NFL Sunday roundup: Canadian connection helps Chargers bolt back to life

Forced fumble by Vancouver’s Christian Covington picked up by Toronto’s Tevaughn Campbell, who returns it 61 yards for game-changing TD

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The Los Angeles Chargers shot back to life Sunday in Cincinnati, thanks in part to a crazy Canuck scoring connection on defence.


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In an AFC matchup in which the Chargers and Bengals each took a turn stealing all of the game’s momentum for a large stretch entering the final quarter, Christian Covington of Vancouver and Tevaughn Campbell of Toronto conspired on the biggest play of the day.

With 13:43 left and the Bengals driving to take their first lead of the day, Joe Mixon — Cincinnati’s Pro Bowl-calibre running back — got stacked up at the Chargers’ 37-yard line. Covington, a seventh-year interior defensive lineman, ripped the ball out.

Campbell, a second-year ex-CFL cornerback from Toronto, scooped up the loose ball at the 39 and took it back the whole way, untouched, 61 yards for a touchdown. That put L.A. up 31-22.

Ball game. The Bengals never scored again.


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The beleaguered Chargers defence forced three other Cincinnati turnovers on the day, besides the Covington-Campbell fumble-six. What’s more, a defence that entered the game having allowed the most rush yards per game in the league (145) limited Mixon and the Bengals rushing attack to 96, and 356 yards total.

It was a weird game. The Chargers burst out in front 24-0 after only 20 minutes. Then it was all Bengals, who pulled to within 24-22 entering the fourth, before the Chargers won going away.

“We finished the game playing our best — 17-0 in the fourth quarter,” Chargers first-year head coach Brandon Staley said.

“We felt like we’ve been getting close (defensively). I’ve seen the improvement … Today was even uneven at times (but) I really felt like defence won the day for us.”


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A third Canadian, rookie linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga (who spent his high school years living in Calgary), now regularly gets defensive snaps for the Chargers. Toronto-born, Brampton-raised rookie wide receiver Josh Palmer plays on offence.

In a battle of the two best 2020 draft-class quarterbacks, Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert bested Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, although the latter smashed his throwing hand on a follow-through midway through the game and appeared to have at least one finger swell up.

The jaw-dropping throw of the day came from Herbert’s hand, early in the second quarter, when he rolled right at midfield and fired a diagonal cross-field rope into the end zone, which receiver Jalen Guyton snared for a 44-yard TD.


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“I really felt like Justin controlled the game today, made some really big plays in the pass game,” Staley said. “We liked the matchups out there.”

After losing four of their previous six games, AFC wild-card playoff contention, but before Kansas City’s Sunday night game against Denver the Chargers pulled to within a half-game of the 7-4 Chiefs in the AFC West race.

Cincinnati fell to 7-5, still stuck in second place in the AFC North.

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At some point you knew Baltimore’s amazing late-game luck would run out.

That happened Sunday.

With his team trailing at Pittsburgh 20-19 with 12 seconds left, after having just scored an ostensible tying touchdown, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh eschewed the gimme extra-point try by Justin Tucker, and instead went for two and the win.


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Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who had passed his team 60 yards down the field for a touchdown in 1:36, was looking for his trusty tight end Mark Andrews, shooting off into the right flat from the get-go.

Pittsburgh’s all-pro pass rusher T.J. Watt instantly got into Jackson’s grill, and the 2019 NFL MVP had to throw quickly to the open Andrews — only he did so with a hard-thrown liner, rather than a softer lob under which Andrews could comfortably adjust.

The throw was not only hard but slightly inside, and Andrews quickly stuck his left hand out to try to stop the ball’s flight, to then catch it on the purposeful deflection. Only Andrews couldn’t get to his one-handed deflection.


Final score: Steelers 20, Ravens 19.


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It figures the Ravens’ run of incredible late-game comeback luck would run out against their arch-rivals, in another low-scoring slugfest.

Jackson continues to struggle in the face of intense pass-rush pressure. He threw another awful interception, fumbled once (but Baltimore recovered) and was sacked seven times.

The win was crucial for the Steelers, who improved to 6-5-1 and rose up into third place in the AFC North, over 6-6 Cleveland, and to within a half-game of second-place Cincinnati.

Baltimore fell to 8-4. Its lead in the division remains one game over the 7-5 Bengals.

The division now might be entirely up for grabs.


Both Arizona and Tampa won easily on the road, to reinforce their respective division leads in the NFC.


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Tampa Bay left Atlanta with a 30-17 victory. Tom Brady produced four touchdowns and 368 yards on 38-of-51 passing.

Brady increased his league-leading TD-passes total to 34. That’s the second most scoring strikes the 44-year-old has thrown after 12 games in his 22-year career, after 41 in 2007. And his TD total so far is tied for the eighth most thrown at this point in a season by any QB in NFL history.

Tampa Bay far and away leads the NFC South, with a 9-3 record. The other three teams (Atlanta, New Orleans and Carolina) are all 5-7.

In Chicago, the Arizona Cardinals feasted on Bears mistakes to win in the cold rain, 33-22.

Kyler Murray quarterbacked his first game in a month for Arizona, after nursing a wounded ankle. Although he wasn’t prolific Murray was sharp and productive: 11-of-15 for 123 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, while adding 59 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on just 10 carries.


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“I was being myself, playing the game I love to play,” Murray said, per the team’s website.

Arizona became the NFL’s first team to notch double-digit victories, it remains atop the NFC West at 10-2, two games up on the Los Angeles Rams, who smoked hapless Jacksonville 37-7.

“Now that we’re in this position, we have to keep it going,” Murray said.

Perennial Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins also returned for the Cardinals. He caught Murray’s best pass of the day for a 20-yard touchdown, less than five minutes in.

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The Detroit Lions are a bad football team. And proved it repeatedly. But the Minnesota Vikings might actually be worse.

Or at least the Vikings were on Sunday at Ford Field, where the previously winless, luckless Lions ceased to be both — for a change — by scoring a game-winning touchdown from 11 yards out on the last play to edge the Vikings, 29-27.


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Detroit won for the first time in 52 weeks, since Week 13 of the 2020 season.

Minnesota dropped to 5-7, fast slipping from playoff contention because of another bad defensive performance, and more stubborn, bone-headed coaching.

The Lions once again didn’t do a whole lot offensively until Minnesota went up 27-23 with 1:50 remaining, in finally overcoming Detroit’s 20-6 halftime lead.

But then Vikings head coach and chief defensive strategist Mike Zimmer sat his defenders back, barely blitzing, and defying Lions QB Jared Goff to march the Lions 75 yards for the winning score, with no timeouts.

Goff did just that.

He completed 8-of-11 short passes (excluding two clock-stopping spikes) to set up the Lions at the Minnesota 11 with four seconds left. After the Vikings called a timeout, and with Lions receivers spread out, Goff dropped back into a calm pocket and threw a simple slant to the left, to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who easily caught the ball in the end zone between two late-converging Vikings defensive backs.


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The Lions improved to 1-10-1.

Detroit’s Dan Campbell began his emotional post-game news conference by saying the game ball from his first win as an NFL head coach was going to the “whole Oxford community.”

That is, to the small town on the northern outskirts of the metropolitan Detroit area, where last week a mass shooting allegedly by a teenage student killed four students and wounded seven others.


Carolina, which had a bye this past week, announced Sunday that offensive coordinator Joe Brady has been fired … Indy blanked Houston 31-0 to get back up above .500, at 7-6 … Miami continued its turnaround under ever-sharper second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa by beating the New York Giants 20-9 … Gardner Minshew, in for hurt Jalen Hurts, was red hot in leading Philadelphia over the host New York Jets, 33-18, completing 20-of-25 for 242 yards and two scores without a pick … Seattle finally won again, upsetting San Francisco 30-23 thanks in part to a 73-yard fake-punt touchdown run by Travis Homer … Fast-descending Las Vegas lost again, to fast-ascending Washington, 17-15.



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