🏈NFL Off-field Drama
Where to start?: The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0) had their highly anticipated Thanksgiving game against the Baltimore Ravens (6-4) postponed to yesterday and then again to tomorrow night due to ongoing COVID-19 issues with both teams.
- As of yesterday, the Ravens had 22 players on the COVID-19 reserve list. For their part, the Steelers have placed four players, including running back (RB) and cancer survivor James Conner, on the list, too.
Yikes: Yikes is right. In other COVID-19 news, all four Denver Broncos quarterbacks (QBs) were put on the COVID-19 reserve list after one of them tested positive last week and the other three interacted with him without masks, leaving the team QB-less heading into yesterday’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
- The NFL chose not to postpone the game (cue eye roll), leaving the Broncos with little choice but to promote practice squad wide receiver (WR) Kendall Hinton to starting QB. The Broncos also tried to sign offensive assistant coach Rob Calabrese as back-up, but the league wouldn’t allow it.
- To no one’s surprise, NOLA won 31–3. Guess they won’t be making a Keanu Reeves movie about this game.
Is the NFL trying to fix this mess?: Apparently, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Moving in the right direction, the Saints and New England Patriots are the latest teams to be fined for protocol violations, and the league is also looking at bubbles for the playoffs.
Pats Win Over Cardinals, Revolution Move On in MLS Postseason
🏈Cue Folklore: It didn’t look good for the Pats early, but their goal-line stand at the end of the first half turned the tide. RB James White’s second touchdown of the game (and season) gave the Pats their first lead of the game.
- In the last play of the game, kicker Nick Folk came in clutch with the game-winning field goal, successfully wiping away a potentially costly interception thrown by QB Cam Newton, whose outfit was more fire than his play yesterday.
- After the game, head coach Bill Belichick finally acknowledged that his son Steve was calling the defensive shots. But with former Pats’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia available (he was recently fired as the Detroit Lions’ head coach), will we see him return to the New England sideline?
⚽️Revving up: For the first time since 2014, the Revolution are headed to the Eastern Conference finals! The Revs’ magical playoff run continues, following up their first-round upset of the top-ranked Philadelphia Union with yesterday’s 3–1 victory over Orlando City SC. Goalkeeper Matt Turner’s save in the 74th minute prevented Orlando from tying the game. Huge.
🏈Chargers and Rams Take Sloppy Losses
It hurts: The Rams had a chance to solidify their place atop the National Football Conference (NFC) West with a win yesterday, but instead dropped a frustrating 23–20 affair to the last-in-the-NFC-West, and v. injured, San Francisco 49ers. Rams’ QB Jared Goff had three turnovers and the offense just couldn’t find ways to score early.
- Although defensive tackle Aaron Donald tried to single-handedly will the Rams to victory with a forced fumble that sparked the Rams’ 17 points in the second half, SF sealed the deal with a game-winning field goal.
- Not only are the Rams now in a precarious position in a tightly contested NFC West, the loss marks four straight defeats for LA in the intrastate rivalry against the Niners. Ugh.
Here we go again: It bears asking every week: is it time for Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn to go? Last week, the Bolts made a coaching change at special teams (although it didn’t seem to help much yesterday, as they missed yet another extra point kick...). But with Lynn’s perplexing clock management decisions in the Chargers’ 27–17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, we think the changes may need to go even higher up the ladder.
- Still, some silver linings in the loss? Defensive end Joey Bosa’s single-game career-high three sacks and RB Austin Ekeler’s solid return from a hamstring injury, accruing 44 rushing and 85 passing yards. The little things.
Bears Extend Losing Streak
🏈When will it end?: QB Mitch Trubisky earned his first start since Week 3, but despite a serviceable performance, the switch from Nick Foles didn’t seem to make much of a difference. He threw for three touchdowns and 242 yards, but was not without missteps: he also threw two interceptions, a direct result of poor decisions to throw into heavy coverage.
- Aside from the Bears’ usual offensive woes, Green Bay’s offense marched down the field all game, seemingly unaffected by the Bears top-ranked defense. Usually it’s the defense which keeps Chicago in the game, but last night they left us wanting more.
🏀College rundown: The U of I Fighting Illini’s basketball season is already off to a hot start. The women won their opener against the Indiana State Sycamores 68–49 while the No. 8 ranked men’s team is 3-0. Yessir!
- The men face their first top 25-ranked opponent on Wednesday when they travel to Texas to take on the No. 2 Baylor Bears. Game on!
🏈Jets Remain Winless, Giants Atop NFC East
Sad, beautiful, tragic: After missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, Jets QB Sam Darnold returned to the field yesterday and looked...just so-so. Although the Jets’ three top receivers started together with Darnold for the first time this season, he completed only 16 of 27 passes, failed to throw a ball into the end zone and threw two interceptions in the 20–3 loss.
- The Jets are 0-11, Darnold hasn’t thrown a touchdown since September, and fans are desperately asking what will fix it. Many think a new head coach is needed, and others are asking: Trevor, is that you?
Top of the heap: It wasn’t pretty, but the Giants beat the Bengals 19–17 yesterday, securing their third straight win in the process. Even though it was great to watch the G-men force turnovers and make crucial field goals, it came at a cost with QB Daniel Jones leaving in the third quarter with a “pretty bad” hamstring injury. Jones will be undergoing tests today to determine the extent of the damage. Sad.