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Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy returned to Lambeau Field twice after being fired

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Don’t expect to hear much in the near future from Mike McCarthy after he was fired by the Green Bay Packers with four games left in his 13th season as head coach.

He told ESPN.com that he planned to “lay low and try to finish this professional chapter on the high road,” and a source close to McCarthy said he was pondering whether to pursue a head-coaching job this offseason or take the year off and remain in Green Bay, where his family has deep roots.

But before he got out of town for a weekend breather, he was afforded the opportunity to return to Lambeau Field not once, but twice since he was let go on Sunday.

Team president Mark Murphy, with blessings from general manager Brian Gutekunst, vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball and interim coach Joe Philbin, let McCarthy come back Tuesday to speak with his coaching staff and again Wednesday to address the players — something he didn’t get to do on Sunday after the decision was made.

“We all saw him as a staff, which was great,” Philbin said Thursday. “Then we talked, and he wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of [it], and he did a fantastic job talking to the team. Not just about football and winning football games, but his passion. His passion for the game, his love for the players was clearly evident. I’m sure it was emotional for him and everybody in the room. It was awesome. I thought he did a great job.”

Philbin said he has talked multiple times with McCarthy since the change was made Sunday night.

“That’s the Green Bay Packer way, right?” Philbin said. “This is a first-class organization all the way around. I think it’s been that way for 100 seasons, I would guess. I’m not that old, but I’m guessing it’s been like that for a long time. We do things the right way around here. Mark and Russ and Brian were all totally supportive, they think that was the right thing to do, as did I. Hopefully it will help.”

McCarthy’s address to the team came on Wednesday morning. McCarthy’s wife, Jessica, is a Green Bay area native and together they have five children, four of whom are school aged. The Pittsburgh native has said over the years that he will always consider Green Bay to be his home now.

“He spoke to the team yesterday and that was good,” Murphy said on WTMJ radio. “I think Mike wanted some closure with the players and some of the other coaches to be able to thank them and say goodbye to them as well.”

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Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph defends kicking field goal on fourth-and-1 vs. Cleveland Browns — ‘I wanted points there’

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DENVER — The Denver Broncos went with math over a gut feel Saturday night, and many of their faithful left the 17-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns talking about a fourth-and-1 on which the team didn’t go for it in the closing minutes as the Broncos dropped to 6-8 and the brink of postseason elimination.

With 4 minutes, 39 seconds remaining, trailing 17-13 and with a fourth-and-1 on the Cleveland 6-yard line, Broncos coach Vance Joseph sent kicker Brandon McManus out for a field goal as boos cascaded down from the stands.

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It wasn’t pretty, but for at least one more night, the Browns are still in the playoff hunt – Cleveland Browns Blog

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DENVER – The Cleveland Browns don’t care how it happened, they just care that it did.

When Jabrill Peppers sacked Case Keenum on fourth down with the Broncos at midfield and down one, the visiting sideline erupted.

The Browns somehow had slogged through for a 17-16 win, their fourth in five games.

And they had somehow kept their flickering playoff hopes alive.

It was a struggle — for both teams, but the Browns now hope for help on Sunday and point to Cincinnati in a home game on Dec. 23. The team is 4-2 with Gregg Williams as interim coach and Freddie Kitchens as offensive coordinator.

The Browns got a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield and some big runs from Nick Chubb as they beat the Broncos for the first time since 1990.

Mayfield was nowhere near as effective as he had been the previous four games, but when it mattered most he came through. After a T.J. Carrie fourth quarter interception, Mayfield hit Jarvis Landry for 12, Rashard Higgins for 16, Landry for six and then found Antonio Callaway for the touchdown that provided the winning points.

Denver would get a field goal to cut the lead to one, but Chubb broke a 40-yard run and the Browns were able to keep the ball until 1:49 remained.

Keenum got the Broncos to the 50, but a spike and two incomplete passes led to the fourth-and-10, when the Browns called blitz and Peppers came through up the middle to end the game.

Mayfield started strong, throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman on the Browns first possession. He finished 18-for-31 for 188 yards, with two touchdowns, one interception and a lost fumble.

It wasn’t a spectacular effort.

But it was a winning effort, and a Browns team that had won four games in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons combined has won four of five to keep the postseason in view. At 6-7-1, the Browns trail five seven-win teams in the standings. If the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans all win Sunday, Cleveland would be eliminated from the race. But, still, at least for Saturday night, the Browns are still alive.

That’s not a prediction many would have made when the Browns fell to 2-6-1 after Williams’ first game, or even before the season.

But that’s where the Browns are.

Believe it or not.

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Von Miller eclipses Simon Fletcher as Broncos’ all-time sacks leader

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DENVER — Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has always said he considers the most important part of his job is “getting sacks and making game-changing plays,” and he has now done that more than any other player in franchise history.

When Miller launched himself through the Cleveland Browns‘ offensive line on the last play of the third quarter Saturday night and pulled quarterback Baker Mayfield to the ground, he had his 98th career sack.

Miller passed Broncos Ring of Famer Simon Fletcher, who finished his career with 97.5 sacks.

The play came at an opportune time for the Broncos, as the Browns had driven into Denver territory against a Broncos defense depleted at cornerback by injury and Jamar Taylor‘s ejection. The sack also gave Miller 14.5 for the season, the second-highest single-season total of his career.

His career high is 18.5 in 2012.

Miller was asked this past week if he thinks about awards and records down the road.

“I don’t really,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t. The thing about getting sacks, the sack race is so close right now. I’m three sacks away from [Rams defensive tackle] Aaron Donald, and the next guy behind me is just a sack away. So, it’s a tight race and every sack could mean the difference. That’s where my mindset is at right now.”

The Browns beat the Broncos 17-16.

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