Antonio Brown’s late TD sends Steelers over Bengals 28-21
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 15
CINCINNATI (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger saw the defensive alignment and knew immediately that the Pittsburgh Steelers had a chance for a winning touchdown. All he had to do was get the ball to Antonio Brown right away.
Brown took a few strides, caught the pass and ran behind Justin Hunter’s block for a 31-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left Sunday and yet another improbable — and entirely predictable — victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers’ 28-21 win made it eight straight and counting over their AFC North rival.
“We’ve been in that situation a lot, and I knew we were going to do it,” Brown said.
They always do.
James Conner ran for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the eve of Le’Veon Bell’s possible return to help the Steelers (3-2-1) get ahead, but they had to pull off their third last-minute rally at Paul Brown Stadium to extend the streak.
Joe Mixon’s 4-yard touchdown run with 1:18 got the Bengals (4-2) thinking they might finally have their breakthrough. Roethlisberger and the Steelers stunned them again.
Big Ben came to the line on the decisive play and saw that the Bengals were set for an all-out blitz with no safeties to guard against a big play. He immediately thought touchdown.
“When you see that look, it’s how fast can I get him the ball,” said Roethlisberger, who is 14-2 in his career at Paul Brown Stadium.
Brown caught the ball in stride, cut Hunter’s block and outran the secondary for the winning score, leaving thousands of Steelers fans twirling their towels in the stands while stunned Bengals fans stood and watched a familiar ending.
The Bengals are 2-16 against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium during coach Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons, including a pair of playoff losses.
“Imagine how we feel,” Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “I imagine how the fans feel.”
These Ohio River rivalry games are usually nasty, and this one had its moments. After Andy Dalton’s final pass fell complete, several players got into a scuffle in front of the Cincinnati sideline.
After a sloppy September, the Steelers have won two in a row and found their stride behind Conner , who became the featured back when Bell decided to hold out. Conner has run for more than 100 yards in each of the last two games, and his pair of 1-yard touchdown runs Sunday put him in the company of a pair of Steelers Hall of Famers.
Conner has seven rushing touchdowns in six games, joining Franco Harris (1976) and Jerome Bettis (2004) as the only Steelers with that accomplishment.
“James was a bowling ball today,” said Roethlisberger, who joked that it was probably the running back’s final game amid reports that Bell would return.
JuJu Smith-Schuster had a spectacular catch — leaping over cornerback Darqueze Dennard and taking the ball way — that set up Conner’s second touchdown.
Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd had a solid game against his hometown team, catching touchdowns of 2 and 14 yards .
Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict was in the middle of several dustups. He had words with Roethlisberger only 3 minutes into the game. He stepped over Conner on the running back’s first touchdown, prompting a teammate to push him away before the situation could escalate.
Burfict also hit Brown in the head — he wasn’t penalized — after a catch, causing the receiver to leave for a couple of plays. In 2015, Burfict’s hit to Brown’s head helped the Steelers rally for an 18-16 playoff win. On Sunday, Burfict yelled at a reporter in the locker room after the game for asking a teammate about the latest hit on Brown’s head.
“A nasty hit,” Brown said.
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier returned to the stadium where he suffered a spinal injury last December. He’s been on the sideline for games this season. His return to Paul Brown Stadium was emotional for all the Steelers.
“He’s inspired us,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “Hopefully he’s inspired many outside of us.”
DALTON MOVES UP
Dalton finished 26 of 42 for 229 yards, moving ahead of Boomer Esiason for second on the Bengals’ career passing list behind Ken Anderson. Dalton fell to 3-12 against the Steelers.
Bengals: RB Giovani Bernard missed a second straight game with a knee injury. LB Nick Vigil left with an injured left knee in the first quarter. Dennard hurt his right shoulder on Smith-Schuster’s catch and didn’t return. S Shawn Williams left in the second half with a concussion.
Steelers: Have their bye week.
Bengals: Play Sunday night at Kansas City. The Bengals are 0-5 on Sunday night since 2011.
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Chargers romp over Browns on first stop of London trip
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 15
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers won’t spend their lengthy lay-over for London mulling a loss.
Powered by a dominant running game, big plays from quarterback Philip Rivers and a rookie kicker who didn’t miss in his NFL debut, the Chargers rolled to a 38-14 win on Sunday over the Cleveland Browns and rookie QB Baker Mayfield, who got little help from his teammates.
Nearly two years after leaving FirstEnergy Stadium in disgrace after the Browns beat them for their only win in 2016, the Chargers (4-2) won their third straight and made sure their next few days would be enjoyable.
“Coming across the country and playing in a hostile environment, they executed well, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “That’s the way it’s supposed to look.”
Los Angeles will stay in Cleveland before flying later this week to England to face Tennessee on Sunday.
“It was good,” said Rivers, the 36-year-old QB who continued one of the best starts of his 15-year career. “It was even better because we’re going to be here a while. You don’t let those negative thoughts creep in, but I was telling (defensive end) Melvin (Ingram) as were coming off of the bus, ‘We can’t lose this game and then stay four or five days.’ I couldn’t think of anything much worse.”
And that’s no knock on Cleveland.
The Chargers played their best all-around game this season against the Browns (2-3-1), who were competitive in their first five games but were overwhelmed by a Los Angeles team that might not be getting the attention it deserves.
Melvin Gordon rushed for three touchdowns and 132 yards, Rivers connected with Tyrell Williams on two TDs and San Diego’s defense sacked Mayfield five times and twice intercepted the No. 1 overall pick .
The Chargers rushed for 246 yards on 36 carries, eating up yardage and time while taking some pressure off Rivers. Gordon scored on runs of 4, 10 and 11 yards for his first career three-TD rushing game.
“The guys up front were blocking,” Rivers said. “We had a heck of a plan and they executed it. It’s huge. We talk a lot about balance and I think that’s what helps some of those run actions. We haven’t had many days when we’ve ran more than we’ve thrown. From what I can remember, those are fun. I’ll take those any time we can get them.”
For Mayfield, his third career start was a tough lesson.
He tweaked his ankle when he slipped on the sideline in the first quarter, and Mayfield was plagued by a few costly drops, including two by rookies Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley in the first half that could have been TDs.
Rivers complimented Mayfield for battling through a difficult day.
“He’s a gritty, tough and competitive guy,” Rivers said. “He has a heck of a career ahead of him. He made some really good throws today that were close. If I wasn’t pulling against him to beat him, I would’ve said ‘You should’ve caught those.’ There were a couple of them that I thought they should’ve caught, but I’m glad they didn’t.
“He’s going to have a heck of a career. You can just tell in the way he commands. He was running no-huddles and doing all of that in his third or fourth start. He’s going to be just fine.”
For once, the Chargers stayed between the uprights.
“Well, we made all of our damn kicks,” Lynn said, opening his postgame news conference. “All the extra points, all the field goals, so that’s improvement.”
Rookie Michael Badgley kicked a 44-yard field goal and made all five PATs in his debut. He was signed Thursday and filled in for Caleb Sturgis, who has a quad injury and accuracy issues.
Lynn said he’s comfortable with Badgley, but left his kicking plans undecided.
GROUND AND POUND
Cleveland’s defense yielded yardage in huge chunks.
The Chargers had 12 offensive plays gain more than 15 yards, with seven picking up 20 or more.
“They punched us in the mouth early, up on the opening drive and they were just doing some things that obviously we couldn’t stop,” said safety Damarious Randall, who was in position to intercept Rivers in the end zone but had the ball pulled away by Williams for a 45-yard TD.
The Browns’ extensive injury issues at wide receiver worsened when Rod Streater suffered a neck injury in the first quarter. Streater’s loss left Jarvis Landry, Callaway and Ratley as the only healthy receivers. Ratley briefly left in the fourth quarter with an injury but finished with six catches for 82 yards.
Cleveland signed free agent Breshad Perriman on Saturday, but he hasn’t had time to learn the playbook and was inactive. Rashard Higgins (knee) and Derrick Willies (broken collarbone) are both out.
Jackson conceded the Browns need help.
“We do, but nobody is going to cry about it right now,” he said. “No other team cares about what our issues are. We have to fix them, and we will. We are just getting off of a game where we did not play as well. We will look at every avenue to fix whatever we think the issues are as we move forward so I am sure we will do that.”
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Patterson-led No. 12 Michigan routs No. 15 Wisconsin 38-13
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
Sunday, October 14
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Shea Patterson had his best day running the ball and was pretty good at throwing it, too.
Patterson accounted for 214 yards of offense and a touchdown, leading No. 12 Michigan to a 38-13 victory over No. 15 Wisconsin on Saturday night.
The Wolverines called some plays designed for Patterson and that created problems for the Badgers. And sometimes, Patterson simply ran on his own after scrambling around.
“It opens up a lot for your offense,” coach Jim Harbaugh said.
The Wolverines (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) beat a ranked conference team for the first time since topping the Badgers two years ago. They have won six straight games since opening this season with a seven-point loss to then-No. 12 Notre Dame.
With games coming up against rival Michigan State on the road and No. 8 at Penn State, no one in the maize and blue was in a mood to celebrate the big win over the Badgers.
“It’s just a start,” said Michigan’s Karan Higdon, who ran for 105 yards and a score that broke a scoreless tie early in the second quarter. “We’re not done yet.”
The Badgers (4-2, 2-1) had won a record 17 straight regular-season Big Ten games, and 10 consecutive road games in and out of conference play.
“We certainly didn’t do enough things throughout the course of the game to give ourselves a chance to beat them,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said.
Patterson, who had an 81-yard run , scored on a 7-yard run and connected on a 2-point conversion pass to put Michigan up 21-7 early in the third. The possibly pivotal drive was extended when the Badgers were called for roughing snapper Camaron Cheeseman on a punt.
“Those are the types of things when you do get a stop and then give the ball back to them, that makes it harder,” Chryst said. “Turnovers and penalties like that, you’re helping a good team and that makes it that much tougher.
Patterson was 14 of 21 for 124 yards and ran for a career-high 90 yards and a score on nine carries.
“He’s someone you have to account for,” Higdon said. “He makes great plays with his feet and his arm. He’s another guy defenses have to watch out for.”
Michigan’s backup quarterback, Dylan McCaffrey, ran for a 44-yard TD to make it 38-7 with 5:16 remaining.
Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook, meanwhile, had perhaps the worst game of his successful career.
The senior was 7 of 20 for 100 yards with one touchdown pass with 3:47 left. He threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a score by Lavert Hill that gave Michigan a 31-7 lead with 9:55 left to play.
Hornibrook failed to complete 12 straight passes after connecting on his first three attempts, leading to him completing a career-low 35 percent of his attempts. By the time the drought ended, the Badgers were down by 31 points and there was less than 5 minutes left to play.
Jonathan Taylor, who entered the game leading the nation with 169.8 yards rushing yards rushing per game, ran for 101 yards 17 carries.
Wisconsin: The Badgers will have a hard time beating good teams if Hornibrook can’t make them respect the pass. Even if he can’t, though, Wisconsin may still end up representing the West Division in the Big Ten championship game.
“There’s a lot of things we could’ve done better,” Hornibrook said. “I’m not going sit here and make excuses or complain about anything. We just got beat.”
Michigan: The Wolverines earned their first impressive win of the season, but they can’t celebrate too much or too long with matchups coming up against the Spartans and Nittany Lions.
Harbaugh didn’t sound concerned about his team’s ability to match Michigan State’s motivation to keep control of the series.
“We’ll be really intense for it,” Harbaugh said.
Michigan may move up a little because four teams ranked higher lost. The Badgers will likely slip toward the back of the poll with the lopsided loss.
Michigan ranked No. 120, out of 129 teams, entering the game with 52 penalties. It was flagged only once against Wisconsin, getting an unsportsmanlike conduct for celebrating Hill’s interception return for a touchdown.
Wolverines defensive end Rashan Gary didn’t play due to his injured right shoulder. Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon missed the game because of a foot injury.
Wisconsin: Hosts Illinois.
Michigan: Plays at Michigan State, which has won eight of the last 10 games in the rivalry and is coming off a win against Penn State on the road.
“We’ve got a big stretch in the schedule here and we’re ready for it,” guard Ben Bredeson said.
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