The Pulse: Baker Mayfield’s surprise drive, World Cup reset, Brittney Griner returns home

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Good morning! How many complete implosions would it take for you to get fired?

While You Were Sleeping

Ballgame, Baker

Did that really happen? Brand new Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield, who probably hasn’t collected his luggage from LAX yet, led the defending champs on the season’s most improbable game-winning drive to cook the Raiders’ hapless year once and for all.

  • Mayfield connected with Van Jefferson for the game winner with 10 seconds left to give L.A. a shocking 17-16 win. Here’s more on how they scripted it.
  • Las Vegas defenders committed two flabbergasting penalties on that drive to keep the door open for tragedy (or comedy?).
  • The Raiders are now 0-4 this season when leading by at least 10 points at halftime. Check this out. That’s a first since at least 1930.
  • The Rams snapped the NFL’s longest losing streak for a defending champ, while the Raiders (5-8) saw their playoff hopes vanish.

The chatter around Josh McDaniels’ job security is about to go up a few decibels. Las Vegas hosts his old Patriots next week — big eyes emoji!

The Good News

Griner released

(Photo: Jasen Vinlove / USA Today)

Many Americans woke up yesterday to welcome news: WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russia and on a plane home to her family after a one-for-one prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner was detained for 294 days. Thursday’s swap took place in the United Arab Emirates.

The swap notably did not include Paul Whelan. President Joe Biden said there wasn’t a choice of which American to bring home, and that Russia is treating Whelan’s case differently than Griner; it was reportedly Griner for Bout, or nothing. Griner’s camp also pledged to keep working to bring home Whelan and other detained Americans.

World Cupdate

Welcome to the Elite Eight

After two days off, we’ve reached the World Cup quarterfinals, which start later this morning. (Anyone else missing the early-morning wake-ups already?)

In case you’ve forgotten, let’s run through the bracket:

Using expected goals as a metric, a Brazil-France final would be the … expectation. But this tournament has already been heavy on surprise. We’ll regroup with you on Sunday.

More reading:

Serious Matters

Latest on Commanders

Washington owner Dan Snyder not only permitted toxic workplace conduct to occur, but took part in it, the House Oversight Committee investigating the Commanders’ workplace culture said yesterday. Other key findings in the Committee’s report:

  • Commanders leadership perpetuated a toxic workplace culture by ignoring and downplaying sexual misconduct by senior male Commanders’ employees.
  • Snyder interfered with the investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson by launching a shadow investigation into suspected sources of The Washington Post’s reporting, attempting to block Wilkinson’s access to information, and trying to silence employees who could implicate him in misconduct.
  • In addition to failing to appear at a public hearing, Snyder interfered with the Committee’s investigation by intimidating witnesses and blocking the production of documents.

Also, the findings revealed former Commanders general manager Bruce Allen alleged that the team leaked former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s racist and homophobic emails that led to his resignation in 2021. Woof.

Remember: Snyder is looking into selling part or all of the team.


Falcons turn to rookie Ridder at QB

After four losses in five games, the Falcons are making a change. Third-round rookie Desmond Ridder will replace Marcus Mariota as the starting quarterback Sunday against the Saints. Atlanta hasn’t tried to pass much this season — only the Bears have fewer attempts — but the offense really started to sputter recently as it scored just one touchdown in each of its last two games. Ridder, who led Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff last season, essentially gets a four-game audition.

The greatest soccer prodigy you’ve never heard of

Yann Gueho was a Chelsea and France prospect rated better than Kylian Mbappé. Now? There’s little trace of the 28-year-old after prison spells and a belated diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Pulse Picks

(Top photo: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)


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