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FFL: Playoff Week 3 | NFL: Week 15

Steelers defense leads way in 17-12 win over Rams

Sun Nov 10 8:21pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
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.

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.

INJURIES

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.

UP NEXT

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
Alshon Jeffery Dec 11 9:20am ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is done for the year after suffering a non-contact foot injury during Monday night's game. Jeffery went down in the second quarter and won't return until next season. It's a huge blow to the Eagles, who have one of the thinnes9wide receiver groups in the NFL. Jeffery looked like he'd lost a step this year and it's unlikely he'll look any quicker next season. With such a shallow group at wide receiver, Jeffery will probably be back with the Eagles next season, but his days as a strong fantasy starter are almost surely behind him.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Goodwin Dec 11 12:50am ET

The San Francisco 49ers placed wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (foot, knee) on injured reserve on Tuesday. The seven-year pro has been dealing with chronic leg issues and will be shut down to undergo treatment. Goodwin managed just 12 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown in 2019 and its probable his three-year tenure with the Niners is over. The speedster will likely find his way onto another roster next year but at 29 years old, Goodwin holds minimal dynasty value. With Goodwin shelved, wideout Kendrick Bourne will continue operating as the primary third receiver. With five scores over his past six games, Bourne has emerged as a red zone threat and will be a low-volume WR5 in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Goodwin Dec 10 5:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a knee injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

From TheHuddle

Demaryius Thomas Dec 10 5:23pm ET

New York Jets S Jamal Adams (ankle), OT Chuma Edoga (knee), TE Ryan Griffin (ankle), CB Arthur Maulet (calf), CB Brian Poole (concussion), RB Bilal Powell (ankle, illness), WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) and DL Quinnen Williams (neck) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. OT Kelvin Beachum (ankles), S Matthias Farley (ankle), DL Steve McLendon (knee, hip), RB Ty Montgomery (foot, hip) and DL Nathan Shepherd (ankle) were limited. RB Le'Veon Bell (illness), CB Maurice Canady (shoulder), OL Tom Compton (ankle), QB Sam Darnold (knee, thumb), QB David Fales (elbow) and LB Paul Worrilow (quad) participated in full.

From TheHuddle

Mark Ingram Dec 10 5:13pm ET

Baltimore Ravens LB Chris Board (concussion), DB Anthony Levine (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion), RB Mark Ingram (non-injury), S Earl Thomas (non-injury) and DT Brandon Williams (non-injury) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. TE Mark Andrews (knee), QB Lamar Jackson (quad) and DE Jihad Ward (elbow) were limited.

From TheHuddle

Calvin Ridley Dec 10 4:53pm ET

Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (abdominal) and CB Desmond Trufant (forearm) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Tuesday, Dec. 10. LB Ahmad Thomas was signed to the active roster, while TE Carson Meier and LB Quentin Poling were added to the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

Alshon Jeffery Dec 10 4:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury he suffered in Week 14 against the New York Giants, according to a source. The team is still reportedly gathering opinions about the exact injury, however.

Fantasy Spin: This injury wraps up yet another injury-shortened season for the 29-year-old, who has played a full season once in the last five years - averaging only 12 games over that span. Jeffrey is still due $12.75 million over each of the final two years of his deal, so he's probably not going anywhere this offseason. With Nelson Agholor also ailing, the Eagles could be forced to finish the season with Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and a few practice squad players at the position.

From TheHuddle

Rodney Gunter Dec 10 4:33pm ET

Arizona Cardinals DL Rodney Gunter (toe) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a toe injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10. DL Caraun Reid (Cardinals) was re-signed to an undisclosed contract to replace him on the roster after getting released over the weekend.

From TheHuddle

Simeon Thomas Dec 10 4:23pm ET

Washington Redskins CB Simeon Thomas was handed a four-game suspension by the NFL on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for violating the league's policy and program on substances of abuse.

From TheHuddle

Marvin Jones Dec 10 4:23pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Marvin Jones (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with an ankle injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Fantasy Spin: The hits just keep coming for Detroit, which figures to lean on Kenny Golladay even more the rest of the way. Danny Amendola should also see more targets as well.

From TheHuddle

Auden Tate Dec 10 3:40pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate (knee) was placed on the injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season. Tate sustained a mild MCL sprain in his left knee in the third quarter of the teams Week 14 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Damion Willis was promoted to the active roster in a corresponding roster move. Tate took advantage of all the injuries to the Bengals receiving corps this season, racking up a career-high 40 catches for 575 yards and one touchdown, and is a worthy hold in dynasty leagues heading into his third season.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Dec 10 3:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp played only 20 of a possible 68 snaps in Week 14 versus the Seattle Seahawks.

Fantasy Spin: By comparison, Kupp logged 57 snaps in Week 13. Head coach Sean McVay defended the move by suggesting it was the cost of doing business in order to establish some offensive balance on early downs. However, the flaw in that reasoning is that Kupp's playing time should not be cut in favor of backup tight end Johnny Mundt. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks didn't make a catch in his 61 snaps. Expect Kupp to return to his normal snap count in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys.

From TheHuddle

Jamar Taylor Dec 10 3:13pm ET

Free-agent CB Jamar Taylor (Seahawks) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

From TheHuddle

Le'Veon Bell Dec 10 3:03pm ET

New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell is among the players the team is expected to make available via trade this offseason, according to sources.

Fantasy Spin: Bell is averaging only 49.1 yards rushing behind one of the league's worst offensive lines in his first season with the Jets, and it is becoming increasingly clear head coach Adam Gase either can't find a way to keep him involved in the offense or doesn't want to. A trade will be hard to accomplish as well, as the Jets would take a $15.5 million cap hit if they deal him and his hypothetical new team would have to find a way to fit one of the larger contracts at his position onto the roster.

From TheHuddle

Auden Tate Dec 10 2:53pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals WR Auden Tate (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a sprained left medial collateral ligament Tuesday, Dec. 10. WR Damion Willis was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

Fantasy Spin: Tate's emergence was probably the best thing to happen to the Bengals in an otherwise lost season. Assuming A.J. Green re-signs with the team in the offseason, Tate will probably push John Ross for the other starting outside job while Tyler Boyd remains the main slot receiver. Tate, who finishes this season with 40 catches for 575 yards and a touchdown, should be considered a solid late-round flier next summer in fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Cedrick Wilson Dec 10 2:43pm ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Dec. 10. OT Mitch Hyatt was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Parris Campbell Dec 10 2:40pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (foot) has been placed on Injured Reserve ending his season. It's an unfortunate, yet fitting, end to the rookie's season having battled injuries to his hamstring, abdomen, and a broken hand before a fractured foot put him on season-ending IR. Campbell finishes his rookie season with 18 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown. The Colts are still unsure of T.Y. Hilton's (calf) status for their Monday night game vs New Orleans, but it's looking increasingly likely Hilton misses the game. Assuming Hilton is out, Zach Pascal has interesting WR3 value with Marcus Johnson also in the mix in deeper fantasy leagues.

From RotoBaller

James Conner Dec 10 2:30pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expecting to get wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and running back James Conner (shoulder) back in time for their Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills. Neither has played since getting injured against the Cleveland Browns in Week 11. Both players are expected to practice this week in what would be a big boost to the Pittsburgh offense as the team looks to remain in the playoff picture. Conner's return would come at an especially good time as Jaylen Samuels is looking questionable for this weekend with a groin injury. That being said, fantasy GMs need to temper their expectations for both players as the Bills have been stout on defense this season.

From RotoBaller

Calvin Ridley Dec 10 2:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (abdomen) will be out for the remainder of the season after suffering an abdominal injury during the first half of Week 14's win over the Carolina Panthers. Ridley had a big game before the injury, catching five balls for 76 yards and a touchdown but went down before halftime and was unable to stand on his own. He was carted off the field and looked to be in significant pain. With Ridley out look for Russell Gage to slide in as the No. 2 receiver in Atlanta opposite Julio Jones. Gage is worth a look as a flex play in fantasy leagues going forward.

From RotoBaller

Bilal Powell Dec 10 2:20pm ET

New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (ankle, illness) is not expected to play Thursday night at Baltimore. Powell, who was filling in for Le'Veon Bell (illness) injured his ankle at the end of the Jets Week 14 win over the Dolphins. Powell is also apparently dealing with the flu but head coach Adam Gase said the ankle is the bigger concern right now. Powell is yet to officially be ruled out, but all signs are pointing to him not suiting up this week. The good news for New York is Bell is reportedly close to 100 percent and should reclaim his starting role with Ty Montgomery working as a change of pace back. Powell can safely be dropped by those that picked him up for the Miami game.

From RotoBaller