Tygrrrr Express January 2020 Hawaii Speaking Schedule

January 20th, 2020

Monday, January 20 — Flying from Los Angeles to Hawaii.

Tuesday, January 21 — Kauai GOP at 6pm.

Wednesday, January 22 — Kailua-Kona Kiwanis Club on the Big Island at 5:30pm. 

Thursday, January 23 — Kona Rotary Club on the Big Island at Noon.

Saturday, January 25 — East Hawaii GOP on the Big Island in Hilo. 5pm.

Tuesday, January 28 — Lahaina Sunrise Rotary Club in Maui. 7am.

Thursday, January 30 — Lahaina Rotary Club in Maui. Lunch.

Saturday, February 1 — Maui GOP. Morning.

Sunday, February 2 — Conservative Super Bowl Party in Honolulu, Oahu at 11:30am.

Sunday, February 2 — Redeye flight back to Los Angeles. .

NFL 2019-2020 Conference Title Games Recap

January 19th, 2020

NFL 2019-2020 Conference Title Games Recap

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs was the AFC Title Game. One week ago the Chiefs trailed 24-0 yet had the lead by halftime and outscored their opponent 51-7 the rest of the way. Different week, same result. Tennessee won the toss. On the second play of the game on 2nd and 6 from their own 34, Ryan Tannehill and AJ Brown connected on a 37 yard gain. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Chiefs 12, Tannehill threw incomplete twice. Joseph hit the 30 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back at their own 42. Derrick Henry ran for 11 and 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Chiefs 42, the Chiefs jumped offsides on defense on 2 straight plays. On 4th and 2 from the Chiefs 29, Mike Vrabel decided to go for it. Tannehill hit Humphries for 3 yards. Tannehill then went to Smith for a 22 yard gain. On the next pay Henry took the direct snap and ran it in for the touchdown to make it 10-0 Titans. 

The Chiefs got it back at their own 26. Patrick Mahomes hit Damien Williams for 9 and Tyreek Hill for 26. On 4th and 2 from the Titans 28, Andy Reid decided to go for it. Mahomes hit Kelce for 4 yards. On 1st and goal from the 8, Mahomes hit Hill for the touchdown to get the Chiefs within 10-7. The Titans came back with a 15 play, 75 yard, 9 minute drive. The second quarter began with the Titans facing 2nd and 6 at their own 29. Tannehill hit Davis for 18. Henry ran for 13. On 3rd and 22 from the Chiefs 25, a completion only gained 10 but defensive pass interference meant 11 yards and an automatic first down. On 3rd and 1 5, Henry gained 3. on 2nd and goal from the one, Tannehill hit Kelly on a tackle eligible for the the touchdown. The Titans led 17-7 with 6:43 left in the half. Then reality set in.

The Chiefs took over at their own 37. From their 43, Mahomes hit Robinson for 24, Sammy Watkins for 13, and Hill for the 20 yard touchdown. With 4 minutes left in the half the Chiefs were within 17-14. The Chiefs got it back at their own 14. Mahomes hit Williams for 17 and 8. On 3rd and 4 from their own 37, Mahomes hit Kelce for 18 and ran for 7. On 3rd and 3 from the Titans 38, Mahomes hit Watkins for 11. Mahomes then scrambled near the sideline, escaped, and barreled over tacklers for a 27 yard touchdown run. With 11 seconds left in the half, the Chiefs had the 21-17 lead. Midway through the third quarter, the Chiefs moved to put the game away. On 3rd and 1 from their own 36, Williams gained 5. On 3rd and 2 just shy of midfield, Mahomes ran for 4. Thompson ran for 7, Mahomes added 11 and Williams gained 4. Mahomes hit Hill for 15. The fourth quarter began with Williams running it in for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 28-17 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back at their own 12 and delivered the kill shot. Mahomes hit Watkins for 11 and 7. On 3rd and 6 from their own 40, Mahomes went bombs away to Watkins for a 60 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, 28 unanswered points had the Chiefs up 35-17. One Titans garbage touchdown did not change the outcome. The Chiefs won the Lamar Hunt Trophy named after their late owner and are header to the Super Bowl. Walrus Lite Andy Reid is going to the big game for the second time in his career. The Chiefs are going for the first time in 50 years. Walrus Lite Andy Reid is one more win from getting his upgrade to full walrus status.  35-24 Chiefs

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers was the NFC Title Game. In the regular season, the 49ers blasted the Packers 37-8. For those looking for a thrilling rematch, this was not that game. The 49ers from their own 11. Jimmy Garoppolo hit Deebo Samuel for 16 yards and again for 30 more. On 3rd and 8 from the Green Bay 36, Raheem Mostert burst free on the ground for the touchdown and the 7-0 49ers lead. A 26 yard punt return had the 49ers getting it back just sh you midfield. A roughing the passer call had the 49ers deep on the move. On 3rd and 6 from the Green Bay 28, Garoppolo was sacked. Robbie Gould drilled a 54 yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to make it 10-0 49ers. A shanked 23 yard punt gave the 49ers gift field position at the Green Bay 37. Mostert ran for 13 and 9 and capped the drive with a 9 yard touchdown run to make it 17-0 49ers. Rodgers then got belted and fumbled and the 49ers took over at the Green Bay 25. Gould hit from 27 to make it 20-0 49ers. 3 plays later Rodgers was intercepted as the 49ers again had excellent field position at the Packers 30. Moster ran for 11, one, and then the 18 yard touchdown. The 49ers took a 27-0 lead to the locker rooms as NFL regulations required that the second half not be canceled.

The second half was pointless. Rodgers threw a 9 yard touchdown pass to Aaron Jones to get the Packers within 27-7 in the third quarter. From their own 21, Mostert ran for 7 and 5. Samuel ran for 11. Moster added two. Samuel ran for 32 and Moster ran for the 22 yard touchdown. Garoppolo threw 0 passes on the drive. He only threw 6 passes in the first 52 minutes. Garoppolo had 0 passes in the third quarter as the 49ers led 34-7 after three quarters. The Packers got in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter to get within 34-13, but this was never a contest. Even a 65 yard bomb from Rodgers to Devontae Adams against Richard Sherman did not change the outcome. It did lead to an 8 yard touchdown from Rodgers to Jay Sternberger to get the Packers within 34-20 midway through the fourth quarter. The 49ers gashed the Green Bay defense for nearly 300 yards on the ground, including over 220 by Mostert. With 3 1/2 minutes left, Gould nailed a 42 yard field goal to officially lock up the win. With 1:48, another Rodgers bomb was intercepted by Sherman, ending any chance of a quiet postgame. 25 years after the 49ers won their last Super Bowl, they were back in it with Jerry Rice and Steve Young in attendance. The 49ers last won the George Halas Trophy seven years ago and will again be trying to win it all with running and defense against a pinball offense. 37-20 49ers

Super Bowl LIV (54) is set. The AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs will take on the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers. The game is being played in Miami on Sunday, February 2, 2020, and kickoff is around 6:30 p.m. Eastern time.

NFL 2019-2020 Conference Title Games Prequel

January 19th, 2020

Top 10 Conference Title Game upsets in NFL history

January 19th, 2020

Top 10 Divisionals upsets in NFL history

January 19th, 2020

NFL 2019-2020 Divisionals Recap

January 11th, 2020

NFL 2019-2020 Divisionals Recap

NFC: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers was the Saturday afternoon game. One week after going on the road and shocking New Orleans, the Vikings tried to pull off another upset against the well-rested 49ers. Kirk Cousins got his first playoff win, and now Jimmy Garoppolo sought to do the same. The 49ers faced 2nd and 8 from their own 41 and Garoppolo hit Deebo Samuel for 10 and Emanuel Sanders for gains of 22 and 11. On 2nd and 8 from the Minnesota 14, Garoppolo hit Greg Kittle for 11 and to Kevin Bourne for the 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 49ers. The Vikings took over on their own 21 and an 8 yard defensive pass interference call moved them to their own 31. On 3rd and 2 from their own 39, Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 12. On 3rd and 2 from the Frisco 41, Cousins went deep to Stefan Diggs for the touchdown and a 7-7 game. 

In the second quarter, a field position game had the 49ers facing 3rd and 12 at their own 45. Garoppolo hit Samuel for 14 yards. On the next play after a 6 yard gain, a 49ers fumble recovered by the Vikings was reversed back to the 49ers. Tevin Coleman then ran for 5, 7 and 4. Garoppolo went to Samuel for 18 yards down to the one. Coleman got in to make it 14-7 49ers. the 49ers got it back but an interception of Garoppolo had the Vikings facing 1st and 10 at the San Francisco 29 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 11 from the Frisco 17, Cousins was sacked. Dan Bailey hit the 39 yard field goal as the Vikings only trailed 14-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter the 49ers took over. On 3rd and 5 from their own 42, Garoppolo went to Bourne for 21 yards. Coleman gained 5, 7 and 6. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 17, Garoppolo threw incomplete. The 49ers were held to a 35 yard Robbie Gould field goal to lead 17-10. The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 34. Cousins went at Richard Sherman and Sherman won, intercepting the ball. The 49ers took over at the Minnesota 44. Coleman gained 4, 6 and 6. Then it was time for Mostert, and he gained 7, 4, and 4. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 13, it was back to Coleman. He gained 11 and then the 2 yard touchdown. Without throwing a single pass on the drive, the 49ers led 24-10 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Minnesota’s defense got a key stop on the next series but then the Vikings self-destructed on special teams. Sherels fumbled a punt and the 49ers recovered at the Minnesota 10 with a chance to turn out the lights. The fourth quarter began with the 49ers facing 3rd and goal at the 4. A short pass from Garoppolo to Kittle only gained one yard. Again, Mike Zimmer’s defense kept them in the game, albeit barely. Gould hit the 21 yard field goal and San Francisco’s defense turned out the lights the rest of the way. For the first time in six years, the 49ers are back in the NFC Title Game. It’ll be at home. 27-10 49ers

AFC: Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens was the Saturday night game. Ray Lewis and Eddie George are long retired. Brian Billcik and Jeff Fisher are out of coaching. Memories of bare-fisted slobber-knockers between these teams are in the past. Tennessee eked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Although they went on the road and stunned New England, now they had to take on the well-rested 14-2 Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were heavy favorites, but the last 3 times these teams met in the playoffs, the road team won. When the opening bell for this rang, it was the Titans who answered the call. The Ravens moved from their own 20 to a 2nd and 10 at the Tennessee 36. Lamar Jackson went deep and had his pass bounce off of a receiver and get intercepted by Byard. Byard returned it 31 yards to midfield. There was even a personal foul on Jackson for a horse-collar tackle as the Titans took over at the Baltimore 35. Derrick Henry gained 3, 9, 7 and 1. On 3rd and 2 from the Baltimore 15, Ryan Tannehill gained 3 with unnecessary roughness on the defense adding 6 more. A sack of Tannehill meant 3rd and goal at the 12. Tannehill went to Smith in the end zone. Smith did not get both feet down, but his behind hit the ground inbounds. One behind equals two feet as the Titans led 7-0. The Ravens moved from their own 25 to a 4th and 1 at the Baltimore 45 to start the second quarter. John Harbaugh decided to go for it. Jackson kept it himself and ran into a Tennessee brick wall. One play later Tannehill went deep to Raymond for a 45 yard touchdown as the Ravens led 14-0 in front of a shell-shocked home crowd at the Big Crabcake.

The Ravens got it back at their own 10 yard line. On 3rd and 10 from their own 21, Jackson went deep to Brown for 30 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 45, Jackson went to Andrews for 16 more. On 3rd and 12 from the Tennessee 31, Jackson threw incomplete. Justin Tucker hit a 49 yard field goal as the Ravens were finally on the board down 14-3 with 6 minutes left in the half. Baltimore got it back at their own 5 and with 1:43 left in the half faced 3rd and 16 at their own 9. Jackson went deep to Seth Roberts for 26 yards. Jackson then hit Brown for 16 and Willie Snead for 7 more. With 18 seconds left in the half the Ravens faced 3rd and 14 at the Titans 42. Jackson threw a Hail Mary between 3 defenders and Brown made a one-handed catch and came down with it for a 38 yard gain. The Ravens took a timeout with 11 seconds left. On 1st and goal at the 4, there should have been enough time for 2 shots at the end zone. Rather than a quick throw, Jackson scrambled around and threw incomplete. Only 3 seconds remained. The only sane option was the field goal. Tucker hit from 22 as the Ravens trailed 14-6 at halftime. In the third quarter the Ravens moved from their own 24 to a 3rd and 2 at the Tennessee 19. Edwards only gained one yard. On 4th and inches, John Harbaugh again decided to go for it. Again, Jackson got stopped for no gain.

From their own 19, then came Henry. He gained 5 and 4 to set up the Titans with 3rd and 1 at their own 28. Henry got the carry and banged up the gut. Running over and through tacklers, Henry was off to the races and was finally brought down after a 66 yard gain to the Baltimore 6. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Mike Vrabel went to the bag of tricks. Tannehill was on the sideline. Henry took the direct snap and looked to run up the middle. At the last second he lobbed a pass basketball style to the back of the end zone. Davis came down with it for the touchdown to make it 21-6 Titans. On the next play after a touchback, disaster struck the Ravens. Jackson was sacked and fumbled. The Titans took over at the Baltimore 20. On 3rd and 6 from the 16, Tannehill hit AJ Brown for 9 yards. On 3rd and goal from the one, Tannehill kept the ball. At the last moment he was expected to pitch it. Instead he crashed into the defense and somehow got through to the end zone. With 4:20 left in the third quarter, the Titans were dominating 28-6. The Ravens quickly moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 5 at the Baltimore 31. Jackson threw a sideline pass and Boykin made a fingertip interception. 

Baltimore held on defense and began the fourth quarter at their own 12. Jackson ran for 11. On 3rd and 2 from his own 31, Jackson bobbed and weaved through defenders for a 27 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Tennessee 33, Jackson this time got 2 yards. Jackson went to Mark Ingram for 9, Snead for 7, and then to the end zone to Hurst. Hurst made a juggling catch for the 15 yard touchdown. On the 2 point try, Jackson’s pass was deflected in the air and then batted away at the last moment. The Ravens were clinging to life down 28-12 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Baltimore got it back at their own 20 with 6 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 10 Jackson went deep to Snead for 26 and to Brown for 7 and 9. On 1st and 15 from the Tennessee 43, Jackson scrambled for 22 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Titans 16, Jackson scrambled around forever but could not find anyone and threw incomplete. On 4th and 5, a pass over the middle was perfectly defended incomplete with 4 1/2 minutes left. Baltimore got it back and with 55 seconds left faced 4th and 11 at the Tennessee 22. Jackson’s pass was low but catchable and Boykin dropped it. 

Tennessee’s second straight shocking upset had them headed to the AFC Title Game. They will be on the road, which has not stopped them so far. On paper, Baltimore was practically invincible. Jackson was 31 of 59 for 365 yards with an additional 143 yards on the ground. 508 yards of total offense were undone by his three turnovers. Henry finished with 195 yards rushing on 30 carries. He became the first back in NFL history to have at least 180 yards rushing in 3 straight games. He also had the one touchdown pass. Tannehill threw for only 88 yards, but he only needed to throw 14 passes, completing 7 of them. This was one of the great Divisionals upsets of all time. As ESPN uber-announer Chris Berman reminds us, “THAT’s why they PLAY the games!” 28-12 Titans

AFC: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs was the Sunday afternoon game. With Baltimore losing in stunning fashion the day before, the Chiefs came in knowing a win would have them hosting the AFC Title Game. All they had to do was steamroll over an overmatched Houston team. Houston came into Kansas City in the regular season, fell behind 17-3 after the first quarter, led 23-17 at the half, trailed 24-23 after three, and won 31-24. This game was even more insane. The first half was an earthquake with endless aftershocks.

The Texans began the game facing 3rd and 7 at their own 28. Deshaun Watson hit Wil Fuller for 9 yards. On 3rd and 1 from their own 46, Watson went bombs away to a wide open Kenny Stills for a 54 yard touchdown. The Texans led 7-0 only 3 minutes into the game. The Chiefs took over at their own 21. On 3rd and 6 from their own 35, a short pass from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce was just dropped. Things went from bad to worse went the punt was blocked. The ball bounced straight to Lonnie Johnson, who returned it for a touchdown and a 14-0 Texans lead less than 5 minutes into the game. Things got even worse for the Chiefs on special teams when Tyreek Hill fumbled a punt and the Texans recovered at the Chiefs 6 yard line. Watson hit Darren Fells for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Texans after the first quarter. Mahomes then threw 3 straight incompletions and the Texans took over just shy of midfield. On 3rd and 11 from the Houston 48, Watson went to Deandre Hopkins for 13 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Chiefs 21, a completion from Watson to Johnson only gained 8. After initially deciding to go for it, Bill O’Brien smartly decided not to gamble on 4th and 1. Kaimi Fairbairn hit the 31 yard field goal. With 11 minutes left in the half, the Texans led 24-0 in front of a shell-shocked home crowd at Arrowhead. Andy Reid was a most concerned Walrus Lite indeed. The rest of the half was insanity for the ages.

Momentum changed when Mecole Hardman returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to the Houston 42. Mahomes quickly went to Kelce for 25 yards and to Damien Williams for the 17 yard touchdown. The Chiefs were down 24-7 and just getting started. On 3rd and 1 from their own 31, Watson threw incomplete. Bill O’Brien then gambled on a fake punt. Reid took the direct snap and gained only 2 yards. The Chiefs took over at the Houston 33 and needed only 23 seconds to score. Defensive pass interference meant a 28 yard gain. Mahomes went to Kelce for the 5 yard touchdown to get the Chiefs within 24-14. Only 9 seconds later the Chiefs had the ball again as the Texans fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Thompson picked up the fumble and returned it 18 yards to the Houston 6 yard line. On 3rd and goal, Mahomes went to Kelce for the touchdown. Just like that, the Chiefs were within 24-21. With 2:47 left in the half, the Chiefs took over at their own 10. Defensive pass interference added 15 yards. Mahomes then went to Hill for 20 and ran for 21. On 2nd and 15 from the Houston 39, Mahomes hit Kelce for 20 and ran for 14. With 50 seconds left in the half, Mahomes again hit Kelce for the 5 yard touchdown. 4 touchdown passes by Mahomes in the second quarter had the Chiefs up 28-24. In the final 44 seconds from their own 23, Watson hit Hopkins for 38 yards. Yet Fairbairn’s 51 yard field goal try to end the half was no good by a mile. 

After a post-season record for points in the first half, the Chiefs began the third quarter at their own 15. Mahomes was only 4 touchdown passes away from 8. Surely the pace would slow up in the second half. Mahomes went to Yelder for 11 and then went deep to Sammy Watkins for a 48 yard gain. Mahomes then ran for 14 yards and 7 more to set up 1st and goal at the one. Williams ran it in to make it 34-24 Chiefs. The extra point was no good. The Chiefs got it back at their own 23. Mahomes went deep to Kelce for 28 yards. Mahomes then went to Watkins for 14 and defensive pass interference added 19 more. On 3rd and goal at the 10, Mahomes threw incomplete. However, defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 5. Williams ran straight up the gut for the touchdown to make it 41-24 Chiefs. 

The Chiefs scored 41 unanswered points on 6 straight touchdown drives. After a touchback, the Texans finally woke up. Watson hit Hopkins for 21 yards and Stills for 11 more. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 39, Watson went to Hopkins, who made a gorgeous toe-tape catch on the sideline for a 9 yard gain. A trick play half-back pass was blown up for a 14 yard loss. On 2nd and 24 from the Chiefs 44, Watson went deep to Fuller for a 39 yard gain. On the next play Watson got around the end for a 5 yard touchdown. The ball did come out, but only after Watson had just barely passed the pylon. After three quarters, the Texans were within 41-31. The Chiefs began the fourth quarter at their own 28. Mahomes went to Kelce for 23 , Hardman for 13, Watkins for 28, and Bell for the 8 yard touchdown. One minute into the fourth quarter, the Chiefs led 48-31 on Mahomes’s 5th touchdown pass and 7th consecutive touchdown drive.     

After a touchback, the Texans moved to a 2nd and 4 at the Chiefs 42. Watson then threw 3 straight incompletions as the Chiefs took over with 11:45 left in regulation. Mahomes on a pair of end arounds that counted as forward passes hit Bell for 7 and Williams for 11. Williams then took an end around that counted as a lateral 26 yards. On 3rd and 6 at the Houston 10, a completion to Williams only gained 5 yards. Mahomes lobbied to go for it, but Andy Reid was having none of it. There would not be an 8th straight touchdown. Harrison Butker hit the 24 yard field goal as 8 straight scoring drives had the Chiefs up 51-31 midway through the fourth quarter. There would be no garbage touchdown. Despite 1st and goal at the 8 with 1:54 to play, Watson threw 3 straight incompletions. Then on 4th and goal he was sacked for a 17 yard loss. Walrus Lite Andy Reid will be going to the Conference Title Game for the 7th time in his career, where he is 1-5 overall. For the 2nd straight year the Chiefs are hosting the AFC Title Game, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 51-31 Chiefs  

NFC: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers was the Sunday night game. From the Fail Mary game to to Al Harris intercepting Matt Hasselbeck to a 2014 NFC Title Game for the ages,  the 2019 season led us to another Walrus Bowl. mike Holmgren is long retired, but the two teams he led faced off again for the right to travel to San Francisco for the NFC Title Game. Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers both have one Super Bowl ring and feel like they were robbed of a second one. The Packers started the game from their 25 and Aaron Jones quickly ran for 23 yards. Rodgers hit Devontae Adams for 14. On 3rd and 8 from the Seattle 36, Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham for 13. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 20, Rodgers went to Adams for the touchdown as the Packers led 7-0. A field position game in the second quarter had the Seahawks taking over at their own 42. Wilson went to Tyler Lockett for 28 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Green Bay 26, Wilson threw incomplete. Myers hit the 45 yard field goal to get the Seahawks within 7-3. 

After a touchback to start the second quarter, Rodgers hit Adams for big gains of 11, 18 and 15, and Valdes-scantling for 8. Defensive pass interference added 18. On 3rd and goal at the one, Jones got the carry and appeared stopped. Officials called it a touchdown. On review, his helmet was over the goal but nobody could see where the ball was. Despite no view of him crossing the goal, the touchdown stood and the Packers led 14-3. The Seahawks moved from their own 18 to a 3rd and 8 at the Seattle 32. Wilson threw incomplete. Myers’s 50 yard field goal try was no good. From their own 42, Ervin got around the end for an 18 yard gain. Rodgers then hit Adams for 10. A defensive facemask on Jadavean Clowney added 15 yards. Jones gained 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 4, Rodgers took the quarterback sneak up the middle 2 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Rodgers threw incomplete but the play was blown dead because Clowney entered the neutral zone. This time on 3rd and goal at the one, Jones got in without any doubt. With 90 seconds left in the half, the Packers had a comfortable 21-3 lead.   

The Seahawks began the third quarter facing 3rd and 6 at their own 35. Wilson scrambled for 22 and then went to DK Metcalf for 24. On 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 8, Wilson went to Hollister for only 3 yards. Pete Carroll decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 5. Wilson rolled out and hit Lockett for 4 yards. Marshawn Lynch banged up the gut for the last yard. The 10 play, 69 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive got the Seahawks within 21-10. The Packers returned fire quickly. On 3rd and 6 from their own 29. Rodgers went to Graham for 27. Then he went deep to Adams, who escaped a potential tackle and raced for a 40 yard touchdown to make it 28-10 Packers.

The Seahawks got it back at their own 16. From his own 28, Wilson hit Lockett for 13, Homer for 11, and Hollister for 9. Wilson ran for 11. On 3rd and 1 from the Green Bay 16, Wilson ran for 9 and then hit Lockett for the 7 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 84 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and the Seahawks within 28-17 after three quarters. The Packers quickly went 3 and out to start the fourth quarter. The Seahawks took over at their own 21. Wilson went to Lockett for 19, Metcalf for 14, and Hollister for 19. Homer ran for 5 and caught a pass for 16 more. From the one, Lynch banged in. With 9 1/2 minutes left, Pete Carroll decided to go for the 2 point conversion. Alexander came on a blindside blitz and leveled Wilson. Nevertheless, the Seahawks were within 28-23.

The Packers soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 27. Rodgers hit Greg Allison for 11 yards. Rodgers then ran for 14 with 5 more tacked on for defensive holding. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the Seattle 40, Rodgers was buried by two Seattle rushers for an 8 yard loss. A shanked 25 yard punt had the Seahawks taking over at their own 23 with 5 minutes left. On 3rd and 5 from their own 42, Wilson was sacked for a 6 yard loss. On 4th and 11, Pete Carroll decided to punt and trust his defense. The Packers took over at their own 20 with 2 1/2 minutes left. Seattle had all 3 timeouts. On 2nd and 8, Aaron Rodgers threw the ball away incomplete, allowing the Seahawks to preserve a timeout. On 3rd and 8 Rodgers went deep to Adams for a 32 yard gain. 2:12 remained and the Seahawks still had 2 timeouts plus the 2 minute warning. At the 2 minute warning, everything came down to 3rd and 9 from the Seattle 45. The Seahawks still had one timeouts left but a first down would end it. Seattle sent an all out blitz  and Rodgers fired a laser to Graham. As Graham was about to land short of the sticks, he ended up on the defenders body and did not hit the ground until he was just past the marker. The Seahawks were game, but it is the Packers moving on after winning another classic. 28-23 Packers

The Conference Title Games are set. Both games will be played on Sunday, December 19, 2020. 

AFC: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs at 3:00pm Eastern on CBS.

NFC: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers at 6:30pm Eastern on FOX.

eric

NFL 2019-2020 Divisionals Prequel

January 11th, 2020

My birthday: 48 Happy Memories upon turning 48

January 9th, 2020

My birthday: 48 Happy Memories upon turning 48

I entered this world 48 years ago today on January 9, 1972. On my 48th birthday, here are 48 happy memories.

1.) Every moment I ever spent with my grandparents. They are gone now, but I had all four of them when I graduated college and three of them when I turned 30. I am blessed.

2.) January 9, 1977 — The Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl on my fifth birthday. I saw the logo and became a Raider for life.

3.) August 15, 1980 — Smokey and the Bandit II came out. I saw the original and the sequel and became a lifelong fan of the Bandit and the Snowman.

4.) January 22, 1984 — The Raiders won their third Super Bowl. I still remember telling the kids at school the next day one simple message. “Just win baby!”

5.) January 21, 1985 — I had my Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish passage into manhood. My Orthodox Rabbi grandfather led the ceremony.

6.) July 13, 1990 — I watched Bill Murray in “Quick Change” for the first of over 100 times. This movie is true New York, and Murray remains a national hero.

7.) August 26, 1990 — I flew from New York to Los Angeles for college. I immediately fell in love with this city and never left.

8.) September 26, 1990 — I joined the campus radio station and developed my lifelong love of radio.

9.) May 10, 1992 — I wrote my first song. 70 more would follow.

10.) January 9, 1994 — The Raiders won a playoff game over arch rival Denver on my 22nd birthday. We all had a big party to celebrate afterward at 1950s Cafe Ed Debevic’s.

11.) June 14, 1994 — The New York Rangers won the NHL Stanley Cup and ended the 54 year curse.

12.) September 13, 1994 — I passed the Series 7 stockbroker’s exam. At that moment I was now a professional.

13.) June 1, 1997 — I saw my friend doing something on a computer that seemed different. He was in a chat room. It was my first time using the Internet.

14.) July 4, 1999 — My friends and I crashed an Independence Day party on the beach and escaped moments before police busted up the party.

15.) September 23, 1999 — I finally got my driver’s license. I never needed one before.

16.) December 31, 1999 — Ringing in the Millennium in Las Vegas.

17.) March 1, 2000 — I flew from Los Angeles to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2000. I still have my Calvin and Hobbes t-shirt, “Life is short. Party naked. Mardi Gras 2000.”

18.) February 13, 2003 — I watched the movie “Old School.” I will forever thank Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and “The Godfather” Luke Wilson for inspiring me at age 31 to finally start going to Florida for Spring Break. Years of South Beach, Miami revelry ensued at the Clevelander and Ocean’s 10. 

19.) March 14, 2003 — I flew to Singapore and Thailand and got to experience five days of beauty in each country. I met the Jewish communities of both nations.

20.) November 4, 2003 — NFL Network was born. Finally, a television channel worth watching existed. 

21.) November 2, 2004 — Enjoying the 2004 election with my closest friends.

22.) February 12, 2006 — I flew from Los Angeles to Hawaii. I met the Jewish community of Honolulu and attended my first NFL Pro Bowl. I met ESPN’s Chris Berman.

23.) April 28, 2006 — I flew from Los Angeles to New York and went to Radio City Music Hall. For the first time, I got to attend the NFL Draft and meet a bunch of great football heroes. 

24.) August 4, 2006 — I flew from Los Angeles to Ohio and drove to Canton. I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, saw the induction ceremony featuring John Madden, and attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

25.) March 11, 2007 — I Started a blog called the Tygrrrr Express. That column somehow turned into five books and a national speaking career.

26.) September 11, 2007 — On the sixth anniversary of the attacks, I flew from Los Angeles to New York and then drove to Great Adventure in New Jersey. I attended Sean Hannity’s Feedom Concert and saw New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani light up the crowd.

27.) October 17, 2007 — I joined Facebook. Between that and Twitter, I have met many good people, increased book sales, and built my business.

28.) February 2, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix and attended my first Super Bowl. The New York Giants shocked the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.

29.) March 30, 2008 — My friend adopted a child from Guatemala. On this day “the boy” turned one. Being “Unca Eric” is the best job in the world.

30.) May 13, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. I attended the Republican Jewish Coalition Leadership Conference and met Dr. Charles Krauthammer.

31.) August 6, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Israel and spent a week in the Holy Land.

32.) August 30, 2008 — I flew from Los Angeles to Minneapolis for my first Republican Convention. For a week, friends and I slept in a sports bar. It was like being Norm Peterson from “Cheers.”

33.) April 5, 2009 — My first book “Ideological Bigotry” was published.

34.) September 1, 2009 — I left Wall Street after 15 years and began my career as a full-time professional speaker.

35.) November 11, 2009 — I flew from Los Angeles to Galveston and spoke at the Texas Federation of Republican Women Convention. I made TFRW and other lifelong friends in the Lone Star State.

36.) March 11, 2010 — I flew from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City to speak at the National Federation of Republican Women Spring Conference. That launched me nationally since the NFRW run the world.

37.) May 1, 2011 — In Aiken, South Carolina, I saw the news that Osama bin Laden was killed. That night I told my very best political joke. “Osama bin Laden is now burning underground with 72 Helen Thomases.” It was the bookend to my very first political joke. “Never rely on a Palestinian GPS tracker. I took one wrong turn, ended up at a cemetery, and a sinister voice said, ‘You have reached your final destination!’ I got so angry I threw the thing out the window, which was good because 5 seconds later it exploded.”

38.) February 9, 2013 — I met Vice President Dick Cheney and spoke in front of him at a dinner.

39.) September 25, 2013 — I spoke to a Tea Party group in Hays, Kansas. At that moment, I had officially spoken in all 50 states.

40.) November 4, 2014 — I spoke at an election night party in New Jersey.

41.) March 20, 2015 — After writing four political comedy books, I finished my first religious comedy book “Jewish Lunacy.” This allowed me to move beyond political speaking into religious speaking.

42.) May 12, 2015 — I met President George W. Bush and shook his hand.

43.) November 8, 2016 — Enjoyed a raucous election night party in Raleigh, North Carolina.

44.) December 31, 2016 — New Year’s Eve with the friends who matter most to me.

45.) Any woman whoever let me play with her yummy bouncies or at least was nice enough to send me pictures of them.

46.) January 9, 2018 — On my 46th birthday, the return of Chucky as Jon Gruden returns to the Black Hole to rejoin the Raiders. Like me, Gruden has unfinished business.

47.) November 9, 2018 — I met Angela Lansbury in Beverly Hills and got my picture taken with her. She remains one of the most talented people in the history of entertainment. 

48.) 2019 was the year I branch out beyond books and into t-shirts. I started with 2 or 3 designs in 2017 and 2018. By the end of 2019 I had 49 mostly original t-shirt designs. My best seller remains “Stop judging women by their tops. #BackSidesMatter!”

I would like to thank my parents for raising me right and Angela Lansbury’s JB Fletcher of “Murder, She Wrote” for catching murderers and making the world safer.

Anything I could possibly wish for has already been granted.

eric @ Tygrrrr Express

NFL 2019-2020 Wildcard Recap

January 5th, 2020

NFL 2019-2020 Wildcard Recap

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans was the Saturday afternoon game. Both teams rested their starters in the regular season finale and came in with matching 10-6 records. The Texans have lost several playoff games at home. An emotional home crowd saw the return of JJ Watt from injured reserve. Yet the first half of this game belonged to the Buffalo defense. After a touchback on 2nd and 8 from their own 38, Josh Allen had a wide open hole and ran for a 42 yard gain. On 2nd and 6 from the Houston 16, Sean McDermott went to the bag of tricks. A lateral to Brown was followed by him finding a wide open receiver…Allen. Although he got hit at the one, Allen stretched over the pylon for the touchdown. On the 75 yard drive, Allen had 69 of those yards, with 42 rushing, 16 receiving, and 11 passing to give the Bills the 7-0 lead. The second quarter saw Buffalo drive twice near the red zone but settle for a pair of 40 yard Steve Hauschka field goals as the Bills took a 13-0 lead to the locker rooms. The game got bizarre with the second half kickoff. The return man in the back of the end zone caught the ball and flipped it to the referee without taking a knee. The ref jumped out of the way and the Bills fell on the live ball in the end zone. Initially it was ruled a Houston touchdown, but after a lengthy discussion it was reversed to a touchback. A few plays later Deandre Hopkins had the ball punched out anyway, and the Bills recovered at the Houston 38. The key play of the game came with the Bills facing 3rd and 8 at the Houston 12 and on the verge of delivering the knockout blow. Allen went back to pass and got belted by JJ Watt. Steve Hauschka hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 16-0 Bills, but the sack fired up the crowd and momentum changed.

After a touchback, Johnson ran for 10. Deshaun Watson hit Carter for 5 and Hopkins for 14. Carlos Hyde ran for 8, 6 and one. On 3rd and 8 from the Buffalo 30, Watson under heavy pressure just before getting knocked to the ground found Hopkins near the sideline for 10. Watson then took it himself and literally carried everything on his back. At the 5 yard line, he banged it into 2 defenders and dragged both of them just over the plane of the goal. The 20 yard touchdown run was followed by a 2 point conversion try. Watson ruled out and stormed around the end. He stretched the ball and again got just past the pylon as the Texans were within 16-8. Buffalo moved after a touchback to a 3rd and 8 at their own 47 to start the fourth quarter. This time Allen was sacked and fumbled. Martin recovered for the Texans at midfield. Watson hit Kenny stills for 20 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 21, Watson was sacked. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 41 yard field goal to get the texans within 16-11 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Houston got it back and soon faced 2nd and 5 at their own 31. Watson went deep to Hopkins for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 15, Watson went to Fells for 14 yards down to the one. On the next play a pitchout was fumbled and the Texans were lucky to escape with a  4 yard loss. On the next play Watson rolled out and found a wide open Hyde in the flat for the 5 yard touchdown. With 4 1/2 minutes left the Texans had their first lead of the game. On the 2 point conversion, Sean McDermott sent an all out blitz and Watson fired a laser over the middle to Hopkins to put the Texans up 19-16. 

Momentum shifted again after a touchback. Allen combined with Singletary on a short pass, and Singletary got to the sideline for a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 28. Allen found a crease and gained 3 yards. On 2nd and 10 from the Houston 25, Frank Gore got bottled up for a 3 yard loss as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. At this point, the tying field goal try would be 49 yards. Hauschka never got the chance. Romeo Crennel’s defense unleashed everybody. Under heavy pressure, Allen threw the ball and hit an offensive lineman. Intentional grounding meant 4th and 27. Sean McDermott opted against a 60 yard field goal try. Now it was up to either a Hail Mary or the hook and laterals. Again Crennel brought the house. This time Allen got buried for a 19 yard loss. The Bills had all 3 timeouts. With 1:21 left, it all came down to the Texans facing 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 30. A first down would end the game. Bill O’Brien decided to go for it rather than try a 48 yard field goal. Watson took the quarterback sneak and ran into a Buffalo brick wall. The Bills were still alive. 

On the next play, Allen ran for a 20 yard gain but then lost his mind. Without a timeout, he tried to lateral the ball backward to nobody in particular. This was unnecessary since an entire minute remained. Allen was lucky that his own offensive lineman batted the ball out of bounds at the last moment. With 34 seconds left on 3rd and 10 from the Houston 39, Allen hit Cole beasley, who dove midair and landed just past the first down marker. Had he been short, it would have been 4th and inches. Because it was 1st and 10, the Bills could spike the ball to stop the clock. They did with 20 seconds left. Allen took two more deep shots that were both incomplete by a mile. With 5 seconds left, Hauschka came in for the 47 yard field goal try to tie the game. It was the exact length as Scott Norwood’s miss heard round the world 29 years ago. Hauschka was good. This thrilling football game was tied 19-19 and going to overtime.

The Texans got the ball first in overtime. On 3rd and 3 from their own 32, Watson under heavy pressure fired to Fells, who just dropped it. The Bills took over and soon faced 3rd and 12 at their own 28. Allen ran around like he was in the circus and found Knox for 14 yards. On 3rd and 9 from his own 43, Allen ran all the way to the sideline and fired over the middle to Singletary for an acrobatic 14 yard gain. On 2rd and 9 from the Houston 42, Allen got around the end and went airborne, gaining 5 yards. A field goal try would have been 55 yards or more. Hauschka again never got the chance. An illegal blindside block on the offense meant a 15 yard penalty against Buffalo. It was also unnecessary since Allen had already escaped. It pushed the Bills out of field goal range. On 3rd and 24, a short pass to a wide open receiver just to gain a few yards was dropped. Houston got it back at their own 17. A sack of Watson had the Texans facing 3rd and 18 at their own 19. With Buffalo playing way back, an underneath throw from Watson to Johnson saw johnson lunge for Just enough for a first down. Watson then ran for 5 and hit Stills for 10. Then came the play of the year for Houston. From the Buffalo 44, Sean Mcdermott again brought pressure. Watson got belted by 2 rushers, one on each side. What should have been a sack for a huge loss somehow Watson shake off the direct hits and stay upright. He then rolled out and found Taiwan Jones for a 34 yard gain. Bill O’Brien immediately brought in Fairbairn on first down to try the 28 yard field goal. The kick was good and the Texans had the brutally hard-fought win. 

I have said many times that every life lesson can be learned from football. The Buffalo Bills lost, but they are not losers. They lost in heartbreaking fashion in a game where the other team made one spectacular play when it mattered most. The Houston Texans showed heart, guts, and an absolute refusal to die.Deshaun Watson got belted by a couple defenders and somehow stayed upright to complete what was effectively the game winning pass. JJ Watt played the entire game with one arm. He made the key sack that turned the game around when it looked like Buffalo was going to win easily. We already know that Watt is a superior human being off the field. Today we were reminded that he is a superior athlete on the field.v20 years after the Music City Miracle, Buffalo lost another gut-wrenching playoff game they thought they had won. For Houston, it was an epic comeback.This is why we watch football. This is the best of football and the best of the human condition. What a fine start to the playoffs on the 100th year of the NFL. 22-19 Texans

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots was the Saturday night game. A snowstorm was expected, but the first half was just played in a thick fog, although nowhere near like the 1988 Fog Bowl. After a touchback to start the game, the Patriots moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Tennessee 18. Tom Brady threw incomplete. Nick Folk hit the 36 yard field goal and the Patriots led 3-0. After another touchback, Ryan Tannehill hit Smith for 9 yards. Derrick Henry gained 8 and 4. Tannehill went to Sharpe for 6 and Henry ran for 10, 9 and 6. On 3rd and 10 from the New England 12, Tannehill went to Firkser for the touchdown as the Titans led 7-3. The Patriots got it back and faced 2nd and 11 at their own 24. Brady hit Mohammed San for 11. Sony Michel gained 25. Brady went to Watson for 11 and Burkhead for 9. On 3rd and 2 from the Tennessee 21, James White gained 14. On the first play of of the second quarter, Julian Edelman took a handoff around the end for a 5 yard touchdown and a 10-7 Patriots lead. 

Tennessee’s defense was resilient. When the Patriots faced 3rd and 1 at their own 47, Roberts got the carry and got stopped. on 4th and 1 Bill Belichick opted to punt. A 23 yard punt return had the Patriots getting it back at the Houston 47. On 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 32, Brady hit Harry for 7. Michel ran for 12 and Brady hit Burkhead for 12 more to set up 1st and goal at the one. Michel lost a yard and Burkhead got it back to set up 3rd and goal at the one. Michel got the carry and got blasted for a 2 yard loss. Nick Folk hit the 21 yard field goal to make it 13-7 Patriots with 2:16 left in the half. 

After a touchback, Henry bulldozed ahead for gains of 29, 11, 9 and 3. Then Henry caught a pass from Tannehill for a 22 yard gain down to the one. With 35 seconds left in the half, the entire football world knew Henry was getting the ball. It didn’t matter. He got in for the score as the Titans led 14-13.  The Patriots moved after a touchback to a 4th and 2 at their own 48 with 6 seconds left. On the Hail Mary, the Titans rushed nobody…zero defenders. 5 offensive lineman stood there as not one defender rushed. Brady had plenty of time to throw and the ball reached the end zone but was well-defended and incomplete. 

The second half was a slog. After a scoreless third quarter, the Titans in the fourth quarter mounted a 10 play drive that took 8 minutes off the clock. From their own 20, the Titans moved to a 3rd and 3 at the New England 36. Henry had been running over the Patriots. Everyone knew he was getting the ball again, even on a passing down. He never got the chance. Tannehill fumbled the snap out of the shotgun but was lucky enough to fall on it for a loss. Mike Vrabel was not going to try a 54 yard field goal in brutally cold weather. Vrabel played some gamesmanship and deliberately took a delay of game and a false start to take another minute off the clock. The Patriots got it back at their own 11, but on 2nd and 4 from their own 37, Brady threw incomplete twice. Bill Belichick decided to punt and trust his defense. With 3 minutes left the Titans took over at their own 13. 

On 3rd and 8 from their own 15 with 2:54 left, the entire world knows you run the ball and force the Patriots to take their final timeout. Mike Vrabel tabbed his balls of steel and went with a pass. Tannehill hit Firkser for 11 yards. Henry then ran for another 11 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 38 with 1:11 left and the Patriots out of timeouts, this time Vrabel went conventional. Henry slammed into the line for 3 yards and the Titans took the clock down to 25 seconds. A perfect punt pinned the Patriots at their own one yard line with 15 seconds left. Rather than throw a bomb or do hook and laterals, Brady tried a short swing pass just to give his offense some room. The pass was deflected in the air and intercepted by Ryan, who coasted 9 yards into the end zone. With 9 seconds left, the only score of the second half had the Titans up by 7. Vrabel went for a 2 point conversion to put the game out of reach. That failed, but Julian Edelman needed to return the ensuing kickoff 87 yards. He only gained 11 yards before a series of laterals and fumbled were recovered by the Titans at the New England 4 yard line. Tannehill finished with only 72 yards passing on 8 completions in 15 attempts. That was because the Titans ran the ball 40 times for 201 yards. Henry gashed the New England defense for 182 yards on 34 categories. In a shocking upset, it is the Titans who are on to Baltimore. The Patriots are done for the year as questions swirl around whether Brady has played his final game. He is almost definitely returning, but then again the Patriots were definitely winning this game before they weren’t. This was a beautiful kind of ugly smash mouth. The Titans just hit the Patriots in the mouth. 20-13 Titans

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints was the Sunday morning game. A decade go in the NFC Title Game, Drew Brees and the Saints won a controversial NFC Title Game over Brett Favre and the Vikings. Two years ago the Vikings shocked the Saints as Case Keenum hit Stephan Diggs for the Minneapolis Miracle. The 13-3 Saints became the first ever division winner not to have a bye week. The Vikings were locked into the wildcard so they treated last week like a bye week and rested everyone. The Saints have been in Super Bowl or bust mode after being denied in shocking fashion the last two years. Yet Mike Zimmer’s defense gave the Saints a street fight. On the third play from scrimmage on 2nd and 1 from their own 39, Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 3 yards. Janoris Jenkins put a helmet on the ball and Thielen fumbled. The Saints took over at the Minnesota 37. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 4, Brees was sacked. Wil Lutz hit the 29 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Saints. After a touchback, Dalvin Cook ran for 7, 3 and one. On 3rd and 1 from his own 44, Cook gained 7. Mattison added 16. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Saints 28, a trick play saw a lateral to Stefan Diggs followed by an attempt to throw it. Diggs was blown up in the backfield for a 6 yard loss. Dan Bailey hit a 43 yard field goal to make it 3-3.

The second quarter saw Taysom Hill enter the game, which means the Saints were up to something big. Alvin Kamala ran for 5. Then Hill took a wildcat snap and ran for 11. Then Hill took the snap at quarterback and threw a 50 yard bomb to Harris. On the next play Hill was a blocker as Kamara ran for the 4 yard touchdown. The Saints led 10-3. The Vikings after a touchback embarked on a 13 play, 72 yard 6 1/2 minute drive. On 2nd and goal at the one, Kirk Cousins threw incomplete. On 3rd and goal, Cook got blasted for a 2 yard loss. Dan Bailey hit the 21 yard field goal to get the Vikings within 10-6 with 3 minutes left in the half. Three plays later the Saints faced 3rd and 6 at their own 28 with 2:18 left in the half. Brees went deep into double coverage and was intercepted by Harris. Harris got off the ground without being touched and then returned the interception 30 yards to the Saints 45 at the 2 minute warning. Cousins then went to Thielen for 19. On 3rd and 4 from the Saints 18, Cousins hit Thielen for 13. With 23 seconds left in the half, Cook ran for the 5 yard touchdown as the Vikings took the 13-10 lead. The Saints got a break when Cook returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards to the Saints 45. Brees then went to Thomas for 20 yards. With 5 seconds left, Lutz came in for a 43 yard field goal to tie the game. It was no good. 

Midway through the third quarter the Vikings took over at their own 36. Defensive pass interference added 10 more yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 47, Cousins went deep to Thielen for a 34 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Saints 10, Cousins went to Diggs for 9 yards. On 2nd and goal at the one, Cook got leveled at the goal line. It appeared that he was short of the goal line but officials ruled he did break the plane. After three quarters, it was the Vikings with the 20-10 lead in front of a very nervous home crowd. Very late in the third quarter, Sean Payton called a fake punt on 4th and 3 from his own 35. Taysom Hill got the first down but a false start negated the play as the Saints punted. The Saints got the ball back to start the fourth quarter at their own 15. Brees hit Cook for 14, Kamara for 5, Cook for 14 again to midfield, and Kamara for 18. Latavius Murray ran for 4 and 8. Brees then went to Hill for a 20 yard touchdown. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Saints were within 20-17.

The Saints got it back at their own 29 midway through the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 1 from their own 38, a Wildcat snap to Hill went for 9 yards. Another Wildcat snap to Hill saw him bowl over defenders for a 28 yard gain to the Minnesota 20 with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Saints were easily in tying field goal position but were looking for the lead. Brees had not fumbled all year. The Saints had not had two turnovers in a game all year. At the worst possible time, Brees got hit and fumbled, his second turnover on the day. The Vikings took over at their own 37. On 3rd and 9 from their 38, Cousins hit Thielen, who got the first down by the nose of the football. With 3 1/2 minutes left, a pitchout to Cook saw him get blasted in the backfield by Klein, resulting in a fumble that popped up into the arms of Bell, who raced 38 yards for a defensive touchdown. The “Are you kidding me” moment was all for naught as replay clearly showed that cook’s knee was down before he lost the ball. Nevertheless, the 9 yard loss followed by a sack on 3rd and 19 had the Saints getting the ball back at their own 30 with 1:55 to play. The Saints had one timeout left. Now it was up to the Pinball Wizard. 

Brees went to Kamara for 6, Cook for 8, Kamara for 9, Thomas for 7, and Cook for 14. With 21 seconds left from the Minnesota 26, Brees spiked the ball to stop the clock. The Saints were not set, resulting in a false start. To avoid taking their last timeout, the Saints opted to receive the 10 second runoff penalty. After another incompletion left 7 seconds, Sean Payton decided not to run another play even though he had a timeout. Lutz came in for the 49 yarder to tie it. The kick was a low line drive but it was good. For the third time in a decade, the Saints and Vikings were playing a thriller that would come down to the last play as this one was headed to overtime. The Vikings got the ball first and faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Cousins went to Diggs for 10 yards. Cook gained 11 more. Cousins then went deep to Thielen with a perfect bomb for 43 yards down to the Saints 2 yard line. On 2nd and goal from the one, Cook got nailed for a 3 yard loss. Everything came down to 3rd and goal at the 4. A field goal would still give the Saints another shot. A touchdown would end it. Cousins threw a fade route to Kyle Rudolph in the corner of the end zone. Both players hand-checked each other, but Rudolph caught the ball inbounds for the touchdown. The desperate Saints fans prayed for offensive pass interference, but the touchdown stood. For the third straight year, the Saints lost a playoff game in heart-wrenching fashion. It was vindication for Kirk Cousins, who finally won a big game. In a reverse of a decade ago, this time it was the Saints with Brees and Payton who never saw the ball in overtime. Minnesota is on to San Francisco. 26-20 Vikings, OT

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles is the Sunday afternoon game. In November Seattle went into Philadelphia and won a brutal defensive struggle 17-9. This game was just as brutal. In the first quarter, Jason Myers had a 35 yard field goal try for the Seahawks blocked. The Eagles on a routine 3rd and 10 from their own 33 saw Carson Wentz run for 3 yards and then land hard on the ground. He was out for the game with a concussion and backup Josh McCown played the final 3 1/2 quarters. Seattle got it back and moved from their 24 to a 3rd and 2 at the Philly 30. Russell Wilson threw incomplete. This time from 49 yards out, Myers was good and the Seahawks led 3-0. In the second quarter the Eagles took over at their own 8 yard line. On 3rd and 3 from their own 30, Myles Sanders ran for 13. On 3rd and 7 from their own 46, McCown hit Dallas Goedert for 17 yards. The drive died at that point. With 3 minutes left in the half, Jake Elliott hit a 46 yard field goal for a 3-3 tie. 

At the 2 minute warning, Seattle faced 3rd and 4 at their own 24. A short pass from Wilson to DK Metcalf went for 26 yards to midfield. On 3rd and 10 from the Philly 43, another short pass from Wilson to Moore went for 38 yards. On 2nd and goal at the 10, Wilson threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 1st and goal at the 5. On the next play Marshawn Lynch ran it in as the Seahawks led 10-3. Doug Pederson is a West Coast Offense dink and dunker, but he was not going to force McCown to be a game manager. After a touchback to start the third quarter, McCown on the first play went deep to Zac Ertz for a 32 yard gain. Defensive pass interference on another deep ball meant 20 more yards. Boston Scott ran for 15 to make it 1st and goal at the 5. A false start hurt matters, and on 3rd and goal at the 6, McCown was sacked. Elliott hit the 26 yard field goal to get the Eagles within 10-6. The Seahawks responded quickly. On 3rd and 1 from their own 28, Wilson went to Lynch for 20 yards. Wilson then went deep to Metcalf, who beat the double coverage, made a diving catch around the five yard line, got up without being touched, and stretched over a defender to extend the ball past the plane of the goal. The 53 yard touchdown bomb had the Seahawks up 17-6 midway through the third quarter. After a touchback, the Eagles again moved the ball. An 11 play, 55 yard drive took 6 minutes. Yet again in the red zone the Eagles bogged down. On 3rd and 3 from the Seattle 17, Scott lost 3 yards. Elliott his hit third field goal from 38 to get the Eagles within 8 and the exact score of the initial meeting. 

Both teams then held the ball for 6 minutes and came up empty. On 3rd and 8 from the Philly 41, Wilson was sacked. Then on 4th and 4 from the Seattle 24, Doug Pederson decided to go for it. McCown threw to a wide open Sanders in the flat and Sanders dropped it with 6 1/2 minutes left. Seattle went 3 and out and the Eagles got it back at their own 31 with 5 minutes left. McCown went to Goedert for 17 yards. Then defensive pass interference on a deep ball meant a 39 yard gain.On 1st and 10 from the Seattle 13, McCown was sacked. On 3rd and 13, a West Coast Offense Dink and Dunk pass wasted precious time. The clock hit the 2 minute warning as the Eagles were down to their last gasp. On 4th and 7 from the Seattle 10, McCown was sacked again. With 1:56 left, the Seahawks tried to close out the game. The Eagles had 3 timeouts left and took them on defense. On 3rd and 10 from their own 11 with the Eagles down to their last timeout and 1:37 remaining, the entire world knows you run the ball and force the defense to take their last time out. You absolutely do not throw the ball and risk an incompletion that stops the clock. That is why Pete Carroll is a Super Bowl winning head coach and I’m not. He went high risk, high reward and had Russell Wilson go for a bomb. Metcalf caught it for a 36 yard gain and Seattle then ran out the clock. Seattle’s defense had an outstanding day, and the Seahawks are headed to Green Bay for the Divisional round. Matt Hasselbeck will not be throwing to Al Harris, but it should still be a great game. As for the Eagles, the fans will soon enough wonder if Carson Wentz will ever finish a season healthy. 17-9 Seahawks

The NFL Divisional Playoffs are set.

Saturday, January 11 

4:30 pm: NFC: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers

8:00 pm: AFC: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

Sunday January 12

3:00 pm: AFC: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs

6:30 pm: NFC: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

eric

NFL 2019-2020 Wildcard Prequel

January 5th, 2020