Yahoo Sports AM: Close games abound

Good morning!

Mondays are rough, but at least we get two NFL games tonight.

— Kendall Baker (email), Jeff Tracy (email)

Let's sports...

HEADLINES

🏒 Babcock resigns: Blue Jackets coach Mike Babcock resigned on Sunday just two months after taking the job amid allegations that he violated players' privacy.

🏀 Vegas advances: The defending champion Aces never trailed in their 2-0 sweep of Chicago, advancing to the WNBA semifinals for the fifth straight year.

⚽️ Messi-less Miami: Lionel Messi rested for the first time since signing with Inter Miami on Saturday, and his team promptly lost for the first time since he signed.

⛳️ The wait is over: Sahith Theegala won the Fortinet Championship in his native California on Sunday, his first victory in 74 PGA Tour starts.

🏁 The Final 12: After three weeks of racing, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs have been trimmed from 16 drivers to 12.

See what else is trending on Yahoo Sports.

SUNDAY FUNDAY: CLOSE GAMES ABOUND

Sunday's NFL slate wasn't short on drama, with nine of 13 games decided by one score and two games needing overtime.

Dolphins 24, Patriots 17: For the first time since 2001, New England is 0-2.

Seahawks 37, Lions 31 (OT): Same old Lions? Now it's up to Dan Campbell and his team to prove otherwise after Seattle punctured their hype balloon.

Titans 27, Chargers 24 (OT): The Chargers are the 33rd team in the Super Bowl era with 50+ points and no turnovers through two games. They're the only one to start 0-2.

Commanders 35, Broncos 33: A Hail Mary in the final seconds gave Denver a chance to tie, but they couldn't convert the two-point conversion.

Giants 31, Cardinals 28: The G-Men erased a 21-point deficit in the desert, pulling off their biggest comeback in more than 70 years.

Ravens 27, Bengals 24: Cincy made the playoffs last season after starting 0-2. They'll have to repeat that feat this year.

49ers 30, Rams 23: The Niners won but what a story Rams rookie Puka Nacua has been. After turning heads with 10 catches in his debut, he added 15 more.

Falcons 25, Packers 24: Rookie RB Bijan Robinson was the star in Atlanta, showing why the Falcons took him with the No. 8 pick in the draft.

Chiefs 17, Jaguars 9: The Chiefs do not look like the Chiefs through two weeks. But they did get Travis Kelce and Chris Jones back.

Cowboys 30, Jets 10: Dallas has steamrolled New York to start the year, beating the Giants and Jets by a combined score of 70-10.

Buccaneers 27, Bears 17: No Tom Brady, no problem. Baker Mayfield and the Bucs are undefeated.

Colts 31, Texans 20: Rookie QB Anthony Richardson rushed for two scores before leaving with a concussion. Gardner Minshew took over from there.

Bills 38, Raiders 10: Josh Allen and Buffalo bounced back in a big way from their Week 1 dud.

Good read:After buying into decades of counterfeit hopes, Jerry Jones may finally have his Cowboys title team (Charles Robinson)

KUSS MAKES HISTORY

Two of the world's best cyclists compete for Team Jumbo-Visma. On Sunday in Madrid, it was their third banana who finally got to finish on top, Jeff writes.

American history: 29-year-old Colorado native Sepp Kuss (rhymes with "moose") won the Vuelta a España, making him the first American to win a Grand Tour (Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta) since 2013, and just the fourth ever* to do so.

Kuss: Vuelta a España (2023)

Chris Horner: Vuelta a España (2013)

Greg LeMond: Tour de France (1986, 1989, 1990)

Andrew Hampsten: Giro d'Italia (1988)

Dominant team: Kuss' Jumbo-Visma team became the first ever to sweep all three legs of the Grand Tour after Primož Roglič won the Giro d'Italia and Jonas Vingegaard won his second straight Tour de France.

From domestique to champion: Cycling is not an individual sport. Teams are built around one or two leaders and a supporting cast of domestiques (French for "servant"), whose job it is to help the leader win.

Until this race, that had been Kuss' specialty. After helping Roglič and Vingegaard win their six Grand Tours, he was expected to do the same in Spain.

But after dominating the climb during Stage 6 and moving into first after Stage 8, it was finally his turn to shine. Or so it appeared…

Drama and backlash: On Wednesday, Roglič and Vingegaard made a late move during Stage 17, cutting into Kuss' lead — on his birthday! — in what looked like an effort to take back their place as the team leaders.

But the public backlash to their apparent coup was fast and furious, and by Thursday they were back to supporting Kuss' pursuit of victory.

The two superstars ultimately finished in second and third, giving Jumbo-Visma a podium sweep.

What a feeling: "I'm living the dream today," said Kuss, who won three mountain biking national championships at the University of Colorado. Have a month, Buffaloes!

*Lance Armstrong would have been on this list after winning the Tour de France every year from 1999-2005, but his victories were stripped for doping violations.

DODGERS DOMINANCE

The Dodgers clinched their 10th NL West title in 11 seasons on Saturday, continuing one of the most dominant runs in MLB history, Jeff writes.

By the numbers: Los Angeles has won more division titles since 2013 (10) than all but 10 teams have won in the entire divisional era (since 1969).

The Dodgers' 21 division titles in that time trail only the Braves' 23, and their run of 11 straight playoff berths is the third-longest streak ever.

Their 1,022 wins since 2013 are by far the most of any team, with a larger gap between them and the second-place Yankees (934) than the Yankees and the 11th-place Blue Jays (853).

This was hardly a guarantee: While it seems like the Dodgers have a standing reservation for October baseball, this looked for a long time like it could be the year they faltered.

They didn't do much in the offseason while the free-spending Padres loaded up to challenge the throne, entering the spring with the same projected record.

And even as San Diego stumbled early, the upstart Diamondbacks came out hot and led the division as late as July 8.

But in the end, the the script remained the same, with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman leading an explosive offense to the top of the division — again.

Looking ahead: Now comes the hard part: turning regular-season success into titles. The Dodgers' only championship during this otherwise epic run came in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

THE WORLD IN PHOTOS

Baltimore — The Orioles clinched their first postseason berth since 2016 on Sunday and walked off the Rays to re-take a two-game division lead. I was there and can confirm: It was electric.

Singapore — Ferrari's Carlos Sainz won the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, ending Max Verstappen's 10-race winning streak and becoming the first non-Red Bull driver to win an F1 race this season.

Bled, Slovenia — Jordan Brand launched Luka Dončić's new shoe on Saturday with a floating 3v3 tournament on Lake Bled in his native Slovenia, which served as inspiration for the sneaker.

AP POLL, WEEK 4

The year of the Pac-12 continues in college football, with five of the top 14 teams in this week's AP poll hailing from the soon-to-be defunct league.

Tide goes out: Alabama fell out of the top 10 for the first time since Sep. 27, 2015, ending a streak of 128 straight weeks. Only Miami (137 consecutive weeks from 1985-93) had a longer run.

Georgia

Michigan

Texas

Florida State

USC

Ohio State

Penn State

Washington

Notre Dame

Oregon

Utah

LSU

Alabama

Oregon State

Ole Miss

Oklahoma

North Carolina

Duke

Colorado

Miami

Washington State

UCLA

Tennessee

Iowa

Florida

This week's slate: There are six ranked-on-ranked matchups this Saturday, headlined by No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon and No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 13 Alabama.

SEPT. 18, 1978: CLEMENS K'S 20

27 years ago today, Roger Clemens tied his own MLB record with 20 strikeouts in a 4-0 win over the Tigers. He allowed just five hits, walked none and threw 151 pitches in the complete game shutout, Jeff writes.

The rarest feat: There have been 24 perfect games, 18 four-HR games, 15 unassisted triple plays and just five 20-strikeout games*, with Clemens (1986 and 1996) joining Kerry Wood (1998), Randy Johnson (2001) and Max Scherzer (2016).

More on this day:

🏈 1919: Fritz Pollard became the first Black man to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros.

⛳️ 2016: In Gee Chun won the Evian Championship at 21-under, which remains the lowest score to par ever recorded in a women's or men's major.

*Senators righty Tom Cheney struck out 21 Orioles on Sep. 12, 1962, but he needed 16 innings — and 228 pitches (!!!) — to do it.

WATCHLIST: MNF DOUBLEHEADER

The NFL's Week 2 slateconcludes tonight with overlapping games* on "Monday Night Football." Because why watch one game when you could watch two?

Game 1: Saints (-3) at Panthers (7:15pm ET, ESPN)

Game 2: Browns (-2) at Steelers (8:15pm, ABC)

More to watch:

⚾️ MLB: Twins at Reds (6:40pm, FS1)

⚽️ Premier League: Nottingham Forest vs. Burnley (2:45pm, USA)

*What to expect: When the games overlap, each broadcast will feature a smaller scorebug for the other game and Scott Van Pelt will be in the studio to provide highlights and updates for both.

NFL TRIVIA

Barry Sanders, whose new Ford Field statue was unveiled on Saturday, is one of eight players in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

Question: How many of the other seven can you name?

Hint: 1973, 1984, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2012, 2020.

Answer at the bottom.

TOP PLAYS: COMING SOON!

Top Plays will return next week with a new and improved look and feel. Stay tuned!

Highlight to go: American Yared Nuguse ran the fourth-fastest mile ever (3:43:97) on Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic and didn't even win the race! Please enjoy.

—-

Trivia answer: O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Terrell Davis, Jamal Lewis, Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Derrick Henry

Thanks for reading today's edition! Email me with questions or comments. Subscribe for free here.

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