Super Bowl LV: Tale of the Tape

Patrick Mahomes (left) and Tom Brady (right) – Credits: Justin Edmonds and Mike Ehrmann (People)

Surprisingly, we made it through a full season of professional football in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Super Bowl LV may be a dream matchup for casual and hardcore football fans. The defending champions, Kansas City Chiefs, face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a star-laden matchup. This game is highlighted by two quarterbacks destined for greatness.

Icon Vs Icon: The Young Buck Against The Savvy Veteran

We are seeing a generational matchup between two football icons. Essentially, this is a matchup between the past and future.

On one side we have Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs with an already stacked resume in his young career. Winning the Season MVP award, holding the Lombardi Trophy, a Super Bowl MVP nod, and passing over 50 touchdowns in a single season are some accolades he has already achieved. Most players in the NFL dream of achieving at least one of those feats in a 15 year career – Mahomes has done all of them in 4.

On the other hand, there is Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A household name that your mom probably knows – and many other casual fans. 21 seasons in the NFL, Brady doesn’t seem to slow down at the ripe age of 43. Most NFL players would have retired around this age (hence, Phillip Rivers and possibly Drew Brees), as their bodies naturally slow down. But for Brady still dominating the league is completely unheard of – especially someone in the late stages of his career. This being his 10th trip to the Super Bowl, Brady cements himself as the winningest quarterback in the history of the National Football League.

Any comparisons you want to make between these two: Ali versus Frazier, Pacquiao versus Mayweather, The Rock versus John Cena, Lebron James versus Kobe Bryant – the list goes on. We’ve seen an icon versus icon matchup before in sports, but the stakes have never been higher. They are playing for the most prestigious prize in American sports – The Super Bowl, baby!

All I’m saying is, expect an offensive slugfest between these two juggernauts.

The Narratives: Silencing the Critics

Of course, the media will heavily focus on these two NFL superstars until the game is conceded. Not only is the chip on the line but legacy as well.

Tony Romo, former Dallas Cowboy quarterback and CBS sports analyst, puts it best: “The fact that Mahomes is somehow in this discussion as the GOAT shows you how amazing this guy is. There’s a chance for Mahomes playing this game, to climb the ladder. If Mahomes wins, he keeps that door open. If Brady wins, I don’t know how anyone can top him.”

A win here from the Chiefs will assert their dominance over the league for many years to come – as we witness one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL. But not only that, this outcome will be one of those “passing of the torch” moments in sports. Brady, a living legend, hands the keys over to Mahomes as the face of the NFL. Said best by Ric Flair, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man!”

Credit: Steven Senne – AP Photo (MassLive)

If Brady wins, he proves his critics wrong about his time in New England. Scrutinized as a “system quarterback” throughout his career, people heralded Bill Belichick for creating a formidable team in the past two decades. Since 2001, Brady has achieved: 9 Super Bowl trips, a NFL Season MVP, over 74,000 yards passing, and 14 Pro Bowl nods all under Bill Belichick.

Even though Belichick may be responsible for Brady’s successes, this year has already proven otherwise for The Patriots who finished 7-9 for the season and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

No stranger to critics, Brady has proved time and time again to shut them up. He is already the winningest quarterback in NFL history, but a win here cements him as the greatest football player of all time.

Legacy is on the line for both sides, so expect a great show on February 7th in Tampa Bay.

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting

Terps’ Wells Out With Broken Bone in Wrist

The Maryland Terrapins may have won the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, but they’ve lost one of their leaders for possibly the rest of their non-conference schedule.

Senior guard Dez Wells suffered a broken bone in his right wrist during Maryland’s 72-63 win over number 13 Iowa State in the CBE Classic championship game on Nov. 25. He had surgery to repair the fracture three days later in Baltimore, and is expected to miss at least four weeks.

Wells was leading the Terrapins in scoring at 16.2 points a game in Maryland’s first five games. Maryland held off Monmouth 61-56 in College Park in its first game without Wells. Freshman guard Melo Trimble led the way with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Terrapins.

O’s Fall to Hot Royals

The Baltimore Orioles’ magical 2014 season, which started in February with a backdrop of sunny skies and palm trees in Sarasota, Florida, has come to a disappointing end after running into one of the hottest teams in baseball.

The Orioles lost to the Kansas City Royals 2-1 in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, as the Royals capped off a sweep at Kauffman Stadium to reach the World Series for the first time since winning it all in 1985. Kansas City won the series thanks in large part to better play from its bullpen, and highlight-reel defensive plays all over the field.

After jumping out to a 4-1 lead after three innings in Game 1, Baltimore pulled to within 5-4 by scoring three runs in the fifth, highlighted by third baseman Ryan Flaherty’s two-run single. The Orioles tied the game at 5 in the sixth on an infield single by left fielder Alejandro De Aza that fell in front of a diving Alcides Escobar just behind the pitcher’s mound. In the ninth, Zach Britton walked the bases loaded, but got out of the jam by inducing a force-out at home and a double play. He wasn’t so lucky in the 10th, when Royals left fielder Alex Gordon led off with a home run to right. With one out, Mike Moustakas drilled a two-run shot to right-center to put Kansas City up 8-5. In the bottom of the inning, Flaherty singled to right with two out. Pinch-hitter Jimmy Paredes walked, and Delmon Young followed by coming off the bench and hitting a single to center that scored Flaherty. However, Royals closer Greg Holland got Nick Markakis to ground out to second to close out an 8-6 win.

In Game 2, it was the Lorenzo Cain Show. Cain went 4 for 5 with a double and an RBI, and robbed J.J. Hardy of an extra-base hit with a spectacular diving catch to end the seventh. In the ninth, Escobar broke a 4-4 tie with a single to right that scored pinch-runner Terrence Gore. Cain followed with his RBI single to left, scoring Escobar. Holland allowed only a two-out single to Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the ninth before striking out Steve Pearce to end the game and give the Royals a 2-0 series lead heading back to Kansas City.

After being delayed a day by rain, Game 3 saw the Orioles get a lead for the first time in the series, as Pearce and Hardy hit back-to-back doubles to give Baltimore a 1-0 lead. However, after Gordon tied the game with an RBI groundout with the bases loaded, the game featured more stellar defense by the Royals, this time with Moustakas. Adam Jones hit a pop-up in foul territory that was heading towards a group of field-box seats near the Orioles dugout. Moustakas reached over the railing, caught the ball and held on while tumbling over the railing and being caught and helped back onto the field by fans. In the bottom of the inning, Butler hit a sacrifice fly to score pinch-runner Jerrod Dyson to give the Royals a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t give up. The Orioles managed only three hits, and their final 16 batters were retired in order.

The following afternoon brought out a dominantly blue-clad crowd that featured some fans holding brooms looking for the sweep. The home team gave them something to cheer about early, as Escobar singled, and right fielder Nori Aoki was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the first. Cain laid down a sacrifice bunt to move up both runners, and Eric Hosmer hit a grounder to Pearce. However, catcher Caleb Joseph couldn’t handle Pearce’s throw, and both runners scored to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead.

In the third, Flaherty led off with a long home run that stayed inside the right-field foul pole to make it 2-1, but that was as close as the Orioles would get. Hardy led off the fifth with a long fly ball to deep left, but Gordon tracked it down and held on despite crashing hard into the fence in front of the out-of-town scoreboard. The collision was so hard that Gordon was slow to get up. In the sixth, Jonathan Schoop led off by drawing a walk, and went to third on a two-out single by Jones, but was stranded there when Cruz lined out to second. In the ninth, Jones led off with a walk, but Cruz hit into a fielder’s choice back to Holland. Delmon Young struck out, and Hardy grounded out to third to set off the celebration in Kansas City.

Cain was named the MVP of the series. He went 8 for 15 in addition to his impressive defense. The Royals will face the winner of the National League Championship Series (either San Francisco or cross-state rival St. Louis) in the World Series, and will have home-field advantage.

Orioles Sign Reliever Bell, Designate Meek For Assignment

By Andrew R. Koch

After consecutive blown saves by Tommy Hunter against the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has decided to shake things up a little in the Orioles bullpen.

The Orioles announced on May 16 that they’d agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran right-handed reliever Heath Bell. Pending a physical, Bell will report to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. He began the season with division-rival Tampa Bay, where he was 1-1 with a 7.27 ERA in 13 games. Bell was designated for assignment by the Rays earlier this month, and was then released. Now in his 11th season, Bell has a career record of 38-32 with a 3.49 ERA and 168 career saves. The Orioles will have to pick up little, if any of Bell’s salary because he’s still being paid not just by the Rays, but also by the Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks, whom he played for in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

In other roster moves, the Orioles designated right-handed reliever Evan Meek, and recalled another right-hander, Brad Brach, from Norfolk to take Meek’s spot on the 25-man roster. In 12 games this season, Meek was 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA.

This is Brach’s second stint with Baltimore this season. In his first stint, he appeared in two games, and allowed three earned runs in an inning and two-thirds. He went 3-1 with a 3.26 ERA and one save for the Tides. Showalter says the addition of Brach will provide the Orioles with another reliever who can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen.

Orioles Notes

Bench coach John Russell managed the Orioles during the third game of their series in Kansas City. Manager Buck Showalter was on leave so he and his wife could attend their daughter’s graduation from law school in Dallas.

Right-hander and top Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy continues to progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery last year. Bundy is scheduled to pitch an inning in an extended spring training game in Sarasota, Florida on May 20.