Chiefs celebrating blowout of Bengals, impressive 6-1 start
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 22
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It’s hard to tell these days what’s more entertaining to watch: Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ high-flying offense or their crazy, creative touchdown celebrations.
Opposing teams are getting a heavy dose of both.
The latest victim was the Cincinnati Bengals, who watched Mahomes torch their banged-up defense for 358 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-10 Chiefs victory Sunday night. Kareem Hunt added three touchdowns, Tyreek Hill and Demetrius Harris also scored and Kansas City rolled up 551 yards total offense in the rout.
“We have an amazing time. It’s always fun when you’re winning,” Harris said with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun with the group of guys we’ve got, and we’re just taking advantage of it.”
That goes for those touchdown celebrations.
After catching his TD pass, Harris sprinted about 30 yards to what he thought was a camera well and jumped in as if it was a foxhole. It turned out to be a rough landing — it was actually some machinery — though he followed through with his routine by tossing the football as if it was a grenade.
“Bombs away and everyone get out of the way,” he said.
Later, Hill caught a TD pass in the corner of the end zone, sprinted to an official and fainted at his feet. Left tackle Eric Fisher ran over to provide CPR — as if the Chiefs offense needed resuscitation — and Hill popped to his feet. He did a backflip before racing back to the sideline.
Then there was the choreographed dance following another touchdown. Everyone knew the moves except Mahomes, who looked decidedly out of place as he danced along.
“It’s fun. We have a lot of young guys on the team that just have fun playing football,” he said. “But they didn’t tell me what they were doing, so I was just trying to go along.”
Yes, the Chiefs (6-1) were having all kinds of fun Sunday night.
The Bengals (4-3) were in no mood to laugh.
Andy Dalton was held to 148 yards passing with a touchdown and a pick-6, and Joe Mixon had 50 yards rushing, as the NFL’s worst defense held Cincinnati to 239 yards of total offense.
“Going in you have to do a really good job, first of all making first downs, to be able to make adjustments, to be able to tackle, to make plays in the open field, and we didn’t do a very good job of that,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “It just comes down to as simple as that.”
As the Chiefs continue celebrating their win, and the Bengals try to pick up the pieces from their second straight loss, here are some of the key takeaways:
TE Tyler Kroft (knee), LB Nick Vigil (knee) and CB Darqueze Dennard (shoulder) missed the game with injuries, and they were soon joined by three more crucial pieces. LB Vontaze Burfict limped off with a hip injury, WR John Ross hurt his groin and TE Mason Schreck hurt his knee.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid picked up his 200th win, though he deflected any acclaim to the players and personnel who have helped him along the way. He needs one more win to tie Dan Reeves for eighth on the NFL’s career list. “He’s a great coach. You want to be around him,” Hunt said. “He is definitely one of the best coaches of all time.”
While the Chiefs improved to 8-3 in Sunday night games, the Bengals were probably miffed when the game got flexed from its noon kickoff. Cincinnati dropped to 3-16 on Sunday night and has now lost nine consecutive games.
Chiefs safety Ron Parker returned Dalton’s interception for a second-half score, giving the Chiefs two touchdowns in a span of 9 seconds. Parker had a feeling it was coming, too. “That’s what I was waiting on my whole career,” he said. “It was crazy. My daughter asked before the game like, ‘Daddy, how come you don’t score touchdowns?’ So that one was for her.”
NASCAR star Clint Bowyer raced his way into the next round of the playoffs with a strong run at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. Then he raced to Arrowhead Stadium as a guest of Chiefs general manager Brett Veach. The two met earlier this year and became fast friends, and Bowyer — a native of Emporia, Kansas — got the star treatment Sunday night complete with an autographed Mahomes jersey.
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Gruden on Raiders: ‘We aren’t tanking anything’
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Tuesday, October 16
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Back-to-back lopsided losses have given Oakland five losses in six games. The Raiders have already traded away their best player and there are reports that other key pieces could be dealt soon.
Very little has gone right in the first season of coach Jon Gruden’s second stint in Oakland. But as the Raiders left town for a bye week, Gruden had a message to his legion of critics calling 2018 a lost season in Oakland.
“I’ll say this, we aren’t tanking anything,” Gruden said Tuesday. “I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first-round pick or a higher pick. We are not getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to tank it. Ain’t nobody tanking it. I don’t know who wrote that or who said that or who thinks that, but that isn’t the case here. We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team and that was part of the message.”
A week off might be just what the Raiders need to change the course of a difficult season that has left the team battered physically and frustrated by the mounting losses.
Oakland blew second-half leads the first three weeks to start 0-3 and then responded from a comeback, overtime win over Cleveland by getting outscored 53-13 the past two weeks in losses to the Chargers in Los Angeles and the Seattle Seahawks in London.
The Raiders released linebacker Derrick Johnson on Tuesday and promoted Jason Cabinda from the practice squad to take his place but other moves could be coming with receiver Amari Cooper and safety Karl Joseph among the players reportedly available in trades.
Gruden already dealt away one of general manager Reggie McKenzie’s former first-round picks when he traded star edge rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago for a package of draft picks a week before the season. With the status of Cooper and Joseph in question and 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley getting no defensive snaps last week, Gruden is dismantling the team McKenzie built.
More moves could be coming over the bye week.
“We’re still looking at the roster. We’re looking around the league to find means to get better,” Gruden said. “Reggie and I had a long meeting yesterday. I know that’s a shock to some people. They don’t think we have any meetings. I’m telling you, we’re working hard to solidify this roster every day and improve ourselves and get the right people on the field. Those are decisions that we’re looking at. We’re going to continue to try to develop our young players. We’re going to stay on the gas pedal and go as hard as we can.”
The frustration is mounting in the locker room with cornerback Rashaan Melvin expressing frustration this week over his lack of playing time and saying he will go back to his old technique of playing rather than play the style defensive coordinator Paul Guenther wants.
“I haven’t talked to him yet, no. I’m sure I will,” Gruden said. “I know Paul Guenther did. I heard there was a Twitter report out there. Melvin is on his seventh team, I think. He’s had different techniques. Maybe he’s confused, I don’t know. I’ll talk to him. But he has to play better. He’s in a competitive situation. Perhaps he’s frustrated, and I can’t blame him.”
The main priority over the bye will be getting healthy. Many of the struggles the past two weeks can be attributed to starting left guard Kelechi Osemele being out with a knee injury, right tackle Donald Penn on injured reserve with a groin injury and rookie left tackle Kolton Miller slowed by a knee injury that has contributed to him allowing six sacks in two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Gruden hopes to get Osemele back for the game Oct. 28 against Indianapolis and Miller should be healthier, which will be good news for quarterback Derek Carr. Carr was sacked six times against Seattle and had little time to get the ball downfield. He threw just one pass more than 10 yards downfield and had 140 of his 142 yards passing come after the catch.
“It was obvious that it affected the ability to drop back and look around and throw the ball,” Gruden said. “”We got to block better than that. We got to play better than that. That certainly had an impact. No doubt.”
NOTES: RB Marshawn Lynch has a groin strain. Gruden said he would have an update on the severity next week. … DL Frostee Rucker (neck) could be back next game. … Cooper and WR Seth Roberts remain in concussion protocol. … Joseph (hamstring) also could return against the Colts.
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Revamped Steelers secondary still a work in progress
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 16
PITTSBURGH (AP) — There’s a certain kind of joyful mundaneness to Terrell Edmunds’ first job out of college.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie safety is typically up before dawn and at the team’s training facility by 7 a.m., where he spends the 11 or so hours watching film, lifting weights, attending meetings and practicing.
It’s much the same when the first-round pick gets back home. Edmunds will place his legs inside a pair of compression sleeves designed to help his muscles recover quickly, flip on his iPad and look at more tape. Typically, Edmunds lets the video run at normal speed. No need to slow it down.
“I just let it play,” Edmunds said. “Sometimes I don’t look into detail. I’ll see what pops up more than once and think ‘Oh I saw this before. Who are they throwing it to the most?’ Things like that.”
Edmunds is a quick study. Thrown immediately into the mix thanks to a preseason injury to free agent signee Morgan Burnett, Edmunds has been a bright spot for an uneven secondary.
Steady if not yet spectacular, Edmunds has earned the trust of defensive backs coach Tom Bradley and head coach Mike Tomlin for his conscientious approach to his work.
“He’s gotten better each and every game,” Bradley said Tuesday. “The thing that got him three games ago doesn’t get him now. Each week there’s something he picks up that becomes easier in his repertoire as we progress in this thing.”
Edmunds really hasn’t had much choice. He was supposed to spend his first season learning behind Burnett. It hasn’t quite turned out that way.
The Steelers (3-2-1) signed the former Green Bay Packer to a three-year deal in the off-season, hopeful Burnett could provide leadership and sure tackling, both things in short supply for a group in transition.
Instead, Burnett has spent most of his time in Pittsburgh watching from the sideline thanks to a steady stream of injuries, the latest a groin issue that’s forced him to miss each of the past four games.
There is no timetable for when Burnett might be able to return and given Edmunds’ rapid development, it’s uncertain what role Burnett might fill whenever he is healthy enough to play.
Burnett’s status is one of a handful Bradley has been forced to face in his first year on the job. The careful off-season plan he and Tomlin put together to revitalize Pittsburgh’s secondary makeover is in tatters. Burnett can’t stay on the field.
Cornerback Artie Burns is struggling and Coty Sensabaugh and Cam Sutton — the two most likely candidates to replace the erratic Burns — can’t put together enough good stretches to provide a compelling reason to sit Burns down and let him regroup.
“We’ve got to make a lot of adjustments just based on injuries and the guys that have been able to play,” Bradley said. “The things we worked on in preseason practice, we’ve been unable to play because of the different people playing different positions.”
Pittsburgh enters its bye week ranked 27th in passing yards and 29th in passing touchdowns allowed. Not exactly the step forward the organization had in mind when defensive backs coach Carnell Lake stepped away in the aftermath of a playoff loss to Jacksonville in January and veterans Mike Mitchell, Rob Golden and William Gay were released in March .
Bradley is quick to place the blame on his shoulders. He’s confident Burns — a standout as a rookie in 2016 — will get his swagger back.
“Artie has to play more consistently, he knows that,” Bradley said. “We’ve got to make sure we concentrate on every play, to get everything right, all the little things.”
And maybe the big things too. Burns was beaten badly by Cincinnati’s Tyler Boyd in Pittsburgh’s 28-21 victory last Sunday, standing several steps behind Boyd as Boyd hauled in a remarkably easy 14-yard touchdown reception. Burns was replaced for a spell in the third quarter, but any long-term solution for the Steelers relies on Burns returning to form.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Bradley said. “He’s got confidence in his ability and things he can do.”
If Burns needs inspiration, he doesn’t need to look far. Pittsburgh finds itself in the thick of the AFC North race despite its uneven play on defense thanks in large part to veteran cornerback Joe Haden. The 29-year-old kept Atlanta’s Julio Jones in check in a 41-17 victory two weeks ago and kept Bengals star A.J. Green out of the end zone.
“Joe’s athletic ability is still pretty sharp,” Bradley said. “But mentally he gets better as time goes on and I think he understands what people are trying to get done.”
It’s a path the rest of the secondary is trying to follow. Work — lots of work in some cases — needs to be done, but Bradley believes the communication problems and injury concerns that have hampered his group will level off going forward.
“Playing defense is a lot like driving a car,” Bradley said. “When you start out, we’re all (hands at) 10 (o’clock) and 2 (o’clock), staring constantly. Then as you start to drive more … you still see everything but you’re able to look around, talk to people and do different things. Now, as time goes on, we’ll start to play faster.”
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Taming of the Wild Leaf Blowers
By Doug Moss and Roddy Scheer
Dear EarthTalk: When will those gasoline driven leaf blowers that gardeners use be outlawed? The noise and toxic fumes they emit can’t be good for us. —Judy, via email
Those leaf blowers sure can be annoying, just for the noise alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, using a commercial-grade gas-powered leaf blower for just two hours can cause hearing damage, and repeated use is a sure recipe for permanent hearing loss. And when you factor in the air quality nuisance from the inefficient gas motors on the models commonly used by maintenance workers and landscapers everywhere, it gets personal as it becomes a serious health issue.
California’s statewide Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) reports that the best-selling commercial leaf blowers emit as much smog-forming pollution after just one hour of use as driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1,100 miles. CalEPA adds that landscape workers running a leaf blower are exposed to 10 times more ultra-fine particles—invisible to the naked eye but easily lodged into the lining of your lungs—than someone standing next to a busy road.
And these aren’t isolated, hyper-localized problems, as experts warn that within a couple of years, smog-creating emissions from leaf blowers, lawn mowers and other small gas-powered “off-road” motors will eclipse smog emissions from cars and trucks on the American road.
Leaf Blower Laws
But rest assured, there are some rumblings of change. Upwards of 170 American cities in 31 states (as well as five cities in three Canadian provinces) have some kind of leaf blower restrictions already in place. LeafBlowerNoise.com maintains a list of cities across North America and beyond that have some kind of restrictions on the books.
And of course, there are cleaner, quieter ways to clear yard debris and leaf litter. Getting out the rake and broom is a sure-fire way to stay on your neighbors’ good side by avoiding all that pollution and noise. And it’s a great way to get some productive exercise on a fall day. Even better, get the kids off the couch and away from the screens to lend a hand.
Another alternative is to use an electric lawn vacuum which sucks up leaf litter and other yard debris (instead of blowing it around) with a lot less noise and without causing smog. That said, an electric leaf blower—either battery-powered or corded to an outlet—can get the job done with less noise and no spewing (albeit with less oomph).
Quieter, Greener Leaf Blowers
Given recent outcries about leaf blowers, manufacturers have responded with new models that address many consumer—and neighbor—concerns. For example, the Echo PB-250 was designed from the ground up to eliminate annoying noise frequencies and operate more efficiently while maintaining the flexibility of gasoline as a fuel. Husqvarna, Stihl, Black & Decker and TORO also have newer models which comply with most of the recently adopted leaf blower ordinances around the country. Check out the city of Burlingame, California’s PDF listing all models of leaf blowers that max out at 65 decibels in volume for quieter (and in many cases less polluting) models.
EarthTalk is a 501(c)3 non-profit which leverages the power of the media to “preach beyond the choir” on green living, sustainability and the need to protect the environment. Our syndicated EarthTalk Q&A column reaches tens of millions of readers every week through our network of 800+ syndication partners, many of which are small-town weekly newspapers across America’s heartland. Our EarthTalk.org and Emagazine.com websites reach millions more online.
Warmer Weather Delays Fall Color – Brilliant Colors Still Expected
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Fall Color Report No. 3 – Oct. 17
COLUMBUS, OH – Even though we may not be seeing much fall color yet, be on the lookout later in the month for brilliant colors as cool weather has returned to the Buckeye State, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
“We are running anywhere from a week to two weeks behind on fall color this year,” says ODNR Fall Color Forester Greg Smith. “We’re anticipating really nice colors with the amount of moisture the trees have in them, and the recent cooler temperatures combined with bright, sunny days should trigger the onset of colorful changes in the leaves.”
All Ohioans are encouraged to get outside to take advantage of the free admission and parking to our state parks, nature preserves, wildlife areas and forests. The brilliance of fall color will add to the excitement of games of disc golf and golf, which can be played on beautiful, award-winning courses at several state parks.
People interested in finding out where to find most eye-catching leaves throughout the upcoming fall color season should check out fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov/videos, Ohio’s official guide to the changing colors. This website includes:
• Weekly color updates and information to help plan a fall color adventure.
• Weekly videos from ODNR naturalists highlighting fall color hot spots around the state.
• Links to fall activities, scenic road trips, unique overnight accommodations at Ohio State Parks and more.
Fall is a distinctive season in Ohio with an identifiable color palette of reds, oranges and yellows; cooler temperatures; and aromas and tastes of autumn’s harvest from apples to pumpkins. It’s such a fun, vibrant few months to enjoy time with those closest to you that it feels like a holiday — or perhaps a Falliday! To help visitors find those special autumn activities in Ohio, the Office of TourismOhio has created a new landing page, ohio.org/fallidays.
ODNR and TourismOhio encourage people to take fall color photos and upload them to social media using the hashtag #OhioFall18 and #FallidaysinOhio. Follow @ohiodnr and @OhioFindItHere on Twitter, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio. Find it Here. on Facebook and @ohiodnr, @ohstateparks and @ohiogram on Instagram to see more fall color photos.
Ohio State Parks is also having a photo contest this fall. Help us highlight the best of the great outdoors in a variety of categories for a chance to win great prizes! Enter today at ohiostateparksphotocontest.com.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
TourismOhio, operating within the state of Ohio’s Development Services Agency, works to ensure Ohio is positioned as a destination of choice, enriching lives through authentic travel experiences. The branding Ohio. Find It Here. supports Ohio’s $44 billion tourism industry. For more, visit ohio.org.
Color Condition Key for the Fall Color Report: Mostly Green – no real fall color seen. Changing – still mostly green, less than 25 percent color. Near Peak – significant color showing – anywhere from 30 to 60 percent color. Peak – peak colors – as much as 85 percent showing. Fading – fading from peak conditions and leaves falling to forest floor.