Pittsburgh Steelers: T. J. Watt, Kevin Dotson Expected to Miss Time After Injuries
The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1) woke up Monday disgusted about their tie against the winless Detroit Lions, along with their mounting injuries.
All-Pro pass rusher T.J. Watt is "week to week" with knee and thigh injuries, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, after leaving Sunday's 16-16 tie against the Lions in the third quarter. Rapoport said the injuries are not thought to be season-ending.
Rapoport also reported that starting guard Kevin Dotson will miss time with a high ankle sprain.
Later on Monday, Kimberly Jones of ESPN reported that Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19.
The lone positive injury reporting concerned starting cornerback Joe Haden, who is considered day-to-day after his ankle injury on Sunday was not deemed serious.
The Ravens play in Pittsburgh in three weeks (Dec. 5).
However, an inconsistent performance against winless Detroit (0-8-1) kept the Steelers a half-game behind the Ravens (6-3) in the AFC North. It's an outcome that could prove costly for the Steelers down the road. It was their first tie since 2018, when the Steelers finished 9-6-1 and missed the playoffs, ½ game behind the Ravens (10-6), who won the division in Lamar Jackson's rookie season.
There's a logjam in the AFC North with Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) and Cleveland Browns (5-5) making it a four-team race. Every victory is precious, and the Steelers are well aware that tying at home against the Lions was a missed opportunity.
"A tie in the NFL always feels like a loss when you get to the locker room because you're not adding one to the win column," Steelers linebacker Joe Schobert said via ESPN.com. "It's a half-game. It might make a difference in the end. To let it slip away when you're that close definitely hurts."
Starting in place of Ben Roethlisberger (COVID-19 list), Mason Rudolph (30 of 50, 242 yards, one touchdown, one interception) said he didn't make enough plays for the Steelers in his fourth year with the team.
The Steelers, who visit the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night, hope that Roethlisberger will be cleared to play, and that their tie against Detroit won't come back to haunt them.
"Ties suck," Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. "I know it's a tie, but if it's not a win, I don't think you can really hang your hat on that."
Cleveland Browns: Mayfield Says Something's Wrong In Cleveland
Baker Mayfield left Sunday's game with a bruised knee, but he seemed more wounded by the Cleveland Browns' 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots.
The Browns (5-5) would not make the playoffs if they started today, and have been held to 17 points or fewer in four of their last five games. Picked by many to win the AFC North before the season, the Browns are floundering and Mayfield is banged up.
"The losing is the worst part," Mayfield said via The Associated Press. "We thought we'd be in a better place right now, but we're not. When you're sitting here at 5-5, obviously something's wrong. We've got to figure it out and get it fixed."
The Browns were riding high last week after a 41-16 clubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Patriots brought them back down in a hurry. The Browns have lost four of their last six games.
Already playing with an injured non-throwing shoulder, Mayfield limped off the field Sunday shortly after being sacked by former Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon.
"Just an awkward hit and landing," Mayfield said. "Gotta find a way to get as healthy as possible. I'm pretty beat up right now."
The offense struggled before Mayfield (11 for 21, 73 yards, two sacks, one interception) departed late in the third quarter and Case Keenum finished the game. Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield could have re-entered the game, but there wasn't much point with the Browns already trailing 31-7. The Browns expect Mayfield to play in Week 11 when they face Detroit.
Cleveland's last six games are all against teams that are currently above .500, including two games against the Ravens.
Cincinnati Bengals: Bengals Rested And Geared Up for Final Stretch
A bye week came at a good time for the Bengals, who gained ground in the division and got some rest. Now Head Coach Zac Taylor hopes they are ready to play their best football down the stretch, starting with their Week 11 road game against the Las Vegas Raiders (5-4).
"We control our own destiny for the next eight games," Head Coach Zac Taylor said via the team's website. "Seven of these people are right in contention with us in the conference. We're not playing five NFC teams. We're not crossing our fingers that the other AFC teams are going to lose. We get a chance to play them head-to-head, see where we stand and see if we earned an opportunity to play through January."
Taylor believes Cincinnati's secondary will benefit from the additions of two veterans claimed off waivers: Tre Flowers, who was signed in October, and Vernon Hargreaves, who was signed Nov. 4.
"I think what's smart is, we've added veteran corner experience and anyone who's been around this league long enough knows that in November, December, January, that's going to pay dividends," Taylor said. "It's good to get some guys who have played ball in the NFL before."