Welcome to Around the NFL, where Cale Berger of Steelers Now will recap early-week action and take a look ahead at some of the most important matchups from the Pittsburgh Steelers perspective.
AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND
Cleveland Browns 49 Dallas Cowboys 38
After bludgeoning the Cowboys defense for 49 points and 508 yards of offense, the Browns are 3-1 for the first time since 2001.
Dallas had no answers for Cleveland’s power run game Sunday, surrendering 307 yards and three scores on the ground. Even after starting running back Nick Chubb left the game in the first half with an injury, his backfield partner Kareem Hunt picked up the slack in a big way, rushing for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Relative unknown D’Ernest Johnson paced the club with 95 rushing yards in a breakout performance, while wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. joined in on the fun with a pair of carries for 73 yards, including an incredible 50-yard touchdown off a reverse.
Odell Beckham is putting it on the Cowboys today.
5 catches, 81 yards, 2 TD
2 carries, 73 yards, TD pic.twitter.com/c0OHDoo6FS
— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) October 4, 2020
Quarterback Baker Mayfield and Beckham Jr. also appear to be finally building a rapport, connecting for two touchdowns over the last three games. Beckham Jr. also caught a 37-yard touchdown from his college teammate and fellow wideout Jarvis Landry early in the first quarter. Mayfield has strung together consecutive games without a turnover for the first time since Week 9 last year.
While Dallas’ defense struggled, Cleveland’s was just barely better. They surrendered a career-high 502 passing yards and four touchdowns to quarterback Dak Prescott, but cornerback Denzel Ward did seal the game with an interception in the waning moments. Prescott is the first player in NFL history with at least 450 passing yards in three -straight games. Browns defensive end and Texas-native Myles Garrett was still dominant pressuring Prescott Sunday, posting two sacks and a tackle-for-loss.
The Browns will face the Colts next weekend, then visit Heinz Field to battle the Steelers and their top-ranked rush defense on Oct. 18.
Dallas should get some reprieve next Sunday when the host the winless Giants.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38 Los Angeles Chargers 31
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady clearly still has it, as his 369 passing yards and five touchdowns helped lead the Buccaneers back from a 17-point deficit to improve to 3-1 on the year.
Brady has now overcome a deficit of ten or more points 34 times in his career, and tied former rival Peyton Manning for the second-most 300 yard passing games in league history at 93. He threw touchdowns to five different receivers Sunday, with wideout Mike Evans being the biggest beneficiary, catching seven passes for 122 yards and a score.
While the 43-year-old Brady was spectacular, 22-year-old Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was no slouch either with another impressive performance. Herbert completed 80% of his passes Sunday, tossing for 290 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception.
Herbert’s early play is encouraging and exciting, but his job just got significantly more difficult, as Los Angeles lost dynamic running back Austin Ekeler to a hamstring injury.
Tampa Bay will visit the 3-1 Chicago Bears next week, and the Chargers will travel to face the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.
Buffalo Bills 30 Las Vegas Raiders 23
Quarterback Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills look more and more like legitimate contenders in the AFC with each passing week, improving to 4-0 for the first time since 2008 with their win over the Raiders.
Allen is off to the best start of his career and overcame a bum shoulder to continue his stellar play on Sunday, passing for 288 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score, making him the second-fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 20 career rushing touchdowns. Only the Patriots’ Cam Newton did it faster.
The former Wyoming star now has 15 total touchdowns (12 pass, three run) on the season with just one interception.
The Bills’ defense made life difficult for the Raiders all afternoon, forcing two fumbles and holding star running back Josh Jacobs to just 48 yards on 15 carries.
Still, quarterback Derek Carr played well, dicing up the Bills for 311 yards and two scores.
Buffalo’s Week 5 matchup with the Tennessee Titans is still in question considering the on-going virus outbreak in Nashville. They will face their toughest test yet when they host the Kansas City Chiefs four day later on Thursday Night Football.
Things are not getting any easier for Las Vegas either, who will take a crack at Kansas City first next week.
New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, 7:05 p.m., KDKA-TV
The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs won’t play on Sunday after Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Newton did not get the news until Saturday morning, which threw a wrench into the Patriots plan heading into the game in Kansas City.
Newton has the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in NFL history with 62, and the Patriots coaching staff is clearly aware. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has done an excellent job maximizing the former Panther’s unique skillset, as he is tied for the league lead with four rushing scores. Newton has also put questions regarding his shoulder health to bed early on, consistently pushing the ball downfield and completing 68% of his passes.
Chiefs starter Patrick Mahomes is coming off a dominant performance against the Ravens that saw him throw for 385 yards and four scores. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has been near perfect to start the year, tossing for nine touchdowns and 898 yards with no interceptions.
Mahomes is also one of the few players Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has yet to figure out. In three career games against New England, Mahomes has thrown for eight touchdowns and an average of 310 yards per game.
Owning the league’s best rushing offense, the Patriots must control the ball and keep it away from Mahomes and a Chiefs offense that has scored points on an astonishing 55.2% of their offensive drives this season.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE
Denver Broncos 37 New York Jets 28
Indianapolis Colts 19 Chicago Bears 11
Cincinnati Bengals 33 Jacksonville Jaguars 25
New Orleans Saints 35 Detroit Lions 29
Seattle Seahawks 31 Miami Dolphins 23
Baltimore Ravens 31 Washington 17
Carolina Panthers 31 Arizona Cardinals 21
Minnesota Vikings 31 Houston Texans 23
Los Angeles Rams 17 New York Giants 9
Philadelphia Eagles 25 San Francisco 49ers 20
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers, Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Report: Bengals Trade Carlos Dunlap to Seahawks for B.J. Finney, Draft Pick
The Cincinnati Bengals are reportedly shipping defensive end Carlos Dunlap to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a seventh-round pick, according to multiple reports.
Dunlap has been used sparingly by Cincinnati this season, causing a rift between the player and the organization. Tempers boiled over during the Bengals’ 37-34 loss to the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, as Dunlap was seen arguing with a coach on the sideline toward the end of the game.
Cincinnati will happy to distances themselves from Dunlap and bolster their offensive line in return, which has allowed the most sacks in the league with 28.
Dunlap appears equally as eager to leave Cincinnati, posting the following video on his Instagram after news of the trade broke.
As for Seattle, they add some much-needed pass rush help to a defense that has just nine sacks on the season and is second-worst in the league against the pass. Finney had not played a single offensive snap for the Seahawks this season, but was utilized on special teams.
Selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Dunlap has spent his entire eleven-year career with Cincinnati and been selected to two Pro Bowls. He is the Bengals’ all-time leader in sacks (82.5) and tackles-for-loss (103).
Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers in 2015, Finney played four seasons in Pittsburgh as a plug-and-play offensive lineman before signing with Seattle this offseason. He started 13 games over his Steeler career.
NFL, NFLPA Announce 19 New Positives From Last Testing Period
The NFL and NFLPA have announced their latest COVID-19 results from their most recent testing period.
The league had 19 new positive cases between Oct. 18 to 24. There were eight new positive tests among players and eleven among staff members.
In total, 42,687 total tests were administered to 7,817 players and personnel over the seven-day period.
The NFL has had 55 positives from players and 82 among personnel dating back to Aug. 1. Over 500,000 total tests have been administered.
Tier 1 and 2 individuals continue to be tested daily, white Tier 3 personnel are being tested on a weekly basis.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had any coronavirus-related issues since running back Jaylen Samuels was removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 list back on Aug. 13.
Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. Suffers Torn ACL
The Cleveland Browns may have improved to 5-2 with their comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but they suffered a significant loss.
Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will miss the remainder of the 2020 season with a torn ACL, the organization announced Monday morning.
Beckham suffered the injury in the first quarter of Cleveland’s win over Cincinnati on Sunday, attempting to make a tackle on an interception thrown by quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The star wideout was off to a strong star in his second season with the Browns, catching 23 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns. He also had rushed for a score.
While the loss of Beckham is significant, the Browns appear to have enough offensive weapons to overcome the injury. Mayfield posted one of the best performances of his career on Sunday, completing 22 of 23 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns after Beckham left the game.
Financially, Cleveland is still likely on the hook for Beckham’s $12.971 injury guarantee, which will convert to a full guarantee if he is rostered on the third day of the next league year, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. This means that Beckham is uncuttable, and a trade is very unlikely considering the injury.
Translation: Odell is uncuttable. He won’t be healthy before the guarantee converts in March, so he’s getting his money in 2021. https://t.co/GPO2BRi6qG— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 26, 2020
Selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, Beckham has caught 487 passes for 6,830 and 51 touchdowns over his career. He has been selected to three Pro Bowls, but not since 2016.
The Steelers and Browns do not face off again until Week 17 in Cleveland.