All the Sports Stories You Need to Know This AM
The Patriots empire strikes back, MLB updates, lopsided college football + more
After serving a four-game suspension for deflating footballs, Tom Brady was back under center for the New England Patriots, to the joy of Patriots’ fans and fantasy football owners everywhere. In his first game back, Brady led the team to a 33–13 victory against the Cleveland Browns, driving them to touchdowns on each of his first three drives. He finished the day throwing for 406 yards and three touchdowns. The one noticeable difference in Brady’s game, however, was the lack of touchdown connections to everyone’s favorite bro, Rob Gronkowksi. Brady instead threw all three of his TD passes to another tight end, Martellus Bennett. No matter who he threw to, though, the ball seemed to stick. The Patriots’ offense had more yards in the first half than in all of last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.
What does Brady’s return mean? The rest of the AFC should be on the lookout. While Brady wasn’t facing the stiffest competition in the Browns, he showed that those four games away from the team didn’t hinder his performance. Brady will face some harder tests in the next few weeks against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and then Seattle and Denver later on in the season, games in which we’ll get to see what the team is really made of. This team may not be as skilled as Patriots in the past, but with Brady under center and Belichick on the headset, the Patriots are likely to be a Super Bowl favorite.
What about the rest of the league? The Minnesota Vikings are the only unbeaten team left, as the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos, along with their rookie quarterbacks, fell for the first time. The San Francisco 49ers and head coach Chip Kelly are considering starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick over Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick hasn’t seen any playing time this season, but has garnered quite a bit of media attention since he knelt during the national anthem (see our conversation with fans at a recent game above). The Buffalo Bills have really “turned on the Jets,” winning their third consecutive game and allowing head coach Rex Ryan a quick sigh of relief.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! The Blue Jays are definitely celebrating: After a nail-biter that went back and forth and into extra innings, the Jays swept their series (for the first time in franchise history) with the Rangers and are the first team into the Championship Series. Who will they play? Well, they’ll be watching the Boston-Cleveland series just as intently as those fan bases.
Are you one of those Red Sox or Indians fans? Sorry you’ve been waiting so long (silly rain delays), but you finally get to watch Game 3 tonight! (At least, we hope you do. Hear that, weather gods?) Cleveland has a chance to clinch the series and move on to face the Jays, but that may be tough to do at Fenway.
The Cubs will be taking their 2–0 series lead to AT&T Park in SF tonight too. Fun fact: On their way to potentially cracking a 108-year-old curse, the Cubs broke another 92-year-old record on Saturday when relief pitcher Travis Wood became the first backup at that position to hit a home run in the playoffs since 1924. Can MadBum (Madison Bumgarner)’s mad pitching skills save the Giants’ season? Our San Fran-based team members sure hope so. (Well, mostly.)
Meanwhile, the Nationals and Dodgers are all tied at 1–1 in their series after the Dodgers couldn’t hang on to their 2–0 lead Sunday and ended up losing 5–2; we’re sure they’re itching to take advantage of home field the next two games.
Michigan 78, Rutgers 0
There were a couple of lopsided college football games this weekend, but #4 Michigan vs. Rutgers absolutely takes the cake. Secondhand embarrassment? Definitely a thing. It got so bad that when Rutgers finally got its first “first down” of the day in the fourth quarter while down 71–0, a Rutgers fan actually got a hug from a rival Wolverine in the stands. And back in Ann Arbor, Ruth’s Chris Steak House had to quickly cap their promised discount at 50% off because 78% was just too much.
Alana Beard is Killin’ the Game
You already know from the interview we did with her a couple months ago that Alana Beard is boss. Turns out she’s pretty slammin’ on the court too: Sunday, she hit a long jumper at the buzzer to give her L.A. Sparks the win in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals against the Minnesota Lynx in Minneapolis. You go, girl!
Go, Brownie, Go
On Friday, Harrison Browne came out as the first openly transgender pro athlete in the U.S. (with full support from the entire Buffalo Beauts organization and the National Women’s Hockey League, which says they are working on a policy that includes transgender athletes). The season started out strong as Browne ended up scoring his and his team’s first goal of the season (and their only goal of the game) in the Beauts’ loss to the Boston Pride that night.