Duck’s Dynasty? Backup Hodges leads Steelers by Browns 20-13

Sun Dec 1 4:56pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges (6) celebrates after defeating the Cleveland Browns during in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) wears a glove on his throwing hand during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. Mayfield left the game in the first half after hitting his hand on a helmet. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington (13) makes a touchdown catch in front pop Cleveland Browns defensive back Sheldrick Redwine (29) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington (13) celebrates with tight end Vance McDonald (89) after making a touchdown catch from Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges (6) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half of an NFL football, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) makes a catch in front of Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. The call was originally called incomplete but was rules a catch on review. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


Cleveland Browns defensive end Chad Thomas (92) celebrates with defensive end Olivier Vernon (54) and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (98) after sacking Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes as he is pressured by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


PITTSBURGH (AP) No fighting. No helmet swinging. Barely any trash talking.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns kept things civil in their highly anticipated rematch, which ended the way they always seem to end at Heinz Field: the Steelers walking off in triumph 20-13, leaving the Browns to ponder how another one got away.

Devlin ''Duck'' Hodges threw for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his second career start. Rookie Benny Snell ran for 63 yards and his first NFL touchdown, and the banged-up Steelers exacted revenge for their whipping at the hands of the Browns two weeks ago with a 20-13 victory on Sunday.

Pittsburgh (7-5) boosted its postseason chances by rallying from 10 points down thanks in large part to Hodges, a rookie undrafted free agent who happens to be a champion duck caller in his down time. He was aided by the emergence of wide receiver James Washington, who caught four passes for 111 yards and a juggling 30-yard score late in the first half.

The Browns (5-7) saw their three-game winning streak come to a crashing halt when they failed to handle a Pittsburgh offense riddled with injuries and inexperience at the skill positions. Baker Mayfield completed 18 of 32 passes for 196 yards with a touchdown and an interception; he played the entire second half with his right hand in a protective glove after smacking it against the face mask of Pittsburgh linebacker Bud Dupree.

Nick Chubb ran for 58 yards and Kareem Hunt added 65 total yards and a touchdown reception. But Cleveland failed to pull even with the Steelers in the standings and sweep the season series from its rival for the first time in 31 years.

The teams' first meeting on Nov. 14 ended with an ugly altercation between Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett and Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph that ended with Garrett hitting Rudolph in the head with Rudolph's helmet. The ensuing fallout - which included Garrett being suspended indefinitely; Rudolph fending off Garrett's allegation that he used a racial slur shortly before things got out of hand; suspensions for Browns defensive end Larry Ogunjobi and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey; and more than $700,000 in fines.

That reignited a rivalry that's been dominated by the Steelers since Cleveland returned to the NFL a generation ago.

Just in case it needed a little more stoking, Browns rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens was spotted wearing a ''Pittsburgh started it'' T-shirt on Friday night. Several Steelers responded with some inauspicious wardrobe choices while waking into work on Sunday.

Pittsburgh's response on the field was even more emphatic.

The Steelers spotted Cleveland the game's first 10 points. The spark Hodges provided in relief of Rudolph in the second half last week against Cincinnati appeared to have evaporated thanks in large part to conservative play calling.

One 39-yard lob from Hodges to Washington in the second quarter flipped the field and the momentum. The Steelers ripped off the game's next 20 points, including a bobbling 30-yard touchdown catch by Washington to tie it late in the second quarter.

On Cleveland's ensuing possession, Mayfield's right hand hit Dupree's facemask. He grabbed it in pain and jogged to the sideline, replaced by Garrett Gilbert. Though he returned to start the second half, he wasn't the same. Neither were the Browns.

INJURIES

Browns: CB Greedy Williams left in the second half with a shoulder injury. CB Robert Jackson exited in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.

UP NEXT

Browns: host in-state rival Cincinnati next Sunday. Cleveland swept the Bengals last season for the first time since 2002.

Steelers: travel to Arizona next Sunday.

Player Notes
Jarvis Landry Aug 15 1:10pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) looked good in Friday's practice, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. Landry had hip surgery on February 4 but he was able to participate in team drills on Friday and even found the end zone during 11-on-11 drill where he beat safety Andrew Sendejo deep and connected with Baker Mayfield for about a 50-yard score. Stefanski said of Landry, Ive been able to watch him progress here over the last couple of weeks. Hes doing a nice job. Hes not afraid to work. I enjoy watching him out on the practice field. I enjoy having him around the meeting rooms. Hes progressing nicely. All signs point toward Landry being ready for Week 1 when Cleveland faces off against the Baltimore Ravens.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Aug 14 11:20pm ET

Elite Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey didn't hesitate to say his own name when it came to selecting the first pick in fantasy drafts, per ESPN. The 24-year-old's claim is backed up by an incredible 2019 season which saw him garner 1,387 rush yards, 4.8 rush yards per carry, 15 rush touchdowns, 116 receptions, 1,005 receiving yards, and four receiving touchdowns. The Panther also finished with the second most fantasy football points in the history of the game at 471 points. It should be no shock that the RB would consider himself the top pick for 2020 and with a role as the focal point of the Carolina offense, along with coming off an astounding fantasy season, there is no disputing that.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Gibson Aug 14 10:50pm ET

Washington Football Team running back/wide receiver could fill the role planned for recently-released running back Derrius Guice. Gibson has been practicing as both a running back and a wide receiver, but with Guice no longer in the backfield, Gibson could be the best bet in a still-crowded running back room. Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love, Peyton Barber, and J.D. McKissic will also be battling for playing time. Gibson is a huge upside/gadget player floor choice right now.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Aug 14 10:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said that he is "optimistic" about coming to an agreement with the team on a long-term contract extension after this season. It seems the two sides never got too close to a deal in the offseason, as Prescott wanted more money and fewer years than the Cowboys were offering. He'll play under the franchise tag this year and could be tagged again next year if the two sides still can't agree, although next year's tag would cost the team $38 million.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Aug 14 5:10pm ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said he's "finding out how to get back to the basics" after a disappointing sophomore campaign in 2019. "I lost myself in that and I wasn't able to be who I am for these guys on the team. I told them that," Mayfield continued. "I told them that if I'm not doing that, hold me accountable." Head coach Kevin Stefanski's zone-run and play-action scheme should fit Mayfield better, but some fantasy owners may still be skeptical. Mayfield was being taken as a top-five fantasy signal-caller in 2019. That won't happen in 2020 drafts, but the 25-year-old from Oklahoma could surprise some as a QB1 with an improved supporting cast.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Aug 14 5:00pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook plans to be a full participant at training camp while he seeks a long-term contract extension. "I'm out there full go, 1,000 percent," Cook said. The RB1 in fantasy should be present for workouts on Monday for the start of camp. The 25-year-old second-rounder was a top-five running back last year despite missing two games due to injury. With the Vikings passing game less of a certainty now that Stefon Diggs is in Buffalo, Minnesota could lean even more on Cook, both on the ground and through the air. Fantasy managers probably won't view the former Florida State running back as elite because of injury concerns, but he's been pretty money in his short career when he's on the field.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Mariota Aug 14 4:50pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said that quarterback Marcus Mariota "really fired me up today" at training camp on Friday. He has turned a corner with his ankle (injury) and he is a dazzling playmaker. He had a very nice day. It might just be coach speak, and we all know that Gruden typically loves almost every player he's laid eyes on in the NFL, but it's worth noting nonetheless. Incumbent Derek Carr could easily be on the hot seat early in 2020 if he doesn't impress the coaching staff with his production, and Mariota, despite his failures in Tennessee, remains athletic and is one of the highest-paid backup QBs in the league. If Mariota winds up making starts this year, he'd be a low-ceiling, low-end QB2.

From RotoBaller

Trevor Siemian Aug 14 4:43pm ET

Free-agent QB Trevor Siemian (Jets) worked out for the Detroit Lions Friday, Aug. 14.

From TheHuddle

Bronson Kaufusi Aug 14 4:33pm ET

New York Jets RB Kenneth Dixon (hip), DE Bronson Kaufusi (hamstring) and LB Jabari Zuniga (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Friday, Aug. 14.

From TheHuddle

Cordarrelle Patterson Aug 14 4:30pm ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has been meeting with the running backs at camp, instead of the wide receivers. This could be an indication that head coach Matt Nagy is planning to use the speedy receiver out of the backfield more this year. This is Patterson's second year with the Bears. Last year, he caught 11 passes for 83 yards while adding 17 rushes for 103 yards. It's certainly an intriguing development, but we'll need to see it play out quite a bit more before we start to get excited about Patterson for fantasy purposes.

From RotoBaller

Mychal Kendricks Aug 14 4:03pm ET

Free-agent LB Mychal Kendricks (Seahawks) received interest from the Las Vegas Raiders, but the two sides were not able to reach a contract agreement, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Romeo Okwara Aug 14 4:03pm ET

Detroit Lions DE Romeo Okwara (undisclosed) was activated from the Active/Non-Football Injury list Friday, Aug. 14. The team also waived S Jeremiah Dinson.

From TheHuddle

Jahleel Addae Aug 14 3:53pm ET

Free-agent S Jahleel Addae (Texans) is scheduled to work out for the Minnesota Vikings, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Kevin Stefanski Aug 14 3:50pm ET

Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter underwent knee surgery on Thursday according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. The veteran lineman reportedly had the surgery to remove loose bodies from the knee. Stefanski would not elaborate on how long Tretter would be out but the NFL Network reported that he will probably only miss a couple weeks. In Tretters absence, rookie center Nick Harris will get a chance to show what he can do. Tretter is a key piece to a revamped Cleveland offensive line this year.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Williams Aug 14 3:33pm ET

New York Giants DT Leonard Williams (undisclosed) was activated from the Active/Non-Football Injury list Friday, Aug. 14.

From TheHuddle

Frank Gore Aug 14 3:23pm ET

New York Jets RB Frank Gore (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Aug. 14, because of a hamstring injury. Head coach Adam Gase said Gore was held out as a precaution.

Fantasy Spin: Gore likely will be the No. 2 running back for the Jets and see a handful of carries each game. He could be a handcuff to Le'Veon Bell in fantasy leagues but probably will not have a big fantasy impact.

From TheHuddle

Pierre Desir Aug 14 3:23pm ET

New York Jets CB Pierre Desir (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Aug. 14.

From TheHuddle

Baker Mayfield Aug 14 3:13pm ET

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield said Friday, Aug. 14, he 'lost myself' in 2019 and started doubting himself after a couple of sub-par performances. Mayfield, though, said Friday that's in the past. 'In a much better state, mentally, physically. Just ready to roll,' Mayfield told reporters at training camp. 'Back to where I need to be to be the leader.'

Fantasy Spin: Drafted as a breakout No. 1 QB last season, Mayfield stumbled badly, throwing for five fewer touchdowns and seven more interceptions than he did as a rookie in 2018. He should bounce back the other way some in 2020, but he's still figures to wind up as a QB2 when all's said and done.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Miller Aug 14 2:53pm ET

Updating previous report, New England Patriots RB Lamar Miller received a one-year, $1.05 million contract that includes $200,000 in guarantees with $1.5 million also available in 'achievable' incentives.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Reed Aug 14 2:53pm ET

Updating a previous report, San Francisco TE Jordan Reed signed a one-year, $1.05 million contract. The deal also includes up to $750,000 in playing-time incentives.

From TheHuddle