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.
Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough has a tough Week 15 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to town. While the Bucs pass defense sits last in the league, their run defense sits near the top, and with rookie quarterback David Blough unable to consistently get scoring opportunities, Scarbrough's value gets seriously capped. Scarbrough has taken full control of the Lions backfield over the last three weeks, but he will be hard to trust this week, especially in PPR leagues. Fantasy owners can slot Scarbrough in as an RB3 for this matchup.
Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough came crashing back down to earth in Week 14 after an impressive debut in Week 13 against a tough Chicago squad. Week 15 will offer up the easiest test for Blough yet in the form of the Tampa Buccaneers swiss-cheese secondary, but it's extremely hard to trust a rookie making only his third career start with fantasy owners heading into the fantasy semi-finals. Those who do need a quarterback this week can do better. Blough will slot in as a mid-range QB2 for this matchup.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola will have a chance to make some noise this week with Marvin Jones (ankle) placed on the injured reserve. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their swiss-cheese secondary are coming to town in Week 15. The Bucs secondary has given up the most points to wide receivers so far this season, meaning Amendola will likely get his chances in this one. Amendola has seen 16 targets over the last two weeks with Jones in the lineup and third-string quarterback David Blough under center, so volume shouldn't be the problem. Relying on a third-string quarterback in the fantasy semi-finals might give fantasy owners nightmares until game day though. Amendola will slot in as a boom-or-bust WR3 for this matchup.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay is in a prime spot heading into the fantasy semi-finals with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to town in Week 15. The Bucs defense has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season, and with Marvin Jones (ankle) no longer around to poach targets, Golladay should be in for a monster day. The third-year wide receiver will slot in as WR1 for this matchup.
The Carolina Panthers designated wide receiver Chris Hogan (knee) to return from Injured Reserve. Hogan practiced on Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 27. The former Patriot injured his knee in Week 4 against the Texans on a special teams play and underwent arthroscopic surgery. Hogan has just three catches for 24 yards this year. If he is able to make it back in the final three games, his role will mostly be on special teams, so he won't have any relevance for fantasy owners playing for a championship.
Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (hamstring) might return for the Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers after missing the past three games. 'He's champing at the bit to play this week,' head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday, Dec. 11. 'He's politicking. Like those guys in Washington D.C., he's working it. Give him credit, he wants to play in the worst way. He ran well (Wednesday). He was really pumped up about it. He told me at least four times how well he looked in his workouts.'
Fantasy Spin: Willson would be a big addition to the offense, which can be tight-end friendly. Still, there is just too much risk for fantasy owners to invest a roster spot on Willson at this late and critical juncture.
Seattle Seahawks DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) was listed as 'questionable' in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11 by head coach Pete Carroll, who indicated the defensive end is likely a game-time decision for Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers.
Seattle Seahawk WR Tyler Lockett (shin) is back to full health after dealing a shin contusion. 'Yeah, I think he's really back,' head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday, Dec. 11. 'He felt really good last week and he's going into this week raring to go. He's fine.'
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy owners have gotten just five grabs for 81 yards and no scores in three games since he suffered an injury in Week 10 against the San Francisco 49ers. He is a risky fantasy play based on his recent production, but a solid option when 100 percent.
Seattle Seahawks LB Jadeveon Clowney (flu) is battling the flu and head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday, Dec. 11 that the linebacker is 'hurting. He's going to have to work his way through the week to make it for game day.'
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead led all wide receivers with 13 yards on three receptions and a touchdown in Week 14's win over the Buffalo Bills. Snead hasn't had a game in which he's caught over 20 receiving yards since Week 5. Baltimore faces a Jets Defense on Thursday Night that has been generous to opposing wideouts in 2019, but it's hard to trust Snead in the matchup with his lack of volume. Snead shouldn't see your lineups in Week 15, but could be viable as a streamer if you're desperate in deeper leagues.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards rushed for 20 yards on four attempts in Week 14's win over the Buffalo Bills. Baltimore matches up against a Jets Defense on Thursday Night that's been stiff against opposing running backs in 2019. Edwards remains as nothing more than a quality handcuff to Mark Ingram in Week 15.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown caught all three of his targets for a loss of two yards in Week 14's win over the Buffalo Bills. Brown's performance was disappointing and it was his second ineffective game in a row, as he caught only one ball for two yards against the 49ers in Week 13. Hollywood has a good opportunity to bounce back on Thursday Night in Baltimore's matchup with the New York Jets. The Jets Defense is allowing an average of 167 receiving yards in 2019, which is more than quarterback Lamar Jackson has thrown for in the last two weeks. Even with the good matchup, Brown should be seen as nothing more than a high-end WR3 in an offense that targets its tight ends more than its receivers.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Nick Boyle caught 2-of-3 targets for 10 yards and a three-yard touchdown in Week 14's win over the Buffalo Bills. Boyle was able to capitalize on his opportunity to score shortly after Mark Andrews exited the game with a knee injury. If Andrews is unable to go, it's hard to tell whether Boyle or Hayden Hurst will see an expanded role at the tight end position. Boyle and Hurst have put up similar numbers up to this point in the season as they are both close to 300 yards in receiving and have two touchdowns each. Boyle could be a viable streaming option in deeper leagues if Andrews is unable to go, but it's probably best to keep him on the bench Thursday Night against a Jets Defense that has allowed only two touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2019.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst caught all three of his targets for a season-high 73 yards and his second touchdown of the season in Week 14's win over the Buffalo Bills. Hurst was able to step up for quarterback Lamar Jackson after Mark Andrews exited the game with a knee injury. If Andrews is unable to go on Thursday Night, Hurst is a viable play in an offense that relies heavily on its tight ends. Baltimore hosts a Jets Defense in Week 15 that has only allowed two touchdowns and an average of 40 receiving yards to opposing tight ends in 2019.
Arizona Cardinals S Budda Baker (hamstring), C Mason Cole (knee), DT Corey Peters (non-injury), OG Justin Pugh (back), LB Terrell Suggs (back, illness) and OG J.R. Sweezy (illness) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11. WR Andy Isabella (shoulder), CB Byron Murphy (calf), CB Kevin Peterson (shoulder) and LB Joseph Walker (ribs) was limited during practice.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed to 50 yards on 15 attempts and caught all three of his targets in Week 14's win over the Buffalo Bills. Baltimore matches up against a Jets Defense that has only allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing running backs twice this season. The Bills Defense has also held opposing running backs to under 100 rushing yards in all games but one in 2019. Ingram has failed to get in the end zone for the last two games and is a touchdown-dependent RB2/RB3 play in Week 15.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzgerald has been targeted at least seven times in three of the last four games but has been held to 40 yards or less in two of the last three games. He could be a possible flex option in some deeper leagues but could be avoided in a majority of leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Kirk is coming off one of his better games of the season and has been targeted at least seven times in five of the last six games. He can be considered a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he plays.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark (illness, shoulder), CB Rashad Fenton (hamstring), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and LB Darron Lee (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 11. OG Andrew Wylie (shoulder) was limited during practice. OT Eric Fisher (groin), CB Kendall Fuller (thumb), DT Derrick Nnadi (elbow) and DE Alex Okafor (ankle) fully participated in practice.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams (rib) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Fantasy Spin: Williams has missed the last few games but appears to have a chance to play in the Week 15 game. He can be a No. 2 running back or flex option in fantasy leagues if he is active for the game.