NFL

Bucs out to end Saints streak, Texans in danger of making franchise history

By Sports Desk October 29, 2021

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into Week 8 with a 6-1 record, though their form will be tested against the New Orleans Saints.

Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns and 211 yards in the Bucs' 38-3 thrashing of the Chicago Bears last week, though Tampa Bay's recent record against the Saints is poor.

The Los Angeles Rams are also 6-1, and are looking to extend their strong start when they take on the Houston Texans, who are out to avoid a franchise first.

Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase, meanwhile, have been linking up to superb effect for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are at the New York Jets on Sunday. 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) @ New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Tampa Bay may have picked up from where they left off last season, but their recent run against New Orleans has not been at all profitable.

New Orleans have won five straight games against NFC South rivals Tampa Bay, which is the longest active losing streak for the Buccaneers against any single opponent.

However, the Bucs did set franchise records for points in a first quarter with 21, and points in a first half with 35, in their 38-3 win over the Bears. The 21 first-quarter and 35 first-half points are also the most scored by any NFL team this season.

Mike Evans caught three touchdowns against the Bears with all of them coming in the first half. He joined Marvin Harrison, Marvin Jones Jr, Jerry Rice, and Sterling Sharpe as the only players since the merger to have multiple games with three first-half touchdown catches.

The Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks in their last outing, and had 35 passing attempts in that win. Both teams have combined to win 76.9 per cent of their games this season, the highest combined winning percentage that the teams have ever had when facing each other.

Los Angeles Rams (6-1) @ Houston Texans (1-6)

This will be only the fifth all-time meeting between the Texans and the Rams, and just the second game since the latter moved back to Los Angeles.

The Rams have outscored the Texans by an aggregate of 71-20 over the last two meetings, and, at 6-1, Los Angeles are enjoying their equal second-best start to a season this century, behind the 7-0 run in 2018.

They are also looking to win each of their first four road games of a season for the fourth time since 2000, having also done this in 2001, 2017 and 2018.

Matthew Stafford has thrown for 2,172 yards this season, the most by any Rams player in the team's first seven games of the season since Kurt Warner threw for 2,445 yards in the first seven games of 2000.

Houston, meanwhile, have lost six straight, with each of the last two losses coming by over 25 points. The Texans have not lost three straight games by at least 25 points in franchise history – the only team to do so in a single season in the last 25 years were the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) @ New York Jets (1-5)

The Bengals have won each of the last three meetings between these teams, matching their longest-ever win streak over the Jets (1973-81). Cincinnati's 23-22 win in New York in 2016 snapped a nine-game losing streak when visiting the Jets.

Cincinnati only managed four wins in 2020, but they surpassed that figure with a brilliant 41-17 victory in Baltimore last week, with quarterback Burrow and wide receiver Chase turning in stellar performances.

Burrow passed for a career-high 416 yards and tied a previous career high with three touchdown passes. It was his seventh consecutive game with multiple TD passes, tying a franchise record set twice before by Carson Palmer (2004-05 and 2010).

Chase, meanwhile, had 201 receiving yards, the most all-time by a Bengals rookie and the most by any rookie since Mike Evans had 209 in 2014. Chase's 754 receiving yards in 2021 ranks are the most by any player through seven career games in NFL history.

The Jets' 54-13 loss to the Patriots last week was their largest defeat since a 45-3 loss in Week 13 of the 2010 season, which also happened in New England. The 54 points are the fourth-most that New York have allowed in a single game and the most since 1980.

Elsewhere...

The Detroit Lions are still winless, going 0-7 so far, but could snap the losing streak against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions have won three straight against Philadelphia, with each of the last two games being decided by three points or fewer. 

Strugglers the Miami Dolphins travel to Buffalo. With two receiving yards on Sunday, Stefon Diggs will reach 2,000 as a Bill in just his 23rd game with the team. That would be tied for the second fewest games needed by any player with any single team in the Super Bowl era (Odell Beckham Jr. – 21 with the Giants, Vincent Jackson – 23 with Tampa Bay, Brandon Marshall – 23 with Chicago).

Fresh from their win over the Jets, the Patriots will aim to maintain the momentum against the Los Angeles Chargers, against whom they have five straight wins and are 16-3 in the last 19 meetings.

An AFC North clash sees the Browns (4-3) host the 3-3 Steelers. Pittsburgh have not won in Cleveland since 2017, as the teams tied in 2018 before the Browns won in 2019 and 2020.

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  • Rangnick not concerned about Ronaldo tantrum Rangnick not concerned about Ronaldo tantrum

    Ralf Rangnick was not overly concerned about Cristiano Ronaldo's reaction to being substituted in Manchester United's 3-1 win at Brentford.

    United claimed their first Premier League victory of 2022 on Wednesday, with Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford getting the goals before a late Ivan Toney consolation.

    The visitors were fortunate to not trail at the break but produced a hugely improved display in the second half, with Ronaldo playing a part in Greenwood's goal as he chested the ball into Bruno Fernandes' path before he squared to the 20-year-old.

    Greenwood and Ronaldo were withdrawn nine minutes later, with Rashford and Harry Maguire entering the pitch as Rangnick changed to a back five.

    Ronaldo appeared annoyed as he headed off and that displeasure continued to emanate after sitting in the dugout, the striker seen seemingly asking Darren Fletcher why they had chosen to withdraw him.

    In the aftermath of Rashford's goal, Rangnick could be seen having a word in Ronaldo's ear, the situation appearing to be defused.

    "It's normal, as a striker he wants to score goals," Rangnick told BT Sport before going on to explain his decision.

    "He came back from a little injury, so for me, it was also important to bear in mind we also have another game in three days' time.

    "On the other hand, we were 2-0 up, the same score as at Villa Park, and I decided to make sure we defended that lead this time and I think it was the right decision to switch to a back five.

    "We scored the third goal, we would have wanted to keep the clean sheet but unfortunately we didn't manage that, but at least we made sure nothing more happened."

    United were indebted to David de Gea's performance as he made seven saves over the course of the match, increasing his season total to 81 – 11 more than any other Premier League goalkeeper.

    The Spaniard's form has been exceptional this season, with his 6.2 'goals prevented' being the best figure among keepers in the top flight.

    Rangnick acknowledged United fell well short of expectations in the first half, before paying tribute to De Gea's brilliant form.

    Asked if he had to get tough at half-time, Rangnick said: "I wouldn't say a strong conversation [was had] but obviously we had to change a few things.

    "In the first half we were not good in almost all aspects of the game: sloppy passing, not strong enough in the 50:50 situations, we gave away almost every second ball.

    "Then in the second half we were more urgent, attacking them higher up the pitch and making the right decisions when on the counter, and we scored – this was the big difference."

    On De Gea's display, he added: "He's been doing that for the last couple of weeks. Brilliant saves in the first half, [he's] one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now I'd say."

    Victory for United moved them on to 35 points, level with Arsenal in sixth, though the Gunners have played one match less.

  • Conte salutes Spurs fight after Bergwijn snatches dramatic win at Leicester Conte salutes Spurs fight after Bergwijn snatches dramatic win at Leicester

    Antonio Conte saluted Tottenham's fighting spirit after Steven Bergwijn's stoppage-time double snatched a stunning 3-2 win at Leicester City in a Premier League thriller.

    Spurs were on the brink of suffering a first top-flight defeat under Conte after James Maddison put the Foxes in front for the second time in the 76th minute at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday.

    Patson Daka had opening the scoring, but Harry Kane equalised in the first half with the 250th club goal of his career.

    Spurs looked set to miss the chance to move above fierce rivals Arsenal into fifth place, but Bergwijn came off the bench to provide a last-gasp heroic performance.

    The Netherlands forward equalised with 95 minutes gone and there was yet another incredible twice two minutes later, when he rounded Kasper Schmeichel before seeing his right-footed finish go in off the post.

    Tottenham head coach Conte was proud of the way his side battled right to the end and felt they deserved all three points.

    He told BBC Match of the Day: "I think we showed today that we don't want to give up. Never. The players know very well what our philosophy must be. We must fight to the end and try to also get a result.

    "Today to lose this game was not right. We created many, many chances. We were unlucky when we conceded. At the end we were very good. And we believed to the end. We wanted three points and we deserved them.

    "The response of the team was good from the start. I have found a group that have shown me from the first day a desire to work with me and the staff and to improve every day."

    Tottenham had 27 attempts as they posed a huge threat going forward, but looked vulnerable at the back.

    Kane was outstanding but could have had a hat-trick, heading against the crossbar and seeing a shot cleared off the line by Luke Thomas as Spurs wasted a whole host of chances.

    Conte's men are only a point behind fourth-placed West Ham with three games in hand on David Moyes' side, while they are eight points adrift of Chelsea in third place ahead of a clash with the European champions on Sunday, but the Italian says they remain a work in progress.

    He added: "We know we have a long path in front of us but for me, it is important to know they want to improve. Step by step we need to raise our level and improve quality. Today we played a good game and if I have to see one situation we need to improve, there are key moments.

    "Sometimes we do not understand this, that you need to control the game. A great team does this.

    "For me, it is difficult to tell you something about our target. I think we have a long path and now we have to work. We know every well we have to fight to try to reach our best result. It will be very difficult because of the level of this tournament."

    Bergwijn had not scored for Tottenham this season, but ended his drought in spectacular fashion.

  • Tottenham didn't win, Leicester presented them three points - Rodgers Tottenham didn't win, Leicester presented them three points - Rodgers

    Leicester City only suffered a late capitulation against Tottenham because they presented them with the chance to steal three points, according to Brendan Rodgers. 

    Goals from Patson Daka and James Maddison either side of Harry Kane's 250th club strike appeared to have put Leicester on course for a much-needed victory at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday. 

    However, Steven Bergwijn equalised in the 95th minute and grabbed a dramatic second 79 seconds later after Youri Tielemans ceded possession from the kick-off.  

    Spurs' win came despite trailing after 94 minutes and 52 seconds, which is the latest a team has been losing before going on to win a Premier League match. 

    Rodgers criticised his players for failing to secure back-to-back top-flight wins for the first time since October from such a promising position. 

    "It was 93 minutes of really good work. We showed good resilience in defence. The goals we scored were terrific," Rodgers told BT Sport. 

    "To concede the equaliser was disappointing to happen so late, but the winner was a very poor goal to concede. It is hard to not have taken anything from the game. 

    "It's managing the game. Fundamentally, we missed out on key moments leading to the second goal and the third goal, Youri knows he can never make that pass, it was really naive from him. 

    "That was a great opportunity, but you have to see that through. I don't think Tottenham won the game, we presented them the three points. 

    "It's bitterly disappointing but we have to get back on the training pitch and prepare again for the weekend." 

    Leicester next entertain Brighton and Hove Albion, who sit four points clear of them in ninth, on Sunday. 

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