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Around the NFL: Burrow and Bengals Upset Titans, DiNucci Stumbles in Philly

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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.

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 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

NFL Announces Stiffened Mask Mandate for Sidelines

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As COVID-19 cases surge across the country and rise around the league, the NFL announced stricter sideline mask mandates in a memo to clubs Monday.

Beginning with Thursday’s slate of games, all player not entering the game or wearing a helmet will be required to wear a mask or gaiter on the sideline.

Similar to how multiple head coaches were punished at the start of the season for violating the mask protocol, players will also now be punished for failing to comply.

“Players who fail to wear masks on the sidelines will be subject to discipline,” the league said in Monday’s memo. “Clubs are required to enforce these rules. Violations by players and/or staff will result in accountability measures being imposed upon the Club.”

In additions, coaches will no longer be allowed to wear a face shield in lieu, as they will also be required to have a mask or gaiter on underneath it.

Lastly, the league will further limit postgame interactions between players, which was already a point of emphasis within the protocols when the season started. Players will be allowed to “briefly” engage with opponents following the completion of games, but will be required to wear face covering while they do so.

The league also encouraged clubs to designate members of each organization as enforcers of the updates policies.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night, who shut down their practice facility Monday following multiple cases within the organization, including running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins.

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Around the NFL: Ravens Fall to Third Place with Overtime Loss

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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

Tennessee Titans 30 Baltimore Ravens 24 (OT)

The Ravens have now lost three games on four weeks for the first time since 2018, thanks in large part to a walk-off touchdown by running back Derrick Henry in their overtime loss at home to the Titans on Sunday.

Henry is no stranger to walk-off, game-winning scores. He also recorded a five-yard touchdown in overtime of Week 6, and has become the first player with multiple overtime rushing touchdowns in a single season in NFL history. Henry rushed for 133 yards and the scores, and now owns six 100-yard performances on the season.

Not to be out done, Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown caught four passes for 62 yards and score, on which he would not be denied as his team crawled back from an eleven-point deficit in the second half. Fellow wideout Corey Davis led the way with five receptions for 113.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was average by his standards, passing for 186 yards with a touchdown and pick, while rushing for just 51 yards on the ground. Even though he failed to win the game for his club in overtime, it was the defense that did Baltimore in, as they were simply unable to stop Tennessee’s explosive offense from amassing 423 yards of total offense, their second-highest total allowed this season. Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins was a bright spot for the Ravens with 70 rushing yards and a score.

Currently outside the playoff picture if the season were to end today, Baltimore will attempt to improve their fortunes when the visit the undefeated Steelers on Thanksgiving night. Tennessee looks ahead to a massive AFC South clash with Indianapolis next Sunday.

Washington 20 Cincinnati Bengals 9

The Bengals lost more than just the football games Sunday, as they will now be without their superstar rookie Joe Burrow for the foreseeable future.

Already off to a tremendous start to his NFL career, Burrow was performing well against the league’s top pass defense when he suffered a gruesome left knee injury in the third quarter. Targeting wide receiver Tyler Boyd on a crucial third down,  Burrow went down immediately after releasing the pass when Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen was blocked into his knee. The No. 1 overall pick was carted off the field, and diagnosed with a torn ACL hours later.

Burrow had passed for 203 yards and a touchdown before exiting the game. He entered the weekend having thrown for 2,485 yards, 12 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He was third in the league with 242 completions, connecting on 65.4% of his passes.

As for Washington, it was once again their young, offensive stars leading them to victory. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown, while second-year wideout Terry McLaurin caught five balls for 84 yards on the afternoon. It was McLaurin’s eight game this season with at least five receptions and over 60 yards. Gibson now has eight rushing scores on the season and five over the last four games.

Cincinnati will now turn to 2019 fourth round selection Ryan Finley when they host the Giants next Sunday. Washington treks to Dallas for a Thanksgiving showdown.

Cleveland Browns 22 Philadelphia Eagles 17

After missing four games with a knee injury, Browns running back Nick Chubb has rushed for over 100 yards in consecutive weeks and led his team to another victory. Chubb racked up 114 yards on the ground, including a 54-yarder. He now has four games eclipsing the century mark this season. The one-time Pro Bowler added this vicious stiff arm for good measure.

Chubb’s return was perfect timing for the Cleveland offense, as their passing game has disappeared over the last four games. Since tossing for a career-high five touchdown passes against Cincinnati in Week 7, quarterback Baker Mayfield has now gone three games without a touchdown pass. Mayfield’s downturn lines up seamlessly with the absence of star wideout Odell Beckham Jr., who suffered a torn ACL in the win over the Bengals. The Browns will need to find a way to replace Beckham’s production and find consistency through the air soon, as they find themselves second in the AFC North standings.

Losing back-to-back games for the third separate time this season, Philadelphia’s issues were all to familiar Sunday, starting and ending with the inconsistent play of quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns, but also tossed a pair of interceptions that proved costly for his Eagles. He now has 18 turnovers on the season. Wentz was also sacked five times Sunday (thrice by defensive end Olivier Vernon), and remains the most sacked quarterback in football at 40.

Cleveland earns a reprieve in another weak opponent next Sunday when they travel to Jacksonville. Philadelphia faces another tough test, as the host Seattle on Monday Night Football.

Indianapolis Colts 34 Green Bay Packers 31 (OT)

In a dual of prolific passers that took overtime to decide, it was quarterback Philip Rivers and the Colts that overcame a 14-point deficit to win their fourth in five games.

Rivers turned back the clock Sunday, completing 24 of 36 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. It was his third game this season with three touchdown passes after having just two all of last year in Los Angeles. Rivers left the game temporarily with a leg injury, but heroically returned to lead the Colts on their game-winning field goal drive,

The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers was pretty strong in his own right Sunday, recording his 70th career regular season game with at least three passing touchdowns. Facing a Colts defense that entered Sunday leading the league in total defense and having allowed the second-fewest touchdown passes, Rodgers threw for 311 yards and three scores. He was picked off once by Indianapolis cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.

Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams continued his run of dominance as well in the losing effort, catching seven passes for 106 yards and a scores. Adams is the fourth player in NFL history with at least seven receptions and a touchdown catch in five consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter (1999), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (2007) and Adam Thielen (2018).

Although the Packers won the overtime coin toss and looked poised to win the game, it was a massive play by safety Julian Blackmon that turned the tide for the Colts. With Green Bay driving, the rookie out of Utah forced a key fumble on wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling to set the table for Rivers. Already having a great season replacing the injured Malik Hooker, Blackmon’s big play has solidified his candidacy for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Colts will begin a stretch of three divisional games in four weeks when they host the Titans next weekend. The Packers will look to bounce back versus the Bears on Sunday Night Football.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

  • Seattle Seahawks 28 Arizona Cardinals 21
  • New Orleans Saints 24 Atlanta Falcons 9
  • Carolina Panthers 20 Detroit Lions 0
  • Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 3
  • Houston Texans 27 New England Patriots 20
  • Denver Broncos 20 Miami Dolphins 13
  • Los Angeles Chargers 34 New York Jets 28
  • Dallas Cowboys 31 Minnesota Vikings 28
  • Kansas City Chiefs 35 Las Vegas Raiders 31
  • Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
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Around the NFL: Bengals’ Joe Burrow Carted Off After Scary Knee Injury

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One of the NFL’s brightest young stars could be missing extended time following a horrific injury Sunday.

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow was carted off the field in the third quarter of the Bengals’ game at Washington on Sunday after taking a brutal hit to his left knee.

Looking for wide receiver Tyler Boyd on a critical third down pass, went down immediately after releasing the pass when Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen fell into his knee.

While the severity of Burrow’s injury was not immediately known, Cincinnati quickly ruled him out for the remainder of today’s game as expected.

Burrow had thrown for 203 yards and a touchdown on the day before exiting the game.

Selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of LSU, Burrow entered Sunday having thrown for 2,485 yards, 12 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He was third in the league with 242 completions, connecting on 65.4% of his passes.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will visit the Bengals on Monday Night Football on Dec. 21.

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