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Report: Antonio Brown and Buccaneers Agree to One-Year Deal

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Free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to a one-year deal, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Brown is set to arrive in Tampa on Friday night and visit with the team Saturday, immediately entering COVID-19 protocol.

Brown is currently serving an eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the league’s personal conduct policy, but he will be available to return to the field in Week 9 when the Bucs face the New Orleans Saints.

In addition, Rapoport and Schefter are both reporting that Brady has been a “driving force” behind the Bucs’ pursuit of Brown. The duo played a single game together in New England last season and found immediate success, connecting on four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins.

Tampa Bay adds Brown to an already star-studded receiving core that includes Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski. Evans is currently second in the league with six receiving touchdowns on the year.

Not only are the Buccaneers be bolstering themselves, but they are also stealing Brown’s services from the Seattle Seahawks, who were also reported to be interested in adding the four-time All-Pro this week.

Selected by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Brown spent the first nine years of his career in Pittsburgh. He is second in franchise history in receptions (837), yards (11,207) and receiving touchdowns (74), trailing only Steeler legend Hines Ward, although Brown played 87-fewer games.

NFL

NFL Still Considering Bubble for Playoffs

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The situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens nearly reached comical proportions on Monday, with the game being rescheduled for a third time, to be played as the NFL’s first mid-season Wednesday game in modern history, with an obscure 3:40 p.m. kickoff time.

While it appears that the Steelers and Ravens will be able get their game in, either on Wednesday, or at the worst, during an added week at the end of the season.

But what if a team were to suffer a Ravens-like outbreak during the NFL postseason, when even pushing back one game would mess with the entire schedule and create competitive imbalances for teams coming off short weeks, during a time period when that is frowned upon?

That’s led many to suggest that the NFL needs a bubble for the postseason, and the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills acknowledged that it’s under consideration.

“We’ve said throughout that all options remain on the table,” Sills said in an interview on Today last week. “We’re going to look at whatever the most appropriate decision is, based on the data and the science. We’ve been in regular communication with those other pro sports leagues.

“I’ll just say there are some pros and there are some cons. There is some risk and benefits to each model. And right now, we’re doubling down on our intensive protocols for each team. We made some additional protocol changes this week. We have a lot of confidence in those steps, and we’ll be monitoring the data very carefully over the next few weeks to see what makes the most sense come January.”

The NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLB all utilized bubbles for at least a portion of their 2020 seasons, with the NBA, WNBA and NHL putting all competitions in bubbles and MLB moving to a bubble concept for the postseason after playing its regular season in home stadiums.

As one of the top seeds in the AFC, moving to a bubble would mean the Steelers would lose their home-field advantage for the postseason, but with no fans expected at Heinz Field for the remainder of the 2020 season, that might not make much of a difference.

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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
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Around the NFL: Mahomes Battles Brady, Washington on a Roll Coming to Pittsburgh

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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. 

THANKSGIVING FEAST

Washington 41 Dallas Cowboys 16

Winners of three of their last five, Washington took hold of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving night with their trouncing of the Cowboys in Dallas.

Rookie running back Antonio Gibson was the star for Washington, rushing for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Gibson joined elite company in the process, becoming the first rookie with three scores on Turkey Day since Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss in 1998. Gibson now has 402 yards and eight touchdowns the last five weeks.

Continuing to add to his already impressive Comeback Player of the Year candidacy, quarterback Alex Smith passed for 149 yards and a touchdown with a single interception. Adding to the tremendous story, the victory comes nearly two years to the date of the infection that almost took his life.

Not to be out done, the Washington defense feasted as well Thursday, sacking Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton three times and intercepting him once, a pick-six by defensive end Montez Sweat. Rookie defensive end Chase Young had himself a day, sacking Dalton once and posting a pair of tackles-for-loss. He leads all first-year players with 4.5 sacks this season. Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen also recovered a fumble off running back Ezekiel Elliot, capping off a monster day for the Football Team’s defensive line.

Washington visits Pittsburgh next week seeking their third-straight win, while Dallas is still set to travel to Baltimore on Thursday night, but the game is likely to be postponed due to the on-going COVID-19 outbreak among the Ravens.

AROUND THE NFL THIS WEEKEND

Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional

Two of the NFL’s brightest young passer will go head-to-head Sunday when the Chargers visit the Bills.

The front runner for Rookie of the Year, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has been exceptional in his first season out of Oregon. The No. 6 pick has already passed for 2,699 yards and 22 touchdowns, and became the first rookie in NFL history to post five games with three touchdowns passes last week against the Jets.

Facing a Bills defense that has allowed just 15 touchdowns passes and recorded 27 sacks, the pressure will be on Herbert to preform through the air with running back Kalen Ballage likely with an ankle injury.

Across the field, Buffalo’s Josh Allen has also excelled in 2020 with 2,871 yards and 22 scores, while rushing for another five. Allen has been especially strong at home, where he has score 15 touchdowns and only tossed three picks.

No. 17 should keep rolling Sunday, opposing a Charger defense that has produced the second-fewest takeaways in football, and surrendered 20 passing scores.

With all the makings of a potential shootout, this game could be decided by the offense that scores last, and the defense that musters a single stop.

New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m., FOX Regional

Entering their first full game without sidelined rookie phenom Joe Burrow, the Bengals host the Giants in a “Battle of the Basement” that could have major NFL Draft implications come April.

With Burrow done for the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee, Cincinnati now turns to backup passer Ryan Finley, who has thrown two touchdowns and two picks in three-career starts, but only completed 47.1% of his passes in those contests. As running back Joe Mixon remains on injured reserve, Finley will have to return to another reliable weapon in wideout Tyler Boyd. The former Pitt standout is on pace for his third-straight 1,000-yard season, while having already caught 69 passes and three scores. He should find separation easily in a Giants secondary that is 21st in the league.

As for New York, they are seeking their first three-game win streak since 2016, and will require another commendable showing from quarterback Daniel Jones to do so. Though he has been plagued by turnovers his entire career, even committing at least one in nine-consecutive games, he has none the last two weeks.

Opposing a Bengals defense with only ten takeaways and 13 sacks all year, Jones should be able to keep clean and put up another winning performance.

Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m., KDKA-TV

As undefeated Pittsburgh continues to chase the No. 1 seed, Steeler fans will be keeping a constant eye on 9-1 Kansas City over the coming weeks, who have star-studded matchup with Tampa Bay.

It will be old school versus new school Sunday, as the 43-year-old Tom Brady opposes the 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes. While they have split their two previous meetings, the youngster has had the statistical edge, passing for 635 yards and five touchdowns. The one-time MVP has been dominant in 2020, pacing the NFL with 3,035 yards and tossing 27 touchdowns with just two interceptions, which is good enough for the best ratio in the league.

Brady has been good since heading south, but has hit a wall over the last few weeks. Losing two of his last three, the six-time Super Bowl winner has five touchdowns and five interceptions. He had only tossed four picks through the first eight games. Brady faces another stiff test in a Chiefs defense that ranks eighth against the pass.

If you prefer pass catchers to the passers themselves, four of the most productive receivers over the last decade will all be on the Raymond-James Stadium turf Sunday. Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and Antonio Brown and Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have combined for 2,275 receptions, 31,471 yards and 218 touchdowns over their careers. At least one is guaranteed to dominate Sunday.

Even with Tampa Bay’s recent struggles, this cross-conference clash pits two of the NFL’s most explosive offenses against each other, providing all the ingredients for an all-timer.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

  • Houston Texans 41 Detroit Lions 25
  • Las Vegas Raiders at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m., CBS Regional
  • 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
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