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Giants Move On, Jags and Trevor As Well....
Add-on posted early Wed. a.m.
Jacksonville at Kansas City…4:30 (weather forecast deteriorating, potential rain/snow)
Giants at Philadelphia…8:15…nice weather…drat!
Cincinnati at Buffalo…3:00…possible snow, maybe substantial (YES!)
Dallas at San Francisco…6:30…beautiful…and this area deserves a break…
--I wrote before the Wild Card weekend that only the Giants-Vikings game really interested me, as it looked like it was going to be blowout city in most of the contests, and then look what happened. One highly entertaining affair after another, even if the play wasn’t necessarily great. Josh Allen wasn’t great. Trevor Lawrence was historically bad for one half. The two best players were certainly Daniel Jones and probably Brock Purdy.
It was also a weekend filled with missed opportunities, such as the Dolphins inexplicably taking a delay of game on a decisive fourth-and-1, or the way the Vikings game ended, Kirk Cousins going to T.J. Hockenson, but five yards short of the first down mark on fourth-and-8. Tyler Huntley being a tad too careless with the ball at the goal line. His coach, John Harbaugh, with miserable clock management.
But Monday night’s Cowboys-Bucs game was a blowout as we all watched Tom Brady perhaps bow out, ignominiously.
The Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, who was highly mediocre this season, picked a great time to have perhaps the best game of his career…25/33, 305, 4-0, 143.3, plus a touchdown rushing (the five touchdowns a team postseason record). With the Cowboys defense dominating as well, Dallas romped 31-14, the only blemish a stunning four missed extra points off the leg of Brett Maher (the first player in NFL history to do that).
It was the Cowboys’ first road playoff win since the 1992 season. Consider also that Prescott started out 0-for-4 with a sack the first two drives, so 25-for-29 after.
As for Brady, he was ordinary at best…35/66, 351, 2-1, 72.2. It was his first loss against Dallas after being 7-0.
It was also certainly Brady’s last game in Tampa Bay, but last game…ever? Afterwards, he was noncommittal and this is one case where he really does need to take a few weeks to decide.
Jerry Brewer / Washington Post
“The feeble pass, which Tom Brady intended to throw out of bounds, landed softly in the hands of Dallas Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse. It was one strange, punt-like interception. In a trophy-encased career, Brady usually doesn’t let such an awful mistake touch him, but here he was on Monday night, overwhelmed and unprotected.
“Brady slapped the side of his helmet, looked down and screamed. It was early in the second quarter, and Dallas was just beginning to separate from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys led 6-0, and Brady was responding the way Brady responds, directing a 14-play drive that put his team within five yards of the end zone. That’s when, on second and goal, the disaster occurred. Brady took the shotgun snap, faked a handoff, stepped back and pump faked as two Cowboys ran after him. He panicked and tossed the football toward the back of the end zone. It didn’t sail out of trouble. It floated right into danger… Brady and the Buccaneers wouldn’t threaten Dallas again.
“Brady really doesn’t know how to quit. He couldn’t on that critical play. And he still isn’t inclined to abandon a gilded football life in which he is now chasing after things he had already caught.
“It’s his prerogative. After 23 seasons of historic feats, after retiring for 40 days last offseason and then deciding he has ‘unfinished business,’ Brady has earned the right to exit the game his way. He might have to get used to audience wincing instead of dropping jaws, but there’s nothing wrong with riding his train to the end of the line.
“The concern shouldn’t be that Brady will tarnish his legacy. We say that without thinking because, selfishly, we want to remember every icon in perfect form. But Willie Mays didn’t ruin his reputation when he ended his career with the New York Mets. The memories of Michael Jordan’s greatness aren’t diminished because he came out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards….
“In time, when the rough endings are folded into their immense volumes of work, the all-time greats are remembered as they should be. And as painful as it can be to watch, there’s something weirdly reassuring about watching Father Time come for them and realizing the game has passed them by. Transience drives sports; the next big thing is always due to arrive. Sometimes, it helps to see every phase of this cycle.
“Of his interception, Brady said: ‘I didn’t, obviously, get enough on it. It certainly didn’t help our cause.’
“Of his future, the 45-year-old said: ‘It’ll just be one day at a time, truly.’….
“His action suggest he wants to keep playing, but not for Tampa Bay….
“Before the interception, Brady hadn’t committed a red-zone turnover since 2019. In that span, he had attempted 410 passes, thrown 86 touchdowns and used his old-man trot to run for seven scores. But he looked like a skittish rookie at the moment when his team was desperate for him to flash his seven-ring greatness.
“When pondering Brady, we need to redefine what ‘done’ means in professional sports. He’s messing with the clock, but even at his advanced age, Brady is unlikely to lose it all next season if he returns. The majority of what he has left may be safe for two more seasons. He still has a good arm. He can still be accurate. But as this season emphasized, all the conditions must be right….
“Tampa Bay asked Brady to cover too many flaws this season. It was too heavy a burden, especially with his high-profile personal life creating headlines. He didn’t play with much joy. For the first time, he endured a losing season.
“Now, Brady has a familiar decision to make. Keep playing? And where? Regardless of his choice, his Hall of Fame bust will look the same. But the longer this awkward farewell continues, unfinished business will start to seem an awful lot like loitering.”
--After Baltimore’s 24-17 loss to Cincinnati, a game in which Lamar Jackson didn’t even make the trip to be with his team, Jackson posted on Instagram:
“When you have something good, you don’t play with it. You don’t take chances losing it. You don’t neglect it. When you have something good, you pour into it. You appreciate it. Because when you take care of something good, that good thing takes care of you too.”
Oh brother. You know what the definition of ‘pathetic’ is? It’s when you post something that you, the author, thinks is profound and it isn’t. It’s stupid.
No one knows what Jackson really meant by this, with his messy contract situation starring the Ravens’ organization in the face.
Jackson, aka “Something Good,” has missed 10 games the last two seasons, costing Baltimore dearly. And Mr. Something Good is 1-3-0 in the postseason when he has been available.
If I were the Ravens, I’d franchise tag the guy, no long-range commitment, and hope Tyler Huntley (who wasn’t awful Sunday night, save for one play) develops further.
--In the college game, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is staying and not leaving for an NFL coaching job, per the university’s president, Santa Ono (no relation to Santa Claus, though if the Wolverines had won the national championship, the parallels would have been inescapable), tweeted that Harbaugh had called him and “shared with me the great news that he is going to remain as the Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines.”
Harbaugh then said in a statement Monday: “My heart is at the University of Michigan. I once heard a wise man say, ‘Don’t try to out-happy, happy.’ Go Blue!”
The Detroit Free Press is reporting a contract extension is in the works.
Clearly, neither the school nor Harbaugh is too worried about potential discipline from the NCAA after being accused of committing a Level I violation.
--New AP Poll (records thru Sun.)
1. Houston (34) 17-1
2. Kansas (23) 16-1
3. Purdue (3) 16-1
4. Alabama 15-2
5. UCLA 16-2
6. Gonzaga 16-3
7. Texas 15-2
8. Xavier 15-3
9. Tennessee 14-3
10. Virginia 13-3
11. Arizona 15-3
12. Iowa State 13-3
13. Kansas State 15-2
14. TCU 14-3
15. UConn 15-4
16. Auburn 14-3
17. Miami 14-3
18. Charleston 18-1
19. Clemson 15-3
20. Marquette 14-5
21. Baylor 12-5
22. Providence 14-4
23. Rutgers 13-5
24. FAU (Florida Atlantic) 16-1…huh…only loss to Ole Miss
25. Arkansas 12-5
Nothing I could find on Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky all being out of the Top 25. It’s gotta be years and years.
Then again, I just kind of glanced through some records and the 2020-21 Covid season wasn’t good for any of the three. So as Roseanne Roseannadanna would have said, “Never mind…”
--Monday night, Purdue (17-1, 6-1) barely beat Michigan State (12-6, 4-3) 64-63 in East Lansing, Zach Edey with 32 points and 17 rebounds for the Boilermakers. At 7’4”, 295, he’s a handful.
--Last night, Wake Forest did what they had to do to enhance their NCAA tournament resume, defeat 19 Clemson (15-4, 7-1) at home, 87-77, the Deacs (14-5, 6-2) largely in control the whole way in handing the Tigers their first conference loss.
2 Kansas fell on the road to rival 13 Kansas State (16-2, 5-1), 83-82 in overtime, the Jayhawks falling to 16-2, 5-1, and the Wildcats ready to bound into the top ten.
7 Texas (15-3, 4-2) fell at 12 Iowa State (14-3, 5-1) 78-67.
--I’m going to bite my tongue, re Alabama basketball player Darius Miles, 21, who was arrested for the shooting death of a woman near campus early Sunday.
Miles, and a 20-year-old accomplice, allegedly opened fire at a car near the campus area known as “The Strip” around 1:45 a.m., according to the local ABC News affiliate.
One of the passengers, 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris, was struck and killed. Another was struck and injured.
Investigators believed the two parties had gotten into a minor argument along The Strip before the bullets flew.
Miles was kicked off the team following the news of his arrest. He hadn’t played since early December, apparently due to injury, though he was a key reserve last season.
--The Knicks have a penchant for not being able to close games, and thus was the case in their annual MLK Day game at the Garden, blowing a late nine-point lead and falling to Toronto (20-24) 123-121 in overtime, the Knicks at 25-20.
--LeBron James scored 48 points in the Lakers’ (20-24) 140-132 win over Houston (10-34). Only two players have scored 48+ points in a game at an older age than LeBron’s 38, 17 days, that being Michael Jordan (51 at 38-315) and Jamal Crawford (51 at 39-020).
--Tuesday, Brooklyn (27-16) fell to 0-3 without Kevin Durant, losing at San Antonio (14-31) 106-98, the Nets also without Kyrie Irving (sore calf). Not good.
--It’s been slow going getting off the ground at the Australian Open due to extreme heat (90 F.) and monsoonal rain, which resulted in 19 of Tuesday’s matches being pushed to Wednesday.
The tournament has an extreme heat policy at 37 degrees C (90 F.), which was introduced in 2019 after several players had issued complaints about a lack of consistent guidelines around competition in oppressive heat.
--Fans were ready to embrace Nick Kyrgios, the hometown favorite, but he suddenly withdrew on Monday with a knee injury, less than 24 hours before his opening match.
In an interview, Friday, Kyrgios, the temperamental Australian star who was a finalist at Wimbledon last year, said he had been battling soreness in his left knee during the offseason, but he expected to play.
But at a news conference Monday, Kyrgios said he was “extremely disappointed. Pretty brutal. One of the most important tournaments of my career.”
But it was revealed Monday that an MRI Kyrgios underwent last week revealed both a cyst and a slight tear in his meniscus, and after undergoing a procedure later in the week, he will spend February rehabilitating the knee and hopes to be back on the court in March.
--And then today, Wednesday, Rafael Nadal, the defending champ and No. 1 seed, injured his left hip and lost to American and former UCLA star Mackenzie McDonald 6-444,6-4, 7-5 in the second round.
“It’s a tough moment. It’s a tough day,” said Nadal. “I can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this moment, because I would be lying.”
Nadal was injured in the second set, called for a medical timeout, but wasn’t himself when he returned.
--Eamon Lynch / Golfweek
“Positives aren’t plentiful in Greg Norman’s world these days, unless you count the commensurate savings in Kool-Aid orders every time another of his hapless executives bolts for the exit. The LIV Golf schedule remains incomplete just weeks ahead of its start, no new star player signings have materialized, and the offseason brought none of the promised trading frenzy between teams. And those aren’t even the most pressing issues that imperil LIV’s long-term viability.
“More acute difficulties include: the failure to sign enough quality players; the failure to attract corporate sponsors; the failure to garner fan support that isn’t manufactured in a bot farm; the failure to retain senior executives, three of whom have unceremoniously quit; and the crippling failure to secure a broadcast deal, which has reduced LIV to discussing paying The CW to air its events after even Fox Sports passed….
“For those minded to think beyond the confines of golf, another risk to LIV – perhaps its most formidable – is playing out in a Northern District of California courtroom. That’s where LIV filed an antitrust suit against the PGA Tour and where the Tour countersued. The proceedings have detoured into an intriguing cul-de-sac as the Tour seeks to compel discovery from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which is bankrolling LIV, and the Fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan.
“The Tour argues that LIV is owned by the Saudi fund and that Al-Rumayyan is the league’s ultimate authority, making discovery from those parties key to its case. The Saudis have been frantically trying to evade any discovery. The Fund is claiming foreign sovereign immunity as an organ of the Saudi state, while Al-Rumayyan submitted to the court an affidavit saying that he would be exposed to a possible 20-year prison term under Saudi law if he were to disclose classified information. Somewhere Salma al-Shehab is crying him a river. She’s the Saudi student given a 34-year sentence in August for tweets critical of Al-Rumayyan’s pals in the regime.
“The PIF arguments are piffle. Having directed LIV to file an antitrust suit – initially through 11 patsy players before later joining the litigation itself – the Saudis now claim they’re not subject to the jurisdiction of the very courts whose protection they sought. As noted by Professor Jodi Balsam of Brooklyn Law School, there is a ‘commercial activities’ exception to sovereign immunity claims that grants the court authority based on the Fund’s control of LIV. That control is indisputable: in a January 13 hearing it was revealed that the Fund owns 93 percent of LIV and pays 100 percent of the costs associated with its events, rendering laughable any defense that it’s a mere bystander to the antitrust litigation.
“Since LIV requested an expedited court process and promised Saudi cooperation, it’s likely the judge will compel discovery from Al-Rumayyan and his Fund, a ruling that would have unappetizing implications for LIV players who might hope to avoid having their affairs spreadeagled for lawyers. The court may also draw negative inferences from a Saudi refusal to comply – potentially ruinous for LIV’s antitrust lawsuit. But cooperating with discovery – even if the court sets strict parameters – is a considerably worse option for the Fund and Al-Rumayyan.
“In the U.S. legal system, discovery can be permissive to the point of invasive, and comes with crossfire risks. Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden was fired for racist and homophobic emails unearthed during discovery in a workplace suit involving the Washington Commanders. In this case, discovery could expose to unwanted scrutiny both known and stealth investments by the Saudi fund. Even if discovery is confined to the golf sphere, tugging at threads could unravel things the Saudis would much rather protect.
“For example, LIV has become explicitly politicized with its attachment to Donald Trump, staging events at the former president’s golf courses as he publicly urged PGA Tour players to ‘take the money’ from his Saudi partners. Scrutiny of the relationship between the Fund and Trump would be unwelcome in Riyadh and Palm Beach. Federal law prohibits foreign governments from attempting to influence U.S. domestic politics, and discovery risks highlighting how inherently political the Saudi fund’s investments are.
“The Public Investment Fund – which is ultimately controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – invested $2 billion in a private equity company owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, over the objections of its own advisors. The LIV project was thought inviable by the Fund’s consultants, McKinsey and Company, yet another couple of billion dollars has been torched there. If the Saudi fund is making investments that are economically irrational, discovery might unearth motives that are grounded not in profit nor sportswashing, but in politics….
“The extent to which Al-Rumayyan and his Fund cooperate with the proceedings in California’s Northern District will have an enormous impact on LIV’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour. The degree to which they fear scrutiny could have a decisive impact on LIV’s entire existence. Judge Beth Labson Freeman set a trial date of January 2024 for the antitrust case. It was always a wildly optimistic schedule, but the delay tactics of the Saudis – and their determination not to have the dealings of their wealth fund made public – raise the question of just what will be left to litigate one year from now.”
--Meanwhile, according to golf analyst David Feherty, LIV Golf is close to finally securing a deal with a network…the CW Network, with 220 affiliates nationwide, with Feherty saying an announcement would come later in the week.
Feherty left NBC Sports and Golf Channel last summer to work as an analyst for LIV.
Ken Early in the Irish Times had some interesting thoughts on the Premier League, with Arsenal having a commanding 8-point lead over Man City, and with perennial powers Chelsea and Liverpool struggling mightily, 10 points out of the fourth and final Champions League slot.
As Early put it:
“Chelsea are in chaos, while Liverpool have totally collapsed. A burnt-out team, exhausted by years of relentless chasing, fed up listening to the same old stuff from a manager who has started to give the impression he might be getting fed up listening to himself, neglecting to sign obviously-needed reinforcements, reliant on old men and young boys…When you list off all the problems, the crash that has engulfed their season at this point feels inevitable.
“But it wasn’t always so: at the start of the season you could get odds of 10/1 on Liverpool failing to finish in the Premier League’s top four this season. Inevitability is strictly a feature of hindsight.
“Back then you could also have backed Arsenal to win the Premier League at odds as high as 66/1. That this now seems so crazy is testament to what Mikel Arteta and his players have achieved in a short space of time. After 18 matches they have more points than any Arsenal side has ever had at this stage of a league campaign.
“(Liverpool manager Jurgen) Klopp, last week, trying to explain why his team has disappeared: ‘Could anybody know how the last season of 63 games could influence this season? I don’t think anybody could know. It must have. We can say that now.’
--Mets, and Pirates, fans note the passing of slugger Frank Thomas, 93, as announced by the Mets on Monday.
Thomas was an original Met, spending three seasons in New York, setting the initial franchise record of 34 home runs in their inaugural season, 1962, a mark that lasted quite a while.
Thomas played 16 seasons in the major leagues, a 3X All-Star as a Pittsburgh Pirate, where he had two, 100-RBI seasons, finishing his career with 286 home runs, 962 RBIs, .266 batting average.
The slugger was born in Pittsburgh.
But Mets fans, and the Thomas family, are forever grateful that Frank this past summer was able to attend the team’s Old Timers’ Day, alongside the likes of Mike Piazza.
Thomas’ daughter, Maryanne Pacconi, said: “I’m so thankful that my dad was able to go… It meant the world to him to see his old teammates. I was thrilled with how the fans greeted him. I was so happy to see him in uniform again. We will treasure those memories forever.”
But being part of the 1962 Loveable 40-120 Mets, you had this story involving teammates Richie Ashburn (future Hall of Famer) and shortstop Elio Chacon, during that season.
Ashburn would yell “I got it!” when tracking pop-ups but Chacon collided with the outfielder since he only understood Spanish. Ashburn then learned to yell “Yo la tengo” – meaning I got it – to successfully alert Chacon in future games.
In a later game, Ashburn successfully called off Chacon but was run over by Thomas – who didn’t understand Spanish and wasn’t alerted of the signal change. Thomas then got up after colliding with Ashburn and said “What the heck is a Yellow Tango?”
The story became the inspiration for a couple artists to name their indie rock band “Yo La Tengo.” [New York Daily News]
--Aa polar bear killed a woman and boy Tuesday afternoon in the remote Northwest Alaska community of Wales, according to Alaska State Troopers.
According to initial accounts, a polar bear came to the village and chased several residents, troopers said.
The bear killed the two, while another Wales resident shot and killed the bear “as it attacked the pair,” troopers said. [Anchorage Daily News]
--A 17-year-old student attending school in Zimbabwe reportedly died from the bite of a black mamba, one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. Other students killed the snake after it attempted to bite another student, the outlet ZimLive.com reported.
The girl died 20 minutes after she was bitten. The students had been outside “doing sports” when the snake apparently snuck into the classroom before they returned.
The black mamba gets its name for the inside of its mouth, which is black. Two drops of the mamba’s venom will kill most humans. [Mike Snider / USA TODAY]
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.
[Posted after Giants-Vikings…]
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
PGA Tour Quiz: Last week at the Tournament of Champions, Adam Scott became the seventh to hit the $60 million mark in PGA Tour event winnings. Name the other six. Answer below.
--In the opening playoff game, Saturday, Seattle took a surprising 17-16 halftime lead at San Francisco on a 56-yard Jason Meyers field goal as time expired in the half, but the second half was all Niners as they rolled 41-23, a late Seattle TD making the score closer than it was.
For San Fran, Brock Purdy continued his stellar play, winning his sixth straight start, throwing three touchdown passes while running for a fourth score in his playoff debut…a rather solid line of 18/30, 332, 3-0, 131.5, with Christian McCaffrey rushing for 119 yards on just 15 carries, and Deebo Samuel catching six passes for 133 yards and a score, plus picking up another 32 on the ground.
The Niners defense stiffened when it had to and with Purdy, McCaffrey and Samuel at the top of their games, you gotta love San Francisco’s chances the rest of the way.
--Then in Saturday’s nightcap, we had another game for the ages. The Chargers built a 27-0 lead with 4:25 left in the first half down in Jacksonville, as the Jags’ Trevor Lawrence had an historically dreadful first half, throwing four interceptions, three picked off by the Chargers’ Asante Samuel Jr.
But L.A. allowed the Jags and Lawrence to drive 47 yards at the end of the first half for a big TD to build some momentum, the margin 27-7 at the half.
And after the four INTs, it was a different Trevor Lawrence in the second half, three touchdown passes (four overall), in one of the most improbable turnarounds in NFL postseason history, rallying Jacksonville to a stunning 31-30 victory.
Lawrence engineered the winning drive, highlighted by Clemson teammate Travis Etienne’s 25-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play (Etienne 20 carries for 109 yards overall), and put the Jaguars in position for Riley Patterson’s 36-yard field goal on the final play, the kick just barely sneaking inside the right upright.
The 27-point comeback was the largest in franchise history and the third largest in playoff history. It was the Jaguars (10-8) sixth consecutive win and fifth straight at home – all five in come-from-behind fashion.
Back to Trevor’s opening act, he became the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw four interceptions in the first half of a playoff game, joining Detroit’s Gary Danielson and Denver’s Craig Morton, making his comeback all the more remarkable.
Only Buffalo’s 32-point rally against Houston, Jan. 3, 1993, and Indy’s on Jan. 4, 2014 (28 points against K.C.) were bigger than the Jags’.
As for the Chargers…imagine their fans’ reaction.
Jeff Miller / L.A. Times
“The Chargers lost a playoff game Saturday night that they led by 27 points.
“A playoff game in which one of their players had three interceptions.
“A playoff game that ended with them having a 5-0 edge in takeaways.
“The Chargers lost to Jacksonville 31-30…bringing a sudden and shocking end to a season as inconsistent as their final game.
“ ‘I don’t even have any words for it right now,’ safety Derwin James Jr. said. ‘I’ve been playing football 21 years and I ain’t never felt like this.’”
A big play for L.A. occurred after the Chargers ate up nearly seven minutes of clock, still up 30-20, when Cameron Dicker, who had booted a field goal from 50 earlier, badly missed from 40 (just his second miss of the year). That gave Jacksonville hope and Trevor Lawrence and Co. took advantage of it.
--The Dolphins officially ruled out Tua Tuagovailoa (concussion) against the Bills today. And with Teddy Bridgewater (knee, finger) also hurt, Miami had to go with seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson.
Without Tua, who has suffered at least three notable head injuries this season, the Bills soared to 14-point favorites, among the largest spreads in recent playoff history. At this point, Mami fans are probably more concerned with Tua’s long-term health than anything else. [It was announced by the team yesterday that Tua will be back next season.]
As we approached today’s game, Saturday, Damar Hamlin visited the Bills’ facilities, just days after being discharged from the hospital, and then tweeted Sunday he was watching the game from home.
So what happened in the contest? The Dolphins beat the spread! The Dolphins beat the spread! They’re goin’ crazy! [Channeling Russ Hodges]
But a game Miami team fell 34-31.
After falling behind 17-0 beginning of the second quarter, us football fans thinking, ‘Well, this one will suck,’ Miami fought back, one field goal at a time, three off the leg of Jason Sanders to make it 17-9, before a Skylar Thompson touchdown pass and 2-point conversion tied it at 17 out of nowhere.
But the Bills drove the ball 54 yards in 0:29 to get into field goal range, 20-17 Buffalo at the half.
Miami, however, opened the second half recovering a Josh Allen fumble for a touchdown, 24-20, Dolphins, and we are like, ‘Holy [Toledo]!’
But then Buffalo took charge, scoring two touchdowns, 34-24, as order was restored.
Until it wasn’t!
Miami and Thompson drove the ball 75 yards to make it 34-31 with 10:53 to play.
Only that’s where it ended. The Bills survive, but Dolphins fans spent their DraftKings and FanDuel winnings at the neighborhood tavern and, really, everyone is kind of a winner.
Well, sort of….I mean it needs to be said that Josh Allen, despite throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns, basically sucked, with his two INTs and lost fumble for a TD (fumbling three times overall), while for Miami, as Jim Nantz and Tony Romo tried to defend Skylar Thompson’s play, his line was miserable…18/45, 220, 1-2, 44.7, as he channeled his inner Zach Wilson.
But football fans were thankful for a competitive game. And we’re happy for Damar.
--In Minnesota, the 13-4 Vikings, favored by just three points against the Giants, took the opening drive 75 yards for a score. But then New York responded furiously, 17 points on two TDs and a field goal, 17-7, only to see the Vikes cut it to 17-14 at the half.
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones rushed for 71 yards and passed for 143, while the Giants’ D was holding Justin Jefferson to only 43 yards on six receptions.
New York then opened the second half going 75 yards, Jones to Daniel Bellinger for the final nine, 24-14, but the Vikings responded, 75 yards, Kirk Cousins to Irv Smith Jr. from three…24-21.
Minnesota then got a Greg Joseph field goal to tie it at 24-24.
But the Giants went 75 again, Saquon Barkley taking it in from the 2-yard line, 31-24 with 7:47 to play.
And despite a seemingly huge drop on a 3rd and 15 by New York receiver Darius Slayton that would have iced the game, the Vikings and Cousins were unable to drive down the field for the tie to send it into overtime, the Giants winning 31-24.
Jones was the first to throw for 300 and rush for 70 in a playoff game (24/35, 301, 2-0, 114.1, plus 78 on the ground in 17 carries).
Cousins was fine…31/39, 273, 2-0, 112.9, but Jefferson had only 47 on seven receptions. That’s not enough…and for the Vikes, it was their first one-score loss after going an NFL record 11-0 in such games this season.
Up next for New York, Philadelphia.
--The Ravens ruled out Lamar Jackson (knee) against the Bengals. Tyler Huntley (right shoulder, wrist) was limited in practice after not playing Week 18, with undrafted rookie Anthony Brown behind him.
Jackson suffered a knee sprain in Week 14 against the Broncos, but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had ruled it a “week-to-week” injury, and week-to-week, Jackson wasn’t in the lineup. It’s been about six weeks now since he played sparingly Dec. 4 after injuring the knee.
What will Baltimore do with Lamar, who is a free agent this offseason. When healthy he’s an MVP, as he was in 2019 (age 22). But he’s missed 10 games over the past two seasons. And he reportedly turned down a $250 million contract offer ($133 million guaranteed) last offseason, hoping for a deal closer to the fully guaranteed contract Cleveland gave Deshaun Watson. Jackson has acted as his own agent.
--As expected, the Jets parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, the team losing six straight to miss the playoffs largely in part because they could not score points.
Nothing is happening to coach Robert Salah or GM Joe Douglas, but it’s very clear, 2023 is make-or-break for the two of them after the Jets blew a 7-4 start.
And issue one is what to do at quarterback.
--Sean McVay decided to remain as coach of the Rams, following a difficult season after a Super Bowl triumph, McVay taking a little time to consider whether he should take a break from coaching.
McVay, who turns 37 this month, informed the Rams of his decision, according to reports Friday. He had said since last Sunday’s season finale that he did not know what he would do. McVay would have been in line for a broadcasting job had he decided to step away.
The Rams then confirmed McVay’s decision, saying that he “informed the team he is excited to return next season.”
The team faces a significant retooling, potentially starting at quarterback where Matthew Stafford was in concussion protocols twice this season and ended it on injured reserve because of a spinal cord contusion, though he has said he does not intend to retire. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, contemplated retirement last offseason and previously tied his football future to that of McVay. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp had an injury-plagued season.
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris would have been a top candidate to succeed McVay. But Morris, the former head coach of Tampa Bay, is a candidate for some of the vacant NFL head coaching jobs, and offensive coordinator Liam Coen left to take a job at Kentucky.
There are five head coaching vacancies: the Panthers, Colts, Broncos, Texans and Cardinals.
Sean Payton, who stepped down as coach of the Saints after last season to take a job with Fox, is a candidate for the Broncos, Cardinals and Texans’ jobs, though he remains under contract to the Saints.
--We note the passing of former Heisman Trophy winner and NFLer Charles White, who died of cancer and dementia at the age of 64.
White won the Heisman for USC in 1979, the culmination of a 4-year career there that saw him rush for 1,478; 1,859; and 2,050 yards his sophomore through senior campaigns.
USC was UPI Coaches Poll No. 1 in 1978, though Alabama was AP No. 1 that year.
White then played in the NFL with the Browns and Rams from 1980-88, his best season being 1987 when he rushed for 1,374 yards and 11 touchdowns for L.A. Otherwise, he never hit 400 yards in a season.
“He was the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” said John Robinson, White’s former head coach at USC and with the Rams. “He was really unusual in that regard. He was a great player and just loved playing the game. Those are the things I remember the most. He was a really tough guy, and he was an extremely gifted athlete. But the toughness…wow!”
White was named the Rose Bowl’s most valuable player in both games following the 1978 and 1979 seasons.
The last several years of his life were spent in an assisted living facility in Newport Beach, Calif., his mind diminishing from the effects of dementia, almost certainly caused by the years of collisions he endured as a player.
--And, tragically, we learned today that Devin Willock, a 20-year-old offensive lineman for the University of Georgia, as well as a 24-year-old member of the team’s recruiting staff, were killed in a car crash early Sunday morning near Athens, Ga., hours after the team celebrated its title with a parade and ceremony in Sanford Stadium. Two other passengers were injured.
Athletic Director John Brooks said in a statement: “The entire Georgia family is devastated…”
Willock played in all 15 games for the Bulldogs, a redshirt sophomore. He was a native of New Milford, N.J.
The accident occurred at 2:45 a.m. Nothing more needs to be said, as we pray for the victims’ families.
--Kentucky fans are increasingly calling for the ouster of coach John Calipari. As the Athletic’s Kyle Boone wrote: “Big Blue Nation has been Big Mad Nation aimed at Calipari…It would be one thing if the talent wasn’t there, but this roster has plenty of pieces. The effort, though, seems to wax and wane intermittently and the system - the spacing, the pacing, the 3-point attempts – seem to be off, too.”
It all came to a head after South Carolina, which had lost last Saturday to then-No. 8 Tennessee, 85-42 at home, went to Kentucky and won for just the third time ever at Rupp Arena, beating the woeful Wildcats, 71-68, which had Kentucky 1-3 in the SEC. The Wildcats had just lost to then-No. 7 Alabama 78-52.
But yesterday, Kentucky traveled to No. 5 Tennessee and beat the Vols (14-3, 4-1), 63-56, the Wildcats at 11-6, 2-3.
--North Carolina continues to struggle, now 12-6, 4-3 ACC, but they dodged a bullet when star Armando Bacot exited Tuesday’s loss to Virginia with a left ankle injury, only to recover enough to play Saturday, an 80-59 win at Louisville (a shocking 2-16, 0-7); Bacot with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
--Wake Forest improved to 13-5, 5-2, with an 85-63 win at Boston College (8-10, 2-5) Saturday night.
But now comes the biggest test of the season for the Deacs, a Tuesday night clash at home against the ACC’s surprising top team, Clemson.
The Tigers (15-3, 7-0) beat 24 Duke (13-5, 4-3) 72-64.
Earlier in the season, Wake went down to Clemson and the Tigers crushed the Deacs 77-57. Which Wake team shows up in two nights?
Meanwhile, Duke should fall out of the next AP poll…which would mean no Kentucky, North Carolina or Duke. We’ll soon learn how long it’s been since this occurrence.
--9 Arizona (15-3, 4-3) fell at Oregon (10-8, 4-3) 87-68 yesterday.
--Today, in Big East play, St. John’s (13-6, 3-5) upset 6 UConn (15-4, 4-4) 85-74, the Huskies struggling mightily of late.
And 12 Xavier will move up further after an 80-76 win over 25 Marquette (14-5, 6-2), the Musketeers 15-3 and a perfect 7-0 in conference action.
--It turns out, Saturday, 11 ranked teams lost, most outside the top ten so I didn’t want to go through the litany of defeats, not all of which were really upsets, but this tied an AP record dating back to 2011.
Ergo, major changes in the next AP Poll.
--Thursday, the Mavericks defeated the Lakers in double overtime, 119-115, Luka Doncic with 35 points, 14 rebounds, 13 rebounds.
But afterwards, Dallas owner Mark Cuban was bitching up a storm over the officiating and it turned out he was right. According to the league’s Last Two Minute Report released Friday, a non-call on LeBron James’ potential game winner in the first overtime was one of seven incorrect calls in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and the two OTs.
James attempted a shot with the score tied and 2.9 seconds left in the first overtime, was clearly fouled, but it wasn’t called.
--Also Thursday, the Nets lost their first without Kevin Durant, 109-98 to the Celtics, Ben Simmons with zero points (but 9 rebounds and 13 assists). Simmons said after he knows he needs to be more aggressively offensively, especially without K.D.
--Friday, the San Antonio Spurs announced an attendance of 68,323 at the Alamodome, a record for an NBA regular-season game.
For their 50th anniversary season, the Spurs returned to their former home to face the Warriors, falling 144-113, but the attendance shattered the previous record of 62,046 who gathered to watch Michael Jordan and the Bulls play the Hawks at the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.
The Spurs’ started play at the HemisFair Arena in 1973, but the Alamodome is where the franchise took its first steps to becoming one of the best NBA franchises, 1993 to 2002, before moving 3 miles to the AT&T Center.
San Antonio won its first of five NBA championship in 1999.
--This afternoon, the Knicks made it 7 of 8, 25-19 overall, with a 117-104 win at lowly Detroit (12-35). But as the saying goes, you gotta beat the teams you’re supposed to if you’re going to have a good season, which in the Knicks case would translate to something like 48-34, or at least 46-36.
Julius Randle continues his outstanding play, a monster effort, 42 points, 15 rebounds, the first 40-15 by a Knick since Patrick Ewing in 1996.
--I forgot to mention in my Add-on that Miami set quite a record last Tuesday against Oklahoma City, 40-for-40 on free throws. Utah was 39-for-39 against Portland on Dec. 7, 1982.
Jimmy Butler was 23-for-23 himself, tying the second-most makes without a miss in NBA history. James Harden made 24 without a miss for Houston on Dec. 3, 2019, and Dirk Nowitzki made 24 without a miss for Dallas in a playoff game on May 17, 2011.
--A bunch of high-profile players were headed to arbitration but reached agreements beforehand.
Juan Soto and the Padres on a one-year, $23 million contract.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays for $14.5 million.
Pete Alonso and the Mets for $14.5m.
Julio Urias and the Dodgers for $14.25m.
Josh Hader and the Padres for $14.1m.
All good. As my brother, who is disgusted with his Premier League Liverpool squad, said: “It’s time for baseball!” [Us being Jets fans, you understand.]
--I didn’t have a chance to write about the Red Sox’ Trevor Story, who last offseason signed a six-year. $140 contract with Boston and then the second baseman/shortstop had his worst season, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs, a .238 average, .737 OPS.
Red Sox fans were expecting much more in 2023, but this week, he underwent an internal bracing procedure on the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. An alternative to Tommy John surgery, Story will be back by July, if all goes well, though the team said they can’t “bank on” him playing.
What a blow.
--The Athletic had a story the other day on the terrific start to Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid’s career.
McDavid just turned 26 on Jan. 13, and is well on his way to his sixth 100-point season, with 82 in his first 44 games this season, and 779 career points through Friday’s play.
So if McDavid has five, 120-point seasons, he could be at 1,500 by his 30th birthday, and perhaps 2,000 by age 37. No one in NHL history has 2,000 points, aside from Wayne Gretzky, who’s out in the stratosphere at 2,857, Jaromir Jagr second at 1,921.
McDavid’s teammate, Leon Draisaitl, 27, isn’t chopped liver with 682 points already.
The two are 1-2 in scoring in the NHL this season, but Edmonton would barely make it into the playoffs as things stand now.
--Entering the final round of the Sony Open at Waialae in Honolulu, we had a bunch of folks looking for their first win on tour, and four-time winner Chris Kirk.
Hayden Buckley -15
David Lipsky -13
Ben Taylor -13
Shockingly, first-round leader Jordan Spieth didn’t make the cut! 64-75, missing by one, which won’t help his always shaky confidence level. Budding superstar Tom Kim also failed to make the cut.
And in the end, Si Woo Kim wins his fourth with a 64.
--Andrew Putnam, who entered today three back of Buckley, lives in Washington State so he needs better climes this time of year to get his game in shape.
PGATour.com had an interesting tale concerning Putnam and a recent trip he took to Cuba with friends who help residents start small businesses. He brought his clubs and played three times at Varadero Golf Club.
“It’s a good course,” Putnam said. “Unfortunately, they had a huge fire, and all the mowers were destroyed, so $7 million worth of damage right before we got there. I think they had one or two mowers on the whole island. I think they have to hand mow all through the night to get the course ready.”
This has been a different season in the PL, some of the Big Six floundering, which is just fine for the likes of Newcastle and Fulham.
Today, Newcastle defeated Fulham 1-0 on a late goal by substitute Alexander Isak, while Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 1-0.
But Arsenal strengthened their hold on first with a 2-0 road win at Tottenham, which is punchless.
Yesterday, Arsenal was helped when Manchester United edged Man City 2-1. Brighton embarrassed Liverpool 3-0.
So the standings after 18/20 of 38…Played – Points…
1. Arsenal 18 – 47
2. Man City 18 – 39
3. Newcastle 19 – 38
4. Man U 18 – 38
5. Tottenham 19 – 33
6. Fulham 20 – 31
7. Brighton 18 – 30
8. Brentford 19 – 29
9. Liverpool 18 – 28
10. Chelsea 19 – 28
--We learned why Naomi Osaka isn’t playing the Australian Open, which starts Sunday. She announced she is pregnant and will miss the entire 2023 tennis season.
“I realize that life is so short and I don’t take any moments for granted, everyday is a new blessing and adventure,” Osaka tweeted Wednesday. She added she’ll be at the Aussie Open in 2024.
--Mikaela Shiffrin sat out this weekend’s two speed races, both super-Gs at St. Anton, Austria. Her next appearance is a super-G on Friday in Cortina, as she seeks to break Lindsey Vonn’s record 82 World Cup wins. [68 of Shiffrin’s 82 wins are in the slalom or giant slalom.]
--Robbie Knievel, a record-setting stunt performer and the son of Evel Knievel, died of pancreatic cancer, his brother confirmed on Friday. Robbie was 60.
“Daredevils don’t live easy lives,” brother Kelly Knievel told the AP. “He was a great daredevil. People don’t really understand how scary it is what my brother did.”
Knievel followed in his father’s footsteps with a slate of jumps to his name, including the famous 1989 jump in which he cleared the Caesars Palace fountains in Las Vegas. He also stunned audiences by jumping a 200-foot-wide chasm of the Grand Canyon (in which he broke a leg on the landing), over vehicles, between buildings and more.
After jumping a moving locomotive in Texas in 2000, a 200-foot televised stunt, he smiled and said “That was close.”
Knievel’s father died in 2007. Robbie is to be buried alongside other family members in Butte, Montana.
--What a tragic ending to a tragic life…the death of Lisa Marie Presley to a heart attack at age 54, two days after appearing at the Golden Globe Awards with her mother Priscilla, where actor Austin Butler won the best actor award for portraying her father in the film “Elvis” and paid tribute to both women in his acceptance speech.
Presley died Thursday after being rushed to a Los Angeles area hospital after suffering cardiac arrest at her home.
Lisa Marie will be buried next to her son, Benjamin Keough, at Graceland, the Memphis mansion she inherited from her father. Ben died in 2020 at age 27, a death ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles County coroner. Lisa Marie remembered her son in an essay this year for People magazine that she posted on Instagram, describing herself as “destroyed” by his death.
“I’ve dealt with death, grief and loss since the age of 9 years old. I’ve had more than anyone’s fair share of it in my lifetime and somehow, I’ve made it this far,” she wrote. “Death is part of life whether we like it or not – and so is grieving.”
As the only daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie was nine when Elvis died of heart failure in August 1977, aged 42, and being at Graceland at the time, reportedly saw her father’s lifeless body.
Her life was then kind of a mess, trapped by her birthright and the demons of addiction.
Elvis and other members of his family are buried at Graceland’s Meditation Garden.
“Over the last year, the entire Elvis movie family and I have felt the privilege of Lisa Marie’s kind embrace,” Baz Luhrmann, the director of “Elvis,” said on Instagram. “Her sudden, shocking loss has devastated people all around the world.”
In the celebrity spotlight since her birth, Lisa Marie began her own music career with a 2003 debut album “To Whom It May Concern.” That was followed by 2005’s “Now What,” and both hit the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart.
Lisa Marie is survived by her mother, daughter Riley Keough, and 14-year-old twin daughters Harper and Finley Lockwood.
--And Jeff Beck, one of the most influential rock guitarists of all time, died at the age of 78.
The British musician rose to fame as part of the Yardbirds, where he replaced Eric Clapton, before forming the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart.
His tone, presence and, above all, volume redefined guitar music in the 1960s, and influenced movements like heavy metal, jazz-rock and even punk.
His family said, “After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away.”
Speaking when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time in 2009, Beck said: “I play the way I do because it allows me to come up with the sickest sounds possible.”
“That’s the point now, isn’t it? I don’t care about the rules.
“In fact, if I don’t break the rules at least 10 times in every song, then I’m not doing my job properly.”
Rod Stewart called Beck “the greatest.”
Posting a picture of the pair together on Instagram, Stewart wrote: “Jeff Beck was on another planet. He took me and Ronnie Wood to the USA in the late 60s in his band the Jeff Beck Group and we haven’t looked back since.
“He was one of the few guitarists that when playing live would actually listen to me sing and respond. Jeff, you were the greatest, my man. Thank you for everything. RIP.”
--Following a 50-year legal battle, John Fogerty, the founding member of Creedence Clearwater Revival, won the global publishing rights to the iconic rock band’s songs.
It came after Fogerty, 77, bought a majority stake in the rights to the band’s catalogue from Concord Records, which has owned the rights since 2004.
Fogerty owns the rights to his solo material, but now for the first time – over 65 CCR copyrights, including hits like Bad Moon Rising, Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Proud Mary and Fortunate Son, are his.
California-born CCR notched nine top-10 singles and five top-10 albums on the Billboard charts, reportedly even besting the Beatles in album sales in 1969.
They disbanded in 1972 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
But decades of its frontman’s life have been dominated by a protracted dispute that began after late music mogul Saul Zaentz signed a teenage Fogerty and his group to his Fantasy Records label in the mid-1960s.
Fantasy owned the group’s distribution and publishing rights. Fogerty long claimed Zaentz lost his money as the label misled him with bad investments and absorbed his earnings from royalties.
The label was then sold to Concord in 2004, which quickly reinstated – and increased – the royalties Fogerty had not received in some 25 years.
Top 3 songs for the week of 1/12/74: #1 “The Joker” (Steve Miller Band) #2 “Time In A Bottle” (Jim Croce) #3 “Show And Tell” (Al Wilson…great tune…)…and…#4 “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” (Brownsville Station) #5 “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” (Gladys Knight & The Pips) #6 “You’re Sixteen” (Ringo Starr) #7 “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” (Barry White) #8 “Living For The City” (Stevie Wonder) #9 “Let Me Be There” (Olivia Newton-John) #10 “Helen Wheels” (Paul McCartney & Wings…B week…)
PGA Tour Quiz Answer: $60 million in tour earnings (heading into this week’s Sony Open).
With the new elevated purses, there will be a ton of golfers hitting the $60 million mark.
Brief Add-on up top by noon, Wed.