Lawrence Returns in Clemson Comeback Win

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By Terrance Turner

The Clemson Tigers returned to action today for their first action in three weeks as they battled Pitt. A scheduled game versus Florida State had to be postponed due to the pandemic. (Positive tests for COVID-19 led to the game being scrapped…for now.) Today was the first game quarterback Trevor Lawrence has played since testing positive for COVID-19. But he showed no signs of rust, leading the Tigers to a 52-17 win.

Clemson scored right out of the gate with a touchdown from wide receiver E.J. Williams. A later field goal put Clemson ahead 10-0. That lead increased even more after Lawrence threw a touchdown pass to receiver Cornell Powell. After a targeting call on the Pitt offense, the Tigers advanced to first and goal. They cashed in when running back Travis Etienne ran in for the touchdown. (He’s scored in each of the last seven games.) Etienne ranks first in the ACC in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards. The Tigers scored again near the close of the quarter, with a TD from Lyn-J Dixon. Clemson was up 31-0 at the end of the first quarter — their highest-scoring first quarter in history.

Pitt kicked a field goal in the second quarter, making it 31-3. A dramatic catch by Powell moved the chains. But on 1st and goal, a penalty (for ineligible man down field) pushed the Tigers back. Then a defensive pass interference call on Pitt took the Tigers to first and goal. Third-string running back Chez Mellusi ran into a stout defense, but his teammates surrounded Mellusi and pushed him into the end zone. That made it 38-3.

With just five minutes left in the quarter, Clemson had its first punt. On a Pitt drive that the Clemson defense was unable to stop the run, Pitt scored its first touchdown of the game (via #3). The first half concluded with two major calls. A catch by Powell was overturned on review, after a long conference by the referees that drew boos from the crowd. They erupted into even more boos after Pitt defenders ran into the Clemson kicker; there was no flag.

The second half began with a disastrous sequence by Clemson. Lawrence was tackled and fumbled the ball. Pitt cashed in on the takeaway with a touchdown that made it 38-17. On their drive, a Clemson TD was negated by two fouls on the offense. On fourth down, a 41-yard field goal attempt was no good. While Pitt went three-and-out on its next drive, so did Clemson. Tigers coach Dabo Swinney was irate on the sideline, yelling at various players.

But Clemson soon got its act together. On 3rd and 5, Lawrence took off on a daring run to get the first down, keeping the drive alive. That drive would culminate in 38-yard catch-and-run by Braden Galloway. The initial touchdown was overturned on review, but it still placed the Tigers at the three-yard line for first and goal. They scored when Etienne scored his second touchdown of the day.

Later, Mellusi notched a nine-yard touchdown to put Clemson up 52-17. That would be the final score. The Tigers threatened to score again late in the fourth quarter, when Patterson scooped up a dropped Pitt ball and returned it to the one-yard line. Still, Clemson had an impressive win. Trevor Lawrence threw for 403 yards and two touchdowns. Today he surpassed 10,000 total career yards, the third-most all-time in school history.

Today, Lawrence and other Clemson seniors were honored for Senior Day. This may very well be the last home game he and his classmates play for Clemson. “Just super grateful to be a part of Clemson University, and even more so, this program,” Lawrence said after the game, adding that “my years here have been amazing.”

Lawrence is expected to be drafted No. 1 in the NFL Draft. Should he enter, however, Lawrence will be entering a league upended by COVID-19. Today, Adam Schefter reported that none of the quarterbacks on the Denver Broncos roster are eligible for tomorrow’s game versus the Saints. According to Schefter, all four quarterbacks were deemed “high-risk contacts” due to not wearing masks. QB Jeff Driskel tested positive on Thursday, Schefter said. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson also tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and is among 19 players placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. (THIS JUST IN: Analyst Jay Glazer reports that two more Ravens have been added to the list as of 7:29 pm.)

Beyoncé Leads Grammy Nominations With Nine Nods

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By Terrance Turner

The nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards were announced today, and Beyoncé leads the pack with nine nominations. Her song “Black Parade” has been nominated for four Grammys, including the prestigious prizes of Record of the Year and Song of the Year. The record is also nominated for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance. Those four nods make it the most nominated song at the Grammys this year. Also nominated for Record of the Year: “Savage”, her collaboration with rapper and fellow Houstonian Megan Thee Stallion. The record is also up for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

Beyoncé, who has won 24 Grammys, is now the most nominated female artist of all time. She has 79 nominations, according to USA Today. Significantly, her nominations this year come for music that reflects the growing awareness of Black culture, Black people, and specifically Black women.

“Black Parade” is a celebration of Blackness and Black people. “We got rhythm, we got pride/We birth kings; we birth tribes,” Beyoncé sings. “I can’t forget my history is herstory. We black, baby. That’s the reason why they always mad.”

The song’s lyrics address African culture, reparations, the COVID-19 pandemic, and police brutality (the latter two issues disproportionately impact Black people). “Ankh charm on gold chains, with my Oshun energy,” she sings, “or the Dashiki print”. (According to an analysis in Elle, ‘Ankh’ is a symbol deriving from Ancient Egypt, and ‘Oshun’ is the Nigerian Yoruba goddess of femininity, love, sensuality and fertility.) According to the website for Black-owned clothing line D’Iyanu, the dashiki originated in West Africa as a work shirt for African men; it dates back as far as the 12th-13th century. It came into fashion in the United States during the 1960s as a symbol of Afrocentrism and Black pride.

“Black Parade” was released on the historic Black holiday of Juneteenth, which originated in Beyoncé’s home state of Texas. The holiday celebrates the emancipation of slaves in 1865, as the Civil War was ending. The song arrives just hours after Beyoncé unveiled a new “Black Parade” initiative for black-owned businesses. The initiative, posted on beyonce.com/black-parade-route, features a dizzying array of Black-owned designers.

The categories encompass art and design, fashion and lifestyle, bars and restaurants. One featured restaurant, soul food café This Is It, is located in Beyonce’s hometown, in Houston’s Third Ward. The Lemond Kitchen, which caters gourmet Southern cuisine, is also based in Houston. (Its Heights location, on 612 Archer St, now offers home delivery and pickup!)

Happy Juneteenth,” Beyoncé wrote on her website. “Being Black is your activism.
Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right.” Also noted: “Black Parade” benefits her foundation BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund, administered by the National Urban League, to support Black-owned small businesses in need.

“Savage,” while more light-hearted, also has major import. A collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, Bey’s verses perfectly match Meg’s cocky, tough-talking style. “Queen Bey, [don’t] want no smoke with me/Gone turn this motherf—er up 800 degrees,” Bey says. “My whole team eat, chef’s kiss, she’s a treat/ Ooh, she so bougie, bougie, bon appétit”.

Speaking of food, Beyoncé and Megan donated the proceeds from this song to Houston nonprofit Bread of Life. Rudy and Juanita Rasmus founded Bread of Life in December 1992, serving hot meals to homeless men and women inside St. John’s United Methodist Church. According to its website, Bread of Life began serving one hot meal weekly but eventually ended up serving 500 meals per day to the homeless in the sanctuary at St. John’s.

Located at 2019 Crawford St, the charity aims to end homelessness and improve quality of life for the needy. The project works with HIV/AIDS prevention, providing solutions to food insufficiency, housing the homeless, and disaster relief. More recently, Bread of Life also teamed up with Beyonce and her mother Tina Knowles Lawson to provide housing for 40,000 flood victims in Houston.

Black is King, a film directed by Beyoncé, is nominated for Best Music Film. The film, which premiered on Disney+ in July, tells the story of a young African prince, exiled from his homeland, who reclaims his throne. “‘Black Is King’ means Black is regal and rich in history in purpose and in lineage,” Beyonce told GMA. “”And my hope for this film is that it shifts the global perception of the word ‘Black,’ which has always meant inspiration and love and strength and beauty to me.”

Beyonce wears a crown braid in the video for “Brown Skin Girl”. Photo from efogator.com; featured image courtesy of Vulture.

That intention comes through loud and clear in the video for “Brown Skin Girl”, which is nominated for a Grammy for Best Music Video. The song is a celebration of dark-skinned women; the video is a touching tribute, featuring Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy Carter, fellow bandmate Kelly Rowland, actress Lupita N’yongo, and British model Naomi Campbell. In the video, Beyoncé is shown wearing a variety of African-themed hairstyles. In the photo at left, Beyoncé wears a crown braid. The style was inspired by the eastern Congo’s Mangbetu people, according to Beyoncé’s hairstylist Neal Farinah. He wrote on Instagram that the style was created to accentuate elongation of the skull, which “represented royalty and was a status symbol”.

The importance — and beauty — of Black hair and Black skin loom large in both the video and the song. “I love everything about you from your nappy curls/To every single curve/Your body natural,” Beyoncé sings in “Brown Skin Girl”. She adds: “Same skin that was broken be the same skin takin’ over.”

“You’re beautiful,” Beyoncé sings. “Your skin is not only dark; it shines, and it tells your story.”

Chiefs Edge Raiders In Shootout

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By Terrance Turner

The Kansas City Chiefs met the Las Vegas Raiders in Vegas tonight for what became a wildly competitive match. The Raiders scored first, but the Chiefs weren’t far behind. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes found wide receiver Tyreek Hill for a touchdown, capping a 14-play drive. The Raiders responded with another scoring drive; Raiders QB Derek Carr connected with WR Nelson Agholor for the touchdown. The Raiders led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Raiders defense jumped offside twice, then got hit with a pass interference penalty. That flag propelled the Chiefs to 1st and goal. Then they scored, with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire finding the end zone. That tied the game at 14.

On their ensuing drive, the Raiders flew down the field, with the Chiefs defense utterly unable to stop the run. Las Vegas picked up one first down after another, soon advancing to first and goal. But on fourth and goal, the refs threw a flag. Las Vegas was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. (The cause was team coaches being outside their coaches’ box, according to the announcers.) That 15-yard penalty forced them to attempt a field goal. That 35-yard kick was good, giving them a lead of 17-14.

The Chiefs were hit with a 15-yard penalty of their own, for a facemask. Both the Chiefs and Raiders went three-and-out on their drives. On the Chiefs’ next drive, Mahomes ran to the first-down marker, and a holding flag on Las Vegas added five yards. Another five yards were added from another holding penalty, but Mahomes got intercepted near the end of the second quarter. The Raiders led 17-14 at the half.

In the second half, the Chiefs rackedup one first down after another, driving down the field. A second touchdown by Edwards-Helaire to make it 21-17. The Raiders took over and proceeded to run over the Chiefs defense. At the start of the fourth quarter, Carr connected with tight end Darren Waller to make it 24-21.

But Las Vegas went three-and-out on its next drive. On 3rd and 5, Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill made a crucial first down catch, and the Raiders were flagged for unnecessary roughness. That added 15 yards to the catch-and–run. Later, on 4th-and-1, Mahomes found receiver Demarcus Robinson; as the drive continued, running back Le’Veon Bell rushed in for the touchdown.

With the score 28-24, the Raiders took over. Once again, the Chiefs defense struggled to contain them. They added to their woes with two huge penalties — one for offsides, another for unnecessary roughness. Then Las Vegas was hit with a false start penalty. After a lengthy drive filled with drama, Carr hit TE Jason Witten for the touchdown.

The Chiefs got the ball with barely a minute to spare. Mahomes fired one pass after another, rallying his team down the field. With just 28 seconds left, Mahomes threw into the end zone, finding TE Travis Kelce for the touchdown. That gave the team a three-point lead.

The Raiders tried to mount a comeback drive. But then, after hours of struggling, the defense stepped up in a major way. Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen intercepted Carr with just seconds left, sealing the game. The Kansas City Chiefs won, 31-28. They improve to 9-1 for the season.

Derrick Henry Powers Titans to Overtime Win Against Ravens

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Photo courtesy of Twitter.

By Terrance Turner

Nov. 22, 2020 (updated Nov. 23)

The Tennessee Titans rallied from an 11-point deficit to win their match against the Baltimore Ravens today. It was a surprising end to a game that got heated early, with Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler arguing with Ravens coach John Harbaugh during the pregame. That led to Harbaugh having words with Titans coach Ryan Vrabel. Other players also began exchanging words, according to CBS.

Predictably, the ensuing action made for a tough, physical game. Despite being down 21-10 at one point, the Titans combined a strong running game and surprisingly strong passing to tie the game at 24. But it was running back Derrick Henry that sealed their win in overtime, dashing past defenders to score a dramatic game-winning touchdown. The Ravens suffered a big loss, compounded by the loss of two major players: running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins have both tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bleacher Report. The NFL announced today that the Ravens have closed their team facility.

Tennessee took an early lead, limiting Baltimore to a field goal. The Titans led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. But in the second quarter, Tyus Bowser intercepted Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Ravens got the ball, and kicker Justin Tucker nailed another field goal to make it 7-6. With about five minutes left in the quarter, Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins rushed into the end zone for the touchdown. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson later connected with Dobbins for a successful two-point conversion. That gave them the lead.

With the score 14-10 in the third quarter, Lamar Jackson slung a far-flung pass to tight end Mark Andrews. That made the score 21-10, with 9:40 left in the quarter. But the Titans fought back — hard. After two field goals from kicker Stephen Gostkowski, the Titans narrowed the lead to five. It was 21-16, with roughly 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Then receiver A.J. Brown made an incredible TD run, breaking one Ravens tackle after another and pushing past them into the end zone.

But the Ravens weren’t done yet: Justin Tucker made a field goal to tie the game near the end of the fourth quarter. That tied them at 24 and sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, Tannehill launched a big throw to wide receiver Corey Davis. That took them to Baltimore’s 37-yard line. Henry then turned hat could’ve been a loss of two yards into a gain of four. Davis made a second big catch on the next play. Davis’ big game came just 11 days after a major loss: his 27-year-old brother Titus died of kidney cancer on Nov. 11.

After another Henry run, Tannehill hurled the ball to receiver A.J. Brown for an 11-yard gain. Brown was driven to the ground by a Ravens defender. He was shaken up on the play and took time getting up, but he still made the catch. And that catch would set up a stellar touchdown run.

Tannehill threw to Henry. After breaking tackles, Henry made a jump cut to the right, evading the defense and running into the end zone for a 29-yard game-winning touchdown. His shocking score gave his team the win. The Titans won, 30-24. They now improve to 7-3 for the season.

This is Henry’s 50th NFL career TD. He is the first NFL running back to reach 1000 rushing yards for the season, according to FOX Sports. Henry’s sensational performance showed once again how he earned the title “King Henry”.

Photo courtesy of Twitter (@TheCheckdown).

Saints Slay San Francisco for Sixth Straight Win

By Terrance Turner

In a wild slugfest that had injuries galore, the New Orleans Saints beat the San Francisco 49ers today. In the New Orleans Superdome, the Saints took advantage of 49ers’ mistakes to earn their sixth consecutive win. The Saints triumphed, 27-13.

The 49ers jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first half. They surprised both their opponents and observers with their strong play, led by backup quarterback Nick Mullins. (He’s replacing QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s on injured reserve. So is tight end George Kittle.) But just when it looked like the 49ers might pull off an upset, the Saints scored 27 unanswered points.

The scoring started with a Saints field goal and touchdown run by running back Alvin Kamara. That tied the game, 10-10. Late in the second quarter, Saints wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith made a crucial catch, but had the ball knocked out by a San Francisco defender. On the way down, Smith got sandwiched by two 49ers, with each hitting him on opposite sides of his head. Smith lay motionaless on the ground for several minutes. He eventually walked to the locker room; he would not return. Smith was ruled out with a concussion.

But the Saints scored again. With 1:19 left in the half, they had reached first and goal. Saints QB Drew Brees dropped the ball but picked it up and tossed it Kamara. Left open, Kamara practically jogged into the end zone for another touchdown. That left the score 17-10 at halftime. But Brees left the game at halftime with a rib injury. He would remain on the sideline for the second half.

And what a second half it was. The 49ers managed to stall the Saints and hold them to a field goal. But Wil Lutz’s field goal still put the Saints ahead 20-10. The third quarter was scoreless. But in the fourth quarter, a series of miscues and injuries made for a wild ride.

A punt by the Saints landed in the hands of 49ers wide receiver Richie James. But the ball fell right through his hands, and Saints receiver Marquez Callaway pounced on it. The Saints took over and powered down the field. Kamara waltzed into the end zone once again for his third touchdown of the day.

But on a subsequent series, Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson was injured on a tackle. That was just one among a series of injuries. Smith had been ruled out with a concussion; Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore was also out with an oblique injury, according to CBS. (Saints coach Sean Payton said Drew Brees will get an MRI on his ribs. His status for next week’s game is in question, according to Adam Schefter.) Despite the injuries, the Saints kept on ticking.

As the fourth quarter wound down, the 49ers threatened a comeback. Kicker Robbie Gould drilled a 40-yard field goal to make the score 27-13. The Saints took over, with backup QB (and Swiss Army knife) Taysom Hill. Hill moved down the field with some strong runs…until he fumbled the ball. San Francisco began a surprisingly effective drive. With a solid run game and Mullins’ hurling passes, the 49ers made it all the way to the 20-yard line. But with 2:25 left, Mullins threw an intreception! Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson caught the ball, sealing the win for the Saints.

The Saints improve to 7-2. This is the sixth consecutive win for the Saints. They play the Falcons next week.

Saints Roll Over Buccaneers in Tampa Bay

Quarterback Tom Brady and Drew Brees embrace after tonight’s Sunday Night Football. (Photo by the author.)

By Terrance Turner

Everyone on tonight’s “Sunday Night Football” picked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win tonight’s match against the New Orleans Saints. Six commentators – including Tony Dungy and Mike Tirico — picked the Buccaneers to win the game.

They were wrong.

The Saints scored almost right out the gate, with quarterback Drew Brees finding Tre’Quan Smith for a touchdown. That put them up 7-0. Tampa Bay went three-and-out — an ominous sign of things to come. But the Saints had struggles, too. Deonte Harris had a big catch-and-run on their next drive, but a Saints player was tackled near the 10-yard line, and the Bucs defense caused a fumble. Tampa Bay recovered the ball, but did little with it. Once again, they went three-and-out.

Saints took over. From the 35-yard line, running back Alvin Kamara rushed for 17 yards. That later led to a 1st-and goal. Saints scored again: Brees threw to rookie tight end Adam Trautman for the touchdown. It’s Trautman’s first NFL touchdown. His inaugural score made it 14-0.

Later, Taysom Hill hurdled over defenders for a big play that took the Saints near the 10-yard line. Then Brees hurled a pass to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders for the touchdown. With the game 21-0, Bucs got the ball back. Things seemed to be progressing until Brady was intercepted AGAIN, this time by Saints #97. On the Saints drive, Hill gain flew down the field to make it 1st and goal. Alvin Kamara ran in for the score. Touchdown Saints!

It was a disastrous series for Tampa Bay: punt, punt, punt, another punt, and then an interception. The Buccaneers were able to foil the Saints’ drive, but then kicker Wil Lutz added to the Bucs’ misery with a field goal. The first half ended with the Saints up 31-0.

In the second half, both teams struggled on offense. The Bucs got as far as 1st and goal, but after four attempts to score, they couldn’t convert. On their drive, Brees fumbled the ball and gave it to Tampa Bay. But Brady got intercepted again, this time by Saints defender Malcolm Jenkins. With 9:07 left in the quarter, Brees threw to Josh Hill for the touchdown. An extra point made it 38-0.

The Buccaneers took over. With 7:23 remaining in the fourth quarter, Brady got under pressure and just heaved the ball in the air. He was flagged for intentional grounding. Then he was sacked by the Saints defense. On 3rd and 34, the pass was incomplete. on fourth down, the Bucs finally scored some points. Kicker Ryan Succop nailed a field goal to make it 38-3. And that’s how it ended.

The Saints win, 38-3.

Joe Biden Elected President of the United States

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By Terrance Turner

Nov. 7, 2020 (updated Nov. 15)

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has been elected President of the United States.

The former Vice President was formally named as the winner this morning, after an agonizing four-day vote counting effort. Biden won the election after winning Pennsylvania — a result that was called by the Associated Press and NBC News at around 10:30 am. Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes gave Biden a total of 273, just above the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

The victory in Pennsylvania came after a slow but surprising surge by Biden. Donald Trump had led the state by nearly 15 percentage points days ago. But Biden steadily chipped away at that lead. Over the past few days, a steady stream of mail-in votes pushed him forward. Within the past 24 hours, Biden pulled ahead, leading with 49.6% of the vote to Trump’s 49.1%.

“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris,” Biden said in a statement. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

Biden’s victory makes him the oldest man to be elected president. It makes his running mate Kamala Harris the first woman to become vice president. She is also the first Black person and first Indian to become vice president. Harris reacted to her historic achievement via tweet: “This election is about so much more than @JoeBiden or me. It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she wrote.

In an intriguing note, CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny revealed that it was on this day — 48 years ago today — that Joe Biden won election to the Senate for the first time. Today, he becomes 46th President of the United States. This victory also comes after a long, long, long saga that involved laborious vote-counting. For a closer look at the process, check out the brief recap below.

Inside the Process

Nov. 4, 2020 (approx. 12:00 pm): After 16 agonizing hours of poll-watching and TV-viewing and number-crunching, we STILL don’t know. CNN’s John King has been telling us to “be patient” since last night. And we still don’t know who’s president. This election hinges on Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nevada. If Joe Biden maintains his narrow lead in those four states, he becomes the next President of the United States.

But it’s still razor-thin. Those four states are still too close to call.

UPDATE (Nov. 4, 2020, 4:00 pm): Joe Biden has won the states of Michigan and Wisconsin. CNN reported the news this afternoon. Those two states are among the three in the “blue wall” that Biden was seeking to rebuild. His opponent, Donald Trump, won the presidency in 2016 largely due to his narrow victories in those three states. Biden sought to regain those states in his path to victory.

UPDATE (Nov. 5, 2020, 12:35 pm): The presidential race has narrowed.

Overnight, Joe Biden’s lead in the state of Arizona has narrowed. Biden maintains his lead in the states of Arizona and Nevada; if he wins those states, he wins the presidency. Significantly, however, Trump’s lead has also narrowed in some states. One of them, crucially, is Pennsylvania.

The president enjoyed a sizable lead of nearly 600,000 votes yesterday, leading 56.7% to 41.9% at midnight Wednesday. By 3:00 pm that day, however, the lead was nearly cut in half: Trump had 53.1% to Biden’s 45.6%. By 11:00 pm Wednesday, the lead shrunk significantly again: Trump led 50.8% to 47.9%. Now, on Thursday afternoon, President Trump’s lead has shrunken yet again, from 600,000 to 114,000 votes. (Trump has 3,231,147 votes at this point; Biden has 3,117,136.)

Trump now has 50.2% of the vote in Pennsylvania; Biden has 48.5%. Between midnight Wednesday and noon Thursday, the president’s lead shrunk from nearly fifteen percentage points down to 1.8. Pennsylvania is crucial. If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he wins the presidency. Trump must win Pennsylvania to win the election. As CNN’s John King put it: “Biden can win without it; the president cannot.”

According to CNN, 92% of the vote in Pennsylvania has been counted. There is now a legal battle over election ballots that were sent by or before Election Day, but arrived after the date. The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit over these ballots. Roughly 550,000 ballots in Pennsylvania have yet to be counted. Penn Secy. of State Kathy Boockvar said she expects that most of the ballots will be counted by the end of the day. “Why is it taking so long?” CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked. Boockvar answered that people “are working as quickly as they can. But as you know, these things take time.” She explained that staff are working on “reconciliation” of the votes.

UPDATE (6:50 pm): The race in Georgia has tightened dramatically. At midnight on Wednesday, Trump led by nearly ten percentage points (54.1% vs. 44.7%). By 9 am, however, the lead narrowed (50.5% vs. 48.5%). A day later, the margin once again tightened: by Thursday at 9 am, Trump had merely 49.6% to Biden’s 49.2%. Then the president’s lead again dwindled — this time to nearly nothing. With 99% of the votes in Georgia counted, Trump has 49.4% to Biden’s 49.3%. The president is only ahead by 3,486 votes.

According to CNN, the reason for these surprising shifts is that the mail-in ballots were counted last. Some states counted in different orders; Ohio, for example, counted mail-in ballots first. Pennsylvania, by contrast, counted Election Day votes first, then counted the votes cast by mail (similar to Georgia). This is how it works. This is NOT fraud (as the president has suggested).

Meanwhile, the race in Pennsylvania continues to evolve. Trump leads there by only 64,000 votes; he has 49.8% of the vote, to Biden’s 48.9%. However, the opposite is occurring in Arizona. Biden had enjoyed a comfortable lead of up to four percentage points. But the link has gradually shrunk over the past two days. Currently, Biden leads 50.5% to 48.5%.

UPDATE (Nov. 7): Everything has changed.

What had been a close race in Georgia became a virtual dead heat — Biden with 49.4% of the vote, Trump with 49.4%. But Biden has the edge, with just over 1,600 votes (as of this writing). On Wednesday at midnight, Trump led by nearly ten percent of the vote (54.1% to Biden’s 44.7%). But by 9 am, the lead had narrowed (50.5% to 48.5%). That lead continued to shrink the next morning. By 9 am Thursday, Biden trailed by less than half a percentage point. The race was 49.6% to 49.2%. By 6 pm, it was 49.4 to 49.3. Slowly but surely, the lead shifted to Biden.

The “Keystone State” Hands Biden Victory; Jubilance Ensues

Biden’s narrow win in Georgia surprised many observers. But it was Pennsylvania that would hand him the presidency.

It was a fitting win, given that Biden was actually born in Pennsylvania. Biden, 77, was born in Scranton, PA, in 1942. He was the first of five children, according to AZ Central. The family didn’t move to Delaware until 1953. But that is where Biden has made his home. Now, he has a new home: the White House.

Reaction to the victory has been resounding and widespread. Celebrations have broke out across the country. According to ABC 13 Houston, “Just after The Associated Press and other news organizations declared that former Vice President Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump, fireworks erupted in Atlanta. In Maine, a band playing at a farmers’ market broke into the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’.”

“Neighbors ran out of their homes in Manhattan and assembled into an unplanned street party, whooping, dancing and high-fiving strangers. In Louisville, Kentucky, Biden supporters gathered on their lawns to toast with champagne. In Harlem, they danced in the streets, banged cowbells and honked their car horns.” Thousands gathered to celebrate in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. Massive crowds gathered on the other side of the country, in San Francisco. People were literally dancing in the streets.

CNN commentator Nia-Malika Henderson pointed out that there was a sense of relief and happiness in the air. But she also noted the historic nature of the win — and its significance to her, as a Black woman. “I’m not that old [she’s 46], but I grew up at a time when I couldn’t even find black dolls, find books with, you know, reflections of black kids growing up,” she said. Now, a black (and brown) woman is Vice-President-Elect of the United States.

“I’m so excited to see a black woman in the White House, a brown woman in the White house, an Indian American woman in the White House,” said singer Lizzo, who campaigned for Biden in Michigan. “I am so ready to see if America can hold itself accountable.”

That night, both Biden and Harris gave addresses that matched the moment. Harris, dressed in suffragette white, addressed the crowd first. She opened by citing the legendary John Lewis: “Democracy is not a state; it is an act,” Harris began. “America’s democracy is not guaranteed. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.” She thanked those who waited in lines to vote. “And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake,” she said, “you ushered in a new day for America.”

Harris lauded Biden as “a healer and uniter, a tested and steady hand”. She described him as “a guy with a big heart, who loves with abandon”. She noted that she first got to know him as the father of her friend (and Biden’s late son) Beau Biden. Harris and Beau Biden simultaneously served as attorneys general for their respective states (California and Delaware, respectively).

Harris thanked her husband and family, remembering her mother (who immigrated to the United States at just 19) in a poignant moment. And she commended women of all stripes and colors, with a special shoutout to one group: “Black women, who are so often overlooked, but have so often proven to be the backbone of our democracy.” Harris noted that many young girls (especially Black and brown ones) were watching. And she gave them hope for the future: “But while I might be the first woman in this position, I will not be the last.”

“I will strive to be a vice president like Joe was to Barack Obama: loyal, honest and prepared,” Harris went on. She vowed her running mate would be “a Commander-in-Chief who respects our troops, and a President for all Americans.” With that, she introduced the President-Elect of the United States: Joe Biden.

Biden jogged onto the stage, situated in front of a drive-through rally on the Christina River in northern Delaware. He began by recognizing familiar faces in the crowd, as well as his family. He devoted a portion of the speech to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. But Biden also thanked election officials and poll workers who risked their lives in the midst of the pandemic.

At the outset of his speech, Biden struck a familiar, unifying tone: “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify — who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.” Biden stressed the need to unite as Americans: “We may be opponents, but we’re not enemies. We’re Americans.”

“I’m proud of the campaign we ran,” he said. He took pride in the coalition that helped him win: “Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives, young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender, White, Latino, Asian, Native American.” But he reserved special thanks to the Black voters who helped seal his victory: “Especially in those moments where this campaign was at its lowest, the African American community stood up again for me. You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”

In a move that would’ve been impossible for his predecessor, Biden reached out to those who didn’t vote for him. “To those who voted for Donald Trump: I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance,” he said. He added: “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again, and to make progress.” Speaking of progress, Biden announced a policy directive aimed at helping Americans cope with the coronavirus: Biden closed by saying he would announce on Monday a group of scientists and experts as transition advisers who would help combat COVID-19.

In a moving moment that reflected his Catholic faith, Biden said: “The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.”

Biden concluded: “I’ve always believed we can define America in one word: possibilities. That in America, everyone should be given the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them […] With full hearts and steady hands, with faith in America and in each other, with a love of country — and a thirst for justice — let us be the nation that we know we can be.

A nation united.

A nation strengthened.

A nation healed.”

UPDATE (Nov. 13, 2020): It’s official.

Politico is now reporting that every state has been called in the 2020 presidential race.

President-Elect Joe Biden has won the state of Arizona, Politico says. Biden has also won the state of Georgia. With these two victories, Biden has flipped two historically Republican red states. The last Democratic president to win Georgia was Bill Clinton in 1992. The last Democrat to win Arizona was also Clinton, in 1996.

Biden’s win in Arizona was razor-close. Politico reports that the final count in Arizona gave Biden 49.4% of the vote to President Trump’s 49.1%. (That’s roughly 1,670,000 votes to Trump’s 1,659,000.) 99% of the vote in Arizona is in, making the final tally unlikely to change substantially. In Georgia, the results are similarly close. Biden wins with 49.5% of the vote; Trump has 49.2%. That equates to roughly 2,472,000 votes for Biden and about 2,458,000 for Trump.

The New York Times confirmed the news today, adding that President Trump won North Carolina. (Georgia and North Carolina were the last states to be called.) However, Trump’s win in North Carolina gives him merely 232 votes in the Electoral College. Biden has 306. Ironically, that’s the same total Trump had in 2016. Tellingly, Biden flipped five states that Trump won four years ago: Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Mr. Trump did not flip any state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

With 97% of the vote in as of Friday, Biden has 78 million votes — the most ever by a presidential candidate. He won.

Mark Meadows Tests Positive for COVID-19

By Terrance Turner

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has tested positive for coronavirus. The news was announced by CNN roughly half an hour ago, just minutes after Joe Biden delivered a speech ahead of his almost-certain victory in the presidential race. CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins noted that Meadows was at an election night party at the White House on Tuesday — with no mask. Notably, he was also in attendance at a Wednesday morning speech by the president:

Also worth noting: Meadows was involved in a combative exchange with reporters regarding that very issue, just weeks ago. Meadows was asked by reporters to keep the mask on. Meadows claimed he was distanced “ten feet away” and refused to do so. “I’m not going to talk through a mask,” Meadows said, before turning and walking away.

Bloomberg, which broke the story, added that Meadows told a close circle of associates about his diagnosis. Bloomberg added: “A Trump campaign aide, Nick Trainer, is also infected, according to two people familiar with the matter. He and campaign spokespeople declined to comment.”

Significantly, today was the worst day for coronavirus since the pandemic began. There were more than 125,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 today. Reuters reports that there were at least 129,606 news cases on Friday. Reuters reporter Anurag Mann added that Friday is the third straight day that at least 100,000 cases have been reported. Twenty of the 50 U.S. states reported record increases on Friday, the same as Thursday when the national daily total crossed 120,000 for the first time.

Speaking of states, Texas (which accounts for over 10% of U.S. cases) reported about 9,000 infections and is on the verge of becoming the first state to exceed 1 million cumulative COVID-19 cases. Governor Greg Abbott said the U.S. Department of Defense has deployed three U.S. Air Force Medical Specialty Teams to El Paso. KHOU reports that those 20 military medical providers will support three El Paso hospitals. Significantly, hospitalizations have risen in this country for the 12th consecutive day.

Buccaneers Edge Giants In Dramatic Win

By Terrance Turner

“Monday Night Football” tonight was one for the ages. It was a lot closer than observers may have anticipated, but the result was exactly as expected. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers overcame a double-digit shortfall to run up the score and defeat the New York Giants, 25-23.

Things got off to a surprising start in the first half. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones hit Dion Lewis for a TD to make it 7-3 in the first quarter. Then he drove the team 77 yards, with Wayne Gallman running into the end zone from the 2-yard line with 1:46 remaining in the half. The Giants surprised viewers by scoring two touchdowns and stopping the Bucs from reaching the end zone. Brady was pressured and sacked, as drive after drive stalled. The Giants were up 14-3 early on, but Bucs kicker Ryan Succop nailed a field goal to make the score 14-6 at halftime.

In the second half, Succop drilled another field goal, making it 14-9. Then Brady found one of his favorite targets — Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski. With 6:05 left in the third quarter, Gronk caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brady. The Giants defender punched the ball out after Gronk took a couple steps, but the refs upheld the TD. It’s the third week in a row that Gronk has caught a TD from Brady — and it’s their 93rd touchdown together.

This gave the Bucs their first lead of the game. The Buccaneers attempted a two-point conversion, but it was unsuccessful. That left the score 15-14. But Brady and Gronk have nevertheless accomplished a singular feat: they have now passed Steve Young and Jerry Rice in the record books. The only QB-WR duo with more TDs is Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.

In the fourth quarter, Jones threw yet another pick. (He has 13 interceptions for the season — more than any other quarterback besides Philadelphia’s QB Carson Wentz.) On the next possession, Brady launched a crucial connection with Tyler Johnson.

The Giants added a field goal in the fourth quarter. But the team later got flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit, putting the Bucs closer to the goal line with nine minutes left. Then Brady hurled the ball 8 yards to receiver Mike Evans, who made a highlight-reel catch for the go-ahead touchdown. That made it 22-17.

On their next drive, the Buccaneers moved down the field. Brady connected with Gronkowski for 18 yards. A would-be catch for Mike Evans got flagged for pass interference, helping the Bucs move forward. But they were again stymied by a stalwart Giants defense. Fournette was stuffed at the first-down line. Instead of going for it, Arians elected for a field goal, which Succop sent right through the uprights. It was now 25-17.

The Giants struggled after getting the ball back. Jones, under pressure, backed up and threw the ball on a prayer. The result was a miraculous catch by Darius Slayton. Later, Jones managed to convert on 4th and 16, keeping the drive alive. And out of nowhere, Jones launched a 19-yard touchdown to Giants receiver Golden Tate. With 28 seconds left, the New York Giants had sprung to life.

The score was now 25-23. All the Giants needed was a two-point conversion to tie the game. But it wasn’t to be. On the final play Jones’ pass to Dion Lewis hit Bucs player Antoine Winfield in the arm, bouncing off to land as an incomplete pass. The refs threw a flag, indicating possible pass interference. But the referees eventually decided there was no foul committed. “There is no flag for pass interference on the play,” the ref announced.

That sealed the deal. The Buccaneers won, improving their record to 6-2. This is Brady’s 30th win after trailing by 10 or more points — more than any other quarterback in the NFL.

Clemson Survives Boston College Onslaught to Remain Undefeated

By Terrance Turner

The Clemson Tigers overcame an 18-point deficit and the loss of their star quarterback Trevor Lawrence to win today. Clemson stormed back from a three-possession trail to beat Boston College, 34-28. The Tigers are now 7-0, with a 27th win in a row at home.

Trevor Lawrence tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, according to ESPN. He is experiencing mild symptoms but is in isolation at home. “He’s doing great,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Lawrence. “[He] Zoomed the team last night, [and I] talked to him this morning — feels like he can play today. He’s doing well, but obviously there’s protocol.” Lawrence must isolate for a period of 10 days and must then pass some cardiac exams, per Coach Swinney. “You have 10 days, and then you have the cardiac part, so he won’t be able to get through that in time to play next week.”

In Lawrence’s place was D.J. Uiagalelei, a 6’5″, 250-lb freshman quarterback. The question was whether the Tigers could survive without their star quarterback and win the game. For a while, the answer was unclear. But today, it was a definite yes.

Boston College struck first with a touchdown: quarterback Phil Jurkovec found Zay Flowers for an 18-yard TD pass to put the Tigers behind for the first time all season. But Clemson responded when running back Travis Etienne scored a 35-yard touchdown. A short time later, it was David Bailey’s 2-yard scoring run that put the Eagles ahead for good, 14-7. That was the end of the first quarter.

According to ABC News, “It appeared Clemson would tie things again, driving to the BC 1. But the normally sure-handed Etienne fumbled the handoff from Uiagalelei. Cornerback Brandon Sebastian picked it up and set off 97 yards for the return TD.” Later, Jurkovec hit Boston’s C.J. Lewis for an 18-yard touchdown on the next series. That put them ahead 28-10. Clemson trailed by 18 points. They were still down 28-13 at the half. That was the largest deficit by an AP #1 team at home since 1950.

“Don’t flinch,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told his team at halftime. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been down like this,” he said. “We’re fixing to find out what this team’s made of.”

Indeed. As the third quarter began, Clemson began a comeback. On 4th and 1, Uiagalelei ran 30 yards for the touchdown, making it 28-20. Then he hurled an 8-yard TD to wide receiver Amari Rodgers. A two-point attempt was unsuccessful. But Clemson was knocking on the door of yet another score.

The score would remain 28-26 for nearly all of the third quarter. But as the quarter came to a close, Travis Etienne launched a rush to become the ACC’s all-time rushing leader. He has 4,612 total rushing yards and 64 career touchdowns. Then, in the fourth quarter, Etienne dazzled once again with a 17-yard touchdown run. That gave Clemson the lead with 11:34 to go. It was Etienne and Uiagalelei’s late-game heroics that helped seal the win — and earned them the Leather Helmet award after the game.

The ABC announcing crew selected Travis Etienne (left) as the Leather Helmet Award winner and game MVP. Etienne then dedicated the honor and handed it off to Clemson QB @DJUiagalelei. (Photo from Twitter @ClemsonFB).

With the score 32-28, the Tigers went for an extra-point attempt. But the ball bounced off the upright. The kick was no good! Yet Clemson maintained its narrow lead throughout the fourth quarter. They remained ahead by four, despite a crucial three-and out that could’ve sealed their doom.

As time began to run out, Boston College attempted a last-gasp offensive drive in hopes of winning the game. But Jurkovic was tackled in the end zone. He threw the ball in the air as he was going down. Chaos erupted at the end of the play, with flags flying everywhere. “There are two penalties on the play, both by the offense,” the referee announced. The flag for illegal touching was declined, but Jurkovic got flagged for intentional grounding. Because the quarterback was tackled in the end zone, the result of the play was a safety. That gave two points to Clemson, who won 34-28.

Clemson, the No. 1 team in the country, remains undefeated. The Tigers celebrated in the locker room, and so did coach Dabo Swinney:

“So happy for this team. Great win,” Lawrence tweeted after the game. He added that he was “proud” of Uiagalelei. Lawrence will miss next week’s game versus Notre Dame, but Swinney hopes he will be well enough to travel with the team.