The Pythagorean NFL

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

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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now let's look at the AFC. We begin in the East:

    New England Patriots: 14-2 (-2)
    New York Jets: 5-11 (+1)
    Buffalo Bills: 5-11 (-2)
    Miami Dolphins: 4-12 (+3)

    The Pats don't go undefeated, but still romp to a breathtaking nine-game victory over the Jets and Bills. The Bills drop a pair, while the Jets improve by one to force a tie for second. The Dolphs improve by three, but that's not enough to keep them out of the basement or save coach Cam Cameron's job. Tony Sparano will take the helm in Miami come 2008.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to resolve the tie for second, and the Jets prevail, 5.4 to 4.9.

    Next, the North:

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5 (+1)
    Cleveland Browns: 9-7 (-1)
    Cincinnati Bengals: 8-8 (+1)
    Baltimore Ravens: 5-11 (0)

    The Steelers add a game while the Browns drop one to settle the real-life tie for the top in Pittsburgh's favor. The Bengals pick up a game to finish right at .500, while the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens remain frozen in the basement. In a classic case of going from the penthouse to the outhouse, coach Brian Billick is fired just a year after winning his second Super Bowl with the team. He'll be replaced by John Harbaugh next season.

    Now, the South:

    Indianapolis Colts: 13-3 (0)
    Jacksonville Jaguars: 11-5 (0)
    Tennessee Titans: 8-8 (-2)
    Houston Texans: 8-8 (0)

    The only movement here comes from the Titans, who shed a pair of games and end up in a tie for third with the Texans.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the standoff, and the Titans prevail, 8.1 to 7.9.

    Finally, the West:

    San Diego Chargers: 11-5 (0)
    Denver Broncos: 6-10 (-1)
    Kansas City Chiefs: 5-11 (+1)
    Oakland Raiders: 5-11 (+1)

    The Bolts freeze on top of the division by five games over the Broncos, who drop a game. Elsewhere, both the Chiefs and Raiders add a game to carry over their real-life tie for third.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the aforementioned tie, and it's resolved in favor of the Raiders, 4.9 to 4.5.

    Seeds:

    1. Patriots (AFC East champs): 14-2
    2. Colts (AFC South champs): 13-3
    3. Steelers (AFC North champs): 11-5
    4. Chargers (AFC West champs): 11-5
    5. Jaguars (AFC South second place): 11-5
    6. Browns (AFC North second place): 9-7

    The Steelers hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the three seed over the Chargers, 11.4 to 11.3.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 5:

    Browns-Steelers, 8, NBC- Al Michaels, John Madden, Andrea Kremer (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 6:

    Jaguars-Chargers, 4:30, CBS- Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  2. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2007 NFC Wild Card Game from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Game time temperature is 75 degrees, with fair skies and calm winds.

    The Bucs scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Quarterback Jeff Garcia completed nineteen-yard passes to tight end Alex Smith (not to be confused with the quarterback of the same name) and wide receiver Ike Hilliard, and running back Earnest Graham turned a five-yard swing pass into a twenty-nine yard catch-and-run. Bucs coach Jon Gruden liked that play so much that he called it again on first down from the Minnesota nineteen, and this time it worked for the touchdown. Kicker Matt Bryant added the extra point, and the Bucs had a 7-0 lead with 10:01 to play in the opening quarter.

    The Vikes answered with a touchdown before the end of the quarter. The drive started at the Minnesota thirteen, and on the first play Adrian Peterson raced through a huge hole in the middle of the Tampa defense for sixty-two yards and a first down at the Tampa twenty-five. Tavaris Jackson's sixteen-yard pass to wideout Robert Ferguson gave the Vikes a first and goal at the nine, and from there All Day busted his way off right tackle and into the end zone for the score. Ryan Longwell added the extra point, and after one quarter we were tied at seven.

    The Bucs took the lead with a field goal early in the second quarter. Graham and fellow running back Michael Pittman gained twenty-one and thirteen yards on consecutive sweeps around left end, and Garcia connected with Smith for eighteen yards and first down at the Vikes' seventeen. The drive stalled at the eight, but Bryant kicked a twenty-five yard field goal to put the Bucs up 10-7 with less than ten minutes left in the first half.

    The Tampa defense forced a three-and-out, and when the offense got the ball back Garcia completed a twenty-yard pass over the middle to wide receiver Joey Galloway and a thirty-two yard downfield strike to Hilliard. The Bucs thus had a first down at the Minnesota eighteen, but a false start penalty and an eight-yard loss when Garcia was sacked by linebacker E.J. Henderson moved the ball back to the thirty-one. Bryant was called on for a forty-eight yard field goal, and he just made it to extend the Bucs' lead to 13-7 with 4:08 to play in the half.

    The Vikes answered with a field goal of their own just before halftime. None of the plays gained ten or more yards, but Longwell was good from thirty-nine yards out to cut the Bucs' lead to 13-10 after thirty minutes.

    The Bucs extended their lead with another field goal midway through the third quarter. Garcia found wide receiver Mark Clayton for fourteen yards and a first down, and Graham's thirty-four yard gain on a draw play gave the Bucs a first down at the Vikes' eighteen. The offense lost a yard over the next three plays, but Bryant was good from thirty-six yards out to go up 16-10 with 5:42 left in the third period.

    On the second play of the ensuing Vikings' drive, Jackson was intercepted by cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who returned the ball to the Minnesota thirty-two. We pick up Joe Buck's call after Graham gained two yards up the middle on first down:

    "Second and eight from the Vikings' irty, as the Buccaneers are looking to take advantage of the Buchanon interception. Graham the lone setback, and a three-wide receiver set for Tampa Bay. Garcia takes the snap, heavy rush, Garcia has to swing it out to Graham, he's over the twenty-five, twenty, and he's loose in the secondary! The Buccaneers once again burn the Vikings with that short swing pass, as Graham will take it all the way for the touchdown!......None of the passes Graham has caught have been longer than five yards; he's done most of the damage with his legs."

    Troy Aikman: "You'd think that the Vikings would have that play adequately defensed by now, Joe. But Jeff Garcia has been effective enough over the middle and downfield that they have to defend against the Tampa Bay wide receivers, and that's what leaves this play wide open. Add some excellent broken-field running from Earnest Graham and you have an almost foolproof play."

    Bryant added the extra point, and after three quarters the Bucs led 23-10.

    The Bucs put the game away for good midway through the final quarter. Garcia's twenty-yard pass to Galloway gave them a first down at the Vikes' forty-nine. That's where we rejoin Joe:

    "First and ten for Tampa Bay just across midfield. A long drive here could make it impossible for the Vikings to come back, even if all the Buccaneers can manage is a field goal. Garcia back to pass, looking downfield for Hilliard...….HE'S GOT IT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!...……..Forty-nine yards on the scoring play, and Ike Hilliard absolutely undressed (cornerback) Antoine Winfield."

    Aikman: "Jeff Garcia has played a brilliant game today. Here he is looking downfield, and he sees Ike Hilliard get behind Winfield. He knows he's got a touchdown, but he takes the time to make sure he puts this ball right on target. Hilliard gathers it in, and there's no one near him."

    Bryant's final extra point wrapped up the Bucs' 30-10 win.

    Garcia and Graham shared Fox's MVP honors. Graham led the Bucs' rushing attack with eighty-five yards on fifteen carries, and he also caught four passes for eighty-six yards and two touchdowns. Hilliard led the Tampa receivers with an even hundred yards on just three catches with a touchdown, while Galloway chipped in with sixty-four yards on four catches. Garcia finished sixteen of twenty-four for 315 yards and three touchdowns.

    For the Vikes, Jackson was held to just ten completions in twenty-six attempts for 121 yards and an interception. Ferguson led the receivers with three catches for forty-four yards. Peterson had a great day in a losing cause, gaining 111 yards on sixteen carries with a touchdown. The Vikes as a team rushed for 153 yards on thirty-two attempts with a touchdown. On defense, Henderson registered two of the team's four sacks.

    The Bucs' next opponent depends on who won the first NFC Wild Card Game yesterday. If the Seahawks beat the Eagles, the Bucs will head to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers next Saturday afternoon. If the Eagles pulled the upset, the Bucs will battle the Cowboys at Texas Stadium late next Sunday afternoon.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  3. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2007 AFC Wild Card Game from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Game time temperature is 50 degrees, with cloudy skies and an east-southeast wind at 7 MPH.

    The Jaguars scored first. A punt had backed the Chargers up to their own two-yard line, and on first down Darren Sproles took a handoff and was immediately tackled in the end zone for a safety by linebacker Justin Durant. With less than eleven minutes left in the opening period, the Jags led 2-0.

    The Jags scored again off of the ensuing free kick. Quarterback David Garrard connected with wide receiver Ernest Wilford for gains of ten and sixteen, and running back Fred Taylor rumbled up the middle for nineteen more. Garrard then found wide receiver Dennis Northcutt over the middle, and Northcutt broke a pair of tackles before he was finally brought down inside the San Diego one-yard line. Taylor dived over the top for the touchdown on the following play, and the Jags led 8-0. Coach Jack Del Rio then decided to go for two to increase the Jags' lead to double digits, and running back Maurice Jones-Drew did the honors. With six and a half minutes left in the opening quarter, the visiting Jags led 10-0.

    The Chargers answered with a touchdown before the first quarter ended. LaDainian Tomlinson popped off the right side for eleven yards and caught a screen pass for twelve, and Phillip Rivers took care of most of the rest. He hit Antonio Gates for gains of ten and fourteen, Vincent Jackson for eighteen, and fellow wideout Greg Davis for fourteen. The touchdown came from a yard out, as Rivers shoveled the ball to Tomlinson, who stepped into the end zone for the score. Nate Kaeding added the extra point, and at the end of one quarter the Jags' lead was down to 10-7.

    The Chargers took the lead with a touchdown midway through the second quarter. proles returned a punt to midfield, Rivers completed a twelve-yard pass to wideout Kassim Osgood, then from the Jags' twenty-seven hit Gates in the flat. The future Hall of Famer broke a tackle and the ten and rambled into the end zone for the touchdown. Kaeding's extra point gave the home squad a 14-10 halftime lead.

    There was no scoring in the third quarter. The Jags scored the game-winning touchdown with less than five minutes left in regulation. As we join Jim Nantz, Chargers punter Mike Scifres is back to punt on fourth down from the San Diego twenty-seven:

    "Northcutt back deep for the Jaguars, and it doesn't look like the Jags are rushing; they want the return. Good kick, nice and high, down to Northcutt at about the thirty...….thirty-five, forty, and he gets a block! This is gonna be excellent field position, and maybe a little more! San Diego thirty-five, thirty, twenty-five, only Scifres to beat, AND HE DOES! NORTHCUTT'S GOING ALL THE WAY FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!...…..Officially, it's a seventy-two yard return, and the Jaguars have the lead with 4:39 to play."

    Phil Simms: "The key here is the big block just before midfield by George Wrightster, Number 87. That springs Northcutt, and the only Charger left with any chance after that is Mike Scifres, the punter, who falls flat on his face at about the ten. The Jaguars are soon to be up by three with less than five minutes left."

    Kicker Josh Scobee added the extra point, and the Jags led 17-14. The Chargers' last-ditch drive for a tying field goal was stopped in its tracks when Rivers was intercepted by strong safety Sammy Knight just after the two-minute warning, and the Jags ran out the clock from there.

    Taylor was named MVP by CBS. He gouged the San Diego defense for 139 yards and a touchdown on just fifteen carries, and the Jags as a team totaled 172 yards on thirty-six attempts with a touchdown. Garrard didn't exactly set the world on fire; he completed only ten of his twenty-four passes for 139 yards. Wilford was his leading receiver with sixty-five yards on four catches.

    For the Chargers, Rivers finished sixteen of twenty-seven for 234 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Gates led the receivers with eighty-five yards on six carries and a touchdown, and Jackson caught three more passes for seventy-three yards. Tomlinson had a great rushing day in a losing cause; he carried twenty-one times for 131 yards and caught a touchdown pass to boot. The Chargers as a team rushed for 150 yards on thirty-five attempts.

    The following Saturday, the Jags traveled to Foxborough to take on the Patriots in the first AFC Divisional Playoff, and the Pats prevailed 31-20. Tom Brady was on fire all night long, completing twenty-six of his twenty-eight passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Eight different receivers caught passes; wideout Donte Stallworth collected the most yardage with sixty-eight on three catches, while Wes Welker was TB12's most frequent target with nine catches for fifty-four yards and a touchdown. Tight end Benjamin Watson caught just two passes for twelve yards, but both of them were for touchdowns. On the ground, Lawrence Maroney gained 122 yards on twenty-two carries with a touchdown.

    For the Jags, Garrard was twenty-two of thirty-three for 278 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Tight end Marcedes Lewis was his leading receiver with four catches for seventy-four yards, while Jones-Drew caught six passes for forty-nine yards and wide receiver Matt Jones caught three passes for forty-eight yards. Taylor was held to forty-seven yards on thirteen carries, and the Jags as a team were held to eighty yards rushing on twenty-two attempts.

    The Pats will host the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, January 20.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  4. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2007 AFC Wild Card Game from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Game time temperature is 30 degrees, with fair skies and a south wind at 8 MPH.

    The Steelers scored first after taking the opening kickoff. The kay play of the drive was Willie Parker's sixteen-yard burst up the middle. The drive stalled at the Browns twenty-nine, but Jeff Reed booted a forty-six yard field goal to put the Steelers up 3-0 with 12:09 to play in the opening period.

    The Steelers added another field goal before the end of the opening period. Ben Roethlisberger connected with Santonio Holmes for gains of fourteen and twenty-three, then hit Heath Miller over the middle for twelve more. Fast Willie took a pitch around right end for twelve more yards, which gave the Steelers a first down at the Cleveland fifteen. The offense gained only two more yards, but Reed connected from thirty yards out to put the Steelers up 6-0 after one quarter.

    The Steelers added another field goal midway through the second quarter, as free safety Anthony Smith picked off a Derek Anderson pass in the end zone and returned it to the Steelers' twelve. Ben completed passes of fourteen yards to Holmes and fifteen yards to Miller, and his eleven-yard scramble got the ball down to the Browns' twenty-seven, which set up a forty-four yard attempt for Reed. The kick was good, and with less than six minutes left in the first half the Steelers led 9-0.

    The Browns got back into the game just before the half. As we pick up Al Michaels' call, it's first and ten at the Cleveland thirty-three following a Pittsburgh punt:

    Michaels: "The Browns are looking to get on the board with at least a field goal before the half, and they start in good field position at their own thirty-three. Give to the setback, that's Jason Wright in the game for (Jamal) Lewis, and he's got a big hole at the forty, forty-five, midfield, and he's just turned on the speed! He's outrun the linebackers and (Troy) Polamalu, Smith is the last guy with a chance, but he won't catch him wither! This is gonna be a sixty-seven yard touchdown for Jason Wright, and the Browns are right back in this game!"

    John Madden: "The Browns have been hanging around all through this first half, and now they've finally gotten their big play. Wonderful blocking, particularly by the rookie left tackle Joe Thomas, and Wright accelerates through the secondary and into the end zone. Jamal Lewis gets most of the publicity, but Wright's not chopped liver either, Al."

    Kicker Phil Dawson added the extra point, and at halftime our score was Steelers 9, Browns 7.

    The Browns took the second half kickoff, but on the second play of their drive Ike Taylor picked off another Anderson pass and returned it to the Browns' twenty-eight. The offense lost a yard over the next three plays, but Reed boomed a forty-six yard field goal to extend the Steelers lead to 12-7 with 13:19 left in the third period.

    The Steelers got a fifth Reed field goal on their next possession, as the Browns' try at a fake punt was foiled when punter Dave Zastudil had to fall on a bad snap at his own twenty-eight. The offense xouldn't gain a yard in the next three plays, but Reed was good from forty-five yards out to make it 15-7 Pittsburgh with a little over ten minutes left in the third period.

    The Steelers finally got into the end zone on their next possession. Ben connected with Hines Ward three times for gains of ten, sixteen, and twenty-six, which set them up with a first down at the Cleveland fourteen. On second and seven from the eleven, Ben found Hines' temporary replacement, Cedric Wilson, wide open in the end zone for the touchdown. Reed added the extra point, and after three quarters the Steelers led 22-7.

    The Black and Gold added another touchdown early in the final period thanks to a pair of dazzling runs up the middle from Fast Willie. The first went for eighteen yards, while the second gained forty-eight and gave the Steelers a first and goal at the Cleveland seven. Reserve running back Gary Russell replaced an exhausted Parker and got the call on first and goal. He promptly found a huge hole off the right side and blazed through it and into the end zone for the score. Reed added the extra point, and with less than twelve minutes to play in regulation the Pittsburgh lead had grown to 29-7.

    The Steelers scored one more touchdown on their next possession. Running back Najeh Davenport gained eleven yards on a draw play, and Ben completed passes of sixteen yards to Holmes and twenty-eight yards to fellow wideout Nate Washington. As we pick up Al's call, it's first and ten for the Steelers at the Browns' twenty-seven:

    "Parker now getting another rest; you wonder hos much more we'll see him tonight. Gary Russell, who scored a touchdown on the Steelers' last possession is back in, and he'll get the ball on first down. Huge hole up the middle, AND HE'S GONE! TOUCHDOWN PIITTSBURGH!......Not a bad night's work for Gary Russell: two carries for thirty-four yards and two touchdowns."

    Madden: "He only carried seven times for twenty-one yards all year, but that's not due to lack of talent. He sees the hole here and doesn't hesitate getting through it, and there's no one near him from then on. If Willie Parker ever gets hurt, it looks like the Steelers' ground game will be in good hands."

    Reed's extra point established our final score: Pittsburgh 36, Cleveland 7.

    Fast Willie was put on the Horse Trailer by the SNF crew. He carried twenty-two times for 161 yards, but was held out of the end zone; Russell scored both Pittsburgh rushing touchdowns, Davenport added fifty-one yards on fourteen carries, and the Steelers as a team carried forty-six times for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Ben was nineteen of twenty-eight for 252 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Holmes caught five passes for ninety-three yards to lead the receivers, while Ward caught six passes for sixty-one yards and Miller added four catches for forty-eight yards.

    For the Browns, Wright led the rushing attack with sixty-three yards on just five carries and a touchdown. Lewis was held to just thirty-six yards on fourteen carries. Anderson was uncharacteristically terrible, completing just eight of his twenty-one passes for eighty-three yards and two interceptions, both of which led directly to Steeler scores. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards was his leading receiver with forty-eight yards on four catches. The Steelers finished with 454 yards of total offense, while the Browns ended up with just 201.

    The Steelers will now travel to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis next Sunday, where they'll face the Colts in the second AFC Divisional Playoff. Kickoff is scheduled for 1PM Eastern on CBS, with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf on hand to call the action. The winner will travel to Foxborough the following week to take on the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  5. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2007 AFC Divisional Playoff from the RCA Dome in Indianapolis:

    The Colts scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne connected for gains of fourteen and twenty-one to put the Colts in field goal range, and the drive reached the Steelers' thirty-three before stalling. Adam Vinatieri was thus faced with a fifty-yard field goal attempt, and he converted it with ease to put the Colts up 3-0 with 11:14 left in the opening quarter.

    The Colts added to their lead with a touchdown just before the first quarter ended. Running back Joseph Addai caught a twelve-yard screen pass, and he gained eleven more yards on a draw play. Peyton then hit future Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison for twelve yards and a first down at the Pittsburgh eleven. From there, it was back to Addai, as he slashed his way off right tackle and into the end zone for the touchdown. Vinatieri added the extra point, and after one quarter the Colts led 10-0.

    The Steelers got back into the game with a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Ben Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller over the middle for sixteen yards and a first down, and then found Nate Washington for fourteen more yards and another first down. The touchdown came from fifteen yards out, as Willie Parker slammed his way off tackle and steamed into the end zone for the score. Jeff Reed added the extra point, and the Colts' lead was down to 10-7 at halftime.

    After a scoreless third quarter, the Steelers scored another touchdown early in the final period to take the lead. Ben went back to Washington for seventeen yards, then found Hines Ward over the middle for eleven. A twenty-yard catch-and-run by Santonio Holmes turned into a thirty-five yard gain due to a flagrant facemask penalty on the tackle against strong safety Bob Sanders, and the ball was placed at the Indy nine-yard line, where the Steelers had a first and goal. Fast Willie immediately barged up the middle and into the end zone for the score, and Reed added the extra point to give the Steelers a 14-10 lead with nine and a half minutes left in regulation.

    The Steelers added another touchdown on their next possession to put the game away. The big play of the drive was Ben's forty-four yard bomb to Santonio, Later in the drive, Ben found Miller for ten yards over the middle, and Parker's twelve-yard burst off right tackle gave the Steelers a first and goal at the Colts' seven. On third and goal at the five, Ben connected with Holmes for the clinching touchdown. Reed added one last extra point, and the Steelers had wrapped up a 21-10 upset win.

    Parker was named Player of the Game by CBS. He carried twenty-five times for eighty-four yards and two touchdowns. Ben finished eighteen of twenty-five for 242 yards and a touchdown; Santonio led the receiving corps with four catches for seventy-seven yards and a score, while Ward added six catches for seventy-three yards. On defense, James Harrison recorded both a sack and an interception.

    For the Colts, Peyton finished sixteen of thirty-one for 198 yards with an interception. Wayne was his leading target with six catches for eighty-four yards, while fellow wideout Anthony Gonzalez caught three passes for sixty yards. Addai led the ground game with sixty-nine yards on eighteen carries and a touchdown, but the Colts as a team managed just eighty-nine yards on thirty attempts and a score.

    Fir the fourth time in this decade, the Steelers will meet the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday, but this is the first time that the game will take place at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3PM Eastern on CBS, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action. Steve Tasker will serve as the sideline reporter.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  6. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2007 NFC Wild Card Game from Qwest Field in Seattle. Game time temperature is 41 degrees, with fair skies and a south wind at 6 MPH.

    The Seahawks scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Nate Burleson's punt return set up the offense at its own forty-three, and he caught a fourteen-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck on the first play of the drive to get the ball across midfield. Later, Hasselbeck connected with fellow wideout Bobby Engram for twenty-two yards and a first down at the Philly twenty-nine. The drive stalled at the twenty-one, but Josh Brown connected on a thirty-eight yard field goal to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead after one quarter.

    The Eagles were already putting together an answering drive when the first quarter ended. Reno Mahe returned a punt to the Seattle forty-two, and on the first play of the drive running back Brian Westbrook picked his way up the middle for twenty-one yards and a first down. The offense gained only two more yards over the next three plays, but David Akers was good from thirty-six yards out to tie the game at three fifty-seven seconds into the second quarter.

    The Hawks regained the lead just before the half. Fullback Leonard Weaver rumbled up the middle for fifteen yards, and Hasselbeck completed passes of twelve yards to Deion Branch, ten yards to Engram, ad twenty-three yards to tight end Marcus Pollard. The latter pass gave the Hawks a first down at the Eagles' eleven, and the drive reached the nine before fizzling. Brown was good from twenty-six yards out with eleven second left in the half, and the Hawks went to the locker room leading the Eagles 6-3. There was no scoring in the third quarter.

    The Hawks added another field goal early in the final period. Hasselbeck completed passes of fourteen yards to Branch, twelve yards to Engram, and fourteen yards to Pollard. This drive was stopped at the Philly seventeen, and Brown made a thirty-four yard attempt to extend the Hawks' lead to 9-3 with less than ten minutes left in regulation.

    The Eagles quickly answered with a field goal of their own. Westbrook gained twenty yards after taking a pitch around right end, and later in the drive he provided a fifteen-yard catch-and-run. Donovan McNabb's fifteen-yard pass to wide receiver Kevin Curtis put the Eagles in field goal range, and when the Hawks' defense stopped them at the Seattle three, Akers punched a twenty-yard chip shot through the uprights to cut the Philly deficit to 9-6 with less than seven minutes to play.

    The Eagles got the ball back with less than four minutes to play, and McNabb quickly steered them into Akers' range. Westbrook steamed up the middle for eighteen yards and a first down, and McNabb connected with Curtis on a twenty-nine yard catch-and-run that moved the ball down to the Seattle thirty-three. Two plays later, there were just four seconds left, and the Eagles called on Akers for a forty-five yard attempt to send the game into overtime. He made his first try with ease, but it was spoiled when Hawks coach Mike Holmgren called his last timeout before the snap. an undaunted Akers made his second try just as easily, and we were head for overtime deadlocked at nine.

    All five full possessions in the first overtime ended in punts. Each team crossed midfield once, but the furthest penetration on wither side came when the Eagles reached the Hawks' forty-six. After the Hawks punted yet again to start the second overtime, the Eagles drove for the winning field goal. The biggest plays of the drive were a fourteen-yard pass to wide receiver Reggie Brown and a seventeen-yard pass to Curtis. The drive reached the Seattle thirteen before Akers ended everything at the 3:32 mark of double overtime with a thirty-yard field goal that gave the Eagles a 12-9 victory.

    Here's Tom Hammond's call of the winning kick:

    "From thirty yards out to end a thriller. Snap is down, kick is away......IT'S GOOD! THE EAGLES WIN IT IN DOUBLE OVERTIME!......Seven field goals in this game; the Eagles had four, the Seahawks had three, and the Eagles had the game-winner at the 78:32 mark."

    Since this game obviously needed more than one sim to complete, I couldn't compile any stats. Akers was named MVP by NBC for making the game-winning kick.

    NFC Divisional Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 12:

    Eagles-Packers- 4:30, Fox- Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa

    Sunday, January 13:

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

    Next: The Packers welcome the Eagles in the first NFC Divisional Playoff.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  7. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2007 NFC Divisional Playoff from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Game time temperature is 30 degrees, with cloudy skies and a north-northeast wind at 7 MPH.

    The Eagles scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Brian Westbrook caught an eighteen-yard screen pass, and Donovan McNabb found Jason Avant for twenty-one more. McNabb's fifteen-yard scramble gave the Eagles a first down at the Green Bay twelve, and on fourth and nine from the elven coach Eagles coach Andy Reid passed up the easy field goal and decided to go for it. McNabb threw to tight end L.J. Smith, who broke a tackle at the two and made his way into the end zone for the touchdown. A bad snap foiled the extra point attempt, and the Eagles led 6-0 after one quarter.

    The Eagles scored again early in the second period. As we pick up Kenny Albert's call, the Pack faces a third and three at the Philly forty-nine:

    "Third and three for the Packers. (Ryan) Grant in the backfield with four wide receivers. Snap is back to Favre, being chased out of the pocket, has to hurry and get rid of it, and it's PICKED OFF BY STEWART BRADLEY! He's over the forty-five, the fifty, and he's got blockers in front of him! Gets to the sideline at the thirty- five, the thirty, and only Favre to beat......HE'S GONE! TOUCHDOWN PHILADELPHIA!...….Sixty-one yards on the return."

    Daryl Johnston: "The gunslinger reputation of Brett Favre is only amplified by throws like this. (Defensive end) Trent Cole is right in his face, and instead of just throwing it away, he throws toward the middle of the field, which gives Bradley an easy interception. Then the blocking takes over, and pretty soon only Favre's left to beat. Favre sort of sidesteps the tackle, not that I blame him, and Bradley has a touchdown."

    Tony Siragusa: "James Jones was wide open down the middle, but Favre never even looked for him, guys."

    Akers added the extra point, and with 12:13 left in the second quarter the Eagles had a 13-0 lead.

    The Pack answered with a field goal. Favre completed a fifteen-yard pass to tight end Donald Lee, a fourteen-yarder to Donald Driver, ad a twenty-five yarder downfield to Greg Jennings. The drive stalled at the Philly eighteen, but Mason Crosby kicked a thirty-five yard field goal to cut the Eagles' lead to 13-3 with 6:49 left in the first half.

    The Pack drew closer with a touchdown just before the end of the half. Favre completed passes of twenty-eight yards to Jennings and twenty-six yards to Jones, then later in the drive found fellow wideout Koren Robinson for the score from four yards out. Crosby added the extra point, and our halftime score was Eagles 13, Packers 10.

    The Pack took the lead with a touchdown after receiving the second half kickoff. On the first play of the drive, Grant found a gaping hole in the middle of the Philly defense and roared through it for sixty-two yard gain and a first and goal for Green Bay from the Philly eight. On third and goal from the nine, Favre hit a wide-open Jones in the end zone for the touchdown, and Crosby added the extra point to put the Pack up 17-13 with twelve and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

    The Pack scored again on their next possession. Favre scrambled for twelve yards and a first down, then hit Jones later in the drive for twenty-one more and a first down at the Eagles' fifteen. On third and three from the eight, running back Brandon Jackson raced up the middle and into the end zone for the touchdown. Crosby added the extra point, and with less than six minutes left in the third period the home squad led 24-13.

    The Pack added three more points just before the third quarter ended. On consecutive plays, Grant broke a draw play for forty-six yards and Jackson broke another for twenty-seven more. Just like that, the Pack had a first and goal at the Eagles' eight. They lost three yards over the next three plays, but Crosby was good from twenty-eight yards out to extend the Pack's lead to 27-13 after three quarters.

    The home squad added one last touchdown midway through the final period. Favre connected with Lee for gains of sixteen and thirteen, then hit Jones and Driver with consecutive twelve-yard passes. As we rejoin Kenny's call, it's first and ten for the Pack at the Eagles' twenty-eight:

    "Grant once again the lone setback in a four-receiver set for the Packers. He'll get the call this time, and he cuts back to the left over the twenty-five, the twenty, the fifteen, the ten, the five, TOUCHDOWN PACKERS, AND THAT WILL JUST ABOUT DO IT!...….Grant going into the end zone untouched from twenty-eight yards out to cap off a splendid evening, both for himself and the Packers."

    Johnston: "Great cutback speed shown by Grant here; there's no hole up the middle where the play was designed to go, so he cuts back left and finds all the room he needs. The Eagles' defense has had no answer for him all evening long, and it's no different on this play, as he's five yards ahead of his closest pursuer as he reaches the end zone."

    Siragusa: "One of the great unsung backs in this league, guys. If the Packers make a Super Bowl, maybe he'll finally get the credit and respect he deserves."

    Crosby added one last extra point, and the Pack wrapped up a 34-13 victory.

    Grant was named Player of the Game by Fox after carrying seventeen times for 176 yards, an average of over ten yards a carry, and a touchdown. The Pack as a team carried thirty-eight times for 241 yards and two touchdowns, with Jackson providing the other. Favre had a vary good day as well, completing twenty-two of his thirty-two passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Jennings led the receiving corps with four catches for seventy-six yards, while Jones caught four more balls for sixty-eight yards and a touchdown and Lee snagged four more for forty-nine yards. Driver finished with four catches for forty-four yards,

    For the Eagles, McNabb was held to fifteen completions in thirty-one attempts for 131 yards and a touchdown. Westbrook was both the leading rusher and receiver for Philly, catching five passes for forty yards and managing thirty-five yards on fifteen carries. The Eagles as a team were held to fifty-one yards on twenty-three rushing attempts. On defense, middle linebacker Omar Gaither collected ten solo tackles.

    The Packers will host the winner of the second Divisional Playoff between the Buccaneers and the Cowboys in next Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Kickoff tomorrow at Texas Stadium is scheduled for 4:30 PM Eastern on Fox, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the action. Pam Oliver and Chris Myers will serve as sideline reporters.

    Next; The Boys host the Bucs.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  8. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2007 NFC Divisional Playoff from Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. Game time temperature is 47 degrees, with mostly cloudy skies and calm winds.

    The Bucs scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Jeff Garcia completed passes of sixteen yards to Joey Galloway, thirteen yards to Mark Clayton, and ten yards to reserve wideout Maurice Stovall. The latter pass gave the Bucs a first down at the Dallas twenty-eight, and the drive reached the twenty-one before the Dallas defense held firm. Matt Bryant's thirty-eight yard field goal put the Bucs up 3-0 with less than ten minutes left in the opening period.

    The ensuing Dallas drive lasted just two plays before Phillip Buchanon picked off a Tony Romo pass intended for tight end Jason Witten and returned it to the Dallas five-yard line. On fourth and goal from the one, Bucs coach Jon Gruden decided to go for the touchdown, and running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams skirted left end and stepped into the end zone for the touchdown. Bryant added the extra point, and at the end of one quarter the visitors led 10-0.

    The Bucs' defense set up another touchdown midway through the second quarter. This time, it was middle linebacker Barrett Ruud who intercepted Romo, and his return set up the Tampa offense at the Dallas forty-nine. Graham gained seventeen yards on a draw play, Williams again tested left end and found thirteen yards, and Garcia found Alex Smith over the middle for seventeen yards and a first down at the Cowboys' twelve. An encroachment penalty brought the ball down to the seven, and Garcia took care of business from there, covering the last seven yards on two quarterback draws. The touchdown came from four yards out, and Bryant's extra point made it 17-0 Tampa with 8:48 left in the first half.

    The Bucs added another touchdown just before the half. Garcia found Ike Hilliard for sixteen yards, and Earnest Graham gained twenty-two yards on a draw play. The touchdown came from twenty-eight yards out, as Garcia found a streaking Galloway just before he hit the end zone and hit him with a perfect pass. The sore was academic, and Bryant added another extra point to give the Bucs a 24-0 halftime lead.

    The Boys finally got on the board after receiving the second half kickoff. Miles Austin's return set the offense up at its own forty-one, and Romo found future Hall of Famer Terrell Owens for twenty-six yards on the first play from scrimmage, which gave the Boys a first down at the Tampa thirty-three. The drive stalled at the twenty-four, but kicker Nick Folk converted a forty-one yard field goal attempt to cut the Bucs' lead to 24-3 with 11:09 left in the third quarter.

    The Boys came away with another field goal on their next possession. Romo found wideout Patrick Crayton for thirteen yards, then went downfield to Owens for thirty-one. A fifteen-yard catch-and-run by Witten gave the Bucs a first down at the Bucs' fifteen, but Romo was thrown for a four-yard loss by backup defensive tackle Ryan Sims on third down, which pushed the ball back to the twenty. This left Folk with a thirty-seven yard attempt, which he converted to bring the Boys with 24-6 with a little over five minutes left in the third.

    The home squad scored their only touchdown of the game just before the third quarter ended. Crayton's punt return gave then the ball at their own thirty-nine, and running back Tyson Thompson, who's a native of Irving, gained twelve yards on a draw play to give the Boys a first down at the Tampa thirty-nine. That's where we pick up Joe Buck's call:

    "First and ten for the Cowboys, who have come to life here in the third quarter. If they score again, they'll be in good shape as we go to the fourth quarter. Here's Romo back to throw, goes over the middle......complete to Witten, over the middle at the thirty, twenty-five, down to the twenty, gets a block from Owens, and he's heading into the end zone! TOUCHDOWN DALLAS!......Thirty-nine yards on the pass, and the Cowboys are right back in this game."

    Troy Aikman: "Jason Witten has been the heartbeat of the Cowboys' offense this year, and plays like this are the reason why. He catches what's meant to be a short pass, then finds a path right down the middle of the field, going just fast enough so the Buccaneers' defense can't catch him. There's the block from Terrell Owens, and Witten has it easy from there into the end zone. It should be some fourth quarter."

    Folk's extra point made it 24-13 Tampa Bay after three quarters. Unfortunately for Cowboys' fans, the fourth quarter was scoreless, and the Bucs were on their way to the NFC Championship Game.

    Witten was named Player of the Game by Fox in a losing cause. He caught four passes for eighty-seven yards and a touchdown. TO was the Boys' leading receiver with 103 yards on six catches, and Romo finished thirteen of twenty-four for 208 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, two of which led directly to Tampa Bay scores. He was sacked five times by the Bucs' defense, with Sims recording a pair. Running back Julius Jones was the Boys' leading rusher with thirty-nine yards on twelve carries, and Dallas as a team managed an even hundred yards on thirty-five attempts.

    For the Bucs, Garcia was twelve of twenty-three for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Galloway led the receivers with seventy-five yards on four catches with a touchdown, and Hilliard added three catches for forty-five yards. Graham led the Tampa Bay running game with fifty-two yards on fifteen carries.

    The Bucs will now travel to Lambeau Field in Green Bay for next Sunday's NFC Championship Game, as I stated above. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 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: May 1, 2019
  9. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2007 AFC Championship Game from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature is 19 degrees, with fair skies and a west-northwest wind at 10 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is eight degrees above zero.

    The Pats scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Tom Brady completed a sixteen-yard pass to Wes Welker, and Lawrence Maroney gained twenty-two yards on a draw play to give the home squad a first down at the Pittsburgh twenty-seven. They didn't gain a yard in the next three plays, but Stephen Gostkowski booted a forty-four yard field goal to put the Pats up 3-0 with 12:09 left in the opening period.

    The Pats added another field goal before the end of the quarter. The biggest plays of the drive were an eleven-yard catch-and-run by Benjamin Watson and Brady's twenty-yard strike over the middle to Randy Moss. The drive reached the Steelers' nine-yard line before stalling, but Gostkowski was good from twenty-six yards out to extend the New England lead to 6-0 after one quarter.

    The Steelers cut into the Pats' lead with a field goal of their own midway through the second quarter. Allen Rossum's punt return gave the offense the ball at its own forty. and on the first play from scrimmage Willie Parker found a huge hole off right tackle and rumbled through it for thirty-three yards and a first down at the Pats' twenty-seven. The drive stalled at the eighteen, but Jeff Reed was good from thirty-five yards out to cut the Pats' lead to 6-3 with 7:57 left in the first half.

    The Steelers tied the game with a field goal just before the end of the half. An offside call on a Rossum punt return gave the offense the ball at the forty again, and Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes for twenty-six yards and a first down at the New England thirty-four. Later in the drive, running back Najeh Davenport made his way up the middle for fourteen yards and another first down. This drive, like the one documented above, fizzled at the Pats' eighteen, which meant another thirty-five yard attempt for Reed. He converted, and the teams went to the locker room at halftime tied at six.

    The third quarter was scoreless, but the Pats were driving for a field goal in its final moments. The big play of the drive was Brady's sixteen-yard pass to Moss. The drive stalled at the seventeen, but Gostkowski was good from thirty-four yards out to put the Pats up 9-6 with less than twelve minutes left in regulation.

    The Steelers answered with what turned out to be the winning touchdown. Rossum returned the kickoff to midfield, and Ben found Heath Miller for seventeen yards and a first down. He then connected with Parker on a ten-yard screen pass, and on the next play Fast Willie bucked his way through a hole of the right side for ten yards and a first and goal at the New England nine. On third and goal from the four, it was Ben to Holmes for the touchdown. Reed added the extra point, and the Steelers led 13-9 with less than three minutes left. They were able to thwart Brady's last desperate drive before it reached midfield, and it was off to Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLII. The Steelers will face either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Green Bay Packers on February 3 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

    Due to technical problems, this game required more than one sim to put together. Therefore, I don't have stats or an MVP.

    Next: The Packers host the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  10. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2007 NFC Championship Game from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Game time temperature is nine degrees below zero, with fair skies and a west wind at 15 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is thirty-one degrees below zero, which makes this the second-coldest game in NFL history.

    The Bucs scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Earnest Graham's twelve-yard gain off the right side on the opening play gave the Bucs a first down at their own twenty-nine, and that's where we pick up Joe Buck's call:

    "First and ten for the Bucs at their own twenty-nine, and in these conditions we'll see Earnest Graham a lot, I'm sure. He's the setback again, and he gets the call......wait, that's a reverse to Ike Hilliard, and he's got running room! Forty, forty-five, midfield, and he's got blockers! Into the secondary and still on his feet! Twenty-five, twenty, fifteen, and he's all alone and in for the touchdown! That's a seventy-one yard touchdown on the ground for Ike Hilliard!"

    Troy Aikman: "You usually don't see trick plays on the second play of the game, but that's the genius of (Bucs coach) Jon Gruden. He knew that the Packers figured that the Buccaneers would take a while to adjust to the cold, so he figured to catch them napping, and he certainly did. Hilliard still has plenty of pure speed once he gets to the outside, and by the time the Green Bay defense knows what they're seeing, it's too late to do anything about it."

    Matt Bryant added the extra point, and just fifty-eight seconds into the game the Bucs led 7-0.

    The Pack answered with a field goal. Tranon Williams returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tampa forty-six, and Ryan Grant's seventeen-yard catch and run got them in field goal range. The drive stalled at the Bucs' twenty-six, but Mason Crosby converted a forty-three yard attempt to cut the Tampa lead to 7-3 after one quarter.

    The Pack added another field goal on their next possession, which straddled the first and second quarters. Williams' punt return gave them the ball at midfield, ad the key play was a ten-yard gain around left end on a sweep by running back Vernand Morency. This drive fizzled out at the Bucs' twenty-seven, but Crosby was good from forty-four yards out to cut the visitors' lead to 7-6 with 12:57 left in the first half.

    Another field goal gave the home squad the lead the next time they had the ball. A fifteen-yard facemask penalty against Tampa strong safety Jermaine Phillips turned a short pass to Donald Driver into a twenty-two yard gain, and Brett Favre completed a pair of twelve-yard passes; one went to Greg Jennings, the other to Koren Robinson. The latter pass gave the Pack a first down at the Bucs twenty-five, and the drive got as far as the eighteen. Crosby's thirty-five yard field goal gave the Pack a 9-7 lead with less then five minutes left in the half.

    The Bucs' next drive lasted just one play, as on first down Graham was stood up by middle linebacker Nick Barnett and lost the ball. Fellow backer A.J. Hawk made the recovery at the Tampa thirty-two. After Favre hit Jennings for fourteen yards and a first down, Grant picked his way through a hole off right tackle and raced into the end zone from eighteen yards out. Crosby added the extra point, and the Pack had a 16-7 halftime lead.

    The Green and Gold scored again after taking the second half kickoff. Favre found Robinson for elven yards and James Jones for fourteen, which left them with a second and six at the Tampa forty-three as we rejoin Joe and Troy:

    "Second and six for the Packers; the last pass to Jones covered fourteen yards. Grant behind Favre in the backfield, but it looks like he'll throw.....going deep for Jennings, who's all by himself......PASS IS CAUGHT! TOUCHDOWN PACKERS!......Jennings got way behind Phillip Buchanon, and the Packers strike quickly to open the second half."

    Aikman: "This pass required just the right amount of touch from Favre, because in this wind it's very easy to overthrow receivers. But this is right on the money, and it helps that Buchanon fell flat on his face and left Jennings open by a good ten yards. You don't often see big pass plays in cold weather, but the Packers know how to throw in this kind of cold if any team does."

    Crosby's extra point put the Pack up 23-7 less than three minutes into the third quarter.

    The Pack scored the final points of the day just before the end of the period. Running back Brandon Jackson gained ten yards up the middle, and Favre connected with Driver for thirteen yards and a first down. As we rejoin the action, it's first and ten for the Pack at their own forty-two:

    Buck: "First and ten for Green Bay from the forty-two. Back to the ground, and here's Grant WITH A HUGE HOLE UP THE MIDDLE! HE COULD ALREADY BE GONE!....Makes his way over the forty, the thirty-five, the thirty, and no one's even near him! This is gonna be a touchdown from fifty-eight yards out, and the rout is on here at Lambeau!"

    Aikman: "They're doing a great job of catching the players in the stands during the Lambeau Leap, even with gloves on. Anyway, Ryan Grant is really establishing himself as one of the top backs in the league, although Brett Favre and the receivers get most of the publicity. This is just flat-out speed once he finds the hole, and the Tampa Bay defense has been slow to react all night long. Jon Gruden won't use this as an excuse after the game, but it's tough to go from a climate like Tampa's to thirty-below zero cold, no matter how mentally and physically tough you are. The Buccaneers had that one big play from Ike Hilliard, but it's been all Green Bay since."

    Crosby added the extra point, and the Green and Gold led 30-7, which became the final tally after a scoreless fourth quarter.

    Grant was named MVP by Fox. He carried sixteen times for ninety-six yards and scored two touchdowns. Favre was also superb despite the bone-chilling cold, as he finished twenty-four of thirty-one for 281 yards and a touchdown to Jennings. Greg led the receivers with eighty-two yards on five catches, while Driver caught six passes for fifty-six yards and Jones snagged five balls for fifty-four yards. The defense did its part as well, sacking Garcia five tines.

    Speaking of Garcia, he never got untracked in the cold, as he completed just seven of his twenty passes for a paltry sixty-seven yards with an interception. Joey Galloway led the receivers with three catches for forty-nine yards; in fact, he was the only Bucs receiver to catch more than one pass for the evening. Hilliard's seventy-one yard touchdown scamper made him the team's leading rusher; Graham added sixty-eight yards on twelve carries, and the Bucs as a team managed to rush for 177 yards on just twenty-eight attempts.

    The Pack will meet the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXII at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 3. Game time is set for exactly 6:30 PM Eastern on Fox, with Messrs. Buck and Aikman once again on the call. Pam Oliver and Chris Myers will once again serve as sideline reporters.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
  11. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for the finale of our four-part series profiling years when one of the real-life Super Bowl participants didn't make the playoffs in the Pythagorean universe. The year in question is 2003, and the team in question is the Panthers. As such, we'll examine the NFC first, beginning with the East:

    Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6 (-2)
    Dallas Cowboys: 9-7 (-1)
    Washington Redskins: 6-10 (+1)
    New York Giants: 4-12 (0)

    The Eagles shed a pair, but still take the division crown by a game over the Boys, who drop one. The Giants freeze in last place, while the third-place Skins' one-game improvement isn't enough to save coach Steve Spurrier's job. The 2004 season will see the return of Joe Gibbs, who led the franchise to its only Super Bowl in 1991.

    Now, the North:

    Green Bay Packers: 11-5 (+1)
    Minnesota Vikings: 10-6 (+1)
    Chicago Bears: 6-10 (-1)
    Detroit Lions: 5-11 (0)

    The Pack and Vikes each add a game, which maintains the Pack's one-game margin of victory. The third-place Bears drop a game, while the Lions, like the Giants in the East, stand pat in the basement.

    Next, the South:

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-7 (+2)
    Caroline Panthers: 9-7 (-2)
    New Orleans Saints: 8-8 (0)
    Atlanta Falcons: 5-11 (0)

    This division is stable at the bottom, with the Saints freezing in third and the Falcons staying put in the basement. At the top we have a tie, as the Panthers drop a pair while the Bucs improve by a pair to force a tie. As far as coaching changes go, Jim Mora the Younger will be the new boss in Atlanta next season.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for the division crown, and the Bucs prevail handily, 9.2 to 8.6.

    Finally, the West:

    St. Louis Rams: 11-5 (-1)
    Seattle Seahawks: 10-6 (0)
    San Francisco 49ers: 9-7 (+2)
    Arizona Cardinals: 3-13 (-1)

    The Rams drop a game, but still take the division by a game over the Hawks, who remain unchanged in second. The Niners pick up a pair to put themselves over the .500 make, while the Cards' one-game improvement still leaves them six games behind the Niners and eight games behind the Rams. This is enough to cost coach Dave McGinnis his job; will the Redbirds be who we think they are once Dennis Green takes over next season?

    Seeds:

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

    The Packers hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the top seed over the Rams, 11.3 to 10.8.

    The Seahawks hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the five seed over the Vikings, 10.0 to 9.5.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 3:

    Vikings-Eagles, 8, ABC- Al Michaels, John Madden. Lisa Guerrero (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 4:

    Seahawks-Buccaneers, 1, Fox- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Chris Myers (sideline reporter)

    Next: We look at the AFC.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 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: 11-5 (-3)
    Miami Dolphins: 10-6 (0)
    New York Jets: 8-8 (+2)
    Buffalo Bills: 7-9 (+1)

    The Pats take a three-game nosedive, but still hang on to fend off the Fins by a game. The Fins freeze in second, while the Jets add a pair to salvage a .500 season. The last-place Bills add a game, but coach Gregg Williams still gets the boot. Mike Mularkey will take the helm in Buffalo come 2004.

    Next, the North:

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

    The Ravens add a game to make their margin of victory four games over the Bengals (one-game drop) and Steelers (one-game bump). The last-place Browns also add a game.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the deadlock for second, and the Steelers take it, 7.2 to 7.0.

    Now, the South:

    Indianapolis Colts: 11-5 (-1)
    Tennessee Titans: 11-5 (-1)
    Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-10 (+1)
    Houston Texans: 5-11 (0)

    The Colts and Titans each drop a game to maintain their tie at the top, while the third-place Jags pick up a game. The last-place Texans stay exactly where they are.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for the division title, and it goes to the Titans, 10.7 to 10.6.

    Finally, the West:

    Kansas City Chiefs: 11-5 (-2)
    Denver Broncos: 10-6 (0)
    Oakland Raiders: 5-11 (+1)
    San Diego Chargers: 5-11 (+1)

    The Chiefs' two-game slide reduces their margin of victory over the Broncos to a game. The Broncos are unmoved in second, while the Raiders and Chargers each add a game to maintain their tie for third. This means goodbye for Raiders coach Bill Callahan; Norv Turner will oversee the Silver and Black in 2004.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle things between the Raiders and Bolts, and we find that each team checks in at 4.9. Next we go to the head-to-head tiebreakers. The teams split their season series, but the Chargers outscored the Raiders 52-48 to take third place.

    Seeds:

    1. Patriots (AFC East champs): 11-5
    2. Chiefs (AFC West champs): 11-5
    3. Ravens (AFC North champs): 11-5
    4. Titans (AFC South champs): 11-5
    5. Colts (AFC South second place): 11-5
    6. Broncos (AFC West second place; won tiebreaker with Dolphins): 10-6

    We have a four-way tie for the top seed at 11-5. Looking at the expected wins tiebreaker, we see that the Pats and Chiefs each check in at 11.4. The Ravens take the three seed with 11.0, while the Titans take the four seed with 10.7. The Pats and Chiefs didn't play each other this season, so the head-to-head tiebreakers are invalid. Next we go to conference record. The Pats finished 11-1, while the Chiefs finished 10-2. Therefore, the Pats take the top seed.

    The Broncos hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the six seed over the Dolphins, 10.2 to 9.6.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 3:

    Broncos-Ravens, 4:30. ABC- Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, Paul Maguire, Suzy Kolber (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 4:

    Colts-Titans, 4:30, CBS, Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms, Armen Keteyian (sideline reporter)

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
  13. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2003 NFC Wild Card Game from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Game time temperature is 43 degrees, with cloudy skies and calm winds.

    The Eagles opened the scoring late in the first quarter. Brian Westbrook returned a punt to the Vikes' forty-three, and Donovan McNabb immediately hit wide receiver James Thrash for a sixteen-yard gain. Running back Correll Buckhalter's sixteen-yard gain on a draw play gave the Eagles a first and goal at the Minnesota ten, but a pair of sacks pushed them back to the twenty-three. David Akers was left with a forty-yard field goal attempt, and he converted to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead after one quarter.

    The Eagles extended their lead with a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Another fabulous Westbrook return gave them the ball at their own forty-five, and his sixteen-yard catch-and-run was the biggest play of the drive. The touchdown came on fourth and inches from the Vikings' one-yard line, when McNabb faked a sneak and shoveled the ball to running back Duce Staley for the touchdown. Akers added the extra point, and the Eagles led 10-0 with less than ten minutes left in the first half.

    The Vikes answered with a field goal. Onterrio Smith's kickoff return gave them the ball at their own thirty-seven, and quarterback Daunte Culpepper completed passes of twelve yards to Randy Moss, eleven yards to Nate Burleson, and ten yards to reserve fullback Kelly Campbell. The latter pass gave the Vikes a first and goal at the Philly nine-yard line, but defensive tackle Corey Simon sacked Culpepper for a seven-yard loss on third down. Kicker Aaron Elling was thus left with a thirty-three yard attempt, which he made. At halftime, the Eagles led the Vikings 10-3.

    The Vikes tied the game after receiving the second half kickoff. Culpepper completed a twelve-yard pass to tight end Jiim Kleinsasser, and Smith charged up the middle for seventeen yards and a first down. Fellow running back Michael Bennett popped another draw play for sixteen yards, and Culpepper found Moss down the middle for twenty-four yards and a first and goal at the Philly eight. On the next play Culpepper went right back to a wide-open Moss in the end zone for the touchdown. Elling's extra point tied the game at ten with 9:08 left in the third period.

    The Eagles took the lead with a field goal after forcing a turnover on the next Minnesota possession. Bennett was hit by linebacker Carlos Emmons and lost control of the ball, which was recovered by fellow linebacker Mark Simoneau at the Minnesota thirty-two. McNabb's ten-yard scramble put the Eagles in field goal range, and Akers capped the drive by hitting from thirty-four yards out to put the Eagles up 13-10 with 6:50 left in the third.

    The Eagles put another touchdown on the board before the third quarter ended. They started the drive at their own nineteen, and on the first play from scrimmage Westbrook raced around left end on a sweep and got loose in the Vikes' secondary. He was eventually brought down at the Minnesota twenty after gaining sixty-one yards. On the next play, Buckhalter raced up the middle and into the end zone untouched. Akers added another extra point, and after three quarters the Eagles led 20-10.

    The home squad put the game away with a touchdown midway through the final period. Westbrook's punt return gave the offense the ball at its own forty-four. Westbrook also caught a screen pass for fifteen yards, and McNabb hit Thrash for fifteen yards and reserve wideout Freddie Mitchell for eighteen. Just like that, the Eagles had a first and goal at the Vikes' eight, and Westbrook plowed into the end zone off the right side on the next play. One final Akers extra point wrapped up the Eagles' 27-10 victory.

    Westbrook was put on the Horse Trailer by the MNF crew. He led the Eagles in both rushing and receiving, carrying nine times for eighty-four yards and a touchdown and catching three passes for forty yards. He also returned four punts for forty-three yards. Buckhalter added sixty-seven yards on eight carries with a touchdown, and the Eagles as a team rushed for 197 yards on just thirty attempts. Thrash caught three passes for thirty-eight yards, and fellow wideout Todd Pinkston added thirty-six yards on three more catches. McNabb finished sixteen of twenty-four for 182 yards and a touchdown. On defense, the Eagles sacked Culpepper six times; Simon had two of them.

    For the Vikes, Smith led the ground game with forty-six yards on six carries, and Culpepper added thirty-four yards on seven carries. The Vikes as a team rushed for 153 yards on thirty-five attempts. As a passer, Culpepper was fifteen of twenty-eight for 168 yards and a touchdown to Moss, who led the receivers with eighty-three yards on seven catches.

    The Eagles will now face the St. Louis Rams in the first NFC Divisional Playoff next Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM Eastern on Fox, with Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa on hand to describe the action.

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

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  14. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2003 NFC Wild Card Game from Raymond James Stadium un Tampa, Florida. Game time temperature is 75 degrees, with a south-southwest wind at 7 MPH. No precipitation fell during the game.

    The Bucs scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Aaron Stecker's return gave them the ball at their own forty-one, and the biggest play of the drive was Brad Johnson's seventeen-yard pass to Joe Jurevicius. The drive reached the Seattle seventeen before stalling, and Martin Gramatica's thirty-four yard field goal gave the defending Super Bowl champions a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

    The Hawks wasted no time answering. The biggest play of the drive was made by Bobby Engram, who caught a short pass over the middle from Matt Hasselbeck and turned it into a fifty-five yard catch-and-run and a first and goal at the Bucs' eight-yard line. It took only one play to score the touchdown from there, as Shaun Alexander took a pitch around right end and zipped untouched into the end zone. Josh Brown added the extra point, and the Hawks took a 7-3 lead with 9:23 left in the opening period.

    The Hawks added another touchdown just before the end on the opening quarter. Engram's punt return set them up at their own thirty-six, and Hasselbeck completed passes of ten yards to Darrell Jackson and fourteen yards to Koren Robinson. On third and seven from the Tampa nineteen, Hasselbeck went back to Robinson, who was wide open in the end zone for the score. Brown added the extra point, and at the end of one quarter the Hawks led 14-3.

    The visitors added a third consecutive touchdown midway through the second quarter after fee safety Ken Hamlin intercepted Johnson in the end zone. Hasselbeck found tight end Itula Miii for ten yards and a first down. Then came the big play of the drive, as Alexander took a sweep around left end for forty-eight yards and a first down at the Tampa twenty-two. Later, he ran the same play into the end zone from ten yards out, and Brown's extra point extended the Seattle lead to 21-3 exactly midway through the second period.

    The Hawks tacked on a field goal just before halftime. Engram's punt return gave the Hawks the ball at their own forty-seven, and Bobby also caught an eleven-yard pass to put the Hawks in Brown's range. The drive was stopped at the Tampa twenty-two, which gave Brown a thirty-nine yard attempt on the final play of the half. The kick was good, and at halftime our score was Hawks 24, Bucs 3.

    The Bucs got back on the board with a field goal midway through the third quarter. Karl Williams returned a Tom Rouen punt to his own forty-nine, and Johnson connected with Keenan McCardell for gains of nineteen and seventeen. The Bucs eventually had a first and goal at the Seattle six, but Johnson was sacked for a five-yard loss by reserve defensive end Brandon Mitchell on third down. Gramatica was left with a twenty-eight yard field goal attempt, which he converted to cut the Hawks' lead to 24-6 with less than eight minutes left in the third period.

    The Bucs cut farther into the Seattle lead with a touchdown before the end of the third quarter. Williams returned another punt to his own forty-seven, and Brad immediately found his namesake Keyshawn for thirteen yards and tight end Ken Dilger for sixteen. Mike Alstott's ten-yard catch-and-run gave the Bucs a first and goal at the Seattle one-yard line, and on third and goal Stecker took a handoff and dove over the top, but lost the ball in the pile. Fortunately for the home squad, backup tight end Will Heller was at the bottom of the pile, and they had a touchdown. Gramatica added the extra point, and after three quarters the Bucs were back to within 24-13.

    The Hawks put the game away with a touchdown early in the final period. Hasselbeck hit Jackson for a fourteen-yard gain, then threw downfield to him for a gain of thirty-nine. The touchdown came on fourth and inches from the one, as Hasselbeck faked a rollout, then flipped the ball to tight end Jerramy Stevens for the score. Brown added one last extra point, and the Hawks had wrapped up a 31-13 victory.

    Alexander was named Player of the Game by Fox. He carried seventeen times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Hasselbeck finished seventeen of twenty-two for 224 yards and two more scores. Jackson was his main target with seventy-four yards on four catches, and Engram added seventy-one yards on five catches. Robinson caught four more passes for fifty-two yards and a touchdown.

    For the Bucs, Brad was twelve of nineteen for 174 yards and an interception. McCardell led the receivers with eighty-seven yards on five catches. Michael Pittman was the Bucs' leading rusher with sixty-six yards on seventeen carries, and the Bucs as a team rushed for 153 yards on forty-two attempts in a losing cause.

    The following Sunday, the Hawks traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers in the second NFC Divisional Playoff. This was the infamous game where the teams went to overtime tied at twenty-seven, and the Hawks won the coin toss. When asked his pleasure, Hasselbeck told the world, "We want the ball, and we're going to score!" He did, but for the Pack, as cornerback Al Harris returned an interception fifty-two yards for the game-winning touchdown. Our final in overtime: Green Bay 33, Seattle 27.

    For the Pack, Brett Favre was twenty-six of thirty-eight for 319 yards and a touchdown. Donald Driver led the receivers with sixty-six yards on six catches, and Ahman Green caught five passes out of the backfield for forty-four yards. Green was even better on the ground, carrying twenty-three times for sixty-six yards and two touchdowns. The Hawks held the Green Bay running game to eighty-six yards on thirty attempts with two touchdowns.

    For the Hawks, Hasselbeck finished twenty-five of forty-five for 305 yards and an interception. Robinson caught seven passes for eighty-eight yards to lead the receivers, Engram caught four for eighty-three yards, Miii caught six for sixty-two yards, and Jackson five for fifty-eight yards. Alexander was held to forty-five yards on twenty carries, but scored three one-yard touchdowns. The only other Seahawk to carry the ball was Maurice Morris, who carried once for four yards.

    The Pack will host the winner of the other NFC Divisional Playoff between the Eagles and the Rams in the NFC Championship Game on January 18.

    Next: The Rams host the Eagles.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  15. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2003 NFC Divisional Playoff from the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis:

    The Eagles scored first. Donovan McNabb completed passes of thirteen and ten yards to James Thrash, and Duce Staley's eleven-yard gain on a draw play gave the Eagles a first down at the Rams' twelve. On second and eight from the ten, Brian Westbrook found a big hole off left tackle and accelerated through it, scampering into the end zone for the touchdown. David Akers added the extra point, and after one quarter the Eagles had a 7-0 lead.

    The Rams got on the board early in the second quarter. The key play of the drive was a thirty-nine yard catch-and-run by wide receiver Torry Holt, which gave the Rams a first down at the Philly fourteen. The drive stalled at the seven, but kicker Jeff Wilkins converted a twenty-four yard field goal attempt to cut the Eagles' lead to 7-3 with 10:25 left in the first half.

    The Eagles answered with a touchdown. McNabb connected with Todd Pinkston for seventeen yards, Westbrook for ten more on a screen pass, and tight end L.J. Smith for eleven, the bulk of which came on a fumble and recovery. On third and ten from the Rams' fourteen, McNabb threw to Freddie Mitchell, who broke a tackle at the five and made his way into the end zone for the score. Akers added the extra point, and the Eagles led 14-3 with 7:13 left until halftime.

    The Rams kicked a field goal on the final play of the half. It was set up by Marshall Faulk's eleven-yard rumble up the middle and another long completion to Holt from quarterback Marc Bulger. This one covered thirty-eight yards and gave the Rams a first down at the Eagles' twenty. After two more plays gained three yards, Wilkins was good from thirty-four yards out as the gun sounded to bring the Rams to within 14-6 at the half.

    The Rans added a third field goal after taking the second half kickoff. The biggest play of the drive came from Faulk, who popped another draw play for twenty-seven yards and a first down at the Philly twenty-four. The drive was stopped at the eighteen, but Wilkins converted from thirty-five yards out to cut the Philly lead to 14-9 with 9:45 left in the third quarter.

    The Eagles answered with a touchdown. Thrash returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Rams' thirty-two, and on the third play of the drive Westbrook zoomed up the middle for fourteen yards and a first and goal at the seven. From there, Correll Buckhalter knifed his way off the right side and into the end zone for the score. Akers' extra point extended the Eagles' lead to 21-9 with 5:07 left in the third.

    The Rams answered with a touchdown of their own. Faulk gained eleven more yards up the middle, and Bulger found Holt with back-to-back passes; the first went for twenty-one yards, the second for thirty and a first down at the Eagles' eleven. The touchdown came from the eight, as Faulk found a hole off left tackle and streaked through it and into the end zone. Wilkins added the extra point, and after three quarters it was Philadelphia 21, St. Louis 16.

    The Eagles were driving for another touchdown as the third quarter ended. Westbrook gained eleven yards on a draw play, and McNabb completed passes of twelve yards to Smith and twenty-eight yards to Pinkston. It was Pinkston who finished the drive by catching McNabb's touchdown ass from eleven yards put, and Akers added the extra point to put the Eagles up 28-16 with less than eleven minutes left in regulation.

    The Rams answered on their next possession. Arlen Harris returned the ensuing kickoff to his own thirty-eight, then picked up fifteen more yards on a draw play. Reserve running back Lamar Gordon took a pitch around right end for a gain of twenty, and Bulger hit reserve wideout Dane Locker for twelve more yards and a first down at the Philly fifteen. Before long, the Rams faced a fourth and eight at the thirteen. Rather then try for the first down as the clock ticked under seven minutes remaining, coach Mike Martz sent Wilkins out to try a thirty-yard field goal. The kick was good and trimmed the Eagles' lead to 28-19 with 6:54 left in regulation, but the Rams still needed two scores to win the game, assuming that they could stop the Eagles from scoring in the meantime. (Martz told reporters after the game that he had thought the Rams had seventeen points instead of sixteen. If they had, the field goal would have made the Eagles' lead eight, which is a one-score game.)

    The Eagles put the game away with a touchdown on their next possession. Thrash's return of the ensuing kickoff gave the Eagles the ball at their own forty, and McNabb''s twenty-two yard completion to Pinkston moved the ball down to the St. Louis thirty-eight, which is where we join Dick Stockton:

    "In one play, the Eagles have moved the ball to the Rams thirty-eight, and as we head down toward the six-minute mark we can expect them to run the ball more often than not to keep the clock running. The Rams have all of their timeouts, as Westbrook gets the call on first down, and there's a big hole up the middle! Westbrook over the twenty-five, the twenty, the fifteen, the ten, and he's going to go in for the touchdown from thirty-eight yards out! That should just about do it for the Rams, with 5:47 left in regulation time."

    Daryl Johnston: "Brian Westbrook has been fabulous for the Eagles over the past couple of weeks, and all year long, really. He uses his speed here to get through that hole up the middle, then once he's in the secondary he applies a final burst of speed to make sure he outruns the secondary. This issue looks to be just about decided."

    Tony Siragusa: "That touchdown might just have taken Mike Martz off the hook for tying that field goal earlier, guys. Now it doesn't really matter; this game belongs to the Eagles regardless unless there's a miracle."

    Akers added one last extra point, and the Eagles had pulled a 35-19 upset.

    Westbrook was named Player of the Game by Fox. He rushed for 115 yards on twelve carries and scored two touchdowns. Buckhalter added fifty-four yards on nine carries and a score, and the Eagles as a team rushed for 209 yards on thirty-four attempts with three touchdowns. McNabb was fifteen of twenty-three for 209 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Mitchell was his leading receiver with fifty-four yards on three catches and a touchdown, and Pinkston added three catches for fifty yards and another score.

    For the Rams, Bulger also finished fifteen of twenty-three, but he threw for 267 yards. Holt was his leading target by far, catching seven passes for 182 yards. Faulk was the Rams' leading rusher, carrying sixteen times for ninety-five yards and a touchdown. Gordon added forty-nine yards on eight carries, and the Rams as a team rushed for 160 yards on thirty-two attempts, an average of five yards a carry.

    The following week, the Eagles traveled to Lambeau Field in Green Bay to take on the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, and Akers was the hero, tying the game at seventeen with five seconds left in regulation, then winning it at the 10:2 mark of overtime from thirty-one yards out. The final: Eagles 20, Packers 17.

    McNabb was sacked eight times by the Pack's defense, but still managed to complete twenty-one of his thirty-nine passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Pinkston led the receivers with seven catches for ninety-five yards and a score. In the absence of Westbrook, who tore a biceps muscle in practice during the week and was thus lost for the year, McNabb also led the running game, gaining 107 yards on eleven scrambles. Duce Staley provided some help with forty-five yards on just five carries. The Eagles as a team managed 164 yards rushing on just twenty-five attempts.

    For the Pack, Brett Favre finished fifteen of twenty-eight for 180 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Robert Ferguson was his leading receiver, catching four passes for sixty-five yards and two touchdowns, one of them from forty yards out. On the ground, Ahman Green gouged the Philly defense for 156 yards on twenty-five carries, and Najeh Davenport added forty-two yards on nine carries. The Pack as a team rushed for 210 yards on thirty-seven attempts.

    The Eagles will play in an NFL championship game for the first time since 1950 when they represent the NFC in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston on February 1.

    Next: We turn to the AFC, as the Ravens host the Broncos in the first Wild Card Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  16. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2003 AFC Wild Card Game from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Game time temperature is 47 degrees, with partly cloudy skies and calm winds.

    The Ravens scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Quarterback Anthony Wright completed passes of eighteen yards to reserve wideout Marcus Robinson and fourteen yards to tight end Todd Heap. As we pick up the call from Mike Patrick, the Ravens have a first and ten at the Denver thirty-five:

    "The Ravens' offense looking crisp so far on the opening drive under Anthony Wright. Now he Jamal Lewis in the backfield on first and ten with four wide receivers, two to the right and two to the left. Lewis up the middle.....thirty, twenty-five, twenty, and he's loose! It's a footrace, and Jamal Lewis will win it easily!..... TOUCHDOWN!...….Just like that, the Ravens are on the board, thanks to Jamal Lewis."

    Paul Maguire: "Michael, he's been doing this to everyone he's played for years. He's fast, he's tough, and he's almost impossible to bring down once he gets going. Once it gets to the point where it's him against a defensive back like we see here with (cornerback) Lenny Walls, it's over, period."

    Joe Theismann: "If you're the Broncos, you give him that play, but you say, 'All right, Jamal, you aren't going to do this to us again today, no matter what we have to do. Eight men in the box, nine, whatever it is. If Jamal Lewis keeps getting loose like this, the Broncos have no chance."

    Matt Stover added the extra point, and with 11:52 left in the opening period, the Ravens had a 7-0 lead.

    The Broncos got on the board with a field goal toward the end of the period. Deltha O'Neal's punt return gave the offense the ball at the Baltimore forty-one, and they got into field goal range thanks to quarterback Jake Plummer''s twenty-two yard strike to wide receiver Ashley Lelie, which gave them a first and goal at the seven. The offense lost two yards over the next three plays, but Jason Elam converted a twenty-six yard field goal attempt to cut the Baltimore lead to 7-3 after one quarter. The second quarter was scoreless.

    The Broncos scored again after taking the second half kickoff. Shannon Sharpe contributed a ten-yard catch-and-run, and the big play of the drive was another completion from Plummer to Lelie, this one for thirty-five yards and a first down at the Ravens' nineteen. Plummer was sacked by linebacker Ed Hartwell for an eight-yard loss on first down and left the game to be evaluated for a possible concussion, leaving the offense in the hands of backup Jarious Jackson. They got back to the twenty-four in the next two plays, which left Elam with a forty-one yard attempt. The kick was good, and with 10:02 left in the third quarter the Ravens' lead was down to 7-6.

    The Broncos took the lead with another field goal later in the quarter. The big play was running back Clinton Portis' twelve-yard on a pitchout around right end. The drive reached the Ravens' twenty-six before fizzling, and Elam booted a forty-three yard field goal to put the Broncos up 9-7 after three quarters.

    The Broncos put the game away with a fourth field goal midway through the final period. The kay play of the drive was Sharpe's nineteen-yard catch and run. This drive was stopped at the Baltimore ten, but Elam punched a twenty-seven yarder through the uprights to put the Broncos up 12-7 with less than eight minutes to play. The Ravens twice drove inside the Denver forty in the final six minutes, but both drives ended in incomplete passes on fourth down, which preserved the Broncos' victory.

    Lewis was named MVP in a losing cause by the SNF crew. He carried eighteen times for eighty-six yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Ravens, the rest of the running attack only managed eight yards on eight attempts for a total of ninety-four yards on twenty-six attempts with a touchdown. Wright wasn't much better under center, completing just nine of his sixteen passes for 122 yards. Reserve wideout Frank Sanders' thirty-seven yard reception in the fourth quarter gave him the lead in receiving yards for the day, while Robinson was Wright's most frequent target, catching three passes for thirty-five yards.

    For the victorious Broncos, Plummer was twelve of nineteen for 141 yards before leaving the game, while Jackson was seven of eleven for seventy-five yards. Lelie led the receivers with four catches for eighty-four yards, while Sharpe caught four passes for forty-five yards. The Broncos as a team rushed thirty-three times, but could only gain eighty-one yards. Portis led the individual rushers with fifty-four yards on twenty-three carries. On defense, each team recorded four sacks.

    The Broncos will move on to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, where they'll take on the top-seeded New England Patriots in the first AFC Divisional Playoff next Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 8PM Eastern on CBS, with Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms calling the action. Armen Keteyian will serve as the sideline reporter.

    Next: The other AFC Wild Card Game, as the Colts battle the Titans in Nashville.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  17. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2003 AFC Wild Card Game from The Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. Game time temperature is 70 degrees, with cloudy skies and a southwest wind at 16 MPH gusting to 24 MPH.

    The Colts scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Peyton Manning connected with Reggie Wayne for thirteen yards and Marvin Harrison for twenty-seven, and Dominic Rhodes barged through a hole off left tackle for eleven. On third and nine from the Tennessee eighteen, Rhodes took a handoff and fought his way through a crack up the middle and into the end zone for the touchdown. Mike Vanderjagt added the extra point, and the Colts led 7-0 with 10:09 left in the opening quarter.

    The Colts added another touchdown before the quarter ended. They had been pinned at their own twelve-yard line on their first scoring drive, and this time they started from their own ten. But Dallas Clark's sixteen-yard catch-and-run got them out of immediate danger, and Peyton also connected with Wayne for gains of eleven and twelve yards and Harrison for a gain of sixteen. The Colts eventually earned a first down at the Titans' twelve, and on second and eight from the ten Edgerrin James circled out of the backfield and raced into the end zone, where Manning hit him with a perfect touchdown pass. Vanderjagt added the extra point, and at the end of one quarter the Colts led 14-0.

    The Titans got on the board with a field goal early in the second quarter. None of the plays on the drive gained over ten yards, and Gary Anderson eventually booted a twenty-four yard field goal to cut the Colts' lead to 14-3 with 9:56 left in the first half.

    The Titans added another field goal on their next possession. Steve McNair completed passes of thirty-four yards to wide receiver Drew Bennett and twenty-five yards to backup wideout Tyrone Calico. The drive was eventually stopped at the Indy eleven-yard line, but Anderson was good from twenty-eight yards out to bring the Titans within eight points at 14-6 with 3:14 left in in the half.

    The Colts reestablished their double-digit lead with a field goal on the final play of the first half. James popped a draw play for twelve yards, and Manning completed passes of thirteen yards to tight end Marcus Pollard and ten yards to backup wide receiver Troy Walters, which gave the Colts a first and goal at the Tennessee two-yard line. On third and goal from the three with time running out in the half, Vanderjagt booted a twenty-yard field goal to give the Colts a 17-6 halftime lead.

    The Titans made it a one-score game after taking the second half kickoff. McNair completed passes of ten yards to Derrick Mason and twenty yards to Justin McCareins. Running back Robert Holcombe's eleven-yard gain on a sweep around left end gave the Titans a first down at the Indy thirty-two. On second and six from the twenty-eight, McNair found Bennett over the middle, and Drew broke a tackle at the ten and scampered into the end zone for the touchdown. Anderson's extra point made it 17-13 Colts with 10:47 left in the third quarter.

    The visitors scored the game's final points toward the end of the third period. Peyton found Harrison for sixteen yards, Wayne for ten, and running back Ricky Willliams (not the one of Saints and Dolphins fame) for eleven. The drive eventually stalled at the Titans' fourteen, which left a thirty-one yard attempt for Vanderjagt. The kick was good, and the Colts led 20-13 at the end of three quarters. The final period was scoreless.

    Peyton was named Player of the Game by CBS. He ended his day having completed twenty-two of his twenty-nine passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. Harrison led the receiving corps with ninety-eight yards on seven catches, and Wayne added fifty-five yards on five catches. James was an important cog in both the running and passing games; he gained sixty-two yards rushing on twenty-two carries and also caught five passes for thirty-eight yards and a touchdown. The Colts as a team rushed for ninety-four yards and a touchdown on thirty-one attempts.

    For the Titans, McNair was twelve of seventeen for 211 yards and a touchdown to Bennett, who led the receivers with seventy-eight yards on three catches. Mason also caught three passes for fifty-three yards. Eddie George was their leading rusher despite being held to just thirty-one yards on seventeen carries. The Titans as a team gained just seventy-two rushing yards on thirty-four attempts.

    The following Sunday, the Colts traveled to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, where they faced the Chiefs in the second AFC Divisional Playoff and prevailed in a 38-31 shootout. Peyton was twenty-two of thirty for 304 yards and three touchdowns, and Harrison once again gained ninety-eight yards to lead the receivers, this time on six catches. Wayne caught six more passes for eighty-three yards and a touchdown. and fellow wideout Brandon Stokley caught four passes for fifty-seven yards and another score. James led the rushing attack, carrying twenty-six times for 125 yards with two touchdowns.

    The Chiefs did most of their damage on the ground, as Priest Holmes shredded the Indy defense for 176 yards and two touchdowns on twenty-four carries. The Chiefs as a team gained 199 yards on twenty-eight attempts with two touchdowns. Holmes also caught five passes for thirty-two yards. Tony Gonzalez led the receivers with four catches for fifty-five yards, and wide receiver Eddie Kennison added fifty yards on four catches. Another significant contributor for the Chiefs was kick returner Dante Hall, who returned seven kickoffs for 208 yards, including a ninety-two yard touchdown. On defense, linebacker Shawn Barber had ten solo tackles.

    The Colts have advanced to the AFC Championship Game on January 18. If the Patriots beat the Broncos next Saturday night, the game will be at Gillette Stadium. If the Broncos pull the upset, the Colts will host the game at the RCA Dome.

    Next: The Pats host the Broncos in the first AFC Divisional Playoff.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  18. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2003 AFC Divisional Playoff from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature is zero degrees, with fair skies and a north-northwest wind gusting to 17 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is twenty-one degrees below aero.

    The Broncos scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Chris Cole's return set up the offense at the New England thirty-six, and it struck quickly. Here's Greg Gumbel with how they did it:

    "First and ten for the Broncos after Cole's kickoff return. Jake Plummer was cleared to play only two days ago after suffering a slight concussion against the Ravens last week, so it remains to be seen just how familiar he is with the game plan. He'll throw on first down. Going long for (Ashley) Lelie…...HE'S GOT IT, AND JUST LIKE THAT THE BRONCOS HAVE A TOUCHDOWN!...…...It didn't look like the Patriots were expecting Plummer to throw deep on first down, Phil."

    Phil Simms: "That's right, Greg. I'm sure they were expecting a heavy dose of Clinton Portis, but (offensive coordinator) Gary Kubiak fooled everyone, including me. Plummer didn't even fake the handoff; he just let fly with the football, and Lelie had already beaten the right cornerback, Tyrone Poole. He made a great catch on the fly, and from there it was lights out."

    Jason Elam added the extra point, and less than twenty seconds into the game the visitors led 7-0.

    The Broncos scored just as quickly on their second possession. Following a Pats' three-and-out, Detha O'Neal returned the ensuing punt all the way to the Pats' twenty-eight. On the first play from scrimmage, running back Quentin Griffin barged through a huge hole up the middle and wasn't stopped until he reached the three, a gain of twenty-five. Portis danced his way through the middle and into the end zone from there, and with less than four minutes played the Broncos already led 14-0. There was no further scoring in the first half.

    The Broncos added to their lead with a touchdown midway through the third quarter. Plummer connected with Lelie for twenty-one yards and a first down, and on the very next play Griffin took a pitch around right end for a gain of thirty-seven and a first and goal at the Pats' nine. On third and goal from the eight Plummer went back to a wide-open Lelie, who caught the ball inches from the goal line and merely had to step across it for the score. Elam's extra point extended the Denver lead to 21-0 after three quarters.

    The Broncos added one last touchdown early in the final period. O'neal's punt return set up the offense at its own forty-three, and Portis' fourteen-yard catch-and-run of first down brought the ball across midfield. Later in the drive, Portis bolted up the middle for seventeen yards, and Griffin did the same for twelve. The touchdown came from three yards out, as reserve running back Mike Anderson squirmed through a crack up the middle and into the end zone for the score. Elam added one last extra point to wrap up the scoring, and soon the Broncos had finished a stunning 28-0 upset of the AFC's top seed.

    Lelie was named Player of the Game by CBS. He caught four passes for seventy-five yards and two touchdowns to lead the Broncos' receivers. Plummer was fourteen of twenty-five for 166 yards and the aforementioned two touchdowns. Griffin could just as easily been named Player of the Game as Lelie was; he led the Denver rushing attack with 130 yards on eleven carries. Portis was held to forty-five yards on twenty-four carries, but he scored a touchdown. The Broncos as a team rushed for 184 yards on forty-two carries with two touchdowns.

    For the Pats, Kevin Faulk was held to forty-four yards on twenty-one carries, but that was enough to make him New England's leading rusher. The Pats as a team carried twenty-nine times for only seventy-eight yards. Tom Brady had an awful night at the worst possible time, completing just eight of his twenty-one passes for a mere eighty-four yards and two interceptions. Deion Branch led the receivers, catching three passes for sixty yards. The true standout for the Pats on the evening was safety Rodney Harrison, who finished with a dozen solo tackles.

    The following Sunday, the Broncos traveled to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for the AFC Championship Game and ran smack into a buzzsaw named Peyton. The future Bronco completed twenty-two of his twenty-six passes for 377 yards and five touchdowns in the Colts' 41-10 blowout victory. Two each went to Brandon Stokley, who led the Indy receivers with 144 yards on just four catches, and Marvin Harrison, who caught seven passes for 133 yards. Harrison caught a forty-six yard touchdown, while Manning and Stokley combined on an eighty-seven yarder. Peyton's other touchdown pass went to Reggie Wayne, who caught five passes for forty-three yards. Edgerrin James was a dual threat, rushing for seventy-eight yards on seventeen carries and also catching five passes for thirty-seven yards. The Colts as a team rushed for just eighty-six yards on twenty-one attempts, thanks mostly to Peyton's dominance.

    For the Broncos, Plummer finished twenty-three of thirty for 181 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Rod Smith was the Broncos' leading receiver, catching five passes for sixty-six yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Portis carried seventeen times for sixty-right yards, and Griffin added sixty yards on just six carries.

    The Colts will meet the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston on February 1. Kickoff is scheduled for exactly 6:25 PM Eastern on CBS, with Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms once again calling the action. Armen Keteyian and Bonnie Bernstein will serve as sideline reporters.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  19. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now let's look at 2016 in the AFC. We begin in the East:

    New England Patriots: 13-3 (-1)
    Buffalo Bills: 9-7 (+2)
    Miami Dolphins: 8-8 (-2)
    New York Jets: 5-11 (0)

    The Pats drop a game, but still take the division crown by four over the Bills, whose two-game bump vault them over the Fins and into second place. Unfortunately, that's still not enough to save the job of coach Rex Ryan; he'll be replaced by Sean McDermott for 2017. The Fins fall off by a pair to finish right at .500, while the last-place Jets stay motionless.

    Now, the North:

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6 (-1)
    Baltimore Ravens: 9-7 (+1)
    Cincinnati Bengals: 8-8 (+2)
    Cleveland Browns: 4-12 (+3)

    Everyone but the division champion Steelers improves by at least a game. The Ravens' one game uptick gets them over .500, the Bengals' two-game spurt allows them to finish right at .500, and the Browns' three-game spike elevates them from pathetic to just plain bad. The Steelers' one-game slide still allows them to take the title by a game over the Ravens.

    Next, the South:

    Indianapolis Colts: 8-8 (0)
    Tennessee Titans: 8-8 (-1)
    Houston Texans: 7-9 (-2)
    Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-10 (+3)

    The Texans' two-game drop costs them the division title, and most likely a layoff berth. They end up in third behind the Colts and Titans, who tie for the crown at 8-8. The Colts don't have to do a thing, while the Titans actually drop a game. Meanwhile, the Jags spike by three under interim coach Doug Marrone, who took over after the firing of head coach Gus Bradley. New head of football operations Tom Coughlin was so impressed that he decided to retain Marrone for the 2017 campaign.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for the division title, and it goes to the Colts, 8.4 to 8.1.

    Finally, the West:

    Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6 (-2)
    Oakland Raiders: 9-7 (-3)
    Denver Broncos: 9-7 (0)
    San Diego Chargers: 8-8 (+3)

    The real-life tie for the division title is settled by the Chiefs dropping a pair while the Raiders plunge by three, which hands the title to the Chiefs by a game. The Chargers still finish last, but only after a three-game bump that rewards them with a .500 season in their final year in San Diego. Meanwhile, the Broncos stay put and end up in a tie for second with the Raiders, then lose their head coach, Gary Kubiak, due to health issues. He'll be replaced by Vance Johnson for the 2017 campaign. Meanwhile, the Chargers are making an even bigger move by taking their act up the road to their original home of Los Angeles.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the deadlock for second, and the Broncos prevail, 9.1 to 8.7.

    Seeds:

    1. Patriots (AFC East champs) 13-3
    2. Chiefs (AFC West champs): 10-6
    3. Steelers (AFC North champs): 10-6
    4. Colts (AFC South champs): 8-8
    5. Broncos (AFC West second place; won four-way tiebreaker with Raiders, Ravens, and Bills): 9-7
    6. Raiders (AFC West third place; finished second in four-way tiebreaker): 9-7

    The Chiefs hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the two seed over the Steelers, 10.1 to 9.9.

    We have a four-way tie for the two wild card spots at 9-7 among the Raiders, Broncos, Ravens and Bills. Turning to the expected wins tiebreaker, we find that the Broncos finish first at 9.1, which means that they take the five seed. The Raiders finish second at 8.7, so they take the six seed. The Ravens finish third with 8.6, followed by the Bills at 8.5.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 7:

    Broncos-Colts, 4:30, ABC/ESPN- Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (sideline reporter), Adam Schefter (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 8:

    Raiders-Steelers, 1, CBS- Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (sideline reporter), Jay Feely (kicking analyst)

    Next: Our look at the NFC.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  20. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now let's look at the NFC. We begin in the East:

    Dallas Cowboys: 11-5 (-2)
    New York Giants: 9-7 (-2)
    Philadelphia Eagles: 9-7 (+2)
    Washington Redskins: 8-8 (0)

    The big change in this division comes in second place, where the Giants drop two games while the Eagles pick up a pair to force a tie for second. The division champion Boys also drop a pair, while the Skins stay still in last place.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to decide who takes second, and it goes to the Eagles, 9.0 to 8.8.

    Now, the North:

    Green Bay Packers: 9-7 (-1)
    Minnesota Vikings: 9-7 (+1)
    Detroit Lions: 8-8 (-1)
    Chicago Bears: 5-11 (+2)

    We have a tie at the top, as the Pack drops a game while the Vikes add one. The Lions also drop a game to finish right at .500, and the last-place Bears pick up a pair.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to determine the division champion, and the title goes to the Pack, 9.0 to 8.6.

    Next, the South:

    Atlanta Falcons: 11-5 (0)
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-8 (-1)
    New Orleans Saints: 8-8 (+1)
    Carolina Panthers: 7-9 (+1)

    The Falcons freeze at the top, and their margin of victory is three over the Bucs and Saints. The Bucs drop a game, while the Saints add one to force a tie for second. The last-place Panthers also take a one-game bump.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the deadlock for second, and the Saints take it in a rout, 8.3 to 7.6.

    Finally, the West:

    Seattle Seahawks: 10-6 (0)
    Arizona Cardinals: 9-7 (+2)
    San Francisco 49ers: 4-12 (+2)
    Los Angeles Rams: 3-13 (-1)

    The Hawks, like the Falcons, stand pat as division champs. The Cardinals add a pair to finish second, and from there it's a steep drop to the Niners, who also add a deuce to avoid the basement in Chip Kelly's first and only season as head coach. Kyle Shanahan will be the Niners' new sideline boss in 2017. Meanwhile, the Rams celebrate their return to Los Angeles by shedding a game, finishing in the basement, and firing head coach Jeff Fisher. Sean McVay will guide the Rams' fortunes next season.

    Seeds:

    1. Cowboys (NFC East champs): 11-5
    2. Falcons (NFC South champs): 11-5
    3. Seahawks (NFC West champs): 10-6
    4. Packers (NFC North champs): 9-7
    5. Cardinals (NFC West second place; won four-way tiebreaker with Eagles, Giants, and Vikings): 9-7
    6. Eagles (NFC East second place; finished second in four-way tiebreaker): 9-7

    The Cowboys hold the expected wins tiebreaker for the top seed over the Falcons, 10.9 to 10.6.

    The Eagles, Giants, Vikings, and Cardinals are in a four-way tie for the two wild card spots. Turning to the expected wins tiebreaker, the Cardinals win it at 9.4 and take the five seed. The Eagles finish second at 9.0 and thus take the six seed. The Giants finish third at 8.8, while the Vikings finish fourth at 8.6.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 7:

    Eagles-Seahawks, 8:15, NBC- Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 8:

    Cardinals-Packers, 4:30, Fox- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (sideline reporter), Chris Myers (sideline reporter)

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
Loading...