ASN NFL Top 10: Roethlisberger makes unexpected and triumphant return

of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the Cleveland Browns during the game at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ben Roethlisberger was dominant in an unexpected performance and Ryan Fitzpatrick is headed for the operating room. In a week that included plenty of news for ASN-affiliated players, likely the biggest announcement came from Victor Cruz on Monday.

After rehabbing from patellar tendon surgery for nearly a year, the veteran out of UMass is heading for more surgery.

“I know that I have to retool my brain and my body to get back to 100 percent and come back the other end firing,” Cruz told ESPN. “This is a tough time for me, a tough time for my family, a tough time for all of us, because we were so excited about coming back and being a part of something special this year. But unfortunately, I couldn’t do that due to my calf injury.”

Cruz is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Beyond the injury news, ASN-affiliated players put in some stellar performances over the weekend. Below, a look at the most notable:

B1en Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben (Miami Ohio) wasn’t even supposed to play on Sunday, after suffering a mid-foot sprain during Week 9. But when backup Landry Jones was injured in the red zone in the first quarter, Roethlisberger took over – and set a record. According to, Roethlisberger’s performance —23 completions on 33 attempts for three touchdowns and one interception — is the best performance in relief in a regular-season game since Wade Wilson passed for 374 yards in 1990. “I kinda surprised myself,” he told the media after the game. “My foot was basically black and blue” earlier in the week. The Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns, 30-9.

2Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs

West (Abilene Christian) doubled his touchdown total for the season on Sunday and was instrumental in the Chiefs’ 29-13 victory against the Broncos. West scored the Chiefs first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run up the middle, but more impressive was his 80-yard reception from Alex Smith at the 11:10 mark of the fourth quarter. That score put Kansas ahead, 29-0. West caught three passes for 92 yards and carried the ball 24 times for 69 yards.

3Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger wasn’t the only ASN-affiliated Steelers player to put in a stunning performance on Sunday. Brown (Central Michigan) caught two touchdown passes from Big Ben, one for four yards in the second quarter and one for 56 yards in the fourth quarter. Brown was the favorite target on Sunday, catching 10 passes for 139 yards,

4Corey Graham, Buffalo Bills

Graham (New Hampshire) intercepted his second pass of the season at the 50-yard line on Thursday night against in the Bills’ 22-17 victory against the New York Jets. Graham was positioned behind intended receiver Brandon Marshall, who tipped the ball and Graham scooped it up before it hit the ground. The cornerback returned the ball 10 yards, but the Bills couldn’t convert the turnover. Graham was also credited with five tackles (three solo, two assists).

5Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

The playing injured experiment didn’t play out well for Fitzpatrick or the Jets. Fitzpatrick, playing with a injured ligaments in his left thumb, completed 15 of 34 passes for 193 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss to the Bills. On Friday, the Jets announced that Fitzpatrick underwent surgery to repair the ligaments and, according to Yahoo! Sports, the team “isn’t ruling out the possibility that he won’t miss a game.” Fitzpatrick suffered the injury in a Week 8 loss against the Raiders, but returned the following week, heavily padded, to beat the Jaguars. Fitzpatrick did break Sid Luckman’s NFL record for most touchdown passes by an Ivy League quarterback (138). Luckman, the second overall pick out of Columbia by the Bears in the 1939 NFL Draft, retired in 1950 with 137.

6Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

Morris (Florida Atlantic) didn’t score a touchdown, but he was the engine of the Redskins offense in Washington’s 47-14 drubbing of the New Orleans Saints. Alfred carried the ball 15 times for 104 yards and caught three passes for 14 yards, his second-best performance in terms of yards of the season. Alfred had 25 carries for 121 yards in Week 1.

7Lance Moore, Detroit Lions

The veteran wide receiver out of Toledo caught his fourth touchdown pass of the season, and it was the game-winner on Sunday. Moore caught a 4-yard reception over the middle to open an 18-10 lead with 2:00 to play in the game. The Green Bay Packers scored 84 seconds later, but it wasn’t enough. Moore caught three passes for 29 yards as Detroit notched just its second win of the season and first win in Green Bay since 1991.

8Myles White, New York Giants

A second-year receiver out of Louisiana Tech, White caught his third and longest pass of the season on Sunday as the Giants fell to the New England Patriots, 27-26. White caught a 28-yard pass, bringing his total yards for the season to 39 — he’s caught a pass in each of the Giants last three games.

9Jamize Olawale, Oakland Raiders

Olawale (Marshall) had his best game in terms of total yards in the Raiders’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Olawale, a fullback, carried the ball five times for 24 yards and caught three passes for 35 yards. The receptions were Olawale’s first since Week 1 when he amassed 25 total yards, his second-highest total of the season.

10Jude Adjei-Barimah, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Adjei-Barimah, an undrafted free agent rookie cornerback out of Bowling Green, led all tacklers on Sunday with six solo tackles in the Bucs’ 10-6 victory against the Dallas Cowboys. He started the season on the Bucs practice squad before being promoted to the active roster on Oct. 3 after starting corner Jonathan Banks was injured.

Honorable mention

Joe Flacco (Delaware) completed an impressive 78 percent of his passes and threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ loss to Jacksonville. But the veteran quarterback also had three two picks and lost the ball on a fumble. … Safety Andrew Sendejo (Rice) was credited with seven tackles (six solos, one assist) in the Vikings’ 30-14 victory against the Raiders. … Toledo grad Barry Church had a season-high 11 tackles (nine solos, two assists) in the Cowboys’ 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay. … Steelers safety Mike Mitchell (Ohio) snagged his third interception of the season in Pittsburgh’s victory against Cleveland. … Free safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (Fordham) led all Lions defenders with eight solo tackles. Teammates Jason Jones (Eastern Michigan) and Caraun Reid (Princeton) each had a sack. … Jaguars cornerback Jonathan Cyprien (FIU) was credited with seven tackles (five solos, two assists) in Jacksonville’s victory against Baltimore. … Free safety Quintin Demps (UTEP) forced a fumble for the Houston Texans in their 10-6 Monday Night Football victory against the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. The Texans’ defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters.

Above: Ben Roethlisberger celebrates a 56-yard touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)


Jill R. Dorson

Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.