GROBBER’S NFL WEEK FOUR PICKS


 

AFC GAMES: NYJ over Jax,BALT over Pitt, Cin over CLEVE, HOUST over Tenn, DENV over Oak
NFC GAMES: DAL over LA Rams, TB over NY Giants, ARIZ over S Fran
INT-CONF GAMES: N.Orl over MIA(at London), N.ENG over Car, ATL over Buff, Phil over LA Chargers
SUNDAY NIGHT: SEAT over Indy
MONDAY NIGHT: KC over Wash
NFC NORTH GAMES: MINN over Det,  GB over Bears
HOME teams in ALL CAPITALS

Bears stun Steelers 23-17 on Jordan Howard’s 19 yard TD run in OT

Jordan Howard scored on a 19-yard run in overtime to lead the Bears to a 23-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.Howard’s winning score came two plays after rookie Tarik Cohen broke off an electric run for what appeared to be a 73-yard game-winning touchdown. But he was ruled out at the Pittsburgh 37. Howard took over from there, and the Bears (1-2) came away with a surprising victory.Howard had 138 of the Bears 220 yards rushing, making up for a lackluster performance by quarterback Mike Glennon.The Steelers (2-1) stayed off the sideline for the national anthem in the wake of President Donald Trump’s comments that players who kneel in protest should be fired. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva – an Army veteran – stood near the tunnel with his hand over his heart.Once the game ended, they found themselves in a familiar spot – losing to a lesser team and losing in Chicago, where they are 1-13 against the Bears.Last year, Pittsburgh won its first two games before getting beaten 34-3 by Philadelphia, which finished with a losing record. In 2015, the Steelers were surging toward a playoff spot, when they lost late in the season to a Baltimore team that finished 5-11.Despite the victory, Glennon did nothing to stop the calls for No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky, throwing for just 101 yards with a touchdown and interception.Marcus Cooper committed an inexplicable fumble after the Bears blocked a field goal in the closing seconds of the half. With a clear path to the end zone, he slowed down and had the ball poked away at the 1.But the Bears won for just the first time in nine September games over three seasons under coach John Fox.Ben Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown had 110 yards receiving and a touchdown. And Le’Veon Bell ran for 61 yards and a TD for Pittsburgh.The Steelers’ J.J. Wilcox picked off a pass thrown behind the Bears’ Zach Miller at the Bears 21, leading to a tying field goal by Chris Boswell midway through the fourth quarter.The Bears led 17-7 at halftime following a wild sequence in the closing seconds that included Cooper’s fumble after Sherrick McManis blocked a 35-yard field goal. After Cooper slowed down, the Steelers’ Vance McDonald knocked the ball out of his hands at the 1.With the ball bouncing in the end zone, holder Jordan Berry swatted it out the back with his right hand.The officials initially ruled a touchback. Bears coach John Fox argued, and after a lengthy review, the ball was placed about a half yard from the goal line.The Bears lined up to go for the touchdown but settled for a field goal after left tackle Charles Leno Jr. got flagged for a false start.Kyle Long started at right guard for the Bears after being sidelined since Nov. 13 because of a right ankle injury.Long had been taking snaps at left guard in training camp before the Bears shut him down. But he was back at his more familiar position with RG Josh Sitton sidelined by a rib injury. Cody Whitehair started at left guard, with Hroniss Grasu at center.

Irish blast Spartans 38-18 in E.Lansing

EAST LANSING—Brian Lewerke threw toward the left side of the field and Julian Love broke to the ball.Love intercepted the pass and had open field in front of him, scoring on a 59-yard return in the first quarter that gave the Irish a comfortable early lead in their 38-18 victory over Michigan State on Saturday night. Notre Dame was outgained but never trailed. The Irish took control by forcing three crucial turnovers in the first half.Brandon Wimbush threw for a touchdown and ran for one for Notre Dame, and Dexter Williams caught a touchdown pass and ran for a TD. Deon McIntosh added a scoring run for the Irish (3-1).It was the first time Michigan State (2-1) went an entire regular-season game without leading in over five years.MSU hadn’t allowed an offensive touchdown through its first two games, but Notre Dame put an end to that run by driving 78 yards in 1:55 on the game’s first possession. Wimbush opened the scoring with a 16-yard run, and then Love picked off Lewerke’s pass and ran it back to give the Irish a 14-point advantage.

”We got the pick-six and got up 14-0, then we were able to control the football a little bit,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ”Then when you get a lead on the road, I thought that Brandon Wimbush did a really good job of controlling the offense. And then again I think like everything else, if you take care of the football, which we did today, good things happen.”

Lewerke broke free for a 52-yard run on what looked like a simple quarterback sneak on third-and-1. That set up his 4-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Stewart. But in the second quarter, Lewerke fumbled while trying to scramble out of trouble on third down, giving Notre Dame the ball at the Michigan State 24. Wimbush threw an 8-yard TD pass to Williams to make it 21-7.

 
 “The interception was just a bad decision. On the fumble I’ve got to keep the ball tucked in,” said Lewerke, who threw for 340 yards and two TDs. ”The fumble shouldn’t happen. The interception shouldn’t happen, either.”

The Spartans were still very much in the game, but they couldn’t overcome their next giveaway. LJ Scott was about to score when Notre Dame cornerback Shaun Crawford forced a fumble and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.Williams scored on a 14-yard run to give Notre Dame a 28-7 halftime lead.Crawford intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in a win at Boston College last weekend.The last time Michigan State went a whole regular-season game without leading was Sept. 15, 2012, in a 20-3 loss to Notre Dame.The Irish rushed for 515 yards in that win over Boston College. Michigan State provided more resistance, but Notre Dame still showcased a balanced running game and avoided mistakes. It was a poised performance on the road in a tough environment.

GROBBER’S NFL WEEK THREE PICKS

 

AFC GAMES: Balt over JAX(at London), Mia over NY JETS, N.ENG over Hou, INDY over Cleve, K.City over LA CHARGERS, Denv over BUFF
NFC GAMES: PHIL over NY Giants, CAR over N.Orl
INT-CONF GAMES: Seat over TENN
THURSDAY NIGHT: SF over L.A.Rams
SUNDAY NIGHT: Oak over WASH
MONDAY NIGHT: Dal over ARIZ
NFC NORTH GAMES: T.Bay over MINN, Atl over DET, GB over Cin, Pitt over BEARS
HOME teams in ALL CAPITALS.

Bears turnovers lead to Bucs big win

 

 

 

 

TAMPA—So much for the notion that a Hurricane Irma-imposed layoff might hinder the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Bears.Jameis Winston and Co. played like a team with heightened expectations in winning their season opener 29-7 on Sunday. They also looked confident, fully capable of ending a long playoff drought.

”Complementary football at its finest,” the third-year quarterback said. ”Defense played phenomenal. Offense had great drives, eliminated the three-and-outs, and eliminated turnovers.”

Winston threw for 204 yards and one touchdown, the Bucs’ defense stymied former teammate Mike Glennon with four turnovers, and the sloppy Bears (0-2) didn’t get into the zone until Deonte Thompson scored on a 14-yard reception with 1:43 remaining.

”Basically, not a good day at the office,” Bears coach John Fox said. ”I think any time you go out and have four giveaways in the first half, it’s not good news.”

The Bucs (1-0) dominated despite having a short week of practice following the massive storm that forced postponement of the team’s scheduled season opener at Miami.The team joined the Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars in wearing ”ONE FLORIDA” decals on their helmets Sunday. First responders who’ve worked tirelessly in the aftermath of Irma were among special guests in the announced crowd of 56,640 at Raymond James Stadium.

”We had a chip on our shoulder. … We wanted to be a pick-me-up for our fans, definitely the cities around the Tampa Bay area,” Winston said. ”It was fun out there. The crowd was electric, and we tried our best.”

Winston completed 18 of 30 passes without an interception. He threw a 13-yard TD pass to Mike Evans, who had seven catches for 93 yards.Glennon, who signed as a free agent last winter, was 31 of 45 for 301 yards and two interceptions in his return to the city where he played for the first four years of his career . The Bears finished with 310 yards total offense, 1 yard less than a Bucs offense that hasn’t had much work in the past month.By the time he lined up to face the Bears, Winston hadn’t taken a snap in a game in three weeks. Eight regulars, including Evans, receiver DeSean Jackson, linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, hadn’t seen game action in a month.The Bucs insisted, though, that they would not use rustiness as an excuse if they had a less-than-sharp debut. The way the Bears played, the layoff never had a chance to become an issue.After opening the season with a solid performance in a 23-17 loss to defending NFC champion Atlanta , the Bears turned over the ball four times in the opening half, helping Winston build a 26-0 halftime lead.If the Bears had an advantage entering the game, it figured to be Glennon’s knowledge of the Tampa Bay defense. The fifth-year pro faced it in practice every day the past four seasons, the last two as Winston’s backup.And while the Bears did have some success moving the ball, the barrage of turnovers was too much to overcome.Glennon’s first-half miscues led to two touchdowns. Rookie Tarik Cohen’s ill-advised decision to scoop a punt off the ground and run with it deep in Bears territory set up Tampa Bay’s first TD, Winston’s 13-yard pass to Evans.Noah Spence sacked Glennon, forcing a second-quarter fumble that led to Jacquizz Rodgers’ 1-yard TD run. Robert McClain’s interception and 46-yard return up the sideline on the Bears next possession hiked the lead to 23-0.

 

Cats bounce back, cream BGSU

EVANSTON—The blowout loss to Duke didn’t leave Northwestern reeling.Clayton Thorson threw for a career-high 370 yards and two touchdown passes, Justin Jackson rushed for three touchdowns and Northwestern beat Bowling Green 49-7 on Saturday night.After a lackluster win against Nevada in its season opener and a lopsided defeat to Duke last week, Northwestern (2-1) played like the team that many predicted to be a factor in the Big Ten West division.The team had many reasons to be down after offensive stars Thorson and Jackson could get little going, and the Duke offense totaled 538 of offense against The Wildcats’ defense.

”When I walked into the locker room I didn’t feel like I was walking into a funeral. I thought the guys attitude was like, alright we just got our fanny whooped, but everything that happened in the game we can solve, but we’re going to have to do it this week in practice,” said Fitzgerald.

The Wildcats scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the first half, Bennett Skowronek caught consecutive touchdown passes from Thorson in the first half and Jackson rushed for two.

”You get knocked down like that, you kind of have one or two choices. You can pout and feel sorry for yourself or you’re going to do something about it. I think they responded,” said Fitzgerald.

After only gaining 66 rushing yards as a team in a 41-17 loss at Duke, Jackson set the tone for the offense on the Wildcats’ second possession of the game with a 5-yard touchdown run. Jackson finished with 121 yards on 18 carries.Bowling Green (0-3) freshman Matt Wilcox beat the Northwestern secondary for a 33-yard reception to set up a 20-yard touchdown run for Josh Cleveland to tie the score at seven in the first quarter.BGSU quarterback James Morgan was 15 of 26 for 166 yards. He was replaced in the fourth quarter by freshman Jarret Doege. Cleveland finished with 54 rushing yards.NU took the lead at the end of the first quarter as Skowronek ran by Falcons cornerback Clint Stephens for a 58-touchdown reception. On the next offensive play from scrimmage, Thorson connected again with Skowronek for an 18-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-7.Thorson didn’t let last week’s struggles carry over.

”You always go into a game thinking you’re going to do well, that’s the goal and if you go in timid you’re going to do poorly,” said Thorson.

Skowronek’s second touchdown was set up after Montre Hartage stripped Falcons wide receiver Datrin Guyton and Godwin Igwebuike returned the fumble for 45 yards.Bowling Green head coach Mike Jinks saw Northwestern gain total control of the game after the fumble.

”That was huge. And we have to respond better to adversity,” said Jinks.
The Falcons, who lost seven straight games midway through the season last year, is on a familiar path. Despite the lopsided score in the first half, the Falcons did move the ball. They had 197 yards of total offense and Cleveland was effective on the ground with 64 rushing yards on 10 carries. Bowling Green lost for the first time in three games with Northwestern.The Wildcats found some much needed confidence as their next opponent is Big Ten West heavyweight No. 10 Wisconsin. … Linebacker Jango Glackin was carted off the field after appearing to injure his arm on a Bowling Green punt in the third quarter.

 

Irish bounce back, wallop BC 49-20

BOSTON—Brandon Wimbush ran for four touchdowns and 207 yards – a record for a Notre Dame quarterback – and Josh Adams had 229 rushing yards on Saturday to help the Irish respond to their fall from the rankings with a 49-20 victory over Boston College.Wimbush scored on runs of 1, 2, 3, and 65 yards, setting up two other touchdowns with 46- and 32-yard runs. Adams broke free for 65- and 64-yard runs but was chased down both times by BC defensive back Isaac Yiadom.In the matchup of the only two Catholic schools in FBS – a rivalry known as the ”Holy War” – Notre Dame (2-1) led just 14-13 midway through the third quarter before scoring the next three touchdowns to beat the Eagles for the sixth straight time.After BC (1-2) was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 on the Notre Dame 30, Wimbush broke downfield for 46 yards to set up Tony Jones’ 1-yard touchdown. Adams opened the next Irish possession with a 36-yard run, Wimbush connected with Durham Smythe for 33 yards, and then two plays later the quarterback headed for the pylon to give the Irish a 28-13 lead.When Notre Dame got the ball back, Wimbush broke right and then cut back across the field, outracing the BC defense 65 yards to the end zone.Freshman Anthony Brown connected with Charlie Callinan on fourth-and-goal from the 14 for BC’s second touchdown of the game, cutting the deficit to 35-20. But Wimbush again got loose, running 32 yards to the 3.Dexter Williams ran it in from there and added a 15-yard score with 4:57 left to make it 49-20.Wimbush completed 11 of 24 passes for 96 yards, with one interception. In all, the Irish ran for 515 yards on 51 carries.Brown was 24 of 40 for 215 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.The one-point loss to then-No. 15 Georgia last week wasn’t devastating, but a loss to a Boston College team that was blown out by Wake Forest last week might have been. Coach Brian Kelly’s job is safe for another week.

NIU stunns Nebraska 21-17 with one decent offensive drive

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LINCOLN—Northern Illinois is now 4 for 5 against the Big Ten under coach Rod Carey, so if you were looking for shocked expressions after the Huskies’ 21-17 upset of Nebraska, you had to go to the Cornhuskers’ locker room.There was a bit of a been-there, done-that air about what the Huskies pulled off at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Yes, the Huskies returned for a curtain call after the game and lined up to take a picture in front of their remaining fans in the corner of the southwest end zone.But beating Nebraska isn’t what it used to be. The intimidation factor for visitors to one of college football’s great cathedrals has faded as the glory years of the 1990s become more distant.

”We feel like we can play with anyone, play ball no matter where we’re at, no matter where we go,” said cornerback Shawun Lurry, who returned the first of the Huskies’ two interceptions for touchdowns.

Jordan Huff scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard run with 8:52 left, and the Huskies (2-1) became the first team not in a Power Five conference or major independent to win in Lincoln since Southern Mississippi knocked off the Cornhuskers in 2004. They join eight other unranked-at-the-time Power Five or major independent teams to win at Nebraska since 2012.Nebraska (1-2) had two chances with the ball after NIU went ahead. But Mycial Allen broke up a pass on fourth-and-7, and Lee threw his third interception of the game, allowing the Huskies to go into victory formation with 1:36 left.

”In the grand scheme of things, it is one game,” Carey said. ”We’ve been here before in a situation like this. We’re 2-1, that’s all it means. Are we going to enjoy it for 24 hours? You bet.”

The Huskies of the Mid-American Conference led 14-0 on those interception returns before Nebraska found a semblance of offense. Nebraska was held scoreless in the first half at home for the first time since 2007.The Huskers have lost two of their first three for the second time in three years under Mike Riley. They had a close call against Arkansas State in their opener, got blown out in the first half of a 42-35 loss at Oregon last week, and now this.

”We have to prove who we are,” Riley said. ”We’ve been, I would say, inconsistent at best. That’s not even probably accurate. That’s been us, and I don’t like that.”

The stunning loss brought athletic director Shawn Eichorst to the postgame interview area, where he assured reporters that he has confidence in Riley. This week Nebraska announced it had given Riley a one-year contract extension, through the 2020 season.The Huskies came into Memorial Stadium confident they could win, and they capitalized on Nebraska’s inept offense in the first half. Add this win to the ones Northern Illinois has posted over Iowa, Purdue and Northwestern since 2013. Don’t sleep on the Huskies, who were picked third in the MAC West.

 

Illinois trounced by #22 South Florida

Illinois Fighting Illini
 

TAMPA—A big night passing for Quinton Flowers, three 100-yard rushers and another lopsided victory for No. 22 South Florida.There was plenty for Charlie Strong to like Friday night in a 47-23 rout of Illinois, but nothing resonated more than the way Flowers led the Bulls back from a Hurricane Irma-layoff.The dual threat quarterback threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, moving ahead of Matt Grothe and B.J. Daniels into second place on USF’s career touchdown pass list with 53.The 2016 American Athletic Conference offensive player of the year also scored his 32nd rushing touchdown, tying Marlon Mack’s school record.

”We can still improve,” Strong said, ”but offensively it was a major step for us. Offensively we hadn’t produced like that,” in the first two games.

The Bulls (3-0) beat a Big Ten opponent for the first time on a night USF honored first responders who worked the past week to help victims of the massive storm that impacted the entire state of Florida.

”We felt like we had a chance to give back … provide some relief for our communities, if only for a few hours,” coach Charlie Strong said.

Illinois (2-1) stumbled in what also was a homecoming of sorts for coach Lovie Smith, who returned to the stadium where he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons before being fired and accepting the challenge of rebuilding the Illini.Freshman Mike Epstein scored on a 46-yard run and a 21-yard pass from Jeff George Jr., who replaced starter Chayce Crouch in the second half.

Bear close, but no cigar against Falcons in opener

All Matt Ryan was trying to do was make something out of a broken play when he saw tight end Austin Hooper wide open near midfield.He wound up throwing a huge touchdown pass to help Atlanta squeeze out a season-opening victory.Ryan connected with Hooper on an 88-yard TD and led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, and the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons held on to beat the Chicago Bears 23-17 on Sunday.The butt of jokes following their epic Super Bowl collapse against New England, the Falcons survived as the Bears missed several chances to score a touchdown in the final seconds.

”Can we play better? Absolutely,” Ryan said. ”Are we gonna try to work on that? For sure. But we’ll take a win any day.”

The Bears had a first down at the Atlanta 5 in the closing minute. Glennon’s pass to a lunging Josh Bellamy on first down hit off the receiver’s hands, and Jordan Howard then dropped a simple catch at the 1.After another in completion on third down, Glennon got sacked by Brooks Reed to end the drive.Atlanta was clinging to a 13-10 lead early in the fourth when a scrambling Ryan fired to a wide-open Hooper near midfield. The second-year tight end from Stanford raced up the right side and stiff-armed Quintin Demps on the way to the end zone to make it a 10-point game.The Bears then went 75 yards, with Glennon hitting rookie Tarik Cohen for a 19-yard TD midway through the fourth to cut it to 20-17. Earlier Cohen had a 46-yard run on a toss that he turned back the opposite direction.Atlanta’s Matt Bryant answered with a 37-yard field goal, making it 23-17 with 3:24 left.Hooper, a second-year player from Stanford, felt like he ”lived a lifetime” as the ball approached him.

”I think I blacked out for a part of it. Then I caught it and I felt like it was almost auto-pilot.”

Ryan was nervous, too.

”When people are covered, your brain just goes off and you throw it and you cut it loose,” he said. ”Sometimes when you’re open, it can be the most difficult.”

For the Bears, it was an all-too-familiar result after going 3-13 and finishing last in the NFC North.

”It burns,” tight end Zach Miller said. ”It burns inside because it’s close. We had ample opportunity.”

Coming off an MVP season, Ryan was 21 of 30 for 321 yards and a touchdown.

Hooper had two catches for 128 yards. Julio Jones added four receptions for 66 yards receiving and Bryant kicked three field goals.

In his Bears debut, Glennon didn’t silence fans who would rather see No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky. He was 26 of 40 for 213 yards and a TD.

Cohen absorbed several big hits in an impressive debut, finishing with 66 yards rushing and 47 receiving. He reversed field on a 46-yard run, helping set up Howard’s 4-yard touchdown near the end of the half.

 

NOTES—”We could easily have been 1-0 right now standing up here. I think the enthusiasm would be a little bit different, I would think. You know, I think we’re capable of getting better as we go.” – Bears coach John Fox….WR Kevin White may be out AGAIN with a Broken collarbone which would requite season ending surgery.LG Kyle Long – coming back from right ankle surgery – was inactive. Former Falcon Tom Compton started in his place. … LB Jerrell Freeman was in the concussion protocol after the game. … RB Benny Cunningham Jr. hurt his ankle blocking on a pass play early in the second quarter….The Bears visit Tampa Bay next Sunday.