NFL

Kupp stars as Rams down Seahawks in NFC West clash, Eagles edge Washington

By Sports Desk December 21, 2021

Matthew Stafford found Cooper Kupp with two second-half touchdown passes to lift the Los Angeles Rams past the Seattle Seahawks 20-10 in Tuesday's re-scheduled NFC West clash.

Kupp recorded his fifth two-touchdown game of the season, finishing with nine receptions for 136 yards to help the Rams improve their record to 10-4.

Stafford completed 21 of 29 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, while Sony Michel rushed for 92 yards from 18 carries for the Rams.

With both sides fielding COVID-19-depleted teams, it was the Seahawks who went ahead in the third quarter after neither could score a touchdown in the first half, with Deejay Dallas bulldozing his way into the end zone.

But the Rams levelled it up at 10-10 with 6:31 left in the third when Stafford found Kupp, who broke the record for most receptions in a single season in Rams history, moving past Isaac Bruce (119) to 120.

The pair linked up again for the decisive play in the final quarter, with Stafford nailing a 29-yard play down the middle to Kupp who had found a small pocket of space, capping an 88-yard drive.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who made 17 of 31 passes for 156 yards, could not find a way back late, sacked by Aaron Donald before a fine block by corner back Jalen Ramsey on an attempt for DK Metcalf.

Hurts stars on Eagles return

The Philadelphia Eagles withstood a late challenge from the depleted Washington Football Team to win 27-17 and improve to a 7-7 record, keeping alive their playoffs' hopes.

Jalen Hurts returned from an ankle injury to run for two touchdowns and pass another for Greg Ward Jr to secure victory.

Hurts, who completed 20 of 26 passes for 296 yards and rushed for 38 yards from eight carries, set the single-season franchise record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 10.

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    Erik ten Hag will not be targeting a Premier League title challenge in his first season as Manchester United manager, instead aiming for a return to the Champions League.

    Ten Hag was confirmed as the club's next permanent manager in April, with the Dutchman set to pick up from interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

    After guiding Ajax to a third Eredivisie title in four full seasons at the helm, Ten Hag ended his contract in Amsterdam early in order to start work with United ahead of schedule.

    The 52-year-old and his two assistants, Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren, were present on Sunday as United lost their final match of the season 1-0 to Crystal Palace.

    Ten Hag was in Manchester the following day to be introduced to the media for the first time, with playing philosophy, recruitment and squad personnel among the key topics discussed at his news conference.

    Talk of seasonal targets was surprisingly absent, but in a separate interview with the club's media channels, Ten Hag provided some insight.

    "I said this is the project, to bring Man United back on top, but also we have to accept the current situation we are in," he said.

    "First of all, Man United belong in the Champions League, so that will be the first target."

    United did appear to be in contention – even if generally regarded as an outside bet – for the top four during much of the 2021-22 season.

    But their form suffered badly during the final stages of the season after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid in March.

    Since losing 1-0 to Atletico at home on March 15, United won just twice in the Premier League and lost five times – among those defeats were 4-0 reverses at the hands of Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion.

    Their form over the past two months has laid bare the size of the task facing Ten Hag. While Rangnick did initially stabilise United slightly at the back after his appointment, in recent times they became leaky again and this was exacerbated by a lack of attacking ruthlessness.

    The choice of Ten Hag was said to have been influenced by the brand of football his teams play, with fans appearing to react more positively towards him than Mauricio Pochettino when it was reported the pair were the frontrunners.

    And he seems convinced success will follow if he can get his ideas across to the players.

    Asked about any wisdom he can take away from Ajax, he added: "There are similarities but also contradictions.

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  • Kane's future depends on his ambitions, says former Spurs boss Villas-Boas Kane's future depends on his ambitions, says former Spurs boss Villas-Boas

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    England manager Gareth Southgate has called up West Ham winger Jarrod Bowen and Leicester City's James Justin for the first time, while Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori return.

    The Three Lions face Germany, Italy and Hungary next month in the Nations League, with England confirming a 27-man squad on Tuesday.

    Bowen, who scored 18 goals for West Ham this season to help David Moyes' side finish seventh in the Premier League and reach the Europa League semi-finals, "was in the frame" to be called up in March, according to Southgate, but did not make the cut.

    Only Harry Kane scored more goals in all competitions over the 2021-22 season among Englishmen in the Premier League.

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    England begin their Nations League campaign against Hungary on June 4, before taking on Germany in Munich three days later.

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    England squad in full: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Wolves), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), James Justin (Leicester City) Harry Maguire (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Milan), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace, on loan from Chelsea), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Tammy Abraham (Roma), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

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