Tennis

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs survive vs. Chargers, plus the end of a tennis era

Happy Friday, everyone!

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Almost all NFL games come down to a few crucial plays. A missed assignment here, a drop there, a turnover there and wins become losses — and vice versa. On Thursday, in the crucial moments, the Chiefs were the ones who made those plays, rallying from a 17-7 deficit to beat the Chargers 27-24 in a big AFC West showdown.

  • The biggest play of the night came with the game tied 17-17 early in the fourth quarter, with the Chargers facing 1st-and-Goal at the 3-yard line: Rookie cornerback Jaylen Watson took advantage of a miscommunication between Justin Herbert and Gerald Everett, intercepting the pass and returning it 99 yards for a pick-six.
  • Later, Clyde-Edwards-Helaire ripped off a career-long 52-yard run to set up a field goal that extended the lead to 10 points. It was the longest run by a Chiefs running back since 2019.
  • Patrick Mahomes was somewhat quiet but still solid: 24 for 35, 235 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions.
  • Since 2018, Mahomes is 8-7 (.533 win pct) in games in which he trails by 10+ points at any point; all other quarterbacks are 141-796-4 (.152 win pct) in those games over that span.

The Kansas City defense stood out as well. Chris Jones had two sacks, and the team as a whole registered eight hits on Herbert. The secondary held up remarkably well and is allowing 6.3 yards per attempt this season despite facing talented quarterbacks in Herbert and Kyler Murray. It allowed 7.3 yards per attempt last year.

If Jones can continue to make this type of impact and the secondary can continue to hold up well, the Chiefs won’t necessarily need huge games from Mahomes, and that’s a good thing.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…


USATSI

THE LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

The Chargers will rue their missed opportunities in a game that was eminently winnable.

  • Herbert’s red-zone turnover was a devastating blow. From 1st-and-goal at the 3-yard line, the Chargers had an expected points value of 5.8 (a.k.a. the Chargers are expected to finish that possession with 5.8 points). Instead, they gave six points to the other team.
  • Los Angeles went just 5 for 16 on 3rd down, and just 5 for 11 on 3rd-and-2 or shorter.
  • Pro Football Focus marked the Chargers for three dropped interceptions.

That’s how you lose a game in which you out-gained your opponent by over 80 yards and ran 20 more plays than the other team, which is exactly what the Chargers did.

In the process, another issue popped up: Herbert took a ton of big hits and even had to leave the game for a play. While head coach Brandon Staley said Herbert is “OK,” the QB wasn’t available to speak postgame because of his ribs/abdomen issue. Even if he does prove just fine for the long haul, seeing your star quarterback banged up this early in the season is no fun. 

Roger Federer following Serena Williams into retirement is end of era 🎾

It’s the end of an era in tennis, this time on the men’s side. After the Laver Cup next weekend, Roger Federer will retire, he announced on social media Thursday.

  • Federer’s 20 career Grand Slam titles are third all-time by a man, only behind Rafael Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21). Federer’s eight Wimbledon titles are most all-time by a man, and he also won six Australian Opens, five US Opens and one French Open.
  • In addition, Federer’s 368 Grand Slam matches won is a record. Overall, he won 103 ATP titles, second to Jimmy Connors (109) and 1,245 ATP matches, also second to Connors (1,275).
  • Federer spent 310 weeks — including a record 237 consecutively from Jan. 2004 to Sept. 2008 — at ATP No. 1.
  • Federer has been plagued by knee issues recently — this will be his first event since Wimbledon in 2021 — and he cited injuries as a major reason for his decision.

Federer’s announcement comes just over a month after Serena Williams announced her retirement plans and less than two weeks after what is assumed to be her last match (though she semi-teased a return Thursday). As our Matt Norlander writes, it’s not only the end of an era, but the end of an era unlike any other for the sport of tennis.

  • Norlander: “Federer’s quick smile, humility and easygoing demeanor made a haughty sport more likable. Williams’ trailblazing and uncompromising approach to competition and her personal image forced a predominantly white sport to come to grips with its faults. No one could have known it then, but when Federer and Williams won Wimbledon in 2003 (Federer’s first Slam, Williams’ sixth at the time), the sport was officially on its way to never being the same again.”

Here’s how the rest of the tennis world reacted to Federer’s announcement.

What I’ll miss most about Federer is his grace and gracefulness: always humble in victory or the rare defeat, always gliding around the court, dispatching opponent after opponent with deft touch, creative shotmaking and laser-like precision.

WNBA Finals recap: Sun dominate Aces to force Game 4 🏀


Getty Images

There will be no sweep in the WNBA Finals. The Sun made sure of that in emphatic fashion with 105-76 blowout of the Aces in which the Connecticut offense finally came to life.

  • Six Sun players scored in double figures, with Alyssa Thomas registering the first triple-double in WNBA Finals history (16 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists) and Jonquel Jones leading the scoring charge with 20 points.
  • After shooting just 8 for 30 (26.7%) on 3-pointers in the first two games combined, the Sun knocked down 8 of 15 from deep (53.3%) in Game 3. It helped them outscored the Aces, 28-7, in the fourth quarter.
  • The Sun improve to 4-0 in elimination games this postseason.

Game 4 is set for Sunday.

Will MLB’s shift ban actually make a big difference? ⚾


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In case you missed it, MLB officially approved implementing some significant changes to the game in 2023: a pitch clock, larger bases and shift restrictions. Those first two are pretty self-explanatory. Here are details on the third:

  • Upon release of each pitch, there must be a minimum of four defenders — other than the battery — with both feet within the outer boundary of the infield dirt
  • Upon release of the pitch, there must be two of the four infielders on each side of second base. 
  • The team must designate two infielders for each side of second base, and they cannot switch back and forth based on the batter.

Will this change make a big difference? Our MLB experts answered that in this week’s Batting Around roundtable, and R.J. Anderson says…

  • Anderson: “I’m generally not a fan of banning or limiting strategic components, like defensive positioning, but I’ve grown to feel that the impact the shift had on offensive production was overstated — something that I think is validated when you look at the leaguewide BABIP on a year-to-year basis. … Maybe I’m wrong and doing away with the shift proves to be more pivotal than I expect, but my gut feeling is that it ends up being much ado about nothing.”

What we’re watching this weekend 📺

⚽ We’re watching Serie A on Paramount+ all weekend. Same with the NWSL on Paramount+.

Friday

🏈 Florida State at Louisville, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday

🏈 No. 1 Georgia at South Carolina, Noon on ESPN
🏈 No. 6 Oklahoma at Nebraska, Noon on FOX
🏈 No. 12 BYU at No. 25 Oregon, 3:30 p.m. on FOX
🏈 No. 22 Penn State at Auburn, 3:30 p.m. on CBS
🏈 No. 13 Miami at No. 22 Texas A&M, 9 p.m. on ESPN

Sunday

🏈 Here’s the Week 2 NFL schedule.
🏀 Aces at Sun, 4 p.m. on ESPN
Dodgers at Giants, 7 p.m. on ESPN



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