Sun Nov 10 8:21pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
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.
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.
Houston Texans WR Randall Cobb said he feels better than he has in at least five years after focusing on improving his hamstring strength during his time with the Dallas Cowboys.
Fantasy Spin: Cobb's 828 yards last year were his most since 2015, and he averaged a career-high 15.1 yards per reception. Following the surprising trade of DeAndre Hopkins, Cobb could find himself a key part of the Houston passing game.
The Baltimore Ravens agreed to a one-year, $3 million fully guaranteed deal with defensive end Derek Wolfe on Saturday. Wolfe can earn $3 million more in incentives. He chose Baltimore over the Texans. One of the strongest defenses in the league gets even stronger on their defensive line with the Wolfe signing. The 30-year-old was a second-round pick of the Broncos in 2012. Despite playing in just 12 games due to injury in 2019, he racked up a career-high seven sacks while recording 34 tackles (23 solo), eight tackles for loss, 12 QB hits and one forced fumble. Wolfe can be effective in doses for Baltimore, but he isn't all that attractive in IDP leagues, especially at his age.
Free-agent DT Mike Daniels (Lions) was talking with the Baltimore Ravens before the Ravens decided to sign DE Derek Wolfe.
Unrestricted free-agent DE Derek Wolfe (Broncos) reached an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens to sign a one-year deal worth up to $6 million, a source said Saturday, March 28.
The Kansas City Chiefs are re-signing wide receiver Demarcus Robinson to an undisclosed one-year deal on Saturday, according to a source. Robinson had the best season of his career in 2019, catching 32 passes for 449 yards (14 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in 16 games (10 starts). The former fourth-round pick in 2016 plays in one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL with Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball, but he's also behind Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman in the receiving pecking order. Watkins may not be back and Robinson can provide some big games, but those games will continue to be hard to predict as a fantasy owner. He'll be most useful as receiver depth in deeper leagues.
Unrestricted free-agent WR Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) will re-sign with the Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal, a source said Saturday, March 28. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Fantasy Spin: It seemed like Robinson, 25, may have had a market elsewhere, but returning to the Chiefs on a one-year deal could position him for a better run at free agency in 2021. Robinson showed capable of being a capable fill-in for the Chiefs early in the year when Tyreek Hill was injured. A Week 2 explosion vs. the Oakland Raiders (6-172-2) accounted for 38 percent of his total receiving yardage on the year and half of Robinson's touchdown production. The chances to flash will be there, but his fantasy football worth is zero without an injury to Hill or Sammy Watkins. It is still possible the latter is released due to carrying a $21 million cap hit, which would make Robinson a draftable option. Monitor how KC handles Watkins' contract situation in the coming weeks.
Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers WR Devin Funchess received a one-year, $2.5 million contract, which includes a $1 million signing bonus, $1.2 base salary, $50,000 workout bonus and $15,625 each game active. The deal also contains another $3.75 million in incentives, bringing the max to $6.25 million.
Free-agent CB Ryan Smith on Saturday, March 28, was re-signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida is a potential candidate to be traded, in the opinion of Spotrac.com.
Fantasy Spin: Breida saw a decline from his career numbers of 2018 (1,075 total yards, five TDs), totaling 743 yards and two scores last season. More alarmingly, he only had nine rushing attempts for 19 yards during the Niners' three-game ground-heavy run to the Super Bowl and with San Fran already rostering Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and possibly getting Jerick McKinnon back after a pair of seasons missed to injury, don't be surprised to see Breida dealt.
Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel is a potential candidate to be traded, according to a list put out by Spotrac.com.
Fantasy Spin: Samuel's receptions, touch count and yards from scrimmage have gone up in each of his three seasons, resulting in a 73-touch, 757-yard-7-TD stat line last season, but now with the Panthers adding another speedy weapon in free-agent WR Robby Anderson, Samuel may indeed be expendable. He's a WR4 currently, but could bump up a level if traded to the right team.
The Denver Broncos re-signed defensive lineman Shelby Harris to a one-year deal that includes $2.5 million in guarantees on Saturday, according to a source. Harris can make up to $3.25 million with incentives. Denver's D-line should be pretty imposing in 2020 with Bradley Chubb, Von Miller, Jurrell Casey and Harris all in the fold. The 28-year-old former seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2014 had a career-high six sacks in 2019, including 49 tackles (28 solo), eight tackles for loss, six QB hits, nine passes defensed and one forced fumble in all 16 games. He was a nuisance on the interior against opposing signal-callers, mainly deflecting passes at the line of scrimmage.
Free-agent defensive end Michael Bennett said that he wants to play in 2020, according to a source. Bennett played for both the Patriots and Cowboys last season and had 6.5 sacks, 32 tackles (24 solo), 14 tackles for loss and 15 QB hits in 16 games (one start). He's entering his age-35 season, so Bennett doesn't have a whole lot left, but he can still be productive in a rotational role and can provide veteran leadership to a locker room. Bennett spent five years with the Seahawks from 2013 to 2017 and wouldn't mind returning to Seattle to finish up his career. He had his best seasons with the Seahawks, making three straight Pro Bowls from 2015-17.
Along with Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, the Eagles picked up the 2021 options on quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive end Brandon Graham and offensive guard Isaac Seumalo on Friday. All the moves were procedural. Wentz is scheduled to make $1.38 million and $15.4 million in base salaries the next two seasons as part of the four-year, $128 million extension he signed last year. He has been injury prone so far in his career, but he completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 4,039 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a barren receiver corps in 2019. Jeffery had surgery for a Lisfranc foot injury and played in only 10 games last year, catching 43 passes for 490 yards and four touchdowns. He's become less dependable for fantasy owners heading into his age-30 season.
Free-agent TE Eric Tomlinson (Raiders) is signing with the New York Giants, the team announced Saturday, March 28.
The Philadelphia Eagles have exercised the contract option of DL Malik Jackson. He had a $2.4 million option that had to be exercised or his 2020 salary would have increased to $10 million; instead, he will earn a base salary of $1.05 million this year.
Free-agent DE Michael Bennett (Cowboys) is interested in playing during the 2020 season, according to a source.
The Denver Broncos re-signed free-agent DL Shelby Harris to a one-year contract Saturday, March 28. The deal includes $2.5 million in guaranteed money and has a maximum value of $3.25 million, according to a source.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton could remain with the team for the 2020 season, and 'all options are still on the table' for the quarterback, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Fantasy Spin: Dalton has been the subject of trade rumors, but the Bengals continue to sit on the veteran quarterback. There is still a chance he is moved before the start of the season, but with Cincinnati expected to draft Joe Burrow with the No. 1, it seems unlikely Dalton would be starting if he is a still a Bengal come Week 1.
Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney isn't close to signing with a team in free agency, according to a few sources. A growing thought around the league is that Clowney could wait a while to find his new team, perhaps into training camp this summer. He hasn't gotten offers anywhere close to what he wants, which is a multi-year deal in the $20 million a season range. Instead, the consensus is that the Seahawks' offer to re-sign him was in the $13-15 million per-year range. The pass-rusher had only three sacks in 2019 and has a long injury history, which makes things more problematic with the current restrictions on physicals due to the coronavirus. Clowney can be a difference-maker when healthy, but he's a wild card because of his injury history and lack of a double-digit sack season.