BILLS DEFY THE ODDS IN A GRITTY WIN AT THE NEW YORK JETS...
AND IT WAS NOT A FLUKE
NFL home teams that finish a game with zero giveaways win 99 percent of the games against a visiting team that has at least four giveaways.
CBS color analyst Steve Grogan offered that interesting tidbit when the Bills were trailing the New York Jets 16-0 on Sunday and seemed destined to loose entering the fourth quarter.
The Bills won 17-16.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen overcame two interceptions and two fumbles to play like a poised and inspiring veteran in the fourth quarter. He had carried the ball 10 times for 38 yards – just enough to be effective and avoid injury. On this afternoon, at least, Allen won the battle of second-year QBs over Sam Darnold at MetLife Stadium.
Was a Buffalo star born in the fourth quarter? Rookie running back Devin Singletary’s quick feet and speed turned the game around. He had 9 touches for 98 yards in the game and sometimes made defenders look silly.
The Bills again showed that the have a top-10 defense. They limited Le’Veon Bell to an average of 3.5 yards on 17 carries and 92 yards from scrimmage. I hope the rematch December 29 at New Era Field will have playoff implications for the Buffalo and that the Bills will find a way to prevent Jamison Crowder from making 14 catches for 90 yards.
And – let’s be honest – the Jets were a different team on defense when linebacker C.J. Mosley sat out the fourth quarter with a groin injury. He was the dominant defensive player on the field for three quarters.It was like the Jets had on 10 men on defense in the fourth quarter.
After the come-from-behind victory over the Jets, it would be a disappointment if the Bills don’t beat the New York Giants Sunday to complete the MetLife Stadium sweep to start the season 2-0.
FIVE EACH OF AN NFL SUNDAY’S HEROES AND ZEROES
Sammy Watkins (Kansas City) – He’s completely healthy – for a change and for now – and on Sunday played the way he was supposed to when Buffalo selected him No. 4 overall in the 2014 NFL draft. He had 9 catches for 198 yards and three TDs in Kansas City’s 40-26 win in Jacksonville. He looked a little bit like Jerry Rice in his prime.
Lamar Jackson (Baltimore) – One game does not a pro career make, but I’ve never understood why so many football fans and media think Jackson’s rare athletic skills would not project to a successful pro career. He ran only 3 times for 6 yards Sunday but was 17-of-20 for 324 yards and 5 TD passes in a 59-10 romp over the putrid Miami Dolphins. His MVP odds at Caesars Sportsbook dropped from 50-to-1 to 18-to-1. I’m not going overboard. He needs to stay healthy.
Marcus Mariota (Tennessee) – I’m not a big fan of this former Heisman Trophy winner. He lacks consistency but he was very good in a 43-13 victory in Cleveland over a slightly more flashy fellow Heisman winner who was not a butcher or a candlestick maker. He was 14-of-24 for 248 yards, with 3 TD passes, 0 INTs and a 133.3 passer rating.
Dak Prescott (Dallas) – He wants a huge contract and owner Jerry Jones reportedly is close to giving it to him. Prescott was terrific in the 35-17 home romp over the New York Giants: 25-of-32 for 405 yards passing; 4 TD passes; perfect 158.3 passer rating. With wide receivers Amari Copper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb, the Cowpokes are going to be difficult to contain.
Tom Brady (New England) – He’s still pretty good for a guy 42-years-old. The precision passing game the Patriots showed off in the 33-3 home romp over the completely befuddled Pittsburgh Steelers was dazzling. Brady throwing to Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett and James White is the main reason the Patriots have replaced Kansas City as the favorite to win Super Bowl 54.
Baker Mayfield (Cleveland) – He wants to be the front man for the Browns so he should take much of the blame for the 43-13 home loss to Tennessee. He threw 3 INTs, was sacked 5 times and had a 64.0 passing rating. How quickly can the Browns bounce back? The next games are at the Jets on the Monday Night Football September 16, home to the LA Rams, at Baltimore, at San Francisco on Monday Night Football October 7, home to Seattle and at New England. Could they be 1-5 or 2-4?
Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis) – He’s destined for a bust in Canton but he’s was a 46-year-old bust in a 30-24 overtime loss at the Los Angeles Chargers. He missed two field goals and an extra point.
Management of the Miami Dolphins – Don’t blame the players. They tried and they’ll keep trying. This is their job. But they’re grossly overmatched by design. They were outgained 643-200 and has the ball for only 19:53 in a 59-19 loss in Baltimore. There will be more games like this. Hopefully October 20 at New Era Field and November 17 in Miami.
Coach Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh) – New England’s Bill Belichick gave Tomlin a coaching lesson in a 33-3 home romp. The Steelers appeared unprepared for New England’s trickery. And trailing 20-0, Tomlin opted to kick a field goal instead of trying to score from the 1-yard line in the third quarter. It was not much of a vote of confidence to his players.
Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay) – He threw three interceptions, was sacked three times and had a 45.4 passer rating in a 31-17 home loss to San Francisco. Is he ever going to make it big in the NFL?
...AROUND THE NFL...
The most significant injury so far in Week 1 is Jacksonville QB Nick Foles’ broken collarbone. He’ll be sidelined indefinitely and his replacement will be sixth-round draft pick Gardner Minshew of Washington State...Jansas City WR Tyreek Hill has a shoulder injury and will be sidelined for at least several weeks...Indianapolis WR Devin Funchess suffered a broken collarbone.
Xxxx RB LeSean McCoy had a nice debut with the Kansas City Chiefs: 10 carries for 81 yards (longest 31 yards) and 1 catch for 10 yards. He’s a good fit in Kansas City and Devin Singletary might be a good fit in Buffalo.
SPRAYING HITS TO ALL BASEBALL FIELDS...
The New York Yankees continue to close in on the banged-up Minnesota Twins for the MLB home-run lead.
The Yankees have 268 HRs – one more than the MLB-record 267 they set last season.
The Yankees play at Detroit Tuesday night. Journeyman Edwin Jackson is scheduled to start for the Tigers. In 57 innings this season with Toronto and Detroit, he has allowed 18 HRs.
Minnesota has 275 HRs with 19 games left. The entire Twins outfield is hurting. Byron Buxton has as shoulder problem. He can run and field but he can’t swing a bat and might not be ready for the postseason. Minnesota is a much better team when he’s in the lineup.
Xxxx Houston rookie sensation Yordan Alvarez was 4-for-6 with 2 HRs and 6 RBI Sunday in a 21-1 home romp over Seattle. In 70 games since being promoted, the 22-year-old slugger is hitting .314 with 23 HRs and 70 RBI.
Xxxx The Battle of the Top Three:
Houston Astros 94-50 record; +240 run differential
New York Yankees 94-50; +169
Los Angeles Dodgers 93-53; +233.
COLUMBUS CLIPPERS CAN SNAP GOVERNORS’ CUP TIE WITH RED WINGS
The defending champion Durham Bulls will play the Columbus Clippers in the opening game of the best-of-five International League Governors’ Cup playoffs Monday night in Columbus.
Since the Governors’ Cup was introduced in 1933, Columbus and the Rochester Red Wings are tied for the most championships at 10. Rochester last won in 1997 and has lost in the finals 11 times. Columbus has lost in the finals 8 times.
Durham has won the Governors’ Cup six times, impressive considering that the Bulls entered the IL in 1998.
In the semifinals ending Saturday night, Durham swept the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 3-0 and Columbus beat Gwinnett 3 games to 1.
Saturday night, Durham crushed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 17-2. Former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell started for Durham but lasted only two-thirds of an inning and former Red Wing Aaron Slegers earned the victory with 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Columbus beat Gwinnett 5-4.
Syracuse was demolished 63-20 last Saturday by the host Maryland Terrapins and it could’ve been worse. SU’s defense, supposedly the strength of the team, was awful. The Terps had 397 yards offense in the first half and averaged 7.9 yards on 45 carries for the game.
SU was expected to host ESPN College GameDay in a battle of 2-0 teams – if top-ranked Clemson versus SU had held up. Clemson beat 12th-ranked Texas A&M 24-10 but the Orange got crushed by Maryland. The ESPN first-string TV production will instead be at the Iowa at Iowa State Game
Clemson is the early 27 ½-point favorited at Syracuse Saturday. The last time the two teams playerd at the Dome, Clemson was favored by 24 points and lost 27-24.
Xxxx Alabama’s Nick Saban did it again last Saturday. His second-ranked Crimson Tide were favored by 55 points over visiting New Mexico State, He has a habit of not running up the score against outclassed opponents. Alabama led by “only” 55 points after three quarters. New Mexico State “won” the fourth quarter 3-0 and lost the game 62-10 but covered the point spread.
Xxxx Cheers to McQuaid for a 27-21 upset victory over defending Class AA state champion Aquinas Saturday afternoon at Frontier Field in the first-ever football game at Frontier Field. Attendance was 4,127. It was McQuaid’s first in the rivalry since 2006.
HAPPY SPORTS BIRTHDAY TO...
Monday, September 9
Billy Hamilton 29...Craig Hayward 30...Jose Aldo 33...Luka Modric’ 34...J.R. Smith 34...Edwin Jackson 36...Mike Hampton 47...Kevin Hatcher 53...B.J. Armstrong 52...Dan Majerle 54...Todd Zeile 54...Walter Davis 65...Joe Theismann 70...Ron McDole 80. Kelsey Chow 28, Lauren Daigle 28, Adam Sandler 53 and Hugh Grant 59 are invited to the birthday party.
Tuesday, September 10
Brooke Henderson 22...Samantha Kerr 26...Desmond Trufant 29...Brandon Marshall 30...Joran Staal 31...Anthony Swarzak 34...Joey Votto 36...Sammy Knight 44...Ben Wallace 45...Joe Nieuwendyk 53...Tim Harris 55...Randy Johnson 56...Gary Danielson 68...Bob Lanier 71....Charlie Waters 71. Arnold Palmer was born on this date 90 years ago and died in 2016.
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...
1958 (61 years ago), Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente fit three triples in a game.
1960 (58 years ago), the Denver Broncos beat the Boston Patriots 13-129 in the American Football League’s first game before 21,597 fans at Boston’s Nickerson Field.
1965 (54 years ago), Sandy Koufax pitched his fourth no-hitter, a 1-0 perfect game over the Chicago Cubs.
1972 (47 years ago), the Soviet Union beat the United States 51-50 in the most controversial game in international basketball history; with the US leading 50-49, the final three seconds were replayed three times and the Soviets finally won.
1979 (40 years ago), John McEnroe won his first tennis Grand Slam singles title, beating Vitas Gerulaitis in the US Open.
1992 (27 years ago), Robin Yount became the 17th MLB player to reach 3,000 hits.
2913 (6 years ago), Spain’s Rafael Nadal won his second US Open singles title, over Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
1918 (101 years ago), players on both sides threatened to strike the World Series unless each winning player received $2,500 and each losing player received 1,000.
1950 (69 years ago), Joe DiMaggio became the first player to hit three home runs at Washington’s Griffith Stadium.
1960 (59 years ago), Mickey Mantle hit his reported 643-foot home run over the right-field roof in Detroit.
1861 (58 years ago), a crash at the Italian Grand Prix resulted in the deaths of Herman driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators hit by his Ferrari.
1966 (53 years ago), Muhammad Ali TKOd Karl Mildenberger in 12 for the heavyweight boxing title.
1972 (47 years ago), American Frank Shorter won the men’s marathon at the Munich Olympics.