New York Giants unlikely to restart rebuilding before deadline

New York Giants, Kevin Zeitler

The current rebuild for the New York Giants isn’t going as planned, but it doesn’t look like the traditionally patient franchise is going to deviate from their usual trends and blow it all up after this season. Of course, with the trade deadline approaching around the league, this would be the time to start if the Giants were going to head in that direction. But we haven’t seen many moves coming from the team yet and according to a report from the New York Post, we might not see those moves at all.

“Insiders say there will be no fire sale,” the article from Paul Schwartz reports while acknowledging the team might have a couple moves in the near future. That would mean that speculated trades involving Kevin Zeitler or Evan Engram will probably remain in that realm of speculation for now.

It’s rather obvious why the Giants aren’t likely to move Zeitler even if they can get something in return for him. Most likely, they’d like the protection for Daniel Jones to not get even worse. It’s already been subpar with factors such as Andrew Thomas’ slow start playing into it. But without Zeitler, the situation would be worse. And Andrew Luck and his time with the Colts provided a good example of why it’s important to have actual protection for a young quarterback – even if that quarterback can take hits.

Evan Engram likely to be here for the future

On the other hand, the Giants still see a worth in Evan Engram and it appears they think his value is higher than what they can get on the market. According to the talent evaluator that spoke to the New York Post, the Giants could get a fourth or fifth round pick for Engram at most. If that at all.

The more meager potential haul probably won’t be enough to convince the Giants to move on from Engram. While some moves are possible before the trade deadline, the fans will probably be stuck watching Engram for further seasons to come regardless of what they think of him after losing the game against Philadelphia.

Whether this more conservative approach from the Giants leading up to the deadline benefits or hurts the team remains to be seen. We probably won’t know the answer until the future when the results of these moves or non-moves pan out.

The New York Mets claim Robel Garcia off waivers; DFA Ryan Cordell

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets made their first move of the offseason on Monday. They claimed infielder/outfielder Robel Garcia off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds had claimed him off waivers from the Chicago Cubs back in July, but he did not make any appearances in Cincy.

Garcia is 27-year-old, and the Mets are making a gamble on his 2019 breakout season in Double A and Triple A with the Cubbies.

Between those two levels in 2019, Garcia hit .284/.369/.586 with 27 homers over 98 games.

Before that outburst, he was never known for his power. It happened for him, and the Cubs called him up in 2019.

However, he couldn’t make much noise during his brief stint in the bigs. He wasn’t bad, though, as he hit .208/.275/.500 with a .315 wOBA and a 93 wRC+, so he was close to league average with the stick.

The New York Mets are betting on a rebound. If the power gains he made in 2019 stick (before that year, his year-high in dingers was six, so he clearly implemented some changes) he has a chance to be a utilityman in the majors.

What are the Mets getting?

Garcia is capable of playing first base, second base, third base, and both outfield corners, so he could be a nice piece for the bench if everything comes together for him.

Per Jacob Resnick of MetsMerized.com, Garcia was released out of A ball in 2013, played in Italy for three years, and signed with the Cubs in 2018 after working out with the Italian national team in Arizona. He still has one option left going into the 2021 season.

There will be competition in the Mets’ roster for playing time, as all those positions have a clear-cut starter (Pete Alonso at first, Robinson Cano at the keystone, Jeff McNeil and JD Davis at the hot corner, and Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Dominic Smith in the outfield.)

In a correspondent move, the Mets designated outfielder Ryan Cordell for assignment. Cordell appeared in five games with the Mets on the 2020 season, and he went 1-for-8.

New York Giants: Golden Tate trade value only increasing

New York Giants, Golden Tate

The New York Giants have some tough decisions to make with the 2020 NFL Trade Deadline quickly approaching. The deadline is on November 3 and the Giants have already started to move players for draft capital. Edge rusher Markus Golden was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick earlier this week.

But the Giants have had trade talks about multiple players with multiple teams. Sources have confirmed that teams have called about tight end Evan Engram. Ian Rapoport also confirmed reports stating that offensive guard Kevin Zeitler and wide receiver Golden Tate are available for trade.

These two veterans might be crucial to the offense’s success, but they are both the most valuable trade assets that the Giants can afford to part ways with. For veteran wide receiver Golden Tate, the Giants might not have been able to get much a few weeks ago, but his improved play and the multitude of injuries around the league may have increased his trade value.

Improved performance

While Golden Tate has not been heavily involved in the Giants’ offensive game plan, he was still able to put together a highlight-reel catch in Week Seven. Tate was targeted only twice on Thursday Night but he had one spectacular reception for a 39-yard touchdown.

Golden Tate has always proven to be a reliable, veteran receiving option for the Giants. But fans have recently started to question how much Tate has left in the gas tank. After seeing him make an incredible catch like that, there is reason to believe Golden Tate could still contribute meaningful games for an NFL offense. A team in the NFL in need of one more receiving weapon down the playoff stretch might value Tate’s services.

Injuries across the league

Another factor that could inflate Tate’s value is the number of injuries across the NFL. The 2020 NFL season has seen a huge number of star players suffer season-ending or season-lingering injuries. As Matt Lombardo of GMEN HQ pointed out, the Cleveland Browns recently lost superstar wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., to a season-ending injury. This could make Cleveland a potential landing spot for Golden Tate as they sit firmly in the playoff hunt.

The New Orleans Saints have been without Michael Thomas for some time and have recently lost Emmanuel Sanders for a couple of weeks as he tested positive for COVID-19. A Drew Brees to Golden Tate connection could be possible.

The New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and Pittsburgh Steelers all had wide receivers suffer or play through various injuries.

As the New York Giants sit at the bottom of the lowly NFC East with a putrid 1-6 record, a fire sale could be coming with the trade deadline approaching. Tate does not appear to be a long-term option for New York. It might be time for them to cut their losses and recoup a draft pick in exchange for Golden Tate.

New York Mets: Cohen Has Votes in Place For Ownership Approval

New York Mets

Steve Cohen’s quest to own the New York Mets is reaching the finish line. The 14 billion dollar man should receive at least 23 of 29 votes from the owners to gain the franchise’s full ownership. Of course, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office is the final hurdle, but de Blasio does not see it from stopping Cohen from disposing of the Wilpon family.

There is also confirmation from inside sources working for the Mets. During an employee zoom call today, Jeff Wilpon said good-bye to everyone for good. Despite sources against Cohen making it seem like de Blasio will stop the sale, no such dream for them exists.

Vote, Vote, Vote

The only guaranteed vote against Cohen will come from Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. He voted against Cohen in 2012 and this year as a member of the MLB ownership committee. Reinsdorf is a good friend of Alex Rodriguez and may bring 3-4 owners to vote against Cohen, but it will not be enough to stop the inevitable.

For those who dislike the way Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez handled their loss to Cohen, they get the last laugh too. If the couple was the group the owners voted on, they would not get the votes needed for approval. It is no surprise that A-Rod would get this treatment considering his controversial career and the number of enemies he created over 25+ years.

As the week begins, we are in the final turn of the final lap of this long, strenuous race to rid the Mets of the Wilpon family. If all moves as expected, the words “Steve Cohen owns the Mets” can be tweeted by the end of the week.

 

Knicks Draft Watch: John Calipari views Tyrese Maxey as smaller version of Jamal Murray

In the 2016 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks missed out on a big-time scoring guard from the University of Kentucky, the leading producer of NBA stars.

The Knicks’ lottery pick that year was earlier sent to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade. The Nuggets used the Knicks’ original pick (seventh overall) to select former Wildcat Jamal Murray.

Murray, as it turned out, is the real deal and he quickly became one of the league’s rising stars. The Denver Nuggets guard’s sensational play in the NBA Bubble has left team executives who passed on him scratching their heads.

This year, another big-time scorer under John Calipari’s program has entered the NBA Draft. One-and-done freshman Tyrese Maxey could be the answer to the Knicks’ backcourt riddle with his dynamic scoring and moxie.

“I’m trying to tell everybody when you look at Tyrese, he’s a smaller version, but he’s still 6’2”, of Jamal Murray who is 6’5”. They both have that lower release. Everybody said Jamal would never get it off,” Calipari told Empire Sports Media during his Zoom call with select media on Monday.

Murray though came into the Draft as a projected top-five Lottery pick but somehow slipped a couple of notches down because of doubts whether he was athletic enough to thrive in the league.

He proved all the skeptics wrong as his game and his low released shot translated well in the NBA.

Maxey isn’t viewed as highly as Murray was. Most boards have Maxey as a late lottery pick in a Draft that has become as unpredictable as it hasn’t been in recent years. Aside from his apparent lack of size (6’1″ without shoes and with only 6’6″ wingspan), Maxey is facing the same questions Murray had in 2016.

“Jamal played with Tyler Ulis so [people] said, is he a point guard? They’re point guards. We’re teaching them to play with the ball and without the ball. And now it becomes: do they make game-winning shots? Are they that guy? Tyrese is,” said Calipari.

With the NBA heading into positionless basketball, Calipari believes Maxey’s switchability as a combo guard could work well to his advantage. He has the skills and speed to run the point and he has the moxie and court smarts to play off the ball.

Maxey proved early on that he has the chops of Calipari’s typical dynamic guard when he dropped 26 points in his college debut at the Madison Square Garden against Michigan State.

He went on to average 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game before the college season was cut short. He shot 42.7% from the field, 29.2% from three, and 83.3% from the stripes.

It wasn’t fancy particularly his shooting percentage from deep but the eye test suggests his impact on the game was way bigger than those numbers. Another reason for that, Calipari explained, is because Maxey played within the system just like the way Murray, and earlier, Devin Booker did that made them somewhat underrated ahead of the Draft. 

While Maxey is two inches shorter than those two former Kentucky guards, he possesses the same characteristics that make him such an intriguing prospect with a high ceiling.

Calipari pointed those out but also acknowledged the area where Maxey should focus on to reach his ceiling.

“Tyrese, physically, athletically and you know he’s a guy who’s blocking shots, rebounding the ball, has played dribble-drive and a downhill runner his whole life,” Calipari said. “He has to be more consistent with his shooting so did Jamal. But they played similar (roles) here.”

While it’s a pity that Maxey was robbed of the opportunity to show more of his wares on the big stage when the SEC and NCAA were scrapped, his body of work from high school, AAU to Team USA would be enough to tell you he’s got a chance to be special.

Before he went to Kentucky, he teamed up with Draft classmate Cole Anthony in the Team USA that obliterated the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas Championship.

Maxey averaged 8.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists against 0.5 turnovers, and 1.3 steals in 18 minutes. Anthony, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, averaged 14.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists against 2.7 turnovers, and 1.2 steals in 21 minutes.

During his short-lived stay at Kentucky, Maxey was on a tear late in the season, scoring 20 or more points five times before the stoppage.

“There are gonna be people who’ll pass on Tyrese that will regret liked how they passed on PJ (Washington) like how they passed on Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), Jamal (Murray) and we can keep going,” Calipari said. “He’s gonna be that (type of player).”

Mike Schmitz, ESPN’s resident NBA Draft Analyst, shared the same view with Calipari when he appeared on Sports Center with Scott Van Pelt last week.

“He didn’t have eye-popping numbers at Kentucky. He was under 50 percent from 2, under 30 percent from 3, but you have to play a role there. You have to fit in. Coach Cal does a tremendous job of forcing these guys to buy into a role. It’s about winning for the team and you sacrifice there and that’s exactly what Maxey did,” Schmitz said.

But the one thing that stuck out on Schmitz is that Maxey is a big-time scorer.

“This kid is a bucket. I saw him at the high school level, I saw him with USA Basketball, and I think he’s a perfect fit in today’s NBA. You can try to poke holes in him. You can try to say, ‘He’s a 6-3 combo guard. He’s a scorer or he’s out of control.’ But it’s worked pretty well for Tyler Herro, for Jamal Murray, for Devin Booker.”

That type of dynamic scoring has been sorely lacking on the Knicks backcourt for the longest time now.

Calipari didn’t go into specifics about the Knicks’ interest in Maxey. But a  highly-placed source in Kentucky said that Calipari has been constantly talking to the Knicks.

During the course of Calipari’s interview, the well-decorated coach revealed that his travel was limited by the pandemic but noted that his only out-of-town trip so far was to New Jersey.

Knicks’ team president Leon Rose is from Cherry Hills, New Jersey while his good friend and senior advisor William “World Wide Wes” Wesley hails from Camden, New Jersey.

Calipari has strong ties with the Knicks front office, and more so with his former top deputy and key recruiter Kenny Payne who is now one of Tom Thibodeau’s assistant coaches.

Maxey should be available by the time the Knicks would pick at No. 8 based on most Mock Drafts. But he’s also a trade-down candidate as reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post.

NBA Draft analyst Matt Babcock of Babcock Hoops, meanwhile, views Maxey in a different light.

“I see (Tyrese) Maxey being a solid complementary role player at the next level, whereas (Jamal) Murray is a dynamic player and one of the NBA’s rising young stars,” Babcock told Empire Sports Media. “Murray is just in an entirely different category altogether.”

Babcock Hoops has Maxey at No. 28 in their Mock Draft. It’s going to be a big surprise if Maxey gets picked inside the Top 10.

“I do not think the Knicks should consider Maxey with the 8th pick. It would be too high in the draft for him, in my opinion. I actually think Maxey would be a more appropriate option for the Knicks with the 27th pick, if he were there, of course,” Babcock said.

Maxey has shades of Murray in his game. But there are also glaring questions that he must address.

Only time will tell if Maxey can hold up to Murray’s comparisons.

But as Murray’s game became bigger and louder in the recent NBA Bubble, it’s hard to imagine that this new front office given their link to Kentucky and Calipari would pass up on the opportunity to get a player of the same caliber.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC Matchmaker: Jared Cannonier – Paulo Costa

This past weekend at UFC 254, Jared Cannonier (13-5) had his chance to cement his status as the number one contender in the middleweight division. He took on former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker in the UFC 254 co-main event.

Cannonier had a couple of bright spots in the fight. He hurt Whittaker early with leg kicks, and wobbled Whittaker in the final minute of the fight. However, outside of those, it was a clear win for the former UFC champion.

Whittaker almost finished Cannonier early on in the third round with a headkick. The loss was the first loss for Cannonier since he dropped down to the middleweight division. Cannonier had been called out by UFC champion, Israel Adesanya, before the loss.

Now that Cannonier has suffered the loss, it’s back to the drawing board for the Killa Gorilla. In looking around at the rest of the middleweight division, I think there is a clear next step for the UFC. I think that the promotion should book Jared Cannonier – Paulo Costa (13-1).

Will the UFC make it happen?

This is the fight that just makes too much sense. Costa is coming off of a title loss to Adesanya at UFC 253. Prior to that loss, he was looked at as arguably the most terrifying contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

Cannonier just fought the former champion when he carried in a similar reputation. Both men lost in their big opportunities. The quickest way to have one of them re-establish their credibility in the division is to have one fight the other.

This would be a fantastic matchup for the UFC to make. The promotion is likely going to book the Adesanya – Whittaker rematch, and they could put this fight as the co-main event. The winner would re-establish themselves as the top contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

New York Jets: Denzel Mims earns positive reviews in NFL debut

The ache of yet another New York Jets loss was somewhat soothed by the emergence of Denzel Mims, who made his NFL debut on Sunday.

It’s bad enough that the New York Jets have subjected their fans to such a brutal season in the midst of uncertain times. But for the first six games of this cursed trek to provide little in terms of hope for the future, it was downright cruel to a supporter base that has dealt with countless examples of football malarkey over the last five decades.

Entering Sunday’s MetLife Stadium tilt against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets had lost their first six games by an average margin of just over 18 points. Even the promise of showcasing young talent fell by the wayside in these early games. Punter Braden Mann has certainly been busy (leading the NFL with 39 kick-aways), but injuries (Mekhi Becton, Cameron Clark on the line) and mismanagement (La’Mical Perine still struggling to earn more carries that Frank Gore) have prevented other members of the Jets’ 2020 draft class from getting opportunities in relatively consequence-free situations.

Up until the buildup to Buffalo’s visit, Mims was stuck in the former category, sidelined by a hamstring issue that cost him the majority of his debut NFL training camp. The second-round pick out of Baylor was activated on Saturday and granted his first NFL action a day later in East Rutherford. While a victory was once again too much to ask for, Mims made the most of his new opportunity.

The Jets fell by an 18-10 final to their divisional rival, but Mims led the team with 42 yards on a quartet of receptions, his longest being a 16-yard gain up the middle in the second quarter. Mims was shut out, along with the rest of the Jets’ offense, as the unit gained only four years in the second half while they watched a 10-0 lead evaporate. But the rookie nonetheless earned positive reviews after his first four quarters of NFL action.

“Denzel did some really good things out there for us,’’ quarterback Sam Darnold said, per Mark Cannizaro of the New York Post. “He’s a big body, a fast dude who can go up and make plays, make contested catches. We’re going to continue to use him in ways that provide us opportunities for that.’’

“Early it looked like there was some good stuff there. He showed up, he made some plays, made some catches,” head coach Adam Gase added in a report from Christine Watkins of Sports Grind Entertainment. “You could tell his length is real, he uses his body to his advantage.”

Mims was sure to soak up all the intensity an NFL setting had to offer, but even he took a moment to be starstruck upon earning his catch as a professional.

“I had a big grin on my face,” Mims said, according to Andy Vazquez of NorthJersey.com. “I knew that I was getting the ball that play and when I made the catch, I was very excited. … I knew that all I had to do was look the ball in and make the first catch.”

Mims did a solid job getting open throughout the afternoon. He made two big grabs on the Jets’ lone touchdown drive of the day and later provided a crucial block on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White on the score, punched in by Perine.

“It was a little faster than what I’m used to in college,” Mims said of the game’s tempo, per Vazquez. “But I adjusted quick. I knew that I had to play at that speed, or faster to make something happen on offense.”

Mims and the Jets (0-7) face a bigger challenge next weekend, as they’re set to battle the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Yankees could lose big in the off-season too

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees lost big in the regular shortened coronavirus season. They lost up against the Tampa Bay Rays 2-8 during the season. They lost big when they couldn’t win the American League East to the Rays. The biggest loss was when they couldn’t capture a win in the ALCS and go on to a World Series appearance. This is the New York Yankees; if they don’t win a World Series in a season, they consider their season a failure.

The World Series is about to be over, and when it is, the Yankees could again lose very big. The New York Yankees have 17 free agents in just a few days. Some of the big names include DJ LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, among a dozen others. Giancarlo Stanton, Zack Britton, and Brett Gardner have options that could affect their team’s return. Add to that the Yankees could lose their bench coach Carlos Mendoza and their hitting coach Marcus Thames. The weeks ahead will tell how this all pans out.

As far as the free agents are concerned, the Yankees will have to double or more DJ LeMahieu’s yearly salary to keep him around. He will probably also want a longer contract to provide him with future career security. This year of no income and increasing responsibilities upcoming, if LeMahieu is too demanding, it is not out of the question that they could let him walk.

Last offseason, the Yankees spent big and landed one of the best pitchers in baseball, Gerrit Cole; now, with all the pitchers reaching free agency, the Yankees may have to spend big again on someone like Trevor Bauer. The other option is to keep some of the free agents and depend on the up and coming prospects to anchor the rotation. The Yankee brass realizes they must do something, or they will find themselves falling short again. If they keep any of their free-agent pitchers, it will probably be the somewhat dependable Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka has not tipped his hat as to if he wants to return to the Yankees. In Tweets, he has said he liked pitching for the Yankees but has also hinted he may return to Japan to finish his career.

So far as the other free-agent pitchers. There is a possibility that the Yankees may make some type of offer to keep James Paxton on the payroll. The question in that deal would be how much of a discount he would sign for due to his reoccurring health issues. Another big loss to the Yankees could come if they don’t take back 2019, most winning pitcher Domingo German, who was suspended this season for domestic violence. General Operating Partner Hal Steinbrenner has openly stated that German would have to prove to him that he is a changed man. If history means anything, they will probably take back German, considering what they did with Aroldis Chapman, whose case was worse.

The bottom line is that with Luis Severino coming back midseason and keeping Tanaka and accepting the return of German, it may release the Yankees from spending big money for a premium pitcher. It would produce a lineup similar to this: Cole, Severino, German, and Tanaka, which would leave them with a bevy of Montgomery and prospects to fill the remaining slot in the rotation.

In recent areas of losses, the Yankees could endure because Marcus Thames, the present hitting coach, has been interviewed for the new Detroit Tiger’s manager’s position. According to reports, he is presently on the shortlist for the job. More recently, Yankee bench coach Carlos Mendoza, Boone’s right-hand man, is rumored about for managerial jobs for both the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox got rid of Alex Cora when he was implicated in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. They replace him with Ron Roenicke, the result was a season where the team was a mess and ended up having one of their worst years in two decades. They ended up last in the AL East, losing a third more games than they won. The Detroit Tiger’s vacancy resulted when Ron Gardenhire abruptly retired with a week left to the season. Both teams will need a strong leader to improve their teams.

The remaining free agents they might lose are in the minor league system. And would likely not have a serious impact on the team regardless of what they decide. The New York Yankees will surely not lose all of these positions, but some of them could produce a very different looking team for the 2021 season.

 

Does Lauren Murphy deserve a title shot after UFC 254?

Lauren Murphy, UFC

One of the more vocal fighters after UFC 254 was flyweight contender, Lauren Murphy (14-4). Murphy was originally supposed to take on Cynthia Calvillo, but at the last minute she ended up fighting Lilya Shakirova at UFC 254.

The flyweight contender looked really solid in all areas on Saturday. Murphy looked solid on the feet, and she showed good skills on the ground. Murphy said she wanted to lock up her first submission victory and she was able to do just that.

UFC 254 marked the fourth straight time that Murphy has made the walk successfully. She’s taken on ranked opponents in the division and finished two of her last four opponents. Murphy was very vocal about wanting a title shot in her post-fight interview.

Later on at the post-fight press conference, Murphy continued to show frustrations of getting passed up. She talked about Jennifer Maia. getting the next shot at Valentina Shevchenko. Let’s just say that Murphy is not thrilled with Maia’s title shot.

What should the UFC do?

For context, JoJo Calderwood was originally supposed to face Valentina Shevchenko in June. However, the UFC champion sustained an injury that would cause the fight to be delayed. Calderwood decided to roll the dice and fight Maia.

Maia went on to finish Calderwood by submission in the first round. Because of the finish of the top contender, the UFC decided to give Maia the shot. However, her resume doesn’t really scream top contender as she’s just 3-2 in her last five fights.

Granted, her two losses were to former title challengers. Murphy does have a point in that she’s won four in a row against ranked caliber opponents. So what should the UFC do? Obviously, the promotion isn’t going to take away the title fight from Maia.

I also don’t think sitting and waiting is going to help Murphy. Instead, I think the UFC should book her against who’s probably the front runner for the next title shot, Jessica Andrade. Andrade made her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Island 6 and finished top contender Katlyn Chookagian. 

The former strawweight champion is finally competing in what she believes is her natural weight class. Andrade just fought and Murphy just fought. The logical move to me is to have the UFC pair both of them together and the winner should fight the flyweight champion early next year.

Buffalo Bills: Tyler Bass emerges as the difference in win over Jets

Buffalo Bills rookie kicker Tyler Bass accounted for every visitors’ point on Sunday after against the New York Jets.

Tyler Bass’ propensity for the three-pointer on Sunday would have him fitting right with the WNBA’s New York Liberty, they of over 600 attempts from that range during their 22-game trek in the Bradenton bubble.

Bass won’t be hitting the hardwood anytime soon, but his three-pointers still came up big for a New York-based squad on Sunday. The rookie kicker accounted for every point the Buffalo Bills scored in New Jersey, becoming the catalyst behind an 18-10 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. His six successful conversions tied a team-record previously set by team legend Steve Christie, who matched the tally in a 1996 victory…ironically also against the Jets in Jersey.

“It’s amazing,” Bass said of his afternoon, per Jourdon LaBarber & Dante Lasting of BuffaloBills.com. “I just couldn’t have done it without the guys up front, couldn’t have done it without (long snapper) Reid (Ferguson), (punter/holder Corey Bojorquez), the coaches for believing in me. But, yeah, it’s a good feeling that we won. That’s most important. I know I got some things to clean up but other than that I was very proud of what happened.”

At the onset of the game, Bass was destined by some to be history rather than making it; entering the contest with a 6-of-9 conversion rate, Bass ended Buffalo’s first drive with a 45-yard miss, a mistake that contributed to an early 10-0 deficit. He would later earn successful attempts from 53 and 48 yards out (the latter coming at the very end of the first half) and later gave Buffalo the lead for good with two more in the third quarter (these from 46 and 37 yards away).

However, doubt began to creep back into the Buffalo fan’s mindset with Bass missed another 37-yard attempt, keeping the affair at a slim two-point lead going into the final stanzas. In the time of trouble, Bass turned to an unusual, yet special, source of motivation…his eye black.

Bass notably wears eye black, an athletic tradition said to reduce glare, under only one of his eyes, something CBS announcers Greg Gumbel and Rich Gannon made note of during the course of the game. Asked about his unusual set up after the game, Bass said it’s a subtle reminder of the 2019 Cure Bowl, his final college game at Georgia Southern.

“It’s just something I do,” he said, per LaBarber and Lasting. “(It) makes me feel more than a kicker at times. (In) my last game of my college career, I had an ‘M.’ That was for my grandma. We were in a little Cure Bowl which was about breast cancer. So, kind of since then I just use it and it kind of gives me a little confidence.”

Called upon twice more in the fourth quarter, Bass was able to convert his later opportunities and help create the final margin. Buffalo’s defense took care of the rest, as a Jerry Hughes interception of Sam Darnold on the final drive put an end to the Jets’ comeback bid.

In the aftermath of the win, which ended Buffalo’s two-game losing streak, quarterback Josh Allen noted that the distress of not reaching the end zone was offset by Bass’ effectiveness.

“We have to find ways to finish in the end zone,” Allen declared, per Adam Unger of WKBW-TV. “A couple of penalties pushed us back and put us in a bad position, and shout out to T-Bass for making all those kicks and getting us the win.”

“It’s not about how many you make, it’s about what you do after you miss,” Bass also noted in Unger’s report. “Anyone can handle stuff when things are easy, just about. When something goes wrong, it’s just about, how do you handle that?”

Bills head coach Sean McDermott was certainly pleased with the way Bass answered that question on Sunday.

“Coming up with three instead of seven, that’s what keeps a team in the game,” McDermott said, per Unger. “I thought special teams, Tyler Bass, I know he had a couple of miscues, but at the end of the day he made some big-time kicks in some big-time moments in the game.”

Bass and the Bills (5-2) return to action on Sunday at home against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags