Patriots

AFC: Antonio Brown's big day helps Steelers beat Browns, 21-18

brown_steelers_09017.jpg

AFC: Antonio Brown's big day helps Steelers beat Browns, 21-18

CLEVELAND -- Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to tight end Jesse James as the Pittsburgh Steelers, with minimal help from Le'Veon Bell, opened the season by holding off the Cleveland Browns 21-18 on Sunday.

Roethlisberger improved to 21-2 in his career against the Browns, who gave their rivals all they could handle - a positive sign for coach Hue Jackson and Cleveland fans after a horrid 1-15 season.

But the Browns couldn't stop Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown, who made a leaping catch in traffic for 38 yards with 2:26 left to seal Pittsburgh's win. Brown finished with 11 receptions for 182 yards.

Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer had pulled the Browns within three on a 3-yard TD pass to Corey Coleman followed by a 2-point conversion.

With Pittsburgh needing a big play, Brown delivered one - as usual.

Roethlisberger lobbed his deep pass near Pittsburgh's sideline toward Brown, who went up over Browns defensive back Jason McCourty and hauled in the game's biggest catch. Jackson challenged the call, but it held up after a video review and the Steelers improved to 32-6 against the Browns since 1999.

Roethlisberger passed for 263 yards.

The Browns have lost 13 straight openers. Cleveland's defense played well despite not having top overall pick Myles Garrett, who injured his ankle earlier this week.

Bell, who skipped training camp in a contract dispute, ran tentatively and gained just 32 yards on 10 carries. He rejoined his teammates last week and signed his $12.1 million franchise tag, far less than he feels he deserves.

The Steelers scored their first TD on a blocked punt and sacked Kizer seven times. Two of the sacks were by rookie T.J. Watt, the younger brother of Houston star J.J. Watt, who also had an interception in a memorable debut.

Kizer had some nice moments, and a few where his inexperience showed. He finished 20 of 30 for 222 yards, but was guilty of holding onto the ball too long and put himself at risk with a few runs.

His biggest mistake, though, came in the third quarter when he misread coverage and threw to an area where Watt was waiting.

The Steelers had taken a 21-10 lead on Roethlisberger's second TD strike to James in the third quarter.

Kizer, the 27th different quarterback to start for Cleveland since 1999, scored his first career TD on a 1-yard sneak with 22 seconds left in the first quarter to tie it 7-all.

Pittsburgh caught a lucky break on the way to taking a 14-7 lead late in the first half.

On second down at his 11, Roethlisberger fired a pass over the middle that was tipped by linebacker Joe Schoebert and deflected directly to Brown, who caught it and zig-zagged his way for 50 yards. A few plays later, Roethlisberger threaded his TD pass to James.

The half ended with Joe Haden, recently cut by the Browns after seven seasons before signing with the Steelers, sacking Kizer.

UP NEXT:

Steelers: Host Minnesota on Sunday.

Browns: Travel to Baltimore Sunday.

NFL Rumors: Patriots have spoken with WR Terrelle Pryor

NFL Rumors: Patriots have spoken with WR Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor is ready to attempt an NFL comeback, and the New England Patriots apparently have expressed some interest in giving him a shot.

The 31-year-old quarterback-turned-wide receiver last played in 2018 when he spent two games with the Buffalo Bills and six with the New York Jets. Last November, he suffered serious injuries to his shoulder and chest in a stabbing incident that put his career in jeopardy.

With that scary event behind him, Pryor has resumed working to get back onto the field and he says he has been in contact with five NFL teams -- namely the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

"Those two are very intriguing," Pryor told TMZ Sports. "Especially Cam [Newton]. I've been a big fan of him throughout the years ... And, obviously, Big Ben [Roethlisberger], that's my hometown of Pittsburgh, so that's just two teams that I really want to play for."

"I can still play," Pryor added. "And, I can still make plays and dominate. I know that."

Watch below:

It's been a while since Pryor has been a productive receiver. His most notable season came in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns, when he hauled in 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.

It wouldn't hurt the Patriots to bring in Pryor on the cheap, especially since they recently created major cap space. New England's wide receiver depth chart is a bit thin heading into training camp with Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N'Keal Harry, Marqise Lee, Damiere Byrd, and Jakobi Meyers currently on the squad among others who will compete for roles on the 53-man roster.

Ex-Panthers player says Cam Newton with Bill Belichick is 'terrifying'

Ex-Panthers player says Cam Newton with Bill Belichick is 'terrifying'

A healthy Cam Newton at quarterback is an exciting thought for New England Patriots fans, but a "terrifying" one for players across the league.

Newton clearly has a chip on his shoulder as he returns from an injury-plagued 2019 to compete for the Patriots' starting job. The 2015 NFL MVP already has posted multiple hype videos and social media posts emphasizing his motivation as he begins his new chapter.

If Newton indeed is at full strength in 2020, that could spell trouble for the rest of the league. New York Jets guard Greg Van Roten, who spent five years with Newton on the Carolina Panthers, explained on SiriusXM NFL Radio why Newton joining forces with head coach Bill Belichick could be a serious problem for opponents.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

"It's definitely terrifying to think if Cam Newton's healthy and he's in Belichick's offense, you know, in my division, it could be a long year for the other teams, because he's a game-changer," Van Roten said. "He came into the league, you know, he's a league MVP, brought a team to the Super Bowl – he's just built differently than a lot of quarterbacks. And he's a headache to game plan for.

"So when he's healthy, you can stop the run from him, but then you gotta defend the pass. If you can stop the pass, well then you've got to account for the run. So, it's basically, pick one thing and he'll do the other. And then you couple him with Belichick, who only cares about winning and Cam really wants to prove himself, so it's definitely a recipe for disaster for the rest of the league if they can figure it out."

Watch the full clip below:

Newton still will have plenty to prove once training camp comes around, but the three-time Pro Bowler has wasted no time getting up to speed with the Patriots offense. Last week, Newton posted a photo of himself studying the Pats' playbook and also spent some time working out with second-year wide receiver N'Keal Harry.

With a motivated Newton ready to learn under arguably the greatest head coach of all time, it's easy to see why opposing teams are petrified of what the duo can accomplish together.