Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to 1-2 with a loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, but head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t pushing the panic button.

Tomlin said postgame that he won’t consider making a change at quarterback or who calls the offensive plays over the Steelers’ extended break ahead of Week 4.

“I’m not in that mindset,” said Tomlin. “I’m interested in reviewing this tape and looking at the totality of it and figuring out how we collectively get better. So the answer to that question is definitively no.”

Steelers quarterback Mitchell Trubisky put together another uneven performance, completing 20 of 32 passes for 207 yards and rushing for one touchdown.

While Trubisky struggled, Pittsburgh’s entire offense looked disjointed. The passing game dealt with multiple drops, and embattled offensive coordinator Matt Canada continued to stumble in putting together consistent drives.

Tomlin will likely face increased calls to turn to first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett, who impressed in the preseason to earn Pittsburgh’s backup job. The former Pitt standout threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns against zero interceptions while completing 80.1% of his passes.

The Steelers face the New York Jets in Week 4 before their schedule ramps up with games against the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and Philadelphia Eagles.

An unimaginable collapse still fresh in their minds, the Browns managed to avoid a second one in four days.

Jacoby Brissett threw two touchdown passes, Nick Chubb ran for a score and Cleveland bounced back from its epic meltdown by finishing off the rival Pittsburgh Steelers 29-17 on Thursday night.

“We had the right men in that room to be able to get past it,” Brissett said, “and I think we answered that call. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The guys answered the bell.”

The Browns (2-1) built a nine-point lead early in the fourth on Chubb’s 1-yard run and then held on for dear life.

The Steelers (1-2) pulled within 23-17 on Chris Boswell’s 34-yard field goal with 1:48 left before Pittsburgh attempted an onside kick. But unlike in Sunday’s 31-30 loss, when the New York Jets overcame a 13-point deficit in the final 1:55 helped by a recovery, the Browns batted the ball out of bounds.

For a split second, it looked like Sunday all over again.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was asked what he was thinking as the ball bounced around near Pittsburgh’s sideline. He paused for six seconds before answering.

“A lot,” he said.

Cleveland fans could finally exhale when cornerback Denzel Ward fell on a Steelers fumble in the end zone on the final play for a meaningless touchdown.

Brissett connected with Amari Cooper and David Njoku for TDs, and finished 21 of 31 for 220 yards. The 29-year-old had his second straight solid game as he fills in while Deshaun Watson serves an 11-game suspension.

Chubb had 113 yards and pushed and twisted across the goal line on fourth-and-goal with 9:29 left to put the Browns ahead 23-14.

Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers’ stagnant offense showed signs of life in the first half, but bogged down after halftime, punting on their first three possessions while gaining just 54 yards.

Criticized for not throwing deep the first two weeks, Trubisky launched a few long balls but didn’t connect nearly enough.

“I think Mitch made some plays, but we all collectively came up short,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who said he has no plans to switch to rookie QB Kenny Pickett. “Winning is our business. I wasn’t looking to be impressed, I was looking to win the game.”

Pittsburgh’s defense is missing star end T.J. Watt, but tackle Cameron Heyward said that wasn’t the issue.

“When you try to arm-tackle Nick Chubb, he’s going to make you pay,” Heyward said. “We need to do a lot better.”

The win smoothed over a rough few days for Cleveland.

Sunday’s debacle was followed by Myles Garrett criticizing fans for booing the Browns as they left the field, and a fan was arrested on charges he threw a plastic bottle in the direction of owner Jimmy Haslam on the sideline.

But there was little drama this time, just a win over their hated neighbors from Pennsylvania.

“That’s not an easy thing to bounce back from,” Stefanski said. “We talked about it on Sunday. We talked about it on Monday. What I’m proud of with those guys is you can’t let a loss linger, and we won’t let this win linger either. But I’m proud of how they responded. You’ve got to be resilient.”

Although there was little time to recover, Garrett was confident the Browns would be able to shake off Sunday’s loss.

“I didn’t have a doubt in my mind knowing this team and the guys who are on it,” he said. “I know everybody was anxious to get back on that field and get that taste out of our mouths and play a complete football game, and that’s what we did.

“Everybody did their job and all the teams came together to make it a really special win.”

Rookie Cade York’s 34-yard field goal gave the Browns a 16-14 lead in the third quarter, when Cleveland lost four players, including starting linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, to injuries.

Brissett’s 7-yard TD pass to Njoku put the Browns up 13-7 with 8:58 left before halftime. But for the second straight week York missed an extra point.

Trubisky led the Steelers on a 75-yard scoring drive — 51 yards coming on the ground — before the QB rolled right and scored from the 1. Boswell’s PAT put Pittsburgh ahead 14-13.

Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens expressed frustration about not getting the ball during a loss to New England last week, saying he was open “90% of the time.” He wasn’t joking, either.

Trubisky finally hit him with a long ball, but it took a spectacular, one-handed catch by Pickens for a 36-yard gain.

BLOCK PARTY

Garrett failed to record a sack and remains just shy of Clay Matthews’ team record of 62. The Browns All-Pro defensive end was double-teamed, chipped and was credited with just assisted tackles.

DIFFERENT GUARDS

Cavaliers All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland served as the Browns’ honorary captains. Mitchell, recently acquired in a trade from Utah, smashed a fake guitar during pregame festivities.

INJURIES

Steelers: CB Ahkello Witherspoon (right hamstring) limped off in the third quarter and didn’t come back.

Browns: Walker was carted off with his left leg immobilized. Stefanski said Walker has a sprained knee and will undergo further tests. Walker appeared to get hurt when he was bent back awkwardly trying to fight off a block. … Owusu-Koramoah (groin) didn’t return. … LT Jedrick Wills Jr. (knee) went out briefly but returned. … DT Taven Bryan (hamstring) also was hurt in the third. … S Ronnie Harrison injured his hamstring during warmups and didn’t play.

UP NEXT

Steelers: Host the New York Jets on Oct. 2.

Browns: Visit Atlanta on Oct. 2.

Three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden is retiring from the NFL after 12 seasons, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 33-year-old, who entered the league as a first-round pick in 2010, plans to sign a one-day contract to end his career with the Cleveland Browns. He played in Cleveland between 2010 and 2016 before enjoying a five-season stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being released.

Pittsburgh didn’t re-sign Haden after last season, and he started the 2022 campaign as a free agent. Haden denied reports that he rejected a return to the Steelers this offseason.

The Florida product’s retirement comes a day before the Browns host the Steelers on Thursday Night Football.

Haden appeared in 12 games (11 starts) with Pittsburgh last year, amassing 38 tackles and six pass breakups. He allowed a passer rating of 100.1 while in coverage, his worst since at least 2018, according to Pro Football Reference.

The former No. 7 overall pick established himself as one of the NFL’s best corners while a member of the Browns. He earned a second-team All-Pro nod in 2013 and finished his tenure in Cleveland with 377 tackles, 19 interceptions, and one touchdown across 90 appearances.

He appeared in 68 contests with the Steelers, racking up 238 tackles, 10 picks, and one TD.

Haden hangs up his cleats with $121.4 million in career earnings, the second-most of all time among cornerbacks, according to Spotrac.

Mac Jones threw for 253 yards and a touchdown and the New England Patriots edged the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-14 on Sunday.

The Patriots (1-1) haven’t lost consecutive games to start a season since 2001. They took advantage of a handful of mistakes by the Steelers (1-1), including a muffed punt in the third quarter by ex-Patriot Gunner Olszewski that set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Damien Harris. That gave New England an 11-point lead it didn’t relinquish.

Jones finished 21 of 35, including a 44-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Nelson Agholor late in the first half. Jones, who dealt with back spasms last week against Miami and missed practice time this week with an illness, also threw an interception on a lob that was easily picked off by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The second-year quarterback narrowly avoided a second in the third quarter when Cam Sutton dropped a pass that hit him squarely in the hands, one of a handful of missed opportunities by the Steelers.

Harris ran for 71 yards, most of them coming on a clock-chewing drive in the final minutes that let New England play keep away as Pittsburgh’s defense sagged late without star outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who is out indefinitely with a left pectoral injury.

Mitch Trubisky threw for 168 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Steelers, whose offense sputtered for long stretches as it struggled to find any sense of rhythm.

Trubisky hit Pat Freiermuth for a 7-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to draw the Steelers within three and briefly quiet the chants for rookie backup quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Those cheers don’t figure to go away anytime soon, however, after the Steelers went three and out twice when they got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead.

The first meeting between two of the NFL’s marquee franchises to feature neither Tom Brady nor Ben Roethlisberger in years lacked the high stakes that long defined the rivalry between former AFC superpowers.

Instead, New England came in looking for a spark following a blah Week 1 loss to Miami while the Steelers are still in the nascent stages of the post-Roethlisberger era, a journey that began with a thrilling and slightly bizarre victory over Cincinnati last Sunday.

The overtime victory came at quite a cost. Without Watt, Pittsburgh failed to generate any sort of sustained pass rush against Jones. The Steelers failed to record a single sack, and while Jones wasn’t spectacular, he didn’t have to be while extending drives with responsible and safe throws over the middle.

It was enough to help the Patriots improve to 13-4 against the Steelers under coach Bill Belichick. New England celebrated its 500th game under Robert Kraft’s ownership the same way it celebrated so many others: with a victory short on style but long on substance.

UP NEXT

Patriots: Host Baltimore next Sunday.

Steelers: Travel to Cleveland to face the Browns on Thursday night. Pittsburgh swept their longtime AFC North rivals last season.

Pittsburgh Steelers pass-rusher T.J. Watt‘s pectoral injury is not believed to be season-ending, and he will not require surgery, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero report.

Watt, who is still gathering additional opinions, could return before the end of October, Pelissero adds.

The star pass-rusher suffered the injury during the Steelers’ Week 1 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Watt favored his pectoral area as he walked off the field and seemed to indicate that the injury was major.

Watt notched one sack and interception in the win over the Bengals before the injury. His sack was one of seven that the Steelers recorded in the contest. Alex Highsmith led the team with three sacks in Week 1.

Malik Reed will likely assume Watt’s role until the latter returns from injury. The team acquired Reed in a trade with the Denver Broncos in August.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Watt tied the NFL record with 22.5 sacks last season. It was his second straight year leading the league in the category after posting 15 sacks in 2020.

The Pittsburgh Steelers believe star pass-rusher T.J. Watt suffered a torn pectoral in Sunday’s overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Watt reportedly will undergo tests on Monday to confirm the diagnosis.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year left in the fourth quarter and appeared to indicate to trainers that he’d suffered a major injury.

Steelers running back Najee Harris also exited the Week 1 game with a foot injury.

Watt picked up where he left off last season against Cincinnati, racking up a sack, an interception, and three tackles for loss.

The 27-year-old tied the NFL’s all-time single-season sack record (22.5) last season to earn his first career Defensive Player of the Year award.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders announced Wednesday that he’s retiring after 12 NFL seasons.

A third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010, Sanders also spent time with the Denver BroncosSan Francisco 49ersNew Orleans Saints, and Buffalo Bills.

The 35-year-old played for the Bills last season, catching 42 passes for 626 yards and four touchdowns.

Sanders had his best seasons in Denver after signing a three-year, $15-million contract in free agency in 2014. He spent five and a half seasons with the Broncos, totaling 404 catches for 5,361 yards and 28 touchdowns. Denver dealt him to San Francisco before the trade deadline in 2019.

The high point of Sanders’ career came in Super Bowl 50 when he led the Broncos in receiving yards with 80 yards on six catches. Denver defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 to give Sanders a Super Bowl ring.

Sanders finishes his career with 704 catches, 9,245 yards, and 51 touchdowns.

The “Immaculate Reception” will live on forever in Pittsburgh. Now too, will the number of the author of the most iconic play in NFL history.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will retire Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris’ No. 32 on Christmas Eve, 50 years and one day after he plucked the ball out of the air and raced down the sideline to the end zone to pull out a stunning playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders.

The honor marks the third time in franchise history the Steelers will retire a number. They previously retired the No. 75 of Hall of Fame defensive tackle Joe Greene and the No. 70 of Hall of Fame defensive tackle Ernie Stautner.

“It’s about time they had an offensive guy on the list,” Harris said with a laugh on Tuesday.

Harris spent all but one of his 13 seasons in the NFL in Pittsburgh, arriving as a rookie out of Penn State in 1972 to a team attempting to escape decades of mediocrity. The Steelers reached the 1972 playoffs thanks in part to Harris’ 1,055 yards rushing, but found themselves trailing 7-6 in the waning seconds and facing fourth-and-10 at the Pittsburgh 40 with just 22 seconds to go.

Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw let loose a desperate heave in the direction of running back Frenchy Fuqua. The ball caromed off Oakland defensive back Jack Tatum and appeared to be fluttering incomplete before Harris grabbed it inches before hitting the turf. He then took off down the sideline to complete a 60-yard touchdown that sealed a 13-7 win and set off chaos at Three Rivers Stadium.

While Harris ran for 12,120 yards and won four Super Bowls, he knows he is forever linked to the play that turned the fortunes of a franchise forever. Pittsburgh had never won a playoff game before Harris sprinted into NFL lore. The Steelers now have six Super Bowl titles, tied with New England for the most in league history.

“The ‘Immaculate Reception’ marked the turning point in franchise history,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said. “My grandfather (Art Rooney Sr.) used to always say, ‘We never won until Franco got here. We never lost after he arrived.’”

There will be two ceremonies to honor Harris. One will be at exactly 3:29 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23 at the plaque at the spot in now-bygone Three Rivers Stadium where Harris caught the ball. The other will be a ceremony at halftime of Pittsburgh’s Christmas Eve game against the Raiders, now based in Las Vegas.

The Steelers will wear a patch commemorating the play during the game and don throwback jerseys the team wore during the 1972 season.

All because Harris saw a ball in the air and remembered the advice of his college coach, Joe Paterno.

“Play to the end,” Harris said. “Never give up. Believe things can happen … and always go to the ball.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers will start Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals, head coach Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the team listed rookie Kenny Pickett as the No. 2 quarterback over Mason Rudolph in an updated depth chart.

“We’re really comfortable with what Mitch has shown us,” said Tomlin, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Trubisky’s place as starter appeared secure after his teammates named him one of the Steelers’ five co-captains and he was placed atop the depth chart Monday.

The 2017 No. 2 overall pick is looking to rejuvenate his career after failing to establish himself as the Chicago Bears’ franchise quarterback. Trubisky signed with the Steelers as a free agent this offseason after spending a year as Josh Allen‘s backup with the Buffalo Bills.

Tomlin allowed Trubisky, Pickett, and Rudolph to compete during the offseason and training camp. While the rookie did enough to supplant Rudolph as the primary backup, Trubisky was the clear favorite for the No. 1 role during the preseason.

“I’m really pleased with the growth and development of Kenny. That’s why he’s listed as QB2,” said Tomlin.

Trubisky threw for 10,609 yards and 64 touchdowns against 39 interceptions during four seasons in Chicago (50 starts and nine further appearances). He also rushed for 1,081 yards and nine scores.

Mike Tomlin isn’t quite ready to publicly anoint Mitch Trubisky as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback.

Neither is Trubisky.

“The announcement will come out when it needs to come out,” Trubisky said Monday. “You’re not going to hear it from me.”

No need, not after Trubisky’s teammates effectively proclaimed it on Monday when they selected him as one of five co-captains.

“I just think he’s a guy who people rally around,” said defensive tackle Cam Heyward of Trubisky, who arrived in free agency in March. “He’s all about team. He’s very bought in. He understands and Coach T says it, he’s carrying our hopes and dreams on every single play.”

Trubisky has said all the right things and done all the right things seemingly from the moment he signed a two-year deal for the chance to replace the retired Ben Roethlisberger. He reached out individually to the returning players on offense and welcomed the skill position players to his home in South Florida during the spring in hopes of building chemistry.

Trubisky began the spring atop the depth chart and despite a push from Mason Rudolph and rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett — both of whom performed well throughout the offseason program and training camp — Trubisky never provided much reason for Tomlin to switch things up.

Though Tomlin has yet to make it officially official — that’s likely to come on Tuesday as the Steelers begin preparations for next Sunday’s season opener at Cincinnati — Trubisky has acted like the starter from the moment he put pen to paper in mid-March.

The way Trubisky figures it, being a leader sort of comes with the territory when you play one of the most important positions in sports.

“You just want to be that guy day in and day out that guys can look to like, ‘Hey, if I do it the way this guy does it, we’re going to be heading in the right direction,'” Trubisky said.

Heyward, reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, special teams ace Miles Killebrew and second-year running back Najee Harris were also elected captains.

The 24-year-old Harris set a franchise rookie record by running for 1,200 yards in 2021. He quickly earned the respect of his teammates with his work ethic and discipline.

“You know, he’s a guy that leads by example, doesn’t say a lot,” Heyward said of Harris. “But I just think he was destined to be captain. He was a guy that when you looked at our roster, you know, he’s the bell cow. And so we’ve had bell cows that haven’t been captains, but it’s what he does off the field. He’s locked in.”

Trubisky found it telling that Harris flew to Pittsburgh on the day Trubisky officially signed. Harris gave Trubisky a rough sketch of the offense and the team’s goals for 2022 and beyond.

“He was there for me from day one,” Trubisky said. “And to me, those are the little things that people don’t see that leaders do on a day-to-day basis, having those relationships that go deeper and beyond (the surface) with your teammates. And that’s why he is who he is.”

NOTES: The Steelers signed S Andrew Adams, CB Josh Jackson, and LB Delontae Scott to the practice squad on Monday. … Pro Bowl WR Diontae Johnson warmed up with his teammates on Monday, but did not participate in most portions of practice. Johnson injured his left shoulder in the preseason finale against Detroit on Aug. 28, though Tomlin said at the time that there’s a chance Johnson could have returned to the game if it was the regular season.