Steelers, Patriots win preseason games

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 13, 2021

By DAN GELSTON

AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dwayne Haskins got advice from his QB coach to play like a jazz player.

Smooth.

“Jazz is real smooth. The blues. You bop your head, snap your fingers,” Haskins said.
Haskins hit all the right notes in his push for the backup quarterback spot, throwing for 161 yards and a touchdown to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 24-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.

Ben Roethlisberger sat out Pittsburgh’s second preseason game. Mason Rudolph has been the team’s backup for the past three seasons and just may keep that job. Haskins, though, is giving Rudolph a bit of a push in his attempt at winning the backup spot.

Haskins threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Johnson. Pittsburgh also got a 1-yard scoring run by Anthony McFarland.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Haskins was “very much in command of his play.”

“We need to see more,” he said. “We need to see more of him. We need to see more of everybody.”

That includes Roethlisberger. Tomlin said Roethlisberger will play against Detroit in the third preseason game.

Haskins, Washington’s 2019 first-round draft pick, said quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan gave him the jazz player advice. Haskins said he’s “still learning, still trying to figure out the guys.” Haskins, who said he’s having his most fun since he starred at Ohio State, knows the next step is taking snaps with the first team against the first-team defense.

“If that happens, I just want to be ready for it,” he said. “If I get that opportunity, I want to make the most of it.”

The Steelers got a boost during the game when they agreed to acquire linebacker Joe Schobert from the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because neither side had formally finalized the deal.

The Steelers needed depth at inside linebacker following the surprise retirement of veteran Vince Williams just before training camp. Williams’ departure left Pittsburgh with Devin Bush and Robert Spillane as starting inside linebackers and little experience behind them.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni made his debut on the sideline, replacing Doug Pederson. Pederson was fired in January, less than three years after he led the Eagles to the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.

Sirianni turned 40 in June and is Philadelphia’s youngest head coach since Dick Vermeil in 1976. This was his first game in charge at any level,

“It felt like business as usual. I’ve just added a few titles,” Sirianni said.

He has a young QB leading the way in Philly. Jalen Hurts played two series and was a modest 3 of 7 for 54 yards. He hit tight end Zach Ertz over the middle for 34 yards and had receivers drop passes on his next two attempts.

Hurts, a second-round draft pick last year, was 1-3 with an injury-depleted team that finished 4-11-1. He completed 52% of his passes for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions. He also ran for 354 yards and three TDs.

Hurts has not officially been made the starter, even though he took every first-team snap in practice and got the preseason start.

“I wanna complete every pass, throw a TD every time I’m on the field, so the competitor in me is like, damn, but it was a good day,” Hurts said. “I could be more efficient. I’m never satisfied.”

Joe Flacco, who threw 25 touchdown passes against the Steelers in his 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, hit Quez Watkins for a 79-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead. Flacco, signed to play behind Hurts, was 10 of 17 for 178 yards and the touchdown.

Jake Elliott kicked two 47-yard field goals and a 50-yarder for the Eagles.

Nick Mullens, Philadelphia’s third QB, had a pass picked off by Justin Layne in the third quarter. Jaylen Samuels scored from 1-yard to give the Steelers a 21-16 lead.

CALL TO THE HALL

Offensive linemen Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas are this year’s selections for the Eagles Hall of Fame. They will be inducted Oct. 14, when the Eagles host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Runyan and Thomas started a franchise record 134 regular-season games together from 2000-2008.

During that stretch, they helped lead the Eagles to seven playoff appearances, five division titles, five conference championship game appearances, and a berth in the Super Bowl.

NEXT UP

Pittsburgh returns home Aug. 21 and plays Detroit.
The Eagles host the Patriots next Thursday.

Stevenson has 2 TDs, Jones solid as Pats beat WFT 22-13

By KYLE HIGHTOWER

AP Sports Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson had two touchdown runs, including a 91-yard score with just over a minute to play to help the New England Patriots beat Washington 22-13 to open the exhibition season for both teams Thursday night.

Quinn Nordin had three field goals for the Patriots, including a 50-yarder. Joejuan Williams had the play of the night for the New England’s defense, picking off Steven Montez early in the fourth quarter to set up Stevenson’s first TD. Stevenson finished with 10 carries for 127 yards.

“Fundamentally I thought we made some progress, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

New England led 15-7 in the fourth quarter before Montez took Washington on a 15-play, 92-yard drive he capped with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Miller with 1:25 left.

Montez appeared to complete a 2-point conversion pass to Antonio Gandy-Golden. But a booth review overturned the call. Stevenson then got free down the sideline on the third play of New England’s ensuing series to put away the game.

All eyes were on the quarterback position for New England, with Cam Newton entering training camp looking to rebound from a disappointing 2020 campaign and cement his spot as the starter after the Patriots used a first-round draft pick on Mac Jones.

Belichick has said Newton is his starter. But it was Jones who had the better preseason debut. The rookie completed 13 of 19 passes for 87 yards in five series, spreading the ball around with confidence after he took over for Newton late in the first quarter.

Newton, who shared a field with Washington coach Ron Rivera for the first time since they were together in Carolina from 2011-2019, played the opening two series and finished 4 of 7 for 49 yards.

“(Jones) came to me and we talked it out about just his expectations,” Newton said. “He wants to be so perfect and I see his preparation is always pristine and that’s what I admire about him. … For him and today’s performance he’s just going to keep getting better. And we’re gonna be here for each other along this whole process and that’s what we’re here for.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick had a short night in his debut for Washington, playing just two series before Rivera went to Taylor Heinicke. Fitzpatrick made the most of his limited work, going 5 of 8 for 58 yards. It included a 22-yard pass to Terry McLaurin on the second play of the game and a 24-yarder to Logan Thomas during Washington’s second series.

Heinicke was 9 of 15 for 86 yards. Peyton Barber had a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Result aside, Rivera was pleased with his team’s first outing of the season.

“I like what we got from our first offensive line. It looks like Logan is picking up where he left off,” Rivera said. “The running game seemed to click pretty well. There were a lot of things we’re gonna be feeling good about.”

EARLY ACTION

Newton has been the most consistent quarterback in Patriots camp thus far but looked indecisive at times as Washington’s defense applied pressure.

He started shaky, going three-and out after misfiring on his first two throws. It included one pass battled away by defensive end Chase Young after he blew past left tackle Isaiah Wynn and hit Newton from behind as he released the ball.

After Dustin Hopkins missed a 40-yard field goal, Newton got New England moving. Given much more time to operate in the pocket he linked up with Jakobi Meyers on an 11-yarder, found Jonnu Smith on a crossing route for 16 yards, and James White for 17 yards along the sideline.

But the drive stalled after a holding call on Smith and the Patriots settled for a 35-yard field goal by Nordin. The 2020 starter, Nick Folk, sat out the week of practice for undisclosed reasons.

Jones took over on the Patriots’ third series, getting a huge ovation as he trotted onto the field.

He came out firing, throwing passes on three of the first four plays. Jones completed a nice 7-yard pass to Kristian Wilkerson on third-and 5, followed by a 13-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne.

Two short runs by Sony Michel later, Jones lofted a ball into the end zone perfectly over the shoulder of Wilkerson. But Wilkerson couldn’t haul in what would have been a 34-yard touchdown.

The drive ended with Nordin’s 50-yard field goal.

INJURIES

Patriots CB Myles Bryant left in the fourth quarter after being shaken up, but was able to jog off the field.

NEXT UP

Washington hosts the Bengals on Aug. 20.
The Patriots visit the Eagles on Aug. 19.
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