Sun Nov 24 4:34pm ET
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges reacts after winning an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush (55) forces a fumble on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) during the second half an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) hits Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley (5) after the pass during the second half an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges passes during the second half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington celebrates his touchdown during the second half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges (6) passes during the second half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington runs in a touchdown during the second half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) looks to pass under pressure from Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson, left, during the first half an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) celebrates his touchdown during the first half an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) passes during the first half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) stands on the sidelines during the first half an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) passes against Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the first half an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin works the sidelines during the first half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley passes during the first half an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
CINCINNATI (AP) Devlin “Duck” Hodges took over for struggling Mason Rudolph and threw a 79-yard touchdown pass Sunday, sparking the depleted Pittsburgh Steelers to a 16-10 victory that kept the Cincinnati Bengals the only winless team in the NFL.
Hodges connected with James Washington on the game-turning play in the third quarter, leaving Pittsburgh (6-5) with a quarterback decision as it moves forward without Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers’ defense has steadied them through the transition, and it had a major impact in Pittsburgh’s 10th straight win over the hapless Bengals (0-11), who set franchise records for worst start and longest losing streak.
Tyler Boyd made a catch and was stripped by Devin Bush at the Steelers 8-yard line in the fourth quarter, preserving the lead. Bud Depree sacked Ryan Finley and forced a fumble that he recovered with 2:38 left, closing it out.
What’s left of the Steelers’ offense - hollowed out by injuries and a suspension - struggled in the first half and prompted coach Mike Tomlin to switch from Rudolph to Hodges, who provided an immediate boost. His touchdown pass to Washington gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead and got thousands of Terrible Towels twirling at Paul Brown Stadium.
Hodges filled in for one game after Rudolph suffered a concussion and directed a 24-17 win over the Chargers on Oct. 13. Tomlin went back to Rudolph as soon as he was healthy.
Now, he’s got a big decision as the Steelers try to stay in the playoff chase.
Hodges ran an offense missing three stars after a 21-7 loss to Cleveland that ended with ugliness - Myles Garrett clubbing Rudolph with the QB’s own helmet. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey served the first of his two-game suspension Sunday for kicking and punching Garrett in the melee.
Also, receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was out with a concussion and running back James Conner had a shoulder injury from the Cleveland game. The Steelers got what they needed out of what was left, with Hodges leading the way. He went 5 of 11 or 118 yards with two sacks. Rookie Benny Snell Jr. returned from a knee injury and ran for 98 yards.
If the Bengals were going to end that long losing streak against their Ohio River rival, this was their chance. Instead, they saw another one slip away in the end, just like all the others.
The Bengals repeatedly dodged disaster in the first half and led 7-3, only their third halftime lead this season. They fumbled the opening kickoff but recovered. Finley was sacked and fumbled on Cincinnati’s second possession, but Giovani Bernard fell on the ball. Finley later was sacked just in front of the goal line, avoiding a safety.
Finley was 12 of 26 for 192 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Boyd.
Steelers: CB Artie Burns was out with a knee injury.
Bengals: Alex Redmond was expected to start at left guard but hurt his left elbow during pregame warmups and didn’t play.
Steelers: Host Cleveland next Sunday.
Bengals: Host the New York Jets next Sunday.
Updating a previous story from Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers haven't officially moved on from quarterback Philip Rivers, as FOX Sports' Jay Glazer alluded to. All options remain available with the veteran gunslinger, including the franchise tag. However, the fact that Rivers moved his family 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles to Florida could factor into the decision on both sides. The writing seems to be on the wall for the Bolts to cut ties with Rivers when he becomes a free agent this March. The 38-year-old had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2019 in his 16th and likely final season with the Chargers. Rivers can still put up numbers as he gets closer to retirement, but fantasy owners will likely be drafting him as a backup for the 2020 season, no matter where he winds up.
Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the team could wait until next year to sign quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a long-term contract extension. "I don't want to say necessarily it has to be this offseason, but I will say that it's a priority to get him done," Hunt said. A first-round pick in 2017, Mahomes is eligible for a contract extension now that he's finished his third year in the NFL, but it sounds like the Chiefs aren't exactly in a hurry to get something done. The 24-year-old didn't post the gaudy numbers he had in 2018 -- 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns -- but he was still more than adequate with 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 14 games. Mahomes is an elite signal-caller with exceptional athleticism with both his arm and legs. He's here to stay as a high-end QB1 and will take on the 49ers in the Super Bowl this Sunday.
Free-agent RB Alex Collins (Ravens) and QB Chris Streveler (CFL) worked out for the Miami Dolphins recently.
San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (knee, hamstring) said he's not 100 percent and will play through pain of knee tendonitis and a hamstring injury in the Super Bowl.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy, who hasn't had a touch since Week 15 and who was inactive for the AFC Championship against the Titans, said he's not ready to retire after this season. "Nah, I'm not ready to retire, yet," McCoy said. "I still can play. So, I'm not going to retire yet, but that day is coming. That day is definitely coming." The 31-year-old has taken a back seat to running backs Damien Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson down the stretch, and he's unlikely to have much of a role, if any, in the Super Bowl against the 49ers. Shady has become more of a mentor in the running back room than an on-field performer for fantasy owners.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) said his injured shoulder is feeling good but wants to see how his range of motion is and how he will be able to manage the pain in his shoulder.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor Coleman's practice participation this week to see if he will be in any danger of missing the Super Bowl. He will be part of a committee if he plays and can be a flex option.
Los Angeles Chargers impending free-agent QB Philip Rivers' status with the Chargers is uncertain at this time, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The team may consider placing the franchise tag on him or let him leave in free agency.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation to see where Rivers will be playing in 2020. He likely will find a starting job this offseason but may only be a No. 2 quarterback in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (shoulder) said he has been playing the last two seasons with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and does not plan to have surgery on the shoulder.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle seems to be playing fine despite the injury and continues to be an important part of the running and passing game. He continues to be one of the top tight ends in the NFL and is a must-start fantasy option.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (shoulder) said that he's been playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder since the start of the 2018 season. "So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said Sunday on the Pardon My Take podcast, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it -- [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time." He didn't miss any games in 2018 and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. Kittle said there's "no chance" he has surgery in the future. The 26-year-old has been quiet in the postseason with four catches for 35 yards in two games, but the Niners haven't really needed him with their ground game humming. That could change in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2.
Free-agent WR Tommylee Lewis (Lions) signed a Reserve/Future contract with the New Orleans Saints Monday, Jan. 27. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel could be released this offseason since the team could save $4.5 million in salary cap space.
Fantasy Spin: Gabriel struggled with concussions this season but can be a role in an offense because of his playmaking abilities. He probably will be avoided in most fantasy leagues no matter where he plays in 2020.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who will be a free agent in March, emotionally admitted that he would fail a drug test to a police officer during a traffic stop recently. This was caught on video of the police officer's dash cam during the traffic stop. Hunt also admitted that the small amounts of marijuana found in the car were his, but the officer let Hunt off with just the speeding ticket. It remains to be seen if the NFL will consider a suspension for the 24-year-old from this incident. Hunt was released by the Chiefs during the 2018 season due to a domestic-violence incident, and he served a suspension before making his Browns debut in 2019. If he signs with another team this offseason and is given bell-cow duties in the backfield, Hunt could have RB1 upside.
The Los Angeles Chargers have "moved on from Philip Rivers," according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer. Rivers is set to become a free agent in March, and the writing was on the wall when he recently moved his entire family from San Diego to Florida. Rivers will end a 16-year run with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen where he'll land on the free-agent market this offseason. The Buccaneers are a popular expected destination, but that'll only be if they move on from Jameis Winston. Rivers completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2019 for a QB rating of 88.5. He might have a few more seasons left in him, but at 38 years old his arm strength is clearly deteriorating, and he'll probably be more of a QB2 in 2020, depending on where he winds up.
The Buffalo Bills were cleared of violating policy over the reporting of DE Jerry Hughes' (wrist) wrist injury in 2019. Hughes posted to social media that he was undergoing surgery after playing the season with torn ligaments, but he was not listed on the injury report.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox was credited with a 61-yard interception return for touchdown at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle posted three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on four targets for the AFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE T.J. Watt posted an 82-yard fumble return for touchdown in the fourth quarter for the AFC at the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews ended up with a game-high nine receptions for an AFC-best 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. registered two grabs for 67 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter, for the AFC at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.