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ppy not to see Turn 19 again for a couple of weeks,” Hunter-Reay said. “You are rolli
06-01-2020 08:57 AM
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ppy not to see Turn 19 again for a couple of weeks,” Hunter-Reay said. “You are rolli
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KANSAS CITY Eric Murray Jersey , Mo. — The only defense the Kansas City Chiefs played most of this season was, well, in defense of their own defense, which gave up so many yards and points that it became a running joke around the league.Yes, the Chiefs scored in bushels. They also allowed points in bunches.The fact that they spent most of the season coughing up 30 points and 400-plus yards per game came despite the fact that they excelled at sacking the quarterback. They finished with 52 of them, tied for the NFL lead, thanks primarily to the trio of Chris Jones, Dee Ford and Justin Houston.Yet things began to change in Week 17, when the Chiefs shut down the Oakland Raiders in a game they needed to win to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. And when critics claimed that the Raiders were playing for nothing, the Chiefs backed it up with a defensive gem in the divisional round against the Colts.Now, that suddenly stingy defense gets its biggest test Sunday against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.At stake: A trip to the Super Bowl, the first for the Chiefs in 49 years.So what changed? How did a Swiss cheese defense that was torched by the Patriots for 43 points in a Week 6 loss in Foxborough suddenly turn into a steel curtain, and just in the nick of time?“In the last couple of games, the three things we’ve done is we’ve limited the explosive plays Terrance Smith Jersey , we’ve done a really solid job of tackling and we’ve had one defensive penalty in two weeks,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “Those three things allow you to function and go.”Take each one in order.In the Chiefs’ four losses this season, they allowed four plays of 40-plus yards and 21 plays of at least 20 yards. Seven of those came in a particularly dismal defensive performance against the Rams, who ultimately won a 53-50 shootout at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.But the Chiefs didn’t allow a single play over 15 yards against Oakland, and didn’t allow the Colts a play over 30 yards. In fact, Indianapolis didn’t score on offense until late in the fourth quarter.Their success in limiting big plays is, at least in part, a byproduct of improved tackling.Then there are the penalties. After leading the league in total penalties and defensive penalties this season, their defense has been flagged just once over the past two games.“Most points that are produced in a drive usually result from an explosive play and-or a penalty in the drive,” Sutton explained. “The common thing when you look back and say, ‘Hey how’d they get down the field?’ It’s usually you had a (pass interference) here or you gave up a 20-yard run here or whatever it was. So, if you can manage those and do a relatively good job on those things, you put yourself in a good position to play. I think the guys that have played have done a good job.”Ah, there’s the caveat: The guys who have played have done a good job.The Chiefs have been missing pieces on defense the entire season Xavier Williams Jersey , and often they have been crucial playmakers. Highly paid linebacker Justin Houston, who had a pair of sacks against the Colts, missed four games with a hamstring injury. Top cornerback Kendall Fuller missed a game with a broken hand. Starting safety Daniel Sorensen missed half the season with a broken leg.Those injuries alone are enough to derail any defense, but the Chiefs have also played almost the whole season without Eric Berry, their star safety and arguably the team’s emotional leader.He played in just two games because of his heel but is poised to play Sunday against New England.“That’s my guy. Eric Berry has kind of taken me under his wing since I got here,” Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson said. “We call him ‘Coach’ in our room because he’s so knowledgeable. He means a lot to our team and our defense, so whenever we can have him out there, it’s a great thing.”The Patriots are under no preconceptions the defense they marched up and down the field against in Week 6 will show up on Sunday. Bill Belichick said this week that there is little to glean from that win, while Brady was quick to heap praise on a defense playing its best all year.“We’ve played them quite a bit over the years,” the Patriots quarterback said. “They’ve had some incredible units that we’ve played against. They’ve got play-makers at each level. Obviously, a good scheme. They make you work for it. It’s a very tough, hard-nosed team. They compete on every snap. They’ve been in a lot of close games this year. It’s a great challenge for us. I don’t think you can take anything for granted.” AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Everything went Colton Herta’s way on Sunday, from the victory on the race track to the sparkling wine on the podium instead of apple cider.The 18-year American rookie became the youngest winner in IndyCar history when he captured the IndyCar Classic after a late-race crash near the entry to pit row helped him steal past the leaders to the checkered flag.Flanked on the podium by 28-year-old Josef Newgarden and 38-year-old Ryan Hunter-Reay Jordan Lucas Jersey , Herta was handed a bottle of sparkling wine for the victory celebration while someone handed Newgarden the cider.Glug! Herta, still well under the legal drinking age of 21, took a big drink.“I didn’t switch back,” Herta said. “I took a swig and said, ‘This is real!”Newgarden was impressed.“They gave me his drink, and gave him mine. Which is very cool of Texas,” Newgarden said.Herta’s win also delivered the first victory for Harding Steinbrenner Racing , where George Steinbrenner IV — yes, of the Steinbrenner baseball family — is the youngest co-owner in series history and the youngest owner of a race-winning car at age 22. After the victory, the New York Yankees tweeted congratulations to the victors.“In this sport it takes perfect execution and a little bit of luck,” Steinbrenner said. “We caught the little bit of luck … and Colton did the rest.”Herta was running a distant third behind Team Penske’s Will Power and Andretti Autosports’ Alexander Rossi until James Hinchcliffe bumped rookie Felix Rosenqvist into a spin and then the wall near the entry to pit lane.Power, who started from pole position and dominated through 45 laps, lost his big lead when the caution flag came out, and then had his race end with a driveshaft failure during his last pit stop for a late tire change. Rossi finished ninth.Power started from pole position and could have earned a $100 Damien Williams Jersey ,000 bonus if he had won the race.“Massively disappointed man. (To) lead so many laps,” Power said. “The yellow didn’t get us, the drive shaft did.”Herta still had work to do to stay ahead of Newgarden and Hunter-Reay, both former IndyCar champions. Herta dialed up the speed that made him so quick on the track in preseason testing.“He’s been quick since he hit the track,” Hunter-Reay said. “At first sight I wouldn’t trust that guy with my Honda Civic, but he’s very talented. This is the big league and he just won an IndyCar race.”The previous youngest race winner was Graham Rahal in 2008 at age 19. Herta turns 19 on Saturday.“One race win isn’t enough. I want to get another,” Herta said.NO LIMITSIndyCar didn’t enforce track rules that apply to the Formula One cars the Circuit of the Americas was built for. That led to some wide racing and ultimately the crackup that cost Power his chance to win.The cars were allowed sweeping runoffs through turns and Rosenqvist and Hinchcliffe touched as they were coming out of a wide run on Turn 19 near pit lane. Two days earlier, Rosenqvist said he likes the open racing without track limits and Power said they should be enforced.Hunter-Reay and Newgarden said the issue will have to be addressed before next year’s race.“I’ll be happy not to see Turn 19 again for a couple of weeks,” Hunter-Reay said. “You are rolling the dice a little bit in there.”ROUGH OUTINGRosenqvist had a tough day even before his crash. After an impressive fourth-place finish in his debut at St. Petersburg, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver started fifth and promptly lost three positions at the start. He had a spin midway through the race and then the crash to end his Texas weekend.SERIES POINTSAfter a first and second in the first two races, Newgarden leads the driver’s standings with 93 points and Herta is second with 75.“Colton drove flawlessly. It’s big to win your first IndyCar race,” Newgarden said. “We have to have podiums when we’re not winning races to win the championship.”
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