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Covid Wreaking Havoc on Sports
***Added Tuesday p.m.***
College Football Playoff Rankings
As the New York Times’ Billy Witz put it, the college football season is “wheezing to a conclusion.”
And today the ACC virtually ensured that Notre Dame and Clemson will meet in the ACC title game by changing around the schedule, ND no longer playing Wake Forest and other stuff. Assuming Clemson doesn’t lose to Virginia Tech Saturday, there’s your matchup for a CFP berth.
And as of now, Ohio State still must play, and beat, Michigan and Michigan State to get into the Big Ten championship and a likely berth.
So tonight’s latest rankings….
1. Alabama 8-0
2. Notre Dame 9-0
3. Clemson 8-1
4. Ohio State 4-0
5. Texas 6-1
6. Florida 7-1
7. Cincinnati 8-0
8. Georgia 6-2
9. Iowa State 7-2
10. Miami 7-1…hoping for Va Tech upset of Clemson
11. Oklahoma 6-2
13. BYU 9-0…emblematic of this stupid season…should be higher
18. Coastal Carolina 9-0…probably appropriate
21. Marshall 7-0…we are ALL Marshall…
24. Tulsa 5-1…potentially play Cincy twice
Here’s what I want, as of tonight, in the CFP.
Alabama-Florida winner, Notre Dame-Clemson winner, Ohio State if they play six games and win Big Ten title game, and Cincinnati, assuming they beat Tulsa (potentially) twice. And BYU in the New Year’s Six.
Stay safe, players and coaching staffs. Don’t be jerks. Mask up. Wash your hands.
--ESPN’s Game Day is going to be in Conway, South Carolina, for the first time as Johnny Mac’s Coastal Carolina takes on Liberty in what is legitimately the best game on Saturday. Pretty, pretty good.
--Indiana suffered a huge blow when it was revealed that Michael Penix Jr. had suffered a torn ACL in Saturday’s win against Maryland. Coach Tom Allen confirmed the injury, which is to the same ligament Penix tore as a true freshman in 2018. He ended up redshirting the season. Last year his season was cut short when he suffered a clavicle injury that required surgery.
Penix was the reason why Indiana became one of the big stories this season, passing for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns. His 2-point conversion lifted Indiana over Penn State in overtime in the season opener that goes down as the play of the year thus far.
Jack Tuttle, a transfer from Utah, replaced Penix against Maryland and gets the start when IU visits Wisconsin.
--What a disaster. Baltimore-Pittsburgh, once scheduled for Thanksgiving Night, then moved to Sunday, then moved to Tuesday, is now slated for 3:40 p.m. ET on Wednesday; the game shoehorned into NBC’s network schedule with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony that evening.
As I go to post, at least 18 Ravens, 10 of whom are starters, including Lamar Jackson and running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, will be out of the game after testing positive for the coronavirus.
At least one Baltimore player had tested positive for nine consecutive days (as of Monday).
Last week, the Ravens disciplined a team employee for lapses that almost certainly contributed to the spread, multiple reports saying strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders failed to report Covid symptoms and didn’t consistently wear a face covering.
The NFL ordered all team facilities closed on Monday and Tuesday, except for teams playing on those days, which ended up just being Monday’s Seahawks-Eagles affair.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are headed to Arizona, where they will share State Farm Stadium with the NFL West-rival Cardinals. Santa Clara County, in an attempt to crack down on the coronavirus, banned all contact sports and large gatherings which means San Fran can’t practice or play in the county.
As Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times notes:
“Paradoxically, the 49ers will be relocating to a county that over the last week has had more than twice as many reported coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents as the county they’re leaving – from Santa Clara (172.3) to Maricopa (357.3).
“In consecutive weeks, the 49ers will play Buffalo and Washington on the home field of the Cardinals. But at this point, at least those games are on track to be played.
“Ravens-Steelers is like a discarded mattress on the freeway, getting knocked around and starting to cause a traffic jam.”
Giants 4-7…win tiebreaker with 2 wins over Washington
The Giants are likely to be without quarterback Daniel Jones this weekend when they take on Seattle, Jones with a ‘hamstring strain.’ But it’s hoped he’s available the following week. Colt McCoy will have to step up. Each game is critical at this point.
--Wildcard Playoff Picture
5. Cleveland 8-3
6. Miami 7-4
7. Indianapolis 7-4
Baltimore 6-4, Vegas 6-5
5. L.A. Rams 7-4
6. Tampa Bay 7-5
7. Arizona 6-5
Minnesota 5-6, Chicago 5-6, San Francisco 5-6
--So I didn’t have a chance last time to state more than the obvious. The Jets’ Sam Darnold was awful in the Jets’ 20-3 loss to the Dolphins and as the New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro sums up:
“Bill Parcells, for as long as he coached, always said that a quarterback is judged by two things: How many games his team wins and how often he gets his team into the end zone.
“Well, the Jets are winless and they failed to get into the end zone Sunday despite spending what felt like all afternoon on the Miami side of the 50-yard line.
“That’s on Darnold.
“No more excuses.
“(Coach Adam) Gase is going to be fired. When is merely a matter of time….
“For Darnold, Sunday was damning. He delivered no evidence whatsoever that he’s the franchise quarterback the Jets drafted him to be three years go, that he should be the centerpiece of the solution once a new head coach is hired.
“ ‘I’m super confident in Adam and the way he coaches,’ Darnold said when asked about his dead-man-walking head coach. ‘Us players have got to be better. And me personally, I’ve got to play better.’
“It’s been too late for Gase for weeks. Now, it feels like it’s too late for Darnold, too.”
Yes, make way for Trevor.
I mean look at the stats. Yes, the Jets are 0-10 when Darnold isn’t the starter in his career, but they are 11-22 with him. He has a 77.6 passer rating, atrocious. 39 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
To get an idea of what a franchise QB looks like in terms of TD/INT ratio….
Tom Brady 569-109
Aaron Rodgers 397-88
Patrick Mahomes 106-20
And this year in seven starts, Darnold has 3 TD passes and 8 interceptions, with a 64.0 PR. Sunday he had all three top receivers…and it’s a solid group…and he was still pathetic.
Joe Flacco, who even at his age throws the best long ball in the league, has 6 TDs / 3 INTs, 80.6 PR in his four starts where he replaced an injured Darnold.
--Whatever slim playoff hopes Houston had were dealt a big blow when wide receiver Will Fuller V and cornerback Bradley Roby were suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Fuller, hot off a six catch, 171 yards and two touchdowns performance against Detroit on Thanksgiving, said the violation was a result of his taking prescribed medication not permitted under the policy. As they all say after, Fuller thought he was taking a prescribed medication that was permitted…until it wasn’t. Roby said he was unknowingly using a product that was contaminated with a banned substance by the NFL.
Fuller was having a terrific season, 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.
The two will miss the last five games of this season and the first of the 2021 season.
--Final thoughts on Kendall Hinton’s nightmare at quarterback for Denver. It just wasn’t fair, as Broncos coach Vic Fangio conceded after.
“He was excited for it. We were excited for him; his teammates were excited for him. That’s a big, big ask and it just didn’t work out.”
Hinton literally had about four hours to prepare for the game, a 31-3 defeat at the hands of New Orleans. Hinton estimated he was working with one-tenth of the playbook, or 20 to 30 plays.
As for the real Broncos QBs, shame on all of them. Starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad veteran Blake Bortles were added to the Covid list as high-risk contacts with an infected teammate, the No. 3 quarterback, Jeff Driskel, who tested positive on Thursday and was moved to the team’s reserve/Covid list later that day. According to reports, all of them broke NFL rules by not wearing masks in meeting rooms and were evasive during the contact-tracing process.
“We count on them to be leaders of our team, the leaders of our offense,” Fangio said, “and those guys made a mistake.”
Yes, the league wanted to make an example out of Denver.
Lock, Rypien and Bortles have now tested negative and will return to practice Wednesday.
--Jerry Brewer / Washington Post
“The NFL was a joke Sunday, at a time when nothing about the coronavirus warrants laughter. In Baltimore, the Ravens reported a positive test for the eighth straight day, further jeopardizing a twice-delayed game against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. In the Bay Area, the San Francisco 49ers were rendered temporarily homeless, if they want to keep playing football, because of local restrictions. And in Denver, the Broncos played – or something like that – without a true quarterback.
“The complications were absurd, the stuff of satire. But everything is dark humor in the context of a pandemic that has killed more than 266,000 Americans. On a November afternoon programmed for football, it’s understandable to get lost in tradition and consider the NFL’s difficulty containing the virus to be inevitable follies. It’s understandable to keep finding reason to support plowing ahead, because the sport has made it to Week 12 with no cancellations and a surprisingly manageable number of schedule adjustments. However, all is neither well nor under control in the NFL.
“While it is unlikely that Commissioner Roger Goodell will publicly acknowledge any danger, he needs to make sure the league has several firm contingency plans in place. The coronavirus is in charge, and it is raging once again. So let’s keep saying it: It’s impossible to play football out in the open, without a bubble environment, and not be significantly affected. Some teams have been negligent and sloppy about health protocols, and the NFL has grown less compassionate and more forceful in disciplining them. But the reality is that the league can’t mandate its way out of trouble, not entirely….
“The struggles of Week 12 could stand as a watershed moment for this season. The message should be clear: The coronavirus is laughing at the NFL’s attempt at resistance. The coronavirus is the stout defensive line that the league can’t move. Every future attempt at a direct attack will prove futile. It’s time for some clever strategy.
“Hub cities and bubbles must be under consideration, especially during the playoffs. After the fiasco in the Broncos’ quarterback room, fresh strategies on how to distance position groups must be encouraged. The NFL needs to ensure that every team has a plan in case other municipalities decide to ban contact sports for a time.
“And perhaps most important is being willing to adjust the schedule and revisit the league’s strong desire to finish on time. I hate prediction, but I’m going to give you one: Without a bubble, the Super Bowl will not be played Feb. 7. If for some reason it is, the roster circumstances surrounding it will de-legitimize the outcome. The winner will be the most asterisk-worthy champion of this wretched period….
“The last thing the NFL needs is for the Super Bowl, or any key playoff game, to be decided because Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers tested positive….
“The NFL can be accused of many things. It is known as a cold and callous business. On Sunday, it felt like we should add another word to the alliteration, one that offers a stern warning: clownish.
“And there’s nothing funny about that.”
New AP Poll
2. Baylor (6)
3. Iowa…all about the beast, Luka Garza
8. Michigan State
19. Richmond…after I last posted, the Spiders upset 10 Kentucky, 76-64
24. Rutgers…fun team, good for the local area
You know, I was telling a guy I was playing golf with the other day that Richmond is just a cool school. Solid reputation, sports programs (great logo), the town/city is very interesting, especially if you’re a history buff, and I once won $80 in a karaoke contest there while I was at PIMCO…sung Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Can’t Hide Love” and, you know, at the end of the day….
--Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton will miss the Grand Prix race this weekend (again in Bahrain) after testing positive for Covid.
Hamilton, according to his team, tested negative three times last week before winning at the Bahrain International Circuit. “But he woke Monday morning with mild symptoms and was informed at the same time that a contact prior to arrival in Bahrain had subsequently tested positive.”
Hamilton then tested positive twice and is in isolation.
Man, that’s scary. And just a classic story of how this spreads. Reporters say Hamilton seemed totally drained after the race Sunday. He is the third F1 driver to test positive this season.
--Everyone in Argentina is getting a tattoo of Maradona, if they didn’t already have one.
--After I mentioned Baseball Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer the other day, Johnny Mac had the terrific observation “that the best way to explain him to modern fans is…take the very best year HOFer Craig Biggio ever had, add 20 RBIs to it, and that’s the year Gehringer had over a dozen times.”
[Posted Sun. p.m.]
***I will be adding a bit up top Tuesday night following the new CFP rankings.
College/Hall of Fame Baseball Quiz: So I was watching a college hoops game, Arizona State and Villanova, when Jay Bilas and Jon Sciambi started waxing about ASU baseball. So then I just started scrolling around. 1) Name the three Arizona State and USC baseball players in the Major League Hall of Fame. 2) Name the two in the HOF who went to Columbia University, both pre-1950. 3) Which school has the most Hall of Famers with three. Answers below.
College Football Review
*Comments written prior to latest AP poll, and using CFP rankings….
What a s---show. But then we knew it would be. Among the games canceled or postponed this weekend due to Covid….
4 Ohio State-Illinois, 7 Cincinnati-Temple, 11 Oklahoma-West Virginia, 16 Wisconsin-Minnesota, 18 USC-Colorado, 25 Tulsa-Houston, and Virginia-Florida State.
The biggie is Ohio State. With just two games left (Michigan State and Michigan), they need to play both to reach the Big Ten minimum of six games in order to qualify for the Big Ten championship and a probable CFP berth.
But then the Big Ten had other developments, like 8 Northwestern (5-1) losing its first to Michigan State (2-3), as Wildcats quarterback Peyton Ramsey was not good, 21/43, 210, 0-2.
Northwestern was going to match up against Ohio State in the conference title game. Now, who the heck knows.
12 Indiana improved to 5-1 with a 27-11 win over Maryland (2-2), despite Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. throwing three interceptions before exiting with an apparently serious leg injury. Taulia Tagovailoa, Tua’s brother, threw three INTs for the Terrapins.
So that’s your Big Ten…as in the rest of us have totally lost interest in the conference.
Meanwhile, 1 Alabama is 8-0 after blasting 22 Auburn (5-3) 42-13, Mac Jones a cool 18/26, 302, 5-0, receiver DeVonta Smith with seven receptions for 171 yards and two scores. ‘Bama was playing without coach Nick Saban, who missed the game after testing positive for Covid.
Friday, 2 Notre Dame stayed undefeated at 9-0 with a nice 31-17 win at 19 North Carolina (6-3) as the Fighting Irish, after entering halftime locked at 17-17, slammed the door on Tar Heels star QB Sam Howell, while Kyren Williams rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Ian Book had another solid game at quarterback for ND.
So Notre Dame is on track to play 3 Clemson (8-1) in the ACC title game in three weeks. Trevor Lawrence returned for the Tigers after 37 days due to Covid, cancellations, and a bye week; Lawrence going 26/37, 403, 2-0, in a 52-17 win over Pitt, Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett picked off four times.
5 Texas A&M is 6-1 after a 20-7 win over LSU (3-4), but they are second in the SEC West behind Alabama. For the Tigers, a little different season for the defending national champions
6 Florida (7-1), on the other hand, is first in the SEC East and headed towards a showdown with ‘Bama in the SEC title game after a 34-10 win over a game Kentucky (3-6) squad, the Wildcats roster riddled with Covid issues.
For the Gators, Kyle Trask continued his Heisman march, 211/27, 256, 3-0, all three touchdowns to tight end Kyle Pitts, an NFL star in waiting.
Trask now has 34 TD passes and three INTs. [Mac Jones is 23-3.]
9 Georgia (6-2) beat South Carolina (2-7) 45-16.
In two other games of import Friday, 13 Iowa State (7-2) continued its dream season with a big 23-20 win at 17 Texas (5-3), while in the “Civil War,” a term they are no longer allowed to use, Oregon State (2-2) beat rival 15 Oregon (3-1) 41-38, fully exposing the Ducks as frauds as the Beavers’ Jamar Jefferson ripped through the OU ‘D’ for 226 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Big win for OSU and Beaver Nation, meaning it’s time to pull out the Beaverwear from the sports drawer and relegate the Duckwear.
Back to Iowa State, the Cyclones will be in the Big 12 championship, attempting to win the program’s first conference title of any kind since 1912!
20 Coastal Carolina remained undefeated at 9-0, 49-14 victors over Texas State (2-10). The Chanticleers have a biggie next week against 9-1 Liberty. Who would have thunk we’d be saying that at the start of the season?
Buffalo (4-0) should be ranked this week after whipping Kent State (3-1) 70-41, as running back Jaret Patterson rushed for an astounding 409 yards and eight…8!...touchdowns, tying an FBS record held by Illinois’ Howard Griffith, who had eight in a game against Southern Illinois in 1990.
The 409 yards is second to Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, who had 427 against Kansas State in a game back in 2014. Heck, Patterson had 301 yards and four touchdowns the week before against Bowling Green. He’s the real deal, the junior having rushed for 1,799 yards (5.8 avg.) last season.
Rutgers won a biggie, 37-30 over Purdue (2-3), the Scarlet Knights 2-4. RU was down 23-13 at the half, before backup quarterback Johnny Langan led the comeback with 95 yards on the ground and 4 for 4, 95, 1-0 thru the air.
Penn State finally picked up a win (1-5) in beating Michigan (2-4) 27-17. Stare at those records again. This was a national television contest. Looked great on paper back in August.
Syracuse was down 36-29 to North Carolina State but inside the red zone, facing a fourth down with seconds left. Enough time to run one more play. And then quarterback Rex Culpepper spiked the ball! Game over. You can’t make this stuff up. Syracuse is now 1-9.
Lastly, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a game for a Power 5 school, executing the second-half kickoff for Vanderbilt, who nonetheless fell to 0-8 after getting wiped out 41-0 at Missouri (4-3). Fuller is the goalkeeper on Vandy’s SEC championship soccer team.
Wake Forest wasn’t in action and then the ACC announced its game against Miami next Saturday was postponed. Lots of Covid in the Demon Deacon program, which really sucks. We’ve played only seven games (4-3), fewest in the conference, with Notre Dame, Dec. 12, and Louisville, Dec. 19, remaining.
And I do have to add that for the second straight week, a team traveled down to Tallahassee to play Florida State, only to learn Saturday morning that the game was being postponed due to Covid issues.
Last week it was Clemson, this weekend it was Virginia. But whereas a positive test on the Clemson squad led to that game being postponed, this time it was positive tests on the Seminoles.
And now the new AP poll….
Once again, no change in top eight.
1. Alabama (62) 8-0
2. Notre Dame 9-0
3. Ohio State 4-0…getting kind of stupid
4. Clemson 8-1
5. Texas A&M 6-1
6. Florida 7-1
7. Cincinnati 8-0
8. BYU 9-0…but getting dissed in CFP
9. Miami 7-1
10. Indiana 5-1
11. Georgia 6-2
12. Iowa State 7-2…good for them
14. Coastal Carolina 9-0
15. Marshall 7-0
22. Tulsa 5-1
25. Liberty 9-1
Buffalo was No. 27, if you carry out the votes.
--Covid has hit the NFL hard. The Ravens were slated to play the Steelers on Thanksgiving night, but reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson tested positive, forcing the game to be moved to Sunday.
But then the positive tests kept coming, the game was then moved to Tuesday, and Saturday, the Ravens placed six players on the reserve/Covid-19 list, causing some to wonder if Baltimore can field a competitive team.
The Ravens have now put 18 players on the reserve/Covid list this week (20 overall, including two players who were on the list prior to this week).
Separately, the NFL ordered team facilities to be closed to in-person activities early next week in a bid to slow the spread.
--Thursday, Washington moved to 4-7 to take over the lead in the NFC East with a 41-16 win over the hapless Cowboys (3-8) in Dallas. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson (Memphis) was outstanding for the W.F.C, 115 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Boy, Memphis has been cranking out some skill players the last few years.
But aside from some absolutely awful play-calling by Dallas coach Mike McCarthy, what may go down as the play of the year for Washington, should they go on to win the division, was receiver Terry McLaurin tracking down Dallas defender Jalen Smith, who had intercepted an Alex Smith pass and seemed headed for the endzone, only to have McLaurin stop him short of the goal line in just a terrific hustle play. Washington then held Dallas to a field goal and what should have been a 20-20 ballgame was 20-16. From that point forward, W.F.C. didn’t look back.
--So with Washington atop the NFC East, today the Giants then tried to match them, taking on the Joe Burrow-less Bengals. Daniel Jones went out with a hamstring issue, replaced by Colt McCoy, and the Giants barely did enough to survive 19-17, Leonard Williams recovering a Brandon Allen fumble when Cincy could have driven for the winning field goal.
Allen, replacing Burrow, wasn’t great, in fact the Bengals had all of 155 yards of offense, while the Giants needed Graham Gano’s four field goals.
But since New York has two wins over Washington, they sit atop the NFC East with their 4-7 mark. The Bengals fell to 2-8-1.
--The Jets are 0-11…YES!…after a beyond hideous 20-3 loss to Ryan Fitzmagic and the Dolphins (7-4). Sam Darnold returned from his latest injury and sucked…16/27, 197, 0-2, 51.0.
Meanwhile, Trevor Lawrence talked of how much he loves Clemson, as he jerks us around even though there is no way he passes up the chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft next spring.
What the Jets have to do is immediately come up with a real coach at the end of the season to impress Trevor. And he can see that Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman are solid wideouts.
Of course it’s all about the O-Line, and that’s where the GM comes in.
--Two teams suffered potentially devastating losses when it comes to their wildcard dreams; the Raiders and Cardinals, both now 6-5 after they fell today.
Las Vegas was annihilated by the resurgent Falcons (4-7) 43-6, while the Patriots (5-6) beat Arizona 20-17 on a 50-yard Nick Folk field goal as time expired.
The Raiders had five turnovers, while the Pats survived despite an awful performance by Cam Newton (9/18, 84, 0-2, 23.6) largely due to two big returns; 50-yard+ punt and kick returns, specifically.
--The Browns are 8-3 after a 27-25 win over the 1-10 Jaguars, as Baker Mayfield had his fourth straight game without an interception, while Cleveland rushed for 207 yards, 144 of them by Nick Chubb.
--Speaking of running attacks, how ‘bout the first half Derrick Henry had for Tennessee…140 yards and three touchdowns as the Titans (8-3) sprinted out to a 35-14 halftime lead in their key contest with the Colts (7-4), Tennessee then cruising 45-26, Henry finishing 27-178-3.
--The Bills are 8-3 after a 27-17 win over the Chargers (3-8), despite three Buffalo turnovers.
--The Denver Broncos had a Covid situation all their own. Quarterbacks Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad member Blake Bortles were pulled off the practice field Saturday and sent home over concerns about their contact (minus masks) with quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive on Thursday.
The Broncos opted not to forfeit the game and instead, former Wake Forest quarterback/wide receiver Kendall Hinton, recently signed to the practice squad as a receiver, became the QB.
Now I wrote of Hinton in the past. He’s a terrific athlete and very worthy of playing in the NFL as a receiver/kick returner. He also has a legitimate big arm and could be used on trick plays.
But this was a totally impossible situation and poor Kendall learned right away that you can’t just step in and play QB in the NFL without weeks, and months, of practice. It was bound to be a disaster and it was…the Broncos falling to the Saints (9-2) 31-3.
Hinton was atrocious, 1 of 9, 13 yards, 2 interceptions, 0.0 PR. He also carried twice for 7 yards. Denver overall was outgained 292-112.
For New Orleans, playing again without Drew Brees, Taysom Hill was hardly electric, but Latavius Murray rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
As for Hinton, I hope Denver appreciates the situation he was placed in and at least keeps him around as a practice squad receiver. If he gets an opportunity at that position, he’ll show what he can do.
--San Francisco has a serious Covid issue. Santa Clara County on Saturday banned all contact sports from holding games and practices, beginning Monday and running through Dec. 21. The 49ers have games scheduled at home Dec. 7 and Dec. 13 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. They could be heading to Arizona.
But today they improved to 5-6 with a big 23-20 win over the Rams (7-4), Jared Goff with a poor effort for L.A.
--In the late game, Kansas City moved to 10-1 with a 27-24 win over Tom Brady and the Bucs (7-5). For the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes and receiver Tyreek Hill had their way early with the Tampa Bay secondary, Mahomes torching it for 359 yards at the half, Hill with eight receptions for 210 yards and two TDs.
It was 20-7 at the intermission, but then Brady engineered a comeback, cutting it to 27-24 with 4:00 to play but that’s where it ended.
Mahomes finished 37/49, 462, 3-0, 124.7; Hill 13-269-3. Brady was 27/41, 345, 3-2, 96.1.
--As expected, the Lions (4-7) fired coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn after Detroit was embarrassed on Thanksgiving Day, 41-25 to Houston (4-7), Deshaun Watson with a superb game for the Texans, like basically perfect…17/25, 318, 4-0, 150.4. Will Fuller V had six catches for 171 and two TDs.
The Lions went 13-29 under Patricia, who took a program in solid shape (three winning seasons the prior four) and drove it into the ground.
So Patricia is the latest disciple of Bill Belichick to fall on his own, joining the likes of Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel.
Quinn deserved to lose his job because he hired Patricia.
--The 2020-21 season got underway on Nov. 25 and there were a slew of Covid-related disruptions and cancellations. This is going to be tough…to get a full season in. In order to be considered for the NCAA tournament in March, a team will need to have played at least 13 games. With most having 23-25 on the schedule, this seems like a certainty, until it’s not.
Thus far there have been two upsets…Friday, San Francisco beat 4 Virginia 61-60, and yesterday, Virginia Tech prevailed over 3 Villanova 81-73.
For the Dons, it was their first win over a top 10 team since 1981.
--No. 1 Gonzaga is off to a rousing start, coach Mark Few picking up his 600th win in beating 6 Kansas the other night 102-90. Few has been the coach at Gonzaga since 1999 and has an astounding .829 winning percentage (601-124 after a 90-67 win over Auburn).
--My Demon Deacons won their first two over Delaware State and Longwood, which may not seem like much but it’s a good start to the Steve Forbes era as we try to put the Danny Manning nightmare in the rearview mirror.
Tom Hennigan / Irish Times
“With the death this week of Diego Armando Maradona from a heart attack the most extraordinary Argentine life of them all has come to a close.
“Buenos Aires is a city in mourning, shocked that someone who loomed so large in the public mind for so many decades is now gone. Many among the huge crowds that filed past his coffin in the Casa Rosada were in tears. Others hung around outside in the Plaza de Mayo just staring into the middle distance, many clutching small photos of their idol.
“Football occupies such a central role in the Argentine psyche, something that even Brazilians cannot fully understand until they visit, that this outpouring of grief for the greatest player the country ever produced is only to be expected. It is farewell to a preternaturally gifted artist with the ball whose bronco – the spirt of defiance that is the heartbeat of Argentina’s football – endeared him to his compatriots.
“So mixed up is football in Argentina’s image of itself, Maradona is even the man who managed to extract a measure of revenge for his country’s defeat in the Falklands War. By four years later beating England in the quarter final of the 1986 World Cup in which he scored two of football’s most iconic goals, one of which is still endlessly argued over and one which brooks no argument.
“A child prodigy who said his dream was to win the World Cup for his country he delivered on his promise two games later on a glorious June afternoon in Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium….
“Maradona wrote later he understood immediately victory was the sublime moment of his life. In a country so wounded by its own history, and desperate for foreign approbation, this triumph gave Maradona a messianic aura among Argentines that might have dimmed at times during the scandals of the long second act of his life but was never close to being extinguished.
“Football though only partially explains Argentina’s identification with Maradona. At the height of his career Peru’s Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa wrote of him: ‘A great player? More than that: one of those living deities men create to worship themselves in.’ For millions of Argentines Maradona was both a popular saint and their own image reflected back at them, someone who understood football was first and foremost about the people’s passion….
“He was outspoken, irreverent and often acidic. He milked his singular fate for what it was worth, partying with the mafia in Naples (who gave him a new Volvo) and later recuperating from his cocaine addiction while a guest of Cuba’s Fidel Castro (whose face he tattooed on his left calf).” [Ed. Maradona had a tattoo of revolutionary Che Guevara on his right arm.]
Unfortunately, drugs dominated the second half of Maradona’s life. He almost died in 2000 from a heart attack following a cocaine binge in Uruguay. It was after that scare he went to Cuba as Castro’s guest for treatment.
And I do have to add that regarding the mafia in Naples, understand Maradona is being mourned there as well today, because he led the Napoli football team to its lone two Italian league (Serie A) titles.
Lastly, police in Buenos Aires have launched an investigation into Maradona’s doctor, while his lawyer has asked for a probe into why it took an ambulance 30 minutes to respond to the medical emergency.
Liverpool had a bad draw at Brighton, 1-1, as Brighton had an extra-time penalty to square it.
Man City blasted Burnley 5-0, Riyad Mahrez with a hat trick.
Leeds had a terrific 1-0 win at Everton.
And then today, Manchester United found itself down 2-0 at Southampton, but then launched a stirring comeback, scoring the last three, the final two from Edinson Cavini.
Finally, in a biggie, my Tottenham Spurs took on Dr. W.’s Chelsea Blues at Stamford Bridge and it was a rather unexciting 0-0 draw, though each side had their chances to break through. The point nonetheless kept Tottenham on top of the PL standings.
--There was a horrific accident at the Bahrain Grand Prix today…Romain Grosjean’s car splitting in half, the half with him in it then bursting into flames in a totally freakish crash you have to see to believe (on YouTube). He walked away, thanks to some terrific help by emergency workers.
My brother gets up early to watch the F1 races on Sundays and he said it was all about the sport’s new ‘halo’ protecting the driver capsule. Grosjean otherwise might have been decapitated.
Lewis Hamilton won the race, his 11th of the season, two short of the single-season record held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
--I noted the other day that holding a World Cup ski season in Europe seemed unrealistic, given the pandemic, and there is a big controversy over whether resorts should close. After all, the coronavirus first hit Europe hard partly as a result of a spread at a ski resort last March. It’s all about sweaty apres-ski hotels and bars. In one Austrian resort, Ischgl, thousands of holidaymakers from Iceland to Israel returning from there tested positive. At least 32 are known to have died, and half of the 1,640 village residents have tested positive for the virus antibodies.
Austria nonetheless wants to keep its resorts open, while Italy, Germany and France have been warning of the dangers. France announced its slopes would be off-limits until 2021 at least. Bavarian state premier Markus Soder said a return to crowded ski lifts and apres-ski bars could see careless winter sports lovers “thwart all the efforts made by the population at large.”
But Austrian officials are furious at other nations telling them what they should do.
--The Trump administration moved forward Friday on gutting a longstanding federal protection for the nation’s birds, over objections from former federal officials and many scientists that billions more birds will likely perish as a result.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its take on the proposed rollback in the Federal Register. It’s a final step that means the change – greatly limiting federal authority to prosecute industries for practices that kill migratory birds – could be made official within 30 days.
The wildlife service acknowledged in its findings that the rollback would have a ‘negative’ effect on the many bird species covered by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which includes hawks, eagles, seabirds, storks, songbirds and sparrows.
Industry operations (yes, including windmills, as well as oil field waste pits where landing birds perish in toxic water and power lines) kill an estimated 450 million to 1.1 billion birds annually, out of roughly 7 billion birds in North America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and recent studies.
The Trump administration maintains that the act should apply only to birds killed or harmed intentionally.
How the 1918 treaty gets enforced has sweeping ramifications for the construction of commercial buildings, electric transmission systems and other infrastructure.
--Shu passed along an obituary from the Arizona Republic that went viral. It was that of Randall Jacobs, aka Uncle Bunky. The obituary was written by Jacobs’ nephew Chris Santa Maria and told the story of a man who “lived a life that would have sent a lesser man to his grave decades earlier.” Now, Uncle Bunky is being honored with his face gracing thousands of cans of beer brewed at O.H.S.O. Brewery.
I like what the brewery’s barrel program manager Brody Coffman said of the 8% alcohol content and low bitterness level. It’s a brew strong enough to “get the job done” while still going down easy. It’s what Uncle Bunky would have wanted.
--With pubs closed in Ireland due to Covid restrictions, David P. passed along a funny tale where it seems a group of lads went boozing inside Dublin Airport without boarding a flight.
All restaurants and cafes in the airport can remain open with a 9-euro meal rule, as the airport has been deemed an essential service by the government and isn’t subject to lockdown rules.
So this is so Irish…a group of four booked flights (like on Ryanair) for 9.99 euro, enabling them to get past security, and then got hammered in the bar. There was nothing authorities could do because there was no actual prohibition of this…no one had seemingly tried.
The group posted their actions on social media and the public was not pleased, save for a bartender who said, in classic Irish fashion (lighten up)…something to that effect.
--Bruce Springsteen is playing Saturday Night Live, Dec. 12. I was surprised to learn this is only his fourth time on SNL, the others being 1992, 2002 and 2015.
Top 3 songs for the week 11/24/73: #1 “Photograph” (Ringo Starr) #2 “Keep On Truckin’” (Eddie Kendricks) #3 “Top Of The World” (Carpenters)…and…#4 “Space Race” (Billy Preston) #5 “Heartbeat – It’s A Lovebeat” (The DeFranco Family) #6 “Midnight Train To Georgia” (Gladys Knight & The Pips) #7 “Just You ‘N’ Me” (Chicago) #8 “Paper Roses” (Marie Osmond) #9 “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (Elton John) #10 “The Love I Lost” (Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes…save for this last one, a crappy week, C-…)
College/Hall of Fame Baseball Quiz: 1) Arizona State, despite all their baseball success, only has Reggie Jackson in the Hall of Fame, though we’ll see what happens with Barry Bonds. USC has Tom Seaver and Randy Johnson. 2) The two Hall of Famers who went to Columbia University are Lou Gehrig and Eddie Collins. 3) Michigan has the most HOFers with three…Barry Larkin, Charlie Gehringer, and George Sisler.
I love looking at Gehringer’s career stats. Oh, the money he would have made today.
***Again, I will do a late Tuesday p.m. add-on up top following the next CFP rankings.