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London solution could be a team that splits its home schedule

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Prior to 1995, the Packers split their home games between stadiums in Green Bay and Milwaukee. Eventually, another team could be doing that — with the two venues a lot farther apart.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that the London solution could entail a team dividing its games between an American location and England.

That possibility arises in large part from the biggest logistical hurdle associated with moving a team to London: Staging a postseason game there.

“The easiest example to think about in terms of a problem that I’m not sure we have a solution for is a playoff game — maybe a West Coast team has to play a playoff game in London,” an owner told Breer. “There are things like that that I don’t know if we have the answer to yet. That’s why I’m hesitant to talk very much about a relocation.”

This time of year, when the NFL returns to London for its annual series of games there, few are hesitant to talk about relocation, since it continues to be a vague carrot, perpetually dangling at some point far enough in the distance to be impossible to grab but close enough to seem plausible and capture the imagination of UK residents.

One key factor is travel time, which as Breer notes has resulted in a group of NFL executives meeting Friday with Virgin Airlines in an effort to figure out when and if the days of Concorde-style speed ever will return.

Even if the travel can be shortened, plenty of hurdles remain when it comes to assigning a team on a full-time basis to London. And anything the NFL does to balance out the competitive disadvantage will be viewed as a competitive advantage, if/when that team becomes a consistent contender or champion.

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Jerry Jones says Cowboys have big receiving threats, beyond Dez

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Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones says the roster he built has a lot more good receiving threats than just Dez Bryant.

In an interview on 105.3 The Fan, Jones said receiver Terrance Williams, who may be the No. 1 target with Bryant out, compares to Hall of Fame Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin in the way he competes. And Jones wants to see Williams get plenty of targets in the coming weeks.

“I know how driven he is,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News.I know Michael Irvin, and [Williams] is Michael Irvin-driven. He’s Michael Irvin-work ethic. He can really compete. I expect him to compete. I know what was bothering him, that he didn’t feel like he got a chance or didn’t compete. I think we should expect to see him get some balls. He knows how to compete.”

Jones also said he wants to see more balls thrown to tight end Gavin Escobar.

“Escobar does it differently, but he’s got a huge [catch] radius, which means a wide way to throw it,” Jones said. “Escobar, at 6-7, with a significant leaping ability and those arms should be able to contest balls right and left. That answers your question right there. He’s certainly got the speed to get in the routes, so yes, I’ve always thought the real best answer for not having Dez out there is a combination of things, but included Escobar.”

In Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, Escobar and Williams combined for zero catches. Jones wants to see that change.

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Ryan Kerrigan off to slow start after signing big contract

Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Hoyer AP

Washington pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan got a $16 million signing bonus as part of a five-year, $57.5 million contract this offseason, which makes the start to his season disappointing.

Kerrigan, who had 13.5 sacks last year, has just half a sack this year. He acknowledged that he feels it’s particularly important to him to play well this year to prove he’s worth the money he’s making.

“Absolutely,” Kerrigan said, via ESPN. “That’s a lot of personal pride. I got that big contract and I want to show I’m worthy of it. Of course you want to justify it, but it’s not something like I wake up every day and say I’ve got to [justify] it.”

Kerrigan does think he’s putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but he’s being paid the big bucks to sack the quarterback.

“I’ve been close a number of times, but close doesn’t cut it,” Kerrigan said. “I have to win my one-on-ones more and win them quicker. I’ve been close a lot of times, but I have to win it quicker and make things happen quicker.”

On Sunday Kerrigan will try to put pressure on Philadelphia quarterback Sam Bradford, who has been sacked just twice while throwing 117 passes this season.

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Officially, Drew Brees is virtually certain to play

Drew Brees, Henry Melton AP

On Friday, Saints coach Sean Payton said that the plan for Sunday night was to start Drew Brees at quarterback. Later in the day, the Saints made it official.

By listing Brees as probable with a right shoulder injury, the Saints have declared that Brees is a virtual certainty to be available for normal duty.

Some still believe that “probable” means that a player is only 75-percent likely to play. It doesn’t. While “questionable” means 50-50 and “doubtful” pegs the percentage at 25, “probable” is as close to 100 percent certain as a guy can be.

So look for Brees to suit up and play on Sunday night, as the Saints try to avoid falling to 0-4 and running their home losing streak to seven games.

It won’t be easy, even without quarterback Tony Romo playing for the Cowboys. But the Saints typically perform well in prime time at the Superdome, and this could be their last chance to keep pace with the Falcons and Panthers, both of whom could be 4-0 by the time the Saints game starts.

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Week Four injury report roundup

Andrew Luck AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week Four of the 2015 season.

Jets vs. Dolphins (in London)

The Jets will wait until Sunday to make a call on wide receiver Eric Decker (knee), but cornerback Darrelle Revis (knee) and running back Chris Ivory (groin) are both expected to play. Guard Willie Colon (knee) and tight end Jeff Cumberland (concussion) are both out. Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert (hamstring) is expected to miss the game after being listed as doubtful. Tight end Dion Sims (concussion) is out and it will be game-time decisions for tight end Jordan Cameron (groin) and running back Jonas Gray (calf).

Texans at Falcons

The Texans will reveal Sunday whether left tackle Duane Brown (hand) and running back Arian Foster (groin) make it back to the lineup. Quarterback Ryan Mallett (chest) is probable after three limited practices and safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee), linebacker Akeem Dent (hamstring) and running back Jonathan Grimes (knee) have all been ruled out. Safety Ricardo Allen (knee), running back Tevin Coleman (ribs), wide receiver Devin Hester (toe) and tight end Jacob Tamme (concussion) have been ruled out for Atlanta, but linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) is expected back in the lineup.

Giants at Bills

Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) has a shot of returning to the lineup after getting a questionable tag. Defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), tight end Jerome Cunningham (knee) and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) have all been ruled out. The Bills have several players ruled out as well. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs), running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring), guard John Miller (groin), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) and safety Aaron Williams (neck) will all miss this weekend’s action.

Raiders at Bears

Oakland will go into Soldier Field without defensive end Benson Mayowa (knee), cornerback Keith McGill (foot) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (calf). Safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) is questionable. Tackle Jermon Bushrod (concussion, shoulder) has been ruled out by the Bears, who will wait to decide if quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring) and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) will play.

Chiefs at Bengals

The Chiefs are in good shape after playing on Monday night. Wide receiver Albert Wilson (shoulder) is questionable and four players are probable. The Bengals have decent health as well. Safety George Iloka (ankle) is doubtful while defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (knee) and cornerback Adam Jones (elbow) are questionable.

Jaguars at Colts

Jacksonville continues to be banged up with wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), guard Brandon Linder (shoulder), defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee), running back Denard Robinson (knee) and tight end Julius Thomas (hand) all ruled out of the lineup. Safety Sergio Brown (calf) is doubtful to play, so the list will likely grow on Sunday. The Colts listed quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) as questionable after a week of limited practices and the arrival of Josh Johnson on the roster. Tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle) is questionable after missing last week and cornerback Greg Toler (neck) remains out.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion) will miss his third straight game for the Panthers. Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ankle), guard Amini Silatolu (ankle) and tackle Daryl Williams (knee) have also been ruled out, but running backs Jonathan Stewart (tibia) and Mike Tolbert (groin) are both probable to play. The Buccaneers didn’t rule out cornerback Johnthan Banks (knee), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), center Evan Smith (ankle) or tight end Luke Stocker (hip), but all are doubtful to play. Running back Doug Martin (knee, quadricep) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (shoulder) are both questionable after practicing on Friday.

Eagles at Redskins

Linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) was ruled out by the Eagles during the week and defensive linemen Taylor Hart (shoulder) and Cedric Thornton (hand) will join him on the sideline. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring) and left tackle Jason Peters (quad) are all questionable to play. The Redskins ruled out cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker Perry Riley (calf), but they hold out hope that cornerback Chris Culliver (knee, questionable) will be able to play.

Browns at Chargers

Cleveland ruled out defensive end Desmond Bryant (shoulder), linebacker Craig Robertson (ankle), linebacker Scott Solomon (ankle), running back Robert Turbin (ankle) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (concussion) on Friday. Safety Tashaun Gipson (groin) is questionable and cornerback Joe Haden (ribs, finger) is probable for Week Four. Guard Orlando Franklin (ankle) is out, tackle King Dunlap (concussion) and center Chris Watt are doubtful and guard D.J. Fluker (ankle, chest) is questionable, so the Chargers are going to be scrambling on the offensive line. Safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), cornerback Craig Mager (hamstring) and linebacker Tourek Williams (foot) are also out this week. Tight end Ladarius Green (concussion) and cornerback Jason Verrett (foot) have been listed as questionable.

Rams at Cardinals

Safety Maurice Alexander (groin) and defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) will miss the game for the Rams. Running back Chase Reynolds (knee, doubtful) is expected to join them. Running back Andre Ellington (knee) is questionable to return for the Cardinals, but wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) is out.

Vikings at Broncos

The Vikings will be without wide receiver Charles Johnson (ribs) and Jarius Wright (hand) may leave them even thinner at the position after being listed as questionable. Cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder), safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) and defensive end Justin Trattou (foot) have also been ruled out, but cornerback Xavier Rhodes (concussion) is expected to play. Rookie left tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) is out for Denver and tight end James Casey (knee) and linebacker Todd Davis (ankle) are both questionable.

Packers at 49ers

The Packers will be without right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) again this week, and cornerback Demetri Goodson (hamstring) and linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring) are likely to join him after drawing doubtful tags. Wide receiver Davante Adams (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) are both questionable. The 49ers aren’t expected to have tight end Vernon Davis (knee, doubtful), but don’t have other pressing injuries on the active roster.

Cowboys at Saints

The Cowboys will remain without defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) again this week, but Jeremy Mincey (concussion) is expected back after missing last week’s game. Guard Ronald Leary (groin) is also expected back for Dallas. The Saints plan on starting quarterback Drew Brees (shoulder) and also listed safety Jairus Byrd (knee), linebacker Dannel Ellerbe (toe) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) as probable. Guard Jahri Evans (knee) was ruled out for the second straight week.

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NFL confirms no fine for Mark Barron

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t think the hit he took from Rams safety Mark Barron on Sunday was dirty. The NFL agreed.

The league office has confirmed that Barron will not be fined for the hit on Roethlisberger.

The NFL adopted rules protecting quarterbacks from getting hit in the knee after injuries suffered by Carson Palmer and Tom Brady. But Palmer and Brady had already thrown their passes when they were hit and injured their knees. Roethlisberger still had the ball when Barron hit him.

Maybe next offseason the NFL will expand the rules once again, to provide further protection to quarterbacks’ knees. But right now, the league office is OK with Barron’s hit on Roethlisberger.

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NFL investigated possibility Roethlisberger was using cell phone

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers uses his phone as he is up on the pdium during Super Bowl XLV Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots fans aren’t the only ones who noticed Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger using what appeared to be a cell phone device during Thursday night’s game against the Ravens. The NFL noticed, too. And the NFL looked into the situation.

Via Tom Curran of CSN New England, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said league operations employees took a photo of the thing Roethlisberger was handling.

The team and the league separately have told PFT it was a wristband with the team’s offensive plays on it. While still images have raised suspicions of cell phone use, the several seconds of CBS video (starting with 2:58 left in the second quarter) show an item that is curved and appears to be laminated on top.

In fairness to those who suspect foul play, Roethlisberger seems to be looking around after shoving the thing back in his sweatshirt, almost as if to see whether anyone saw what he had been doing. However, it seems clear at this point that he wasn’t using a phone in violation of league rules during a game.

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NFL considering a game in Germany or Mexico next year

San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals - October 2, 2005 Getty Images

The NFL will continue to play multiple games in London every season, for many years to come. But London is not the only foreign market the NFL wants to capture.

Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that the NFL is considering the possibility of playing in Mexico or Germany in addition to three or four games in London in 2016.

If the game is in Mexico, it will be in Mexico City, where the NFL had a 2005 regular-season game that drew more than 100,000 fans. If the game is in Germany, where the league had a small but loyal fan base for the now-defunct NFL Europe, there are options of playing in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt or Hamburg.

“We feel confident in what we’ve learned in the U.K. to where we can look at adding a game and applying the model into another market,” said Mark Waller, who is spearheading the league’s international efforts. “In the next few weeks, we’ll decide on adding an extra game, going somewhere else, or both. We feel good about the U.K., but the idea of moving forward with other countries is attractive, too.”

The NFL is already so popular in the United States that it’s hard to imagine it getting much bigger. If the league is going to continue to grow, it’s going to grow in other countries. And the league is committed to making that happen.

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Andrew Luck not at practice, Colts close to a rare substitution

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The Colts have been fortunate to know who was under center for them for most of the last two decades.

But it’s very uncertain at the moment who will be taking snaps for them Sunday.

Via Mike Chappell of, Andrew Luck was not out with the other quarterbacks at the start of practice Friday. He was limited both Wednesday and Thursday with a shoulder injury.

If he can’t go, the Colts would start veteran Matt Hasselbeck, who hasn’t started a game since Nov. 4, 2012. They signed journeyman Josh Johnson today since they were carrying only two on the active roster going into the week.

It was also be a speed bump in what has been a mostly smooth road for the Colts.

Other than the lost season of 2011 following Peyton Manning’s neck surgery, the last time the Colts had to make a switch at quarterback because of health was Nov. 9, 1997, when an injury to Paul Justin led to Kelly Holcomb starting against the Bengals.

Roll those two names and that date around in your head for a minute, and realize how fortunate that franchise has truly been to have fallen into Manning and Luck.

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Steelers: Roethlisberger wasn’t using a phone on the sideline

Ben Roethlisberger, John Harbaugh AP

In the post-#DeflateGate NFL, Patriots fans are looking for any and all evidence of other teams breaking the rules. On Thursday night, they thought they’d found some.

The CBS broadcast of the Ravens-Steelers game showed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger using what some thought was a smart phone. According to the Steelers, it wasn’t.

Team spokesman Burt Lauten tells PFT that Roehtlisberger was consulting his black, plastic wristband that contains the play calls for the game. Roethlisberger kept the wristband in his sweatshirt, removing the device throughout the game to examine it.

The explanation meshes with the images from the game. Besides, with the use of cellphones prohibited on NFL sidelines during games (even if they’re being used solely to block people on Twitter), common sense suggests that no one would be using one so blatantly and obviously during a game.

If any team understands this, it’s the Steelers. Four years ago, former Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu was fined $10,000 for using a cell phone during a game. The fine was overturned on appeal, based on the explanation that Polamalu (who had left the game in question with concussion-like symptoms) was simply calling his wife to tell her that he was fine.

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Alfred Morris spends his pregames hanging out with stadium staff

Alfred Morris AP

NFL teams are huge operations that include not only the high-profile players, but also low-profile employees like janitors and secretaries and groundskeepers and parking lot attendants. Most of the time, the players are put on a pedestal, and the low-paid workers know they’re not supposed to bother the millionaire athletes.

And then there’s Washington running back Alfred Morris, who regularly interacts with the staff at FedEx Field. And that doesn’t just mean he’ll stop for a minute to sign an autograph or take a selfie. As detailed by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, Morris gets to every home game early so he can spend significant time hanging out with the stadium staff, getting to know them, talking to them as if their contributions to the franchise are every bit as important as his, and then joining them in a pregame prayer before he heads to the locker room and they head off to sell popcorn or show fans to their seats.

“I mean, I’m a person just like anybody else. You’re a person; I’m a person; but just because I play a game, they elevate me,” Morris told Steinberg. “I’m a normal, everyday person; I just happen to play football in the NFL. . . . I ain’t no better than the next person. That’s just the way I look at life, man. In God’s eyes, we’re all equal, so why should I act like I’m better than anybody else when I’m not?”

Morris has been spending time with the people he calls his “Stadium Fam” since his rookie year, and now they’re used to catching up with him on Sunday mornings just like any two co-workers chitchat before work.

“My first reaction was, ‘Dang, this is Alfred Morris.’ You know what I’m saying?” a 45-year-old stadium worker named Campbell McKenneth said. “But seeing how cool and relaxed he was in talking to us, it made us feel cool and relaxed and easy talking to him.”

Morris has long been known as a good guy who isn’t impressed with himself, doesn’t much care for the trappings of fame and fortune in pro football, and rides his bike to practice. Add his pregame ritual to the list of reasons that Morris is a special player.

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Michael Vick: That last pass will haunt me

Michael Vick, Daryl Smith AP

Steelers quarterback Michael Vick threw an incomplete pass intended for Antonio Brown on Pittsburgh’s last offensive play, a fourth-and-1 in overtime. After the Ravens kicked the game-winning field goal on the subsequent possession, Vick had a hard time getting over the pass he missed.

That last pass will haunt me for a long time,” Vick said. “Antonio had a step.”

Vick has been in the NFL a long time, but he said the loss was among the most painful of his career.

“Probably one of the toughest losses of my career,” Vick said.

Vick showed off some of his old mobility, gaining 33 yards rushing, but he also failed in an attempt to run for a first down on fourth-and-2, and he was sacked four times. He averaged less than five yards a pass, gaining 124 yards through the air while completing 19 of 26 passes. Overall, it was the kind of game teams typically expect to get from a backup quarterback. Which is why the Steelers hope Ben Roethlisberger gets healthy as soon as possible.

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Josh Scobee: I just have to move on

Josh Scobee AP

The Steelers turned to kicker Josh Scobee twice in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Steelers and twice he missed field goals that would have extended Pittsburgh’s lead beyond three points.

That left the door wide open for the Ravens to tie the game before the end of regulation and those misses for 49 and 41 yards meant there was no way the Steelers were going to try a 50-yarder in overtime. They couldn’t keep the drive going, leading to Justin Tucker’s game-winning kick for Baltimore, and Scobee said after the game that he would have welcomed the chance at redemption.

“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Scobee said, via USA Today. “I wanted to redeem myself, but I didn’t get it. I understand it. I just have to move on.”

Moving on emotionally may be what Scobee meant, but moving on physically may be what Scobee does after a game that left him feeling “like I let the team down.” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked after the game if the team would make a change at kicker and he said the team has to “turn the stones over” to “find ways to win games” after Scobee’s misses played a major role in Thursday’s blown lead and loss.

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Justin Tucker 52-yard field goal gives Ravens first win in OT over Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01: Ryan Jensen #66 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with Justin Tucker #9 after Tucker kicked a 42-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in the 4th quarter taking the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers into overtime at Heinz Field on October 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Justin Tucker’s 52-yard field goal in overtime possibly saved the season for the Baltimore Ravens in a somewhat improbable 23-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

The Ravens seemed to have blown several opportunities to get their first victory of the season. A failed fake field goal try, Joe Flacco being stuffed on a 4th-and-1, a four-and-out with three minutes to play while trailing by a field goal all seemed to be leading toward a fourth straight loss for Baltimore.

However, Josh Scobee missed two field goals late that gave Baltimore a chance for a tying field goal at the end of regulation. Tucker’s 42-yard field goal with three seconds left tied it at 20-20 and sent it to overtime.

The Steelers could have given Scobee another chance in overtime from 50 yards out to win the game. Instead, Mike Tomlin elected to go for it on 4th-and-1 and an errant pass from Michael Vick to Antonio Brown fell incomplete and give Baltimore the chance for a game-winning drive.

Scobee has now missed four of his 10 field goal attempts this season after coming to Pittsburgh in a trade from Jacksonville prior to the start of the season.

If you’re a fan of well-coached games, this one was not for you.

The Steelers called a quarterback sweep with Michael Vick on 4th-and-2 prior to Scobee’s second miss that would have given Pittsburgh the first down needed to run out the clock. Then in overtime, the Steelers decided to put the game in Vick’s hands instead of Le’Veon Bell, who had 129 yards and a touchdown on the night.

The Steelers led 20-7 in the third quarter after a 9-yard touchdown pass from Vick to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Baltimore quickly responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive to close the gap. Flacco connected with Kamar Aiken for a 15-yard touchdown to close the gap to 20-14.

Justin Forsett had 150 yards on 27 carries for a Baltimore running game that had been stagnant through the first three weeks. Flacco finished with 189 yards with a touchdown and interception for the Ravens.

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Two missed Josh Scobee field goals allow Ravens to send game to overtime

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01:  Jordan Berry #4 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds for Josh Scobee #8 as he kicks a 45-yard field goal during the 1st quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on October 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missed two field goals from 49 and 41 yards in the fourth quarter that left the door open for the Baltimore Ravens to rally for the tying field goal to send the game to overtime.

Scobee had two chances to extend the Steelers lead and force the Ravens to need a touchdown in the closing minutes of Thursday night’s game. Instead, Scobee yanked both attempts wide left.

Justin Tucker’s 42-yard field goal with three seconds remaining tied it at 20-20 and sent the game to overtime.

Scobee, acquired in a trade from Jacksonville, has now missed four of his 10 field goal attempts on the season. He’s also missed an extra point through four games.

Regardless of the outcome, the Steelers may be looking for a new kicker for next week.

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Steelers, Ravens quickly trade scores to open second half

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01:  Mike Vick #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass in the 1st quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on October 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers quickly turned a turnover into points to extend their lead against the Baltimore Ravens.

On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Cameron Heyward sacked Joe Flacco and knocked the ball loose. Ross Cockrell managed to scoop the ball up and drag his feet in bounds to secure possession for Pittsburgh.

Michael Vick – starting in place of an injured Ben Roethlisberger –  scrambled for a first down on 3rd-and-long to move the chains. Vick then connected with Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 9-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 20-7 lead.

The Ravens quickly responded to avoid the game getting away. Justin Forsett broke free for a 33-yard gain to move into Pittsburgh territory. Flacco then capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Kamar Aiken as the Ravens went 80 yards in six place and just over three minutes of game time to close the gap to 20-14.

It was a critical response for a Ravens team looking to avoid an 0-4 start to the season.

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Le’Veon Bell gives the Steelers a lead

Ben Roethlisberger, John Harbaugh AP

The Steelers will have to win by running the ball while Ben Roethlisberger is out. Fortunately, they have Le’Veon Bell.

Bell ran to his left, reversed field and ran to his right before turning upfield and scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. Bell, who got a nice block from Mike Vick, gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead.

The Steelers’ defense also firmed up after the Ravens’ early touchdown drive. Pittsburgh sacked Joe Flacco three times in the first half.

This won’t be a high-scoring game with Vick running the show, but the Steelers will like their chances if Bell keeps running and their pass rush keeps getting to Flacco.

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Vick looks rusty, Steelers miss tackles as Ravens take early lead

Joe Flacco AP

In his first start as a Steeler, Michael Vick is looking like a guy who’s still learning the Pittsburgh offense.

That’s no surprise, as Vick joined the Steelers late in the preseason and hasn’t had a lot of time to work with the starters. But it’s a concern in Pittsburgh. Vick is throwing short and safe passes, and not doing anything to make the Ravens worry about him beating them downfield.

A bigger concern for the Steelers, however, may be that their defense is missing tackles. Arthur Moats and Will Allen both tried and failed to tackle Baltimore’s Michael Campanaro, who took a handoff on an end-around and turned it into a nine-yard run for the game’s first touchdown.

The Steelers need Vick to play better, and they need their defense to tackle better.

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Martellus Bennett: NFL is risking my feet over my shoe color

Martellus Bennett, Tony Jefferson AP

The NFL has strict rules about the colors a player’s shoes can be, and players who violate those rules are subject to fines. Bears tight end Martellus Bennett says the NFL’s uniform police are a danger to his health.

According to Bennett, the NFL is fining him for refusing to wear white shoes. But he says his Jordan brand shoes are a necessity because they’re the only shoes that have helped with his history of foot injuries, and the shoes he wears only come in black.

“They get mad because my cleats are too black but they’re perfect for my feet,” he said. “I feel like they’re supposed to protect the players. I have a certain shoe that feels the best for my foot. I’ve had foot problems over the last two years. They fine me because they’re too black and they don’t make them in white.”

Bennett says he’s “pissed off at the NFL,” and that he needs to save his money for more important things than paying fines.

“I’ve got a kid at home,” he said. “She’s smart, too, so I’m gonna have to pay for Harvard or something.”

Maybe some day she can design football shoes that both protect players with foot problems and conform with the NFL’s desired color scheme. But until that time, the league should chill out about shoe color and let Bennett wear the pair that’s best for his own feet.

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DeMarco Murray feeling better, not sure about Sunday

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptk1zgjlowqzotu1zwuyotmyowq2yzjmntzkmwi1mjgw AP

The Eagles won their first game of the season last weekend without the help of running back DeMarco Murray, who was left on the inactive list because of a hamstring injury.

Murray appears to be trending in the right direction to return to the lineup this week. Murray was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and said his hamstring felt better than it has in the last few days after going through the workout. Murray wasn’t ready to declare himself a go for this weekend, saying that there are still a few days to make that decision and that he felt close to playing last weekend before deciding he wasn’t ready.

“I felt that it definitely wasn’t quite right,” Murray said, via “I didn’t want to do anything to set myself back or hurt the team and kind of be selfish and go out there and not be myself. Ryan [Mathews] and [Darren] Sproles definitely took care of the load. I felt that they were better to do that job last week than I was.”

If Murray does play (wherever the game takes place), he’ll be trying to find more running room than he did in the first two weeks while running for 11 yards on 21 carries. Mathews had more success against the Jets, but coach Chip Kelly said that he’s not planning any changes to the way the team deploys its backs once Murray returns to the lineup.

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