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Текущее время: 14.11.2018 22:51:00

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Pittsburgh’s drama-filled season ended shockingly. A final Jaleel Scott Jersey , forgettable act.

No shot at the Patriots. No seventh Super Bowl trophy. No tomorrow.

And when it ended following a game no one expected, Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the rest of the dejected Steelers searched to find words to describe all that had gone wrong.

This was a struggle from the start.

”It wasn’t our day,” Roethlisberger said. ”It wasn’t our year.”

Doomed by two first-half turnovers and a pair of head-scratching play calls on fourth down, Pittsburgh was stunned in the AFC playoffs by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who outslugged the Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to earn a trip to New England for next week’s conference championship.

Roethlisberger, who had wondered if he was washed up after throwing five interceptions in a loss to the Jags on Oct. 9, set a franchise postseason record with five touchdown passes but it wasn’t enough as the Steelers (13-4) couldn’t stop a Jacksonville offense that was supposedly weak.

”It’s disheartening,” said Brown, who caught two TD passes and played at his All-Pro level while battling a calf injury. ”I thought we had the right guys. As a player, you live for these moments. Now we start all over.”

As Roethlisberger dressed at one end of Pittsburgh’s locker room, a few of his teammates sat at their stalls in disbelief.

This wasn’t the plan.

Cam Heyward handled wave after wave of questions about the team’s numerous defensive lapses. Bell downplayed that his messy contract situation created an unnecessary distraction in the days leading up to the game, and cornerback Artie Burns sat in his uniform and stared blankly at the floor.

The Steelers never recovered from a 21-0 first-half deficit and are now left to wonder what might have been. Twice they got within seven in the second half only to give up back-breaking plays to the Jaguars, who rushed for 168 yards and seemed to come up with a big play whenever they needed one.

”It’s crazy that we couldn’t get off the field,” Heyward said. ”They played better than us – simple as that.”

The Jaguars had the Steelers out of step early on. After rookie Leonard Fournette’s second TD, the score set up by linebacker Myles Jack’s interception of Roethlisberger, Jacksonville was up 14-0 and Pittsburgh’s rowdy fans were using their Terrible Towels to muffle their disgust.

The Steelers seemed to panic when coach Mike Tomlin elected to go on fourth-and-inches and then inexplicably ran a sweep to Bell that got snuffed. Later, Roethlisberger threw an incompletion on fourth down when a simple sneak might have moved the chains.

”We didn’t execute well enough and they did Willie Snead IV Jersey ,” Tomlin said when asked about his decisions.

Roethlisberger went 37 of 58 for 469 yards and the five TDs, the last coming with 1 second left.

It was a sobering moment for the star quarterback who has orchestrated so many comeback wins during a 14-year career. Roethlisberger found some solace in his final throw.

”Nobody quit and that speaks volumes about this team,” he said.

Roethlisberger also dismissed any talk the Steelers were looking past the Jaguars and a rematch with the Patriots, who handed Pittsburgh its only loss in the last 11 games.

”We were dialed in,” he said. ”I know I wasn’t looking forward.”

Bell finished with 155 total yards and afterward sidestepped much talk about his contract. He was franchise tagged by the team for $12 million this season and has made it clear he wants more money.

”I wasn’t thinking about it,” he said. ”All I was thinking about was getting to the Super Bowl.”

As for his own future, Roethlisberger indicated that he intends to return next season. The 35-year-old has hinted at retirement, but that seemed far from his mind as he swallowed a loss few saw coming.

”I don’t know what’s going on with people’s contracts,” he said. ”I don’t know how many years guys have left. I know the guys up front are all under contract and that’s a good feeling. I definitely have a desire to play football. I love this game. I love these guys. It’s tough. It stings.

”You hate losing at home. I feel bad because I feel like I let the fans down and my teammates down. I feel like I let a lot of people down and I’ll take it all myself. I look forward to next year with those guys.”



The Carolina Panthers wasted little time naming a new defensive coordinator after Steve Wilks left to become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera promoted defensive line coach Eric Washington as Wilks’ replacement on Monday, just hours after the hiring of Wilks became official. Rivera said after the season that had a hunch Wilks would get a head coaching job, and was prepared in the event that it happened.

Wilks’ departure means the Panthers will enter next season with three new coordinators.

Rivera fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula two days after the season and replaced him with Norv Turner. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey was replaced by former assistant coach Chase Blackburn. McGaughey’s contract was up and he wanted to pursue other options.

It’s the second straight season the Panthers have lost a defensive coordinator to a head coaching gig.

Last year the Buffalo Bills hired Sean McDermott as their new head coach.

It’s expected that Wilks will take a few current Carolina assistants with him, including linebackers coach Al Holcomb and assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown.

Washington has served as the Panthers defensive line coach for the past seven seasons. During that span the Panthers defensive line has recorded more sacks (219) than any team in the NFL.

Washington’s defensive line has not only been productive in getting to the quarterback, but also fared well against the run. Carolina has ranked in the top six in the NFL in four of the past six seasons in run defense, including a No. 2 ranking in 2013.

Under Washington, the Panthers defensive line has featured two All-Pro selections and two Pro Bowl selections. Since 2013, a Panthers defensive lineman has earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week three times and NFC Defensive Player of the Month twice.

The Panthers defense has finished in the top 10 in defense five of the last six seasons, including four consecutive from 2012-15. Washington has been a part of a Carolina coaching staff that has led the Panthers to playoff appearances in four of the past five seasons, including a Super Bowl 50 appearance two seasons ago.



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