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NFL Roundup: Steelers remain unbeaten, Tagovailoa wins NFL debut – Sportsnet.ca

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BALTIMORE — The Pittsburgh Steelers rallied behind Ben Roethlisberger to remain the lone unbeaten team in the NFL, beating error-prone Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens 28-24 Sunday in a duel for first place in the AFC North.

Roethlisberger threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to bring Pittsburgh (7-0) back from a 10-point halftime deficit. After completing only four passes for 24 yards in the first half, the 38-year-old finished 21 for 32 for 182 yards.

Jackson threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles, turnovers that helped Pittsburgh stay within striking distance until its offence finally got on track.

The Steelers led 28-24 when the Ravens (5-2) faced a fourth-and-3 at the Pittsburgh 8 with 2 minutes left. Jackson ran a quarterback draw and lost the ball while being stopped short.

Baltimore got the ball back and moved to the Pittsburgh 23 before Jackson’s pass in the end zone was broken up on the final play.

Earlier, Robert Spillane took an interception back for a score to end Baltimore’s first possession; Jackson lost a fumble inside the Pittsburgh 5; and Alex Hightower set up a Steelers touchdown by picking off a pass on Baltimore’s initial offensive play of the second half.

The Steelers stretched their streak of games with at least one sack to 64, and Baltimore’s run of games with a takeaway reached 20 when Peters forced a fumble by Claypool in the first quarter.

BILLS 24, PATRIOTS 21

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Backup defensive lineman Justin Zimmer punched the ball out of Cam Newton’s arms and the fumble was recovered by safety Dean Marlowe at the Buffalo 13 with 31 seconds remaining to secure the win.

Zack Moss scored two touchdowns rushing and the AFC East-leading Bills are off to consecutive 6-2 starts for the first time since a six-year run from 1988 to 1993. Buffalo snapped a seven-game skid against the division-rival Patriots, and beat a Bill Belichick-coaches New England team for just the sixth time in 41 meetings, going back to 2000.

New England dropped to 2-5 and has lost four in a row, matching its worst skid since 2002.

The game was decided just as the Patriots were threatening to at least force overtime. Facing second-and-10 at the Buffalo 19, Newton took the snap and followed a line of blockers to his left. Zimmer came diving in from behind and punched out the ball, which rolled directly into Marlowe’s arms.

DOLPHINS 28, RAMS 17

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Tua Tagovailoa threw his first career touchdown pass and then let his teammates take over with a succession of big plays.

The Dolphins stamped themselves as playoff contenders by earning their third consecutive win. They struck for scores 75 seconds apart on Andrew Van Ginkel’s 78-yard fumble return and Jakeem Grant’s team-record 88-yard punt return. They came up with four takeaways in the first half and at halftime led 28-10 despite being outgained 224-54.

The big plays helped Tagovailoa overcome a costly early turnover in his first NFL start. The No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft finished 12 of 22 for 93 yards.

The Rams (5-3) ran 92 plays to the Dolphins’ 48, and Miami won while totalling eight first downs and 145 yards. The Dolphins (4-3) have outscored opponents by a combined 95-34 in the past three games, and they’re above .500 for the first time in their 23 games under second-year coach Brian Flores.

SAINTS 26, BEARS 23, OT

CHICAGO — Drew Brees threw FOR two touchdowns to regain the NFL’s all-time lead from Tom Brady, and Wil Lutz nailed a 35-yard field goal in overtime.

The Bears’ Cairo Santos booted a 51-yard field goal at the end of regulation to force the extra period.

The Saints (5-2) led 23-13 early in the fourth quarter after scoring 20 consecutive points, only to have Chicago rally in the closing minutes of regulation. But the three-time defending NFC South champions pulled out their fourth straight win when Lutz connected on their second possession of OT.

The Saints had a first down at the 16 when coach Sean Payton called on him. And Lutz delivered, sending the Bears (5-3) to their second straight loss. New Orleans tied Tampa Bay for the division lead, with Brady and the Buccaneers meeting the struggling New York Giants on Monday night.

Chicago receiver Javon Wims got ejected for punching New Orleans safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the third quarter. Marshon Lattimore then intercepted Nick Foles, leading to a tiebreaking field goal by Lutz.

Brees added a 20-yard touchdown to Taysom Hill to make it 23-13 early in the fourth period. The Bears (5-3) pulled within three with 3:32 remaining on Foles’ 3-yard pass to Darnell Mooney.

After the Saints went three-and-out, Chicago tied it with 13 seconds left on Santos’ field goal into the wind.

SEAHAWKS 37, 49ERS 27

SEATTLE — Russell Wilson threw four more touchdown passes, two to DK Metcalf. Wilson and Metcalf tormented San Francisco and its banged-up secondary as the top-scoring offence in the league continued to pile up points. The Seahawks (6-1) have scored at least 30 points in six of seven games.

Wilson hit Metcalf on a pair of first-half touchdown passes, but it was a 2 1/2-minute sequence midway through the third quarter when Seattle blew the game open.

Wilson found rookie DeeJay Dallas on a 2-yard TD pass after San Francisco went three-and-out to open the second half for a 20-7 lead. Dante Pettis fumbled the ensuing kickoff on a big hit from Cody Barton. Six plays later, Wilson evaded pressure in the pocket and zipped a 6-yard TD pass to David Moore for a 27-7 lead.

Seattle added one more score on a 1-yard TD run by Dallas with 3:33 left after the 49ers (4-4) pulled within 10.

Wilson finished 27 of 37 for 261 yards and has 26 TD passes on the season, one behind Tom Brady for the most in the first seven games of a season.

BRONCOS 31, CHARGERS 30

DENVER — Drew Lock hit rookie KJ Hamler from 1 yard with no time on the clock and Brandon McManus nailed the extra point to win it. The Broncos (3-4) overcame a 24-3 deficit and rallied after being held to 60 first-half yards, including 2 on the ground.

The Chargers (2-5) appeared primed to end their seven-game AFC West losing streak behind another great performance by rookie Justin Herbert, who joined Deshaun Watson as the only QBs in NFL history with four straight games with three TD passes. But the Chargers became the first team to lose three games they led by 17 or more points in the same season since the Atlanta Falcons did it in 2003.

The Broncos got the ball at their 19 with 2:24 remaining and Lock drove them 81 yards in 14 plays, helped by two defensive flags.

On fourth-and-4 from the 18 with 7 seconds left, Lock’s pass to rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was incomplete, but defensive back Brandon Facyson was whistled for pass interference, giving the Broncos the ball at the 1 with 1 second remaining.

Lock took the snap, rolled right and found Hamler in the back of the end zone. He got down before going out of bounds with no time left.

VIKINGS 28, PACKERS 22

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Dalvin Cook gained 226 yards from scrimmage and became the first Viking in over four decades to score four touchdowns in a single game.

The Vikings withstood a three-touchdown performance from receiver Davante Adams, who had seven catches for 53 yards.

Green Bay had the ball at Minnesota’s 41-yard line with 12 seconds and no timeouts left, but D.J. Wonnum sacked Aaron Rodgers and knocked the ball loose. Eric Wilson recovered at the 24 as time expired.

Cook missed Minnesota’s last game with a groin injury that had him listed as questionable, but he looked just fine while dicing up Green Bay’s defence all day. Each of the Vikings’ first four possessions ended with Cook touchdowns. He ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. Cook also had two catches for 63 yards, including a 50-yard score.

The only other Vikings to score four touchdowns in a game are Ahmad Rashad in 1979 and Chuck Foreman in 1975.

RAIDERS 16, BROWNS 6

CLEVELAND — Derek Carr threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow early in the fourth quarter and Daniel Carlson kicked three field goals in windy, wintry conditions along Lake Erie.

Carr’s strike to Renfrow with 14:53 to go was the game’s only TD and helped the Raiders (4-3) bounce back after they fell apart late in last week’s 45-20 loss to Tampa Bay.

Using running back Josh Jacobs and a short passing game, Carr controlled the clock in the second half and kept the ball away from the Browns (5-3).

On the Raiders’ first two drives after halftime, the first leading to their go-ahead TD and the other to Carlson’s 24-yard field goal with 4:24 left, they ate up 17:41. Jacobs finished with a career-high 128 yards _ 80 in the second half _ on 31 carries. Last week, he had just 17 yards on 10 attempts.

The Raiders had allowed 10-plus points in an NFL-record 116 straight games.

BENGALS 31, TITANS 20

CINCINNATI — After watching Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine run for early scores, Joe Burrow threw two fourth-quarter TD passes and closed it out with a time-consuming drive.

The Bengals (2-5-1) blew leads each of the previous two weeks, but Burrow would not allow it to happen again. Instead, he threw for 249 yards and the crucial late scores to snap a three-game losing streak. Cincinnati has matched its victory total from last season. And it was the first time second-year head coach Zac Taylor has defeated a team with a winning record.

Tennessee (5-2) has lost two straight and had a five-game road winning streak end. The Titans are now tied with the Indianapolis Colts atop the AFC South.

Cincinnati’s reversal of fortune came on a day that began with five offensive starters on the inactive list and despite A.J. Green again struggling to become a major contributor. Somehow, though, Burrow found a winning combination.

Derrick Henry rushed for 188 yards but it was the first time Tennessee has lost when Henry topped the 100-yard mark.

CHIEFS 35, JETS 9

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes threw for 416 yards and five touchdowns, the Kansas City defence shut down Sam Darnold and the inept Jets offence.

Tyreek Hill had 98 yards receiving and two touchdowns, Travis Kelce finished with 109 yards and another score, and Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson also reached the end zone. The Chiefs (7-1) gave Andy Reid his 229th win to move into a tie with Hall of Fame coach Curly Lambeau for fifth most in NFL history.

Le’Veon Bell, getting a crack at the Jets just a few weeks after they released him, was held to 7 yards rushing with three catches for another 31 yards _ though it wasn’t as if Kansas City needed him.

Darnold, who was without top receivers Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman because of injuries, was 18 of 30 for 133 yards as the Jets fell to 0-8 for the first time since the 1996 team of Rich Kotite that went 1-15.

COLTS 41, LIONS 21

DETROIT — Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter to give Indianapolis a double-digit lead.

Rivers picked apart Detroit’s defence while completing 23 of 33 attempts, mostly short passes to the outside or over the middle. The 38-year-old quarterback also showed he still has some arm strength to go along with his savvy touch, perfectly throwing a 29-yard pass to Nyheim Hines late in the first half.

The Colts (5-2) were healthy and looked rested and ready to roll after being idle last week and improved to 3-0 after a bye under coach Frank Reich.

The Lions (3-4) lost a seventh straight home game, dating to last season, and missed an opportunity to win three in a row for the first time with coach Matt Patricia.

Matthew Stafford was 24 of 42 for 336 yards with three touchdowns, two to Marvin Jones, and two costly turnovers.

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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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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

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)

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Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills

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North Division

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.

Passers

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.

Shooting

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.

Stick Handling

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.

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