Patricio Pitbull knocks out Pedro Carvalho in the first at Bellator 252

Tonight Bellator returned to action and the best fighter that the promotion has to offer was in the main event. Continuing with the Featherweight Grand Prix, featherweight champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) took on Pedro Carvalho (11-3).

Patricio Pitbull is one of the very best fighters in the world. Over the years, he’s become a face of Bellator. However, Carvalho was expected to give him a big challenge tonight.

Training under the same coach as Conor McGregor, Carvalho is good wherever the fight goes. He fights extremely long and he’s got slick submissions on the mat. This fight was expected to be a battle.

However, it was evident from the opening bell that these two were on different levels. Carvalho came out and threw some decent strikes trying to pressure the champion. However, Pitbull was just biting his time waiting for his opportunity.

As the first round continued, Pitbull started touching Carvalho up. He buckled Carvalho with a right then he dropped Carvalho with another right. A scramble found Pitbull on Carvalho’s back.

However, Carvalho was able to work his way back up to his feet, but he wouldn’t be there long. Pitbull hurt him bad with another right hand. Then a clean leaping left hook put Carvalho out for good. Pitbull remains the Bellator featherweight champion.

Patricio Pitbull def Pedro Carvalho by KO –  Round 1

What’s next after Bellator 252

Bellator 252 was supposed to be a tough event for Pitbull and he just stormed through Pedro Carvalho. Odds makers had the odds stacked for Pitbull, but many analyst thought that Carvalho could give Pitbull a tough fight.

Turns out, it was just another walk through the park for Pitbull. After this he will continue on in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. His next opponent is already decided as he will take on Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4) who won earlier in the evening.

These two men fought back in 2018 with Pitbull winning by unanimous decision. I have no idea who is going to be the man who can take away that crown from Pitbull. He is truly something special.

The New York Rangers may play in a shortened 2020-21 season

New York Rangers

One of the things that the New York Rangers might have to prepare for in getting ready for the 2020-21 season in a reduced number of games. According to some sources, according to Sportsnet.ca, is that the NHL is looking to play a season that could be as few as 56 games to as many as 72. It does not appear that the league is ready to play a full schedule as in past years, as the sources say that the NHL wants to award the Stanley Cup around July 15.

This is also going on the assumption that the league continues to target January 1 as a start date, and that the league may employ “mini-hubs” as a way to start the season and reduce the impact that COVID-19 might have on starting or finishing a season.

According to TSN.ca and their NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, there are now 16 players on the Return to Play committee, as compared to the Return to Play committee last spring that was made up of five players.

LeBrun adds that it appears the committee is working in a different fashion compared to the one from last spring, working more internally with the NHL Players’ Association as the PA and NHL engage in higher-level communication. Even though the NHLPA has indicated its desire to play the full 82-game schedule, that would take the league into late August, which does not seem likely.

The more than likely scenario would be that the NHL would adopt a schedule that would likely be modeled on the 2020 MLB season in which travel was limited through geographical play. Dates would have to be left open, either in season or following the targeted end date, to accommodate postponements and/or accommodate breaks from the mini-hubs that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman alluded to in a conference call on Tuesday.

One of the issues around a shortened season is player salaries. The CBA extension last summer agreeing to 72 percent of their gross pay for the upcoming season. The NHLPA feels this number is set whether they play one game or 70-something games. However, owners feel those salaries should be prorated, especially if there’s no clear path to attendance, something that is less likely to happen as number spike throughout the country.

The expectation is that the league will propose prorating. It is unknown whether that would be coupled with a threat not to play unless the union makes a concession. It is also unknown how NHLPA would respond to such a situation, but the union has been aware of this possibility for some time.

There has been speculation that if a January 1 start date is set, teams would want to have training camps set for around December 15, with the seven teams that did not make last year’s playoffs having a few extra days of camp.

Regardless, the NHL and the NHLPA will have a very busy month ahead if they want to start on January 1.

 

 

New York Islanders: Could Noah Dobson become the Number 1?

New York Islanders, Noah Dobson

The New York Islanders defense is loaded with talent. There are at least 9 defensemen who could start on a plethora of teams. This being said, there is a clear distinction of who the best defenseman is. It’s currently Ryan Pulock with Adam Pelech not too far behind him. But, there is another young defenseman who could take that title. I’m talking about no other than Noah Dobson.

Noah Dobson has already claimed top-4 minutes after just under a year in the league and will continue to improve as he continues to play. There are two reasons why Dobson could take this title. And the reasons completely separate him from Pulock and Pelech.

Skating Abilities

Don’t get me wrong, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are terrific skaters. But, Noah Dobson is a different kind of a skater. His speed is so underrated, and it’s crazy because he can move the puck 200 feet. This is going to secure him a spot on the powerplay someday soon, and it opens up the offense, which is something the Islanders need more of. Noah Dobson also can force wingers back to the outside by how he skates. He’s 6’4, and only 186 pounds, but his use of the body while skating is advanced for his age. It helps a goalie out a lot by facing shots from the outside rather than from right in front.

Wrist Shot

The top Islanders defenders all have one facet of their game that no one else can match. For Ryan Pulock, it’s his booming slapshot. For Adam Pelech, it’s his unavoidable poke check.

Well, for Noah Dobson, it’s his wrist shot. Isles fans didn’t get to see much of his shot last year due to his age. What I mean by that is, Dobson didn’t want to do anything wrong on the ice instead of just being comfortable and playing his game. In every level he’s played in, Dobson’s wrist shot has been nearly unstoppable. Everyone always believes that he’s going to take a wicked slapshot from the point, but instead, he moves up 15 feet and unloads a wrister into the toy department. Definitely, something that NHL goalies have to be aware of.

Conclusion

Noah Dobson has unlimited potential right now. He’s got the best Head and Assistant coaches in the league. Also, he’s surrounded by a bunch of great young and old defensemen. I look at Noah Dobson the same way I look at Alex Pietrangelo, they’re very similar, and that should excite Isles fans.

UFC books headliner featuring Alistair Overeem – Alexander Volkov

The UFC is on fire with fight announcements today. Dana White told ESPN this afternoon that the promotion is finalizing the headliner for their card on February 6th. It’s a good one in the heavyweight division.

Per White, the UFC is booking Alistair Overeem (47-18, 1 NC) against Alexander Volkov (32-8) in a five round main event. Both of these contenders currently rank in the top six of the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

Alistair Overeem is in the final chapters of his incredible career. He’s held titles in just about every promotion he’s competed in outside of the UFC. That is the one title that has seemed to allude him throughout his career.

The 40 year old knows this run will be his final run. In 2020, Overeem has stopped Walt Harris and Augusto Sakai in two great performances. To end 2019, he was stopped by Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the final seconds of a fight he controlled.

Prior to that loss, Overeem had won two straight. At 4-1 in his last five fights, it appears that Overeem is only a win or two away from a UFC title shot. However, there will be a tough Russian standing in his way on February 6th.

UFC Heavyweight Clash

We just saw Alexander Volkov compete back at UFC 254. It was honestly one of the more impressive performances I’ve seen from Volkov. He took out Walt Harris in the second round of their heavyweight battle.

In that fight, Volkov did such a great job of sniping Harris from range. That was the version of Alexander Volkov that many believe could be a UFC title challenger one day. He’s getting a big chance with a headliner against Alistair Overeem.

This should be a fantastic matchup and I’m very curious to watch it play out. Both of these men are very decorated strikers so you’d think it would take place on the feet. However, we’ve seen Overeem go to his wrestling lately.

Perhaps Overeem leans on the grappling in a fight against another top level striker. Time will tell, but it should be a fantastic matchup in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

UFC booking Kelvin Gastelum – Ian Heinisch

The UFC is close to finalizing another exciting fight for their card on January 30th. Earlier today, it was reported that the promotion was booking Carlos Condit against Matt Brown. Now, the promotion is finalizing an exciting middleweight contest.

First reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the UFC is finalizing a middleweight contest between Kelvin Gastelum (15-6, 1 NC) and Ian Heinisch (14-3). Both of these fighters are ranked in the UFC‘s top 15.

Heinisch was actually scheduled to fight last week against Brendan Allen. However, that fight fell apart at the last minute when Heinisch tested positive for COVID-19. It was the second time that fights been scrapped.

It appears that the promotion has moved on from that fight. Now, Heinisch will get the highest profiled fight of his career in taking on former title challenger and Ultimate Fighter winner, Kelvin Gastelum.

UFC January 30th

When the calendar turned to 2019, Kelvin Gastelum was looked at as one of the best in the middleweight division. Gastelum had picked up two wins in a row against Jacare Souza and former UFC middleweight champion, Michael Bisping.

Gastelum got a shot at the interim UFC title against now champion, Israel Adesanya. He pushed Adesanya like he’d never been pushed before. The fight was an absolute war, but in the end, Adesanya walked away with his hand raised.

Since that fight, it’s been back-to-back lackluster fights for Gastelum. He fought and lost to Darren Till at UFC 244 in a fight that left much to be desired. Then back on Fight Island, Gastelum was submitted by Jack Hermansson in 78 seconds.

This fight is a big chance for him to turn things around. Heinisch is going to be a very motivated contender going in there on January 30th and if Gastelum can turn him away, it’ll say a lot about his position in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

It’s clear that the UFC is building a helluva card on January 30th. The two fight announcements today have both been bangers, and I’m excited to see how the rest of the card fills out.

New York Yankees: Domingo German will return to the mound this weekend

New York Yankees, Domingo German

The New York Yankees are in need of reinforcements in the rotation. Gerrit Cole is the unquestioned ace, but Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton are all hitting the free agent market. The team will have to rely on Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, and one forgotten pitcher in the 2021 season and beyond.

Domingo German, who missed the whole 2020 campaign while serving a suspension for a domestic violence incident in September 2019, is still under contract and the Yankees, barring a huge surprise, will have some sort of role for him.

And given the fact that he hasn’t pitched in a competitive match for more than a year, any game action that the Yankees’ hurler can get is huge. German, thankfully, will get just that this weekend in the Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) with Toros del Este.

German will be the Opening Day starter for Toros on Sunday, Nov. 15. The team announced the news via its Instagram account. The pitcher, according to NJ Advance Media, commented three fire emojis under a photo of him wearing the orange and black jersey of the La Romana squad.

Major League Baseball put German on administrative leave on September 19, 2019, when the domestic violence allegations against him came out. The Yankees’ righty served 81 games in his suspension in the end.

A trio of Yankees’ will represent Toros

Besides German, Toros del Este will have Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar playing winter ball. All three need playing time badly.

New York Yankees’ owner Hal Steinbrenner still needs to see progress from German on a personal level. “Well, look, I have to absolutely feel comfortable that he deeply, deeply regrets and is sorry for what he what he did,” Steinbrenner said Oct. 13 on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio. “And I absolutely have to be comfortable with the fact that he’s turned his life around. Those two things are for sure. As far as where we go with him, I don’t know. That’s another discussion that I have to have with not just (general manager) Brian Cashman and all, but my family and we will see. But there’s no doubt he needs to prove that he’s turned his life around and that he absolutely realizes how horrific that was.”

Devin Vassell works out with Knicks, sets the record straight on viral video

New York Knicks, Devin Vassell

There was a lot of fuss when a Devin Vassell video of shooting in an awkward form made the social media rounds last month.

The mere fact that Vassell had to address it during his in-person workouts, which included the New York Knicks, only shows the power that social media wields these days. But with that power, it should come with great responsibility.

Setting the record straight

Fortunately for Vassell, the ‘shooting-gate scandal’ happened before he went to in-person workouts with the Knicks (No. 8), Golden State Warriors (No. 2), Atlanta Hawks (No. 6), Boston Celtics (No. 14), and the Orlando Magic (No. 15).

“Of course, I’ve seen the video too. I felt I don’t have any reason to change my jump shot. I haven’t changed my shot,” Vassell defended himself during his media zoom call on Thursday.

He said the viral video was shot towards the end of one of his workouts, where they were having fun.

“I guess we’re shooting it a lot deeper, from the regular NBA three-point line and I just think it’s from the angle where he took it, it made it looked like uncomfortable. I kind of had it farther from normally what I do but I’ve never attempted to change my jump shot and won’t change it because I had a lot of success with the jump shot that I have right now,” Vassell said.

“The video came out and literally next week, I had my workouts. Once they saw it in person, everything was fine. It’s something we can laugh about it now.”

More than a 3-and-D player

Vassell is one of the more fascinating prospects of this draft that is widely considered unpredictable but filled with hidden gems.

He profiles as a 3-and-D player, but he says he has a lot more to offer.

Vassell made 70 three-pointers throughout his two-year stay at Florida State on a 41.8 percent clip. The 70 isn’t that much of a sample, but context matters. He was only a fringe rotational player as a rookie in a stacked team to put it in its proper perspective. Even during his sophomore year, where he was the star of the Seminoles team, which won the regular ACC championship, he needed to fit his game within coach Leonard Hamilton’s equal opportunity system.

There’s a lot more room for Vassell to grow.

Hamilton gave his star player a ringing endorsement, raving about his transformation during those two years that said a lot about Vassell’s character, patience, and coachability.

“Sometimes, people evaluate all the physical attributes but I think it’s very difficult to evaluate, which is the most important thing, is that your mentality, your emotions in the game, your IQ, your ability to make decisions, and how you respond to stressful situations. Well, that’s what they call it the “It” factor, and Devin, he checks all those boxes. And the good thing about him is his best basketball is still ahead of him,” Hamilton told Empire Sports Media a couple of months ago.

Knicks workout

The intangibles are hard to quantify on videos. But the tangible aspects of Vassell’s game — outside shooting and his defensive skillset — have drawn NBA teams to him, particularly the Knicks who went all the way to his hometown in Atlanta, Georgia to watch his controversial shot in person.

“I worked out at this church and we put an NBA three-point line. It’s a great gym and we kinda simulate everything. Coach [Tom] Thibodeau was definitely at the workout. He’s a great coach,” Vassell said.

Perhaps Thibodeau was looking at someone who fits the mold of the player he covets for the Knicks — a mobile wingman with defensive tenacity and shooting to boot.

“We talked about defense. We talked about kinda what their team is looking forward and I feel I can help that team and kinda fill that void,” Vassell said.

He’s confident that he’s shown enough to merit the Knicks’ eighth pick.

“Everything went extremely well with the Knicks,” Vassell said. “It’s going to be a blessing if I can be able to be a part of that team.”

But whether the feeling is mutual or not, we’ll have to find out next Wednesday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Are Gary Sanchez’s days with the New York Yankees numbered?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

I don’t think there’s a player that has frustrated the New York Yankees or their fanbase more than Gary Sanchez. Sanchez was supposed to be a star catcher for the bombers, and he’s shown that potential at times.

He has incredible power in his bat and he’s got a great arm behind the plate. However, despite the potential, he’s really failed to live up to expectations. Last season was so bad that he was benched in the playoffs.

Sanchez still shows power in his bat, but he’s hit under 200 combined over the past couple of seasons. Combining that with his extremely high strikeout rate and his horrific defense and you don’t have a very popular figure in New York.

The Yankees have apparently been contemplating moving on from Sanchez. They made Sanchez available in trade talks at the deadline and it appears that they are likely to make him available in the offseason as well.

We are already seeing signs of this. It was reported today that the Yankees have reached out to future Hall of Famer, Yadier Molina. If the Yankees were to sign Molina, they wouldn’t be bringing him in as a backup.

Considering the Yankees have a permanent DH in Giancarlo Stanton, a Molina signing would signal the end for Sanchez. The New York Post also reported today that the bombers are open to trading their once prized catcher.

What should the Yankees do?

This is the question that many fans seem to be divided on. You have one group of fans that want the Yankees to give Sanchez another shot. I will say that when he’s firing on all cylinders, he can be one of the best catchers in the game.

Then you have another group of fans who would like to strap him to a rocket and send him to the moon. There’s really not a middle ground when it comes to the New York Yankees fanbase.

That being said, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think the Yankees try to move him. If they can package Sanchez in the right deal, I think there’s a high probability that they move on from Sanchez.

The team is moving further and further down the road of analytics. Frankly, there’s no analytics that point to Gary Sanchez being a great all-around catcher. Yankees pitching had a significantly higher ERA this year with him behind the plate versus Kyle Higashioka.

Combine that with all of his terrible personal metrics, and it doesn’t look like a fit for a team trying to win the World Series. Maybe the Yankees hold onto Sanchez and he turns back into the guy we saw in 2017. That’s a real possibility.

However, the sample size of poor performance is starting to outweigh the good performances. And in a place like New York, it’s always been about, “What have you done for me lately?” The answer from Gary Sanchez is truly not much.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Luke Voit, will DJ LeMahieu make him expendable?

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees were happy to have Luke Voit on the 2020 team; he was the most consistent home run hitter in the lineup. He hit 22 long balls, the most homers in either league. Yes, that’s five more homers than Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Going into the 2021 season, there are several ifs attached to his name. What the Yankees do with DJ LeMahieu may be telling for Voit’s future with the Yankees.

If the Yankees move Gleyber Torres to second and manage to resign DJ LeMahieu, it could leave Voit out in the cold and a trading piece to pick up a solid starting pitcher. The Yankees will most likely put DJ at first base, leaving no place for Luke to play, the Yankees already have a full-time DH in Giancarlo Stanton. The move to first for DJ makes sense as Voit is only an average defender there. They certainly won’t move him to third because they have a Gold Glove-like defender there in Gio Urshela.

The New York Yankees have control of Voit through the end of the 2024 season and he only makes slightly less than $6 million a year. Before we go into whether the Yankees will keep Voit or not, let’s start at the beginning.

Luke Voit is a 29-year-old first baseman. Luke has had a relatively unremarkable baseball career, but how he got to the Yankees and what he has done while here, is an interesting story. Luke was born in Wildwood, Missouri, and attended Lafayette High School there. In high school, he played football as a fullback and middle linebacker. He also played baseball where he got a lot of experience. In his first three years, he played first base and third base. Interestingly in his senior year, he played catcher. Shoulder injuries while in high school ended any career he may have had in football.

Throughout his minor league career, he was always on the edge of being good. In June of 2017, the Cards promoted him to the bigs. In July of 2017, In his very first at-bat, he was plunked in the back. After 114 at-bats he hit his first home run. He ended the season with a batting average of .246 with four home runs and 18 RBI’s, still unremarkable but good enough to be used in a trade by the Cards to get players they needed.

In July of 2018, the Cards traded Luke Voit to the New York Yankees along with bonus pool money so they could get pitcher Chasen Shrive and Giovanny Gallegos. The Yanks assigned him to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yanks swiftly promoted him to the majors, in part to play first, in the absence of Greg Bird, but after batting .188 in five games they demoted him back to Scranton. After playing better in the minors and with the injury to Didi Gregorius he was again called up to the Stadium. This time something happened, he seemed to embrace the limelight and energy of New York.

Playing for Greg Bird, he soon had hit ten home runs, and after hitting .458, he was named MLB player of the week on October 1st. He ended the season hitting .333 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI’s in just 39 games. In the 2018 Wild Card game, he hit a two-run triple to help the Yankees win 7-2. That triple seemed to have given Luke a place as a Yankee favorite.

Voit didn’t escape the injury plague that hit the team in 2019. An abdominal injury right around the London series sidelined him, and continued to be problematic upon Voit’s return, and eventually required surgery once the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs. Voit was dreadful after getting hurt, but I think his performance pre-injury gets overlooked easily. Voit in 2019 was out for two stints. That injury caused him to play in only 118 games. Before his season was derailed he led the New York Yankees, he led the team in home runs and was having a better season than Miguel Torres or DJ LeMahieu. At the plate, he seldom wasted an at-bat. He doesn’t swing at bad pitches and only had one pop up in the first half of the season.

Fast forward to the bizarre 2020 baseball season.  Luke, played well in spring training and summer camp.  When the shortened season started Voit got his first hit in the last game of the Washington Nationals series, and it was a home run.  Little did the New York Yankees know at the time that that hit would start a season for Luke Voit that just might make him this year’s Yankees MVP. In the very next series against the Orioles, he would get two hits, one of them a homer that drove in four runs.  At the beginning of the season, it was assumed that Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge would have the most significant impact on the Yankees. As it turns out neither of them could stay healthy enough to stay on the field.  Voit had been healthy, and he has had his best play in his three years with the Yankees while still playing through a foot issue.  He ended the season hitting .277 with 22 home runs.

Luke Voit, during August of 2019, married his longtime sweetheart Victoria Rigman. They both attended the same school; Lafayette High School. Interestingly, Luke was on the baseball team, and Tori was a cheerleader for the school team. Luke has a younger brother John, who played defensive tackle with the Army Black Knights football team. Luke works out regularly and continues to challenge himself to be the best he can be.

Unfortunately for Luke, his future is not in his own hands. The Yankees will surely want to keep Voit’s bat in the lineup, especially with Judge and Stanton’s almost likely ability to become injured at some point in the 2021 season. If the Yankees keep Gleyber Torres at short, then placing DJ is simple at second base. This would protect Voit’s station at first base. But with so many unknowns this early in the offseason, and with so many decisions to improve the team, there is no guarantee that Voit will be in pinstripes next season.

Four plays that shaped the Buffalo Bills’ Sunday fate vs. Seattle

The Buffalo Bills made a definitive statement on Sunday afternoon, topping the NFC front-runners from Seattle in convincing fashion.

The Buffalo Bills were able to silence both the 12th Man and, perhaps, their biggest detractors on Sunday afternoon, earning one of the memorable victories in recent franchise memory on Sunday afternoon.

Josh Allen was responsible for four touchdowns and earned 415 yards through the air, while Stefon Diggs and John Brown united for 227 receiving yards. On defense, the Bills took down Russell Wilson five times (Tremaine Edmunds being responsible for half of that tally) and also forced the renowned Super Bowl champion into two interceptions, paving the way to a 44-34 victory at Bills Stadium. Buffalo (7-2) is off to their best start since 1993…the year of their last Super Bowl appearance. They took down a Seahawks team (6-2) that had entered the day atop the NFC playoff standings.

The gravity of the victory wasn’t lost on observers.

“It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Sunday’s win could be a tone-setter for the Bills,” Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport noted. “They’re after more than just an AFC East title in 2020. This is a team with genuine Super Bowl aspirations, and they showed against the Seahawks that they can take it to one of the better teams in the NFL.”

ESM looks back at the big plays of Sunday’s game, one from each quarter, that could help shape the team’s past, present, and apparently bright future…

1st Quarter: Let’s Hear For the Poyer

The opening frame was a statement for Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense. It was a showing that saw them drastically outplay Seattle, torching the defense for 117 yards over their first two possessions en route to a 14-0 lead. But Seattle has built up their past-decade dominance through adapting to tough situations. Sure enough, Wilson guided the Seahawks to Buffalo’s five-yard-line, facing a single-yard fourth down five yards away from paydirt. It was at that point many expected Seattle to score and restore some semblance of sanity to the proceedings. Alas for The Emerald City, Poyer had other plans.

With Wilson working on his deadly rollout, Poyer started off by keeping an eye on Travis Homer. But the strong Buffalo pass rush forced Wilson to scramble. In slight desperation, he flung a pass that went over the head of Homer and into the waiting arms of Poyer, setting Western New York into hysterics. The Bills would take advantage of the mistake and build their lead back up to 17-0.

It’s perhaps a shame we won’t be having the Pro Bowl this season, as Poyer seems well on his way to making his first. Alas for the NFL’s all-star game, it appears he has his sights set on a bigger bowl of sorts.

2nd Quarter: All-in for Allen

The foreboding sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop has been far too commonplace in 2020. Certainly, the heads of Bills fans across the area were waiting to wake up, thrust away from the dream of owning a three-possession lead on a team many envision topping the NFC at the end of the year. Such leads are entirely erasable in today’s NFL, and Seattle seemed poised to finally do so after scoring a touchdown after the aforementioned Tyler Bass field goal.

It was gut-check time for Buffalo, a team teetering on the cusp of the NFL’s elite. In years past, a collapse may have followed, one that would’ve kept the Bills’ doubters plenty of material. Instead, they embarked on a 75-yard drive that featured the face of their franchise taking another big step on the glory. Josh Allen went 5-for-5 on the next drive, capping things off with a four-yard scoring pass to Gabriel Davis.

It’s been an emotional week for Allen, who lost his grandmother Patricia shortly before the Seattle effort. But Bills fans have come through for their franchise quarterback, donating over $200,000 to a children’s hospital in her honor. Allen seems more than happy to return the love, giving the vocal Bills’ fanbase a reason to hope and believe in a cursed year.

3rd Quarter: Playing the Neal

The Bills’ defense had their own gut check in the latter stages of the third quarter. Their lead was back down to 27-17 and Seattle was driving, inching toward another sense of football normalcy. Buffalo had already shot themselves in the foot earlier in the drive, as Jerry Hughes’ roughing the passer call situated the Seahawks inside their opponent’s 30.

But the Bills held strong with a big stand, as the touchdown threat ended when Wilson’s pass on third-and-seven failed to reach Tyler Lockett in the end zone. Wilson was forced into a desperation heave by secondary pressure from Siran Neal, who came off the edge to push Wilson into a crowded pocket, leading to his inaccurate throw and the Seahawks’ second field goal of the day. It was the last time that Buffalo would truly have to sweat things out; the Bills’ offense would score another touchdown on their next possession, this one being a one-yard rush from Zack Moss, to put them ahead by multiple possessions for good.

4th Quarter: What Can Brown Do For You?

Sunday’s tilt was a game of gut checks, of proving oneself, of impressing the NFL community at large…sending a theme here? But noting such occurrences only strengthens the case that the Bills are one of the NFL’s most dangerous, most elite teams to be reckoned with. They had one more hoops to jump through after the aforementioned Jason Myers field goal, as a six-yard rushing loss had them situated at a 16-yard third down at the fringe of field goal territory.

The ensuing playcall was curious…an Allen screen to John Brown just behinf the line of scrimmage. But the Bills would go on to continue what they’ve done best: prove doubters wrong through team efforts.

Brown’s speed and elusiveness was just one factor behind the play’s success. Strong blocking ahead from Daryl Williams and Ike Boettger helped clear the way, and receiver Cole Beasley even managed to delay a Seattle defender from stopping Brown short. The struggling veteran Brown, seeking some 2020 traction after earning a career-best 1,060 yards last season, was stopped two yards short of the goal line, but the Bills settled the matter shortly after with another minuscule scoring run from Moss.

The defensive effort perhaps left something to be desired, giving up 34 points, but each of the Bills’ gamechanging plays were a team built on resiliency, strength, and collaborative endeavors. It led to what could bar none be the franchise’s biggest, loudest win over the past decade-plus.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags