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#pounditTuesday, November 24, 2020

Football

Eric Ebron shares thoughts on ‘pressure’ of Steelers being undefeated

Eric Ebron

The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their best start to a season in franchise history on Sunday by improving their record to 10-0 with a blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Talk of an undefeated season is slowly starting to creep in, but veteran tight end Eric Ebron insists the team is not concerned about it.

Ebron told reporters on Monday that the Steelers are “not tripping” over whether or not they will lose a game. He said they have already made franchise history and would rather lose now than in the postseason.

“That’s why we don’t talk about it, we don’t care that we’re 10-0,” Ebron said, via Christopher Carter of DK Pittsburgh Sports. “We have one purpose, and that’s to win a Super Bowl. We don’t care what people say.”

You could easily make the argument that an undefeated regular season is not worth the storyline that comes along with it. Obviously, the 2007 New England Patriots are the best example of that. They steamrolled through the regular season and playoffs, only to lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl in one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Had they not gone undefeated to that point, it’s entirely possible the Patriots would have felt less pressure and played better.

The Steelers’ remaining schedule is not exactly a gauntlet. They face the Baltimore Ravens at home on Thursday night before finishing the year against Washington, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Cleveland. They should be favored in all of those games barring a key injury or unexpected collapse.

Of course, undefeated seasons are rare in part because teams rest their starters when they have nothing to play for late in the year. It remains to be seen how Mike Tomlin will handle that situation if it arises, but the coach seemed to make it clear he doesn’t care about a perfect season with a funny remark he made following Sunday’s win.

Doug Pederson raises possibility of using Jalen Hurts more

Jalen Hurts

As the Philadelphia Eagles continue to struggle on offense and questions grow about Carson Wentz’s future, coach Doug Pederson admitted it may be time to add some different looks.

Pederson said Monday that he would like to involve Hurts in the offense more after the rookie played just one snap Sunday.

“I think I can get him in the game a little bit more,” Pederson said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.

That could mean anything. Five snaps would be “a little bit more” than one, for instance. It’s at least an admission that the offense isn’t working right now and may require some different looks.

One thing that is clear: the possibility of Hurts replacing Wentz full-time is not on the table. Pederson has consistently resisted benching Wentz, and said so again on Sunday. Hurts may change the pace more, but this is still Wentz’s job right now.

Joe Burrow’s season-ending knee injury even worse than expected

Joe Burrow injury

Joe Burrow will miss the remainder of the 2020 season after he suffered a knee injury on Sunday, and unfortunately the Cincinnati Bengals rookie sustained more than just a torn ACL.

Burrow underwent an MRI on Monday that revealed he has a torn MCL in addition to a torn ACL, according to ESPN’s Ben Baby and Adam Schefter. Burrow reportedly also suffered “other structural issues” as well.

Burrow was carted off the field in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against Washington after he was hit low and his leg bent awkwardly underneath him.

There has been no specific timetable given for Burrow’s return, but it sounds like the No. 1 overall pick is facing a long and difficult recovery. He finishes his rookie season with 13 touchdown passes and five interceptions.

Refs missed horrible facemask against Packers RB Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones facemask

The Green Bay Packers lost a tough game to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, and they were on the wrong end of a crucial no-call that could have impacted the outcome.

With Green Bay trailing 31-28 midway through the fourth quarter, officials missed a blatant facemask on Packers running back Aaron Jones. Jones picked up a first down on the play, but 15 yards should have been tacked on.

The Packers strung together a few more chunk plays after that, but they eventually turned the ball over on downs at the Indianapolis 34-yard-line. They went on to tie the game later and force overtime, where they lost.

You never know what would have happened if the facemask call wasn’t missed. At the very least, the Packers should have been given 15 more yards. It’s also possible Jones could have ripped off a bigger gain on the play.

Green Bay fans might argue that they were screwed on another big call, but the correct one was made in that instance. Still, they have a legitimate gripe with the Jones no-call.

Andy Reid had perfect comment about Chiefs’ comeback win

Andy Reid

It would have been reasonable for the Kansas City Chiefs to get conservative on their final drive Sunday night and try to play for overtime, but Andy Reid says he never gave it a thought. His rationale for that was quite simple.

The Chiefs got the ball back with 1:41 remaining in the game after the Las Vegas Raiders took a 31-28 lead. With just one timeout and a drive beginning at their own 25-yard line, it would not have been a surprise if the Chiefs played for a field goal and overtime. Reid told reporters why he did not consider that.

“I’ve got Pat Mahomes,” the coach said, via ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “You give me a minute and a half and I’m pretty good right there. We can roll. I’d take him over everybody and I’m lucky to have him.”

Not only did the Chiefs score a touchdown, but Mahomes’ 22-yard strike to Travis Kelce came with 28 seconds remaining. Kansas City needed just over a minute and one timeout to score, which is another reminder of how explosive their offense can be.

Believe it or not, Mahomes had never thrown a game-winning touchdown in the final two minutes of a game prior to Sunday night. The former MVP admitted he was thinking field goal until the Chiefs got to within striking distance of the end zone.

“There are steps. The first step is to try to get into field goal range,” Mahomes said. “Once we got into field goal range we still had some time left. I was hoping we had a couple of shots into the end zone.”

It’s no wonder Reid had such a fantastic way of celebrating Mahomes’ record contract extension a few months ago. Having a quarterback who can take his team the length of the field in just over a minute with the game on the line is a luxury. Reid has no problem letting us know how fortunate he feels.

Chiefs fans, you’ll love this Andy Reid cheeseburger shirt. Reid loves his cheeseburgers, and you can wear it. This makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling says he received death threats over costly fumble

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Marquez Valdes-Scantling says he received death threats over his costly fumble in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Valdes-Scantling’s Green Bay Packers got the ball to start overtime with the game tied at 31. On the Packers’ second play, Valdes-Scantling lost a fumble that effectively cost his team the game.

The Colts got great field position and were able to kick a 39-yard field goal to win the game.

Valdes-Scantling said on Twitter after the game that he received death threats. He said those who sent threats were “sick” and “need help.”

Valdes-Scantling received support from his team despite his mistake. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers came to his defense. So did head coach Matt LaFleur.

The Packers are now 7-3 after the loss and still in good shape for the playoffs, but they can’t afford many more mistakes like that.

5 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 11

Tua Tagovailoa

We are moving toward the part of the season where every game is decisive and every mistake is magnified in the NFL. Coaches are now starting to sweat it out as their seats get hotter, and teams are seeing their playoff hopes get slimmer and slimmer depending on how they do. In other words, the stakes are high.

So who isn’t living up to expectations? Here are five disappointments from Week 11.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins

It’s fair to ask if the Dolphins went to Tagovailoa prematurely. He struggled on Sunday, throwing for just 83 yards before being benched in a move that coach Brian Flores explicitly said was down to performance. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t lead the Dolphins to a comeback, but the team received a bit of a jolt when he came in. Tagovailoa isn’t passing well enough right now. The Dolphins are still in a solid position, but the quarterback needs to improve.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens

Jackson came into the 2020 season talking about how motivated he was to go even further after the Ravens’ playoff loss last year. A rematch with the same Tennessee Titans team that knocked them out should have been a chance to make a statement. Instead, it showed just how much work they have to do. Jackson missed two opportunities for touchdown passes and threw for just 186 yards. Dez Bryant, signed off the street, was the team’s second-leading receiver with 28 yards. The offense is broken, and these postgame quotes didn’t inspire much confidence either.

Detroit Lions

The Carolina Panthers do not have a great defense. The Detroit Lions have enough talent on offense to at least be competent. Instead, the Lions got shut out, and their season is now circling the drain. Matt Patricia increasingly looks like a dead man walking. It never needed to get this bad in Detroit, but the franchise has completely lost its way — not that it was ever that close to figuring it out anyway. It’s time, once again, for wholesale changes.

New England Patriots’ defense

Deshaun Watson is entirely capable of hurting anyone, but the Patriots’ defense was brutal on Sunday. Their performance is even harder to excuse when considering the Texans essentially had the run game taken away from them. That meant Watson was passing a lot, and the Patriots couldn’t stop it. Watson threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns, then added a third rushing touchdown. In the end, Houston put up 399 total yards and 27 points. That won’t do against a team that has been struggling all year.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Packers

Sunday was cruel for Valdes-Scantling, who made a big catch late in the fourth quarter to get the game to overtime in the first place. However, the wide receiver made a huge mistake in overtime, fumbling away the ball after a catch to essentially set the Colts up for a win. It was, quite literally, a game-changing turnover, and he was visibly upset on the sideline afterward. He has the backing of his quarterback, but that’s unlikely to make him feel any better.

Derek Carr photo goes viral, gets meme treatment

Derek Carr bench

A photo of Derek Carr sitting on the bench during his Las Vegas Raiders’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night went viral and led to some memes.

The photo was shown by NBC during the fourth quarter with the Raiders holding a 24-21 lead.

Almost instantly, folks on social media began reacting with memes and jokes.

References to The Undertaker were popular.

You can’t knock Carr for having his gameface on given the circumstance. Carr played a nice game and threw for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns, but his Raiders were unable to hang on and lost 35-31.

Raiders’ ‘James Harden’ audible gets all the jokes, memes

James Harden

The Las Vegas Raiders went viral on Sunday night for their interesting audible names, and one about James Harden led to plenty of jokes.

During a Raiders possession in the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs, quarterback Derek Carr was heard calling a “James Harden” audible. They ended up with a nice run on the play.

The Harden audible led to lots of jokes. One figured the audible meant it’s not a pass, which is modeled after Harden’s isolation game.

Here were some of the other jokes:

Amazingly, that wasn’t the only audible call the Raiders had that went viral. They left Al Michaels confused with another one.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Al Michaels was completely baffled by Raiders’ ‘purple walrus’ audible

Al Michaels

The Las Vegas Raiders have a fondness for tossing some unusual phrases into their pre-snap routine. One in particular got many people’s attention on Sunday night.

NBC’s Cris Collinsworth was just pointing out how unusual some of the Raiders’ audibles are in the first quarter of Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. Just as he did, microphones picked up quarterback Derek Carr calling out the words “purple walrus.” Al Michaels could only repeat it with audible bafflement.

“Purple walrus” ended up going for a 16-yard gain, so it clearly worked out.

We’ve heard plenty of teams use strange things as audibles. “Purple walrus,” however, lives in its own weird universe.