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

Arab Times - - SPORTS -

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.

FOOT­BALL

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

ing.

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

SOC­CER

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)

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