NFL

Browns brilliant without Beckham against bungling Burrow, Cowboys and Bills beaten

By Sports Desk November 07, 2021

Baker Mayfield threw a 60-yard touchdown to Donovan Peoples-Jones as the Cleveland Browns won without Odell Beckham Jr in Week 9, although Joe Burrow contributed to the Cincinnati Bengals' 41-16 defeat.

The Browns made the short trip to Cincinnati with Peoples-Jones back from a groin injury and in the lineup after fellow receiver Beckham was released at the end of a week that began with his father criticising quarterback Mayfield.

Beckham had underwhelmed this year since his return to fitness and his absence certainly was not felt on Sunday as Cleveland moved to 5-4 in a big AFC North matchup.

Before Mayfield came to the fore, though, Burrow endured a miserable start. Moments after a penalty reprieve when he was sacked on third and goal, the Bengals QB threw straight to Browns cornerback Denzel Ward on the goal line, covering Ja'Marr Chase and racing away for a 99-yard defensive TD.

Joe Mixon replied with the first of his two rushing scores, but Nick Chubb battled through contact to finish Cleveland's first drive with a TD, which Peoples-Jones added to as he caught Mayfield's first target to a wideout.

Long scores were the name of the day for the Browns, as Chubb's second saw him go 70 yards to score in the third quarter.

Burrow, who had scored three TDs in each of his previous three games, tying a Bengals record, was then picked off again throwing to Chase – this time by John Johnson III. Chase had earlier fumbled for a turnover of his own on a miserable day for two of Cincinnati's offensive stars.

Mayfield finished with 218 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on 14-of-21 passing. His second TD pass to David Njoku was set up by another throw to Peoples-Jones, who had 86 yards on just two catches.

Big upsets for Boys and Bills

The Dallas Cowboys had not lost since Week 1 but have a miserable record against the Denver Broncos, who had won the teams' past six meetings – their best ever run against a single opponent and the Cowboys' worst such streak. And six became seven as the Broncos won 30-16 in Dallas, holding their hosts scoreless until the fourth quarter despite Dak Prescott's return.

The Buffalo Bills also suffered a shock defeat as they went down 9-6 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game of zero touchdowns. Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen picked, sacked and recovered a fumble from his namesake, Bills QB Josh Allen.

However, the Baltimore Ravens survived a scare, as Lamar Jackson led them back from 17-3 down to make overtime, where Justin Tucker clinched a 34-31 win. Jackson is now 12-0 as a starter against NFC opponents.

Darnold spooked again

Sam Darnold said he was "seeing ghosts" when he threw four interceptions for the New York Jets against the New England Patriots in 2019, and Bill Belichick's defense has continued to spook the quarterback. He had three picks with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and now has nine in just four career starts against New England, all four of which the Pats have won.

New England are hot on the heels of the Bills now, while AFC East rivals the Miami Dolphins snapped their seven-game losing run against the Houston Texans despite Tua Tagovailoa sitting out with a finger issue.

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    England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan has created a "white-ball dynasty" but has chosen the right time to retire from international cricket.

    That is the message from former England captain Michael Atherton, who was speaking after news circulated that Morgan is expected to announce his retirement on Tuesday.

    Morgan has endured a tough spell with the bat in recent times, managing to pass 50 just once in his past eight ODI innings and failing to score in his last two outings against the Netherlands.

    England have still won eight consecutive ODIs, their longest such winning streak since a sequence of the same length in 2017, but Morgan promised to step down when he was no longer contributing as a batter.

    Vice-captain Jos Buttler appears poised to take the captaincy from Morgan, who has rejuvenated the white-ball fortunes of England since being appointed as skipper in 2014.

    England won the Cricket World Cup in the 50-over format with a dramatic victory over New Zealand at Lord's in 2019, three years after reaching the World Twenty20 final.

    Morgan's side also reached the T20 World Cup semi-finals in 2021, and Atherton believes the 35-year-old is making the right choice to step down with his legacy still intact.

    "He created a one-day dynasty. Having taken over at a low point – the 2015 World Cup, which went badly – he decided it was time to change England's approach," Atherton told Sky Sports.

    "For seven years, England have been as good at white-ball cricket as anybody. And that's the first time really you can say that about our one-day side.

    "He will go down as one of England's most significant captains, but I think he has picked exactly the right time to go.

    "He said the other day, 'I'm feeling old', and he told Middlesex he couldn't play two T20 games in succession. If you can't do that, how are you then going to captain in a World Cup when they come thick and fast?"

    Morgan is set to retire as the all-time leading run-scorer for England in ODI and T20I cricket, with 6,957 and 2,458 runs respectively.

    Having also played 23 ODIs for Ireland, his 225 ODIs and 115 T20s are England records for appearances, and Nasser Hussain says Matthew Mott's side will lose their greatest ever leader and a brilliant batter.

    "I had an interview with Rob Key when Rob Key got the job, and I asked him about Eoin Morgan and the white-ball side," former England captain Hussain added.

    "He said that one thing about Eoin Morgan is that he will always do what is best for the team. If he's not contributing to the team and if he feels him being out of the team is better for that team, then he will go. That will be the decision that Morgan is making.

    "He has been short of form, short of fitness and there are other people now – there are so many white-ball batters who could be playing. 

    "It's not the 10 players he is taking on the field with him, it's in the one he's leaving behind because he's in that spot, and Morgan will always think of that one.

    "One thing for certain is that he has been our greatest ever white-ball captain. He's a World Cup-winning captain, and he is a superb player.

    "He was the one that was reverse-sweeping, reverse-scooping and playing all of these funky shots. He was way ahead of his time both as a player and as a captain."

  • Scudetto must be a starting point for Milan, says Pioli Scudetto must be a starting point for Milan, says Pioli

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    Pioli's side dethroned city rivals Inter by beating Sassuolo on the final day of the 2021-22 campaign, securing their first trophy since lifting the Italian Super Cup in 2016.

    The Rossoneri won their final five matches and went 15 without defeat, with their final tally of 88 points their second best in the three-points-per-win era.

    Inter will be hungry to reclaim the Serie A title in the 2022-23 campaign, with Simone Inzaghi looking set to bring in Romelu Lukaku on loan and Paulo Dybala on a free transfer.

    Pioli, speaking after receiving honorary citizenship at Noceto on Monday, expressed his delight over Milan's success but acknowledged the champions will face stern competition in defending their title.

    "I am very happy and proud to be here this morning. I am very attached to this city, I know the place well," Pioli said, as quoted by TuttoMercatoWeb. 

    "The compliments make me happy, they are deserved for a club, a team, which has always believed and has always given our best.

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    "We know we have done something special, but it must be a starting point. We know the difficulties given the competitiveness that will be in Italy and in Europe.

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    England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan is set to retire from international cricket.

    Morgan is expected to announce his retirement during a press conference at Lord's on Tuesday, with vice-captain Jos Buttler poised to replace him.

    The 35-year-old batter has transformed the white-ball fortunes of England since his appointment in 2014, leading his side to World Cup glory with a dramatic win over New Zealand at Lord's in 2019.

    Morgan also guided England to the T20 World Cup final in 2016, before reaching the semi-finals of the same competition five years later.

    While England have become a huge force in limited-overs cricket during Morgan's tenure, the left-hander has struggled with the bat in recent times.

    England completed an ODI series sweep over Netherlands last week – extending their winning run to eight matches in the 50-over format – but Morgan failed to score in two matches before missing the final clash due to injury.

    The Dublin-born Morgan has passed 50 just once in his past eight ODI innings since scoring 106 against Ireland in February 2020, and had vowed to step down when he felt he could no longer contribute.

    England face India in a three-match T20I series starting on July 7 and are set to do so without their all-time leading run scorer in T20I and ODI cricket.

    Morgan has scored 7,701 ODI runs and 2,458 runs in the shortest format at international level. His 248 ODIs and 115 T20s are also England records for appearances.

    A brilliant leader and destructive batter, Morgan made his international debut for Ireland back in 2006 before committing to play for England. He played 16 Tests between 2010 and 2012.

    Matthew Mott will expect England to continue playing the aggressive brand of cricket that Morgan instilled as his side go in search of T20 World Cup glory in Australia later this year.

    They will then head to India next year attempting to defend their world title in the 50-over format.

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