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Bills down Ravens to reach AFC title game as Lamar Jackson leaves injured – Sportsnet.ca

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Taron Johnson could’ve kept running into next week on a 101-yard interception that carried the Buffalo Bills to their first AFC championship game appearance in 27 years.

Johnson’s pick-6 of Lamar Jackson’s pass with 41 seconds remaining in the third quarter secured a 17-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens in a divisional-round playoff game Saturday night.

The interception return matched the longest in NFL history and punctuated a stellar defensive outing in which Buffalo (15-3) limited the NFL’s top running offence to 150 yards on 32 carries.

Jackson was sacked three times and did not return after being evaluated for a concussion following the final play of the third quarter, and two plays after Johnson scored.

Facing second-and-10 at Baltimore’s 25, centre Patrick Mekari snapped the ball over Jackson’s head. The quarterback turned and chased the bouncing ball down inside the 5, turned and quickly threw it away as Tremaine Edmunds had him by the legs and Trent Murphy fell down on top of him.

Jackson’s injury left Tyler Huntley to finish the game after being promoted off the practice squad.

Buffalo’s defence took the pressure off of a Josh Allen-led offence that was limited to 223 yards offence, and made up for rookie kicker Tyler Bass missing two of three field goal attempts _ a 43-yarder that was wide right in the second quarter and a 44-yarder that sailed wide left with 5:30 remaining.

The game was decided in the third quarter, when the Bills went up 10-3 on Allen’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs to cap an 11-play, 66-yard opening drive.

Jackson responded by marching the Ravens 66 yards on 15 plays before throwing the interception while facing third-and-goal from the 9. Johnson jumped in front of the pass intended for Mark Andrews and took off up the right sideline. He followed teammate Tre’Davious White, who made sure Jackson didn’t have an angle to push Johnson out of bounds.

Johnson, who also returned an interception for a score in a 26-15 win over Pittsburgh on Dec. 13, said he initially thought about going down after catching the ball, before seeing no one in front of him.

“I caught the ball and kind of looked down, but then I looked up and saw a whole bunch of green grass to that side of me,” he said. “At that point, there’s one person I have to beat. And that’s No. 8 (Jackson).”

Johnson wasn’t touched until a mob of Bills players jumped on his back and brought him down in the end zone.

The Bills advanced to the AFC championship game for the first time since 1994 on their way to making _ and losing _ their four consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Buffalo also extended a season in which it has broken numerous droughts by claiming its first AFC East division title in 25 years and, with last week’s victory over Indianapolis, winning its first post-season game since the same year.

The Bills will play the winner of the AFC’s other divisional playoff between Cleveland and Kansas City on Sunday.

Buffalo has won eight straight, matching its best streak since 1990. The 13 regular-season victories matched a franchise record set in both 1990 and ’91 in a season they set numerous single-season records on offence, including scoring 501 points.

The fifth-seeded Ravens (12-6) had their season come to an end after leading the NFL in yards rushing for a second consecutive year.

Baltimore clinched its third playoff berth in three years by winning its final five regular-season games. The winning streak came after a 1-4 skid capped by a 19-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Dec. 2 in a game rescheduled three times due to COVID-19 issues.

Johnson’s interception return matched Packers defensive back George Teague’s 101-yard fumble return in Green Bay’s 28-24 win over Detroit in a wild-card playoff on Jan. 8, 1994.

Jackson finished 14 of 24 for 162 yards passing, while being limited to 42 yards rushing on nine carries.

The Bills also limited Jackson to just 40 yards on 11 carries in the Ravens’ 24-17 win at Buffalo in Week 14 of the 2019 season.

Huntley, who had attempted just five passes in two appearances this season, finished 6 of 13 for 60 yards on three drives, the final two in which Baltimore turned the ball over on downs.

Allen was 23 of 37 for 206 yards passing.

“You saw our defence. The game plan our coaching staff put for that offence was unbelievable,” Allen said. “You don’t get style points for winning in the playoffs. You either go home or you advance to the next round. We’re on to the next one.”

A game that was supposed to highlight two dynamic third-year quarterbacks instead turned into a defensive struggle with the score tied at 3 after the first half.

The Ravens came up empty on two drives that ended inside Buffalo’s 30, with Justin Tucker missing his first two field goal attempts. He hit the left upright from 41 yards on Baltimore’s opening drive, and then hit the right upright on a 46-yard attempt in the second half.

It marked the first time Tucker, the NFL’s most accurate kicker, has missed twice from inside 50 yards in the same game. Tucker finally tied the score at 3 by hitting a 34-yard attempt with 4 seconds left in the first half to cap an eight-play, 57-yard drive

ONE CARRY

Aside from Allen’s 4-yard scramble on an aborted pass play and an end-of-half kneel-down, the Bills had one carry in the first half on Devin Singletary’s 3-yard gain to open Buffalo’s final possession of the second quarter.

Buffalo became just the third team since the 1991 playoffs to have a running back have just one carry in the first half. The St. Louis Rams had one carry in a half in a 49-37 divisional-round playoff win against Minnesota on Jan. 16, 2000. The Raiders had one carry in a half of a 41-24 win over Tennessee in the 2003 AFC championship game.

UP NEXT

Ravens: Season over.

Bills: Advance to AFC championship game for first time since 1994, where they’ll face Cleveland or play Kansas City for a second time this season following a 26-17 loss to the Chiefs on Oct. 19.

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We should be grateful that Tiger Woods is alive, 'that his kids haven't lost their dad,' says an emotional Rory McIlroy – CNN International

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The 45-year-old is awake and recovering from surgery after being involved in a serious car accident on Tuesday near Los Angeles.
He suffered serious leg injuries and was trapped but conscious when emergency responders reached the scene of his one-vehicle rollover crash on a stretch of California road known for speeding and accidents, authorities said Tuesday.
The vehicle driven by Woods lies on its side in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.The vehicle driven by Woods lies on its side in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
“He’s not Superman … He’s a human being at the end of the day,” four-time major winner Rory McIlroy told reporters, ahead of WGC-Workday Championship which begins on Thursday. “And he’s already been through so much.
“At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad. That’s the most important thing. Golf is so far from the equation right now, it’s not even on the map at this point.”
In the aftermath of the crash, Los Angeles County Sherriff Alex Villanueva told CNN’s Erin Burnett the single-car crash was “purely an accident,” and investigators will not pursue any charges.
He also said Woods told investigators Tuesday at a hospital that “he had no recollection of the crash.”
McIlroy (right) and Woods wait on the first tee during the third round of The Northern Trust.McIlroy (right) and Woods wait on the first tee during the third round of The Northern Trust.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan emphasized that while he’d love to see Woods on the golf course in the future, thoughts should be with his family.
“Tiger’s a human being. Tiger’s had some really difficult injuries — the most important thing is, you know, is his well-being. It’s Tiger recovering, it’s supporting Tiger’s family. The golf — when Tiger wants to talk about the golf, we’ll talk about the golf. All the energy right now is going to be poured into supporting him in the days and months ahead.”
Given the grisly nature of the crash, former world No. 1 Jon Rahm said he is just appreciative that Woods is alive at all.
“Just over a year ago we lost Kobe Bryant out of the blue, and I’m just, if anything, thankful that Tiger’s still here. Hopefully he comes out of this one,” the 26-year-old told the media.
“Hopefully his body’s still good. I don’t necessarily need to see him on a golf course again. I would love to, but I just hope he can live a normal life from here on. He’s given everything to this game, he’s done so much for us, and every day that we’re all out here is going to be a memory of Tiger Woods.
Woods looks on from the range during the first round of the PNC Championship.Woods looks on from the range during the first round of the PNC Championship.
“Luckily he’s got so much impact in this world that even though if he doesn’t hit a golf shot, with his foundation and many other works, he’s still able to make a great impact in this world.”
Dustin Johnson added: “He’s such a big part of the PGA Tour and what it’s become today so, yeah I mean once he’s not playing anymore it definitely, you know, the game will miss him but I feel like he’ll always somehow be around and be involved in the game.”

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Canadiens will keep paying Claude Julien $5 million for another season – Montreal Gazette

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“I did tell Geoff (Molson) what I was doing and he supported my decision,” GM Marc Bergevin says after firing head coach.

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With no fans in the arenas because of COVID-19 and very little revenue coming in, these are not good financial times for any NHL team.

So Canadiens owner/president Geoff Molson can’t be thrilled about having to pay Claude Julien his $5-million annual salary for the rest of this season and all of the next one. Julien, who was fired by GM Marc Bergevin on Wednesday and replaced by Dominique Ducharme, was in the fourth year of his five-year, US$25-million contract. Associate coach Kirk Muller, who was also fired Wednesday, was in the final season of his contract.

“I’m well aware of what you just mentioned,” Bergevin said during a video conference from Winnipeg Wednesday afternoon when Julien’s contract was brought up. “I did tell Geoff what I was doing and he supported my decision. That’s all I could say.”

This is the second time Molson has had to continue paying a fired coach with Bergevin as GM. Bergevin hired Julien on Feb. 14, 2017 to replace Michel Therrien, who still had another two full seasons remaining on his contract.

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The fact Ducharme was already on the payroll as an assistant coach will lessen the financial hit on Molson.

After playing about $8 million under the NHL salary cap for the last three seasons, Bergevin spent right up to the $81.5-million cap with his off-seasons additions and expectations were high coming into this season. The Canadiens got off to a 7-1-2 start, but are 2-4-2 in the last eight games.

“I know what type of team we have,” Bergevin said. “I know what we’re capable of doing.

“The hard thing to watch is the swing from being a really good hockey team that was playing with pace, was engaged, were playing to our identity, which is speed,” he added. “And then going to the other side where the team was looking for anything. The expression we were chasing our tail … we were chasing the puck. We were not in sync and that was frustrating for me. Sometimes you can blame injuries, but we had none. Zero. If the message is the same and they’re acting differently, then the change needs to be made.”

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Bergevin had a sleepless night in Ottawa Tuesday after the Canadiens lost 5-4 to the Senators in a shootout and finally decided it was time for a coaching change. He informed Julien and Muller of his decision Wednesday morning before the Canadiens flew to Winnipeg, where they will play the Jets Thursday night (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

“Yeah, it’s emotional because they’re good people,” Bergevin said. “It’s not fun. It’s a tough part of my job. To walk in these two men’s rooms this morning was not easy.

“I said at training camp we mean business,” the GM added. “We raised the bar. It’s not an easy day for anyone, for me personally to make this decision. … Expectations are high. I expect to tack the boat first and for the players to respond.”

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If they don’t, it could be Bergevin looking for a job at the end of the season. He has one more year remaining on his contract.

“Listen, the day that I took the job here it came with a lot of things, including pressure from the media and our fans,” he said. “I have no problem with that. I make decisions, I live with them and the consequences. But I’m very confident in our team and I’m very confident in Dominique Ducharme.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin watches his team's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM’s hand in firing of Julien

  2. Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks toward the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

    Jack Todd: Canadiens’ sweet start ends in bitter outcome for Julien

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Sheldon Keefe Post Game, Leafs 2 vs. Flames 1: "Part of it is perhaps Willy being misunderstood… Part of it is that he still has to grow as a player" – Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 overtime win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 15-4-2 on the season.


On why William Nylander seems to be misunderstood within the market:

In the last couple of games, he has had real good legs. He has been skating well with the puck. I said the other night that it feels like he was ready to break out. That’s good.

Why is he misunderstood? Willy has to own some of that. He has got find more consistency in his game. He and I have talked a lot about those kinds of things. He has got to be engaged and good without the puck.

Part of it is perhaps being misunderstood. Part of it is that he still has to grow as a player.

On Michael Hutchinson’s performance:

I thought we did a good job once again here of not giving up [a lot] with the exception of the goal we gave up. That is the one big chance. That was really the way the game was going: Who is going to give up the big chance? We had a breakdown there. It felt like we stopped playing for a little bit and exposed ourselves there. That is an area where you never want to give that up. Aside from that, I thought we did a good job.

Certainly, I thought Hutch was really solid. He gave us lots of confidence to just keep playing today. He gave us a chance to win. He keeps it at 0 for most of the game, and he keeps it at 1. You’ve got a hope and a chance. We found a way through a nice group effort there at the crease to get one in. It gives us a chance for Will to do his thing and win the game on a spectacular goal.

On whether Auston Matthews’ wrist was bugging him as the game went along:

Yes, it was. Yeah.

On why he started Tavares-Marner and then Matthews-Nylander in OT:

It was really just as simple as Auston wasn’t comfortable taking the faceoff. It was just the way his wrist was feeling. The faceoff, to me, is really important at three-on-three. We sent John for that. We intended to send Auston on the fly. It just so happened we had a d-zone faceoff, but it was on the right side, and Will took it and won it. We won both of those faceoffs, and it gave us the puck for the bulk of the time we spent there.

If you have the puck, you give yourself a good chance at three-on-three to make something happen.

On whether Matthews’ wrist situation is a real concern and if it can be easily treated:

I think it is something that can be treated. He has been dealing with it for a long time now throughout the season. It hasn’t slowed him down. Today, it was a factor.

We do have a couple of days here before we play again — a full day off tomorrow, a practice and travel day, and then we get out West. We will see how he is. We will continue to take care of him and monitor it. We don’t think it is anything more at this point than what he has been dealing with.

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