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Steelers needed one stop and Minkah Fitzpatrick delivers in win over Rams – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

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PITTSBURGH — It had to be Minkah.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense just had to make one more stop, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the defensive back they gave up a first-round pick for, was the one who had to make it.

He did just that by intercepting a Jared Goff pass intended for Robert Woods with 20 seconds left to seal the Steelers’ 17-12 win.

They made the right plays at the right time all night: Fitzpatrick’s second-quarter fumble recovery for a touchdown, Fitzpatrick’s third-down pass breakup, and two interceptions — including one by running back Trey Edmunds on a fake field goal.

Clinging to a five-point lead with 1 minute, 10 seconds remaining, the defense just needed to make one more.

A minute and a half earlier, they came up with their 13th stop of the game as Terrell Edmunds and Joe Haden guarded Josh Reynolds in the end zone and prevented the Rams wide receiver from connecting with Goff on fourth down.

But the offense, as it did often Sunday, went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, forcing the Steelers’ defense to make one more stop.

On the first play, T.J. Watt came up with a monster sack and forced fumble for a loss of 7 yards, but the Rams bounced back to complete a 10-yard pass to Woods.

On third down, where the Rams had converted just one, the Steelers (5-4) were inches from a stop. Instead, Mike Hilton was whistled for pass interference on Cooper Kupp. A few seconds later, Fitzpatrick sealed it with his fifth pick of the season.

Two drives earlier, Steven Nelson held on to Gerald Everett, keeping him from making up any more ground on third down. It forced a punt and for once Sunday afternoon, the offense continued the momentum gifted to it by the defense. It chewed up eight minutes of clock in the fourth quarter as Mason Rudolph completed pass after pass to receiver James Washington. Washington, Rudolph’s favorite receiver when both were at Oklahoma State, was his security blanket when it mattered most. He found him three times on the drive for two third-down conversions and a 12-yard pickup.

But the Steelers couldn’t cap off the long drive with a touchdown, instead settling for a 33-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.

But it didn’t matter. That was all the Steelers needed to shut the door on the Rams.

Promising trend: Fitzpatrick made it to the end zone for the second week in a row. This time, he scooped up a fumble forced by Javon Hargrave and ran it 43 yards into the end zone to give the Steelers a 14-7 lead. Fitzpatrick already has four interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery in seven games with the Steelers. The last Steelers player to reach all those thresholds in a season was Rod Woodson in 1994.

Troubling trend: For yet another week, Steelers receivers couldn’t hold on to the ball. The most costly came in the third quarter when Vance McDonald dropped a pass from Rudolph that would have put the Steelers in field goal range. McDonald’s drop was the Steelers’ third on third down and fourth of the game.

QB breakdown: Rudolph (22 of 38, 242 yards, 1 TD) played like he got permission to push the ball down the field more, attempting six passes of at least 15 yards downfield in the first half, tied for his second-most of any game this season. In the second half, the Steelers went a long time between pass attempts, but found a rhythm in the 8-minute drive in the fourth quarter as Rudolph connected with Washington. Aaron Donald didn’t record a sack, but he affected Rudolph plenty in the first half. Donald got into the backfield quickly, forcing Rudolph to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

Pivotal play: Hometown legend Donald led a charge by nearly the entire Rams’ defense to sack Rudolph in the end zone and record a safety. Donald blew by David DeCastro as Clay Matthews got around Zach Banner to bring the quarterback down. The safety pulled the Rams within two points of the Steelers early in the fourth quarter.

Bold prediction for next week: James Conner plays against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. The running back, who’s missed the last two weeks after sustaining an AC shoulder injury against Miami, went through a lengthy warmup on the field pregame. He practiced a little bit on Wednesday, but took a step back in his recovery and didn’t practice the final two days of the week. His long workout Sunday could signal his return for the Browns game.

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Rams still alive in playoff chase after beating the Bears – Los Angeles Rams Blog

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Rams’ sideline erupted in celebration as running back Malcolm Brown plowed into the end zone late in the fourth quarter Sunday night, ensuring a 17-7 victory over the Chicago Bears and keeping their playoff hopes alive.

The Rams improved to 6-4, and they now turn their attention to the surging Baltimore Ravens, whom they will host on Monday Night Football on Nov. 25.

Playoff math and scoreboard watching have become part of the Rams’ game-day routine as they keep alive slim hopes for a wild-card spot. The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings remain ahead in the race. The Vikings won Sunday to improve to 8-3, while Seattle, 8-2, was on a bye.

QB breakdown: Throwing clearly wasn’t part of coach Sean McVay’s game plan with receivers Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks inactive and an offensive line that featured three first-year starters. Quarterback Jared Goff completed 11 of 18 passes for 173 yards and an interception. On the Rams’ second possession, Goff threw a pass that was intercepted by Bears linebacker Roquan Smith. It was Goff’s 10th interception this season but his first thrown from outside of the pocket. Late in the second half, Goff completed a 50-yard pass to Cooper Kupp to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley II.

Gurley tracker: Gurley had his most productive performance of 2019 with a season-high 28 touches for a season-high 133 all-purpose yards. Gurley lost a fumble, his second of the season, on the Rams’ opening play, but he found momentum on their second possession, as he rushed for 16 yards on consecutive carries and caught a 23-yard pass, his longest reception of the season. Late in the second half, Gurley rushed 1 yard for a touchdown, breaking the Rams’ streak of 23 possessions — dating to the third quarter of Week 8 — without a touchdown. Gurley rushed for 97 yards, tying his previous season high, and a touchdown on a season-high 25 carries. He now has gone eight straight games with fewer than 100 scrimmage yards, the second-longest streak of his career. Gurley’s previous high was 101 all-purpose yards, which included 97 rushing yards, in a Week 1 victory over the Carolina Panthers. He had 19 touches in Weeks 2 and 7.

Pivotal play: In the second quarter, cornerback Troy Hill, who took over as a starter when cornerback Aqib Talib was injured and then traded, intercepted a pass by Mitchell Trubisky. The Rams converted the turnover into a 1-yard score by Gurley to take a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. Hill had six tackles and three pass deflections in the game.

Missing in action: Woods was a surprise scratch and did not attend the game because of a personal issue, a Rams spokesperson said. That left Goff without two of his three starting receivers. Cooks was ruled out early in the week, as the Rams continue to closely monitor his recovery from the two concussions he suffered last month. The Rams also played without right tackle Rob Havenstein, who was sidelined because of a knee injury. Rookie Bobby Evans, a third-round pick from Oklahoma, started in his absence.

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How can Patriots get Tom Brady, offense on track? – New England Patriots Blog

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PHILADELPHIA — What might get Tom Brady and the New England Patriots‘ offense back on track? With the Dallas Cowboys (6-4) coming to town on Sunday, that is arguably the top question facing the 9-1 team.

Brady didn’t throw a touchdown pass in Sunday’s 17-10 win against the Philadelphia Eagles (5-5), as the offense sputtered for extended stretches. Receiver Julian Edelman threw the team’s lone touchdown, and this marks the first time in Brady’s 20-year career that he played the entire contest and didn’t lead the team in touchdown passes in a game. That covers 317 career starts, including playoffs.

Overall, this is just the fourth time Brady has started a game and didn’t lead the team in touchdown passes. The other three instances were cases when he left injured (2001 AFC Championship Game; 2008 season opener) or was pulled early (Week 17, 2006).

Coach Bill Belichick previously had made the point that with some players returning to action this week (WR N’Keal Harry and TE Matt LaCosse), more reinforcements expected next week (LT Isaiah Wynn) and the continued integration of recently added players (TE Benjamin Watson, WR Mohamed Sanu), it’s very much a developing picture.

It showed against the Eagles, as Brady didn’t look like himself for long stretches of the action.

Describe the game in two words: Defensive turnaround. The Eagles had a 95-yard touchdown drive that chewed up 9 minutes, 33 seconds from the first quarter into the second — which was the longest drive New England has allowed all season. But the Patriots’ defense responded in a big way after that, with a plan that featured a heavy emphasis on covering Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, giving the inconsistent offense time to generate just enough of the momentum it needed (going to tempo at the start of the third quarter provided a temporary spark).

Bold prediction for next week: With 2018 first-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn set to be activated off injured reserve and return to his spot at left tackle, the one-dimensional, pass-based offense will finally find its groove with some more balance in the run game. Wynn, if he can stay healthy, is the key piece because he can provide more comfort on Brady’s blindside. Veteran Marshall Newhouse has competed in his place, but Wynn is a decisive upgrade.

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Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray irked by loss — I’m used to winning

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray was visibly upset after Sunday’s 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, in which the Cardinals gave up a 16-0 lead in the first half.

It was the Cardinals’ fourth straight loss, dropping them to 3-7-1 as they head into their bye week.

When Murray was asked about the emotions of losing Sunday’s game like the Cardinals did — giving up a touchdown with 31 seconds left after Murray scored the then-go-ahead touchdown with 6:40 left in the game — he paused 10 seconds before answering the question.

“I’m used to winning,” Murray said. “I’ve always won, and then being in situations like when you go up 16 or you’re in position to win and you should win, it’s disappointing.”

Murray lost three games as a starter in college between his season at Texas A&M and his career at Oklahoma, and never lost a game he started in high school.

He lost three games in the NFL by Week 4 of this season and it has started to take a toll.

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Kyler Murray shows off the wheels as he gets into the end zone on a 22-yard run.

“I’m a competitor,” Murray said. “I love the game of football so every time I step on the field I’m going to do me. I’m going to go hard for the guys in the locker room. So, that’s really all I can do. Leave it all on the field and we just came up short.”

At one point while he was at his locker after the game, Murray let out a yell of frustration.

But when asked if this game hit harder than others, he said all losses are equal.

“Ah, s—, I don’t know,” Murray said. “A loss is a loss, and we got to get better.”

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