FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: GOATS Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers live up to the hype and Saints shine

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Two quarterbacks who have a very good idea about what they are doing — Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. (AFP)
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Updated 06 November 2018
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FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: GOATS Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers live up to the hype and Saints shine

  • Classy quarterbacks do not let their fans down.
  • Saints show why they are genuine Super Bowl contenders.

LONDON: With only half the regular season left the countdown to the playoffs is underway. The time to shine is now — here is what we learned from the latest clashes in Gridiron.

GOAT MATCH-UP LIVED UP TO THE HYPE

The way the NFL season works means a team does not play every other team each season, which also means mouthwatering match-ups such as Sunday’s Patriots led by Tom Brady against Aaron Rodgers’ Packers are a rare treat for the fans. And the two future Hall-of- Famers gave us exactly what we wanted to see — both putting on differing, but dazzling, displays of quarterback virtuosity. It was a shame that the “Battle of the 12s” was decided not by a piece of their brilliance, but rather by a game-losing fumble by Aaron Jones with Rodgers driving the Packers for the lead. The Patriots did not fumble on their game-winning drive and it was game over. If both “GOATs” are still playing, we will have to wait until 2022 to see them face off again. More’s the pity.



GAME OF THE SEASON (SO FAR)...

Given their positions at the top of the NFC, the New Orleans Saints against the unbeaten LA Rams had huge potential, and both teams did not disappoint. Points flowed as the Saints raced into a 35-14 lead, before being pegged back by the Rams, who responded with 21 straight points to level the game in the fourth quarter. It needed Saints kicker Wil Lutz, and Drew Brees to connect with Michael Thomas on a 72-yard touchdown pass to finally seal the win for New Orleans. These two are likely to face each other in a post-season game — if that one is anywhere near as good as this, we are in for a playoff classic.



PHILIP RIVERS IS HIGLY UNDERRATED

All the talk in Los Angeles this season has been about the all-conquering Rams, but after their defeat in The Big Easy, it is time to give the Chargers some love. Getting a win at Seattle with their raucous fans and challenging conditions is never easy, but in Philip Rivers the Chargers have an extremely talented and seemingly underrated quarterback — his 228 yards and two touchdowns sealed the deal and sent LA’s “other team” to 6-2 for the season. He also became the fourth QB in history to make 200 consecutive starts. It all bodes well for a second-half of the season run at the playoffs for the Chargers, and with Rivers at the helm, who knows?



STEELERS STAYING UNDER THE RADER

After a very shaky start, Pittsburgh have been creeping into playoff contention week by week very much under the radar. Now after a fourth win in a row, this weekend over the sinking-fast Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are hot on the heels of the Chiefs, Patriots and Chargers in the AFC. James Conner has been their break-out star this season, and we would love to see him tearing it up come the post-season. The good times are back at Heinz Field. 

 


Mohamed Salah sure Liverpool can handle the pressure of Premier League title tilt

Updated 51 min 14 sec ago
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Mohamed Salah sure Liverpool can handle the pressure of Premier League title tilt

  • Reds face Manchester United on Sunday in crouch clash.
  • Egyptian ace says Reds will embrace the pressure as they g in each of first top-flight title since 1990.

LONDON: Mohamed Salah is in no doubt Liverpool can handle the pressure of the title run in, ahead of their crunch clash against arch-rivals Manchester United.
The Reds lie second in the Premier League table to Manchester City on goal difference, though with a game in hand. It was barely a month ago that they enjoyed a seven-point lead over the Abu Dhabi-owed club, but draws against Leicester and West Ham raised fears that Liverpool were starting to feel the strain of bidding for a first top-flight title since 1990.
But Salah has sought to put fans’ fears at ease, claiming the Reds are ready to embrace the pressure, starting away at Old Trafford against familiar foe United.
“I said in November that there is pressure and it will be there until the end of the season, because when you play for the Premier League you have to accept that there is pressure,” Salah told Sky Sports.
“When you go home you can take it with you, but it can help you to work harder and focus on your game.
“At the end of the day you have a target in your mind, you have a dream, you want to win the Premier League. I even said that two years ago when I came — it is a dream to win the Premier League.”
Added to the pressure of trying to win the title is the fact that a clash against Manchester United is like nothing else the Reds come up against all season. The two teams are arch-rivals and Salah is only too aware that their North West neighbors would like nothing more than to ruin the Reds’ title charge.
The United encounter is the first of three tough fixtures in a week for Liverpool, with a midweek clash with Watford and the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Sunday to come — a run of games that is not lost on Salah.
“It is a very big week for us,” Salah said. “And if we win three games and are top of the table, that is huge for us. When you have three games in a week or ten days, you just need to win, win, win, then after that you have time to think.
“Even when we are not top of the league, I know how much United want to win against Liverpool and Everton the same. For me it is not a big deal. We just need to do what we have been doing for the last couple of months.”