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Buccaneers clinch first playoff berth since 2007 with win over Lions – Sportsnet.ca

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DETROIT — Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes in the only half he needed to play and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on to rout the Detroit Lions 47-7 Saturday, sealing a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

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.

Tampa Bay rested Brady ahead 34-0, its largest halftime lead in franchise history. Blaine Gabbert threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski on his first snap, one play after Detroit running back D’Andre Swift fumbled, and a 22-yard pass to Mike Evans later in the third quarter.

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 Gronkowski, Evans, Chris Godwin, who made a one-handed catch, and Antonio Brown from 33, 27, 7 and 12 yards.

The 43-year-old Brady, who split time with Drew Henson in college at Michigan, 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.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.”

BUCS BACKUP

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.

RECORD WATCH

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.

FOR STARTERS

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.”

INJURY REPORT

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.

UP NEXT

Bucs host on Atlanta on Jan. 3.

Lions host Minnesota on Jan. 3.

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Penny Oleksiak back to lead Canada in Tokyo pool

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Penny Oleksiak, the first Canadian to win four medals at a Summer Olympics, will lead a Canadian swimming team eager to build on their efforts in Rio de Janeiro at next month’s Tokyo Games.

Swimming Canada unveiled a 26-member squad (16 women, 10 men) on Thursday that is a mix of experience and youth that officials hope is capable of improving on the six medals won in Rio, the country’s best haul in the pool since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

“I think the mix of veteran leaders and new faces is awesome,” said Kylie Masse, a bronze medallist in the 100 metres backstroke in Rio and one of 10 returning Olympians. “That’s kind of how sport works, there are always older and younger athletes, and it’s a great dynamic to have.”

Leading the charge at the 2016 Rio Games was Oleksiak, who became Canada’s youngest Olympic champion winning gold in the 100m freestyle as a 16-year-old, while also grabbing silver in the 100m butterfly and two relay bronze.

The stage is set for a new star to emerge in Tokyo in 14-year-old Summer McIntosh, who edged Oleksiak in the 200m freestyle at the trials and breezed to victory in the 800m free.

At the other end of the experience and age spectrum is 37-year-old Brent Hayden, who came out of retirement to earn a spot on his fourth Olympic team, becoming the oldest Canadian Olympic swimmer in history.

Bronze medallist in the 100m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, Hayden clinched his spot with a win in the 50m freestyle at the Canadian trials that wrapped up on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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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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