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Steelers defense leads way in 17-12 win over Rams

Sun Nov 10 8:21pm ET
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.


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.


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.


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
LeSean McCoy Sep 20 7:40pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeSean McCoy hauled in five of seven targets for 26 receiving yards in Week 2. McCoy also handled one carry, though he went backwards on it. The veteran back was expected to occupy some sort of pass-catching role for Tampa Bay and he was able to do that well, helping to fill the void in the offense left by the absence of Chris Godwin (head). With Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II occupying most of the backfield touches, McCoy is mostly an afterthought for fantasy purposes.

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Lamar Jackson Sep 20 7:40pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Lamar Jackson threw for 204 yards and a touchdown during the win over the Texans on Sunday. He also added 16 carries for 54 yards. The reigning MVP didn't get much going on the afternoon, but he didn't need to as the team relied heavily on the three-headed monster rushing attack of Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards, and rookie J.K. Dobbins, who combined for 21 attempts. Although he didn't play as well as he did during his splendid Week 1 performance, it was still a welcome fantasy performance overall. Jackson will have his most formidable task of the season ahead in Week 3 when the Ravens meet the Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

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Tyler Bass Sep 20 7:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass struggled during his NFL debut, but turned it around during the Week 2 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Bass knocked down 2 of 4 field goal attempts last week, which was a rough showing for the rookie kicker. However, he landed a 39-yard field goal this week. That was his only attempt of the game, but he made all of his PAT attempts as well. There's really no reason to add Bass in most fantasy leagues right now. He doesn't get enough chances and has been inconsistent to begin the season.

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James White Sep 20 7:20pm ET

New England Patriots running back is inactive for his team's Sunday night game against the Seattle Seahawks. In tragic news, White's father was in a car crash earlier on Sunday and did not survive. His mother was also involved in the crash and is in critical condition. White obviously has more important things on his mind than football and will be inactive for personal reasons. Prayers go out to him and his family. From a fantasy perspective, look for Rex Burkhead and possibly rookie J.J. Taylor to fill in for White on passing downs.

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Scott Miller Sep 20 7:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scotty Miller had a quiet day in a Week 2 win over the Panthers. Miller was targeted three times and caught two of them for 11 receiving yards. The 23-year-old looked like a great sleeper pick with Chris Godwin (head) sidelined, but all of the glory ended up going to Mike Evans. Perhaps Miller is better when the defense is honed in on both Evans and Godwin, leaving him to work against the opposing team's third-best corner. Miller will get a chance to redeem himself in Week 3 against a struggling Broncos' secondary.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Sep 20 7:20pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense turned in a dominant performance in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 2. Pittsburgh racked up seven sacks and forced two turnovers after knocking Denver quarterback Drew Lock out of the game early. T.J. Watt led the way with 2.5 sacks in the win. The Steelers defense has been excellent through the first two weeks of the season and should have a field day against a leaky Houston Texans offensive line in Week 3.

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Gabriel Davis Sep 20 7:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis was able to find the end zone during the Week 2 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He caught his lone target for a six-yard touchdown. It was the first of his career, but hopefully there is more to come. Davis has been on the field quite a bit this season, but only been targeted three times total in two games. It's unlikely that his targets increase by much with the Bills offense fairly loaded. Maybe Davis is worth a look in deep leagues, but belongs on the waiver wire in most formats.

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Sammy Watkins Sep 20 7:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (head) left Sunday's game against the Chargers after a huge hit to the head. Watkins was attempting to make defenders miss after the catch when he took the hit and had to be helped off the field. It's unlikely that he returns to this game, as he's probably in the concussion protocol. Fellow receiver Mecole Hardman could see more action in this contest and moving forward if Watkins is forced to miss time.

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Eric Ebron Sep 20 7:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron caught three of his five targets for 43 yards in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 2. While it wasn't a dominant performance, it was much better than Ebron's debut with Pittsburgh last week where he caught just one pass for 18 yards. Fellow tight end Vance McDonald saw just two targets to Ebron's five, so at least he's starting to pull away in that respect. Fantasy gamers should stay patient with Ebron for at least a few more weeks as it is possible he starts to produce more as he gets more comfortable in the Pittsburgh offense. The Steelers face the Houston Texans in Week 3.

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Dawson Knox Sep 20 7:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (head) was unable to finish the game during the Week 2 win over the Miami Dolphins. Knox recorded a 38-yard catch-and-run, but was crushed Kyle Van Noy and exited the game. The team put him in concussion protocol, so it's unclear if Knox will be ready for next week. He remains the starting tight end, but doesn't have much fantasy value. Knox can be left on the waiver wire in most formats because he won't get enough targets to warrant owning him.

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James White Sep 20 7:10pm ET

New England Patriots running back James White (personal) is inactive for Sunday night's game against the Seahawks. There was a death in White's family, leading to his surprise listing as inactive. The 28-year-old won't play in Week 2 and could understandably be away from the team for several days. Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor will pick up the slack in White's absence.

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Greg Zuerlein Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein made all six of his kicking attempts in Week 2, including four extra points and two field goals. One of the field goals was a game-winner from 46 yards out, giving the Cowboys an improbable 40-39 win after being down 20-0 at the end of the first quarter. Zuerlein's other kick came from 33 yards out. With the Cowboys offense clicking the way they (eventually) did in this one, "Greg the Leg" should be a strong fantasy contributor the rest of the way.

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JuJu Smith-Schuster Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught seven of his eight targets for 48 yards in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 2. While the seven catches were nice, Smith-Schuster's 6.9 yards per catch is not what fantasy gamers were looking for out of their WR1. To make matters worse, Smith-Schuster watched as rookie Chase Claypool and second-year man Diontae Johnson scored touchdowns. Smith-Schuster is looking more like a WR2 for fantasy purposes going forward. He will face the Houston Texans in Week 3.

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Mike Evans Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans hauled in seven of a team-high 10 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown. With teammate Chris Godwin (head) out and head coach Bruce Arians basically guaranteeing his other star wideout would get the ball- Evans was in a smash spot and he delivered. He connected with Tom Brady on a long, 50-yard pass and also hauled in a 23-yarder for his second score of the season. There likely would have been room for more production if Tampa Bay hadn't been in the driver's seat for much of the game. While Godwin should be back on the field for Week 3, Evans will be a strong start against Denver's suspect secondary.

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John Brown Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown has been overlooked because of the performance of Stefon Diggs, but made his presence known in Week 2. Brown finished with four receptions on six targets for 82 yards and one touchdown in the victory over the Miami Dolphins. This is the second straight week that Brown has been able to find the end zone. He caught a 46-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the Bills up 31-20. He'll get a tougher matchup against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3. He should be able to be counted on as a WR3 in PPR leagues.

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Cole Beasley Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has been productive during the first two weeks of the regular season. He is third on the depth chart, but has found a way to continue making plays each week. Beasley hauled in five of his six targets for 70 yards in the Week 2 victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Bills continue to involve him in the offense, but he won't have great value with Stefon Diggs and John Brown healthy. He might be able to be leaned on as a low-end flex option against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3.

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Chase Claypool Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool caught all three of his targets for 88 yards and a touchdown in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 2. Claypool's touchdown grab was the first of his short NFL career and came on a beautiful deep pass from Ben Roethlisberger down the left sideline. Claypool made the over-the-shoulder catch and then outran his defender for the final 40 or so yards for the score. The rookie receiver has shown he belongs over the first two games of his NFL career but he remains low on the pecking order for targets, having drawn just five so far. He's much more interesting in dynasty leagues than he is in redraft formats.

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Darius Slayton Sep 20 6:50pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton caught 3-of-6 targets for 33 yards in a loss to the Bears on Sunday. It was a disappointing game for Slayton after his huge game in Week 1, however, his fantasy stock is still trending up. With Sterling Shepard (toe) and Saquon Barkley (knee) exiting with injuries, more targets should be available for the 23-year-old. Slayton has 15 targets through two weeks so he should continue to be a big part of the New York offense.

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Michael Gallup Sep 20 6:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup only caught two passes in a Week 2 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons. He was able to gain 58 yards and was targeted five times in a game where quarterback Dak Prescott made 47 throws. Gallup was well behind wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, who each saw nine targets their way, and tight end Dalton Schultz, who saw 10. Gallup will have some huge games here and there, but he's the least likely of the three Cowboys wide receivers to put together a consistent string of fantasy performances. He's best used in best-ball formats or carefully matched up in standard leagues.

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Christian McCaffrey Sep 20 6:50pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (ankle) will have an MRI to discover the severity of the ankle injury he sustained in his team's loss to the Buccaneers. McCaffrey was on the sideline and wasn't ruled out, though he never returned to the game. The team is optimistic that it's not too serious, though the MRI will be telling. Hopefully the number-one fantasy player from 2019 will be able to suit up for fantasy managers as soon as Week 3 against the Chargers. If not, backup Mike Davis would see most of the work, with Trenton Cannon and possibly even receiver Curtis Samuel factoring in for some touches.

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