Brady magic rescues Patriots on day of protest

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) against the Houston Texans in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. (USA TODAY Sports)
Updated 25 September 2017
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Brady magic rescues Patriots on day of protest

NEW YORK: Tom Brady conjured a last-gasp Houdini act to save the New England Patriots in a thrilling win over the Houston Texans on Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons preserved their unbeaten record.
With events off the field dominating a dramatic day that saw widespread player protests, Brady once again laid on a masterclass to throw for five touchdowns in a 36-33 victory at Gillette Stadium.
The crowning moment of a 378-yard passing display by the 40-year-old Brady came with the Patriots trailing 28-33 with just over two minutes remaining.
An eight-play 75-yard drive ended with Brady hitting receiver Brandin Cooks with a 25-yard pass into the end zone for the game-winning score.
The nerve-jangling finale capped an extraordinary game which had seen sections of the Patriots crowd boo several of the team’s own players after they opted to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before kick-off.
Brady had stood with his arms interlocked in solidarity with his team-mates during the solemn anthem rendition.
It was just one of several large protests by players across the league on Sunday following remarks by US President Donald Trump. Trump had enraged NFL stars and team owners on Friday by describing players who protest during the anthem as “sons of bitches” who should be fired.
Around 130 players across the league took a knee on Sunday during the anthem, easily the largest mass demonstration of its kind since former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the protests in 2016.
“We felt like President Trump’s speech was an assault on our most cherished right — freedom of speech,” Denver star Von Miller explained after kneeling before his team’s game against Buffalo.
The Patriots win helped New England move to 2-1 in the AFC East, putting them level with the Buffalo Bills who lead on points difference.
The Bills pulled off an upset win over the unbeaten Denver Broncos, winning 26-16. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for two touchdowns and 213 yards to spark the Bills.
But it was an unhappy afternoon for Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian, who failed to throw for any touchdowns and was twice picked off for costly interceptions.
Denver were one of seven previously unbeaten teams to taste defeat in early games on Sunday.
In Detroit, Matt Ryan threw for two touchdowns as the Atlanta Falcons won the battle of the unbeatens with a hard-fought 30-26 victory over the Lions.
Ryan, desperate to atone this season after last year’s Super Bowl collapse, made 24 completions from 35 passing attempts to finish with 294 yards at Ford Field.
The win leaves Atlanta with a perfect 3-0 record at the top of the NFC South while Detroit fell to 2-1 after the loss.
Matthew Stafford finished with 264 passing yards but was crucially unable to mount a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter as the Lions sought to overturn a four-point deficit.
The Carolina Panthers meanwhile saw their unbeaten start to the season end with an emphatic 34-13 loss to the previously winless New Orleans Saints.
Saints veteran quarterback Drew Brees shredded the vaunted Panthers defense with three touchdown passes for 220 yards.
In later games Sunday, Aaron Rodgers conjured a 27-24 overtime win for the Green Bay Packers against the winless Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers found receiver Geronimo Allison with a 72-yard connection to set up Mason Crosby’s winning field goal.
Kansas City meanwhile preserved their unbeaten record with a 24-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs are now 3-0 to lead the NFC West.
In Washington, Kirk Cousins passed for 365 yards and three touchdowns, running back Chris Thompson had 150 yards receiving and a touchdown, and the Washington Redskins posted a 27-10 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Meanwhile in the day’s early game at Wembley Stadium in London, Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles dismantled the Baltimore Ravens en route to a 44-7 win.
Bortles threw for four touchdowns as Jacksonville improved to 2-1.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, meanwhile, had a nightmare day, making just eight of 18 pass attempts for 28 yards with two interceptions.
Pittsburgh meanwhile have their own problems after sliding to a 23-17 overtime loss against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
The Steelers, who opted to remain in their dressing room during the national anthems before kick-off, were sunk by Jordan Howard’s 19-yard walkoff touchdown.


Djokovic wins Cincinnati title to complete Masters matched set

Updated 20 August 2018
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Djokovic wins Cincinnati title to complete Masters matched set

  • Novak Djokovic finally lifted the Cincinnati trophy after five prior Cincinnati finals losses
  • Roger Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time

CINCINNATI: Novak Djokovic ended a career-long jinx, lifting the trophy in Cincinnati at last to complete a matched set of Masters 1000 titles.
Djokovic, who came up empty in five prior Cincinnati finals, defeated seven-time winner Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
The former world number one became the first man to win all nine of the ATP’s Masters 1000 events in the elite series’ current configuration.
Federer, meanwhile, lost a final in the hardcourt US Open tuneup for the first time.
“I played five finals (here) before, and most of those finals I lost to this great man, Roger ... thank you for letting me win here once in Cincinnati,” Djokovic joked.
“This is a dream come true,” Djokovic said. “I finally won Cincinnati after six finals, some against the greatest ever, Roger.”
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, said his game wasn’t sharp — but he didn’t want to take anything away from Djokovic’s achievement.
“Novak is a great champion,” Federer said. “This is about him making history.”
Federer’s streak of 100 straight unbroken service games in Cincy was ended by Djokovic in the seventh game of the first set.
The 37-year-old Swiss had been aiming for a 99th career trophy, but was unable to get over the line due in part to four double-faults at the most inopportune of times, but he said his return game was also lacking.
“It was definitely not my best day on the return — it was just awful,” Federer said. “Missing every second serve on the forehand side, I don’t know what that was about.
“But I don’t even want to look for reasons why it happened,” he added. “Novak totally deserved to win today. This (effort) was not good enough.
“Good week, but I’m happy it’s over and I need to rest,” added Federer, his eye on the US Open starting in New York in eight days.
Djokovic claimed the opening set in 37 minutes and came back from an early break in the second to overhaul his longtime rival as they played for the 46th time.
The Serb now leads Federer 24-22 and has won their last three encounters.
The pair had not played since the 2016 Australian Open semifinals more than two and a half years ago.
Wimbledon champion Djokovic claimed his Masters record on his first match point and now heads to the US Open as a title favorite after a string of sub-par seasons and an elbow injury which required surgery.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. it’s been a couple of tough months for me with an injury and then winning Wimbledon and Cincinnati,” Djokovic said.
Federer started the match with three aces in the opening game, then added a pair of love games for a 3-2 lead.
But it began to unravel as the Swiss double-faulted to yield a break point, dropping serve as Djokovic moved ahead 4-3.
Djokovic took advantage for a 5-3 lead and closed out the set after 37 minutes.
Federer broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set but gave the break back immediately as he double faulted to give Djokovic a break point which the Serb promptly converted.
Djokovic broke again to lead 4-3, and after Federer held to close the gap to 4-5 Djokovic ended the afternoon in the next game on his first match point.