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Hail Murray: Cardinals stun Bills in final seconds – TSN

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — DeAndre Hopkins knows that football fans might view his final, winning catch on Sunday as some sort of miracle. Even the players and coaches for the Arizona Cardinals couldn’t hide their disbelief when he jumped over three Buffalo defenders and came down with the ball.

But the three-time All-Pro insists there was no magic needed. Just skill.

“Two plus two equals four,” Hopkins said in his usual low-key delivery. “Go downfield. Throw it up.”

And that’s exactly what the Cardinals did. Kyler Murray completed a stunning 43-yard desperation pass to Hopkins with 2 seconds left to lift Arizona to an improbable 32-30 victory over the Bills.

The catch was as sensational as the throw, which was quickly dubbed a “Hail Murray.”

The game appeared lost for the Cardinals until Murray rolled out to his left as the seconds ticked off the clock. He flung the ball toward the end zone, where Hopkins was waiting with three Buffalo defenders draped all over him.

“I knew when it left my hand it had a chance,” Murray said. “You play quarterback, you can tell the trajectory, the touch of the ball.”

Somehow, Hopkins ripped the ball away from the mass of bodies, and the Cardinals started a wild celebration in the end zone.

“I’m still kind of at a loss for words,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “What a phenomenal play.”

Josh Allen threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs with 34 seconds left that looked like it would win it for the Bills (7-3). But Murray and the Cardinals (6-3, tied for the NFC West lead) ended the Bills’ winning streak at three games with the improbable throw and catch.

It was a crazy ending to another entertaining Cardinals game, which usually have come down to the final seconds in recent weeks. Murray threw for 245 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Hopkins had seven catches for 127 yards — and he’ll remember the last one for a long, long time.

“It was on three people. They were in position. It was just a better catch by I,” Hopkins said.

The Cardinals trailed 23-9 midway through the third quarter but responded with two touchdown drives sandwiched around a field goal to take a 26-23 lead by the beginning of the fourth. Murray, wearing bright yellow cleats, ran for both of the touchdowns, including a 15-yard dash up the middle that gave Arizona its first lead of the day.

“He is playing at a ridiculous level,” Kingsbury said. “You have seen it the last few weeks after that first month. Offensively, we have really settled in. Mixing in tempo making great decisions whether it is with his feet, his arm. It is fun to watch. He’s making us right on a lot of plays.”

Allen was having a mediocre game until the late drive that lasted 12 plays and went 73 yards. The quarterback capped the series with a perfect throw to a diving Diggs, who finished with 10 catches for 93 yards. But it wasn’t enough for the Bills, who couldn’t stop Hopkins in the end zone.

“Yeah, I thought we guarded it pretty well,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said. “We had three people around him . … It’s really not a whole lot of anything else to say, just got to find a way to get that ball out of his hands some way, somehow.”

Allen completed 32 of 49 passes for 284 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Cole Beasley had 11 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.

“You’re not gonna win every game, but to lose this one the way we did — it hurts,” Allen said.

Buffalo pushed ahead 23-9 when Allen hit Beasley for a 22-yard touchdown after Arizona’s Kenyan Drake lost a fumble.

But the Cardinals responded with a nine-play, 85-yard drive that ended with Murray’s 1-yard touchdown run. Zane Gonzalez followed with a 45-yard field goal and Murray ran for a 15-yard score for the 26-23 lead.

Allen handed the ball off to Isaiah McKenzie, who then turned and threw it back to the quarterback, who ran 12 yards for Buffalo’s opening score. Allen is the 11th Buffalo player to catch a touchdown pass this season, a franchise record.

Tyler Bass added field goals from 58, 55 and 54 yards for a 16-9 halftime lead. The rookie’ 54-yarder bounced off the right upright before going through for three points. They were the three longest field goals of his short career.

The Cardinals had a frustrating first half with 206 total yards but zero touchdowns. Gonzalez made field goals from 23, 42 and 21 yards.

CONSISTENT MURRAY

Murray has run for at least one touchdown in five consecutive games to tie a franchise record. He’s the first quarterback in the NFL to do it since Green Bay’s Tobin Rote in 1956.

INJURIES

Bills: Four players missed the game when put on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including cornerback Josh Norman. … LB A.J. Epenesa left in the first half and was evaluated for a head injury. … CB Dane Jackson (knee) left in the third quarter.

Cardinals: TE Darrell Daniels (ankle) left in the second quarter. … DL Corey Peters was carted off the field in the second quarter with a knee injury. … LB De’Vondre Campbell (calf) left the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Bills: The Bills enter their bye week, play again Nov. 29 at home to the Chargers.

Cardinals: travel to Seattle on Thursday night.

___

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

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Goff, defence leads Rams to win over Brady and Bucs – TSN

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TAMPA, Fla. — Jared Goff likes how the Los Angeles Rams are shaping up.

“We can be as good as we want to be, honestly,” the fifth-year quarterback said after Monday night’s 27-24 victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “We’ve got it all in front of us. Everything is there for us to take.”

Goff threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns, and Matt Gay kicked a 40-yard field goal with 2:36 remaining to lift the Rams back into first place in the NFC West.

Goff completed 39 of 51 passes, including short scoring throws to Robert Woods, Van Jefferson and Cam Akers. The Rams’ defence pressured Brady all night and sealed the win with rookie safety Jordan Fuller’s second interception of the six-time Super Bowl champion.

Goff threw a pair of interceptions, too, helping the Bucs remain close in the second half.

But when the Rams (7-3) needed him to stand tall, he rebounded to lead them right down the field to retake the lead after Brady tied it with his second TD pass.

“I’ve always believed in myself in any situation, but when you actually do it in a tough environment, it makes you feel good,” Goff said.

“Jared just continued to demonstrate resilience,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I love the fact he was outstanding from the jump. We had that one little mistake, and he just kept competing. What he did in terms of leading us down the field at the most important moment was critical.”

Cooper Kupp had 11 receptions for 145 yards and Woods finished with 10 catches for 130 yards. Both caught passes on the eight-play, 53-yard drive Goff led to move Los Angeles into position for Gay’s winning kick.

Brady was 26 of 48 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams sacked him once after getting to Russell Wilson six times in the previous week’s 23-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

“Disappointed. I have to do a better job,” Brady said.

Tampa Bay was limited to a touchdown and field goal in the second half, both set up by interceptions thrown by Goff.

“They did a good job preventing (the big play),” Brady said. “They play a defence that makes them tough to hit. Not impossible, but we didn’t hit any.”

Gay, a 2019 Bucs draft pick who was released after a rookie season marked by inconsistency, is the Rams’ third kicker in four weeks.

“I found out on Monday that the Rams were bringing me in,” Gay said. ”It was a quick flight so I could begin testing so I could be eligible for the game. Saturday was the first day I could be in the building. Luckily we played Monday night.”

The Bucs (7-4) fell to 1-3 in four prime-time games despite avoiding the type of slow start that hurt them in losses to the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints and nearly cost them in a narrow victory over the New York Giants.

Coach Bruce Arians adjusted the team’s preparation schedule last week, holding two practices at night — one at Raymond James Stadium.

“Everybody is disappointed. Everybody was ready to play,” Arians said. “We played a good football team. Nobody’s head is down.”

Brady answered a 10-play, 80-yard, 7-minute, 55-second drive Goff led to give the Rams a 7-0 lead with a couple of long scoring drives of his own to put the Bucs up 14-7 with a 9-yard TD pass to Mike Evans.

Goff threw first-half TD passes to Woods and Jefferson, then used Woods’ 20-yard catch and run to the Tampa Bay 20 to set up Gay’s 38-yard field goal as time expired to give Los Angeles a 17-14 lead at halftime.

With the Bucs trailing 24-17, Brady took advantage of Goff throwing his second interception of the night. Chris Godwin’s 13-yard TD catch made it 24-all, setting the stage for Goff to move the Rams downfield for the go-ahead field goal.

Fuller, a sixth-round draft pick who came off injured reserve last week, ensured Los Angeles improved to 32-0 when leading at halftime under McVay.

“I was just in my zone, and the quarterback ended up throwing it in my direction,” said Fuller, who interestingly — like Brady — was selected 199th overall in the draft.

“I was just telling myself, ‘Don’t drop it, don’t drop it, don’t drop it.’ The second one was kind of the same,” Fuller added. “I was just reading the quarterback’s eyes and was able to go out there and get it.”

HISTORIC CREW

An all-Black officiating crew worked an NFL game for the first time in league history.

Referee Jerome Boger led the crew, which also included umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.

The members of Monday night’s officiating crew have a combined 89 seasons of NFL experience and have worked six Super Bowls.

The first Black official in any major sport was Burl Toler, hired by the NFL in 1965.

INJURIES

Rams: Did not announce any injuries during the game.

Buccaneers: LG Ali Marpet missed his third consecutive game due to a concussion. … LT Donovan Smith injured his left ankle on the first offensive play of the game, but returned. … CB Jamel Dean left in the third quarter with a concussion.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host NFC West rival San Francisco next Sunday.

Buccaneers: Remain at home to host defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City on Sunday.

___

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

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Raptors smoothly mix present and future in pivoting from Gasol and Ibaka to Baynes, Len – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

The Bucks, finalist Miami, Raptor-beaters Boston, a more balanced Philadelphia squad and Brooklyn should all be solid and another team or two usually are a lot better than expected, but this Raptors group should be in the mix in the East.

Of course getting back to where they want to be, contenders again for the NBA title, will take that second part of the plan paying off next off-season.

In the meantime, expect a competitive, fundamentally sound, reasonably deep Toronto Raptors team to take the court in Tampa Bay in 2020-21.

Considering who has exited, that doesn’t sound too bad.

BOOSTING THE BENCH

The Raptors should have an intriguing bench after adding centre Alex Len and guard/forward DeAndre Bembry to the mix.

Len, a 7-footer who split last season with Atlanta and Sacramento, was once highly-regarded enough to be in contention for the first pick of the 2013 draft by Cleveland. He ended up going fifth to Phoenix and has averaged eight points and 6.3 rebounds in 467 games. Injuries have been a major factor for the Ukraine native, but when he plays he has shown he can defend, rebound, score inside and step out with mixed success.

He’ll backup fellow newcomer Aron Baynes, with Canadian Chris Boucher likely to split time between power forward and centre.

Bembry, 6-foot-5, is known for his effort level, defence and athleticism. He can handle the ball a bit and create, but has struggled to shoot from everywhere on the floor aside from right at the rim, where he’s a good finisher. Bembry has shot just 27% from three in 189 career games, but with the status of two other potential Nick Nurse options uncertain, could be in the mix for some playing time.

Guard Terence Davis is facing legal issues and the Raptors will make a call on whether to cut or keep him by Nov. 29. Nurse favourite Patrick McCaw has not played since March due to a knee issue.

@WolstatSun

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Memo details updates to NFL's COVID-19 protocols; masks required for players on sidelines – NFL.com

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Major updates to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols were sent to all clubs on Monday in a memo obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Among the updates are a mandate for players to wear face coverings on the sideline if they are not wearing a helmet or entering a game starting with games played this Thursday. Those who do not subject to discipline.

The memo delivered a particularly pointed message noted by Pelissero: “Players who fail to wear masks on the sidelines will be subject to discipline. Clubs are required to enforce these rules. Violations by players and/or staff will result in accountability measures being imposed upon the Club.”

As coronavirus positive cases rise throughout the country, it is another step taken by the league to aid in combatting the spread of COVID-19 and it altering the 2020 season.

Some additional points of note:

  • Beginning Week 12, the maximum number of players able to travel to road games will be reduced to 62. To ensure equity, teams must submit a list of players designated as eligible to attend and/or play by 4 p.m. ET the day before game day to the league office.
  • Play-callers will no be required to wear a face mask or double-layered gaiter in addition to a face shied to be consistent with all other coaches who choose to wear face shields.
  • Postgame interactions between players and/or staff will be limited.
  • Starting Nov. 30, access to club facilities will be limited to those designated as “Essential Football, Essential Support or Other Medical/Special Services.” All others must now work remotely or a separate facility.
  • Beginning with Week 13 games, all members of teams’ traveling parties must wear N95 or KN95 masks on the team plane and on the team bus.

The memo was sent on a day in which notable NFL players such as Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen, Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson and multiple Baltimore Ravens were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

All 32 NFL teams currently are operating under the league’s COVID-19 intensive protocol for the remainder of the 2020 season.

The full updated protocol can be viewed below.

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