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NFL selects 3 German cities to bid to host regular-season game

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LONDON — The NFL selected the cities Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich on Tuesday to enter a final bidding stage to host a regular-season game in Germany.

Next season is the target for Germany to host its first game, though the NFL’s announcement didn’t specify 2022 or 2023.

“After an initial period in which expressions of interest were received from multiple cities, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich have been invited to proceed to the ‘candidate phase’ of the process,” the league said in a statement. “Those cities will now participate in deeper conversations about staging games in Germany.”

Germany has a strong and growing NFL fan base and one of the world’s largest economies, making the country a logical target for a league with visions of worldwide growth.

“The strong interest we have received from German cities underlines what a fantastic opportunity this is for a host, ranging from the significant economic benefits and global exposure to the chance to become a hub for the growth of the NFL’s fan engagement, community and grassroots activities,” said Brett Gosper, NFL Head of Europe and UK.

France, Spain and “the Nordics” are also in the league’s longer-term sights to host games, Gosper told The Associated Press last week.

Gosper also said that the first German game would be “certainly no later than ’23.”

Tuesday’s announcement comes during the NFL’s return to London after a one-year hiatus because of the pandemic. The Atlanta Falcons beat the New York Jets 27-20 on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which will also stage the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins this Sunday.

The NFL announced a bidding process in June.

The NFL urged German bidders to form a consortium between the region, the city and the stadium owner. The stadium is the key factor, along with infrastructure and ease of travel.

“As well as identifying a stadium that is fully capable of handling the logistics of an NFL game, we want to work with a host consortium that comprises local and regional government, stadium ownership, local stakeholders and potential commercial partners. We want this to be a long-term partnership,” Gosper said in the statement.

Tottenham’s state-of-the-art facility was custom-built to host soccer and NFL games with capacity of 62,850. There are seven years left on the club’s 10-year contract to host two NFL games annually.

The NFL has played 29 regular-season games in London since 2007 and the majority of them have been held at Wembley Stadium, which can hold more than 80,000 fans.

Germany has become a growing source of athletes for U.S. college football programs and had five teams at various times in the former World League/NFL Europe/NFL Europa. New England Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson is German, as is defensive end David Bada of the Washington Football Team.

After Germany, the league’s analysis has shown that France would be the next logical European host, followed by Spain and “the Nordics are very strong, too,” Gosper said last week. Those markets have high growth rates in viewership and fans, as the NFL tracks consumer figures for products like Game Pass and the video game Madden.

Thus far, the NFL has played 39 international regular-season games: 29 in London, six in Toronto, and four in Mexico City.

The NFL plans to return to a schedule of four international games beginning next season, a move facilitated by the expanded 17-game schedule.

The extra game coincides with the league’s offer to teams to seek specific international regions for exclusive marketing rights.

Even beyond those four international games, teams could volunteer to play home games abroad especially if they’ve been granted marketing rights in a foreign city or country.

NFL teams with existing links to foreign regions, for example, might be inclined to play more home games there, as Jacksonville has done in London. The Jaguars have played eight times at Wembley Stadium; Sunday will be their first game at Tottenham.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who also owns English second-division soccer club Fulham, made an offer to buy Wembley Stadium three years ago .

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Kyler Murray reps Bruce Lee with custom thigh pads as Arizona Cardinals advance to 5-0

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray‘s swag on the field goes beyond his jukes and dimes.

The Arizona Cardinals quarterback wore his customized thigh pads again Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. The left pad has Bruce Lee on it and the right one has Murray’s logo on it. They’re made by a company called treDCAL from Kentucky, which is owned by Brian and Jenna Gudalis.

Murray debuted the thigh pads in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings.

The next week, Murray was asked about the thigh pads during his weekly news conference.

“Everybody knows my inspiration from him,” Murray said of Lee, the late famed martial artist. “I’ve seen guys with the thigh pads around the league and, I think his name is Brian, and he hooked me up. So, I appreciate him.

“I had two [designs] in that game. The other one was the logo, but y’all didn’t see that one.”

It might have taken a few weeks, but everyone has certainly seen them now.



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Defense has been the difference for unbeaten Arizona Cardinals – Arizona Cardinals Blog

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — What took place Sunday afternoon inside State Farm Stadium showed how capable the Arizona Cardinals are of winning when things don’t go their way.

The Cardinals escaped with a 17-10 victory, but the San Francisco 49ers used a talented defensive front to pressure Arizona and it worked. Arizona had averaged 35 points per game through the first four weeks of the season, but San Francisco put a lid on those offensive fireworks. The Cardinals scored their fewest points of 2021 by two touchdowns on Sunday.

But when things didn’t go as planned on offense, Arizona’s defense picked up the slack. The Cardinals stopped San Francisco on four of their five fourth-down tries, including a vicious and violent goal-line stop of Niners rookie quarterback Trey Lance.

That play, not giving up that 1 yard, was “championship football,” wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said.

“That’s huge,” said quarterback Kyler Murray of the defense. “That’s what you want to see. Complementary football, of course, I think today, we leaned on them, they held it down, and we scored when we needed to in the end.”

As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as style points, and the Cardinals are still the NFL’s only unbeaten team at 5-0.

“I’d take them any way I can get them, especially division wins,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

Since Murray took over as the franchise quarterback of the Cardinals in 2019, the team had not won a game while scoring fewer than 24 points. They scored seven fewer than that against the 49ers and still came out on top. For the season, the Cardinals are giving up just 19 points per game, almost four points fewer than last season.

Winning a game like Sunday’s will go a long way inside the Cardinals’ locker room and shows that this team can win in multiple ways.

“I think it was good for us to kind of prove that we could win a gritty game like that, the defense could win the game,” defensive lineman Zach Allen said. “I think the only real test that we truly had was probably that Minnesota game, and I think we kind of lucked out with a missed kick so, I mean, we’ll take it, but to kind of prove that we can win a close game like that the way we did is definitely good.”

To win that way showed Hopkins the Cardinals are tough, both physically and mentally, for not giving up even though the game wasn’t going Arizona’s way. Safety Budda Baker, whose interception against the 49ers was the team’s 10th forced turnover, described the Cardinals in a word: “resilient.”

It may be early in the season, but Sunday’s win was the type of game Arizona will likely see at some point in the postseason, should they continue their torrid pace and get to the playoffs.

“It’s not always gonna be sweet and pretty flashy and have a lot of touchdown and stuff like that,” Murray said. “You kind of got to capitalize when you can. That’s a great team over there. It was definitely, to our standards, maybe a ugly one offensively, but we got it done and that’s all that matters.”



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After uncharacteristic rash of turnovers, Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes says he has to ‘reevaluate what I’m doing’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes took responsibility for what’s ailing the 2-3 Kansas City Chiefs, saying after their 38-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night that his turnovers are to blame.

“It starts with me,” Mahomes said after throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble against the Bills — three of his team’s four turnovers in all. “It’s something I’ve not usually done in my career, but I have to reevaluate where I’m at, what decisions I’m making.

“I’ve been a crazier player as far as scrambling and making throws. But in my career I’ve never been someone who throws a lot of interceptions. I have to look at it now, reevaluate what I’m doing, and I have to cut it out.”

After the teams traded punts to begin the second half — the start of which was delayed an hour by lightning — Mahomes slung a bullet that bounced off Tyreek Hill‘s hands and right to Bills safety Micah Hyde, who had nothing but mushy green field in front of him. He returned it 26 yards for his first career pick-six.

The Chiefs quickly drove into the Buffalo red zone on their next possession, but Mahomes threw a pass that Greg Rousseau batted at the line of scrimmage. The rookie defensive end managed to corral it for another interception.

“We weren’t on the same page with the receivers and where they were going and with Pat,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Gotta do better with that. Got to make sure that takes place.”

Mahomes has committed six turnovers in his past three games, including five interceptions. He has six interceptions this season, putting him on pace for 20. His career high is 12, in 2018.

“We know we can do better on turnovers, big plays — I know what we are capable of,” Reid said. “I see that. We just have to get that done.”

Mahomes has 16 touchdown passes this season, but he has just 2.67 touchdowns for each interception. The lowest percentage of his career is 4.17 in 2018, when he threw 50 touchdown passes to go along with 12 interceptions.

“We know we have what it takes to be great,” Mahomes said. “It’s a matter of coming together now and finding a way to do that.”

The Chiefs head to Washington next Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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