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
Cincinnati Bengals 31 Tennessee Titans 21
After winning starting the season 5-0, Tennessee has lost two-straight against AFC North opponents, this time upset by quarterback Joe Burrow and the scrappy Bengals.
Burrow again displayed poise and prowess beyond his years, and he continues to set new records in the process. Completing 26 of 37 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, Burrow now has the most completions by a player in his first eight career games in NFL history with 221.
"The evolution of Joe Burrow continues."
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) November 1, 2020
Adding to Burrow and the Bengals’ impressive day, they were without starting running back Joe Mixon, who was sidelined with a foot injury. Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine picked up the slack in his absence, combining for 94 yards and two scores on the ground.
Most importantly, Cincinnati kept Burrow upright, which has been a chore all year long. Entering Week Eight, the Bengals had allowed 28 sacks, tied for the most in the league. As bad as they have been, Tennessee’s weak pass rush found a way to be worse on Sunday, failing to sack the rookie passer and hitting him just twice. The Titans seven sacks entering Sunday were tied for the second-fewest in the league. Reminder, they signed defensive end Jadeveon Clowney this offseason.
Tennessee takes on Chicago in Nashville next week, who are also riding a two-game losing skid. After a bye, Cincinnati faces their toughest test yet in the currently unbeaten Steelers on Nov. 15 at Heinz Field.
Las Vegas Raiders 16 Cleveland Browns 6
Cleveland was out-rushed for just the second time in 2020, as running back Josh Jacobs’ career-high 128 yards of Las Vegas’ 208 on the ground led them to a bounce back win.
Each of Jacobs’ 31 carries was critical for the Raiders, as snow, hail and high winds made passing the ball a tall task on the lake. Quarterback Derek Carr was steady in the elements, completing 15 of 24 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Carr was not afraid to use his legs either, rushing for 41 yards of his own. Las Vegas also dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 38 minutes.
Mayfield’s numbers were phenomenal a week ago in Cincinnati, but he fell back to Earth without a parachute against Las Vegas. The former top pick completed less than half of his passes and could not find the endzone after tossing a career-high five touchdown passes against the Bengals. He went 12 of 25 for 122 in his first full game without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns went a horrendous three of ten on third down.
While defensive end Myles Garrett was quiet, his partner Olivier Vernon had a big day for the Cleveland defense, recording two sacks and two tackles-for-loss.
Las Vegas travels to the Chargers next Sunday, while Cleveland will hit their bye week before hosting the Texans on Nov. 15.
New Orleans Saints 26 Chicago Bears 23 (OT)
New Orleans kicker Will Lutz may have booted the game winner in overtime to knockoff the Bears, but it was Saints running back Alvin Kamara that shined brightest in Chicago.
Kamara rushed for 67 yards, but he did the bulk of his damage through the air, catching nine passes for 96 yards. He now has 55 receptions this season and joins Matt Forte and LaDainian Tomlinson as the only running backs with at least 50 receptions in each of their first four seasons in league history.
The often-lackluster Bears offense looked strong and explosive, rallying from their third double-digit deficit of the season to force overtime. Quarterback Nick Foles has been inconsistent since taking over a few games ago, but he was solid at Soldier Field Sunday, completing 28 of 41 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with a pick. Still, Chicago struggled to protect the veteran passer, as he was sacked five times on the afternoon. Bears running back David Montgomery made impact on the ground with 21 carries for 89 yards, his highest rushing total of the season.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees once again passed Tom Brady on the all-time passing touchdowns list, tossing the 560th of his career to tight end Taysom Hill in the fourth quarter. Usually known to spell Brees, Hill and the veteran have had quite the connection over the last two seasons. Brees is 21 of 24 with seven score when throwing to Hill.
Brees TD pass to Taysom Hill 🔥
Saints QBs taking over
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 1, 2020
Brees will go head-to-head with Brady when the Saints visit the Buccaneers next week on Sunday Night Football. Riding a two-game losing streak, the Bears will look to stop the bleeding versus a Tennessee team in an identical predicament.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:20 p.m., WPXI-TV
Making his first career start, Cowboys quarterback and Pine-Richland product Den DiNucci looked out-matched and struggled to find consistency Sunday night, as the Cowboys dropped their third-straight.
Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy did not ask much of the rookie for the majority of the night, and kept things tight with his play calling. DiNucci completed 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions, but he was under duress from the Eagles pas rush all night. Holding onto the ball far longer than he should have, the rookie was sacked four times and lost two fumbles, one of which was returned for a score.
DiNucci needed Dallas’ star-studded cast to shine in his debut, but unfortunately for his sake, it was a quiet night all around. Running back Ezekiel Elliot ran for just 63 yards on 19 carries and caught a single pass for ten yards, while wideout Amari Cooper one of five targets for five yards.
On the other side, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz turned the ball over four times (two interceptions, two fumbles), and has now committed at least one turnover in eight-straight games. His performances this season may not be pretty, but Wentz has repeatedly made winning plays when he has had to. Sunday was no different, as he passed for 123 yards and two crucial touchdowns.
Things do not get any easier for Dallas when they welcome the Steelers to AT&T Stadium next weekend. Philadelphia will look to get healthy during their bye week, then visit the Giants in Week Ten.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE
- Atlanta Falcons 25 Carolina Panthers 17
- Buffalo Bills 24 New England Patriots 21
- Indianapolis Colts 41 Detroit Lions 21
- Minnesota Vikings 28 Green Bay Packers 22
- Kansas City Chiefs 35 New York Jets 9
- Miami Dolphins 28 Los Angeles Rams 17
- Pittsburgh Steelers 28 Baltimore Ravens 24
- Denver Broncos 31 Los Angeles Chargers 30
- Seattle Seahawks 37 San Francisco 49ers 27
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants, Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
NFL Considering Making Roughing the Passer Reviewable
The NFL is considering making roughing the passer calls subject to replay review, according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista.
Battista reports that owners are expected to vote on the potential rule change at the annual league meetings later this month.
There is no denying that roughing the passer calls have become increasingly questionable over recent years, as the league continues to emphasize the protection of its most valuable assets – the quarterbacks.
Still, the concept does conjure painful memories of 2019, when the league tried reviewing pass interference calls. The experiment proved to be an unmitigated disaster, and was scrapped after a single season.
While the new role could remedy some of the infuriating calls the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been levied with in recent year, the chance could also open up an unintended can of worms.
Reviewing roughing the passer calls is not the only potential rule change the owner will reportedly consider.
According to Battista, owners will also discuss switching overtime back to sudden death, creating an alternative to the onside kick and voting on a rule reportedly proposed by the Buffalo Bills to delay coaching and general manager interviews until the conference championship round.
NFL Insider John Clayton Predicts Steelers Could Cut Joe Haden, Vince Williams
John Clayton, one of the longest tenured NFL Insiders, offered a prediction on how the Steelers will handle their roster in the coming weeks during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan.
When referring to player cuts around the NFL, Clayton said he expects many notable players to be released by their current teams. Clayton proclaimed “it will be a bloodbath around the league” and that could include a couple key veterans being handed their walking papers by the Steelers.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) March 3, 2021
Joe Haden and Vince Williams could both be forced to find new teams as soon as next week, according to Clayton. Haden has spent the past 4 seasons in Pittsburgh after spending his first 7 years with the Browns. Williams has played his entire 8-year NFL career with the Steelers after being drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
J.J. Watt Explains Cardinals Signing on Adam Schefter’s Podcast
Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt joined The Adam Schefter Podcast on to discuss his decision to sign with the NFC West’s Arizona Cardinals.
While he had numerous suitors across the league, Watt says he was drawn to Arizona by the promise of young quarterback Kyler Murray and his familiarity with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
“All the signs pointed there,” Watt said. “There’s a ton of exciting young talent here. In this league you need a quarterback to have a chance, and they’ve got a very talented young quarterback, who can continue to take the next step. Defense, I’m very familiar with Vance Joseph, who was with me down in Houston with Wade Philips early in my career.”
Watt believes the Cardinals are a team on the cusp of greatness, and that he is the piece to finally put them over the top.
“I think it’s just a team ready to grow and take that next step,” Watt added. “You look at the last three years, they’ve continued to increase win totals every year and are on that trajectory. And I’m looking to help fast track that trajectory.”
Schefter also asked Watt if it was ever realistic he would join his brothers T.J. and Derek with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The star defensive end demonstrated his elusiveness, avoiding addressing the idea head on.
“There was a lot of thought given to every single scenario,” he said. “So we could really sit down and look through all the options and speak with all the teams and gather all the information we possibly could. And there were definitely a lot of great options, there were a lot of opportunities to play. But at the end of the day, I’m very, very excited to be here in Arizona.”
The Cardinals now boast one of the league’s top pass-rushing tandems, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.
Arizona had the fourth-most sacks in football last season before Watt’s arrival with 48.
Watt exits Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown last season.