Thinking Patrick Mahomes can do anything with anyone looked wayward last night.
This about sums it up:
The whole game shifted on this one play, and if it wasn’t that one:
Kansas City had survived an opening right hook from the Lions, and at the beginning of the second half had a touchdown lead and the ball when Kadarius Toney decided to volleyball set one to Brian Branch. KC was only down one when Toney forgot how his arms worked and that was about that. There’s no need to overplay this, as the Chiefs held the Lions under four yards per carry and to 21 points with their best defensive player at home waiting for his check. Toney catches either of these passes and KC almost certainly wins.
We know how this goes from here though. Kansas City will have maybe another rocky game or two in the opening few games because generally defending champs get a little bored in September and October and try to recalibrate what they have from what they lost from the previous season. Andy Reid will have a tetchy press conference somewhere in there, while Mahomes will assure everyone that everything is fine. And then the receivers will grow, and with more reps become more comfortable, and Travis Kelce will be back. By the time we get to December, it will look just like it has the past five years. You’ve seen this movie.
Probably why it’s best to enjoy it today. Even if it will make for some obnoxious Detroiters for the next few weeks while they ignore that the Red Wings will suck again.
The women’s semifinals contained just about a bit of everything on Thursday night. Topped off with the first one between Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova being delayed nearly an hour thanks to some environmental protesters. That was highlighted by one of them gluing his feet to the concrete floor of Arthur Ashe. Which…ouch?
Protesting isn’t about doing it where it’s convenient, and these four will certainly have grabbed a fair amount of attention. How much that does to solve climate change? More debatable, but A for effort.
As for the actual match, Gauff continued her run over the usually pretty crafty Muchova in straight sets. She had to use a little more variety than in previous rounds where she had just basically pushed her opponents off the course, going to a pretty loopy/spinny forehand to keep Muchova off-balance. It’s having that amount of tools that has caused Gauff to play the best tennis of her career so far.
It won’t be an All-American final though, as Aryna Sabalenka proved in the second semi that becoming No. 1 in the world, as she will do when this tournament is over, is about a lot more than just playing brilliant tennis as she overcame herself and Madison Keys. Sabalenka was turned to mush in the first set by Keys, losing 6-0 as Keys couldn’t miss and Sabalenka couldn’t hit a bull in the ass with a snow shovel. Sabalenka made 12 unforced errors in that first set as Keys piled up 12 winners, which essentially adds up to a bagel. Keys’s forehand was a doomsday device.
Sadly, Keys will be up all night and probably a few more as she served for the match and a return to the final at 5-3 in the second, and lost it as love. Sabalenka wasn’t brilliant in the second set until the tiebreaker (7-1), but piling up enough wins to become No. 1 means knowing how to hang around just long enough and just close enough even when you can’t find your game to take your opportunities. It’s the definition of grinding, which Sabalenka did.
The third set was a demonstration of power tennis from both, as there’s little subtlety to either’s game when they’re on. Sabalenka was broken early in the set but broke back, and once again in the tiebreak, she was immovable (10-4). She even overcame thinking she had it won at the normal 7:
It’s Sabalenka’s second Grand Slam final of the year, and she’s made the semis in all four. She demonstrated why by simply gutting it out with so many things malfunctioning, and giving a harsh lesson to Keys about what the top of the game looks like.
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