- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

There will be plenty of NFL off-field news to talk about yet again over the coming week, when Commissioner Roger Goodell is supposed to meet with players’ union leader DeMaurice Smith to discuss how to fix the league’s personal-conduct policy.

It is an issue that is not going away anytime soon.

Another reminder is the pending decision about who will hear ex-Ravens running back Ray Rice’s appeal of his indefinite ban for punching the woman who is now his wife.

How the Ravens handled that case is under scrutiny because of an ESPN report released Friday, the same day Goodell delivered a widely criticized performance at a news conference short on specifics as he emerged from a lengthy silence to take questions about the recent series of domestic violence cases involving NFL players.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was asked about that ESPN report after Sunday’s 23-21 victory at Cleveland - and it seems safe to say that won’t be the last time the topic is raised.

Also worth watching will be whether any other sponsors react negatively; Procter & Gamble canceled an on-field breast cancer awareness promotion Friday, joining PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch in demonstrating concern about the way the league has dealt with all the tumult.

Goodell’s credibility - among players and the general public, if not team owners - hangs in the balance as these stories unfold.

In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season’s third Sunday:

PLAYS OF THE DAY: If you haven’t seen ‘em, go find ‘em online - a pair of catches by QBs. Yes, catches by QBs. Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton became the first NFL quarterback to grab a TD pass since 2008, pitching the football to receiver

Mohamed Sanu before getting it back on a catch-and-run that covered 18 yards during a 33-7 win over Tennessee 33-7. And Browns backup Johnny Manziel was involved in an even wackier trick play that involved pretending to argue with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan before collecting a pass from Brian Hoyer for what would have been a 39-yard gain had it not been erased by a penalty.

FIGHT!: There was a free-for-all brawl as Philadelphia beat Washington 37-34, precipitated by Chris Baker’s blind-side flattening of Nick Foles after an apparent interception (it wound up being ruled no pick). So conscious of helping offense and protecting QBs, might the NFL one day change the rules governing interception returns?

BACKUP QBS: The hits keep coming for the league’s starting quarterbacks, and with Matt Cassel breaking his left foot during a scramble during Minnesota’s 20-9 loss to New Orleans, rookie Teddy Bridgewater takes over for the Vikings. Assuming Tampa Bay’s Josh McCown misses time with a thumb injury from Thursday’s loss to Atlanta, six clubs will have needed to turn a reserve QB into a starter at least once because of injury. That’s nearly 20 percent of the NFL - and that’s only through Week 3. A seventh team is making a switch because of poor play: The Jaguars are switching to No. 3 overall draft pick Blake Bortles instead of Chad Henne at San Diego next Sunday.

UNBEATENS: The Eagles keep falling behind by 10, but keep winning. The Cardinals are without injured quarterback Carson Palmer, and keep winning. The Bengals’ defense is allowing a league-low 11 points per game, so it makes sense that they keep winning. Those are the NFL’s only 3-0 teams.

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU CELEBRATE: Detroit linebacker Stephen Tulloch claimed he wasn’t embarrassed by his unusual injury, even though he had to leave Sunday’s 19-7 victory over Green Bay after hurting his left knee while celebrating a sack of Aaron Rodgers. Tulloch jumped, then fell to the ground; he tried to stay in the game but didn’t last long.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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