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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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Cam Talbot shines as Wild top Oilers 4-1 for seventh straight win

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Cam Talbot shines as Wild top Oilers 4-1 for seventh straight win

EDMONTON — The last time Cam Talbot faced the Edmonton Oilers, he was throwing punches at center ice with Oilers goaltender Mike Smith in an infamous brawl in a Battle of Alberta between the Calgary Flames and Oilers, two seasons ago that made highlight reels all across North America.

On Tuesday night, Talbot made the highlight reel for all the reasons he’s paid for. Stopping pucks.

The former Oilers goaltender was spectacular, making 38 saves as the Wild beat Edmonton 4-1 at Rogers Place.

Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Victor Rask and Dmitry Kulikov tallied for the Wild, while Jesse Puljujarvi scored the lone marker for the Oilers as Minnesota extended its win-streak to seven games, while the Oilers have dropped three straight contests.

The Wild improve to 18-6-1 and remain in top spot in the Central division.

“I’ve been back in this building a couple of times, but never got the start,” Talbot said. “It’s nice, this place will always have a place in our heart, we started our family here and it was a great building to play in and I still have a lot of great friends here. It’s one of those things where you look to come back here every time and it’s even more fun when you get a big win.

“I can’t say enough about the way we closed out the game. You don’t want to have lulls in the game, but give the guys credit, they just found a way to battle and win the hockey game.”

The Wild’s special teams haven’t been great this season, but they clearly won the special teams battle against Edmonton, which boasts the league’s best power play and its penalty kill is in the top-5.

Minnesota scored once on the power play and denied the Oilers potent power play on all five of their opportunities.

“Our penalty kill was outstanding tonight, I can’t say enough about them,” said Talbot, who is 2-0 in three appearances since being dealt away from the Oilers two seasons ago. “We weren’t giving them those Grade A chances that they’re accustomed to, and with the statistics coming in you wouldn’t think the power-play match-up would favor us, but we got a big one (power play goal) early, and our penalty kill did a great job, so give our special teams a ton of credit tonight.”

The Oilers have been notoriously slow starters out of the gate, giving up the first goal in 14 of the team’s first 23 games, and the Wild made it 15 as Eriksson Ek scored a power-play marker just 1:11 into the contest.

They went up 2-0 just 6:03 later as Foligno buried a cross-ice feed from Matt Dumba.

Edmonton’s high-octane offence, led by superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl got rolling in the second period as they put all kinds of pressure on the Wild, who continue to play without top defenseman and captain Jared Spurgeon, but the Oilers were only able to cut their deficit in half, despite outshooting Minnesota 20-6 in the middle frame.

“They played really well in the second period, but we really liked our regroup and how we played in the third period. We did a lot of real, real good things,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “They’re going to get shots and to not give that second and third gritty ones to them. Obviously Draisaitl and McDavid are special players. They’re going to get their opportunities to shoot pucks, but it’s that second and third one, that not only did Cam do a good job of smothering, but our second forward, we got pucks the heck out of that area, so they didn’t have more opportunities like that.”

Talbot made several big saves in the second period. He robbed Draisaitl with a left pad save as the former Hart Trophy winner tried to beat him with a one-timer, backdoor. In the final minute of the period, he stretched out to make a right pad save off of Tyson Barrie, who was wide open in the slot.

But his best save came early in the third when he dove across to deny Darnell Nurse of the tying goal.

“I knew that he was there, but obviously you have to stay patient with the guy in the slot first,” recalled Talbot. “But our guy did a good job of going down and taking away the lower part of the net, and I was able to see the pass right away and I knew Nurse was down there and I just tried to get everything in front of it.”

Moments after the big save off Nurse, the Wild scored on a delayed penalty as Victor Rask scored his fourth goal of the season to give Minnesota some breathing room and then Kulikov showed off some slick hands on a breakaway goal to give the Wild a 4-1 lead with 5:03 remaining to put the game away.

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Ellison: State, localities reach agreement on distributing $300M in opioid settlement

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Ellison: State, localities reach agreement on distributing $300M in opioid settlement

Minnesota moved another step closer this week to unlocking roughly $300 million from a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and the three major U.S. drug distributors in connection to the nation’s opioid painkiller addiction crisis.

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Monday that the state had reached an agreement with Minnesota counties and cities on how to distribute the state’s share of a pending $26 billion national settlement agreement. The state and local governments had to reach an agreement by Jan. 2, 2022, in order to maximize the amount they receive from the national settlement.

Municipal governments will receive 75% of the settlement funds while the state will receive 25% to help pay for opioid addiction treatment and prevention. The most recent estimate from Ellison’s office projects Minnesota state and local governments will receive $296 million over the next 18 years.

The settlement agreement with Johnson & Johnson and the “big three” drug distributors — Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — is just one of several fronts in ongoing nationwide litigation against drug makers, marketers and wholesalers in connection to an epidemic of opioid painkiller addiction across the U.S.

The settlement stems from investigations by state attorneys general from across the U.S. into whether the distributors failed to screen and stop suspicious drug orders, and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid painkillers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 38 people died a day in 2019 of prescription opioid overdoses, totaling about 14,000 deaths. Lawsuits filed against drug makers such as Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, estimate hundreds of thousands of Americans died of opioid painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2015, while millions became addicted. About 5,500 Minnesotans died as a result of the addiction crisis, Ellison said.

In a statement issued with Ellison’s announcement, Pat Baustian, president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and mayor of Luverne, noted the addiction epidemic’s “devastating impact on families and communities throughout Greater Minnesota,” and expressed appreciation for the state’s efforts to cooperate with local governments on distributing the funds.

“Although no amount of money can make up for the loss of life, the funding from these national settlement agreements will help our communities provide services and resources to address this crisis,” Baustian said.

The state settlement fund will be overseen and distributed by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, according to Ellison’s office. Under current state law, the state opioid abatement fund distributes to local governments, but the agreement between the state and local governments requires the parties to change the law in the 2022 legislative session, according to Ellison’s office.

The local government abatement fund created by the settlement money will be allocated to all counties that participated in the settlement. It will also include municipalities that have a population of 30,000 or more, have a public health department or filed a lawsuit against the defendants in the settlement.

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Centennial’s Streets at SouthGlenn on track to get more housing as retail sector scrambles amid challenges

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Centennial’s Streets at SouthGlenn on track to get more housing as retail sector scrambles amid challenges

City leaders in Centennial expressed strong and unanimous support Tuesday night for a plan to allow The Streets at SouthGlenn shopping center to add a lot more housing while curtailing the amount of square footage dedicated to shopping — a reflection of the rapid adjustments that commercial property owners here, and nationwide, continue to make amid ongoing upheaval in the retail sector.

The council did all but take a final vote, which won’t occur until Monday. But it was clear from comments from every council member Tuesday that they will be voting in favor next week.

Centennial’s discussion comes less than a month after Littleton narrowly approved a redevelopment plan for the Aspen Grove shopping center that will allow up to 2,000 residential units where none exist now. It also allows retail space to be reduced by half.

And just last month, East West Partners announced plans to pump life into a 13-acre area west of Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center, an effort the developer said will include a “significant residential” component.

David Garcia, policy director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley, said what is happening in metro Denver is part of an “emerging trend” in the country, where the changing retail landscape is dovetailing with an acute housing shortage in many urban areas.

Earlier this year, several lawmakers in California introduced legislation to make it easier to convert commercially zoned property into residential use to address the state’s housing shortage, he said. Metro Denver has its own housing crunch to deal with.

“There is such a demand for housing,” Garcia said. “It follows the trend of trying to put existing land to the highest and best use.”

At The Streets at SouthGlenn, a 77-acre outdoor shopping district laid out on a street grid with familiar brands like Whole Foods, Best Buy and Snooze, the maximum number of allowable housing units would go from 350 to 1,125, while the minimum amount of retail space as outlined in the shopping center’s agreement with the city would drop from just over 900,000 square feet to 621,000 square feet.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

The Streets at SouthGlenn in Centennial is pictured on Dec. 7, 2021.

There are approximately 750,000 square feet of retail at The Streets at SouthGlenn now and just over 200 housing units, said Don Provost, founding partner at Denver-based Alberta Development Partners. The shopping center, owned by Alberta, opened a dozen years ago at the southwest corner of East Arapahoe Avenue and South University Boulevard, replacing the long-forlorn SouthGlenn Mall that sat at the location for decades.

He said the reconfiguration at SouthGlenn is necessary in a retail environment that has been battered by consumers moving their dollars online, a phenomenon that has only quickened during a pandemic that complicates face-to-face transactions.

“There has been an acceleration in the last 15 years, and especially in the last five years, with online shopping,” Provost said. “We want the existing retail (at SouthGlenn) to thrive. The core of the retail remains.”

The plan to add hundreds of homes to The Streets at SouthGlenn largely revolves around finding a way to best fill space opened up by a recently shuttered Sears store at the site, and a Macy’s that is set to close in March — two big box retail formats that have fallen out of favor among shoppers.

Alberta is partnering with Northwood Investors, which owns the empty Sears building. Construction on the new housing could begin late next year, with new residents moving in in 2023 or 2024, Provost said.

“We need to look at enhancing the long-term viability of SouthGlenn,” he said.

And that means determining what the mix of shopping, entertainment and residences needs to be to “make that retail more productive,” said Neil Marciniak, Centennial’s economic development director.

The Streets at Southglenn contributes around $3 million a year to Centennial’s overall $40 million sales tax haul, Marciniak said. While he said cities “live and die” by their sales tax collections, their shopping centers have to evolve with the larger market.

“What is that appropriate mix to prepare for the future?” Marciniak said. “All shopping centers need to be looking at their tenant mix, their land use mix. Consumers want an experience.

1638943298 592 Centennials Streets at SouthGlenn on track to get more housing

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

The Streets at SouthGlenn, pictured on on Dec. 7, 2021, is looking at a potential change to decrease the retail space and up housing in the area. Sears has closed its doors at Streets at SouthGlenn.

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