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MLS All-Star Game: Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair has opportunity for a ‘limitless’ career

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Mls All-Star Game: Loons Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair Has Opportunity For A ‘Limitless’ Career
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One of Dayne St. Clair’s first soccer memories is from roughly 20 years ago with him juggling a plastic balloon at his grandmother’s home in the Toronto area. The young Canadian wasn’t yet good enough with his feet to keep a heavier soccer ball aloft; he needed an inflatable orb that would hang in the air a bit longer.

Now 25, St. Clair’s goalkeeping career resembles a balloon. It’s just waiting to be booted higher and he possesses too much talent to let it pop or even hiss out air.

In his fourth year with Minnesota United, St. Clair will play in the MLS All-Star Game against Mexico’s Liga MX at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Allianz Field in St. Paul. This fall, St. Clair is expected to be named a reserve on the Canadian men’s national team for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

St. Clair, one of the best shot-stoppers in MLS this season, appears to be one injury away from playing in the sport’s biggest tournament. If he does well on that stage, his career — including aspirations to play in one of Europe’s top leagues — could lift off like a hot-air balloon.

“Every player wants to test themselves at the highest level that they can,” St. Clair told the Pioneer Press last week. “Of course, I’m no different.”

St. Clair also knows nothing grand happens if he’s not putting in the work and playing well now. His nonlinear career is proof of that.

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Each tattoo on St. Clair’s left-arm sleeve has a meaning. There’s the dove on his shoulder to memorialize his late maternal grandmother, Betty, who let Dayne juggle the balloon inside her home. That tatted bird is flying over an image of the CN Tower, an iconic building in the Toronto skyline.

“And kind of just flying over my heart to protect me,” St. Clair said.

On his bicep is the word “family” between a heart and a soccer ball. He has the national flower of Trinidad, where his father Fabian is from, and the national flower of Scotland, where his mother Julie is from. They met in Toronto, where Dayne and his sibling Arisa were born.

Dayne has a tat of a Canadian maple leaf, and each member of his family picked a playing card, which were inked on his forearm. He has a jack-o-lantern to commemorate the births of his mom and grandmother on Halloween. There is Taurus for St. Clair’s astrological sign, and the date of his grandmother’s passing on his wrist.

Fabian played goalkeeper and Julie’s family has been big supporters of Celtic FC in Glasgow, so soccer is in his blood. But Dayne dabbled in basketball, baseball and volleyball.

Fabian would take Dayne down to the family’s basement to do box-step ups onto a cooler and out to the park to go through extra soccer training drills.

“He wasn’t that good; make sure you put that in the story,” Dayne said laughing during the interview. “He likes to say that I learned a lot from him, but he wasn’t that good. I do remember going to the park. He would search YouTube drills to train me. His commitment was there. Definitely some home-school training.”

At 15, St. Clair played on multiple teams within the Vaughan Soccer Club in Ontario and decided not to join Toronto FC’s academy. He dashed some local belief that he needed to be a homegrown player.

“They never liked the fact that I never chose to go to TFC,” St. Clair shared. “The way I looked at is my team (at Vaughan) would beat TFC’s (academy teams). At the time, I didn’t necessarily see a pathway for me because they had Quillan Roberts at the time. I trained with him like a couple of times. He was a few years older than me and never was really able to push through (into MLS).”

The University of Maryland had star goalkeeper Zack Steffen leave early to play for Freiburg in Germany, so Carmine Isacco, a leader at Vaughan and a former Terrapins goalkeeper, telephoned Terps head coach Sasho Cirovski.

“When Carm called me, he essentially said, ‘Look, I’ve got the Canadian Zack Steffen for you,’ ” Cirovski told the Pioneer Press. That resonated with Cirovski because Isacco “usually downplays people.”

St. Clair arrived in College Park, Md., and had a rough outing his freshman year against Akron in 2015, conceding three goals, including two to Richie Laryea.

St. Clair blames Laryea, his current Canadian men’s national teammate, for how he “ruined my college career for two years. (I) kind of, from there, lost the starting spot.”

St. Clair was also spending time with Canadian youth teams and redshirted in 2016. Cirovski credited St. Clair for sticking it out with the Big Ten program. St. Clair admitted he consider leaving Maryland, with interest piqued by Syracuse, where he could have joined Canadian teammate Kamal Miller, who is now an MLS All-Star with CF Montreal.

St. Clair became the Terps’ starter in 2017 and led them to an NCAA championship in 2018. He did not give up a goal for the final 500 minutes of that 2018 season, including a big-time reaction save to preserve an NCAA tournament win at Kentucky.

‘GETTING PAST IT’

MNUFC drafted St. Clair seventh overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, then the rookie sat behind veteran Vito Mannone before a loan to Forward Madison in USL League One.

In 2020, St. Clair was behind newly acquired Tyler Miller and again went out on loan, this time to San Antonio in the USL Championship. He played five games.

“I give Dayne credit,” Loons goalkeeping coach Stew Kerr said. “I’ve been around goalkeepers who don’t even want to go on loan because they have it comfortable here. The training. Everything’s good and done for them. In USL, things are not done as well. .. That’s his mentality as well. He wants to be the best.”

As COVID-19 hijacked the 2020 regular season, Miller opted for surgery on both hips and St. Clair got his shot.

Legendary MLS goalkeeper Nick Rimando got his break with Miami Fusion in a similar fashion. Jeff Cassar and Garth Lagerwey were injured in 2000 and Rimando came in as a rookie.

“It can be funny position to be in,” Rimando told the Pioneer Press. “I just kind of took advantage of my position.”

Rimando went on to make more than 500 MLS appearances, primarily with Real Salt Lake.

In 2020, St. Clair was thrust into the starting spot before he was ready, Kerr said. But St. Clair shined, giving up only one 1.0 goals per game in the final 13 regular-season games. He had two shutouts in the first two rounds of the MLS Cup Playoffs before conceding three in the Western Conference final loss to Seattle Sounders.

In 2021, MNUFC started 0-4 and St. Clair was pulled; Miller stepped in for the rest of the season and a one-and-done playoff loss to Portland. It was a bitter pill for St. Clair to swallow.

“I felt like I was punished, even though it wasn’t necessarily my fault,” St. Clair said. But late last year, he re-signed with MNUFC; it’s a three-year contract, with a club option for 2025.

This season, Miller started the opening two games, but he got ill just before the road game at New York Red Bulls in early March. St. Clair stepped in, made some acrobatic, wonder saves and was named MLS Player of the Week.

“Just kind of luckily, my opportunity came early on this year,” St. Clair reflected. “It could have went a lot differently, if that wasn’t the case.”

Going into last weekend, St. Clair was the top-graded shot-stopper in MLS, according to Pro Football Focus FC. His 91.8 grade was nearly four points better than Carlos Coronel of the New York Red Bulls.

At that point, Kerr said there was only one goal allowed — against New England in mid-June — that he would chalk up as St. Clair’s fault. Then St. Clair bobbled two shots that directly led to Gyasi Zardes goals in a 4-3 loss to Colorado Rapids on Saturday. It was far and away his worst game of 2022.

Kerr said last week that if there are fewer than four goals that can be considered the keeper’s fault, it would be a “fantastic season.”

Rimando has been there, done that, too. “You might have mess-ups or bad goals, but ‘it has to get through 10 players before it gets to you’; that is what my mom always told me,” he said. “I gave up a lot of (expletive) goals in my career. It’s just getting past it.”

‘LIMITLESS’

Dwayne De Rosario cried this spring the day Canada won the CONCACAF region and qualified for the World Cup. The Canadian men’s national team’s all-time leading scorer credited the growth of MLS in providing a breaking ground for so many key Canadian players, including St. Clair.

“I’m so happy for the kid,” said De Rosario, the 2011 MLS MVP. “Just to see a humble kid and one that works so hard. He is so young and has so much more to be. … This is what sets your career up.”

The 6-foot-3 St. Clair attends De Rosario’s pick-up games in Scarborough, Ontario, during the offseason but never wants to play in net in those scrimmages. “He tries to dribble and stuff like that,” De Rosario said. “For a big kid, he’s got good feet.”

Kerr has coached some great goalkeepers, including Julio Cesar, who played for Inter Milan and the Brazilian national team, and Darren Randolph, who played for clubs across England and Ireland’s national team. Kerr can see St. Clair reach those heights, too.

“I think his career is limitless,” Kerr said. “I really do.”

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MLB’s new playoff format has done nothing to increase end-of-season intrigue

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Mlb’s New Playoff Format Has Done Nothing To Increase End-Of-Season Intrigue
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With about a week and a half until the playoffs begin, and the playoff teams all but determined already, Major League Baseball has to accept the truth.

Its new postseason format didn’t do much at all to increase end-of-season intrigue.

This is the first year that the league is letting 12 teams into the dance, and it’s easy to recognize who at least 11 of those teams will be. The race for the final National League wild card spot is the only do or die scenario left, and even that’s not as juicy as fans would hope. The so-so Milwaukee Brewers come into Monday — which kicks off the last full week of the regular season — 1.5 games behind the Phillies for the final postseason spot.

The San Diego Padres are only 1.5 games up on the Phillies, so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility for them to miss the playoffs. But there’s no question that the final two NL wild card berths (the Braves or Mets will get the first one) will go to two teams from the San Diego, Philadelphia and Milwaukee group. After the Brewers, the next team in the standings is the San Francisco Giants, who are under .500. In terms of talent, the Brewers are much closer to those Giants than they are to the NL’s legitimate contenders.

In the American League, there’s an even bigger gap. The Seattle Mariners currently occupy the final seat on the ship, with the Baltimore Orioles four games out. Seattle owns the tiebreaker over the Orioles too — if two teams finish with the same record, their head-to-head regular season matchups determine who would get in the playoffs, not a tiebreaker game — so that lead is more like five games. Again, the next team in line is under .500, the floundering Chicago White Sox at 76-77.

Rather than the expanded playoffs keeping more teams in the hunt, it’s shown that less is more when sending out postseason invitations. It is both increasingly obvious that there are not 12 truly good MLB teams, and that limiting the wild card berths to two or one makes for a better finish. Under last year’s format, which granted playoff entry to two wild card teams in each league instead of three, the battle for the last NL spot would be a bloodbath right now. San Diego, Philadelphia and Milwaukee are separated by just three total games in the loss column, giving each team a realistic shot of swapping places with one another down the stretch, whether that means climbing the standings or plummeting down them.

If those three teams were fighting for one spot rather than two, all of their remaining games would be that much more tense, creating the exact situation that MLB wants. Instead, the Phillies have gone 3-7 in their last ten games and not lost their place in the playoff picture. Last year, San Diego passing them would mean the Padres get in while the Phillies stay home. This year, it’s just the difference between the fifth and the sixth seed, and you can make a very compelling case that the sixth seed is better anyway.

The Mariners have also had the newfound luxury of playing very poorly for most of September without it hurting their playoff chances. The M’s are 11-11 this month, having recently lost series to the Angels, Athletics and Royals. That would typically be a code red disaster at this point of the schedule. But with the extra wild card team now, the Mariners’ odds of making the playoffs, per FanGraphs, have gone from 97.3% on Sept. 1 to…99.9% on Sept. 26.

In other words, treading water has proven just as effective as actually winning games. By virtue of there simply being fewer games left on the schedule now than there were at the beginning of the month, plus the teams behind them not being particularly playoff-worthy either, both the Mariners and Phillies have been able to play subpar baseball for weeks without having to fret too much about it costing them their shot at the postseason. Philadelphia is 10-11 in September, a month that’s seen them put together a three-game losing streak and a five-game losing streak. No big deal, as nestling into the sixth seed means avoiding the Mets or Braves in the first round and not seeing the Dodgers until a potential National League Championship Series.

Same thing goes for the Mariners, who, if they end up in the sixth seed, would play Cleveland in the first round instead of Tampa Bay or Toronto. Beating Cleveland, who they went 6-1 against this year, would then earn the Mariners a date with the much more beatable Yankees rather than the death machine in Houston.

So, for those keeping score at home, the new format will let mediocre teams into the playoffs, has done nothing to increase late-September drama, and in some ways has incentivized being a lower seed. The team with the worst record among its league’s division winners is no longer even guaranteed a Division Series. This year, that means the Guardians and Cardinals could both be going home in the wild card round rather than getting the five-game series they deserve for winning their division. The fifth seed in the National League gets a bit of a punishment, too, as they’ll get matched up in the wild card round against either the Mets or Braves, who might both end up with 100 wins.

That Mets-Braves power struggle is one of the best things going right now, but a tug of war for the NL East crown would have been possible last year, the year before that, and 20 years before that. The new playoff bracket had no impact on division races, which MLB knew. But it also, tragically, seems to have had no impact on the wild card races either. While Milwaukee is still technically very much in it, for weeks now it’s felt like we’ve known exactly who’d be in the playoffs, the only question is what order they’ll finish in.

Maybe next year will bring some more spice to the end of the season, but this year can go down as a definitive whiff.

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Inver Grove Heights homicide victim, 43, was shot in torso, authorities say

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Inver Grove Heights Homicide Victim, 43, Was Shot In Torso, Authorities Say
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Authorities on Monday released additional details on the homicide victim found in an Inver Grove Heights home over the weekend, saying he was a 43-year-old man who was shot in the torso.

Michael Chang-Beom Lee died of a single gunshot wound of the torso early Saturday at 2133 78th Court E., the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said. He was pronounced dead at 2:27 a.m.

Three people have been arrested in connection with Lee’s killing, which was not a random act, according to Inver Grove Heights police. They have not been charged as of Monday.

Police said Saturday in a statement that officers went to the home just after 2 a.m. after someone called 911 and hung up. When they arrived they found a man on the floor who was unresponsive and later pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers responding to the 911 call stopped a vehicle leaving the area with three adults who were detained, questioned and then booked on suspicion of murder.

Logan David Slack and Fotini Anest West, both 25 and of Minneapolis, are being held at the Dakota County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

Sean Richard Lumley, 30, of Monticello was booked on suspicion of aiding and abetting first-degree murder and then released from custody, police said.

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Live now! Chris Perkins and Dave Hyde break down game vs. Bills and preview Thursday night’s matchup with Bengals on Dolphins Deep Dive

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Live Now! Chris Perkins And Dave Hyde Break Down Game Vs. Bills And Preview Thursday Night’s Matchup With Bengals On Dolphins Deep Dive
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Introducing “Dolphins Deep Dive with Perk,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s new weekly Dolphins video show featuring Chris Perkins, Dave Hyde, David Furones and occasional guests.

On Monday’s show, the Dolphins writers discuss Sunday’s huge win over the Buffalo Bills. They also look ahead to Thursday night’s matchup versus the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals and answer viewers’ questions.

Click here for the “Dolphins Deep Dive with Perk” video page, where you can watch the latest episode.

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Twin Cities school segregation not unconstitutional in absence of lawmaker intent, appeals court panel rules

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Twin Cities School Segregation Not Unconstitutional In Absence Of Lawmaker Intent, Appeals Court Panel Rules
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Racial segregation in Twin Cities schools does not violate the state constitution unless it can be proven that state lawmakers intentionally caused that segregation, an appeals court panel ruled Monday.

The ruling affirms a lower court’s December decision in Cruz-Guzman v. State of Minnesota, a major school segregation lawsuit that’s been winding its way through the courts and Legislature since 2015.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and the state reached a tentative settlement in spring 2021. At a cost to the state of $63 million a year, it would have created new magnet schools, new regulations and a system of voluntary student busing in order to better integrate schools in St. Paul, Minneapolis and their suburbs.

But when legislative leaders declined to approve the settlement, plaintiffs attorney Dan Shulman asked Hennepin County District Judge Susan Robiner to decide key parts of the case without going to trial.

Specifically, he wanted her to find that school segregation is unconstitutional, even in the absence of intent or proof that state lawmakers and bureaucrats caused it.

His argument largely relied on a footnote from a 2018 state Supreme Court decision that revived the Cruz-Guzman case after Robiner had dismissed it. That footnote said it’s “self-evident” that segregated schools violate the education clause of the Minnesota Constitution.

However, Robiner in December rejected Shulman’s motion for partial summary judgment, finding that school segregation only violates the state constitution if it is “intentional.”

If Shulman is right, she wrote, the only remedy would be to redistribute Twin Cities students to different schools according to their race, which the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly said violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

APPEALS COURT RULING

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel on Monday, Court of Appeals Judge Mathew E. Johnson wrote that the state Supreme Court’s footnote was referring to the sort of intentional segregation found in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Shulman’s motion, on the other hand, referred to de facto segregation, where there’s no showing that state actors intentionally caused it.

“A racially imbalanced school system, by itself, is not a violation of the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution,” Johnson wrote.

“A racially imbalanced school system caused by intentional, de jure segregation of the type described in Brown would be a violation of the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution. A racially imbalanced school system caused by de facto segregation, by itself, is not a violation of the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, even if state action contributed to the racial imbalance.”

Monday’s ruling does not end the case. The plaintiffs can appeal to the state Supreme Court, and even if they lose again, they still can try to prove that state actors intentionally set up a system that would result in segregation.

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All eyes on QB Tua Tagovailoa’s availability on Dolphins’ short week before Thursday game in Cincinnati

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All Eyes On Qb Tua Tagovailoa’s Availability On Dolphins’ Short Week Before Thursday Game In Cincinnati
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Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins usually notes there’s a “24-hour rule” after NFL games — win or lose — before the emotions of one result must shift into preparation for the next opponent.

But even that’s too long when the Dolphins only have three days between Sunday’s thrilling 21-19 win over the AFC East Goliath Buffalo Bills and a Thursday night game at the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It’s the 12-hour rule,” said Wilkins at the news conference podium postgame, meaning the expiration time was around 4:30 a.m. Monday morning. “We just get [Sunday night], and [Monday] we’re already getting ready for the next opponent so we can turn the page and get ready for Thursday night.”

Those 72 hours between game days will be under a microscope, especially quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s availability in Cincinnati on the quick turnaround.

Tagovailoa was initially said to have suffered a head injury when he exited at the first half’s two-minute warning after getting pushed by Bills linebacker Matt Milano, causing Tagovailoa to fall back and hit the back of his head on the turf. Tagovailoa appeared woozy and stumbled upon getting up from the hit before being escorted by trainers into the locker room.

He was cleared in concussion protocol and returned for the second half, finishing 13 of 18 for 186 yards and a touchdown pass. Tagovailoa and coach Mike McDaniel both said postgame it was actually a back injury Tagovailoa was dealing with, as the roughing-the-passer play exacerbated earlier discomfort Tagovailoa experienced in his lower back from a quarterback sneak.

The NFL Players Association on Sunday afternoon initiated an investigation of the handling of Tagovailoa’s concussion check.

“It was uncomfortable going in,” said Tagovailoa of his second half, which involved him making a stellar 45-yard throw deep over the middle to Jaylen Waddle on third-and-22 that set up a go-ahead score. “I guess you could say it was the adrenaline that was keeping me going with the throwing.”

Of his back, Tagovailoa added postgame Monday: “It’s tight. It was sore when it first happened.”

McDaniel is expected to have injury updates in a Monday afternoon news conference after a Sunday win that also had cornerback Xavien Howard (groin, cramps), tackles Terron Armstead (toe) and Greg Little (finger), guard Robert Hunt and linebacker Elandon Roberts (quadriceps) among players dealing with injuries. Nose tackle Raekwon Davis (knee) missed the game against Buffalo after entering questionable, and receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. (ribs, toe) was limited to five offensive snaps.

This story will be updated.

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Ravens-Patriots in review: Highlights, notables and quotables from a Week 3 victory

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Ravens-Patriots In Review: Highlights, Notables And Quotables From A Week 3 Victory
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The Ravens bounced back from a gut-punch loss to the Miami Dolphins with a 37-26 road win over the New England Patriots. Quarterback Lamar Jackson threw four touchdown passes and ran for another while the defense created four turnovers on New England’s last five drives.

Players of the Week

QB Lamar Jackson: New England had no answer for Jackson, who threw for 218 yards and four touchdowns and carried 11 times for 107 yards and another score. He has 10 touchdown passes through three games and has run for at least 100 yards in two straight as he makes an early Most Valuable Player case.

S Kyle Hamilton: When wide receiver Nelson Agholor broke into open space with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots appeared on their way to a go-ahead touchdown. Instead, Hamilton chased him down and punched the ball free, allowing Marcus Peters to fall on it. In addition to that climactic play, the rookie gave up just one completion on 14 coverage snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

WR Devin Duvernay: The Ravens clung to a one-point lead in the third quarter when Duvernay gave them a jolt by dancing 43 yards along the sideline on a punt return. Four plays later, he followed up with a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the year. He has caught all eight balls thrown his way in three games.

Snap-Count Analysis

Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters seemed back to full strength, playing 65 and 63 of the team’s 66 defensive snaps, respectively. With outside linebacker Justin Houston and nose tackle Michael Pierce injured, veteran defensive tackle Calais Campbell embraced a heavy workload, playing 59 snaps. Inside linebacker Josh Bynes played 71% of the team’s defensive snaps, taking on a larger role against New England’s determined running game. Outside linebacker Brandon Copeland stepped in to play 26 defensive snaps in his first game as a Raven. Rookie cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis played just nine defensive snaps after he struggled early against DeVante Parker.

J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill shared the workload evenly at running back, playing 26 and 29 snaps, respectively. Mike Davis played one snap. At wide receiver, Devin Duvernay played only two fewer snaps, 35, than Rashod Bateman. Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely dealt with a groin injury during the week and played 20 of 60 offensive snaps. Tight end Nick Boyle played just four snaps in his first game action of the season. Josh Oliver was on the field more than either with 24 offensive snaps. Rookie Daniel Faalele played 54 snaps at left tackle after Patrick Mekari sprained his ankle.

Number Crunch

32: Mark Andrews’ career touchdown reception total. The fifth-year tight end ranks second on the franchise’s all-time list behind Todd Heap (41) after he scored twice against the Patriots.

3: Players in league history who have thrown four touchdown passes and run for 100 yards in the same game, per ESPN Stats & Info. Lamar Jackson joined Randall Cunningham and Cam Newton with his performance Sunday.

4: Turnovers created by the Ravens defense, more than in any game last season.

5.0: Opponents’ per-carry average against the Ravens’ run defense. They ranked sixth worst in the league after Sunday’s game.

Quote of the Week

Coach John Harbaugh on Lamar Jackson: “His way is winning football. It’s fundamentally sound quarterback play. He’s running the show out there. He’s making the checks. He’s managing the clock. All the things that you would say an operator or a manager does, he’s doing all those things, too. He’s doing those things, and he’s making plays sometimes when the play doesn’t make itself.”

Next Up

Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium, Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Bills went into Week 3 widely regarded as the best team in the league after they won their first two games by a combined 55 points. But they lost a divisional showdown to the Miami Dolphins, the same team that upset the Ravens in Week 2. The Bills fell 21-19, despite outgaining the Dolphins by more than 200 yards and running 90 offensive plays to Miami’s 39.

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