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 on what may be the last home game for many of its seniors. One of those seniors is Trevor Lawrence, who threw for 403 yards and two touchdowns.

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.

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.

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.

Ariana Grande Releases New Album “Positions”

By Terrance Turner

In a (somewhat) surprising late-night move, Ariana Grande has released a new album, “Positions”. According to RapUp, the 14-track project includes the title track, plus appearances from rappers Ty Dolla $ign (“Safety Net”) and Doja Cat on “Motive.” Grande also reunites with her “Love Me Harder” collaborator, singer ‘The Weeknd’, on “Off the Table.” That track features Grande questioning whether to explore a new relationship after a major loss.

The lyrics are almost certainly a reference to her late ex, rapper Mac Miller. He died suddenly from an accidental overdose in 2018, at 26. Grande ended her engagement to actor Pete Davidson within weeks of Miller’s tragic death. Now, she wonders if finding love again is “off the table”. “Will I ever love the same way again? Will I ever love somebody like the way I did you? Never thought you’d be so damn hard to replace,” she muses. “Might not be quite yet healed or ready, shouldn’t be going too steady,” she says.

But she’s definitely ready to spend some time in bed. “Can you stay up all night?/F–k me ’till the daylight,” she sings on the suggestively titled “34+35”. “I know all of your favorite spots/We can take it from the top,” she sings. “You’re such a dream come true/Make a b—h wanna hit snooze.” Later, Grande takes things even further on “Nasty”: “Promise I’mma give it to you like you never had it / I do it so good it’s gonna be hard to break the habit / You’re like a whole constellation / Swimming like you’re on vacation.”

On the title track, Grande sings about a heavenly love that has her playing different roles at once. “Heaven sent you to me/I’m just hoping I don’t repeat history,” she sings. “Boy, I’m tryna meet your mama on a Sunday/Then make a lotta love on a Monday.” On the chorus, Grande demonstrates the title’s metaphor a little more directly: “Switching the positions for you/Cooking in the kitchen and I’m in the bedroom/I’m in the Olympics way; I’m jumpin’ through hoops/And my love infinite, nothing I wouldn’t do/That I won’t do/Switchin’ for you.”

The new album is available for streaming on Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, and YouTube Music, among other platforms. You can stream the album at https://arianagrande.lnk.to/positions. You can listen to the album’s title track (and see Grande as Madame President, with an all-female staff) below.

National Tight Ends Day

By Terrance Turner

Oct. 25, 2020 (Updated Oct. 28)

Today is National Tight Ends Day. Although this may sound like a made-up holiday, San Francisco tight end George Kittle designated the day as the last Sunday in October. Kittle is one of the league’s leading tight ends, along with Chiefs TE Travis Kelce and Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski. Kittle explained the holiday in a video:

Kittle credited San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with the holiday’s genesis. “I’m pretty sure it was a day [that] all the tight ends were active, and so Jimmy G was like, ‘What is it, national tight end day’?” Kittle recalled. That moment sparked Kittle to establish the occasion for the last Sunday in October.

Famous for his aggressive, exuberant play, Kittle has become one of the league’s premier tight ends. He is frequently ranked among the league’s best at his position, along with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. (The two faced each other in this year’s Super Bowl, with Kelce’s Chiefs besting Kittle’s 49ers 31-20.) Both Kelce and Kittle are known for their fun-loving approach to the game of football: Kelce is known to celebrate touchdowns with funny dances; Kittle will laugh hysterically after pancake-blocking a defender.

Both of them noticed the other’s festive style. Kittle studied film of Kelce while in college at Iowa. “I think the thing that really kind of stands out the most is you see his personality when he plays and how much fun he has,” Kittle said. “Very similar to (Rob Gronkowski) and his personality, the way it shows. I think they just kind of opened the door for tight ends like me to be able to express ourselves on the football field.”

Kelce returned the compliment during Super Bowl media week. “George Kittle, man. I was just talking about his tenacity,” Kelce told the NFL Network. “How he runs routes. How he plays the game with a certain level of energy and enthusiasm. Man, you gotta love it.” Both Kelce and Kittle power their respective teams with energetic, enthusiastic play. And that similarity was not lost on Kelce.

“I think we’re both positive guys,” Kelce said with a big smile. “We both love to play the game and, at the same time, we both love life.”

But both match their appetite for fun with high-level play. Kelce is tied for the NFL record for the most seasons by a tight end with 1,000 or more receiving yards (four seasons and counting), according to FOX Sports. In 2018, Kittle broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end, racking up 1,377 receiving yards (His 88 catches that season were also the most for his position.) Kittle broke the previous record of 1,327 yards, set by legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski. But that’s far from the only record Gronk has set.

While with the Patriots in 2011, Gronkowski racked up those 1,327 yards and 17 touchdown catches — the most ever by a tight end. He had 18 total touchdowns that year, also the most ever for a tight end in a season. (A pass Gronk caught for a score against the Colts was later ruled a lateral pass, making it a rushing TD. “My first rushing touchdown ever,” Gronk marveled after the game.) Gronkowski became the first tight end EVER to lead the league in receiving touchdowns, according to NFL.com.

Additionally, Gronkowski is the first player at his position to have 10+ touchdowns and 1000+ receiving yards in three different seasons (2011, 2014-2015). He had three consecutive seasons with 10 or more touchdown catches (2010-12). He has the most catches (23) and receiving yards (297) by a tight end in Super Bowl history, according to USA Today. His gloves are on display at the Patriots Hall of Fame.

And he’s not done yet.

Last week, Gronk caught his first TD of the season during a 38-10 win against the Packers. It was his first touchdown as part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and his first in nearly two years. (Gronkowski retired briefly in 2019, citing health concerns.) On Sunday — National Tight Ends Day — he caught another touchdown from Tom Brady. That was the 92nd touchdown between them. Brady and Gronk are now tied for second place on the all-time list. The only quarterback-receiver duo to connect for more touchdowns is Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.

Like Kelce and Kittle, Gronkowski also likes to have fun — on and off the field. His parties are legendary: he had a traveling party bus in 2015 and a party boat in 2016. He even hosted a topless pool party in Vegas in 2012, as seen below.

Rob Gronkowski Hosts Topless Pool Party

Gronk has cemented his legacy as one of the league’s best tight ends. But the true GOAT may be Tony Gonzalez. The tight end played 12 seasons for the Chiefs and five more for the Atlanta Falcons between 1997 and 2013. In the process, he racked up a ton of dazzling stats. Gonzalez is the all-time leader for receptions (1,325) and receiving yards (15,127) at his position, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. He also has the most career touchdowns (76) in Chiefs franchise history. Gonzalez joined Gronk, Kelce and Kittle for a sitdown earlier this year, just before the Super Bowl. Gronkowski noted that “this is the first time in history, I would say, that the two top tight ends in the league are in the Super Bowl, facing each other. What’s that relationship like?”

Find out in the video below.

UPDATE: Tight end Hayden Hurst made a crucial catch tonight for the Falcons. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw the ball so low that it nearly hit the ground, but Hurst reached out his arms and caught the ball with his fingertips. The ball touched the ground as Hurst reeled it in, but upon further review the catch was upheld. The crucial catch eventually led to a field goal. The Falcons eventually won the game, 25-17.

Catch the crazy play below.

Buccaneers Steamroll Packers Amid Sports Frenzy in Tampa Bay

By Terrance Turner

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup.

The Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the World Series.

And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 4-2.

The Buccaneers stunned the once-undefeated Green Bay Packers Sunday evening with a burst of offensive power. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady shined, leading the team to its fourth win. According to UPI, Brady completed 17 of 27 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-10 win on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 16 for 35 and threw two interceptions.

The Packers jumped out to a 10-point lead early, but then the Buccaneers scored 38 unanswered points. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got picked off by Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean in the second quarter. Dean lit up the team with a 32-yard interception return to the end zone. That pick-six put the Bucs on the board.

Another interception by Rodgers opened the door to a TD rush by Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II. That touchdown put Tampa Bay up 14-10, its first lead of the day. It was a lead that the team would never let go.

Later, Brady slung another touchdown pass to Bucs receiver Tyler Johnson as the second quarter wound down. Then, with just over a minute left in the first half, Brady threw a laser-point pass to Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski. It was Gronk’s first touchdown of the season — and his first in nearly two years. The last time Gronkowski caught a touchdown, it was 2018 — 679 days ago — in a Patriots game versus the Miami Dolphins.

That added to an already commanding lead. The game was 28-10 at halftime.

Rodgers continued to struggle in the second half, contending with an aggressive Bucs defense that swarmed and sometimes sacked him. (Tampa Bay’s Ndamukong Suh was especially difficult to evade.) Rodgers’ woes continued when Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a chest injury and had to return to the locker room.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay continued to roll. Kicker Ryan Succop drilled a 50-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 21-point lead. And the team benefited from some costly mistakes by its opponent. A massive defensive pass interference call on the Packers was followed by a flag for having too many men on the field. Those penalties set up Tampa Bay’s next (and final) touchdown, courtesy of running back Ronald Jones. The Buccaneers defeated Green Bay handily, 38-10.

Notably, the Buccaneers were one of the most penalized teams going into this game. But they managed to play this game from start to finish without any penalties. The Buccaneers haven’t played a penalty-free game since 1983.

“… It was good. I think not turning the ball over helped a lot and I think not being behind on down and distance helped a lot,” Brady said after the win, per the team. “But certainly (there are) better things that we can do (and) things better than what we did today. We’re going to keep working at it.”