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Steelers rally from 17-point deficit to beat Bengals — again

Published: Monday, December 04, 2017 @ 10:04 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 12:41 AM

A.J. on penalties

The Cincinnati Bengals playoff hopes ended much the way their last playoff game did, with a blown lead in the rain, under the lights against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game on a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown to Antonio Brown with 3:51 remaining, and they won it 23-20 on a Chris Boswell 38-yard field goal as time expired.

»RELATED: Steelers Shazier leaves game with serious injury

It was the seventh consecutive win for Pittsburgh, which improved to 10-2, while the Bengals fell to 5-7.

It also was the Steelers’ sixth consecutive win against the Bengals and the ninth in the last 10 as they improved to 15-2 at Paul Brown Stadium against Marvin Lewis.

»RELATED: Bengals legend Esiason weighs in on Marvin Lewis, Andy Dalton

The result wasn’t the only thing typical of a Bengals-Steelers clash, as hard hits, injuries and penalties defined the night.

The teams combined for 234 penalty yards, and both squads saw starting linebackers leave on backboards on a cart. Pittsburgh’s Ryan Shazier suffered a back injury on a hit against Cincinnati wide receiver Josh Malone early in the first quarter.

And the Bengals lost Vontaze Burfict to a head injury on a penalized hit by Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.

The Bengals also lost running back Joe Mixon to a concussion and cornerback Adam Jones to a groin injury, which he suffered while intercepting Roethlisberger on the opening drive of the game.

The turnover led to a 35-yard field goal by Randy Bullock, which was followed by touchdown passes of 9 and 15 yards from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green to give the Bengals a 17-0 lead.

But the Steelers got a 30-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to start their comeback.

Roethlisberger added a 35-yard touchdown pass to Le’Veon Bell on the team’s first drive of the third quarter.

Rookie linebacker Jordan Evans pushed Bell toward the boundary from behind, while cornerback William Jackson stood and watched. Bell managed to stay in and go untouched over the final 20 yards.

The Bengals appeared to answer with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Green, but Bernard was called for holding on Pittsburgh defensive end T.J. Watt.

It was one of 13 penalties for a franchise record 173 yards, the final 5 of which made Boswell’s game-winning field goal even shorter when Josh Shaw jumped offsides.

Cincinnati still managed to get a 41-yard field goal out of the drive after converting on third and 17 when Dalton hit Brandon LaFell for 27 yards to the Steelers 40.

Boswell got the Steelers back with a score on a 37-yard field goal with 10:07 remaining. The kick was set up by a 30-yard pass interference penalty on Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

The Steelers held the Bengals to 13 yards in the fourth quarter and drove 39 yards in eight plays for the game-winning field goal.

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Reds third baseman Suarez returns from disabled list

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 10:47 AM

The Reds' Eugenio Suarez runs to third base during a game against the Cubs on Monday, April 2, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
The Reds' Eugenio Suarez runs to third base during a game against the Cubs on Monday, April 2, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez returned from the disabled list and to the lineup Thursday afternoon for the finale of a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park.

» MCCOY: Riggleman shows he’s ‘old school’

Suarez suffered a broken right thumb when he was hit by a pitch April 8 in Pittsburgh. He missed 16 games.

“I feel so excited to be back this quick,” Suarez said. “I feel great right now. I’m a little nervous, but I think it’s normal. I’ll be all right. I feel good. My thumb has no pain at all, so that’s why I’m here today.”

» SPORTS TODAY: NFL Draft drama gets early start

Suarez made two rehab appearances with Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday and Wednesday. He went 1-for-5.

The Reds also called up infielder/outfielder Rosell Herrera, 25, from Triple-A. He will make his big-league debut when he plays. The Dominican Republic native hit .311 in 15 games with Louisville.

To make room on the roster for Suarez and Herrera, the Reds optioned Phillip Ervin and Cliff Pennington to Louisville.

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Sports Today: NFL draft day drama gets an early start

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

Ohio State's Nick Bosa tackles Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff
Ohio State's Nick Bosa tackles Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff(HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff)

Hey there, how’s your NFL draft day going so far? 

Good, I hope. 

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was dominating the morning news cycle as I sat down to write this, and there were two pretty good reasons: 

First, he totally nailed recreating a classic Brett Favre draft day photo. 

Second, he apparently could be the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Cleveland Browns. 

This is a fascinating development because I like Mayfield a lot, and I think he could be a really good NFL quarterback. 

He’s got that chutzpah that likely will either cause him to soar once he hits the league or crash and burn spectacularly. 

That attitude could be good for a Browns franchise that lacks swagger outside of its live-dog mascot, but taking him No. 1 kind of works against conventional draft wisdom. 

Of course, that might not be a bad thing, especially for a franchise that has drafted so poorly. 

RELATED: Can the Browns go wrong with the No. 1 pick?

Mayfield has the ability to star in the NFL, but he might be the least talented of the top five quarterbacks in this draft, too. 

That’s notable because teams typically use their high first-round picks to maximize raw talent on their roster. 

Then again, there is risk involved in taking any of the five quarterbacks, so maybe getting the guy with the best intangibles makes sense… 

As the Cincinnati Bengals season circled the drain in December, I began hoping Mayfield would be the guy their next coach would want to replace Andy Dalton. 

Of course, they somehow righted the ship late in the season, inexplicably retained Marvin Lewis as head coach and committed to keeping Jon Kitna 2.0 as the starter so all that is out the window. 

I still believe — even with Dalton the definite starter this season — Lamar Jackson would be the best pick they could make at No. 21. That would allow them to develop him slowly until he becomes either Dalton’s replacement or a very valuable backup/trade chip. 

I don’t pay a lot of attention to mock drafts, but I have seen more than one pairing Arkansas center Frank Ragnow with the Bengals at No. 21. 

That would be a very strong pick as far as need and value in that slot… 

Meanwhile, the NBA playoffs continue to provide nightly entertainment.  

LeBron James is still doing everything he can to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers into round two. 

He came up with decisive plays on both ends of the floor in the last 30 seconds last night, blocking* a Victor Oladipo layup then canning the game-winning 3-pointer. 

(*It might have been goal tending, but I am guessing LeBron shoots a 3 at the end either way so I’m not sure it matters.) 

Later in the evening, the Rockets eliminated the Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook scored 45 points to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder alive in their series against Utah. 

The Jazz blew a 25-point lead but still are on top in the series 3-2. 

Right now all four second-round matchups look pretty intriguing, assuming the Raptors and Cavs take care of business… 

College basketball also made news yesterday with the publishing of a report suggesting various reforms the NCAA should institute. 

I wrote about this yesterday from the perspective of how the model of getting from high school to the pros could change

Perhaps I should have gotten more into the things that were left out, but I knew all the writers out there who are smarter and more progressive than I am and thus hate everything about the NCAA would cover compensation and whatnot, so I didn’t feel the need. 

In an interview with The Athletic, committee chair Condoleezza Rice answered concerns about the current compensation model pretty well. 

“What we wanted to say is there is a value proposition at the heart of the collegiate model that is different from the professional model. That value proposition is, you get to play. You get to hone your sport. You get the best coaching. You get nutrition. You get all of those things and most importantly, you get a college degree, which by the way will give you earning potential a million dollars over a non-college graduate over your lifetime; will give you contacts and mentoring that will serve you well the rest of your life; and, oh by the way, you get it for free as opposed to the kid down the hall who’s taking down loans and working 20 hours a week to get what you can get.”

Defending just about any aspect of the status quo on social media is frowned upon, but that is no excuse for letting so many ignore the many good things that come with the current system (despite its flaws). 

If the whole system were nuked and turned into another minor league, I think a lot of people would be disappointed with the result and more athletes (not to mention fans and local economies) would be worse off than would see real benefits, so I applaud Rice for taking this stance and for spelling out those benefits that are often overlooked... 

Continuing to let Brandon Finnegan work through things in the major leagues continues to hurt the Reds. 

Manager Jim Riggleman might have pulled him too soon in a 5-4 loss to the Braves last night, but it’s hard to blame him for having little trust in the hittable lefty. 

After missing almost all of last year because of multiple injuries, Finnegan pitched only 5.1 inning in spring training and hasn’t been very good in any of his starts since the regular season began. 

Otherwise, his presence in the rotation makes complete sense. 

Anyway, now that the offense is putting up enough runs to provide the bullpen with leads to blow, it feels like the season has finally started for the Reds… 

If you’re wondering about starting pitching in Triple-A, Robert Stephenson is 1-2 with a 2.95 ERA in four starts. He has struck out 20 in 21.1 innings, but he has also walked 17. 

Justin Nicolino, a late-spring acquisition, is 1-1 with a 3.0 ERA while Jose Lopez and Jackson Stephens both have ERAs over 5.0… 

Finally here’s a bit of breaking news this morning: Dunbar officials have admitted they messed up in their fight to get back into the boys’ basketball tournament in March. 

All that means is the Wolverines shouldn’t have been allowed to play in a sectional final game they won over Fenwick, fellow-DPS member Thurgood Marshall got a raw deal by not being allowed to play that game and DPS wasted public money fighting the OHSAA in court. 

Oh, and Dunbar is banned from next year’s tournament, too. 

What a disgrace. 

Obviously the players who were involved in the fight that started all this in January bear some blame, but this is another example of adults letting them down. 

How long will that be allowed to continue? 

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5 things to know about the NFL draft

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:52 AM

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27:  Members of the military march on stage prior to the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: Members of the military march on stage prior to the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)(Elsa/Getty Images)

The 83rd NFL draft is this week in Arlington, Texas. 

Here is what you need to know before the league’s annual talent grab kicks off: 

1. Round one is Thursday night, and fans will have more viewing options. 

For the first time, the entire draft will be available on broadcast television as Fox will simulcast the NFL Network’s coverage of rounds 1-3 on its broadcast channel. ABC will simulcast ESPN’s coverage of rounds 4-7. 

Along with the traditional broadcast on ESPN, the College GameDay crew will provide a “college-themed viewing option of round one” on ESPN2. 

The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday night and the rest of the draft will be held Saturday. 

2. Quarterbacks will dominate the storylines even more than usual. 

Josh Allen of Wyoming, Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Lamar Jackson of Louisville are all in the mix to be taken in the first round. 

The last time five quarterbacks were taken in the first round was 1999, when the Browns took Tim Couch out of Kentucky with the No. 1 pick and the Bengals selected Akili Smith out of Oregon two picks later. 

The most QBs taken in one draft is six (1983). 

Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett explains what he has been doing since the NFL Scouting Combine, how his workout in Cincinnati went and more.

3. The Cleveland Browns will pick first for the second year in a row. 

Last year, they went with Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. 

This time they are expected to pick a quarterback, though they could go with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. 

The Browns pick again at No. 4, so they could end up with the PSU star and their quarterback of the future.  

4. The Cincinnati Bengals pick 21st. 

The Bengals traded down from the 12th slot to get offensive lineman Cordy Glenn from the Bills. 

That helped address a glaring need in Cincinnati, and team officials say it makes picking addressing a need and picking the best player available easier rather than having to choose one or the other. 

RELATED: 7-round mock draft

They might go for another offensive tackle, address the overall team speed on defense or perhaps take a center. 

5. Ohio State will be heavily involved again. 

Eleven Buckeyes were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine with Denzel Ward, Billy Price and Sam Hubbard considered the best available prospects

Ward and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer are scheduled to be at the draft. 

If Ward chosen in the first round, Ohio State would become the first school in the common draft era (since 1967) to have five defensive backs selected in the first round over a three-year span. 

One of the potential storylines to watch Saturday: Will anyone take a flier on J.T. Barrett

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Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber loves hitting in Ohio

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 11:01 AM

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 24:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammates after a win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 24, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cubs defeated the Indians 10-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 24: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammates after a win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 24, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cubs defeated the Indians 10-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber clubbed two home runs as the Chicago Cubs beat the Indians 10-3 in Cleveland on Tuesday night. 

The Middletown native raised his season batting average to .302, the highest it has been since the first of the month. 

After slumping in the first week fo the season, he seems to have found his stroke, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise he would do major damage in Cleveland. 

After all, Progressive Field is the place he became a World Series hero two years ago when he came back from knee surgery to lead the Cubs to their first championship in 108 years. 

RELATED: Doubtful Cubs win World Series without Kyle Schwarber’s heroics

Last season didn’t go so swimmingly for Schwarber, who hit only .211 in 2017 and spent some time in the minors trying to find his swing. 

He always seems to have a good time hitting against teams from his home state. 

Schwarber is a .500 hitter at Progressive Field and has a .421 batting average overall against the Indians. 

He’s done even more damage against the Reds, who reportedly were set to pick him out of the University of Indiana four years ago if the Cubs hadn’t latched onto him first. 

Schwarber has batted .330 with a 1.018 OPS against the Reds. He has seven homers and 20 RBIs in 25 games against Cincinnati. 

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