Mon Oct 28 11:48pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) celebrates with quarterback Mason Rudolph during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) rushes for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) climbs down from the stands after celebrating his touchdown with fans during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) falls into the end zone for a touchdown after taking a pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph with Miami Dolphins defensive back Chris Lammons (30) defending during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Allen Hurns (17) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell (24) carries the ball after taking a pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) rolls out while looking to pass with Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) in pursuit during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (15) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers stopped beating themselves long enough to keep the Miami Dolphins winless.
James Conner ran for 145 yards and a touchdown, and Mason Rudolph overcame a shaky start to throw for 251 yards and two scores as the Steelers pulled away for a 27-14 victory on Monday night.
Pittsburgh (3-4) spotted the Dolphins (0-7) a 14-point first quarter lead before steadying itself to win consecutive games for the first time since ripping off six straight in the middle of last season. Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, acquired in a trade with Miami last month, picked off Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick twice, and Pittsburgh forced four turnovers in all to avoid an embarrassing loss that would have effectively ended the competitive portion of its season.
Rudolph completed 20 of 36 passes, including a 45-yard touchdown to rookie Diontae Johnson late in the second quarter and a 26-yard strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster in the third quarter that put the Steelers in control. Smith-Schuster caught five passes for 103 yards, his first 100-yard game of the year.
Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 190 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, but a rare hot start couldn't prevent Miami from staying winless through seven games for the first time since 2011. The Dolphins have dropped 10 straight dating back to last season.
Rudolph stressed he wasn't worried about the long-term effects of a frightening concussion he suffered against Baltimore on Oct. 6, when he was knocked unconscious from a helmet-to-helmet hit by Ravens safety Earl Thomas. Still, playing for the first time in three weeks, he looked shaky at best and completely out of sorts at worst during an ugly opening quarter that saw the Dolphins grab their first two-touchdown lead over any opponent in more than a year.
Pittsburgh's first possession ended with Rudolph throwing a pick to Xavien Howard - back in the lineup after missing two games with a knee injury - and its second ended with an ugly fourth-down misfire by Rudolph.
The Dolphins, in the midst of a massive and ceaseless roster overhaul under first-year coach Brian Flores that included trading running back Kenyan Drake to Arizona on Monday for a conditional sixth-round pick in next year's draft, showed their first extended signs of life in an already lost season.
Fitzpatrick found Albert Wilson for a 5-yard touchdown after Howard's interception, and Allen Hurns plowed through several tackles on his way to a 12-yard score that gave Miami - a 14-point underdog - a 14-point advantage for the first time since Oct. 7, 2018. The Dolphins couldn't hold on then, allowing the Bengals to rally for a victory. A year later, not much has changed.
The Steelers pulled within 14-10 at the break thanks to the first of Minkah Fitzpatrick's two interceptions and some curious defensive play-calling by the Dolphins.
Leading by 11 points and with Pittsburgh facing third-and-20 outside of field goal range, Miami opted to blitz and didn't bother to guard Johnson, who took a short pass from Rudolph and used a couple of downfield blocks by James Washington to weave his way 45 yards to the end zone.
Fitzpatrick's second pick - basically an arm punt by Ryan Fitzpatrick - gave the Steelers the ball at Pittsburgh 3. Rudolph then led Pittsburgh 97 yards in 12 plays, the last 26 coming on a pretty lob to the end zone that Smith-Schuster hauled in to put the Steelers up 17-14. Pittsburgh stopped Fitzpatrick on a fourth-down scramble on Miami's ensuing possession - a stop made possible by coach Mike Tomlin's first successful officiating challenge since 2017 - and five plays later, Conner bulled over from 9 yards out to boost Pittsburgh's lead to 10.
Dolphins: Howard's return was brief. He left in the second half after aggravating his knee injury. ... CB Ken Webster left with an ankle injury in the first half and did not return.
Steelers: Conner left in the fourth quarter with an upper-body injury. ... Ramon Foster (concussion) exited with a concussion in the first half and did not return. ... RB Benny Snell left with an ankle injury in the third quarter.
Dolphins: Welcome the New York Jets (1-6) next Sunday. Miami swept the Jets last season.
Steelers: Host Indianapolis (5-2) next Sunday. Pittsburgh has won each of its last five meetings with the Colts.
Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said that quarterback Dak Prescott is the team's "No. 1 priority as we go into the offseason." Despite the Cowboys missing the playoffs in 2019, Prescott wasn't the problem. He had his best season with 4,902 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his fourth year in the NFL. The Cowboys continue to reiterate that Prescott is their QB of the future, so expect a contract extension to come soon. If that doesn't happen, the franchise tag is another option to retain him for 2020. Prescott finished as the No. 3 fantasy signal-caller last season, and he'll head into the 2020 campaign as a strong high-end QB1.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (shoulder) underwent a shoulder procedure last week that is said to involve "not a lengthy rehab," and Edelman is expected to be ready for the team's offseason program, according to a league source. The 33-year-old was noticeably hindered by his shoulder to close out the year, but overall it was a very successful 2019 season. Edelman had 100 receptions for a career-high 1,117 yards and six touchdowns over a full season. It was the second time in his career that he reached the 100-catch mark as quarterback Tom Brady's only real trusted receiving option. Edelman's outlook may change if Brady isn't under center in 2020, but he should at least be a solid WR2 in PPR leagues.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (abdomen) underwent successful surgery on Tuesday to fix a core muscle injury. A full recovery is expected. OBJ didn't miss a game in his first season with Cleveland despite fighting through injuries. He caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and only four touchdowns in what was a very disappointing first year with the Browns. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was extremely inconsistent behind a terrible offensive line, which didn't help matters for Beckham's fantasy owners. Another offseason to gain chemistry with Mayfield should help Beckham rebound in 2020, and he could be a nice value pick as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) is not expected to undergo surgery, and he will play in the Pro Bowl. It's great news for a Browns offense that will be looking to shake off the disappointment of the 2019 season heading into 2020. Landry was the team's most consistent wideout last year, catching 83 passes for a career-high 1,174 yards and six touchdowns over a full season. In his six NFL seasons, Landry has had at least 81 receptions and four touchdowns and has never missed a game. He's a very consistent WR2/3 in PPR leagues, and the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. should continue to take attention away from him.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel combined for just three catches for 65 yards in the NFC Championship victory against the Green Bay Packers. Samuel added two rushes for 43 yards. The Niners opened up the game with a dominant running attack and a 27-0 lead, resulting in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes. While the stat sheet was underwhelming, both aerial playmakers made the most of their opportunities, picking up chunk gains on each touch. With the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs offense on deck, the Niners will conceivably need to throw the ball more in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders failed to record a catch in the NFC Championship blowout win against the Green Bay Packers. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes, Sanders saw only a single target. The clear third option in a low-volume passing game behind standout rookie wideout Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle, Sanders has just two catches in the playoffs. Hell likely be tasked with more work in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert exploded for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. He also caught two passes for six yards. Mostert was unstoppable on Sunday, converting three rushing scores of 36, nine and 18 in the first half. He capped his evening with a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The fifth-year breakout player was the star in the Niners easy 37-20 victory and will again lead the backfield into the Super Bowl in two weeks against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed just six of eight passes for 77 yards and no scores in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Garoppolo had little to do but watch running back Raheem Mostert annihilate the Packers rush defense for 220 yards and four scores. With two consecutive easy victories in the playoffs, Jimmy G has attempted just 27 passes this postseason. Sledding will surely get tougher in the Super Bowl against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) aggravated his injured ribs during the NFC Championship game but should be available for Super Bowl LIV.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers on Sunday. Coleman had his shoulder popped back into place and Shanahan thinks that Coleman has a chance to play in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Only time will tell if the 26-year-old will be able to play against Kansas City. He ran the ball six times for 21 yards before his injury and had a season-high 22 totes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the Divisional win over the Vikings. Even if Coleman plays, he'll be second fiddle to Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four scores against Green Bay. Matt Breida would spell Mostert in the backfield if Coleman doesn't gain clearance.
Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) suffered a dislocated shoulder during the NFC Championship game but had it popped back into place, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. The team is still waiting on the results from Coleman's MRI.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman could be a game-time decision for the game, so fantasy players should keep an eye on his status over the next few weeks. He could be a starting fantasy option if he plays.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) has undergone an MRI on his injured shoulder, but the team is waiting for the results, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan said Coleman has a chance to play in Super Bowl LIV.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on Coleman's practice participation over the new few weeks to see if he has a chance to play against the Kansas City Chiefs. He will be part of a committee at running back if he plays and could be a starting fantasy option.
Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (rib) suffered a broken rib during the Divisional Round playoff game but continued to play in the game.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins could miss some offseason workouts but will be fine for the 2020 season. He is one of the top receivers in the NFL and will be an early round pick in fantasy drafts.
Tennessee Titans impending free-agent CB Logan Ryan said he would be interested in re-signing with the Titans this offseason but does not know what will happen in free agency.
Green Bay Packers impending free-agent TE Marcedes Lewis said he wants to continue his playing career and hopes to re-sign with the Packers this offseason because he felt comfortable with his role in head coach Matt LaFleur's offense.
Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers is set to become a free agent at the end of the league year and recently moved from San Diego to Florida in order to be closer to his family in Alabama. The combination of the two is fueling 'a lot of buzz' that Rivers may be a potential target for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora.
There has been buzz that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a possible landing spot for Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who will become a free agent in March. After his worst season since 2007, the aging gunslinger is unlikely to re-sign with the Bolts, and he recently moved his family from San Diego to Florida to be closer to his extended family in Alabama. The 38-year-old might have a year or two left of football in him if he continues to play, but the 2019 season showed that he's near the end of the line. Rivers would only be an option for Tampa if they choose not to bring Jameis Winston back for at least another season after he led all of football in passing yards last season.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been fired, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver has been promoted in his place, according to league sources. Houston's defense was a liability for most of the year, especially their leaky secondary. The Texans allowed 51 points and seven straight touchdown drives to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round loss. During the 2019 season, Houston's defense allowed 388.3 yards per game (fifth worst), 267.3 passing yards per game (fourth worst), 121.1 rushing yards a game and 24.1 points per game. Getting J.J. Watt back healthy for a full season will be a start to the Texans rebounding on defense under Weaver.
The Carolina Panthers hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow as their new defensive coordinator on Monday. Snow oversaw the defenses for Matt Rhule at both Baylor and Temple. He has 37 years of college coaching experience and has also served as a defensive coordinator at UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Boise State. Snow coached four seasons in the NFL with the Lions from 2005 to 2008 when he worked with the team's linebackers. Snow will lead a Carolina defense in 2020 that will be without All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who recently announced his retirement from football.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is not expected back in 2020. Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is the top candidate to replace him.