NFL

Chargers overwhelm the Bengals, Brady and Gronkowski combine again and Lions finally win

By Sports Desk December 05, 2021

The Los Angeles Chargers secured a huge win in the hunt for AFC playoff places as they overcame the Cincinnati Bengals 41-22 at Paul Brown Stadium.

A spirited fightback from the Bengals almost led to the Chargers blowing a 24-point lead, but Brandon Staley's men responded in the fourth quarter to pull away from the hosts and put both teams on 7-5 for the season.

Quarterback Justin Herbert was at his effervescent best, throwing for three touchdowns and completing 26 of 35 passes for 317 yards overall.

The Chargers scored a touchdown from their very first drive of the game, bravely going for it on fourth and goal as Herbert fired a pass into Keenan Allen. The extra point was missed by Dustin Hopkins, though he did succeed with a 43-yard field goal attempt shortly after.

Jamar Chase thought he was in for a Bengals TD on the next drive but inexplicably dropped Joe Burrow's pass into the hands of Michael Davis to turn it into an interception, which proved costly as the Chargers secured another TD from the resulting drive as Herbert found Allen again.

The visitors' dominance continued at the start of the second quarter as Herbert executed a huge 44-yard pass into Jalen Guyton for another TD to make the score 24-0.

The Bengals began a comeback as Burrow threw a 29-yard TD pass to Tee Higgins, before running one in himself to cut the lead to 11 points at half-time, and that momentum continued in the third quarter as they pulled it back to an eight-point ball game with a 48-yard field goal from Evan McPherson.

A second fumble of the game for Chargers running back Austin Ekeler gave the Bengals the chance to cut the lead further, which they did as Joe Mixon ran in his first TD of the day, but a Mixon fumble at the start of the fourth quarter allowed Tevaughn Campbell to run it in from 61 yards. Ekeler then made up for his fumbles with a one-yard running TD to secure the victory for his team.

Brady and Gronk roll back the years for the Bucs

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured a comfortable 30-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons, with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski combining twice for touchdowns, the first time they had done so since Week 2.

Brady's arm had a busy afternoon as he threw 19 passes in the first quarter alone, with 51 overall, completing 38 for 368 yards and four TD passes, including the two to Gronkowski.

The Bucs move on to 9-3 while the Falcons and their fading playoff hopes go to 5-7, level with the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.

Lions finally roar after late drama

The Detroit Lions finally won a game, 364 days since they last did so, sealing a dramatic 29-27 win against the Minnesota Vikings by scoring a touchdown in the last seconds of the game.

Two touchdowns and two field goals for the Lions in the second quarter gave them a 20-6 lead at half-time, and they had an eight-point advantage going into the fourth quarter.

It seemed like it would be a gruelling near miss though as touchdowns from K.J. Osborn and Justin Jefferson put the Vikings 27-23 ahead with less than two minutes remaining, but in their last play, an 11-yard TD pass from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St Brown sent Ford Field into ecstasy. The Lions move on to 1-10-1 while the Vikings slip to 5-7.

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    The Royals were beaten by the Titans in the first qualifier, forcing them to face Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday for a place in the season's showpiece.

    Buttler ensured RCB were soundly beaten, smashing an unbeaten 106 off 60 balls to clinch a seven-wicket victory.

    The Royals still had 11 balls to spare when Buttler's sixth six completed the job on 161-3.

    None of the England star's team-mates had to pass 25 runs as he did all the heavy lifting in partnerships of 61 with Yashasvi Jaiswal, 52 with Sanju Samson, 35 with Devdutt Padikkal and 13 with Shimron Hetmyer in reply to RCB's 157-8.

    A stunning Buttler catch had removed the dangerous Rajat Patidar (58) in the outstanding moment of the RCB innings, too, as his almost single-handed pursuit of the title continued.

    Buttler blowing away the competition

    This has long since been Buttler's best IPL campaign, and there remains a slim chance he also takes the tournament record. In pursuit of Virat Kohli's 973 runs in 2016, he moved on to 824 for this tournament with his fourth century. The rest of the players in this year's IPL have produced only four hundreds between them.

    As well as the most runs in the 2022 IPL, Buttler leads the way for fours (78, 26 clear of second place) and sixes (45, 11 clear).

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    This will be the Royals' first final since the inaugural IPL in 2008, when they took the title, but Rajasthan will have their work cut out against a Titans side who are in their debut season.

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    Ancelotti has made a stunning impact since returning to the club he led to the 2014 Champions League title, winning LaLiga by a 13-point margin and leading Los Blancos to the showpiece event in Paris against all odds.

    Madrid have become the first team to reach the competition's final after losing a game in each of the last 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals, while Ancelotti could win the trophy for a fourth time as head coach.

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    "But they manage it very well, everyone has played. That's why we are where we are."

    Including Marcelo, Madrid have four different players in their squad to have made 100 or more Champions League appearances (Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo, and David Alaba). 

    They could become the first team to name a starting XI in the competition's final featuring four or more players with a century of Champions League appearances, having fielded three in their 2018 final win over Jurgen Klopp's team (Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos).

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    "[Former club] Fluminense was in its time, it gave me everything at the beginning. Madrid has given me everything too. 

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    "His character and presence has helped the team a lot. He doesn't even need to talk for that. He plays great football for us."

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