Matthews: An Unexpected Fun Sunday Afternoon

AN UNEXPECTED FUN SUNDAY AFTERNOON TWEETING ABOUT THE BILLS

Like most of you, I expected the Minnesota Vikings to demolish the visiting 17-point underdog Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

I anticipated spending three hours tweeting sarcastic things about the Bills are they closed in on a seemingly inevitable 0-3 start.

So what happened? The beleaguered Bills pulled off the NFL’s biggest upset in 22 years: Buffalo 27, Minnesota. And it wasn’t that close.

Most fans in our nation will recall Sunday as the day golfer Tiger Woods capped one of the great comebacks in sports history by winning the Players Championship.

Woods and the rest of the U.S. Ryder Cup team will play Europe in the France this weekend. Did anyone who watched and heard the huge gallery surrounding the 18th green chanting USA! USA! USA! In honor of Tiger and the rest of the U.S. team not feel proud to be an American?

For a few hours of one fall afternoon, at least, we were not a divided nation.

Most fans in Western New York also remember Sunday for the day the Bills upset Minnesota and – hopefully – rookie quarterback Josh Allen came of age as the “franchise quarterback.” He did a nice impression of Superman – diving for a pylon to score a TD and hurdling a defender for a first down. Those two moves made all of the national NFL highlights shows.

For one fall Sunday night, at least, the Bills were getting rave reviews on ESPN.

Here’s how I tweeted the game:

Best drive of the season for the Bills. Josh Allen looked like All-Pro.

I don’t think the Vikings are overconfident. I think they’re asleep.

Bills: good...Vikings: terrible.

The Vikings must have watched so much Bills film from Weeks 1-2 that they’re playing like them.

Probably not the best first quarter in Bills history but maybe the most surprising.

The Vikings, favored by 17, are now trailing by 17 (17-0).

Kelvin Benjamin (after a he dropped a few passes) or Private Benjamin?

Long way to go, but right now, Josh Allen is the early favorite for NFL Offensive Player of the Week and Kirk Cousins is favorite for Plater of the Weak.

May I be among the first to ask why Nathan Peterman started Week 1?

Kirk Cousins is playing like my cousins who didn’t play football.

(At halftime with Buffalo leading 27-0) The Bills might ruin my plans to go out for a bite to eat in the second half

I assume no Bills will be retiring from football at halftime today.

Results like this are why we love the NFL. Nothing is for certain.

Updated score in Las Vegas (where the Bills were a 17-point underdog): Buffalo 44, Minnesota 0.

If someone had told you a few days ago that the Bills and Tiger Woods (maybe) would be big winners Sunday afternoon, would you have shrugged it off?

If the Vikings play like this Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams, they might lose 95-7.

I didn’t expect to see (in the final minutes of the game) Kirk Cousins padding his stats and the Vikings trying to avert being shut out at home.

Radio stations in Western New York should be playing Purple People Eaters on Monday.

I think Buffalo will be jumping quite a few spots in (this) week’s NFL Power Rankings.

THE BILLS SHOWED UP THE 528 FOLKS

No one or thing was more shocked by Buffalo’s 27-6 victory over 17-poiont favored Minnesota than Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight (538) computers and staffers.

Prior to the game: “The Bills might be historically bad...The Bills have gone from thw ild card to the waste bin in record time...If there is an upside to how awful these Bills are, it is that they helped bring historical notability to an otherwise run-of-the-mill game....Inpredictable ratings say the Bills would be 10-point dogs versus an average NFL team on a neutral field – for comparisons, even the 2017 Cleveland Browns (0-16 record) were only 8-point dogs by the same rating.”

530 does great work and usually is right on. Forecasting Hillary Clinton to bury Donald Tromp in the 2016 POTUS election and Minnesota to beat the Bills Sunday were two exceptions.

BASEBALL THOUGHTS AND FACTOIDS

The New Yankees probably can’t survive for long this postseason if shortstop Didi Gregorious is through for the year with torn cartilage in his right wrist. He might not be the best Yankees but he’s probably the most valuable. He’s a solid hitter (.268, 27 HRs, 86 RBI, .834 OPS) and superb defensively (MLB-best .989 fielding percentage among shortstops and only 5 errors). Gleyber Torres from second base to short wouldn’t hurt the offense but would hurt the defense.

Chris Davis (Baltimore; $21,118,782 salary according to Spotrac) is closing in on the lowest batting average by a MLB qualifier in a long time. He’s batting .168 (79-for-470) with 192 strikeouts. In his last 10 games, he’s 1-for-37 with 0 RBI, 0 walks and 19 strikeouts. The record-low BA is .179 (Rob Deer 1991 and Dan Uggla 2013 Atlanta).

Meanwhile, Khris Davis (Oakland; salary $10.5 million), is leading MLB with 45 HRs and second with 119 RBI.

The Yankees have 251 HRs in 155 games and need to pick up the pace in their remaining seven games to break the MLB record 264 HRs by Seattle in 1997. Current pace is for 262.335.

NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE CAP GREAT SEASON

The North Carolina Courage, until January 2017 the Western New York Flash, capped an amazing season Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 victory over the host Portland Thorns FC in the National Women’s Soccer League championship game.  Attendance was 21,144.

Former WNY Flash sar Jess McDonald scored two goals for the Courage and was Match MVP.

The game was switched from Cary, N.C., to Portland because of Hurricane Florence.

Hailed as “the best team in women’s professional soccer history,” the Courage finished this season with 19 wins, 1 loss and 6 draws. They outscored opponents 58-17.

North Carolina coach Paul Riley and 12 of his players (including 8 who played Saturday) were on the WNY Flash.

SHORT SHOTS

Syracuse University Orange football 4-0 record...198PF/80 PA (+118)...at Clemson Saturday

University of Buffalo football 4-0 record...161PF/80PA (+81)...home vs. Army Saturday

University of Rochester Yellowjackets 1-3 record...54PF/135PA (-81)...home vs. St’ Lawrence, Sat., Oct. 6.

***Tiger woods is the 9-to-1 favorite to win the 2019 Masters (Westgate Las Vegas Super Book)...There were 239 PGA Tour events between victories for Tiger Woods, and 199 different winners over that span.

Ryder Cup odds: USA -140; bet $140 to win $100) and Europe +140; bet $100 to win $140 (Vegas Insider)...USA bet $11 to win $10; Europe 11-to-8; bet $8 to win $11;.draw 12-to-1 (oddschecker).

***The National Lacrosse League 2018 entrey draft is Tuesday night in Philadelphia, The San Doego Gulls are expected to select Austin Staats of Six Nations No. 1 overall. The Rochester Knighthawks have Nos. 9, 16, 35, 49, 62 and 73.

***Syracuse received 25 points (36th place) in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 college football poll.

***The National Lacrosse League reportedly will add Long Island as an expansion team. It will play at Nassau Coliseum. Ownership and launch date TBA. Lacrosse is huge on Long Island.

***Former Rochester Rhinos coach Bob Lilley’s USL Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC beat the visiting Indy Eleven 3-2 Saturday night before 2,454 at Highmark Stadium. Former Rhino Kenardo Forbes’ penalty was the deciding score as the Hounds boosted their record to 14 wins, 4 losses, 11 draws.

***Sports Illustrated last week ranked the 10 toughest college basketball arenas for opponents to play in. Syracuse’s Carrier Dome was No. 7. The top three: Duke, Kansas and Kentucky.  Quality of the players obviously counts a lot.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, September 24

Reggie Ragland 25...Brandon Reilly 25...Timmy Jernigan 26...Vontaze Burfict 28...Hunter Strickland 30...Randy Foye 35...Paul Hamm 36....Drew Gooden 37...Stephanie McMahon 42...Kyle Turley 43... George 45...Bernard Gilkey 52...Rafael Palmeiro 54...Joe Washington 65...Terry Metcalf 67...”Mean” Joe Greene 72.

Tuesday, September 15

Alex Ogletree 27...Rocco Baldelli 37...Toni Lydman 41...Chauncey Billups 42...Bobbie Wiiliams 42..Matt Hasselbeck 43....John Lynch 47...Doug Pelfrey 48...Scottie Pippen 53...Mike Pitts 58...Kim Bokamper 64...Bob McAdoo 67...Carol Vadnais 73...Hubie Brown 85. Catherinie Zeta-Jones 49, Will Smith 50, Heather Locklear 57, Mark Hamill 67, Michael Douglas 74 and Barbara Walters 89 are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE TN SPORTS...

September 24

91 years ago (1927), the NHL Toronto St. Patricks became the Maple Leafs...61 years ago (1957), the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 in their final game at Ebbets Field...39 years ago (1979), Pete Rose reached 200 hits for his 10th season...30 years ago (1988), American heptathlete Jsackie Joyner Kersee won the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics...27 years ago (1991), Deion Sanders left the baseball Atlanta Bravrs to report to the NFL Atlanta Falcons...23 years ago (1995), Europe beat the U.S. 14 1.2 to 13 ½ in the 31st Ryder Cup at Oak Hill Country Club.

September 25

93 years ago (1925), Walter Hagen won the 9th PGA Championship at Salisbury Golf Course in Waterbury, N.Y. ... 63 years ago (1955), 20-year-old Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers became the youngest Major League Baseball batting champion...56 years ago (1962), Sonny Liston KO’d Floyd Patterson in the first round for the heavyweight boxing title...37 years ago (1981), Nolan Ryan pitched his fifth career no-hitter as Hopuston beat the Dodgers 5-0...30 years ago (1988), American sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner won the women’s 100-meter gold medal at the Seoul Olympics.

Bob Matthews' Column

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