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2020 NFL season, Week 16: What we learned from Sunday's games

1) Snow fell upon a presumed shootout, but it did little to cool the hot hand of Aaron Rodgers, whose start was of the blazing variety as he went 5 of 5 for 40 yards on the opening drive, which concluded with a 5-yard score to Davante Adams. Neither Rodgers nor Adams seemed to be slowed all that much by the snowy conditions and certainly not the Titans defense, as the pair led a Packers offensive tour de force. Ridiculously, Rodgers had just four incompletions on 25 attempts, throwing four touchdowns and for 231 yards. Rodgers has the Packers (12-3) primed for the NFC's No. 1 seed and has to be seen as the MVP frontrunner, with all due respect to Patrick Mahomes. At 37, Rodgers' praise this season seems to always be safe-guarded with a preamble that though he's beyond his prime he's this good or that outstanding. This is an all-time season for an all-time player in Rodgers and he looks every bit in prime form. Upon this snowy Green Bay night, Rodgers was sensational despite the elements or the competition. Dominant in all weathers, Rodgers' brilliant campaign shows no signs of slowing.

2) This was no wonderland for Ryan Tannehill and the Titans (10-5). This was a cold, hard night in which visions of clinching the AFC South swirled away in a wintery disaster. When it was beginning to get out of hand, a Tannehill TD toss and a brilliant 45-yard touchdown scamper cut the deficit to five points, but seemed to only unleash the fury of Rodgers and the Packers offense, once more. Heading into Week 17 versus the Texans, the Titans still hold their destiny within their hands, but they'll need to get warmed up and recover from an embarrassing loss in a hurry. Tennessee's defense continues to be problematic, having allowed 448 yards of Green Bay offense, but the Titans weren't able to keep up in a shootout, accounting for just 260 yards of offense, with Tannehill throwing a pair of picks and completing less than 50% of his passes. Perhaps you could point to a weather as an excuse, but not when the opposition was scoring at will in the same elements.

3) Alvin Kamara was sensational on Christmas. Travis Kelce broke some records on Sunday. Dalvin Cook has been tremendous. And Derrick Henry -- though he was relatively contained to 98 yards on 23 carries Sunday -- has been a force. But why not Davante Adams when it comes to the AP Offensive Player of the Year discussion? Against the Titans, Adams caught 11 of 12 targets for 142 yards and three touchdowns, pushing his season totals to 109 catches for 1,328 yards and 17 scores. Per NFL Research, Adams became just the third player in NFL history -- joining Randy Moss and Cris Carter -- with 100-plus receptions and 16-plus touchdowns in a campaign. Adams has become unstoppable. ... Also of note, Packers second-round pick A.J. Dillon was a young man rumbling. With Packers coach Matt LaFleur coaching against the team he was the offensive coordinator for prior to coming to Green Bay, Dillon looked like the raw brute that Henry was when LaFleur was in Tennessee. Dillon had 124 yards and two TDs in a game in which Aaron Jones also had 94. There's a new wrinkle in the Packers offense heading into the postseason.

-- Grant Gordon

1) The Seattle Seahawks are back atop the NFC West after three straight seasons as runner-up. Pete Carroll's squad scuttled in the first half, but Russell Wilson and the offense began to cook in the second. After a lethargic two quarters in which he kept running into Rams defensive linemen, Wilson found open space and was able to push the ball down the field. A 45-yard toss to David Moore helped lead to a Wilson rushing score in the third quarter gave the Seahawks a lead they'd never relinquish. The star-studded Rams defense continues to give Wilson fits, sacking the QB five times. Unlike the Week 10 loss to L.A., however, Seattle (11-4) was able to get DK Metcalf the ball in space for some big first downs. Wilson iced the tilt with a perfect TD pass to Jacob Hollister that allowed Seattle to claim the division for the first time since 2016. It's the fifth division title of the Carroll-era.

2) Credit Jared Goff for toughing out the game after having to pop his thumb back into place. But well before he banged his hitchhiking digit on a helmet, the Rams' QB was struggling for the third straight week. His horrific first-half interception, where no receiver was in the area, wiped away a chance for a Rams lead. Goff consistently made poor decisions under pressure, made several awful throws into the dirt, and never looked comfortable. Against a defense which he picked apart in the first meeting, Goff looked flustered at every turn. After being tough on his QB earlier this season, Sean McVay has every reason to be miffed again after the performance in what was a winnable game most of the contest. Goff's trio of second-half sacks snuffed out any chance for a comeback bid. Goff finished 24-of-43 passing for 234 yards, 5.4 yards per attempt with the INT. With little run game to help sans Cam Akers, the Rams' primary offense funneled through Cooper Kupp (8/66) and Robert Woods (4/48). When the two were silenced in the second half, combining for 17 yards, the offense completely went in the tank. The loss opens the door for McVay's 9-6 club to fall out of the playoffs with a loss to the Cardinals next week.

3) A once-maligned Seattle defense has come alive the past month. Sunday's smothering of the Rams marked the fifth-straight game Carroll's defense has allowed fewer than 20 points, and the second time it hasn't allowed a touchdown all season. Jarran Reed led a front that harassed Goff, compiling two of the three sacks. Safety Jamal Adams was all over the field, collecting eight tackles and a pass defended. He played a key role in the Rams' goal line stand with two huge tackles in the sequence, including clipping Darrell Henderson short of a wide-open end zone. The Seahawks keeping L.A. out of the end zone on four plays inside the 5-yard-line played a massive role in the tenor of the contest. As the postseason approaches, the Seahawks defense has become closer to one we're used to seeing under Carroll's reign.

-- Kevin Patra

1) Give Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger all due credit for engineering a fabulous Pittsburgh (12-3) comeback from a 24-7 deficit, but the Pittsburgh defense had just as much to do with it. Here's the way Indianapolis' last seven offensive possessions finished: Punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, interception, turnover on downs. Linebacker Avery Williamson was all over the field with nine stops, two for losses, and cornerback Mike Hilton set up an easy Steelers TD by scooping a Philip Rivers first-half fumble and returning it to the Indy 3.

2) In a battle of one of the NFL's best pass rushes against one of the league's least penetrable offensive lines, the clear edge went to the Steelers' defensive front. Rivers was sacked five times, two by NFL sacks leader T.J. Watt, who now has 15 on the year. Indianapolis (10-5) entered having allowed just 16 sacks all season, but could not consistently protect a quarterback in Rivers whose lack of mobility demands it.

3) The Steelers' running game, which collapsed during the team's losing streak, found rock bottom against a stout Colts defensive front. Apart from the putrid totals (14 carries for 21 yards), it was an anecdotal sequence that was emblematic of the problem: With a third-quarter first-and-goal from the Indy 1, Benny Snell was stuffed for a loss of 1, then the next three play-calls were all incomplete passes out of a shotgun formation. That's a coaching staff with no faith in the ground game, and it's not Steelers football. For a team that has now won the AFC North and could finish the season 13-3, it's become a glaring weakness as the postseason approaches.

-- Chase Goodbread

1) Adam Gase is putting together a bit of an Eric Mangini-like finish to the 2020 season. His previously winless Jets have now taken two straight games to improve to 2-13, and can thump their chest with pride after again playing inspired football against a playoff-contending team. Sam Darnold completed 50% of his passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, a well-timed trick play produced a touchdown for New York, and the Jets combined to rush for 131 yards. There isn't a ton of information to glean about the Jets other than that they're certainly not tanking -- anyone who would think otherwise is delusional in this league -- and they still have plenty of fight left in them, even if they're likely to be playing for a new coach in 2021.

2) The Browns (10-5) became the latest team to take a big hit from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and it showed Sunday. On Saturday, the Browns lost their top four receivers to close contacts from a positive COVID-19 test, as well as two starting linebackers. Left tackle Jedrick Wills was ruled out due to illness, and Cleveland was forced to start rookie Nick Harris at right guard in place of the injured Wyatt Teller. The team's flight to Newark was delayed over four hours due to the late-arriving positive COVID-19 test and contact tracing that followed, and the team was forced to roll out a lineup that included practice squad player Ja'Marcus Bradley and recent addition Marvin Hall as its top two receivers. Predictably, the Browns' offense struggled mightily, turning the ball over twice and a third time on downs with the game on the line. Cleveland converted just 6-of-15 third-down attempts, threw the ball 53 times and rushed for a grand total of 45 yards on 18 attempts. Some will criticize Kevin Stefanski's choice to throw the ball 53 times while also boasting one of the best backfield tandems in the NFL, but when the Browns did run the ball, they didn't do much. The absence of Teller and Wills undercut Cleveland's ground-game ambitions, and when facing a multi-score deficit, they had no choice but to air it out, and it simply fell short. Fans might cry foul over Cleveland's COVID-19-related roster losses, but they're not a victim in this instance. The league spent a ton of time crafting, implementing and updating a stringent COVID-19 protocol in order to give it the best possible chance to complete a season amid the pandemic, and teams are expected to follow those guidelines. Some haven't, and have been punished accordingly, whether via fines or losses of draft picks. The Browns took their initial losses by leaving players at home in isolation, a situation that could have been entirely avoided if they'd followed protocol correctly. They're not yet finished in 2020, but if they miss the playoffs because of this loss, they'll only have themselves to blame.

3) The what-if game is the only thing left for consolation for Browns fans, who will spend the next week nursing the pain of a terrible loss in a crucial situation. Cleveland can still make the playoffs by beating Pittsburgh in Week 17, but that will not be an easy task even after the Steelers clinched the AFC North title. The twice-a-year meeting between the two teams has become a spirited one since Cleveland lifted itself out of the division's cellar, and the Steelers can ride into Week 17 proud of their division crown and their blowout win over the Browns earlier this season. It will be interesting to see how Mike Tomlin approaches the week, because he's presented with one of two options: Rest his starters ahead of a home playoff game, or send the Browns packing in the most disappointing fashion to end their best season in 13 years. One thing is for certain: Plenty of eyes will be on FirstEnergy Stadium next week, and the Browns' playoff lives depend on it.

-- Nick Shook

1) The Chiefs (14-1) clinched the AFC's No. 1 seed thanks to a rare missed field goal by the NFC's Pro Bowl kicker. Attempting to tie the game with 14 seconds left to play, Younghoe Koo's 39-yard kick sliced right. The miss snapped Koo's streak of 27 straight FGs made. The situation culminated in what was a surprising defensive slugfest, and it wasn't the only time the Chiefs benefitted from a costly mistake by Atlanta. What ended up being the Chiefs' game-winning fourth-quarter drive was nearly halted by a Patrick Mahomes interception in the end zone with two minutes to play. Rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell could've ended it then for the Falcons, but his drop allowed Mahomes to rifle a TD throw for the go-ahead score on the very next play. Overall, it was an uncharacteristic day for the Chiefs, who were held under 20 points for the first time all season. The ball simply bounced their way on more than one occasion (perhaps even a handful) to squeak out a win, but now coach Andy Reid will have a bye week (and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs) to work out the kinks as Kansas City looks to defend its crown.

2) The Falcons (4-11) gave the heralded K.C. offense fits with an assertive pass rush and a disciplined secondary. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett led the way with several pressures of Mahomes, who was often forced to throw the ball away or compelled to take dangerous chances with Falcons defenders breathing down his neck. Linebacker Foye Oluokun picked off Mahomes to end the Chiefs' opening drive of the second half, and if it wasn't for Tyreek Hill's hustle, it could've been a game-altering pick-six. Deion Jones (eight tackles) and Keanu Neal, who intercepted Sammy Watkins on a trick play, were other young Falcons who showed that the future isn't all that grim in Atlanta.

3) On the Chiefs' game-winning drive, Travis Kelce set the single-season tight end receiving yardage record. Kelce needed 60 yards to break George Kittle's mark of 1,377 yards set in the 2018 season and with 98 yards on seven receptions on the day, he now holds the title with 1,416 yards with one week left to play. Kelce also became the first TE ever to have multiple 100-plus catch seasons.

-- Michael Baca

1) Allen Robinson tortured his former team. The ex-Jacksonville receiver was the game's best player, moving the chains time after time and gutting the Jags' defense. Robinson caught 10 passes for 103 yards, often getting open with ease. He was Mitchell Trubisky's go-to target on nearly every big play early when the game was close. If it was third down, odds are the ball was going ARob's way, and he made his former team pay. The free-agent WR deserves to be paid. Trubisky took advantage of a bad defense, completing 24-of-35 passes for 265 yards and two TDs with an INT, adding a rushing score. Still, it wasn't perfect for the QB, considering the type of defense he was facing. An ill-advised red-zone INT killed a chance for points late in the first half of a close ballgame. It's the type of backbreaking play that has haunted Trubisky against better clubs. Luckily for the Bears, Jacksonville is not good. From there, Trubisky avoided mistakes, David Montgomery pounded the rock, and the defense squelched any comeback bids. Easy win. Matt Nagy's team handled business against a one-win team to take one step closer to the postseason.

2) The victory keeps the Bears (8-7) on pace to return to the playoffs. Nagy's squad leapfrogs the Arizona Cardinals into the No. 7 seed in the NFC with Sunday's victory. All the Bears need now is a victory over hated rival Green Bay or a Cardinals loss in Week 17.

3) The Jaguars' loss, coupled with a New York Jets win, clinches the No. 1 overall draft pick for Shad Khan's club. Sunday's game underscored how much this team needs a potentially franchise-alerting talent like Trevor Lawrence. Mike Glennon got the start over Gardner Minshew. Aside from a couple good tosses to D.J. Chark, Glennon was a tough watch. The QB threw for 211 yards with two TDs and two INTs. In reality, he could have been picked off about four or five other times. Glennon is not a starting-caliber NFL QB. Luckily for Jags fans, they won't have to watch him much longer. With the No. 1 overall pick secured, Doug Marrone can bench his scrubs in Week 17. The draft isn't for months, but the Jags (1-14) are already on the clock.

-- Kevin Patra

Editor's note: After Washington coach Ron Rivera spoke Monday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported second-year quarterbackDwayne Haskinshas been waived_.
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1) If Washington was aware it only needed a win to clinch the NFC East, it sure didn't take the field like it Sunday. The Football Team (6-9) turned the ball over three times in the first half, with Dwayne Haskins following his week in the news cycle with a fumble lost and an interception in the first half. Steven Sims joined him in the turnover department, muffing a punt, and Carolina jumped all over Washington's miscues, turning the muffed punt into an immediate touchdown, and using the interception to launch a six-play, 55-yard touchdown drive. Those turnovers essentially told the story of the game, with Carolina scoring all of its points in the first half and cruising to a win, feeling only slight pressure in the final minutes of the game from a Washington team led by replacement Taylor Heinicke. Yes, Ron Rivera turned to his fourth quarterback of 2020 because of Haskins' poor play, and he was a significant improvement -- though Sunday set the bar pretty low.

2) Sometimes, dominant wins don't look especially lopsided in a final stat book, and sometimes teams out of playoff contention roll into town and decide they want to ruin their opponent's dreams. Both are more than OK in this sport, and Carolina (5-10) realized each of the aforementioned scenarios. Carolina and Washington posted nearly identical third-down conversion rates, and Washington actually outgained Carolina by 106 yards, thanks to Carolina's passing offense finishing under 200 yards. Only one of the Panthers' scoring drives went longer than 55 yards -- a 10-play, 80-yard possession capped by a Mike Davis touchdown made it 13-0 -- yet the Panthers didn't need full-field march to beat the Football Team. It simply needed to capitalize on Washington's mistakes. Carolina is headed toward an offseason headlined by a question mark at quarterback, but when Teddy Bridgewater was unpressured and accurate, we got another glimpse of the potential of Joe Brady's offense. A six-month window to improve the roster might do wonders for the Panthers, who have shown they've bought into what Matt Rhule is selling; they just need some time to improve as a team before turning on the jets in 2021.

3) Haskins missed Terry McLaurin, which is an indictment of Washington's lack of depth at receiver, but is more importantly a criticism of Haskins as a passer. His two best plays of the game were results of improvisation, and his longest completion of the evening came because Cam Sims broke free after traffic picked off his defender. The rest was far from remarkable. This Washington team needs to win next week to get in the playoffs, and its best chance is obviously with Smith -- or maybe even Heinicke? The backup injected some life in Washington's offense, going 12-for-19 for 137 yards and throwing a touchdown to J.D. McKissic, though it was too little and too late for Week 16. Haskins' third benching of 2020 feels like it spells the end of his time on the field, except for dire situations. Washington has to be hoping Smith's calf is good to go next week.

-- Nick Shook

1) Where's Oprah when you need her? Andy Dalton spent Sunday slinging passes to receivers like the legendary talk show host handed out gifts to audience members, doing everything but grabbing a mic and shouting "YOU get a long reception" and "YOU get a touchdown" and "YOU get a checkdown!" Dalton took to the air and was sharp for much of the afternoon, completing 22-of-30 passes for 377 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a sparkling passer rating of 134.7. Long completions buoyed Dalton's totals, with the quarterback finding Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup a combined 10 times for 242 yards and two touchdowns (both scored by Gallup). Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore did an excellent job of scheming up advantageous matchups and situations for Dallas' passing offense, allowing CeeDee Lamb (three catches, 65 yards), Gallup and Cooper to use their footwork to win one-on-one matchups, with Cooper and Lamb leaving defenders in the dust off the line of scrimmage for big gains. And Ezekiel Elliott even decided to rise up from the abyss Sunday, rushing 19 times for 105 yards, with 31 coming on one timely run late in the fourth quarter. Dallas made a statement with its win, and though it might be coming too late to reach the postseason, its recent hot streak will at least make Week 17 interesting.

2) Despite Dallas' offensive proficiency Sunday, the NFC East remains a comedy of errors, even at Week 16. Case in point: Dallas took a 13-point lead, intercepted Jalen Hurts in the end zone, then went three-and-out while gaining zero yards in the process, setting up the Eagles with another ideal situation. Hurts then was tackled and appeared to be down, but an on-field fumble ruling stood after a questionable review. Earlier, Darius Slay intercepted Dalton in a timely situation, and the Eagles promptly gained 23 yards on five plays while also racking up 20 yards in penalties -- math wizards, that's a net gain of three yards -- before turning it over on downs. That latter possession started at Dallas' 28 and ended at Dallas' 33. Not great, Bob. Philadelphia had plenty of chances to get back into this game, and Dallas had as many chances to put the Eagles away. Thanks to 17 penalties committed between the two teams -- the Eagles were responsible for 12 of them -- and four combined turnovers (three on the part of Philadelphia), the clock ended up doing it for them, which is the perfect way to end an NFC East showdown in 2020.

3) The Cowboys (6-9) still need help (a Washington loss in Week 17) to make the playoffs, but as crazy as it sounds when considering where they were a month ago, Dallas looks like the best team in the NFC East. The Cowboys' offense is suddenly playing as most expected when viewing its roster on paper before the season, even without Dak Prescott, and its once-woeful defense has found new life -- at least in the takeaway department -- holding the Eagles (4-10-1) to 7-of-17 on third down, forcing the aforementioned three turnovers and coming up with enough stops to help preserve the lead. The Cowboys still can't stop the run, giving up a total of 151 yards between Hurts, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, but they were good enough to give Dallas ample possessions (13 in total) to score. It might not work against a better team, but the Cowboys are at least beating teams they should defeat, running their win streak out to three with triumphs over Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia. A fourth next week (and second over the Giants) might make things interesting Sunday evening.

-- Nick Shook

1) The Ravens run game sprinted out of the gate and didn't stop galloping over a Giants defense that didn't have an answer for Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins or Gus Edwards, who each surpassed 75-plus yards rushing. Baltimore rushed for 249 yards. It marked the 38th straight game the Ravens have run for 100-plus rushing yards, the second-longest streak in the NFL since at least 1948, behind only the 70s Steelers. Dobbins' speed is a difference-maker, as his ability to put a foot in the ground and blast upfield at 100 mph left Giants defenders grasping air. Jackson was playing a firebrand of football, whether on the ground or through the air. The QB threw for 183 yards and two TDs -- his stat line would have looked prettier had Mark Andrews been able to squeeze a couple TD opportunities. Looking like it was 2019, the Baltimore offense destroyed a Giants defense that had been stout against good teams in previous weeks. Big Blue's D had zero chance Sunday against a rolling Ravens squad that scored on its first four possessions and didn't look back.

2) The Baltimore defense blasted Daniel Jones time and time again. The QB was sacked six times as Wink Martindale brought the heat late with a big lead. Only defensive penalties kept a Giants' drive alive late for New York's lone TD drive. Jones, who came in with hamstring and ankle injuries, looked better than what we'd seen the last time he was on the field. The QB went 24-of-41 passing for 252 yards and a TD. Jones not running the ball once again took away a necessary element for a restricted offense. The signal-caller made some pinpoint throws and threw for 16 first downs, mostly on underneath tosses. But the Big Blue offense is fundamentally flawed, particularly against defenses that can take advantage of a struggling offensive line. Jones not getting the ball out quicker against obvious blitzes compounds the issues. On a day they needed a win, neither side of the ball showed up for Joe Judge's team.

3) The Ravens (10-5) are a team no one wants to see right now in the playoffs. The unique brand of football, coupled with the fact that they're playing on fire right now, makes them a dangerous postseason opponent. The Ravens got help to get into the tournament with an Indianapolis loss Sunday. John Harbaugh's team now just needs a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 to make the playoffs. For the Giants (5-10), their postseason hopes are on life support, but with Washington and Philadelphia in the late slate, they still have a chance at the NFC East title in Week 17.

-- Kevin Patra

1) With the Denver secondary reeling from injuries, this figured to be a field day for Chargers QB Justin Herbert. It didn't quite work out that way. The rookie was effective in the win for L.A. (6-9), but Chargers WR Keenan Allen didn't play due to a hamstring injury, and his absence helped Denver (5-10) hold Herbert to nearly 40 yards below his season average. Minus his WR1, the budding star still managed to break the NFL rookie record for TD passes (28), and cross the 4,000-yard mark for the season.

2) The chemistry between Broncos QB Drew Lock and first-round draft pick Jerry Jeudy, lacking all season, was at its worst. Targeted 15 times for just six catches, Jeudy at one point threw his helmet on the sideline in frustration, but by game's end, he had more reason to be upset with himself than his QB. Lock missed on his share of throws, and even when the two connected, Lock's ball placement didn't always hit Jeudy in stride. But Jeudy dropped several accurate throws, including one in the back of the end zone that should've been six points, and a deep ball in the final minute that could've been a game changer.

3) It was a day of redemption for Chargers K Mike Badgley, who's had a forgettable season and was coming off a forgettable game against the Raiders in which he missed two late field goals that forced an overtime. Against Denver, he was 4-of-4, including a game-winner in the final minute. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Denver's Brandon McManus, doinked two field goals off the same upright on back-to-back tries, separated by an offsides call, in a three-point loss. Ouch.

-- Chase Goodbread

1) Leave it to the Texans defense to make Bengals QB Brandon Allen, making just his seventh career start, look like a franchise arm. That's not to say Allen wasn't sharp -- he slung a deep ball to A.J. Green along the sideline for 34 yards that was a thing of beauty -- but if a career backup can carve up Houston for 371 yards, who can't? Houston (4-11) entered having allowed an NFL-worst 108.9 passer rating. With WR Tyler Boyd out with an injury, Allen's passer rating was still 126.5 for the Bengals (4-10-1).

2) Two of the worst pass-protecting teams in the NFL managed to get right against one another. Both Deshaun Watson and Allen had ample time to throw; Allen went unsacked in the Bengals win, and Watson, sacked five or more times in each of the previous three weeks, went down just once. Watson's escape work from the pocket was on point as always, and the Bengals' offensive game plan allowed Allen to get most of his throws out too quickly for much pressure to develop.

3) If you thought Watson was the only bright spot left to watch on this 2020 Texans team, you missed what looked like a rebirth of running back David Johnson. The former Arizona Cardinal notched his first 100-yard game as a Texan (128 on just 12 carries), showing the burst of the Johnson who was an All-Pro in 2016. He crossed the century mark on a brilliant 48-yard run that he finished with a spin move to break a tackle attempt by cornerback LeShaun Sims. To whatever extent the end of Houston's season is an audition for 2021, Johnson made a statement on Sunday.

-- Chase Goodbread

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