NFL

Chargers overwhelm 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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  • Leclerc profits with home pole after chaotic finish at 'typical Monaco' Leclerc profits with home pole after chaotic finish at 'typical Monaco'

    Charles Leclerc was "incredibly happy" to claim pole position in Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, leading a Ferrari one-two – although Carlos Sainz felt he could have pipped his team-mate if not for a dramatic crash.

    Monegasque driver Leclerc qualified fastest at his home race after the final session was cut short due to a red flag.

    Sergio Perez hit the barrier, prompting a yellow flag that Sainz saw only in time to brake as he careered into the Red Bull.

    That brought a premature end to proceedings but ensured a fine result for Ferrari and, in particular, Leclerc, who secured a precious pole; while he has converted only four of his 13 previous poles into wins, some 15 of the past 17 winners in Monaco have started from the front row, including 12 from first place.

    For Leclerc to add his name to the list of winners, he will have to overcome an awful record which has seen him never manage to finish the Monaco race. Despite taking pole last year, his car also crashed heavily in qualifying, and it meant Leclerc could not take an active part on race day.

    This time it could be a different story.

    "It is very special. I'm so incredibly happy," Leclerc said. "It's been a very smooth weekend until now – I knew the pace was in the car; I just had to do the job, and it went perfectly.

    "That last lap, before the red flag, was really, really good, but it didn't change anything for us."

    That may be true for Leclerc, but Sainz felt he was on course to top the timesheets prior to the collision with Perez.

    "It's a shame – another year that a red flag cost us the end of a session, and we could not go for pole position," he said, "but it's typical Monaco."

    Sainz added: "I think we are in a great position to score a great result for the team. The car has been amazing all weekend, so we'll go for it."

    Perez still qualified in third, ahead of an out-of-sorts Max Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton's practice woes shifted only enough for him to make eighth before his final flying lap was halted.

    PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

    1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:11.376
    2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.225s
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.253s
    4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.290s
    5. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.473s
    6. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.736s
    7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0.871s
    8. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.184s
    9. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) +1.356s
    10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +1.671s

  • Salah reveals Kane motivation after Premier League Golden Boot win Salah reveals Kane motivation after Premier League Golden Boot win

    Mohamed Salah has revealed how missing out on the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2020-21 season, when Tottenham's Harry Kane pipped him by just one goal, motivated him to enjoy an incredible individual campaign for Liverpool this time around.

    Salah finished as the Premier League's joint-highest goalscorer this season, matching Son Heung-min's tally of 23 goals as Liverpool finished just one point short of champions Manchester City.

    The forward also edged out team-mate Trent Alexander Arnold by one league assist, laying on 13 goals to emulate Kane's feat of winning both awards in the 2020-21 campaign, as he led Liverpool's fight for silverware. 

    Having already lifted the EFL Cup and FA Cup this season, Jurgen Klopp's team could add the Champions League when they face Real Madrid in Saturday's final, with the Egypt winger looking for revenge after sustaining an injury in Liverpool's 2018 defeat to the same opponents.

    Speaking to Rio Ferdinand for BT Sport ahead of that contest in Paris, Salah revealed how missing out on topping the Premier League's goalscoring charts last season motivated him to "work like crazy" to outdo his fellow forwards this term.

    "When I signed here, I can't say I thought 'I expect myself to go and win three golden boots!'", Salah said. "But in the first season [2017-18] I was fighting with Kane in the beginning, and I thought I had a big chance to win it.

    "When I won it from Kane – and Kane was winning it [each of] the two years before – in the summer I went on holiday and said, 'look, why not?' I did it one time, I took it from Kane, a top goalscorer, so give it a try for a second one.

    "I won it the second year, and once I won the second one, I said, 'you've got to go for four or five!' I think in my mind, for five years now I've always competed for it. I lost some, [like] last season in the last game to Kane.

    "That last year was painful for me, trust me! It pushed me to be who I am now, this year. 

    "I believe that last season as a team, it was not really good, but for the golden boot, in the last game, with one goal difference... that's not good.

    "It didn't kill my summer, I was so motivated, I was working [like] crazy. I said 'look, next year I'm going to win both things – golden boot and assists. I'm going for both from now'. I was working like crazy and I did it."

    Despite Liverpool finishing third last season after enduring an injury-hit campaign, Salah scored 22 league goals, only to see Kane net his 23rd in a final-day 4-2 win over Leicester City.

    But the Liverpool star responded to win his third Golden Boot in five seasons this term, drawing level with Kane and Alan Shearer with three such awards. Only Thierry Henry, with four, has won more.

  • Deschamps expects Pogba to change club after Man Utd struggles Deschamps expects Pogba to change club after Man Utd struggles

    France coach Didier Deschamps has backed Paul Pogba to find a new club and arrest his slump in domestic form, as he hailed the upcoming Aurelien Tchouameni.

    Pogba endured another frustrating season with Manchester United, who finished sixth in the Premier League and will hope Erik ten Hag can transform their fortunes next campaign.

    World Cup-winning midfielder Pogba is widely expected to depart Old Trafford when his contract expires in June, with Juventus seemingly in the running to bring the 29-year-old back to Turin, while Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

    Pogba has come under scrutiny for failing to replicate his international performances for France, who he will not feature for in upcoming Nations League games due to injury.

    Deschamps heaped praise on Pogba's efforts for his country and expects the France star to move on from United after another underwhelming campaign.

    "Pogba has had a lot of injuries, with his club's results not up to par," Deschamps told a news conference on Saturday.

    "He too will have to change scenery this summer."

    Deschamps additionally spoke of players who may have struggled on club duty, saying: "There has to be credit for what they have been able to do with the France team."

    Tchouameni has enjoyed another productive season in Ligue 1 with Monaco, leading to reports he could join Liverpool, Chelsea or Real Madrid in the next transfer window.

    The midfielder appeared 35 times in Ligue 1 this campaign, with only Wissam Ben Yedder (37) and goalkeeper Alexander Nubel (38) featuring more for Philippe Clement's side.

    The 22-year-old represents a threat at both ends of the pitch, leading Monaco's charts for successful opposition-half passes (932), while making the most tackles (86) and winning the most duels (260).

    Tchouameni will compete with the likes of N'Golo Kante, Adrien Rabiot and Matteo Guendouzi for a spot in midfield, and Deschamps is delighted to see the Monaco man coming into contention.

    "He doesn't have the experience of Pogba and Kante, but he has potential... I took him on quite early, and in his head, he has the necessary maturity," Deschamps said.

    "It's good to have these young people who make sure the older players do not rest on their laurels! The young players continue to grow, and even the others who are not selected are also growing.

    "It's the new generation. Today a 19-year-old, it can seem a bit presumptuous, they go to the big clubs, but they have no worries, they do everything to succeed."

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