The Latest: Carolina’s Butler ejected for throwing punch

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The Latest on Week 16 in the NFL (all times EST):

3 p.m.

Carolina defensive tackle Vernon Butler has been ejected for throwing a punch at Colts tight end Jack Doyle.

Doyle already was on the ground when Butler hit him in the helmet early in the third quarter. The referees initially penalized Butler for unnecessary roughness but a booth review led to the ejection as an angry-looking Butler sat down on the bench.

Then, as he walked off the field to a chorus of boos, Butler made an obscene gesture toward the crowd.

– Michael Marot reporting from Indianapolis.

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2:55 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have ruled running back James Conner out for the rest of the game against the New York Jets with a thigh injury.

Conner left in the second quarter and the team said he was questionable to return. Conner had 32 yards on six carries before leaving.

The game marked just the second time since Oct. 28 that the Steelers had both Conner and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the lineup together. Smith-Schuster missed Pittsburgh’s last four games with a knee injury suffered in Cleveland on Nov. 11.

– Dennis Waszak Jr. reporting from East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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2:50 p.m.

Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has left the Washington Redskins’ game against the New York Giants after being sacked by Markus Golden on the first play of the second half.

Haskins appeared to be favoring his left ankle as he limped off the field.

Case Keenum entered the game in relief. Haskins was 12 of 15 for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

– Stephen Whyno reporting from Landover, Maryland.

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2:45 p.m.

In one category, at least, Ryan Fitzpatrick has surpassed Dan Marino.

Fitzpatrick set a Dolphins record for the most passing yards in a first half with 252 yards on Sunday. He went 18 for 30 for three scores in the opening half against Cincinnati to help Miami take a 21-6 lead.

Marino set the record of 236 yards against the Patriots in 1991.

– Steven Wine reporting from Miami.

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2:30 p.m.

Carolina’s new starting quarterback Will Grier isn’t faring much better than the previous two.

Grier failed to pick up a first down until the team’s third series, was sacked three times and threw an interception, going 11 of 20 with 108 yards in the first half.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’ll play the second half without DJ Moore, Carolina’s top receiver. Moore left the game in the first quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and was later ruled out for the rest of the game.

The Panthers are just 2 of 8 on third downs and trail the Colts 21-3 in Grier’s first career start.

– Michael Marot reporting from Indianapolis.

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2:20 p.m.

Tennessee rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown has made a bit of history for himself. He’s the youngest player in franchise history to score four offensive touchdowns of 40 yards or longer this season.

Brown took a handoff and ran 49 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. He also has three catches this season of 40 yards or longer.

The second-round pick out of Mississippi came into the weekend leading all rookie receivers with 893 yards receiving.

– Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee.

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2:15 p.m.

Mike Tomlin had a quick hook on Devlin “Duck” Hodges.

The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled the rookie free agent quarterback early in the second quarter after he was intercepted twice. Mason Rudolph took the field with 9:20 remaining in the first half.

Hodges, who started his fourth straight game, was 7 of 9 for 53 yards – and the two INTs. He was picked off by Tarell Basham on Pittsburgh’s first drive of the game, and then again on his final throw when Marcus Maye snared his deep pass in the end zone with the Jets leading 10-0.

Tomlin stuck with Hodges this week, despite him throwing four interceptions in a 17-10 loss to Buffalo last week. Hodges was making his fourth straight start and was 3-1 overall as the Steelers’ starter this season.

The Steelers also are without running back James Conner, who left in the second quarter with a thigh injury. He was questionable to return. Conner had 32 yards on six carries before leaving.

Pittsburgh (8-6) is trying to keep pace in the AFC playoff hunt. The Steelers would clinch the second wild-card berth with wins at New York and at Baltimore next week.

– Dennis Waszak Jr. reporting from East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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2:05 p.m.

The NFL has flexed the 49ers at Seahawks game in Seattle next Sunday to prime time.

Both teams have a shot at the top overall seed and the outcome of the season finale will determine the NFC West champion.

The 49ers beat the Rams on Saturday night and are 12-3. Seattle enters its game later Sunday with Arizona at 11-3. The league typically waits until Week 16 to determine the prime-time matchup for the final day of the season.

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1:40 p.m.

Ryan Tannehill has taken the lead in a showdown of the NFL’s top-rated quarterbacks.

Tannehill has completed all four of his passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, and the Tennessee Titans have jumped out to a 14-0 lead with 4:50 left in the first quarter.

Drew Brees, who set a couple NFL records in the Saints’ game Monday night, is 2 of 4 for 6 yards.

At stake for the Saints is the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and home-field throughout the playoffs. The Titans still could lose this game needing to beat Houston in the regular season finale to earn the AFC’s sixth and final playoff berth.

– Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee.

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1:35 p.m.

The New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley is running all over the Washington Redskins in a battle of teams with a 3-11 record.

Barkley has four carries for 108 yards in the game’s first 8:14, most notably a 67-yard touchdown that put New York up 14-7.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is showing no rust after missing the past two games with a sprained right ankle. Jones is 3 of 3 for 42 yards and a touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard.

– Stephen Whyno reporting from Landover, Maryland.

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1:25 p.m.

It wasn’t pretty, but Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has scored his first NFL touchdown against the Bengals.

With the ball at the 1-yard line, the 315-pound Wilkins lined up at fullback and ran into the flat to catch a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Wilkins fumbled at the 1 and recovered in the end zone for the score.

Wilkins was Miami’s first-round draft pick in April.

– Steven Wine reporting from Miami.

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1:20 p.m.

Drew Brees will not be taking home another piece of NFL history, at least not against Tennessee.

Brees came into Sunday’s game having completed his last 22 passes last Monday night when he passed Peyton Manning for career touchdown passes with 541. He also completed 96.7 percent of his passes (29 of 30) in that game for the single-best completion percentage in NFL history.

The Saints quarterback needed to complete the first three passes in Tennessee to tie the mark for consecutive completions currently shared by Nick Foles, Philip Rivers, Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill.

Brees completed his first pass to Michael Thomas. But his second pass to Thomas was broken up, stopping his streak at 23 straight completions.

That ties him with Manning, who had 23 consecutive completions over two games in December 2008.

– Teresa M. Walker reporting from Nashville, Tennessee.

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11 a.m.

It’s a big Sunday for several NFL teams fighting for playoff positioning, including the Baltimore Ravens, who can clinch the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed and home-field advantage until the Super Bowl.

The Ravens travel to face the Browns, who are still clinging to playoff hopes, but have to win and get lots of help from other teams.

Other important games include New Orleans at Tennessee, Pittsburgh at the New York Jets and Dallas at Philadelphia.

The Saints are one of four NFC teams with at least 11 wins and need to keep winning for a possible first-round bye. The Titans and Steelers are fighting for the final wild-card spot in the AFC, and the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win over the Eagles.

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

Carolina Panthers quarterback Will Grier (3) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts’ Anthony Walker (50) and Tyquan Lewis (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
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