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INDIANAPOLIS -- I caught up with Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick by phone this morning and Fitz seemed a bit dismayed to know David Nelson had spilled the beans about him playing with cracked ribs this season.

"My only reaction would be, I don't really want to comment at all," Fitzpatrick said from his home in Arizona. "I don't think injuries had any effect on the way I played this year, at any point. I don't want to get into it. It didn't affect my performance at all."

In an interview Friday with NBC Sports, Nelson confirmed long-rumored suspicions that Fitzpatrick suffered cracked ribs in the Redskins game in Toronto on a hit by former Bills linebacker London Fletcher in the first half.

"A lot of people don't know, but Fitz, during the Washington game, actually cracked a couple of ribs," Nelson said. "So after that, he was playing hurt."

Fitzpatrick can insist his performance wasn't affected by the injury, but the numbers suggest otherwise. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions before the injury. He had 11 TD passes and 16 picks after Fletcher drilled him.  Sources say he cracked four ribs and injured his sternum.

Fitzpatrick said he had just returned from Indianapolis, where he attended some Super Bowl events. He was with Stevie Johnson at one event. He has made it clear to Johnson that he wants to see him back in Buffalo next season.

--- Jerry Sullivan


Super Bowl live chat plus links

Join today's live Super Bowl chat with The News' Jerry Sullivan and Jay Skurski beginning at 4 p.m. and continuing through the game. Sullivan and Mark Gaughan have been in Indianapolis all week, so be sure to browse some of their work throughout the week below.

Following tonight's game get full analysis, including an audio podcast, from Sullivan and Gaughan on Join Rodney McKissic for his Monday Morning QB chat to discuss the game at 9 a.m. Monday.

* News staff picks

Mark Gaughan stories:

Immortal Locks: A look at Brady, Eli
* Cruz takes Giant steps
* Patriots' first concern is secondary
* Giants' Manning puts on a slide show

Jerry Sullivan stories:

* Bond among the Patriots was carefully Krafted
Wilfork takes a hands-on approach
* Fewell at heart of Giants' turnaround
* Life's a fiesta for Pats' Gronkowski, day by day

Continue reading "Super Bowl live chat plus links" »

Berchtold heads SB PR staff

Buffalo Bills senior vice president of communications Scott Berchtold is working at his 25th Super Bowl today at Lucas Oil Stadium. Bertchtold has worked in the NFL for 27 years and just completed his 23rd year with the Bills. He has held a vice president title since 1999. A dozen or so NFL PR directors work the Super Bowl each year, aided by a big contingent of assistants. For the past five years, Berchtold has been in charge of the Super Bowl public relations staff, as well as the corps of volunteers who work the media center in the week leading up to the game.

---Mark Gaughan

Reed denied HOF again

INDIANAPOLIS – So close, yet so far for Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed.

The Bills’ all-time best receiver advanced to the final 10 in the voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a third year in a row. But when the voting to reduce the field went down to the final five, Reed was eliminated.

Reed was among 15 modern-era finalists for a sixth straight year. The modern-era players elected to the Class of 2012 were center Dermontti Dawson, defensive end Chris Doleman, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and running back Curtis Martin and tackle Willie Roaf. Seniors candidate Jack Butler of the Pittsburgh Steelers also was elected.

Reed likely was a victim of a splitting of the vote at the receiver position. Minnesota great Cris Carter and Oakland great Tim Brown were the other receivers among the 15 finalists. Brown was eliminated in the cut-down to 10. Carter advanced with Reed to the final 10. The strong likelihood is voters only picked one receiver to get to the final five, and Reed and Carter cancelled each other out. Carter was in his fifth year as a finalist. He also made the cut-down to 10 in 2009.

The merits of all three receivers were vigorously debated during a selection meeting that lasted about 7 1-2 hours. Reed finished his career with 951 catches for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns. Carter finished with 1,101 catches for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns. Carter’s TD total ranked second among receivers in NFL history at the time of his retirement behind only Jerry Rice. Reed played in an offense that was more balanced and in worse weather conditions. Reed had more team success, helping his team to four Super Bowl appearances, and had better production in the playoffs.

A maximum of five modern-era finalists can get elected. A group of 44 veteran football writers and broadcasters vote on the candidates. The Hall does not release vote totals.

---Mark Gaughan



Nelson: Fitzpatrick played with cracked ribs


---Bills wide receiver David Nelson finally confirms what has long been rumored: Quarterback Ryan Fizpatrick cracked a few ribs during the Washington Redskins game and played through the injury for the remainder of the season.

---Rodney McKissic


Bills, Lindell agree to new deal

---Buffalo Bills kicker Rian Lindell has come to terms on a new contract, according to a source. The length of the deal is unknown but a source said Lindell will be paid approximately $3 million a year.

The 35 year old Lindell has been with the Bills since 2002 after spending the first three seasons of his career in Seattle. A shoulder injury limited Lindell to eight games last season when he m6ade 13 of 15 field goals with a long of 49. For his career, the Washington State product has connected on 80.9 percent of his attempts (262 of 324).

The Bills also came to terms this week with long snapper Garrison Sanborn on a multi-year deal. Sanborn, like Lindell, was set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13.

---Rodney McKissic


Live chat coming Super Sunday

Before, during and after the big game Sunday, join myself, the one and only Jerry Sullivan and Bills ace beat reporter Mark Gaughan for a Super Bowl live chat, beginning at 4 p.m.

We'll talk plenty about the Patriots and Giants, of course, but regular readers of our weekly Bills chats know that almost any subject is welcome for discussion.

The chat can be found here on the Billboard blog, and on the home page. Hope you can spend part of Super Sunday with us.

---Jay Skurski


Mark & Sully's Super Bowl Podcast, Weekend Edition

The News' Mark Gaughan and Jerry Sullivan, from Indianapolis, break down the Super Bowl matchup and make their picks in their final podcast leading up to Super Bowl XLVI:

Download audio

Bills' Nelson on Tebow, SB vibe, his pick

INDIANAPOLIS -- Every NFL player gets the chance to purchse two Super Bowl tickets, and Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson bought his two this year. But Nelson gives the tickets away. Even last year when the Super Bowl was in his hometown of Dallas, he didn't attend the game. Nelson said he wants his first Super Bowl game-day experience to be as a player in the game. Here's an audio clip of Nelson talking about the atmosphere in the Super Bowl city, his college teammate Tim Tebow, and who he likes in Sunday's game between the Giants and Patriots.

---Mark Gaughan


Gronk Update

INDIANAPOLIS -- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Friday that tight end Rob Gronkowski continues to make progress from his left high ankle sprain and said the Amherst native is "moving in the right direction and getting better on a daily basis."

 “I think he was OK this morning," Belichick said of Gronk, who practiced Thursday for the first time since injuring the ankle in the AFC title game. "I think he was OK. I don’t think we had any setbacks. We’ll see how it goes out there today, but I think that he’s been on a ... Rob’s worked extremely hard. He’s gotten treatment morning, noon, and night, and he’s gotten better on a daily basis.

"Hopefully we’ll be able to continue that same process today, tomorrow, and all day Sunday," Belichick said. "We’ll see where that takes us, but I think he’s coming along."

Belichick was asked to elaborate on what Gronkowski was able to do in practice Thursday. “He practiced on a limited basis," the coach said. "He did some of the things that we did in practice, but not all of them. Is that the elaboration you were looking for?”

--- Jerry Sullivan


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