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Around the NFL: Ravens Keep Pace with Strong Defense, Patrick Mahomes Makes More History

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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

Baltimore Ravens 24 Indianapolis Colts 10

After a slow start offensively, Baltimore’s opportunistic defense forced two key turnovers to spur a come-from-behind victory in Indianapolis.

Cornerback Marcus Peters was the difference maker for the Baltimore defense, intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble. The takeaways resulted in two Ravens touchdowns, which proved crucial after the offense produced just seven points in the first half.

The Colts offense outgained the Ravens 339 to 266, but the turnovers and going an abysmal 2 for 13 on third down proved to much to overcome. Quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 227 yards, but no touchdowns.

Indianapolis’ stout defense was as good as advertised, holding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson without a touchdown pass for the first time since Week Seven of last season against Seattle. Jackson struggled in the first half, but completed ten of ten passes in the second and ran for a score to lead the Ravens to the victory.

He was also able to exercise some demons on Sunday, as the win marked Jackson’s first career victory after trailing at halftime. He was 0-6 in such games previously. It was also the Ravens’ first win after trailing at the half since Week Ten of 2016, snapping a 20-game losing streak.

Indianapolis (5-3) will have to bounce back quickly ahead of a date with the Titans on Thursday night. Baltimore (6-2) faces the Patriots in Foxborough on Sunday Night Football.

Kansas City Chiefs 33 Carolina Panthers 31

Another Chiefs win, another record-setting performance by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, as Kansas City outlasted Carolina to win their fourth-straight game.

Mahomes tormented the Panthers as he has so many opponents over his young career, dicing them up to the tune of 372 yards and four touchdown passes. He joined some elite company in the process. Mahomes now has 101 touchdown passes in 40 career games, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (44 games) as the fastest player to reach 100 career touchdown passes in NFL history. He also tied Marino with nine career games with at least 300 passing yards and four touchdown passes, the most such games by a player in his first four seasons in league history.

Speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill was the main beneficiary of Mahomes’ dominance Sunday, catching nine passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Hill now has ten total touchdowns on the season through just nine games. He had seven scores all of 2019.

Carolina was equally as potent offensively, mainly due to the return of star running back Christian McCaffrey, who had missed the last six games with an ankle injury. With ten catches, 151 total yards and two touchdowns, McCaffrey made some history of his own. Sunday marked his tenth career game with ten receptions, which is the most by a running back in league history.

Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was no slouch either, passing for 310 yards and two scores. He ran for a touchdown as well.

Kansas City (8-1) will hit the bye before making their first-ever trip to Las Vegas to battle the Raiders in two weeks. Carolina (3-6) hosts Tampa Bay next, as they look to notch their first victory since Oct. 11.

Buffalo Bills 44 Seattle Seahawks 34

Bills quarterback Josh Allen tied a career-high in passing yards, as Buffalo won their fourth-straight and handed Seattle their second loss in the last three games.

While Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson may still be the MVP frontrunner, it was Allen that stole the spotlight Sunday with one of the best performances of his burgeoning career, taking full advantage of the atrocious Seahawks pass defense. Allen passed for 415 yards and three touchdowns, posting a 138.5 passer rating. He also ran for a score, his fifth of the season.

The Bills needed Allen’s big day too, considering they mustered just 34 yards on the ground. Their 44 points scored were the most since 2016.

Wilson stuffed the stat sheet as well, but committed four costly turnovers the put the game out of reach for Seattle. He was picked off twice and lost two fumbles, which was good enough for the second-most turnovers in a single game for his career. Wilson did throw for 390 yards with two touchdowns and run for another, but he was sacked five times on the afternoon.

Cornerback Tre’Davious White plagued Wilson all game and shined for the Buffalo defense, posting eight total tackles, a tackle-for-loss, a fumble recovery and an interception, his first of the year.

Buffalo (7-2) will look to extend their winning streak at Arizona, while Seattle (6-2) will look to regroup ahead of a pivotal division game against the Rams next week.

Houston Texans 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 25

Houston improved to 2-6 on the season behind an impressive performance by quarterback Deshaun Watson, while Jacksonville found surprising success with rookie passer Jake Luton.

Watson once again succeeded in spite of his depleted supporting cast, dissecting the lousy Jaguars defense for 281 yards and two touchdowns, accumulating a 109 passer rating. Sunday’s win marked his fifth-straight game with over 275 passing yards and at least a 105 passer rating. He is only the fifth quarterback ever to accomplish such a feat.

While not much was expected of Luton heading into his first career start, the sixth-round pick turned heads with an impressive professional debut. The Oregon State product wasted no time Sunday, burning the Houston defense for this 73-yard touchdown strike on his second NFL pass.

Luton finished the day 26 of 38 for 304 passing yards and a touchdown with a pick, while also rushing for a score. Chark was his go-to target, catching seven passes for 146 yards in total with the touchdown.

Watson and the Texans will visit the Browns. Now losers of seven-straight, things will not get any easier for Jacksonville when they visit Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

  • Green Bay Packers 34 San Francisco 49ers 17
  • Atlanta Falcons 34 Denver Broncos 27
  • Tennessee Titans 24 Chicago Bears 17
  • Minnesota Vikings 34 Detroit Lions 20
  • New York Giants 23 Washington 20
  • Las Vegas Raiders 31 Los Angeles Chargers 26
  • Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Dallas Cowboys 19
  • Miami Dolphins 34 Arizona Cardinals 31
  • New Orleans Saints 38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
  • New England Patriots at New York Jets, Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

NFL

NFL Considering Making Roughing the Passer Reviewable

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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.

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NFL Insider John Clayton Predicts Steelers Could Cut Joe Haden, Vince Williams

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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.

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.

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J.J. Watt Explains Cardinals Signing on Adam Schefter’s Podcast

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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.

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