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Bills force late fumble to beat Patriots – TSN

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Jerry Hughes has too often watched the Patriots snatch victory away from the Buffalo Bills in what has been an AFC East rivalry that for too long tilted in New England’s favour.

How exciting it was for Buffalo’s veteran defensive end to eagerly watch from the sideline as Josh Allen knelt three times to run out the clock to close out a 24-21 win Sunday.

“Man, that was fun,” said Hughes, who was 2-12 during his first seven seasons against New England. “It feels good, to be honest with you, to be on the other side of the spectrum, to be watching our offence hit that victory formation. It felt amazing.”

And it nearly didn’t happen.

Bills backup defensive lineman Justin Zimmer, who opened the season on the practice squad, and safety Dean Marlowe, playing in place of injured starter Micah Hyde (concussion), combined to create the decisive play with the Patriots in position to at the very least tie the game.

Zimmer punched punched the ball out of quarterback Cam Newton’s arms. The fumble was recovered by Marlowe at the Buffalo 13 with 31 seconds left to secure what can be regarded as Buffalo’s most meaningful victory in 20 years over the Bill Belichick-coach Patriots.

In getting off to a 6-2 start for a second consecutive season, the Bills did so against a Patriots nemesis that entered the game having beaten Buffalo in each of the past seven meetings and 35 of the previous 40, dating to Belichick’s arrival in Foxborough.

“Honestly, I don’t know what to feel right now,” Zimmer said. “I’m still just like breathing heavy from the game, just excited. It’ll probably take me a good 24 hours to realize kind of everything that happened.”

Of course, Tom Brady had something to do with that string of domination before leaving New England to sign with Tampa Bay this off-season. Brady went 32-3 against Buffalo in setting the NFL record for most wins over one opponent.

Minus Brady, the Patriots are suddenly in freefall. Their 2-5 start is their worst since 2000, and New England’s four-game skid matches its longest since 2002. Their string of an NFL-record 11 straight division titles is suddenly in jeopardy, as might be their 19 consecutive seasons with a winning record.

“This is the third time we’ve been in this situation this year and unfortunately haven’t been able to make enough plays to win,” said Belichick, referring to one-score losses to Seattle and Denver.

Newton called the the fumble “unacceptable.”

“It affects me more that I still am jeopardizing this team’s success because of my lacklustre performances protecting the football,” Newton said. “Coach trusts me with the ball in my hands and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve got to do a better job of protecting it.”

Newton finished 15 of 25 for 174 yards passing, and added 54 yards rushing plus a touchdown. Damien Harris had 102 yards rushing and scored on a 22-yard run.

A week after being benched following a three-interception outing in a 33-6 loss to San Francisco, Newton was efficient in putting the Patriots in position to win.

After Buffalo went ahead on Tyler Bass’ 28-yard field goal with 4:06 remaining, Newton methodically marched the Patriots 60 yards on 11 plays, and was facing second-and-10 from Buffalo’s 19.

Lining up in a shotgun formation, Newton took the snap and followed a line of blockers to his left. What he didn’t see was Zimmer diving in from behind and punching out the ball, which rolled directly into Marlowe’s arms.

“I was like, five-points of pressure,” Marlowe said of how tightly he gripped the ball. “I’m not letting it go because I’m coming up with this ball.”

Bills rookie Zack Moss scored two touchdowns rushing. Allen went 11 of 18 for 154 yards passing and also scored on a 2-yard run in a game Buffalo never trailed. He had one interception, which led to the Patriots cutting Buffalo’s lead to 7-6 on Nick Folk’s 33-yard field goal with 8 seconds left in the first half.

The game was played in an empty stadium, and amid wet, blustery conditions with the temperature dropping to the low 40s by the fourth quarter. Winds off nearby Lake Erie were persistent at between 17 and 25 MPH.

The Patriots were without several key starters. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was sidelined by a knee injury. New England was also down its top two receivers this season with Julian Edelman placed on injured reserve after having knee surgery this week, and N’Keal Harry sidelined by a concussion.

TAKE THE POINTS

Belichick elected to take the points and not risk a sack in the final seconds of the first half. With no timeouts remaining and facing third-and-1 at the Buffalo 16, the Patriots elected to have Folk kick to cut the Bills’ lead to 7-6.

INJURIES

Patriots: DL Lawrence Guy did not return after hurting his shoulder in the second half. … LB Ja’Whaun Bentley hurt his groin in the fourth quarter.

Bills: C Mitch Morse did not return after sustaining a head injury on Buffalo’s opening drive. … RB/special teamer Taiwan Jones was ruled out after hurting his hamstring in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Patriots: Travel to face the winless New York Jets next Monday night, Nov. 9.

Bills: Host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in a stretch of facing three NFC West opponents in five weeks.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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