2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Steelers turn back clock to break out of funk

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2013-11-11 15:09

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The ball was snapped and Jarvis Jones sprinted forward.

A moment later, he was in the Buffalo Bills backfield. A split second after that, Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel tumbled meekly to the Heinz Field turf in apparent surrender. Jones stood up and walked back to the Pittsburgh Steelers huddle. No big celebration. No histrionics necessary.

Instead, Jones was all business. The rookie linebacker figures he was just doing what he gets paid to do. Sure, he didn't think he'd have to wait nine games into his career to pick up his first professional sack. Whatever joy Jones felt at ending the drought didn't come close to the relief of helping the Steelers restore a sense of normalcy to their universe in a 23-10 win over Buffalo on Sunday.

''We just came out and played our style of defense,'' Jones said. ''We were getting after the quarterback, pressuring, giving our offense the best chance to put points on the board.''

The Steelers (3-6) spent a week reading the obituary on the 2013 season after the New England Patriots embarrassed them in a 55-31 loss. In the span of 60 minutes against a team in the midst of its own rebuilding process, Pittsburgh's resilient defense played with the kind of discipline and tenacity it has lacked for significant stretches this year.

Buffalo managed just 227 total yards, 80 coming on a meaningless touchdown drive in the final minutes with the game already decided. Rookie Manuel never appeared comfortable in a pocket that never appeared settled. Running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson found little room to move.

Though the Bills aren't the Patriots, not even close, Pittsburgh couldn't afford to be picky. The Steelers had already been beaten by the likes of Tennessee, Minnesota and Oakland this season, and looked a step slow while doing so.

The missing step returned against Buffalo. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau promised a return to fundamentals in the aftermath of the debacle in New England. His players responded with sure tackling and a swagger seen only in spurts.

When Spiller or Jackson tried to bounce a run outside, the Steelers shut the door. When Manuel tried to avoid pressure, Pittsburgh chased him down. When he looked for a receiver, he often checked off to a safety valve for a short gain because nobody else was open.

''We didn't have to press in any way,'' safety Ryan Clark said. ''We didn't have to create plays or do anything extra. Everybody was able to just do their job and I guess that was a big thing for us as a secondary was not trying to play everything.''

Instead, Clark and company could sit back and attack whenever Manuel tried to challenge them. When Manuel threw deep over the middle in the fourth quarter hoping to kick-start a rally, Clark tracked it down and returned it deep into Buffalo territory to set up a late field goal.

Clark briefly considered pitching the ball to Troy Polamalu before keeping it himself. Though Clark ended up 13 yards short of the first touchdown of his 12-year career, he wasn't exactly complaining. It hadn't been the easiest week for the Steelers. His pick helped seal Pittsburgh's best performance of the year and lay the groundwork for what it hopes is a more productive second half.

''The only thing we could do is try to prepare enough to beat the Buffalo Bills and be a good enough team to do that,'' Clark said. ''That's all the week offered us, and that was the goal.''

The next one will be significantly tougher: NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (6-3) and all-everything wide receiver Calvin Johnson next week. The Lions present a significant step up in class. The game plan, however is unlikely to change. It rarely does for one of the NFL's most stable franchises.

''You just want to stop the run and get after the quarterback,'' linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. ''You get after the quarterback, you allow your secondary to make plays. You do that, you play good against the run, you do what you're supposed to do and your offense puts points on the board and usually you're in a good spot.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Zach MettenbergerOct 21 04:18p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (thumb) will start at quarterback when he's healthy, according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt. QB Charlie Whitehurst has filled in for Locker twice this [ More ]

Bene BenwikereOct 21 04:13p

Carolina Panthers CB Bene Benwikere (ankle) will return as the starting nickel cornerback when he's back from his injury, according to head coach Ron Rivera. If Benwikere can't play [ More ]

Martavis BryantOct 21 04:06p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant cut into WR Markus Wheaton's workload in Week 7 against the Houston Texans, and QB Ben Roethlisberger took three 'shot' plays down the field [ More ]

Andre EllingtonOct 21 04:03p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington had 88 yards rushing and 72 yards receiving in Week 7, and only four players in franchise history since 1960 to have more yards [ More ]

Ryan MathewsOct 21 03:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 21, and is not expected to play Thursday, Oct. 23, against the Denver Broncos.

Donald BrownOct 21 03:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) did not practice Tuesday, Oct. 21, and is not expected to play Thursday, Oct. 23, against the Denver Broncos.

Michael SamOct 21 03:33p

The Dallas Cowboys cut DE Michael Sam from the team's practice squad Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Charles GodfreyOct 21 03:13p

The Carolina Panthers released CB Charles Godfrey Tuesday, Oct 21.

LaRon ByrdOct 21 02:33p

The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent WR LaRon Byrd (Cowboys) and re-signed DT Deandre Coleman Tuesday, Oct. 21.

R. Griffin IIIOct 21 02:13p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) will not be ruled out for Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys, but he has a long way to go in order [ More ]

Brian HoyerOct 21 02:13p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel could see some action in Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders, according to head coach Mike Pettine. However, Pettine said Monday, Oct. 20, that [ More ]

C.J. SpillerOct 21 02:13p

The Buffalo Bills placed RB C.J. Spiller (collarbone) on short-term Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Ray RiceOct 21 01:33p

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) will have the appeal of his indefinite suspension from the NFL heard Nov. 5-6, according to media reports. A decision on whether commissioner Roger [ More ]

Jason KelceOct 21 01:23p

Philadelphia Eagles C David Molk will remain the center for now, with C Jason Kelce (hernia) nearing a return from his injury.

Shamarko ThomasOct 21 01:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier (knee) and SS Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) 'have a pretty good chance' of returning in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts, according to head coach Mike Tomlin.

Darren SprolesOct 21 01:23p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles (knee) returned to practice Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Phillip TannerOct 21 01:13p

The Buffalo Bills are signing free-agent RB Phillip Tanner (Cowboys) Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Calvin JohnsonOct 21 01:13p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) said he is back to running Tuesday, Oct. 21. Johnson sat out in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints and appears to [ More ]

Terrelle PryorOct 21 01:13p

Free-agent QB Terrelle Pryor (Seahawks) is working out for the New York Giants Tuesday, Oct. 21, according to a person familiar with the workouts. It appears as though Pryor [ More ]

Reggie WayneOct 21 12:53p

Updating previous reports, Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne's (elbow) injury isn't believed to be serious, but it could cause him to miss a game or two, according to a [ More ]

Phil TaylorOct 21 12:23p

Cleveland Browns DE Phil Taylor (knee) is expected to miss his third straight game in Week 8 after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 8.

A.J. GreenOct 21 12:12p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) said his return from a toe injury is 'still up in the air' heading into Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens. However, Green [ More ]

Le'Veon BellOct 21 12:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell became the first running back in team history to start the year with seven straight games of 100 yards of total offense. Bell ran [ More ]

Antonio AndrewsOct 21 11:03a

Tennessee Titans RB Antonio Andrews was promoted to the 53-man roster Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Dwayne AllenOct 21 10:33a

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (hip) said he is still working his way back to pre-injury form, but he looks a lot better than he did in training camp, [ More ]

Reggie WayneOct 21 10:33a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) could miss time with his elbow injury. Beat writer Stephen Holder tweeted that he isn't receiving good vibes from the situation, but it [ More ]

Terrance WestOct 21 09:43a

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West was benched Sunday, Oct. 19, after failing to pick up a first down in two short-yardage situations. He had room to run on both [ More ]

Ben TateOct 21 09:43a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West were held to 69 yards on 33 carries in Week 7, and head coach Mike Pettine suggested a change [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 21 08:53a

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks due to a shoulder injury, according to sources.

Trindon HollidayOct 21 08:23a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed free-agent WR Trindon Holliday (Giants) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Tharold SimonOct 20 11:04p

Seattle Seahawks CB Tharold Simon (ankle) and CB Byron Maxwell (calf) may be able to play in Week 7, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

A.J. GreenOct 20 10:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) said he will play Sunday, Oct. 26, against the Baltimore Ravens, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group