EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — 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 100-yard 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.
Roethlisberger finished 21 of 32 for 229 yards has now thrown for 366 touchdowns, a franchise record, tying Eli Manning for the eighth most in NFL history.
Not unexpectedly, sloppy play was the order of the evening early on. New York had a dropped pass by Evan Engram and a delay-of-game penalty on fourth-and-1.
The first time a Steeler touched the ball this season, it was a muff by punt returner Diontae Johnson deep in Pittsburgh territory. Oshane Ximines recovered at the 3, but New York only managed a 21-yard field goal by Graham Gano.
There were three drops and the muff in the first half of the opening period, and neither team could run the ball successfully in Joe Judge’s debut as Giants coach.
Not exactly made for prime time — until the beginning of the second quarter and Darius Slayton’s post pattern touchdown reception of 41 yards for a 10-3 Giants lead.
Slayton caught a 7-yard TD pass with 1:52 remaining in the game and had six receptions for 102 yards.
Nineteen of the Giants’ 48 active players knelt during the national anthem, mostly defensive players. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was on a knee with a hand across his heart.
The Steelers stood side by side while a group of players held a white banner with the words “Steelers Against Racism.” Only tight end Eric Ebron raised his arm.
The Steelers remained in their locker room and the Giants stood in an end zone some 25 minutes earlier when the Black anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” was played.
Steelers starting running back James Conner left in the second half with an ankle injury. Guard Stefen Wisnewski sustained a pectoral injury one play before right tackle Zach Banner hurt his right knee in the fourth quarter. Banner had beaten out Chukwuma Okorafor for the starting spot after he remade his body and approach, dropping 30 pounds.
Steelers: Host the Broncos on Sunday.
Giants: Visit the Bears on Sunday.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Heat’s Bam Adebayo takes blame for Game 5 loss to Celtics
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Bam Adebayo has not wanted much credit for anything this season, always deferring to others in the Miami Heat locker room when things are going well.
Things didn’t go well Friday night.
And Adebayo wanted – demanded, really – all the blame.
His stat line – 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists on 5-for-11 shooting – certainly didn’t look as abysmal as Adebayo made his effort sound after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, when Miami fell apart in the third quarter and saw its series lead trimmed to 3-2 after a 121-108 loss to the Boston Celtics. But he didn’t like much of anything about his night and headed back to the hotel following the game vowing that he would find a way to be better in Game 6 on Sunday.
”I put that game on me,” Adebayo said. ”It’s not my teammates’ fault, it’s not my coaches’ fault. It’s me. I missed too many shots I should have made. Put that one on me.”
No matter what the subject matter was within the handful of questions he took postgame, he usually found a way to turn the finger of blame toward himself.
On Miami giving up 41 points in the third quarter: ”I wasn’t being the defensive anchor that I should have been. I don’t think I was communicating fast enough. I felt like I was a step behind today.”
On not adjusting when Boston would change lineups: ”I didn’t get some fast enough triggers and that’s on me.”
On what has to change before Game 6 on Sunday: ”I’ve got to be better. … This game is on me. I played terrible and that can’t happen. And I know that, and I feel like I let my teammates down.”
He wasn’t yelling or screaming, merely giving the answers in his usual conversational tone. But it was still an unusual approach for Adebayo, the breakout third-year center who became an All-Star for the first time this season, won the skills competition at All-Star weekend, nearly won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and made the All-Defensive team.
Heat forward Jimmy Butler said he appreciated Adebayo trying to take the blame – but simply refused to put it all on his shoulders.
”It’s on everybody,” Butler said. ”He does so much for us that it can feel like that at times but it’s definitely not on him. It’s on us as a whole. We all understand that because nobody was playing the way that we are supposed to play; the way that we have to play in order for us to win, nobody. And for him to say that, I respect it. I love him for it. But he can’t do it by himself. We’ve got to be there with him.”
Adebayo has logged more minutes in the postseason than anyone on the Heat, is third behind Goran Dragic (21.4) and Butler (20.6) in scoring at 17.5 per game, and he’s grabbed nearly as many rebounds as any other two Miami players combined. Adebayo has 157 rebounds; Butler and Jae Crowder, Miami’s second- and third-leading rebounders in the playoffs, have teamed up to grab 164.
He said his Saturday would include plenty of film and then some time on the court, all with hopes of finding whatever answer he’s seeking before Game 6 – and a second chance to clinch a spot in the NBA Finals.
”Eastern Conference finals, this ain’t easy to let go,” Adebayo said. ”But I’ve got 24 hours to get over it. Next, it’s go time.”
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Okayama Super Formula: Makino fastest in practice
Makino set the pace in the faster of the day’s two one-hour sessions in the afternoon, recording his best time of 1m12.479s with just two minutes left on the clock.
The Nakajima Racing driver had headed the timesheets during a session that started on a damp but rapidly-drying track when he set a 1m13.422s with 20 minutes to go.
That was soon topped by Ryo Hirakawa, who took a dominant win for Team Impul four weeks ago at Motegi, with the first sub-1m13s effort of the day, a 1m12.850s to put himself more than half a second clear of the field.
Motorsport.tv will broadcast this weekend’s Okayama Super Formula race live. Available worldwide, except Japan. More details can be found here.
Makino then smashed through Hirakawa’s 2019 pole benchmark of 1m12.700s with his final lap to put himself at the head of the order, while Hirakawa’s teammate Yuhi Sekiguchi was able to snatch second with a last-gasp 1m12.780s.
Rounding out the top five were the two TOM’S cars, with rookie Ritomo Miyata – replacing Kazuki Nakajima this weekend – taking an impressive fourth in his first outing in the SF19 since last December’s Suzuka rookie test, ahead of reigning champion Nick Cassidy.
Toshiki Oyu made it both Nakajima cars in the top six, ahead of Kondo Racing’s Sacha Fenestraz, Nirei Fukuzumi for Dandelion Racing, morning pacesetter Tomoki Nojiri (Mugen) and Sho Tsuboi in the best of the three Inging-run cars.
Tomoki Nojiri, Team Mugen
Nojiri had set the pace in the latter stages of the first one-hour session of the day with a best time of 1m13.741s around the former Pacific Formula 1 Grand Prix venue.
That was enough to beat rookie Oyu by 0.097s, while Juri Vips’ stand-in Ukyo Sasahara made it two Mugen cars in the top three, 0.327s off the pace.
Sasahara however could only manage 17th in the afternoon session, only beating Kazuya Oshima (Inging) and Koudai Tsukakoshi, standing in for Tatiana Calderon at Drago Corse.
Of the other replacement drivers, Mitsunori Takaboshi was a respectable for 11th in B-Max Racing – albeit crashing at the very end of the session – Yuichi Nakayama was 12th in the KCMG car usually driven by Kamui Kobayashi and Kondo Racing stand-in Sena Sakaguchi concluded his first day of running in the SF19 in 15th place.
The morning session was interrupted by two red flags. The first was for Oshima crashing early on at Turn 1 with a brake problem and the other for Tsuboi going off in the final few minutes, which brought an early end to proceedings.
Qualifying groups determined
Super Formula will continue to use a split qualifying format for Q1, with nine drivers in Group A and 10 in Group B collectively fighting over 14 spots in Q2. The following drivers will take part in each group:
Group A: Yuhi Sekiguchi, Sacha Fenestraz, Naoki Yamamoto, Nick Cassidy, Ukyo Sasahara, Sho Tsuboi, Toshiki Oyu, Kazuya Oshima, Yuichi Nakayama.
Group B: Ryo Hirakawa, Sena Sakaguchi, Nirei Fukuzumi, Ritomo Miyata, Tomoki Nojiri, Hiroaki Ishiura, Tadasuke Makino, Yuji Kunimoto, Koudai Tsukakoshi, Mitsunori Takaboshi.
FC Goa rope in James Donachie from A-League side Newcastle Jets
FC Goa have signed Australian defender James Donachie on a one-year loan deal from A-League side Newcastle Jets. The centre-back becomes the Gaurs’ 9th new signing ahead of the 2020/21 ISL (Indian Super League) season.
Donachie, 27, is a three-time A-League champion with 2 of his triumphs coming in the colours of Brisbane Roar in the 2011/12 and 2013/14 seasons. He later went on to win it again as a part of Melbourne Victory in the 2017/18 campaign.
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