NFL Week 7 recap: A $1.05 million pipe bomb

FILE+-+In+this+Sunday%2C+Sept.+15%2C+2019%2C+file+photo%2C+New+England+Patriots+wide+receiver+Antonio+Brown+stands+on+the+sidelines+during+the+first+half+at+an+NFL+football+game+against+the+Miami+Dolphins+in+Miami+Gardens%2C+Fla.+Brown+has+agreed+to+return+to+the+NFL+with+the+Tampa+Bay+Buccaneers+on+a+one-year+deal%2C+according+to+a+person+with+knowledge+of+the+move.+The+person+spoke+to+The+Associated+Press+on+condition+of+anonymity+Saturday%2C+Oct.+24%2C+2020+because+the+contract+had+not+been+completed.

Lynne Sladky | Associated Press

FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown stands on the sidelines during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. Brown has agreed to return to the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year deal, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 because the contract had not been completed.

James Krause, Sports Editor

In March, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians said flat-out that Antonio Brown wouldn’t be on his team.

“Yeah, it’s not gonna happen,” Arians said in March to CBS Sports Radio. “There’s no room. And probably not enough money. But it’s not gonna happen, it’s not a fit here.”

Several months later, now the shoe fits and Arians is proudly going to wear it. On Monday, the Buccaneers signed Brown to a one-year contract. At the cost of a minimum of $1.05 million, Tampa Bay now has a walking pipebomb at wide receiver.

“This is something [Bucs general manager Jason Licht] and I have been talking about for some time,” Arians told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday.

It’s the Buccaneers, Super Bowl contenders coming off their second straight blowout victory, now have tied themselves to a player who at best is a bad decision maker and at worst one of the most toxic superstars in NFL history.

Last year, Brown got cut before the opening game for his new team, the Oakland Raiders, after altercations and in-fighting with management. Brown went to New England, played one drive with now Bucs’ quarterback Tom Brady, and got cut again after sending threatening messages to a woman who said Brown raped her.

In weeks after, police were called to his home for several domestic disturbances and he failed to secure another job with the Saints after he filmed his tryout despite the team telling him not to.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians walks onto the field after defeating the Las Vegas Raiders in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Las Vegas. (David Becker | Associated Press)

Don’t let Brown being signed make you believe this saga is over. Brown is still involved in a civil case between himself and the woman he threatened, who is alleging Brown assaulted her three times.

The easy narrative to support the signing of Brown is that it’s the NFL, the land of second chances for those who make mistakes.

Let’s be real, his second chance was the Raiders and that was two teams ago. In his last year with the Steelers he openly fought with his quarterback, no-showed the last week of the season, got busted for speeding on the day of a game and was sued for throwing a chair out of a 14th floor window that nearly hit a child. 

To the Bucs’ credit, if they deserve any for this signing, is that they haven’t taken the easy narrative. They are blunt in their reasoning for the Brown signing: a banged-up wide receiver core. Receivers Mike Evans, Chris Goodwin and Scottie Mills were all on the injury report going into the Bucs 45-20 win over the Raiders, with Goodwin now out after surgery on a broken finger.

Brady needs receivers, yes, but if anything was proven last year by Brady it’s that he can win with literally anybody. That same receiving core is now working with Cam Newton and, well, it’s not going so hot.

The Bucs have plenty of other free agent wide receiver options like Taylor Gabriel and Demaryius Thomas. They may not be as good as Brown, but I don’t expect either of them to have a nuclear blow up that can affect the teams.

The needle might have moved a little bit for Tampa Bay with the Brown pick up, but if the same Brown from last year shows up in their locker room it could have dire consequences on the reputation of Arians, Brady and the franchise. 

Brown will be eligible to play with the team in their Week 9 matchup against the New Orleans Saints, if he makes it there without getting cut.

 

The Steelers drained time on way to win over the Titans

The Steelers defensive unit has been touted by many as the best defense in the league, and second to them may be their own offense.

In their 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers total time of possession ended at 36:37, including controlling the ball for over 16 minutes on their first two drives. 

All that time they held the ball was time quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry were confined to the sidelines. As a result, the Steelers got out to a 24-7 lead at halftime. Steelers running back James Conner carried the load for his offense, getting 82 yards on 20 carries.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Chase Claypool (11), James Washington (13) and Kevin Dotson (69) leave the field after an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The Steelers won 27-24. (Mark Zaleski | Associated Press)

The Titans were able to rebound with an A.J. Brown 73-yard touchdown pass and a Derrick Henry touchdown rush from the goal line in the second half. After a third interception of Ben Roethlisberger, the Titans’ chance to force overtime vanished on a Stephen Gostkowski missed field goal with 14 seconds remaining.

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin showed why his team is a contender for a Super Bowl with their strategies the past two weeks getting them wins. They may not have the talent level of the Chiefs or the tough matchup with schemes of the Ravens, but they have a coaching staff that knows how to zero in on the weaknesses of their opponents.

 

Cardinals edge out Seahawks, Seattle sufferers first loss 

The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals were mirror images of one another on Sunday night, but in the end it was an overtime field goal to put the Cardinals ahead 37-34 and hand Seattle their first loss of the season.

The Cardinals may not have even been a better team than the Seahawks, but they forced enough mistakes from Wilson to give themselves the chance to win. Their biggest moment of forced error came in overtime, when Russell Wilson’s third thrown interception set up a drive that ended in Zane Gonzalez’s game-winning field goal.

Wilson’s three picks and two sacks may have made the difference, but he and Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray still balled out in one of the best battles of quarterbacks this season. The two became the first opposing quarterbacks to both have 300 passing yards and 50 rushing yards since 1948.

With all teams holding a winning record, no lead is safe in the NFC West. Just like how no interception return is safe from D.K. Metcalf.

 

Mayfield shows up for the Browns when they need him most

For Cleveland Browns fans, every game must feel like a must win knowing both how good their division is and how the team has a history of let downs. 

Early against the Cincinnati Bengals, one of those came in the form of an interception by quarterback Baker Mayfield a week after being benched against the Steelers. Another came in the form of a torn ACL for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Cincinnati. (Michael Conroy | Associated Press)

But in a back-and-forth dogfight in the ‘Battle of Ohio’, Mayfield had arguably the best game of his career. Mayfield went 22-for-28 passing, throwing for 297 yards and a career-high five touchdowns.

Mayfield’s final touchdown was a go-ahead touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones with 14 seconds left on the clock to secure the Browns a 37-34 win.

The Bengals were no pushovers for the Browns, matching the Browns blow for blow in the fourth quarter that saw five lead changes. In the end, Mayfield propelled his team to win a game they should have won handily on paper. Now without Beckham and running back Nick Chubb, can the Browns start to really make some noise and win games they aren’t expected to?

 

49ers hand Belichek his worst home loss as Patriots head coach

You know 2020 has gone off the rails when the Patriots are sitting at 2-4 and behind the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East standings. That’s the reality Bill Belichek faces for the first time after a 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers got the win thanks to their scary depth at running back producing another big time performance, this time from Jeff Wilson Jr. The third-year player Wilson rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns in another display of how good the rushing attack that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has created.

Newton easily had his worst game as a Patriot, throwing three interceptions on 9-for-15 passing before being benched. 

The problem is not on Newton alone, however. Without Julian Edelman, who will miss time after having work done on his knee, the Patriots offense has a severe lack of talent at their skill positions. 

Newton looks like he’s been slower in the decision making department since returning from the COVID-19 reserve list, but he could have looked across the sideline to see that things can get better. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for three touchdowns a game after being benched, maybe the former MVP Newton can rebound against a suspect Bills defense.

 

Cowboys melt in rainy blowout, on the verge of total collapse

In an interview Tuesday with Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones interrupted one of the hosts clarifying a question with “just shut up.” The question in question? About the leadership, or lack thereof, on the Cowboys.

Questions of leadership and accountability being met with “shut up” perfectly sums up just how down the drain this Cowboys team is after a 25-3 loss to the Washington Football Team in the rain.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) lies on the ground after getting hit by Washington Football Team inside linebacker Jon Bostic (53) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Landover, Md. (Patrick Semansky | Associated Press)

Washington, a 1-5 team entering the game, made mincemeat of the Cowboys defense as easily as any team has all season. Washington outgained Dallas 397 yards to 142 and held the ball for 13 more minutes than the Cowboys.

The Cowboys offense couldn’t get anything done either, and that was before their quarterback Andy Dalton went out with a concussion. Ezekiel Elliott ran for just 45 yards on a day he should have feasted on the Football Team.

The Cowboys came into this year with the easiest division to win in the NFL and through seven games they sit at 2-5. There’s poor decision making by coaches, there’s no effort on defense, and there’s nobody there on offense to fill the void Dak Prescott’s injury left. The Cowboys could be sinking, and there’s no telling how low they’ll go before getting a grip.