The Pythagorean NFL

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

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  1. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2016 AFC Wild Card Game from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis:

    First, on a coaching note, even though Gary Kubiak has announced his retirement, he will continue to coach the Broncos throughout the playoffs.

    The Colts scored first after taking the opening kickoff. The key plays were Frank Gore's ten-yard gain on a pitch around right end and Andrew Luck's ten-yard pass to tight end Jack Doyle. On third and one from the Denver nine, Luck found another tight end, Dwayne Allen, wide open in the end zone for the touchdown. Adam Vinatieri added the extra point, and the Colts led 7-0 after one quarter.

    The Colts were driving toward another score when the first period ended. As a matter of fact, the key play of the drive came on the final play of the opening quarter, as reserve running back Robert Turbin raced up the middle for a gain of thirty-seven yards. The drive stalled at the Broncos' twenty-five, but Vinatieri converted a forty-two yard field goal attempt to put the home squad up 10-0 forty-one seconds into the second quarter.

    The Broncos got on the board with a touchdown before the end of the first half. Reserve running back C.J. Anderson caught a thirteen-yard screen pass, and quarterback Trevor Siemian completed passes of seventeen yards to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and twenty-one yards to backup receiver Jordan Norwood. On first and goal from the Indy four-yard line, running back Devontae Booker shimmied through a crack in the middle of the Colts' defense and into the end zone for the score. Kicker Brandon McManus added the extra point, and at halftime the Colts' lead had been trimmed to 10-7.

    The Broncos tied the game with a field goal after taking the second half kickoff. Anderson popped a draw play for thirty-three yards, and later in the drive fellow running back Justin Forsett did the same for sixteen. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' eleven-yard gain on a reverse gave the Broncos a first down at the Colts' nineteen, and the drive reached the ten before stalling. McManus' twenty-seven yard field goal tied the game at ten with 10:23 left in the third quarter.

    The visitors took the lead on their next possession. The key plays were a pair of completions from Siemian to Sanders; one went for eleven yards, while the other went for twenty-one. The drive fizzled at the Indy twenty-eight, but McManus booted a forty-five yard field goal to give the Broncos a 13-10 lead after three quarters.

    The Broncos extended their lead early in the final period. Siemian was responsible for the drive's two biggest plays, as he found Sanders for eleven yards and Thomas for twenty-one. The latter pass gave the Broncos a first down at the Colts' twelve. and on third and three from the five Trevor connected with tight end Virgil Green in the end zone for the touchdown. McManus added the extra point, and with less than twelve minutes left in regulation the Broncos led 20-10.

    The Broncos closed out the scoring with a field goal on their next possession. Anderson barged through a hole off the right side for seventeen yards, and on the next play Forsett did the same for sixteen. Siemian also found Thomas over the middle for fifteen yards and backup tight end A.J. Derby for twelve. The drive stalled at the Colts' ten, but McManus was good from twenty-seven yards out to wrap up the Broncos' 23-10 victory.

    Siemian was named the Gruden Grinder by the MNF crew. He completed twenty of his twenty-nine passes for 231 yards and a touchdown. Thomas led the receiving corps with seventy-six yards on five catches, and Sanders caught five more passes for sixty-two yards. Anderson led the running game with ninety-one yards on seventeen carries, and the Broncos as a team rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown on thirty-seven attempts. On defense, defensive end Jared Crick and linebacker Von Miller each sacked Luck twice.

    The Colts rushed for just ninety six yards as a team on thirty attempts. Turbin was the individual leader with forty-eight yards on just five carries, although thirty-seven of the yards came on one first quarter carry. Gore was held to thirty-eight yards on fifteen carries. Luck had one of his worst days as a pro, completing just seven of his seventeen passes for ninety-three yards and a touchdown. The only receiver to catch more than one pass was Donte Moncrief, who caught two passes for sixteen yards. T.Y. Hilton's twenty-two yard reception made him the team's leading receiver. On defense, strong safety Mike Adams finished with ten solo tackles, and reserve linebacker Akeem Ayers finished with no less than seventeen solo tackles.

    The Broncos' next stop will depend on who wins tomorrow's second Wild Card Game between the Raiders and the Steelers at Heinz Field. If the Steelers win, the Broncos will face the Patriots next Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. If the Raiders win, the Broncos will head for Kansas City, where they'll take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  2. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2016 NFC Wild Card Game from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Game time temperature is 16 degrees, with cloudy skies. Wind information is unknown.

    The Pack scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Ty Montgomery's return gave the offense prime field position at the Arizona thirty-five, and the key play of the drive was Aaron Rodgers' nineteen-yard completion to Davante Adams. The drive reached the seven before Cards defensive tackle Calais Campbell sacked Rodgers for a four-yard loss on third down, which left Mason Crosby with a twenty-eight yard field goal attempt. The kick was good, and with 12:08 left in the opening quarter the Pack led 3-0.

    The Pack added another touchdown later in the quarter after Cards kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed from fifty-one yards out, which gave the Pack the ball at its own thirty-four. Rodgers completed passes of ten yards to Montgomery and twelve yards to tight end Jared Cook, and on first down from the Arizona fourteen it was Rodgers to Jordy Nelson in the end zone for the score. Crosby added the extra point, and at the end of one quarter the home squad led 10-0.

    The Pack added another touchdown midway through the second quarter after Micah Hyde returned a punt to the Cards' forty. The key plays of the drive were a ten-yard gain up the middle by running back Eddie Lacy and an eleven-yard completion from Rodgers to Nelson. The touchdown came from eight yards out, as Rodgers took all day to find reserve wideout Geronimo Allison in the far corner of the end zone. The throw was on target, the catch was made, and Crosby's extra point gave the Pack a 17-0 lead with less than ten minutes left in the first half.

    The Cardinals got on the board with a touchdown just before the half. They were pinned at their own fifteen to start, but quarterback Carson Palmer immediately threw downfield for wideout John Brown, who made a diving catch at the forty-five for a gain of thirty. On the very next play, running back David Johnson found a huge hole off right tackle and rumbled through it for thirty-seven yards and a first down at the Green Bay eighteen. Three plays later on second and goal from the four, Palmer found Larry Fitzgerald all alone in the end zone for the score. Catanzaro added the extra point, and at the half the Cards were back to within 17-7.

    The Cards scored again after taking the second half kickoff. Palmer found Fitzgerald for fourteen yards and wide receiver J.J Nelson (no relation that I know of to Jordy) for twenty-seven. Johnson's ten-yard burst off the left side gave the Cards a first down at the Packers' twenty-five, and the drive reached the nineteen before stalling. Catanzaro was thus called upon from thirty-six yards out, and he converted to cut the Green Bay lead to 17-10 with 9:41 left in the third period.

    The Cards were driving for the tying touchdown late in the quarter when Palmer was picked off by strong safety Morgan Burnett, who returned the ball to his own thirty-three. Lacy gained seventeen yards up the middle to get the ball to midfield, and on the next play Rodgers fired downfield to Adams, who made the catch and sped to the Arizona fifteen, a gain of thirty-five. On third and five from the ten, Rodgers hit Lacy with a screen pass, and Eddie broke two tackles and made his way into the end zone for the touchdown. Crosby added the extra point, and after three quarters the Pack led 24-10.

    The Pack put the game away with one last touchdown early in the final quarter. As we pick up Joe Buck's call, a holding penalty has set the offense back to its own sixteen, where they face a second and seventeen:

    "Second and seventeen for the Packers, who have an empty backfield behind Aaron Rodgers. Three receivers to the left and two to the right, as Rodgers takes the snap. All kinds of time, and he'll fire downfield...….PASS IS CAUGHT BY NELSON, AND HE'S ACROSS MIDFIELD AND INTO THE ARIZONA SECONDARY! DOWN TO THE THIRTY, TWENTY-FIVE, TWENTY, AND HE'S ALL BY HIMSELF! HE'S GOING IN FOR AN EIGHTY-FOUR YARD TOUCHDOWN!......The Packers have all but put this one away, as there was no one near Jordy Nelson after he made that catch. An inexcusable breakdown by the Arizona defense."

    Troy Aikman: "You said it all right there, Joe. Everyone who watches the Packers even occasionally knows that Jordy Nelson is Aaron Rodgers' favorite target if defenses don't stop him, so the Cardinals should have been covering him a lot closer than they seemed to. Of course, whatever coverage they were planning on was obviously botched, and the end result is that Nelson makes the uncontested catch and has a clear path to the end zone. Defenders finally show up at about the ten-yard line, but by then it's too late."

    Crosby added one last extra point, and the Pack had rolled to a 31-10 victory.

    For a change, let's look at the losers first. Johnson led the Cardinals in rushing with seventy-five yards on seventeen carries, and the Redbirds as a team were held to ninety-three yards on twenty-five attempts. Palmer completed just thirteen of his thirty passes for 215 yards with a touchdown and an interception. J.J. led the receiving corps with fifty yards on just two catches, while Brown was next with forty yards, also on two catches. Fitzgerald led the group in catches with four, and they totaled thirty-nine yards and a touchdown. Campbell led the defense with eleven solo tackles, including a sack.

    For the Pack, Rodgers was named MVP by Fox after completing seventeen of his twenty-five passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns. Nelson also got consideration after catching five passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and Adams added five more catches for eighty-three yards. Lacy led the running game with sixty-eight yards on twenty-three carries, while Burnett led the defense with twelve solo tackles and an interception. Linebacker Julius Peppers was next with nine solo tackles, including two of the team's five sacks.

    The Pack's next destination depends on who won last night's other Wild Card Game between the Eagles and the Seahawks in Seattle. If the Seahawks won, the Pack will take on the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium late next Sunday afternoon. If the Eagles pulled the upset, they'll head to the Georgia Dome to battle the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday night.

    Next: To be determined.

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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2016 NFC Wild Card Game from CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Game time temperature is 38 degrees, with cloudy skies and a southeast wind at 7 MPH.

    The first quarter was scoreless, but the Eagles were working on a touchdown drive when the quarter expired. The key plays were a twenty-six yard pass from Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz and a forty-eight yard dash up the middle by running back Ryan Matthews that gave the Eagles a first and goal inches from the Seattle goal line. Matthews dove over the top for the score on the next play, and kicker Caleb Sturgis added the extra point to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 12:52 left in the first half.

    The Hawks answered with a field goal. Reserve running back C.J. Prosise ran consecutive draw plays for gains of ten and seventeen, and fellow running back Thomas Rawls ran the same play for ten more and a first down at the Eagles seventeen, The offense couldn't gain another yard, but Steven Hauschka connected on a thirty-four yard field goal attempt to cut the Philly lead to 7-3 with 7:11 left in the half.

    The Eagles got on the board again with a field goal just before the half. Darren Sproles' punt return set up the offense at the Seattle forty-three, and later in the drive Sproles picked up ten more on a draw play to get the Eagles into Sturgis' range. The drive stalled at the Hawks' twenty-four, but Sturgis was good from forty-one yards out to bolster the Eagles' lead to 10-3 at the half.

    The Hawks evened things up with a touchdown after taking the second half kickoff. Wilson found wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for fifteen yards and a first down, and later in the drive Rawls caught a fourteen-yard screen pass for another first down. The touchdown came on third and one from the Philly eight, as Wilson completed another screen pass, this one to backup running back Alex Collins, who scampered into the end zone unmolested. Hauschka's extra point evened things up at ten through three quarters.

    The Eagles retook the lead with a touchdown early in the final period. Once again, Sproles set things up with a great punt return, as Hawks punter Jon Ryan made a shoestring tackle on him at the Seattle thirty-five. The biggest play of the drive was Matthews' fourteen-yard catch-and-run, and on second and goal from the seven Wentz shoveled the ball to Wendell Smallwood, who outraced his pursuers into the end zone. Sturgis added the extra point, and with less than eleven minutes left in regulation the Eagles led 17-10.

    The Hawks wasted no time answering with a six-pointer of their own. The kay play of the drive happened on second and five from the Hawks' forty-eight, when Wilson ducked under a heavy Philly rush and fired downfield for Tyler Lockett, who made a fingertip catch at the Eagles' fifteen for a gain of thirty-seven, Eagles coach Doug Pederson challenged the ruling on the field, as Lockett appeared to be juggling the ball when he hit the ground. After a five-minute delay, the call was upheld, and on the next play Rawls raced through a huge hole up the middle and into the end zone for the score. Unfortunately, Hauschka's extra point attempt sailed wide left, so the Eagles still led 17-16 with six and a half minutes left in regulation.

    That was still the score when the Hawks got the ball back at their own twenty-six with less than a minute left in regulation and no timeouts. Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for eight yards, Doug Bldwin for ten, and Lockett for nineteen. Tyler stepped out of bounds at the Philly thirty-seven with five seconds left, and that's where we join Al Michaels:

    "A field goal from here would be fifty-four yards, which is no gimme for a guy who just shanked an extra point. One quick completion to the sidelines could make it a little closer for Hauschka, but if Wilson can't throw right away there'd be no time for it."

    Cris Collinsworth: "I think they'll go for the end zone, Al. They may have two chances if Wilson can get rid of it quick."

    Michaels: "That's probably the safest play. Here we go. They'll be coming from the Space Needle, so Wilson's gonna have to unload in a hurry. Takes the snap, he has to scramble, so this is it.....Gets set, now fires, here's the tip drill...….CAUGHT! WHO IS IT? SEATTLE WINS, BUT WHO'S GOT THE BALL?.....THAT LOOKS LIKE THOMAS RAWLS!....IT IS! A RUNNING BACK CATCHES THE GAME-WINNING HAIL MARY! WOW!"

    Collinsworth: "Well, there's no law against it that I know of. It's just that no one's thought to use a running back on that play before. Here's the throw...…..the tip by Baldwin.....Yep, a perfect catch and cradle by Thomas Rawls, who's used to protecting the ball, don't forget. He makes the catch and goes right to the ground to preserve the touchdown, and the Seahawks win it. Unbelievable."

    By rule, there had to be an extra point try, but Ryan as the holder simply fell on the ball, then took off with it to the victorious Hawks locker room. Our final score: Seahawks 22, Eagles 17.

    Rawls' picture was put of the Horse Trailer by the SNF crew. He led the Hawks in rushing with seventy-three yards on fourteen carries and also caught two passes for fifty-one yards, including the game-winner. Prosise added fifty-four yards rushing on eight carries. Wilson had a banner day as well, completing fifteen of his twenty-two passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Lockett was his leading target, with sixty-four yards on just three catches.

    For the Eagles, Wentz acquitted himself well in his first (and to date only) playoff game, finishing sixteen of twenty-nine for 205 yards and a touchdown. Ertz was his leading receiver with five catches for eighty yards, and Matthews caught four passes out of the backfield for forty-five yards, Ryan was also the Eagles' leading ground gainer, carrying thirteen times for eighty-one yards and a touchdown. The Eagles as a team rushed for 151 yards on forty-one attempts. On defense, reserve linebacker Stephen Tulloch finished with eleven solo tackles.

    The following Saturday, the Hawks visited the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons in the first NFC Divisional Playoff, and they were eliminated by the home squad 36-20. Matt Ryan had a banner day, completing twenty-six of his thirty-seven passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Devonta Freeman had a great dual-threat day, carrying fourteen times for forty-five yards and a touchdown and also catching four passes out of the backfield for eighty yards. Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel added four catches for seventy-one yards, and Julio Jones caught six passes for sixty-seven yards and a touchdown. Fellow wideout Mohamed Sani caught four balls for forty-four yards and a score, and running back Tevin Coleman led the rushing attack with fifty-seven yards on eleven carries and also caught Ryan's other touchdown pass. On defense, free safety Keanu Neal had ten solo tackles.

    For the Hawks, Wilson finished seventeen of thirty for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver Paul Richardson, who didn't play against the Eagles because of a hamstring pull, led the receivers with four catches for eighty-three yards. Baldwin caught five passes for eighty yards and a touchdown. Wilson was also the Hawks' leading rusher with forty-nine yards on six carries, while Rawls was held to thirty-four yards on eleven carries and didn't catch a pass. Each quarterback was sacked three times, and Falcons lineman Ben Garland tackled Wilson in the end zone for a safety.

    The other NFC Divisional Playoff took place the next day at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the Packers nipped the Cowboys 34-31. Aaron Rodgers completed twenty-eight of his forty-three passes for 355 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Tight end Jared Cook was his leading receiver with 103 yards on six catches and a touchdown. Davante Adams added five caches for seventy-six yards, and fellow wideout Randall Cobb caught seven more balls for sixty-two yards. The Packers rushed just seventeen times as a team for eighty-seven yards, and Ty Montgomery was the leading individual rusher with forty-seven yards on eleven carries and two touchdowns. Mason Crosby's fifty-one yard field goal at the final gun won it for the Pack, and he also hit from fifty-six yards to give Green Bay a 31-28 lead with 1:33 to play.

    For the Boys, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott finished twenty-four of thirty-eight for 302 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Wideout Dez Bryant caught nine passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, including a forty-yarder. Fellow wideout Terrance Williams caught four passes for sixty-eight yards, while tight end Jason Witten caught six passes for fifty-nine yards and a score. Running back Ezekiel Elliott gained 125 yards on twenty-two carries to lead the rushing attack.

    The NFC Championship Game took place on January 22 at the Georgia Dome, and the Falcons punched their ticket to Super Bowl LI in Houston by blowing out the Pack 44-21. Ryan finished twenty-seven of thirty-eight for 392 yards and four touchdowns. Jones caught two of the touchdowns, including a seventy-three yarder, and ended up with nine catches for 180 yards. Sanu added five catches for fifty-two yards and another score. Freeman led the running game with forty-two yards on fourteen carries, and also caught four passes for forty-two yards and a touchdown. Ryan also added a fifth touchdown on the ground.

    For the Pack, Rodgers was twenty-seven of forty-five for 287 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He was also the team's leading rusher with forty-six yards on four carries. The Pack as a team finished with ninety-nine yards on just seventeen attempts. Cobb was his leading receiver with six catches for eighty-two yards, while Cook caught seven balls for seventy-eight yards and a touchdown and Jordy Nelson added six catches for sixty-seven yards and a score.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  4. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2016 AFC Wild Card Game from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Game time temperature is 14 degrees, with fair skies and a west wind at 9 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is two degrees above zero.

    The Raiders scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Running back Latavius Murray stormed through the middle of the Steelers' defense for twenty-two yards, and fellow running back DeAndre Washington followed that up by knifing off the left side for eleven more. The touchdown came on third and six from the Pittsburgh twenty, when quarterback Connor Cook hit reserve tight end Clive Walford at the ten, and Walford broke a pair of tackles and raced into the end zone. Sebastian Janikowski's extra point put the visitors up 7-0 with 10:17 left in the opening period.

    The Steelers answered with a touchdown of their own. The key plays were Ben Roethlisberger's thirteen-yard completion to Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell's thirty-three yard gain off left tackle, which gave the Steelers a first and goal at the Oakland four. Ben was thrown for a four-yard loss by reserve defensive end Denico Autry on first down, but on second and goal from the eight he hit DeAngelo Williams coming out of the backfield for the easy score. Chris Boswell's extra point tied the game at seven with 4:15 left in the opening quarter.

    After the Steelers' defense forced a three-and-out, the Steelers took the lead with a touchdown before the end of the quarter. Ben found AB over the middle for twenty-one, and Bell caught a ten-yard screen pass for one first down and reeled off a thirteen-yard catch-and-run for another. DeAngelo scored again from eight yards out, this time on a run up the middle, and Boswell added the extra point to give the home squad a 14-7 lead after fifteen minutes.

    The Raiders tied the game with a drive that took most of the second quarter: eighty-seven yards in fourteen plays taking eight minutes and thirty-two seconds. Cook connected with Michael Crabtree for eleven yards, fellow wideout Amari Cooper for ten, and reserve wideout Seth Roberts for twenty-one. Murray's eleven-yard burst up the middle gave the Raiders a first and goal at the Pittsburgh two, and from there Cook flipped the ball to a wide-open Crabtree in the middle of the end zone for the touchdown. Janikowski's extra point tied the game at fourteen with 3:26 left in the first half.

    The Steelers answered with a field goal drive to take the lead before they went to the locker room. Ben spread the ball around expertly, finding wideout Sammie Coates for fourteen yards, fellow wideout Eli Rogers for eleven, tight end Jesse James over the middle for twelve, and Bell on a screen pass for ten. With six seconds left in the half, the Steelers faced a first and goal at the Raiders' two, but after Bell lost a yard, coach Mike Tomlin decided to take the chip-shot field goal, and Boswell connected from twenty yards out to give the Black and Gold a 17-14 halftime lead.

    The Steelers added to their lead with a touchdown after taking the second half kickoff. Fitzgerald Toussaint's return gave the offense the ball at its own forty-six, and Ben connected with AB for fifteen yards, James for ten, and wide receiver Cobi Hamilton for ten more and a first and goal at the Raiders' six. From there, it was Ben to AB for the score, and Boswell added the extra point to put the Steelers up 24-14 with 10:51 left in the third quarter.

    The Raiders answered with a field goal. Cook found Cooper for nineteen yards and a first down, Washington slashed off left tackle for twelve yards and another first down, and fellow running back Jalen Richard gained twelve more on a pitchout around right end for a first down at the Steelers' eighteen. The drive stalled at the thirteen, but Janikowski connected from thirty yards out to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 24-17 with less than seven minutes to play in the third.

    The Silver and Black converted a Steelers' turnover into another field goal before the quarter was out. Ben was picked off by cornerback Sean Smith, whose return gave the Raiders the ball at the Pittsburgh forty-eight. The key play of the drive was Cook's sixteen-yard pass to Cooper, which gave the Raiders a first down at the twenty-nine. The drive fizzled at the twenty-three, but Janikowski was good from forty yards out to cut the Steelers' lead to 24-20 after three quarters.

    The Steelers reestablished their double-digit lead with a touchdown midway through the final period. Bell raced up the middle for ten yards and a first down. then caught a ten-yard pass on the next play for another. Ben also connected with Rogers for fifteen yards and AB for sixteen and a first down at the Oakland seventeen. Ben threw short to Bell, who ran over two Oakland defenders on his way into the end zone for the score. Boswell added the extra point, and the Steelers led 31-20 with less than eight minutes to play in regulation.

    The Steelers didn' t enjoy their double-digit lead for long. The Raiders got the ball at their own thirty-one after the ensuing kickoff, and that's where we join Jim Nantz:

    "7:19 left in regulation, and the Raiders need two touchdowns. The rookie Connor Cook has to get them going from their own thirty-one. They start with a handoff to Richard, who's got a nice hole over the forty, the forty-five, cuts back at midfield AND STILL ON HIS FEET! Puts on a burst AND HE'S ALL ALONE IN THE SECONDARY! JALEN RICHARD'S GOING TO GO ALL THE WAY FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! SIXTY-NINE YARDS!......Someone just stuck a pin in Heinz Field, Phil."

    Phil Simms: "Yeah, and it's Jalen Richard. Great block by Number 61, the center Rodney Hudson, and he gets help from the right guard Gabe Jackson, Number 66. Richard hits the hole, and there's no one near him, Once he hits the secondary, the Steelers get within range, but Richard just outraces (safety) Mike Mitchell to the end zone. Mitchell's been almost everywhere today, but he just couldn't catch Richard."

    Janikowski added the extra point, and the Raiders were within 31-27 with 7:05 left in regulation. But the Steelers went on a five-and-a-half minute drive to kill most of the time remaining, and the Raiders' last desperate drive ended at midfield, Our final score: Pittsburgh 31, Oakland 27.

    Bell was named Player of the Game by CBS. He gained 104 rushing yards on nineteen carries, and he also caught eight passes for eighty-three yards and a touchdown. AB led the receivers with seven catches for ninety-nine yards and another score. Ben was twenty-seven of thirty-four for 306 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. On defense, Mitchell led the way with eleven solo tackles. Lawrence Timmons added ten more, and James Harrison finished with nine, including a pair of sacks.

    For the Raiders, Richard led the rushing attack with ninety-three yards on eight carries with a touchdown. Murray added fifty-eight yards on fifteen carries, and Washington carried seven times for forty-four yards. The Raiders as a team finished with 205 rushing yards and a touchdown on thirty-three attempts. Cook acquitted himself much better than he did in real life, completing fourteen of his twenty-two passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Crabtree was his leading receiver with sixty-six yards on five catches with a touchdown, while Cooper caught four passes for fifty-three yards. Free safety Reggie Nelson led the defense with fifteen solo tackles.

    The following week, the Steelers invaded Arrowhead Stadium for a Divisional Playoff showdown with the Chiefs. All they could manage on offense were six Boswell field goals, but that was enough for an 18-16 upset victory. Ben finished twenty of thirty-one for 224 yards with an interception, and AB led the receivers with six catches for 108 yards. James caught five passes for eighty-three yards. Bell ran roughshod over the Chiefs' defense for 170 yards on thirty carries.

    For the Chiefs, quarterback Alex Smith completed twenty of his thirty-four passes for 172 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tight end Travis Kelce was his leading receiver with seventy-seven yards on five catches, while running back Spencer Ware led the ground game with thirty-five yards on eight carries with a touchdown. The Chiefs as a team managed just sixty-two yards rushing on thirteen attempts with a touchdown. The Chiefs had tied the game with a two-point conversion after Ware scored from a yard out with 2:43 remaining to make it an 18-16 game, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty.

    The Steelers have advanced to the AFC Championship Game on January 22. If the Patriots beat the Broncos in the other Divisional Playoff, the game will be at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. If the Broncos upset the Pats, the Steelers will host the game at Heinz Field.

    Next: The Pats host the Broncos.

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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2016 AFC Divisional Playoff from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature is 31 degrees, with cloudy skies and variable winds at 7 MPH.

    The first quarter was scoreless. The Broncos scored linebacker first just before halftime, as C.J. Anderson popped a draw play for thirty-six yards and a first down in New England territory. He picked up eleven more yards on another draw later in the drive. The longest pass play of the drive was Trevor Siemian's eleven-yard strike to Virgil Green, which gave the Broncos a first down at the Pats' twenty-one. The offense lost two yards over the next three plays, but Brandon McManus connected on a forty-yard field goal attempt to give the Broncos a 3-0 lead.

    The Pats tied the game with a field goal after taking the second half kickoff. The key play of the drive was running back Dion Lewis' forty-four yard gain on a draw play, which gave the Pats a first down at the Denver thirty-eight. The drive stalled at the thirty-three, but Stephen Gostkowski booted a fifty-yard field goal to tie the game at three with 12:55 left in the third period.

    The Pats took the lead with another field goal on their next possession. Tom Brady found tight end Martellus Bennett over the middle for twenty-one yards, then wideout Michael Floyd for twenty-three. Ten-yard passes to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman put the Pats in prime range for Gostkowski, and he eventually hit from twenty-three yards out to give the Pats a 6-3 lead after three quarters.

    The Pats put the game away after linebacker Dont'a Hightower picked off Trevor Siemian's pass with less than five minutes to play and returned it to the Denver nineteen. The Pats got their touchdown in two plays: a fifteen-yard catch-and-run by Lewis and a four-yard scamper up the middle by fellow running back James White. Gostkowski's extra point sealed the Pats' 13-3 victory.

    New England running back LaGarrette Blount was named Player of the Game by CBS. He gained eighty-one yards on twenty carries. Lewis added sixty-three yards on eleven carries, and the Pats as a team rushed for 162 yards on forty attempts with a touchdown. Brady only threw when he had to, completing just ten of his seventeen passes for 112 yards. Bennett was his most frequent target with three catches for thirty-eight yards, while Floyd was his most productive target with forty-one yards on just two catches.

    For the Broncos, Siemian finished eighteen of thirty-five for 193 yards and two interceptions. Emmanuel Sanders had a stellar evening in a losing cause, catching six passes for an even hundred yards. Fellow wideout Demaryius Thomas also caught six passes for forty-three yards. Anderson led all rushers with ninety-two yards on fourteen carries, and Devontae Booker added sixty-three yards, also on fourteen carries to account for the rest of the Broncos' rushing yardage. On defense, Von Miller had twelve solo tackles, including a sack.

    The following week, the Pats hosted the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game and won going away, 36-17. Brady was back to normal, shredding the Steelers' defense by going thirty-two of forty-two for 384 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Chris Hogan led the receivers with 180 yards on nine catches and two touchdowns, while Edelman caught eight passes for 118 yards and another touchdown. Blount scored another touchdown despite being held to forty-seven yards on sixteen carries, which was enough to make him the Pats' leading rusher. The Steelers' defense held the home squad to just fifty-seven yards rushing in twenty-six attempts.

    For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger finished thirty-one of forty-seven for 314 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Antonio Brown led the receivers with seventy-seven yards on seven catches, while Eli Rogers caught seven more passes for sixty-six yards and Jesse James added five catches for forty-eight yards, The running game was stifled when LeVeon Bell left the game at halftime with a groin injury. DeAngelo Williams took his place and led the Pittsburgh rushing game with thirty-four yards on fourteen carries and a touchdown. He also caught seven passes for fifty-one yards. The Steelers gained just fifty-four yards rushing as a team on twenty attempts.

    Super Bowl LI took place on February 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Falcons dominated the first two and a half quarters, racing out to a 28-3 third quarter lead. Matt Ryan was splendid, finishing his day with seventeen completions in twenty-three attempts for 284 yards and two touchdowns, Julio Jones was, as usual, his prime target; he caught four passes for eighty-seven yards, while fellow wideout Taylor Gabriel added three catches for seventy-six yards. Devonta Freeman paced the running game, gaining seventy-five yards on eleven carries with a touchdown. He also caught two passes for forty-six yards. On defense, cornerback Jalen Collins finished with ten solo tackles, and fellow corner Robert Alford picked off a Brady pass and returned it eighty-two yards for a touchdown. The defense also sacked Brady five times.

    All of that, however, was buried under the Pats' remarkable thirty-one point comeback, which ended in the first overtime in a Super Bowl so far in this timeline. James White won the game for New England with his two-yard run at the 11:02 mark of the period. Final score: New England 34, Atlanta 28.

    White had a good case for being named MVP; he caught fourteen passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, and also scored two touchdowns on the ground, including the game-winner. But Brady made all of that academic with what can safely be called the game of his life: forty-three of sixty-two for 466 yards with two touchdowns and the aforementioned interception. Every New England receiver who caught a pass except for Lewis gained over fifty yards. In addition to White's big day, Edelman caught five passes for eighty-seven yards, while Danny Amendola caught eight balls for seventy-eight yards and a score. Fellow wideout Malcolm Mitchell added seventy yards on six catches. Blount led the way on the ground with thirty-one yards on eleven carries, while White finished with twenty-nine yards on six carries and Lewis with twenty-seven yards on six carries. On defense, the Pats also sacked Ryan five times.

    Brady's MVP award was his fourth in the Pythagorean universe; he's the only player in either applicable universe to win four Super Bowl MVP awards. He's been the MVP in each of the Pats' four Super Bowl victories so far in this timeline.

    We've now contested forty-six Super Bowls in the Pythagorean universe, and the NFC's all-time lead is down to two at 24-22.

    Next: To be determined.

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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now let's look at 2004 in the AFC. We begin in the East:

    New England Patriots: 12-4 (-2)
    Buffalo Bills: 11-5 (+2)
    New York Jets: 10-6 (0)
    Miami Dolphins: 6-10 (+2)

    The only team to stay the same is the Jets, and they're leapfrogged for second by the surprising Bills, who pick up a pair under first-year coach Mike Mularkey. The Fins also pick up a pair after canning coach Dave Wannstedt after nine games. Defensive coordinator Jim Bates finished the season, and future Alabama coaching legend Nick Saban will take over in 2005. The Pats maintain the title by a game over the Bills despite dropping a pair.

    Now, the North:

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4 (-3)
    Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 (+1)
    Cincinnati Bengals: 8-8 (0)
    Cleveland Browns: 5-11 (+1)

    The Steelers take a three-game slide, but still prevail by two over the Ravens, who improve by one. The third-place Bengals stand pat, while the Browns pick up a game in the wake of coach Butch Davis' firing after ten games. Terry Robiskie finished the season, and former Pats defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will take over for the 2005 campaign.

    Next, the South:

    Indianapolis Colts: 12-4 (0)
    Jacksonville Jaguars: 7-9 (-2)
    Houston Texans: 7-9 (0)
    Tennessee Titans: 6-10 (+1)

    The Colts freeze, but still romp to a five-game victory over the Texans and Jags, who drop by a pair to force a tie for second. Meanwhile, the last-place Titans pick up a game.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for second, and it goes to the Jags, 7.3 to 7.1.

    Finally, the West:

    San Diego Chargers: 11-5 (0)
    Denver Broncos: 10-6 (0)
    Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7 (+2)
    Oakland Raiders: 5-11 (0)

    The only team to change is the Chiefs, who pick up a pair to finish over.500 but can't get out of third place.

    Seeds:

    1, Patriots (AFC East champs): 12-4
    2. Steelers (AFC North champs): 12-4
    3. Colts (AFC South champs): 12-4
    4. Chargers (AFC West champs): 11-5
    5. Bills (AFC East second place): 10-6
    6. Jets (AFC East third place; won three-way tiebreaker with Ravens and Broncos): 10-6

    We have two multiple-team tiebreakers that will determine playoff spots to settle.

    First, let's see who will be the sixth seed. We have a three-way tie among the Jets, Ravens, and Broncos. Turning to the expected wins tiebreaker, we see that the Jets take the six seed with a 10.2, followed by the Broncos at 10.1 and the Ravens at 9.6.

    Next, let's determine the top seed. The Patriots, Steelers, and Colts all finished 12-4. As we turn to the expected wins tiebreaker, it tells us that the Pats take the top seed with a 12.4. The Steelers and Colts remain tied for the two seed at 11.5. The two teams didn't play each other, so the head-to-head tiebreakers don't apply. We go to the next tiebreaker, which is conference record. The Steelers were 11-1 in the AFC, while the Colts were 8-4. Therefore, the Steelers take the two seed, while the Colts are the three seed.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 8:

    Bills-Chargers, 8, ABC- Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 9:

    Jets-Colts, 1, CBS- Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Bonnie Bernstein (sideline reporter)

    Next: We look at the NFC.

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

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

    Philadelphia Eagles: 12-4 (-1)
    New York Giants: 7-9 (+1)
    Washington Redskins: 7-9 (+1)
    Dallas Cowboys: 5-11 (-1)

    The Eagles drop a game, but still prevail by five over the Giants and Redskins, who each gain a game to maintain their real-life tie for second. The Boys end up in last place by themselves as a result, though shedding a game doesn't help matters.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle the tie for second, and it goes to the Redskins, 7.1 to 6.7.

    Next. the North:

    Green Bay Packers :9-7 (-1)
    Minnesota Vikings: 8-8 (0)
    Detroit Lions: 6-10 (0)
    Chicago Bears: 5-11 (0)

    The only team that changes is the Pack, which drops a game but still edges the Vikes by a game for the division crown.

    Now, the South:

    Atlanta Falcons: 8-8 (-3)
    Carolina Panthers: 8-8 (+1)
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-8 (+3)
    New Orleans Saints: 7-9 (-1)

    We end up with a three-way tie at the top, as the real-life champions shed three, which are promptly picked up by the Bucs. Add a one-game bump by the Panthers and you have your deadlock. It would have been a four-way tie if the Saints hadn't dropped a game.

    We go to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle things, and the Panthers take the crown with 8.4. The Falcons finish second with 8.1, while the Bucs finish third with 7.9.

    Finally, the West:

    Seattle Seahawks: 8-8 (-1)
    Arizona Cardinals: 7-9 (+1)
    St. Louis Rams: 6-10 (-2)
    San Francisco 49ers: 3-13 (+1)

    The Hawks drop a game, but still take the division title by a game over the Cards, who improve by a game in coach Dennis Green's first year. The Rams drop a pair to finish in third, while the last-place Niners' one-game improvement still leaves them five games behind Seattle.

    By the way, I'd have to look through a twenty-nine page thread to confirm this, but the Seahawks are the first team that I can remember in the Pythagorean universe to win a division title with an unrounded Pythagorean record under .500. The Hawks' unrounded Pythagorean record is 7.9-8.1.

    Seeds:

    1. Eagles (NFC East champs): 12-4
    2. Packers (NFC North champs): 9-7
    3. Panthers (NFC South champs): 8-8
    4. Seahawks (NFC West champs): 8-8
    5. Vikings (NFC North second place; won three-way tiebreaker with Bucs and Falcons): 8-8
    6. Falcons (NFC South second place; finished second in three-way tiebreaker): 8-8

    The Panthers hold the expected wins tiebreaker over the Seahawks for the three seed, 8.4 to 7.9.

    We have a three-way tie for the two wild card spots among the Falcons, Vikings, and Buccaneers at 8-8. Turning to the expected wins tiebreaker, we find that the Vikings take the five seed with 8.2, followed by the Falcons taking the six seed with 8.1. The Bucs finish on the outside looking in with 7.9.

    Wild Card Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 8:

    Vikings-Seahawks, 4:30, ABC- Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, Paul Maguire, Suzy Kolber (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 9:

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

    Next: To be determined.

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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2004 AFC Wild Card Game from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Game time temperature is 55 degrees, with cloudy skies and a south-southeast wind at 14 MPH.

    The first quarter was scoreless. The Chargers drew first blood midway through the second quarter. The key plays of the drive were Drew Brees' ten-yard pass to Keenan McCardell and a forty-six yard run up the middle by Ladainian Tomlinson, who wasn't pulled down until he reached the Bills' three-yard line. The offense gained only one more yard over the next three plays, but coach Marty Schottenheimer decided to go for the touchdown on fourth and goal from the two, and he got it when reserve running back Jesse Chatman raced around right end and into the end zone for the touchdown. Nate Kaeding added the extra point, and the Bolts had a 7-0 halftime lead.

    The Chargers scored again after taking the second half kickoff. Brees completed passes of ten and fifteen yards to Antonio Gates, which gave the home squad a first down at the Buffalo forty-two. That's where we join Al Michaels:

    "First and ten for the Chargers from the forty-two, as Chatman, who's already scored once tonight, gives Tomlinson a rest. He'll get the call, and there's a hole up the middle! Thirty, twenty-five, twenty, fifteen, and HEE'S GONE! TOUCHDOWN CHARGERS!...…..Chatman getting a chance to shine tonight after playing understudy to Tomlinson for most of the last three seasons, and as so often happens, he's taking advantage of it."

    John Madden: "Just because he's the second-stringer behind someone like LaDainian Tomlinson doesn't mean that he's not a good back, Al. He finds the hole here and doesn't hesitate, just plows right through it. After a performance like this, he'll be in demand elsewhere if there's no place for him here in San Diego. There are a lot of teams out there who could use a good running back."

    Kaeding missed the extra point, but with 12:04 still to play in the third quarter the Chargers led 13-0.

    The Bills answered with a field goal. Terrence McGee's kickoff return gave the Bills the ball at their own thirty-seven, and on the first play from scrimmage tight end Mark Campbell turned quarterback Drew Bledsoe's shirt pass into a thirty-four yard catch-and-run. That gave the Bills a first down at the San Diego twenty-nine, but they could gain only two more yards over the next three plays. That left a forty-four yard field goal attempt for kicker Rian Lindell, which he converted to cut the Chargers' lead to 13-3 with 9:06 left in the third.

    The Bills added another field goal before the end of the quarter. Nate Clements' punt return gave them a first down at their own forty-one, and the key play of the drive was Bledsoe's twenty-four yard pass to reserve wideout Sam Aiken. The drive eventually stalled at the San Diego thirteen, but Lindell was good from thirty yards out to bring the Bills within 13-6 after three quarters.

    The Bills scored the tying touchdown early in the final period, as their defense played takeaway, Linebacker London Fletcher plowed into Tomlinson as LT was going around right end, knocking the ball loose. Fellow linebacker Takeo Spikes made the recovery at the Chargers' forty-five, and Bledsoe immediately connected with reserve wideout Josh Reed for fifteen yards and a first down. Reserve running back Shaud Williams gained eleven yards on a draw to put the ball inches from the goal line, but on first and goal Bledsoe was sacked for an eight-yard loss by reserve defensive end Shaun Phillips. A running play gained two yards, and on third and goal from the seven Bledsoe found wide receiver Eric Moulds all alone in the end zone for the score. Lindell added the extra point, and with less than ten minutes left in regulation we were tied at thirteen.

    Another San Diego turnover led to the Bills' winning touchdown. With less than four minutes to play, Brees was picked off by free safety Izell Reese, who returned it to the Bills' forty-one. Bledsoe immediately went downfield to Moulds for a twenty-five yard gain, and on the next play reserve running back Travis Henry took off around left end for a gain of twenty-nine and a first and goal at the Chargers' five. On third and goal from the two, Bledsoe flipped the ball to wide receiver Lee Evans for the touchdown. Lindell's extra point gave the Bills a 20-13 lead with exactly a minute left in regulation. Brees couldn't move the Chargers beyond their own thirty-five in their final possession, and the Bills had secured the upset.

    Bledsoe was put on the Horse Trailer by the MNF crew. He completed seventeen of his twenty-three passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Moulds was his leading receiver with sixty-eight yards on six catches plus a touchdown. Running back Willis McGahee led the ground game with fifty-one yards on sixteen carries, and the Bills as a team managed ninety-seven yards on thirty-four attempts.

    For the Chargers, Brees was held to ten completions in twenty-one attempts for just 103 yards and the interception that led to the Bills' game-winning touchdown. Gates "led" the receiving corps with three catches for thirty-one yards. The ground game picked up the slack, as Tomlinson carried nineteen times for 126 yards and Chadwick added forty-seven yards on five carries with two touchdowns. The Chargers as a team rushed for 190 yards on thirty attempts. On defense, Phillips recorded a pair of sacks among his nine solo tackles. and linebacker Donnie Edwards had fourteen solo tackles.

    The Bills' next destination depends on the result of tomorrow's other AFC Wild Card Game between the Jets and the Colts. If the Colts win, the Bills will visit their AFC East rivals the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium n the second AFC Divisional Playoff next Sunday. If the Jets pull the upset, the Bills will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first AFC Divisional Playoff next Saturday at Heinz Field.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  9. BearBear91 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2017
    Now let's look at 2014 in the AFC. We begin in the East:

    New England Patriots: 12-4 (0)
    Buffalo Bills: 10-6 (+1)
    Miami Dolphins: 8-8 (0)
    New York Jets: 5-11 (+1)

    We have a three-way tie at 10-6 for the two wild card spots. We turn to the expected wins tiebreaker to settle it, and we find that the Chiefs have 10.1 expected wins to take the five seed, while the Texans grab the six seed with 9.8 expected wins. That leaves the Steelers out in the cold with 9.6 expected wins.
    Seeds:

    1. Patriots (AFC East champs): 12-4
    2. Broncos (AFC West champs): 11-5
    3. Ravens (AFC North champs): 11-5
    4. Colts (AFC South champs): 10-6
    5. Chiefs (AFC West second place; won three-way tiebreaker with Texans and Steelers): 10-6
    6. Texans (AFC South second place; finished second in three-team tiebreaker): 10-6

    Don't mean to be rude but wouldn't the Bills factor into this result
     
  10. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    No, BearBear. They're tied with the Steelers at 9.6, which means they're out. I should have mentioned that in the original post, though. Thanks for catching it!

    If anybody out there has spotted any other mistakes or omissions, please let me know.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  11. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2004 NFC Wild Card Game from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Game time temperature is 47 degrees, with partly cloudy skies and a south-southeast wind at 5 MPH

    The Falcons scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Michael Vick completed passes of fourteen and twenty-two yards to tight end Algie Crumpler, and Warrick Dunn gained twelve yards each on back-to-back draw plays. Vick's fifteen-yard scramble gave the Falcons a first and goal at the Carolina seven, and the drive got as far as the four before stalling. Kicker Jay Feely was called on for a twenty-one yard chip shot field goal, which he converted to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead with 8:12 left in the opening period.

    The visitors added a touchdown just before the first quarter expired. Allen Rossum returned a punt to his own thirty-eight, and running back T.J. Duckett knifed off the right side for fourteen yards, then raced through the middle for twelve more, which turned into seventeen more after Duckett managed to recover his own fumble at the Panthers' fourteen. On third and seven from the eleven, Vick found wide receiver Peerless Price wide open in the end zone for the score. Feely added the extra point, and after one quarter the Falcons led 10-0.

    The Falcons added another field goal midway through the second quarter. Rossum's punt return set up the offense at its own forty-eight, and the key play of the drive was Crumpler's twenty-one yard catch-and-run. The drive died at the Carolina fourteen, but Feely was good from thirty-one yards out to give the Falcons a 13-0 advantage with 7:52 left in the first half.

    It only took eighteen seconds for the Falcons to score again. Free safety Cory Hall picked off a Jake Delhomme pass and returned it to the Panthers' fourteen, and Vick wasted no time connecting with Price in the end zone for the touchdown. Feely added the extra point, and the Falcons enjoyed a 20-0 halftime lead.

    The Panthers scored for the first time after taking the second half kickoff. Delhomme found wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad for nineteen yards, then connected with tight end Kris Mangum over the middle for twenty more and a first down at the Atlanta twenty-one. On third and seven from the eighteen, reserve fullback Brad Hoover pounded his way up the middle and into the end zone for the touchdown. John Kasay added the extra point, and the third quarter ended with no further scoring. At the end of three, it was Falcons 20, Panthers 7.

    The Panthers added another touchdown midway through the final quarter. Delhomme connected with Muhammad for twenty-five yards and a first down, and fullback Nick Goings caught a sixteen-yard screen pass. Running back Deshaun Foster also caught a screen pass for ten yards, and his thirteen yard gain around right end gave the Panthers a first and goal at the Atlanta one-yard line. The Falcons stopped them short on the first three plays, but on fourth and goal Foster leapt over the top for the score. Kasay added the extra point, and with less than eight minutes left in regulation the Panthers were within 20-14.

    The Falcons put the game away with less than three minutes remaining after the Panthers turned the ball over on downs at their own fourteen. Three plays later from the eight, Vick connected with a wide-open Price in the end zone for their third touchdown of the day. Feely added one last extra point, and the Falcons had wrapped up a 27-14 victory.

    The Falcons' defense as a whole were named MVP by Fox. They intercepted Delhomme twice and sacked him seven times, with defensive end Patrick Kerney notching a pair. They also held the Panthers to just sixty-three yards rushing on thirty-one attempts, although they managed to run for both of their touchdowns. Hoover was the leading individual rusher for Carolina with twenty-seven yards on six carries with a touchdown. Delhomme completed thirteen of his twenty-six passes for 196 yards; wide receiver Ricky Proehl was his leading receiver with fifty-one yards on three catches, while Muhammad caught three passes for forty-nine yards and Mangum caught three passes for thirty-five yards. One of the few bright spots for the Panthers came on defense, where linebacker Will Witherspoon finished with ten solo tackles.

    For the Falcons' offense, Dunn led the running game with sixty yards on eighteen carries, while Duckett carried nine times for fifty yards. Vick had a subpar day, gaining just twenty-one yards on ten scrambles and completing only twelve of his thirty-two passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns, all to Price for a total of thirty-three yards. Crumpler was his leading receiver with four catches for fifty-seven yards, while fellow wideout Dez White caught two passes for forty-six yards.

    The following Sunday, the Falcons traveled to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in the second NFC Divisional Playoff. The home squad proved to be too much for the Dirty Birds and won rather easily, 27-10. Donovan McNabb was seventeen of twenty-six for 180 yards and two touchdowns, both to tight end Chad Lewis. Another Lewis, wide receiver Greg, was McNabb's leading target with sixty-five yards on just two catches. As usual, Brian Westbrook was an effective dual threat, catching five passes out of the backfield for thirty-nine yards and carrying sixteen times for ninety-six yards to lead the Philly running game. On defense, the Eagles sacked Vick four times.

    Speaking of Vick, he had another subpar passing day, completing just eleven of twenty-four for 136 yards and an interception. Crumpler was once again his favorite target with forty-nine yards on four catches. Dunn again led the ground attack with fifty-nine yards on fifteen carries and a touchdown, and the Falcons as a team just missed the hundred-yard mark, finishing with ninety-nine yards rushing and a touchdown on twenty-six carries.

    The Eagles will host the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, January 23.

    Next: To be determined.

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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second 2004 AFC Wild Card Game from the RCA Dome in Indianapolis:

    The Jets scored first after taking the opening kickoff, with the key play being quarterback Chad Pennington's twenty-two yard pass to wide receiver Justin McCareins. The touchdown came from eighteen yards out, as fellow wideout Santana Moss caught a Pannington pass at the five and carried Colts cornerback Jason David all the way into the end zone. Kicker Doug Brien added the extra point, and with 10:39 to play in the opening period the Jets had a 7-0 lead.

    The Colts came right back with a touchdown of their own. Peyton Manning connected with Brandon Stokley for ten yards and a first down, then hooked up with Edgerrin James out of the backfield for eleven more. On the next play, Peyton fired deep for Reggie Wayne, who made a leaping catch for a first down at the New York twelve-yard line, a gain of thirty-two. On second and four from the six, Manning flipped the ball to a wide-open Wayne in the end zone for the score. Mike Vanderjagt's extra point tied the game at seven with 7:45 left in the opening period.

    The ensuing kickoff pinned the Jets at their own twelve, and consecutive penalties- one for holding, the other for a false start soon had them back at their own three. On third and nineteen, Pennington was sacked in the end zone for a safety by defensive tackle Montae Reggor. The Colts now led 9-7 with less than five minutes left in the opening period.

    The Colts turned the resulting free kick into three free points. Dominic Rhodes' return set the offense up at the Jets' forty-four, and the key play of the drive was Dallas Clark's eleven-yard catch and run. The drive stalled at the eight, but Vanderjagt hit a twenty-five yard field goal to put the Colts up 12-7 with exactly three and half minutes left in the opening period.

    The Jets took the lead with a touchdown just seconds before the first quarter expired. Jonathan Carter returned the kickoff to his own forty-two, and Pennington immediately hit McCareins for sixteen yards and a first down. Then it was Pennington to fellow wideout Wayne Chrebet for nineteen more. Pennington eventually connected with Moss for the score from twenty-two yards out, and Brien's extra point put the Jets up 14-12 at the end of a wild first quarter.

    The Colts once again came back with a touchdown. Manning completed a twelve-yard pass to Wayne and a ten-yarder to Marvin Harrison, then watched as Clark turned a short toss in the flat into a twenty-two yard gain and a first and goal at the Jets' seven. On second and goal, Peyton found Stokley in the end zone for the touchdown. Vanderjagt added the extra point, and the Colts went out in front 19-14 with less than nine minutes left in the first half.

    Future Hall of Famer Curtis Martin was almost solely responsible for the Jets' next touchdown drive. He barged off left tackle for twelve yards and a first down, caught a screen for eleven more, threw a halfback option pass to Chrebet for twenty-four, and on the following play rumbled around left end and into the end zone on a sweep from fourteen yards out. Brien's extra point put the Jets on the front end of the seesaw 21-19 with a little over four minutes left until halftime.

    The Colts went to the locker room with the lead thanks to a key Jets turnover, as Pennington was picked off by linebacker Cato June, who returned it to the Jets' thirty-four. James' fourteen-yard burst up the middle got the ball to the seventeen, and Vanderjagt's thirty-four yard field goal on the last play of the half sent the Colts to the locker room up 22-21.

    The game turned on a pair of critical fourth-quarter turnovers by the Jets. After a scoreless third period, the Jets had just gotten the ball back early in the final period when Pennington was once again intercepted, this time by reserve strong safety Cory Bird, who returned the ball to the Jets' twenty-one. Manning appeared to hit Stokley for the touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, but replay overturned the call, ruling that Brandon had stepped out of bounds at the two. Peyton's short flip to Wayne on the next play took care of the touchdown, and Vanderjagt added the extra point to increase the Indy lead to 29-21 with a little less than thirteen minutes left in the game.

    The Jets' next drive lasted just two plays, as fullback Jerald Sowell was stripped of the ball by Colts middle linebacker Rob Morris. June recovered at the New York twenty-seven, and James took care of the rest: off left tackle for five, off right tackle for seven, then up the middle for fifteen and the touchdown. Vanderjagt's extra point put the Colts up 36-21 with eleven minutes still to play in regulation.

    The Jets weren't done yet. They got the ball back at about the six-minute mark, and Martin picked up seventeen yards on the first play: twelve on his run off right tackle and five more on an incidental facemask penalty. We pick up the drive a bit later, with the Jets facing a third and six at their own forty-five. Here's Jim Nantz:

    "Clock ticking down toward the five-minute mark, and the Jets still need two scores, one of them quickly. Three wideouts for Pennington with Martin in the backfield. Chad in the gun, takes the snap, looking, looking, has to dump it off to Martin, has a first down at the forty-five, forty, thirty-five, makes a cut, and he's loose! It's a footrace down to the twenty, the fifteen, ten, five, TOUCHDOWN JETS!......Curtis Martin outracing everyone to the end zone, and this one's not over yet, Phil."

    Phil Simms: "No, it's not, Jim. Curtis Martin showing off his seed and moves, not to mention his hands, and he catches this in stride and takes off up the field. Once he cuts back at about the thirty, he's as good as gone, as there's no Colts defender within five yards of him. With the extra point, this is gonna be a one-score game with plenty of time left. Don't count out the Jets."

    But Brien doinked the extra point attempt off the left upright, and the Colts were able to successfully play ball control for the rest of the game. Soon, they'd wrapped up a 36-27 victory.

    James was named MVP by CBS. He carried twenty-four times for 138 yards and a touchdown, and added three receptions for twenty-nine yards. The Colts as a team finished with 161 yards on thirty-six rushing attempts and a touchdown. Peyton finished nineteen of thirty-two for 195 yards and three touchdowns, with Wayne catching five passes for fifty-eight yards and two scores to lead the receivers. Stokley caught four passes for forty-one yards and the other score. The defense sacked Pennington five times, of which reserve defensive end Robert Mathis had a pair.

    For the Jets, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma led the defense with thirteen solo tackles, and Pennington finished eleven of twenty-three for 204 yards with three touchdowns and two costly interceptions. Martin took care of just about everything else, leading the receivers with three catches for seventy-four yards and a touchdown and leading the ground game with 117 yards and a touchdown on twenty-four carries. He also completed a halfback option pass for twenty-four yards. McCareins caught three passes for fifty yards, and both of Moss' catches, which totaled forty yards, went for touchdowns.

    AFC Divisional Weekend schedule (all times Eastern):

    Saturday, January 15:

    Colts-Steelers, 4:30, CBS- Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf, Armen Keeyian (sideline reporter)

    Sunday, January 16:

    Bills-Patriots, 4:30, CBS- Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Bonnie Bernstein (sideline reporter)

    Next: To be determined.

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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2004 AFC Divisional Playoff from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Game time temperature is 25 degrees, with cloudy skies and a north wind at 7 MPH.

    The Colts scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Peyton Manning started off on fire, hitting Marvin Harrison for ten yards and Brandon Stokley for seventeen. The big play of the drive belonged to Edgerrin James, who took Peyton's short dumpoff pass and turned it into a thirty-three yard gain and a first and goal at the Pittsburgh seven. On second and goal from the two, James bulled his way up the middle and into the end zone for the touchdown. Mike Vanderjagt added the extra point, and at the end of one quarter the Colts led 7-0.

    The Steelers' only score of the first half came on a field goal late in the second quarter. Antwaan Randle El returned a punt to his own thirty-nine, and on the first play from scrimmage future Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis found a huge hole off right tackle and tore through it for a forty-two yard gain and a first down at the Colts' nineteen. The Steelers' offense could gain only four more yards, but Jeff Reed converted a thirty-two yard field goal attempt to cut the Indy lead to 7-3 at halftime.

    The Steelers added another field goal after taking the second half kickoff. Ricardo Colclough returned Vanderjagt's boot all the way to the Indy twenty-eight. The offense didn't gain another yard, but Reed was good form forty-five yards out to bring the Steelers within 7-6 ninety seconds into the second half.

    The Steelers took the lead on their next possession with a third consecutive field goal. Ben Roethlisberger connected with Randle El for gains of twenty-one and eleven. then found Hines Ward for sixteen more. The latter pass gave the Steelers a first down at the Colts' twenty-seven. and when the drive stalled at the twenty-one Reed was called on for a thirty-eight yard attempt, which he converted to put the Steelers up 9-7 with less than seven minutes to play in the third period.

    The Black and Gold added a touchdown before the end of the third quarter. Randle El returned a punt to his own forty-eight, and later in the drive he added a thirty-seven yard catch-and-run to give the Steelers a first down at the Indy nineteen. and on second and four from the thirteen Duce Staley took a pitch around the right side and raced into the end zone for the score. Reed added the extra point, and at the end of three quarters it was Steelers 16, Colts 7.

    The Steelers added another touchdown early in the final period. Ben hit Ward over the middle for elven yards, then fired deep downfield. The ball was tipped by Randle El into the arms of little-used wideout Sean Morey, who had played almost exclusively on special teams and had only caught one pass for eight yards all season. With no defenders near him, Morey appeared to get into the end zone for the touchdown, but replay later established that he'd stepped out of bounds at the half-yard line. Ben shoveled the ball to Staley for the score on the next play, and the Steelers led 23-7 with less than twelve minutes left in regulation.

    On the Colts' next drive, Peyton was picked off by Ike Taylor, who returned the ball to the Pittsburgh forty-five. Bettis made his way off left tackle for twelve yards and a first down at the Indy forty-three, and that's where we join Dick Enberg:

    "The Steelers are looking to put the final touches on what has turned into a blowout. First and ten at the Colts' forty-three, with Staley the lone setback behind Roethlisberger as Bettis takes a pit stop. There's the handoff, AND LOOK AT THE HOLE UP THE MIDDLE! Thirty, twenty-five, twenty, and you can count down the rest yourselves! The Duce is loose and into the end zone for the touchdown! Oh, my, what a hole for Staley, and did he take advantage of it!"

    Dan Dierdorf: "This run is a product of the beating that the Pittsburgh offensive line has been giving to the Colts' defensive front seven all evening. Both Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley have run exactly where they wanted to all day, and the Colts have been beaten up enough. There's no resistance to the blocks of (center) Jeff Hartings and (left guard) Alan Faneca, and Duce sees the cavern in front of him and accelerates through it. A perfect capper to a vintage Pittsburgh black-and-blue performance on both sides of the ball, and Heinz Field is going wild for it."

    Reed added the extra point, and with just over nine minutes to play the Steelers led 30-7.

    The Steelers added one last touchdown on their next possession. Randle El returned a Hunter Smith punt to his own forty-one, but a holding call on the first play of the drive pushed the Steelers back ten yards. As we rejoin Dick, it's third and seventeen from the Pittsburgh thirty-four:

    "Even with the score 30-7, this is a passing down, especially with Peyton Manning on the other side. Five wide receivers, with an empty backfield behind Big Ben. Looking, looking, buying time, maybe he'll run for it....no, he fires downfield...….CAUGHT BY WARD AT THE THIRTY, AND THERE'S NOBODY NEAR HIM! THIS PASS IS GOING TO COVER SIXTY-SIX YARDS, AND THIS ISSUE HAS BEEN DECIDED!...….They never thought that Ben would throw deep, so there was no one close to Hines Ward."

    Dierdorf: "I don't know about this, Dick. I understand that the instinct of a young quarterback is to make a play, but you're up twenty-three points with less than five minutes left. Maybe Ben should have just taken it out of bounds. Punting isn't always a bad thing, (Colts coach) Tony Dungy is too nice of a man to accuse (Steelers coach) Bill Cowher of running up the score, but there are other coaches who would do it in a heartbeat. In this type of situation, it's always best to err on the side of sportsmanship. Punt the football, play defense, and get out of here. Remember, you'll be seeing these guys again sooner than you think."

    Reed added one last extra point, and the Steelers' 37-7 destruction of the Colts was complete.

    Duce was named Player of the Game by CBS. He carried twenty-one times for eighty-eight yards and two touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass. The Bus led the ground attack with 117 yards on thirteen carries, and the Steelers as a team carried forty-seven times for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Ben finished his first-ever playoff victory having completed ten of his seventeen passes for 246 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Ward caught four passes for 102 yards and a score to head the receiving corps, while Randle El caught three passes for sixty-nine yards and Morey added his sixty-four yard catch-and-run. On defense, linebacker Larry Foote finished with thirteen solo tackles, while defensive end Aaron Smith added nine solo tackles and a sack.

    For the Colts, Peyton finished sixteen of thirty-three for 177 yards and an interception. He was sacked only twice, but was hit and/or hurried on almost every pass attempt. Wayne was his leading receiver with fifty-six yards on five catches. James led the ground attack, but he was held to just forty-eight yards on nineteen carries. He also finished with three catches for thirty-six yards, but thirty-three of them were on the first-quarter catch-and-run described above. The Colts as a team rushed for just sixty-one yards on twenty-four attempts with a touchdown.

    The Steelers now await their opponent in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday night. If the Patriots beat the Bills tomorrow at Gillette Stadium, the game will be in Foxborough. If the Bills manage to pull the upset, the Steelers will host the game at Heinz Field.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019 at 8:37 PM
  14. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the second AFC Divisional Playoff from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Game time temperature is 25 degrees, with cloudy skies and a north wind at 20 MPH gusting to 25 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is nine degrees above zero.

    The Pats scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Bethel Johnson's return set up the New England offense at the Bills' forty-one, and although the Pats couldn't make a first down Adam Vinatieri booted a forty-nine yard field goal to give the Pats a 3-0 lead two and a half minutes into the game.

    The Bills scored the only touchdown of the game just before the end of the quarter. A turnover set things up, as Tom Brady was picked off by linebacker Takeo Spikes, who returned the ball to the New England twenty-five. a seventeen-yard catch-and-run by Willis McGahee on the second play of the drive gave the Bills a first and goal at the nine, and from there McGahee burrowed his way off right tackle and into the end zone for the score. Rian Lindell added the extra point, and after one quarter the Bills led 7-3.

    There was no further scoring until early in the final period, when Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe was intercepted by Pats cornerback Ty Law, who returned the ball to the Buffalo twenty-eight. The offense gained only two yards over the next three plays, but Vinatiieri converted from forty-three yards out to reduce the Bills' lead to 7-6 with a little over twelve minutes left in regulation time.

    The Pats took the lead with another field goal on their next possession. The key play was Tom Brady's twenty-seven yard pass to wideout David Givens, which gave the Pats a first down at the Buffalo thirty-four. The drive originally stalled at the twenty-six, and Vinatieri successfully converted a forty-three yard field goal attempt. But Nate Clements of the Bills was called for encroachment while attempting to block the kick, and Pats coach Bill Belichick opted to keep the drive alive. The Pats gained only four more yards, and Vinatieri converted once more from thirty-nine yards out to give the Pats a 9-7 lead with less than six minutes to play.

    The Bills need just three plays in the final minute to get into Lindell's range. Bledsoe connected with Lee Evans on consecutive passes for gains of fifteen and twenty-three, and Shaud Williams gained eleven yards on a quick draw to get the ball down to the New England eighteen with three seconds left. After the Pats called their final timeout in an attempt to freeze Lindell, it was all on the line. Here's Jim Nantz:

    "If Lindell makes the kick, Bledsoe beats Brady in a playoff game, and although Brady led the Patriots led the Patriots to a Super Bowl championship three years ago, there will be those questioning whether Bledsoe couldn't have done the same given more time. That's also two major upsets of the top-seeded Patriots in the last two years after the Broncos did it last year. Here we go from thirty-five. Snap is down, kick is up.....AND GOOD! The Bills upset the Patriots, and look at Drew Bledsoe running up and down the sideline, hollering and laughing. Tell me this doesn't mean anything to him."

    Phil Simms: "Oh, you bet it does, Jim. What a win by the Buffalo Bills; they just did something no one thought they could possibly do."

    Nantz: "Even though the Broncos just did it last year."

    Simms: "We keep saying that the Patriots will be back to the level they were at when they won Super Bowl XXXVI, but every time we think they are, they get knocked off by a hungrier team. Maybe it's time that Bill Belichick reexamines his approach, because this can't keep happening year after year."

    Our final score: Bills 10, Pats 9.

    We'll begin our stats rundown with the Pats. Brady finished nineteen of thirty-one for 222 yards, but was picked off twice by the opportunistic Buffalo defense. Givens led the receivers with four catches for an even hundred yards, and fellow wideout David Patten added four more catches for forty-eight yards. The Pats as a team rushed for ninety-four yards on thirty-four attempts, and Corey Dillon was their leading individual rusher with eighty yards on twenty-three carries.

    For the Bills, McGahee led the rushing attack with fifty-seven yards on fourteen carries, and Williams carried five times for forty-seven yards. Defensive end Aaron Schobel took home MVP honors from CBS after making nine solo tackles, including three sacks. That brings us to Bledsoe, who despite the fawning of Messrs. Nantz and Simms had one of his worst days as a pro, completing just five of his seventeen passes for a measly sixty-eight yards with an interception. Evans caught three passes for forty-six yards, including his two key catches on the Bills' game-winning drive, and McGahee caught a pair of passes out of the backfield for the other twenty-two. Amazingly, the Packs only sacked him once, and their pressure on him was average at beat; he simply threw the ball badly for most of the evening.

    Regardless, he'll lead the Bills into Heinz Field next Sunday night to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM Eastern on CBS, and Jim and Phil will once again be on hand to call the action. Bonnie Bernstein and Armen Keteyian will serve as sideline reporters.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019 at 8:35 PM
    stratonascar likes this.
  15. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the 2004 AFC Championship Game from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Game time temperature is seven degrees above zero, with fair skies and a west wind at 7 MPH. Wind chill at kickoff is five degrees below zero.

    The Bills scored first after taking the opening kickoff. Willis McGahee caught a ten-yard screen pass, and Drew Bledsoe also found Lee Evans for eleven yards and Eric Moulds for fifteen. The drive eventually stalled at the Steelers' eight-yard line, but Rian Lindell converted a twenty-five yard field goal attempt to put the Bills up 3-0 after one quarter.

    The Steelers tied the game with a field goal midway through the second quarter. The key plays of the drive were Duce Staley's sixteen-yard catch-and-run and a twelve-yard scramble for a first down by Ben Roethlisberger. The drive reached the Buffalo eighteen before stalling, and Jeff Reed's thirty-five yard field goal tied the game at three with less than seven minutes to play in the first half.

    The Steelers took the lead with a touchdown just before the half. Antwaan Randle El's punt return set the offense up at its own forty-seven, and Ben found Hines Ward with a pair of sixteen-yard passes, eventually netting the Steelers a first down at the Bills eighteen. On second and four from the twelve, Ben found a wide-open Hines in the end zone for the score, and Reed added the extra point to give the Steelers a 10-3 halftime lead.

    The Bills crept closer with a field goal toward the end of the third quarter. Nate Clements returned a punt all the way to the Pittsburgh thirty-seven, and the key play of the drive was Shaud Williams' nineteen-yard burst off right tackle, which gave the Bills a first down at the Pittsburgh seventeen. The drive stalled at the elven, but Lindell's twenty-eight yard field goal cut the Steelers' lead to 10-6 after three quarters.

    The Steelers added to their lead with a field goal early in the final quarter. Ben connected with Ward for fifteen yards and Plaxico Burress for ten, while Jerome Bettis took a pitch around right end for thirteen yards and a first down at the Bills' thirty-four. This drive eventually reached the twenty-seven, and Reed's forty-four yard field goal was good. With less than ten minutes left it regulation, it was Pittsburgh 13, Buffalo 6.

    The Bills tied the game on the ensuing possession. Terrence McGee returned the kickoff to his own thirty-nine, and Bledsoe immediately hit Evans over the middle for a gain of twenty-three. Two plays later, Travis Henry bolted up the middle for sixteen yards before stepping out of bounds at the Pittsburgh twenty-five. That's where we pick up the call from Jim Nantz:

    "First and ten, approaching six minutes left in regulation with the Steelers up by seven. McGahee the lone back behind Bledsoe, who has three wide receivers. He gives the ball to McGahee, and there's another huge hole up the middle! Down to the fifteen, the ten, the five, TOUCHDOWN BILLS!......They haven't quit all postseason long, and with 6:02 left in regulation they're an extra point away from a tie in the AFC Championship Game."

    Phil Simms: "The Buffalo offensive line has been doing great work on the middle of the Steelers' defense; that's where most of the holes for the running backs have been tonight. Big block by the center, Number 70 Trey Teague, clears out the middle, and McGahee just has to stay on his feet and hold onto the football to score the tying touchdown."

    Lindell's extra point evened the score at thirteen.

    The Bills were driving for the potential winning touchdown with under a minute to play when Bledsoe's pass intended for Evans bounced off of his shoulder pads and into the arms of Larry Foote, whose return gave the Steelers the ball at the Buffalo forty-five with forty seconds to play. As we rejoin Jim, the ball is at the twenty-four with two seconds left and Reed in position to win the game from forty-one yards out:

    "Steelers looking for their first trip to the Super Bowl in nine years, since they won Super Bowl XXX in Tempe against the 49ers. Reed's been good from thirty-five and forty-four; this is from forty-one with the wind at his back. For a trip to Jacksonville and Super Bowl XXXOX...….snap is down, kick is away, and RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE! HEINZ FIELD GOES WILD IN THE COLD, AS THE STEELERS ARE SUPER BOWL BOUND AGAIN!...….No doubt at all about this one, Phil."

    Simms: "No, Jim, but before we celebrate the Steelers, a word to Bills fans: Don't let the ending of this game take away your faith in Drew Bledsoe. The last interception was one of those things that happen in football, and he led your team to two huge playoff wins, especially the one last week against the Patriots. J.P. Losman may be your future, but you've got a great present as long as Drew Bledsoe is under center."

    Our final score: Steelers 16, Bills 13.

    The Steelers' linebacking corps received group honors as MVPs from CBS. Right outside Joey Porter led the defense with eleven solo tackles and a sack, left inside James Farrior was second on the team with ten solo tackles, and right inside Foote had two sacks and the interception that led to the game-winning field goal. In all, the Steelers' defense sacked Bledsoe four times. On offense, Bettis led the ground game with fifty-two yards on fifteen carries, while last week's hero Duce Staley was held to just thirty-six yards on seventeen carries. Ben was fifteen of twenty-three for 182 yards and a touchdown to Ward, who led the receivers with sixty-six yards on five catches. Burress caught four passes for forty-one yards, and Randle El snagged three more for thirty-nine yards.

    For the Bills, McGahee led the running game with fifty-five yards on sixteen carries, while Henry carried nine times for thirty-seven yards. Bledsoe had another subpar game, completing just ten of his twenty-one passes for 106 yards and the interception that cost the Bills the game. Moulds led the receiving corps with forty-six yards on four catches, while Evans caught three passes for forty yards. On defense, middle linebacker London Fletcher finished with nine solo tackles, including two sacks.

    The Steelers will represent the AFC in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville on February 6.

    Next: We go back to the NFC, as the Seahawks host the Vikings in the first Wild Card Game.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019 at 4:16 PM
  16. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for the first 2004 NFC Wild Card Game from Qwest Field in Seattle. Game time temperature is 35 degrees, with cloudy skies and clam winds.

    The Vikings scored first. They punted on their opening possession, but got the ball right back when Matt Hasselbeck's first down pass was picked off by reserve cornerback Terence Shaw, who returned the ball to the Seattle thirty-two. The drive reached the fourteen, before stalling, and Morten Andersen's thirty-one yard field goal gave the Vikes a 3-0 lead with 6:53 left in the opening period.

    The Seahawks immediately answer with a touchdown. The drive's biggest play was Shaun Alexader's sixty-seven yard dash up the middle before he was finally brought down at the Seattle eleven. The Hawks earned another first down over the next two plays, and on first and goal from the Minnesota half-yard line Hasselbeck flipped the ball to Jerramy Stevens for the easy touchdown. Josh Brown's extra point gave the Hawks a 7-3 lead after one quarter.

    The Vikes cut into the Seattle lead with a field goal early in the second quarter. The big play of the drive was a thirty-three yard catch-and-run by reserve tight end Jermaine Wiggins. The drive reached the eighteen before quarterback Daunte Culpepper was sacked by reserve defensive end Antonio Cochran for an eight-yard loss on third down. That left a forty-three yard attempt for Andersen, which he converted to cut the Hawks' lead to 7-6 with less than ten minutes left in the first half.

    The Hawks answered with a field goal of their own. Maurice Morris returned the ensuing kickoff to his own thirty-seven, and Alexander gained sixteen and twelve yards on successive draw plays to put the Hawks in Brown's range. The drive died out at the Minnesota sixteen, but Brown was good from thirty-three yards out to increase the home squad's halftime lead to 10-6.

    The Hawks added another field goal after taking the second half kickoff. Fullback Mack Strong caught a ten-yard screen pass, and Alexander gained twenty-three yards on consecutive yards; first, he gained eleven yards up the middle, then he raced around right end on a pitch for twelve. Hasselbeck then fired down the sideline, where Bobby Engram made the catch for a first down at the Vikes' fourteen, a gain of twenty-three. The offense gained just three yards over the next three plays, but Brown converted a twenty-eight yard attempt to extend the Seattle lead to 13-6 with 11:10 left in the third quarter.

    The Vikes answered with a touchdown to tie the game. Kelly Campbell returned the ensuing kickoff to the Hawks' forty-seven, and Culpepper completed passes of seventeen yards to Wiggins and twenty-eight yards to reserve wideout Marcus Robinson, which gave the Vikes a first and goal at the two. On fourth and goal, still from the two, coach Mike Tice passed up a chip shot field goal in favor of one more try at a touchdown. Culpepper pitched the ball to reserve running back Moe Williams, who skirted right end and walked into the end zone untouched. Andersen added the extra point, and we were tied at thirteen with 7:42 left in the third.

    The Vikes scored another touchdown to take the lead just before the end of the quarter. Culpepper completed a twenty-one yard pass to Robinson, and running back Michael Bennett raced up the middle for seventeen more yards and a first and goal at the Seattle seven. On the next play, Culpepper found Robinson wide open in the end zone for the score, and Andersen's extra point put the Vikes up 20-13 after three quarters.

    The visitors put another touchdown on the board early in the final period. Nate Burleson's punt return gave the offense the ball at its own forty-five, and he later caught a twenty-five yard pass from Culpepper. Another catch, this one a beautiful one-handed diving grab for thirty-five yards, was wiped out by a holding penalty. Culpepper's eleven-yard scramble got the Vikes back on track, but they eventually faced a third and six from the Hawks' nineteen. Bennett took the handoff, found a hole off left tackle, and banged his way through it and into the end zone for the touchdown. Andersen added the extra point, and with less than twelve minutes left in regulation time it was Minnesota 27, Seattle 13.

    The Vikes got the ball back just two plays into the next Seattle possession, as Alexander was hit shortly after catching a screen pass and lost the ball. Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson made the hit, and fellow linebacker Chris Claiborne made the recovery at the Seattle thirty-one. Five plays later, the drive stalled at the sixteen, but Andersen was good from thirty-three yards out to increase the Vikes lead to 30-13 with slightly over nine minutes to play.

    The Hawks finally got back on the board on the ensuing possession. Morris returned the kickoff to his own thirty-seven, and Hasselbeck connected with Koren Robinson for gains of ten and thirteen, A fifteen-yard strike to wideout Darrell Jackson gave the Hawks a first down at the Minnesota thirty-three, and that's where we join Mike Patrick:

    "Just over seven minutes left, and the Seahawks finally looking to score after giving up the least twenty-four unanswered points. From the thirty-three, with Alexander the lone setback and four wide receivers. Hasselbeck back, has time, scrambles a bit, now fires downfield...….BOBBY ENGRAM MAKES THE CATCH. , AND HE'S GONE! TOUCHDOWN!...….He beat the free safety Brian Russell by at least five yards, and this game isn't over yet, with 6:55 left in regulation."

    Paul Maguire: "Michael, what a brilliant job of buying time by Matt Hasselbeck. He's not a runner, but he knows that Bobby Engram can beat just about anybody one-on-one, so he gives him time to work on Brian Russell, and when he's free, look at this pass. Right on the money. and Engram makes the catch just inside the ten and can walk into the end zone."

    Joe Theismann: "What the Seahawks need now is a defensive stop, then get the ball back quickly and score again before we hit about the four-minute mark. Then they'll have plenty of time for a tying drive."

    Brown added the extra point, and the Hawks now trailed 30-20.

    The Vikes put the game away with one more defensive score. With less than three minutes left, the Hawks were driving toward a touchdown and had reached the Minnesota nineteen. Once again, here's Mike:

    "First and ten from the nineteen. The Seahawks need to score quickly, as we're down to 2:45 and counting down. Alexander behind Hasselbeck, and he'll get the call. Down to the fifteen......FUMBLE! PICKED UP BY THE VIKINGS! ANTOINE WINFIELD AT THE THIRTY, THIRTY-FIVE, FORTY, HE'S HEADED TOWARD MIDFIELD! GETS A BLOCK, AND NOW ONLY HASSELBECK TO BEAT!.....TOICHDOWN! EIGHTY-SIX YARDS!"

    Maguire: "Alexander......where was the ball stripped? Right there, that's (linebacker) Keith Newman who puts his helmet on the ball. There it goes, and it bounces right up into the arms of Antoine Winfield, who just takes off up the field. By the time the Seahawks stop arguing that Alexander was down, which he wasn't, Winfield's across the fifty, and the only one who makes a real effort to bring Winfield down is Matt Hasselbeck. But he runs out of gas and falls down at the fifteen, and that's all she wrote."

    Theismann: "The Seahawks were too busy arguing that Alexander was down by contact to get back and try to stop Winfield. That's inexcusable, guys. No one even took off after him until he was just about at midfield, just like Paul said. You can't do stuff like that in the NFL at any time, but especially not in a playoff game that you're trailing by two scores with less than three minutes left. Now, unless there's a major miracle, this game is over."

    Andersen added the extra point, and the Vikes wrapped up a 37-20 victory.

    Culpepper was named MVP by the SNF crew. He completed twelve of his sixteen passes for 184 yards with a touchdown to Robinson, who caught three passes for fifty-six yards. Wiggins led the receivers with sixty-two yards on four catches. The running game gained 175 yards on forty-seven attempts with two touchdowns, and Onterrio Smith was the leading individual rusher with sixty-four yards on fourteen carries. Bennett carried eight times for fifty-nine yards and a touchdown. The defense sacked Hasselbeck four times, with reserve defensive end Lance Johnstone notching a pair.

    For the Hawks, Hasselbeck finished twelve of twenty-seven for 146 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Engram was his leading target with fifty-six yards on just two catches and a score. while Robinson and Jackson each caught three passes; Robinson for thirty-four yards, Jackson for thirty. On the ground, Alexander was superb in a losing cause, shredding the Vikes' defense for 149 yards on sixteen carries. As a team, the Hawks gained 168 yards on twenty-one attempts.

    The Vikes went on to upset the Packers 31-17 in the second NFC Divisional Playoff thanks to four Culpepper touchdown passes, two to Randy Moss and one to Williams that covered sixty-eight yards. Culpepper finished nineteen of twenty-nine for 284 yards and also scrambled seven times for forty-seven yards. The defense sacked Brett Favre twice and intercepted him four times.

    That set up the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 23, but the Eagles never trailed, eventually defeating the visiting Vike 27-14. Donovan McNabb finished twenty-one of thirty-three for 286 yards and two touchdowns, and Brian Westbrook carried twelve times for seventy yards and also caught a touchdown pass. The Eagles got a third touchdown when Freddie Mitchell recovered a teammate's fumble in the end zone. Culpepper threw for 316 yards, but was also sacked three times and intercepted twice. Robinson was sensational in a losing cause, catching five passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.

    The Eagles will now face their cross-state rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville on February 6. Kickoff is scheduled for exactly 6:38 PM n Fox, with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Cris Collinsworth calling the action. Pam Oliver and Chris Myers will serve as sideline reporters.

    Next: We look at 2017.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019 at 7:01 PM
  17. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for Super Bowl XXXVIII from Reliant Stadium in Houston:

    The Colts took the opening kickoff and moved right down for the game's first points. On the game's second play, Peyton Manning hit Marcus Pollard for fourteen yards and a first down, and three plays later his fifteen-yard strike to Brandon Stokley gave the Colts a first down in Eagles' territory at the thirty-nine. He also connected with Marvin Harrison for fourteen yards and another first down at the seventeen. But after Edgerrin James gained two yards on first down, running back Ricky Williams was stopped for no gain on first down, and Manning overthrew him on a third down screen pass. This left a thirty-two yard field goal attempt for Mike Vanderjagt, which he converted to give the Colts a 3-0 lead with 7:53 left in the opening quarter.

    "That was a great exercise in ball control," said CBS's Phil Simms. "One way to keep Donovan McNabb from hurting you is to keep him off the field, and he can't do much when the other team has the ball for almost seven minutes." (6:56, to be precise.)

    That was all the scoring in the first quarter. The Eagles breached Indy territory on their opening drive thanks to McNabb's twenty-one yard pass to Freddie Mitchell, but McNabb and Brian Westbrook were tackled for four and three-yard losses respectively soon after, which forced the Eagles to punt. The Colts were mired deep in their own territory when the quarter ended with the Colts still leading 3-0.

    After an Indianapolis punt, the Eagles took over at their own thirty-six, and McNabb found tight end L.J. Smith over the middle for eleven yards and a first down. Several plays later, Correll Buckhalter slashed his way off the left side for twelve yards and a first down at the Colts' thirty, and on third and four from the twenty-four it was McNabb to Mitchell for thirteen. On first and ten from the elven with all day to throw, McNabb fired for Todd Pinkston, who caught the pass and went to the ground. After an anxious moment, the touchdown signal went up. Colts coach Tony Dungy challenged the call, but it was quickly upheld, and David Akers added the extra point to give the NFC champs a 7-3 lead with 9:03 left in the first half.

    The Colts answered with a field goal drive that consumed over six and a half minutes. James started things off by gaining eleven yards off left tackle, and Peyton hit on three key passes. The first, a fourteen-yarder to Reggie Wayne, got the ball across midfield. The second, a ten-yarder to backup wideout Troy Walters, gave the Colts a key first down. The third, a twenty-one yard catch-and-run by Harrison, gave the Colts another big first down at the Philly thirteen. But the Indy offense was in high gear reverse from that point on; Dominic Rhodes lost a yard on consecutive plays, and on third down James was spilled for a loss of three. This left Vanderjagt with a thirty-five yard attempt, and he made it to cut the Philly lead to 7-6 with 2:19 to play in the first half.

    The Colts managed a last-second field goal at the end of the half after Eagles punter Dirk Johnson shanked one off the side of his foot. The Colts' Brad Piatt brought the kick all the way back to the Philly twenty-nine before stepping out of bounds with two seconds left. This left the Colts enough time to bring on Vanderjagt, who blasted a forty-six yarder to give the Colts a 9-7 halftime lead.

    At the half, Peyton was performing as advertised, having hit on eight of his nine passes for 103 yards. McNabb, meanwhile was four of ten for fifty-nine yards, and his feet hadn't done him much good either. "You can tell who the more polished quarterback is," said Simms at the half. "Peyton Manning hasn't had to throw a lot, but when he does he's right on target. McNabb looks unsure of himself at times, and he's not making plays with his legs either. He's going to have to turn it up a few notches if the Eagles want to come back in the second half."

    He looked like he was ready to do that in the Eagles' first drive of the second half. James Thrash returned the opening kickoff to his own thirty-six, and on the second play from scrimmage McNabb found him for twenty-one yards and a first down at the Indy forty-three. Two plays later, Duce Staley popped a draw for twenty yards and a first down at the sixteen, then McNabb ran for eleven yards and a first and goal at the Indy five. But it went pear-shaped from there, as Buckhalter only gained a yard, McNabb's second down pass went through Pinkston's hands, and his third down pass hit Smith in the chest and bounced away incomplete. To top matters off, Akers' successful twenty-one yard attempt was wiped out by a false start penalty. Undaunted, Akers hit again from twenty-six, and the Eagles led 10-9 with just over ten minutes left in the third period.

    "That was a bit more like it," Simms commented. "The Eagles' offense has finally found its rhythm. Now all they have to do on defense is pressure Manning a little more so he doesn't have time to find so many open receivers."

    That was all the scoring in the third quarter. The Eagles crossed midfield one more time thanks to Staley's twelve-yard gain on a draw play, but McNabb was sacked for a seven-yard loss by reserve defensive end Chad Bratzke to take them out of field goal range: Our score at the end of three quarters: Philadelphia 10, Indianapolis 9.

    Toward the end of the third period, the Colts embarked on a field goal drive to take the lead,. Peyton went for it all right away from his own twenty-five, and Wayne beat two Eagles defenders and made a circus catch at the Philly thirty-six for a gain of thirty-nine. On the final play of the quarter from the seventeen, James took a handoff and blasted through the middle for eleven yards and a first and goal at the Philly six. But that's as far as the Colts got; James was buried for a four-yard loss on first down, backup James Mungro went down in the backfield for a yard loss on second down, and Peyton overthrew a wide-open Wayne on third down. Vanderjagt's attempt from twenty-eight yards out was good, but the Colts' lead was only two at 12-10 with 13:29 left in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

    The Eagles retook the lead with a field goal of their own on their next possession. The biggest play of the drive was the second one, as Staley turned a short McNabb dumpoff into a twenty-one yard catch-and-run and a first down at his own forty-seven. The other key play was Buckhalter's ten-yard gain on a draw, which gave the Eagles a first down at the Colts' twenty-seven. Buckhlter was tackled for a three-yard loss by linebacker David Thornton on first down, but McNabb got those yards back on second down. He had Thrash wide open on third down, but the pass was way off the mark and almost intercepted by cornerback Nick Harper. Akers hit from forty-four yards out, and with 7:22 to play the Eagles took a 13-12 lead.

    The Colts answered immediately. No play on the drive went over ten yards, but they took almost four minutes to go from their own thirty-five to the Philly thirty-three. Vanderjagt was good for the fifth time today from fifty yards away, and the Colts now led 15-13 with less than four minutes to play.

    After the Colts' defense made a third down stop, Peyton and the offense added one last field goal. Manning found Wayne for sixteen yards, Walters for twenty-three, and Pollard over the middle for eleven. The big run of the drive belonged to Rhodes, who took a pitch from Peyton and skirted right end for an eighteen-yard gain and a first and goal at the Philly seven. James was tackled for a yard loss on first down, and a pass to Pollard on second down lost two more. After James dropped a potential game-clinching touchdown pass on third down, Vanderjagt was called on for his sixth attempt of the day, this one from twenty-seven yards. The kick was right down Broadway, and with forty-two seconds left the Colts led 18-13. McNabb had time for two long passes following the kickoff, but neither connected, and the Colts had finally brought a championship to the city of Indianapolis for the first time and given the franchise its first world title since 1958. Final score: Colts 18, Eagles 13.

    Vanderjagt was named Super Bowl MVP for making all six of his field goal attempts. Peyton finished seventeen of twenty-eight for 223 yards, with Wayne catching four passes for eighty-seven yards. Harrison added four more catches for fifty yards. James carried twenty-two times, but was held to only forty-six yards. As a team, the Colts rushed thirty-nine times for a relatively meager seventy-four yards.

    For the Eagles, McNabb was ten of twenty-four for 122 yards and a touchdown. Thrash was his leading receiver with three catches for forty yards. Staley led the way on the ground with forty-nine yards on six carries. McNabb was also sacked three times, and he never seemed to get over his Super Bowl jitters. "The game seemed too big for him at times," Simms said in an interview the day after the game. "He needs to mature a lot if he hopes to take the Eagles back to the Super Bowl. He hurried a lot of his throws, and was constantly either overthrowing or underthrowing his receivers. In a normal game, you'd say, 'Forget about it and move on to next week,' The problem is, in the Super Bowl, there is no next week."

    This is the Colts' fourth world championship as a franchise and, as I said earlier, its first-ever in Indianapolis as well as its first Super Bowl. As for the all-time Super Bowl sweepstakes, with forty-seven Big Games in the books the NFC's lead is down to one at 24-23.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019 at 1:05 PM
  18. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Now it's time for Super Bowl XXXIX from Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville. Game time temperature is 56 degrees, with partly cloudy skies and a north wind at 7 MPH.

    The Steelers took the opening kickoff, and on the first play of the game Jerome Bettis ran a picture-perfect sweep for nineteen yards. Later on the drive, on third and three from the Eagles' forty-six, Ben Roethlisberger ducked under the outstretched arms of linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and defensive end Jevon "The Freak" Kearse and ran for thirteen yards and another first down. After rookie Willie Parker gained six on first down, Ben dropped back and threw only one of eight passes he would attempt on the day, but overshot Hines Ward. On third and four, he was sacked for a seven-yard loss by reserve defensive tackle Sam Rayburn (Number 91). That put the Steelers in a fourth and eleven situation; a punt would likely go into the end zone, and Jeff Reed would face a fifty-one yard field goal attempt, which was hardly ideal for a kicker's first-ever Super Bowl try. So Steelers coach Bill Cowher decided to go for it. Ben had Bettis wide open for a first down, but Jerome couldn't squeeze it, and the Steelers turned the ball over on downs.

    This left the door wide open for the Eagles, and Donovan McNabb came out firing with an eighteen-yard strike to Terrell Owens. Two plays later, Brian Westbrook bolted up the middle for sixteen yards and a first down at the Pittsburgh twenty-four. But the Philly offense didn't gain another yard; two of McNabb's passes fell incomplete, and a third pass to Owens was smothered by linebacker James Harrison for a three-yard loss. This left David Akers with a forty-four yard field goal attempt, which snuck just inside the right upright to give the NFC champs a 3-0 lead with 6:03 left in the opening quarter.

    After a Pittsburgh punt, the Eagles worked their way back into enemy territory as the first period ended. The key plays were made by running back Dorsey Levens, who picked up thirteen yards around right end, then sped up the middle for sixteen more. But fullback Josh Parry was thrown for a five-yard loss by linebacker James Farrior, and on third and two from the Pittsburgh forty-one McNabb was sacked by defensive end Aaron Smith for a six-yard loss, thus forcing the Eagles to punt on the first play of the second quarter..

    The Steelers spent the next seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds driving toward the game's only touchdown. The key plays of the drive were Ben's fifteen-yard completion to Ward and Bettis' fifteen-yard rumble up the middle. Penalties played a part as well; on back-to-back plays, Trotter was whistled for a facemask on a eight-yard Roethlisberger scramble and cornerback Lido Sheppard was called for a facemask after Bettis had gained twelve yards around left end. Soon, the Steelers had a first and ten at the Philly sixteen. After two runs by former Eagle Duce Staley gained three yards, on third and seven Ben spotted a wide-open Burress in the corner of the end zone and floated the ball to him over the top of right corner Sheldon Brown for the touchdown. Reed added the extra point, and with 7:08 left until halftime the Steelers led 7-3.

    "That was a great drive by the Pittsburgh offense," Fox's Troy Aikman said. "Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley took care of most of it on the ground, and Ben showed his ability both running and passing. That was a championship-caliber throw to Burress for the touchdown. Now Donovan McNabb has to match him, and he hasn't looked good in five quarters of Super Bowl play going back to last year."

    Thanks to a pair of McNabb-to-Owens connections for thirteen and eleven yards respectively, the Eagles quickly reached the Steelers' forty-one on their next possession. But they only gained five yards in the next three plays, which left them with fourth and five at the Pittsburgh thirty-six. Eagles coach Andy Reid was in the same spot Cowher had been earlier, and he too decided to go for it. McNabb was pressured severely, but dumped the ball off to Westbrook, who made the catch at the thirty-two but was immediately swarmed under by no less than four Steelers before he could take another step and ended up a yard short of the first down.

    The Steelers thus had 2:18 left until the half to put more points on the board, and they were put in position to do so by The Bus, who cut back on a sweep to the left and rumbled down the sideline until he was pushed out of bounds at the Philly fourteen-yard line with four seconds left. There was no time for anther play, but Reed faced a relatively easy thirty-one yard attempt, which he punched through at the gun to give the AFC champs a 10-3 halftime lead.

    At halftime, Ben had thrown just four times, completing two for twenty-eight yards and a touchdown. Bettis was already close to a hundred-yard game, as he had ninety-seven yards on just eight carries. Meanwhile, McNabb wasn't doing badly, he'd thrown eight passes, completing five for fifty-five yards.

    "Jerome Bettis is the key to the second half," said Fox's Cris Collinsworth at halftime. "If the Eagles can figure out how to stop him and make Big Ben throw the ball, they've got a chance to come back. Otherwise, the Steelers are liable to keep running it right down their throats."

    The Eagles took the second half kickoff, but had to start at their own twelve-yard line when a holding penalty wiped out the return. McNabb proceeded to take thirteen plays and over seven minutes to drive his team to the only score of the period. The highlights were a fifteen--yard catch-and-run by Westbrook, a twenty-yard scamper up the middle by Levens, a nineteen-yard completion to Todd Pinkston that converted a third and twelve and put the ball in Pittsburgh territory, and a diving catch by Owens on fourth and eight from the Steelers' thirty-four that gained thirteen but also torqued TO's previously-broken ankle to the point that he had to leave the game. The offense gained only five more yards, and they missed a touchdown when Pinkston juggled and dropped McNabb's third down pass in the end zone. Akers was called on for a thirty-three yard attempt in order to salvage something from the drive, and his kick was good. The Eagles now trailed 10-6 with 7:44 left in the third period.

    "If you can lose while still coming away with three points, the Eagles just did," Aikman opined. "To go all that way and only end up with a field goal gives more of a lift to the Pittsburgh defense than it does to the Philadelphia offense, If the Steelers can reestablish their running game on this next drive, they can take the heart out of the Eagles for good."

    That wouldn't happen until the final period. The Steelers began the fourth quarter at the Eagles' forty-six following an Antwaan Randle El punt return. The drive reached the twenty-three before the Eagles forced the first turnover of the day. Bettis was hit by Trotter and lost control of the ball. Fellow linebacker Dhani Jones dove on the ball at the Philly twenty-five. Unfortunately, the Eagles failed to take advantage of their good fortune, as they lost a yard on three plays before punting.

    After another Philly punt, the Steelers took over with 7:54 left in regulation. Randle El's punt return gave them prime field position at their own forty-three, and Duce immediately found a hole off right tackle and barged through it for nineteen yards and a first down. On the very next play, The Bus found a similar hole and gained twenty yards, which gave the Steelers a first down at the Eagles' eighteen. The offense couldn't get another first down, but Reed hit from twenty-six yards out to put the Steelers up 13-6 with 4:39 left in regulation.

    The Eagles had one last chance, but fumbled it away on the first play of the ensuing drive. McNabb found tight end L.J. Smith over the middle, but he was immediately hit by linebacker James Farrior and fumbled. After a short scrum, cornerback Deshea Townsend recovered at the Pittsburgh thirty-six. The Steelers controlled the ball the rest of the way to wrap up a 13-6 victory and their seventh Super Bowl, a record in either applicable universe.

    The Bus was named Super Bowl MVP after gaining 126 yards on seventeen carries. The former Eagle Staley came back to haunt his former teammates as well, adding eighty yards on eighteen carries. Altogether, the Steelers rushed for 258 yards on fifty-two attempts, which is almost certainly a Super Bowl record in either applicable universe. As a result of the running game's dominance, Ben only had to throw eight times, completing four for fifty-two yards and a touchdown to Burress, who caught two passes for twenty-eight yards. Ward caught the other two passes for twenty-four yards. On defense, Farrior led the way with a dozen solo tackles, and fellow linebacker Larry Foote checked in with nine.

    Foe the Eagles, McNabb finished twelve of twenty-four for 165 yards. Smith was his leading receiver with fifty-five yards on just two catches, while TO caught five balls for fifty-two yards. Levens led the running game with fifty-five yards on seven carries, while Westbrook was held to just thirty-seven yards on twelve carries while also catching three passes for thirty-five yards. The Eagles as a team rushed for ninety-seven yards on twenty-eight attempts. On defense, Trotter led the way with ten solo tackles, while Kearse notched two of the team's three sacks.

    Aikman summed things up thusly the day after the game. "This was the mist thorough beating I've ever seen one team give another in a Super Bowl in terms of being physical. The Eagles were dominated on both sides of the ball all night long in a way you seldom see in today's NFL. The only reason the score was close was because the Steelers had no passing game to speak of. Once Ben Roethlisberger matures as a quarterback, this team will be utterly unstoppable."

    We've now contested forty-eight Super Bowls in the Pythagorean universe, and each conference has won twenty-four.

    Next: To be determined.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019 at 4:43 PM
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