Patriots Blank Falcons For Fifth Straight Win
The New England Patriots relied on the defensive side of the ball Thursday night to give the Atlanta Falcons not chance on their home field, keeping Bill Belichick's team on fire as of late. The Pats forced four turnovers, highlighted by a Kyle Van Noy pick-six late in a 25-0 shutout victory, their fifth straight win. The performance pulls New England in to a tie for first place with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. Mac Jones had a touchdown pass of 19 yards to Nelson Agholor, as the 7-4 Patriots have allowed just 13 points over their past three games. New England was coming off a 45-7 blowout of the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, and then sacked Matt Ryan four times and intercepted in the win. The 4-6 Falcons were shut out for the first time since a 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers on December 13th, 2015, and were coming off a 43-3 blowout at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys four days earlier. They will visit the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars with a chance to get back on track next week, while the Patriots are back home against the Tennessee Titans.
Bucs' Antonio Brown Obtained Fake Vaccine Card
Veteran wide receiver just can't seem to stay away from the drama off the field, and now it involves COVID-19. It was reported on Thursday by the Tampa Bay Times that the wideout is being accused of obtaining a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. Brown reportedly got the card from his former personal chef, as he asked his girlfriend to get the card that says he received the Johnson & Johnson shot over the summer. The reports add that Brown was unwilling to get the vaccine due to possible side effects, and all of this comes from the personal chef himself, Steven Ruiz. The former chef has decided to go public with this information after Brown refused to pay him $10,000 owed to him. Brown has missed a game this season after testing positive for COVID-19 in Week 3, but the Buccaneers have reported receiving vaccination cards from all players on their roster.
Angels' Ohtani, Phillies' Harper Take Home MVP Awards
The Los Angeles Angels may have had another season where they fell short of a Postseason appearance, thanks in part to Mike Trout's injury, but that did not prevent Shohei Ohtani taking home the honors he deserved. The pitcher/designated hitter unanimously won the American League MVP Award on Thursday, as the two-way Japan star caps off his year with the highest of individual honors. Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes, becoming the fifth unanimous MVP since 2000, joining Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Albert Pujols, and Barry Bonds. He beat out Toronto Blue Jays teammates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien, with Guerrero getting 29 of the 30 second-place votes. Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez was also in the top four, but Semien got 24 third place votes to finish ahead of him. The Angels' star became the first player in MLB history to start the All-Star Game as a pitcher and a designated hitter, while also being the first in baseball history to hit 30 home runs with at least 10 pitching appearances. The 27-year-old clobbered 46 home runs and made 23 starts on the mound, as his .965 OPS at the plate was good for second in baseball. Other numbers found on his stat sheet includes eight triples and 26 stolen bases on one side of the ball, with a 3.18 ERA, 156 strikeouts, and 46 walks over 130.1 innings on the mound, making it the most unprecedented season we will witness.
On the National League side, it wasn't as historic, but it was another MVP from a non-Postseason team, as Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies was the award over Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres. Harper got 17 of the 30 first-place votes, while Soto got six and Tatis received two, with Brandon Crawford and Trea Turner rounding out the top five. The 29-year-old Harper is the fourth player since 2000 with multiple MVPs before the age of 30, joining Mike Trout, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols. Harper won the award unanimously with the Washington Nationals after the 2015 season, and then earned this season's with a .615 slugging percentage, while batting .309 with 35 home runs, 84 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and a major league leading 42 doubles. He was the fourth outfielder in major league history to have a season with at least 100 runs, 100 walks, 40 doubles, and 35 home runs, putting him on a rare list that deserves high praise.
Rockies Give Catcher Diaz Three-Year Extension
The Colorado Rockies made a move behind the plate on Thursday evening, giving catcher Elias Diaz a three-year contract extension that is worth $14.5 million. The official terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it does cover one year of arbitration and two free agent years. The 31-year-old is coming off a season that saw him set career highs with 18 home runs and a 42.1% caught stealing rate, which led the National League. He finished the year batting .246 with 44 runs driven in over 106 games played.
Curry Powers Warriors' Comeback; Butler, Heat Rout Wizards
Steph Curry is on another level this season, and I don't think anyone knew another level existed with him, and he showed that off in Cleveland on Thursday night. Curry went off for 20 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, sending the Golden State Warriors to a 104-89 comeback win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. That hot finish helped his team overcome a 13-point deficit, as he made 8-of-12 shot and 4-of-7 three-pointers, including three in a row, over the final 12 minutes. That helped the Warriors outscore the Cavs, 36-8, to end the game. That included a 17-0 run to start the quarter, holding the home team to 12 straight empty possessions, and the two-time MVP Curry now leads the NBA at 29.5 points per game. And the Miami Heat took care of business on their home floor, right to the top of the East with a 112-97 rout of the Washington Wizards. Jimmy Butler had 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting and made all of his 10 free throws to get his second straight 30-point contest. Bam Adebayo chipped in 20 points in his first game back from injury, as the Heat moved to 11-5 atop the conference. Bradley Beal was back for Washington and had 30 points on the road, but they have now dropped two in a row and sit at 10-5 for the season.
Other key scores include Ja Morant scoring 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter of the Memphis Grizzlies' 120-108 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Tyrese Maxey had 22 points, while Seth Curry added 20, as the Philadelphia 76ers took down the Denver Nuggets, 103-89. And Rudy Gay made his season debut with 20 points in the Utah Jazz's 119-103 victory against the Toronto Raptors.
Xavier Hands Ohio State First Loss of Season
The 19th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes have fallen in the rankings this season despite three straight wins, as they have had multiple close calls already. Well Thursday night was worse than a close call, as unranked Xavier took them down in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, 71-65, for the second upset of this event. Jack Nunge had 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Paul Scruggs added 14 points of his own, as the Buckeyes joined the fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines to get upset this week in the Big Ten. After trailing the entire night, Ohio State did get within two points with 17 seconds left, but that was as close as it was going to get for them on this night. E.J. Liddell had a season-low 17 points, as the unranked Xavier team moved to a perfect 3-0 on their season.
Other key scores saw third-ranked Kansas, 22nd-ranked St. Bonaventure, and 24th-ranked Florida move to 3-0 on the season with wins over Stony Brook, Milwaukee, and Boise State respectively.
McDavid Lifts Oilers in Shootout, Rielly Scores Twice in Leafs' Win
Connor McDavid dazzled the hockey world with his unworldly talent that he displays on a nightly basis, and he solely lifted his team to another victory. The star scored in regulation and then in the shootout for the Edmonton Oilers' 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night. Stuart Skinner made 45 saves, including two perfect saves in the shootout, helping the Oilers move to 7-1-1 on their home ice. Nikolaj Ehlers scored for the Jets, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end. Connor Hellebuyck was his usual solid self with 31 saves, but that not enough, despite McDavid giving the Jets a chance late in the third period with a double-minor penalty for high sticking. Meanwhile, Moran Rielly scored twice, powering the Toronto Maple Leafs over the New York Rangers, 2-1, in Toronto. The Leafs got 27 saves from Jack Campbell and have now won 10 of their past 11 games, including five in a row, since suffering a four-game losing streak. Dryden Hunt scored the lone goal for the Rangers, who got 28 saves from Igor Shesterkin. And just like that, the Leafs have overcome their 2-4-1 start to the season, sitting just one point behind the Florida Panthers atop the division.
Other key scores saw Spencer Knight make 45 saves to help the Florida Panthers down the New Jersey Devils, 4-1, at home. Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point each scored in the shootout for a 4-3 Tampa Bay Lightning win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Seth Jarvis's tie-breaking goal helped the Carolina Hurricanes snap the Anaheim Ducks' eight-game winning streak with a 2-1 road victory. And Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves for his NHL-leading fifth shutout as the Calgary Flames blanked the Buffalo Sabres, 5-0, in Buffalo.