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 31, Minnesota Vikings 30
Sunday’s matchup in Minneapolis boasted a battle between two of the leagues premier running backs in Tennessee’s Derrick Henry and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook. While both were sensational, a Herculean effort from kicker Stephen Gostkowski pushed the Titans to 3-0.
The 15-year veteran hit six field goals Sunday, including a 55-yard game winner with 1:44 remaining. Not only did Gostkowski set a career-high for field goals made in a single game, he also became the first kicker since 1970 to boot three game winning kicks in his team’s first three games of a season. Gostkowski’s record-breaking performance comes just two weeks after his challenging Titans debut, where the former Patriot went one for four and missed an extra point.
Cook rushed for 181 yards and a score on the afternoon, while Henry rushed for 119 and two touchdowns.
Henry and the Titans will host the Steelers next week, pitting the league’s leading rusher against the top run defense. Henry already has 316 yards and four total touchdowns, while the Steelers have only surrendered 162 yards over their first three games.
Cincinnati Bengals 23, Philadelphia Eagles 23 (OT)
For the third-straight year, a pair of NFL teams will have a tie on their record. While the Internet rejoices, the Eagles and Bengals are have to be far from thrilled.
The Eagles offensive woes persisted Sunday, with quarterback Carson Wentz continuing his poor play to begin the season. Wentz completed 29 of 47 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. His six picks are tied for the league lead with Kirk Cousins. Wentz did demonstrate his mobility, rushing for 65 yards and a score.
While Wentz repeatedly disappoints, Bengals quarterback continues to shine. Demonstrating poise beyond his years, Burrow diced the Eagles secondary, completing over 70% of his passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with nine different receivers, and topped the 300-yard mark for the second-straight game. His 91 completions through his first three games is the most by a rookie in NFL history.
Former Pitt standout and Pittsburgh native Tyler Boyd was Burrow’s go-to target Sunday. The former second-round pick caught 10 passes for 125 yards, one catch shy of his career high.
Former Steeler Javon Hargrave failed to record a stat for the second-straight week for the Eagles defense, which did sack Burrow eight times on the afternoon.
Seattle Seahawks 38, Dallas Cowboys 31
While he has amazingly never received an NFL MVP vote, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson looks well on his way to change that following another record-setting performance on Sunday.
The Cowboys looked helpless against Wilson, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 315 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions. He leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes, and is the first player in league history to throw at least four touchdown passes in his team’s first three games of a season. The nine-year veteran is also completing an astounding 76.7% of his passes.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett was the primary beneficiary, catching nine passes for 100 yards and three of Wilson’s touchdown tosses. D.K. Metcalf also crossed the century mark with 110 yards on four catches and a touchdown. Metcalf could have a second walk-in touchdown, but he was stripped as he let up just before crossing the goal line the ball going out of the endzone for a touchback.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott tossed for a career-high 472 yards, but could not out out duel Wilson. Prescott threw three touchdowns and crossed the 400-yard mark for the second-consecutive week, but also threw two costly interceptions.
Seattle’s defense also stifled star running back Ezekiel Elliot, holding him to just 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Steelers may avoid the Seahawks this season, but they will visit the Cowboys in Week 9, fresh off their bye week.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Monday night’s clash between the Chiefs and Ravens feels like a monumental game in what is still a very young 2020 season. Both teams will enter the game at 2-0, and are led by two of the league’s most electric, dominant young players.
The quarterback duel between the last two MVPs will garner the bulk of the attention leading up to Monday night, and deservedly so. Fresh off a Super Bowl win in February, Patrick Mahomes amazingly looks even better starting his fourth season, having thrown for 513 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions through two weeks. Last year’s phenom Lamar Jackson is off to a strong start as well, throwing for 479 yards and four scores with no turnovers.
Eye-catching as the two offenses are, Monday’s game will be decided by the defenses. Specifically, which unit is able to generate the ever-elusive takeaway off the opposing offense. The Chiefs have yet to turn the ball over, while the Ravens have just once.
Baltimore’s defense leads the league with five takeaways already this season, Kansas City has forced a passable two turnovers through two weeks.
In an explosive game that could very well be decided in the thirties, the club that steals a possession could be the one that snatches the win and the driver’s seat in the AFC.
REST OF THE SCHEDULE
Miami Dolphins 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Chicago Bears 30, Atlanta Falcons 26
Buffalo Bills 35, Los Angeles Rams 32
Cleveland Browns 34, Washington 20
New England Patriots 36, Las Vegas Raiders 20
San Francisco 49ers 36, New York Giants 9
Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Houston Texans 21
Indianapolis Colts 36, New York Jets 7
Carolina Panthers 21, Los Angeles Chargers 16
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, Denver Broncos 10
Detroit Lions 26, Arizona Cardinals 23
Green Bay Packers 37, New Orleans Saints 30
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.