The Pythagorean NFL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Garrett Garlits, Mar 27, 2018.

Loading...
  1. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff from Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland. Game time temperature is 61 degrees with mostly cloudy skies and a south wind at 9 MPH.

    The Raiders scored first with a field goal on the final play of the first quarter. Marcus Knight's punt return gave the Raiders the ball at the Steelers' twenty-six yard line, but the offense lost three yards on the next three plays, which led to a forty-six yard field goal attempt by kicker Sebastian Janikowski, The kick was good, and the Raiders took a 3-0 lead.

    The Raiders added to their lead by forcing a turnover on the ensuing Steelers' possession. Tommy Maddox's pass intended for Plaxico Burress was picked off by linebacker Bill Romanowski, who returned the ball to the Steelers' thirty-seven. The biggest play of the drive came on third and thirteen from the Pittsburgh forty, as Rich Gannon found Tim Brown for twenty-nine yards and a first down. On the next play, Gannon found reserve tight end Doug Jolley for the touchdown. Janikowski added the extra point, and the Silver and Black led 10-0 with 10:26 left in the first half.

    The Raiders added to their lead again with another touchdown in the final two minutes of the first half. Knight returned another Josh Miller punt to his own forty, and Gannon completed passes of twenty-two and eighteen yards to wide receiver Jerry Porter. The touchdown came from eight yards out, as Gannon went to the one and only Jerry Rice. Janikowski added the extra point, and the Raiders led 17-0 with 1:56 to play in the first half.

    The Steelers finally got on the board thanks to a perfectly run two-minute drill my Maddox. He completed passes of eleven and thirteen yards to Burress, twelve yards to Antwaan Randle El, and nineteen yards to Hines Ward. The drive reached the Raiders' five-yard line with two seconds left in the half, which left just enough time for a twenty-two yard field goal attempt by Jeff Reed. The kick was good, and our halftime score was Raiders 17, Steelers 3.

    The only points in the third quarter came from the Raiders, who added a field goal after taking the opening kickoff. Gannon found Rice for twelve yards and Brown for eighteen, and running back Charlie Garner added a thirteen-yard catch-and-run. The drive died at the Pittsburgh nineteen, and Janikowski's thirty-six yard attempt split the uprights to extend the Oakland lead to 20-3 after three quarters.

    The Raiders added their final touchdown in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, as Maddox threw a pass right to reserve cornerback Terrance Shaw, whose return set up the offense at the Pittsburgh forty-one. The touchdown came from nine yards out, as running back Tyrone Wheatley charged through a big hole in the middle of the Steelers' defense and into the end zone. Janikowski added the extra point, and the Raiders led 27-3 with about nine minutes remaining in regulation.

    The Steelers closed the scoring with a touchdown on their next possession. Ward caught a ten-yard pass from Maddox, then lined up at quarterback on the next play. Here's Greg Gumbel with what happened next:

    "Hines Ward now at quarterback, with Maddox split out in the slot. Direct snap to Ward, and there's a hole. He's over the forty, forty-five, midfield, and now he's in the clear! One Raider left to beat at the thirty, and he falls down! Hines Ward will go all the way on the direct snap for the touchdown! The Steelers finally get some offense, but they still trail by three scores with 4:56 left in regulation."

    Phil Simms: "Everyone should know by now that the Steelers love to run plays like this because of guys like Ward and Randle El who have been college quarterbacks. The Raiders seem to be caught short on defense, and (cornerback) Anthony Dorsett has the bad luck to fall down when he had a path to make the tackle. The trouble is, it's probably too little and too ;ate for the Steelers, who still have to score three times in the last five minutes."

    Reed added the extra point, and we had our final: Raiders 27, Steelers 10.

    Gannon was named MVP by CBS. He completed nineteen of twenty-six for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Brown was his leading target with five catches for seventy-five yards, and Rice added five more catches for fifty-seven yards and a touchdown. Porter added fifty-four yards on three catches. The running game helped out to the best of its ability; Garner led the way with forty-seven yards on eighteen carries.

    After leading the Steelers' offense to be one of the most prolific in the league over the course of the season, Maddox picked a bad time to have a bad day. He completed just ten of his twenty-four passes for ninety-five yards and three interceptions, two of which led directly to Oakland scores. Ward was the leading receiver with three catches for thirty-five yards, and his sixty-nine yard touchdown run made him the team's leading rusher as well. Amos Zereoue was held to thirty-eight yards on nine carries, and Jerome Bettis carried eleven times for just seventeen yards. About the only bright spot for the Steelers was the pass rush, which sacked Gannon five times. Linebacker Kendrell Bell had a pair.

    The Raiders will host the Miami Dolphins in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game. Kickoff from Network Associates Coliseum is scheduled for 6:30 PM Eastern on CBS, and Greg and Phil will once again call the action. Armen Keteyian will be joined by Bonnie Bernstein on the sidelines.

    Next: The AFC Championship Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
  2. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2002 AFC Championship Game from Network Associates Coliseum on Oakland. Game time temperature is 52 degrees, with fair skies and a west-northwest at 9 MPH.

    The Dolphins opened the scoring with a field goal on the final play of the first quarter. Ricky Williams gained twelve yards on a sweep to the left and also contributed a twelve-yard catch-and-run. Jay Fielder's twenty-one yard pass to Oronde Gadsden gave the visitors a first and goal at the Oakland six, but the Raiders' defense refused to allow them to score a touchdown, stopping them just inches from the goal line. Olindo Mare's nineteen-yard field goal put the Fins up 3-0 after the first fifteen minutes.

    The Raiders took the lead with a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Rich Gannon completed passes of twenty-four and thirty-two yards to Jerry Rice, and Tim Brown's twenty-two yard catch and run gave the Raiders a first and goal at the Miami eight. A two-yard loss and a penalty pushed the ball back to the fifteen, but Terry Kirby gained eleven yards on a draw play, then scored on another draw from the four on the next play. Sebastian Janikowski added the extra point, and our halftime score was Raiders 7, Dolphins 3.

    The Raiders scored another touchdown after taking the second half kickoff. Gannon hit Brown for thirteen yards, Rice over the middle for twenty-two, and Jerry Porter for twenty-three and a first and goal at the Fins' seven. Gannon found Brown for the touchdown on the next play, and Janikowski's extra point put the Raiders up 14-3 with 11:14 left in the third quarter.

    The Raiders scored another touchdown on their next possession. Gannon completed passes of fourteen and fifteen yards to brown, and Rice added a twelve-yard catch-and-run. Gannon's fourteen-yard screen pass to running back Zach Crockett gave the Raiders a first and goal at the Miami four, and on second and goal from the two Gannon flipped the ball to reserve wide receiver Doug Jolley for the touchdown. Janikowski added the extra point, and the Raiders' lead expended to 21-3 with a little over seven minutes left in the third period.

    The Silver and Black extended their lead to three touchdowns with a field goal before the end of the third period. Gannon completed a fifteen-yard pass to Jolley, and Tyrone Wheatley bolted up the middle for thirty-nine yards and another first and goal at the Dolphs' six. The drive stalled at the four, but Janikowski punched through a twenty-one yard attempt to give the Raiders a 24-3 lead after three quarters.

    The Fins got back into the game with a touchdown in the early moments of the final period, thanks mostly to a seventy-yard gain on a sweep to the left by running back Robert Edwards. The Fins originally thought he'd scored, but he was ruled out of bounds at the Oakland one-yard line thanks to replay. The visitors got their touchdown anyway on second and goal from the two, as Fieldler hit a wide-open Randy McMichael in the end zone. Mare added the extra point, and with 12:58 left in the game the Raiders' lead was down to 24-10.

    The Fins crept closer with a field goal on their next possession. Williams gained forty-six yards on a draw play, and Fielder hit Gadsden for ten yards and a first down at the Raiders' sixteen. Fiedler was buried for an eight-yard loss by defensive end Tony Bryant on third down, but that still left a thirty-eight yard attempt for Mare, which he converted to cut the Raiders' lead to 24-13 with just over nine minutes remaining.

    The Fins scored another touchdown on their next possession. Fiedler's twenty-one yard pass to Chris Chambers got the ball to midfield, and that's where we pick up the call from Greg Gumbel:

    "First and ten from exactly midfield, as we hit seven minutes left in regulation. Williams again, he's over the forty-five, the forty, and there's a block! He's loose at the thirty, twenty-five, twenty, and he's gone! Ricky Williams will go fifty yards for the touchdown!...…..The Dolphins are right back in this game, Phil."

    Phil Simms: "The Oakland Raiders' defense hasn't been able to stop Ricky Williams all day, and he takes advantage of a huge hole created by the offensive line, then turns on the speed once he gets into the secondary, and there's no Raider that will catch him. The Oakland run defense will be their Achilles' heel going forward even if they survive today, which is suddenly very questionable."

    Mare's extra point made this a 24-20 game in favor of the Raiders.

    The teams exchanged punts, and the Raiders took the clock down under ten seconds on their final drive. On fourth down, all punter Shane Lechler had to do was kick over the head of the lone Miami punt returner and let the ball roll dead. At worst, the Fins would have time for a desperation Haiil Mary. Instead:

    Gumbel: "Will Lechler kick, or would you just have him take a safety?"

    Simms: "Kick it, Greg. He's at the fifteen, and that's too far to run with the rush coming at him anyway."

    Gumbel: "Snap to Lechler, and he just does get it away. It's high and short, not at all what he wanted, and the Dolphins make the catch at the forty-two. They're running it up the field, and look at the blocking!.....Over the forty, the thirty-five...."

    Simms: "Time's out, they gotta score!"

    Gumbel: "Dedric Ward to the ten, the five, and THAT'S A TOUCHDOWN!...….The Miami Dolphins score twenty-three fourth-quarter points so far, and they've stunned the Oakland Raiders by what will most likely be a final score of 27-24 following the extra point."

    Simms: "The punt rush is everything here, Greg. Lechler had to just get it away with three people in his face, and they somehow managed to avoid hitting him for a roughing the punter penalty. Ward fields the ball on the run, and the rushers become blockers. Ward has a clear path to the end zone, and all he has to do is see that he doesn't step out of bounds. He stays in, and the Dolphins are headed to Super Bowl XXXVII."

    Mare added the extra point to make it official. Final score: Dolphins 27, Raiders 24.

    Williams was the only choice for MVP. He carried nineteen times for 152 yards and a touchdown. His brilliance meant that Fiedler only had to throw sixteen times, completing with for eighty-five yards and a touchdown. As a team, the Fins rushed for 222 yards. Gadsden and Williams were the only Dolphs to catch more than one pass, and Gadsden led the receivers with thirty-one yards on a pair of catches. On defense, future Hall of Famer Zach Thomas registered ten tackles.

    For the Raiders, Gannon finished seventeen of thirty for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Brown was their leading receiver with six catches for ninety-three yards and a touchdown. while Rice caught four passes for ninety yards. Wheatley was their leading rusher with fifty-four yards on ten carries, and the Raiders as a team rushed for 146 yards. On defense, Bryant registered two of the Raiders' four sacks.

    The Dolphins will represent the AFC in Super Bowl XXXVIII next Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Kickoff is scheduled for exactly 6:28 PM Eastern on ABC, with Al Michaels and John Madden in the booth and Melissa Stark and Andrea Kremer on the sidelines.

    Next: We turn to the NFC, as we examine the second Wild Card Game between the Falcons and the Niners at Candlestick Park.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  3. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2002 NFC Wild Card Game from Candlestick Park is San Francisco. Game time temperature is 54 degrees, with fair skies and a north wind at 6 MPH.

    The Niners scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Running back Kevan Barlow gained fifteen yards taking a sweep to the left, then went up the middle for eleven more. Fellow running back Garrison Hearst ran another draw for ten yards and a first down at the Falcons' eleven, and on second and goal from the seven he poured through another big hole up the middle and scored the game's first touchdown. Kicker Jeff Chandler added the extra point, and the home squad led 7-0 after one quarter.

    The Niners were driving for another touchdown as the second quarter dawned; quarterback Jeff Garcia completed passes of twenty-three yards to Terrell Owens and twenty-two yards to fellow wide receiver Tai Streets. Barlow's eleven-yard gain early in the second gave the Niners a first and goal at the Atlanta ten-yard line, and on third and goal from the nine Garcia hit a wide-open J..J. Stokes for the touchdown. Chandler added the extra point, and the Niners led 14-0 with 11:03 left in the second quarter.

    The Niners took a commanding three-touchdown lead into halftime. Garcia's twenty-yard pass to Owens gave the Niners one chance at a Hail Mary with two seconds left from their own forty-six. Here's what happened next, as described by Joe Buck:

    "Niners with five wide receivers, as it looks like they're going to take a downfield shot on the last play of the first half. Garcia will take the shotgun and fade back to throw, no rush by Atlanta, and here goes the Hail Maty...…….tipped and CAUGHT BY OWENS! TOUCHDOWN FORTY-NINERS!...…..The Niners take the heart out of the Falcons, as T.O catches the Hail Mary attempt off of the tip, and they'll go into the locker room up three touchdowns."

    Cris Collinsworth: "Most teams up 14-0 don't go for the Hail Mary, but most teams don't have a receiver of Terrell Owens' caliber either. (Cornerback) Ashley Ambrose gets the tip, but Terrell Owens is right behind him to make the catch, and there's no one left to stop him from getting into the end zone."

    Troy Aikman: "It'll be interesting to see how the Falcons respond to a play like this. (Coach) Dan Reeves is going to have to do a lot of motivating to get his team ready to play in the second half."

    Chandler's extra point put the Niners up 21-0 at the half.

    The Niners added one last touchdown early in the third quarter. Garcia threw an eleven-yard pass to tight end Eric Johnson for one first down and got another by scrambling for thirteen yards. As we rejoin Joe, it's first and ten from the Falcons' thirty-nine:

    "The 49ers are just doing what they want to the Falcons on offense and defense so far today, and they're on the cusp of scoring position, first and ten from the Atlanta thirty-nine. Give to Barlow, and yet another big hole! Down over the thirty, the twenty-five, twenty, cuts it back to the right. and there's nothing but green in front of him! It'll be a touchdown for Kevan Barlow! What a run; it covered thirty-nine yards."

    Aikman: "The San Francisco offensive line is responsible for this touchdown. Watch the blocking by the center Jeremy Newberry and the right guard Ron Stone. They're the ones who open the hole, and Barlow has an easy time getting through it. He cuts back thinking that the Falcons are after him, but he's outdistanced them by a good five to seven yards."

    Collinsworth: "The 49ers are just putting a thorough beating on the Falcons today. It's almost like the old days with Joe Montana and Steve Young."

    Chandler added the extra point, and the Niners led 28-0 after three quarters.

    The Falcons finally got on the board early in the final period. Fullback Bob Christian's sixteen-yard gain on a draw play gave the Falcons a first down at their own forty-five, and on the next play quarterback Michael Vick showed why he'd taken the NFL by storm. Here's Joe:

    :First and ten now for Atlanta from their own forty-five, and Vick has an empty backfield behind him. He takes the snap, five-man rush by the Niners, Vick on the run, he'll launch it downield……….CAUGHT BY TREVOR GAYLOR, AND HE'LL GO ALL THE WAY FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! WHAT A THROW BY MICHAEL VICK!"

    Aikman: "This is just incredible, Joe. Vick has to run for his life from the rush by the 49ers, and he somehow manages to set his feet just before he steps over the line of scrimmage and launches a perfect pass downfield about forty-five yards in the air. One of the wide receivers, Trevor Gaylor, is wide open at the ten, and once he makes the catch he has an easy touchdown. What field presence from a rookie. He has more than I did as a rookie for sure."

    Collinsworth: "The issue may pretty much be decided for today, but of Michael Vick keeps making plays like this the Falcons will be a playoff team for years to come."

    Reeves decided to go for two down 28-6 with a little over ten minutes to play, but Vick's attempted keeper was stopped cold at the line of scrimmage.

    The Dirty Birds inched a little closer on their next possession. The key play was Vick's seventeen-yard completion to wide receiver Brian Finneran. The drive reached the Niners' ten-yard line, and with a little under six minutes left Reeves inexplicably decided against going for it on fourth and three. Kicker Jay Feely converted a twenty-seven yard attempt, and we were looking at a 28-9 game.

    The Falcons made the final score a little more respectable with a field goal on the final play of the game. Vick completed a twenty-one yard pass to wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, and Warrick Dunn's twenty-eight yard scamper gave the visitors a first down at the Frisco twenty-six. There was time for one more play, but instead of letting Vick and the offense try for a touchdown, Reeves called on Feely, who was good from forty-three yards out as the gun sounded. Final score: Niners 28, Falcons 12.

    T.O. was named Player of the Game by Fox; he caught five passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. Streets added fifty-three more yards on three catches. Garcia finished fifteen of nineteen for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Barlow led the running game with ninety-one yards on twelve carries with a touchdown, and Hearst carried eighteen times for sixty-seven yards and another score. The Niners as a team rushed for 224 yards on forty-two attempts.

    For the Falcons, Vick completed eight of seventeen passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Gaylor led the receiving corps with three catches for seventy-six yards, and Dunn was the team's leading rusher in a losing cause with eighty-five yards on fourteen carries. The rushing game was good for 145 yards o thirty-six team attempts, and the defense sacked Garcia five times. Defensive end Patrick Kerney had a pair. As for the two puzzling field goal attempts, Reeves maintained after the game that he thought getting points of any sort was the priority, even on the last play of the game. The lingering anger from this loss from owner Arthur Blank, the players, and the fans the was one of the many things that led to Reeves' firing late the following season, although a 3-10 record was undoubtedly the main reason.

    The Niners will move on to next weekend's NFC Divisional Playoffs. Who and where they play depends on the result of last night's game between the Giants and the Packers at Lambeau Field. If the Packers won, the Niners will head to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to face the Bucs next Sunday. If the Giants pulled the upset, they'll go to Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia to face the Eagles next Saturday.

    Next: The other Wild Card Game, as the Pack hosts the Giants.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  4. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2002 NFC Wild Card Game from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Game time temperature is 30 degrees, with cloudy skies and an east wind at 3 MPH.

    The Giants scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Kerry Collins threw passes of seventeen yards to Ike Hilliard, twelve yards to Amani Toomer, and fifteen yards to tight end Jeremy Shockey. Tiki Barber's eleven-yard gain on a draw play gave the G-Men a first down at the Green Bay nineteen, and after a running play lost a yard on first down Collins hit Ron Dixon in the end zone on second down for the score. Kicker Matt Bryant added the extra point, and the Giants led 7-0 with 10:29 to play in the first quarter.

    The Pack answered with a touchdown of their own. Javon Walker returned the ensuing kickoff all the way down to the New York thirty-nine, and three plays later reserve running back Tony Fisher cut a sweep back to the left for eighteen yards and a first and goal at the six. and on the next play Favre hit backup tight end Tyrone Davis for the touchdown. Ryan Longwell's extra point tied the game at seven after one quarter of play.

    The home squad took a halftime lead thanks to a Longwell field goal which was set up when Favre completed a forty-seven yard bomb to wide receiver Donald Driver on the drive's first play. Later, Ahman Green contributed a ten-yard catch-and-run, and Favre's thirteen-yard strike to reserve wideout Robert Ferguson gave the Pack a first and goal at the Giants' eight. Big Blue's defense refused to allow another yard, so it was up to Longwell, who converted from twenty-five yards out to give the Pack a 10-7 halftime lead.

    The Giants tied the game midway through the third quarter. The biggest plays were Barber's seventeen-yard burst off left tackle and fullback Charles Stackhouse's ten-yard gain on a draw. The drive stalled at the Green Bay twenty-one, but Bryant was good from thirty-eight yards out to tie he game at ten after three quarters.

    The Giants took the lead with another field goal early in the final quarter. Collins connected with Toomer for gains of thirteen and twenty-two yards, Barber's fourteen-yard gain on a draw gave the G-Men a first down at the Green Bay twenty-seven, and on fourth and five from the twenty-two Bryant was good from thirty-nine yards out to put New York up 13-10 with about twelve minutes left in regulation.

    The Pack answered with a field goal of their own. Walker's kickoff return set up the offense at its own forty-six, and Fisher's seventeen-yard gain off the left side put the ball in Giants' territory. The drive eventually reached the Giants' twenty-nine, and Longwell was good from forty-six yards away to tie the game at thirteen exactly seven and a half minutes left in regulation.

    The Giants' game-winning field goal came just after the two-minute warning. The drive started at the New York eight after a holding penalty on the kickoff return, but Shockey's twenty-yard catch-and-run got them out of the hole, and Collins also completed a sixteen-yard screen pass to backup running back Sean Bennett. Barber's twenty-three yard scamper up the middle gave the visitors a first down at the Packers' thirteen, and when the drive stalled at the ten Bryant punched a twenty-sever yarder through the uprights to put the Giants up 16-12 with 1:51 to play. Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin put the dagger in when he sacked Favre at the New York forty-five with fifteen seconds left, giving the Giants the ball on downs.

    Collins' picture was the one added to the MNF Horse Trailer as MVP. He completed seventeen of his twenty-five passes for 207 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Hilliard caught four passes for fifty-seven yards, and Toomer added four more catches for fifty-four yards. Barber led the way on the ground with 102 yards on sixteen carries.

    For the Packers, Favre finished eleven of twenty for 146 yards with a touchdown. Driver led the receiving corps with seventy-four yards on three catches, and the running game racked up 181 yards on forty attempts. Green was its individual leader with ninety-five yards on twenty-one carries.

    Divisional Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 11:

    49ers-Eagles, 8, Fox- Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Ron Pitts (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 12:

    Giants-Buccaneers, 1, Fox- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Pam Oliver (sideline reporter)

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  5. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    I'm putting a bookmark in our coverage of the 2002 NFC playoffs so we can examine the season just past. Can the Patriots "defend" their just-won Super Bowl championship in the Pythagorean universe? Let's find out!

    Let's begin our look at 2018 with the AFC. We start with the division of the Super Bowl champions, the East:

    New England Patriots: 11-5 (0)
    Miami Dolphins: 5-11 (-2)
    Buffalo Bills: 5-11 (-1)
    New York Jets: 5-11 (+1)

    The Pats freeze, but they do so on top of the East by a whopping six games. They leave a three-way tie for second in their wake; The Jets add a game, the Bills drop a game, and the Fins shed a pair. This leads to both Fins coach Adam Gase and Jets coach Todd Bowles losing their jobs. Gase ends up replacing Bowles in the Big Apple, while the Fins will turn to Pats defensive coordinator Brian Flores in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for second. The Jets are the victors with 5.4, the Fins are next with 5.2, and the Bills end up in the basement with 5.0.

    Next, the North:

    Baltimore Ravens: 11-5 (+1)
    Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6 (+1)
    Cleveland Browns: 7-9 (0)
    Cincinnati Bengals: 6-10 (0)

    Both the Ravens and Steelers add a game, which increases the Ravens' margin of victory in the division to a full game. The Browns and Bengals each stay where they are, and they'll each have new coaches in 2019: the Browns replace Hue Jackson and Gregg Williams with offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, while Marvin Lewis is out after sixteen years in Cincy, to be replaced by Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor.

    Now, to the South:

    Houston Texans: 10-6 (-1)
    Indianapolis Colts: 10-6 (0)
    Tennessee Titans: 8-8 (-1)
    Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-10 (+1)

    The Texans drop a game, which leaves them in a toe with the frozen Colts for the division title. The Titans drop a game to finish right at .500, while the last-place Jags add a game but still finish with double-digit losses.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for the title, and it goes to the Texans, 10.2 to 10.1.

    Finally, the West:

    Kansas City Chiefs: 11-5 (-1)
    Los Angeles Chargers: 10-6 (-2)
    Denver Broncos: 7-9 (+1)
    Oakland Raiders: 4-12 (0)

    The Chiefs drop a game, but still take the title because of the Bolts; two-game slide. The third-place Broncos add a game, while the Raiders stand pat in the first year of Jon Gruden's return as head coach and their last year in Oakland proper. As of this writing, they're negotiating to play at San Francisco's Oracle Park in 2019 before moving to Las Vegas in 2020.

    Seeds:

    1. Ravens (AFC North champs): 11-5
    2. Patriots (AFC East champs): 11-5
    3. Chiefs (AFC West champs): 11-5
    4. Texans (AFC South champs): 10-6
    5. Chargers (AFC West second place; won three-way tiebreaker with Colts and Steelers): 10-6
    6. Colts (AFC South second place; second in three-way tiebreaker): 10-6

    We have a three-way tie for the top seed at 11-5. Turning to the expected sins tiebreaker, we find that the Ravens have 10.8, while the Pats and Chiefs remain deadlocked at 10.7. This means that the Ravens will have home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. The next step is using the head-to-head tiebreaker to settle the tie for the two seed. The Pats defeated the Chiefs 43-40 in Week 6, so they take the two seed and the Chiefs are the three seed.

    We have another three-way tiebreaker for the two wild card spots at 10-6. Once again, we turn to the expected wins tiebreaker, and we find that the Chargers finish first with 10.4 and will be the five seed. The Colts are next with 10.1, so they're the six seed, and the Steelers are on the outside looking in with 9.6.

    On January 6 at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs took on the Colts in the second Wild Card Game and eliminated the Colts 31-13. Eventual league MVP Patrick Mahomes completed twenty-seven of his forty-one passes for 278 yards, and the Chiefs as a team scored four rushing touchdowns. Damien Williams was their leading rusher. gaining 129 yards on twenty-five carries with a score. Tight end Travis Kelce was their leading receiver with seven catches for 108 yards, and wide receiver Sammy Watkins added sixty-two yards on six catches, and fellow wide receiver Tyreek Hill caught eight passes for seventy-two yards. The Chiefs' defense sacked Colts quarterback Andrew Luck three times.

    Speaking of Luck, he completed nineteen of thirty-six for 203 yards and a touchdown. Marlon Mack was the Colts' leading rusher with forty-six yards on nine carries, and wideout T.Y. Hilton led the passing attack with four catches for sixty yards. Fellow wideout Dontrelle Inman added four more catches for fifty-five yards, and tight end Eric Ebron caught five balls for fifty-one yards. The Indy defense sacked Mahomes four times, and Zach Pascal recovered a blocked put in the end zone for a Colts' touchdown.

    The Chiefs hit the road the following Sunday for the second AFC Divisional Playoff, and they engaged the Pats in an instant classic at Gillette Stadium, playing the Pats to a 31-31 standoff in regulation. Unfortunately, the Pats won the overtime coin toss and scored a touchdown to win the game without the KC offense ever seeing the ball. Rex Burkhead's two-yard run was the winning score. Our final: Pats 37, Chiefs 31.

    Tom Brady showed why he's one of the top quarterbacks of all time, completing thirty of his forty-six passes for 348 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Burkhead scored twice on the ground while carrying twelve times for forty-one yards, and rookie back Sony Michel gained 113 yards on twenty-nine carries and scored twice himself. Wide receiver Julian Edelman was Brady's leading receiver with seven catches for ninety-six yards, and tight end Rob Gronkowski caught six more for seventy-nine yards. Running back James White added forty-nine yards on four catches, and the defense sacked Mahomes four times.

    Mahomes finished his day sixteen of thirty-one for 295 yards and three touchdowns. Watkins was his leading receiver with 114 yards on four catches. while Williams caught five balls for sixty-six yards and two touchdowns. He was also the Chiefs' leading rusher, though he only managed thirty yards on ten carries with a touchdown. Mahomes gained eleven yards on two scrambles, and that was it for the Chiefs' running game.

    The other Wild Card Game took place on January 5 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, as the Texans hosted the Chargers. Kickoff was at 4:35 Eastern on ESPN and ABC, and an old friend makes his return to the MNF/playoff booth, as Mike Tirico will come over from NBC to call the game. He'll be joined by Hall of Fame quarterback and NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner. Lisa Salters and regular season MNF analyst Boogen McFarland will serve as the sideline reporters.

    Note: Count me as one of those who wasn't a Jason Witten fan. Regardless of that, I could have written him (and Bogger, too) if I had enough of a feel for how they sounded. Unfortunately, they weren't memorable enough, so Witt goes to the studio and Booger to the sidelines. I like Joe Tessitore, but since Tirico worked for both Fox (through NFL Network) and Westwood One radio in addition to NBC this year, I decided to have him come home to ESPN for a day. Warner is a good analyst and was Mike's partner on NFLN, so he comes along for the ride.

    Next: Our look at the NFC.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  6. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now to the NFC, beginning in the East:

    Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7 (+1)
    Dallas Cowboys: 8-8 (-2)
    New York Giants: 7-9 (+2)
    Washington Redskins: 6-10 (-1)

    The big news here is the Boys' two-game drop, which lands them in second place behind the Eagles, who take the division title because of their one-game bump. The Giants ride the back of Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley to a two-game improvement and third place, while the Skins drop a game and tumble into the basement.

    Next, the North:

    Chicago Bears: 12-4 (0)
    Minnesota Vikings: 9-7 (+1)
    Green Bay Packers: 7-9 (+1)
    Detroit Lions: 7-9 (+1)

    The Bears remain where they are and take the division by three games over the Vikes, who improve by a game. The Pack overcomes the firing of longtime coach Mike McCarthy to eke out a one-game improvement, but the Lions also add a game to preserve the two teams' tie for third place. Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur will be the new boss in Green Bay come 2019.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to break said tie, and the Pack outpointed the Lions, 7.4 to 7.0.

    Now, the South:

    New Orleans Saints: 11-5 (-2)
    Carolina Panthers: 8-8 (+1)
    Atlanta Falcons: 8-8 (+1)
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-9 (+2)

    The Saints drop two games, but will take the division title by three over the Panthers and Falcons, who each ass a game to preserve their tie for second. The Bucs also add a pair, but they still finish last, which signals the end for head coach Dirk Koetter. Bruce Arians will come out of retirement to coach the Bucs in 2019 after spending a year as an analyst for CBS.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to decide the tie for second, and the Panthers and Falcons each finish with 7.8. Next we go to the head-to-head tiebreaker, and the Falcons swept the season series, which earns them second place.

    Finally, the West:

    Los Angeles Rams: 11-5 (-2)
    Seattle Seahawks: 10-6 (0)
    San Francisco 49ers: 6-10 (+2)
    Arizona Cardinals: 3-13 (0)

    The Rams drop a pair, but still take the division over the Hawks, who freeze at 10-6. The Niners improve by a pair despite losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for much of the year, and the Cardinals stay put in the basement, which leads to the dismissal of first-year coach Steve Wilks. Former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury is his replacement.

    Seeds:

    1. Bears (NFC North champs): 12-4
    2. Saints (NFC South champs): 11-5
    3. Rams (NFC West champs): 11-5
    4. Eagles (NFC East champs): 9-7
    5. Seahawks (NFC West second place): 10-6
    6. Vikings (NFC North second place): 9-7

    The Saints hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the two seed over the Rams, 11.2 to 10.9.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 5:

    Seahawks-Eagles, 8:15, Fox- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (sideline reporter), Chris Myers (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 6:

    Vikings-Rams, 4:40, NBC- Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter)

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  7. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2018 AFC Wild Card Game from Reliant Stadium in Houston:

    The Chargers scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Phillip Rivers completed passes of thirteen yards to tight end Antonio Gates, fourteen yards to side receiver Keenan Allen, and twenty yards to reserve wideout Tyrell Williams, which set up a first and goal at the Houston four. Rivers immediately found Allen for the touchdown, and kicker Michael Badgley added the extra point to give the Bolts a 7-0 lead with 9:58 to play in the opening quarter.

    The Texans answered with a touchdown before the first quarter ended. The biggest play of the drive was a thirty-nine yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, and quarterback Deshaun Watson hit wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins over the middle for fourteen more yards and a first down at the Chargers' twelve-yard line. The touchdown came on third and one from the three, as Watson shoveled a pass to a wide-open Hawkins in the end zone. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn added the extra point, and after one quarter we were tied at seven.

    The Chargers retook the lead with another touchdown early in the second quarter. Rivers connected with Allen on back-to-back passes for gains of fourteen and twenty-five, and on first down from the Houston twenty-three he threw short to wide receiver Mike Williams, who caught the ball at the seventeen and outraced two Houston defenders to the end zone for the score. Badgley's extra point was good, and the Chargers led 14-7 with just over elven minutes remaining in the first half.

    The Texans answered with a field goal that cut into the Los Angeles lead. Tyler Ervin's kickoff return set up the offense at its own forty-eight, and Watson's fifteen-yard pass to Hopkins put the ball in Chargers territory. Running back Lamar Miller's fifteen-yard gain on a draw play put the Texans in field goal range, and when the drive died at the nine Fairbairn kicked a twenty-six yard field goal to cut the Chargers' lead to 14-10 with less than five minutes left until halftime.

    The Texans took advantage of a defensive lapse to add another field goal before the half. They were trapped deep in their own territory with the clock running out, but the Chargers failed to tackle Miller as he was trying to run out the clock, and before anyone could catch up to him he'd gained fifty yards and put the Texans in field goal range from forty-eight yards out. Fairbairn's kick just cleared the crossbar on the final play of the half, and our score was the teams headed to the locker room was Chargers 14, Texans 13.

    The Texans took the lead with another field goal after receiving the second half kickoff. Watson threw to wide receiver Will Fuller for thirteen yards and one first down, then ran eleven yards for another. Running back Alfred Blue's seventeen-yard gain on a draw play gave the Texans a first down at the Chargers' twenty, but a false start penalty killed their chance for a touchdown. They regained the penalty yardage over the next three plays, which left Fairbairn with a thirty-seven yard attempt. The kick was good, and the Texans led 16-14 with just under nine minutes left in the third period.

    The Chargers regained the lead with a field goal of their own before the end of the quarter. The big play of the drive was Rivers' thirteen-yard pass to Williams. As time ran out in the quarter, Badgley faced a thirty-six yard attempt, which he converted to put the Bolts up 17-16.

    The Texans countered with a touchdown to retake the lead. Watson's thirty-seven yard connection with Fuller put the Texans in LA territory, and Deshaun followed that up with a twenty-yard strike to reserve wideout Keke Coutee. On second and three from the eighteen, Miller found a huge hole up the middle and pored through it untouched, then continued into the end zone. Fairbairn's extra point put the Texans up 23-17 with 11:41 left in the game.

    Next, it was the Bolts' turn. The biggest play on their touchdown drive was Rivers' third-down pass to Williams for twenty-one yards and a first down at the Texans' thirty-eight. The touchdown came on third and eleven from the fourteen, as Rivers ducked the Houston pass rush and threaded the needle to wide receiver Travis Benjamin between two defenders for the score. Badgley added the extra point, and with 6:11 to play it was Los Angeles 24, Houston 23.

    Our fourth lead change of the second half came on the Texans' next possession. Ervin's kickoff return set up the offense at its own thirty-seven, and Miller immediately got the ball into Bolts' territory with a twenty-four yard burst up the middle. Blue cut back off the left side for eighteen more yard sand a first down at the LA twenty-one, and though the offense could gain only three more yards Fairbairn easily from thirty-five yards out to put the South champs up 26-24 with two and a half minutes remaining.

    The Chargers went three and out, and all the Texans needed to seal the win was one first down. But Blue fumbled while trying for an extra yard, and defensive end Joey Bosa made the recovery for the Chargers at the Houston thirty-three with thirty-nine seconds left. Rivers' thirteen-yard pass to Williams put the Bolts in Badgley's range, and on the game's final play he kicked the game-winning thirty-seven yard field goal. Here's how Mike Tirico called it:

    "Badgley from thirty-seven yards out for the win. Our fifth lead change of the second half if it's good. Winner moves on, loser goes home. Snap a bit low, but it's down now, and Badgley's kick is...….GOOD! The Chargers win a back-and-forth thriller at Reliant Stadium 27-26, and they're moving on to the divisional round!"

    Kurt Warner: "This was a mistake-free game almost until the end, and it was the Texans' one mistake that cost them the game. Look at Alfred Blue; he's inconsolable on the sideline."

    Rivers was named MVP by ESPN. He finished twenty-two of thirty for 284 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Allen was his leading target with seven catches for seventy-nine yards and a touchdown. Both (unrelated) receivers named Williams had big days as well; Mike caught four passes for sixty yards and a touchdown, while Tyrell added four more for fifty-three yards. The running game was held to sixty-four yards on thirty-one attempts; Gordon was its individual leader with thirty-four yards on fourteen carries.

    For the Texans, Watson completed thirteen of his eighteen passes for 179 yards with a touchdown. Fuller led the receivers in yardage with fifty on a pair of catches, while Hopkins caught four passes for thirty-eight yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Miller gained 133 yards on just thirteen carries, and the Texans as a team rushed for 206 yards on thirty-four attempts.

    The Chargers traveled to M&T Bank Stadium the next week to face the top-seeded Ravens, and they held off a late rally to prevail 23-17. Rivers completed twenty-two of his thirty-two passes, albeit for just 160 yards, and Mike was his leading receiver with forty-two yards on just two catches. Gordon led the ground game with forty yards on seventeen carries and a touchdown. The defense sacked Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson seven times, but Jackson came alive with two touchdown passes in the final seven minutes, and finished fourteen of twenty-nine for 194 yards, the two touchdowns, and an interception. He was also Baltimore's leading rusher with fifty-four yards on nine carries, while running back Kenneth Dixon led the receivers with fifty-three yards on three catches.

    On January 20 in the AFC Championship Game, the Bolts faced the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, and were dispatched 41-28. Tom Brady finished thirty-four of forty-four for 343 yards and a touchdown, and wide receiver Julian Edelman had a field day against the Los Angeles defense, finishing with nine catches for 151 yards. Running back James White caught an unbelievable fifteen passes for ninety-seven more yards. On the ground, Sony Michel gained 129 yards on twenty-four carries and scored three touchdowns.

    Rivers didn't have a bad day for the visitors; he finished twenty-five of fifty-one for 331 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Tyrell was his leading receiver with ninety-four yards on five catches, while Allen caught two balls for seventy-five yards and a touchdown and Mike had sixty-eight yards on five catches. The Bolts only rushed for nineteen yards all day, and Gordon provided fifteen of them on nine carries. Justin Jackson had the other Chargers' carry for four yards.

    The Patriots will represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIII at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  8. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2018 NFC Wild Card Game from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Game time temperature is 60 degrees, with mostly cloudy skies and variable winds at 6 MPH.

    The Vikings scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Ameer Abdullah's return set up the offense at its own forty-six, and running back Dalvin Cook's twelve-yard burst off the right side had the Vikes in Rams territory right away. Backup running back Mike Boone gained eleven yards on a draw play up the middle, and quarterback Kirk Cousins completed a thirteen yard pass to wide receiver Adam Thielen. On first and goal from the one, Cousins shoveled the ball to Thielen, who was in the end zone one step later. Kicker Dan Bailey added the extra point, and the Vikes led 7-0 with 8:30 to play in the opening quarter

    The Rams answered with a touchdown before the end of the quarter after Bailey missed a forty-nine yard field goal. Quarterback Jared Goff found reserve wide receiver Gerald Everett for sixteen yards and fellow wideout Robert Woods for fourteen. and the touchdown came from fourteen yards out when Goff found wide receiver Brandin Cooks for the score. Kicker Greg Zierlein kicked the extra point, and after one quarter we were tied at seven.

    The Rams scored again early in the second quarter. Running back Todd Gurlley stampeded up the middle for forty yards and a first down in Vikes territory, and Cooks' twenty-six yard catch-and-run gave the Rams a first and goal at the Minnesota ten. Goff was sacked for a five-yard loss by defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson for a five-yard loss on first down, but on third and goal from the thirteen he hooked up with Cooks for their second touchdown of the day. Zierlein's extra point made it 14-7 Rams with 11:30 left in the second quarter.

    The Rams were on their way to a third consecutive touchdown just before the half when Goff's pass intended for Woods was picked off by reserve strong safety Anthony Harris, who returned the ball to the Los Angeles twenty-nine. Running back Latavius Murray gained ten yards on a draw play to set up a first and goal at the ten, and on second and goal from the four Cousins hooked up with Thielen for their second touchdown of the half. Unfortunately for the visitors, Bailey's extra point attempt was blocked, so the Rams still clung to a 14-13 halftime lead.

    The Rams scored again after taking the second half kickoff. Goff threw passes of eleven and seventeen yards to Cooks, and Gurley gained fifteen yards up the middle and added a seventeen-yard catch-and-run. The last play set u a first and ten at the Minnesota twenty, and Goff fired over the middle to Woods, who caught the ball at the five and walked into the end zone untouched for the score. Zierlein's extra point extended the Rams' lead to 21-13 with 9:58 left in the third quarter.

    The Rams added a field goal on their next possession. Goff hooked up with Woods once more for eighteen yards and a first down, and Cooks' ten-yard gain on a reverse gave the Rams a first down at the Vikings' twenty-one. The drive stalled at the sixteen, but Zierlein converted a thirty-three yard field goal attempt to put the Rams up 24-13 with 3:50 left in the third.

    The Rams added another touchdown just before the end of the period. Gurley popped off right tackle for fifteen yards, then on the next play found a cavern in the middle of the Minnesota defense and raced through it for thirty-nine more. Goff zipped a pass to Cooks for twenty-two, then reserve running back C.J. Anderson knifed off the right side for seventeen yards and a first and goal at the Vikes' seven. Goff and Cooks connected for their third touchdown of the day on the next play and Zierlein's extra point gave the Rams a 31-13 lead after three quarters.

    The Rams added what proved to be their final points early in the final period. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds started things off with an eleven-yard catch-and-run, and Goff scrambled for ten yards and another first down. He then went to the air, hitting Cooks over the middle for fourteen yards and a first down at the Minnesota twenty-six. From there it was back to the ground, as we pck up the call from Al Michaels;

    "First down now from the twenty-six, and one more score ought to just about do it. Here's Gurley, and he's got a big hole up the middle and will race into the end zone unmolested! No one near him, and this one's just about over!"

    Crix Collinsworth: "The Rams are putting on an offensive clinic, Al. Both in the air with Jared Goff and on the ground with Todd Gurley. The hole here is inexcusably wide for a playoff-caliber defense, and.....I hate to say that the Vikings are quitting, but they sure didn't look line they wanted to tackle Todd Gurley on that play."

    Zierlein's extra point made it 38-13 in favor of Los Angeles with a little over eleven minutes left in regulation.

    The Vikes finally showed signs of life on their next possession. Cook's eighteen-yard catch-and-run put the ball at the Minnesota forty-five, and from there Cousins finally showed off his arm:drops back, fires

    Michaels: "First and ten from the forty-five, and we're under nine minutes. Empty backfield and Cousins in shotgun. Has time and drops back......he's got (Kyle) Rudolph wide open down the middle, and it's CAUGHT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!...…….Rudolph got behind (cornerback) Marcus Peters, and Cousins laid it on the money."

    Collinsworth: "It's not often you see a tight end outrun a cornerback, but it happens here. Rudolph gets separation, and the pass is right on target. Rudolph has the forward momentum, and Peters isn't going to tackle a much bigger tight end."

    Bailey's extra point cut the Rams' lead to 38-20 with 6:53 left in regulation time.

    After forcing a three-and-out, the Vikes scored again. Boone gained fourteen yards off left tackle, and Cousins' screen pass to Murray gained fifteen more. The touchdown came form the Rams' twenty-seven, as we find out from Al:

    "The Vikings need to hutrry, as we'll be under three minutes to play on the next snap. Handoff to Murray, and no one with the Rams was thinking run! Murray can walk into the end zone! What a lapse by Wade Phillips and the Rams' defense."

    Collinsworth: "This is why teams like to use the draw as an alternative to the pass, Al. The defense has to commit most of its resources to one or the other, and what's left often isn't enough to stop what's left. Murray has a hole as big as you would want, and this is a gift touchdown. . He's . We're not quite done yet at the Coliseum."

    Wanting to stay within two scores, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer once again opted to kick the extra point, and Bailey delivered to make it 38-27 with 2:54 left in regulation.

    The Vikes scored again in the game's waning seconds. Cousins and wide receiver Stefon Diggs took care of the heavy lifting, connecting on passes of ten and fifteen yards The drive reached the Rams' thirty with eleven seconds left, and the duo connected yet again:

    Michaels: "Now the Vikings at the thirty, but they're just about out of time. They need to score on this play, then try the onside kick. Snap back to Cousins with thirteen seconds left, and he hangs it up for the end zone...….DIGGS MAKES THE CATCH AND STAYS IN BOUNDS! TOUCHDOWN!...…….They're now down five with ten seconds left, so they'll go for two and then pray for a miracle."

    Collinsworth: "Cousins has to get rid of the ball vary quickly for the play to work, and he does. Watch Diggs, though. He's going out of the back of the end zone, but knows he has to stay in bounds and just does get that second foot down while controlling the ball. What an act of balance by Stefon Dggs. Now the Vikings need to pray for a miracle."

    As Al suggested, the Vikes went for two, and reserve running back Roc Thomas got the call and rumbled into the end zone for two, which cut the Rams' lead to 38-35. Sadly, there was no miracle, as Coos, of all people, flawlessly fielded Bailey's onside kick attempt to wrap things up. Our final: Rams 28, Vikings 35.

    Goff, Cooks, and Gurley all made it on to the SNF Horse Trailer as MVPs. Goff completed twenty of his twenty-two passes for 273 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Gurley was, as usual, the heart of the Los Angeles ground game, gaining 177 yards on nineteen carries with a touchdown. As for Cooks, he caught eleven passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Woods added five catches for fifty-eight yards and a score, and Anderson spelled Gurley to perfection, gaining fifty-seven yards on seventeen carries. The Rams as a team gained 253 rushing yards on thirty-nine attempts.

    For the Vikes, Cousins finished twenty-three of thirty-one for 284 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Diggs finished his day with eighty-five yards on six catches with a touchdown, Rudolph caught four passes for eighty yards and a score, and Thielen caught seven passes for thirty-six yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, Cook led the way with 102 yards on thirteen carries, and the Vikes as a team rushed for 182 yards in just twenty-six attempts.

    The Rams traveled to the Superdome to battle the Saints in the second Divisional Playoff the following weekend, and Zierlein's fifty-seven yard field goal in overtime gave them a 26-23 upset victory. Goff finished twenty-five of forty for 297 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Cooks had another big day, finishing with seven catches for 107 yards. Reynolds added four catches for seventy-four more yards. The rushing attack was limited to eighty yards on twenty-four attempts, and Anderson only managed forty-four yards on sixteen carries, and Gurley was limited to four carries for ten yards and a short touchdown because of a knee injury.

    For the Saints, Drew Brees was twenty-six of forty for 249 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Running back Alvin Kamara caught eleven passes for ninety-six yards, and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. caught three passes for fifty-eight yards. The LA defense held the Saints to forty-eight yards rushing on twenty-one attempts, and leading rusher Mark Ingram was held to thirty-one yards on nine carries. The play everyone will talk about for years, however, is the pass interference non-call against Rams cornerback Nickell Robey Coleman against Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis late in the fourth quarter that forced the Saints to settle for a tying field goal instead of a possible game-winning touchdown. The NFL later apologized to the Saints, but this loss will most likely haunt them for years to come.

    The Rams have earned a spot in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, January 20.

    Next: The Eagles host the Seahawks in the other NFC Wild Card Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  9. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2018 NFC Wild Card Game from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Game time temperature is 46 degrees, with fair skies and a west-northwest wind at 13 MPH.

    The Seahawks scored first after taking the opening kickoff. On the first play from scrimmage in the game, quarterback Russell Wilson completed a fourteen-yard pass to wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Later in the drive, he completed a sixteen-yard pass to fellow wideout Doug Baldwin. The touchdown came from eleven yards out, as running back Chris Carson found a big hole on the left side of the Philly defense and poured through it into the end zone for the score. Sebastian Janikowski added the extra point, and with 9:18 left in the opening quarter the Hawks led 7-0.

    The Eagles answered with a field goal, which was set up by tight end Zach Ertz's fifty-eight yard catch-and-run all the way down to the Hawks' fifteen-yard line. A holding call on the Eagles ruined their chance at a touchdown, but their drive eventually reached the three, and kicker Jake Elliott made a twenty-yard field goal to cut the Seattle lead to 7-3 after one quarter.

    The Hawks added a field goal early in the second quarter. Wilson threw a twenty-four yard pass to reserve wide receiver David Moore, and backup running back Mike Davis gained fourteen yards on a draw play. The drove stalled at the Eagles' thirteen, but Janikowski converted a thirty-yard attempt to make it a 10-3 game for the Hawks with a little under thirteen minutes left in the second quarter.

    The Eagles answered with a touchdown to tie the game just before the half. Running back Wendell Smallwood picked up eleven yards on a draw play, and reserve running back Josh Adams ran the same play later in the drive for twenty-nine yards and a first and goal at the Seattle seven. The touchdown came on third and goal from the four, as Foles threw short to a wide-open Ertz for the score. Elliott added the extra point, and the teams went to the locker room at halftime tied at ten.

    The Eagles took the lead with a touchdown after receiving the second half kickoff. The big plays were a twenty-five yard catch-and-run by Smallwood and a twelve-yard pass to Ertz. On first and ten from the Seattle seventeen, Foles threw over the middle to rookie tight end Dallas Goedert, who bobbled the ball at first, then gathered it in and raced into the end zone for the touchdown. Elliott added the extra point, and the Eagles led 17-10 with 9:58 left in the third.

    The Hawks answered with a field goal. Wilson connected with Baldwin for sixteen yards and a first down, and Carson knifed off the left side for eighteen yards and another first. The drive stalled at the Philly thirty-one, but Janikowski was good from forty-eight yards out to cut the Eagles' lead to 17-13 with just under six minutes left in the third quarter. Janikpwski would kick no more on this night, as he injured his hamstring on the attempt.

    The ensuing kickoff pinned the Hawks at their own four, and on third and eleven from the three Wilson was dumped in the end zone for a safety by former teammate Michael Bennett. With four and a half minute left in the third it was Eagles 19, Hawks 13.

    The free kick following the safety was short, and Corey Clement returned it to the Seattle thirty-one. On the second play of the drive, Clement gained twelve yards on a draw to give the Eagles a first and goal at the ten, and on the next play Adams raced through another hole in the middle of the defense and into the end zone for the touchdown. Elliott added the extra point, and after three quarters the Eagles led 26-13.

    The Eagles added another touchdown early in the final quarter. Foles connected with Goedert over the middle for a twenty-yard gain, then found wideout Alshon Jeffery for ten more yards. The touchdown came from eighteen yards out, as Foles found wide receiver Nelson Agholor between two Seattle defenders for the score. Elliott's extra point increased the Eagles' lead to 33-13 with 12:55 left in the game.

    The home squad added a field goal on their next possession. Smallwood zipped off left tackle for nineteen yards and a first down, and a facemask penalty added fifteen more yards to the gain. Adams found success off right tackle for fifteen more yards, and Foles hit Agholor for thirteen more and a first down at the Seattle nineteen. The offense lost a yard over the next three plays, but Elliott was good form thirty-seven yards out to make it 36-13 Philly with just over nine minutes to play.

    Foles put together one last scoring drive on the Eagles' next possession, connecting with Ertz for sixteen yards, Agholor for twenty-two, and Goedert for twenty-five. The touchdown came from nine yards out, as Clement found the end zone on a draw play. Elliott's extra point expanded the Eagles' lead to 43-13 with just over five minutes remaining.

    On the Eagles' final drive, coach Doug Pederson pulled his regulars one by one to thundering ovations from the faithful at The Linc. Foles and Ertz departed after connecting for one last twenty-yard gain, and Clement took his bow after gaining thirteen yards on a draw. The final touchdown came on Smallwood's eight-yard dash up the middle, and Elliott added one last extra point to close out the evening. Our final: Eagles 50, Seahawks 13.

    Foles was named MVP by Fox after going twenty of thirty-two for 304 yards and three touchdowns. Ertz led the receivers with seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown, while Agholor caught four passes for sixty-two yards and a score and Goedert caught three more for sixty-two yards and a touchdown. The Eagles as a team rushed for 227 yards on thirty-four attempts; Clement was the individual leader with eighty-two yards on eight carries with a touchdown. Adams also scored a touchdown while gaining seventy-eight yards on eleven carries, and Smallwood carried ten times for sixty-five yards and a touchdown.

    For the Hawks, Carson led the running game with eighty-four yards on fifteen carries and a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Hawks, he only rushed for one less yard than Wilson threw for; he completed just six of his eighteen passes for eighty-five yards and an interception. Moore, Baldwin, and Lockett each caught a pair of passes, with Moore's thirty-nine yards leading the way. Wilson was also sacked five times and pressured relentlessly all night; Bennet had a pair of sacks against his former quarterback.

    The Eagles traveled to Soldier Field for the first NFC Divisional Playoff the following Saturday and upset the homestanding Bears 16-15. Foles completed twenty-five of his forty passes for 266 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, It was Jeffery's turn to lead the receivers with six catches for eighty-two yards, while Ertz caught five balls for fifty-two and fellow wideout Golden Tate snared five for forty-six yards and a touchdown. The running game was held to forty-two yards o n twenty-two attempts, and individual leader Darren Sproles was held to twenty-one yards on thirteen carries.

    Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky finished twenty-six of forty-three for 303 yards and a touchdown to wideout Allen Robinson, who finished with 143 yards on ten catches. Running back Jordan Howard was their leading rusher with thirty-five yards on ten carries.

    The Eagles will now travel to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face the Rams in next Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Kickoff is scheduled for 3PM Eastern on Fox. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call the action, while Erin Andrews and Chris Myers patrol the sidelines.

    Next: The NFC Championship Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  10. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2018 NFC Championship Game from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Game time temperature is 73 degrees, with fair skies and calm winds.

    The Eagles were trapped at their own seven-yard line on the opening kickoff, but they still managed to score a touchdown. Nick Foles completed a twenty-one yard pass to Alshon Jeffery to get the Birds out of the shadow of their own goal posts, and on the next play Darren Sproles cut a pitchout back to the right and gained thirty-seven yards before being tackled. Later in the drive, Corey Clement broke a draw play for fifteen yards and a first and goal at the Rams' eight-yard line. An encroachment call against defensive tackle Aaron Donald moved the ball to the four, and Foles found Nelson Agholor for the touchdown on first and goal. Jake Elliott added the extra point, and with 8:45 left in the opening period the Eagles led 7-0.

    The Rams answered with a touchdown of their own in just three plays. First, C.J. Anderson caught a screen pass from Jared Goff and took it to midfield, a gain of twenty yards. Next, Todd Gurley exploited a giant hole in the middle of the Philly defense for forty-four yards and a first and goal at the Eagles' six. Finally, Goff found Brandin Cooks for his fourth touchdown of the postseason. Greg Zierlein added the extra point, and after one quarter we were even at seven.

    The Eagles regained the lead with a touchdown early in the second quarter. The biggest plays of the drive were a ten-yard catch-and-run by Wendell Smallwood and a sixteen-yard pass to tight end Zach Ertz. On first and ten from the fifteen, Foles found Ertz again, and the veteran tight end broke two tackles on his way into the end zone for the touchdown. Elliott added the extra point, and the Eagles led 14-7 with a little under ten minutes to play in the first half.

    The Rams answered with a field goal Blake Countess' kickoff return gave the Rams the ball at their own thirty-nine, and Goff connected with Cooks for gains of eleven and fifteen and Robert Woods for fourteen more. (Woods fumbled on the play and the Eagles appeared to have recovered, but Woods' knee was shown to be down on replay.) The drive reached the Eagles' eighteen-yard line before stalling, but Zierlein's thirty-five yard field goal cut the Eagles' lead to 14-10 with exactly six minutes left before the half.

    The Eagles extended their lead to double digits with a touchdown just before the half. Foles hit Agholor for gains of thirteen and fifteen, and Ertz got loose on a thirty-seven yard catch-and-run that gave the Eagles a first and goal at the Los Angeles six. Josh Adams made his way off left tackle for the touchdown, and Elliott's extra point extended the visitors' halftime lead to 21-10.

    The Rams managed a field goal after receiving the second half kickoff. A facemask penalty against linebacker Nigel Badham on a Todd Gurley run got the drive off on the right foot, and Gurley also caught a screen pass for eleven yards. Then it was Anderson's turn, as he gained eighteen yards on a draw play., which gave the Rams a first down at the Philly twenty-four. The drive stalled at the nineteen, but Zierlein converted from thirty-six yards out to cut the Philly lead to 21-13 with 10:46 left in the third quarter.

    The Eagles answered immediately with a field goal of their own after Clement returned the ensuing kickoff to the Eagles forty-two. Smallwood caught a screen pass from Foles for fifteen yards, and Foles also connected with Agholor for a gain of twenty-seven. The drive bogged down at the Rams' eight, but Elliott was good from twenty-five yards out to increase the Eagles' lead to 24-13 with a little under eight minutes left in the third.

    The Rams answered with a touchdown. Gurley poured through a gouge up the middle for a gain of twenty-eight yards, and Goff's pass to tight end Tyler Higbee gained twelve more. On second and goal from the Eagles' one, Goff shoveled a pass to Gurley for the touchdown. Zierlein's extra point cut the Eagles' lead to 24-20 with a little over four minutes left in the third.

    The Eagles managed a field goal just before the end of the third quarter. The key play was Smallwood's twenty-two yard gain up the middle. The drive halted at the LA thirty-one, and Elliott boomed a forty-nine yarder to give the Eagles a 27-20 advantage after three quarters.

    The Rams tied the game early in the final period. Goff connected with Woods over the middle for twenty-four yards, then hit Cooks for seventeen. Gurley's eleven-yard catch-and-run gave the Rams a first down at the Philly twenty-one. The Eagles were able to hold on for three plays, but coach Sean McVay opted to send his offense out on fourth and ten, and this time Goff hit Cooks at the five, and Brandin pranced into the end zone untouched for the score. Zierlein's extra point tied the game at twenty-seven with 12:39 left in regulation.

    The Eagles retook the lead with a touchdown. Smallwood provided a sixteen-yard catch-and-run, and Foles found Ertz wide open down the middle for a thirty-yard gain and a first down at the LA seventeen. An unnecessary roughness call on nose tackle Ndamukong Suh on a Josh Adams run placed the ball at the five, and on third and goal from the two Adams found a crack in the middle of the Rams' defense and squirmed through it for the touchdown. Elliott added the extra point, and with a little over nine minutes left in regulation the Eagles led 34-27.

    After forcing a three-and-out, the Eagles scored what they thought would be the touchdown that put the game away. Foles found Clement on a screen pass for fourteen yards, and he hit Golden Tate for fourteen more. Then it was time to shift to the ground, as Clement popped a draw for twenty-one yards, then Smallwood did the same for twelve. Sproles eventually pounded it in from two yards out, and Ellliott's extra point gave the visitors a 41-27 lead with just over five minutes remaining.

    The Eagles' defense forced a three-and-out, and the Eagles got the ball back with three and a half minutes to play. But the Rams caught a break when Suh clobbered Foles as he tried to scramble. The ball popped up in the air, and reserve cornerback Troy Hill came down with it at the Eagles' thirty-two. The call on the field was originally a fumble, but Hill was credited with an interception when it was ruled that the ball went forward as it came out of Foles' hand. Regardless, Goff wasted not time turning Foles' mistake into points. Here's Joe Buck:

    "First down now from the thirty-two, and Goff's gonna be looking to throw with 2:54 left in regulation down to scores. There's the snap, Eagles send just three, Goff launches downfield...... AND IT'S CAUGHT BY COOKS, WHO GOES IN FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! That's number six on the postseason, and the Rams still have life!"

    Troy Aikman: "Only a three-man rush, and the connection between Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks has jus been phenomenal over the last three games. Look at this pass, and Cooks stops, waits for it,makes the catch, and goes in with no one around him. Even if the Rams can't complete this comeback, Jared Goff has arrived as a franchise quarterback in this postseason, if he hadn't already."

    Zierlein added the extra point, and the Rams were back to with 41-34 with 2:42 remaining. Unfortunately, the Eagles recovered their onside kick attempt and ran out the clock to earn a trip to Super Bowl LIII against the New England Patriots.

    Foles was named MVP by Fox. He completed nineteen of twenty-four for 296 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Ertz could have shared the award after catching seven passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Agholor caught four passes for fifty-nine yards and a scre, and Jeffery added fifty-one yards on three catches. On the ground, Smallwood led the way with seventy-eight yards on ten carries, and Clement added sixty yards on eight carries. Adams gained just thirty-seven yards on ten carries, but scored two touchdowns. The defense sacked Goff six times, with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox notching a pair. The Eagles rushed for 219 yards as a team on thirty-eight attempts.

    For the Rams, Goff finished sixteen of twenty-three for 208 yards and four touchdowns. Cooks had another huge receiving game, catching six passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Gurley led the way with ninety-one yards on ten carries, while Anderson carried eight times for seventy-two yards. The Rams registered four sacks of Foles, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald had two of them.

    Super Bowl LIII will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, February 3. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo calling the action and Tracy Wolfson and Evan Washburn roaming the sidelines.

    Next: We go back to the 2002 NFC playoffs, as the Giants tangle with the Bucs in the second Divisional Playoff.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  11. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    The bookmark I put in the 2002 playoffs is going to stay in place for a while longer, as I've decided to do the 2010 playoffs, which I've already set up, next. We begin with the first AFC Wild Card Game from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Game time temperature is 71 degrees, with partly cloudy skies and a north-northwest wind at 7 MPH.

    There was no scoring until the final play of the first half. It's the Chargers' ball at the Jets thirty-eight as we pick up the call from Al Michaels:

    "The Chargers figure to take one last shot downfield with just four seconds left. Rivers will be facing only a three-man rush, as everyone else is playing in the end zone. Takes the snap, he's gonna fire long, there's the tip drill, and...….FLOYD OUTJUMPS EVERYONE AND COMES DOWN WITH IT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! What a play by Malcom Floyd, who outjumped two Jet defenders jut to get that ball, and then managed to come down with it before he stepped on the end line."

    Cris Collinsworth: "This is pure athleticism on the part of Malcom Floyd, Al. First of all, he managed to spot the ball coming toward him in the midst of a sea of defenders. Then, he timed his jump perfectly, got his hands up, caught the ball without juggling, and watch him take a look to see that he comes down in bounds. The perfect execution of the Hail Mary by Phillip Rivers and Malcom Floyd."

    Kicker Nate Kaeding added the extra point, and the Chargers had a 7-0 halftime lead.

    The Jets answered with a touchdown of their own after taking the second half kickoff. Quarterback Mark Sanchez found wideout Santonio Holmes for sixteen yards and a first down in Chargers' territory, and on the next play former Charger great LaDanian Tomlinson burned his former teammates by galloping up the middle for forty-eight yards and a first down just outside the goal line. Sanchez's short pass to running back Shonn Greene covered the last six inches to paydirt, and kicker Nick Folk added the extra point to tie the game at seven with 12:02 left in the third quarter.

    The Jets took the lead with a field goal before the third period ran out. Jim Leonhard's punt return set up the offense at its own forty-four, and Sanchez completed passes of eleven yards to tight end Justin Keller and eighteen yards to wide receiver Braylon Edwards. The drive eventually stalled at the San Diego twenty, but Folk's thirty-seven yard field goal put the visitors up 10-7 after three quarters.

    There was no further scoring until the final play of regulation. Darren Sproles' punt return gave the Bolts the ball at their own forty-six, and Rivers put them in field goal range with passes of fourteen yards to Antonio Gates and fifteen yards to wide receiver Legedu Naanee. The drive stalled at the New York thirteen with three seconds left, but Kaeding's thirty-yard field goal sent the game to overtime tied at ten.

    The Chargers won the toss on overtime, and got into Jets territory courtesy of Gates' twenty-yard catch-and-run. But they were stopped for no gain on each of the next three plays, and thus faced fourth and ten from Gang Green's forty-two. After taking a timeout to think things over, Chargers coach Norv Turner decided to send Kaeding out for a postseason record fifty-nine yard field goal attempt, knowing that the Jets would have the ball close to midfield if he missed. His first attempt did miss by a yard or so, but Jets coach Rex Ryan had called timeout himself to ice the man Chargers fans called "Nate the Great". So he had a second chance from fifty-nine for the win, and here's how Al called it:

    "The last attempt didn't miss by a lot, no more than a yard or yard and a half, so we know Kaeding has the leg to get it there. A miss leaves the Jets in a position where one quick pass can get Folk involved. So here's take two from fifty-nine yards. Good snap, ball is down, there's the kick, it's down the middle and...…...GOOD! Just did get there by inches, and the Chargers have won it! They'll take on the Steelers next week at Heinz Field in the divisional round."

    Collinsworth: "The old 'ice the kicker' routine doesn't work as often as you'd think, and it cost the Jets here. If the first kick had counted, the Jets would be driving toward a possible winning score right now. But they gave Kaeding a second chance, and he came through splendidly. The ball just did get there, but it got there nonetheless."

    Our final in overtime: Chargers 13, Jets 10.

    Kaeding and Rivers shared a space on the Horse Trailer as co-MVPs. Rivers finished his evening eighteen of thirty-one for 275 yards and a touchdown. Gates was his leading target with five catches for eighty-four yards, while Floyd added three for seventy-nine yards and a touchdown. On the ground, the Chargers as a team managed just eighty-eight yards on thirty carries. Mike Tolbert was their individual leader with fifty-six yards on eleven carries.

    For the Jets, Sanchez finished fourteen of twenty-five for 175 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Holmes led the receivers with fifty-seven yards on four catches, while Tomlinson led the way on the ground with ninety yards on fourteen carries.

    The Chargers will take on the Steelers next Saturday afternoon in the first AFC Divisional Playoff Game. Kickoff from Heinz Field is scheduled for 4:30 PM Eastern on CBS, with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf on hand to call the action.

    Next: The other AFC Wild Card Game, as the Colts host the Ravens.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  12. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2010 AFC Wild Card Game from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis:

    The Ravens scored first after being pinned back at their own twelve-yard line by the opening kickoff. Quarterback Joe Flacco completed passes of seventeen yards each to wide receivers Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and reserve running back Jalen Parmele picked up eleven yards on a draw play. As we join Jim Nantz, it's second and three for Baltimore from the Colts' thirty-five:

    "The Ravens are doing pretty well for themselves after starting at their own twelve; now it's second and three from the Colts' thirty-five. Rice in the backfield and four wide receivers. Flacco back to pass, has Heap over the middle at the twenty-five, and Heap breaks a tackle! He's loose in the secondary, and he's going to take it all the way for the touchdown! A thirty-five yard strike, and the Ravens take the opening kickoff and go eighty-eight yards to start the game!"

    Phil Simms: "Todd Heap is a huge part of the Ravens' offense that the Colts need to account for today, and they didn't do it very well on that play. Heap's wide open over the middle, and there are no Colts defenders that are quick enough to catch him. They have to do something, Jim, or Flacco's gonna take that play all day long."

    Kicker Billy Cundiff added the extra point, and with just under eleven minutes remaining in the opening period the Ravens led 7-0.

    The Ravens took only one play to score another touchdown the next time they had the ball. Lardarius Webb returned Pat McAfee's punt all the way to the Colts' thirteen-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage Flacco connected with Mason for the touchdown. Cundiff added the extra point, and after one quarter the Ravens led 14-0.

    The Colts scored a touchdown of their own midway through the second quarter. Quarterback Peyton Manning hit tight end Jacob Tamme for a ten-yard gain, wide receiver Reggie Wayne for fourteen, fellow wideout Pierre Garcon for ten, and reserve wideout Blair White for twenty-one yards and a first and goal at the Baltimore one. Manning took care of the touchdown as well; his short flip to running back Joseph Addai earned the Colts six points, and Adam Vinatieri's kick got them a seventh. With a little over eight minutes left in the first half, it was Baltimore 14, Indianapolis 7.

    The Ravens increased their lead with a field goal on the final play of the first half. Running back Willis McGahee bolted through a hole in the middle of the Indy defense for a twenty-yard gain, and on the next play fellow running back Ray Rice did the same for twenty more. Flacco's fifteen-yard pass to Heap put the Ravens in Cundiff's range, and Billy eventually connected from twenty-five yards out to give the visitors a 17-7 halftime lead.

    The Ravens added a field goal toward the end of the third quarter. Rice provided a ten-yard catch-and-run, and Flacco found wide receiver Anquan Boldin for sixteen yards and a first down at the Indy fourteen. The drive broke down at the seven, but Cundiff was good from twenty-four yards out to give the Ravens a 20-7 lead after three quarters. The Ravens started in excellent field position thanks to Webb's punt return, which set up the offense at its own forty-four.

    The Colts answered with a field goal of their own on their next possession. Addai made the two biggest plays of the drive, finding a big hole on the right side of the defense for twenty-seven yards, then bolting straight up the middle for thirty-seven more. The drive died at the seven, which meant that Vinatieri faced a twenty-four yard attempt. A false start penalty on the Colts pushed everything back five yards, but Vinatieri was good from twenty-nine to cut the Ravens' lead to 17-10 with a little under thirteen minutes left in regulation time.

    After forcing a three-and-out, the Colts added another field goal on their next possession. Manning completed passes of ten yards to Garcon and fifteen yards to Tamme, and running back Dominic Rhodes gained twelve yards off the left side. This drive stalled at the Baltimore six, but Vinatieri converted from twenty-three yards out to get the Colts back within 17-13 with a little under eight minutes remaining.

    The Ravens put the game away with a field goal of their own later in the quarter. Webb's third excellent punt return of the day gave Flacco and company the ball at their own forty-one, and Joe Cool immediately found Boldin for eighteen yards a a first down in Colts territory. Rice's ten-yard catch and run gave the Ravens a first down at the Indy twenty-three, and from the seventeen Cundiff connected on a thirty-four yarder to put the Ravens up 20-13 with two and a half minutes remaining. The Colts' last-ditch drive fizzled out at the Baltimore forty-two, and the Ravens had wrapped up the road upset.

    Flacco was named Player of the Game by CBS. He completed fourteen of his nineteen passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Heap led the receiving corps with forty-nine yards on three catches with a touchdown, and Mason caught three more balls for forty-seven yards and another score. Rice led the rushing game with forty-eight yards on fifteen carries, and Webb was a factor on special teams, returning six punts for 141 yards, including an eighty-one yarder to set up the Ravens' second touchdown.

    For the Colts, Manning finished nineteen of thirty-one for 167 yards and a touchdown. Wayne led the receiving corps with seven catches for seventy-five yards. Addai led the rushing attack with eighty-seven yards on fourteen carries, while Rhodes finished with fifty-five yards on eleven carries.

    The Ravens will now head for Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots in the second AFC Divisional Playoff next Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 Eastern on CBS, and Jim and Phil will once again call the action.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  13. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second AFC Divisional Playoff from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature is 43 degrees, with fair skies and a west-southwest wind at 7 MPH.

    The Ravens scored first after taking the opening kickoff. The biggest play of the drive was Joe Flacco's thirty-five yard pass to Anquan Boldin. Running back Jason McKie gained fourteen yards off the right side for a first down at the Patriots' seven-yard line, and on the next play Flacco found Derrick Mason for the touchdown. Billy Cundiff made the extra point, and the Ravens led 7-0 with 11:44 left in the opening period.

    The visitors added another touchdown before the first quarter was over. Ladarius Webb's punt return gave the offense the ball at its own forty-three, and Flacco connected with Boldin for fourteen yards and T.J. Houshmandzadeh for ten yards and a first down. Running back Willis McGahee's eleven-yard gain on a draw play gave the Ravens a first and goal at the New England six, and after McGahee was stopped for no gain on first down reserve running back Matt Lawrence made his way up the middle and into the end zone for the score. Cundiff tacked on the extra point, and after one quarter the Ravens led 14-0.

    The Ravens scored a third touchdown early in the second quarter. Flacco found Mason for ten yards, fellow wide receiver Donte Stallworth for eleven, and fullback LeRon McClain reeled off a forty-two yard catch-and-run that gave the Ravens another first and goal at the Pats' six. After an incomplete pass, Rice skittered through a hole on the right side and into the end zone for the score. Cundiff added the extra point, and the Ravens' lead was extended to 21-0 with a little over twelve minutes remaining in the first half.

    The Ravens added one more touchdown on their next possession. The two biggest plays on the drive were an eleven-yard screen pass to McClain and Heap's twelve-yard catch-and-run. The touchdown came from twenty-one yards out, as Flacco once more threw to Heap, who broke a pair of Patriots tackles on his way into the end zone for the touchdown. Cundiff's extra point extended the Baltimore lead to 28-0 exactly halfway through the second quarter.

    The Pats finally got on the board on their next possession. Tom Brady completed passes of sixteen yards to wide receiver Wes Welker and twenty-one yards to fellow wideout Deion Branch, and former Jaguar Fred Taylor romped up the middle for eighteen yards and a first and goal at the Ravens' five. The drive died at the three, and coach Bill Belichick decided to get his team on the board with a chip shot field goal. Kicker Shayne Graham was good from twenty yards out, and with less than four minutes left in the half it was Ravens 28, Patriots 3.

    The Pats got a gift touchdown in the final minute of the half when reserve defensive end Dane Fletcher blocked Sam Koch's punt. Julian Edelman recovered the punt at the Baltimore twenty, and after a holding call pushed the Pats back to the thirty Brady hit reserve running back Sammy Morris for an eleven-yard gain. Brady went right back to the air on the next play, and Branch outfought future Hall of Famer Ed Reed for a perfectly thrown touchdown pass. The Pats shocked most observers by deciding to go for two, and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis found the end zone untouched. Our halftime score: Baltimore 28, New England 11.

    The Pats took advantage of a Ravens turnover on their first possession of the second half to score another touchdown. Flacco's pass intended for Houshmandzadeh was picked off by cornerback Devin McCourty, who returned the ball to the Baltimore twenty-one. Brady immediately went back to a wide-open Branch for the touchdown, and Graham's extra point cut the Ravens' led to 28-18 with 8:20 left in the third.

    The Pats added another touchdown before the end of the period. Green-Ellis ran a pair of draw plays for ten and eleven yards respectively, and Brady connected with tight end Rob Gronkowski for fourteen yards and a first down at the Ravens' sixteen. Brady fired a pass to Welker on the next play, and Wes broke a tackle at the two and fell into the end zone for the score. Graham added the extra point, and after three quarters the Ravens' lead was cut to 28-25.

    The Pats completed their monumental comeback by tying the game with a field goal midway through the final quarter. Brady found Welker for thirteen yards and Gronkowski for eleven. The Pats then found a big hole on the right side of the Baltimore defense, and on consecutive plays Taylor barged through it for sixteen and fellow running back Danny Woodhead scooted through it for twelve. The drive stalled at the Baltimore nineteen, which meant that Graham faced a thirty-six yard attempt. He converted, and with 8:22 left in regulation we were tied at twenty-eight.

    The Pats began their game-winning field goal drive with just over five minutes remaining. The key plays were Green-Ellis' twelve-yard gain up the middle and Brady's eighteen-yard strike to wide receiver Golden Tate. The Ravens managed to halt the drive at the eleven, but Graham's twenty-eight yard field goal put the Pats up 31-28 with sixteen seconds left. A last-ditch hook-and-ladder by the Ravens failed, and the Pats were headed for the AFC Championship Game.

    Brady was named MVP by CBS. He completed seventeen of his twenty-seven passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. Branch was his leading receiver with four catches for sixty-seven yards and two touchdowns, and Welker caught five passes for fifty-five yards and another touchdown. The Pats rushed thirty-seven times for 168 yards, and it was truly a case of running back by committee; Taylor was the leading individual rusher with seventy-three yards on seven carries.

    For the Ravens, Flacco finished fourteen of twenty-two for 203 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Boldin led the receivers with four catches for sixty-three yards, and McClain caught a pair of passes for fifty-four yards. Rice was the leading rusher with forty-six yards on sixteen carries and a touchdown.

    The Pats have earned a spot in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game, where they'll host the winner of yesterday's Divisional Playoff between the Chargers and the Steelers.

    Next: The Bolts take on the Black and Gold.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  14. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2010 AFC Divisional Playoff from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Game time temperature is 34 degrees, with cloudy skies and west-southwest winds gusting to 24 MPH.

    The first half was scoreless. The Steelers took advantage of a mistake by Phillip Rivers on the first possession of the second half to break the scoreless tie, as cornerback Bryant McFadden picked off a Rivers pass and returned it to the San Diego twenty-eight. The offense got as far as the six before kicker Shaun Suisham kicked a twenty-three yard field goal to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead with just over twelve minutes left in the period.

    The Chargers answered with a touchdown. Rivers connected with Patrick Crayton for twenty-eight yards and Antonio Gates for fifteen, and running back Ryan Matthews picked up twelve yards on a combination draw play and offensive fumble recovery for a first down at the Pittsburgh twelve. The touchdown came from seven yards out, as reserve running back Mike Tolbert exploited a hole on the left side of the Steelers' defense and made his way into the end zone for the score. Nate Kaeding added the extra point, and the Chargers took a 7-3 lead with approximately nine minutes left in the third quarter.

    The Steelers took just one play to reclaim the lead, thanks to Emmanuel Sanders' ninety-two yard kickoff return all the way to the Chargers' five-yard line. Running back Rashard Mendenhall scored on the next play after cutting a pitch back to the right, and Suisham's extra point put the Steelers up 10-7 with 8:41 left in the third.

    It went from bad to worse for the Bolts following the kickoff, as they set up shop at their own thirty-seven, only for Rivers to make another crucial mistake. Here's Greg Gumbel:

    "First and ten for the Chargers from their own thirty-seven, as they try to shake off Sanders' kickoff return and the touchdown by Mendenhall. Rivers takes a short drop, fires out in the flat...….PICKED OFF BY LAWRENCE TIMMONS, AND HE'S GOT A CONVOY! Twenty, fifteen, ten, five, and another Steeler touchdown!...….That's two touchdowns in less than thirty seconds, and Heinz Field is going crazy!"

    Dan Dierdorf: "The Terrible Towels are twirling, and the Chargers are falling apart. It looks like Rivers was going for Tolbert in the flat, but Tolbert's a step slow coming off the line, and Timmons has an easy interception and just as easy of a touchdown thanks to the wall of blockers he picks up. Tolbert wasn't impeded, so why he was slow I don't know. Regardless, the Steelers have a two-score lead."

    Suisham added another extra point, and with 8:25 left in the third it was Pittsburgh 17, San Diego 7.

    The Steelers scored again before the end of the period. Kaeding's forty-six yard field goal attempt sailed wide left, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed passes of twelve yards to Sanders and nineteen yards to fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace. As we pick up Greg's call, it's second and five from the Chargers' twenty-five:

    "Steelers working on anther score before the end of the third quarter, leading 17-7. Mendenhall behind Roethlisberger in the backfield, with three wide receivers, plus Heath Miller as the tight end. Mendenhall...….finds a hole off to the left, and he may be gone! No one near him at the ten, the five, TOICHDOWN PITTBSURGH! Rashard Mendenhall may have just put this game away for the Steelers, who have now scored twenty unanswered points!"

    Dierdorf: "Mendenhall isn't the biggest runner in the world, but he can be a bruiser when he has to be. He has to break a tackle right as he hits the hole, but once he hits it, he accelerates into the secondary and that's all she wrote for the Chargers, who need a big play in a hurry to get back into this game."

    Suisham added the extra point, and after three quarters the Steelers led 24-7.

    The Steelers added one last touchdown early in the final period. Ben hit Wallace for thirteen yards and fellow receiver Hines Ward for ten. We pick things up following a Chargers' sack, as the Steelers face a second and fifteen from the San Diego forty-six:

    Gumbel: "Second and fifteen now. One more score could put the game away for Pittsburgh, as we come up on eleven minutes to play in regulation. Big Ben in the gun...…..pass is caught by Ward at the thirty, and he's picked up a block! Twenty, fifteen, ten, and that's another touchdown for the Steelers! They've now scored four in a row, and the Steeler faithful are making their plans for the AFC Championship Game next week."

    Dierdorf: "This pass is right on target from Roethlisberger, and Hines Ward makes the catch in stride, then picks up a block from his fellow receiver Mike Wallace, and he's free from then on. The Steelers have totally dominated the last quarter and a half, and they'll be a formidable opponent for wither the Ravens or the Patriots next Sunday night."

    Suisham's extra point put the Black and Gold up 31-7 with 10:51 left in regulation.

    The Chargers salvaged some pride with a touchdown later in the period. Rivers found Legedu Naanee for seventeen yards and a first down at the Bolts' thirty-four. Then, a simple screen pass turned into points:

    Gumbel: "First and ten from the thirty-four. Chargers in hurry-up mode, as Rivers takes the snap. Over the middle to Matthews near midfield Steelers miss a tackle, and Ryan Matthews has big yardage. Another missed Pittsburgh tackle, and Matthews could go all the way! This is going to be a sixty-six yard touchdown, and the Steelers looked like they were caught napping."

    Dierdorf: "The Steelers' lack of tackling was troubling; this play wasn't supposed to go for a touchdown. It was a simple screen pass to keep the drive going, but (linebacker) LaMarr Woodley missed one tackle, and (cornerback) Ike Taylor missed another. It may not affect this game, but they can't get away with missing tackles moving forward if they want to win a Super Bowl."

    Kaeding's extra point established our final score: Pittsburgh 31, San Diego 14.

    Mendenhall was named Player of the Game by CBS. He rushed for an even one hundred yards on seventeen carries and scored two touchdowns. Ben didn't have his best statistical day, but he did enough to win, completing ten of seventeen for 129 yards and a touchdown. Ward led the receivers with three catches for fifty-four yards and a touchdown, and Wallace added three more catches for forty-eight yards. On defense, the Steelers sacked Rivers five times, with linebacker James Harrison notching a pair. Harrison and Timmons each finished with eleven tackles.

    Rivers had a very good statistical day for the visitors, completing twenty pf thirty-six for 319 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he was also intercepted three times, including Timmons' pick-six. Matthews was the leading receiver with eighty-three yards on just two catches plus a touchdown, while Malcom Floyd caught four passes for sixty-six yards and Crayton three for fifty-six. Darren Sproles led the rushing attack with sixty-eight yards on just four carries, but fifty-one of those yards came on one run. Matthews managed just thirty-six yards on fifteen carries.

    The Steelers will face the New England Patriots in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms in the booth and Steve Tasker as the sideline reporter.

    Next: The AFC Championship Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  15. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2010 AFC Championship Game from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature is 24 degrees, with fair skies and calm winds.

    The Steelers scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Rashard Mendenhall reeled off a fourteen-yard catch-and-run, and Ben Roethlisberger completed passes of twelve yards to Hines Ward and seventeen yards to Mike Wallace. On first and goal from the Pats' seven, Ben connected with Antwaan Randle-El for the touchdown, and Shaun Suisham added the extra point to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead after one quarter.

    The Steelers added another touchdown midway through the second quarter. The key plays were Ben's passes to Wallace for twenty-six yards and Ward for nineteen. The touchdown came from fifteen yards out, as Ben connected with Emmanuel Sanders for the touchdown. Suisham added the extra point, and with 11:10 left in the first half the Steelers led 14-0.

    The Pats got on the board with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing possession. The key play was Tom Brady's fifty-three yard bomb to Deion Branch, which gave the Pats a first and goal at the Pittsburgh six. From there, Danny Woodhead danced his way up the middle and into the end zone for the score. Shayne Graham added the extra point, and the Pats went to the locker room at the half down 14-7.

    The Pats drew closer with a field goal after taking the second half kickoff. The key plays were Rob Gronkowski's twelve-yard catch-and-run and Brady's twenty-four yard strike over the middle to Branch. The drive stalled at the Pittsburgh twenty-two, but Gtaham converted his thirty-nine yard attempt, and with exactly nine minutes left in the third quarter it was Steelers 14, Patriots 10.

    The Steelers answered with a field goal of their own. Ben hit Sanders for twelve and Ward for sixteen, and running back Mewelde Moore caught a ten-yard screen pass for a first down at the New England nineteen. The offense didn't gain a yard in the next three plays, but Suisham converted from thirty-six yards out to extend the Steelers' lead to 17-10 with a little under six minutes left in the third quarter.

    The visitors added another touchdown before the third period ran out. Mendenhall gained eighteen yards up the middle, then slashed his way off the left side for seventeen more. Moore turned a short screen pass into a twenty-three yard gain, and Ben and Ward connected for ten yards and a first and goal at the Pats' four. Ben's next throw was to a wide-open Heath Miller in the end zone for the score, and Suisham added the extra point to extend the Steelers' lead to 24-10 after three quarters.

    The Pats made it a one-score game with a touchdown early in the final period. Julian Edelman's punt return set the offense up at its own forty-nine, and Brady found Wes Welker on back-to-back passes for gains of twenty-six and ten respectively. On third and goal from the Pittsburgh five, Woodhead cut a sweep back to the left and went into the end zone untouched. Graham added the extra point, and with just over ten minutes left in regulation time it was Pittsburgh 24, New England 17.

    The Steelers answered with a touchdown of their own. Moore gained fifteen yards off the left side, and Ben connected with Wallace for fourteen yards and a first down. The score came from the New England twenty-one; facing a third and fourteen after running for a four-yard loss, Ben unloaded just an eyelash before being leveled by linebacker Jerod Mayo. His pass seemed to be destined for the first row of stands, but Sanders put on a burst of speed and somehow managed to come down with the ball just before it sailed out of the back of the end zone. Pats coach Bill Belichiick threw the challenge flag, but there was no conclusive evidence that Sanders was out of bounds; therefore, the touchdown call stood. Suisham's extra point extended the Pittsburgh lead to 31-17 with about five minutes left.

    The Steelers added one last touchdown after forcing a New England punt. Here's how Jim Nantz called it:

    "First and ten from the twenty-two, as the Steelers are looking to run out the clock with less than three minutes left. Roethlisberger under center, hands off to Mendenhall, reverse to Ward, now tosses back to Ben, and he's firing downfield...….it's Moore at the thirty, and he'll score with ease, as the Patriots had no idea this was coming! A total of seventy-eight yards on the trick play, and the Steelers are headed for Arlington."

    Phil Simms: "This was a play that the Steelers ran in the seventies to win a game against the Browns, I think. They put it in this week in practice because it helped them win a game in a Super Bow year, and it works just as well over thirty years later. The only difference is that a tight end, Bennie Cunningham, caught the pass then and a running back, Mewelde Moore, caught this one. Perfectly executed, and once again it helps the Steelers get to a Super Bowl."

    Nantz: "Here's the play from 1978. Terry Bradshaw hands off to Rocky Bleier, who reverses to Lynn Swann, who tossed back to Bradshaw. Terry then found Bennie Cunningham for the score, and it was the Browns they beat in overtime."

    Back in 2010, Suisham added one last extra point, and the Steelers had finished walloping the Pats 38-17.

    Big Ben was named MVP by CBS. He finished nineteen of twenty-nine for 320 yards and five touchdowns. Moore led the receivers with 115 yards on four catches, including his seventy-eight yard touchdown reception. Wallace finished with sixty-sis yards of four receptions, Ward caught four balls for fifty-seven yards, and Sanders caught three passes for forty-eight yards and two touchdowns. Mendenhall added seventy-nine rushing yards on twenty-two carries.

    For the Pats, Brady completed fourteen of his twenty-five passes for 286 yards. Branch caught four passes for 104 yards, Welker added sixty-five yards on five catches, and Gronkowski caught a pair of passes for fifty-four yards. The running game was held to fifty yards on thirty-three attempts, with Woodhead gaining a team-high twenty-three yards on seven carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns.

    The Steelers will represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLV on February 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  16. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2002 NFC Divisional Playoff from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Game time temperature is 61 degrees, with fair skies and a northeast wind at 7 MPH.

    The Bucs scored first. Quarterback Brad Johnson completed passes of nineteen yards to tight end Ken Dilger and sixteen yards to wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. The drive stalled at the Giants' ten-yard line, but kicker Martin Gramatica kicked a twenty-seven yard field goal to put the home squad up 3-0 after one quarter.

    The Bucs were working toward another field goal as the first period expired. Karl Williams returned a punt all the way to the Giants' forty-six, and the drive eventually reached the twenty-eight, at which point Gramatica booted a forty-five yarder to increase the Tampa lead to 6-0 with 13:43 left in the first half.

    The Bucs increased their lead later in the period with a third field goal. Johnson completed a twenty-five yard pass to wide receiver Keenan McCardell, and running back Michael Pittman gained thirty-four yards on a draw play, which gave the Bucs a first down at the New York eight-yard line. A holding call pushed the offense back, and they eventually had to try a field goal from the fifteen, Gramatica was good from thirty-two yards out, and with exactly three and a half minutes left until halftime the Bucs led 9-0.

    The Giants got on the board with a field goal just before halftime. Delvin Joyce's punt return gave the offense the ball at its own forty-five, and Kerry Collins completed passes of fifteen yards to Ike Hilliard and thirty-three yards to Amani Toomer. The drive was stopped at the Tampa five, but Matt Bryant converted a twenty-two yard chip shot to cut the Bucs' lead to 9-3 at the half.

    The Giants added another field goal after taking the second half kickoff. The key plays were a pair of Collins passes; one went to Toomer for twelve yards, the other to Ron Dixon for thirteen. The drive eventually stalled at the Tampa twenty-two, but Bryant was good from thirty-nine yards out, and the G-Men were within 9-6 with 9:25 left in the third quarter.

    The Bucs ended the third period with their fourth field goal of the day. Brad completed passes of eleven and twenty-two yards to Keyshawn, ad the latter gave the Bucs a first down at the New York eleven. The offense gained only one more yard in the next three plays, but Gramatica was good from twenty-seven yards out to extend the Bucs' lead to 12-6 after three quarters.

    The Bucs added what turned out to be the clinching touchdown midway through the final quarter. Brad threw an eleven-yard pass to Williams, and fullback Mike Alstott charged through a hole up the middle for a seven-teen-yard gain, which turned into a thirty-two yard gain when linebacker Brandon Short was penalized for almost tearing both Alstott's helmet and head off. The touchdown came from fourteen yards out, as Brad found former Giant Joe Jurevicius for the score. Bucs coach Jon Gruden decided to go for two, but Alstott was stopped short. This left the Bucs leading 18-6 with 12:02 left in the game.

    The Giants scored a touchdown in the final minute to make the final score a bit closer. As we pick up Joe Buck's call, Big Blue is facing a third and eight at their own thirty-three:

    "The Giants need to convert this first down to have any chance whatsoever, and even that chance is slim. Collins will go deep out of the gun, the pass is......TIPPED AND CAUGHT! IKE HILLIARD IS GOING FOR A TOUCHDOOWN, AND WE HAVE A GAME AGAIN!...…..Sixty-seven yards, and that was (safety) Dexter Jackson who tipped it into Hilliard's arms."

    Troy Aikman: "This was a lucky bounce for the Giants. Dexter Jackson had the interception, but it just bounced off of his hands, and Hilliard's right there to scoop it up and take off down the field. Fifty-nine seconds left, and the Giants have at least a small chance."

    Cris Collinsworth: "I think Hilliard actually took it away from Jackson, guys. Yeah, there you see it. Jackson's trying to close his arms around the ball, and Hilliard reaches in before he can get it and takes it away from him. What a play by Ike Hilliard. The tip Joe saw was actually the change of possession."

    Bryant converted the extra point, and the G-Men were back to within 18-13. But the Bucs recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. Our final again: Tampa Bay 18, New York 13.

    Brad was named MVP by Fox. He completed eighteen of his twenty-four passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. Keyshawn was his leading receiver with sixty-six yards on five catches. Pittman was the Bucs' leading rusher with sixty-three yards on fifteen carries, and Alstott added forty-seven yards on eleven carries.

    For the Giants, Collins could only complete twelve of his twenty-eight passes for 209 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Toomer led the receivers with four catches for ninety yards, and Hilliard finished with eighty-two yards on just two catches with a touchdown. The Giants as a team rushed for seventy-seven yards on twenty-five carries, and Tiki Barber was their leading individual rusher with forty-three yards on fourteen carries.

    The Bucs have moved on to next Sunday's NFC Championship Game, where they'll host the winner of last night's first Divisional Playoff between the Eagles and the 49ers.

    Next: The Niners meet the Eagles at the Vet.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  17. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2002 NFC Divisional Playoff from Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Game time temperature is 28 degrees, with fair skies and a west wind at 14 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is eight degrees above zero.

    The Niners scored forst on the second play of the game. As we pick up Dick Stockton's call, it's second and eight from the Frisco twenty-seven:

    "Second down for the Niners after the two -yard gain by Hearst, and Eric Johnson is the tight end in motion with (Terrell) Owens to the left and (J.J.) Stokes out to the right. (Jeff) Garcia back to throw, goes over the middle, and the pass is caught by Johnson at the forty-five, he's across midfield and breaks a tackle. Forty, thirty-five, thirty, and he may be gone! Down to the twenty, the fifteen, the ten, and Eric Johnson has outraced the Eagles' defense seventy-three yards for the touchdown! What a start for the 49ers here at the Vet, and they only had the ball for twenty-six seconds."

    Daryl Johnston: "Eric Johnson isn't a particularly fast tight end, but he got a great angle on hs pursuers, and they constantly tried to tackle him high. There you see Johnson shrugging off one tackle, then two, and from there he's at least five yards ahead of the defense all the way to the end zone. Hopefully for the Eagles, this is a wake-up call."

    Jose Cortez added the extra point, and the Niners had a 7-0 lead just thirty-two seconds into the game.

    The Eagles fought back immediately. Brian Mitchell returned the ensuing kickoff to the Eagles' forty-yard line, and we pick up the action on third and four from the forty-six:

    Stockton: "Four wide for the Eagles on third and four, and (Donovan) McNabb in the shotgun. Snap back to him, and he's looking. Looking, still looking, he scrambles around, now fires deep...….caught by Todd Pinkston at the fifteen, and he'll get to the end zone with ease! TOUCHDOWN EAGLES!......They needed to respond in a hurry, and so they have, Moose."

    Johnston: "This is a perfect example of why Donovan McNabb is such a dangerous quarterback. He has the mobility to escape the rush, and as he's scrambling, he's looking downfield. There you see him look toward Pinkston deep downfield, and he delvers a perfect pass. Pinkston doesn't have to stop and come back for the ball or spend time looking back for it; he catches it in stride and goes right on into the end zone for the score."

    David Akers added the extra point, and the game was tied at seven after one quarter.

    The Eagles took the lead with a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Another great punt return by Mitchell set up the offense at its own forty-five, and the key play of the drive was an eighteen-yard gain up the middle by running back Duce Staley. The touchdown came from eleven yards out, as McNabb completed a screen pass to Dorsey Levens, who broke a tackle at the three and went on into the end zone. Akers converted the extra point, and the Eagles took a 14-7 halftime lead.

    The Eagles added to their lead with a field goal after taking the second half kickoff. Mitchell's return gave the Eagles the ball at their own forty-seven, and McNabb's twelve-yard pass to tight end Chad Lewis put the Eagles into Akers' range. The drive stalled at the Niners' fifteen, and Akers converted a thirty-two yard attempt to put the home squad up 17-7 with 9:13 left in the third period.

    The Niners answered with a field goal of their own. The key play was Owens' fifty-five yard gain on a reverse, which gave the Niners a first down at the Philly twenty-three. The drive died at the sixteen, but Cortez was good from thirty-three yards out. At the end of three quarters, it was Philly 17, Frisco 10.

    The Eagles added another field goal midway through the final quarter. Mitchell returned a punt to his own forty-five, and McNabb connected with Pinkston for ten yards and fellow wideout James Thrash for fourteen. This drive was stopped at the Frisco twenty-one, but Akers hit from thirty-eight yards out to make it 20-10 Eagles with eight and a half minutes remaining in regulation.

    The Eagles added one last field goal after cornerback Bobby Taylor picked off a Garcia pass and returned it to the Niners' thirty-five. The Eagles gained only six yards in three plays, but Akers was good from forty-six yards out to establish our final score: Eagles 23, Niners 10.

    Pinkston was named MVP by Fox after catching three passes for sixty-nine yards and a touchdown. McNabb finished his evening ten of eighteen for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and Staley led the running game with fifty-two yards on sixteen carries. As a team, the Eagles gained ninety-one yards rushing on thirty-six carries. The defense sacked Garcia four times, and reserve defensive tackle Paul Grasmanis dumped him twice.

    For the Niners, Garcia completed fourteen of twenty-seven for 207 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Johnson led the receivers with a pair of catches for seventy-two yards and a touchdown, and Stokes added three catches for forty-nine yards. The Niners as a team rushed for 15 yards on thirty-four attempts, and Owens' reverse made him the team's leading individual rusher. Among the running backs, Kevan Barlow led the way with thirty-seven yards on ten carries.

    The following week, the Eagles traveled to Tampa for the NFC Championship Game and were dominated by the Bucs 27-10. Brad Johnson completed twenty of his thorty-three passes for 259 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Joe Jurevicius caught a seventy-one yard pass, which made him the team's leading receiver. Michael Pittman caught five passes out of the backfield for fifty-three yards, and Keyshawn Johnson caught three passes for forty yards and a touchdown The running game was held to forty-nine yards on thirty-two carries; Mike Alstott was its individual leader with twenty-five yards on seventeen carries with a touchdown. The Bucs also scored on defense, as Ronde Barber returned a McNabb interception ninety-two yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

    For the Eagles, McNabb finished twenty-six of forty-nine for 243 yards and an interception. Former Packer Antonio Freeman led the receiving corps with five catches for sixty-six yards, and Lewis added six catches for sixty-five yards. Duce Staley led the rushing game with fifty-eight yards on thirteen carries and a touchdown. On special teams, Mitchell returned four kickoffs for 125 yards, including a seventy-yarder.

    The Bucs will face the AFC champion Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XXXVII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego next Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for exactly 6:26 PM Eastern on ABC. Al Michaels and John Madden will call the action, while Melissa Stark and Andrea Kremer roam the sidelines.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  18. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2010 NFC Wild Card Game from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Game time temperature is 31 degrees, with fair skies and a west-northwest wind gusting to 24 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is three degrees above zero.

    The Eagles scored first midway through the opening period. The big play of the drive was a forty-eight yard catch-and-run by tight end Brent Celek that gave the home squad a first down at the Bears' twenty-nine. The drive died at the twenty-three, but David Akers' forty-yard field goal gave the home squad a 3-0 lead with 9:45 left in the opening period.

    The Eagles added a second field goal after Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw a pass right to Philly cornerback Dmitri Patterson, who returned the ball to the Bears' thirty-yard line. Quarterback Michael Vick found reserve wideout Jason Avant for twelve yards and a first down at the fifteen, and although the Chicago defense stiffened and pushed the Eagles back a yard over the next three plays Akers converted from thirty-three yards out to extend the Philly lead to 6-0 with 6:33 left in the opening period.

    The Eagles added one last field goal before the end of the quarter. Desean Jackson's punt return set up the offense at its own thirty-nine, and running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy's eleven-yard catch-and-run brought the Eagles to midfield. From there, reserve running back Jerome Harrison found a hold on the left side of the Bears' defense and knifed through it for twenty-seven yards and a first down. This drive stopped at the Bears' fourteen, and Akers was good from thirty-one yards out to extend the Eagles' lead to 9-0 after one quarter.

    The Eagles added a fourth field goal early in the second quarter. The key play was Vick's thirty-one yard pass to Jackson, and he also hit Celek for sixteen yards and a first down. This drive made it as far as the eleven, and Akers kicked a twenty-eight yarder into the teeth of a gusting wind to make it 12-0 Eagles with a little under eleven minutes left in the first half.

    The Bears finally got on the board after Danieal Manning returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, Running back Matt Forte gained twenty-nine yards and a first down off left tackle, and the drive reached the Eagles' fifteen before stalling. Kicker Robbie Gould was good from thirty-two yards out, and the Philly lead was cut to 12-3 with exactly eight minutes left in the first half.

    The Bears took advantage of a special teams mistake to add another field goal before the half. Saverio Rocca's punt was blocked by Johnny Knox, who also recovered the ball at the Philly forty-seven. Forte's twenty-four yard gain on a draw play put the Bears in Gould's range, and Robbie converted from twenty-seven yards out to cut the Eagles' lead to 12-6 at the half.

    The visitors added a third consecutive field goal after taking the second half kickoff. Cutler found tight end Greg Olsen over the middle for nineteen yards, and Knox ripped off a thirty-one yard catch-and-run that set the Bears up at the Philly fourteen. But they lost two yards over the next three plays, which left Gould with a thirty-three yard attempt. He converted, and with 8:46 left in the third it was Eagles 12, Bears 9.

    The Eagles extended their lead with their fifth field goal of the day on the ensuing possession. It began with a Chicago turnover, as Forte lost the ball trying to gain extra yardage on a draw play. Reserve linebacker Omar Gaither was credited with the punchout, and strong safety Quentin Mikell made the recovery at the Philly thirty-eight. The biggest play of the drive was Vick's twelve-yard completion to Avant, and from the Chicago thirty-one Akers boomed a forty-eight yarder to put the Eagles up 15-9 with a little over three minutes left in the quarter.

    It took just one play for the Bears to finally score the game's first touchdown. Manning returned the kickoff to the Bears' thirty-three, and that's where we pick up the call from Joe Buck:

    "First and ten for Chicago from their own thirty-three, as Jay Cutler desperately tries to get this offense untracked, preferably with a touchdown. Snap back to him on first down, and it looks like he'll go long. Not much of a rush, and the pass is...…..CAUGHT! (Cornerback) Asante Samuel fell down, and that's Earl Bennett going into the end zone for the Chicago touchdown! Sixty-seven yards, and just like that an extra point will give the Bears the lead!"

    Troy Aikman: "Samuel would normally be covering Johnny Knox, but the Bears switched Knox to the right side in this formation, and for whatever reason the Eagles kept Samuel where he was against a receiver he isn't familiar with. Cutler takes advantage of this, and this play would have gone for big yardage even if Samuel had stayed on his feet. As it is, the turf monster gets him, and Bennett's home free for the touchdown."

    Gould added the extra point, and after three quarters it was Chicago 16, Philadelphia 15.

    The Eagles took the lead with a touchdown of midway through the final period. Vick completed passes of twelve yards to wideout Jeremy Maclin and sixteen yards to Jackson. The throw to Jackson gave the Eagles a first down at the Bears' thirty-six, and that's where we rejoin Joe:

    "First and ten for Philadelphia from the Bears' thirty-six, and the Eagles in good position to retake the lead. Here is Vick back to pass, and he's going long, that's Maclin downfield, and he MAKES THE CATCH AT THE TEN AND GOES IN FOR THE TOCUHDOWN!...…..He beat the cornerback Charles 'Peanut' Tillman on a thirty-six yard touchdown play, and the Eagles have the lead again with 7:45 left in the game."

    Aikman: "Michael Vick doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves for his strong arm, but he showed it off on that pass. He gets it where it needs to be on a line, and Maclin gets a step on Peanut Tillman and makes the catch in stride. The question now is: Will the Eagles go for two to try for a seven-point lead, or will they settle for one up 21-16?"

    Eagles coach Andy Reid decided to go for one, but Akers' kick was short, which left the Eagles with a 21-16 lead.

    Bu this time, the Bears were in the hands of rookie quarterback Caleb Hanie, who entered the game after Cutler supposedly injured his shoulder on the touchdown throw to Bennett. The extent of the injury was unclear, as Cutler warmed up throughout the fourth quarter with no apparent ill effects, but never returned to the game. At any rate, with time running out Hanie had the Bears at their own forty-two when disaster struck and ended their season:

    Buck: "We don't know how strong Hanie's arm is when it comes to long passes, but he'll need to try one soon, as we're under fifteen seconds. Hanie waiting for the play, now takes the snap. Eagles blitz, and the pass is picked off!...….. (Free safety) Kurt Coleman has it, and he's down to the thirty, the twenty-five, the twenty, and he's going in for the game-clinching touchdown. Now he's slowing down to run out the last few seconds, and takes a pratfall across the goal line just as time runs out! The Eagles are headed for Atlanta!"

    Aikman: "Apparently Lovie Smith and the offensive coaches didn't have a whole lot of confidence in Caleb Hanie's ability to throw deep, because this one's a relatively simple throw over the middle that really wouldn't have dine much. It goes right to Coleman, who does a very smart thing in modifying his speed to the end zone so as not to allow the Bears any more chances on offense. I'm not sure about falling across the goal line, but I guess he's earned the right."

    Buck: "I'd give it about a four, but it's a perfect ten to Eagles fans right now."

    Akers added the extra point, and we had our final score: Eagles 28, Bears 16.

    Vick was named MVP by Fox. He completed thirteen of his eighteen passes for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Maclin was his leading receiver with four catches for seventy-five yards and a touchdown, and Celek added fifty-three yards on a pair of catches. Jackson also caught a pair of passes for forty-seven yards. Harrison led the way on the ground with fifty-eight yards on eleven carries, while McCoy was held to forty-two yards on seventeen carries.

    For the Bears, Cutler and Hanie combined to complete only twelve of thirty-two passes for 198 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, including the pick-six that sealed the game for the Eagles. Bennet caught three passes for seventy yards and a touchdown, while Knox caught four for fifty-eight yards. Forte led the riushing attack with ninety-seven yards on fourteen carries. As for Cutler himself, both the local and the national media made hay over his injury, branding him with labels such as "quitter" and "pouter" that he wasn't able to shake for the rest of his career.

    As for the Eagles, they'll face the Falcons in next Saturday night's first NFC Divisional Playoff at the Georgia Dome. is scheduled for 8PM Eastern on Fox, and Joe and Troy will once again call the action, with Pam Oliver and Chris Myers working the sidelines.

    Next: The other NFC Wild Card Game, as the Rams host the Saints.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  19. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2010 NFC Wild Card Game from the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis:

    The Rams opened the scoring by converting a Saints turnover into points. Linebacker Na'il Diggs stripped Saints running back Pierre Thomas of the ball from behind, and strong safety Craig Dahl recovered it at the New Orleans thirty-yard line. The Rams then embarked on seven-play drive which ended when running back Steven Jackson went into the end zone from two yards out. Kicker Josh Brown's extra point was good, and the Rans led 7-0 with 9:25 left in the opening quarter.

    The home squad added another touchdown before the opening period ran out. Danny Amendola returned a punt all the way to the Saints' thirty-eight, and he also caught a thirteen-yard pass from quarterback Sam Bradford on the drive that followed. Bradford also connected with reserve wideout Danario Alexander for ten yards and a first down, and Jackson picked up ten more yards on a draw play. The touchdown came from a yard out, as Bradford found wide receiver Brandon Gibson with an easy flip for the score. Brown added the extra point, and after one quarter the Rams led the Saints 14-0.

    The Rams added a field goal early in the second quarter after Amendola returned another punt all the way to the New Orleans fourteen. The drive reached the four before stalling, and Brown connected on a twenty-one yard field goal to extend the St. Louis lead to 17-0 with 12:02 left in the first half.

    The next time they had the ball, the Rams had to start at their own eight, but they managed to get into field goal range. Reserve running back Keith Toston took a pitch to the right side and gained sixteen yards, and fellow reserve Ronald Darby plowed up the middle for eighteen more. Jackson gained eighteen more yards on another pitch to the right, and Bradford got into the act by finding Gibson for nineteen yards and a first down at the Saints' twenty-two. The Rams only gained two more yards, but Brown connected from thirsty-seven to make it a 20-0 game with 4:03 left until the half.

    Drew Brees appeared to have the Saints on the road to a touchdown just before intermission, but one of his passes was picked off by reserve defensive back Jerome Murphy, who returned it to the Saints' twenty-nine. Jackson's thirteen-yard romp up the middle put the Rams in field goal range, and Brown connected from twenty-one yards out as time expired to stretch St. Louis' halftime lead to 23-0.

    The Rams tacked on a fourth consecutive field goal midway through the third quarter. Jackson put the in range again with consecutive runs up the middle for twelve and fifteen yards respectively, and from the Saints twenty-one Brown booted a thirty-nine yarder to make it 26-0 with about seven minutes left in the third period.

    The Rams added one last field goal before the third quarter ran out. This drive started at their own thirteen but Bradford was up to the challenge, hitting Gibson for fifteen yards, Amendola for fourteen, and Jackson for ten and thirteen on a pair of screen passes. The drive was eventually stopped at the New Orleans twenty-six, but Brown split the uprights from forty-three yards out to put the day's final points on the board. Our final after a scoreless fourth quarter: Rams 29, Saints 0.

    Jackson was named MVP by NBC. He gained 116 yards on twenty-six carries with a touchdown. The Rams as a team rushed for 175 yards on forty-eight attempts. Bradford was efficient, completing fifteen of his twenty passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. Amendola was his leading receiver with five catches for fifty-six yards, and Gibson caught four oases for thirty-six yards and a touchdown.

    Brees played poorly for the Saints, completing just seven of his nineteen passes for eighty-nine yards and an interception. Backup side receiver Lance Moore was the only Saint to catch more than one pass; he caught two for forty yards. As for the running game, it only managed fifty-nine yards on twenty-three attempts; rookie Chris Ivory led way individually with twenty-five yards on eight carries. The Rams outgained the Saints on offense by more than two to one, as they finished with 332 yards to the Saints' 148.

    The next stop for the Rams is the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, where they'll take on the Green Bay Packers in next Sunday's second Divisional Playoff. Kickoff is scheduled for 1PM Eastern on Fox, with Kenny Albert, Daryl "Moose" Johnston and Tony "Goose" Siragusa calling the action.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  20. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2010 NFC Divisional Playoff from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Game time temperature is 10 degrees, with fair skies and calm winds.

    The Packers scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed six of his seven passes on the drive, including connections of ten yards to running back Brandon Jackson, eleven yards to wide receiver Greg Jennings. ad a pair of seventeen-yarders to fellow wideout Jordy Nelson. Jackson also broke a twelve-yard run off left tackle to give the Pack a first and goal at the Rams' four-yard line. On third and goal from the three, Rodgers hit reserve wideout James Jones in the end zone for the touchdown. On the extra point attempt, backup quarterback and holder Matt Flynn fumbled the snap, but managed to pick it up and throw it to a wide-open Jackson for a two=point conversion that gave the Pack an 8-0 lead with 6:11 to play in the opening period.

    The Rams answered with a touchdown of their own on their next possession. The key play of the drive was Steven Jackson's thirty-seven yard gain on a draw play that gave the Rams a first down at the Packers' sixteen. On the next play, Jackson found another hole up the middle and darted through it and into the end zone for the touchdown. Josh Brown added the extra point, and after one quarter the Rams were back to within 8-7.

    The Pack increased their lead with a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Running back Dmitri Nance gained eighteen yards up the middle, and Jones reeled off a twenty-one yard catch-and-run that turned into a thirty-six yard gain thanks to a penalty for unnecessary roughness (a late hit out of bounds) on Rams safety O.J. Atogwe. From the St. Louis thirteen, Brandon knifed off the right side and into the end zone for the touchdown. Kicker Mason Crosby added the extra point, and the Pack led 15-7 with 9:23 left in the first half.

    The Rams cut into their deficit with a field goal just before the end of the half. Steven's eleven-yard run up the middle put the ball in Green Bay territory, and Sam Bradford followed that u with a twenty-four yard pass to wide receiver Laurent Robinson. The Green Bay defense pushed the Rams back to their own thirty, which meant that kicker Josh Brown was faced with a forty-seven yard attempt. His kick just squeaked through the uprights, and our halftime score was Packers 15, Rams 10.

    The third quarter was scoreless. but the Pack was in field goal range again as the quarter ended thanks to Rodgers' forty-four yard strike to reserve tight end Andrew Quarless. that was good for a first down at the Rams' twelve. The Pack was only able to gain one more yard on offense, but Crosby converted a twenty-eight yard field goal attempt to increase the Green Bay lead to 18-10 with 14:07 left in regulation.

    The home squad added another field goal midway through the final period. Rodgers found Jennings for twenty yards and Jones for eleven. He also scrambled for twelve yards and a first down. The drive stalled at the Rams' fourteen, but Crosby was good from thirty-one yards out to increase the Pack's lead to 21-10 with 7:54 remaining.

    The Pack added a third consecutive field goal after a Bradford pass was picked off by future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson. Woodson's return gave the Pack the ball at the St. Louis nineteen, but Rodgers was sacked by reserve defensive end George Selvie for a six-yard loss on third down. That made Crosby's attempt a forty-two yarder, and Mason split the uprights to make this one a 24-10 game in favor of the home squad with 4:46 left.

    Trailing by two touchdowns, the Rams needed to score in a hurry to get back into the game, and they did just that. Bradford hit Danny Amendola for fourteen yards and Danario Alexander for twenty, which put the ball at the Packers' thirty-two. Here's what happened next, as called by Kenny Albert:

    "First and ten for the Rams, who are definitely in hurry-up mode with two and a half minutes remaining. Handoff is to Jackson, and he's got a big hole. Tewnty, fifteen, ten, five, and A TOUCHDOWN FOR ST. LOUIS! Their big home run hitter, Steven Jackson, has scored from thirty-two yards out, and we're looking at a one-score game."

    Daryl Johnston: "The Packers looked like they had no idea that a running play was coming, which is surprising considering how big Steven Jackson is to this offense. Once he gets past the line of scrimmage, it's all over, as all he has to do is outrun a couple of defensive backs who were out of position to begin with."

    Tony Siragusa: "The only question now, guys, is whether they go for one or two. Looks like it's one so they only need an extra point later if they score again."

    Brown's extra point was good, and the Rams were within 24-17 with 2:28 to play. But the Pack recovered the onside kick attempt on the kickoff and ran out the clock with ease. Our final: Green Bay 24, St. Louis 17.

    Steven was named MVP by Fox in a losing cause after gaining 134 yards on twenty carries with two touchdowns. The defense did its part as well, sacking Rodgers six times. Unfortunately for the Rams, Bradford was shaky at best, finishing thirteen of twenty-six for 142 yards and an interception. Alexander led the receivers with thirty-nine yards on just two catches, while Amendola caught three passes for thirty-seven yards.

    For the Pack, Rodgers finished sixteen of twenty-two for an even two hundred yards with a touchdown. Quarless led the receivers in yardage with fifty-one yards on a pair of catches, while Jennings caught a team-high four balls for forty-six yards. and Jones caught three for thirty-five yards and a touchdown. Brandon led the running game with thirty-nine yards on eleven carries with a touchdown.

    The Packers have earned a berth in next Sunday's NFC Championship Game, where they'll host the winner of last night's Divisional Playoff between the Eagles and the Falcons in Atlanta. Kickoff is scheduled for 3PM Eastern on Fox, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the action. Pam Oliver and Chris Myers will be the sideline reporters.

    Next: The other NFC Divisional Playoff, as the Falcons host the Eagles.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
Loading...