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Steelers rally over Ravens to stay unbeaten – TSN

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BALTIMORE — The Pittsburgh Steelers roared from behind to remain the lone unbeaten team in the NFL, outlasting their scorned rivals to escape with a feel-good victory that solidified their grip on first place in the AFC North.

What better way to spend a rainy day in Baltimore?

Ben Roethlisberger threw two second-half touchdowns, and the Steelers beat error-prone Lamar Jackson and the Ravens 28-24 Sunday to match the best start in franchise history.

Pittsburgh (7-0) trailed by 10 points at halftime before rallying behind Roethlisberger, a crafty 38-year-old who missed most of last year with an elbow injury. After completing only four passes for 24 yards in the first half, Big Ben finished 21 for 32 for 182 yards.

He was much more happy with the result than his numbers.

“Nothing about this game was pretty from an offensive perspective until the end and we looked at the scoreboard,” Roethlisberger said.

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

“The turnovers, I feel, is the reason we lost the game,” Jackson said. “I put that on me.”

Beyond losing ground in the division, Baltimore lost All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley for the season with a severe ankle injury. The mishap occurred in the first quarter after he was accidentally undercut by Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt.

“That’s a tough loss,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I feel bad for Ronnie.”

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.

The only other time the Steelers started 7-0, in 1978, they went on to win their third Super Bowl in five years.

They aren’t talking about a championship yet, but the players feel pretty good about where they stand at this point.

“We’re happy to win,” Watt said. “We don’t care if it’s good, bad or ugly, as long as it’s a win right now.”

The Steelers took full advantage of Jackson’s mistakes. Robert Spillane took an interception back 33 yards for a score to end Baltimore’s first possession; Jackson lost a fumble inside the Pittsburgh 5; and Alex Highsmith set up a Steelers touchdown by picking off a pass on Baltimore’s initial offensive play of the second half.

Jackson went 13 for 28 for 208 yards and two interceptions, the most he’s had in a regular-season game since throwing three against Pittsburgh in October 2019.

After Highsmith’s pick, Roethlisberger threw an 18-yard TD pass to Eric Ebron. The Steelers then went ahead 21-17 on a 1-yard touchdown run by James Conner.

Baltimore had scored in every quarter this season before being blanked in the third period.

The Ravens regained the lead with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown with 11:52 to go, but Roethlisberger answered with an 80-yard drive capped by an 8-yard TD pass to rookie Chase Claypool.

“That’s the Ben Roethlisberger I came here for,” said Ebron, who left the Colts to come to Pittsburgh.

The game carried the intensity expected when longtime division rivals clash in a showdown for first place. There were hard hits, late hits and head butts, the latter occurring when Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters popped Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson during a confrontation away from the play.

That brought players from both teams near the Baltimore sideline. Late in that fray, Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon was ejected for making contact with an official. It appeared as if the slap to the arm occurred while Judon was trying to break free from the grasp of an assistant coach.

“I would never intentionally make contact with an official,” Judon said.

A heavy rain let up just before the opening kickoff, but the combination of a wet field and two strong defences resulted in a first quarter with three turnovers — two by Jackson.

STREAKS EXTENDED

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.

FANS RETURN

The announced crowd was 4,345. It was the first time the Ravens had fans at a home game after previously making around 250 seats available to the immediate family of players, coaches and front office personnel.

INJURIES

Steelers: NT Tyson Alualu left in the first quarter with a knee injury. That left Pittsburgh thin up front after DE Chris Wormley went on IR Saturday. … DB Mike Hilton (shoulder) was inactive.

Ravens: RB Mark Ingram (ankle) was inactive. … RG Tyre Phillips (ankle) left in the first quarter and did not return, leaving Baltimore without two starters on the O-line.

UP NEXT

The Steelers play the last of three straight road games at Dallas next Sunday.

The Ravens travel to Indianapolis on Sunday, the first meeting between the teams since 2017.

___

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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Raptors sign Alex Len to help fill void created by Ibaka, Gasol departures – CBC.ca

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On the heels of losing their two championship centres, the Toronto Raptors shored up their frontcourt by signing Alex Len on Monday — and also some maintained some financial flexibility toward their ambitious 2021 off-season goals.

Len signed a one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the deal said. Financial details weren’t released. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been publicly announced.

The 27-year-old Ukrainian was selected fifth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2013 draft. He played five seasons with the Suns then two with Atlanta. He was acquired by the Kings in a trade last February along with Jabari Parker.

The seven-footer averaged 8.0 points and 4.8 rebounds with Atlanta and Sacramento last season, and shot 59.3 per cent from the field in his 15 games with the Kings. He scored a career-high 33 points against the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019 and grabbed 19 rebounds versus Minnesota in 2017.

Len’s signing is more good news for a Raptors team that lost NBA championship centres Marc Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers) and Serge Ibaka (Clippers) over the weekend. Their departures worried Raptors fans. Among the social media jokes: a suggestion that Toronto’s centre this season would be Fred VanVleet standing on Kyle Lowry’s shoulders.

But the Raptors responded by adding Aron Baynes on Sunday night, and then re-signing Montreal centre Chris Boucher to a two-year deal worth US$13.5 million — the richest contract for an undrafted Canadian.

The fact that the second year of Baynes’ two-year deal is a club option, while Len signed for just a season allows the Raptors plenty of wiggle room next off-season.

It’s no secret that Raptors president Masai Ujiri covets Milwaukee’s star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, although he could sign a five-year extension with the Bucks that would pay him a whopping US$228 million. He has until Dec. 21 to do so.

The Raptors newcomers, meanwhile, won’t have long to get adjusted to their new team as training camp opens on Dec. 1. The season tips off Dec. 22.

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