Bengals have 5 wins at midpoint despite worst defense
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 29
CINCINNATI (AP) — A four-interception, six-sack game usually leaves defensive coordinators thrilled.
Not this one.
Cincinnati let an 18-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter before rallying for a 37-34 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. It was among the worst defensive performances in Bengals history — the Bucs piled up 576 yards and had touchdown passes of 60 and 72 yards .
“There’s not many times I’ve been involved in a game where we had four turnovers, you score a touchdown, have six sacks and you’re in a dogfight,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said Monday. “Usually it doesn’t happen that way.”
There’s nothing ordinary about this defense.
The Bengals (5-3) enter their bye week with one of the NFL’s best records despite having the worst defense in the league. They’re one of nine teams with at least five wins, trailing Pittsburgh by percentage points for the AFC North lead.
The defense has played a leading role in the wins, giving up a lot of yards, but scoring four touchdowns off turnovers.
A fumble return for a touchdown saved an opening win in Indianapolis. Joe Flacco’s fumble closed out a win over the Ravens the following Thursday. Touchdown returns off a fourth-quarter fumble and interception provided a win over the Dolphins.
Four interceptions of Jameis Winston — one returned for a score — put the Bengals up 34-16 late in the third quarter Sunday. Then, it all fell apart. The Bucs tied it on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s touchdown pass with 1:05 left. Randy Bullock’s 44-yard field goal on the final play won it.
“We gave up 500 yards,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “It’s a win, but it’s not a great win.”
The Bengals gave up 551 yards during a 45-10 loss in Kansas City the previous week. It’s the first time in franchise history that a Cincinnati defense has allowed 500 yards in back-to-back games. The 576 yards allowed Sunday were the fourth-most in club history.
At the season’s midpoint, the Bengals have given up the most yards and most points in the NFL. They also rank last in third-down defense. They’re on pace to give up 7,164 yards and 474 points, both of which would be club records. The Saints are the only team to allow 7,000 yards in a season — they allowed 7,042 in 2012. The 1981 Baltimore Colts hold the record for most points allowed with 533.
Injuries have played a role. The Bengals were missing cornerback Darqueze Dennard and linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil. All three are expected back at some point. Pass-rush specialist Carl Lawson suffered a season-ending injury to his right knee in the first quarter.
The long passes were particularly troubling, with receivers getting open beyond the coverage for easy scores. It’s been a recurring problem that figures in those enormous yardage totals. Antonio Brown’s 31-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left gave the Steelers a 28-21 win on Oct. 14, when Pittsburgh piled up 481 yards.
Instead of closing out games, the Bengals have given up big plays in the fourth quarter.
“When you strike up the band like that, it’s hard,” coach Marvin Lewis said Monday. “That’s supposed to be us ringing the gong, not the other team.”
PRICE WILL START
Lewis said rookie center Billy Price will regain the starting job when he’s able to play, which could come after the bye week. Price partially tore a ligament in his right foot during the second game of the season and was in a protective boot for a month. He rejoined practice on a limited basis last week.
MUM ABOUT HUE
Lewis said he hadn’t yet been in contact with Hue Jackson, who was fired as the Browns head coach on Monday. Jackson was Lewis’ offensive coordinator before taking the job in Cleveland, and the two are close. The Bengals offered Jackson an assistant coaching job after he was fired by the Raiders in 2011.
Asked whether Jackson could rejoin the Bengals in some capacity now that he’s out of a job again, Lewis said, “I’m not going to make a headline. It’s unfortunate. Anything else?”
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Bengals pick off Winston, hold on for 37-34 win over Bucs
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
Monday, October 29
CINCINNATI (AP) — When Jessie Bates returned an easy-as-it-gets interception for a touchdown, the Bengals seemed to have the game in hand. Ryan Fitzpatrick was just getting warmed up on the Buccaneers sideline.
Fitzpatrick took over after Jameis Winston’s fourth interception and led Tampa Bay on a late flurry that tied the game . Randy Bullock’s 44-yard field goal on the final play salvaged a 37-34 victory for Cincinnati and left the Buccaneers with a question about their quarterback.
Which one is the starter now?
“Today is not the day I need to decide that,” coach Dirk Koetter said.
He can’t put it off for long. The Buccaneers (3-4) have the NFL’s top-ranked offense but keep hurting themselves with turnovers. Winston has seven by himself in the last two games, including the four on Sunday that matched his career high. He moved back into the starting job after serving an NFL suspension to start the season, but hasn’t played up to the standard that Fitzpatrick set as his fill-in.
“I can’t play like that,” Winston said. “I was heaving balls all over the place and not giving our team a chance to win.”
The Bengals (5-3) head into their bye with a defense that’s one of the worst in franchise history so far and an offense that’s totally erratic. They were coming off a 45-10 loss in Kansas City on Sunday night that was their second-worst drubbing in coach Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons.
They got ahead of the Bucs by 21 points with an impressive first half — Joe Mixon ran for more than 100 yards and Tyler Boyd had more than 100 yards in receptions. In the second half, they managed only 95 yards, 50 of them in the final drive.
“I’m not pleased with how we played,” Lewis said.
Five takeaways from Paul Brown Stadium:
Winston has six interceptions and a fumble in the last two games. Turnovers have been his biggest problem during his four seasons in the NFL. He has thrown at least two interceptions in five straight games, tied for most in the league since 1990. It was the third time in his career he’s thrown four in a game. The problems have been more pronounced this season: He has 10 interceptions, one fewer than all last season.
Fitzpatrick put up big numbers as the stand-in, helping the Bucs become the league’s top-ranked offense. He had only a couple of minutes to warm up before replacing Winston after the fourth interception, but he showed no rust. Fitzpatrick went 11 of 15 for 194 yards with a near-perfect passer rating of 154.9.
“It doesn’t take a lot to get this thing going,” Fitzpatrick said, moving his arm in a warmup motion.
Fitzpatrick’s 72-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans was his fifth of at least 50 yards this season, most in the NFL. DeSean Jackson caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Winston that moved him ahead of Jerry Rice for the NFL record. He has 24 TDs of at least 60 yards. It also was Jackson’s 29th career TD of at least 50 yards, tying Randy Moss for second-most since the 1970 merger behind Rice’s 36.
In the past three games, the Bengals’ defense has allowed 481, 551 and 576 yards along with a total of 107 points. It’s the first time in franchise history that the Bengals have given more than 500 yards in back-to-back games. The Bucs’ 576 yards are the fourth-most allowed in franchise history. The club record for 500-yard games allowed is three in 2014. Up next: Drew Brees and the Saints.
“We gave up a thousand yards on defense today,” Brown said.
The Bengals lost end Carl Lawson to a severely injured right knee. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick left for a while after aggravating his left Achilles’ tendon that limited him last week.
The Bengals had 307 yards and 16 first downs in the first half, when they opened a 21-point lead. In the second half, they managed only 95 yards and five first downs on six possessions. They were held without a first down in the second half until 4:22 was left in the game.
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Logano shoves past Truex to earn shot at NASCAR championship
By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
Monday, October 29
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — When the reigning series champion slipped past him with one lap to go at Martinsville Speedway, Joey Logano figured he had lost his shot at racing for NASCAR’s title.
A win would earn Logano one of the four spots in the winner-take-all championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. So if he didn’t try something, his chance at a Cup championship might slip away.
Logano used an old fashioned bump-and-run on Martin Truex Jr. to Sunday and snatch one of the four tickets to the finale. Truex slid sideways across the finish line and promptly declared Logano won’t take his title from him this year.
“He may have won the battle, but he ain’t winning the damn war. I’m not going to let him win it (the championship.) I’m going to win it,” Truex fumed.
Logano took Truex’s warning in stride.
“OK. That’s expected,” Logano said. “This was our shot, maybe our only shot, so we had to make it happen.”
Logano was showered in boos and Truex, standing on pit road next to his third-place car, jeered the winner with both thumbs down as Logano was interviewed over the address system. On pit road, Truex crew chief Cole Pearn Jr. had an angry exchange with Logano crew chief Todd Gordon. Nearly 30 minutes later, Pearn still appeared visibly angry.
Truex and Pearn are part of Furniture Row Racing, which is shutting down at the end of the season, a year removed from its championship run. Naysayers cast doubt on the No. 78 defending its title with the closure looming, but both driver and crew chief are determined to prove everyone wrong.
“With everything we’ve got riding on it, the team closing down, it’s tough to take,” Pearn said of his confrontation with Gordon. “I used a few choice words I probably shouldn’t have. I probably shouldn’t be around a baseball bat or a jackhammer right now.”
Logano won the opening race to the third round of the playoffs by using the bumper on his Ford to shove Truex out of his way on the final lap. The contact caused both cars to wiggle, but Truex’s slide was nearly sideways while Logano corrected after a swerve and straightened himself out as hurtled across the finish line.
“I’m a hard racer, I don’t think that’s a secret to anyone, and we are here to win a championship this year,” Logano said.
Eight drivers started the day vying for the four spots in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now one of the slots is gone, to Logano of Team Penske, and NASCAR’s so-called “Big 3” is still trying to lock down a berth. Truex, along with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, dominated the regular season and as a trio were expected to make it to Miami to race for the winner-take-all title.
Instead, Truex wound up third.
“We should be in victory lane right now,” said Truex. “I was next to him for six laps, I never knocked him out of the way. We were going to race hard for it, in my book. I cleared him fair and square. We weren’t even banging doors.
“And he just drove into the back of me and knocked me out of the way. Yeah, it’s short track racing. But what goes around comes around.”
Logano was aware how he won was not popular but his eyes are on the bigger prize.
“He raced really clean and I laid the bumper to him. I don’t expect him to be happy,” Logano said. “We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do, and he’s got to do what he’s got to do, and we’ll hash it out one way or the other. That’s NASCAR racing. That’s what the grassroots are, that’s what fans come here to see. Some may not like it.”
Logano led a race-high 309 of the 500 laps but had to contend with Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in the waning laps. That gave time for Truex, whose Toyota failed inspection prior to the race so he started 31st, to close in on the leaders.
Truex first got past Keselowski, who raced Logano so hard it is clear Penske does not have team orders, and got to Logano with 10 laps to go. They raced side-by-side, door-to-door, round-and-round the Virginia paperclip until Truex finally got the lead with one lap remaining.
Truex thought he was clear and headed to not only the right to defend his championship, but also his first career victory on a short track. Instead, Logano used his bumper to claw the victory back into his control and earned an enemy while doing so.
“I was next to him for six laps, I never knocked him out of the way,” Truex said. “We were going to race hard for it, in my book. I cleared him fair and square. We weren’t even banging doors.”
More from Martinsville:
TEAM ORDERS: Roger Penske downplayed the questionably hard racing Keselowski waged with Logano with so much on the line for the organization. Had Logano slipped even the slightest, the team would have been heavily criticized for not allowing Logano to have an easier path to the victory.
Penske dismissed any drama.
“Brad knew what had to happen here today. I told them to use their heads. That’s all I said. He knew exactly what was going on,” Penske said, adding Keselowski also didn’t deliberately impede Truex trying to move closer to Logano.
“Brad could have blocked (Truex). You saw he didn’t make it too hard for him to go by, so let’s get on with it.”
HAMLIN COMES CLOSE: Denny Hamlin has won at least one race every season since his 2006 rookie campaign but that streak is in jeopardy with three races remaining. He finished second at Martinsville, where he is a five-time winner.
As he saw Logano move Truex ahead of him, he had just one thought: “Crash harder. Just crash harder. That’s all I was hoping,” Hamlin said.
NEW DEAL FOR JJ: It took a long search for Hendrick Motorsports to land a new sponsor for Jimmie Johnson. About an hour before the race, Ally Financial said it would sponsor the next two seasons for Johnson.
Ally will replace Lowe’s, which is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. Lowe’s has been on Johnson’s car since his debut in 2001 through seven championships. The deal with Ally covers all 38 races a season — a huge financial commitment in present-day NASCAR.
UP NEXT: The middle race of the third round of the playoffs, Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick is the defending race winner and Kyle Busch won there earlier this season.
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Guns send over 8,000 US kids to ER each year, analysis says
By LINDSEY TANNER
AP Medical Writer
Monday, October 29
Gun injuries, including many from assaults, sent 75,000 U.S. children and teens to emergency rooms over nine years at a cost of almost $3 billion, a first-of-its-kind study found.
Researchers called it the first nationally representative study on ER visits for gun injuries among U.S. kids. They found that more than one-third of the wounded children were hospitalized and 6 percent died. Injuries declined during most of the 2006-14 study, but there was an upswing in the final year.
The researchers found that 11 of every 100,000 children and teens treated in U.S. emergency rooms have gun-related injuries. That amounts to about 8,300 kids each year.
The scope of the problem is broader though; the study doesn’t include kids killed or injured by gunshots who never made it to the hospital, nor does it count costs for gunshot patients after they’re sent home.
“I don’t know what more we need to see in the world to be able to come together and tackle this problem,” said Dr. Faiz Gani, the lead author and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University medical school.
The study is an analysis of estimates on emergency department visits in a national database created by the U.S. government’s Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality.
The researchers focused on victims under age 18; the average age was about 15.
Almost half the gun injuries were from assaults, nearly 40 percent were unintentional and 2 percent were suicides. There were five times more ER visits for boys than for girls.
Pediatric ER visits for gun injuries fell from a rate of 15 per 100,000 in 2006 to about 7 per 100,000 in 2013, then jumped to 10 per 100,000 in 2014, the most recent data.
University funding paid for the analysis, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
The findings highlight that gun violence involving kids extends beyond mass shootings that gain the most attention, said Dr. Robert Sege, co-author of an American Academy of Pediatrics gun injuries policy.
“It’s extraordinarily sad because these children grow up in fear and it affects their ability to feel safe and comfortable at home or in school. It has an enormous ripple effect on child development,” said Sege, a Tufts University professor of medicine who was not involved in the research.
Pressure from the gun lobby has limited U.S. government funding for research on gun injuries and death, and that has led to big gaps in understanding the scope of the problem, said Dr. Denise Dowd, an ER physician at Children’s Mercy hospital in Kansas City.
“It’s really important that we have an idea of the magnitude of life lost and injured and how much money we are spending … so we can prioritize it as a national health concern.”
But she said much more needs to be known for prevention.
“We need national surveillance systems just like we do with motor vehicle deaths, to track these injuries and figure out the circumstances,” she said.
Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at LindseyTanner . Her work can be found here .
The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Ramping up: Teen skateboarder may be force come Tokyo Games
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
Sunday, October 28
The 14-year-old skateboarder from California frequently wears outfits inspired by 1990s pop music videos. She’s a budding songwriter and jots down lyrics based on life experiences, which she points out have been rather limited so far.
That’s changing fast. The world of Brighton Zeuner keeps getting bigger and broader with more notice and exposure.
Zeuner figures to be one of the favorites when skateboarding makes its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Not that the pressure flusters her.
Nope, she just skates.
Her ability and affable nature have led to comparisons to another California teen: Chloe Kim , the Olympic champion snowboarder who became one of the faces of the Pyeongchang Games last February.
Now that’s high praise.
“She’s so good,” Zeuner said. “I saw Chloe compete in the Olympics and she’s really talented.”
The tandem crossed paths in July, when Kim put a gold medal around Zeuner’s neck after Zeuner won the skateboarding vert competition at the Summer X Games.
“This is all crazy,” said Zeuner , who won the Vans Park Series final this weekend in China. “I’m just having fun.”
Because really that’s what it’s always been about.
Zeuner grew up following her older brother to the skate park, where they’d spend hours filming new tricks. These days, Zeuner has a vert ramp in her backyard in San Diego that her father had built. Some of the biggest names in skateboarding are known to drop by, even the skateboarding legend himself, Tony Hawk .
“She’s really consistent and she likes to challenge herself, which is exactly what it takes at her age to keep progressing and to stay relevant in competition,” Hawk said. “Her consistency is pretty rare in terms of her making hard tricks over and over. That’s going to help her in competition.”
Perhaps in Tokyo, where she will have just turned 16 should she earn a spot. Although skateboarding has two disciplines making an appearance at the Olympics — park and street — her priority remains park, which takes place in a dome-shaped bowl and features different jumps.
Ask her about the qualifying process and she goes silent. She really doesn’t know. She leaves that to her family. The rider sponsored by Red Bull and Vans just trains after finding a sport that finally suits her.
“I was trying so many different things, dancing, softball, Girl Scouts. Didn’t click,” explained Zeuner, who took up skateboarding around 4 and began competing at 8. “I looked at skateboarding and saw something I could be different in. There are so many outlets I can express through skateboarding. That’s what I was drawn to.”
She’s known for her consistency in the park, along with her progressive tricks, which are always trending upward.
Same with her fashion sense. She frequently scours thrift stores for just the right outfits — a little baggy, with a little ’90s flair. She even started her own business, where she will post vintage clothes online and ship them off to customers.
“My mom would show me all this ’90s music and I’d look at the music videos and remember loving the New York scene and the girls in the music videos, how they had all these funky outfits,” Zeuner said . “I just absolutely was so drawn to that.”
The same applies to music. She will write down thoughts for songs and send them to her friends in New York, who will set them to a beat.
“Because they have all these cool jazzy beats,” she explained.
Mostly, her lyrics are about life and skateboarding. As for specific examples, well, wait until they’re finished.
“I just write about, about … I don’t know. I don’t know,” she said, laughing. “I’m still like working on them, developing them.”
These days, she’s been crushing contests, winning events from Huntington Beach, California, to Boise, Idaho, to ones held overseas. In 2016, she captured a big event in Malmo, Sweden, and a year later gold at the X Games — a day after her 13th birthday, which made her the youngest winner of the action sports event.
This weekend, she won in Suzhou, China, by holding off Yndiara Asp of Brazil and American Jordyn Barratt .
In the lead-up to Tokyo, her biggest rivals happen to be some of her friends, such as 18-year-old Alana Smith, who earned silver in women’s park at the 2013 X Games in Barcelona, and 25-year-old Lizzie Armanto , a highly decorated competitor.
They’ve been known to drop by her backyard ramp.
“Alana and I grew up in the same place. She was a little older than me and was so gnarly and would skate with all the guys,” said Zeuner, who attends a school that customizes lessons to accommodate her hectic schedule. “I think that made me want to do that. She’s my biggest inspiration.”
Zeuner insisted nothing has changed despite all of her success.
“I’m that little skate rat — I’d go in the van with all the skate dads and my brother and go skate and film for six hours a day,” Zeuner said. “I’m still the same girl I’ve always been. I’m just a little bit busier.”
AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.