Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

Quarterback Matt Ryan became the envy of the NFL by signing a record five-year, $150-million extension with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, but he knows there’s still work to be done on the field.

“I’m going to do everything that I can to try and help this city and this organization win a championship,” Ryan said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s been my mindset since I was drafted here in 2008. I’ve been working hard at it for 10 years and I’m going to continue to work at as long as I play here.”

The 2016 NFL MVP and four-time Pro Bowler is still trying to help the Falcons capture their first-ever championship after blowing a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

And despite his individual accolades, Ryan knows he’ll need to continue improving his play in the supremely competitive NFC South division.

“I’ve always felt like that your job as a player is to go earn every dollar,” he said. “Have that mindset that every day you wake up, it’s about working as hard as you possibly can. I guess it’s more incentive for me moving forward for me to play my best football as I continue to mature in this league.”

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During an incredible run to the AFC Championship Game last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars showed they have what it takes to be Super Bowl contenders for the foreseeable future.

With one of the league’s best defenses and the top-ranked rushing attack, many point to quarterback Blake Bortles as the only thing holding the team back from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

When asked Friday if Bortles was the man to lead the Jaguars to the Super Bowl, receiver Marqise Lee offered a very blunt answer.

“He ain’t got no choice,” Lee said with a smile on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access.” “He understands, as far as his last two years, how important it is for him to get his game up and get us going. That’s the reason why we were going this year and that’s the reason why we made it that far. He didn’t have a turnover in the playoffs.”

Lee and Bortles both entered the NFL with the Jaguars after being selected in the 2014 draft. The former USC star said the change in Bortles over their four-year careers has been noticeable.

“In my first two years, in the huddle, we’d get into some situations and you see, ‘OK, Blake ain’t speaking up right now, Blake is chillin,'” Lee said. “In the last two years, all right, Blake is in the huddle, come on, let’s get it. We down two touchdowns, we about to go down there and score. You saw that confidence right there, and that helped me.”

Lee led the team in catches last year with 56 and will be counted on even more after Allen Hurns‘ offseason departure to the Dallas Cowboys. Should Bortles continue his improved play, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Jaguars battling for the Super Bowl next February.

Jimmy Garoppolo has led the San Francisco 49ers to four straight wins, and running back Carlos Hyde believes he’ll soon be steering a parade through the Bay Area.

“Minus our record, we’re a really good football team,” Hyde said after he and Jimmy G helped the Niners hang 44 points on the heralded Jacksonville Jaguars defense in an impressive home win, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Cam Inman.

“Next year, we’re going to win the Super Bowl.”

Garoppolo has been everything the 49ers hoped he would be – and then some – since they acquired him from the New England Patriots at the trade deadline, and San Fran is undefeated since inserting him into the starting lineup.

The early returns on Garoppolo, along with the wad of cap space the Niners are projected to have this offseason, should allow them to leap into NFC contention next term. Garoppolo, though, wasn’t so quick to hop aboard Hyde’s bandwagon vow.

“I’ll have to talk to him about that,” Garoppolo told reporters with a chuckle. “We’re dealing with the (Los Angeles) Rams next week and then we’ll look at everything else after that.”

With the 49ers struggling mightily earlier in the season, Hyde said he wasn’t interested in negotiating a new contract. However, he admitted Sunday he’s ready to change his stance.

“I feel we’ve got a chance to go the Super Bowl next year and I don’t want to go to another team,” he said.

Both Hyde and Garoppolo are scheduled to hit free agency this offseason. It’s unlikely general manager John Lynch will let his new franchise quarterback get away, but Hyde’s future is less certain given the declining value of veteran running backs around the league.

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Tony Romo enjoyed a very successful career with the Dallas Cowboys but was never able to lead “America’s Team” to the Super Bowl during his tenure.

While many point toward the prolific quarterback for the team’s struggles, owner Jerry Jones placed the blame elsewhere Thursday evening.

“That one’s on me,” Jones said during the broadcast of the annual Hall of Fame Game, per Will Brinson of CBS Sports. “I should have had a better supporting cast around him.”

Romo qualified for the playoffs four times with the Cowboys, most recently in 2014 when they topped the Detroit Lions in the opening round. That set up a date with the Green Bay Packers and a trip to the NFC Championship Game on the line.

With the Cowboys trailing the home team by five late in the final quarter, Romo completed an incredible pass to Dez Bryant on fourth-and-2 to set Dallas up on the 1-yard line. Upon video review, the officials ruled Bryant did not catch the ball, turning it over to the Packers on downs and effectively ending the game.

After missing the start of the 2016 season due to injury, Romo was supplanted in the starting lineup by Dak Prescott and opted to retire at season’s end to join CBS Sports as a broadcaster.

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Robert Mathis boasts an enviable resume. The pass-rusher spent his entire 14-year career with the Indianapolis Colts, was named to six Pro Bowls, led the league in sacks in 2013, and won a Super Bowl in 2006.

But it’s that last accomplishment that still eats at Mathis, who believes the Peyton Manning-era Colts should have more than one ring to their name.

“Looking back on that team, I feel a mix of pride, and, I’ll admit, the slightest bit of disappointment,” Mathis wrote in the Players’ Tribune on Friday. “I’m so proud of what we accomplished during our era of Colts football, but I think every person, down to the last man, would tell you that he expected to win more than one ring in Indy. If there’s any regret I have from my career, it’s that.

The Colts made another Super Bowl in 2009, losing to the New Orleans Saints in heartbreaking fashion.

Mathis’ career extended into the Andrew Luck era, and while the Colts appeared on track to contend for another Super Bowl before the sack master’s time in the NFL was over, Indy quickly fell apart, missing the playoffs in 2015 and 2016 before Mathis hung up his cleats this offseason.

While Mathis is disappointed to have only one ring on his hand, he still has the Colts’ win over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI to reminisce about in his retirement.

“Not to sound arrogant, but after we beat the Patriots in that game, the Super Bowl almost seemed like a formality.” Mathis wrote. “The Bears were a great team, but that was our game. They said we couldn’t play in the elements, and all we did was hold the Bears offense to a single touchdown in a huge rainstorm to win that game.

“After far too long, we finally got Peyton his ring.”

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It’s been nine seasons since the Jacksonville Jaguars last experienced playoff football, and they’re one of 13 teams who’ve never raised the Lombardi Trophy.

Jaguars star defensive tackle Malik Jackson believes both unenviable streaks will end very soon.

Jackson told “The Simms and Lefkoe Podcast” that he’s confident of adding another ring to his collection this campaign after winning the Super Bowl in 2015 with the Denver Broncos.

“That’s what I believe and, until we lose, that’s when I’ll believe different,” Jackson said, according to NFL.com’s Marc Sessler.

“The Panthers did it. If the Panthers can do it after the season they had (going 7-8-1 in 2014) … But we’re going to win the Super Bowl. If they can do it, why can’t we?”

Jackson believes the Jaguars’ positive changes will stem from improved leadership.

“I’m very confident. It truly feels different … I think it’s a lot of guys coming in here and coming to Jacksonville saying, ‘I’m gonna change this. I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna do that,'” Jackson said. “We have leaders. We have a lot of great players. We just need to be consistent, and that’s on all three sides of the ball: offense, defense, and special teams.”

He added: “I think having that and being who we all are, it should be a great year. After the Super Bowl, we’re going 16-0, we’re going all the way.”

The offseason lull before training camp is a time for optimism, with many players expressing their confidence that they’ll enjoy a successful 2017 season.

So while Jackson shouldn’t be ridiculed for the prediction in a time when all players are feeling hopeful, the Jaguars need to prove there’s substance to go along with the hype.

Last offseason, after an impressive year for the offense and with the addition of Jackson, many expected the Jaguars to finally make good on their potential. Instead, the Jaguars finished 3-13.

Another impressive draft and free agency have caused some to jump back on the bandwagon, but with questions about Blake Bortles‘ ability to be an effective NFL starter and how the defensive talent will gel, the Jaguars should probably learn how to walk before they take a run at a championship.

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Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates have been synonymous with the Chargers for nearly 15 years, but the dynamic duo is still ringless as the end of their careers loom.

Running back Melvin Gordon said Friday on NFL Network that Los Angeles is motivated to help the team’s two eldest statesmen earn a Super Bowl title before they hang up their cleats.

“Father Time is coming with my boy (Antonio) Gates and (Philip Rivers),” Gordon said, according to NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman. “It would mean a lot to get those guys that ring before they step down, especially Gates. I think we might lose him after this year; you never know with Gates. But it would be love to have him walk away with a ring and put that stamp on his career, so that’s definitely what we want.”

The 37-year-old Gates flirted with retirement this offseason, but ultimately opted to return, likely partly due to being one score away from breaking a tie with Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history.

While Rivers, 35, appears to have a larger window in which to capture his elusive first title, it’s possible the move away from San Diego to L.A. will cause him to question how much longer he wants to play.

Gordon will need to continue his ascension if the Chargers are to emerge as contenders. In 2016, the third-year back rebounded from a disappointing rookie season in which he failed to score a touchdown by finding the end zone 12 times and falling three yards short of 1,000 rushing yards due to a late-season injury.

Now, Gordon has his sights on adding some bling to his hand after getting a look at New England Patriots running back James White‘s ring collection.

“Winning season, man. We want a Super Bowl,” Gordon explained. “My boy James White, he has two of those things. I go to his apartment and you open up the little case and they’ve got the light flashing on the ring. All you can think about is I wish that could be me.”