PITTSBURGH — The text message Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool received from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Friday couldn’t have been more direct.
“I just told him just keep doing what you’re doing and you’re going to have a big game,” Roethlisberger said.
A historic one too.
The Canadian-born Claypool scored four touchdowns, including the clincher on a 35-yard dart from Roethlisberger with 2:59 to go, and the Steelers remained unbeaten with a 38-29 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
The 22-year-old second-round pick out of Notre Dame dashed into the end zone on a 2-yard jet sweep in the first quarter, sprinted away from defenders on a 32-yard catch-and-run in the second, danced across the goal line on a 5-yard wide receiver screen in the third and finished off Philadelphia in the fourth when Roethlisberger audibled to a play Claypool had never run before, at least while lined up in the slot.
At the snap, however, the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder from Abbotsford, B.C., never hesitated, racing past overmatched Eagles linebacker Nate Gerry and into the end zone.
“We changed the play,” Roethlisberger said. “I can’t say enough about Chase getting down the middle of the field and make a play for us.”
Claypool became the first Steelers player to score four times in a game since wide receiver Roy Jefferson did it in 1968. He’s also the first rookie since at least 1950 to catch three touchdowns and add another on the ground and the first Canadian to have three receiving touchdowns in one game since Joe Rooney of the Duluth Eskimos on Oct. 23, 1927, six years before the Steelers were established and more than seven decades before Claypool was born.
“It is definitely insane, it’s crazy,” said Claypool, who hauled in seven passes for 110 yards and added 6 yards rushing on three carries. “But I don’t really like to think about breaking records or making history. It’s super cool but it’s not something I go into the game thinking ‘I’m going to try to make history today.’”
The Steelers (4-0) needed every one of them after nearly squandering a 17-point third-quarter lead while letting the Eagles (1-3-1) convert 10 straight third downs.
Carson Wentz threw for 258 yards and two scores to go with two interceptions and moved Philadelphia in position to take the lead with just over three minutes to play. Jake Elliott’s 57-yard field-goal attempt drifted right, however, and Roethlisberger turned to Claypool one last time.
Pittsburgh took over and a personal foul facemask by the Eagles pushed the Steelers into Philadelphia territory. Facing third-and-8 from the Eagles 35, Claypool — who’d had a touchdown earlier in the quarter called back due to what he called an “awful” offensive pass interference call — listened to Roethlisberger’s instructions and found himself against the smaller, slower Gerry. Next thing he knew Roethlisberger was looking his way — again — and he was in the end zone.
“You’ve got to make those plays,” Claypool said. “(Roethlisberger) is trusting you. He’s putting the ball where it needs to be. You make the plays and the trust builds faster.”
Eagles running back Miles Sanders ran for 80 yards and two scores in his return to his hometown. Travis Fulgham caught 10 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown to give Philadelphia’s injury-ravaged receiving group a needed boost but the defence forced just one punt after the first quarter and allowed the Steelers to convert 11 of 15 third downs.
“We need to get off the field and get a win,” Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said.
Despite the loss, Philadelphia remains in the thick of things in the awful NFC East, where no team has a winning record.
“We’re so close,” Wentz said. “We can get this turned around. I’m confident we will. We’re frustrated. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t where we want to be. I have confidence in the coaching staff and players to fix things and get going.”
A showdown between two of the best pass-rushing teams in the NFL never really materialized. The Steelers sacked Wentz five times to extend their streak of consecutive games with a sack to 61, the fourth longest in NFL history. The Eagles, who came in leading the league in sacks this season, only managed to take Roethlisberger down once.
Roethlisberger gave credit to both the Steelers offensive line and offensive co-ordinator Randy Fichtner, who “threw the kitchen sink” at Philadelphia in order to slow up the front seven.
“Those guys up front really got after us today, made some things uncomfortable for us, so we had to throw some different looks and different formations and reverses and personnel,” said Roethlisberger, who completed 27 of 34 passes for 239 yards and the three scores to Claypool. “And we persevered.”
Eagles: OL Lane Johnson was carted to the locker room in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Johnson has been dealing with a balky ankle all season and underwent a procedure last week to remove a cyst that had been bothering him. LB Duke Reily left in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury.
Steelers: Lost Pro Bowl left guard David DeCastro in the first quarter with an abdominal injury. Rookie Kevin Dotson filled in. WR Diontae Johnson left with a back injury and did not return getting hit awkwardly during a first-quarter punt return.
Eagles: Start a three-game homestand next Sunday against Baltimore.
Steelers: Finish a stretch of four straight games at Heinz Field when they host Cleveland next Sunday.
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Vikings trade Yannick Ngakoue to Ravens for multiple picks – Sportsnet.ca
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for draft picks on Thursday, less than two months after acquiring the fifth-year pass rusher in a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ngakoue is tied for fourth in the NFL with five sacks in six games, including two forced fumbles, but the Vikings entered their bye week with a 1-5 record and thus more incentive to focus on the future than stay competitive in 2020.
“This was an opportunity that I felt would accomplish both the short and long term as we move forward, but these decisions aren’t easy to make,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said.
With Everson Griffen gone via free agency and Danielle Hunter injured since the beginning of training camp with a potentially season-ending neck injury, the Vikings on Aug. 31 sent a second-round draft pick in 2021 and a conditional fifth-round selection in 2022 for Ngakoue. He wanted to leave the Jaguars after accumulating 37 1/2 sacks in four years and called his arrival in Minnesota “a breath of fresh air.”
The Vikings have Ifeadi Odenigbo in place at defensive end, and fourth-round draft pick D.J. Wonnum will now be in line to start at the other spot.
“What you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn’t always come true,” Spielman said.
Minutes after Spielman’s previously scheduled video news conference with reporters, NFL Network reported Hunter has decided to have surgery. The Vikings were initially hoping he’d be able to return with rest and rehabilitation, and Spielman said acquiring Ngakoue was not related to Hunter’s injury. Since then, outside linebacker Anthony Barr was also lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered on Sept. 20.
“You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don’t have, especially on the defensive side. That’s what the coaches are doing right now,” Spielman said.
With the trade deadline approaching on Nov. 3, the Vikings could try to trade some other high-priced veterans, with perhaps safety Anthony Harris, left tackle Riley Reiff or tight end Kyle Rudolph enticing another team to part with a draft pick or two. Spielman steadfastly refused to commit to a full-on rebuild.
“Our goal every week is to go out there and win football games. You have to balance out both. I still think we have a very talented team,” Spielman said.
The Vikings didn’t disclose specifics of the acquired draft selections. ESPN reported the Ravens will send a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick.
Both teams are on their bye week.
The Ravens (5-1) could use Ngakoue to enhance a pass rush that has been productive of late but could use the help. Despite getting seven sacks against Cincinnati two weeks ago, five of those came from defensive backs. Defensive end Calais Campbell was acquired via trade, also from Jacksonville, during the last off-season. He had three of Baltimore’s six sacks last week in a 30-28 win at Philadelphia, but Ngakoue ought to minimize the need to send extra rushers and allow the Ravens to generate more pressure from their front four, just as the Vikings were intending.
“A quarterback can’t throw the ball if he’s on his back. So, if you can’t get there with four, you send five. If you can’t get there with five, send six. That’s the way it goes,” pass defenceco-ordinator Chris Hewitt said.
The Ravens are fourth in the league in sacks per pass attempt.
“We are excited to add Yannick Ngakoue to our football team,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “Yannick is someone who we are very familiar with going back to the draft process years ago. He is an exciting player and a dangerous pass rusher who makes us better. Yannick grew up here. He’s the type of person we welcome in our building. Finally, we are not finished building this team, as we continue to chase our ultimate goals.”
Report: Ravens acquire DE Ngakoue – TSN
Yannick Ngakoue is on the move again.
The Minnesota Vikings have traded the defensive end to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2022.
Vikings and Ravens finalizing a trade to send DE Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Vikings initially sent 2021 second-round pick and 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to Jags. Now get most back.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 22, 2020
Through six games this season, Ngakoue has recorded 12 tackles, 5.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.
In his fifth year out of Maryland, Ngakoue was acquired by the Vikings from the Jacksonville Jaguars – with whom he spent the first four seasons of his career – at the end of August.
Virtanen signs two-year, $5.1 million contract with Canucks – NHL.com
Jake Virtanen signed a two-year, $5.1 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $2.55 million.
The 24-year old forward was a restricted free agent and avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Oct. 28. He scored 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) in 69 games with the Canucks last season and three points (two goals, one assist) in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“Obviously there’s a bright future with the Canucks organization, so many young, talented players coming in and the moves that we’ve made, I think it’s going to be just a brighter future for our team moving forward,” Virtanen said. “I’m excited to see how it all pans out and how our team’s going to do and super excited to get things going.
“[Contract negotiations] felt like a long time but obviously super excited to get this done and be back with the Canucks for two more years. Just happy to get it done and get it over with and just focus on training and skating and the whole thing, being ready to go.”
With forward Tyler Toffoli signing a four-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 12, it opened up a spot on one of the top two lines, and Virtanen is hoping he’ll get a chance to play there.
“Obviously I’d love to play top six and have a bigger opportunity, more responsibilities,” Virtanen said. “That’s what I really hope I get. I want to be able to prove that to the team and my teammates that I can play up there and be consistent every night, making sure that I can play night in and night out. It’s an opening for me to try to jump up there. I’ve got to make sure I’m coming to camp ready to go.”
Selected by Vancouver in the first round (No. 6) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Virtanen has scored 95 points (50 goals, 45 assists) in 279 regular-season games and three points in 16 playoff games.
“Jake has continued to make progress on his two-way game and remains a contributor offensively, using his speed and size to generate chances,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “We look forward to him taking additional steps in his growth this year to help our team be successful.”
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report
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