Bill Belichick always seems to know the exact right time to let go of a veteran, even ones who have helped him win championships.
In March, the New England Patriots cut Stephen Gostkowski. Belichick put out a nice statement, thanking Gostkowski for his 14 seasons with the team. It was a bit of a surprising move only because Gostkowski is by far the all-time leading scorer in Patriots history and one of the best kickers in the NFL over the past decade and a half. He has three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.
On Monday night, Belichick looked like he had good timing again. Gostkowski had the worst game of his career on a “Monday Night Football” stage, less than two weeks after signing with the Tennessee Titans.
Gostkowski missed his first field goal. His second one was blocked. He missed a third one, the first time in his career he missed three in one game. Then to add to the horrible night, Gostkowski missed an extra point. The Titans led 13-7 after that missed extra point, and Gostkowski’s missed kicks had cost them a chance at 10 more points.
Gostkowski is coming off hip surgery. He’s 36 years old. It was a risky signing by the Titans, especially with the odd offseason. Still, plenty of kickers are effective into their late 30s. Gostkowski is a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and was the kicker on the 2010s NFL All-Decade Team. He should still have more good seasons left.
But when Belichick gave up on Gostkowski, maybe it should have been a sign. There’s still time for Gostkowski to rebound, but that’s only if the Titans decide to give him a second shot after an awful first game.
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Bill Belichick has a classic Belichick look this week
On Bill Belichick’s priority list, getting prepped to looks sharp to meet with the media ranks low. In fact, it’s not on the list at all.
Belichick, who has turned sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off into a fashion statement, took the casual look to a new level for Wednesday’s news conference.
Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest coach in NFL history.
It’s all there, the tired eyes, unkept hair, sweatshirt that not only has the sleeves cut off but also looks like moths got at it and is falling apart (ESPN deduced it’s the sweatshirt first worn by Belichick in the 2013 season opener and last worn in the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Eagles at the end of the 2017 season). That’s a man who looks like he has not done anything, including sleep, aside from study game film since his New England Patriots lost on the final play to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.
I love that Belichick did this, there are no mistakes with stuff like this…he knows the players will see it. Back late off a West Coast loss on SNF, surprise 2-0 team coming to town. It’s a f’ing work week, baby. The grind didn’t just start on Wednesday. Message sent. pic.twitter.com/pRO6XWRR66
— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) September 23, 2020
Ask yourself this: Does that look like a man who is going to start the season 1-2 with a loss on Sunday?
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TV schedule, key stats, Goodyear tires and more
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to the “Entertainment Capital of the World” for the Round of 12 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET (NCBSN/NBC Sports App, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Before this weekend‘s Sin City showcase, check out a few important things to know.
RELATED: Full Las Vegas schedule | Paint Scheme Preview
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval located in Las Vegas Valley, Nevada. First opened in 1996, the track is relatively new compared to many on the current circuit, but it still has its share of electric history. Adopted by NASCAR‘s premier series in 1998, Mark Martin powered his way to the first ever victory at the track — and in its 25-race history, no one has more wins than Jimmie Johnson (four).
Las Vegas boasts an asphalt racing surface with 20-degree banking in the turns and 9- to 12-degree baking in the straights.
Stage 1 will end at Lap 80, Stage 2 at Lap 160 and the Final Stage at Lap 267.
Playoff points leader Kevin Harvick will wheel the No. 4 Steward-Haas Ford out in front of the field Sunday, earning his fifth Busch Pole Award of the season and second of the playoffs. Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola and Joey Logano complete the top five.
The lineup was determined by four performance metrics from the Cup Series‘ previous race: 15% based on fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver‘s final race finish position, 25% of the owner‘s final race position and 35% of the owner points position.
RELATED: Full starting lineup | Pit-stall assignments
Cup Series cars will feature the same 1.5-mile racing package used in 2019 and the 2020 spring Vegas race, with aero ducts and a tapered-spacer engine generating a targeted 550 horsepower.
Each Cup team will have nine sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for the race.
With limited on-track practice time and testing, Goodyear Racing has relied even more heavily on feedback from the drivers and their teams to develop an effective compound at each track. After receiving this feedback at the conclusion of the first half of the season, changes were made to the right-side compound for a series of tracks, starting this weekend at Las Vegas. Increased grip at tracks with lower tire wear will be an increased focus with the new compound to allow optimum performance.
“Key to making the optimum tire recommendation is the review of all the data that is generated, whether it be from practices throughout a weekend, testing, or as is the only opportunity right now, from the actual races,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “What we‘ve seen and heard at several of the low-wear tracks, is the Cup cars could stand to have a little more grip, so we have made a step in that direction for Las Vegas, as well as Kansas and Texas. Vegas and Texas shared the same tire set-up at their earlier races, and we brought that same right-side to Kansas as well, so they have been basically aligned all season. They remain so with this new right side as we enhance the grip level at all three.”
PLAYOFF STATS TO KNOW
— Kevin Harvick holds the longest active streak of NASCAR Playoffs victories with nine consecutive seasons featuring at least one trip to Victory Lane. Jimmie Johnson is the all-time record holder at 13 in a row.
— Ford dominated the Round of 16, winning each of the three races: Kevin Harvick winning twice (Darlington Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway) and Brad Keselowski once (Richmond Raceway).
— Only two of the 163 NASCAR Playoffs races were won by drivers getting their first win: Clint Bowyer in 2007 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Brian Vickers in 2006 at Talladega Superspeedway.
— Nine of the remaining playoff drivers have wins at tracks in the Round of 12, but only six of them have ever made it to the Championship 4.
Source: Racing Insights
For a more interactive experience, head over to NASCAR.com or the NASCAR app to check out an enhanced Race Center, live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the customizable live leaderboard with Scanner (which is FREE for both races) and the return of Drive (featuring in-car cameras).
Be sure to set your lineup in Fantasy Live and make your picks in the NASCAR Finish Line App.
2019 RACE WINNER
Martin Truex Jr. sped away from Kevin Harvick in last year‘s playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Truex and the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team put forth an exceptional effort all afternoon, charging forward from a 24th starting position and leading 32 laps to secure their fifth checkered flag of the season.
RELATED: Vegas odds, lines
ACTIVE LAS VEGAS WINNERS
Jimmie Johnson (four wins); Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski (three each); Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano (two each); Kyle Busch (one).
PSG preparing to pull out of negotiations to sign Dele Alli on season-long loan
Paris Saint-Germain are preparing to pull out of negotiations to sign Dele Alli on a season-long loan.
It is understood that the financial terms to sign the midfielder are proving to be prohibitive for the Champions League finalists despite them being encouraged to enter negotiations.
After the initial talks, PSG had been left feeling confident that they could agree a deal for Alli with Tottenham Hotspur but that optimism has dwindled in the past 48 hours.
PSG were only interested in taking the 24-year-old on loan and believed a deal could be struck and that the England international was keen on the move.
Inter Milan have also expressed an interest in Alli, who has been left angry and confused by his recent omissions from the squad by Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho.
It is now appearing increasingly likely that Alli will stay at Spurs despite the midfielder having expressed an interest to leave to try and kickstart his career.
Mourinho has told Alli it is up to him to try to get back in the team rescue and insisted he is “convinced” the midfielder will stay at the club in this transfer window.
Alli has been restored to Mourinho’s travelling squad for Tottenham’s trip to Macedonia to face Shkendija in the Europa League this evening, having been left out of the previous two squads.
Asked if Alli will be at Spurs by the end of the transfer window, head coach Mourinho told Sky Sports: “I believe (he will). I can even say that I’m convinced that he will be.”
Ahead of the Europa League tie, Mourinho added: “There is a tendency now when a player performs or the player doesn’t perform, to give responsibilities on coaches, some because they gave him the right love, some because they gave him the right stick.
“I always feel that 99 per cent of the responsibility is the player. I have one per cent. Me and my staff and the people that work with the players every day, we have one per cent of the responsibility. It is 99 per cent that belongs to them.”
Mourinho refused to talk about his exchanges with Alli, during which he warned him how quickly a career can pass, and his discussions with chairman Daniel Levy about the player’s form in the Amazon documentary.
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