Sports Football

Niners' Harbaugh draws interest

By Bill Lankhof, Toronto Sun

Jim Harbaugh could draw all kinds of interest if and when he departs as head coach of the Niners. (AFP)

Jim Harbaugh could draw all kinds of interest if and when he departs as head coach of the Niners. (AFP)

The Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes have begun.

The 49ers likely need to finish the season 4-0 to have any chance to make the playoffs. That likely isn’t happening.

What is likely is that Harbaugh is moving on when the final nail is driven into the season’s coffin.

While Harbaugh has worn out his welcome in San Francisco, there remain numerous teams interested in his services.

Harbaugh has one year remaining on his contract but NFL sources have indicated the 49ers considered trading him last year to Cleveland, which is still interested.

While it’s unusual for coaches to be traded, it isn’t unheard. Herm Edwards was traded to the Chiefs in 2005, by the Jets.

Curiously, the Jets are also expected to come calling about Harbaugh’s availability.

One NFL source told ESPN that Oakland is the most likely destination for Harbaugh.

DOLPHINS MEET THEIR MATCH

The Miami Dolphins have been quick out of the gate.

On Monday, they face a team that rarely knows how to keep one shut.

The Dolphins have outscored opponents 231-137 in the first three quarters, the second-largest margin in the NFL so they will be looking to build a big early lead against a Jets team that has come apart.

This appears to be a perfect matchup for the Dolphins who are coming off a disappointing loss last week against Denver.

They go from meeting one of the NFL’s best to one of its worst. While the Dolphins are quick starters, New York has allowed the second-most points in the first half at 15.8 per game.

So, as Miami tries to make a run at a playoff spot, this could either be a soft spot in the schedule - or, one of those trap games because the Dolphins have not been able to finish. They blew an 11 point fourth quarter lead at Denver. Late meltdowns have been a recurring theme this season.

The Dolphins also gave up late leads to Detroit and Green Bay, and are 0-3 in games decided by four points or less.

“We have to find a way to win some of those games,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We are going to be in some more of those games. That’s just the way the NFL is.”

The Dolphins are in a tight battle with several other teams including, Baltimore, the Browns and K.C. for the two wild card spots. “I don’t think the records really matter right now,” Philbin said. “We have to go win a game ... that’s really the only thing on my mind.”

 

Jaguars fans got glimpse of the future and for once it wasn’t horrid.

Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles engineered his first game-winning drive, setting up Josh Scobee for a 43-yard field goal, that gave Jacksonville a 25-24 win over the faltering Giants.

The loss casts further doubt on the future of Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin but it gave the Jaguars one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season. The Giants dominated the first half , opening a 21-3 lead. Then, Jacksonville defensive end Chris Clemons was spotted on the sideline screaming at his team: Geno Hayes responed by forcing Eli Manning to fumble and team-mate J.T. Thomas recovered in the end zone to spark the comeback.

Bortles winning drive took all but 28 seconds off the clock and featured scrambles of 20 and 11 yards.

 

Rookie Aaron Colvin returned Larry Donnell’s fumble 41 yards for a touchdown in the fourth. It was the first time in franchise history that Jacksonville scored two defensive touchdowns in the same game.

Josh Brown’s 33-yard field goal put the Giants ahead 24-22 with 3:26 to play.

But Bortles took over after that, driving the Jags 55 yards while taking all but 28 seconds off the clock. Bortles used identical keepers to hurt the Giants for 11 and 20 yards.elivering a blistering attack at his team’s play.

WATT'S LEAVES NO DOUBT

It was another history-making day for J.J. Watt.

And, just another day of ineptitude for the Tennessee Titans. That added up to a 45-21 victory for Watt’s Houston Texans.

The game featured the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick , who threw for a franchise-record six touchdowns.

DeAndre Hopkins had a career-best 238 yards receiving and two TDs.

Still, as most games are with the Texans, this was Watt’s show. Watt had a touchdown reception, two sacks, forced, and recovered a fumble, for Houston (6-6). Fitzpatrick hit Watt with a one-yard TD pass. It came on the drive after Watt’s forced fumble had started fans screaming “MVP, MVP!”

And, they might just have a point.

Watt has 11 1/2 sacks and five touchdowns to make him the first player to have at least 10 sacks and three or more touchdowns in a season since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic.​

THAT'S SO RAVENS

 

The Baltimore Ravens had San Diego on the ropes for 57 minutes Sunday but only ended up hanging themselves, leaving their playoff hopes dangling.

The Chargers playoff hopes remain intact for another week with a 21 point fourth-quarter comeback.

The Ravens committed 13 penalties, including two on Philip Rivers’ desperate final drive that culminated in the winning touchdown throw to Eddie Royals in an thrilling 34-33 victory. The Chargers third consecutive win kept their playoff hopes alive in a tough division battle with Denver and Kansas City.

The Ravens loss leaves them witrh a 7-5 record, falling further behind the 8-3-1 Bengals - the only team in the AFC North to emerge with a win Sunday.

The Ravens will look back at this as a game of missed opportunities. A touchdown pass to Owen Daniels and an interception that resulted in a field goal gave Baltimore an earlyt 10-0 lead.

But a stubborn Chargers’ defence limited them to a 16-10 lead at halftime with several key stops in the red zone.

The Chargers remaining schedule is daunting with visits from New England and AFC West-leading Denver, and trips to San Francisco and Kansas City.

But cornerback Brandon Flowers, with a game-ending tackle to run out the clock, remains confident. “We feel like we’re in playoff mode right now because every team we’re going to be playing the rest of the season feels they can’t lose a game the rest of the season just to try to keep their playoff hopes alive,” Flowers said.

It appeared Baltimore might drive in for the decisive points when returner Jacoby Jones set up Joe Flacco at the Chargers’ 30 yard line. But Baltimore failed to convert on third and four at the 14. Justin Tucker’s fourth field goal made it 33-27.

No time outs. With 2:22 to play, with a tough schedule staring at them to close the season, the Chargers playoff hopes rested in Rivers’ hands. From his own 20 he march into Baltimore territory. A penalty to Elvis Dumervil lining up in the neutral zone abetted the drive. Then Anthony Levine, in a controversial call, got nailed for interference in the end zone on Malcolm Floyd.

Next play, Rivers hit Royal for what looms as a season-saving score.​

 

 


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