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No Fans at New York Home Games; Steelers Season Opener to be Played in Empty Stadium

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As of now, the Pittsburgh Steelers are still set to open up the 2020 NFL season at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants on Sept. 14, but they will be doing so without fans in attendance.

As the country continues to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy informed both franchises Monday that his latest executive orders limiting outdoor gatherings of 500 or more people would include Jets and Giants home games in East Rutherford, as well as Rutgers University football.

“My administration has been working in close coordination with professional sports and college teams to determine how to proceed safely with games at their stadiums amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Murphy said in a statement obtained by NJ.com. “While we look forward to the day we can return to games as normal and cheer from the stands, continued concerns for the health and safety of fans, team members, and staff dictate that our executive order limiting outdoor gatherings does apply to sporting events, including training camp.”

Both franchises were set to begin their training camp programs this week, but Murphy appear to apply only to fan attendance, which the league already closed to the public months ago.

The Giants and Jets released a joint statement Monday, expressing their disappointment, but understanding and support of the Governor’s decision.

“We support Governor Murphy’s decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, both the Giants and Jets will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance,” the clubs said. “Although we would prefer to have fans at MetLife Stadium for our games, we will continue to work with Governor Murphy’s office and will provide updates if necessary.”

While the Steelers are supposed to open up the season on the road against the Giants, they are scheduled to travel to New Jersey even earlier when they play their second and final preseason game against the Jets. The league cut the preseason slate in half three weeks ago, opting to just play the second and third games.

Still, it seems increasingly unlikely that the league will be playing an preseason games at all, as the NFL and its player continue to clash over the number of exhibitions that will actually take place. The players do not want to play any.

Today’s news marks the first instance where the Steelers will play a game without fans this season, and it probably will not be the last.

Pennsylvania nor Pittsburgh have made any decision yet regarding fan attendance this fall. The city of Philadelphia did announce last week that Eagles games will be played sans fans this season, part of their plan to limit outdoor events with more the 50 people.

The Steelers are currently selling a limited number of their local ticket allotment in anticipation of social distancing guidelines, while also offering season ticket holders the option of a full refund, with the opportunity to renew for 2021.

NFL

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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NFL

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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NFL

Report: Chiefs Sign G Stefan Wisniewski

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The Chiefs are expected to sign veteran G Stefan Wisniewski to the practice squad, according to Yahoo Sports. It’s possible he will start out there before eventually being promoted to the active roster for the postseason.

This comes only two weeks after Wisniewkski’s Pittsburgh homecoming was cut short after he was released by the Steelers. Wisniewkski, who played at Penn State and Central Catholic, signed with the Steelers in the offseason following winning his second career Super Bowl title in 2019 with the Chiefs. He was also a member of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles team that followed that regular season with the franchises first Super Bowl championship during the corresponding postseason.

The 31-year-old guard and center was never able to impact the Steelers on the field, the team he grew up rooting for as a kid, because he spent the first 6 weeks of this 2020 season on injured reserve.

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