Tue Nov 19 4:22pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin watches during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
PITTSBURGH (AP) Steelers coach Mike Tomlin accepted his team’s role in the now-infamous fight last Thursday night that ended with Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet.
Just don’t expect Tomlin to use the video of a brawl he called “ugly for the game of football” as a teachable moment. He doesn’t think one is required.
“I don't know that we did anything to make it happen in the first place,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “That's why I said we didn't have anything to learn from it."
Garrett and Rudolph became tangled up after Garrett took Rudolph to the ground shortly after the quarterback let go of a pass in the final seconds of Cleveland’s 21-7 win.
In the chaos that ensued, Rudolph grabbed the back of Garrett’s helmet and pulled. Garrett responded by snatching Rudolph’s facemask and ripping Rudolph’s helmet off. Steelers guard David DeCastro attempted to intervene, pushing Garrett away. Rudolph gave chase and Garrett swung Rudolph’s helmet, connecting with Rudolph’s head in the process.
“All of us that are involved in the game, particularly at this level, want to safeguard and protect the game, it’s integrity,” Tomlin said. “And in that instance, it was compromised, obviously with an unfortunate incident. None of us want those things to transpire. It did. We were a part of it. We accept responsibility of our actions within it."
Garrett received an indefinite suspension from the NFL, which also fined both teams $250,000. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey earned a three-game ban for punching and kicking at Garrett in the aftermath and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was suspended one game for knocking down Rudolph from behind.
All three players are appealing the respective rulings and with the AFC North rivals meeting again in less than two weeks, the debate over who’s to blame for what isn’t likely to die down anytime soon.
Outside of owning up to his team’s actions and hinting the Browns started it, Tomlin declined to get into detail, saying only “we have some people going through appeals and so forth, I don't want to jeopardize that in any way."
More pressing for Tomlin than trying to assess blame is finding a way to get Pittsburgh (5-5) back on track following its worst performance since a season-opening 30-point loss to New England.
While the outside world fixated on the unprecedented punishment handed out by the league, Tomlin was more focused on the 59 minutes and 52 seconds that came before things got out of hand. Long before Garrett and Rudolph went at it, the Browns had beat up and beaten down the Steelers.
“It's easy to seek comfort in that sidebar distraction and not talk about what really needs to be talked about from our perspective, is that we played a losing football game,” Tomlin said. “We didn't execute well enough in all three phases to secure victory."
Pittsburgh will try to stay in the playoff mix on Sunday at winless Cincinnati (0-10) but will likely do it without Pouncey, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner. The odds of Pouncey’s suspension being lifted completely are slim. Smith-Schuster is dealing with a concussion and Conner aggravated the shoulder injury that forced him to miss two games last month.
Rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. could return after missing a month with a knee injury, but even if he’s able to play Pittsburgh’s skill position group remains a mish-mash of players, most of whom began the season far down the depth chart either with the Steelers or elsewhere. Pittsburgh signed rookie wide receiver Deon Cain and rookie running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. - both practice squad players with other teams - to the 53-man roster earlier this week. There’s a chance one or both could be on the field Sunday.
“The bottom line is our jobs is to win games regardless of circumstance and so that's our focus,” Tomlin said. “I really don't spend a lot of time crying over who's available or who's not available. It's as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. If you're a competitor like we as coaches are competitors, that fires you up. You want to smile in the face of adversity and deliver and so that's our focus."
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott made just one of his two field goals in Week 14, but he made both of his extra point attempts. Elliott was perfect through the first few games of the season, but he's been in a bit of a slump lately despite recently signing a contract extension. Still, with a good matchup coming up in Week 15 against Washington, Elliott should be a solid fantasy kicking option then.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense didn't do much in a Week 14 overtime win over the New York Giants. They allowed 17 points, all in the first half, and recorded two sacks, both by Vinny Curry. They were unable to record any interceptions or force any fumbles. It was a pedestrian performance against a stone statue resembling Eli Manning. Another good matchup awaits the Eagles defense with Washington up next on the schedule, but they're getting more and more difficult to trust in fantasy lineups.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Greg Ward came up with four catches on nine targets in Week 14, gaining 34 yards. Ward had the chance to come up with a few big plays, but was unable to do much with his opportunities. Ward was thrust into a bigger role after Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave the game due to an injury in the second quarter, but Ward quickly showed why he was so far down on the depth chart. Regardless of Jeffery's recovery, Ward won't be a great fantasy option despite a good matchup against Washington in Week 15.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside made two catches in Week 14, gaining 29 yards. He was targeted three times but was a near every-down player, especially after Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave the game with a foot injury. Arcega-Whiteside showed some huge upside in the preseason but hasn't really been able to do anything in regular season play. Even if Jeffery is forced to miss Week 15, Arcega-Whiteside will be nothing more than a dart-throw in most fantasy formats.
New York Giants tight end Kaden Smith was a no show on Monday night. He saw five targets from Eli Manning but was only able to catch two of them for nine yards. Smith was a nice story after solid production last week, but he was never likely to have sustained value. With it probable that either Evan Engram (foot) or Rhett Ellison (concussion) will be back next week, Smiths time on the fantasy radar may be over.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders was thoroughly outplayed by Boston Scott in a Week 14 win over the New York Giants. Sanders averaged just three yards per carry, running the ball 15 times for 45 scoreless yards. He added four catches for 24 more yards. Scott, meanwhile, accrued 128 yards from scrimmage and made some explosive plays throughout the game. Sanders was forced to leave the game for a bit in the second half due to an injury, but he was able to return soon after. Sanders should still get the start in Week 15, but Scott has certainly earned more playing time and should eat into the upside that Sanders possesses.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi did almost nothing in a Week 14 win over the New York Giants, running the ball just twice for a total of five yards. He saw one target in the passing game, but was unable to come down with a catchable ball. Ajayi has played a very small role on the Eagles offense since being signed, and it has become clear that he is nothing more than depth in the running back room at this point.
Early on, the New York Giants Defense did a solid job against a banged-up Eagles offense. They took advantage of an Eagles offense without Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard, and Lane Johnson, getting pressure on Carson Wentz, forcing errant throws and sacking him three times. However, they were never able to get any turnovers and the Giants' utter lack of offense in the second half allowed the Eagles to gather some momentum as the game wore on. Even against the Dolphins and turnover-happy Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Giants are not a recommended streaming defense with so much on the line for fantasy teams.
New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas made both of his extra points and his only field goal attempt in Monday's loss to the Eagles. As with most games this season, Rosas' fantasy value is limited by his mediocre offense. The Giants simply don't get the ball into scoring position enough for him to be a fantasy-viable kicker, even next week against the Dolphins.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz scored two huge touchdowns in Week 14, including a walk-off score in overtime. Ertz ended up with nine catches on 13 targets for a total of 91 yards. His first score came on a two-yard strike in the middle of the fourth quarter, and his second was another two-yard pass, this one in overtime. Ertz was essentially the entire passing game in this one, as Greg Ward and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside were the only available wide receivers after Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave with a foot injury. With a strong matchup against Washington coming up next week, Ertz should be a strong TE1 once again.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert made three catches on six targets in Week 14. He gained 41 yards on his three grabs, including one crucial catch near the end of the game that helped lead the Eagles to an overtime win. With Alshon Jeffery forced to leave in the second quarter due to a foot injury, Goedert and fellow tight end Zach Ertz ended up becoming the receiving corps for quarterback Carson Wentz. With another good matchup in Week 15 against Washington, Goedert will be a low-end TE1 again.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was solid in a rainy overtime win over the New York Giants in Week 14. Wentz completed 33 of his 50 pass attempts for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns went to tight end Zach Ertz, with the second one being an overtime walk-off score. Wentz was left with just Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the only healthy wide receivers on the roster after Alshon Jeffery left in the second quarter with a foot injury. It's a concern for Wentz's Week 15 outlook, but a good matchup against Washington helps.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had some magic working early in his first game back in the starting lineup since Week 3, delivering two touchdown passes to Darius Slayton, but the potion wore off as the rain picked up and the Giants collapsed on primetime TV. After his hot start, Manning remained inaccurate and immobile in the pocket. He finished with 15 completions on 30 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. The stats will look fine, but this Giants team is unquestionably better with Daniel Jones under center, and the expectation should be that Jones takes the job back next week against the Dolphins if his ankle heals up.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton exploded in the first half of the Giants loss to the Eagles on Monday night. Slayton and Eli Manning connected on two early deep balls as Slayton seemed to beat Ronald Darby at will. He corralled five of his six targets for 154 yards and two touchdowns, but the rain and the Giants ridiculously conservative gameplan caused Slaytons fun to end prematurely. With Daniel Jones likely to come back next week, Slayton remains a low-end WR3 in an easy matchup against the Dolphins, unless Evan Engram also comes back to take away more targets.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott showed some real explosiveness and big play ability in a Week 14 overtime win over the New York Giants. Scott ran the ball 10 times for 59 yards and a touchdown, adding six catches for 69 more yards. Scott looked like the best running back in an Eagles uniform all season in this one, making it look easy as he averaged almost six yards per carry in the rain. Scott got a little extra run in the second half as Miles Sanders had to miss some time with a minor injury. Scott could see his role grow in Week 15 against Washington.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was bottled up in Mondays loss to the Eagles. The Eagles run defense is among the leagues best, so Barkley rushing 17 times for 66 yards was not a surprise. However, in a rainy game with Eli Manning back under center, it was honestly shocking that Barkley was only able to muster one yard on three catches. Why the Giants star has seemingly been phased out of the passing attack is anybodys guess, but it has severely capped his fantasy value. He has a get-right game next week against the lowly Dolphins, but Barkley is just a low-end RB1 now.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate was an afterthought in his first game with Eli Manning under center. The first-year Giant caught only one of his five targets for 11 yards. With Darius Slayton emerging and Evan Engram possibly returning next week, Tate is falling down the receiving pecking order and could be just a WR4 next week against the Dolphins. It would be safer to find another option for your fantasy playoffs.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard was second on the team in targets with seven but only hauled in four passes for 28 yards. Whenever he is on the field, Shepard is a magnet for targets, regardless of who is under center. His consistently high volume means that he could be an intriguing, albeit risky, WR3 option next week against the Dolphins mediocre pass defense.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was forced to leave Monday's game against the New York Giants due to a foot injury. Jeffery limped off the field after going down while running a route in the second quarter. He was carted into the locker room from the sideline. He made zero catches on two bad targets before getting hurt. It's a devastating blow to fantasy owners who trusted Jeffery after his huge Week 13 performance, but potentially even worse for the Eagles, who are left with just Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the only wide receivers in uniform.
Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) will not return to the Week 14 game against the New York Giants due to his foot injury.
Fantasy Spin: Jeffery was carted off in the first half and immediately went to the locker room. He finished without a catch on two targets. Greg Ward Jr., JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Josh Perkins will steer the ship home at wide receiver.