From Comcast SportsNetBALTIMORE (AP) -- Operating with little sleep and much emotion, Torrey Smith played a magnificent game under the most difficult circumstances.His teammates on the Baltimore Ravens helped Smith cope, then provided him a victory for his effort.Rookie Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Ravens a 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday night in a rematch of the AFC championship game.Playing less than 24 hours after his younger brother died in a motorcycle accident, Smith scored two touchdowns and caught six passes for 127 yards. Only hours earlier, he wasn't even sure if he would suit up."It was tough. I didn't know until 4 o'clock if I was going to play," Smith said. "I only had like an hour of sleep. Emotionally, I didn't know how I was going to hold up."Smith left the team hotel at 1 a.m. Sunday to be with his family. Upon arriving at the stadium, the familiar surroundings helped Smith get ready to go."When I came here, the more I was grounded. The more comfortable I began to feel," he said. "I'm glad I came back up here. It helped me out a lot."Coach John Harbaugh said: "If you're around athletics, I guess you feel like it's an escape, an opportunity to do what he does. He's being doing it his whole life; he knows what to do. When Torrey said he wanted to play, the decision was finished. He was going to get the opportunity to play, he deserved that."A moment of silence was observed before the game for Smith's brother, 19-year-old Tevin Jones."It means a lot not just for us but for my family. ... That's for my little brother,'" Smith said.When the teams met in January, the Patriots squeezed out a three-point win at home to advance to the Super Bowl. The stakes weren't nearly as high in this one, yet the game was eerily similar.In the previous meeting, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds. In the encore, Tucker -- who took the job away from Cundiff in training camp -- drove his kick just inside the right upright.The game-winning kick followed a pass interference call against Devin McCourty, who was covering Jacoby Jones.As the officials were leaving the field, Patriots coach Bill Belichick grabbed one of them by the arm. He didn't pursue as the official continued to run off the field."I'm not going to comment on that," Belichick said. "You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in that game?"Actually, 24, including 14 against the Ravens for 135 yards.Baltimore (2-1) won its 12th straight at home behind Joe Flacco, who went 28 for 39 for 382 yards and three touchdowns.Tom Brady completed 28 of 41 passes for 335 yards and a score for the Patriots (1-2), who fell below .500 for the first time since Week 1 of 2003."We didn't do what we needed to do to help our offense tonight," Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wolfork said. "And it (stinks), because coming into the game, I think we had a pretty good idea of how we wanted to play it. First quarter, it showed. It seems after that, we really couldn't get off the field. Offense played their tails off and we just left them out to dry. We can't do that."New England led 13-0 after the first quarter and 30-21 with 14 minutes left, but couldn't make either lead stand up.Wes Welker had eight catches for 142 yards and Brandon Lloyd caught nine passes for 108 yards for the Patriots, who fell to 6-1 against the Ravens in the regular season -- 7-2 including the playoffs.Down 20-14, the Ravens opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice. Brady matched that with an 80-yard march of his own, repeatedly picking on cornerback Cary Williams, before Danny Woodhead scored on a 3-yard run to put New England ahead.After Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal to make it 30-21, Smith caught a 5-yard touchdown pass with 4:01 left to get the Ravens to 30-28. Flacco went 6 for 7 for 76 yards in the 92-yard drive.Baltimore executed the game-winning drive in the final 2 minutes.New England took a 13-0 lead before the Ravens got their initial first down. Then, after Baltimore went up 14-13, Brady engineered a frantic touchdown drive at the end of the first half to put the Patriots back in front.Welker, who came in with only eight catches in two games, played a key role for New England in the opening minutes. He recovered a fumble by Brady on the Patriots' second play, and on New England's second series Welker broke loose on the left sideline for a 59-yard completion that set up a 37-yard field goal.The long pass to Welker pushed Brady into 12th place on the career yardage list, past Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana (40,551).On the first play following the kickoff, Steve Gregory intercepted a pass by Flacco and took it 36 yards to the Baltimore 6. On third down, rookie Brandon Bolden ran in from the 2 for his first NFL touchdown.Late in the first quarter, Gostkowski kicked a 49-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead.After two three-and-outs and an interception, Flacco found his rhythm the fourth time he got the ball.Flacco moved the Ravens 82 yards in 13 plays in a drive culminated by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Smith. Then, after a New England punt, Baltimore covered 92 yards in eight plays. The capper was a 20-yard TD pass to tight end Dennis Pitta, who hurdled Gregory inside the 10 before completing his romp into the end zone.Brady answered with a touchdown pass of his own, a 7-yarder to Julian Edelman with 2 seconds left to cap an 81-yard, beat-the-clock march.NOTES:Baltimore amassed 503 yards in offense. Rice ran for 101 yards on 20 carries. ... Edelman left with a hand injury. ... Baltimore punted only three times.
FOXBORO – The boos and demands to “Stand up!” rained down just as the Star Spangled Banner began. The players on the Patriots sideline who knelt – the ones boos and invective was directed at – stayed down. Others stood, locking arms with teammates while others stood with their hands over their hearts.
By game’s end, everyone was on their feet. Players. Coaches. Fans. Together.
Unless they left early because of traffic and a late Patriots deficit. Or because they couldn’t bear the thought of watching an NFL game on a beautiful September Sunday because the entertainers didn’t do what they wanted them to do before the performance began.
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The whole thing’s complicated. I understand why people take offense at those who don’t stand for the anthem.
I understand why others want to deliver a symbolic message about their American experience.
I completely understand why, two days after President Trump thought it appropriate to use the phrase “son of a bitch” to refer to someone making a silent, reflective statement, many NFL players felt challenged, backed into a corner and somewhat dehumanized. The message delivered was, in essence, “Shut up and dance.”
Personally, I prefer to stick to sports. I don’t think I’m equipped to talk politics because I don’t know policy, legislation, constituencies and special interests – all the things that I define as politics – well enough to drone on at anybody.
As for sociology – which is what this is about rather than politics – I have my experiences and others have theirs. I’m trying to mow my own lawn over here. You do you. I’ll do me. As long as you don’t encroach on me doing me while you do you, I’m fine. When I’m not completely self-absorbed, a respectful exchange of ideas can make me see things in a different light.
It didn’t surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling. The pot was brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over.
But the irony of how the afternoon played out – that Brandin Cooks, a player booing fans were screaming at to stand three hours earlier brought them to their feet with his toe-tapping last-minute touchdown – was perfectly symbolic.
Ultimately, everyone was there for the football – the players, coaches, media and fans – and in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game.
“That’s what sports is,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “That’s what sports does. That’s what makes them great. They bring out what we have in common.
“I don’t think people look at us as human,” McCourty said. “I don’t think they ever have. We’re just the entertainment. They don’t understand that there’s a human behind it. People want to shake your hand or have their picture taken with you but they don’t want to know you. That’s reality.”
Maybe. Or maybe people feel their voices aren’t heard. They don’t have a column they can write or a TV or radio show to spout off on. They don’t have the chance to demonstrate their individual feelings at their cubicle before the workday starts.
All they know is they spent $500 or more to get to and into with a belly full of steak tips and beer and they don’t need to feel like being reminded about somebody else’s societal oppression on their day off, thank you very much.
It’s not so much about who does what during the Star Spangled Banner as much as it is that a lot of people don’t appreciate the intrusion. That, and they’re tired of hearing how bad everyone else has it when it’s really no damn picnic for most people these days.
Believe me, there’s not unanimity of opinion in the Patriots locker room any more than there is in your office, home, dorm or neighborhood. Players of different races, backgrounds, economic circumstances and ways of expressing themselves are thrown in a pot together and told to work for a common goal and rely on each other.
The mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty’s opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions and Bill Belichick’s comment that he would “deal with that later” all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole.
It’s complicated for them too.
But in the end, it was the football that bound them together. It was the game that left them jumping on each other and the fans standing and screaming and nobody thinking at all about who did what when the song played before the game.
LANDOVER, Md. - Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score and the Washington Redskins sacked Derek Carr four times and held the Oakland Raiders to 128 yards in a dominating 27-10 victory on Sunday night.
Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995.
Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington's seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.
Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.
Oakland's rushing offense, which came in ranked fifth in the NFL, managed just 32 yards.