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FFL: Playoff Week 1 | NFL: Week 14

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
Mark Ingram Dec 7 9:40pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed for 59 yards on 15 attempts in Week 13's win over the 49ers. Ingram could produce a healthy amount of production against a Bills Defense with a weakness against the run. Ingram will continue to share the ball with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, but he is still the No. 1 option in the backfield and will get the majority of touches. If the Ravens can get the run game going early, Ingram has a good chance to get in the end zone. He is an RB2 going into Sunday's Week 13 matchup.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Brown Dec 7 9:30pm ET

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown caught 1-of-2 targets for one yard in Week 13 against the 49ers. Prior to last week, Brown hadn't been targeted less than four times in a game this season. Part of Brown's lack of involvement was due to Baltimore attacking San Francisco with its run game, but his output was disappointing, to say the least. The Ravens matchup against a Buffalo Bills Defense in Week 14 that has been stingy to opposing wide receivers. Hollywood is a touchdown-dependent play against Buffalo and stands in low-end WR3 territory.

From RotoBaller

Mark Andrews Dec 7 9:10pm ET

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews caught 3-of-6 targets for 50 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in Week 13. Andrews was able to produce a solid performance despite playing a stout 49ers Defense. Baltimore matches up against a Bills Defense in Week 14 that has allowed only two touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2019, including one to Jason Witten in Week 13. As the most heavily targeted option in Baltimore, Andrews is still a TE1 as reliable tight ends are scarce.

From RotoBaller

Jason Myers Dec 7 9:00pm ET

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has turned his season around since his hiccoughs against Tampa Bay, and he'll need to be on point against a dangerous Rams team this weekend. Last time, Seattle squeaked out a victory thanks to a last-second shanked field goal by the Rams kicker, so Myers was bailed out for missing one of his own earlier in the game. Now he comes into the game having made six straight field goals and nine straight extra points. Expect Pete Carroll to continue to depend mightily on Myers, and he could be just what a desperate fantasy owner needs to finish out the playoffs.

From RotoBaller

Jadeveon Clowney Dec 7 9:00pm ET

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks is doubtful to go against the Rams on Sunday night due to a hamstring injury that has lingered all week. That means the Seahawks Defense will likely be starting rookie linebacker Cody Barton when they take the field in the Coliseum. The third-round pick out of Utah has gotten nothing but effusive praise from head coach Pete Carroll, but the notoriously upbeat coach is usually overflowing with praise about every player in the league. The good news is that Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah are both expected to be able to go, so hopefully the pass rush can stay mean and buy some more time for the newbie when he's in coverage.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Lockett Dec 7 8:50pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett has had a rough couple of weeks, but hopes are high for Sunday's primetime game against the Rams. Lockett was downed with a serious shin contusion at the end of the 49ers game four weeks ago, and then just as he fully recovered from that, he was one of a handful of Seahawks to come down with the flu before the Vikings game. He made it through, but he didn't catch any balls along the way. Now removed from both issues, Lockett is expected to be back to full speed against the Rams, a team he's traditionally had a lot of success against. Fantasy owners should find solace in that.

From RotoBaller

D.K. Metcalf Dec 7 8:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf snuck behind the defense and hauled in a bomb from Russell Wilson for a touchdown in his first career game against the Rams, and LA is definitely preparing to try to prevent that from happening again. Metcalf has excelled in that arena, hauling in a pass for 20 or more yards in nine of his 12 games this season, and fantasy owners should bank on Seattle looking for Metcalf downfield once again on Sunday night. The workout wonder has grown throughout the season and turned into more of a possession receiver while Tyler Lockett was hampered with a leg injury, but Lockett is expected to be back to full speed on Sunday, which should give Metcalf the freedom to roam a little more. Expect to see at least one long bomb with his name on it.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Dec 7 8:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson was one of the team's strongest weapons when they beat the Rams at home earlier this year, and he'll need to bring that same fire to LA if Seattle is going to come out on top again. Carson has been a beastly back this year, even if the recent surge of carries for Rashaad Penny has hurt fantasy owners. Carson has shown that he welcomes the addition of Penny to the mix, so expect him to share the load once again, but Carson remains the No. 1 option for the team. Any owner isn't going to turn away from him at this point, and Carson should easily clear the 1,000-yard hurdle in 2019 by putting up another strong game against his division rival.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Dec 7 8:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny was bombarded with insults earlier in the season when he continued to struggle to find his footing in the NFL, but his last two games have silenced a whole lot of those critics. Now, he'll get another go at one of the team's bitter division rivals in primetime on Sunday night. Penny tallied just 18 yards on six carries last time he saw LA, but now he's coming off back-to-back thrashings of the Philadelphia and Minnesota defenses. Penny's impressive performances will likely keep his name in the mix throughout the game, and he should continue to show considerable improvement over his previous version.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Dec 7 8:20pm ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson put up a huge game against the Rams last time out, and he'll need another top-tier performance if Seattle's going to hang on to first place in the NFC West. Unfortunately, the LA defense has had a renaissance since the last time Wilson saw them. They have allowed 20 or fewer points in six of their last seven games with the only outlier being the drubbing that Baltimore gave them. Now on Sunday night, Wilson will need to summon all his magic to ensure Seattle can bring home a victory. Fortunately, Wilson specializes at excelling in primetime. He should put up some big numbers on Sunday night.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Dec 7 8:10pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 105 yards, ran for 101 yards and scored a touchdown through the air and on the ground in Week 13's win over the 49ers. The Ravens have another tough defensive matchup in Week 14 in Buffalo. The Bills Defense has conceded only nine passing touchdowns this season and has held opposing quarterbacks to an average of 12 fantasy points per game. Jackson remains in must-start territory for this game and for the rest of the season, if it wasn't already obvious. The Bills defense has allowed 109 rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks in 2019, but Jackson ran for eight yards shy of that in last week against San Francisco. Jackson simply cannot be sat.

From RotoBaller

Le'Veon Bell Dec 7 5:20pm ET

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (illness) has been officially ruled out for the Week 14 game against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at 1 pm ET. The timing is not ideal for fantasy football owners, with most leagues starting their first round playoff matchups this week and now missing a top running back. Expect Bilal Powell to step in as the leading running back for the Jets on Sunday, with Ty Montgomery likely seeing increased usage as well.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Dec 7 4:10pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa will be looking to get back on track when the Chargers visit the Jaguars on Sunday this week. Bosa, who has 8.5 sacks on the season, has been held without one in over a month. This week, he'll face rookie Gardner Minshew, newly appointed starter for the Jaguars after Nick Foles fell flat over the last couple games. Minshew is much more agile and improvisational than Foles, but he's also raw and hopefully someone that Bosa can catch making a mistake or two. The Chargers Defense has been up and down recently, but a strong showing against a fellow disappointing team could help right the ship for the last few games of the season.

From RotoBaller

Michael Badgley Dec 7 4:00pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley was booming balls a mile up in the sky last week, but he'll be back down near sea level this go around. Badgley missed a 55-yarder in Denver last week, and he'll be just 16 feet above sea level in Week 14 when he is kicking in Jacksonville. Badgley is a far cry from where he was last season, making just 76% of his kicks this year as compared to the 93.8% he knocked through in 2018. Also, while he was perfect in kicks less than 50 yards in length last year, he's missed two such kicks this season. Badgley isn't a terrible kicker, especially compared to some in LA's history, but he certainly hasn't lived up to his billing.

From RotoBaller

David Njoku Dec 7 3:50pm ET

The Cleveland Browns activated tight end David Njoku from injured reserve on Saturday. Njoku fractured his wrist during Week 2 against the New York Jets and has spent most of the season on the sidelines. Njoku is not expected to be limited on Sunday, which will push Demetrius Harris, Stephen Carlson, and Ricky Seals-Jones back to reserve roles. Njoku's next two weeks set up perfectly in fantasy as he will face two teams that struggle to contain tight ends in Cincinnati and the Arizona Cardinals. Njoku's return is an instant boost to Baker Mayfield's stock as the team has been missing a red-zone presence this season.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Henry Dec 7 3:50pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry will have his work cut out for him in Week 14. Henry will be facing off against a Jacksonville defense that has been one of the stingiest in the land versus opposing tight ends. Jacksonville's held opposing tight ends to zero touchdowns in the last four weeks, and they're top-10 in limiting the production of opposing tight ends this season. Henry had been on a hot streak until last week when he got shut down by Denver, so he could use a bounce back. Unfortunately, the Jaguars' difficult defense makes a big week unlikely, though most owners won't be able to pass up the tantalizing possibilities of a big week from the young TE.

From RotoBaller

Keenan Allen Dec 7 3:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is making up for lost time by racking up touchdowns in two straight games. Now, he'll face another stout defensive backfield that is tied for the fourth-fewest receiving touchdowns this season. Jacksonville has allowed quite a few yards to wideouts, but they've been able to keep them out of the end zone. Allen has done a good job of hauling in passes sent his way this year, but he's still pulling himself out of the doldrums where he struggled to get meaningful yardage in the middle of the year. He's been on a roll the last few weeks though, and he should find a way to continue that momentum this week. Expect solid numbers for the fantasy playoffs.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Dec 7 3:20pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams went huge last week against the Denver Broncos, and he'll be looking to continue building on his progress. Williams racked up 117 yards as he was the go-to receiver for deep passes, giving him a new career-high. He'll now turn his sights on the Jaguars, a less dominant secondary than that of the Broncos. However, in this case, them being less dominant may actually cut into Williams' production instead of helping it. One of the natural ways Denver's stingy secondary helped Williams is that Philip Rivers wanted to avoid Chris Harris Jr, who shadowed Keenan Allen all day. Jacksonville's secondary isn't so top-heavy, so Williams may not see as much work and Allen may see more. Williams has shown he can be a superstar though, so Rivers should still find him for a big play or two no matter what,

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Dec 7 2:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been on a roll recently, and that train shouldn't slow down on Sunday against Jacksonville. Gordon has posted 90 or more yards from scrimmage in four straight games, and he's about to face one of the worst rushing defenses in the entire league. The Jaguars have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and second-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL, and Gordon has returned to his full form. Expect Gordon to be a linchpin in the Chargers offense this week, and he could be one of the highest-performing players across the league.

From RotoBaller

Austin Ekeler Dec 7 2:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has once again proven that he can still be a productive fantasy weapon even when Melvin Gordon is fully healthy and performing, and he should continue some of that production this week against a Jacksonville defense that is extremely susceptible to running backs. Ekeler has touched the ball 34 times in the last three games, and he's racked up 247 yards on those touches, averaging 7.27 yards per touch. He's also scored a pair of touchdowns, and fantasy owners should look for him to be attacking the end zone once again this week. Since Ekeler is officially a backup, there's always the possibility of a dud if the coaching staff decides to push the ball elsewhere, but his recent production more than warrants continued use.

From RotoBaller