The New York Giants are finding ways to lose.
American sports

$200m star’s ‘greatest ever sporting feat’

AARON Rodgers — half man, half terminator.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback produced his greatest symphony in stealing football games when he came back from a reported serious injury to guide the Packers to a fairytale week one win over Chicago at Lambeua Field.

It was lunacy.

Rodgers returned for the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter after being taken off the field on a cart because of a knee injury in the first half.

The Packers announced at halftime that the star quarterback was questionable to return. Minutes later, he walked back on to the field and threw warm-up passes with backup DeShone Kizer before the start of the second half.

He returned for the Packers’ first drive of the third quarter, with 9:10 left. The Packers were trailing 20-0.

It all changed when Rodgers returned.

Aaron Rodgers - back from the dead.

Aaron Rodgers – back from the dead.Source:AP

Fresh from signing a record contract extension that could be worth up to $254 million (if he meets bonus clauses), Rodgers showed why the Packers got him for a bargain.

Against all sense, the Packers found themselves right back in the contest with less than three minutes remaining, needing to go 90-yards trailing by six points.

Rodgers only needed 13 seconds to put his team in front after he found Randall Cobb alone in the middle of the field before the receiver danced his way 75-yards downfield to put Green Bay ahead 24-23 with two minutes and 13 seconds left.

The Packers defence was able to hold on and give the Packers’ one of their most memorable starts to a season.

They did it the hard way.

Rodgers returned to lead Green Bay to three touchdowns in the last quarter while keeping the Bears to a single field goal.

After returning from his knee injury, Rodgers threw for 273 yards in just one and a half quarters. He finished 20 of 30 for 286 yards.

His heroics left America stunned.

Rodgers was hurt in the second quarter after slipping to the turf while under pressure from linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris. The lineman landed on Rodgers.

The quarterback initially tried to get up, then went back down, and was attended to by trainers. He appeared to reach down for the back of his left leg. Rodgers then walked to the cart that took him up the Lambeau Field tunnel.

Kizer replaced Rodgers on Green Bay’s next drive. He has thrown an interception returned for a 27-yard touchdown by Bears linebacker Khalil Mack.

It was Rodgers’ first regular-season game home game since last September 28 against the Bears. He was limited to seven games in 2017 because of a collarbone injury.

— with AP

LONGEST GAME IN NFL HISTORY

JAKEEM Grant scored on a tiebreaking 102-yard kickoff return with 14 minutes to go, and the Miami Dolphins overcame two weather delays to win the longest game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, beating the Tennessee Titans 27-20 Sunday.

Delays for lightning lasted a total of 3 hours, 59 minutes, and the game took 7 hours, 8 minutes to play. The previous longest game since 1970 was a Bears overtime victory against the Ravens in 2013 that took 5 hours, 16 minutes.

Grant’s touchdown triggered a late flurry of big plays in a season opener that was lackluster for the first six hours.

After his score, Ryan Tannehill hit Kenny Stills deep for a 75-yard touchdown. Darius Jennings returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a Titans score, and they were driving when Miami’s Reshad Jones helped to clinch the win with a 54-yard return after he intercepted Blaine Gabbert.

“I love the way we responded — the way we were able to overcome the delays, to come out with energy after sitting around,” Tannehill said.

“To come away from this long day, this grind of a game, and get a win, it feels good.” Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions in the third quarter and then came out of the game with an elbow injury.

Tight end Delanie Walker was carted off the field later in the period with a right leg injury, and tackle Taylor Lewan suffered a concussion, all of which meant a miserable start for Mike Vrabel in his head coaching debut.

Miami led 7-3 when the game was suspended for nearly two hours late in the first half. The teams went to the locker room during the delay and stayed on the field for halftime, which was shortened to three minutes.

Lightning forced a halt again midway through the third quarter, and the second stoppage lasted just over two hours. Perhaps 10,000 fans remained at the finish.

“That’s the job we have – to make sure we play through whatever situation,” Vrabel said.

“I felt we handled it well, but in the end we didn’t do enough to win the game.”

Sandwiched between the delays was a brawl that started after Lewan appeared to be briefly knocked out . Jordan Phillips and Bobby McCain of Miami and Dion Lewis of Tennessee received offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for taunting, and Lewan missed the rest of the game.

Gabbert drove the Titans 75 yards to make the score 10-10, but Grant needed only 13 seconds to break the tie, splitting the coverage untouched and racing into the clear near midfield.

“I saw it was just him and the kicker,” Miami coach Adam Gase said.

“I was going, ‘Please run by me.”’

Tannehill, playing for the first time since a knee injury in late 2016, went 20 for 28 for 230 yards with two scores and two interceptions.

“I left a lot out there,” Tannehill said.

“There are a lot of plays I wanted to have back.” The Titans had a first-and-goal at the 5 in the first quarter, but were stopped on downs when Mariota threw incomplete on three consecutive plays. The Dolphins then drove 98 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead. On the first play after the second weather delay, Miami’s Kiko Alonso made an interception to set up a field goal and end Mariota’s day.

A holding penalty on Walker negated a 62-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter.

— AP

BROWNS BLOW GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL

 

A draw with Cleveland is considered a defeat.

A draw with Cleveland is considered a defeat.Source:AFP

One week in and the Browns are still undefeated.

Now that’s progress.

Cleveland ended its 17-game losing streak on Sunday with a 21-21 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who prevented the Browns from getting their first victory since 2016 when linebacker T.J. Watt blocked Zane Gonzalez’s 43-yard field-goal attempt with 9 seconds left in OT.

The Steelers, who blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, also wasted their chance to escape with a win when Chris Boswell was wide left on a 42-yard field- goal attempt with 1:44 remaining in the extra period.

It was the NFL’s first tie in Week 1 since 1971 and the league’s first overall since Washington and Cincinnati ended in a 27-27 deadlock on Oct. 30, 2016. “If you don’t win,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, “it feels like a loss.”

The Browns remain winless since Dec. 24, 2016, but at least they have a positive after going 0-16 last season, just the second team in league history to lose all 16 games.

Pittsburgh committed six turnovers, including a strip-sack fumble of Roethlisberger late in OT that had the Browns poised to win their first opener since 2004.

But Gonzalez’s kick was low and Watt, who had four sacks, got deep penetration and appeared to get his hand on the ball, which went sideways and landed on the soaked FirstEnergy Stadium turf as thousands of Browns fans threw up their hands in disbelief.

So close. So far.

“They broke through and were right there, so there wasn’t much I could do about it,” Gonzalez said. “It was blocked. We felt good about it when we went out there. They definitely were in there a little quick.” Browns coach Hue Jackson felt the Steelers were offside on the climactic kick.

“Disappointed for our fans,” said an exasperated Jackson, who fell to 1-31-1 with Cleveland. “Did not want them going home without a victory. I did not want our players to go home without a victory. We were not able to get it done. Did not finish it, but obviously, a tie. A tie.”

The Browns also had a chance to win it in regulation and were driving for a potential game-winning field goal, but Tyrod Taylor’s deep pass for Josh Gordon was underthrown and intercepted by Cameron Sutton with 16 seconds left.

“There is nothing to be excited about, nothing at all,” said Gordon, who missed most of the past four seasons because of drug suspensions.

“We don’t come to work to get ties. It’s the equivalent of a loss to me.”

The Steelers played their opener without star running back Le’Veon Bell, who remains away from the team in a contract dispute.

As Bell continued his holdout in warm and dry South Florida, James Conner filled in and scored two touchdowns while running for 135 yards – just nine fewer than he gained as a rookie last season.

Roethlisberger threw three interceptions in the first half and finished 23 of 41 for 335 yards, throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Antonio Brown.

Down 21-7 in the fourth quarter, the Browns were on the verge of their 18th straight loss.

But they forced a fumble by Conner and scored quickly on Carlos Hyde’s 1-yard run to pull within a touchdown.

Cleveland’s defense then forced a punt before Taylor connected with Gordon, who was playing in his first opener since 2012, made a gorgeous leaping catch in the corner over Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton.

In his debut with Cleveland, Taylor completed 15 of 40 passes for 197 yards.

‘YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP’

The New York Giants are finding ways to lose.

The New York Giants are finding ways to lose.Source:Getty Images

FROM the “you-can’t-make-this-up” department: On the Giants’ first offensive play of the season … Ereck Flowers was called for a tripping penalty.

On the Giants’ third 2018 offensive play from scrimmage … Flowers was called for a holding penalty that took place so close to the Giants’ goal line that the Jaguars challenged the spot of the foul, believing it took place in the end zone and should have resulted in a safety.

In the end, the Jaguars didn’t need those two points anyway, defeating the Giants 20-15 in a game that exposed the Giants’ offensive line, revamped in the offseason with four new players, as still a weakness — much the way it was in the miserable 3-13 2017 season.

The maligned Flowers, the Giants’ 2015 first-round draft pick and the one returning player of the starting five, was so bad the new coaching staff moved him from left tackle to right tackle in an effort to help save his career and mask some of his deficiencies.

And, quite frankly, because they didn’t have anyone else better to put at right tackle.

Though it’s only one game, the move from the left side to the right side didn’t help Flowers, who remains a glaring weak link on the line.

Later in the first half, Flowers was schooled by Jaguars defensive end Lerentee McCray, who dusted him en route to sacking Eli Manning for a 7-yard loss inside of the two-minute warning.

And, on Manning’s deflected pass that turned into a Myles Jack interception and 32-yard return for a touchdown that provided the game-deciding points, Flowers was smoked by Jags defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who hurried the Giants quarterback into throwing the ball before he wanted to.

“They had a pretty good fake blitz that put Ereck in a bind trying to block two guys,” Manning said.

“All I got to say is, man, I’ve got to get better,” Flowers told The Post as he hurried out of the locker room. “That’s it. I got nothing to say but I’ve got to get better and we’ve got to get better.”

Calais Campbell, who drew the two Flowers penalties on that first series, was actually somewhat complimentary of Flowers.

“He made a couple mistakes, but I actually think he played OK throughout the whole game in my opinion,’’ Campbell told The Post. “I like to think I’m a really good player and I’ve put a lot of people in that situation before. He didn’t want his quarterback to get hit so he took the penalties.’’

Campbell, too, complimented the Giants’ line in general, saying: “They did a good job against a bunch of really talented guys [on Jacksonville] and they played together. They used each other and supported each other well.’’

Not well enough — as evidenced by that opening series and by Manning being hurried too often.

“That was such a weird series,’’ said Nate Solder, who was signed to a $62 million free agent contract in the offseason. “We would make a play then have a penalty, make a play then have a penalty. I guess that was a microcosm of the way the whole game went. I don’t think that series affected the rest of the game. But we’ve got to clean things up.”

Beginning with Flowers.

Asked if anyone on the line encouraged Flowers after that nightmarish opening series, Solder said: “In the heat of the game when you don’t really know what’s going on, it’s hard to say anything at all. I’m sure he had some good plays and bad plays like I did. You just keep going forward as a team and improve.”

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