Is TJ Watt signed?
The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed their All-Pro edge rusher to a new deal. PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally inked All-Pro edge rusher T.J. Watt to a contract extension, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. ... The extension makes Watt the highest-paid pass-rusher in the NFL, annually. Sports IllustratedReport: Steelers Sign T.J. Watt to Record-Breaking Contract Extension
Did TJ Watt get a new contract?
The Steelers and All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt have agreed on a new five-year contract worth $122.1 million with $80 million guaranteed — the largest contract and guaranteed money they have ever given a player, even Ben Roethlisberger, the Post-Gazette has learned. Pittsburgh Post-GazetteSteelers sign T.J. Watt to new $122M deal ahead of season opener
15 September, 2021 - 12:32am
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Uh, oh. The Steelers are going to be that kinda team again in 2021, aren’t they?
That “30-Minute Men” team we talked about at length last season. Especially during that opening stretch of 2020 when Mike Tomlin’s crew won 11 in a row, largely by playing “above the line” football in only one half of the game.
And despite being lousy in the other half.
I never thought they could pull off that 30-minute trick on the road in Buffalo to start the year, since the Bills are one of the favorites to win the AFC and go to the Super Bowl. But that’s exactly what the Steelers did.
They went into the locker room down 10-0 after 30 minutes of anemic offense, shaky special teams and a defense that had just allowed a 13-play scoring drive to close out the first half.
Then, in the second half, they looked like Super Bowl contenders themselves en route to a 23-16 win in Western New York.
Let’s take a look at how the Steelers pulled it off during our first “Feats of Strength-Airing of Grievances” post for 2021.
Cam can: Cameron Heyward was a force throughout the victory.
The Steelers defensive lineman recovered a fumble forced by T.J. Watt. He got credit for a forced fumble. He also deflected two passes, one of which was crucial. Heyward’s tip of a third-down toss at the team’s 19-yard line on the opening drive of the game forced the Bills to settle for a field goal.
That was huge because Isaiah McKenzie’s game-opening 75-yard kick return to the Steelers’ 24-yard line had the Bills Mafia ready to explode in the first five minutes.
In fact, the entire pass rush was impressive. Keith Butler’s defense only had three sacks. But it felt like much more than that. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen was hit eight times, and the front seven generally was in Allen’s face most of the day.
“Those three edge guys Watt and (Alex) Highsmith and (Melvin) Ingram, they delivered along with others. Cam Heyward and so forth,” Tomlin said after the game.
Dominance up front by the Steelers defense also manifested in four holding flags against Buffalo.
Special teams turnaround: For as much as the Steelers special teams were an issue early in this game, they got back on the rails when it mattered.
They gave up that big opening kick return, Pressley Harvin III had an ugly 30-yard punt and almost had another one blocked.
However, as the game went along, the special teams were a major plus.
Harvin also had punts of 46 and 51 yards. Chris Boswell was 5 for 5 on place kicks, including a clutch 45-yard field goal with 2:42 left to give the team a two-score lead, 23-13.
But Miles Killebrew’s blocked punt and Ulysees Gilbert’s ensuing recovery for a touchdown was the biggest play of the game.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 12, 2021
Red-zone recoveries: Two defensive stands were key for the Steelers.
As mentioned, after McKenzie’s kick return to the Steelers’ 24-yard line, the Steelers forced a field goal.
Then the Steelers defense stiffened to withstand a Bills counterpunch to the Steelers punt-block touchdown in the fourth quarter. Down 20-10, Buffalo charged from its own 26 to the Steelers’ 10-yard line in five plays. But Allen and company only got three yards from there, settling for a field goal.
That gave the offense plenty of breathing room to bleed the clock on the ensuing drive and wind up with another field goal to extend the lead back to 10.
Practice what they preach: During his weekly news conference, Tomlin made a big point about the need for his team to limit turnovers and win possession downs.
The Steelers had been poor in both categories in losses against the Bills in both 2019 and 2020.
On Sunday, they were better, stopping Buffalo 12 times in 21 third- and fourth-down attempts. Additionally, they got one turnover and committed none.
Hacking before halftime: I hated the drive from Buffalo against the Steelers defense to end the second half.
For as lousy as the offense and special teams were to start the game, it looked like Tomlin’s team may go into halftime only down 3-0. But then the defense withered, allowing a 13-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that lasted five minutes and 39 seconds.
Buffalo only had four third-down conversions in the first half. Three of them came on that drive.
Offensive line as advertised: For as bad as the offensive line looked in the first half, it could’ve been worse. Consider how Roethlisberger saved one sack by barely avoiding an intentional grounding and another by forcing a pass — an overturned interception — on a free play because of defensive holding.
As it was, though, Roethlisberger got sacked twice and hit six times. Also, the Steelers only averaged 3.6 yards per run. Even that mundane total was bolstered by a 25-yard reverse from Chase Claypool.
In the second half, the offensive line at least looked capable. In the first half, it was as bad as we expected.
Thankfully for coach Adrian Klemm’s bunch, Buffalo couldn’t capitalize.
Rotten red-zone sequences: The Steelers started to find some offensive rhythm in the second half with two decent drives, but they couldn’t finish in the red zone.
One red-zone sequence started with a first down at the Bills’ 12-yard line. The other began first-and-goal at the Bills’ 4-yard line. Both resulted in short Chris Boswell field goals.
Those two drives totaled 21 plays, 131 yards and 8:38 of possession time for six points.
Fortunately for Steelers fans, Diontae Johnson made a sparkling touchdown catch to give the Steelers a 13-10 lead on a red-zone pass from Ben Roethlisberger on the next drive.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 12, 2021
Thinking about Tunch: The only thing that made me sad about the outcome of the game was thinking about how much my former iHeart Radio colleague Tunch Ilkin would’ve liked calling it on WDVE.
This was the first game the Steelers played since Ilkin passed away Sept. 4 following a battle with pneumonia. The former offensive lineman and Steelers Radio Network color analyst had been hospitalized for about 10 days, and he also was battling ALS.
That was exactly the kind of game Ilkin liked calling — a big second-half comeback on the road.
I just tell myself he was watching somewhere and enjoying every minute. I’ll miss seeing him this Sunday at Heinz Field.
Everybody who knew him will.
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15 September, 2021 - 12:32am
The Steelers’ receivers aren’t as good as most people are saying.
I think Diontae Johnson is the best of a talented bunch. Apparently, Ben Roethlisberger believes the same thing. His choice of targets is telling. His first three passes Sunday in the stunning 23-16 win at Buffalo went to Johnson. Roethlisberger threw at him 10 times, two more than he did at JuJu Smith-Schuster and five more than at Chase Claypool. That was a continuation from last season, when he targeted Johnson 144 times, significantly more than Smith-Schuster (128) and Claypool (109).
Johnson justified Roethlisberger’s faith against the Bills with a spectacular 5-yard touchdown catch, the Steelers’ only offensive touchdown Sunday. He kept his concentration on a tipped ball by cornerback Levi Wallace, who was in tight coverage, as he did a toe-tap that was very much Antonio Brown-like.
You can’t pay a receiver a better compliment than by mentioning him in the same sentence with the great AB.
It’s no wonder Roethlisberger was “very scared” when Johnson went down with what looked like might be a serious lower-body injury late in the first quarter. But Johnson missed just three plays and returned for the next series, much to Roethlisberger’s delight.
“He’s a phenomenal football player,” Roethlisberger said after the unlikely road win against a 6½-point favorite, a Bills team that Mike Tomlin called “an AFC giant.”
“He’s a guy that is an incredible talent,” Roethlisberger added about Johnson. “His ball skills are through the roof. Just awesome.”
Johnson also drew two defensive holding penalties. The first negated an interception by cornerback Tre’Davious White, the second starting the Steelers’ clinching field-goal drive.
For Johnson, it was sweet redemption. In the Steelers’ loss at Buffalo in December, he had two early drops and was benched for the rest of the first half by Tomlin.
Roethlisberger often refers to Smith-Schuster as the Steelers’ No. 1 receiver and was delighted when he returned to the team in the offseason as a free agent, despite being offered more by the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger absolutely loves Smith-Schuster’s toughness and competitiveness and calls him the best third-down receiver in the NFL. Smith-Schuster had four catches against the Bills, none bigger than his 24-yard, back-shoulder catch that beat cornerback Taron Johnson on the clinching field-goal drive.
Then, there was Claypool, who was involved in four key plays in the second half. He made a terrific catch for a 22-yard gain against White to set up the Steelers’ first field goal. He had a 25-yard run off an end-around play to set up another field goal. He always seems to draw at least one pass-interference penalty in every game and did so again, this time for 26 yards against Wallace on the Steelers’ touchdown drive. And he made a 14-yard catch on a perfect throw by Roethlisberger on a 3rd-and-8 play on the clinching field-goal drive.
Johnson, Smith-Schuster and Claypool are as good as any set of receivers in the NFL.
And Roethlisberger has so much more.
Eric Ebron was targeted just twice against the Bills and made a 19-yard catch down the middle on a 3rd-and-4 play. That set up a field goal.
Rookie Pat Freiermuth made the most of his one chance, turning it into a 24-yard gain. That set up another field goal.
It’s nice to think Roethlisberger and No. 1 pick Najee Harris will have a little better connection in the games ahead. Roethlisberger missed him open twice Sunday, once behind him and once over his head. Harris had just one catch for 4 yards. He is too good of a receiver to be contained like that for long.
The Steelers’ receivers are lucky to have Roethlisberger, who, at 39, still has the arm to make all of the throws. He was at his calming best in the second half when the Bills led 10-0 in front of their raucous crowd. He kept his offense together and brought the Steelers back.
But Roethlisberger is pretty lucky, too. He has a bunch of highly skilled receivers to make plays for him. They make him a better quarterback.
First Published September 14, 2021, 10:00am
Mike Tomlin won't explain week-in, week-out snap distribution at outside linebacker - ProFootballTalk
14 September, 2021 - 11:56am
Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt said he felt fresh after Sunday’s win over the Bills and one of the reasons why is the way the Steelers handled the rotation of players at outside linebacker.
Watt played 69-of-85 defensive snaps while Melvin Ingram played 54 and Alex Highsmith played 46 as part of a group that Watt said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com, is “going to be really special” this season.
It was a successful approach for Week One, but it isn’t one that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says is necessarily going to look the same every week.
“We’re not going to be a slave to snap distribution. . . . I won’t come in here week-in and week-out and explain distribution of snaps as it pertains to those three men,” Tomlin said, via Andrew Siciliano of NFL Media.
However the snaps are divvied up in a given week, the Steelers’ depth at outside linebacker should be an advantage for them over the course of the season.
He’s under no obligation to explain it to anyone. Glad to see Mel Ingram looking good. That D is something.
Must be a new record a Tomlin thread and no haters trolling after 90 minutes. I guess the teams performance would make the haters look even more obvious than usual. Nice…Very nice.
15 years, and he’s only ever coached 1 game where his team wasn’t in playoff contention. Impressive!
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13 September, 2021 - 11:50pm
Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel
Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Matt Harmon, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski
You Pod to Win the Game
And here's where we get to the concern. Which is their future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Ben Roethlisberger was not great again on Sunday. The defense carried the day. The special teams got a blocked punt for a touchdown. Diontae Johnson saved Roethlisberger on a underthrown throw and made a great play for a crucial touchdown in the end zone. It was a prime example of why assigning a quarterback an individual record is a bad idea. It's going to be hard for the Steelers to win this way all season, if that's what to come.
It's not like Roethlisberger looking like he was playing in slow motion is a huge surprise. You could tell from the start of the offseason that the reunion of the Steelers and Roethlisberger for another year was a bit uneasy.
Roethlisberger had to take a pay cut. The Steelers, who were in a bad cap situation, seemed fine moving on if Roethlisberger didn’t accept it. That’s not typical for a starting quarterback.
We knew, after Roethlisberger struggled physically late last season coming off elbow surgery, that he might never bounce back to his normal form. That was especially true at age 39.
On Sunday Roethlisberger was late on many throws and simply missed on others. He was 6-of-12 for 57 yards in the first half, despite throwing to perhaps the league's deepest set of receiving talent. Roethlisberger’s first touchdown should have been broken up and maybe intercepted, but it was tipped in the air and Johnson made a great adjustment to pull it in for a go-ahead touchdown. Roethlisberger made a few nice throws, but not many. It was a lot of short passing, which limited the Steelers offense last season too. Pittsburgh had just 252 yards and 16 first downs, mostly because the passing offense wasn't good.
That makes Pittsburgh an interesting team. The defense, particularly with stars like T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, might be the best in the NFL again. The skill-position players are obviously talented. The coach has a Hall of Fame resume. And the quarterback might not be much better than he was last season when the Steelers fell apart.
How far can a team like that go? It can be a championship formula, but that's rare. Maybe Roethlisberger will look better. It's OK to be rusty in Week 1 and Buffalo should be a pretty good defense. And it's just a one-game sample; plenty of performances — good and bad — that we saw in Week 1 won't be repeated.
All we know is that Week 1 Roethlisberger looked a lot like late 2020 season Roethlisberger. Even after a huge opening win, that's something the Steelers need to wonder about.
Here are the power rankings following Week 1 of the NFL season:
Through all of the offseason nonsense with Urban Meyer, it was still fair to wait and see how he fared in a game that counted. And the Jaguars looked absolutely lost against a Texans team that was expected to be the worst in the NFL. Well, the Jaguars are the worst team in the NFL. And after one game, it's clear they made a bad hire with Meyer. Maybe an all-time bad hire. The question becomes, how quickly will the Jaguars admit a mistake and move on? Hopefully it happens before they waste too much of Trevor Lawrence.
I doubt the Texans end up being very good, but Sunday had to be great for rookie head coach David Culley, overlooked quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the rest of a team that was disrespected all offseason. That was a thorough win.
If you just look at the score and see "41-33," you might think the Lions kept it close against San Francisco. They did not. There was a late rally and shockingly they had a chance to tie the game at the end, but it was a blowout for 58 minutes. Losing cornerback Jeff Okudah, a potential building block, to a ruptured Achilles is a more important blow.
There's nothing positive to say. The defense was absolutely shredded. Somehow, Kyle Pitts barely made any impact. Matt Ryan will probably play better going forward, but he looked awful on Sunday and is 36 years old, which makes his struggles concerning. This was a miserable debut for rookie coach Arthur Smith, in every way possible.
The Jets line is a problem. And tackle Mekhi Becton has a knee injury that will keep him out for a while. That's a big concern for the development of quarterback Zach Wilson. They get the Patriots next.
Year three is huge for Daniel Jones, and the first game was bad. He wasn't alone; the Giants as a whole looked bad except Sterling Shepard and few others. That was a concerning game, especially for Jones.
Matt Nagy is coaching himself out of a job. His insistence on starting Andy Dalton is weird. Dalton was exactly what you'd think: He wasn't bad, but he surely wasn't good. And he won't be. There's no real reason to start him over Justin Fields. Add in the Bears' multiple breakdowns on defense, and it looked like a team without a lot of hope. At least until Fields takes over at QB.
That was a rough way to lose, with Dalvin Cook fumbling in Cincinnati territory late in overtime and then allowing a fourth-and-inches pass that led to a game-winning field goal. The Vikings thought their defense would be much improved, and that's questionable after one week.
The Bengals were not lying about Joe Mixon's workload increasing. He had 29 carries, four catches and ended up with 150 total yards. Joe Burrow was the story of Sunday's win and rightfully so, but Mixon is going to make Burrow's life easier.
Jalen Hurts was one most impressive players of Week 1. DeVonta Smith looked great. The Eagles as a whole were very good. They're healthy and let's be honest: Doug Pederson might have turned into a bad coach by the end. Like a lot of Week 1 results it's tough to know exactly what this means for the Eagles going forward, but that was really good.
Perhaps the most interesting unit coming out of Week 1 is the Panthers defense. The defensive line was fantastic. Maybe that speaks more to the Jets offensive line, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Carolina has a lot of quality players on that side of the ball, and maybe it's coming together.
The Colts weren't awful, but giving up a long touchdown in the final minute to Tyler Lockett changed the game. One thing that needs to get better is the Colts offensive line, which is usually quite reliable.
The good news is Taylor Heinicke is still an upgrade over what Washington had at quarterback last season. But they picked Ryan Fitzpatrick for a reason, and it's a harsh blow to see him go down in Week 1 with a hip injury. Fitzpatrick is on IR with no set return date.
Let's calm down about Ezekiel Elliott's lack of work. The Buccaneers run defense is great; the Cowboys' best chance to win was exactly what they did, throwing outside. And it almost worked. Elliott will be just fine, but forcing inefficient carries to a back in the name of being balanced is stupid football.
We knew the defense wouldn't be great. If the offense isn't going to be good, there's a real problem. Tennessee did nothing right on offense. They couldn't block, either protecting Ryan Tannehill or opening holes for Derrick Henry. Their star receivers were mostly non-factors, maybe because Tannehill had Chandler Jones in his lap all day. It was just one game, but it was alarming.
Who knows where the Raiders' season will go from here, but that amazing game Monday night will have a special place in franchise history. Hosting Las Vegas fans for the first time at Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders won one of the wackiest games you'll ever see, with Derek Carr eventually floating up a game-winning touchdown to Zay Jones in overtime.
Von Miller's two sacks might have been an even bigger deal than Teddy Bridgewater looking very good. The Broncos are going to have a good defense, especially if Miller is all the way back. One problem is Jerry Jeudy's high ankle sprain. He's the Broncos' best offensive player and that injury is a brutal one for receivers.
The Patriots weren't bad and neither was Mac Jones. Had Damien Harris not fumbled at Miami's 9-yard line late in the game, the story of that game would have been a lot different. Still, it's a home loss to a division foe and we're not used to seeing that from the Patriots. It's a different era for the Pats, but they can still be a playoff team.
I don't think the Packers will be bad. But Week 1 was awful. And we all know that while the "Last Dance " narrative is fun, all the off-season drama might bubble up again and become a problem if the Packers are a few games under .500 in October.
Tua Tagovailoa looked healthy and confident, two things that weren't necessarily the case last season. It wasn't the prettiest win, but it was a division road win. Miami is the only team that got one of those in Week 1.
The Ravens were in a tough spot Monday night, with their injuries and playing in Las Vegas' first home regular-season game with fans. Still, the doesn't totally excuse the breakdowns. Lamar Jackson turned it over twice in the fourth quarter and overtime. The defense kept giving up crucial plays when a stop would have ended the game. All that came after blowing a 14-0 lead. That's a tough loss.
I don't want to be too hard on the Browns, but they have graduated from moral victories. Losing at Kansas City is not the worst thing but when you have a double-digit lead, and have multiple chances in the fourth quarter to make a drive and win the game, you have to win if you want to be labeled a contender. They can learn from Week 1 though.
Justin Herbert didn't put up a startling stat line, but mostly played well against an excellent Washington defense. Not that there should have been much doubt but he looks like the real deal.
The problem with Week 1 is it's just one week. Jacksonville beat Indianapolis in Week 1 last season and look how those seasons turned out. Do we really believe the Bills aren't very good? Or was Sunday a tough game — and a one-game sample — against a top-flight defense? I'm willing to give the Bills another chance. A Week 2 game at Miami will be telling.
Minkah Fitzpatrick might end up being an NFL defensive player of the year candidate. It's hard for a safety to win but he adds a ton of value to the Steelers defense. He was great on Sunday.
Let's not get too crazy about Jameis Winston's first game. He was 14-of-20 for 148 yards. The five touchdowns were great and he played under control, but there will be more tests to pass. Winston's 148 yards were the fewest ever in a five-touchdown game. It was a good first step though, and the Saints as a whole looked phenomenal.
That's why the Cardinals were smart to not give in to Chandler Jones' trade request. The brass there needs to win now, and Jones makes a huge difference. He had five sacks and will be one of the NFL's best defensive players. The Cardinals looked great on both sides of the ball.
Two plays that looked a lot easier than they were: Tyler Lockett made an unbelievable adjustment to catch a touchdown over his shoulder ...
Everything looked great. I wonder if that was because the Bears are a really bad team, but part of being a contender is taking care of business against bad teams. The Rams did just that.
Think of the 49ers this way: They barely used Trey Lance, who is their most talented quarterback. Trey Sermon, a back everyone had high hopes for, was surprisingly inactive. Raheem Mostert got hurt early in the game. Brandon Aiyuk, perhaps because he's barely back from a hamstring injury, didn't get a target after playing so well last season. And the 49ers still put up 41 points on the road. All those aforementioned players are very good and will be factors as we go on. The 49ers are going to be really good.
Well, Tom Brady still is in his prime. The Buccaneers have a lot to work on, but realistically it's pretty good if you can turn it over four times and still win a game against a talented Cowboys team.
In the second half of last season, the Chiefs kept doing just enough to win. They didn't blow anyone out. It's not a good habit for an elite team to get into. Yet on Sunday, the Chiefs fell behind and had to rally to win. The Browns are good and the Chiefs will get healthier, but it'll be nice to see them dominate some opponents (it probably won't happen at Baltimore in Week 2).
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Matt Ammendola caught the snap, booted the ball with his right leg and sent it soaring downfield 50 yards. Well, the fact the New York Jets rookie placekicker hadn't previously attempted a punt in a game — not college, not high school, not ever — made it even more impressive. “I've actually never punted, which is the craziest thing,” a smiling Ammendola said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday called on the Federal Reserve to break apart Wells Fargo & Co, arguing the latest fine against the bank shows it to be an "irredeemable repeat offender." In a letter sent to the Fed, Warren urged the central bank to revoke Wells Fargo's status as a financial holding company and order it to sell off its investment banking and nonbanking activities, citing the bank's years-long struggle to address regulatory shortcomings. The bank has paid over $5 billion in fines and has been placed under an unprecedented asset cap by the Fed for selling potentially millions of fake accounts to customers, among other issues, in a series of longrunning scandals https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wells-fargo-scandal-deal/wells-fargo-to-pay-3-billion-to-u-s-admits-pressuring-workers-in-fake-accounts-scandal-idUSKBN20F2KN that led to the ousters of two separate chief executives.
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Serbia awoke to disappointment on Monday after Novak Djokovic failed in his attempt to make tennis history by becoming the first man in more than 50 years to win a calendar-year Grand Slam. Instead of the usual fireworks, car horns blaring and dancing in the streets after previous major finals involving Djokovic, there was an eerie silence in the Serbian capital. The top-ranked Djokovic lost to Russian opponent Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday in the U.S. Open final.
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