Browns feisty even as winless streak continues vs. Saints
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
Monday, September 17
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Browns were just a kick away.
Well, maybe a few kicks, not to mention a defensive penalty that revived a New Orleans touchdown drive, as well as an interception that set up another Saints score in the waning minutes.
Even with all those critical, untimely mistakes, Cleveland could have forced overtime if Zane Gonzalez had managed to compartmentalize an earlier missed field goal — and two missed extra points — when he lined up for a 52-yard try in the final seconds.
Gonzalez pushed it wide, and the Browns fell 21-18 in New Orleans to extend their winless streak to 19 games.
Yet the performance also demonstrated how close Cleveland is to breaking back into the win column.
“Our players, as I told them afterward, ‘There is a good team in that (locker) room,’” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “There is no doubt in my mind about that.
“We’ve just got to make sure we are doing the right things all of the time to give us a chance.”
The Browns head into Week 3 with one loss and one tie, but with reasons for optimism. They are just a few plays away from being 2-0. In Week 1, they set up for a winning field goal in overtime against Pittsburgh , only to have it blocked.
The Saints (1-1), meanwhile, are evidently unsatisfied with how their season has begun. Their defense struggled in a 48-40 Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay. In Week 2, the offense managed only a field goal through three quarters and change against Cleveland before rallying for 18 points inside the final nine minutes. If not for safety Marcus Williams’ interception of Tyrod Taylor with just less than five minutes to go, the Saints might have become the first team to lose to the Browns since Dec. 24, 2016.
“I’m encouraged we won, but let’s not kid ourselves,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We have a lot to do to improve.”
Some story lines emerging from New Orleans’ narrow triumph over Cleveland:
Gregg Williams, a the Saints defensive coordinator from 2009-11, was caught on the HBO series Hard Knocks boasting that he turned down numerous jobs to take over as defensive coordinator in Cleveland. Now everyone can see why.
Drew Brees and the Saints had their hands full with a Browns defense that forced two turnovers — fumbled by receivers Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. — and came up with three drive-stalling sacks. Tackle Larry Ogunjobi sacked Brees twice, blitzing cornerback T.J. Carrie got to Brees on another third down, and Ogunjobi would have had another in the fourth quarter if not for Derrick Kindred’s illegal contact penalty.
“He did a good job,” Payton said of Williams. “They always give you challenging looks. … They have some good young players that played well.”
Through Week 2, it’s apparent that the Saints are relying heavily on Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara to carry the load.
Thomas had 12 catches for 89 yards and both Saints touchdowns, giving him 28 catches for 269 yards and three TDs through two games.
“With a player of my caliber and the guy behind center and the offensive line and all the tools around me, I’m going to catch a lot of footballs. I’m going to get open. I’ve been doing that my whole life,” Thomas said. “So now what can I do to add value to this team and take the next step?”
Kamara had 99 yards from scrimmage, including 53 receiving on six catches to go with his successful run on a 2-point conversion. Kamara now has 240 yards from scrimmage and three TDs.
A day after the Browns announced they were formally giving up on deep-threat receiver Josh Gordon, rookie Antonio Calloway offered evidence he could grow into a similar type of play maker, racing past the Saints’ secondary for a 47-yard touchdown catch from Taylor on a fourth-and-5 play with 1:16 to go. It could have been a go-ahead score, but Gonzalez hooked the extra point wide left.
“Those are plays we truly believe he can make,” Jackson said.
Perhaps third-string QB is the wrong title for New Orleans’ Taysom Hill. He became a regular on special teams late last season on kick coverage. Against Cleveland, he debuted as kickoff returner — and there’s every reason to believe he’ll get another shot. After Cleveland’s first three kickoffs went for touchbacks, Hill decided to return the fourth from 7 yards deep in the end zone. He burst through a seam and sprinted out of the Saints 40 before being tripped up.
“It was a good return,” Payton said. “He’s explosive.”
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Mayer sets decathlon WR after Kipchoge runs fastest marathon
By SAMUEL PETREQUIN
AP Sports Writer
Monday, September 17
PARIS (AP) — On a spectacular day for track and field fans, Kevin Mayer of France set a decathlon world record in front of a home crowd, just hours after Eliud Kipchoge smashed the marathon world record in Berlin.
Competing at the Decastar event in Talence, southwestern France, world champion Mayer finished with a total of 9,126 points, improving on the previous record of 9,045 set by American athlete Ashton Eaton at the 2015 world championships in Beijing.
Earlier, Kipchoge clocked 2 hours, 1 minute, 39 seconds at the Berlin Marathon.
The 33-year-old overturned the previous world record set in Berlin by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 by 1 minute, 18 seconds.
“I lack words to describe this day,” Kipchoge said after becoming the first person to finish a marathon in less than 2 hours and 2 minutes.
“They say you miss two times but you can’t miss the third time,” he said in reference to his two previous failed attempts to break the world record in Berlin.
In the decathlon, Mayer fell on his back in celebration after he crossed the line in the 1,500 meters — the last of 10 events — in 4 minutes, 36.11 seconds, a time he knew would guarantee him the record.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Mayer, who became the first Frenchman to hold the decathlon world record. “We live for moments like this that are simply incredible. I couldn’t cry. I don’t have any more tears left because I was crying so much before the 1,500 meters.”
Mayer came to Talence on the back of a disappointing showing at last month’s European Championship, where he was eliminated after three fouls in the long jump. He made a strong start, setting a personal best in the 100 and long jump, but Mayer was 140 points behind Eaton’s record after the first day. He was even more consistent on Sunday with 13.75 seconds in the 110 hurdles and a 50.54-meter throw in the discus. Mayer cleared 5.45 meters in the pole vault and reached 71.90 meters in the javelin.
The Decastar has been a major fixture of the season-end for years. Back in 1992, just after he missed out on the Barcelona Olympics, Dan O’Brien of the United States set a world record of 8,891 in Talence.
Eaton congratulated Mayer for his performance in a message posted on Twitter.
“That was an incredible display of ability!” he wrote. “Important thing to me has always been to keep pushing the limit and inspiring others to do the same. The more 9K can become commonplace the better.”
In Berlin, Kipchoge successfully defended his 2017 title, pulling ahead of other runners early on amid perfect conditions. Mild temperatures and little to no wind in the German capital gave runners in the 45th edition an advantage over last year, when rain slowed the race.
A total of 44,389 runners from 133 countries took part in the race, organizers said.
Frank Jordans and Pat Graham contributed to this report.
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