Suisham drills winner as Steelers top Eagles 16-14


Suisham drills winner as Steelers top Eagles 16-14

PITTSBURGH (AP) Backed up deep in their own territory, their slow start to the season in danger of turning into a legitimate freefall, the Pittsburgh Steelers did what they always seem to do when things get tight.

They relaxed.

Ben Roethlisberger converted a pair of critical third downs during a remarkably patient 64-yard drive over the final 6:33 and Shaun Suisham drilled a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Steelers to a 16-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the rain on Sunday.

``We had the ball last,'' Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. ``Such is life.''

It's a way of life the Eagles had grown comfortable with during the season's opening month. Philadelphia (3-2) appeared on the verge of its third one-point win of the season when Michael Vick hit Brent Celek for a 2-yard score midway through the fourth quarter.

The Steelers (2-2) started at their own 20 then promptly went backwards thanks to a holding penalty.

No biggie.

Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 20 yards on third-and-12. A 15-yard screen pass to running back Rashard Mendenhall - making his return from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee - moved Pittsburgh into Eagles territory.

Two plays later Roethlisberger found Emmanuel Sanders for an eight-yard gain and five straight runs put the Steelers well within Suisham's range. The kick was good all the way, and the Steelers avoided their first 1-3 start under Tomlin.

``I always have confidence in myself and the guys that we can do it,'' said Roethlisberger after engineering his 25th career fourth-quarter comeback. ``It's good to go down. That was everybody on that drive.''

Roethlisberger completed 21 of 37 passes for 207 yards, and Mendenhall finished with 81 rushing yards and a score while adding 20 receiving yards as Pittsburgh's beleaguered running game showed signs of life.

``Our savior is back,'' Roethlisberger joked. ``We've been teasing him all week. It was great to see him out there and he did a great job.''

Vick completed 20 of 30 passes for 175 yards and two scores but fumbled twice for the Eagles, who couldn't keep their string of narrow early-season victories going. LeSean McCoy rushed for 53 yards, and caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown for Philadelphia.

``This one is going to burn for a minute,'' Vick said.

The Eagles trailed the whole way but put together a grinding 17-play, 79-yard drive at the start of the final quarter, converting a pair of risky fourth downs, including one deep inside their own territory. McCoy turned both into first downs, twisting for the necessary yardage on fourth-and-inches at the Philadelphia 30 then bulling for two yards on fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 47.

``I don't know how I can say this humble ... we felt like we could drive on them,'' McCoy said.

Scoring, however, proved to be another matter.

``You're going to need to score more points, going to need to help our defense out a lot more,'' Vick said. ``And we tried to the best we can. Pittsburgh's a good football team; their record might not have shown it.''

The Steelers came in smarting following a 34-31 loss in Oakland two weeks ago before heading into a well-timed bye that allowed the defense to get healthy. Pittsburgh hoped the return of linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu from injury would spark a defense that looked a step slow in in the second half of losses to the Raiders and Broncos.

The reunion of the two stars didn't last long.

Polamalu left in the first quarter after re-aggravating a strained right calf and the Steelers lost outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley with a strained hamstring shortly thereafter.

Still, the Steelers prevented the Eagles from making big plays. Philadelphia's longest gain was all of 24 yards and Pittsburgh forced Vick to fumble three times - including on into the end zone that Steelers linebacker Larry Foote pounced on - and didn't let him get anything going with his legs.

``Our defense stood up today,'' said Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons. ``We really needed this win. A good team is always defined by what they do after losses.''

The in-state rivals face each other only once every four years, though things were pretty chippy. There was a considerable amount of pushing and shoving after the whistle and flow of any variety was hard to come by on a day the teams combined for 14 penalties, including nine by the Steelers.

Pittsburgh's offense found its footing first, with Mendenhall taking a lateral from Roethlisberger and dashing 13 yards for a score midway through the second quarter.

``When I stepped out there I knew I would be comfortable,'' said Mendenhall, who hadn't played since injuring the knee in a victory over Cleveland on New Year's Day. ``I just wanted to go out there and play the best that I could and I was able to do that.''

Pittsburgh made it 10-0 at the half on a 20-yard field goal by Suisham, though the Steelers missed a chance to go up two touchdowns when Jerricho Cotchery tripped going into the end zone.

Philadelphia drew within 10-7 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Vick to McCoy, setting up a dramatic fourth quarter in which the Steelers turned the tables on the Eagles.

``Things happen,'' Vick said. ``I wish I could take the fumble back on the goal line but you can't. Ultimately I think we put ourselves into a position to win this game and we didn't win.''

NOTES: Tomlin said it's too early to tell if either Woodley or Polamalu will be available for Thursday night's game in Tennessee ... The Eagles escaped injury-free according to coach Andy Reid. RB Bryce Brown left briefly with a shoulder strain while LB Mychal Kendricks went out for a bit with a sprained ankle ... The Steelers are 5-1 after bye weeks under Tomlin ... Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller had four receptions for 43 yards to become the eighth player in franchise history to top 4,000 career receiving yards ... Vick had a quarterback rating of 104.2, the 12th time he's topped the 100 mark during his time in Philadelphia ... The Eagles host Detroit next Sunday.


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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

It may be the 18th of March but today could be like Christmas for five Redskins players.

The Redskins decided to use today, four days after the start of the league year, for some contract triggers. In this case, the triggers are all 2018 salary guarantees (some teams will pay out roster bonuses on trigger dates, but the Redskins rarely use that type of structure).

Here are the players whose have guarantees that kick in today 4 p.m. All data is via Over the Cap.


CB Josh Norman, base salary of $13.5 million becomes fully guaranteed—This was a window for the Redskins to move on from Norman if they were not happy with his performance after two seasons. He is 31 and he had no interceptions last season, leaving some to wonder if the Redskins might think about releasing him. But it never was a consideration.

TE Jordan Reed, $8 million of his $8.25 million salary becomes fully guaranteed—No, I’m not sure why they are leaving that $250,000 out there non-guaranteed. Fans thought that the Redskins might move on from Reed due to his injury issues. But, as with Norman, it never was a consideration.

S D.J. Swearinger, $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—This is a mere technicality, Swearinger wasn’t going anywhere after helping to solidify the safety position.


RB Chris Thompson, $1.996 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—His rehab is going well and after last year Thompson’s two-year, $7 million contract extension signed last September looks like a good deal for the team.

DE Terrell McClain, $3.25 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—If the Redskins sign a top free agent D-lineman or draft on early in the draft they could be in a numbers crunch. That new acquisition would be guaranteed a roster spot along with Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. That makes five and the Redskins kept six last year. Ziggy Hood is a favorite of the coaching staff but he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. That could tip the sixth spot in favor of McClain if he is on the roster at the close of business today. If they release McClain after today, they would take a cap charge of over $2 million. It seems unlikely that anything will happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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