Thursday, December 8

Bills, Eagles just keep winning big games, plus Gerrit Cole, Yankees force Game 5

The Football Five 🏈

  • The Jets have their first three-game winning streak since 2019 after dominating the Packers at Lambeau Field, 27-10. Breece Hall went for 116 yards and a score on the ground, Sauce Gardner had a hilarious postgame celebration and Green Bay earned an “F” in NFL expert John Breech’s grades.
  • Speaking of New-York-but-not-really-New-York, the Giants are 5-1 for the first time since 2009 after a 24-20 comeback win over the Ravens. Trailing by 10 late, the Giants got touchdowns from Daniel Bellinger and Saquon Barkley sandwiched around a Julian Love interception in the final 6:01 of the game.
  • Tampa Bay’s struggles continue. The Buccaneers fell to the Steelers, 20-18, and Tom Brady cursed out his offensive linemen. Mitch Trubisky made several big plays for Pittsburgh after Kenny Pickett left the game with a concussion.
  • Bailey Zappe threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, Rhamondre Stevenson ran for two more scores and the Patriots dominated the Browns, 38-15, to get back to .500 this season
  • Joe Burrow accounted for four touchdowns — including two on passes to Ja’Marr Chase — and the Bengals rallied past the Saints, 30-26.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE BUFFALO BILLS…

Last season, the Buffalo Bills couldn’t stop the Kansas City Chiefs when they needed to most. But they’re tired of hearing about last season. This is a new season, and they proved it Sunday.

Josh Allen threw an absolutely perfect game-winning touchdown to Dawson Knox with just over one minute remaining, and Taron Johnson intercepted Patrick Mahomes on the ensuing drive as Buffalo pulled out a thrilling 24-20 win.

  • Allen finished with 329 passing yards and three touchdowns — one each to Knox, Gabriel Davis and Stefon Diggs.
  • Mahomes had moments of brilliance and finished with 338 passing yards and two scores, but he also threw two interceptions
  • Von Miller — acquired to help win games like these — did just that with two sacks, including a crucial one on 3rd down that gave the Bills the ball back for their game-winning drive.

Week 6 is far from the be-all and end-all. Last year, the Bills went to Kansas City in Week 5 and won 38-20, and we know what happened in the playoffs. But it’s hard to get a more impressive regular-season win than this, and the Bills will certainly cherish it as they head into their bye week.

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Great football teams aren’t great because of how they look when things are going well. It’s about how they respond when things are going poorly. Sunday night, the Eagles saw their 20-0 lead shrink to 20-17 early in the fourth quarter, only to respond with a statement drive: 13 plays — the first 11 of which were rushes — for 75 yards, taking over seven minutes and resulting in a Jalen Hurts touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith.

The Cowboys never threatened again, and Philadelphia moved to 6-0 with a 26-17 win.

  • Both of the Eagles’ star wide receivers — Smith and A.J. Brown — caught touchdowns while Miles Sanders ran for one.
  • Cooper Rush, who entered this year with zero interceptions, threw three, including two to Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
  • The Eagles are 6-0 for just the third time in franchise history (2004, 1981). They also head into their bye week.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mention

Yankees force Game 5; Down go the Dodgers and Braves ⚾


Getty Images

Two teams, two seasons on the line, one very big night in the Bronx. The Yankees topped the Guardians, 4-2, setting up a decisive Game 5 tonight. The Yankees led 3-0 through two innings thanks to an early RBI single by Anthony Rizzo and a two-run home run by Harrison Bader.

Gerrit Cole pitched seven strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts. One of those runs came via a home run from Josh Naylor, who was not afraid to celebrate as he rounded the bases.

  • Unlike Saturday night, the Yankees’ bullpen was fine. Clay Holmes pitched a scoreless eighth and Wandy Peralta closed things out with a perfect ninth.
  • Cleveland is 1-7 all-time in winner-take-all games; New York is 15-15. Aaron Civale will start for Cleveland while Jameson Taillon will get the ball for New York, though it will likely be an all-hands-on-deck approach. Here’s our preview.
  • The winner will get the Astros, who finished off a sweep of the Mariners with an 18-inning, 1-0 win Saturday. Yes, you read that right: 18 innings, 1-0. Jeremy Peña provided the only run on a solo homer.

The NL Championship Series, meanwhile, is already set. The Phillies hammered their way past the Braves with an 8-3 Game 4 win Saturday shortly before the Padres advanced past the Dodgers with a 5-3 Game 4 win. It sets up a fascinating NLCS, which starts tomorrow night, so we’ll have more in tomorrow’s newsletter! One thing’s for sure, though: San Diego’s and Philadelphia’s stars have shined.

As for the surprising series losers…

Tennessee moves to No. 3 after wild win over Alabama 😲


USATSI

There’s something special brewing in Knoxville, and there’s plenty of history being rewritten to prove it. Tennessee topped Alabama 52-49 in an instant classic on Saturday night. 

Volunteers kicker Chase McGrath knocked through a wobbly 40-yard field goal as time expired, just three plays after Alabama’s Will Reichard missed a potential go-ahead 50-yard field goal. Moments after the kick was made, there was a field storming for the ages.

  • Hendon Hooker threw for 385 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another 56 yards. Jalin Wyatt had six catches for 207 yards and a school-record five touchdowns and celebrated with Peyton Manning.
  • The 52 points are the most allowed by Alabama since Sewanee scored 54 in 1907(!!!)
  • Not to be outdone (at least not by much), Bryce Young had 465 passing yards and two scores. Jahmyr Gibbs had 151 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.
  • The Volunteers snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide; it was their first win over a Nick Saban-coached Alabama squad.
  • The win moves Tennessee into the College Football Playoff in Jerry Palm’s latest bowl projections.

While Young was magnificent and showed the poise and accuracy that earned him the Heisman Trophy last year, Hooker has taken the lead in the race for that award this year, writes college football reporter Shehan Jeyarajah. More importantly, though, Tennessee is officially back, writes college football insider Dennis Dodd.

  • Dodd: “Tennessee still has to go to Georgia on Nov. 5. Alabama certainly isn’t out of it with a chance to run the table, win the SEC West and play for the SEC title. If you game this thing out, Saturday’s result left open the possibility of all three SEC teams getting into the CFP. But that’s looking way too far ahead and ignoring the magnificent presence of Saturday night on Rocky Top. What was left in a last-second, three-point win was a wondrous realization: After 15 long years, the smoke had finally cleared.

The Volunteers are also back… in the top five of the AP Poll for the first time since 2005. Here’s the entire top 10 of the latest poll:

  • 1. Georgia (prev: 1)
  • 2. Ohio State (prev: 2)
  • 3. Tennessee (prev: 6)
  • 4. Michigan (prev: 5)
  • 5. Clemson (prev: 4)
  • 6. Alabama (prev: 3)
  • 7. Ole Miss (prev: 9)
  • 8. TCU (prev: 13)
  • 9. UCLA (prev: 11)
  • 10. Oregon (prev: 12)

Here are more top storylines from a wild CFB weekend:

Deontay Wilder returns with first-round KO of Robert Helenius 🥊


Getty Images

Fighting for the first time since losing to Tyson Fury over a year ago, Deontay Wilder made his return heard loud and clear with a first-round knockout of Robert Helenius. It was the 21st knockout of Wilder’s career, and, even at 36, his hammer of a right hand remains as dangerous as ever, writes boxing expert Brent Brookhouse.

  • Brookhouse: “Wilder called for possible matchups with either unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk or former unified champ Andy Ruiz Jr. to be next. … Wilder is still arguably the most dangerous puncher the heavyweight division has ever seen and could make a meeting with either opponent intriguing, even if just for the possibility of that one punch landing clean.”

What we’re watching Monday 📺

Guardians at Yankees, 7:07 p.m. on TBS
🏈 Broncos at Chargers, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN





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