You know the Bills have had a rough history when they can completely blow a game like they did last night, and you can think of like five worse that have happened to them over the years off the top of your head. Buffalo used a poorly-timed fumble on a kickoff that never should’ve been returned to come from ahead and lose to the Patriots, 25-24, in both teams’ season opener.
(These guys have three Super Bowl rings between them)
It wasn’t a completely devastating loss for the Bills (they were, of course, supposed to lose). It’s not like Vincent Gallo’s going to make a movie about it or anything. But at this rate, the people of upstate New York are just going to start hoping the team moves to Toronto so they don’t have to be so miserable all the time. They also should be happy to know that Brady told his New England teammates that he “knew” the Bills would let them back into the game late.
Tom Brady, who was dressed like Hugh Millen, was playing like him early on, throwing an interception that Aaron Schobel returned 26 yards for a TD to give the Bills a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish until Brady hit Ben Watson with 50 seconds left. But overall, Brady looked like his old self, going 39-for-53 for 378 yards and two TDs in the last 2:06. He even told teammates that he knew they would win, even when down 24-13 late.
The big problem, of course, was Leodis McKelvin’s decision to bring the ball out of the end zone when the hands team was preparing for a possible onside kick. He actually got past the 30-yard line, but then he decided to try to break a few tackles…and then, he didn’t have the ball anymore. From there on out, it couldn’t be any more predictable.
It may be just a regular season game, but the Bills aren’t taking this well. The BOSTON GLOBE relayed the gloom of that locker room:
Just the sight of safety Donte Whitner captured the entire mood of the Buffalo Bills’ locker room.
He was as vulnerable as anyone - tears running down his face, heavy sniffs breaking up his words. The hurt he felt after having what could have been a season-opening upset of the predetermined kings of the AFC East slip through his team’s hands and instead having to live with a 25-24 loss was enough for the entire room.
As for Brady and the Patriots, there’s plenty to be read about them elsewhere. I just thought that Brady shooing Suzy Kolber away as she tried to get a few seconds to ask him a stupid question afterward was hilarious. Good to see he’s already in midseason form. From the Hall of Way Too Much Work For Way Too Little Payoff:
And who knew that the Raiders-Chargers game would end up being interesting? Even Greenburg and Golic didn’t completely ruin it. San Diego dodged several huge bullets in this one, including giving up an inexcusable 57-yard bomb for a touchdown on 4th-and-15 with 2:34 to go in the game that put them behind 20-17.
But Philip Rivers had one last chance, and the Raiders stopped defending anyone whose job it was to catch passes, and the Chargers marched right down the field and scored the game-winner with 18 seconds left. Final score: 24-20, San Diego. It’s the 12th straight time the Chargers have beaten the Raiders.
Rivers, however, couldn’t resist cementing his reputation as a giant d-bag earlier in the game, when he yelled at Raiders DE Greg Warren while he was on the ground and tossed the ball at his face. The 15-yard penalty Rivers got would’ve been a big deal had the Raiders gone on to win the game, but all is surely forgiven now.
Also strange in this game was a call late in the first half that took an Oakland touchdown off the board. JaMarcus Russell hit Louis Murphy on what looked like a 19-yard score. Murphy caught the ball, took two steps, then went to the ground, and the ball was jarred loose, but it looked like Murphy kept his arm under the ball. Referee Carl Cheffers claimed, after a replay, that Murphy needed to keep control of the ball all the way to the ground, and they ruled that the ball came loose (even though he took two steps first and it appeared as if it was inconclusive that he lost complete control of the ball). I understand that rules are rules, and Cheffers was just doing his job. But everyone in America knows that was a touchdown, and weird technicalities about keeping the ball to the ground even when you take two full steps need to be addressed. In other words, all these years and replay still doesn’t work right.
(It’s California, in September, and you just played football. What’s up with the tuque, eh?)
So, is Juan Martin del Potro the next superstar of tennis, or just a guy who caught Federer on a bad day? He only won three games off of Roger in a straight-set loss at the Australian Open early this year, but nearly pulled off the monumental upset in the French semifinals in June, fading to a five-set defeat after leading 2-1. The third time (at least in the majors) proved to be the charm for del Potro, who looked every bit Federer’s equal through four sets in Flushing last night.
And then, stunningly, in what is usually Federer’s time to step on the throttle, it was the greatest of all-time who folded like an origami crane. (Wow, that’s a bad simile.) Del Potro broke early in the final set, then cruised to a 6-2 win and his first major title. Del Potro becomes the only person other than Rafael Nadal who has beaten Federer in a Grand Slam final.
Despite del Potro’s size and power, he won mostly by outplaying Federer. He rarely unleashed big serves, instead preferring to get into longer rallies with the five-time defending champ and showing off a ridiculous forehand that repeatedly put Federer on the defensive. It didn’t hurt that Federer also served like a Denny’s waitress at 4 a.m. (sorry, it’s been a long day.)
And while the Serena Williams controversy seems to be dying down, Federer showed a bit of his own temper in the third set when he thought Del Potro waited too long to challenge a line call. In Federer’s defense, he had a point, and didn’t really seem to get that agitated until the chair umpire told him to be quiet. Then, Roger dropped a s**** (the word, not actual feces) on national TV, along with what sure sounds like an f-bomb. Somehow, I don’t think America’s sportswriters will be up in arms about this tomorrow (though Roger never takes the step of threatening the chair umpire in any way). Language likely NSFW:
There’s never been someone like Federer, but his dominance has to end sometime. There’s no way to know if this is a sign of that, but it will sure make the sport more interesting heading to Melbourne next year. If del Potro can join guys like Djokovic and Roddick in pushing Nadal and Federer, that can only mean good things for viewers. Heck, the men’s game might actually be more exciting than the women’s game for once (well, other than the short skirts and stuff).
(Don’t worry, Caroline, we still love you)
• Don’t think that the NHL’s problems are going away after they figure out the Coyotes fiasco. The TORONTO SUN says the Florida Panthers are in a similar boat and the league might have to go through all of this again soon. Perhaps playing 35 miles from Miami in the middle of nowhere isn’t the best idea, after all.
• The small town of Terrace, British Columbia won the right (in a Canadian reality show) to host the NHL’s first preseason game, and packed their 1,000-seat “arena” for Vancouver’s 2-1 win over the Islanders. Too bad CBC didn’t think it should be on national TV, despite having the entire “Hockey Night in Canada” staff on hand.
• The Phoenix Suns are insistent that playing another game outside in Indian Wells, California is a great idea. So great that they’re now selling tickets for half price.
• Yesterday I wondered how Michigan could be ranked in the AP top 25. Well, it appears as if it’s mostly because of this a-clown, a guy named Doug Lesmerises, who voted the Wolverines #6 on his official AP ballot. He also has Alabama at #1, BYU and #3, and Houston at #4 — all of which are mildly defensible (even the odd Houston pick). Hey, the guy’s entitled to his opinion, but this just illustrates why the polls are ridiculous. And this is the good poll!
• Taylor Swift debuted the Nashville Predators’ new alternate jersey in her concert in Nashville on Saturday night. An outraged Kanye West stormed the stage and claimed that hockey doesn’t care about black people. Which would be the most reasonable thing Kanye West has ever said.
(”Beyonce should be wearing that jersey!”)
• Legendary radio voice Ernie Harwell, who has declined treatment for cancer, is best known for his many years with the Detroit Tigers. But few remember that Harwell was the first radio voice of the Orioles, who moved to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954. The BALTIMORE SUN reminisces.
• By the way, they’re still playing baseball now. The Giants beat Colorado 9-1 to move within 3 1/2 games in the NL wild card race with less than three weeks to play. The teams play two more games, and it’s tough to imagine San Fran staying close without sweeping this series.
• MINNPOST.COM says the MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE is going to start charging readers to view certain Vikings content online. The MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL has been doing this successfully for years, and this kind of thing is clearly going to become more common as print journalism continues its slow demise.
• The BOSTON HERALD’s Jessica Frangen says Tom Brady’s knee is worth about $100 million to the Patriots. Which is about $99.99 million more than Al Davis‘ brain is currently worth.
• The Internet is apparently abuzz that new US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro is maybe dating Argentinian model Luciana Salazar, who was seen sitting in del Potro’s box during the tournament: