The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17 in Week 6 of the NFL on Sunday.

The Steelers (2-4) shocked many with a solid performance as they posted just their second win of the season.

After a scary hit knocked Steelers' quarterback Mason Rudolph out of last week's game, Pittsburgh were forced to turn to Devlin Hodges to line up under center.

The undrafted rookie out of Samford performed admirably, completing 15 of 20 throws for 132 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

With the loss, the Chargers fell to 2-4 and are off to a disappointing start after many experts pegged them as contenders in the AFC before the start of the season.

Pittsburgh head into their bye week, while the Chargers travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans (2-4) in Week 7.

 

Three takeaways from the Steelers' win over the Chargers

Chargers' early miscues cost them

After the two teams traded punts to start the game, things got off the rails for Los Angeles.

A backward pass from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers went over the head of running back Melvin Gordon. That is when Steelers linebacker Devin Bush scooped up the live ball and took it to the house to get Pittsburgh on the board just under four minutes into the game. 

Four plays later, it was Bush again who intercepted a tipped pass from Rivers that set up another touchdown by the Steelers' offense on the ensuing drive. 

At the end of the first quarter, Pittsburgh were ahead 14-0 and they never looked back.

Steelers' defense was relentless

While Bush was all over the Chargers early forcing two turnovers, the Steelers' defensive unit were stifling all night.

Pittsburgh's defense held LA's offense to two punts, a fumble, an interception and a missed field goal on their first five drives of the night. The Chargers' rushing attack were also non-existent as the Steelers allowed just 32 yards on the ground. 

It was not until the fourth quarter when the Chargers managed to put their first points on the board on a 38-yard field goal by kicker Chase McLaughlin. The defense then sealed the win after intercepting Rivers with 41 seconds remaining in the game.

James Conner was Mr. Reliable for Pittsburgh

Whether it was in the air or on the ground, Conner came up big for the Steelers when they needed some yards.

Almost half of Hodges' completions on the night were to Conner, who caught seven passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. Conner finished with 119 total yards of offense and two touchdowns for Pittsburgh.

After a solid performance last season as the Steelers' primary back during Le'Veon Bell's holdout, Conner seems to be picking up right where he left off.

Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas said he has been fined for his hit on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Thomas knocked out Rudolph in Week 5 following a major hit on the Steelers QB.

Baltimore's Thomas told ESPN that he was fined $21,000 for his hit on Rudolph, though he plans to appeal the fine.

Rudolph's status for the Steelers' game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday is unclear as the Oklahoma State product is still in concussion protocol.

Thomas said Rudolph has not responded to his attempts at contacting him this week.

"I wanted to him to know that I didn't do it on purpose," Thomas said. "That's all I wanted him to know."

The Ravens (3-2) host the Cincinnati Bengals (0-5) on Sunday, while the Steelers (1-4) travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers (2-3).

With another slate of games coming up in Week 6, we take a look at all that is happening around the league. 

From key injuries to fines for big hits, we cover it all in Friday's edition of NFL news and notes.

 

Three things that matter

Chiefs' Hill will be a game-time decision

There is a chance Tyreek Hill could return on Sunday. Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told reporters on Friday that the star receiver will be a game-time decision in Week 6 against the Houston Texans after missing the team's last four games with a shoulder injury. Reid added that Hill, who returned to practice last week, ran with the scout team and the offense this week.

"He did a little bit of everything last week. This is pure how he feels," Reid said earlier this week. "This isn't a real common injury in the NFL. We're just trying to make sure it's right."

Hill initially injured his shoulder in Kansas City's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on just his second catch of the day when he was tackled by cornerback Jalen Ramsey. 

Steelers will start Hodges after Rudolph injury 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving on to their third quarterback this season after Mason Rudolph was injured in Week 5 and ruled out for Sunday.

"He's doing well," Devlin Hodges said earlier this week. "That was a scary situation, a really scary situation. He was knocked out pretty cold. To see him here and moving around and see him smiling, it's a good sign."

While it was not likely Rudolph would return this week after taking a hit from Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas that resulted in a concussion, it is significant news considering Hodges will make a start against the Los Angeles Chargers as a rookie.

Rudolph, selected in the third round of the 2018 draft, had stepped in for Ben Roethlisberger – who is recovering from a season-ending elbow injury he suffered in Week 2.

Hodges replaced Rudolph during Pittsburgh's 26-23 loss to Baltimore where he went seven of nine for 68 yards with no touchdowns.

Rams' Gurley doubtful, Talib out v 49ers

The Los Angeles Rams could be without two key players for their matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Running back Todd Gurley is doubtful, while cornerback Aqib Talib has been ruled out. 

Gurley missed practice this week because of a quad injury he suffered last Thursday in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

"You feel something during the game and then I guess the adrenaline ...," Gurley said Thursday when asked about the injury. "Most definitely, though, it's those days off for sure — then it just kind of kept lingering on. It's been getting a lot better since the day after the game — always a positive way to look at things."

Talib, on the other hand, also did not practice this week as he is dealing with a rib injury.

Two things that don't matter

Redskins confirm Keenum will start at QB against Dolphins

Bill Callahan has made his first major move as the Washington Redskins' interim head coach. Quarterback Case Keenum, apparently sufficiently recovered from a foot injury, will start against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Washington coach confirmed Friday.

Keenum, who has completed 68.1 per cent of his passes for 970 yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions this year, opened the season as the team's starter but was pulled for rookie Dwayne Haskins in Washington's Week 4 loss to the New York Giants and was later replaced by Colt McCoy in a Week 5 loss to the New England Patriots.

At 0-5, the Redskins are still trying to figure out their quarterback situation.

Ravens' Thomas reached out to Rudolph after hit

Ravens safety Earl Thomas told ESPN he received a $21,000 fine for his hit on Steelers quarterback Rudolph. Thomas said he attempted to reach Rudolph through a phone call and text, but has not heard back.

"I wanted him to know that I didn't do it on purpose," Thomas said. "That's all I wanted him to know."

Rudolph was injured in the third quarter of last Sunday's game as he was attempting to make a throw, but he took a hit from Thomas before he got the pass off. 

One video you have to see

Is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees nearing a return? Brees was seen without a thumb brace at the team's practice on Friday and did throw some routes.

Friday's tweet of the day

Mark this one as unusual. The Jaguars are giving out fake moustaches to 35,000 fans as part of the Gardner Minshew craze. What is more is those who cut their jeans into shorts (aka "jorts") will get a free Minshew jersey.

The MLB season is beyond heating up. It's all full force and drama, including a crazy day on Wednesday in which one game was over before the second out was recorded and another required extra innings.

Not all the focus has been on the action, though, as one coach was fired in MLB on Thursday while another was let go in the NFL on Monday.

And the drama continues with the Cleveland Browns, as it has all year long.

All that and more on this week in US Sports.

 

1. NLCS set

The National League Championship Series is set, and if you managed to work out the teams involved, you either really know your baseball or you took a crazy guess and happened to be right.

The two participants without home-field advantage won both Game 5's on Wednesday; the Cardinals defeated the Braves 13-1 and the Nationals beat the Dodgers 7-3 in extra innings.

In the matchup between the Braves and the Cardinals, St. Louis scored seven runs before Atlanta recorded a second out in the first inning, and when the dust finally settled on the frame, the Cardinals held a 10-0 lead they were never close to letting get away.

As for the Dodgers and the Nationals, Los Angeles opened a 3-0 lead in the early going, but thanks to back-to-back home runs from Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto off Clayton Kershaw in the seventh, Washington tied the game and forced extra innings.

Howie Kendrick then smacked a grand slam off Joe Kelly with no outs in the 10th and the game was over and done with. And now, in an odd playoff scenario, the Cardinals will have home-field advantage over the Nationals despite having a worse record in the regular season. Why? Because they won their division while the Nationals were the wild-card winner.

 

2. Gruden fired by Redskins, Tomlin not thinking about job

Jay Gruden was fired by the Washington Redskins after an 0-5 start to the season and made sure everyone knew on his way out that he did not have the kind of say he wanted with the team.

"At the end of the day, if you're not the GM, you have to accept the fact that you don't get everything you want," Gruden told ESPN. "You accept the players given to you. I had input in some areas, but there are some major issues there. It is that way with most coaches. You don't have that total say. It's something you have to overcome and work with the guys you have."

After that a rumour emerged that Redskins owner Dan Snyder was interested in Mike Tomlin for the open job, but the Pittsburgh Steelers coach did not seem too worried about his current job when questioned by the media.

"I am not worried about that, to be quite honest with you. You're the first person to mention it to me in a public setting," he said.

Tomlin continued: "Guys, look: I'm the head coach of a 1-4 football team that’s going on the road to play a Hall of Fame-calibre quarterback with my third quarterback. You think I'm worried about anything this week other than that?"

 

3. Phillies fire Gabe Kapler

The Phillies technically got better this year, going 81-81 after going 80-82 in manager Gabe Kapler's first season at the helm in 2018, but that improvement was not enough as Philadelphia announced it had fired the skipper on Thursday.

"Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city," owner John Middleton said in a statement. "I will never waver from that commitment.

"During the second half of this season and continuing into this week, I have evaluated our organization extensively, a process that included talking to many people both internally and around the league. Reassuring to me was the endorsement that people outside the Phillies gave to the progress we have made recently, both organizationally and on the field.

"Nevertheless, with the knowledge that I have gained from my evaluation, combined with my personal reflection on the 2019 season, I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective."

It is unclear who is next in line for the Phillies, but the team is reportedly after a manager with previous experience. In that case, a guy like Brad Ausmus could be an option after he was fired by the Angels.

 

4. More drama in Cleveland

Well, it's a day of the week, so that means there is drama with the Cleveland Browns.

After the 49ers crushed the Browns on "Monday Night Football", San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman told NFL Network's Michael Silver he was upset with Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield for not shaking his hand in pre-game warmups.

But upon further review, Mayfield did shake Sherman's hand. The cornerback then said it was a petty handshake that ticked him off and has now said he will apologise to Mayfield.

Just another day in Cleveland.

The Washington Redskins cannot commit to Dwayne Haskins just yet, and the New York Giants are not willing to roll the dice on Saquon Barkley.

But will former Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown find a way to slither his way back into the league?

We take a look at the latest news around the league in this edition of NFL news and notes.

 

Three things that matter

Rudolph back at practice after knockout hit

Three days after being knocked unconscious by Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback resumed workouts in pads and a helmet.

Mason Rudolph is unlikely to play against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, but it is remarkable progress from the scary scene that unfolded in Pittsburgh last week. It could even be a sign that Rudolph will be ready to return after the team's Week 7 bye. Expect his status to be monitored closely until he is deemed healthy enough to clear the concussion protocol.

Keenum expected to start for Redskins

The 31-year-old will reportedly start under center against the Miami Dolphins, as long as he is able to play on his injured foot. It is the first major move for interim head coach Bill Callahan, who replaced Jay Gruden after he was fired on Monday. 

Case Keenum has completed 68.1 per cent of his passes for 970 yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions in three games this season. He opened 2019 as the team's starter but was pulled for rookie Dwayne Haskins in Washington's Week 4 loss to the Giants and later replaced by Colt McCoy in a Week 5 defeat to the Patriots.

Chargers place Pouncey on injured reserve

The Chargers suffered another major blow when the team announced the veteran center will be sidelined with a neck injury, but quickly signed offensive lineman Ryan Groy to fill the void. Mike Pouncey suffered the injury in the Chargers' loss to the Denver Broncos and was forced to leave the game.

Los Angeles are expected to move Dan Feeney into the middle and insert Forrest Lamp at left guard in Pouncey's absence over the next eight weeks. The earliest he can return is the team's Week 14 game at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Two things that don't matter

Barkley officially out of Patriots clash

The running back was able to return to practice last week but apparently was unable to get medical clearance to play this week. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3 and was given an initial recovery timetable of four to eight weeks. Barkley expressed optimism he could beat it.

The Giants do not appear willing to take a chance rushing him back too soon, though, especially considering they could also be without receiver Sterling Shepard, who entered the concussion protocol for the second time this season, and tight end Evan Engram, who is dealing with a sprained medical collateral ligament.

Brown wants New England to re-sign him

Even though the Patriots have moved on since releasing the receiver last month, Brown is not giving up hope of playing in the league again and suggested the team re-sign him. 

"You guys that follow the Patriots, tell them to call me," Brown said in a live video that streamed on Instagram. "They've still got to pay me, so might as well let me earn it."

Brown filed an NFL-record nine grievances and appeals last month, which total more than $61million he believes he is owed from the Raiders and Patriots and remains without a team after accusations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape have surfaced.

"The Patriots have to pay me," Brown said. "They may as well play me."

Since Brown likened his legal situation to Robert Kraft's misdemeanour charge of soliciting a prostitute in a now-deleted tweet, the Patriots owner has reportedly vowed to never sign a check.

One video you have to see

Richard Sherman expressed regret for inciting "handshakegate" by accusing Baker Mayfield of dissing him before Monday's game.

Wednesday's tweet of the day

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera brought his epic t-shirt collection overseas.

Another week, another quarterback disaster.

But that is nothing compared to the coaching catastrophe in Washington, where Jay Gruden is out of a job just five weeks into the season.

Here we look back at the biggest headlines from Week 5 and the impact they will have heading into Week 6.

 

What's next in the Rudolph aftermath?

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback's status "for this week and beyond" is reportedly "very much in doubt" after a knockout hit by Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas left Mason Rudolph motionless on the ground on Sunday. The loss forced third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges under center after Pittsburgh lost Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, and it looks like the former undrafted free agent could be filling in for at least a couple weeks.

As for Thomas, it is unlikely he will face suspension for the hit, though the play could be reviewed for a possible fine. He was flagged on the play but did not get ejected.

Then there is the issue of the malfunctioning medical cart that forced Rudolph's team-mates to carry him off the field. The NFL released a statement claiming Rudolph did not need the cart, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted the cart failed because of operator error while adding Rudolph wanted to walk off the field rather than use the cart.

McCaffrey heats up MVP conversation

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had a historic day in Carolina on Sunday, exploding for 237 total yards to become the first player since Jim Brown in 1963 to total 175-plus yards from scrimmage in four of a season's first five games. The 237 scrimmage yards tied McCaffrey's own franchise record.

"If I was writing, I would see if he's from earth," defensive lineman Gerald McCoy said. "I'd have to check to see if he's from Asgard or something. I don't know where that dude's from. If the season ended right now, he's the MVP."

McCaffrey leads the NFL with 587 rushing yards, averages 5.6 yards per carry and leads the Panthers with 31 catches. He has also scored seven touchdowns.

Callahan takes over Redskins after Gruden firing

The writing was on the wall after the Washington Redskins were routed by the New England Patriots to remain winless through Week 5 for the first time since 2001, ending Gruden's tenure with an underwhelming 35-49-1 record with one playoff appearance.

"Nobody's told me anything. If the key works on Monday, I'll keep working," Gruden told reporters when asked about his job security after Sunday's loss.

Now, Redskins assistant head coach Bill Callahan is set to take over as interim coach, and he wasted no time ruling out rookie Dwayne Haskins as a candidate to start under center in Week 6. Callahan claimed the first-round pick will be the Redskins' starting quarterback at some point, but insisted he's not ready "right now."

That leaves Colt McCoy or Case Keenum to be tasked with helping get the team back on track. 

Officiating seems more inconsistent than ever

This issue is certainly nothing new, but it grows more concerning each week. While officials do not appear hesitant to throw flags, many calls this season seem to have been blatantly wrong.

The league reportedly held a conference call last month with its referees to address the surge of flags, which comes after the NFL made changes to include pass interference as a reviewable penalty earlier this year. The league also stepped up enforcement of holding penalties even if they occurred away from the play.

Ramsey visits specialist for injury answers

The Jacksonville Jaguars requested cornerback Jalen Ramsey see a back specialist in Houston, after he missed the last two games with a back injury.

But the team reportedly is not budging on Ramsey's request for a trade. Ramsey was involved in a heated exchange with Jaguars coach Doug Marrone on the sidelines in Week 2 and asked to be traded the next day. Jacksonville already have reportedly turned down one trade offering two first-round draft picks for the Pro Bowl cornerback.

The Washington Redskins are ready to turn over a new leaf.

And we examine why the Pittsburgh Steelers could also be forced to do the same in this edition of NFL news and notes.

 

Three things that matter

Rudolph likely to stay in concussion protocol

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's status "for this week and beyond" is reportedly "very much in doubt" after a knockout hit by Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas left him motionless on the ground on Sunday. He was taken to the hospital for further evaluation but was rumoured to be fine after being released.

The loss forced third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges under center after Pittsburgh lost Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2, and it looks like the former undrafted free agent could be filling in for at least a couple weeks as Rudolph continues to recover.

New Redskins coach Callahan not sold on Haskins

Just hours after the Redskins fired head coach Jay Gruden, team president Bruce Allen announced Bill Callahan, who has served as assistant head coach since 2017 and offensive line coach since 2015, will take over as interim coach. 

Callahan was quick to rule out rookie Dwayne Haskins as a candidate to start Week 6 under center, claiming the first-round pick will be the Redskins' starting quarterback at some point but not "right now." That leaves veterans Colt McCoy or Case Keenum as quarterback options, leaving little faith that the team can actually turn things around.

Sterling Shepard out indefinitely after another concussion

The New York Giants receiver found himself back in the concussion protocol for the second time this season, so the team are reportedly preparing for him to be sidelined for an extended period.

Shepard was pulled from Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings but doctors permitted him to return to the field after examining him in the medical tent. He later displayed concussion-like symptoms at the team facility Monday morning, forcing the team to place him in protocol once again.

Two things that don't matter

Jalen Ramsey visits specialist for injury answers

The disgruntled cornerback is in Houston at the request of the team to see a back specialist for the injury that has forced him to miss the Jacksonville Jaguars' last two games. The Jaguars reportedly have not considered trade offers over the last week, but Jalen Ramsey's request to be dealt "still stands".

Ramsey's injury comes after he was involved in a heated exchange with Jaguars coach Doug Marrone on the sidelines during the team's loss to the Houston Texans in Week 2. Ramsey requested a trade shortly after the incident and has not played since. He also dealt with an illness and missed time to welcome his second child last month.

Browns activate Callaway

The receiver was activated off the suspended list and is set to play against the San Francisco 49ers on "Monday Night Football." Antonio Callaway will make his 2019 debut after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

He also received treatment for substance abuse this offseason and reportedly has not failed a drug test since January.

A fourth-round pick in 2018, Callaway had 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns last season.

One video you have to see

If you noticed something different about Century Link Field during "Thursday Night Football," you were right.

Monday's tweet of the day

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is still feeling good about Sunday's overtime win.

All eyes were on the Green Bay Packers-Dallas Cowboys showdown that unfolded in the first Sunday afternoon game since 2001 to be broadcast to 100 per cent of the national audience, and it did not disappoint.

Green Bay led 24-0 midway through the third quarter before Dallas put the pedal to the floor, but it was too little, too late as the Packers won 34-24.

Packers running back Aaron Jones erupted for a career-high 182 scrimmage yards – 107 rushing and 75 receiving – and four touchdowns on 26 touches, while Aaron Rodgers threw for 238 yards without an interception.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the Denver Broncos spoiled Melvin Gordon's long-awaited return from his contract holdout with a 20-13 victory over the Chargers to end the team's eight-game losing streak. It was thanks to a stout defensive effort that forced three turnovers and a flawless performance by veteran quarterback Joe Flacco.

Things went from bad to worse for the New York Jets and Washington Redskins, who were routed by the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots respectively, to remain winless.

The Cincinnati Bengals were also defeated for the fifth straight game to drop to 0-5, but at least they put up a fight before falling 26-23 to Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, who gave head coach Kliff Kingsbury his first NFL win.

Injury report

A scary scene unfolded in Pittsburgh as quarterback Mason Rudolph was knocked out after taking a brutal hit to the chin from Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas. Rudolph laid motionless on his back for several minutes as the Steelers' medical staff attended to him on the field, and he was later carried off to be taken to a hospital after apparent problems with the cart.

Rudolph was ruled out for the rest of the game with a concussion, which will be closely monitored this week after the Steelers switched to third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges. Team-mate and receiver James Washington was also ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Eagles running back Darren Sproles was questionable to return with a quad injury but moved to fifth on the NFL's all-time in all-purpose yards list first.

Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks left the team's London game against the Raiders due to an elbow injury and did not return.

Chargers center Mike Pouncey was questionable to return after suffering a neck injury.

By the numbers

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady moved to third on the NFL's all-time passing yards list during Sunday's game against the Redskins after surpassing Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre (71,838). Brady is set to pass Peyton Manning (71,940) for second in career yards in his next game.

The Bengals are 0-5 for the first time since 2008. It is the seventh time Cincinnati have started 0-5 since 1990, which is the most in the NFL in that span.

Christian McCaffrey had a historic day in Carolina, as the Panthers running back logged 237 total yards to become the first player since Jim Brown in 1963 to total 175-plus yards from scrimmage in four of a season's first five games. McCaffrey also reached a max speed of 21.95 mph on his 84-yard touchdown run Sunday, which is his fastest speed this season.

Quotables

Steve Smith Sr. was grateful to be back in Carolina as he was inducted into the Panthers' Hall of Honour: "I'd like to thank Mr. Tepper for bringing me back … I never thought I'd be back in this stadium, but I am and I'm happy to be here."

Redskins coach Jay Gruden on dropping to 0-5: "If the key works Monday I'll keep working."

Thomas was remorseful for his brutal hit on Rudolph: "I was just trying to get to the ball and make a play for my team. I hit the strike zone, I didn't go high. I didn't try to intentionally hurt him. I'm worried about him. I heard he's at the hospital and my prayers go out to him and his family."

Week 5 NFL scores

Teams on bye week

Dolphins and Lions

Thursday's game

Seahawks 30, Rams 29

Sunday's games

Eagles 31, Jets 6
Panthers 34, Jaguars 27
Vikings 28, Giants 10
Texans 53, Falcons 32
Saints 31, Buccaneers 24
Bills 14, Titans 7
Cardinals 26, Bengals 23
Patriots 33, Redskins 7
Ravens 26, Steelers 23
Raiders 24, Bears 21
Broncos 20, Chargers 13
Packers 34, Cowboys 24

Mason Rudolph was taken to hospital after the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was knocked out of the Week 5 game with the Baltimore Ravens.

Rudolph's injury occurred in the third quarter of Sunday's game as he was attempting to make a throw, only to take a hit from Baltimore safety Earl Thomas before he got the pass off.

The 24-year-old immediately fell to the ground and laid flat on his back for several minutes as the team's medical staff attended to him on the field.

Eventually able to stand up under his own power, Rudolph was helped off but was seen saying to the team's trainers: "I'm good."

Pittsburgh ruled him out for the remainder of the game with concussion before confirming the third-round pick in the 2018 draft had gone to hospital for further evaluation.

The Steelers are already without Ben Roethlisberger, who was ruled out for the season after needing surgery on an elbow injury suffered in Week 2.

With Rudolph also out, Devlin Hodges - who signed with the franchise as an undrafted free agent in 2019 – came in to take over at quarterback.

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended their losing start to the NFL season by beating the struggling Cincinnati Bengals 27-3.

Both teams originally thought this historic rivalry would have some different faces highlighting the matchup on Monday.

Instead of the Andy Dalton-Ben Roethlisberger quarterback showdown, recently appointed Steelers starting quarterback Mason Rudolph is the one who turned in a prime-time performance.

And it was Rudolph who came away with the win for the first of his career as the Steelers improved to 1-3, while the Bengals dropped to 0-4.

Here are three takeaways from the Steelers' lopped-sided win against the Bengals:

 

Rudolph tries the deep ball — and succeeds

Rudolph has almost solely relied on quick, short passes in his first two games (one start) with the Steelers. It posed the question of whether or not Rudolph can hit targets downfield.

The Oklahoma State product knew he had to attempt longer passes against the Bengals but through the first half of Monday's game, it was more of the same. In Rudolph's second start, he was still using those quick, short passes.

But finally, in the third quarter, Rudolph showed off his arm. He found Diontae Johnson for a 43-yard touchdown pass to bolster the Steelers' already commanding lead.

Granted, it was only one pass, and it was into broken coverage, but it was a positive sign. Rudolph finished 24-of-28 passing for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

Cincinnati's offensive line continue to struggle

An offense cannot do much with a sorry offensive line and getting the run game going is seemingly impossible if an opportunity is not created for a running back. It has been a problem for the Bengals, and both were on full display at Heinz Field. 

Even if Dalton wanted to hand the ball off, he was barely on his feet long enough to do so. He was sacked a total of eight times – the most in a game in his career – as the Steelers' defense shredded what the Bengals put out to protect the nine-year veteran.

The Bengals entered the game with the worst rushing offense in the league, averaging just 41.7 yards per game. Joe Mixon surpassed that Monday night with 62 yards on 15 carries, an admirable performance behind this offensive line. But the Bengals need help up front.

The primetime matchups have been duds

No one can factor in injuries or other variables when making the primetime schedule, and the rivalry between these two AFC North teams is a story in and of itself. But through the first four weeks of the season, most of these marquee matchups have been bad.

Luckily, the NFL's flex window opens on Sunday, so if a game is really bad NBC can replace the previously scheduled Sunday night game with a better one. 

Unfortunately, we will still be stuck with less-than-ideal matchups, including Week 5's "Monday Night Football" contest pitting the hot-and-cold 2-2 Cleveland Browns against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers, who will be coming off their bye week.

It has now been 1,000 days since Colin Kaepernick last played an NFL game and, in that time, 80 different quarterbacks have started in the regular season.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick, still just 31, completed 17 of 22 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown in a Week 17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2016 season. Only four players that week had a better quarterback rating than Kaepernick's 122.3.

However, Kaepernick - who had started to kneel during the national anthem earlier that year in protest over racial injustice - has not even had a sniff of an opportunity since, while countless teams have kicked the tyres on numerous other signal callers.

Here is the list of every quarterback to have started a game since Kaepernick's last appearance.


NFC North: Mitchell Trubisky, Mike Glennon, Chase Daniel (Chicago Bears), Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions), Brett Hundley, Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers), Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)

NFC East: Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys), Eli Manning, Geno Smith, Daniel Jones (New York Giants), Carson Wentz, Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles), Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Case Keenum (Washington Redskins)

NFC South: Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons), Cam Newton, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen (Carolina Panthers), Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater (New Orleans Saints), Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

NFC West: Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton, Josh Rosen, Sam Bradford, Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals), Jared Goff, Sean Mannion (Los Angeles Rams), Brian Hoyer, C.J. Beathard, Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens (San Francisco 49ers), Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)

AFC North: Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens), Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel (Cincinnati Bengals), DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan, Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns), Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph (Pittsburgh Steelers)

AFC East: Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen, Derek Anderson, Matt Barkley (Buffalo Bills), Jay Cutler, Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen (Miami Dolphins), Tom Brady (New England Patriots), Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian, Luke Falk (New York Jets)

AFC South: Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson, T.J. Yates (Houston Texans), Jacoby Brissett, Scott Tolzien, Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts), Blake Bortles, Cody Kessler, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew (Jacksonville Jaguars), Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel, Blaine Gabbert (Tennessee Titans)

AFC West: Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco (Denver Broncos), Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers), Derek Carr, EJ Manuel (Oakland Raiders)

Here are a few observations from the extensive list:

- Only six franchises (the Lions, Falcons, Cowboys, Seahawks, Patriots and Chargers) have had one starter for all 35 games since Kaepernick's last appearance. 

- Three teams - the Cardinals, Dolphins and Redskins - have started six quarterbacks since the beginning of the 2017 season. The Bills, Jets and Broncos have all had five, and Washington could add another to their lengthy list should they turn to rookie Dwayne Haskins in the coming weeks.

- Of the 80 quarterbacks, 16 are out of the league - either due to being unsigned or retired. Former Steelers signal caller Landry Jones recently became the first player to sign with the upcoming XFL.

- Keenum, currently keeping Haskins on the sideline in Washington, is the only player on this list to have started for three different teams (Vikings, Broncos and Redskins) since 2017. A further 11 have started for two teams.  

While Melvin Gordon looks to possibly make his way back to the field, Jalen Ramsey appears to be dodging it for speculative reasons.

Wednesday was a busy day around the NFL as teams prepare for Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made another trade, and there is some reason for concern around one of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive stars.

From Nick Vannett's trade to Amari Cooper's injury, we look at the latest news around the league in this edition of NFL news and notes.


Three things that matter

Melvin Gordon could return this week

An initial report suggested the Los Angeles Chargers running back will end his contract holdout and report to the team on Thursday. A subsequent report said a return date has not been set, but that Gordon is considering coming back as early as this week.

Even if that happens, he is not expected to play until next week, when his team go up against the Denver Broncos.

Still, his return would be major progress and beneficial for the Chargers, as their offense struggled in successive defeats to the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans.


Jalen Ramsey sits out practice again

The Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback had every intention of working out on Wednesday after calling in sick on Monday, but was unable to participate after being listed on the team's injury report with a back issue.

It was reported Ramsey is "a little banged up" and is receiving treatment for problems related to his lower back and hamstrings.

But there is scepticism around Ramsey's absence from practice this week considering he has expressed his desire to be traded.

The Jaguars also claimed Ramsey reported back soreness during the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s win over the Tennessee Titans, but did not miss any snaps.

His availability will be closely monitored the rest of this week as the Jaguars prepare to visit the winless Broncos.


Cooper has MRI on ankle

It was rumoured to be a precautionary exam of his right ankle, but news of a potential injury to Cooper will be concerning to the Dallas Cowboys after the receiver missed almost all of training camp with a left heel problem.

Cooper has played 171 of 209 offensive snaps for Dallas through the first three games of this season, racking up 16 catches for 238 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cowboys are already thin at receiver after starter Michael Gallup underwent surgery on his knee and backup Tavon Austin missed the last two games with a concussion.

Dallas have enjoyed a superb 3-0 start to the season, but can ill afford a further blow to their offense as they look to stay unbeaten.

Two things that don't matter

Julian Edelman back at New England Patriots practice

The receiver left Sunday's win over the New York Jets in the first half with a chest injury and did not return. While Edelman was not expected to miss much time after X-rays came back negative, his return will come as a relief for New England after the team cut Antonio Brown and saw Josh Gordon battle a few minor injuries last week.

Edelman leads the Patriots with 17 receptions and 196 receiving yards this season.


Antonio Brown's agent says receiver still wants to play

Speaking on Warren Sapp's "99 Problems" podcast, Drew Rosenhaus claimed that Brown "wants to continue his career in the NFL" despite tweeting on Sunday he is done playing in the league.

"I have had discussions with a few teams that are very interested in him and want to know about his future and what's going on with the NFL," Rosenhaus said. "Hopefully, when that is all resolved, Antonio will be able to continue his Hall of Fame career."

Brown will first need to address the allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape made against him, all of which he continues to deny. 

"It's a very difficult time for him, not playing," Rosenhaus added. "It's tough for someone who loves the game not to be playing right now, and the hope is that we'll cooperate with the NFL in its investigation and get him back with a team to continue this tremendous career he's had."

One video you have to see

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew once tried to break his hand to get a redshirt. Spoiler: It did not work.

Wednesday's tweet of the day

Vannett bid farewell to Seattle before he heads to the Steelers following his trade.

On an eventful Sunday filled with headlines, Daniel Jones still managed to steal the show.

The New York Giants rookie shined under center as he made his first career start in a 32-31 NFL win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jones – starting in place of veteran quarterback Eli Manning – completed 23 of 36 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns to snap the Giants' winless start to the season and give New York fans hope for the future.

The 22-year-old helped the Giants rally from an 18-point deficit at half-time and sealed the victory with his go-ahead run into the end zone.

It did not hurt that Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay missed the 44-yard attempt for the win as time expired.

 

Injury report

Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was carted off the field in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers with an apparent leg injury. 

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Mike Daniels was downgraded to out after leaving with a foot injury against the Philadelphia Eagles, though it was reported that initial tests revealed no broken bones.

New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman was ruled out against the New York Jets after suffering a chest injury in the first half. It was later reported that Edelman suffered a rib injury, but X-rays were negative.

After being flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for tossing his helmet away as he realised the extent of his injury, Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal exited in the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on a cart and was later ruled out with an Achilles injury. He is rumoured to need surgery this week.

Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton was ruled out after sustaining a quad injury in the first half against the Falcons.

Giants running back Saquon Barkley was downgraded to out after being helped off the field against the Buccaneers. 

By the numbers

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the only player in the last 40 years with 200 or more passing yards and two passing touchdowns in the first half in each of his team's first three games of a season.

The Patriots won their 116th game of the decade, beating the 2000s Colts and breaking the record for most wins by a team in a single decade in NFL history. New England's point differential of +89 (106-17) through the first three weeks of the season is tied for second-highest in league history.

The Miami Dolphins, however, find themselves on the opposite end of that spectrum.

Meanwhile, the Jets broke new ground at Gillette Stadium by scoring their first touchdown in Foxborough in nearly four years.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins extended his streak of 19 games with one or more passing touchdown, making it the longest active streak in the NFL. He finished his outing against the Oakland Raiders 15 for 21 for 174 yards.

Quotables

Jets running back Le'Veon Bell on his frustration after going 0-3: "I'm not frustrated at all. I just know this team has a lot of talent, we just have to put it together. It's a new system, guy's first time playing together, a new coaching staff. We've just got to mesh everything together and we've got to get on board."

Broncos linebacker Von Miller on not catching the quarterback: "I need to find a way to play better. I have to find a way to get sacks and do my job. No one holds me to a higher standard than myself. I could sit here and make excuses, but I got clean rushes today. I just need to find a way to get the quarterback on the ground."

Week 3 NFL scores

Thursday's game

Jaguars 20, Titans 7

Sunday's games

Cowboys 31, Dolphins 6
Bills 21, Bengals 17
Lions 27, Eagles 24
Patriots 30, Jets 14
Colts 27, Falcons 24
Vikings 34, Raiders 14
Chiefs 33, Ravens 28
Packers 27, Broncos 16
Panthers 38, Cardinals 20
Giants 32, Buccaneers 31
Saints 33, Seahawks 27
Texans 27, Chargers 20
49ers 24, Steelers 20

Antonio Brown said he has no intention of resuming his career in the NFL after being released by the New England Patriots on Friday.

The 31-year-old - who was also released by the Oakland Raiders earlier this month - spent just 11 days with the Patriots and was let go after multiple sexual assault allegations surfaced.

Brown's former personal trainer accused him of sexual assault and rape in a civil lawsuit, while a second unidentified woman has also made allegations of sexual misconduct.

Seven-time Pro Bowler Brown, who was only traded to the Raiders from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March, wrote on Twitter that he was now done with the league having missed out on millions of dollars following his recent releases.

​"Will not be playing in the @NFL anymore these owners can cancel deals do whatever they want at anytime we will see if the @NFLPA hold them accountable sad they can just void guarantees anytime going on 40m 2 months will see if they pay up !" Brown wrote.

Brown then proceeded to take aim at Patriots owner Robert Kraft, former Steelers team-mate Ben Roethlisberger and Hall of Fame wide receiver Shannon Sharpe in a further series of tweets.

Earlier this year, Kraft was one of 25 men charged after an investigation by police into human trafficking in Florida. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and the case is yet to go to trial.

​"Kraft got caught in the parlor AB speculations fired different strokes different folks clearly," Brown said on Twitter.

The wide receiver then tweeted a screenshot of a story regarding a sexual assault allegation against Roethlisberger, his ex-quarterback, who served a four-game suspension in 2010 after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a Georgia nightclub. Roethlisberger was not charged by authorities.

"4 games for Big Ben crazy world I'm done with it​," Brown wrote.

Brown also tweeted a screenshot of a 2010 news story regarding a sexual assault allegation against Sharpe, who has been critical of Brown's behaviour in his role as a TV pundit. The allegations against Sharpe were later recanted.

Writing on Twitter, Brown said: "Shannon Sharp [sic] the funny guy on TV still after this".

While teams make adjustments in the wake of injury disasters last week, one squad opted to scrap their workout all together.

Then there is the status of one wide receiver, which is still up in the air.

Three things that matter

Antonio Brown won't face prosecution

The Allegheny County District Attorney says a statute of limitations issue prevents prosecutors in Pennsylvania from filing charges against Antonio Brown, after he was accused of sexual assault.

New England Patriots wide receiver Brown was accused by former trainer Britney Taylor of sexual assault and rape, allegations he has strongly denied through his attorney.

Taylor claimed Brown sexually assaulted her once in Pittsburgh when he exposed himself to her and forcibly kissed her in July 2017. The other alleged sexual assault and alleged rape occurred in Florida.

However, the allegation being dealt with by Pittsburgh law enforcement is more than two years old, which means there will not be an investigation.

"Our office, along with the Allegheny County Police Department, made contact with counsel for the plaintiff in the federal lawsuit involving Antonio Brown," the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office told Omnisport in a statement.

"Procedurally, it appears there is a statute of limitations issue in moving forward with any inquiry involving the Allegheny County allegation mentioned in the lawsuit."

It is unclear if Florida prosecutors will investigate charges on the rape and sexual assault allegations.

Doug Pederson cancels practice because of injuries

You could say things are getting pretty serious in Philadelphia. The Eagles coach also has to consider the team's schedule, which has the Eagles visiting the Green Bay Packers next Thursday on a short week.

"I want these guys as fresh as possible obviously for these next two weeks," Pederson said. "I got to think of the big picture here obviously and keeping guys this early in our season and keeping guys as fresh as possible now, so we can make a push later in the season – that's also a factor in this decision."

Pederson reiterated that defensive tackle Tim Jernigan remains the furthest from returning while labelling tight end Dallas Goedert and receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery as day to day.

Saints won't name starter before Sunday

As injured quarterback Drew Brees prepares for thumb surgery, his offense must prepare for his extended absence. But New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has yet to reveal which of his backups will start, and does not plan on announcing it before Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Instead, Payton will approach this week with both Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill as options under center.

Bridgewater completed 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards and no touchdowns as he filled in for Brees against the Los Angeles Rams, while Hill has played multiple roles filling in where needed.

Two things that don't matter

Cam Newton doesn't practice again

It is looking more and more like 23-year-old Kyle Allen will get the start for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals after Newton did not work out for the second straight day.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney confirmed Newton re-aggravated the mild foot sprain he suffered during the preseason and could not provide a timetable for his return, but the writing was on the wall on Tuesday when Newton was spotted in Charlotte with a boot on his foot.

James Conner expects to play Week 3

In the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's season-ending elbow injury, the Pittsburgh Steelers appear to have caught a break when it comes to the running back's hurt knee. Conner was sidelined on Sunday against the Seahawks and while he may not be a full-go at practice all this week, he appeared confident in his availability for Sunday at San Francisco.

Much of Mason Rudolph's success under center in place of Roethlisberger as he makes his first career start will depend on his offense's ability to help him transition.

One video you have to see

Retired safety Ryan Clark has nothing but respect for Eli Manning despite him being benched for rookie Daniel Jones but admitted he was unimpressed by the veteran during his reign in New York.

Wednesday's tweet of the day

Brees expressed gratitude for his wife, Brittany, who spent her birthday at the hospital as the quarterback prepared to have his thumb surgery.

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