PITTSBURGH — Not yet Cleveland. At least, not in Pittsburgh.
James Conner ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and the Steelers battered the Browns in a 38-7 blowout victory on Sunday to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1978. Ben Roethlisberger added 162 yards passing and a score.
Pittsburgh emphatically ended Cleveland’s four-game winning streak and extended the Browns’ skid at Heinz Field to 17 and counting.
The Browns (4-2) were unable to get anything going against a defence that sacked aching Baker Mayfield four times, picked him off twice and chased him late in the third quarter with the game out of reach. The NFL’s top rushing offence managed 75 yards on the ground — 113 below its season average — as the Steelers dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage in easily their best performance in 2020.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick stepped in front of a Mayfield pass and raced 33 yards to the end zone fors an early 10-0 lead. The Browns, off to the franchise’s best start since 1994, never really recovered in a stadium where they haven’t won since Mayfield was in elementary school.
RAVENS 30, EAGLES 28
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Lamar Jackson threw for a touchdown and ran for a score and the Ravens held on.
The Eagles (1-4-1) came in missing seven offensive starters, including four offensive linemen, and then lost two more when running back Miles Sanders left in the third quarter and tight end Zach Ertz exited in the fourth.
Still, the Ravens (5-1) needed to prevent a 2-point conversion with 1:55 remaining to secure the win. Carson Wentz was stopped by L.J. Fort and Matthew Judon trying to run it in. The Eagles wouldn’t have needed the conversion after Wentz sneaked in from the 1 if coach Doug Pederson kicked the extra point when they scored early in the third quarter to cut Baltimore’s deficit to 17-6.
Wentz tossed two TD passes, was sacked six times and managed to finish the game along with centre Jason Kelce as Philadelphia’s only healthy starters.
Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, was efficient, passing for 186 yards. He ran for a 37-yard TD and had 108 yards on the ground.
BRONCOS 18, PATRIOTS 12
FOXBOROUGH, Mass (AP) — Brandon McManus kicked six field goals and linebacker Malik Reed came up with a big sack late in a game twice delayed following positive coronavirus tests for both teams.
Sunday’s game was originally scheduled for last week but got postponed twice, first by a day, then by seven. The delay was caused after multiple Patriots players tested positive for COVID-19, including quarterback Cam Newton and reigning Defensive Player of the Year cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
New England (2-3) rallied from an 18-3 deficit and nearly pulled off the comeback, but had three turnovers.
Drew Lock finished 10 of 24 for 189 yards in his first start since injuring his shoulder in Denver’s Week 2 loss to Pittsburgh. He was steady early, but had back-to-back interceptions in the fourth quarter to let the Patriots back into the game.
Denver’s defence entered the game with two takeaways on the season. It forced three on Sunday, coming up with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. That underscored a rough day for New England, which was held to 288 yards.
It was the first game back for Newton, who returned after missing New England’s Week 4 loss at Kansas City. He finished 17 of 25 for 157 yards. He also rushed 10 times for 76 yards and touchdown.
TITANS 42, TEXANS 36, OT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derrick Henry took a direct snap and ran 5 yards for a touchdown 3:30 into overtime and the Titans remained undefeated.
The Titans (5-0) overcame two turnovers, Stephen Gostkowski having a field goal blocked and missing another, and the defence giving up 335 yards passing and four touchdown passes to Deshaun Watson.
Watson’s final TD pass put Houston (1-5) up 36-29 with 1:50 left, but a 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Ryan Tannehill, who had three of his 19 career winning drives to start this season, drove the Titans 76 yards before finding A.J. Brown on a 6-yard TD pass with 4 seconds left. Gostkowski made the extra point.
Henry, last season’s rushing leader, ran for 202 yards in regulation, including a 94-yard TD sprint. In overtime, he took a screen pass 53 yards on the second play. He capped the six-play, 82-yard drive with a wildcat snap for his second TD, finishing with 212 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving.
The Titans have their second-best start in franchise history since winning the first 10 games in 2008. Their win, combined with Pittsburgh’s victory over Cleveland, sets up a showdown between the AFC’s last two undefeated teams here in a week.
The Texans (1-5) nearly gave interim coach Romeo Crennel a second straight victory.
BEARS 23, PANTHERS 16
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Nick Foles threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Chicago’s defence forced three turnovers and sacked Teddy Bridgewater four times.
Foles finished with 198 yards passing and a touchdown and David Montgomery added 58 yards on the ground as the Bears (5-1) opened the season 3-0 on the road for the first time since 2006, when they reached the Super Bowl.
Bridgewater was under duress most of the game. He was held to a season-low 216 yards passing and was intercepted twice.
Chicago improved to 2-1 with Foles as the starter. The 2018 Super Bowl MVP also rallied the Bears past the Falcons when coach Matt Nagy benched Mitchell Trubisky in Week 3.
The Panthers (3-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped.
GIANTS 20, WASHINGTON 19
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Joe Judge and the New York Giants have finally won, and they have rookie Tae Crowder and a risky gamble by Washington coach Ron Rivera for making them relevant again.
Crowder, the last player taken in the NFL draft — Mr. Irrelevant — scooped up a fumble and ran 43 yards for a touchdown with 3:28 to play.
The game wasn’t decided until Rivera rolled the dice after a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with :36 left in regulation to cap a 10-play, 75-yard march.
Instead of playing for overtime, Rivera had Washington (1-5) go for the win with a 2-point conversion in an attempt to get back in the mediocre NFC East race. Allen found no one open, scrambled to his left and had his pass under pressure fall incomplete.
It gave the 38-year-old Judge his first win as an NFL coach and allowed the Giants (1-5) to avoid a second 0-6 start since 2013.
FALCONS 40, VIKINGS 21
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Julio Jones returned from injury to catch two of Matt Ryan’s four touchdown passes, as the Falcons got their first victory of the season — one week after the firing of head coach Dan Quinn.
Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions in the first half for the first time in his career, and the Falcons (1-5) turned those picks into 17 points to build a 20-0 lead at the break. That proved to be solid enough for even this falter-prone team.
The depleted Vikings (1-5) surrendered 40-plus points for the second time this year after going five straight seasons without any such games. After another injury left them with only rookies available at cornerback for more than half the game, Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 371 yards to rebound from a three-week stretch during which he only found the end zone once.
Jones, who missed all but one half of the previous three games with hamstring trouble, had eight receptions for 137 yards. Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurt each chipped in a touchdown catch, Younghoe Koo kicked four field goals, and the Falcons rewarded interim coach Raheem Morris with a win in his debut after Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were dismissed less than four years after the infamous blown 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl.
COLTS 31, BENGALS 27
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — After trailing 21-0, Philip Rivers rallied the Colts with three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score on the first play of the fourth quarter. It equaled the largest comeback in the franchise’s regular-season history. None of the previous four came at home, and the last time Indianapolis (4-2) achieved the feat came in 2003 at Tampa Bay. Only a 28-point comeback in the 2013 playoffs against Kansas City was a larger margin.
It’s the fifth time the Bengals (1-4-1) have blown a 21-point lead in franchise history, their second-worst all time.
Rivers was sensational. He wound up 29 of 44 with 371 yards, one interception, and threw the go-ahead 14-yard score to Jack Doyle. Rodrigo Sanchez added a 40-yard field goal and Julian Blackmon picked off Joe Burrow with 39 seconds left to seal it.
Cincinnati, down 28-27, could have taken the lead with a 48-yard field goal with 8:02 to play, but Randy Bullock hit the right upright.
The on-time kickoff came as a relief in Indianapolis after Friday morning’s scare. Four people inside the Colts’ facility initially tested positive for COVID-19. Second tests performed on the four proved to be false positives.
LIONS 34, JAGUARS 16
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Rookie D’Andre Swift ran for a career-high 116 yards and two touchdowns, and Matthew Stafford got an elusive TD pass against the only team he hadn’t thrown one against in 12 NFL seasons.
Detroit (2-3) made this one look easy, somewhat surprising considering the Lions had lost six straight in which they led by double digits. They’ve already done it three times this season, collapsing in losses to Chicago, Green Bay and New Orleans.
It probably helped that this one came against hapless Jacksonville (1-5), which has now lost five straight and allowed at least 30 points in each. It’s the first time in franchise history the Jaguars have done that, putting the jobs of coach Doug Marrone and defensive co-ordinator Todd Wash in more jeopardy.
Lions coach Matt Patricia can breathe easy for a week. He had lost 15 of his previous 17 games, raising speculation about his future with the franchise.
DOLPHINS 24, JETS 0
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes and the Dolphins held the Jets without a third-down conversion until the fourth quarter.
The game was so lopsided that Miami rookie Tua Tagovailoa made his NFL debut in mop-up duty with 2:27 left. The Dolphins’ potential franchise quarterback ran onto the field to a big roar from the crowd of 10,772, and a grinning Fitzpatrick waved to encourage more cheers.
The Dolphins (3-3) reached .500 for the first time under second-year coach Brian Flores and moved into second place in the AFC East behind Buffalo. The Jets (0-6) became the NFL’s only winless team and continued their worst start since 1996, increasing the heat on embattled coach Adam Gase.
The Dolphins blanked the Jets for the first time since the January 1983 AFC championship game, which they won 14-0.
BUCCANEERS 38, PACKERS 10
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady outplayed Aaron Rodgers in a rare meeting between the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks,
It was the 43-year-old Brady’s first signature victory since signing with the Bucs (4-2) after a historic 20-year run with the New England Patriots, which included nine NFL title game appearances and six championships.
He got his favourite target from his days with the Patriots into the mix, throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 28-10 halftime lead. It was Gronkowski’s first TD since December 2018 and the 79th for the quarterback/tight end tandem — tied for fourth on the all-time list with Miami’s Dan Marino and Mark Clayton.
Brady also threw a 7-yard TD pass to rookie Tyler Johnson and Ronald Jones had a pair of rushing TDs for Tampa Bay, which got an even more impressive performance from its defence.
Rodgers threw two interceptions — Green Bay’s first turnovers of the season — within a three-pass span of the second quarter to turn a 10-0 Packers lead into a 14-10 deficit.
Green Bay (4-1) never recovered.
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)