Fun Fact of the Day: 156,990 people piled into the Bristol Motor Speedway to watch #17 Tennessee defeat Virginia Tech 45-24—it was the biggest audience to ever see a college football game. That is, if you call views like this “seeing.”
Week 1 highlights. Yesterday, a bunch of NFL teams kicked off their season. Here’s what you need to know about what went down:
- New England Patriots beat Arizona Cardinals (23-21). The Patriots pulled off this victory even though they were without their 3 best offensive players: QB Tom Brady (suspended 4 games for Deflategate), the league’s best tight tend Rob Gronkowsi (hamstring injury), or running back Dion Lewis (knee injury). Backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo did an admirable job leading the makeshift group to victory. He was helped by Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who missed a field goal in the last minute of the game.
- Kansas City Chiefs beat San Diego Chargers (33-27). The Chiefs came back from 21 points behind to tie up this game and win in overtime. Not a great start to the season for the Chargers, who finished with an ugly 4-12 record last year.
- NY Giants beat Dallas Cowboys (20-19). In the final seconds of this game, the Cowboys were just 1 point behind. They were trying to get as close to the end zone as they could and stop the clock to make a final attempt at a field goal. Wide receiver Terrence Williams must have forgot the game plan, because he didn’t run out of bounds after catching the ball. Instead, time ran out, and the Giants won. The game was a triumphant return for Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz who came back after nearly 2 seasons of leg injuries.
- Technical difficulties. ESPN’s Fantasy Football app was down for a few hours Sunday afternoon, but it felt like an eternity to obsessive fans. Many angry users vented on Twitter, including Democratic Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill.
- Remembering 9/11 and fighting against social injustice. Yesterday’s games started off with big opening ceremonies in honor of 9/11. Several players and teams peacefully protested social injustice against African Americans by raising their fists, taking a knee, or locking arms during the national anthem.
Wait, who won? Novak Djokovic continued his summer slide by losing to Stan Wawrinka in the U.S. Open Final. After early exits at both Wimbledon and the Olympics, Djokovic completed his losing trifecta when he suffered from leg cramps and toe blisters during last night’s defeat. Meanwhile on the women’s side of the net, German Angelique Kerber took home her 2nd Grand Slam victory, by beating Czech opponent Karolina Pliskova. Kerber is the new #1-ranked player in the world, dethroning Serena Williams who spent over 3 years at the top.
Spotlight on the Central Michigan Upset that Shouldn’t Have Been
Everyone around the office will be talking about unranked Central Michigan’s crazy upset of #22 Oklahoma State. This wasn’t your typical college football game. Here’s what happened:
Bad decision-making. In the final seconds of the game, Oklahoma State had possession of the ball and they were up 27-24. Yay! Go Oklahoma State! It looked like a surefire victory. All they had to do was run out the clock in their last possession. Most teams do that by taking a knee as soon as the possession starts.
Sounds easy. What went wrong? For some inexplicable reason, Oklahoma State’s coach decided to call a pass play instead of taking a knee. *Groan* The QB threw the ball out of bounds as the clock ran out and he was called for intentional grounding. *Facepalm*
I’m new to football, what’s this intentional grounding you speak of? Intentional grounding is a 10-yard penalty that is called when a QB throws the football but there are no receivers nearby to which he could possibly be throwing. Most of the time, a QB will do this when he’s about to get sacked. Instead of going down and taking negative yards on the play, he’ll desperately try to throw to someone on his team, into the dirt, or out of bounds. If this penalty didn’t exist, the missed throw would just be called an “incomplete pass,” and the next down would start at the same place. But with the penalty, the offense loses a down and has to start its next possession 10 yards back.
I get it! What happened next? The refs called intentional grounding, but there was no time left in the game… hmmm, what to do? The refs decided to give Central Michigan one more untimed possession of the ball. In the final play, Central Michigan won the game with this insane Hail Mary and lateral pass (psst-don’t know what a lateral is?—check out our glossary).
The fallout… The refs apparently don’t know the rules so well. They weren’t supposed to give Central Michigan that extra possession that let them win the game! Oops! Now, Oklahoma State has a “loss” in its record books and has fallen out of the college football rankings. The refs that worked the game have been suspended for 2 games, maybe they’ll use that time to brush up on the rules.
Week 1 continues. The season openers conclude with these 2 big games tonight:
- Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins, 7:10pm ET on ESPN
- L.A. Rams @ San Francisco 49ers, 10:20pm ET on ESPN
Don’t have a clue what’s going on with your team? We’ve got you covered with these helpful NFL Team Summaries.
Q&A with Alexis Robinson
Read our feature with PR and Marketing entrepreneur Alexis Robinson, who has handled top sports and entertainment clients, including Travis Kelce and DJ Duffey. I chatted with her about her big sports family, transition to entrepreneurship, and love for John McEnroe.