PFF offers remarkable stat on Steelers QB Kenny Pickett from Week 12

Kenny Pickett had his best performance of his career on Monday night.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbydbzmnr1bhxef player_id=none image=https://steelerswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

The 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night certainly qualified as a breakout performance for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett. It was Pickett’s best all-around performance highlighted by no turnovers and even a fourth-quarter drive to win the game.

According to Pro Football Focus, Pickett graded out with an impressive 88.5. This was the second-highest-graded quarterback of the week and the highest grade by a rookie quarterback this season. Pickett threw for 174 yards on 20-for-28 passing with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Pickett also rushed for 32 yards on six carries.

But perhaps more remarkable is PFF noting this is the highest grade by Steelers quarterback in four seasons. Week 10 of the 2018 season, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 328 yards and five passing touchdowns on 22-for-25 passing. It was a near-perfect display en route to a 52-21 blowout win over the Carolina Panthers. This game was a masterclass in quarterbacking and I honestly don’t put the two performances in the same class.

Nevertheless, the improvement in Pickett has been clear and this was definitely his best all-around performance of his rookie season.

[listicle id=523380]

[listicle id=523369]

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics: How to watch, broadcast, lineups (11/30)

The second of four such meetings between the two East rivals, both teams will be looking to protect their own respective win streaks of three (Heat) and four (Celtics) games.

The 17-4 Boston Celtics near the end of their six-game homestand by hosting the 10-11 Miami Heat at TD Garden on Wednesday night as the first of two tilts between the ball clubs in three days as the Celtics host a home-and-home series with the Heat this week. The second of four such meetings between the two East rivals, both teams will be looking to protect their own respective win streaks of three (Heat) and four (Celtics) games.

If you happen to be looking for a way to watch the on-court action live on cable television or a local or national online streaming service, keep reading while we get you up to speed on everything else you need to know about the game.

Let’s begin with the players who are among those listed to be available to play in it.

Touchdown Wire’s latest 2023 mock draft gives Panthers a new QB

With Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud off the board in Touchdown Wire’s latest mock draft, Doug Farrar gives the Panthers one of the most intriguing prospects at the QB position.

While the Carolina Panthers have found a bit of temporary hope at quarterback with Sam Darnold, who showed some promise in the Week 12 win over the Denver Broncos, they’ll still need to address the position this offseason. So, mock drafters remain determined to suggest long-term solutions under center—including our very own Doug Farrar.

In his latest set of 2023 projections for Touchdown Wire, Farrar hands Carolina a potential solution at quarterback, albeit it a controversial one. And that potential solution is University of Kentucky’s Will Levis.

Levis has had a very mixed 2022 season. The 23-year-old passer has struggled against upper-tier teams, as he’s been unable to make up for the talent gap between his offense and the opposition.

While the physical talent of this 6-foot-3, 232-pounder is undeniable, drafting Levis this early in the first round would not come without fan backlash. It would also be quite a risk considering those bumpy experiences with top competition.

With the top two quarterback prospects in Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud off the board in this scenario, the Panthers may very well be facing this decision dead in the face come April. And it is one they may have to make given the lack of action at the position in the draft.

[lawrence-related id=663261,663262]

[listicle id=663314]

Ravens HC John Harbaugh praises performance of TE Josh Oliver in Week 12 vs. Jaguars

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh gave praise to tight end Josh Oliver for his performance in Week 12 vs. the Jaguars

The Baltimore Ravens suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12, losing by the final score of 28-27. It was a game where the offense started slowly and the defense couldn’t shut the door on the contest in the fourth quarter, dropping Baltimore’s record to 7-4 on the year.

After the contest, head coach John Harbaugh got into the specifics of the game and what unfolded over the course of the matchup. When asked about tight end Josh Oliver’s performance against his former team, Harbaugh gave plenty of praise to Oliver, saying that he’s been a great blocker while also saying he’s “been huge” for them.

“I’ll start with that: Isaiah [Likely] tweaked his ankle on Friday in practice – had an ankle roll. We thought maybe it would be OK for the game, but if you’ve ever rolled your ankle, it just wasn’t. And so, that kind of moved Josh [Oliver] into some of those roles, and I thought he played great. Josh has been one of our best blockers. He had a great game blocking, again. To see him make those plays … Man, he almost made that seam-route catch in the end zone that would have been huge for us. [I’m] just thrilled for him, thrilled for how he’s established his career, and can’t wait to see what he does going from here.”

Oliver was traded to the Ravens during the 2021 offseason in exchange for a conditional seventh-round selection. While he didn’t make much of an impact last year, he has caught 11 passes for 130 yards and two scores in 2022 while also becoming an exceptional blocker.

Chiefs reportedly sign former longtime Ravens DL to practice squad

The Chiefs reportedly signed a longtime Ravens defensive lineman to their practice squad

The Baltimore Ravens have gotten good defensive line play out of their unit in 2022. Players such as Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington and more have stepped up to the plate, while others have contributed as well.

Despite the current players on the Baltimore defensive line playing well, one of their former longtime defensive lineman has caught on with the Kansas City Chiefs in Brandon Williams. The veteran signed with the Kansas City practice squad with the idea of going to their active roster, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

49ers back in top 5 of USA TODAY NFL power rankings

The #49ers defense got them into the top 5 of the @usatodaysports NFL power rankings.

The 49ers needed 12 weeks to do it, but they’ve climbed into the top five of the USA TODAY NFL power rankings. A 13-0 win over the Saints combined with a key injury for the Dolphins moved San Francisco up to No. 5, while Miami dropped to No. 6.

Interestingly, while the 49ers’ defense has grabbed the headline with its bevy of weapons, their defense is what got them over the hump in the rankings. Via USA TODAY’s Nate Davis:

Their growing array of offensive weaponry the past few weeks has been awfully tough to ignore. But the strength of this squad is a top-ranked defense that hasn’t given up a point after halftime since Week 7.

That defense and their run of scoreless second halves on the heels of a shutout against the Saints will get a sizable test Sunday against the Dolphins. How they perform in that game could wind up giving a very good gauge on the team’s chances to ride their defense to a deep playoff run.

Prior to the Dolphins, the Chiefs were the biggest test for the 49ers’ defense all year. Kansas City racked up 44 points in that game and got whatever they wanted offensively. Injuries might’ve played a roll for San Francisco, but it was an eye-opening thumping for a defense that had been stellar to that point.

How they adjust against Miami will give some clue as to whether this is a defense making hay on mediocre offenses, or if they can limit explosive offenses enough to give their own slate of offensive playmakers a chance to work and win a game.

All of that said, it’s still the offense that will need to hold up its end of the bargain down the stretch. One or two defensive hiccups can’t mean a loss for the 49ers. While all eyes may turn to the 49ers’ defense, its their offense that will keep them in the conversation with the rest of the league’s Super Bowl hopefuls.

[listicle id=681089]

Ravens add star WR in latest 2023 NFL mock draft by CBS Sports

The Ravens selected a star wide receiver in the latest 2023 NFL mock draft by CBS Sports

The Baltimore Ravens put together an impressive 11-player rookie class over the course of the 2022 draft. They’ve already seen big contributions from players such as safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum, and they’ll look to add even more talent in the 2023 draft once it comes about.

While there’s still plenty of time before next year’s draft, Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports put together his latest 2023 NFL mock draft in which he has Baltimore selecting at No. 27 overall. He has the team selecting star Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, who Wilson calls a “bona fide deep threat”.

“Hyatt wasn’t in the first-round conversation heading into the season but he’s a great example of a player taking advantage of his opportunities, thanks in large part to Hendon Hooker’s Heisman Trophy campaign. Hyatt is a bona fide deep threat who consistently stacks defensive backs who have been helpless to do much about it all season.”

Justin Jefferson is 2nd in receiving yards…by one yard

Jefferson is having a tremendous season

Justin Jefferson is having one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in the history of the National Football League. His stats have been tremendous and he has come up huge for the Vikings in the biggest moments.

Going into the Vikings’ week 13 matchup against the New York Jets, Jefferson has an astounding 1,232 yards receiving and it currently ranks second in the National Football League.

In first place? Tyreek Hill with just one more yard at 1,233.

What’s even more bananas about Hill’s season is that his teammate Jaylen Waddle is currently in fifth with 963 receiving yards.

Jefferson also ranks third in receptions with 81 behind only Hill (87) and Stefon Diggs (84) and Diggs is third in receiving yards with 1,110.

The NFL has some tremendous receivers and the best of them all is proving it with the Vikings.

[listicle id=69386]

Wisconsin Twitter reacts as the Badgers fall to Wake Forest

Wisconsin falls just short against Wake Forest

After a tremendous 2-1 effort in The Bahamas at the Battle for Atlantis, Wisconsin had a Big Ten/ACC challenge letdown on Tuesday night.

Wake Forest stormed into the Kohl Center and came away with a 78-74 win. Wisconsin made a number of runs, and took the lead late, but it was the Demon Deacons who closed strong to improve to 7-1. Wisconsin fell to 5-2 on the young season.

It was the Tyree Appleby show, as the Florida transfer finished with a game-high 32 points including a flurry of threes late. Tyler Wahl led the Badgers with 17 points, but rimmed out on a potential go-ahead layup late and Wisconsin was forced to play the foul game.

Here is how Wisconsin Twitter and college basketball Twitter reacted:

Referee admits he gave fallen Manny Pacquiao long count during early victory

Referee Carlos Padilla admitted that he gave Manny Pacquiao a long count during a victory early in his career.

One of Manny Pacquiao’s early victories in the Philippines is suddenly tainted.

Referee Carlos Padilla, a Filipino, recently said on the WBC’s YouTube channel that he gave his countryman a long count after he went down against unbeaten Australian Nedal Hussein in 2000.

Pacquiao went down in Round 4 but beat the count and went on to score a 10th-round technical knockout. Three fights later he upset Lehlo Ledwaba in Las Vegas, his springboard to superstardom.

Padilla said, per Bloody Elbow: “That fight, I’m about to go and leave the following day, and they told me, ‘Carlos, please … this is an important fight for Manny Pacquiao because the winner will have the chance to fight for the world championship.’ So, you know the opponent, Hussein, or whatever his name was.

“He is taller, younger, stronger, and [a] dirty fighter, managed by Jeff Fenech. So in the seventh round, I think, Manny got knocked down, I thought he was going to get up, but his eyes were cross-eyed (laughs). I am Filipino, and everybody watching the fight is Filipino, so I prolonged the count. I know how to do it.”

Hussein wasn’t happy to learn of Padilla’s comments. He also wasn’t surprised.

“Honestly, after watching the referee video, it really hit a nerve,” he told World Boxing News. “I was upset for a full 24 hours. It’s not the fact that he said what he said. It’s more because we already knew it. But the way he said it with a smirk and a smile like he was proud of what he had done, like the depth of corruption, it’s obviously in his veins and his heart.

“So he had obviously done it before because it was nothing to him.”

Boxing Junkie timed the knockdown from the above video. He was on the canvas for almost exactly 10 seconds, meaning he could’ve been counted out depending on when Padilla began the count.

Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) put together a Hall of Fame career. Hussein (43-5, 27 KOs) never won a major title.