NFL

Stafford inspires Rams past slumping Ravens, Raiders edge Colts with late field goal

By Sports Desk January 02, 2022

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

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  • Capitals fall to Mumbai to hand RCB final IPL play-off spot Capitals fall to Mumbai to hand RCB final IPL play-off spot

    Delhi Capitals missed out on the Indian Premier League play-offs after Tim David capitalised on a reprieve in a five-wicket win for Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

    The Capitals, requiring a victory at the Wankhede Stadium to make the last four, were limited to 159-7, with Jasprit Bumrah (3-25)  the pick of the bowlers.

    Rovman Powell (43) and Rishabh Pant (39) fell short of half-centuries, but Delhi's total looked competitive as the Indians made a slow start in response.

    Mumbai struggled to 27-1 at the end of the powerplay after Anrich Nortje dismissed captain Rohit Sharma, who managed only two off 13 deliveries.

    Ishan Kishan offered more attacking intent, scoring 48 off 35 balls before falling to Kuldeep Yadav (1-33) in the 12th over and Dewald Brevis (37) followed to Shardul Thakur soon after with 65 runs still required.

    Pant failed to review when David, on nought, edged behind and the Australian capitalised by blasting an 11-ball 34 before he was removed by Thakur (2-32) to leave Mumbai needing just 15 from 13 balls.

    Ramandeep Singh (13 not out) saw Rohit's side over the line with five deliveries to spare, which meant Royal Challengers Bangalore took the final play-off spot and will face Lucknow Super Giants in the eliminator on Wednesday.

    Brilliant Bumrah

    Bumrah has been somewhat off the pace for the struggling Mumbai in this year's competition, barring his excellent 5-10 against Kolkata Knight Riders.

    However, the India quick was in imperious form in the first innings of this game, removing Prithvi Shaw (24), Mitchell Marsh (nought) and Powell to take his tally to 15 in the 2022 IPL.

    Pant's reviews

    Pan dropped a simple chance when Brevis skied Kuldeep on 25. The skipper then ignored Thakur's advice and opted to not review when David edged behind.

    The Capitals captain followed that up by reviewing a Nortje delivery to Tilak Varma that pitched well outside leg stump, capping a miserable day for the India wicketkeeper.

  • Guardiola hails Liverpool for pushing Man City to new heights Guardiola hails Liverpool for pushing Man City to new heights

    Pep Guardiola hailed the efforts of Liverpool for pushing Manchester City to new heights in the battle for the Premier League title.

    City are one point ahead of the Reds heading into their final match of the season against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium, with Jurgen Klopp's side at home to Wolves on Sunday.

    Victory over Steven Gerrard's Villa would ensure a fourth Premier League title of the Guardiola era in just five years at City, with only Alex Ferguson winning more (13).

    It would also make the Spaniard the outright leader for English top-flight titles among non-British managers, going one clear of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.

    Guardiola believes his side would not have achieved what they have without the competition from Liverpool, who remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.

    "We would not achieve what we have without them [Liverpool]," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "We have our opponent who brings you to the limits, otherwise complacency arrives.

    "The players are not stupid, I do not need to tell them how good they are. They play against them and see them on TV and I said, 'wow, if we want to be there, we have to do it'.

    "I think it is quite similar like they should think about us."

    Guardiola heaped praise on his players as they stand on the brink of back-to-back titles.

    "Incredible, top human quality players and persons," he added. "Without that, no tactics, no ideas. Nothing, nothing, top-quality players.

    "All the other managers have amazing ideas and tactics. The praise in the football world is so suspicious. Every time you give good praise to me, I do not believe you. Not for one second, I'm so suspicious.

    "Behind that is the players, the quality, the talent, the effort. When we are good is when we try to altogether follow one idea, but my ideas are not more special than the other ones.

    "I have found a lot of incredibly talented managers in the Championship, or the Premier League who do not have success. Do you know why? They do not have the good players that we have, it is as simple as that."

    Victory over Villa would secure City's eighth top-flight title, the outright fifth-most in history since its inception in 1888, while it will be their sixth Premier League title (outright second-most after Manchester United’s 13).

  • Mata: Anyone who doesn't meet Man Utd standards should not be here Mata: Anyone who doesn't meet Man Utd standards should not be here

    Juan Mata has called for a reset at Manchester United as he suggested any player who does not meet the standards should not be at Old Trafford.

    United have suffered another dismal season and, regardless of the result in their final game at Crystal Palace on Sunday, will finish the campaign with their lowest points tally in Premier League history.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismissed in late November before the short-term appointment of Ralf Rangnick, who will leave with the lowest win rate of any United manager in Premier League history (currently 43.5 per cent – 10 wins from 23 games).

    Erik ten Hag is the next man tasked with transforming United's fortunes, and midfielder Mata urged improvements from his side next term as questions persist over the players' commitment and attitude.

    "It's clear that on the pitch, we have made many mistakes," Mata told The Athletic. "We could have also dealt better with certain situations that were happening in the club, managers changing, negative things.

    "At the end of the day, we let that maybe affect too much the energy of Carrington.

    "Certain standards were not met. Whether that's attitude, level of training, off the pitch, which doesn't include players, we haven't been good enough. So that's where we could learn.

    "Also, certain things were out of our control, which we shouldn't let affect us. You feel that way when you see certain things are not good enough. But we shouldn't have let things happen.

    "Many circumstances can affect certain behaviours. If you don't have a solid base, when bad things come, it is difficult to stay all together.

    "We need a reset in the culture of the club. That's how I feel. The standards, what it means to represent this club to any player, what entitles you to play for Manchester United, what is expected on the pitch and off the pitch.

    "Many things that need to be clear – this is Manchester United and anyone who doesn't meet those standards is not up to the task and should not be here. That's as clear as I can be."

    United require victory over Palace to guarantee they do not drop to seventh, which would mark their joint-worst finish in the Premier League (alongside the 2013-14 season) and see them play Europa Conference League football next term.

    Cristiano Ronaldo will look to add to his 18 Premier League goals this season, only netting more in a single campaign in 2007-08 (31), while goalkeeper David de Gea will aim to end a positive season on a personal level on a high note.

    De Gea implored United to perform for the fans when they visit Palace, who have never won in 12 Premier League home games against the Red Devils (D4 L8), which is the most one team has faced another at home without ever winning in the competition.

    "We know [this season has] been difficult," he told MUTV. "But at least just for [the fans] and for our pride [we will] try to win the game.

    "[I want to] at least give a win for the fans because they have been absolutely amazing for the whole season and it's great to have them at every single game.

    "It will always have been a tough season for us, but I am very proud of my season, to be honest.

    "I worked really hard in the summer to be here and be ready to play and show my qualities for the team. I think I did very well. I played very consistent this season and helped the team a lot."

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