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Thursday October 21st, 2021 1:30PM

The Latest: Bears rule out Smith, Mooney for Saints game

By The Associated Press
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The Latest on wild-card Saturday in the NFL playoffs (all times EST)

5;30 p.m.

The Chicago Bears have ruled out leading tackler Roquan Smith and second-leading receiver Darnell Mooney for their wild card game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

They were injured in the regular season finale against Green Bay and did not practice during the week. Smith injured his left elbow and Mooney suffered an ankle injury after setting career highs with 11 catches for 93 yards.

Smith’s injury leaves the Bears without a disruptive force at inside linebacker and makes containing the Saints much more difficult, particularly with star running back Alvin Kamara activated after missing last week’s win over Carolina because of COVID-19 concerns.

Smith had a career-high 139 tackles and ranked second in the league with 18 tackles for loss.

The Bears also activated linebacker Manti Te’o and defensive back Marqui Christian from the practice squad on Saturday.

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5:15 p.m.

Quarterback Jared Goff has entered the Rams’ wild card game at Seattle just 12 days removed from thumb surgery on his throwing hand.

Goff was pressed into duty when John Wolford was hit in the head on the Rams’ second drive and went to the locker room to be evaluated for an injured neck.

Safety Jamal Adams lowered his shoulder and hit Wolford in the head after the backup quarterback gave himself up on a keeper.

Wolford got the starting nod for the second straight week after Goff broke his right thumb when he hit a defender’s helmet when the Rams played the Seahawks in Week 16.

The Rams’ only other quarterback is Blake Bortles who is inactive.

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4:40 p.m.

The NFC wild card weekend is under way with the Los Angeles Rams visiting the Seattle Seahawks and John Wolford is getting the start for the Rams with Jared Goff just 12 days removed from thumb surgery on his throwing hand.

The Seahawks are in the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 seasons under coach Pete Carroll and for the eighth time in quarterback Russell Wilson’s nine-year career.

The Rams have been in the playoffs in three of coach Sean McVay’s four seasons.

The Seahawks won the NFC West at 12-4 and the Rams went 10-6 to secure a wild card berth. The teams split their regular season series with both teams winning at home.

The Rams beat Seattle 23-16 in Week 10 and the Seahawks defeated Los Angeles 20-9 in Week 16.

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4:30 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills have won a playoff game for the first time in 25 years.

They held off Philip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 in the first of six wild card games this weekend.

After allowing two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the Bills defense stiffened in the final minute while the Colts were trying to into field goal range.

On fourth down from midfield, Rivers heaved a Hail Mary toward the goal line that was knocked down.

Buffalo's last playoff win came on Dec. 30, 1995, when they beat the Miami Dolphins 37-22 in the wild card round.

Before Sunday, the Bills had lost six straight times in the playoffs, including a 22-19 overtime loss at Houston last year.

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3:55 p.m.

The Indianapolis Colts have pulled within three points of the Buffalo Bills with 6:13 remaining in the fourth quarter of their wild card game.

Philip Rivers threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle and then hit Doyle with the 2-point conversion to pull the Colts to 27-24.

The last time the Bills hosted a playoff game was back on Dec. 28, 1996, when Buffalo lost 30-27 to Jacksonville.

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3:45 p.m.

Colts coach Frank Reich chose to go for a 2-point conversion following a penalty but the run failed, leaving Indianapolis trailing the Bills 24-16 early in the fourth quarter at Buffalo.

The Bills responded by driving for a 54-yard field goal that put them up 27-16 with just over eight minutes remaining.

Reich's decision to go for 2 following a touchdown throw from Philip Rivers was a head-scratcher because an extra point kick would have left the Colts trailing by seven points.

Reich also made a crucial decision late in the first half that backfired when he bypassed a chip shot field goal that would gave put Indianapolis ahead 13-7. They failed to score the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 4.

The Colts responded with a 96-yard touchdown drive for a 14-10 halftime lead and haven't trailed since.

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3:35 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills have taken a 24-10 lead over Indianapolis in their AFC wild card game on Stefon Diggs' 35-yard touchdown catch from Josh Allen.

That prompted Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to tweet, “people who passed up on Josh Allen looking real crazy right now lol,” a dig at his former boss, John Elway, who bypassed Allen in the 2018 NFL draft to select Bradley Chubb at No. 5.

The Bills grabbed Allen at No. 7 and Allen rewarded them by setting several franchise records in 2020 and leading Buffalo into the playoffs as the AFC's No. 2 seed.

Elway meanwhile is giving up his GM duties in Denver and is interviewing several candidates to replace him this weekend. Elway is staying on as president of football operations.

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3:25 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills are taking a 17-10 lead over Indianapolis into the fourth quarter at Buffalo.

The Colts have driven deep into Bills territory twice and come up empty, once on a failed fourth-and-goal and another time on a missed 33-yard field goal.

They went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4 late in the first half and failed to score. The Bills responded by driving 96 yards for Josh Allen’s touchdown run that put Buffalo ahead 14-10.

The Bills, who have never lost a playoff game in which they led at halftime, made it 17-10 on Tyler Bass’s 46-yard field goal in the third quarter.

The Colts responded with another long drive, this one reaching the Buffalo 15-yard line in 13 plays. But Rodrigo Blakenship’s 33-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright.

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3:05 p.m.

The Seattle Seahawks will play their first home playoff game since January 2017 hosting the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks' last home playoff game was a 26-6 win over Detroit on Jan. 7, 2017.

Seattle has won its past 10 home playoff games, but its last loss came against Saturday’s opponent.

The Seahawks lost to the St. Louis Rams in the wild-card round of the 2004 playoffs, 27-20 in Seattle. It completed a three-game season sweep by the Rams.

During its 10-game home playoff win streak, Seattle has outscored its opponents 282-171.

The Rams and Seahawks split their season series in 2020.

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2:40 p.m.

It’s halftime at the first playoff game in Buffalo in 25 years and the Bills are ahead 14-10 at the break.

QB Josh Allen scored on a 5-yard keeper with 14 seconds left in the first half to put Buffalo ahead.

Allen is the fifth player since 1940 to have a TD pass, TD run and TD catch in his playoff career. He joins Nick Foles, Kordell Stewart, Freeman McNeil and Julian Edelman in that exclusive club.

Allen caught a touchdown pass from John Brown in 22-19 overtime loss to Houston in last year’s playoffs.

Allen’s TD run capped a 96-yard drive. The Bills have had poor starting position all afternoon, starting drives at their own 3, 15, 11, 6 and 4.

The Bills have never lost a playoff game in which they were leading at halftime.

___

2:05 p.m.

Indianapolis has taken a 10-7 lead over Buffalo early in the second quarter.

Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor scored from a yard out for the Colts’ first touchdown after two punts and a field goal on their first three drives.

Taylor has rushed 12 times for 45 yards.

This is Buffalo’s first home playoff game since 1996.

Colts quarterback Philip Rivers is making his seventh playoff appearance but just his second in the last seven seasons.

___

1:45 p.m.

Josh Allen’s 3-yard touchdown toss to tight end Dawson Knox has given the Bills a 7-3 lead after the first quarter of the first playoff game at Buffalo since 1996.

Allen’s touchdown throw capped an 85-yard drive after Rodrigo Blakenship put the Colts ahead 3-0 with a 30-yard field goal.

The Colts were the best in the AFC during the regular season with 66 points on opening drives, second only to Green Bay in the NFL.

But they stalled at the Buffalo 39 and punted on their first possession Saturday.

___

12:55 p.m.

The postseason kicks off Saturday on the heels of the highest-scoring regular season in NFL history.

The 2020 season was packed with more points (12,692) and touchdowns (1,473) than any of the league’s previous 100 years.

A record five teams averaged at least 30 points per game, led by the Green Bay Packers at 31.8, just ahead of the Buffalo Bills at 31.3.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers averaged 30.8 points, the Tennessee Titans 30.7 points and the New Orleans Saints 30.1.

Four of those teams play on what the NFL is calling “Super Wild Card Weekend” with Green Bay earning the NFC’s first-round bye.

Each of the last four Super Bowls have featured teams that both ranked in the top-5 in scoring during the regular season.

___

12:45 p.m.

The NFL’s expanded wild card weekend kicks off with the Buffalo Bills hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1996.

The Indianapolis Colts visit Buffalo in the first of three games Saturday. The Bills earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC’s seven-team playoff field behind Kansas City.

That game will be followed by two NFC games: the Rams visit Seattle and Tom Brady leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Washington.

Brady is making his 12th consecutive playoff appearance and the Buccaneers are making their first postseason appearance since 2007.

Washington won the middling NFC East despite a 7-9 record to earn a home wild card game. The Buccaneers are 11-5.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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