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Steelers defense leads way in 17-12 win over Rams

Sun Nov 10 8:21pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

Players: Ben Roethlisberger, Robert Woods, Trey Edmunds, Cooper Kupp, Jared Goff, Ryan Switzer, Josh Reynolds, Mason Rudolph, James Washington

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, left, celebrates with Mark Barron (26) after Fitzpatricks touchdown following the recovery of a fumble by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington (13) celebrates his touchdown catch with Diontae Johnson (18) during the first half of an NFL football game against the LoLos Angeles Rams in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington, right, celebrates his touchdown catch with Diontae Johnson (18) during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) is hit by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) after getting off a pass during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


Los Angeles Rams defensive end Dante Fowler (56) celebrates his touchdown on a fumble recovery during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


PITTSBURGH (AP) The Steelers defense spoiled Aaron Donald's homecoming and derailed the Los Angeles Rams' momentum in the process.

The Steelers forced four turnovers - including a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick - in an ugly 17-12 victory on Sunday that pushed their winning streak to four games and dealt the Rams' chances of chasing down Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West a serious blow.

Donald, a Pittsburgh native, sacked the Steelers' Mason Rudolph for a safety in his first appearance in his hometown since the Rams took him in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Linebacker Dante Fowler scored Los Angeles' lone touchdown on a 25-yard fumble return on the second snap of the game. But the Rams' offense did little against a Steelers defense that has become the team's identity after losing Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending right elbow injury in Week 2.

Jared Goff completed 22 of 40 passes for 243 yards, none of them to leading receiver Cooper Kupp. The Rams (5-4) converted just 1 of 14 third downs and came up empty on a pair of last-gasp drives in the final two minutes. Goff's fourth-down heave to the end zone intended for Josh Reynolds fell incomplete with 1:25 to go. Los Angeles got the ball back with 59 seconds to play but Goff's pass to Robert Woods was tipped.

Fitzpatrick ran underneath it for the game-sealing interception and seventh takeaway since the Steelers acquired him from Miami in September for a 2020 first-round pick.

At the moment, it looks like draft capital well spent.

Rudolph completed 22 of 38 passes for 242 yards with a touchdown, stats that would have been considerably better if not for a handful of drops that prevented the Steelers (5-4) from gaining any sort of traction for long stretches.

Rudolph became the ninth quarterback since the 1970 merger to throw a touchdown in each of his first seven games when he found James Washington for a 3-yard score in the first quarter, but the Steelers once again relied on their defense to move over .500 for the first time this season.

The Steelers managed just 15 turnovers in 2018. They have produced 26 through nine games in 2019, helping them stay afloat following a 1-4 start while Rudolph and the offense searches for solid footing.

WHAT THE HEKKER?

Los Angeles coach Sean McVay is known for his innovative thinking, but his aggressiveness nearly cost the Rams in the third quarter. Los Angeles was facing fourth-and-1 at Rams 29 trailing 14-7.

The Rams lined up to punt before fanning out, with Hekker moving up into the shotgun formation. Hekker, who had a 23-yard completion earlier in the season and came in 12 of 20 for 179 yards with a touchdown in his career, was hit as he threw and the pass was picked off by Pittsburgh's Trey Edmunds, a running back by trade.

The Steelers, however, were unable to take advantage of the great field position. A penalty, a sack and a dropped pass pushed Pittsburgh out of field-goal range.

INJURIES

Rams: Center Brian Allen left in the first quarter with a knee issue and did not return. DB Darious Williams left with an ankle problem.

Steelers: Wide receiver Ryan Switzer left in the fourth quarter with a back injury.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host the Chicago Bears (4-5) next Sunday night.

Steelers: Travel to Cleveland to play the Browns (3-6) on Thursday. Pittsburgh is 7-0-1 in its past eight meetings with Cleveland.

Player Notes
Cam Newton Dec 8 11:23am ET

The Carolina Panthers could attempt to trade QB Cam Newton (foot) during the offseason, provided that they are able to receive a decent return for him, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Fantasy Spin: Newton will undergo Lisfranc surgery on his foot this week and is expected to be fully recovered by March, when his future with the Panthers is likely to be decided. He is slated to make $18.6 million next season but Carolina could proceed with less expensive options such as Kyle Allen or Will Grier and trade Newton to improve at other positions. Furthermore, a new head coach may want to go in a different direction at the quarterback position. Regardless of where he lands in 2020, Newton is a potential rebound candidate, so he could be a bargain during the mid-to-late rounds of next year's fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Gareon Conley Dec 8 10:03am ET

Houston Texans CB Gareon Conley (hip) is expected to play in Week 14's game against the Denver Broncos, according to a source. He had been listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week.

From TheHuddle

Bradley Roby Dec 8 10:03am ET

Houston Texans CB Bradley Roby (hamstring, toe) is expected to play in Week 14's game against the Denver Broncos, according to a source. He had been listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week.

From TheHuddle

Ryan Tannehill Dec 8 10:00am ET

The Tennessee Titans are reportedly discussing a contract extension for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Since taking over for Marcus Mariota as the team's starting passer in Week 7, Tannehill has been putting up solid numbers, with 12 touchdown passes and three interceptions while completing 71.9 percent of his passes. He's also rushed for three scores. Tannehill appears to be a solid starting quarterback going forward, and with the Titans not bad enough to draft a top quarterback in the upcoming draft, it makes sense to extend him. He's a solid fantasy QB2 with QB1 upside depending on the matchup.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Dec 8 9:53am ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) has been playing through a painful sports hernia injury this year which will require surgery during the offseason, according to multiple sources.

Fantasy Spin: The 27-year-old Beckham has 57 receptions for 805 yards and just two touchdowns through the first 12 games of the season. As a result of the injury, he has missed a great deal of practice time, which could explain why he and QB Baker Mayfield often appear as though they're not on the same page. Despite the sports hernia issue, Beckham will continue to receive a decent number of targets in the Cleveland passing game and should be viewed as a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Todd Gurley Dec 8 9:50am ET

The Los Angeles Rams plan to unleash running back Todd Gurley over the last four weeks of the season, giving him a full workload as the team tries to bolster their chances of making the postseason. Gurley's played two games this year with a snap rate of 90 percent or better, though his yardage and yards per carry in those games weren't great. There's still risk with Gurley, but he should be a solid RB1 if the Rams do give him the majority of their running back touches.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Dec 8 9:33am ET

Updating a previous report, Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) will probably miss Week 14's game versus the Detroit Lions but has a good chance of returning for Week 15's game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Fantasy Spin: Thielen is a must-start option when healthy, although he has not played a full game since Week 6 and hasn't played at all since Week 9. Fantasy owners should keep him on the bench this week and look for safer receiving alternatives.

From TheHuddle

Julian Edelman Dec 8 9:23am ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (shoulder) is expected to play in Week 14's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Edelman was listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week. He is the main target in New England's passing game and is worthy of consideration as at least a No. 2 fantasy receiver this afternoon.

From TheHuddle

Mohamed Sanu Dec 8 9:13am ET

New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) is expected to play in Week 14's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Sanu was listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week. He could be a decent flex option in most fantasy formats this afternoon because this has the potential to be a high-scoring game and he's likely to be targeted more frequently than normal.

From TheHuddle

Marlon Humphrey Dec 8 9:03am ET

Baltimore Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh) is expected to play in Week 14's game against the Buffalo Bills, according to a source. He had been listed as questionable on the injury report after logging two limited practice sessions and one full session during the week.

From TheHuddle

Adam Thielen Dec 8 8:53am ET

Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) is not expected to play in Week 14's game against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Thielen had been listed as doubtful on the injury report after not practicing at all during the week and it appears as though he will be sidelined for the fifth time in the last six games. Fantasy owners should keep him stashed on their benches this afternoon and look for alternative options.

From TheHuddle

Will Fuller Dec 8 8:53am ET

Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (hamstring) is not expected to play in Week 14's game against the Denver Broncos, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Fuller was listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week. When healthy, he makes a decent flex option but fantasy owners should keep him stashed on their benches this week and proceed with safer alternatives.

From TheHuddle

Von Miller Dec 8 8:23am ET

Denver Broncos LB Von Miller (knee) is expected to play in Week 14's game against the Houston Texans, according to a source. He had been listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week.

From TheHuddle

Jamal Adams Dec 8 8:23am ET

New York Jets S Jamal Adams (ankle) is not expected to play in Week 14's game against the Miami Dolphins, according to a source. He had been listed as doubtful on the injury report after not practicing at all during the week.

From TheHuddle

Odell Beckham Jr. Dec 8 8:20am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is playing through a painful sports hernia injury, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. The star receiver will need to have offseason surgery to repair the injury. While it hasn't caused Beckham to miss any games, the injury has cut into his practice time and can be one of the reasons why he and Baker Mayfield have struggled with their on-field rapport this season. For now, it appears that Beckham will finish out the season but there is a risk of him getting shut down early if the Browns fall out of playoff contention.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Dec 8 8:20am ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) is expected to be out against the Lions in Week 14. Thielen suffered the injury at the end of October and will likely miss his fourth straight after failing to log a practice this week. In his absence, expect more looks for Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, and Alexander Mattison on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Dec 8 8:10am ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (shoulder) is expected to be available for the critical matchup with Kansas City on Sunday. Edelman has been dealing with the ailment for quite some time but has been able to play. He has logged at least 11 targets in each of his last seven games and should continue to get plenty of looks from Tom Brady in Week 14 despite Mohamed Sanu (ankle) also expected to see the field. Keep him starting in all fantasy formats.

From RotoBaller

Will Fuller Dec 8 8:10am ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) is not expected to play against Denver on Sunday. After playing against the Pats in Week 13, Fuller will probably miss his fourth game of the year after suffering another setback. While this isn't a massive blow to fantasy owners, especially considering the matchup against a relatively tough Broncos Defense, it isn't good news for those in deeper fantasy formats. Expect Kenny Stills to serve as the primary beneficiary in Week 14.

From RotoBaller

Josh Jacobs Dec 8 8:00am ET

Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder) may not play against Tennessee on Sunday, with his status for Week 14 still up in the air. Jacobs has carried this designation over the last five weeks, and while he has been able to suit up during that span, this may be the first time that Oakland is without him this year. He was able to practice on Friday in a limited capacity after missing the previous two sessions, but if he is out, expect Deandre Washington to carry the load as the No. 1 option out of the backfield against an average Titans Defense. Keep an eye on his availability up until kickoff.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Brown Dec 8 7:50am ET

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) is expected to play on Sunday in Buffalo. Hollywood has been dealing with this issue for the majority of the year, so his designation throughout the week wasn't a huge surprise. The rookie fizzled in Week 13 against the 49ers after accounting for two touchdowns against the Rams in Week 12, and while the upside is there, he draws a tough matchup against a Bills Defense that is ranked in the top-six against opposing wideouts this season. Proceed with caution.

From RotoBaller