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Chris Boswell helps Pittsburgh Steelers eke out win vs. upset-minded Bears – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

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PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers never make it easy.

Monday night’s 29-27 win against the Chicago Bears was no exception. The Steelers, twice up 14, saw their two-score lead evaporate in the fourth quarter. It took a 40-yard field goal from Chris Boswell, recovered from the concussion sustained a week earlier, with 26 seconds left on the clock to put the Steelers back on top for good.

The Steelers (5-3) have never blown a 14-point fourth-quarter lead at home, but they came dangerously close after allowing three fourth-quarter scores: a 15-yard touchdown by Darnell Mooney, a fumbled punt return by Ray-Ray McCloud that turned into a scoop-and-score by Chicago’s DeAndre Houston-Carson, and a 16-yard pass to Mooney from rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

“Made it a little closer and more stressful than we needed to,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, “but I am proud of the guys, the way they fought all the way until the end. Team football.”

The Steelers entered Monday night as a significant favorite over the woeful Bears and came out on the other side with a win. But it was hardly a dominant performance over an inferior opponent. They have one more easy one coming up: a Sunday afternoon date at home against the woeful Detroit Lions, and then it gets really tough against strong AFC opponents.

At the Los Angeles Chargers. At the Cincinnati Bengals. Versus the Baltimore Ravens.

To keep their playoff hopes alive, the Steelers have to win the easy ones, the ones against the rookie quarterbacks and rebuilding teams. They almost didn’t do that Monday night.

Describe the game in two words: Meltdown. Why use two words when one will suffice? The Steelers led by two scores in the fourth quarter and gave up three touchdowns.

Buy on a breakout performance: Buy Pat Freiermuth stock, and buy it now. Freiermuth followed up his fourth-down touchdown in Cleveland with two touchdown catches against the Bears, including an impressive combat catch in the end zone late in the third quarter. Roethlisberger targeted him a team-high six times, and he finished with five catches for 43 yards. The rookie tight end had a two-touchdown game against the Lions in the preseason, and then was pretty quiet in the early part of the regular season. But once JuJu Smith-Schuster went down, Freiermuth’s involvement in the game plan increased dramatically. Couple that with Eric Ebron’s injury, and Freiermuth has been getting the lion’s share of tight end snaps and targets. Even when Ebron is healthy, expect Freiermuth’s surge to continue as he builds rapport with Roethlisberger and shows he’s a reliable target.

Pivotal play: Turnovers haven’t been easy to come by for this Steelers defense, but defensive lineman Cam Heyward swallowed up a Justin Fields throw just beyond the line of scrimmage in the first half for the team’s third interception this season. And it’s not just that Heyward picked off Fields, it’s that the offense capitalized on the play and scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive for the first time all season. Roethlisberger and the offense had to labor through nine plays to cover 36 yards in 3 minutes, 41 seconds, but they finished in the end zone with a touchdown throw to Freiermuth.

Pivotal play II: The Steelers special teams was a roller-coaster Monday night, and it went into a straight freefall midway through the fourth quarter when McCloud fumbled a punt, and Chicago scooped it up and ran it back 25 yards for a touchdown. With that, the Bears pulled within three points with six and a half minutes to go. The Bears continued that momentum and scored a 16-yard touchdown to take their first lead of the game soon after.

Eye-popping NextGen stat: Roethlisberger and Fields each had 63 passing yards at halftime, yet Fields was averaging 15.8 air yards per attempt, while Roethlisberger averaged 3.2. Roethlisberger aired it out a little bit more in the second half with a 42-yard heave to James Washington — underthrown but it got there. Roethlisberger had a right shoulder injury that first popped up on the practice report Friday. Coach Mike Tomlin said they would manage the injury, and that seemed to mostly come in the form of short passes in the flat and designed runs for the wide receivers. Roethlisberger finished the game completing 21 of 30 for 205 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

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Dallas Cowboys haven’t asked me to sit vs. New Orleans Saints

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FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott does not want to take a game off despite a bruised right knee.

“No one’s came to me and asked me to rest,” Elliott said Sunday as the Cowboys opened up preparation for Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

If they do, Elliott said he would listen.

“I’ve just got to go with what they believe is best for the team,” he said.

Elliott said he has been dealing with the injury since banging it in the Oct. 3 win against the Carolina Panthers.

A day after the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, coach Mike McCarthy expressed concern for Elliott’s health after Elliott had just 25 yards on nine carries. The running back has not topped 51 yards in his last four games, the lowest-output of his career.

“It’s that time of year,” McCarthy said. “Zeke’s running style is ferocious. He gives a pounding and he takes some hits. We need to evaluate that and this week we’ll see what the preparation looks like for him.”

A source told ESPN the Cowboys will consider providing Elliott some time off to heal, including the possibility of holding him out of Thursday’s game. The source does not believe placing Elliott on injured reserve is a consideration at this time. That would require him Elliott to miss at least three games.

The Cowboys have scaled back Elliott’s snaps in the last four games to help manage the injury. He has played 164 of 280 offensive snaps (58.5%) after playing in 379 of 451 snaps (84%) in the first seven games of the season.

Elliott has missed just one game in his career because of injury (calf strain last December vs. the San Francisco 49ers). He was held out of the season finales in 2016 and ’18 because the Cowboys’ playoff position was set, and he was suspended for six games in 2017.

“He’s the ultimate competitor,” right guard Zack Martin said. “We see it on a day in, day out basis and I think everyone is seeing it. He takes great pride in being there for his teammates and doing whatever he can in his power to help this team win. For me, he’s one of the top competitors I’ve been around, and he’s going to keep doing that.”

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Follow live: Lamar returns for Ravens in AFC North showdown vs. Browns

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Groin injury ends Randall Cobb’s most productive day since his return to Green Bay Packers

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Randall Cobb‘s most productive day since his return to the Green Bay Packers this season ended at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cobb was ruled out at the start of the second half because of a groin injury.

He set a season high for receiving yards in the first half with 95 on four catches, including a 7-yard touchdown that was his fifth score of the season. Previously on that drive, Cobb had a 43-yard reception to move the Packers into the red zone. It was not immediately clear when Cobb suffered the injury. He muffed a punt in the second quarter but stayed in the game.

The Packers traded for Cobb this past summer at the request of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Cobb played for the Packers from 2011 to 2018. They let him go in free agency, and he spent one season each with the Cowboys and Texans.

The Packers finally had their full complement of receivers back with the return of Allen Lazard from a shoulder injury. It lasted for one half.

Cobb’s previous best game came in Week 4, when he caught six passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

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