DETROIT — Tom Brady was so dominant in Detroit that he could’ve left Ford Field at halftime to get his favourite chicken wings near the University of Michigan’s campus and still made it back to fly to Florida with his team.
Brady threw four touchdown passes in the only half he needed to play and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on to rout the Lions 47-7 Saturday, sealing a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“When we do play the way we’re capable of playing, we’re pretty tough to beat,” Brady said.
The Bucs (10-5) set a franchise record with 588 yards and snapped the NFL’s second-longest post-season drought behind Cleveland’s 18-year run that can end Sunday.
“We’ve been scratching and clawing every single year to make the tournament,” said receiver Mike Evans, who was drafted by Tampa Bay six years ago. “It’s been a journey and we’re happy that we finally accomplished it.”
Tampa Bay rested Brady ahead 34-0, its largest halftime lead in franchise history.
Brady was 22 of 27 for 348 yards with a mix of passes deep down the field and darts in traffic. The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback threw touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski, Evans, Chris Godwin, who made a one-handed catch, and Antonio Brown from 33, 27, 7 and 12 yards.
“When we can keep Tom standing, he’s going to deliver for us,” coach Bruce Arians said.
The 43-year-old Brady, who split time with Drew Henson in college, started his 298th game to tie Brett Favre’s record for an NFL quarterback and played in his 300th game.
The Lions (5-10) started the game without interim coach Darrell Bevell along with assistants on the defensive staff because of COVID-19 contact tracing. And they played much of the game without quarterback Matthew Stafford. He was questionable to play with hip and thumb injuries and then hurt his right ankle on the opening drive and did not return.
Chase Daniel struggled to move the ball much for the Lions, who avoided getting shut out for the second time this season when Jamal Agnew returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Daniel was replaced in the fourth by David Blough, an undrafted rookie last year.
“It’s obviously tough when you’ve got a lot of coaches shifting around, but those guys did a great job of getting us ready,” Blough said. “No one feels sorry for us.”
Tampa Bay’s Blaine Gabbert threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski on his first snap, one play after Detroit running back D’Andre Swift fumbled, and a 22-yard pass to Evans later in the third quarter.
Brady has thrown a franchise-record 36 touchdowns and set a personal record with 348 yards passing by halftime. Brady and Gabbert combined to throw a Bucs-record six touchdowns. Tampa Bay set team records in points (34) and yards (410) in the first half. Evans, who had 10 catches for 181 yards, scored twice to set a team record with 13 receiving touchdowns.
The Bucs were outscored 59-7 in the opening quarter of their previous six games. It looked as if they might start slow again when Brady was sacked on third down of the opening drive. Detroit, though, negated the play by being offside.
“There’s no doubt, their discipline or lack of, helped us tremendously,” Arians acknowledged. “I love what our guys did with that opportunity and went right down to score.”
After defensive end Everson Griffen was offside, Brady converted the ensuing third down with a short throw. He later went downfield to connect with Evans on a 33-yard throw and to perfectly loft a 33-yard touchdown pass over a defender and into Gronkowski’s hands.
Detroit wide receiver coach Robert Prince made his first big decision as head coach for the day on the ensuing drive when he had the offence with a fourth-and-1 at midfield. Alas, offensive tackle Taylor Decker was flagged for a false start and the Lions punted.
“I’ve been involved in at least one loss like this,” Prince said. “You can’t blame the defence for all of this. The offence has to stay on the field. If they can’t do that, it is going to wear the defence out.”
Bucs: S Mike Edwards hurt his hip during the game and didn’t return.. CB Carlton Davis was inactive with a groin injury.
Lions: Stafford left the game with an ankle injury after he was 2 of 3 for 17 yards on his only possession and was not available for comment after the game.
Bucs host on Atlanta on Jan. 3.
Lions host Minnesota on Jan. 3.
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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
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)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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