Steelers: Rally in Jacksonville Keeps Win Streak Rolling
The Steelers' sixth straight win may have been their most improbable. They trailed 16-0 late in the third quarter at Jacksonville but rallied for a 20-16 win that raised Pittsburgh's record to 7-2-1. Ben Roethlisberger capped the comeback with a 1-yard touchdown run, stretching the nose of the football across the goal line with three seconds left.
Roethlisberger struggled much of the game and threw three interceptions, but he relished getting the last word against a Jaguars defense that likes to talk trash. During the offseason, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey called Roethlisberger "decent at best" in a GQ magazine article. Roethlisberger said Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith was chirping Sunday as well.
"They are a really good defense," Roethlisberger said via ESPN.com. "They like to talk a lot – before the game, during the game. But I'm carrying the game ball home.
"They have a linebacker, No. 50 (Smith) – we'll just use numbers, we don't have to say names – that wanted to let me know every time I threw an interception. He found me and told me how many interceptions I threw. It was a little motivation to come back and win the game."
Leading both the Ravens (5-5) and Bengals (5-5) by 2 ½ games, the Steelers have their sights set on earning a first-round bye, not just winning the AFC North. The Chiefs (9-1) are the only AFC team with fewer losses than Pittsburgh.
Bengals: Can Cincinnati Stop Its Freefall in Time to Save Season?
Having lost four of their last five, the Bengals tried to put a positive spin on Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Ravens. The Bengals are one of five AFC teams with a 5-5 record, so they are not out of the playoff mix. But after firing former Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin last week, the Bengals were still shredded on the ground by Ravens running back Gus Edwards (117 yards) and quarterback Lamar Jackson (115 yards).
Instead of focusing on the loss, Head Coach Marvin Lewis talked about the big picture and the Bengals still being in the wild-card race.
"We know where we are, and now it's a race to the finish," Lewis said. "And they are in the same position we are."
Only two of the Bengals' final six games are against teams with winning records – at the Los Angeles Chargers (7-3) on Dec. 9, and the regular-season finale at Pittsburgh on Dec. 30. But the Bengals don't look like the same team that started 4-1, and they sorely miss wide receiver A.J. Green (toe), who missed his second straight game Sunday. The Bengals will hope Green can return soon, before it's too late.
Browns: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as Next Head Coach?
Can you picture former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the Browns' next head coach? An ESPN report saying the Browns want to interview Rice caused a stir during their bye week.
General Manager John Dorsey said he was open to hiring a woman, but also threw some water on the reported interest in Rice, saying her name had not been discussed.
"Our coaching search will be thorough and deliberate, but we are still in the process of compiling the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed," Dorsey said in a statement.
Rice also posted on Facebook that she's not ready to coach, although she "would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas."
However, Rice made it clear she hopes the NFL steps up its efforts to include women in its pool of candidates.
"On a more serious note, I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches," Rice wrote on Facebook. "One doesn't have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts – and it's time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches."
In other news on the Browns' coaching front, Dorsey said interim head coach Gregg Williams would get an interview after the season. Meanwhile, the Browns (3-6-1) have an interesting AFC North game this Sunday when they visit the Bengals. The Browns will be looking at former head coach Hue Jackson on the opposite sideline. Jackson joined the Bengals staff after the Browns fired him last month.
NFL: Dean Pees Scheduled to be Released From Hospital Monday After Overnight Stay
The Monday afternoon update on Dean Pees is good. The current Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator and former Ravens coordinator was scheduled to return home to Nashville on Monday after undergoing medical tests in Indianapolis and staying overnight for observation.
Pees was taken to an Indianapolis hospital Sunday after the Titans said Pees had a "medical issue" during the game against the Colts. He was taken from the press box in a wheelchair during the first quarter, and Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel called the defensive plays the remainder of the game. At his postgame press conference, Vrabel said he expected Pees to be fine.
"I would say Dean is doing OK," Vrabel said via the Titans' website. "They took him to the hospital, they evaluated him, and they are going to keep him overnight for some tests. But everything I heard as of now has been very positive, that he should make a full recovery and be fine with whatever he had going on upstairs."