38-yarder against the Lions. He did connect on a 39-yarder with seconds left to give the Packers a four-point cushion.

Crosby says he believes he has to correct his mechanics. He says he doesn't think he's dealing with any type of a mental block.

Gronkowski sidelined

No more end-zone spikes for a while from Rob Gronkowski.

A person familiar with the process said Monday the New England Patriots tight end expects to be sidelined for four to six weeks after having surgery for a broken left forearm. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave no update on the high-scoring, free-spirited tight end, who appeared to be hurt while blocking on an extra point late in the Patriots' 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Giants get back to work

Coming off a bye week and riding a two-game losing streak, New York Giants realize it's time to turn things around.

While they have a one-game lead over Dallas in the NFC East, the defending Super Bowl champions (6-4) also have a brutal six-game closing stretch that starts Sunday night against the red-hot Green Bay Packers, winners of five in a row.

It's not an unfamiliar position for Tom Coughlin's team. It also had a tough stretch run a year ago and managed to right things just in time to win its second title since 2007.

The difference this year is that the Giants don't have two games remaining with the Cowboys. They have already split games and Dallas' schedule is easier.

McGahee out 6-8 weeks

Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee tore a ligament in his right knee and will be out for what's expected to be a six-to-eight week stint. Coach John Fox said McGahee's injury will not require surgery and that the Broncos had no immediate plans to put the 10th-year veteran on injured reserve.

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