Published on August 22, 2014
PHILADELPHIA — Back at home, Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles got back on track. Foles threw one touchdown pass and led the starting offense to three first-half scores in a 31-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night. Steelers running backs Le’Ve- on Bell and LeGarrette Blount both played one day after they were arrest- ed for marijuana possession shortly before Pittsburgh (1-2) traveled to Phil- adelphia (1-2). Eagles All-Pro running back LeSe- an McCoy left the game with a right thumb injury after a 22-yard TD catch gave Philadelphia a 7-0 lead. X-rays on McCoy’s thumb were negative, but he didn’t return. McCoy showed no effects of a toe injury that forced him to miss one practice earlier in the week. The Eagles’ first-team offense had only one touchdown on six drives in road losses to Chicago and New England. But this was more like last year’s offense that set several fran- chise records. Foles was 19 of 29 for 179 yards and threw one interception. He led the offense to 17 points and 251 total yards before giving way to Mark Sanchez in the third quarter. Starting wide receiv- ers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper played their first game together, com- bining for nine catches for 68 yards. The Steelers couldn’t get going against Philadelphia’s first-team defense. Ben Roethlisberger tossed a 27-yard TD pass to Heath Miller in the third quarter against the backups. Around the NFL Marrone upset by Bills lack of practice discipline: At Pittsford, N.Y., Bills coach Doug Marrone blew up at his players on Thursday, sending a message that he’s fed up with too many fights and post-whistle shoving matches during practice. Marrone cleared the field during the middle of a team drill and ordered players to run sprints after several of them exchanged shoves. That included receiver Marquise Goodwin pushing down rookie cornerback Sam Miller from behind. Chiefs LB Mays to have wrist sur- gery: At Kansas City, Mo., the banged- up Kansas City Chiefs suffered another blow Thursday when linebacker Joe Mays was told he would need surgery on the wrist he injured last weekend at Carolina. Mays, who was expected to start alongside Derrick Johnson at inside linebacker, will likely have the procedure later this week, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Colts owner’s trial on DWI charges postponed: At Noblesville, Ind., Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay’s trial on two misdemeanor charges stem- ming from a March traffic stop has been postponed for two months. Irsay’s trial had been scheduled for next week, but Hamilton County court records show it’s been rescheduled for Oct. 30. Irsay was arrested March 16 near his home in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel after he was spotted driving slowly, stopping in the roadway and fail- ing to use a turn signal. Foles, offense sharp as Eagles beat Steelers n It’s veteran against rising star in the coming tournament NEW YORK (AP) — Ser- ena Williams will face an up-and-coming American player in the first round of the U.S. Open. The 32-year-old Wil- liams has won 17 Grand Slam titles. At age 18, Tay- lor Townsend is in her third major tournament. Townsend is a former top-ranked junior play- er who reached the third round at the French Open this year. She got into her first U.S. Open main draw with a wild card. On the men’s side, Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic and Australian Open champ Stan Wawrin- ka could meet in one semi- final. Second-seeded Roger Federer and fourth-seeded David Ferrer are in the other half. Williams, seeking her third straight title at Flush- ing Meadows, hasn’t reached the quarterfinals at any of the first three Grand Slam events of 2014. “The way my year’s been going, I’m worried about every single match,” she said after Thursday’s draw ceremony. If she makes the quar- terfinals, she could meet eighth-seeded Ana Ivanovic, who beat her at the Aus- tralian Open. Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova could await in the semifinals. Kvitova, though, has always struggled at the year’s last major tourna- ment, never even reaching the quarterfinals. After she won her first Wimbledon title in 2011, she lost in the first round at the U.S. Open. Kvitova could face two- time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka in the round of 16. Azarenka lost to Williams in the finals at Flushing Meadows the last two years but is seed- ed just 16th after an inju- ry-plagued season. Kvitova and sev- enth-seeded Eugenie Bouch- ard could play a rematch o their Wimbledon final in the quarters. S. Williams vs. Townsend in Open First round B2 Post Register Friday, August 22, 2014 SPORTS don Marshall and Ran- dall Cobb somewhere in between, the NFC North could probably field a Pro Bowl offense all by itself. The Packers, Lions and Bears all ranked in the top eight in the league in total yards, and even the Vikings with their per- sistent quarterback prob- lems finished 13th, higher than five playoff teams. For this division to again produce a true championship-caliber team, keeping those key players healthy all year is the first prerequisite. Then the defenses must get bet - ter. If not, and this sea- son looks a lot like the last, well, the games are bound to be entertaining with all those big-play guys throw- ing, running and catching the ball. Here are some things to know about the NFC North this year: IN CASE OF INJURY, CALL … When the pre- viously infallible Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone, the dynamic of the division changed. The Packers were just barely good enough to survive his absence and beat the Bears in the final week, which served as a play-in game for the NFC playoffs. That was quite the feat consider- ing they lost Cobb, outside linebacker Clay Matthews, left tackle Bryan Bulaga and several other starters for mul- tiple games. The injuries transcended all three Wisconsin borders. Josh McCown helped the Bears withstand quarter- back Jay Cutler’s torn groin, but the defense lost Henry Melton, D.J. Williams, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman for a total of 38 games. Johnson wasn’t the same Megatron for the Lions, miss- ing two games and fighting knee and finger trouble that prompted offseason procedures. Peterson had a similar letdown with the Vikings, spraining his foot in December and needing sur- gery on his groin in January. PICKED THE PACK, DID PEPPERS: The Packers made a rare splash in free agency by signing eight- time Pro Bowl pick Julius Peppers, who played the last four years with the Bears. Peppers, whose 119 career sacks are the third most among active players, is making the transition from the traditional 4-3 defensive end to the 3-4 scheme at age 34. He could, though, provide a valuable boost to a defense that sagged down the stretch last year. “I’m looking forward to not only proving to myself that I can do it, but proving to the outsiders who don’t think I can do it,” Peppers said. MORE DEFENSE SPENDING: One spot ahead of Peppers on the active player sacks list is Jared Allen, who also switched NFC North rivals by leaving the Vikings for the Bears. Like Peppers, Allen at 32 is past his prime at a speed-based position. But the five-time Pro Bowl pick, too, will be eager to prove he’s not done as a dominant pass rusher. The Bears were tied for last in the league in sacks last year and gave up the second-most points, fewer than only the Vikings. “Everybody sees the ability and what we have on paper. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. You’ve got to go out and … make it happen,” Allen said. BRIDGE TO BRIDGEWATER: The Vikings have a new coach in Mike Zimmer and a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, though the first-round draft pick from Louisville has been behind veteran Matt Cassel on the depth chart since he arrived. Cassel played well enough last season after Christian Ponder lost the job to give the Vikings confidence in him until Bridgewater is ready to take over — wheth- er that’s this September, next September or some- where in between. “I think Teddy’s going to be a great player,” Zimmer said. the North, just the way they go about the game is a little different from some teams across the league,” Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. Defending champi- on Cincinnati has under- gone the fewest offseason changes, aiming for a fran- chise-record fourth straight trip to the playoffs. The Steelers and Ravens have adjusted their rosters, but stayed with their overriding philosophies. And then there’s Cleve- land, where the only thing that hasn’t got lost in the shuffle is the nonstop los- ing. Some things to watch in the AFC North this season: THE DOMINANT DIVISION: No other division has sent as many teams to the playoffs over the last six years. A dozen teams reached the postseason over that span, two more than any other division. The North’s streak of five straight years with multiple playoff teams ended last season. Northerners have reached the Super Bowl three times over that span, claiming two titles. Last year was the first time since the 2009 season that the North didn’t get at least one playoff victory. ANDY’S TIME: No quar- terback in the division will be under more scrutiny than Andy Dalton, who has been as good as it gets during the regular season, and at his very worst in the playoffs. The Bengals gave him a six-year contract extension even though he’s 0-3 in the postseason. He fell apart during the second half of a 27-10 play- off loss to San Diego last season. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990, tied for the sixth-lon- gest streak of futility in league history. “The guys have stuck with me from the time that I’ve been here,” Dalton said. “I had to earn their respect at the beginning and now I feel like I have their respect. Yeah, the (playoff) game didn’t go how we wanted it to. I was a big part of the rea- son why we lost.” LET BEN BE BEN: The Steelers went 6-2 down the stretch to stay in play- off contention last season before finishing 8-8, missing out on the postseason for the second year in a row. The Steelers gave two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger more freedom in a no-huddle offense during the late surge and will be looking for more of the same. Only seven players were left from their last Super Bowl title team when they opened camp. “There is a sense of urgency,” said receiver Lance Moore, one of the newcomers. “We know 8-8 is not what this organization is all about. This organization is about competing for champi- onships and we’re going to be willing to do whatever it takes to get back to that.” RUN, RAVENS, RUN: The Ravens had one of those miserable Super Bowl follow-up seasons. After beating San Francisco for the Lombardi Trophy after the 2012 season, they lost linebacker Ray Lewis to retirement, then won only eight games as their offense fell apart. Joe Flacco threw 19 touchdowns and 22 intercep - tions while getting sacked a career-high 48 times. Ray Rice managed only 660 yards as the Ravens finished 30th in rushing — last in yards per carry. Baltimore brought in Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator. Rice will miss the first two games under suspension for his arrest on a domestic violence charge. Kubiak has Flacco mov- ing around more in the pocket, but it’s the running game that will decide wheth- er the Ravens can shake off their only non-playoff season since coach John Harbaugh took over in 2008. “There’s no doubt about it, we’ve got some weapons out there,” Flacco said. From Page B1 NFC From Page B1 AFC players getting together, it rubs off on your team.” Bonneville returns four starters this season, but even if it returned all of its starters, the Bees like- ly would have been a heavy underdog against the Eagles. Bonneville be turning around under Arm- strong, but the9452 Bees are nowhere close to the level of a top-100 team in the country. And this is exactly why Armstrong fought to play Bingham last year and Valor Christian this year (the Eagles will also host Bonneville in 2015). Armstrong believes Highland is the only team on Bonneville’s schedule that even approaches the caliber of Valor Christian. For his team to get to that level, he believes his play- ers need to see that qualit of football firsthand. “When the kids came of the bus at Bingham last year and they saw those kids, they’re like, ‘Wow, we need to get in the weight room,’ ” Armstrong said. Bonneville starting quarterback Brad Smith was asked what he thought as he watched the Valor Christian players get of their bus Thursday. Smith acknowledged how tough the Eagles will be tonight, but he shifted his focus toward the dinner his team would have with Valor Christian on Thursday eve- ning. The game wasn’t his only concern. “We’re going to make some friends, too,” he said. FOOTBALL From Page B1 TENNIS NFL NOTEBOOK Andy Kropa / Associated Press Tennis player Serena Williams attends the Delta Open Mic with Serena Williams event Wednesday in New York. Matt Rourke / Associated Press Philadelphia Eagles’ Riley Cooper (14) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers’ William Gay (22) during the first half of Thursday’s preseason game in Philadelphia.