This is the digital version of The Pulse. If you want it earlier, start every morning with The Pulse delivered to your inbox. Sign up here.
Good morning! Yes, we saw Taylor Swift in Kansas City yesterday.
Lists: Some say the Dolphins are still scoring
Let’s get last night’s slog out of the way first: The Steelers beat the Raiders, 23-18, in last night’s late game. Both teams give off the most mediocre vibes. TJ Watt remains terrifying. Jimmy Garoppolo might have an interception problem. Pittsburgh leaves the game 2-1, after one of the more puzzling coaching decisions — kicking a field goal down 8 late instead of going for a game-tying touchdown — we’ve seen this year.
Elsewhere? Buddy, was it a weekend. We just have to rank the moments:
7. Patrick Mahomes got pulled … for good reason!
The Chiefs mauled the Bears, 41-10, in a game that further illustrated how two franchises are in completely opposite orbits. Kansas City looks free (and terrifying) after that Week 1 loss to Detroit. It’s hard to imagine a worse start to the season than what’s going on in Chicago, who’s lost 13 straight. Woof.
6. Green Bay’s massive comeback
The Saints were winning 17-0 when Derek Carr left with a shoulder injury in the third quarter. The final score: Green Bay 18, New Orleans 17. The 2-1 Saints’ season already hinges on Carr’s shoulder health, while Jordan Love got a signature win in his first home game as the Packers’ starting quarterback.
5. Zach Wilson’s safety
The Patriots won their 15th straight game over the Jets yesterday, a bruising 15-10 victory that ended on a sadly hilarious note: a safety sack of the hapless Zach Wilson, who has already wasted all goodwill from that Week 1 win with two straight stinkers. You have to wonder if the Jets make a QB change soon, no matter what coach Robert Saleh said after the game.
4. The way the Chargers won their first game
Brandon Staley’s team almost blew it, again. And yet an interception in the end zone saved a week’s worth of bickering about job security. The best part? The Chargers’ last touchdown, which ended up being the game-winner in a 28-24 final:
The @Chargers re-take the lead on THIS unreal touchdown
— NFL (@NFL) September 24, 2023
3. The Colts’ leg power
Matt Gay hit four field goals of 50 yards or more to give 2-1 Indianapolis a massive road win in Baltimore (also 2-1), with Gardner Minshew starting in place of Anthony Richardson, no less. It’s supremely funny that Gay saved his best for Justin Tucker’s home field.
2. The Cardinals did what?
Yes, Arizona stomped the Cowboys — the team we thought might be the league’s best entering this week — 28-16. And yes, the Cardinals — the team we thought was tanking this year — could easily be 3-0 right now. Arizona looks promising. Dallas turned in its worst game in years. We know nothing.
1. Miami did the unthinkable
Sixteen hours later and I still don’t believe the box score. Dolphins 70, Broncos 20. It’s the most points scored by an NFL team since Washington scored 72 in 1966. Tua Tagovailoa is your MVP frontrunner. Running back Devon Achane is a blossoming star. Tyreek Hill is unfair. The Dolphins feel like an easy No. 1 in the Power Rankings after this. Imagine starting this all-Miami lineup in fantasy this week:
If you started only Dolphins players in fantasy this week:
◽️ T. Tagovailoa — 28.36 PTS
◽️ R. Mostert — 45.2
◽️ D. Achane — 51.3
◽️ T. Hill — 30.7
◽️ R. Chosen — 13.8
◽️ B. Berries — 5.3
◽️ D. Smythe — 2.5
◽️ J. Sanders — 10
◽️ MIA D/ST — 6
Total: 193.16 PTS 🤯 pic.twitter.com/H4jsu9DRVV
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 25, 2023
And for Denver? It’s wild to see Russell Wilson play well and the team still lose by 50.
There was plenty more action around the league. See how your team fared in our full Week 3 roundup. Mike Sando’s Pick Six is up, and Sean Payton’s mess is in focus.
Also, don’t miss The Athletic Football Show’s live reaction to everything Week 3 last night. Yes, there is plenty of Taylor Swift coverage, too:
News to Know
Yankees = toast
The New York Yankees won’t play any postseason games for the first time since 2016 after losing to the Diamondbacks yesterday. The brief “what if” conversation about a late run is finally, thankfully, over. Now the Yankees can focus on rebuilding — and trying to avoid the franchise’s first losing season since 1992. Hard decisions are coming.
USWNT wins Rapinoe finale
Megan Rapinoe played 54 minutes in her final USWNT match, a 2-0 victory over South Africa in a friendly. She caps a sparkling career, which we went into more detail about in Sunday’s newsletter. Rapinoe finishes her USWNT career with 203 caps. There’s no replacing Rapinoe, but last night did see a new face — 22-year-old Mia Fishel — earning her first USWNT cap. Love symmetry.
Solheim Cup slips away
Europe retained the Solheim Cup yesterday thanks to a stunning rally, coming down from 13-11 late in the day to engineer a 14-14 tie. Under Solheim Cup rules, if both teams tie, the Cup stays with the previous winner. Bummer. Europe has won three straight Cups and five of the last seven.
- Speaking of international soccer: USFF sporting director Matt Crocker said yesterday that Gio Reyna will be called up to the next USMNT camp. Reyna and USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter are apparently ready to move forward.
- Georgia, Michigan and Texas are still your top 3 in the AP poll. Plenty of other teams shuffled around, though, including a massive fall for Colorado. (With USC up next.)
- Texas, riding that top-3 momentum, snagged a five-star recruit yesterday over Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State.
Curtain Calls: Joey Votto’s possible farewell
The Reds beat the Pirates, 4-2, yesterday in the team’s home finale, a bittersweet moment — on multiple levels — for the hometown team. Two things:
- Cincinnati has had a brilliant season, one most unexpected, that saw young, homegrown stars emerge. The future is bright for now. And yet, the team is 2.5 games out of a playoff spot with five games left. The ride might be over.
- Joey Votto, 40, might’ve played his last game in front of the home crowd yesterday. Votto is a singular character in baseball, a charismatic, hilarious, media-savvy guy who happens to be, quietly, one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. But time has caught up to him. He’s struggled with injuries this year. He has a $20 million option for next year that assuredly won’t be exercised. It feels like time.
Votto, per usual, was open and introspective in a conversation with C. Trent Rosecrans after yesterday’s game. It sounds like he wants to play another season, but he also knows the reality — for both the Reds and himself.
Let’s hope we get one more year of Votto quips and Joey Moppo.
We lead with a wonderful Monday read for you: Zack Meisel writes about Reds outfielder Will Benson, who was shaped by the brother he never met.
Nick Baumgardner has a good update on the 2024 NFL QB prospects. A hot name slid down the board.
Austin Meek wrote what I thought was a particularly smart article: Why Ryan Day’s outburst after Ohio State’s win this weekend was more about Michigan and less about Notre Dame.
We are, of course, still paying close attention to the Brian Ferentz Points Chase. Putting up a goose egg Saturday didn’t help. Is the offense even fixable at this point?
The weekend’s most burning question: What songs will Usher perform at the Super Bowl? .
Want more? Check out our other 5-minute newsletters at The Athletic.
The Bounce 🏀 | The Windup ⚾ | Full Time ⚽ | Prime Tire 🏁 | Until Saturday 🏈
(Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)