The Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to turn their season around and ripped off a three-game winning streak to even their record at 4-4. The Steelers will try to make it four straight when they host the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
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Pittsburgh dropped its first three games of the season and battled back into the postseason picture at the midway point despite quarterback Mason Rudolph learning on the job after taking over for injured franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2. "He's a young guy," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters of Rudolph. "We are just trying to find our rhythm and traction, and we can't have a lot of self-inflicted wounds along the way. We have had some. Thankfully, they haven't prevented us from winning. We need to get better. And not only him, but us, the units collectively." The Rams, who are coming off a bye, are winners of two straight and pulled out of a funk by picking on two teams at the bottom of the standings in their respective conferences - the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals. "We just got to keep rolling," defensive tackle Aaron Donald told reporters. "We're feeling good, but we got to keep working. Can't be satisfied."
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Rams -3.5. O/U: 44
ABOUT THE RAMS (5-3): Los Angeles is expected to get a boost on defense this week from the return of linebacker Clay Matthews, who has been out since suffering a broken jaw in Week 5. "Anytime you come off an injury, that first game is kind of the biggest obstacle, the biggest hurdle," Matthews told reporters. "It feels good just having my helmet on it, getting it jostled and everything. ... I anticipate it to go well." Not as close to a return is wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who suffered two concussions last month and went to Pittsburgh ahead of the team to see a specialist but is not expected to stick around for the game.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (4-4): While Rudolph and the offense continue to develop, the defense is keeping Pittsburgh in the win column. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt leads the team with 7.5 sacks and fellow outside linebacker Bud Dupree was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording a pair of sacks in last week's 26-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, bringing his season total to six. "Bud is balling," Watt told reporters. "I said it last week, and I see the way that he approaches watching film and practice, and you just have a feeling when you're playing. It seems like every week for me and Bud and this whole defense, we all just have feelings that it's going to be a great game."
1. Steelers RB James Conner (shoulder) was limited in practice this week and could miss his second straight game.
2. Rams WR Cooper Kupp recorded 220 receiving yards against Cincinnati before the bye and is third in the NFL with 792 yards.
3. Los Angeles/St. Louis has not beaten the Steelers since a 33-21 triumph at Pittsburgh in 2003.