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Patriots’ patchwork offensive line paves way to comeback at Houston

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Patriots’ patchwork offensive line paves way to comeback at Houston

What a pleasant surprise.

Down four starters and after a week of worry, the Patriots offensive line was never better Sunday.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones was sacked just once during a 25-22 win over Houston, matching a season best. He was hit only three other times, even while passing frequently during a 13-point second-half comeback. Jones had starting center David Andrews to lean on, plus three other backups and practice-squad guard James Ferentz filling in.

The O-line had previously been a weakness for the Pats’ struggling offense and instead fronted a much-needed win Sunday.

“Just shows that you must be ready, and they stepped up to the opportunity. I told them that after the game that they all did a good job stepping up and just taking advantage of their opportunities,” Jones said. “They played great.”

Third-year offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste earned the first offensive snaps of his career and started at right tackle. He blocked next to interior backup Ted Karras, who flanked Andrews in the middle with Ferentz at left guard. Second-year tackle Justin Herron protected Jones’ blind side at left tackle, after predominantly playing right tackle this season as an injury replacement for Trent Brown.

Together, they cleared room for 126 rushing yards and allowed Jones to get hit on just 13% of his dropbacks.

Brown was placed on injured reserve Saturday, when it was learned left tackle Isaiah Wynn and left guard Mike Onwenu would remain on COVID-19 reserve through the game. After the game, Bill Belichick shared that the team was hopeful to return Onwenu for kickoff, but he wasn’t cleared. Belichick also remarked losing four starting offensive lineman was a first for him in his 47 years of coaching in the NFL.

“Other than the replacement games and all that back in ’87 (during an NFL players’ strike), but you can’t even count that. So, no,” Belichick said before adding: “I’m not saying it was perfect, but I thought they battled. For the most part, Mac had some time to throw, and we made some yards in the running game to stay balanced. We were able to run the ball in on the goal line, so that was a good thing there, too.”

Added Andrews: “We’ve taken a lot of criticism, and rightfully so. I thought we did a better job today, and we just have to keep building on that.”

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Mizzou football receives invite to Armed Forces Bowl

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Mizzou football receives invite to Armed Forces Bowl

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri football team has been selected to play in the Armed Forces Bowl later this month.

The Tigers will face the Army Black Knights at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

Mizzou went 6-6 in 2021 and 3-5 in SEC play. Army, an independent school, went 8-3 this season.

The Armed Forces Bowl will be broadcast on ESPN.

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Early reports encouraging about omicron variant

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Early reports encouraging about omicron variant

U.S. health officials said Sunday that while the omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations.

President Joe Biden’s chief medial adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that scientists need more information before drawing conclusions about omicron’s severity.

Reports from South Africa, where it emerged and is becoming the dominant strain, suggest that hospitalization rates have not increased alarmingly.

“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to delta.”

Fauci said the Biden administration is considering lifting travel restrictions against noncitizens entering the United States from several African countries. They were imposed as the omicron variant exploded in the region, but U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has blasted such measures as “travel apartheid.”

“Hopefully we’ll be able to lift that ban in a quite reasonable period of time,” Fauci said. “We all feel very badly about the hardship that has been put on not only on South Africa but the other African countries.”

Omicron had been detected in about a third of U.S. states by Sunday, including in the Northeast, the South, the Great Plains and the West Coast. Wisconsin and Missouri were among the latest states to confirm cases.

But delta remains the dominant variant, making up more than 99% of cases and driving a surge of hospitalizations in the north. National Guard teams have been sent to help overwhelmed hospitals in western New York, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring any hospitals facing limited patient capacity to reduce scheduled procedures that are not urgent.

U.S. officials continued urging people to get vaccinated and to receive booster shots, as well as take precautions such as wearing masks when among strangers indoors, saying anything that helps protect against delta will also help protect against other variants.

Even if omicron proves less dangerous than delta, it remains problematic, World Health Organization epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove told CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

“Even if we have a large number of cases that are mild, some of those individuals will need hospitalizations,” she said. “They will need to go into ICU and some people will die. … We don’t want to see that happen on top of an already difficult situation with delta circulating globally.”

Two years into the outbreak, COVID-19 has killed over 780,000 Americans, and deaths are running at about 860 per day.

More than 6,600 new hospital admissions are being reported daily, according to tracking data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. have dropped by about half since the delta peak in August and September, but at more than 86,000 new infections per day, the numbers are still high, especially heading into the holidays, when people travel and gather with family.

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press

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Illinois family thankful for first responders’ help after car crash

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Illinois family thankful for first responders’ help after car crash

WOOD RIVER, Ill. – A mom recently expressed gratitude in a Facebook post after first responders aided her daughter after a car crash.

Alexis Summers was making a left-hand turn in Wood River, Illinois when another driver ran a red light and crashed into her vehicle. The momentum from the crash spun her vehicle around, Summers said.

The vehicle’s airbags were deployed.

“I don’t remember much of it,” Summers said. “It was definitely really scary.”

After the crash, she said her ears were ringing and managed to get out of the car. Summers went to check on the people in the other vehicle.

“It kind of scared me at first because nobody got out for a second, and all I could hear was a kid crying,” she said.

Another person had pulled over to see if they could help. Summers used their cellphone to call her mom.

“My husband and I were actually heading to Walgreens when I got the call from her. It was from a number I didn’t know, and normally I don’t answer numbers I don’t know, but I answered it,” Stacy Collins said.

“All I heard was her screaming and crying. You could tell she was just scared and in a lot of pain.”

Stacy and her husband Mick rushed to the scene from Bethalto to Wood River. Upon arriving, they were relieved to see their daughter was in good hands. Wood River Police Officer Fester and paramedic Kevin were calming Alexis down and keeping her warm, Stacy said.

Mick added that the first responders did a great job with taking care of Alexis and helping her through the situation.

“It was just really remarkable (of the) humanity extended towards her,” Stacy said.

She added that Officer Fest called later that evening to check up on Alexis.

“Police officers are getting bad raps and to see that kind of compassion and kindness extended, I just think everybody should know about it because she was scared. And as her mom, to know that when I pulled up that she wasn’t alone was very refreshing to me,” Stacy said.

She also expressed gratitude to the person who let Alexis use their cellphone.

Alexis was taken to hospital by her parents who said she is still recovering from whiplash and injuries to her hip and shoulder.

“She’s better than what the car looks like,” Stacy said. “It was really scary when you see the car, and to know that she didn’t walk away with worse injuries is a miracle in itself.”

During the time of the crash, Stacy said her daughter had a guardian angel with her. Alexis’ grandma recently passed away and with her was a hairbow she always wore.

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