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Luke Kuechly

Buccaneers may have rediscovered running game with Jacquizz Rodgers

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have found a complementary running back for Doug Martin once their No. 1 back returns from a hamstring injury. Jacquizz Rodgers finished with a career-best 101 rushing yards on 30 carries — 32 yards and 17 carries more than he had in the Buccaneers’ previous three games combined — as Tampa Bay defeated the Carolina Panthers 17-14 on Monday night. The Bucs (2-3), who came into the game ranked 28th in the league in rushing,…

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Super Bowl’s Broncos, Panthers excel at defense differently

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Sometime late last season or early this season — depends on whom you ask — Josh Norman and the Carolina Panthers’ other defensive backs were heading toward a drill as part of their weekly “Turnover Circuit,” when assistant coach Eric Washington yelled out a spur-of-the-moment greeting. “Hey, here come the thieves!” It was meant to be funny, using that word to refer to a group of guys whose job description includes trying to steal the ball. It stuck, and the…

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Malcom Butler, Von Miller, Luke Kuechly, Patrick Peterson lead star-studded defenses

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Some of the biggest difference-makers playing Championship Sunday are on defense. The Patriots won last year’s Super Bowl because Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass at the end. The Broncos earned the No. 1 seed because of their top-ranked defense. Arizona had six defensive touchdowns and Carolina has the league’s best linebacker duo. The offensive stars may get most of the attention, but strong defenses helped the final four teams get here. Each team finished in the top-10 in yards and…

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