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Daniel Carlson’s field goal gives Raiders 31-28 OT win over Miami

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Daniel Carlson’s field goal gives Raiders 31-28 OT win over Miami

LAS VEGAS — Reigning AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Daniel Carlson’s 22-yard field goal as time expired in overtime lifted the Las Vegas Raiders to a 31-28 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

It marked the second time in the Raiders’ first three games – both at home – they overcame a two-touchdown deficit to win in overtime, also doing so against Baltimore in Week 1 on “Monday Night Football.”

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr found Bryan Edwards for 34 yards before Peyton Barber put together runs of 27 and 8 yards to put Las Vegas on the Dolphins’ 11-yard line to eventually set up the winning score.

Carr completed 26 of 43 pass attempts for 386 yards and two touchdowns.

For the third straight game, Carr used his talented receiving depth, as the eight-year veteran completed passes to nine targets, led by Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller, who each had a team-high five receptions. Renfrow also scored a touchdown.

With star running back Josh Jacobs sidelined with an ankle injury, Barber led the rushing game with 111 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown.

And while the Raiders’ offense outgained Miami 497-330, it was their special teams unit and defense that ignited the comeback after Miami scored the game’s first 14 points.

One play after Zay Jones raced downfield on a punt to down the ball on the 1-yard line, cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. caught Miami receiver Jaylen Waddle on a screen pass in the end zone for a safety.

Carlson, who starred at The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, booted a 50-yard field goal to get the Raiders within nine. Then, after a huge defensive stop, Las Vegas drove 95 yards to cut Miami’s lead to 14-12. Fullback Alec Ingold was rewarded by having his number called after recovering Barber’s fumble on the goal line on the previous play.

The Raiders scored on their next two possessions when Carr and Renfrow connected for a 12-yard strike, and Barber dived over the pack for a 1-yard plunge to open a 25-12 lead.

The Dolphins weren’t done, though.

After Miami’s Jason Sanders made it a one-score game with a 46-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter, Jacoby Brissett scrambled on fourt-and-goal for a 1-yard touchdown with :02 left in regulation. Brissett’s passed to William Fuller for the 2-point conversion forced overtime.

The teams exchanged field goals in overtime before Carlson’s winner.

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Chicago wins first WNBA title with 80-74 win over Phoenix

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Chicago wins first WNBA title with 80-74 win over Phoenix

By CASEY DROTTAR

CHICAGO (AP) — Candace Parker returned home to bring Chicago a championship. She did just that, leading the Sky to the franchise’s first title.

Allie Quigley scored 26 points and Parker added 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists and Chicago beat the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 on Sunday in Game 4.

“This one is so sweet,” a champagne-soaked Parker said. “To do it with this group. I love this group, I love this team. And to do it here at home, it was just supposed to be.”

The Phoenix players declined to come to the postgame press conference. The door to their locker room was broken and a person familiar with the incident said at least one of the team’s players was responsible. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Courtney Vandersloot added 10 points and 15 assists for the Sky, who won the series 3-1, rallying from a 72-65 deficit with 4:42 left. Chicago scored the next nine points to take a two-point lead on Stefanie Dolson’s layup. She then added another basket to make it 76-72 with 45.8 seconds left.

Diana Taurasi was fouled on the next possession shooting a 3-pointer and made the first two free throws, but missed the third.

Vandersloot then scored in the lane to seal the victory and set off the celebration. As the final buzzer sounded, Parker sprinted to the corner of the court and hugged her family with tears in her eyes.

“It was amazing to just hug my dad and my mom,” Parker said. “It was just an amazing feeling to be from here and see so many people in the stands that have been supporting you since you started. It’s just a moment where you just have to really take it in.”

It was a full-circle moment for Parker, who triumphantly returned home to Chicago this season after spending 13 years with Los Angeles. She has been continually called the Sky’s missing piece throughout the playoffs, a label she proved accurate many times during Chicago’s stunning run, winning the title as a six-seed.

“It feels amazing. My high school coach is here,” Parker said. “I know Pat’s (Summitt) watching. Got the whole city here. We got the whole city here. We are champions for life now.”

Brittney Griner was a focal point of Phoenix’s offense early on. The seven-time All-Star finished the game with 28 points, 18 of which came in the first half. Griner and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith helped lead a 9-0 run to finish the second quarter and give Phoenix a 44-37 edge at halftime.

Yet, Quigley’s fourth-quarter outburst ultimately undid any attempts Phoenix could make to stave off elimination.

“It wasn’t our night,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “Allie made some really big shots for them. We left her open, and she made them. It would be nice to be going back to a Game 5 now, but it’s not going to happen this year.”

Parker initially had trouble getting into a rhythm offensively, going one for six from the floor with just four points by the end of the first half.

Phoenix’s lead stretched to 14 at one point in the third, but the deficit wasn’t big enough to shake Chicago’s confidence down the stretch.

“We stayed together,” Sky coach James Wade said. “It was a microcosm of our season, where you go down and you keep pushing. By the end of it, the crowd took over, our players stayed together and you started to see who we were. I never doubted for a minute that we were going to win that game.”

Kahleah Copper, who had been a force in the first four games of the finals, earned MVP honors of the championship.

“I have this edginess and grittiness about me that’s going to keep me going,” Copper said. “It was very important for me to be consistent coming in this year and better than I was last year. You put the work in and you get rewarded.”

ANOTHER PICTURE

After the game, Parker mentioned a picture she took with her daughter on the court after she won her first championship with Los Angeles. She keeps the photo on her wall, and her daughter’s desire to be part of a similar moment helped convince Parker to come back home.

“I asked her if it was OK if I came to Chicago,” Parker said. “And she was like ‘I want another picture like that.’ It’s crazy, because she came out to the court and said ‘we did it,’ and it was just surreal.”

GETTING TECHNICAL

Emotions were high for both teams right from the start, as Taurasi and Copper were each hit with technical fouls within a 50-second span in the first quarter.

PACKED HOUSE

The Sky drew a sell-out crowd despite the Chicago Bears hosting the rival Green Bay Packers just down the street at Soldier Field. Chance the Rapper was once again in attendance to support his hometown team.

TIP-INS:

Chicago coach James Wade became the third Black male coach to win a WNBA championship, joining Michael Cooper who did it with the Los Angeles Sparks and Corey Gaines, who did it with Phoenix. … Phoenix had been 4-0 in the WNBA Finals after losses until Sunday’s defeat.

___

AP Basketball Writers Tim Reynolds and Doug Feinberg contributed to this story.

___

More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Up to 5,000 unvaccinated Massachusetts state workers could be at risk of suspension, termination

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Up to 5,000 unvaccinated Massachusetts state workers could be at risk of suspension, termination

Up to 5,000 state workers could be at risk of suspension or termination as the deadline for workers to submit proof of their vaccine status hits this week, according to state officials.

That amounts to about 11% of the 45,000 executive-branch workers required to be fully vaccinated as of Oct. 17.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is encouraged by the response by Executive Department employees completing the vaccination verification process ahead of the October 17 deadline and will continue to work with employees to address questions and requests for exemptions,” said Terry MacCormack, press secretary for Gov. Charlie Baker.

More than 40,000 employees have submitted proof of full vaccination against coronavirus or applied for an exemption as of Sunday, MacCormack said.

The administration’s vaccine policy involves “progressive discipline,” according to an online post, starting with a five-day, unpaid suspension for all noncompliant workers. Continued noncompliance for managers “will then result in termination of employment,” while bargaining unit members will first move on to a 10-day suspension.

Executive-branch offices won’t start to tally the exact number of state workers in violation of the administration’s vaccine mandate until Monday when managers will begin contacting people who have not submitted paperwork.

Agencies are still working through requests for religious and medical exemptions, which would be completed in the “coming weeks,” according to the governor’s office.

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Devin McCourty, Bill Belichick break down game-losing play against Cowboys

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Devin McCourty, Bill Belichick break down game-losing play against Cowboys

FOXBORO — In the big picture, Matt Judon was right.

“Our offense went out there and scored. … They gave us the lead,” he declared after the Patriots’ 35-29 overtime loss to the Cowboys. “We gotta do our job.”

After staking two leads in the final minutes of regulation, the Pats defense couldn’t deliver a win, allowing go-ahead and game-tying drives. They even won the coin toss to start overtime. But instead of celebrating their first home win and rising to 3-3, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott knocked the Patriots out with a 35-yard touchdown strike to CeeDee Lamb.

Cruelly enough, on that play, the defense actually did its job. According to veteran safety and captain Devin McCourty, the Pats covered Prescott’s initial reads and forced him

“We were in a tough call, I think, for the route they ran. They dialed up a good play for what we tried to do,” McCourty said. “(It was) kind of situational football. What they like to do, we tried to take it away, and Dak was able to hold it for another second. We kind of took the first two reads, the two tight ends to the flat on our left side . But extended play, he got back to the middle, and that’s where we were kind of light at. And that was it.”

Pats coach Bill Belichick saw the play similarly.

“We covered a flat receiver and then he just on the over route with another extended play,” he said post-game. “Obviously didn’t play it well enough, didn’t coach it well enough.

The closest Patriot to Lamb was cornerback Jalen Mills, who could only shove him after he’d crossed the goal line and clinched the win. Mills’ effort, a show of frustration, perfectly captured the defense’s night to date: too little, too late.

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Crunch time: Biden faces critical next 2 weeks for agenda

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Crunch time: Biden faces critical next 2 weeks for agenda

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is entering a crucial two weeks for his ambitious agenda, racing to conclude contentious congressional negotiations ahead of both domestic deadlines and a chance to showcase his administration’s accomplishments on a global stage.

Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge intraparty divides by month’s end to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social services package. The president hopes to nail down both before Air Force lifts off for Europe on Oct. 28 for a pair of world leader summits, including the most ambitious climate change meeting in years.

But that goal has been jeopardized by fractures among Democrats, imperiling the fate of promised sweeping new efforts to grapple with climate change. There’s also rising anxiety within the party about a bellwether gubernatorial contest in Virginia and looming Senate fights over the federal debt limit and government funding that could distract from getting the president’s agenda across the finish line.

Biden is trying to stabilize his presidency after a difficult stretch marked by the tumultuous end of the Afghanistan war, a diplomatic spat with a longtime ally and a surge in COVID-19 cases that rattled the nation’s economic recovery and sent his poll numbers tumbling.

His team has continued its strategy — one that served it well during the campaign and earlier this year — of blocking out the outside noise to stay focused on a singular mission, this time to pass the two-part package that will give Democrats a platform on which to run in next year’s midterm elections.

“These bills, in my view, are literally about competitiveness versus complacency, about opportunity versus decay, and about leading the world or continuing to let the world move by us,” Biden said Friday while pushing the legislation in Connecticut.

Yet beneath the White House’s pleas for patience — reminding people that hard things take time — is a bubbling sense of urgency that a deal needs to be struck rapidly.

For the White House, there are the explicit target dates, including an end-of-month deadline on transportation funding and Biden’s upcoming foreign trip. But there are also more abstract imperatives: proving Democrats can deliver on their promises to voters and protecting Biden’s waning political capital.

With new urgency, the administration has sent signals to Capitol Hill in recent days that it is time to wrap up negotiations, that a deal needs to be reached, according to two White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. Biden himself has expressed impatience and will be increasing his own personal outreach this week to push lawmakers to find a compromise and bring the bills to a vote, the officials said.

West Wing officials are still optimistic that an agreement will ultimately be struck, but there are also fears that the messy, drawn-out negotiation has clouded the tangible benefits of what Biden aims to deliver to voters.

Biden sought to address some of that when he traveled to Hartford, Connecticut, last week to showcase initiatives to sharply reduce the cost of early childhood care — perhaps one of the only pieces of the legislation that is a lock to make the final package.

Even Democratic leaders are divided on the best way to shrink the overall price tag of the package in order to win over more votes. Biden said Friday he prefers including all of the wish-list proposals, but trimming down the length of the programs to cut costs. His thinking is that a future Congress can vote later to extend programs that the American people will find popular.

But days earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the opposite tack — approving a narrower set of programs to last for a longer time period.

Some Democrats have pushed for passing the bipartisan infrastructure deal by Oct. 31 even if the larger social services package is not settled, a move many progressives dislike because they could lose leverage for the latter bill.

The fate of climate change provisions is particularly perilous.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s objections to a program aimed at speeding the nation’s transition away from fossil fuels threatens the heart of Biden’s plans to combat climate change just before he tries to assert American leadership on the issue at the upcoming global conference in Scotland.

The Democrats’ razor-thin margins in both houses of Congress have empowered individual lawmakers like Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, vexing fellow lawmakers and the White House. White House aides have not abandoned the clean energy program but are exploring alternate means to string together a mix of policies to cut emissions, officials said.

Abandoning the provisions could wound Biden in Glasgow, at a summit that the administration has held out as a vital opportunity not just to combat climate change but to reassert U.S. leadership on the issue after four years of retrenchment under President Donald Trump. The United States will be bringing a major footprint to the gathering — including former President Barack Obama — but it risks falling behind European nations that have taken more concrete steps to cut emissions.

Biden’s stop in Scotland early in November will follow his participation in a summit of world leaders in Rome. But Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to skip the gatherings — delaying the first meeting between the leaders of the two superpowers — could diminish their relevance. Still, Biden is expected to meet in Italy with French President Emmanuel Macron as the men look to repair relations after a U.S. submarine deal with Australia scuttled a French contract and led the French to briefly withdraw their ambassador from Washington.

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Guregian: If this is the real Patriots, the season’s not lost

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Guregian: If this is the real Patriots, the season’s not lost

FOXBORO — To Tell the Truth. That was the underlying theme for the Patriots sitting at 2-3, with the Cowboys coming to town.

This was pretty much a tell-all game to find out what the Patriots were made of, and if there was hope for them the rest of the season.

Heading in, it was hard to get a firm read on Bill Belichick’s team with losses to Miami, New Orleans, and Tampa, and wins against two of the worst teams in football (New York Jets, Houston). But with Jerry Jones’ team invading Foxboro, it was like having the big reveal.

So who are the real Patriots?

A team that’s going to make things interesting heading into the December, and perhaps beyond. And that’s the feeling, even with a crushing 35-29 overtime loss to the Cowboys.

This was an inspired effort, and then some, for the Patriots, who hung in against a better, more talented football team.

They lost, and are now 0-4 at home. But if this is the team that shows up every week, if this is the Mac Jones we’re going to see from here on out, they’re going to win their share of games, and make it interesting, even starting out 2-4.

“It’s a tough one to lose,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “Yeah, it was a good football team. Give Dallas credit . . . I know we just came up a little bit short. I thought we went toe-to-toe with them for 60 minutes . . they just made a few more plays than we did.”

Forget calling it a moral victory. What it was, was a positive sign going forward, for the rest of the year.

While they hung in with Tom Brady and Tampa Week 4, this was different, much different. It was an even more telling game about what the Patriots are capable of, and perhaps a launch point for them going forward.

This was tough, hard-nosed, entertaining football for four quarters and beyond. Dak Prescott (36 for 51, 445 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) just refused to lose, hitting CeeDee Lamb with a 35-yard touchdown pass to win the game in overtime.

“It’s not about how you start. It’s about how you finish,” Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne said, reflecting the emotion of the team.

Many probably thought the Pats were dead much earlier, after Jones threw a pick-six to Trevon Diggs with 2:36 to play, with the Cowboys going up by five.

But they were hardly done. The Patriots boldly stood up then, and in this game in general.

Jones simply shook off the play.

He came back with just over two minutes to play, and fired a 75-yard bomb to Kendrick Bourne for the go-ahead score.

It was a perfectly thrown ball, with Jones going right back at Diggs. It was a sensational “take that” moment for the rookie quarterback.

“Guts. He’s got some guts,” said center David Andrews after the loss. “He’s got some gusto Talk about mental toughness . . . How do you respond any better than what he just did? We needed a play and got one from him.”

And who was it that called Jones (15 for 21 for 229 with two TDs and an interception), a “peashooter?” Think again, Rex Ryan.

The better question might be: Where has that been all year?

The Patriots have been extremely cautious with the rookie quarterback to this point, but he has those type of plays in him. He’s more than capable of throwing the ball downfield, and that’s going to speak volumes going forward.

The Patriots defense, meanwhile, which was unwavering all game, just couldn’t hold the fort any longer. They kept losing bodies, and were on the field double the time than the Cowboys.

The Pats did win the toss but didn’t score on their first possession in the overtime, leaving the door open for Dallas, who simply won the war of attrition. The Pats just couldn’t hold off the league’s second-ranked offense any longer.

In all, the defense was on the field for 82 plays, versus 50 for the offense. Perhaps some of that was by design with a bend-but-don’t break defense, but they eventually broke in the end.

“It sucks,” said Andrews. “I thought we battled … we showed some mental toughness. A few plays here or there, but that’s how it goes in this league. There’s not a big margin for error.”

The Patriots had forced the issue for much of the game.

While they might not be in Dallas’ league talent-wise, they simply played a smarter, gutsier brand of football to take a 14-10 lead at the half.

And for a change, the Patriots started out fast, and Josh McDaniels took some of the shackles off Jones.

Prescott & Co. moved the ball, but were stalled time and again in the red zone. A goal line stand before halftime had been the signature moment of the game, and perhaps the season, with the Patriots holding firm on four tries by the Cowboys at the one-yard line.

On fourth down, a diving Ja’Whaun Bentley managed to knock the ball from Prescott, who dove forward and tried to stretch the ball over the goal line. It was initially ruled a touchdown, but after review, it was correctly ruled a turnover, and a huge statement from the defense.

The Patriots also produced a tipped-ball interception with the Cowboys poised to score in the red zone, with Kyle Dugger coming up with the ball at the goal line to nullify another potential score.

The Patriots essentially gave the Cowboys all they could handle, but It was still far from perfect in the end, and with a team like the Cowboys, you can’t let your foot off the gas — offensively, but especially, defensively.

Looking at the game as a whole, the Pats still had issues with the offensive line. Jones got rocked on more than one occasion, with tackles Yodny Cajuste and Isaiah Wynn both getting beat by Randy Gregory.

And the secondary still looks thin. There’s no way around that. Lamb torched them, with nine catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Amari Cooper had five catches for 55 yards, and tight end Dalton Shultz also had five catches for 79 yards.

The backs, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for 110 yards. The defense just couldn’t stop the bleeding in an emotional-roller coaster of a game.

“They just made more plays than we did,” said Bentley.

They gave the NFC-contending Cowboys all they could handle, and if they continue to play like that, they can still make something of the season.

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Bill Belichick reacts to Patriots’ crushing overtime loss to Dallas

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Bill Belichick reacts to Patriots’ crushing overtime loss to Dallas

FOXBORO — The Patriots’ season is starting to slip from their grasp.

They’ve lost four straight at home, with several tough road games ahead. Most of their remaining home kickoffs are against projected AFC contenders. Two Super Bowl contenders from the NFC have now come to Gillette Stadium and left with close wins.

After dropping a 35-29 decision to Dallas on Sunday, Bill Belichick opened his press conference by crediting the Cowboys for making more plays than the Patriots.

“I know we just came up a little bit short,” Belichick said. “Thought that we went toe to toe with them for 60 minutes and we just couldn’t – they just made a few more plays than we did, so give them credit for that. We’ll move on.”

Asked if fatigue affected his defense — which took 82 snaps and allowed game-tying and game-winning drives — Belichick said he didn’t know.

So what was his message to the team?

“Yeah, like we do – every week is the same. Play the game, correct the mistakes, turn the page and move on,” Belichick said.

He repeatedly referenced how Dak Prescott extended plays to make throws downfield. Prescott finished 36-of-51 for 445 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His last pass, a 35-yard touchdown to CeeDee Lamb, was thrown after the Patriots had covered his initial reads but failed to affect him enough in the pocket.

On the team’s pass rush, Belichick said: “There’s always room for improvement. Again, the quarterback was a hard guy to get. In the end, they have a good passing game, and they were probably a little better than we were today.”

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‘How is this acceptable?’ Essaibi George blasts Mass and Cass response

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‘How is this acceptable?’ Essaibi George blasts Mass and Cass response

Mayoral hopeful Annissa Essaibi-George hit Methadone Mile Sunday saying it’s time for the city to plan an intervention to “end the devastation” of addiction and homelessness fueling a public health crisis there.

“Over the past six months, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in tents and uptick in violence, and new substances have flooded the area. There are plenty of open shelter beds, but there are still tents that remain, leading to a cycle of more drug use, more violence and more lives lost,” Essaibi-George said. “We are not helping any individual who is in crisis by allowing them to stay in tents on our streets.”

Essaibi-George pledged to begin addressing the worsening crisis at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue of Melnea Cass Boulevard on “Day 1” of her administration.

She pledged to declare a “public health emergency zone” in a one-mile radius around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard and appoint a Mass and Cass czar to oversee the city’s response to breaking up the encampment and deploying services to those in need.

Essaibi-George said she’d allocate $30 million of federal infrastructure money the city received this year to immediately deploy services to those suffering from addiction and mental-health issues. Her longer-term solution relies on housing production and the reopening of the Long Island campus that once housed services for people who are homeless and addicted to drugs.

Essaibi-George said the solution “requires tough decisions and action, not more stalling” and said she has “the relationships, the knowledge, the experience to tackle Mass & Cass on Day One.”

“You cannot say the same about Michelle Wu,” Essaibi-George added, taking a jab at her opponent.

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Patriots drop 35-29 overtime instant classic to Cowboys, fall to 2-4

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Patriots drop 35-29 overtime instant classic to Cowboys, fall to 2-4

FOXBORO — Perhaps in past years the Patriots would have pulled this one out.

Preserved a lead in regulation. Or marched to victory in overtime.

But these are not those Patriots. These Patriots are 2-4, winless at home and spiraling farther into the unknown, dragged down by the same turnovers, penalties, mistakes and conservatism that have dogged them all year long.

Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb waltzed into the end zone with a 35-yard touchdown and clinched a 35-29 win at the end of an instant classic Sunday. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott went 36-of-51 for 445 yards and three touchdowns, while leading drives to tie the game and win over the final nine minutes of play. During that stretch, the Cowboys scored 15 points, while the Patriots threw an interception, scored on a defensive breakdown and punted with 7:53 left in overtime.

Tied at 29, Pats coach Bill Belichick opted to punt on fourth-and-3 at midfield. To that point, Dallas (5-1) had marched to a touchdown or field goal attempt on four straight series — then made it a fifth.

While Lamb’s score knocked the Patriots out for good, Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs knocked them down with a pick-six at 2:36 remaining.

Pats quarterback Mac Jones (15-21 for 229 yards, 2 TDs, INT) had fired over the middle intended for Kendrick Bourne, a pass one step too far and beat too fast. Instead it found Trevon Diggs, a former college teammate who raced back for a 26-21 lead as silence fell over Gillette Stadium and lasted through a failed two-point conversion.

Though it didn’t last much longer than that.

On the Pats’ next offensive snap, Bourne shook Diggs on an out-and-up and ran free up the left seam. This time, Jones hit him in stride. Seventy-five yards later, Bourne left a burned Cowboys corner and lost safety behind to celebrate a go-ahead touchdown. But not a game-winner.

Taking over with 2:11 left, the Cowboys overcame a penalty-riddled final drive and picked up 24 yards on a third-and-25 strike to Lamb, positioning themselves for a game-tying field goal. Like Jones’ touchdown, Greg Zuerlein’s kick was redemptive, since he’d swung a go-ahead field goal try wide left with 2:42 remaining.

Until then, the Pats had survived a statistical butt-whooping. Dallas had produced more than twice the yards, first downs and scoring opportunities through the late fourth quarter, but trailed because Jones had spearheaded a late 70-yard touchdown drive sustained by several clutch plays. Following three third-down conversions, rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson basked in the glory of a 1-yard touchdown for the team’s first score in seven drives.

Nick Folk’s extra point then pushed the Patriots ahead, a place they found themselves in early and often.

The Pats flexed on Dallas early, stopping Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott cold on fourth-and-short to end the game’s first drive. Jones and Co. needed only three plays to score from there, covering 34 yards using multiple tight ends and running backs and even 350-pound Mike Onwenu as an extra offensive lineman. Harris plowed through the middle of the Cowboys defense for a 4-yard touchdown.

Dallas answered immediately, with Prescott firing five completions over a six-play possession finished by Blake Jarwin’s 1-yard touchdown catch behind Dont’a Hightower. Not to be outdone, the Patriots marched right back and scored with a tight end toss of their own. Whipping around after a play-action fake, Jones hit Hunter Henry for a 20-yard strike near the end of the first quarter.

The Pats’ 14 first-quarter points were not only a new season high, but surpassed their first-quarter scoring output for the season. Despite getting shut out over the second quarter, and allowing three more Dallas drives inside the red zone, the Patriots held their lead into halftime.

First, Prescott targeted backup corner Justin Bethel on a third-down throw from the Pats’ 16-yard line. Bethel had replaced injured nickelback Jonathan Jones and was now isolated against Dallas’ No. 3 receiver, Cedrick Wilson. Despite giving up six inches to Wilson, Bethel batted a high, end-zone throw to safety Kyle Dugger, who snatched his first career interception.

Four plays later, Jones was strip-sacked at midfield, where the Cowboys took over again. This time, Jones returned to out-fight Wilson for a third-down pass in the corner of the end zone. As they wrestled to the ground, the ball squirted free for an incompletion, calling Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein on for a 30-yard field goal.

Still spinning its wheels, the Pats offense went three-and-out, and their special teams did one worse, allowing a blocked punt the Cowboys recovered at their 17-yard line. After a 16-yard completion to Wilson — who beat Devin McCourty on a blitz — the Patriots stonewalled Elliott twice at the 1-yard line. Then Prescott took his turn running into the brick wall on a quarterback sneak.

Still undeterred and facing fourth-and-goal at the 1, Prescott called his own number and leapt forward with another sneak, then lost the ball on a play initially ruled a touchdown. However, the score failed to survive a review, and Pats linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley was credited with a fumble he forced flying forward at the snap and punched out with his left fist. Having recovered the ball in the end zone, the Patriots were then granted the opportunity to kneel the clock out and obliged.

In the third quarter, Dallas controlled play on both sides of the ball, forcing three punts and booting one of their own before a lengthy touchdown drive. Recognizing it was time for a long possession of his own and trailing 20-14, Jones took over and penned the first line of an unforgettable finish.

Here were the best and worst Patriot performances Sunday:

Best

CB Justin Bethel A special teams ace, Bethel recorded one pass breakup that led to an interception and forced a fumble while being blocked on a punt.

LB Ja’Whaun Bentley Before leaving with a shoulder injury, Bentley amassed 13 tackles and forced a fumble at the goal line to stop a touchdown.

Worst

Punt protection Backup linebacker Jahlani Tavai looked to be at fault for the blocked punt the Pats allowed in the second quarter, their second of the season.

Pass protection After a stable start, Jones was sacked twice in his first 10 dropbacks and hit a third time on his 11th pass attempt.

Pass rush The Pats didn’t sack Prescott once, and hit him just four times over 51 passing attempts.

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Las Vegas Raiders galvanized by Jon Gruden’s downfall

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Las Vegas Raiders galvanized by Jon Gruden’s downfall

The Las Vegas Raiders were determined not to let Jon Gruden’s undoing lead to their own downfall.

They delivered an emphatic 34-24 victory in Denver for longtime special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, their interim head coach, snapping a two-game skid and propelling them into a first-place tie with the Chargers atop the AFC West.

“In this business there’s always crazy things going on, especially with the Raiders,” said defensive end Maxx Crosby, who was in on all five sacks of Teddy Bridgewater.

“There’s no mistake about it. Ever since I got here there’s always things going on. These guys we have in this building are resilient, from the coaching staff to the players to the trainers, everybody has a positive outlook on this organization,” Crosby said.

The outside chatter was loud and clear, too, he said.

“Everyone’s talking, ‘What are the Raiders going to do? Is the season over?’ We’ve heard all of it,” Crosby said. “For us to have a great week of practice and go out there and play good football, it’s a testament to all these guys in the locker room.”

Gruden apologized last weekend for racist comments he made about union chief DeMaurice Smith, and the Raiders were flat in a home loss to Chicago. But by Monday night, Gruden had tendered his resignation after it was revealed his old emails also disparaged gays, women and others in the NFL, including Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Sometimes when you get punched in the gut it’s hard to bounce back, but we were able to do it,” said Derek Carr, who picked apart the Broncos’ beleaguered secondary with seven passes of at least 25 yards on his way to a 341-yard masterpiece that included a 48-yard TD toss to Henry Ruggs III.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was masterful in his first play-calling duties for Las Vegas since Carr’s rookie season in 2014.

“I thought it was great,” Carr said. “He had a great flow to the game, the communication and tone in the helmet, there are so many little things that matter to quarterbacks. He was giving the plays to me so early so I had time at the line of scrimmage to go fast or push the tempo or trick them.

“For everything he had to deal with this week and then being thrust into calling plays for the first time in a while, I thought he crushed it. He was awesome.”

The Raiders began the post-Gruden era with Ruggs’ long touchdown catch that ended an 11-game streak without a score on their opening drive and they never let up.

Carr scoffed at the notion the Raiders would fold without Gruden, who was in the fourth year of a 10-year, $100 million contract when it all unraveled for him a week ago.

“I’m still here as a leader,” Carr said, rattling off the veteran teammates that were right there with him: Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs, Alec Ingold.

“I’m going to stop naming guys before I forget,” he concluded. “We still have our room of guys, our leaders. More now than ever, we needed to step up and be a voice. It’s fair to think that way, with everything going on.

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All non-binary, female Denver tattoo shop target of vandalism, owner says

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At this plant-filled Denver tattoo shop, every artist is either a woman or non-binary

Step inside The Wolf Den Custom Studio on East Colfax in Denver, and you’ll see why it’s worthy of attention.

“We love everybody. We just happen to have a staff of amazing women or identifying women,” owner Ryane Urie said Sunday.

The tattoo shop got praise from The Denver Post this week because of its inclusivity and for creating a safe space for LGBTQ people.

“A lot of light has been shown on us, a lot of people wanting to support us,” Urie, who uses they/them pronouns, said.

But some of that light has cast a shadow.

Read the full story at thedenverchannel.com.

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