The Pythagorean NFL

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

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  1. DTF955Baseballfan 12-time All-Star in some TL

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    10 miles north of 10 miles south
    So little time for me to post my friend Rick and his family's comments about the Packers beating Brett Favre. You can probably imagine most of them though. Perhaps his six-year-old nephews corny singing of "oh Brett Favre why do you betray us" get some remade lyrics As the Packers are beating the Vikings handily, for instance.
     
  2. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    I certainly could imagine Lambeau Field going crazy as Favre was thoroughly humiliated. If I wrote longer game stories for non-Super Bowl postseason games, I'd have made a bigger deal out of it than I did.
     
  3. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2015 AFC Wild Card Game from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Game time temperature is seven degrees above zero, with cloudy skies and a north=northwest wind at 15 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is ten degrees below zero.

    The Chiefs scored first, as free safety Eric Berry picked off a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass and returned it to the Jets' thirty-four. Alex Smith's twenty-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin put the Chiefs in field goal range, and kicker Cairo Santos eventually connected from twenty-six yards out to give the home squad a 3-0 lead with ten and a half minutes remaining in the first quarter.

    The Jets answered with a field goal of their own. Fitzpatrick completed an eleven-yard pass to wide receiver Brandon Marshall and a sixteen-yard pass to fellow wideout Eric Decker, and running back Chris Ivory gashed the middle of the KC defense on draw plays for gains of twelve and nineteen. The Jets eventually had a first and goal at the Chiefs' six, but the defense pushed them back to the nine, and they had to settle for Nick Folk's twenty-six yard field goal, which tied the game at three after one quarter.

    The Jets took the lead with another field goal early in the second quarter. The key play of the drive was Decker's thirty-six yard catch-and-run, which gave them a first down at the Chiefs' twenty-six. They didn't gain another yard on offense, but Folk connected from forty-three yards out to give the Jets a 6-3 lead with 10:08 to play in the second quarter.

    The Chiefs tied the game with a field goal later in the quarter after Berry intercepted Fitzpatrick for the second time in the game. He could only return it to his own four, but Smith got his team out of trouble by running for sixteen yards and a first down. Later in the drive, running back Jamaal Charles gained fifteen yards on a pitch to the right, and still later fellow running back Charcandrick West busted off right tackle for twenty-seven more yards and a first down at the Jets' fourteen. Two botched running plays lost six yards, but Santos salvaged the drive by connecting from thirty-seven yards out, which tied the game at six with less than five minutes left in the first half.

    The Chiefs scored the game's first touchdown just before the half. The key play was a fifteen-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a late hit out of bounds on running back Spencer Ware. The touchdown came from eighteen yards out, as Smith connected with a wide-open Maclin in the end zone for the score. Santos added the extra point, and our score at halftime was Chiefs 13, Jets 6.

    After a scoreless third quarter, the Chiefs padded their lead with another touchdown early in the fourth. DeAnthony Thomas' punt return set the offense up at its own forty-two, and Smith completed passes of eighteen yards to Maclin, fourteen yards to tight end Travis Kelce, and ten yards to Jason Avant. The touchdown came on second and goal from the seven, as Smith threw again to Kelce, who broke two Jets tackles at the two and stretched the ball over the goal line for the sore. Santos added the extra point, and with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation the Chiefs led 20-6.

    The Jets got back in the game with a touchdown just before the two-minute warning. Fitzpatrick's arm was the catalyst, as he found Decker for thirteen yards, Marshall for thirteen more, and tight end Jeremy Kerley for ten. Fullback Tommy Bohanon's thirty-three yard catch-and-run gave the Jets a first down at the Kansas City thirteen. After an encroachment penalty on the Chiefs moved the ball to the eight, Fitzpatrick found Marshall in the end zone to cut the Jets' deficit to 20-12 with 2:50 left in regulation. Unfortunately for the Jets, Folk missed the extra point, and coach Todd Bowles' decision to kick the ball deep instead of onside backfired when the Chiefs were able to run out the clock. Our final again: Chiefs 20, Jets 12.

    Berry was named Player of the Game by CBS after making nine solo tackles and intercepting Fitzpatrick twice. Interestingly, he was only the third-leading tackler for Kansas City on the night; linebacker Derrick Johnson finished with a whopping fourteen solo tackles and an interception, while strong safety Tyron Branch finished with twelve solo tackles and a sack. The offense did just enough to win; Smith finished twelve of twenty for 125 yards and two touchdowns, with Maclin leading the receivers by catching four passes for sixty-five yards and a score. West led the running game with forty-six yards on ten carries, while Smith gained thirty-four yards on six carries.

    For the Jets, Fitzpatrick was thirteen of twenty-three for 196 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, two of which led directly to Kansas City scores. Decker was his leading target with four catches for seventy-four yards, while Marshall caught five passes for sixty-one yards and a touchdown. Ivory was the Jets' leading rusher with seventy-eight yards on seventeen carries.

    The following Saturday, the Chiefs trekked to Foxborough to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, and they were on the losing end of a hard-fought contest, 27-20. Smith played a fine all-around game, throwing fifty times and completing twenty-nine for 246 yards and a touchdown. Avant led the receivers with four catches for sixty-nine yards, and reserve wideout Albert Wilson caught five passes for fifty-seven yards and a score. West was the Chiefs' leading rusher with sixty-one yards on seventeen carries and a touchdown, and Smith contributed forty-four yards on nine carries.

    None of the above was enough to stop Tom Brady. He was stellar as usual, completing twenty-eight of his forty-two passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns, both to Rob Gronkowski. Julian Edelman led the receivers with ten catches for an even hundred yards, and Gronk caught seven balls for eighty-three yards, Wide receiver Keshawn Martin caught a pair of passes for fifty-seven yards.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
  4. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2015 NFC Wild Card Game from TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Game time temperature is 13 degrees, with fair skies and a north wind at 3 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is seven degrees above zero.

    The Vikes scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Adrian Peterson picked up sixteen yards on a sweep to the left, and fellow running back Jerick McKinnon knifed off the right side for eleven more. An eleven-yard pass to wideout Stefon Diggs gave the Vikes a first down at the Green Bay thirteen, but nose tackle B.J. Raji sacked quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for a six-yard loss on second down, which pushed the ball back to the twenty, where the Vikes faced a third and seventeen. Bridgewater eluded another Raji sack and found reserve wideout Jarius Wright, who caught the ball at the five and walked into the end zone for the touchdown. Kicker Blair Walsh added the extra point, and the Vikes led 7-0 after one quarter.

    The Pack tied the game with a touchdown early in the second quarter. Before the opening period ended, running back Eddie Lacy charged up the middle for sixteen yards and a first down, and later in the drive fellow running back James Starks gained seventeen yards on the same play. The touchdown came from twenty yards out, as the Pack once again went to the draw, this time with Lacy, who raced through a gaping hole and into the end zone for the score. Mason Crosby added the extra point, and with less than eleven minutes left in the first half we were deadlocked at seven.

    The Vikes took the lead with a field goal later in the quarter after cornerback Terence Newman picked off an Aaron Rodgers pass and returned it to his own forty-four. Bridgewater connected with Wright for twenty-four yards, and tight end Kyle Rudolph contributed an eleven-yard catch-and-run. The drive stalled at the Green Bay none, but Walsh hit a twenty-six yard field goal to put the Vikes up 10-7 with less than six minutes left in the half.

    The Pack tied the game with a field goal on the final play of the first half. The key play of the drive was Rodgers' eighteen-yard pass to wideout Randall Cobb. The drive got as far as the Minnesota twenty-nine, and Crosby split the uprights from forty-six yards out on the final play of the half to knot the game at ten after thirty minutes.

    The Pack took the lead with a field goal after receiving the second half kickoff. Jeff Janis' return gave Rodgers the ball at his own thirty-seven, and Lacy's eleven-yard dash to the sidelines gave the visitors the ball at the Minny twenty-eight. The drive stalled at the twenty-six, but Crosby was good from forty-three yards out to give the Pack a 13-10 lead with 10:52 left in the third quarter.

    The Vikes answered with a touchdown. The key play of the drive was its second, when McKinnon took a pitch, found a hole off right tackle, and zoomed through it for fifty-eight yards and a first down at the Packers' eleven. Peterson stormed up the middle and into the end zone a play later, and Walsh's extra point put the Vikes up 17-13 with 8:36 still left in the third.

    The Pack answered with a touchdown of their own. Starks gained eleven yards up the middle, and on the next play Rodgers threw the home run ball for James Jones, who made a one-handed catch before being bumped out of bounds at the Minnesota five-yard line. Rodgers hit a wide-open Cobb in the end zone on the next play to put the Pack up 19-17 with six and a half minutes left in the third. But there was a bad snap on the extra point, and Crosby couldn't even get the kick away; he had all he could do to make the recovery before the Vikes could pick it up and return it for two points themselves.

    Toward the end of the period, Newman picked off Rodgers for the second time, and his return gave the Vikes the ball at their own thirty-two. The biggest plays of the drive were McKinnon's eleven-yard gain off left tackle and Bridgewater's thirteen-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace. On first and goal from the six, All Day pounded his way up the middle and into the end zone for the score. Walsh's extra point put the home squad up 24-19 with less than twelve minutes left in regulation.

    Now it was the Pack's turn. Starks caught a ten-yard screen pass, and Rodgers found backup wide receiver Ty Montgomery for ten more, then hit his namesake, tight end Richard, for gains of fifteen and sixteen on consecutive plays. The latter completion gave the Green and Gold a first and goal at the Vikes' five, and after Lacy lost a yard on down Richard caught his third pass of the drive in the end zone for the score. McCarthy chose to go for two to put his team up by three points, but Starks was stopped cold for no gain. Nonetheless, with 8:05 left in regulation it was Green Bay 25, Minnesota 24.

    The Vikes answered with alacrity. Bridgewater found Rudolph for fifteen yards and Wallace for eighteen, which put the ball in Green bay territory at the forty-three. Here's Al Michaels with what happened next:

    "Less than six minutes left, as the Vikings will run it on first down with McKinnon. Finds a hole to the left, and he's down over the thirty, the twenty-five, breaks a tackle and he could be gone! Does he stay in bounds?......Barely at the five, straightens himself out and goes in for the touchdown!...….Just as we thought he might step out and about the ten, he makes the effort to right himself and ends up scoring with ease."

    Cris Collinsoworth: "Back and forth we go, Al. It's been Jerick McKinnon who is the heart and soul of the Vikings' offense today, and here he finally gets into the end zone. Big hole off the left side, and look at the balance. Like you said, he was this close to stepping out of bounds, but gets his body control back and goes in for the score."

    Vikes coach Mike Zimmer decided to kick the extra point with 5:55 still left in regulation, and Walsh converted to put the home squad up 31-25.

    Aaron led the Pack to the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute. He found Cobb for fourteen yards and fellow wideout Davante Adams for ten more. We pick up Al's call as the Pack faces a first and ten at the Minny thirty-four with fifty-eight seconds left:

    "Rodgers in the gun......back and looking, steps up in the pocket, still looking, fires downfield...…...TIPPED AND CAUGHT BY COBB, AND HE'LL GO IN FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! WOW!...….That was Newman who tipped it, I think."

    Collinsworth: "It sure was, Al. Two interceptions of Aaron Rodgers leading to Minnesota points, and if this score holds up that top will be all anyone remembers. Right into the hands of Randall Cobb, and if they can make the extra point, which hasn't been automatic today. the Packers will have the lead, and Teddy Brdgewater will have just fifty seconds left and no timeouts."

    Crosby did indeed make the extra point, and the Pack was now up 32-31.

    The biggest play of the ensuing drive was Bridgewater's fifteen-yard pass to Wright, who stepped out of bounds at the Green Bay forty with just three seconds left. This left just enough time for Walsh to try to win the game from fifty-seven yards out. After a Packers' timeout, we join Al and Cris:

    Michaels: "This is a risky proposition in this kind of cold, especially since Bridgewater has proven he can throw on the Green Bay secondary."

    Collinsworth: "I'd take my chances with the Hail Mary, Al. There's not much wind, but Walsh will really have to boom it in this cold."

    Michaels: "Here he comes; they're gonna try it. Fifty-seven yards for the win. The hplder is the punter, Jeff Locke...…...Snap is down......hey, this one could be...…..HE GOT IT WITH A YARD TO SPARE!......The Vikings win it with a prayer of a field goal from Blair Walsh, and the Packers can't believe it. Rodgers had the comeback in the bag, the Vikes had no timeouts, and yet Walsh just broke their hearts. What an ending to a classic."

    Collinsworth: "I wonder if they serve crow back at the hotel, Al, because that's what I'm due to eat. What a kick by Blair Walsh just when his team had to have it, and there you see the joy of the Vikings and the disbelief of their bitter rivals the Packers. The rest of the playoffs will have to go a long way to top this game, that's for sure."

    McKinnon was put on the Horse Trailer by the SNF crew after gaining 141 yards on just eight carries with a touchdown. The Vikes rushed for 249 yards as a team on forty-one attempts.

    The next stop for the Purple Gang is University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, where the Vikes will take on the Arizona Cardinals in the first NFC Divisional Playoff next Saturday night. Game time is 8:15 PM Eastern on NBC, with Al and Cris once again calling the action and Michele Tafoya on the sidelines.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  5. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

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

    The Texans scored first after taking the opening kickoff. The key plays of the drive were a pair of twenty-seven yard runs by running back Alfred Blue. One was a sweep to the left, while the other came off left tackle. The drive reached as far as the Steelers' two-yard line at one point, but back-to-back holding penalties killed Houston's chance at a touchdown. They instead settled for Nick Novak's thirty-eight yard field goal and a 3-0 lead after one quarter.

    The Texans were driving for another field goal as the first quarter ended, thanks to Blue's thirty-five yard scamper up the middle. Quarterback Brian Hoyer hooked up with tight end C.J. Fredorowicz for eleven yards and a first down at the Pittsburgh fourteen, but the drive stalled at the eleven. On the first play of the second quarter, Novak was good from twenty-eight yards out to give the Texans a 6-0 lead.

    The Steelers answered with a touchdown later in the quarter after Antonio Brown returned a punt all the way to the Texans' forty-nine. AB caught a seventeen-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to get the ball across midfield, and running back LeVeon Bell followed that up with a sixteen-yard gain on a draw play. The touchdown came from just a yard out, as Ben flipped the ball to Heath Miller for the score. Kicker Chris Boswell added the extra point, and the Steelers led 7-6 with less than six minutes left in the first half.

    The Steelers added another touchdown just before the half. Ben threw passes of fourteen yards to AB, nineteen yards to fellow wideout Markus Wheaton, and twelve yards to another wide receiver, Martavis Bryant. The touchdown came from three yards out, as DeAngelo Williams bulled his way up the middle and into the end zone. Boswell's extra point gave the Steelers a 14-6 halftime lead.

    The Steelers scored another touchdown after taking the second half kickoff. Bell pounded up the middle for sixteen yards and a first down, and Williams did the same later in the drive for twelve more. The latter run gave the Steelers a first and goal from the Houston six, and on the next play it was Ben to Bryant in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Boswell tacked on the extra point, and with exactly ten minutes left in the third quarter it was Steelers 21, Texans 6.

    The Texans answered with a field goal. Hoyer fired over the middle to former Steeler receiver Nate Washington for twenty-eight yards and a first down, then hit fellow receiver Cecil Shorts III for eleven yards and DeAndre Hopkins for eleven more. The Texans had a first and goal at the Pittsburgh four, but couldn't gain any yards on the first two downs. On third down, Hoyer was sacked by James Harrison for a seven-yard loss. This meant that the Texans had to settle for a twenty-eight yard field goal, which Novak made to cut the Steelers' lead to 21-9 after three quarters.

    The Steelers were driving for another touchdown when the third quarter ended. Bryant caught passes for ten and fourteen yards, and the running game made hash out of the middle of the Texans' defense, as Williams gained eighteen yards and Bell broke loose for twenty-two more. A fifteen-yard pass to AB put the ball at the Texans' six, and from there Williams darted up the middle and into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. Boswell added another extra point, and the Steelers led 28-9 with a little under fourteen minutes to play in the game.

    The Texans had to answer quickly, and they did, taking just two plays to reach the end zone. The first play was a sixty-nine yard bomb to Washington, the second a ten-yard dash up the middle and into the end zone by Blue. Novak added the extra point, and with 13:05 left in the contest the Texans were back to within 28-16.

    After forcing a three-and-out, the Texans scored once more. The key plays were a twenty-five yard strike to Hopkins and a twenty-seven yard catch-and-run by reserve tight end Ryan Griffin. The touchdown came from twenty-eight yards out, as Hoyer connected with Shorts, who made a leaping one-handed catch in the end zone. Novak's extra point brought the home squad back within 28-23 with just over nine and a half minutes to play in regulation.

    The Steelers answered with a touchdown of their own. Ben connected with AB for twelve yards and a first down, and Bell pounded up the middle for fifteen yards. The gain was doubled when J.J. Watt was penalized for tackling Bell by his facemask. The Steelers thus had a first down at the Houston thirty, and that's where we join Mike Tirico's call:

    "Another touchdown will make the Texans' job more difficult, as we're down under six minutes. Bell stays in, which is a bit of a surprise after the way he was bulldogged by Watt on the last play. He gets the call again, AND THERE HE GOES RIGHT UP THE MIDDLE! HE'S ALL ALONE AND HEADED FOR THE END ZONE! STEELER TOUCHDOWN!...…..That might have just put an end to this contest, Jon."

    Jon Gruden: "LeVeon Bell and DeAngelo Williams have been giving the Texans' defense fits all day, and now they're worn out. Bell just shoots right through the middle with no one near him. Even J.J. Watt's jogging down the field sort of half-interested. That's disappointing to see, and they need to get their spark back on this next offensive series."

    Boswell added the extra point, and with 5:45 left in regulation it was Pittsburgh 35, Houston 23.

    The Texans' offense couldn't gain a yard in three plays, and the Steelers were able to run out the clock in spectacular fashion, thanks to Mr. Bell. Here's Mike:

    "The Steelers are just going to pound it down the Texans' throats and kill this clock; the Texans have just one timeout remaining. Bell the lone setback behind Roethlisberger, and here he is again off the left side AND THERE HE GOES AGAIN! NO ONE WILL CATCH HIM! THIS TOUCHDOWN WILL BE FROM FIFTY-FIVE YARDS, AND THAT'S GOOD NIGHT FOR THE TEXANS!......The only difference between this touchdown and the first one was that the first one was up the middle. Neither one saw any resistance by the Houston defense."

    Gruden: "What a performance by the Pittsburgh running game, Mike. They've worn down the Texans all day and set up the passing game for Ben perfectly. Huge block by the left guard Number 73 Ramon Foster opens the hole, and Bell just zips right through it. This may be his first playoff game, Mike, but I don't think it's gonna be his last."

    Boswell tacked on one final extra point, and the Steelers had wrapped up a 42-23 victory.

    Bell was named the Gruden Grinder (MVP) by the MNF crew. He rushed for 185 yards on seventeen carries with two touchdowns, and Williams added sixty yards on eleven carries and two more touchdowns. The total Steeler rushing output: 262 yards on thirty-six attempts with four touchdowns. Ben finished thirteen of seventeen for 163 yards and two touchdowns; AB was his leading receiver with ninety-one yards on six catches. On defense, linebacker Lawrence Timmons finished with thirteen solo tackles, while Harrison had eleven tackles, four of which were sacks.

    For the Texans, Blue gained 110 yards on just twelve carries with a touchdown. Hoyer enjoyed a great individual game, finishing thirteen of twenty for 264 yards and a touchdown. Washington led the receiving corps with ninety-seven yards on just two catches, while Hopkins caught five balls for sixty-five yards and Shorts snagged three more for fifty-six yards and a touchdown.

    The following Sunday, the Steelers called on their division rivals the Bengals in the second AFC Divisional Playoff, and thanks in part to a pair of fifteen-yard penalties on the winning drive, Boswell hit a thirty-five yard field goal with fourteen seconds to play that gave the Steelers an 18-16 upset victory. Ben finished eighteen of thirty-one for 229 yards and a touchdown despite battling a shoulder injury through most of the final quarter. AB was his leading receiver with seven catches for 119 yards, and fullback Fitzgerald Toussaint added four catches for sixty yards. Both Bell and Williams were injured in practice during the week, so Jordon Todman filled in and gained sixty-five yards on eleven carries, while Toussiant added fifty-eight yards on seventeen carries. Bryant gained forty-four yards on a reverse.

    For the Bengals, A.J. McCarron started at quarterback for an injured Andy Dalton and finished twenty-three of forty-one for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception. A.J. Green caught five passes for seventy-one yards, while tight end Tyler Eifert caught five more for fifty-eight yards. Jeremy Hill was the Bengals' lading rusher with fifty yards on twelve carries and a touchdown.

    The Steelers will now face the New England Patriots in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:05 PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action. Tracy Wolfison will serve as sideline reporter.

    Next: The Pats host the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
  6. Geoboy645 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Well that Packers-Vikings game is ironic.
     
  7. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    I'm guessing you mean that in real life, Walsh missed a game-winning kick for the Vikes from a much shorter distance. Yeah, that's the textbook definition of ironic.
     
  8. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2015 AFC Championship Game from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature is 24 degrees, with cloudy skies and calm winds.

    The Pats scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Keshawn Martin caught a thirteen-yard screen pass, and Tom Brady also used his wide receivers liberally, throwing to Danny Amendola for thirteen yards and connecting with Julian Edelman for gains of twelve, ten, and thirteen. Speaking of thirteen, that's how many yards the touchdown covered, as Brady found a wide-open Brandon LaFell in the end zone for the score. Stephen Gostkowski added the extra point, and after one quarter the Pats led 7-0.

    The Pats used a bit of razzle-dazzle to add another touchdown early in the second quarter. Amendola's punt return gave them the ball at the Pittsburgh forty-one, but Brady and the offense were stopped cold on three consecutive plays. The Pats are in punt formation on fourth and ten as we join Jim Nantz:

    "Ryan Allen punting to (Antonio) Brown, who's back deep at the ten. Snap is good, AND IT'S A FAKE! ALLEN THROWS......CAUGHT BY MARTIN, WHO WILL GO IN FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!......What a call by Bill Belichick, and what a throw by Ryan Allen. Tom Brady couldn't have done it better, Phil."

    Phil Simms: "I'm not sure about that, Jim, but that was a heck of a throw by Allen. The Patriots usually don't fake punt, but this one was put right on the money, and the Steelers were totally fooled. Keshawn Martin's becoming quite a cog in the New England offensive machine as well."

    Gostkowski missed the extra point, but the Pats still led 13-0 with 11:41 left in the first half.

    The Pats added another touchdown on their next possession. Brady completed passes of nineteen yards to Martin and thirteen yards to Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski added a twelve-yard catch-and-run. The drive reached the Steelers twenty-one before Brady was sacked for an eight-yard loss on third down by James Harrison. This set up a fourth and seventeen from the twenty-nine, which meant that Gostkowski faced a forty-six yard field goal attempt. Instead, Belichick decided to go for the first down, to the shock of just about everyone watching. Brady made it work, as he ducked under Harrison's rush and found Amendola at the ten. Danny then broke a tackle and went into the end zone for the touchdown. Gostkowski made the extra point this time, and with less than five minutes left in the first half the Pats led 20-0.

    The Steelers got on the board with a touchdown in the waning moments of the first half. Ben Roethlisberger completed passes of twenty-three yards to Markus Wheaton, fifteen yards to Heath Miller, and fifteen yards to AB, which gave the Steelers a first and goal at the New England eight. On second and goal from the two, Ben flipped the ball to tight end Jesse James for the score, and Chris Boswell added the extra point to bring the Steelers within 20-7 at halftime.

    The Black and Gold scored another touchdown after receiving the second half kickoff. Dri Archer's return gave the offense the ball at its own forty-nine, and Ben hit AB for seventeen yards and Miller for thirteen. LeVeon Bell's eleven-yard gain off right tackle gave the Steelers a first and goal at the Pats' two, and on the next play DeAngelo Williams scooted around left end and into the end zone. Bpswell added the extra point, and with 11:58 to play in the third quarter the Pats' lead was down to 20-14.

    The Pats answered with a field goal. Running back Dion Lewis caught screen passes for gains of twelve and fourteen, and Brady found Edelman for fifteen yards and LaFell for twenty-five and a first down at the Pittsburgh eleven. The offense lost two yard over the next three plays, but Gostkowski was good from thirty yards out to extend the New England lead to 23-14 with nine and a half minutes left in the third.

    The Steelers came right back with a touchdown thanks to Ben, who found AB for twelve yards and Martavis Bryant for nineteen. As we rejoin Jim, it's first and ten for the Steelers from the New England twenty-one:

    "The Steelers once again threatening down by nine. Williams once again spelling Bell, as (Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin has substituted liberally because of the injury situation. Williams gets the carry, and there's a great big hole up the middle! Ten, five, TOUCHDOWN PITTSBURGH!......DeAngelo Williams with his second touchdown of the quarter, and the lead for New England may be down to two in just a moment."

    Simms: "DeAngelo Williams is looking better and better as the game goes on, Jim. He accelerates through the hole here with no sign of hesitation, and once he's through it there's no one near him. LeVeon Bell still looks a bit tentative, so if I were Mike Tomlin I'd use DeAngelo Williams for the rest of this game."

    Boswell added the extra point, and with less than six minutes left in the third it was New England 23, Pittsburgh 21.

    On the first play of the Pats' next possession, the Steelers came up with a huge turnover, as Lawrence Timmons' shoulder nearly cut former teammate LaGarrette Blount in half at the waist. Fellow linebacker Ryan Shazier recovered the resulting fumble at the Pats' twelve, and on the nest play Ben spotted a wide-open Wheaton and gunned the ball to him for the touchdown. Boswell added the extra point, and after three quarters the Steelers had taken a 28-23 lead.

    A holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff backed the Pats up to their own nine, but Brady's fourteen-yard pass to Gronkowski got them out of trouble, and running back Steven Jackson gained thirteen yards off right tackle and eighteen yards on a pitchout, also to the right. The drive reached the Steelers' twenty-two before it stalled, and Gostkowski was good from thirty-nine yards out to trim the Pittsburgh lead to 28-26 with just over twelve minutes left in regulation.

    It was the Steelers' turn yo be pinned at their own nine by the ensuing kickoff, but Ben also got his team out of trouble, as he found Bryant for twenty-two yards and a first down. Ben followed that up with a twenty-three yard strike to AB, and Williams provided the biggest play of the drive by finding a hole off righto th tackle and roaring through it for fifty-two yards and a first and goal at the Pats' four. DeAngelo carried again on first down, but lost a yard. On second down, Ben found Bell circling out of the backfield and hit him with a perfect pass in the end zone for the touchdown. Boswell's extra point put the Steelers up 35-26 with less than eight minutes to play.

    After forcing a New England punt, the Steelers put the game away with one last touchdown. Ben's seventeen-yard pass to AB set things up, and Bell provided the dagger:

    Nantz: "First and ten from the New England twenty-seven. It's Bell's turn in the game, as DeAngelo Williams checks out. He figures to get the ball, and he does......takes it to the left side, and there's the hole. He doesn't look injured now, as he's gonna take it all the way to Santa Clara! TOUCHDOWN STEELERS!....And yes, even at Gillette Stadium, the Terrible Towels are flying high!"

    Simms: "What an incredible scene here. It's not quite as bad as in other stadiums, but this has definitely turned into a Pittsburgh crowd. As for the touchdown, it looks like Bell has finally loosened up, as he looks as quick as ever hitting the hole. Then he outruns Malcolm Butler, who was last year's Super Bowl hero for New England, into the end zone. What a second-half comeback by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they'll be tough to beat in Super Bowl 50."

    Boswell's final extra point wrapped up the Steelers' 42-26 win.

    Ben was named MVP by CBS after completing sixteen of his eighteen passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns. AB led the receiving corps with 109 yards on six catches, but almost everyone caught a key pass at some point. As for the ground game, Bell-Williams rotation gave the Pats fits; DeAngelo gained 102 yards on just eleven carries and scored twice, while LeVeon added seventy-one yards on seventeen carries and a touchdown. The team finished with 186 yards on thirty-six attempts with three touchdowns. On defense, Timmons finished with thirteen solo tackles.

    For the Pats, Brady finished twenty-three of thirty-one for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Martin caught three passes for seventy-three yards and a touchdown to lead the receivers, while Amendola added five catches for sixty-four yards and Edelman caught six passes for fifty-nine yards. Blount was the leading rusher with forty-two yards on twelve carries. On defense, safety Patrick Chung made eleven solo tackles, followed by linebacker Jerod Mayo with ten.

    The Steelers will represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
  9. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2015 NFC Wild Card Game from FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Game time temperature is 41 degrees, with fair skies and a west-northwest wind gusting to 22 MPH.

    The Seahawks scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Tyler Lockett's return gave the Hawks the ball at their own forty-two, and Marshawn Lynch's twenty-two yard gain on a draw play moved the ball into Redskins' territory. The touchdown came from twenty-eight yards out, as Russell Wilson found Lockett at the ten, and Tyler sped into the end zone for the score. Steven Hauschka added the extra point, and with 11:15 to play in the first quarter it was 7-0 Seattle.

    The Hawks added another touchdown before the end of the first quarter. The biggest plays of the drive were a thirteen-yard pass to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a ten-yard gain on a pitch to the right by running back Thomas Rawls. Wilson finished the drive himself with a pair of eight-yard scrambles, the second of which went for the touchdown. Hauschka's extra point extended the Hawks' lead to 14-0 after one quarter.

    The Hawks blew the game open with a third touchdown late in the second quarter. Reserve running back Bryce Brown went around right end with a pitch for sixteen yards, Lynch pounded his way up the middle for sixteen more, and Wilson connected with Kearse for twenty-eight yards and a first and goal at the Skins' six-yard line. Brown eventually scored from two yards out, and the Hawks led 21-0 with less than five minutes left in the second quarter.

    The Skins got on the board with a touchdown before the end of the first half. Quarterback Kirk Cousins hit DeSean Jackson for fifteen yards and Pierre Garcon for sixteen, and Cousins scrambled for eighteen yards and a first and goal at the Seattle ten. On second and goal from the five, Cousins found reserve tight end Jordan Reed for the touchdown, and kicker Dustin Hopkins added the extra point to bring the Skins within 21-7 at halftime.

    The Skins added a field goal after taking the second half kickoff. Cousins was five for five on the drive; among the passes he completed were a seventeen-yarder to Garcon, a twelve-yarder to Reed, a twelve-yarder to wide receiver Ryan Grant, and a thirteen-yarder to reserve fullback Jamison Crowder. The drive stalled at the Hawks' sixteen, but Hopkins kicked a thirty-three yard field goal to cut the Hawks'' lead to 21-10 with 6:33 to play in the third quarter.

    The next Seattle possession lasted just two plays; on the second play Wilson was intercepted by reserve cornerback Chris Culliver, who returned the ball to the Hawks' forty-six. The Skins earned one first down before the drive stalled at the Hawks' thirty-one. That left a forty-eight yard attempt for Hopkins, who tucked the ball just inside the left upright. After three quarters, it was Seahawks 21, Redskins 13.

    The Skins drove to a third consecutive field goal midway through the final period. The key plays of the drive were a thirteen-yard pass to Jackson and a seventeen-yard pass to Garcon. The drive stalled at the Hawks' twenty-three, but Hopkins was good from forty yards out to bring the Skins within 21-16 with less than six minutes remaining in regulation.

    The Hawks put the game away on their next possession. The key plays were a thirteen-yard gain on a draw play by Lynch and a ten-yard catch-and-run by tight end Jimmy Graham. As we pick up Joe Buck's call, the Hawks have a first and ten at the Washington thirty-four:

    "Less than three minutes left, and the Seahawks are threatening with a first and ten at the Redskins' thirty-four. Lynch the lone setback, and Wilson's in the shotgun. Back to throw, looking downfield, Graham's open by five yards...…..PASS IS CAUGHT, AND THAT WILL BE A TOUCHDOWN FOR SEATTLE!...…...Graham was five yards behind the Redskins' defense at the snap; the only question was whether he'd catch Wilson's pass."

    Troy Aikman: "The breakdown by the Redskins' defense on this play was unacceptable. Joe. You don't leave someone like Jimmy Graham wide open for any reason whatsoever, especially not by five yards or more. Graham's wide open and waiting for the pass, and Russell Wilson just lays it n there perfectly."

    Hauschka's extra point established our final score: Seattle 28, Washington 16.

    Wilson was named Player of the Game by Fox despite his meager passing numbers; he finished eight of thirteen for 148 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He added a third touchdown on the ground. Lockett was his leading receiver with three catches for fifty-nine yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Lynch led the way with ninety yards on thirteen carries, and the team rushed for 201 yards on thirty-six attempts with two touchdowns. On defense, linebacker Bobby Wagner finished with ten solo tackles.

    For the Skins, Cousins finished twenty-two of thirty-three for 263 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Garcon was the leading receiver with seventy-four yards on five catches, while Jackson caught four passes for sixty-nine yards and Reed added seven catches for sixty-four yards and a touchdown. Running back Matt Jones was the team's leading rusher with thirty-eight yards on thirteen carries, and the team managed just ninety-four yards on thirty-six attempts. On defense, cornerback DeAngelo Hall finished with eleven solo tackles, and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan registered two of the team's four sacks.

    The following Sunday in Charlotte, the Hawks staged a valiant fourth-quarter comeback in their NFC Divisional Playoff against the Panthers, scoring all twenty-four of their points in the second half. But the Panthers held on for a 31-24 victory. Cam Newton finished sixteen of twenty-two for 161 yards and a touchdown to tight end Greg Olsen, who finished with six catches for seventy-seven yards to lead the Carolina receiving corps. Running back Jonathan Stewart led the ground game, rushing for 106 yards on nineteen carries and scoring twice. The Panthers' defense sacked Wilson five times, and got a defensive touchdown on a fourteen-yard interception return by linebacker Luke Kuechly.

    Despite the Panthers' heavy pressure, Wilson was thirty-one of forty-eight for 366 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Kearse led the receivers with eleven catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns, while Lockett caught three passes for seventy-five yards and a score. Tight end Luke Willson caught four passes for fifty-four yards, and wide receiver Doug Baldwin added eighty-two yards on eight receptions.

    The Panthers will host the winner of the other NFC Divisional Playoff between the Vikings and the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, January 24.

    Next: The Cards host the Vikes.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
  10. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona:

    The first quarter was scoreless. The Cardinals got on the board first with a field goal midway through the second quarter. The running game provided the key plays, as Andre Ellington gained sixteen yards on a sweep to the left and Chris Johnson popped a draw play for fifteen. The drive eventually reached the Vikes' twenty-eight, and kicker Chandler Catanzaro kicked a forty-five yard field goal to put the Redbirds up 3-0 with 7:08 to play in the first half.

    The Vikes answered with a touchdown of their own. The only plays of ten yards or above were a pair of Teddy Bridgewater passes. One went to Mike Wallace, while the other went to Adrian Peterson. On second and goal from the Arizona six, Bridgewater hooked up with Jarius Wright for the touchdown. Blair Walsh added the extra point, and with 1:13 left until halftime the Vikes led 7-3.

    The Cards scored a touchdown on the last play of the half to take a lead into the locker room. Ellington caught a sixteen-yard screen pass, and quarterback Carson Palmer hit tight end Darren Fells for gains of twelve and twenty-six. On the final play of the half, Chris powered into the end zone from two yards out for the touchdown. Catanzaro's extra point was no good due to a bad snap, but the Cards still held a 9-7 halftime lead.

    The Vikes went ahead with a field goal after taking the second half kickoff. The key play of the drive was Peterson's thirty-seven yard romp off right tackle, which gave the Vikes a first down at the Redbirds' thirty-two. The drive stalled at the twenty-seven, but Walsh was good from forty-four yards out to give the Vikes a 10-9 lead with 12:04 left in the third quarter.

    The Cards took the lead with a touchdown before the third period expired. Palmer connected with Larry Fitzgerald for elven yards and fellow wideout John Brown for seventeen, and both running backs named Johnson contributed key gains; Chris roared up the middle for fifteen, while David slammed his way off the left side for twenty-one. The latter run gave the Cards a first and goal from the Minny six, and Palmer wasted no time finding Fitz for the touchdown. Catanzaro added the extra point, and at the end of three quarters it was Arizona 16, Minnesota 10.

    The Vikes were driving for the go-ahead touchdown as the third quarter ended. However, the big play occurred on the first play of he final quarter, as Bridgewater found wide receiver Charles Johnson (no relation to the former Steeler that I know of) streaking downfield and hit him in stride for a gain of thirty-six and a first down at the Arizona nineteen. On third and two from the elven, Teddy found a wide-open Stefon Diggs in the end zone for the touchdown. Walsh added the extra point, and with 13:33 left in regulation the Vikes were back on top 17-16.

    The visitors were able to add a field goal in short order, as on the second play of the ensuing Arizona drive David was hit by Chad Greenway, which popped the ball loose. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes pounced on the loose ball at the Cards' twenty-seven, and a ten-yard pass to Diggs was all that was needed to put the Vikes in field goal range. The drive eventually stalled at the eleven, but Walsh connected from twenty-eight yards out to extend the Vikes' lead to 20-16 with just over ten minutes to play in regulation.

    The Cards answered with a field goal of their own. David's kickoff retuen set the offense up at its own thirty-eight, and Palmer guided them downfield in a hurry, completing passes to Brown for eleven yards, Fitzgerald for twelve, and fellow wideout Michael Floyd for twelve more. The drive fizzled at the Minnesota twenty-seven, but Catanzaro booted a forty-four yard field goal to cut the visitors' lead to 20-19 with just over six minutes to play.

    The Vikes figured to have the game won, as they ran most of the next six minutes off the clock. They forced the Cards to exhaust all of their timeouts, and punted from the Arizona forty-five with twenty-five seconds to play. The return only got the Cards out to their own twenty-eight with eighteen seconds left, which left Palmer with time for two or three plays at most. He fired downfield right away, and wideout J.J. Nelson made the catch. Time was still running, and the Vikes could have let him get all the way down to the goal line before making the stop, which would have left the Cards with no time for another play. But safety Andrew Sendejo pushed Nelson out of bounds at the Minnesota thirteen, which left four seconds for one last shot at the end zone. Here's Al Michaels with what happened next:

    "One last play from the thirteen. Palmer has to hit the end zone, because if the receiver's tackled short the game's over."

    Cris Collinsworth: "It's gotta be Fitzgerald, Al. Everyone in this stadium knows it."

    Michaels: "That oughta leave a whole bunch of other people in single coverage. Here we go. Snap to Palmer, who can take as long as he wants. Now he fires......CAUGHT BY FITZGERALD! THEY LEFT HIM ONE-ON-ONE! How could they do that in this situation?......They're going crazy here. and (Vikings coach) Mike Zimmer knows he messed up. Big time."

    Collinsworth: "I don't know about that, Al. He thought like you did, that the Cardinals would go to someone else because Larry Fitzgerald would be covered, that he'd be Carson Palmer's last option. The problem is, he outthought himself, as the second Carson sees Fitz open, here comes the ball, and all Fitz has to do is outreach Terence Newman for it. Sometimes coaches think too much, and in this case the Vikings are going home because of it."

    Catanzaro added the extra point against a skeleton Vikes' defense, and we had our final score: Cards 26, Vikes 20.

    Palmer's picture was the one put on the Horse Trailer. He completed eighteen of his twenty-three passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Nelson led the receivers with seventy-two yards on just two catches, including the fifty-nine yarder that set up the game-winning touchdown. Fitz finished with fifty-eight yards on six catches and a pair of touchdowns. The ground game added 160 yards on thirty-three attempts with a touchdown, and Chris led the individual rushers with eighty-seven yards on seventeen carries and a score. David contributed forty-eight yards on eleven carries. On defense, former Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley sacked Bridgewater twice.

    Speaking of Bridgewater, he was fourteen of twenty for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Charles' thirty-eight yard reception in the fourth quarter made him the Vikes' leading receiver, as Diggs was held to four catches for thirty-one yards and a touchdown. All Day was splendid as usual, shredding the Arizona defense for 125 yards on nineteen carries. The Vikes as a team rushed for 172 yards on thirty-five attempts, but were held out of the end zone. On defense, Greenway finished with an astounding fifteen solo tackles.

    The following week, the Redbirds traveled to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game, and it was all Panthers from start to finish, as they cruised to a 49-15 rout and a date with the Steelers at Super Bowl 50. Cam Newton finished nineteen of twenty-eight for 335 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. One of the touchdowns was an eighty-six yarder to wide receiver Corey Brown, who finished with 113 yards on just four catches. Greg Olsen finished with the same amount of yardage on six catches, and wideout Ted Ginn Jr. finished with fifty-two yards on just two receptions. Jonathan Stewart contributed eighty-three yards on nineteen carries, and the Panthers as a team rushed for 156 yards on thirty-three attempts. Newton helped his own cause with forty-seven yards on ten carries with a pair of scores. On defense, Luke Keuchly had another pick-six, this one covering twenty-two yards.

    For the Cards, Palmer finished nineteen of forty for 235 yards and a touchdown; he was sacked three times and intercepted four times. David had a productive day both rushing and receiving, as he carried fifteen tones for sixty yards and a touchdown and caught nine passes for sixty-eight yards. Fitz was held to just four catches for thirty yards, while Fells caught the other touchdown from Palmer.

    Super Bowl 50 will take place on February 7 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Kickoff is scheduled for exactly 6:39 PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action. Tracy Wolfson and Evan Washburn as sideline reporters. Jay Feely will serve as a kicking expert, while Mike Carey will serve as a rules expert.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  11. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for the second of our four-part series on years where a real-life Super Bowl participant didn't make the postseason. The year in focus: 2011.

    Since it was the NFC participant (the Giants) who missed out, let's look at that conference first. We begin in the Giants' division, the East:

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

    The Eagles' two-game improvement is enough for them to go all the way up from third to first, and the Boys also add a game to take second. The real-life Super Bowl champs drop a game and finish right at .500, while the last-place Skins pick up a game, but still finish with double-digit losses.

    Next, the North:

    Green Bay Packers: 12-4 (-3)
    Detroit Lions: 10-6 (0)
    Chicago Bears: 8-8 (0)
    Minnesota Vikings: 6-10 (+3)

    The Pack falls off by three games, but still takes the division crown by two over the Lions, who remain in place. The Bears also freeze in third, while the Pack's missing three wins turn up in Minnesota; it's not enough to save the Vikes from last place, though.

    By the way, the Lions' 10-6 record is the one that seals the Giants' playoff fate, since there are now two non-division winners with a better record than they have.

    Now, the South:

    New Orleans Saints: 12-4 (-1)
    Atlanta Falcons: 9-7 (-1)
    Carolina Panthers: 8-8 (+2)
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-12 (0)

    The Saints and Falcons each drop a game, which keeps the Saints' three-game margin of victory intact. The Panthers add a pair to eke out a .500 season, while the Bucs stay put in the basement.

    Finally, the West:

    San Francisco 49ers: 12-4 (-1)
    Seattle Seahawks: 8-8 (+1)
    Arizona Cardinals: 7-9 (-1)
    St. Louis Rams: 2-14 (0)

    The Niners drop a game, but still enjoy a four-game victory over the Hawks, whose one-game improvement allows them to swap places with the Redbirds, who drop a game. Meanwhile, the Rams show no movement at all, which spells the end for head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Jeff Fisher will take the Rams by the horns (ha, ha) in 2012.

    Seeds:

    1. 49ers (NFC West champs): 12-4
    2. Saints (NFC South champs): 12-4
    3. Packers (NFC North champs): 12-4
    4. Eagles (NFC East champs): 10-6
    5. Lions (NFC North second place): 10-6
    6. Falcons (NFC South second place; won tiebreaker with Cowboys): 9-7

    The Falcons hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the six seed over the Cowboys, 9.3 to 8.6.

    We have a three-way tie among the Packers, Niners, and Saints for the top seed. We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle it, and we find that the Niners earn it with 12.3. The Saints take the two seed with 12.1, while the Pack's 11.9 forces them to settle for the three seed.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 7:

    Lions-Eagles, 8, NBC- Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 8:

    Falcons-Packers, 4:30, Fox- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver (sideline reporter), Chris Myers (sideline reporter)

    Next: We look at the AFC.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  12. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for our look at the AFC. We begin in the East:

    New England Patriots: 12-4 (-1)
    Miami Dolphins: 9-7 (+3)
    New York Jets: 8-8 (0)
    Buffalo Bills: 7-9 (+1)

    The Pats drop a game, but still take the title by three games over the surprising Fins, who manage to improve by three games and finish over .500 despite firing head coach Tony Sparano in thirteen games. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles oversaw things the rest of the way, but he'll turn things over to Joe Philbin in 2012. The Jets finish in a third-place holding pattern, while the Bills improve by a game but still finish last.

    Now, the North:

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

    The Ravens and Steelers each drop a game, which means that they're still tied for the division title. The Bengals remain unchanged in third, while the Browns improve by a game but still finish six games out of first.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the division tile, and we run into another deadlock, as both teams finish with 11.2. Our next tiebreaker is head-to-head, and the Ravens swept the season series to take the title.

    Now, the South:

    Houston Texans: 11-5 (+1)
    Tennessee Titans: 8-8 (-1)
    Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-11 (0)
    Indianapolis Colts: 3-13 (+1)

    The Texans add a game to take the division crown by three over the Titans, who fall off by one. The Jags freeze in third, and Mike Mularkey will take over for the deposed Jack Del Rio (and interim coach Mel Tucker) in 2012. Meanwhile, the last-place, Peyton Manning-less Colts still manage a one-game improvement.

    Finally, the West:

    San Diego Chargers: 9-7 (+1)
    Denver Broncos: 6-10 (-2)
    Oakland Raiders: 6-10 (-2)
    Kansas City Chiefs: 4-12 (-3)

    The Bolts improve by one to take the title over the Broncos, who aren't helped by the miracles of Tim Tebow in this universe and drop a pair. The Raiders also drop a pair to force a tie for second. while the Chiefs fall off by three under the joint stewardship of Todd Haley and interim coach Romeo Crennel. Crennel will return was the Chiefs' full-time coach in 2012. The Raiders will also have a new head man next year, as Dennis Allen will take over for Hue Jackson.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for second, and it goes to the Raiders, 6.3 to 5.8.

    Seeds:

    1. Patriots (AFC East champs): 12-4
    2. Ravens (AFC North champs): 11-5
    3. Texans (AFC South champs): 11-5
    4. Chargers (AFC West champs): 9-7
    5. Steelers (AFC North second place): 11-5
    6. Bengals (AFC North third place; won tiebreaker with Dolphins): 9-7

    The Ravens hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the two seed over the Texans, 11.2 to 10.9.

    We have a tie for the six seed between the Dolphins and the Bengals at 9-7. We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle it, and the Bengals edge the Fins 8.6 to 8.5.

    On Saturday, January 7, the Texans opened Wild Card Weekend by dominating the visiting Bengals 31-10. The offense was led by Arian Foster, who gouged the Cincy defense for 153 yards on twenty-four carries and scored two touchdowns, one of which was from forty-two yards out. The Texans as a team rushed for 188 yards on thirty-five attempts. This took the pressure off of rookie starting quarterback T.J. Yates, who finished eleven of twenty for 159 yards and a touchdown to Andre Johnson, who finished with ninety yards on five catches. The victors also got a twenty-nine yard interception return for a touchdown from J.J. Watt.

    For the Bengals, Andy Dalton finished twenty-seven of forty-two for 257 yards; he was intercepted three times and sacked four times. A.J. Green was held to five catches for forty-seven yards, but that was still enough to be the Bengals' leading receiver. Fellow wideout Jermaine Gresham added five catches for forty-six yards, while running back Brian Leonard caught six balls for thirty-six yards. Leonard was also the Bengals' leading rusher with thirty-four yards on three carries; the Bengals as a team managed seventy-six yards on nineteen carries with a touchdown, which was scored by Cedric Benson.

    The following Sunday, the Texans traveled to Baltimore for the second AFC Divisional Playoff, and the Ravens escaped with a hard-fought 20-13 victory to advance to the AFC Championship Game. Yates looked like the rookie he was, completing just seventeen of his thirty-five passes for 184 yards and three interceptions. Johnson helped as best he could, catching eight passes for 111 yards to lead Houston's receivers. Foster had another spectacular day on the ground as well, carrying twenty-seven times for 132 yards and a touchdown.

    For the victorious Ravens, Joe Flacco braved five Texans sacks to finish fourteen of twenty-seven for 176 yards and two touchdowns. One of the scores went to Anquan Boldin, who finished with four catches for seventy-three yards and a touchdown. The Texans' defense held the Ravens to eighty-seven yards rushing on thirty-one attempts; Ray Rice was the leading individual rusher with sixty yards on twenty-one carries. On defense, cornerback Ladarius Webb intercepted Yates twice.

    In the second AFC Wild Card Game on January 8, the Chargers will welcome the Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 4:30 PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms set to call the action.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  13. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2011 NFC Wild Card Game from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Game time temperature is 31 degrees, with fair skies and a southwest wind at 6 MPH.

    The Falcons scored first. The key play of the drive was a twenty-six yard rumble up the middle by fullback Jason Snelling. Michael Turner gained eleven more yards off left tackle, and Matt Ryan's fourteen-yard pass to Roddy White gave the Falcons a first down at the Packers' thirty-two. The touchdown came from twenty-four yards out, as Ran completed a short pass to future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez broke tackles at the ten and five before reaching the end zone for the touchdown. Matt Bryant added the extra point, and the Falcons led 7-0 with 8:50 to play in the opening quarter.

    The Pack answered with a field goal. The biggest play of the drive was James Starks' seventeen-yard rumble up the middle, which gave the home squad a first down at the Falcons' twenty-eight. The drive stalled at the twenty-one, but Mason Crosby was good from thirty-eight yards out to cut the Atlanta lead to 7-3 after one quarter.

    The Pack narrowed the Falcons' lead a bit further with a field goal just before halftime. Starks broke another draw play for a twelve-yard gain, and fullback John Kuhn added a ten-yard gain that was mostly an advantageous fumble recovery. A screen pass to running back Brandon "Zoom" Saine gained forty yards and gave the Pack a first and goal at the Atlanta four, but a holding call ruined the drive as far as touchdowns went. They managed to fight back to the ten, and Crosby converted a twenty-seven yard attempt to get the home squad back within 7-6 at the half.

    The Pack scored a touchdown to take the lead after receiving the second-half kickoff. The key play of the drive was Rodgers' thirty-eight yard bomb to Jordy Nelson, which gave the home squad a first down at the Falcons' eleven. Rodgers was thrown for a six-yard loss by defensive tackle Jordan Babineaux on first down, but he recovered on second down to hit a wide-open James Jones in the end zone for the touchdown. Crosby's extra point put the Pack in front 13-7 with 9:38 left in the third period.

    The Pack added a field goal just before the end of the third quarter. The big play was Ryan Grant's forty-five yard gain around right nd with a pitch, which gave the home squad a first down at the Falcons' eighteen. The offense gained only one more yard, but Crosby converted a thirty-four yard attempt to give the Pack a 16-7 lead with one quarter remaining.

    The Falcons scored next early in the final period. Ryan connected with Gonzalez for gains of eleven and seventeen, then hit Julio Jones for ten more. As we pick up Joe Buck's call, the Falcons face a second and five from the Packers' thirty-two:

    "Three wide receivers for Ryan on second and five, with Snelling acting as a tight end in place of Gonzalez. Ryan drops back, rush is coming, he has to check it down to Snelling, who's got the first down, AND THE PACKERS MISS A TACKLE! Snelling is down to the fifteen, ten, five, dives for the pylon.....HE MADE IT! TOUCHDOWN ATLANTA!.....Actually, that was more of a lunge than a dive, but he still got there, and this will be a two-point game with Bryant's extra point."

    Troy Aikman: "The Packers made this mess for themselves by missing a tackle on Snelling just after he made the first down. That was (linebacker) A.J. Hawk with the miss, and from there the Packers just look disorganized. Meanwhile Snelling's still on his feet until he reaches or lunges or whatever you wanna call it for the pylon, and he clears it with room to spare."

    Bryant added the extra point, and with just under ten minutes left in regulation it was Packers 16, Falcons 14.

    After the Atlanta defense forced a three-and-out, Eric Weems returned the ensuing punt all the way out to his own forty-seven. Ryan's seventeen-yard pass to Roddy White gave the Dirty Birds a first down at the Green Bay twenty-four, and the drive reached the sixteen before stalling. Thus, Bryant's attempt was from thirty-three yards out, and Bryant converted to put the Falcons up 17-16 with less than five minutes to play.

    The Pack scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown just after the two-minute warning. Starks popped another draw for seventeen yards and a first down at the Atlanta forty-three, and as we come out of the two-minute warning it's second and seven for the Pack at the Falcons' forty. Here's Joe:

    "Packers with a running look on second and seven after the two-minute warning. Grant the tailback, Kuhn the fullback. Third down will definitely be a pass unless this play gains big yardage. Rodgers back three steps, rush is on, straight down the middle, and CAUGHT BY KUHN! FINGERTIP CATCH, AND HE'S GOT NOTHING BUT GRASS IN FRONT OF HIM! JOHN KUHN IS GOING ALL THE WAY FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!...…..This had to be a broken play. Kuhn clearly was in there to block, Troy."

    Troy Aikman: "He sure was, Joe, but as he comes off the line of scrimmage looking for someone to hit, h sees Rodgers about to throw it away, adjusts himself a bit, and makes a fingertip catch. Once he secures the ball, his job is done. All he has to do is stay on his feet, because the Falcons have been caught completely flatfooted. Even (Packers coach) Mike McCarthy doesn't quite know what to make of it, except that it's all good for his Packers."

    Crosby added the extra point, and the Falcons' last-ditch drive was stopped well short of midfield. Our final: Packers 23, Falcons 17.

    Rodgers was named MVP by Fox. He completed seventeen of his twenty-four passes for 283 yards with touchdowns and an interception. Nelson was his leading receiver with seventy-one yards on just three catches. On the ground, the Pack rushed for 157 yards on thirty-three team attempts. Grant was the leading individual rusher with sixty-five yards on ten carries, while Starks carried twelve times for sixty-three yards.

    For the Falcons, Snelling led the ground game with fifty yards on just five carries, while Turner was held to just forty-six yards on eighteen carries. As a team, the Falcons gained 172 yards on thirty-nine rushing attempts. Ryan threw only fourteen tines, completing eight for 142 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Gonzalez was his leading receiver with three catches for fifty-two yards and a touchdown, while White caught three passes for thirty-nine yards.

    Next for the Pack: A trip to the Superdome to take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints next Sunday. Game time is set for 4:30 PM Eastern on Fox, with Joe and Troy once again calling the action. Pam Oliver and Chris Myers will once again serve as sideline reporters.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  14. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2011 AFC Wild Card Game from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Game time temperature is 56 degrees, with fair skies and calm winds.

    The Chargers scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Phillip Rivers completed a thirteen-yard pass to tight end Randy McMichael, and running back Ryan Mathews busted off left tackle for twenty-seven yards and a first down at the Pittsburgh fourteen. The drive reached the eight before bogging down, but Nick Novak's twenty-five yard field goal gave the home squad a 3-0 lead after one quarter.

    The Steelers took the lead with a touchdown late in the first half. Ben Roethlisberger's twenty-yard pass to Antonio Brown put the offense in San Diego territory, and as we pick up Jim Nantz's call, they face a first and ten at the San Diego thirty-two:

    "First and ten for Pittsburgh from the Chargers' thirty-two, as we head down toward the two-minute mark, Three wide receivers and (Rashard) Mendenhall in the backfield. Ben back to throw, and he's got all day. Wallace is open in the secondary, Ben throws......CAUGHT IN STRIDE FOR THE TOUCHDOWN...….Antonio Brown got behind (cornerback) Quentin Jammer, and Ben put in right on the button for six."

    Phil Simms: "What a throw by Ben Roethlisberger, and what protection by the Pittsburgh offensive line, which gave Ben all day back there. Then Antonio Brown beats Quentin Jammer, and we have an easy touchdown. The Chargers need to make sure their coverage is tighter against Wallace and Antonio Brown, or Big Ben's gonna pick them apart all day."

    Shaun Suisham added the extra point, and the Steelers had a 7-3 halftime lead.

    The Steelers scored after taking the second half kickoff. AB's return gave the offense the ball at its own forty-two, and Mendenhall took a sweep around left end for seventeen yards to put the ball n San Diego territory. Fellow running back Isaac Redman slashed off right tackle for elven yards and another first down, and Ben connected with Hines Ward for thirteen more yards. A facemask penalty on Jammer put the ball at the San Diego eleven, and from the seven Ben found AB once more for the touchdown. Suisham added the extra point, and with 10:04 left in the third period the Steelers led 14-3.

    The Chargers answered with a field goal. Rivers completed passes of twenty-two yards to Vincent Jackson and twenty-six yards to fellow wideout Vincent Brown. The latter pass gave the Bolts a first down at the Pittsburgh fifteen, but the offense lost three yards on the next three plays. That set up a thirty-five yard attempt for Novak, which he converted to cut the Steelers' lead to 14-6 with 6:24 left in the third.

    The Steelers scored again before the end of the period. Ben found Emmanuel Sanders for eighteen yards and a first down, and Redman picked up twelve yards off the right side on a pitch. As we pick up the action, it's third and seven from the Chargers' thirty-five. Here's Jim Nantz:

    "Steelers facing a third and seven with Sanders, Wallace, and Brown all in the game an to the right. Mendenhall in the backfield. Ben again with all day, moves around a bit.....another busted coverage, and this time it's Brown wide open......THE CHARGERS HAVE BEEN BURNED AGAIN, AS BROWN WALKS IN FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!...…..The San Diego secondary has no answer for the Young Money Crew, as the Pittsburgh receivers call themselves."

    Simms: "Another busted coverage by the Chargers, and Antonio Brown is left all by himself as he beats )cornerback) Antoine Cason by at least three yards. That's two long touchdowns that the Chargers have given up, and that's almost the entirety of the Pittsburgh lead."

    Suisham added the extra point, and after three quarters the Steelers led 21-6.

    The Chargers got back into the game with a touchdown early in the final quarter. Patrick Crayton's punt return gave them the ball at their own forty, and Rivers found Jackson for fourteen yards to get the ball across midlfield. When we rejoin Jim and Phil, it's first and ten for the Bolts from the Steelers' thirty-two:

    "The Chargers threatening to get back in the game, as they've reached the Steelers' thirty-two. Here's a handoff to the fullback Mike Tolbert, and there's a hole right up the middle. Tolbert down to the twenty, the fifteen, shrugs out of (cornerback) Ike Taylor's tackle, and he'll go on in for the touchdown! A thirty-two yard run on the draw play by Tolbert, and the Chargers can get back to within one score with Novak's extra point."

    Simms: "We've talked a lot today about the Steelers' offensive line, but the credit for this touchdown goes to the Chargers' offensive line, which opened a huge hole for Tolbert. The only one with a shot to tackle him is Ike Taylor, and in this league cornerbacks don't often tackle fullbacks who have momentum."

    Novak added the extra point, and the Chargers trailed 21-13 with less than twelve minutes left in regulation.

    Tolbert was a hero for the moment, but he turned into a goat when he fumbled on the Chargers' next possession. Linebacker Larry Foote recovered for the Steelers at their own forty-three, and Ben completed passes of twenty yards to Sanders and eleven yards to Wallace. On second and eight from the Chargers' eleven, it was Ben to Wallace once more for the touchdown. Suisham added the extra point, and with less than seven minutes left in regulation the Steelers now led 28-13.

    The Chargers turned it over again later in the quarter, as Rivers was picked off by Taylor, who returned the ball to the Chargers' seventeen. The Steelers scored in just two plays: an eleven-yard catch-and-run by Heath Miller and the touchdown pass to AB from six yards out. Suisham added one last extra point, and the Steelers had wrapped up an impressive 35-13 victory.

    There were plenty of MVP candidates for CBS, but they gave the award to Ben, who finished twenty-three of thirty-three for 328 yards and five touchdowns. Two of them went to Wallace, who led the receiving corps with ninety-seven yards on five catches, and the other three went to AB, who totaled eighty-one yards on five catches. Not to be outdone, the ground game gained 171 yards on thirty-eight attempts. Mendenhall was the leading individual rusher with seventy-five yards on eighteen carries, while Redman added forty-seven yards on ten carries.

    For the Chargers, Rivers finished seventeen of thirty-four for 221 yards and an interception. Jackson was his leading receiver with fifty-nine yards on four catches. Mathews led the ground game with seventy-one yards on seventeen carries, while Tolbert added fifty-seven yards on ten carries with a touchdown. On defense, linebacker Takeo Spikes finished with ten solo tackles.

    The Steelers' next stop is Foxborough, where they'll take on the top-seeded New England Patriots in the first AFC Divisional Playoff next Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim and Phil once again calling the action. Steve Tasker will serve as sideline reporter.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  15. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2011 AFC Divisional Playoff from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature in 32 degrees, with cloudy skies and a west-southwest wind gusting to 23 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is nineteen degrees.

    The Pats scored first after safety Sergio Brown intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it to his own forty-seven. BenJarvus Green-Ellis picked up ten yards on a draw play to gat the Pats into Pittsburgh territory, and fellow running back Stevan Ridley gained ten more yards on a sweep around left end. A pass to Rob Gronkowski picked up ten more yards, and then came the big play of the drive, as Tom Brady connected with Wes Welker, who ran the ball all the way down to the Steelers' half-yard line before he was stopped. All Ridley had to do on the next play was lean the ball over the goal line for the touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski added the extra point, and with less than six minutes to play in the opening quarter the Pats led 7-0.

    The Steelers answered with a touchdown before the end of the period. Ben completed passes of sixteen yards to Mike Wallace, eleven yards to Emmanuel Sanders, seventeen yards to Hines Ward, and nineteen yards to Antonio Brown. The touchdown came from three yards out, as Rashard Mendenhall made his way up the middle and into the end zone for the score. Shaun Suisham added the extra point, and we were tied at seven after one quarter.

    The Pats took the lead again with a field goal midway through the second quarter. The biggest plays of the drive were Ellis' twelve-yard gain on a sweep around left end and Brady's twenty-yard pass to Gronkowski. The drive stalled at the Pittsburgh sixteen, but Gostkowski converted a thirty-three yard field goal to put the Pats up 10-7 with less than eight minutes left in the first half.

    The Steelers took the lead back with a touchdown before the first half expired. The defense was primarily responsible, as the Pats were driving for a score of their own when running back Kevin Faulk was hit by Steelers linebacker James Farrior. Troy Polamalu recovered for the Black and Gold at their own twenty. Ben bought the team downfield in a hurry, aided by a twenty-four yard strike to Wallace, and a twenty-five yard catch-and-run by AB. On second and none from the New England eighteen, Ben threw over the middle to Miller, who broke a tackle at the ten and romped into the end zone for the touchdown. Suisham added the extra point, and the Steelers took a 14-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.

    After a scoreless third quarter, the Pats cut into the Steelers lead with a field goal early in the final period. Brady's ten-yard pass to Deion Branch set up the drive's big play, as Ridley gashed the left side of the Pittsburgh defense for thirty-three yards on a sweep. This gave the Pats a first down at the Steelers' nineteen, and the drive reached the twelve before it stalled. Gostkowski was good from twenty-nine yards out, and the Pats were back to within 14-13 with less than nine minutes left in regulation.

    The Stteelers' defense forced another turnover on the Pats' next possession, which led to the game-clinching touchdown. This time, it was Polamalu who put the hit on Welker and forced a fumble. Safety Ryan Clark made the recovery at the New England forty-seven. As we pick up the call from Jim Nantz, it's third and three for the Steelers from the forty:

    "Lucky recovery by Ward on Redman's fumble to keep the ball for the Steelers. Now it's third and three, and Mewelde Moore checks into the backfield. Watch for him to get open for a pass if possible. They switch things up and hand it to him, and he's got a hole off the right side for a first down and more. Thirty, twenty-five, breaks a tackle at the twenty, and no one else is gonna catch him! Mewelde Moore into the end zone for the touchdown!.....He turned on the speed at about the fifteen, and that was all she wrote, Phil."

    Phil Simms: "We hear a lot about Rashard Mendenhall, and Isaac Redman's starting to get some press, but Mewelde Moore is a vital part of this Pittsburgh offense as a rusher and a pass receiver. He fins the whole off the right side, and as you said, Jim, he puts on a burst of speed to make sure that he outruns the New England secondary. The Patriots have 4:06 to score a touchdown and most likely a two-point conversion."

    Suisham added the extra point to put the Steelers up 21-13, which turned out to be the final score.

    Ben was named MVP by CBS for the second week in a row. He completed seventeen of his twenty-one passes for 262 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Wallace led the receivers with eighty-seven yards on four catches, while AB caught three passes for sixty-nine yards and Ward caught four balls for forty-eight yards. Moore's long touchdown run cemented his status as the Steelers' leading rusher, as he gained forty-nine yards on just three carries with a touchdown. Mendenhall was held to just twenty-seven yards on twelve carries with a score, and Redman managed twenty-seven yards on seven carries.

    The Pats rushed for 165 yards as a team on thirty-four attempts. Ridley was the leading individual rusher with sixty-four yards on eight carries with a touchdown, while Ellis carried thirteen times for sixty-one yards. Brady finished sixteen of twenty-six for 156 yards; Welker was his leading receiver with sixty-seven yards on eight carries, while Branch caught four balls for fifty-eight yards.

    The Steelers will now head for Baltimore for a third meeting with their division rivals the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Game time is set for 3PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim and Phil once again calling the action and Steve Tasker once again serving as sideline reporter.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  16. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2011 NFC Wild Card Game from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Game time temperature is 38 degrees, with fair skies and a west wind at 8 MPH.

    The Lions scored first after taking the opening kickoff. The key plays were a twelve-yard screen pass to running back Kevin Smith and a nineteen-yard pass to wide receiver Nate Burleson. The drive bogged down at the Eagles' thirty, but kicker Jason Hanson booted a forty-seven yard field goal that put the Lions up 3-0 with 9:39 left in the opening quarter.

    The Eagles answered with a field goal off their own. The key play of this drive was the first one, when Shady McCoy barged through a hole off left tackle for forty-three yards and a first down at the Lions' twenty-eight. The Eagles gained only eight more yards over the next three plays, which left a thirty-seven yard field goal attempt for kicker Alex Henery. The kick was good, and we were tied at three with exactly seven minutes to play in the opening period.

    The Lions scored again on the ensuing possession. Matthew Stafford found Calvin "Megatron" Johnson for seventeen yards and a first down, Smith caught another screen pass for twelve yards, and fellow running back Maurice Morris added a thirteen-yard catch-and-run. An eleven-yard gain on an end around from Burleson gave the Lions a first and goal at the Philly seven, and from there Stafford found wide receiver Brandon Pettigrew for the touchdown. Hanson added the extra point, and the Lions took a 10-3 lead after one quarter.

    The Eagles spent the final four and a half minutes of the opening quarter on what turned out to be a field goal drive. Michael Vick found Corey Maclin for fifteen yards and a first down, then later in the drive found DeSean Jackson for fifteen more. By the end of the first quarter, the Eagles had reached the Detroit thirty-one, and on the first play of the second quarter Henery boomed a forty-eight yard field goal to cut the Detroit led to 10-6.

    The Lions came right back with a field goal of their own. Stefan Logan's kickoff return set up the Detroit offense at the Eagles' forty, and running back Jahvid Best gained twelve yards on a sweep to the left, which put the Lions in field goal range. Hanson eventually converted a thirty-seven yard attempt to increase the Lions' lead to 13-6 with 12:13 left in the first half.

    Now it was the Eagles' turn. Vick connected with Maclin over the middle for twenty-four yards, then found tight end Brent Celek for fifteen. The drive reached the Lions' twenty-three, and Henery was good from forty yards out to get the Eagles back within 13-9 with 7:22 left in the first half.

    The Lions were next. Logan's kickoff return gave the Lions the ball at the Philly forty-five, and Stafford's fifteen-yard pass to Johnson gave the visitors a first down at the twelve. The Lions gained just two yards on the next three plays, but Hanson was good from twenty-seven yards out to reestablish the Lions' seven-point lead at 16-9 with exactly five minutes left in the half.

    The scoring barrage continued, as the Eagles took the ball right back down the field. McCoy took a sweep around left end for eleven yards, then ran the same play for ten more. Fellow running back Dion Lewis barged off right tackle for fourteen yards, and a third back, Ronnie Brown, zipped up the middle for twenty--two more. a pair of twelve-yard passes to Maclin put the ball at the Detroit twelve, and Vick proceeded to find Jackson in the end zone on the next play. Coach Andy Reid decided to go for two, and Vick plowed through the middle and into the end zone for the conversion. The Eagles thus led 17-16 with 2:55 left in the first half, and the Lions' possession at the end of the half was the first one in the game that didn't result in points. The Eagles still led by one at the half.

    The Eagles added to their lead after receiving the second half kickoff. McCoy was the catalyst; he took a sweep around left end for twenty-two yards, popped a draw play up the middle for sixteen, and caught a ten-yard swing pass from Vick. The latter play gave the Eagles a first and goal at the Lions' four, and on second and goal from the five Vick found Jackson in the end zone for the touchdown. Henery's extra point put the Eagles up 24-16 with 9:58 left in the third quarter.

    The game of your turn-my turn continued, as the Lions came back with a touchdown of their own. Logan returned the ensuing kickoff to his own thirty-seven, and on the first play from scrimmage Smith raced through a chasm off left tackle for forty-one yards and a first down at the Philly twenty-two. Best eventually scored from a yard out off the left side, and Hanson kicked the extra point to cut the Eagles' lead to 24-23 with 7:12 left in the third period.

    Next it was the Eagles' turn. The key play of the drive came from McCoy again, as he took a pitch to the right, broke several tackles, and ended up gaining sixty-eight yards and a first down at the Detroit fourteen. Two plays later from the eight, fullback Owen Schmitt plowed up the middle and into the end zone for the touchdown. Henery added the extra point, and the Eagles led 31-23 with 4:26 left in the third.

    The pattern was broken on the next Lions' possession, as Stafford was picked off by Asante Samuel, who returned the ball to the Detroit thirty-five. Brown gained eleven yards up the middle, and Vick's ten-yard pass to Jackson gave the Eagles a first and goal at the Detroit five. McCoy scored from three yards out on second and goal, and Henery added the extra point to put the Eagles up 38-23 after three quarters.

    The Lions were already driving toward an answer was the third quarter ended. Best took a sweep around left end for thirty-two yards, then gained twenty-five more on a draw play. A facemask penalty put the ball at the Philly eleven, and Burleson ran the end around into the end zone for the score. Hanson added the extra point, and with 13:46 left in one of the wildest games in postseason history, it was Philadelphia 38, Detroit 30.

    The Lions recorded the game's first defensive stop, and Logan's punt return gave the Lions the ball at the Eagles' forty-two. Here's Al Michaels:

    "We're down under ten minutes left, and that was our first punt. Wow. From the forty-two on first down, the handoff is to Smith, AND LOOK AT THE HOLE UP THE MIDDLE! HE'S IN THE SECONDARY, AND NO ONE'S GONNA CATCH HIM! TOUCHDOWN DETROIT, AND THE WILDNESS CONTINUES!...……..This one's just unbelievable. There's nothing else to say."

    Cris Collinsworth: "How many possessions have we had, and only one defensive stop? That stop may end up being the only one tonight, as Kevin Smith certainly isn't stopped on this run. The Eagles sold out to stop him at the line of scrimmage, and they paid for it, as no one gets near Smith the rest of the way."

    Lions coach Jim Schwartz, confident that his team would score again, decided to kick the extra point, and Hanson converted to cut the Eagles' lead to 38-37 with less than seven minutes left in regulation.

    The Lions scored the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to play. Logan's punt return set up the offense at its own thirty-nine, and Stafford completed a pair of eleven yard passes; one went to Johnson, the other to Pettigrew. Stafford's ten-yard scramble to the sideline gave the Lions a first down at the Philly twenty-nine, and that's where we rejoin Al:

    "First and ten from the twenty-nine, less than a minute left, down to fifty-five seconds. They'll try the run with Best to get a little cloch ser for Hanson, AND THEY'RE GONNA GET A LOT CLOSER! BREAKS A TACKLE AT THE TEN, THE FIVE, AND THAT'S A TOUCHDOWN! The Lions take the lead with forty-three seconds left, and now it's up to Vick for one last miracle."

    Collinsworth: "Shady McCoy's gonna get all the press because he's gone for over two hundred yards tonight, but Jahvid Best has meant as much to his team. He busts right through that big hole on the right side, and watch him shrug off Asante Samuel like he weighs nothing. If the Lions hang on, he'll be something to deal with for as long as the Lions are in the playoffs."

    Hanson added the extra point, and Vic's pair of Hail Marys from midfield fell incomplete. Final score: Lions 44, Eagles 38.

    McCoy was put on the Horse Trailer in a losing cause as he rushed for 225 yards on just twenty carries with a touchdown. The Eagles gained 343 yards rushing as a team on forty-four attempts with three touchdowns. Vick finished eighteen of twenty-five for 233 yards and two touchdowns, which meant that the Eagles had 576 yards of total offense and still lost. Jackson caught both of Vick's touchdown passes and pulled in six passes on the night for ninety-two yards, while Maclin added seventy-seven yards on six catches. Vick also carried five times for thirty-six yards.

    For the Lions, Stafford was thirteen of eighteen for 151 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The victors had a pair of hundred-yard rushers, as Best totaled 121 yards on twelve carries with two touchdowns and Smith added 104 yards on just ten carries with another touchdown. The Lions finished with 264 yards rushing as a team on twenty-nine attempts with four touchdowns, and their offense racked up 412 yards total. Megatron led the receiving corps with sixty-four yards on five receptions.

    The Lions are now headed for Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where they'll take on the top-seed 49ers in the first NFC Divisional Playoff next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM Eastern on Fox, with Kenny Albert, Daryl "Moose" Johnston, and Tony "Goose" Siragusa calling the action. As usual, Kenny and Moose will be in the booth, while Goose roams the field.

    Note: For those of you who are unfamiliar with how Fox used Tony Siragusa, he was unlike a regular sideline reporter in that he could go anywhere on the field to observe the action instead of being stuck next to the benches waiting to be fed information by a team PR person. It's rumored that he got this role because he was too big to fit into a regulation broadcast booth, especially one that already held two other announcers and a bunch of technical people.

    Next: The Niners host the Lions.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  17. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff from Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Game time temperature is 49 degrees, with fair skies and calm winds.

    The Niners scored first after taking the opening kickoff. The big play of the drive was Frank Gore's thirty-one yard gain with a pitch around right end, which gave the Niners a first down at the Lions' eleven. On second and one from the two, quarterback Alex Smith flipped the ball to tight end Vernon Davis for the touchdown. Kicker David Akers converted the extra point, and the Niners led 7-0 with 9:48 left in the opening period.

    The Lions answered with a field goal. The key play of the drive was Mathew Stafford's sixteen-yard pass to Brandon Pettigrew. The drive stalled at the Niners' twenty-seven, but Jason Hanson drilled a forty-four yard field goal to cut the Frisco lead to 7-3 after one quarter.

    The Lions took the lead with a touchdown early in the second quarter. Stafford completed a fifteen-yard pass to reserve wideout Titus Young, and Jahvid Best plunged through a huge hole off left tackle for a gain of forty-one and a first down at the Frisco twenty-one. The touchdown came from twelve yards out, as Stafford hit Calvin "Megatron" Johnson in the end zone for the score. Hanson added the extra point, and the Lions led 10-7 with 13:28 to play in the first half.

    The Niners answered with a long field goal drive to tie the game. Smith hit a key pair of passes to get his offense into field goal range. One was a sixteen-yard strike to wideout Michael Crabtree, while the other was a twenty-three yard catch-and-run by Davis. The drive stalled at the Lions' five-yard line, but Akers hit a twenty-two yard chip shot to tie the game at ten with 5:47 left until halftime.

    The Lions took the lead again with a field goal just before the half. Stafford completed passes of eleven and sixteen yards to Johnson, which put them in Hanson's range, and on the final play of the half Henson hit from thirty-one yards out to give the visitors a 13-10 halftime lead.

    The Lions extended their lead after taking the second half kickoff. Stefan Logan returned the kickoff to his own forty, and Kevin Smith's eighteen-yard gain on a draw got the ball across midfield. Best ran the same play immediately thereafter for fourteen more, and Stafford completed a twelve-yard pass to Pettigrew. The touchdown came from fourteen yards out, as Smith roared through another hole up the middle and into the end zone for the touchdown. Hanson added the extra point, and the Lions led 20-10 with a little under twelve minutes left in the third quarter.

    The Niners quickly answered with a touchdown of their own. Smith and Crabtree connected on back-to-back passes for gains of ten and twenty-three, then found Davis for ten more yards. Running back Anthony Dixon found a hole off left tackle for eleven yards and a first and goal at the Detroit four, and from there Smith found reserve wideout Kyle Williams for the touchdown. Akers added the extra point, and with nine minutes left in the third period the Niners trailed 20-17.

    Logan returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to his own forty-eight, and Stafford completed passes of ten yards to Nate Burleson, twenty-one yards to Megatron, and sixteen yards to Pettigrew. The Lions thus had a first and goal at the Frisco four, and on second and goal from the five Stafford found Pettigrew again, this time in the end zone for the touchdown. Hanson's extra point put the Lions up 27-17 with less than four minutes left in the third.

    The Niners cut into the Detroit lead with a field goal just before the end of the third. The key play was Smith's thirty-nine yard strike to a wide-open Williams, which gave the Niners a first down at the Detroit twenty-seven. The offense didn't gain another yard, but Akers boomed a forty-dour yard field goal on the final play of the quarter. With fifteen minutes left in regulation, it was Detroit 27, San Francisco 20.

    The Lions got that field goal back on their next possession. The big play of the drive was Best's forty-five yard gallop up the middle. Stafford followed that up with a ten-yard pass to Johnson, and a facemask penalty which was added to the play gave the Lions a first down at the Niners' fifteen. A five-yard sack of Stafford by defensive tackle Ray McDonald pushed the ball back to the twenty-one, but Hanson salvage three points with a thirty-eight yard field goal to put the Lions up 30-20 with less than twelve minutes remaining in regulation.

    The home squad answered with a touchdown. Fullback Bruce Miller gained thirteen yards on a draw play, and reserve running back Kendall Hunter did the same. Gore found a hole off left tackle for ten yards, and Smith's twelve-yard pass to Crabtree gave the Niners a first and goal at the Lions' six. The touchdown came on third and goal from the five, as Gore slashed off the right side and into the end zone for the score. Akers' extra point brought the Niners within 30-27 with four and a half minutes to play.

    Niners coach Jim Harbaugh decided to try an onside kick, and after a short scramble Williams recovered for the Niners at their own forty. Gore ripped through the middle of the Lions; defense for gains of thirteen and seventeen, and though the Lions held the Frisco offense without another yard, Akers was able to attempt and make a forty-seven yard field goal, which tied the game at thirty with 2:25 left in regulation.

    Stafford had no timeouts left, but still managed to take his team on a productive drive. He hit Young for gains of eleven and fifteen, Burleson for thirteen, and Johnson for fourteen. Megatron stepped out of bounds at the Frisco thirty-one with four seconds left, which left Hanson with a chance to win the game from forty-eight yards out. His first attempt was spoiled by a Niners timeout. Here's Kenny Albert with his second attempt:

    "Here we go again from forty-eight yards out for the win. Snap is down, kick is up, hooking left, still hooking BACK THROUGH AND GOOD! LIONS WIN!...….It hooked back through at the last second, Daryl."

    Daryl Johnston: "This kick was way wide left from the second Hanson kicked it, but it somehow straightened itself out just as it went through the uprights. Watch Hanson. He knows he missed it, he's walking away.....and now he sees that it's good."

    Tony Siragusa: "Somewhere our friend Matt Millen is breathing a sigh of relief, guys. I think a trip to the NFC Championship Game for the Lions gets him off the hook for 0-16."

    Our final score: Lions 33, Niners 30.

    Stafford was named MVP by Fox. He completed nineteen of his twenty-three passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Megatron caught six passes for eighty-two yards and a touchdown, while Pettigrew caught four balls for forty-nine yards and the other touchdown. Best had another big day on the ground, gaining 115 yards on fourteen carries, while Smith carried eleven times for forty-five yards and a touchdown.

    For the Niners, Smith finished fourteen of twenty-four for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Crabtree was his leading receiver with sixty-one yards on four catches, while Williams caught two passes for forty-eight yards and a touchdown and Davis caught four passes for forty-two yards and the other touchdown. On the ground, Gore carried seventeen times for 102 yards and a touchdown, and Hunter carried eight times for forty-one yards. The Niners as a team carried thirty-four times for 184 yards and a touchdown.

    The spot opposite the Lions in next week's NFC Championship Game will be decided tomorrow in the second NFC Divisional Playoff, as the Saints host the Packers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

    Next: Drew Brees and the Saints welcome Aaron Rodgers and the Pack.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  18. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans:

    The Saints scored first after the Pack's Mason Crosby missed a forty-one yard field goal on their opening possession. They received the ball at their own thirty-one, and runs of eleven yards by Darren Sproles and ten yards by Pierre Thomas put them in field goal range. The drive eventually stalled at the Green Bay twenty-seven, but John Kasay booted a forty-four yard field goal to put the Saints up 3-0 after one quarter.

    The Saints were well on their way to another field goal as the first quarter ended. Jimmy Graham provided a nineteen-yard catch-and-run, and Drew Brees' thirty-two yard strike to Marques Colston gave the Saints a first down at the Green Bay eleven. The drive eventually stalled at the five, but on the first play of the second quarter Kasay was good from twenty-two yards out to give the Saints a 6-0 lead.

    The Pack answered with a field goal of their own, mostly thanks to Ryan Grant's forty-five yard gain on the old Packer power sweep around left end. This gave the Pack a first down at the Saints twenty-eight, and from the twenty-two Crosby hit a thirty-nine yard field goal to cut the Saints' lead to 6-3 with 12:01 left in the first half.

    The Saints scored the game's first touchdown on their next possession, Brees scrambled for sixteen yards and a first down, and running back Mark Ingram took a sweep around left end for elven yards and another first. A ten-yard pass to Colston gave the Saints a first and goal at the Green Bay one, and on the next play Brees flipped the ball to Graham for the touchdown. Kasay added the extra point, and with less than ten minutes left in the first half the Saints led 13-3.

    The Pack came back with a touchdown on their next possession. The big play of the drive was Aaron Rodgers' forty-two yard bomb to Jordy Nelson, and Rodgers followed that up with a sixteen-yard pass to fellow wideout Greg Jennings. These two passes brought the Pack down to the New Orleans fifteen, and Rodgers found a wide-open Nelson in the end zone for the touchdown. Crosby added the extra point, and with less than seven minutes left in the first half the Saints' lead was down to 13-10.

    The Saints went right back down the field for a touchdown on their next possession. The only lay that went for over ten yards was the scoring play, as Brees connected with wide receiver Lance Moore from twenty-four yards out. Kasay's extra point put the Saints up 20-10 with four and a half minutes left in the half.

    The Pack scored another touchdown just before the half. Rodgers threw two key passes; the first was to James Jones for twenty-six yards, the second was to Jermichael Finley for twenty-five and a first and goal at the New Orleans six. Rodgers took care of the touchdown himself, scrambling down to the half-yard line of first down and shoveling the ball to Jennings for the touchdown on second down. Crosby's extra point brought the visitors back to with 20-17 at the half.

    The Saints scored again on their first possession of the second half. Sproles returned a punt all the way to the Green Bay forty-six, and caught a screen pass later in the drive for seventeen yards and a first and goal at the Green Bay one. Brees found Moore for the touchdown on the next play, and Kasay's extra point put the Saints up 27-17 with 10:13 left in the third quarter.

    The Saints added another touchdown later in the quarter. Sproles took a pitch to the right for fifteen yards, and Thomas ran a sweep around left end for twenty-three more. The touchdown came from eleven yards out, as Brees found a wide-open Colston in the end zone for the touchdown. Kasay added the extra point, and at the end of three quarters it was New Orleans 34, Green Bay 17.

    The Saints scored again on their first full possession of the final period. No play in the drive was longer than eight yards, and Brees snuck over from a yard out to make it 41-17 Saints with less than nine minutes to play.

    The Saints scored one last touchdown on their final full possession, Here's Joe Buck with the call, as the Saiints face a second and seven at their own thirty-seven:

    "The Saints are looking to run out the clock here on second and seven, as Sproles replaces Pierre Thomas in the backfield. He'll get the call, and he looks for a hole, now finds one off the left side, and THERE GOES THE LIGHTNING BUG! Darren Sproles at the Green Bay forty, down to the thirty, down to the twenty, and he'll romp his way into the end zone! The Saints have put the exclamation point on this one-of-a-kind evening, as they've put up forty-seven points on the Packers, soon to be forty-eight."

    Troy Aikman: "Darren Sproles is an underrated running back; he's got plenty of speed, a few nice moves, and he make cuts like he does here; here he's going up the middle, then he finds a hole to the left, cuts back, and bursts right through. The Packers had eight men in the box, so all Sproles has to do is make sure that one of the secondary guys doesn't catch him."

    Kasay added the extra point, and with less than five minutes to play they led 48-17.

    The Pack went on a consolation touchdown drive to finish the game. Reserve quarterback Matt Flynn completed a pair of passes to Driver, one went for seventeen yards, and the other went for fifty-one and a touchdown. Here's Joe's call:

    "First down from the Green Bay forty-nine, and Flynn has nothing to lose, so he'll fire downfield, and the pass is caught by Driver for the touchdown!...….The Packers put a touchdown on the board in the final half-minute, and Aaron Rodgers with a kind of chagrined smile on the sideline."

    Aikman: "A touchdown pass in a playoff game, even under these circumstances, is something to remember, and Flynn hits Driver right in the hands, the way you're supposed to do it. If Aaron Rodgers goes down, Matt Flynn is more than capable of playing winning football for the Packers."

    Crosby's extra point established our final score: Saints 48, Packers 24.

    Brees was named Player of the Game by Fox. He completed twenty-two of his twenty-six passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns. Colston led the receivers with four catches for sixty yards and a score, while Graham caught six passes for fifty-six yards and another touchdown and Moore snagged three passes, two of them touchdowns, for forty yards. The Saints compiled 305 yards rushing on forty-three attempts; Thomas carried nine times for eighty-eight yards, and Ingram fourteen times for sixty-three yards. Sproles was a terror in both facets of the offense; he rushed for 104 yards on eight carries with a touchdown and also caught six passes for fifty-nine yards. On top of that, he compiled 180 yards in kick returns.

    The Pack rushed for 180 yards as a team on twenty-seven attempts. Starks was the individual leader with sixty-seven yards on ten carries, and Grant added sixty-three more yards on eight carries. Rodgers finished eleven of seventeen for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Driver caught three passes for seventy-five yards and a touchdown from Flynn to lead the receivers, while Nelson caught a pair of passes for fifty-seven yards and a score and Jones added three catches for forty-seven yards.

    The following Sunday, the Saints welcomed the Lions in the NFC Championship Game, and they punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapoiis on February 5 by dispatching the visitors from Motown 45-28. Brees was the unquestioned star, completing thirty-three of his forty-three passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns.

    Colston led the receivers with 120 yards on seven catches, while Robert Meachem, who was held to one catch for seven yards against the Packers, caught four passes for 111 yards, including a fifty-six yard touchdown. Devery Henderson, who didn't catch a pass the previous week, caught only two for sixty-four yards, but one of them was a forty-one yard touchdown. Graham caught seven balls for fifty-five yards, and Thomas caught six out of the backfield for fifty-five more. On the ground, the Saints totaled 167 yards on thirty-six attempts with three touchdowns. Thomas was the individual leader with sixty-six yards on eight carries with a touchdown, Sproles added fifty-one yards on ten carries and a pair of scores.

    For the Lions, Stafford acquitted himself well in his biggest game to date, finishing twenty-eight of forty-three for 380 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Calvin Johnson led all receivers with twelve catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns, while Nate Burleson caught four passes for fifty yards and Brandon Pettigrew four more for forty-nine yards. The Lions carried just ten times as a team for thirty-nine yards with Kevin Smith carrying six times for twenty-one yards to lead the individuals. Sadly, after a remarkable comeback that saw him lead the Lions in rushing in both of their playoff wins, Jahvid Best's concussion symptoms returned in practice during the week before the game, and he was held out of the game as a precaution. He never played another NFL down, though he went on to represent his home country of Saint Lucia in track and field in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    The Saints will play either the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLVI.

    Next: The Ravens host the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  19. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2011 AFC Championship Game from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Game time temperature is 30 degrees, with cloudy skies and a northeast wind at 8 MPH.

    It took just two plays for the Ravens to score after receiving the opening kickoff. First, Ricky Williams barged through a giant hole on the left side of the Pittsburgh defense for forty-two yards and a first down at the Steelers' twenty-seven. From there, we pick up the call from Jim Nantz:

    "The Steelers' defense already reeling; let's see how Flacco takes advantage from the Pittsburgh twenty-seven. Handoff to Williams, and (Torrey) Smith takes the end around. A block at the twenty, fifteen, puts a move on (Troy) Polamalu at the ten, and he'll go in for the touchdown!......Just thirty-three seconds into the game, and the Ravens have taken the lead!"

    Phil Simms: "The end around fooled the Steelers completely, and Torrey Smith can outrun just about any member of their defense. Polamalu could have made the stop, but he was caught way out of position by the end around and couldn't make up for it."

    Kicker Billy Cundiff added the extra point, and just like that the Ravens led 7-0.

    The Steelers answered with a field goal before the first quarter ended, as Polamalu picked off a Flacco pass and returned it to the Baltimore fourteen. The offense lost a yard over the next three plays, but Shaun Suisham's thirty-two yard field goal cut the Baltimore lead to 7-3 after one quarter.

    The visitors added another field goal midway through the second quarter. Rashard Mendenhall caught a screen pass for twenty-six yards, then gained eleven more on a draw play. Ben Roethlisberger then went to work, connecting with Hines Ward for seventeen yards and Mike Wallace for twenty-seven, The drive got as far as the Ravens' ten, but the offense lost six yards on runs by Ben and Isaac Redman, which meant that they had to settle for a thirty-three yard attempt by Suisham. The kick was good, and the Ravens halftime lead was thus trimmed to 7-6.

    There was no further scoring until the last play of the game. Ben completed passes of fourteen yards to Antonio Brown and twenty-nine yards to Wallace, which out the Steelers at the Baltimore thirty-four with just four seconds left. This meant that Suisham would have a chance to win the game from fifty-one yards out. His attempt sailed wide left, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh had asked for and received a timeout before the snap. That granted Suisham a second chance. What did he do with it? Here's Jim:

    "This is a risky strategy; Suisham hooked that kick badly, and now he gets a second chance because of the timeout. Once again, from fifty-one yards to go to Super Bowl XLVI. This one looks much better, will it have the distance?......YES, JUST BARELY, AND THE STEELERS ARE GOING TO INDIANAPOLIS!.....John Harbaugh's strategy cost him at the worst possible time, Phil."

    Simms: "It's a coin flip when you do something like that, Jim. You make your decision and live with the consequences. Shaun Suisham gets all the credit in the world; this one's solid off his foot, and just sneaks over the corossbar to give the Steelers another trip to the Super Bowl."

    Our final score: Steelers 9, Ravens 7.

    Wallace was named MVP after catching five passes for 102 yards. AB caught three more for forty-one yards, and Ben finished thirteen of twenty-eight for 214 yards and an interception. Mendenhall led the running game with sixty-one yards on nineteen carries. On defense, the Steelers sacked Flacco four times, with James Harrison recording a pair.

    For the Ravens, Ray Lewis was the best player on the field with ten solo tackles, and fellow linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded both of the defense's sacks. Turning to the offense, Williams led the ground game with fifty-seven yards on just four carries, and the Ravens as a team rushed for 158 yards on twenty-eight attempts. Ray Rice gained fifty-one yards on twelve carries, and he also caught five passes for forty yards to lead the Baltimore receivers. Flacco was awful by any measure, as he completed just ten of his thirty-two passes for eighty-nine yards and two interceptions.

    The AFC champion Steellers will face Drew Brees and the NFC champion New Orleans Saints on February 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff will be exactly at 6:30 PM Eastern on NBC, with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth calling the action. Michele Tafoya will serve as sideline reporter,

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019
  20. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for the third part of our four-part series in which a real-life Super Bowl participant failed to make the playoffs in the Pythagorean universe. The year in question this time is 2007, and the team in question, for the second part in a row, is the real-life Super Bowl champion Giants. As such, we'll begin our examination with the NFC East:

    Dallas Cowboys: 11-5 (-2)
    New York Giants: 9-7 (-1)
    Washington Redskins: 9-7 (0)
    Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7 (+1)

    The Boys drop a pair of games, but still take the division crown by two games over the rest of the field. The three-way tie for second at 9-7 is created by the Eagles adding a game, the Giants shedding a game, and the Redskins freezing in place.

    We turn to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie, and the Eagles take second place with 9.1. The Redskins finish third with 8.7, and the G-Men bring up the rear with 8.6. The Giants are thus out of the playoffs before we finish examining their division.

    Now to the North:

    Green Bay Packers: 12-4 (-1)
    Minnesota Vikings: 10-6 (+2)
    Chicago Bears: 8-8 (+1)
    Detroit Lions: 6-10 (-1)

    The Pack drops a game, but still triumphs by two over the surprising Vikes, who pick up a pair. The Bears add a game to finish right at .500, while the Lions drop a game and fall into the basement by themselves.

    Next, to the South:

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 10-6 (+1)
    New Orleans Saints: 8-8 (+1)
    Carolina Panthers: 6-10 (-1)
    Atlanta Falcons: 4-12 (0)

    The Bucs add a game, which makes their margin of victory over the Saints two. The Saints salvage a .500 season with a one-game bump, while the Panthers drop a game and end up in sole possession of third. Meanwhile, the last-place Falcons remain unchanged in spite of the cowardly exit of head coach Bobby Petrino after thirteen games. Mike Smith will take over as head coach in 2008.

    Finally, the West:

    Seattle Seahawks: 11-5 (+1)
    Arizona Cardinals: 8-8 (0)
    San Francisco 49ers: 4-12 (-1)
    St. Louis Rams: 4-12 (+1)

    The Hawks add a game to increase their winning margin to three games over the second-place Cardinals, who stand pat. The Niners drop a game and the Rams add a game to force a tie for third.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreak to settle the deadlock, and both teams check in with 3.7. Next, we go to the head-to-head tiebreakers. Each team won a game, so next we go to head-to-head points. The Rams outscored the Niners 29-26, so they take third and the Niners are relegated to the basement.

    Seeds:

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

    The Cowboys hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the two seed over the Seahawks, 11.0 to 10.7.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 5:

    Eagles-Seahawks, 4:30, NBC- Tom Hammond, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Neumeier (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 6:

    Vikings-Buccaneers, 1, Fox- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver (sideline reporter), Chris Myers (sideline reporter)

    Next: We look at the AFC.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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