NEW ORLEANS — Patrick Mahomes‘ repertoire of side-arm throws, basketball-style push passes, underhanded flips and renowned improvisation humbled yet another highly regarded defence.
Mahomes passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns, and the Kansas City Chiefs extended their winning streak to nine games with a 32-29 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
“Patrick is more impressive than I could imagine,” said running back Le’Veon Bell, who joined the Chiefs in mid-October and scored a 12-yard touchdown on an option pitch from Mahomes. “He’s even more impressive in person. … I’m fortunate to be his teammate.”
The Kansas City defence did its part to spoil Drew Brees‘ return from rib fractures and a punctured lung that had kept the record-setting passer out four games.
While Brees passed for 234 yards and three TDs, he completed fewer than half of his passes and was intercepted for just the fourth time this season.
“I wasn’t real efficient, obviously, in the passing game,” Brees said. “I’d say that was a combination of forcing some things down the field instead of just taking a completion underneath. There were some miscues.”
The victory kept the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (13-1) in pole position to capture the AFC’s lone playoff bye as a No. 1 seed. The Saints (10-4), meanwhile, missed a chance to clinch the NFC South for a second straight week and now are longshots to capture the NFC’s top seed.
Mahomes’ scoring passes went for 5 yards each to Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, the latter coming as the Chiefs’ agile QB backpedaled toward the left sideline to avoid pressure and released a throw to the back corner of the end zone, where Hardman was able to snag it in traffic while narrowly getting two feet inbounds.
“The biggest challenge is when he extends plays,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of Mahomes. “A 2.5- or 3-second route turns into a 5- or 6-second route. That’s challenging.”
Mahomes’ second TD toss looked more like a basketball assist, a chest-pass to tight end Travis Kelce cutting behind blockers for a 1-yard score.
“It takes a lot of practice as far as getting the blocking right that quickly, finding a way to kind of push it in there,” Mahomes said, noting that the Chiefs scored on the same play against Denver two seasons ago. “The guys did a great job of giving me a lane to throw.”
Mahomes later used an underhanded forward flip to Kelce for a 2-point conversion after Bell’s TD, giving the Chiefs a 29-15 lead in the fourth quarter.
Bell’s score came one play after Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan was flagged for a personal foul and ejected for punching offensive lineman Andrew Wylie.
“We knew the only chance had against that front seven is if we took fight to them,” Wylie said. “It was a brawl, too.”
The Saints pulled to 29-22 when Trey Hendrickson stripped Mahomes while making his second sack of the game, setting up Alvin Kamara‘s 14-yard score on a short catch and run through a swarm of players along the right sideline.
Kansas City responded with a field goal before Brees pulled New Orleans within a field goal with his 17-yard pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey with 2:06 to go.
With two timeouts remaining, the Saints kicked deep, but could not prevent Mahomes and Co. from running out the clock.
Just 3,000 tickets were sold for this marquee matchup between contenders, but those in attendance got a first-hand look at Mahomes’ mesmerizing and unconventional flair for the dramatic.
On a third-and-8 conversion, Mahomes darted right to avoid defensive tackle David Onyemata, then suddenly stopped and stepped up as Jordan, in close pursuit, stumbled past. Mahomes then fired a pass to Sammy Watkins for a 23-yard gain. The play extended the drive that culminated with Kelce’s TD.
“Sammy was kind of my last read,” Mahomes said, crediting his offensive line and receivers for never giving up on the play. “You’ve got to have guys that are going to continue to battle the entire game.”
Brees’ first three passes fell incomplete before his fourth was intercepted by L’Jarius Sneed at the New Orleans 36-yard line, setting up Hill’s TD that made it 7-0.
Brees needed more than a full quarter to complete a pass or lead the Saints to a first down. His first completion came on his seventh pass. A few plays later, he hit Emmanuel Sanders 51 yards down the right sideline to set up Taysom Hill‘s 1-yard TD run.
The Saints cut it to 14-9 at the end of the half with a safety when Chiefs punt returner Demarcus Robinson fumbled into the end zone. Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone tried to fall on it, but it squirted out of bounds.
The Saints briefly took a 15-14 lead early in the third quarter when Brees found Latavius Murray late in a play that appeared to be breaking down and the running back scampered for a 24 -yard TD.
Chiefs: Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire needed help to the locker room in the fourth quarter, not putting any pressure on his left leg. Chiefs coach Andy Ried said X-rays were negative but that Edwards-Helaire required more evaluation. Reid said linebacker Emmanuel Smith injured his hamstring.
Saints: Receiver Tre’Quan Smith and safety Marcus Williams each left with ankle injuries in the second half.
Chiefs: Host Atlanta on Sunday in the first of two home games to finish the regular season.
Saints: Close out their home schedule against Minnesota on Christmas Day.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Blue Jays officially sign reliever Kirby Yates to one-year contract – Sportsnet.ca
Yates appeared in six games with the San Diego Padres during the 2020 shortened season before having surgery in August to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow.
During the 2019 season, the 33-year-old recorded an MLB-high 41 saves, walked only 13 batters and struck out 101 through 60.2 innings. In seven seasons with the Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, Yates has a career 3.54 ERA and 400 strikeouts through 282.1 innings.
Horvat, Canucks overcome Toffoli hat trick to beat Canadiens – TSN
VANCOUVER — Bo Horvat scored the shootout winner to give the Vancouver Canucks a 6-5 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday.
The Canucks captain put a shot between the legs of Montreal goalie Carey Price to seal the win in Vancouver’s home opener.
Horvat and Brock Boeser each had two goals and an assist for Vancouver (2-3-0) in regulation. Tyler Motte also scored for the Canucks, and J.T. Miller notched three assists.
Canucks goalie Braden Holtby stopped 31-of-36 shots through regulation and overtime.
Carey Price had 23 saves for the Canadiens (2-0-2), who have yet to be beaten in regulation this season.
Former Canuck Tyler Toffoli scored a hat trick for Montreal in regulation, while Jesper Kotkaniemi had a goal and an assist and Brendan Gallagher scored his first goal of the year.
Boeser forced overtime 16:51 into the third period, blasting a snap shot past Price for his second goal of the game.
Toffoli had put the Canadiens up by one 32 seconds earlier, deflecting in a shot by Jeff Petry.
Toffoli spent the end of last season in Vancouver after the Canucks acquired him from the L.A. Kings at the trade deadline. He had 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 10 regular-season appearances for Vancouver, then signed a four-year deal, at US$4.25-million per season with Montreal in free agency.
Kotkaniemi had evened the score at 4-4- with a blast from the top of the slot 10:14 into the third period.
It was the first goal of the season for the 20-year-old Habs forward.
Horvat had previously broken a 3-3 deadlock with a power-play goal 3:24 into the final frame.
Miller sent the Canucks captain a slick pass from below the goal line and Horvat snapped a shot past Price from the slot.
After struggling through the first four games of the season and failing to convert on 15 opportunities with the man advantage, Vancouver’s power play found its groove Wednesday
The Canucks opened the scoring with a power-play marker 11:07 into the game after Montreal’s Ben Chiarot was called for holding.
Miller slid a short pass to Horvat who riffled it in past Price for the Canucks’ first power-play goal of the season.
The home team added another 12:13 into the second frame when Kotkaniemi was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after appearing to say something untoward to an official.
Vancouver’s power play looked strong from the start, with shots from Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes missing the target before Boeser hammered in a rebound.
Motte also scored for the Canucks in the second period, patiently skating deep into Montreal territory and assessing his options before sending a wrist shot past Price.
Vancouver suffered some breakdowns in the second frame, though, starting 1:37 in when the squad lost track of Toffoli during a Canadiens change.
Kotkaniemi sent Toffoli the puck and he waltzed deep into the Vancouver zone alone, putting a shot over Holtby’s blocker.
It was the 28-year-old centre’s first goal of the year.
Toffoli struck again with a power-play goal 5:27 into the second period after Antoine Roussell was called for interference.
Nick Suzuki sent the puck rocketing towards the Vancouver net and Toffoli tipped it in for his second goal of the game.
Gallagher added to the Canadiens goals to close out the period, deflecting a pass from Tomas Tatar into the net and ensuring the score was tied at 3-3 heading into the second intermission.
Wednesday’s game marked the first the Canucks played in Vancouver in 316 days.
Without fans in the stands, players from both sides could be heard vocally disputing the officials’ calls and cheering teammates on.
Simulated crowd noise pumped into the arena sounded similar to the background noise in videogames.
Midway through the second period, a video on the big screen over centre ice read “make some noise,” challenging the upper bowl to compete with the lower bowl as both sat empty.
Montreal won’t have to wait long to seek revenge for the loss — the Canadiens and Canucks will face off again in Vancouver on Thursday.
NOTES: Canucks defenceman Jalen Chatfield made his NHL debut. The 24-year-old from Ypsilanti, Mich., went undrafted before signing as a free agent with Vancouver in March 2017.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.
The Edmonton Oilers know that an ugly 3-1 win in Toronto is still a win – Edmonton Journal
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ADAM LARSSON. 7. Turned in a tremendous defensive effort, including 2 big shot blocks late with the Leaf’s net empty. A smart 2nd Period clear was just 1 of a half-dozen sharp plays he made with either his stick or his body. +1 with 5 blocks in a rock-solid 19:50. If Larsson can deliver this kind of effort consistently, what a boon it would be for this club in its own end.
SLATER KOEKKOEK. 7. This is fast looking like a terrific pickup. Koekkoek and Larsson formed a pretty effective shut-down pairing, allowing Barrie and Russell to see some softer minutes (in which they thrived). Koekkoek had 2 shots, a hit and 2 blocks against a lot of tough comp. A number of cycle busters and a couple clears at important times. Looking good.
KYLE TURRIS. 4. Nothing doing with the puck (0 points, 0 shots and weak shot shares). Turris did turn in an intelligent defensive effort. The most notable of those was an essential faceoff win in his own zone to relieve the pressure after he and his mates had been pinned deep. But as a 3C, they need more from him.
JOAKIM NYGARD. 4. Worked hard enough but came out on the short end of scoring chances by a 2-to-1 margin while he was on the ice. And committed a 1st Period turnover. Could be a candidate to be replaced on Friday.
JESSE PULJUJARVI. 6. Has a solid game in a lot of little but important ways. Good net front presence on the 3rd Period Power Play and was rewarded with an assist after a pass deflected off his skate. An extra effort diving play helped Ethan Bear clear the zone after pressure in the 2nd. Another good clear of the D-zone in the 3rd. Then finished his night with a solid body check on Marner.
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