Gostkowski finally delivers in Titans’ 16-14 ‘win’ at Denver
James helps big-spending Chelsea to opening win Defense, Snell, Big Ben carry Steelers over Giants
DENVER, Sept 15, (AP): New kicker Stephen Gostkowski avoided a disastrous debut with the Tennessee Titans in the nick of time.
The Titans escaped Denver with a 16-14 victory Monday night on Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal with 17 seconds left after he’d missed four kicks, one in each quarter.
Gostkowski missed three field goals: wide left, wide right and a block, and he missed an extra point.
Gostkowski never missed three field goals in a game during his 14 seasons in New England, where he won three Super Bowl rings, made four Pro Bowls and left this offseason as the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer.
On Thursday he joined the Titans, who had the worst field goal unit in the NFL last year when their first four kickers combined to connect on only 44.4% of field goals (8 for 18).
Although the final result was to his liking, surely his debut wasn’t.
The last Titans/Oilers kicker to miss three field goals and an extra point in a game was Skip Butler against the Jets in the 1977 season opener. And Gostkowski became the first kicker to miss three field goals and a PAT in the same game since Mason Crosby missed four field goals and a PAT for the Packers against the Lions in 2018.
Gostkowski, who had made 87.4% of his kicks coming into the game, a percentage that ranked fifth-best in NFL history, missed a 47-yarder in the first quarter and Shelby Harris blocked his 43-yarder just before halftime. Gostkowski’s 42-yarder in the third quarter was wide left and he missed the PAT following Tennessee’s go-ahead touchdown on Jonnu Smith’s catch from Ryan Tannehill on fourth-and-1 with 13:49 remain
Denver replied with a 75-yard drive, with Melvin Gordon taking it in from a yard out, and Brandon McManus’ extra point put the Broncos up 14-13 with 9 minutes left.
The Broncos punted on their next two possessions and the Titans made them pay with a 12-play, 83-yard, game-winning scoring drive.
The teams scuffled to a 7-all tie after an eventful first half that included an ejection, a goal-line stand and Gostkowski’s dismal debut four days after signing with the Titans. The 36-year-old Gostkowski left New England with 1,775 points over 204 games.
Drew Lock threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant after Gostkowski’s first miss, and the Titans tied it on Tannehill’s 1-yard strike to MyCole Pruitt after a Denver turnover.
Steelers 26, Giants 16
In East Rutherford, NJ, Ben Roethlisberger did a very Pittsburgh thing in his return to the lineup, riding the Steelers’ defense and running game to victory.
Oh, Big Ben did plenty to help the cause. Roethlisberger, who missed the final 14 games last season after elbow surgery, threw for three scores in a 26-16 win over the New York Giants at an empty and eerie MetLife Stadium on Monday night.
The keys, though, were several defensive plays and the running of backup Bennie Snell, who rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries - his first 100yard performance in his second NFL season.
The defense, while not quite on the level of the famed Steel Curtain, was plenty stingy and physical. It not only
held Saquon Barkley to 6 yards on 15 carries, it also swarmed him in the backfield nearly all night.
Three Steelers stars got them their first touchdown. All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt made a clever interception at the New York 36. Roethlisberger beat a blitz with a perfect throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 10-yard second-quarter score. Chris Boswell’s extra point hit the upright, leaving them behind 10-9.
They got the lead with 7 seconds remaining in the half as Roethlisberger connected with James Washington, who dived into the end zone for a 13-yard score. Boswell made the PAT this time, and added a 36-yard field goal early in the final quarter. That came following the night’s biggest play.
Even though the Pittsburgh defense broke down as the Giants marched 87 yards on 19 plays in just under nine minutes in the third quarter, it still came up with a major stop. Bud Dupree pressured quarterback Daniel Jones as he rolled left from the 4 and deflected his pass. Edge rusher Cam Heyward practically made a fair catch in the end zone for the interception.
Roethlisberger then took Pittsburgh 62 yards for the field goal and a 19-10 lead. He hit Smith-Schuster again for a 10-yard touchdown and a 26-10 lead before New York got a late TD.
BRIGHTON, England, Sept 15, (AP): After a spending spree of $250 million on some of Europe’s most exciting stars, Chelsea were indebted to a wonder strike from one of their homegrown players during a win in their opening English Premier League game.
Reece James, a 20-year-old defender who has been at Chelsea since the age of 6, looks to be a player capable of staying in the team however much money the club spends in the coming seasons.
One of a slew of highly rated right backs to come through in England in recent years, James showed he has class at both ends of the field by smashing home a swerving piledriver from 30 meters that was the best and most crucial goal of a 3-1 victory at Brighton on Monday.
He regained the lead for Chelsea at 2-1 in the 56th minute, 100 seconds after Brighton equalized. James then sent over the corner in the 66th
which Kurt Zouma met with a volley that deflected into the net, allowing Chelsea to ease to the three points.
“Today is a good feeling for us, because it wasn’t a great performance,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said. “I’m not going to sit here and say that, but we got the three points. “If we can get those points early, confidence builds, we’ll have more time to work with the team, players come back from injury and the new signings settle in, hopefully we can make big strides.”
The pressure is on Lampard to lead Chelsea to a title challenge this season after the club’s spree in the transfer market. He was only able to start two of his six signings, though – attacking midfielder Kai Havertz and striker Timo Werner, signed for a combined $160 million.
Havertz showed a few neat touches but was generally quiet, while Werner was more impressive, winning the penalty that Jorginho converted to put Chelsea ahead in the 23rd.
“It’s not a game you come away from and go, ‘Here were 10 vintage moments’,” Lampard said of Havertz, who moved for $92 million from Bayer Leverkusen, “but I thought there were moments of real quality and calmness. It’s a big ask –
there’s a lot on his shoulders.”
Despite all the arrivals – Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva have also been signed but were unavailable against Brighton – Lampard still has an issue at goalkeeper.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was possibly at fault for Brighton’s 54th-minute equalizer after letting Leandro Trossard’s shot from outside the area sneak into the far corner.
Signed in 2018 as the world’s most expensive keeper, Kepa was dropped for spells of last season and his place could be under threat if Chelsea manages to sign a target from Rennes, Edouard Mendy.
The wonderful strike by James quickly bailed Kepa out, though.
If any team had an excuse for making a slow start to the season, it was Wolverhampton.
Their grueling, 12-month campaign in the 2019-20 season finished only on Aug 11 in the Europa League quarter-finals, leaving Nuno Espirito Santo’s side just a 33-day break until the new season.
Yet, Wolves scored twice in the first six minutes – through striker Raul Jimenez and center back Romain Saiss – in their opening game of the season and ran out a comfortable 2-0 winner at Sheffield United.
After scoring 17 times last season, Jimenez needed just three minutes to get off the mark in the new one when he side-footed home a cross from Daniel Podence. Saiss doubled the lead with a header from a corner, and later struck the post.
Chelsea’s Reece James (left), and Brighton’s Leandro Trossard battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Brighton and Chelsea at Falmer Stadium in Brighton, Eng land, on Sept 14. (AP)
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second half of an NFL football game on Sept 14, in Denver. (AP)
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws under pressure from Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) during the third quarter of an NFL football game on Sept 14, in East Rutherford, NJ. (AP)