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Indianapolis Colts get first win of season after topping sputtering Miami Dolphins, 27-17

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The last seven times Carson Wentz had played in a football game, he had walked off on the losing side. His final four appearances with Philadelphia last season, all losses. His first three appearances with Indianapolis this season, all losses.

Unthinkable, really, for someone with Wentz’s talent.

And Sunday looked like it would be more of the same — until things started to click. Still dogged by a pair of sprained ankles, Wentz threw a pair of touchdown passes to Mo Alie-Cox, Jonathan Taylor rushed for 103 yards and a score and the Colts got their first win of the season by topping the sputtering Miami Dolphins, 27-17.

“We know we have a good football team,” Colts coach Frank Reich said.

A good quarterback, too.

Wentz completed 24 of 32 passes for 228 yards for the Colts (1-3), who avoided what would have been their first 0-4 start since 2011. They spent most of the day frustrating former Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who completed 20 of 30 passes but threw for 123 of his 199 yards in the final quarter.

“Feels great, honestly,” Wentz said. “Feels like you have the monkey off your back a little bit, for both me and the team.”

It was the first two-TD game for Alie-Cox, who had a total of four scores in his first 43 NFL appearances entering Sunday.

The Dolphins (1-3) lost their third straight, largely because their offense couldn’t do much of anything until it was too late. Miami was outgained 349 yards to 203 and 139-35 on the ground, and 123 of Brissett’s 199 passing yards came in the fourth quarter.

“I think we’ve got to take a look at everything,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “We will take a look at everything. I would say it’s really across the board — offense, defense, special teams. It starts with me, coaching. I’ve got to do a better job. I say that every week. I don’t want to say that every week.”

Brissett found Mike Gesicki with 10:40 left on fourth-and-goal from the 1 — two runs from there went nowhere, so the Dolphins went back to the air — to get Miami within 20-10. It was only the second passing touchdown of the season for the Dolphins, the first coming in the Week 1 win at New England when Tua Tagovailoa connected with Jaylen Waddle.

If there was hope for Miami, it didn’t last long.

The Dolphins’ ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving Indianapolis the ball at the 40. Wentz threw a 41-yard pass to Zach Pascal on the first play of the possession to get the Colts inside the Dolphins’ red zone, then wound up finding Alie-Cox seven plays later for the clincher.

“He’s a big man,” Wentz said of his tight end, “and plays big.”

The drive was fueled by Miami mistakes, a recurring theme of the day.

Among the Dolphins’ problems: They were outgained 226-15 in the middle two quarters; went 30 minutes — game time, not real time — between first downs; jumped offside on a punt to extend a Colts drive that turned into Indianapolis’ first touchdown; and then Brissett lost the ball early in the fourth quarter for a turnover after evading two tackles but not a third wave.

“We’re out there taking turns making mistakes, in all three phases,” Flores said.

Brissett threw another TD pass, this one to DeVante Parker to get Miami back within 10 on the ensuing possession. But a pass interference call on third down extended the next Indy drive instead of giving Miami the ball again with about 4 minutes left, and the Colts ran out the clock.

“You don’t think 0-4. Who thinks ‘lose’?'” Colts linebacker Darius Leonard said. “You think every game, you’re going to win the game. Who’s even thinking about 0-4 right now? We’re 1-3. That’s the mindset now, to keep building.”

INJURIES

Colts: G Quenton Nelson missed the first game of his career; he had played in all 54 since being drafted, including playoffs.

Dolphins: WR Will Fuller was lost in the first half with a hand injury, as was CB Byron Jones (quad), and both have further tests awaiting them Monday. Also, Miami was without LB coach Anthony Campanile (health and safety protocols) for a second consecutive game.

IMPROVED

Indianapolis allowed 421 rushing yards in its first three games — 140 to Seattle, 101 to the Los Angeles Rams and 180 to Tennessee.

Against the Dolphins, the Colts gave up 35 yards on 16 attempts. The Colts are 28-1 since 1988 when allowing 50 yards or less on the ground, although the loss was in the most recent such game for Indy before Sunday. They allowed Pittsburgh 22 yards in a 28-24 defeat last Dec. 27.

TWENTY-SOMETHINGS

It was the third consecutive game in which the Dolphins allowed at least 20 consecutive points. They lost to Buffalo 35-0 in Week 2, gave up 25 unanswered in last week’s 31-28 loss at Las Vegas and watched a 3-0 lead become a 20-3 deficit on Sunday.

UP NEXT

Colts: Visit Baltimore on Monday, Oct. 11 to end a three-game road swing, Indianapolis’ longest in a single season since 2011.

Dolphins: Visit Tampa Bay next Sunday; whenever Tom Brady wins a Super Bowl, his team has lost to Miami once the following season.

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State Champions: Florida Panthers take out Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1, in Sunshine State showdown

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TAMPA, Fla. — Aleksander Barkov scored the go-ahead goal 3:40 into the third period and the Florida Panthers won their third straight game by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1, on Tuesday night.

Barkov slammed a loose puck in the crease past Andrei Vasilevskiy for his second of the season. It came 1:04 after the Lightning tied it 1-all on Brayden Point’s goal.

“They tied the game up and when we score right away, it feels like we never lost the lead,” Barkov said.

Florida also got goals from defenseman Brandon Montour, Anton Lundell and Anthony Duclair. Sam Reinhart had two assists and rookie goalie Spencer Knight made 30 saves in his first start this season for the Panthers, who are 3-0-0 for the second straight season.

Prior to 2020-21, the Panthers had not started a season with three straight wins since entering the NHL in 1993.

“I think we played pretty well with the lead,” Barkov said. “I know they got their chances, but our (penalty kill), our defense, our goalie played outstanding. That’s why we won.”

Knight, drafted 13th overall by Florida in 2019, has won all five of his regular-season appearances. He was 1-1 against the Lightning in the first round of last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

“He was great. Patient,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “Challenged at the right time, takes away a lot of the net.”

Vasilevskiy made 28 saves in his fourth consecutive start for the Lightning, who were coming off back-to-back overtime wins after a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on opening night.

“We had our chances,” coach Jon Cooper said. “They didn’t go in for us tonight, but we had a lot of good chances. We’ll be all right.”

Montour gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 6:12 of the second, beating Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot from near the right faceoff dot for his first of the season. Point tied it 2:36 into the third when his slap shot from the high slot ticked the stick of Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar and zipped past Knight.

Lundell gave Florida a two-goal lead when he beat Vasilevskiy with 6:41 remaining for his first NHL goal in his third game. Duclair scored for the third straight game when he hit the empty net with 2:06 left.

The Lightning played without forward Nikita Kucherov, who sustained a lower-body injury during Tampa Bay’s 2-1 overtime victory against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Cooper said Tuesday he expects Kucherov to return before the end of the season.

Kucherov missed the 2020-21 regular season following hip surgery but returned to lead the Lightning with 32 points in 23 games to help them repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

His absence was especially notable on the power play, as the Lightning went 0 for 6 and failed to convert on a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:34 in the first period.

“We’re missing one of the best half-wall guys in the league,” Point said. “We have to simplify things and get pucks to the net.”

SLOW STARTS

The Lightning have allowed the first goal in all four of their games. They have yet to score a first-period goal and have not led at any point during regulation.

FAST STARTS

Knight is the 11th goalie in NHL history to win his first five regular-season decisions. Bob Froese of the 1982-83 Philadelphia Flyers and Martin Jones of the 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings share the record with eight in a row.

POWER OUTAGE

Florida was 0 for 3 on the power play and is 0 for 10 in its three wins.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

Lightning: Have three days off before hosting Colorado on Saturday night.

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Battle of the Sunshine State: Florida Panthers head on the road for first round of state championship against Tampa Bay Lightning

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Florida Panthers (2-0-0, first in the Atlantic) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0, fifth in the Atlantic)

Tampa, Florida; Tuesday, 7 p.m. EDT

LINE: Lightning -139, Panthers +115

BOTTOM LINE: The Tampa Bay Lightning host Florida after Sam Bennett scored three goals in the Panthers’ 5-1 victory over the Islanders.

Tampa Bay finished 36-17-3 overall during the 2020-21 season while going 21-7-0 at home. The Lightning averaged 4.2 penalties and 10.7 penalty minutes per game.

Florida finished 37-14-5 overall and 17-9-2 on the road a season ago. The Panthers recorded 311 assists on 188 total goals last season.

The matchup Tuesday is the first meeting of the season between the two teams.

INJURIES:

Lightning: Zach Bogosian: out (lower-body), Nikita Kucherov: day to day (undisclosed).

Panthers: None listed.

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NHL hands San Jose Sharks’ Evander Kane 21-game suspension for submitting fake COVID-19 vaccine card

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Another week, another Evander Kane update.

On Monday, the NHL announced that Kane has been suspended for 21 games “for an established violation of, and lack of compliance with, the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 Protocol.”

Kane will not receive any pay while suspended.

On Oct. 6, a report from Front Office Sports revealed that Kane submitted a fake vaccination card to the league and the San Jose Sharks, which is an illegal offense in both Canada and the United States.

Read more from Yahoo Sports.

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