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 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger didn’t 
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Post PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger didn’t
want to use the word “crossroads.” He did anyway.His team mired in a three-game losing streak and with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the other sideline Sunday — a sight that typically signals doom for Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers — the longtime quarterback understood his team’s enigmatic season had reached a tipping point.“Are we going to step up and play? Are we going to divide each other? Who knows?” Roethlisberger said after a taut 17-10 victory. “This was going to be a great challenge for us against a team that is always one of the best. I thought we answered the bell today.”Article continues below ...In so many ways.Rookie running back Jaylen Samuels ran for a season-high 142 yards in his second NFL start. The defense that looked so vulnerable in the late going during Pittsburgh’s recent slide figured out a way to slow Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Embattled kicker Chris Boswell drilled a critical 48-yard field goal in the final minutes Infant Jarrett Stidham Jersey , and the Steelers (8-5-1) gave their playoff hopes a welcome jolt.“I knew it was a big game, it was a redemption game for last year,” said Samuels, a senior at North Carolina State last fall when Pittsburgh collapsed late in a loss to the Patriots. “I just wanted to go out there and give them my all.”Forced into action with James Conner missing his second straight game due to a sprained left ankle, Samuels said he’s never been a feature back. Funny, the fifth-round pick considered a bit of a project certainly looked like one against New England (9-5). Samuels ran 19 times and caught two passes for 30 yards, including a leaping 20-yard grab on third-and-9 on Pittsburgh’s penultimate possession that helped set up Boswell’s field goal.“I was just staying relaxed, didn’t want to stay too tensed up,” Samuels said. “Just do what I do. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game … it was a pretty good outcome.”One that helped Pittsburgh preserve its half-game lead over Baltimore (8-6) in the AFC North with two weeks to go. It also exorcised some demons. The Steelers had dropped five straight to New England and only beaten Brady twice in his storied career. Despite never trailing Jarrett Stidham Jersey Draft , their third win over him wasn’t assured until Morgan Burnett knocked down Brady’s heave to the end zone intended for Julian Edelman with 20 seconds to go.“It’s a big win for us,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s that time of year. We need to win this football game.”Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with two first-half touchdowns and two interceptions. Boswell, who has struggled so badly this season the team held open tryouts during the week in search of a possible replacement, atoned for a 32-yard miss in the third quarter by drilling a 48-yarder with 2:30 remaining that provided the final margin.“He’s our kicker from start to finish and I liked that way he came back and banged that next opportunity, and that’s what this thing is about,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “You are going to be tested, we are going to be tested. Sometimes you are going to fail, but you better pass enough of them.”MISSED CHANCEA victory would have given the Patriots their 10th straight AFC East title. While they still have two shots at it while finishing the regular season at home, the road issues don’t appear to be going away. New England finished 3-5 away from Gillette Stadium Jarrett Stidham NFL Jersey , the first time the Patriots have a losing road record since 2009.“We haven’t played very well on the road,” Brady said. “Obviously what we’re doing isn’t good enough.”Brady finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Pittsburgh held tight end Gronkowski to two receptions for 21 yards. Brady flung a jump ball to Gronkowski deep in Pittsburgh territory midway through the fourth quarter that was picked off by cornerback Joe Haden, just Brady’s fifth pick in 14 games against the Steelers.“I was just trying to flick it out of bounds,” Brady said. “Didn’t want to take a sack. It shouldn’t have happened.”The uncharacteristically sloppy Patriots were flagged 14 times for 106 yards, including a handful of offensive holding calls that blunted momentum. The Patriots had a second-and-5 at the Pittsburgh 11 with 37 seconds to go when right guard Shaq Mason was hit with a holding penalty that pushed the ball back to the Pittsburgh 21. The Patriots would get no closer.“There’s holding on every play in the NFL,” Brady said. “It’s what we do, we hold. … If they’re calling it, we’ve got to do a little bit less of it.”HE SAID IT“Sometimes you got to cut your eyelids off when you want to blink when it gets thick, and we talk openly about that.” Tomlin when talking about his team’s ability to deal with adversity.UP NEXTPatriots: Host Buffalo next Sunday. New England is unbeaten at home this season (6-0).Steelers: Visit New Orleans next Sunday. Pittsburgh’s last road victory against the Saints came in 1990. Jimmy Garoppolo never even made it to the fourth game of his first full season as starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.A knee injury ended his season early and all hopes for the 49ers that their new franchise quarterback could lead the team back into contention.Garoppolo is back healthy again and having shaken off some early season rust is showing just why San Francisco believed in him enough to give him a $137.5 million contract despite only a handful of starts.He is a major reason why the Niners are unbeaten after three weeks for the first time in 21 years and now gets the opportunity to show the rest of the football world what he can do when he gets the prime-time stage Monday night when San Francisco (3-0) hosts the Cleveland Browns (2-2)."It'll be exciting Jarrett Stidham NFL Draft , a lot of juice," Garoppolo said. "Levi's was rocking last time when the Steelers came and wouldn't expect anything less from the faithful. It'll be a fun atmosphere, that's for sure."This is Garoppolo's first prime-time start since he made his initial appearance as a starting quarterback in the 2016 season opener for New England. With Tom Brady serving a suspension, Garoppolo threw for 264 yards and a touchdown in a 23-21 victory at Arizona that made him one of the league's more intriguing young quarterbacks.He got hurt the following week in a win over Miami and didn't get another chance as a starter until after he was traded to San Francisco midway through the 2017 season.Garoppolo stepped in for a struggling team late that year and won five straight starts to end the season, earning him the job for the long term and the lucrative contract.But after some early season struggles last year, Garoppolo went down with the injury at Kansas City, derailing his opportunity to prove he belongs among the game's top passers.Now after a preseason that was rough at times and a shaky performance in a season-opening win at Tampa Bay, Garoppolo seems to be hitting his stride. He threw for 296 yards and three TDs in Week 2 against an overmatched Bengals defense and then withstood heavy blitzing from Pittsburgh the following week to throw for 277 yards and the game-winning score in the closing minutes of a 24-20 win.It's that kind of performance in the face of heavy pressure in the pocket that has earned Garoppolo the respect of his teammates"Jimmy's extremely resilient," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. "He goes out there and makes a mistake Jarrett Stidham Buffalo Bills Jersey , he doesn't back down, he doesn't curl up and play it safe. He's still ready to rip it. I love to see that, I love to see his trust in his receivers."This game also offers Browns second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield another chance to show what he can do on a big stage.The No. 1 overall pick in 2018 made a big first impression on the NFL, breaking Peyton Manning's rookie record with 27 touchdown passes in just 14 games. He showed off his accuracy and had flair that included trash-talking opponents, delighting fans and angering his critics.After an offseason full of praise and hype after Cleveland added big-play receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the lineup, Mayfield's start to this season wasn't quite as smooth as his rookie year.He threw five interceptions and only three TD passes in the first three weeks as Cleveland got off to a 1-2 start that had skeptics questioning if the Browns were more style than substance.But he bounced back to throw for 342 yards and a touchdown in a 40-25 win last week at Baltimore that moved the Browns back into a tie for first place in the AFC North and showed why many believed they were the up-and-coming team to watch in the AFC this season."One thing that gets overlooked sometimes is the guys around him play better, too," coach Freddie Kitchens said. "I have said this before, so much of the quarterback and his success is dictated on other people doing their job. We had a lot of people the other day doing their job. That is the expectation that I am talking about that we put on ourselves. Just do your job. Do what you are supposed to do Color Rush Byron Cowart Jersey , do it how you are supposed to do it and do it when you are supposed to do it. It is relatively simple."AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Berea, Ohio, contributed to this report

Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:04 pm
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