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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers has been medically cleared.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback made it official on Tuesday night, on the eve of the first practice in advance of Sunday’s game at Carolina. Rodgers made the announcement in an Instagram post after a long day of discussion with medical personnel led by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie.
One day earlier, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers underwent tests to determine how much his surgically repaired right collarbone had healed.

“It is now in the evaluation stage,” McCarthy said late Monday afternoon. “Dr. McKenzie is reviewing it. There’s a number of medical opinions that will be involved in a decision, so at this time, I do not have a clean decision for you or an update. That’s where it stands.”

The matchup with the Panthers is the first game for which Rodgers is eligible to return, according to injured reserve rules, since he broke his right collarbone against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 15, when Anthony Barr hit him and landed on him following a pass.
It had been an on-schedule recovery for Rodgers following his Oct. 19 surgery in California, where he had screws and plates inserted into his right clavicle. Rodgers was placed on injured reserve the next day, ensuring he would have to sit out at least eight games. He returned to practice on Dec. 2, the day he turned 34.

From the first time he was seen doing some drills off to the side a month ago to his first public throwing session before the Nov. 26 game in Pittsburgh to running the scout team in practice last week, Rodgers has impressed his coaches and teammates along the way. Clay Matthews even joked that Rodgers looked so good during the rehab process that the Packers shouldn’t have put him on injured reserve.

“Well if he comes back, like I’ve been saying, arguably the best quarterback in the league, back to your team, everyone is going to get better,” Matthews said after Sunday’s overtime win at Cleveland. “Not only him being out there, but also the shot in the arm as we talk about him coming back. Watching him in practice and what he’s been able to do these past couple weeks, getting more and more reps in practice and throwing on the pads, I think it’s a good sign. I’m not going to speak on his behalf, but we sure hope he’s ready and if he is, we’re going to expect the Aaron of old.”

Rodgers was off to one of his best starts before his injury at Minnesota. Through five weeks, he led the NFL in touchdown passes (13) and had thrown just three interceptions. He engineered a comeback victory in overtime to beat the Bengals at home in Week 3 and did it again with a last-minute touchdown pass to Davante Adams at Dallas two weeks later to lead the Packers to a 4-1 start.
The Packers lost at Minnesota when Brett Hundley took over following Rodgers’ injury, but Hundley won three of the next seven games to keep the Packers alive in the playoff race at 7-6.

“My No. 1 thought going into it was keep our hopes alive to make the playoffs and we’re still in it,” Hundley said.

Rodgers missed seven games when he broke his left collarbone in 2013, and the Packers went 2-4-1 in his absence. He did not undergo surgery that time and returned for the regular-season finale at Chicago, a game the Packers had to win to make the playoffs. Rodgers threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute to win the NFC North at 8-7-1.

“We’ve got a chance,” Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari said. “We know what the magic number is. We still have everything in front of us, so when he comes back, we’re in playoff football. We’ve already talked about that, and these games matter. It’s go time.”

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LOS ANGELES — The Philadelphia Eagles are concerned that quarterback Carson Wentz tore his left ACL, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Manual testing revealed that the ACL was loose. In such cases, the likelihood of a tear is high, which is why the team fears that the ligament is torn.

Wentz was seen walking inside the locker room with a heavy, black brace on his left knee. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI tomorrow in Philadelphia.

Wentz exited the Eagles’ 43-35 win against Los Angeles Rams late in the third quarter Sunday and was ruled out.

Wentz addressed fans on Twitter after the win, which clinched the NFC East and a playoff sport for the Eagles.
He came up limping after absorbing multiple hits on a touchdown run that was negated by a holding penalty. Wentz stayed in the game for the remainder of the drive, which he capped with a fourth-down touchdown throw to Alshon Jeffery that gave the Eagles the lead.
Following the series, Wentz went to the trainers tent to be evaluated, and he was taken indoors a short time later.

Nick Foles immediately began practicing snaps with center Jason Kelce on the sideline in anticipation of going in.

“We got the win for him. We’re going to move on and whatever happens, happens. Next-man up mentality,” Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said afterward. “That’s been the story of us this entire season. We’re not going to miss a beat at all and we’re just going to keep this thing rolling.”

Wentz had four touchdowns on the day. He passed Sonny Jurgensen for the most touchdowns in a single season (33) in franchise history, a record that had stood since 1961.

“He was the first person greeting everyone in the locker room on the way in,” Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins said. “I don’t know what to tell a man in that situation; I just told him I loved him as a teammate, loved him as a friend, obviously everyone is feeling for him.”

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will remain at University of Cincinnati Medical Center for a second consecutive night Tuesday while doctors monitor his back injury.

A joint statement from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s director of neurotrauma David Okonkwo and chief of neurosurgery for UC Health Joseph Cheng said Shazier has undergone a series of tests to evaluate his spine injury.

“He will continue to be monitored and treated by the neurosurgery experts at UC Medical Center until he has been cleared to return to Pittsburgh,” the statement said. “It is expected that Ryan will undergo additional tests and evaluation over the next 24 to 48 hours, and he will then return to Pittsburgh to receive further evaluation and care at UPMC.”
Okonkwo is also a neurosurgeon on the Steelers’ medical staff.

Ryan Shazier suffered a scary back injury after his helmet crown collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone's rib/hip area on Monday.

Ryan Shazier suffered a scary back injury after his helmet crown collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone’s rib/hip area on Monday.

Shazier was strapped to a board and removed from the field after suffering the injury on a tackling attempt in the first quarter of the Steelers’ 23-20 win over the Bengals. Shazier’s helmet crown collided with Bengals receiver Josh Malone’s rib/hip area. Players were emotional as they crowded around him, with defensive end Cameron Heyward holding his hand.

Sources on Monday night were encouraged that Shazier’s injury would be better than originally anticipated but didn’t know the extent until the process played out.

Shazier spoke to multiple teammates Monday and has remained upbeat about the process. He tweeted out a message of gratitude to fans on Monday.

Thank you for the prayers. Your support is uplifting to me and my family. #SHALIEVE

— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) December 5, 2017
Shazier is one of the Steelers’ best playmakers and is considered among the most likable teammates. He leads the Steelers in tackles (87), forced fumbles (two) and interceptions (three). Shazier also had a streak of four straight games with an interception late last season. He was hopeful to play his first full NFL season before the injury.

Coach Mike Tomlin was among those who visited Shazier early Tuesday morning.

“It was a tough evening. Ryan is a trooper,” Tomlin said. “Had an opportunity to spend some time with him; he is in really good spirits, tough guy. He has great support from family and loved ones there. It was painful to get on that plane last night. That’s life. We realize and understand he is in really good hands and getting expert medical care. He also challenged us to move on with what it is we need to move on, and he is with us as well.”

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Geno Smith’s pregame routine included watching “Sunday NFL Countdown” on ESPN.

Before making just his second start since 2014 and first start as the New York Giants quarterback, Smith caught a whiff of a comment made by his former coach and current analyst Rex Ryan. He didn’t like it.

It came not long after a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen that coach Ben McAdoo could be fired by Monday.

“No, I didn’t see that, and I love Coach Mac. I think we all do,” Smith said before completing 21 of 34 passes for 212 yards with a touchdown and two fumbles in a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders. “I enjoy playing for him. I want to continue to play for him as long as I can.
“But I did see one of my ex-coaches say he didn’t want me to be his quarterback, and that really upset me, you know? A guy that we saved his job in 2013, and we fought our ass for him both years, and for him to come out and say that just shows you how much of a coward he is.”

Smith was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft by the New York Jets. He was Ryan’s starting quarterback his first two seasons in the league.

Smith started and finished his first game since 2014 — when Ryan was his coach — on Sunday in Oakland. Beforehand, Ryan’s comment caught him off-guard.

“I was just sitting in my room watching because we have the time difference,” Smith said. “So I am just watching a little bit of football and, you know, see that happened, and it is like, wow, the guy, first of all, you drafted me. Second of all, you started me. Third of all, I went out there, and I gave you everything I had, and then you go out and say that. It’s unfortunate.”

It’s fair to say that the two won’t be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon.

“No, I don’t care to speak to him again,” Smith said.
He could be busy preparing for another start. McAdoo said Smith didn’t do anything to lose the opportunity to start again in place of Eli Manning, who saw his string of 210 consecutive regular-season starts come to an end.

The Giants next play Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. It could be another opportunity for McAdoo and the Giants to evaluate Smith.

Smith, 27, started slowly against the Raiders but flashed at times throughout the final three quarters. He led an impressive drive in the fourth quarter that was capped by a 10-yard touchdown laser to rookie tight end Evan Engram that drew the Giants within three. Overall, he was sufficient.

“We said we’re going to take it one week at a time, and these games are emotional,” McAdoo said. “So to stand up here and make a decision right here after the football game is not a good way to go about [naming a starter]. We’ll take a look at the tape first and put our heads together and see where we want to go with it.”

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Only hours after his baby boy’s death, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin arrived at the team hotel to check in before Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.

After his wife, Morgan, encouraged him to play, the usually dapper Goodwin arrived in sweats, having come directly from the hospital after their son was delivered stillborn in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Goodwin hadn’t slept after spending the night by his wife’s side and he was about to play in a professional football game wholly unprepared, save for the two most important influences in his life: his faith and his wife.

San Francisco wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has a quiet moment in the end zone following his touchdown against the Giants on Sunday.

San Francisco wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has a quiet moment in the end zone following his touchdown against the Giants on Sunday.

“Honest to God truth, the only reason I made it through the game is because of my faith in God,” Goodwin said Tuesday. “I mentally and physically was not prepared to play in the game. At all. I really didn’t even practice that week, I was just going through a lot. Just trying to get my body rested from the week before and the week before that. Coming into the game, I wasn’t really in it because I had just lost my baby. My wife, we prayed about it and I guess she felt that God moved her to allow me to go play and she encouraged me. She raised my spirits up and helped me get ready for the game.
“So that’s what’s so cool about the situation is, my wife, how supportive she is and how encouraging she is, all these great things that she does for me to help me go out there and play the way that I did. I think it speaks more about her character than mine because here she is, she could be holding me back, she could make me feel guilty about having to go and play football, which is just a game in the grand scheme of things and what we dealt with was a real-life situation, a death. Not only a death but a death to our infant child. So, situations like that, you only make it through that with your faith in God.”

Morgan Goodwin told People magazine that they had decided to name their son Marquise Jr. After experiencing complications the previous week, she told People that she was rushed to the hospital by ambulance hours before the birth, with her husband by her side throughout.

“We cried. It was a hard thing to take in,” she said. “This hurts because I was 19 weeks, I was almost halfway there.”

The couple wed in February 2016 and she told People they’d dreamed of starting a family and used fertility treatments after she suffered a previous miscarriage.

“I was looking forward to having someone to call our own — our own creation,” she told People. “I feel I was placed in this world to be a mother, and I want to be a mother. I want to be a mother to four kids, five. I want a lot of children so this hurts.”

Despite the hurt, Marquise Goodwin didn’t just play against the Giants, he also contributed two of the biggest plays of the game in helping the 49ers to their first win of the season. He threw a key block to spring tight end Garrett Celek for a 47-yard touchdown and caught an 83-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

On his long touchdown catch, Goodwin blew a kiss to the sky before crossing the goal line and then knelt in the end zone to pray as the emotion poured out of him.

“All the pain that I was feeling at the time, it just came over me at once,” Goodwin said. “It wasn’t something that was planned. If you had lost something that you wanted more than anything, something that you expected because you could see it without seeing it, you would know how I felt in that situation. So just to be able to score a touchdown and ultimately help my team get a win was just a great moment in my life and it’s a moment that I’ll remember forever because I could have easily not been at the game and that never would have happened. Nobody would have ever known about this story and we wouldn’t be able to help ourselves and then be able to help other people along the way (in) healing. I’m grateful that I was able to play in the game and get a touchdown.”

In the midst of the highlight-reel touchdown catch and crushing block, Goodwin could also be seen kneeling over an injured Giant in prayer. It’s part of a faith-based approach Goodwin said he adopted when he got old enough to understand it and has been a regular part of his life since.

“I pray for everybody throughout the game, even my opponents,” Goodwin said. “Outside of the game we still have to live life, still have to lead normal lives and we still need our bodies. Praying for him is pretty simple because if I was down, I would want people to pray for me. I just believe in helping other people.”

After the game, Goodwin quickly exited the locker room to be by his family’s side. He and his wife soon made the decision to share their story on social media. For Goodwin, that choice to share something so personal was made in an effort to tell their story without others making assumptions or spreading false rumors.

As it turned out, sharing his family’s story in such a public way has resulted in what Goodwin calls a “tremendous amount of support” from people all over.

“Morgan and I appreciate all the love that we’ve gotten,” Goodwin said. “We didn’t realize that sharing our journey with this baby would gain so many people (supporting). We do have a lot of people that followed us through our journey so maybe we can help people who have dealt with similar things that we have gone through and learn things from people who have been through our situation.”

With the 49ers off this week for the bye, Goodwin and his wife have returned home to Texas to be around family as they attempt to move forward.

Morgan Goodwin told People she experienced mixed emotions holding their son.

“I felt joy in holding my baby even though it was a sad moment,” Morgan said. “I was so amazed. His eyes were still shut at this point, but the hands, the feet. He looked exactly like his daddy.”

Speaking about such a tragic loss only a couple of days after it happened, Marquise Goodwin already has a message for others who might be dealing with something similar.

“Never stop believing,” he said. “The reward will last longer than the pain. Just because something that you wanted your whole life didn’t quite work out as you planned it to — a lot of the times it’s not supposed to work out how you want it to — it will grow you as a person and make you better. I know my wife and I will be better after this situation and we’ll know how to handle it next time even better.

“And faith, faith (is) No. 1, believe that God has a plan for everything. No matter what the outcome is, as long as you pray to him and be genuine because he knows when you’re genuine and when you’re not and maintain the faith, I think things will turn around for you. I know things will turn around for you. And ultimately, you will always be victorious when it’s all said and done.”

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — With a heavy heart, San Francisco 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin played and produced the team’s biggest play of the year Sunday against the New York Giants.

After San Francisco’s 31-21 win, Goodwin posted to his Instagram account that he and wife Morgan’s baby boy died Sunday morning because of complications during her pregnancy.

“Unfortunately, we lost our baby boy due to some complications, and had to prematurely deliver him early this morning around 4 a.m.,” Goodwin wrote. “Although we are hurt, I am grateful for the experience and grateful that God blessed me with a wife as courageous and resilient as Morgan.
“The pain (physically, mentally & emotionally) that she has endured is unbelievable. Please pray for the Goodwin family.”

Despite the devastating loss, Goodwin managed to play Sunday and came up with an 83-yard touchdown pass from quarterback C.J. Beathard in the first quarter, the longest play from scrimmage by a 49er this season.

A clearly emotional Goodwin evaded New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins and then blew a kiss to the sky before he crossed the goal line. He then knelt in prayer in the end zone as his teammates surrounded him.

Goodwin quickly exited the locker room after the game to return to his family. The 49ers have a bye this week and won’t return to practice until Nov. 20.

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Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said Monday that Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has said that quarterback Andrew Luck’s injury is “inside his head.”

Dungy made the comment during a live look-in at Dan Patrick’s radio show during its television simulcast on the Audience Network.

“I don’t know what’s going on there, I really don’t,” Dungy said during the look-in. “Is he going to play? Jim Irsay made a comment about six weeks ago, ‘You know, it’s inside his head now.’”
Patrick followed up by asking the former Colts coach: “Wait, it’s inside Luck’s head?”

“Yeah, he said that I guess when I was up there for Peyton’s [Manning's] ceremony,” Dungy said.

Dungy on Tuesday clarified with ProFootballTalk.com that Irsay didn’t make the comments to him privately.

“I never had a conversation with Jim Irsay,” Dungy told the website. “I never said I had a conversation with Jim Irsay.”

The only time Irsay has publicly talked about Luck needing to overcome mental hurdles, however, was on Aug. 31, following the Colts’ final preseason game, when he addressed approximately 10 to 15 reporters.

“It’s a great question, because it’s been said before by one of the greatest athletes and competitors who’ve played any sport — the quote was this: ‘These games, all games, are played on a four-inch field between your ears,’” he said that night. “That’s where it’s at. You have to be able to deal with this, not only physically, but mentally. I have no doubt that Andrew Luck, the person we know that he is, he’s going to come through this thing — and he and I have had long talks about it — not just as good as he was, but a better quarterback. When is the question. That timetable is gonna be more on, really, the football gods and Andrew’s gut feeling on how he’s feeling,”

The Colts honored Manning last month by unveiling a statue of him outside Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 7 and retiring his No. 18 jersey at halftime of their game against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 8.

Luck had surgery in January to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He practiced multiple times last month before being shut down and given a cortisone shot. When the soreness in his shoulder didn’t subside, Luck was placed on injured reserve by the Colts last week.
“The consensus from all the doctors is to continue rehab, to be patient and continue rehab,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said last week. “The shoulder is subjective and after a surgery everybody’s different, everybody rehabs at a different way. So we’re going to shut his throwing down and we’re going to continue to rehab. We’re going to continue hard rehab.”

Luck originally injured his shoulder during the 2015 season in Week 3 at Tennessee. He missed two games because of his shoulder and then missed the final seven games of that season because of a lacerated kidney. Luck missed a game last season with a concussion and all of this season with the shoulder injury.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Giants coach Ben McAdoo, with the season all but lost, wouldn’t rule out the possibility Sunday of benching quarterback Eli Manning so he can get a look at rookie Davis Webb.

Manning has started 207 consecutive regular-season games for the Giants.

After the Giants’ 51-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, McAdoo said that they need to look at the possibility of getting reps to players who have a chance to be part of their future.

“That includes everybody,” McAdoo said when asked if the quarterbacks are among those in play.

Manning, who has 12 touchdown passes and nine turnovers this season, has started every game since midway through his rookie season in 2004. He’s one shy of tying his brother, Peyton, for second on the all-time list.
“Well, they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do,” Manning said. “I want to be out there, I want to keep playing with my teammates and keep working.”

Webb is a third-round pick out of California who has been inactive for all eight games this season. Geno Smith came into Sunday’s game to finish for Manning. Smith threw a pair of incompletions and took some hard hits in his only drive.

Manning is the Giants’ highest-paid player at age 36. He went 20-of-36 for 220 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception on Sunday. He also lost a fumble, his third of the season.

Eli Manning, who has started every game for the Giants since midway through his rookie season, may be looking at the end of his streak

Eli Manning, who has started every game for the Giants since midway through his rookie season, may be looking at the end of his streak

The Giants suffered their third-worst home loss in the franchise’s 92-year history on Sunday, and Manning again didn’t play particularly well. He missed three potential long touchdowns in the first half, including a pass to Sterling Shepard deep down the middle of the field that likely would’ve gone for a 75-yard score in the second quarter. He later missed an open Tavarres King in the end zone on consecutive plays before halftime.

“Yeah, I’ve got to hit those,” Manning said. “I’ve got to hit that, especially the one to Shep.”

“It’s disappointing,” McAdoo said. “We had chances down the field. We got to make those throws and make those catches. It’s pro football. We got to catch them on all opportunities like that. You don’t get many in the game.”

But the Giants’ problems stretch beyond their quarterback. They’re missing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, who are out for the season with injuries. Their defense also has failed to live up to expectations, and their special teams have been troublesome.

The offense isn’t operating smoothly, no matter who is at quarterback. The Giants are averaging just over 16 points a game, near the bottom of the league.
On Sunday, five different Giants combined to drop seven passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It was their most drops since Week 15 of the 2007 season.

Manning and the 1-7 Giants are closer to the No. 1 overall pick than playoff contention in this disastrous season. It’s likely to be the fifth time in six years they miss the postseason.

Too many more weeks like this, and the Giants may be forced to turn to Webb. They would at least see what he brings to the table in order to determine whether they need to address the quarterback position high in next year’s draft.

The Giants, who play the 49ers next Sunday in San Francisco, would have the third overall pick if the season ended after Week 9.

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The Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans have amended their trade agreement after cornerback Jeremy Lane failed his physical, a source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Lane will revert back to the Seahawks, who had agreed Monday to send him to Houston along with a 2018 fifth-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick for left tackle Duane Brown.
In the new deal, Seattle will give up a higher draft pick to account for Lane’s not being included in the deal. According to the source, Seattle will get Brown and Houston’s 2018 fifth-round pick in exchange for the Seahawks’ 2018 third-rounder and their 2019 second-round pick.

It’s not clear what caused Lane to fail his physical. He began Sunday’s game against Houston as Seattle’s nickelback but was replaced by Justin Coleman after playing six snaps. Asked Monday about that move, coach Pete Carroll said Lane suffered a thigh bruise.

Cornerback Jeremy Lane, who failed his physical Monday, had returned for Sunday's game against Houston after missing two games and most of a third with a groin injury.

Cornerback Jeremy Lane, who failed his physical Monday, had returned for Sunday’s game against Houston after missing two games and most of a third with a groin injury.

Lane had returned for Sunday’s game after missing two games and most of a third with a groin injury. He was listed as questionable heading into the Houston game because of that groin injury and also because of a more recent finger injury.
With Lane reverting back to Seattle and the team adding Brown, the Seahawks are one over the 53-man roster limit and might have to do more salary-cap maneuvering. The Seahawks on Tuesday reworked quarterback Russell Wilson’s contract to free up $4.17 million in cap space, a source confirmed to ESPN. That gave Seattle enough room to absorb Brown’s contract, which included a little less than $5 million for the remainder of 2017. But that was with the remainder of Lane’s salary — a little over $2 million — coming off Seattle’s books.

Lane’s salary is guaranteed for 2017, which means the Seahawks wouldn’t free up any cap space by releasing him. The Seahawks might also decide to keep him to help with depth at cornerback, something they were going to need after trading Lane.

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PITTSBURGH — JuJu Smith-Schuster exploded for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense on the same day Martavis Bryant was inactive after he made comments on social media, saying that “JuJu is no where near better than me.”

Smith-Schuster, who lost his bicycle this week and documented the loss on social media, broke the Steelers-Lions game open with a 97-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. On third-and-long, Ben Roethlisberger squeezed the ball between the corner and safety over the middle of the field, and Smith-Schuster did the rest.

“How I saw it was Ben called the play, and I was like the middle feels open,” Smith-Schuster said. “You got to take it. I took it. Ben believed in me and got the job done. It was great.”

Roethlisberger explained that the touchdown was set up by an earlier route.

“[The Lions] gave us a coverage where the safety split wide, kind of a 22 man. And JuJu had something similar to that earlier in the game, and he tried to kinda juke the guy and then give him an out move and then go up,” Roethlisberger said. “I told him, I said, ‘Listen, next time you get that look, if it’s a 22-type man, beat ‘em with speed. Just get down there.’ And that’s what he did. And I threw it over the top, and I told him, I didn’t know he had that much speed. He said he didn’t either.”

The play was the longest receiving touchdown in Steelers history and the longest of the NFL season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin benched Bryant over his comments, which refueled his trade demands. He said the Steelers should give him what he wants and can have “JuJu and whoever else.” Smith-Schuster, 20, slid into the No. 2 receiver role with 189 yards on his six receptions.

After the game, running back Le’Veon Bell called Smith-Schuster the “best player ever under [the age of] 21.”

“Hands down, got a lot of room to grow, for him to be 20 and play the way he plays is unbelievable,” Bell said. “He can block, catch the ball short, go balls, mentally in the game, best player ever under 21.”

At 20 years old, Smith-Schuster is the youngest Steeler to record a 100-yard receiving game. Entering Sunday, Roy Jefferson was the youngest, at 22.

The “best player ever under 21″ didn’t celebrate his touchdown in the end zone, but he pretended to lock up an exercise bike on the sideline.

Smith-Schuster also participated in Bell’s celebration of a 5-yard touchdown run in the first half, getting on all fours and serving as the bench as Bell pressed the football, James Harrison style.

The rookie wide receiver has a hand in coordinating the team’s intricate celebrations and says it’s a matter of “bringing my younger generation into the guys. Getting everyone to celebrate more.”

Also an accomplice in the Steelers’ celebration catalog? Smith-Schuster’s phone. He said he has a list stored in his iPhone of even more celebrations that he and Bell have discussed for future use.

Smith-Schuster went into deeper detail in explaining Sunday’s bike lock celebration.
“So today we had a lot of free time, so I decided I got to get a chain, so I went to Home Depot down the street, bought a chain, and I was like, if I score, my celebration is going to be the bike thing,” Smith-Schuster said. “So we have the spin bike where … train to warm up your legs, as soon as I scored, I went to the bike, grabbed the chain and locked it up, and it was fun to prove that I got my bike back and I’m locking it up this time and with my boys and celebrating.”

Smith-Schuster said the past week has been “crazy,” but he didn’t take Bryant’s comment personally.

Smith-Schuster finished the Steelers’ 20-15 victory over the Lions with 193 yards and one touchdown.