Team USA players celebrate after the Ryder Cup matches at the Whistling Straits Golf Course Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Sheboygan, Wis. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Weekend winners

Dustin Johnson and those young gun U.S. Ryder Cup stars. Uh, Europe, there's troubling brewing. The U.S. smoked the Europeans in the Ryder Cup. (Of course they did; I picked Europe to win.) And the Americans did it with six Ryder Cup rookies and a slew of young stars who looked fearless and focused. It was a bloodbath — they're calling it the Slaughter by the Water since it was played at the pristine grounds of Whistling Straits on the shores of Lake Michigan — and if it wasn't for Jon Rahm, it would have been even worse. It was such a U.S. party that Brooks and Bryson hugged. Seriously.

Sam Pittman. Wow, here's your weekend winner, friends. Arkansas is tough and capped a 4-0 September with an impressive win over Texas A&M on national TV. Yes, we all chuckled at the Pittman hire, but dude is making hay with the Hogs in Year 2.

Matt Stafford. As his former club continues to be the model of incompetence — the Detroit fans booed the owner during her presentation speech honoring Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson on Sunday — Stafford looked the part of MVP as the Rams toppled the defending Super Bowl champion Bucs on Sunday.

The St. Louis Cardinals. Wowser, 16 in a row in anything — free throws, fairways, fastballs for strikes — is pretty excellent. But winning 16 MLB games in a row — in the ''er'' months, mind you — to go from hovering at .500 to clinching a wildcard spot in two and half weeks is awesome. And with the way the Cards are playing — and the throwback season 40-year-old Adam Wainwright is having (he's 16-7 with a 3.05 ERA and an average against in the low .200s) — who wants some of St. Louis right now? (Side question: Adam Wainwright, Hall of Famer? Thoughts, Intern Scott?)

Our Survivor pool players. A vast majority of you guys and gals were riding the Browns or the Broncos, and each rolled behind superior defensive efforts. Well done, gang. Working on the standings as we speak. Heck, we even had one brave soul take the Falcons. So there's that.

Bonus: Justin Tucker. Man, other than an A-list QB, can you really put a value on a kicker you can trust? Tucker made a 66-yard game-winner. Let that sink in. And in the big picture, the greatest dynasty the NFL has or will ever see was Brady and Belichick's two-decade run in New England. And while that duo's continuity deserves the credit it receives, the Pats only had two kickers — both of whom were great — in the majority of that run, too.  


Weekend losers

Auburn. Egad, what was that? Granted, every win is a good win, but after being out-coached at Penn State and then being unprepared and dagnabbin' lucky to beat Georgia State, is anyone comfortable with the new staff handling what assuredly is going to be a divisive QB controversy heading into LSU week? Nope, me neither.

ACC's playoff chances. Conference losses for UNC and Clemson leave the league foundering at the top. Yes, the SEC version of that argument is some form of the ''Iron sharpening iron'' cliché that the league beats up on each other. But the SEC's tiers are clear: Two elite teams (Georgia and Alabama), two very good teams (Florida and Arkansas), whatever Ole Miss may be and whatever Texas A&M is this week or next, and then a whole lot of mediocre-to-bad football teams. (Vandy, what the bleep was that?) The ACC does not have that upper tier and with the mediocrity of Clemson — the Tigers easily could be 1-3 right now — is stunning.

Boston sports. The hated Yankees swept the Sox in Fenway. The Patriots looked pedestrian, and that's just what happened this weekend. Next weekend, some fella named Brady comes back to Foxboro. (Side note: How about this stat, and Spy, cover your eyes.) Want to see the list of Yankees to have at least three homers and 10 RBIs in a three-game span vs the BoSox? Giancarlo Stanton did it this weekend to join some dudes named Mantle (1954), Gehrig (1931) and Ruth (1927).

Man, the Jets are really bad. But from the NFL side, the Steelers offense is stagnant and Big Ben is washed. Yes, Roethlisberger threw for more than 300 yards, but he attempted 58 passes to do it. And that was against a Bengals defense that will not be confused with the Steel Curtain any time soon.

Chattanooga. Yes, the Ironman was awesome and it showcases the best of our city. But less than five miles from where we celebrated the winners Sunday, there was unspeakable gun violence on Saturday night that must be addressed, focused on and fought.


Make or break

Yes, we could have written about the Ryder Cup here. It was fun, even if Sunday had all the drama of a spring scrimmage considering the huge lead the Americans built.

And yes, we could have put the Braves in the weekend winners after beating the Padres three straight despite the fact that a) Will Smith is their closer and b) Brian Snitker insists on using Will Smith as said closer. But we're in the ''er'' months and the Braves welcome the beast into Truist for three monster games.

Atlanta's three-game roll in San Diego pushes its lead to 2.5 with three against the Phillies starting Tuesday night. If the Braves take two of three, it's all-but over. If the Phillies win the series, well, the weekend becomes cliffhanger stuff.

If the Phillies sweep, well, let's not even put that thought into our head.

Here's the pitching matchups as of this morning: Tuesday night is a match-up of aces with Charlie Morton going against hard-throwing Zach Wheeler; Max Fried goes against Aaron Nola on Wednesday and Ian Anderson pitches against Kyle Gibson on Thursday.

Crazy how baseball is the ultimate marathon that becomes a one-series sprint, you know?

God bless the ''er'' months.


This and that

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall wrapping a busy weekend with an SEC catch-all. 

— Here's Saturday's A2 offering from some fat-faced fella.

— Speaking of the Ryder Cup, gang, I know I chattered on about it a ton last week, but did you see the Sunday post-singles interview with Rory McIlroy? Dude was in tears — seriously — about his struggles at the Cup. It was real and raw and awesome. I've liked Rory for a long time — his game is aces and he handed himself about as well as anyone could have when he gagged on the back nine and lost the Masters that year — but his very human and heartfelt reaction Sunday made me like him exponentially more. Because if there are a few universal emotions across all of sports that everyone who has ever thrown a ball or picked up a club can relate to, Rory's emotional mea culpa about feeling like he let his teammates down is certainly one of them.

— I'm pretty sure he wins every weekend, but how cool was Michael Jordan at the Ryder Cup this weekend? Dude was just chillin' — how much do you think he spends on cigars? — and all the players from each team walked by to kiss the GOAT's ring.

— We will have the nominations and open the voting for this week's 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge tomorrow. Deal? Deal.


Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

Multiple choice Monday wonders, how will the Braves-Phillies series play out?

Braves sweep.

Braves take 2 of 3.

Phillies take 2 of 3.

Phillies sweep.

As for today, Sept. 27, let's review.

"The Tonight Show" premiered on NBC on this day in 1954.

Lou Gehrig hit the first of his 493 homers on this day in 1923.

Rushmore of first basemen. Go.