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Pitt in the NFL: McCoy, Fitzgerald win with star performances

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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Sunday was part of a week of bounce-backs for former Pitt players in the NFL: LeSean McCoy and Larry Fitzgerald, at times considered among the best at their positions, have had mostly weak showings so far this year.

But Fitzgerald scored his first touchdown of the season on Sunday for the Arizona Cardinals on a 24-yard strike. His 98 yards were also a season high, and although he has yet to top 100 yards in a game so far, much of that can be attributed to shaky quarterback play. Rookie Logan Thomas was forced to take the field last week due to injuries to other quarterbacks, and the wide receivers suffered as a result.

Fitzgerald caught only three of his seven targets last week, but he hauled in all six of his targets this week. Although he is not the dominant, overpowering threat he once was, Fitzgerald is still an elite route-runner and can use that with his savvy to create separation and produce for the Cardinals. Arizona beat Washington 30-20 in the game and is now 4-1 on the season.

McCoy’s season has mirrored Fitzgerald’s, in a way. He, too, has underperformed so far, but the team seems to be plowing ahead regardless. The Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants 27-0 on Sunday Night Football, improving their record to 5-1. McCoy’s season-high for rushing yards coming into the contest was 81 yards, but he rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries this week.

“Shady” still only has one rushing touchdown on the season, but the running back’s abilities to find running room on the outside and constantly create first downs for the offense propelled the Eagles to a dominant win against their divisional rival Sunday. After the team’s bye week next week, McCoy will face Fitzgerald and the Cardinals for a week-eight matchup.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis of the New England Patriots tied his season-high with four tackles in the team’s 37-22 win over the Buffalo Bills. The former first-round pick has not intercepted a pass since week two against the Minnesota Vikings, but he has helped the Patriots this year by simply staying on the field.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo left the win on Sunday with a knee injury, which team officials are calling “significant.” Cornerback Brandon Browner and linebacker Dont’a Hightower did not practice last week for the Patriots and were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. With so many injuries swirling around the Patriots’ defense, Revis staying in as a consistent force for the team is a help in itself. He matched up on Bills’ rookie receiver Sammy Watkins and held him to only two catches in the game.

Rookie defensive back K’Waun Williams currently has 12 tackles and one sack for the Cleveland Browns and has had a hand in multiple important defensive stops. His growth as a player seems to be mirroring that of the team: The Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-10 on Sunday to improve to 3-2 on the season. However, Williams left the game early with concussion-like symptoms. Teammate and former Panther Jabaal Sheard tallied three tackles in the game and now has 20 tackles and two sacks on the season.

Rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the St. Louis Rams matched up against veteran punter Andy Lee and the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Donald had eight tackles and one sack coming into the matchup, but his role might soon grow within the defensive unit.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said Donald “had a really, really good week of practice. Looking forward for him to … have opportunities to play the way we want him to play.”

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Pitt in the NFL: McCoy, Fitzgerald win with star performances