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Brady, Bucs beat Seahawks 21-16 in historic Germany game

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/seattle-seahawks-tom-brady-tampa-bay-buccaneers-new-england-patriots-nfl-d3624bfc6649100cbd7a090c1bdcc942

MUNICH (AP) — Tom Brady has had his share of memorable football games.

He says Sunday at a raucous Allianz Arena is right up there.

“That was one of the great football experiences that I’ve ever had,” the seven-time Super Bowl champion said. “It says a lot for 23 years in the league.”

Brady stayed undefeated abroad by throwing two touchdown passes to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-16 in the first regular-season game played in Germany.

Brady connected with Julio Jones and Chris Godwin on scoring passes and Leonard Fournette ran one in as the Bucs (5-5) improved to .500 and snapped Seattle’s four-game winning streak.

German fans packed Allianz Arena for the historic game and the Bucs delivered with a balanced offensive performance on three long scoring drives. Rachaad White started and ran for 105 yards on 22 carries.

“It felt very electric from the time we took the field,” Brady said. “The end of the game with them singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Country Roads’ — that was pretty epic.”

Brady completed 22 of 29 passes for 258 yards to add Germany to his list of international wins after victories in London (twice) and Mexico City with the New England Patriots.

Trailing 21-3 in the fourth quarter, Seattle’s Geno Smith threw touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett and Marquise Goodwin to make the score 21-16 with 3:58 to play.

Smith found Goodwin in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard score on fourth-and-1 to complete a drive that started on the Bucs 45 after Brady threw his first interception since the season opener. Linebacker Cody Barton picked it off — ending Brady’s streak of consecutive passes without an interception at 399, three attempts short of Aaron Rodgers’ NFL record set in 2018.

Lockett caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Smith with 8:20 left, but the 2-point conversion try failed, leaving the score 21-9.

Smith was 23 of 33 for 275 yards and the two touchdowns for the Seahawks (6-4), who are still atop the NFC West.

“This feels like a real opportunity missed,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

The Bucs entered the game with the league’s worst rushing attack. Fournette, who got his passport just in time to travel, had 57 yards on 14 carries as both he and White helped Tampa Bay go 10 of 15 on third down.

“They have not been running the ball very consistently, so coming into the game, we were hoping we could just keep it under wraps and be able to deploy for the throwing game,” Carroll said. “They finished running the ball in the fourth quarter, which kills me.”

Brady is the first quarterback to start a regular-season game in three countries outside the U.S.

Brady found Jones open on a short crossing route and the receiver ran it in for a 31-yard scoring play early in the second quarter. Jones put his left shoulder down and got past safety Josh Jones at the goal line.

Fournette then rumbled in from 1 yard to finish a 13-play, 86-yard drive. He scored two plays after a wide-open Scotty Miller caught a 22-yard pass and went down while bobbling the ball at the 5.

Godwin caught a 4-yard touchdown reception to make it 21-3 early in the fourth quarter. Godwin led the Bucs with 71 yards on six receptions. It was his first touchdown since his season-ending knee injury last year.

Down 14-3, Seattle drove to the Bucs 9 before Devin White’s strip-sack of Smith, whose fumble was recovered by Anthony Nelson at the 13.

The Seahawks had 57 net yards in the first half and drove to the Tampa 22 after the second-half kickoff before settling for a 55-yard field goal by Jason Myers to get on the board at 14-3.

YELLOW CARD

The Bucs drove to the Seattle 22 when Fournette took a direct snap, rolled right and threw across the field to Brady — but it was intercepted by cornerback Tariq Woolen, who had the slow-footed, 45-year-old quarterback well covered at the 6.

Brady was then flagged for tripping — which would be a yellow card if he played for Bayern Munich.

“Had he not slipped you would have seen his 42-inch vertical,” coach Todd Bowles joked.

Brady recognized that the defense wasn’t fooled.

“I tried to yell ‘Lenny no,’ but it was too late,” Brady said.

Several players slipped on the grass at Allianz.

Carroll thought the field limited his team’s run game. Rookie Kenneth Walker III had 10 carries for 17 yards.

“I wish the field was firmer,” Carroll said.

SACK ATTACK

White had two of Tampa Bay’s three sacks.

Just inside the two-minute warning of the first half, White burst through the line unblocked and brought down Smith for a 10-yard loss at the Seattle 10.

On Seattle’s first drive, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka beat rookie tackle Abraham Lucas around the edge and dropped Smith for a 17-yard loss on third down.

HEAVY HEART

Devin White’s father died shortly before the team left for Munich.

“He still got on the plane. To lose your dad right before you’re getting ready to go to Germany, and to come out and still play, it says a lot about the guy,” Bowles said.

White said it was “unreal” to get the bad news.

“At the end of the day, I knew I had a job to do,” White said. “I just put my head down and kept going forward.”

INJURIES

Fournette left in the fourth quarter with a hip injury. Bowles said the running back has a hip pointer and would be evaluated. Bucs CB Zyon McCollum was ruled out at halftime with a concussion.

GERMAN CONNECTIONS

Seahawks practice squad linebacker Aaron Donkor of Germany led the team out of the tunnel carrying the “12” flag. Donkor is not on the 53-man roster.

UP NEXT:

Seahawks: Bye before hosting the Las Vegas Raiders on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Buccaneers: Bye and then at Cleveland on Nov. 27.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Source: https://apnews.com/article/seattle-seahawks-tom-brady-tampa-bay-buccaneers-new-england-patriots-nfl-d3624bfc6649100cbd7a090c1bdcc942

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49ers head into offseason with more questions at quarterback

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers head into another offseason with major questions at quarterback after a season filled with injuries to the most important position ended without any of them physically able to throw the the ball downfield.

Trey Lance, who began the season as starter, is getting close to being fully cleared following two operations on his broken right ankle.

Brock Purdy, who went from third-string rookie to the starter that helped lead the Niners into the NFC title game before getting hurt himself, is figuring out how to treat his injured throwing elbow.

Jimmy Garoppolo, the starter in between those two before breaking his foot, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in six weeks.

And rumors are sure to swirl about whether the best answer for coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will be adding a veteran like Tom Brady to help a franchise that has gone to the NFC title game or further in three of the last four seasons get over the hump and win its first Super Bowl in nearly three decades.

The first big question at the position will be about Purdy’s health after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on the first drive of a 31-7 loss in the NFC title game to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Purdy was forced back into the game in the second half when Josh Johnson left with a concussion but was unable to throw the ball more than a few yards because of the injury.

“The minute I started throwing literally like I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t throw,” he said. “So obviously the adrenaline and stuff I think helps in terms of allowing me to go back in the game and hand the ball off — even that was pretty painful. But just overall it sucked that I wasn’t able to throw.”

An MRI revealed the tear and Purdy said he will undergo more tests and speak to more doctors to figure out whether recovery, repair or full reconstruction is the best option.

The injury is much more common in baseball pitchers, who often undergo reconstructive “Tommy John surgery” that sidelines them up to a year. But Purdy is hoping to avoid that; a simpler repair would keep him out for six months but allow him to return to practice around the start of training camp in July.

“The way a quarterback throws compared to a pitcher, two different things. It’s similar but more violent as a baseball player,” Purdy said. “So they’re saying the recovery process could be a little bit faster as a quarterback. I’ve looked at guys who have gone through this kind of thing. I’m just trying to find what’s right. Everyone’s situation is different and I’m trying to find out which one is right for myself.”

Purdy showed a lot in his first season in the NFL, going from the last pick of the draft to starter in the conference title game. He won all seven of his starts before the loss on Sunday and threw for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the regular season.

That performance could make him the favorite to begin next season as starter if he’s healthy.

“For me to claim or say anything in terms of what’s going to happen moving forward, that’s out of my control,” he said. “I’m going to do what I can to get back healthy and be ready to compete come fall.”

Lance was supposed to be in that role after San Francisco traded three first-round picks to draft him third overall in 2021. But he started only two games as a rookie when Garoppolo got hurt and then went down with a season-ending injury early in Week 2 this season.

Lance needed a second operation in late December but said he expects to be fully cleared in a few weeks and to be 100% for the start of the offseason program.

But after he started only five games combined in the last three years in college and the NFL, there are questions about whether Lance can be the long-term answer for San Francisco.

“I’m excited to go out and show what I can do,” he said. “Same situation that it’s been for me the last two years and really my whole life. Nothing has really changed and I still have the same mindset. … I just worry about what these guys think in this locker room, what the coaches think, what people in this organization think. Anything outside of that is totally out of my control. So I don’t let that have any effect on me.”

NOTES: All-Pro DE Nick Bosa said he wants to sign a long-term contract to stay in San Francisco but will be patient and leave that up to his agent.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Banchero headlines field for All-Star Rising Stars event

Paolo Banchero’s rookie season will include a trip to NBA All-Star weekend.

The Orlando Magic forward and No. 1 pick in last year’s draft was announced Tuesday as a participant in this year’s Rising Stars Game, to be held in Salt Lake City on Feb. 17, two nights before the All-Star Game.

Banchero — who leads all rookies with a 20.7 points-per-game average — may still be selected as an All-Star reserve. Those players will be revealed Thursday.

“Anytime you can get a chance to be a part of All-Star weekend, you can’t say no,” Banchero said. “Especially me, being a rookie, first year, never experienced it before, it’s always been the dream to just be a part of that whether it was Rising Stars or as a reserve. I’m definitely excited to get there and just see what it’s like.”

Banchero is on pace to be the first rookie to average 20 points per game since Luka Doncic in 2018-19. He also is fourth among rookies in rebounds per game entering Tuesday and third among them in steals per game.

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said the All-Star experience — whether just for Rising Stars or not — will have an impact on Banchero.

“Just being around other young players that have found themselves in that position, it does so much because it’s your peers,” Mosley said. “You’re around a group of young men who are the elite of the league in that class. I think it says something to the work that you’ve put in, the work that he’s put in. It’s going to do wonders for how he continues to believe in himself, what we’re doing as a team and his continued growth.”

Also picked for the game from this year’s rookie class: Detroit’s Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey, Atlanta’s A.J. Griffin, Utah’s Walker Kessler, Indiana’s Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard, Sacramento’s Keegan Murray, Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr., San Antonio’s Jeremy Sochan and Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams.

The second-year players selected were New Orleans’ Jose Alvarado and Trey Murphy III, Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey, Houston’s Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun, New York’s Quentin Grimes, Denver’s Bones Hyland, Cleveland’s Evan Mobley and Orlando’s Franz Wagner.

There also will be a team of G League players in the Rising Stars event, composed of Sidy Cissoko, Mojave King, Scoot Henderson, Kenneth Lofton Jr., Mac McClung, Leonard Miller and Scotty Pippen Jr.

The 21 NBA players will be drafted into three seven-player teams. Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Deron Williams will serve as coaches for those teams, while Jason Terry will coach the G League team.

All four teams will play a semifinal game with a target score of 40, and the two winners will then play the championship game with a target score of 25.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Griner’s return, free agency raises charter flight concerns

Brittney Griner’s return to the WNBA this summer after being traded in a dramatic prisoner swap in December with Russia has collided with free agency, creating potential travel complications for the league out of safety concerns for her.

If Griner, who is a free agent but has said she’ll return to Phoenix, needs special travel accommodations — such as chartered flights — the league will have to come up with a plan for the 6-foot-9 star. Griner’s safety when traveling will be a top priority for the team and the league.

“We are very cognizant of BG’s unique situation,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told The Associated Press. “We’ve been planning and we’ve been thinking it through with security experts. BG’s side, our side. We’ll find the right time to comment on it when she signs with a team.”

That could come Wednesday, when free agents can officially sign.

While the Griner situation is unique, other marquee players raised the issue of charter flights, which teams have deemed too costly.

The current collective bargaining agreement requires that all teams fly commercial and doesn’t allow teams to charter flights. Any change in that would have to be approved by both the union and the league.

“No one wants to make this work more than me,” Engelbert said. “That’s why we’re working so hard to transform the economic business model. We’ve had positive changes over the last couple years, but we’re not going to jeopardize the financial viability of the league. We are on the cusp of something big here.”

HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST THE WNBA TO CHARTER FLIGHTS?

Engelbert says it would cost the league about $25 million each season for each of its 12 teams to charter flights to every game. That number has increased about $5 million from previous estimates by the commissioner due the new 40-game WNBA schedule this season, fuel costs and other factors.

The estimated cost per franchise to charter flights would be approximately $2 million. Air travel expenses currently for each team is about $150,000, according to two people familiar with the costs. The people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly address the issue.

“We did it last year for the Finals and we have experience on how much it costs for routes we need to fly,” Engelbert said. “We are monitoring and updating our analysis. We are going to try and get an economic model to fund this as soon as we can.”

WHAT HAPPENS IF A TEAM CHARTERS FLIGHTS?

If teams violate the current CBA they could be fined.

The New York Liberty were fined a WNBA record $500,000 in 2021 for chartering flights to away games during the second half of that season.

HAS THE WNBA CONSIDERED SUBSIDIZING FLIGHTS?

Coveted free agent Breanna Stewart, who has narrowed her choices to a few teams including New York, started a social media campaign to try to help get chartered flights for the league. She tweeted, “I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA. I would contribute my NIL, posts + production hrs to ensure we all travel in a way that prioritizes player health + safety, which ultimately results in a better product. Who’s with me?”

Many current and former WNBA and NBA players offered their support. Though any change to travel restrictions would have to be voted on by the union and the league.

“We would need a commitment to it in perpetuity,” Engelbert said. “That’s 250-300 million dollars. Look at the gate and media deal and sponsorship dollars. We’re not close to being able to afford $250 million over the next decade.”

DO WOMEN’S COLLEGE TEAMS CHARTER FLIGHTS?

WNBA players are used to flying charter flights. That’s how they traveled in college.

Title IX legislation requires universities to have equal opportunities for their men’s and women’s athletic programs. The NCAA flies both the men’s and women’s teams on charter flights for the tournament if they are more than 400 miles from the site of their game.

That legislation doesn’t apply to the pros so NBA teams chartering between cities has no effect on what WNBA teams do.

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