From Wembley to Drew Brees — What we learned from Week 8 in the NFL

The Titans and the Chargers played out a nail-biting 20-19 thriller at Wembley, delivering a contest the expectant British crowd had been longing for. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018
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From Wembley to Drew Brees — What we learned from Week 8 in the NFL

  • At the sixth time of asking, London finally delivered a game of gridiron worth watching
  • Drew Brees became the third quarterback in NFL history to defeat all 32 teams

America’s Game was back in London and Drew Brees once again added to the record books. Here is what else we learned from Week 8 in the NFL: 

London lights it up
At last. At the sixth time of asking, London finally delivered a game of gridiron worth watching. The Titans and the Chargers played out a nail-biting 20-19 thriller at Wembley, delivering a contest the expectant British crowd had been longing for. The main talking point, however, was Titans coach Mike Vrabel’s decision to go for a two-point attempt after a late touchdown. Had he sent out Ryan Succop for the extra point the game would have gone into overtime — beyond that, who knows? It was a gutsy call, that worked earlier in the month against the Philadelphia Eagles. This time, it did not come off. But it made for great drama and a game the London fans will remember for a long time.

Brees brilliance
We cannot stop waxing lyrical about Drew Brees. The New Orleans Saints star just keeps getting better with age. Already a colossus of the sport, he joined an elite club of quarterbacks after his side’s exhilarating 24-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. After completing 22 of 30 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and becoming the third quarterback in NFL history to defeat all 32 teams, he now has 501 touchdown passes in his career. Brees now ranks alongside Peyton Manning (539), Brett Favre (508) and Tom Brady (504). For some, including me, his legacy may be slightly tarnished owing to him only having one Super Bowl ring, but if he continues on this trajectory, the statistics will silence even his harshest critics.

Pathetic punts
Those less familiar with gridiron look at kickers and see one of the easiest jobs in sport. Rarely challenged by distance, never challenged with an angled kick — a kick in NFL does appear to be one of sport’s certainties. But this week, we got a reminder that an NFL kick is not quite as certain as death or taxes. First, the Ravens’ Justin Tucker inexplicably missed the first conversion in his career, which meant the Saints gifted Baltimore the win. Then Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher got the raw end of a snap infraction penalty against divisional rivals Washington, which meant his 52-yard kick (that should have been a 47-yard one) struck the post. Two games settled by bad kicks. Who says NFL kicking is easy?

Rams on the charge
We really need to start taking the Los Angeles Rams seriously as Super Bowl contenders. They might have surprised us in the first few weeks, but after their demolition of the San Francisco 49ers at the weekend, Jared Goff and his offense are genuinely the real deal. The Rams are the only 100 percent team left in the league, and unless they have a disastrous second half of the season, the City of Angels might well be celebrating its first Super Bowl success since the Raiders’ win in 1984.


Stubborn Roshen Silva inches Sri Lanka past England in Kandy

Updated 13 min 24 sec ago
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Stubborn Roshen Silva inches Sri Lanka past England in Kandy

  • The hosts, down 1-0 in the three-match series, were bowled out for 336 in reply to England’s 290
  • Silva built crucial partnerships including a 56-run ninth wicket stand with Akila Dananjaya as the hosts edged past England’s total

KANDY: Roshen Silva hit a stubborn 85 to guide Sri Lanka to a 46-run first innings lead over England in the second Test on Thursday.
The hosts, down 1-0 in the three-match series, were bowled out for 336 in reply to England’s 290. England’s Rory Burns and tail-ender Jack Leach had to see out one nervy over before the end of the second day in Kandy.
After Adil Rashid struck twice to England’s tourists’ hopes of securing a lead on the turning pitch, Silva built crucial partnerships including a 56-run ninth wicket stand with Akila Dananjaya as the hosts edged past England’s total.
Dananjaya frustrated England’s spinners before falling to Moeen Ali leg before for 31. Stand-in skipper Suranga Lakmal was unbeaten on 15 at the end.
The visitors were yet to open their account after nightwatchman Jack Leach faced six balls from Dilruwan Perera in the final over of the day. Rory Burns was accompanying Leach at close of play.
“We had a chat upstairs — a little bit disappointed that they’ve got a little bit of a lead,” said Leach, who also took three wickets in Sri Lanka’s innings.
“We’re very much feeling good about the fact that we’re bowling last on that wicket. We feel if we can put pressure on tomorrow with our batting and get a good total, we feel that we can win the game,” he said.
England had made inroads into the Sri Lankan middle order through some brilliant fielding by Ben Stokes before lunch but Silva frustrated the opposition bowlers for the rest of the day.
Dimuth Karunaratne, who made 63, put on 96 for the third wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva, who hit 59, to steady the innings after they had slipped to 31 for two early in the day.
But Stokes, who on Wednesday had failed with the bat as England’s new number three, broke the partnership when he pounced to run out Karunaratne with a direct throw from gully.
The star all-rounder then took a stunning one-handed catch low to his left at first slip to dismiss Kusal Mendis for one off the slow left-arm spin of Leach.
“We got a 46 runs lead, its a huge score for us when they play in the second innings. We can put them under pressure if we can get a couple of wickets early morning,” said Karunaratne.
“If we can get England before 250 it will be a gettable target for us,” he added.
England’s first innings total was 285 but Sri Lanka were docked five runs after the umpires deemed that Silva did not ground his bat properly while taking a run.
According to international cricket rules an umpire can dock five runs if he feels the batsman ran a short run deliberately.
“I don’t think Roshen did it deliberately. He thought the ball had gone for four he came back to his partner to give a high five,” said Karunaratne.
“Those things can happen its part of the game we don’t blame him. We are not so worried about the five runs.”