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Around the NFL: Mahomes, Chiefs Make Statement at Tampa Bay, Keep Pace with Steelers

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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

Kansas City Chiefs 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24

In a duel of past and present faces of the NFL, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes outclassed the Bucs’ Tom Brady through the air, leading Kansas City to their sixth-straight win and keeping pace with the unbeaten Steelers.

Mahomes was exceptional Sunday, as he continues to make the incredible look ordinary. The one-time MVP connected on 37 of 49 attempts for 462 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first player with at least 30 completions and over 300 yards in four-straight games in league history. Still, Mahomes was not satified with just one record, also joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only other quarterback with five career games with over 400 passing yards and three scores.

As he has been all season, speedy wideout Tyreek Hill could not be guarded and was the chief beneficiary against the subpar Buccaneers defense with 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns, all career-highs. “Cheetah” has now scored 14 touchdowns this season, and scored in every game except one. 

While Kansas City may have only won by a field goal in the end, Brady and the Bucs were thoroughly outmatched for most of the afternoon. Brady tossed for 345 yards and three scores, but also threw a pair of costly interceptions. Still, the six-time champ did record his 18th career season with at least 3,000 passing yards, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre for the most in NFL history. Running back Ronald Jones was another bright spot for Tampa Bay, rushing for 66 yards on nine carries and catching a 37-yard touchdown.

Kansas City looks to keep their six-game unbeaten run alive next week against the Broncos on Sunday Night Football. Tampa Bay enters the bye week licking their wounds, and will attempt to avoid a three-game skid when they host Minnesota on Dec. 13.

Buffalo Bills 27 Los Angeles Chargers 17

Bills quarterback Josh Allen added to his dual-threat résumé Sunday, recording his 15th career game with both a passing and rushing scores in their victory over the Chargers. Allen joins Patriots quarterback Cam Newton as the only other player with at least 15 such games in league history, completing 18 of 24 passes with 189 total yards and the two scores. 

Still, Allen was not the only Bill with a touchdown pass on the ledger, as wide receiver Cole Beasley joined the fun on a trick play in the second quarter, finding fellow wideout Gabriel Davis from 20 yards out.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert added to his Rookie of the Year candidacy Sunday, albeit in a losing effort. The No. 6 pick completed 31 of 52 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Herbert now has six 300-yard passing performances this season, which tied former Colt Andrew Luck for the most by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. 

Defensive end Joey Bosa was dominant in the loss, recording a career-high three sacks and six tackles-for-loss. He is just the sixth player over the last 20 years to post six TFLs in a single contest.

Looking ahead to Week 13, Buffalo makes the cross country trek to battle San Francisco on Monday Night Football, while the Chargers face another long flight to New England. 

New York Giants 19 Cincinnati Bengals 17

Even though New York lost quarterback Daniel Jones to a what appears to be a significant hamstring injury, the Giants defense and ground game stepped up in a big way to lead them to their third-consecutive win.

The Giants tormented Cincinnati sans Joe Burrow on Sunday, holding them to just 155 total yards and recording three turnovers (two fumbles, an interception) and a pair of sacks on the afternoon. Offensively, running back Wayne Gallman gave the Giants a spark on the ground, rushing for 94 yards and a score. New York tight end Evan Engram also paced the G-Men through the air with six receptions for 129 yards.

Sunday’s loss to the Giants is likely a harbinger of life without Burrow for the foreseeable future in Cincinnati. The Bengals posted their lowest yardage total in four years with quarterback Brandon Allen making his fourth career start. The former Razorback passed for 115 yards and a touchdown with a pick and a fumble. Also without running back Joe Mixon, his counterpart Giovanni Bernard mustered just 32 rushing yards. Safety Brandon Williams was able to return a kickoff for a touchdown.

After starting the season 0-5, the Giants have quietly won four of their last six. They will look to keep the train rolling at Seattle next weekend. Cincinnati visits Miami, as they try to snap their three-game losing streak.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

  • Houston Texans 41 Detroit Lions 25
  • Atlanta Falcons 43 Las Vegas Raiders 6
  • Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional
  • Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m., WPGH-TV
  • Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., KDKA-TV
  • New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m., FOX Regional
  • San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m., FOX Regional
  • Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, 8:20 p.m., WPXI-TV
  • Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
  • Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:00 p.m., WPXI-TV

NFL

Baltimore Ravens Sign WR Deon Cain to Reserve/Future Contract

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The Baltimore Ravens have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Deon Cain to a Reserve/Future contract, the club announced Friday.

Cain spent the last two seasons with Pittsburgh, spending the majority of the 2020 season on the practice squad. He appeared into two games this past season, including the season finale loss to the Cleveland Browns, but recorded no stats.

Cain saw more extended action in 2019, where he appeared in six games and made three starts. He tallied five receptions for 72 yards a season ago.

A star for the Clemson Tigers, Cain was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He caught 130 passes for 2,040 yards and 20 touchdowns during his Clemson career.

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Washington’s Alex Smith Beats Ben Roethlisberger for PFWA Comeback Player of the Year

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Washington quarterback Alex Smith has been named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, edging out Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

After suffering a significant leg injury in 2018 and subsequent infection that nearly took his limb, Smith made his unlikely return to the field in 2020, leading Washington to a division title and playoff appearance.

Smith passed for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns with eight interceptions, but led Washington to a 5-1 record in his six starts. He is the first Washington player to win the award since its inception in 1992.

Roethlisberger was also believed to be a worthy candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, leading the Steelers to a 12-4 campaign and AFC North title after missing the majority of 2019 with a season-ending elbow injury. The 38-year-old threw for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions.

Running back Jerome Bettis (1997) and quarterback Tommy Maddox (2003) are the only two Steelers to have previously been awarded Comeback Player of the Year.

Smith was not the only quarterback recognized by the PFWA on Friday, as Buffalo’s Josh Allen was awarded Most Improved Player of the Year.

Allen made a remarkable jump in 2020, passing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns with ten interceptions. He also accounted for eight scores on the ground.

Not only were his 37 touchdowns seven more than in his first two seasons combined, but Allen also completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes, a ten percentage-point increase from a season ago.

Allen will have another opportunity to demonstrate his jump in play Sunday when the Bills visit the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC Championship game.

Two Steelers have previously been named the league’s Most Improved Player, quarterback Kordell Stewart in 2002 and running back Le’Veon Bell in2015.

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Browns’ Kevin Stefanski Named PFWA Coach of the Year

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Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has been named 2020 NFL Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, the organization announced Thursday.

Stefanski led the Browns to an 11-5 record and their first playoff win since 1994 in his first season as a head coach. He is just the second Browns head coach to win the award in franchise history, joining Marty Schottenheimer in 1986.

A loaded Browns offensive reached its full potential under the play calling and tutelage of Stefanski, finishing as the league’s third-best rushing team and committing the fourth-fewest turnovers.

Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield also took a leap forward in 2020 under Stefanski, passing for 26 touchdowns and a career-low eight interceptions. Mayfield’s 95.9 passer rating was also the best of his young career.

The Buffalo Bills also earned a pair of honors for their outstanding 2020 performance. General manager Brandon Beane was named PFWA NFL Executive of the Year, while offensive coordinator was awarded Assistant Coach of the Year.

The Bills owned the NFL’s second-ranked offense, as quarterback Josh Allen became a bonafide MVP candidate under Daboll. Allen completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes, while also tossing 37 touchdowns, seven more than through his first two seasons combined.

Beane was the mastermind behind Buffalo’s addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs form the Minnesota Vikings, who proved one of the most successful trade acquisitions in recent memory. Diggs was named a First-Team All-Pro after leading the league with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards. He also caught eight touchdowns.

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