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Rams advance to Super Bowl with stunning win over 49ers – TSN

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — After Matthew Stafford‘s wife leaped into his arms, he took a moment to soak it all in — this victory, this confetti-strewn field, this remarkable year of his life.

One year to the day after the quarterback agreed to join the star-studded Los Angeles Rams for a shot at a ring, their chances were dimming rapidly when they headed into the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game down by double digits to the mighty San Francisco 49ers.

But with three gritty scoring drives followed by a cathartic defensive stand, the Rams secured the right to stay home for the Super Bowl — and Stafford shone the brightest in this impressive constellation.

Travin Howard made a game-sealing interception with 1:09 to play, and the Rams roared back in the fourth quarter to secure a spot in the Super Bowl at their home stadium next month with a thrilling 20-17 victory Sunday night.

“You can’t write the story any better,” Stafford said. “I’m at a loss for words. I’m just having a blast playing ball with these guys and, shoot, we’ve got one more at the home stadium. Let’s get it done.”

Los Angeles will welcome the Cincinnati Bengals in two weeks for Super Bowl 56 in Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s multibillion-dollar SoFi Stadium.

Stafford passed for 337 yards and hit Cooper Kupp with two touchdown passes for the Rams (15-5), who began the fourth quarter down 17-7. But after Kupp’s second TD catch and a tying field goal on a drive extended by Jaquiski Tartt’s brutal dropped interception, the Rams drove for Matt Gay’s go-ahead, 30-yard field goal with 1:46 to play.

Los Angeles’ defense then won it when Aaron Donald got hold of Jimmy Garoppolo and forced him to fling a pass toward JaMycal Hasty. The ball caromed high in the air off Hasty’s hands and came straight down to Howard — and it was secured by the fourth-year pro who only recently got a prominent role on LA’s defense.

“I’ve got total trust and confidence in that defense, man,” said Stafford, the 13-year veteran who never won a playoff game before this month. “They’ve been unbelievable all year. Way to freakin’ ice the game. I loved it.”

Kupp finished with 11 catches for 142 yards in his latest spectacular game, while Odell Beckham Jr. punched his ticket to his first Super Bowl with yet another strong performance by Los Angeles’ midseason acquisition, making nine catches for 113 yards.

“The story could not be written any better for us to play them in the NFC championship and then shut the door,” Beckham said of the 49ers.

The Rams won their second conference title in the past four years under coach Sean McVay and moved one step from the franchise’s second championship in the Super Bowl era.

Perhaps even more impressively, Los Angeles finally snapped a six-game losing streak against its San Francisco archrivals, who secured their playoff berth with an overtime comeback victory in Inglewood just three weeks ago.

“I think we knew what a great team this was, but our guys genuinely knew that what happened in the previous six games had nothing to do with what was going to happen when we kicked this one off,” McVay said.

The Rams have only won twice when trailing by double digits in the second half during McVay’s half-decade in charge — and both victories were in conference championship games.

Deebo Samuel and George Kittle caught touchdown passes from Garoppolo, who passed for 232 yards in a heartbreaker for the 49ers (12-8). While San Francisco’s defense faltered late, coach Kyle Shanahan also punted twice from the Rams’ half of the field and a third time from the 50, and that caution likely ended up costing the Niners.

“I thought we had them on the ropes, but we gave them a chance,” Shanahan said. “When you give those guys too many chances, eventually they are going to make them.”

San Francisco also will lament its late-game execution, but no mistake was bigger than the dropped interception by Tartt, who could have put the Rams in dire straits moments after McVay wasted his final timeout on a failed challenge early in the fourth quarter.

“I felt confident the entire game,” Kittle said. “Felt we were calm. They just made real good play. The Rams have superstars all over the field.”

Those stars started slowly: Stafford threw a tipped end-zone interception on the Rams’ second drive, and the Niners answered a subsequent 97-yard LA scoring drive with yet another moment of brilliance from Samuel. The All-Pro caught an inside screen pass and rampaged through the Los Angeles defense, diving to the pylon for his first career postseason scoring catch.

The Rams appeared to be in real trouble when San Francisco’s defense stopped them on downs near midfield in the third quarter and Garoppolo hit Kittle for his second TD pass moments later. But Los Angeles kept it close with a gritty drive ending in Kupp’s 11-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter.

BOWLING AT HOME

After 54 consecutive Super Bowls without an NFL team playing in its home stadium, the Rams are the second team to do it in two seasons after Tampa Bay broke the streak last year.

FUN WITH FLAGS

McVay unsuccessfully challenged two calls in the second half, failing to overturn a fourth-down spot for his offense or a potential Niners fumble. The decisions — and another wasted timeout before a first-down play — left Los Angeles with no timeouts and 10:01 to play.

INJURIES

49ers: LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles hurt his knee in the first half and didn’t return. … LB Dre Greenlaw injured his calf in the first half. … DE Arden Key was evaluated for a head injury at halftime.

Rams; TE Tyler Higbee injured his knee in the first half and didn’t return. … RB Cam Akers (shoulder) and WR Van Jefferson (knee) missed time in the first half, but returned.

UP NEXT

49ers: The season is over. San Francisco made five NFC title games in the past 11 years, but won no rings.

Rams: A showdown with Joe Burrow and the impressive Bengals on Feb. 13 in the Super Bowl with two starting quarterbacks who were both No. 1 overall picks. The other came six years ago when Peyton Manning faced Cam Newton.

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Alex Newhook Becomes Third Newfoundlander To Win The Cup – VOCM

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Newfoundland and Labrador’s Alex Newhook is a Stanley Cup Champion.

The Colorado Avalanche finally dethroned the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday night, holding on for a 2 -1 victory and taking the series 4-2.

Newhook becomes the third Newfoundland player to win the Cup, following Daniel Cleary of Harbour Grace and Bonavista’s Michael Ryder.

Newhook had four points in 12 games this post-season and, at the age of 21, becomes the youngest player from this province to ever win the Cup.

Anticipation now builds toward this summer when it’s expected Newhook and the Cup will make the trip home.

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Andreescu's 3-year title drought extended at Wimbledon tune-up in Germany – CBC Sports

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Caroline Garcia won her first tour title in three years after coming back from a set and a break down to beat 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday in the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany.

Andreescu was looking for her first title since beating Serena Williams in the 2019 final at Flushing Meadows before injuries forced her to miss the entire 2020 season.

“I’m very happy. It’s been a couple of rough years but, you know, I’m putting in the work and on to the next. I’m excited for Wimbledon,” said Andreescu, who became visibly emotional while thanking her team. “You guys stuck with me through the toughest moments and that’s all anyone could ever ask for.”

She has drawn American qualifier Emina Bektas in the first round of Wimbledon next week. Garcia has Yuriko Miyazaki of Britain for her opener.

WATCH | Andreescu falls to Garcia in Bad Homburg final:

Andreescu falls to Garcia in Bad Homburg final

1 day ago

Duration 2:40

France’s Caroline Garcia battled past Canadian Bianca Andreescu to win 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 in Germany on Saturday.

Garcia took a medical timeout for what seemed to be a shoulder problem early in the second set. She then went 4-2 down before winning 10 of the next 14 games to seal the match ahead of the start of Wimbledon on Monday.

“It was a fight [for] every point from the first to the last one,” Garcia said.

Garcia is 8-3 in career finals but her last title was almost exactly three years ago in Nottingham in the build-up to the 2019 Wimbledon tournament.

WATCH | Canadian tennis star Andreescu answers questions from kids: 

Bianca Andreescu answers questions from kids

2 days ago

Duration 4:02

Canadian tennis champ Bianca Andreescu answers questions and offers a few words of advice to young athletes from the Ontario Racquet Club in Mississauga.

Kvitova captures Eastbourne title

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova tuned up for the Grand Slam tournament by overpowering Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2 to win the Eastbourne title on Saturday in England.

The 14th-seeded Kvitova earned her first grass-court title in four years — and 29th trophy of her singles career overall – after breaking Ostapenko, the defending champion, early in both sets and feasting on the Latvian’s second serve.

Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the second set to stay in control of the match at 3-1.

“Playing on the grass is very special for me every time,” the 32-year-old Czech player said in her on-court interview. “It’s the best preparation for Wimbledon, as well.”

Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, plays Tuesday at the All England Club in a first-round match against Jasmine Paolini of Italy.

She is now 5-1 in grass-court finals in her career. Her most recent title on grass had been Birmingham in 2018.

Injured Keys, Coric out of Wimbledon

Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, and Borna Coric withdrew from Wimbledon on Saturday because of injuries.

The tournament begins Monday.

Keys, an American who was seeded 19th at the All England Club, pulled out because of a hurt abdominal muscle.

She was replaced in the field by Coco Vandeweghe, twice a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and twice a semifinalist at other Grand Slam tournaments, who lost in qualifying this week. Vandeweghe’s first-round opponent will be No. 17 seed Elena Rybakina.

“This isn’t what I was hoping to say a few days before @Wimbledon, but unfortunately I have to withdraw due to an abdominal injury,” world number 24 Keys tweeted.

“I’m so disappointed, but my health comes first and my body needs time to get back to 100%. Lots of love London fans. See you next year.”

Former world No. 7 Keys won her first title since 2019 at the Adelaide WTA tournament in January before reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

She was defeated in the French Open fourth round by Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova.

Coric is a Croatian who got into the field thanks to a protected ranking because he has been injured. He cited a shoulder problem for his withdrawal.

He was drawn to face No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman and that spot will be filled by an as-yet-unannounced player who lost in qualifying.

Jaeger: Sexually harassed ‘at least 30 times’

Former teenage tennis phenom Andrea Jaeger said she was sexually harassed “at least 30 times” by a female Women’s Tennis Association staff member during the 1980s.

Jaeger, now 57, also told The Independent she also was unknowingly served alcohol when she was 16 by a different staff member, who drove her home and tried to kiss her.

The two-time Grand Slam finalist was on the tour from ages 14 to 19 and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in 1981. Despite her success, she said she made it a habit to avoid WTA officials at tournaments during her five years on tour. Jaeger said much of the harassment occurred in locker rooms.

“I’d change in portable toilets or a bathroom stall because I didn’t want to deal with the comments, the interest or actions of people,” Jaeger said, according to The Independent. “I had at least 30 incidents with one specific non-playing staff member, physical attempts all in the locker room very, very early in my career. That particular non-playing staff employee had a major issue keeping her hands to herself.

“I avoided being in training rooms alone because an approach was made on me there as well.”

Jaeger said she was served multiple alcoholic drinks following the 1982 WTA Championships and began to get fuzzy. An official drove her home.

“When we got to my condo, she walked me to the door and tried something on with me,” Jaeger said. “She was trying to kiss me. I was so sickened that I was crawling up the stairs inside trying not to throw up so my dad wouldn’t see me.”

Jaeger said she complained to WTA officials after the incident and was threatened with reprisals.

She won 10 career titles before retiring at age 19 due to a shoulder injury.

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Lightning’s Brayden Point remains out of lineup for Game 6 – Sportsnet.ca

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Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is not anticipating any lineup changes Sunday night for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final as forward Brayden Point continues to deal with an undisclosed “severe injury.”

Point sustained a leg injury during Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He returned for the start of the Stanley Cup Final and recorded one assist in two games before leaving the lineup again.

“It’s tricky too because players are used to playing at, I guess, a certain way or how they feel they can play,” Cooper told reporters. “If they don’t feel confident in playing at the calibre they’re used to, it almost works against them.

“It’s unfortunate because it was a severe injury and at this time of the year, everybody’s trying to get back into the lineup and there are just some things you can’t do. When you can’t do what you’re used to doing, it’s tough on the player.”

The 26-year-old Point, who has 78 points in 76 career postseason games, skated with the Lightning during Sunday morning’s practice, and Cooper did not completely rule him out for a potential Game 7.

“He’s still plugging along here and rehabbing and trying to get better. Who knows? If the series goes one more game, you never know,” Cooper said. “It’s tough on these guys because they’re such competitors.”

The Colorado Avalanche hold a 3-2 series lead looking to secure their first Stanley Cup since 2001 while the double defending champion Lightning are aiming to keep their hopes of a three-peat alive. Watch Game 6 live on Sportsnet or Sportsnet NOW starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

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