DETROIT – (special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 45-yard field goal with two seconds left, allowing the New England Patriots to escape with a 30-28 preseason victory over the Detroit Lions after squandering a 24-point lead on Friday at Ford Field.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Chris Hogan in the first 3:30 but may have lost another key receiver in the process.
Julian Edelman, who had a team-high 98 receptions last season, injured his right knee in a non-contact play during New England’s first possession. Edelman, who had three catches for 52 yards on the drive, grabbed the back of his knee after an awkward step on his final catch. He limped off and took a cart to the locker room.
Brady completed 12-of-15 passes for 174 yards with an interception. Hogan hauled in four passes for 70 yards. Mike Gillislee gained 38 yards on eight carries with a touchdown and two-point conversion for the Patriots (1-2).
Matthew Stafford completed 15-of-22 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns while getting intercepted once for Detroit (2-1). Marvin Jones caught four passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, while Ameer Abdullah rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries and caught three passes for 39 yards.
The Patriots drove 75 yards in seven plays on their first possession, which Hogan finished off with a 7-yard reception.
Golden Tate’s fumble, which was recovered by safety Jordan Richards at the Detroit 32, set up New England’s next score. Brady hooked up with Hogan on the next play for a touchdown, which Hogan hauled in despite illegal contact by cornerback Nevin Lawson. Gostkowski missed the extra point.
Gillislee’s 1-yard scoring run midway through the quarter completed a seven-play, 74-yard drive. He also scored on a two-point conversion to make it 21-0.
Gostkowski’s 46-yard field goal later in the quarter pushed the Pats’ lead to 24 points.
The Lions finally answered with 1:19 left in the half on Stafford’s 23-yard scoring strike to Jones.
Detroit also scored on its first possession of the second half. Stafford connected with running back Dwayne Washington on an 18-yard scoring pass.
Jake Rudock’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis later in the quarter cut New England’s lead to 24-21.
Washington’s 1-yard scoring plunge with 7:21 left gave Detroit a 28-24 advantage.
Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal with 3:41 pulled the Patriots within one point
OLD WESTBURY – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – The FedEx Cup race is down to 125 players and four events, with the hunt for the title of champion and the $10 million bonus payout on the line between now and Sept. 24.
First up in the quartet of playoff tournaments is the event that’s been rebranded as The Northern Trust, in which 120 players will tee off on Thursday at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y.
The total purse for The Northern Trust is $8.75 million, with $1.575 million and 2,000 FedExCup points going to the winner. The tournament is at the par-70, 7,346-yard course designed by Joe Finger and opened in 1971.
The Northern Trust (which was formerly called The Barclays) is the opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs for the 11th consecutive season, as it has been since the playoffs were introduced in 2007.
The field features all but five players who were ranked in the top 125 in the FedExCup standings after the Wyndham Championship. No. 22 Sergio Garcia of Spain and No. 66 Adam Scott of Australia chose not to play in this tournament (Scott abstained due to the birth of his child) while No. 64 Brandt Snedeker, No. 85 Scott Piercy and No. 115 Dominic Bozzelli are not in the field due to injury. Atop the standings heading into the playoffs is Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who has recorded three victories and three runner-up finishes in 18 starts this season. His wins included two World Golf Championships titles (HSBC Champions, Bridgestone Invitational) and a playoff victory over Webb Simpson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“It has been a really good season — a great season for me,” Matsuyama said. “But it really just begins now because unless I play well in the next four events, I’m not going to be the FedExCup champion. This is the time that all of us really need to up our games because you need to win one of those tournaments to even have a chance.
“I want to be in the top five going into the Tour Championship. That’s my goal. But, the best way to reach my goals is just to play well. I found that if I play well, everything will take care of itself, and I won’t have to check the standings too much.”
Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler are ranked Nos. 2-5, respectively, entering the playoffs. Nos. 6-10 prior to The Northern Trust are Jon Rahm of Spain, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman.
Perhaps the hottest golfer heading into the playoffs is Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who rolled to victory last week at the Wyndham Championship to finish 23rd in the standings.
“It seems that everything came together at a perfect time,” Stenson said of his win last week. “Get that win, and some momentum and confidence heading into the playoffs, and you know, we’ll see if we can make a run at this, as well.
“I wouldn’t say I played 100 percent in every area last week but obviously mentally and my putting and approach game was excellent, and it was good enough to get to 22-under. So I’m excited about the next couple of weeks.”
The top 100 players on the FedExCup points list following The Northern Trust qualify for the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston Sept. 1-4. Then the top 70 players on the points list after the Dell Technologies Championship advance to the BMW Championship from Sept. 14-17. The top 30 players following the BMW Championship will qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta from Sept 21-24.
Prior to the Tour Championship, a points reset will take place, giving all players in the field a mathematical opportunity to win the FedExCup title. The top five players control their own destiny and would claim the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake.
Twelve rookies finished in the top 125 and advanced to the FedExCup playoffs, the most ever to qualify for the PGA Tour’s postseason.
Glen Oaks Club will host the event for the first time. The tournament course for The Northern Trust is a composite layout of Glen Oaks Club’s 27 holes, featuring a front nine composed of a mix of the White and Red nines and a back nine featuring the Blue nine in order.
Five other courses have hosted The Northern Trust since it became a FedExCup Playoffs event: Westchester CC in 2007, Ridgewood CC in 2008, 2010 and 2014, Liberty National GC in 2009 and 2013, Plainfield CC in 2010 and 2015, and Bethpage Black in 2012 and 2016
CLEVELAND — Most teams in a mini-slump would prefer not to face Chris Sale. The Cleveland Indians aren’t one of those teams.
Jay Bruce and Francisco Lindor homered, Yandy Diaz had four hits, and the Indians continued their domination of Sale with a 13-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night at Progressive Field.
Giovanny Urshela added a career-high four RBIs as Cleveland unleashed an 18-hit attack in a game started by Sale, the leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award.
The two teams, both American League division leaders, split their four-game series.
In his shortest outing of the season by far, matching the shortest outing of his career, Sale (14-6) pitched three innings, giving up seven runs, six earned, on seven hits. He walked a season-high three and struck out a season-low three as his career record against Cleveland fell to 5-8 with a 4.78 ERA.
In two starts against the Indians this year, Sale has a 14.63 ERA, having given up 13 runs on 15 hits in eight innings.
“I wish I knew why I haven’t had much luck against this team,” Sale said. “Tonight, I stunk. Everything I threw was out over the plate, center cut. Right there.”
Boston manager John Farrell said, “Cleveland is a good fastball hitting team. It’s a matter of throwing your fastball to both sides of the plate and then slowing them down with your secondary stuff.”
In the previous two games, Cleveland was held to a total of four hits and two runs by Boston pitching, with the Red Sox winning both times. Thursday was a different story.
“I don’t know,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It’s not like our guys say, ‘Oh good, Sale’s pitching!’ We’ve done better than most teams against him, but he’s really good.”
Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer (13-8) needed 104 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and three walks.
“It was kind of a struggle,” Bauer said. “I wasn’t sharp and didn’t command the ball very well, but the team picked me up.”
Boston’s Mitch Moreland had three hits, including two home runs, and four RBIs.
The Indians, held to four hits in their previous 18 innings, had four hits in their first eight batters. Cleveland opened it up with a four-run second inning against Sale.
RBI hits by Roberto Perez, Urshela and Lindor led that charge.
Boston got a run back in the third. Moreland, leading off the inning, hit a 1-2 pitch from Bauer deep into the lower deck in right field for his 16th home run, cutting the Cleveland lead to 4-1.
“He gets into those hot streaks and is a power threat in that part of the lineup,” Farrell said of Moreland, the seventh-place hitter.
In the bottom of the third, the Indians continued their assault on Sale. Edwin Encarnacion led off the inning with a walk. Bruce struck out, but Brandon Guyer also walked. Diaz, who had a single, two doubles and a triple, then ripped a double off the right field wall, scoring Encarnacion to make it 5-1.
Perez grounded out to the mound for the second out, but Urshela followed with a two-run single to center, scoring Guyer and Diaz and giving Cleveland a 7-1 lead.
“We really did a good job offensively and made one of the best pitchers in baseball work hard,” Francona said.
A two-run triple by Xander Bogaerts and an RBI single by Moreland in the fourth shaved Cleveland’s lead to 7-4.
An RBI single by Urshela in the bottom of the fifth pushed the Indians’ lead to 8-4.
Bruce’s solo home run and an RBI double by Perez in the sixth inning made it 10-4. Lindor capped a three-hit night with a solo homer in the Indians’ three-run seventh inning.
“We couldn’t slow them down even after Chris left,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox scored twice in the eighth, the runs coming on a two-run homer by Moreland.
NOTES: Boston RF Mookie Betts left the game in the eighth inning due to a bruised right knee. … OF Rajai Davis, acquired in a trade with Oaklandon Wednesday, joined the Red Sox on Thursday. He took over in the field for Betts and went 0-for-1. … The Red Sox also activated RHP Blaine Boyer from the 10-day disabled list while optioning INF Deven Marrero and RHP Hector Velazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket. … Indians RHP Josh Tomlin will make a rehab start Friday with rookie-level Mahoning Valley (Ohio). Tomlin has been on the disabled list since July 31 due to a left hamstring strain. … Cleveland 1B Carlos Santana missed his third consecutive game with a lower back strain. Manager Terry Francona said he hopes Santana will be able to return to the lineup Friday.
OLD WESTBURY – Russell Henley recorded eight birdies and holds a one-shot lead over Dustin Johnson after the first round of the Northern Trust on Thursday at the Glen Oaks Club on Long Island, N.Y. Henley finished the first round of the FedEx Cup playoff event with a 6-under 64 and edged Johnson, who finished strong by using his old putter following a shaky start.
Scott Brown, Chris Kirk and Camilo Villegas finished the round two shots behind Henley.
Henley was able to take the lead by playing conservatively and seeking out safe spots on the course. He is ranked No. 19 but needed a strong round to stay there and potentially move up.
“I don’t know what the key is, or the secret,” Henley said. “I just tried to hit the fairway, make sure I hit the green when I was in the fairway, and the greens are great and I rolled in a couple of putts.”
The 28-year-old Henley converted seven of his birdies from within 12 feet. His other birdie was an 80-foot shot on the fifth hole.
He also produced the lowest round at the Glen Oaks Club, surpassing the 6-under 66 by Adam Fuchs in the final round of last year’s Metropolitan Open.
Henley’s showing was the lowest first round at the Northern Trust since Kevin Stadler opening with a 64 at Liberty National Golf Club in 2013. It was the fifth time Henley shot a 64 in the first round of a PGA event and the second time he took a lead after an opening round.
Johnson recorded his lowest round since winning the Riviera in February. Johnson’s title there was the first of three straight victories leading into the Masters, an event he was forced to withdraw from due to a back injury.
PGA champion Justin Thomas fell behind early but finished with a 68.
Jordan Spieth posted a 69. Hideki Matsuyama, the No. 1 seed going into this round of playoffs, did not record a birdie and finished with a 74.
Rory McIlroy hit three bogeys on the back nine and shot 73.
Among those outside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup are Harold Varner III and Bubba Watson, who both shot a 67.
Phil Mickelson birdied his final two holes to get a 72 and is trying to show potential as a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup. Mickelson has been on every Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup team since 1994.
“I would love to be on that team, but I’ve got to bring something to the table,” Mickelson said. “And, so, if I can play well this week and next week and show that
I’m playing as well as I know I’m playing … but the only thing that matters is the score. So I’ve got to go shoot scores. If I can do that and add something to the team, I would love to be on it.