Patriots

AFC: Bell, Steelers run over Ravens 26-9 in first-place duel

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AFC: Bell, Steelers run over Ravens 26-9 in first-place duel

BALTIMORE - The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got their offense running. The wait continues for the Baltimore Ravens.

Le'Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns, and the Steelers beat the Ravens 26-9 on Sunday in a duel for first place in the AFC North.

Though held to a touchdown over the final 30 minutes, Pittsburgh (3-1) mounted enough of an attack before halftime to earn its first win in Baltimore since 2012.

Coming into the game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked to identify the problem with a Pittsburgh offense that had produced only six touchdowns in 12 quarters.

"The quarterback needs to play better," he said.

Roethlisberger went 18 for 30 for 216 yards and a touchdown. Bell did more than his share, carrying the ball 35 times to help the Steelers amass 381 yards in offense.

The Ravens (2-2), meanwhile, looked every bit like the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL. Baltimore trailed 19-0 at halftime, generated only 154 yards through three quarters and stumbled through a second straight game with only one touchdown.

Joe Flacco completed 31 of 49 passes for 235 yards, was sacked four times and intercepted twice.

Baltimore closed to 19-3 in the third quarter after an interception by Ravens safety Eric Weddle. The turnover occurred only after a challenge by Baltimore coach John Harbaugh overturned the original ruling of a catch and a tackle.

After Pittsburgh's Chris Boswell missed a 44-yard field goal, Alex Collins promptly ran for 50 yards to set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Mike Wallace. The Ravens went for 2, made it, then lost the points after a replay showed Terrance West's elbow hit the ground before the ball made it to the end zone.

In the fourth quarter, on a fourth-and-12 from the Pittsburgh 47, Flacco was picked off by Mike Hilton with 5 1/2 minutes left, launching a rapid exit by many of the fans.

That led to Bell's second 1-yard touchdown run with 2:26 to go.

The Steelers' first drive of the game covered 84 yards, lasted nearly 10 1/2 minutes and ended with a 30-yard field goal.

Boswell made it 6-0 with a 49-yarder midway through the second quarter after Roethlisberger connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster for 19 yards on a third-down play.

A fumble by Collins set up a touchdown run by Bell, and Roethlisberger threw an 11-yard TD pass to Smith-Schuster for a 19-point cushion.

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Report: Bortles receives 3 year, $54m contract extension

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Report: Bortles receives 3 year, $54m contract extension

The Jaguars had plenty of talent last season, especially on defense.

But question marks remained due to some of their offensive players.

Could Blake Bortles play well enough to support the strong play of the Jacksonville defense?

He delivered this past season and helped bring the team to the AFC Championship. 

Now he will be in Jacksonville for several years to come.

According to a report from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Bortles and the Jags have agreed to a new 3-year contract worth $54m. 

Adam Schefter of ESPN confirmed the extension, adding that Bortles can earn up to $66.5m with incentives. The contract includes $26.5m guaranteed. 

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Anyone care to interpret this Rob Gronkowski tweet?

Anyone care to interpret this Rob Gronkowski tweet?

As he contemplates retirement to either become a wrestler or an action movie hero, Rob Gronkowski appears to be contemplating more than that.

OK, that's great. So, are you coming back to catch to touchdown passes from Tom Brady or not? 

Not quite as easy to translate as Gronk's famous "pay cut" tweet from spring 2016, is it?

The tweet doesn't shed much light on it and whether the retirement talk is for real or a "contract ploy", the Gronk question looms over the Patriots' offseason as much as the Malcolm Butler mystery. It's actually more impactful since Butler's days in Foxboro are over. Are Gronk's?

As NBC Sports Boston Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it this week: 

They can’t just sit with their hands folded in their laps and wait until Gronk gets around to deciding. They need to know is he in or is he out? Or if he’s completely ambivalent, at which point, would trading him be a horrific idea?

"...your destiny will be not just be reached, it will just be starting." Hmmm. 

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