The Monday after the Masters is always a bit of a bummer. When you've been looking forward to something for so long and it goes by so quickly, it's hard not to feel a bit of emptiness the morning after. But I think it's safe to say that the post-Masters Monday is even harsher when it comes in November and there's still a pandemic going on outside. It's sort of feels like December 26th ... the cheer is over and now the winter is just sad and lonely.
Fortunately, I'm going to do my best to cheer us both up this week. The long-awaited Masters may be over (we'll spend some time on that this morning, of course) but we've also got enough to keep us busy in the days ahead as well. Not only is there still football, but it's also a huge week for the NBA -- the draft is Wednesday and free agency opens on Friday. That means that we're probably going to have plenty of moving and shaking to keep tabs on in the days ahead, and NBA offseason chaos is one of the best forms of chaos.
So cheer up, partner. It may be sad and lonely out there this Monday morning, but you've still got me...and we've still got sports.
📰 What you need to know
1. Dustin Johnson gets his first green jacket 🏌
At 36, Dustin Johnson has already put together an incredibly impressive resume. He's long been trending toward being one of the greatest to ever play the game -- I mean, he's the only golfer not named Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods to win a PGA Tour title in each of his first 13 seasons.
But one of the main criticisms DJ has faced over the years is his ability to let major tournaments escape him. Well, that argument is a little weaker this morning now that Johnson has a green jacket in his closet.
- Johnson finished -20 at Augusta National, the lowest score to par in the history of the Masters and tying the mark for lowest score to par in major championship history
- Johnson won by five strokes over second-place finishers Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im (the largest margin of victory at Augusta National since Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes)
- The win is Johnson's 24th on the PGA Tour but only his second major (following the 2016 U.S. Open title)
The bad news about Johnson dominating? It made for a pretty anticlimactic finish on Sunday. Even DJ had a subdued reaction on the 18th green because he had it in the bag for quite a while. The good news? Well, Johnson has become quite an easy guy to root for lately, especially in these bigger events.
Our Kyle Porter penned a column about how Johnson truly became a champion in title and in spirit this weekend.
- Porter: "There is a great irony in this year's final major. One of the easiest players to root for in the field won a patron-less Masters. You might say he won because there were no patrons, but I'm not sure the man who rolls with the mantra, "I feel the same way, whether the fans are here or not" was going to cough up one of the greatest Masters performances of all time. Regardless, there is no asterisk on this Masters. Though having patrons would have changed the vibe of the tournament, D.J. would have won this tournament if they'd scraped up Augusta National and replanted it in a bubble out on the Pacific Ocean."
All things considered, it still felt like the Masters this weekend and that means we're kind of all winners. Also, we're not going to have to wait as long for next year's Masters, so that's a win too. Unfortunately, we don't get any fancy green jackets for our trouble.
2. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins steal the show 🏈
I'm not sure if "water cooler talk" is still a thing at the moment with everything that's going on but, if so, there's only one place to start if you're discussing yesterday's NFL action: The ending to that Cardinals-Bills game.
Not only did that game feature the best finish of the day, it also included what may be the single most electric play we'll see this NFL season.
- With 34 seconds left in the fourth, the Bills took a 30-26 lead over the Cardinals thanks to a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs
- Arizona got the ball back and held possession near midfield with 11 seconds left on the clock but no timeouts
- They got a miracle when Kyler Murray avoided a sack, unleashed an off-balance Hail Mary heave to the end zone and connected with DeAndre Hopkins, who rose above three Bills defenders to make the game-winning catch
Reading a description of the play certainly doesn't do it much justice, so you're going to want to check it out for yourself here if you haven't seen it already. (Or if you just want to see it again. I certainly wouldn't blame you.) If you did happen to catch it live, you probably had the same reaction as everyone who lost their mind on Twitter in the immediate aftermath.
Almost as good as the catch was D-Hop's postgame description of the play. This gave me a good laugh:
- Hopkins: "In basketball terminology, that's what they call it when somebody gets dunked on. But it was on three people. Yup. They were in position. It was just a better catch by I."
In other TOTALLY unrelated news, the Texans only managed to score seven points in a loss against the Cleveland Browns yesterday and Deshaun Watson just really needs a hug right now.
3. NFL Week 10 grades 🏈
So the "Miracle from Murray" (as some are already calling it) was the highlight of Week 10 but it certainly wasn't all the weekend had to offer. We had a pretty light early slate on Sunday, which honestly wasn't so bad as it let us catch the end of the Masters, but the action picked up as the day went on.
As is becoming tradition around these parts, let's go over some notable results and grades from our NFL crew:
- Buccaneers (A-) explode for 46-23 win over Panthers (C): Well, the Panthers kept things interesting for a while but Tampa Bay just launched into hyperdrive in the second half of this game. Tom Brady and the Bucs offense picked up over 500 total yards, including a 98-yard touchdown run from Ronald Jones in the third quarter. It was a HUGE rebound game for Tampa
- Rams (A) jump Seahawks (D) in standings with efficient win: A 23-16 scoreline may not suggest that the Rams were the much better team in this game, but it was a great win for LA. Jared Goff had nice showing while the defense forced Russell Wilson into three turnovers (he now has 10 in his last four games) and Seattle scored just once in three red zone trips. The Seahawks fell from first to third in the NFC West after the loss
- Patriots (A) stun Ravens (C-) in primetime: It was just about a week ago that we were talking about the Patriots participating in a Tank Bowl with the Jets -- a game they nearly lost -- and now here they are, beating one of the top teams in the AFC. It was a dominant game for the Patriots rushing attack, led by Damien Harris (121 yards), and the defense gave Lamar Jackson fits. It was a much tighter and more disciplined Pats team than we've seen for most of this season
I hope you have your "Belichick controls the weather" takes ready to go this morning, as last night's final Ravens drive in Foxborough was quite suspicious. As soon as Baltimore took the field with a chance to win the game, a hellish rainstorm kicked up about 10 notches and made it almost impossible for Lamar & Co. to see anything, never mind mount a game-winning drive. Then, immediately after the game went final, the skies cleared up and it was suddenly a beautiful fall night in New England. Hmm ... Bill Belichick x Buffalo Wild Wings secret button collab?
You can find grades and analysis for the rest of the Week 10 games right here.
4. South Carolina fires Will Muschamp 🏈
The Will Muschamp era in South Carolina came to an end over the weekend, as the school fired their football coach less than 24 hours after losing 59-42 to Ole Miss. Muschamp was in his fifth season at South Carolina but the writing was sort of on the wall with how poorly the team has performed in recent years.
- After being hired by South Carolina in 2016, Muschamp recorded a 28-30 record with the Gamecocks
- Muschamp led the program to a 9-4 season and an Outback Bowl win in 2017, but the team has lost 14 of its last 20 games dating back to the 2018 Belk Bowl
- South Carolina named Mike Bobo as interim head coach but will begin a head coaching search immediately
- South Carolina AD Ray Tanner: "We have great facilities, a passionate fan base, a University that is committed to excellence in football and a support system that is second to none in developing student-athletes. We will be looking for someone with the energy, commitment and organizational skills that can move our program to a championship level"
It's an unceremonious (and rather unsuccessful) end for a coach who once had so much hype behind him, but don't cry for Muschamp. He'll reportedly be cashing in on a $13-$15 million buyout and will likely land another job somewhat quickly. The only question is: Will it be a head coaching job at a smaller program? Or will he attempt to get his career back on track by taking over a defensive unit at a Power Five school?
As for the Gamecocks, they're apparently looking at Hugh Freeze as a top candidate to take over.
📝 Odds & Ends
- New college football top 25? New college football top 25
- Seven things to know about the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which includes a weak class of newcomers
- UT Martin basketball coach Anthony Stewart died suddenly at the age of 50 on Sunday
- The Lakers are set to acquire Dennis Schroder in a trade that will send Danny Green to the Oklahoma City Thunder
📺 What to watch tonight
🏈 Vikings vs. Bears, 8:15 p.m. | CHI +3 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
DeAndre Hopkins had seven catches for 127 yards and a touchdown -- yes, THAT touchdown.
💵 Winning wagers: BUF +3, Over (55.5)
Tua Tagovailoa passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns as Miami improved to 3-0 under the rookie QB.
💵 Winning wagers: MIA -1.5, Over (48.5)
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns as Pittsburgh moved to 9-0.
💵 Winning wagers: PIT -6.5, Over (45.5)