Archive for January, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Recap

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Recap

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles was the Saturday afternoon game. With Reggie White and Jerome Brown watching from heaven, the Eagles tried to get it done without Carson Wentz. On the first play from scrimmage, Nick Foles threw a bomb and drew a defensive pass interference penalty. On the second play from scrimmage, Jay Ajayi fumbled the ball away. The Falcons moved 59 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Matt Bryant snuck a 33 yard field goal inside the upright for a 3-0 Falcons lead. In the second quarter the Eagles moved 86 yards in 14 plays and 7 minutes. On 4th and goal at the one, Doug Pederson decided to go for it. LaGuerette Blount got in to make it 6-3 Eagles. The extra point doinked off the upright no good. The Falcons got a break when the Eagles fumbled a punt and the Falcons fumbled at the Philadelphia 18. On 3rd and goal 6, Matt Ryan hit Devontae Freeman for the touchdown to make it a 10-6 Falcons lead.

For the rest of the game, everyone on went to sleep except Philadelphia kicker Jake Elliott and the Philadelphia defense. Despite his missed extra point, his field goals were the difference. Elliot hit from 53 to end the half, from 37 in the third quarter, and from 21 in the fourth quarter to cap a 14 play, 8 minute, 80 yard drive and give the Eagles a 5 point lead. The last one came when Doug Pederson decided not to gamble on 4th and 1 from the Atlanta 3 with 6 minutes left. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Falcons faced 4th and 6 at their own 42. Ryan hit jones for 20 yards. With one minute left everything came down to one play, 4th and goal at the 2. Ryan went to Jones, who slipped and fell as the pass was incomplete. The Eagles survived on defense and will host next week’s NFC Title Game. 15-10 Eagles

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots was the Saturday night game. This was supposed to be the men against the boys.The Patriots were supposed to easily dispatch the overmatched Titans. Early on the Titans moved 95 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Marcus Mariota hit Davis for a 15 yard touchdown as the Titans actually led 7-0 after the first quarter. Then reality set in. In the second quarter Tom Brady hit White for a 5 yard touchdown to cap a 73 yard drive to tie the game. A short punt had the Patriots taking over at the Tennessee 48. White ran for a 6 yard touchdown and a 14-7 Patriots lead they would not relinquish. New England got back and had a staggering 16 play, 91 yard drive that took 5 1/2 minutes. Brady hit Chris Hogan for a 4 yard touchdown for a 21-7 Patriots halftime lead. Last week Tennessee overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit, but this game was the men against the boys.

In the third quarter the Patriots quickly put the game away on a 56 yard drive. Bolden ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 28-7 Patriots. In the fourth quarter the Patriots had another 90 yard drive, needing 15 plays and 7 minutes. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 35-7 Patriots. Tennessee would finally get in the end zone again, but this game was expected to be a blowout and it was. New England is in the AFC Title Game for the 7th straight year, an NFL record. They have had 17 straight winning seasons, and 15 straight double digit seasons and playoff appearances. 35-14 Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers was the Sunday morning game. Earlier in the season Jacksonville went into Pittsburgh and shocked them 30-9, as Sacksonville intercepted Ben Roethisberger 5 times. Yet in cold weather, surely the Steelers would make amends. To quote uber-announcer Chris Berman, “That’s why they play the games.” Jacksonville came out with three straight play-action passes that all worked. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Blake Bortles threw incomplete. Doug Marrone showed major cojones by deciding to go for it on 4th and goal at the 2 on the road. Even more gutsy was a decision to run the ball. Leonard Fournette got the carry and went airborne like Marcus Allen and broke the plane of the goal for a touchdown and a 7-0 Jaguars lead. Then Jacksonville unleashed its defense. With Pittsburgh facing 3rd and 11 at its own 10, a short pass by Big Ben was deflected and then intercepted by Myles Jack. The acrobatic interception by Jack, who somehow got both feet down inbounds, set up Jacksonville at the Pittsburgh 18. One play later, Fournette took a handle off right tackle and got all the way past the pylon again for another touchdown and a 14-0 Jaguars lead in front of a shellshocked home crowd.

The Steelers then drove to a 4th and inches at the Jacksonville 20. We then saw the difference between the two teams in terms of players and coaching. Jacksonville jumped offside, but the Pittsburgh center never snapped the ball, allowing the defender to get back onside. Jacksonville smartly called timeout to try and resolve their confusion. Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. Rather than have Big Ben sneak across, offensive coordinator Todd Haley called a pitchout. The lateral run was blown up in the backfield by 3 Jacksonville defenders for a 5 yard loss. Jacksonville kept rolling, going 75 yards in 11 plays. TJ Yeldon ran for a 4 yard touchdown in the second quarter as the Jaguars built a 21-0 lead.

Pittsburgh finally got a spark when Toussaint returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Pittsburgh 36. On 3rd and 7 from the Jacksonville 33, Roethlisberger hit Rogers for a 10 yard touchdown. On the next play Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown. Despite being well covered, Brown made the great catch for the touchdown to get the Steelers on the board down 21-7. Pittsburgh got it back and with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half had the ball at the Jacksonville 47. Roethlisberger went back to pass and was hit and fumbled. The ball was picked up at midfield by Smith, who raced for a defensive touchdown and a 28-7 Jaguars lead.

A taunting penalty on the Jaguars after the touchdown meant a short kickoff and a 22 yard return that had the Steelers taking over just shy of midfield. With 30 seconds left in the half, the Steelers faced 4th and 11 at the Jacksonville 36. A 54 yard field goal try in the cold is not easy so Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. Roethlisberger went for it all and Martavius Bryant made the touchdown catch as the Steelers were only down 28-14 at halftime. The Steelers took the second half kickoff and soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 32. Roethlisberger hit Vance McDonald for 2 yards. On the next play a terrible personal foul call on Jacksonville had Pittsburgh at the Jacksonville 47. Contact was made, but Juju Smith-schuster shoved the defender into the receiver and officials missed that. On 3rd and 9 from the Pittsburgh 19, Roethlisberger went to LeVeon Bell for the touchdown. 3 great catches had the Steelers right back in it down 28-21 after three quarters.

The Steelers had all the momentum and the home crowd exploded at the start of the fourth quarter when the Steelers partially blocked a Jacksonville punt. Pittsburgh took over at the Jacksonville 48. Bell gained 6 and 3 but on 3rd and 1 got stopped. Mike Tomlin again went for it on 4th and 1 from the Jags 39 and another awful play call by Todd Haley doomed the Steelers. Rather than bang it ahead, Big Ben threw deep incomplete. On 3rd and 8 from the Jacksonville 41, Bortles found Marques Lee for 11 yards. On the next play Bortles went for it all deep, and Cole out-jumped double coverage for a 45 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 3. On the next play Fournette ran it up the gut for the score to make it 35-21 Jaguars with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Every time it looked like the Steelers would tie it, Jacksonville broke free. Yet every time it looked like Jacksonville would put the game away, Pittsburgh came back. After a touchback, Roethlisberger hit Brown for 27 yards. On 2nd and 5 from the Jags 43, twice Big Ben threw incomplete and was lucky not to be intercepted. Again Mike Tomlin decided to go for it and again Todd Haley had a terrible play call. Yet this time it worked as Roethlisberger avoided a sack and threw it deep again. Brown caught it in the end zone for a 43 yard touchdown. Again, the defense was good. Again, the Pittsburgh receivers caught a perfectly thrown ball. Roethlisberger’s 4th touchdown pass had the Steelers within 35-28 with a full 9 minutes remaining.

Last week at home Jacksonville’s defense won an hideously ugly 10-3 slugfest. This week their offense was up to the challenge on the road. On 3rd and 5 from their own 30, Bortles found Yeldon for a swing pass that went for a 40 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Pittsburgh 24, Bortles hit Westbrook for an 8 yard gain. In easy field goal range and expected to just grind down the clock, a perfectly executed play action pass allowed Bortles to hit a wide open Bohanon for a 14 yard touchdown. With 4:24 to play, the Jaguars led 42-28.

Pittsburgh soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Roethlisberger hit McDonald fro 15 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 40, Roethlisberger scrambled for 15 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 18, Roethlisberger, scrambled for 9 yards. From the 9, Roethlisberger scrambled, crossed the line of scrimmage, pitched the ball to Bell, and Bell took it 8 yards for the score. Because Roethlisberger’s pass was a backward lateral, it was perfectly legal. With 2:18 to play the Steelers were within 42-35. Despite 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning, Mike Tomlin went for the onside kick, sowing zero confidence in his defense.

The onside kick only went 5 yards and Jacksonville recovered. On 4th and 1 from the Pittsburgh 27, Josh Lambo came in for a 45 yard field goal to ice the game. Lambo was good, and the Jaguars led 45-35 with 1:45 left. Pittsburgh soon faced 4th and 10 at their own 25. Roethlisberger hit McDonald for 12 yards. A 42 yard completion to Bryant set up 1st and goal at the 5 with 47 seconds left. Intentional grounding on the next play cost the Steelers a 10 second runoff. Needing 2 scores, the Steelers could have kicked the field goal because they needed an onside kick anyway. Instead, Todd Haley called a West Coast Offense sideways pass that gained 11 yards but kept the clock running. On 3rd and goal from the 4, a pass to the end zone bounced off the fingertips of Xavier Grimble. On 4th and goal, Big Ben hit Smith-Schuster for the score but only one second remained. One failed onside kick later, Jacksonville finally had the stunning upset to earn the right to travel to New England for the AFC Title Game. Bortles finishes a pedestrian 14 of 26 for only 214 yards and one touchdown, but he did not thrown an interception. Roethlisberger threw 58 passes and completed 37 of them for a staggering 469 yards, 5 touchdowns, and the early interception. Yet it was the Jaguars that had the win, courtesy of their offense. 45-42 Jaguars

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings was the Sunday afternoon game. The Saints brought the offense and the Vikings brought the defense. The Saints went 3 and out and a 19 yard punt return by Sherels had the Vikings starting at their own 45. Latavius Murray ran for 4 and 5 and on 3rd and 1 appeared short of the sticks. Yet he got a very generous spot and Sean Payton did not challenge it. On 3rd and 3 from the Saints 38, Case Keenum went deep to Wright for 22 yards. McKinnon got around the end for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Vikings. Minnesota got it back and soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 23. Keenum hit Diggs for 17 yards. Then Keenum threw deep incomplete twice, and both times drew defensive pass interference calls of 20 and 34 yards. Yet on 3rd and goal at the one, rather than play smash mouth, Keenum lined up in the shotgun and threw incomplete. Mike Zimmer decided to play it very safe. Kai Forbath hit the 20 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Vikings. With one minute left in the opening quarter the Saints took over at their own 15. Brees went deep and a leaping interception by Sendejo had the Vikings at their own 42.

In the second quarter the Vikings faced 3rd and 8 at the Saints 28. Keenum hit Adam Thielen for an 11 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the 15, Keenum hit Diggs for 11 yards. Form the one, Murray got the call and stretched the ball over the plane of the goal for the touchdown to make it 17-0 Vikings. After a touchback the Saints moved to a 1st and 10 at the Minnesota 30. From the 29, Brees went deep to Ted Ginn Jr. for the touchdown. Yet an illegal shift nullified the score. From the 15, Brees then had his pass deflected at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Anthony Barr. Barr returned it 18 yards with 15 more tacked on for a horse collar tackle as the Vikings took over at their own 43.

The Saints got it back at their own 9 with 3 minutes left in the half and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Minnesota 30 with 43 seconds left in the half. On 3rd and 10 Brees was sacked. A 58 yard field goal try was hooked wide no good. The Viking took over at their own 48 with 21 seconds left and 0 timeouts. Keenum threw incomplete but roughing the passer gave the Vikings 15 yards. Forbath tried a 49 yard field goal to end the half also hooked wide no good. After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Vikings moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Saints 29. A run lost a yard. On 3rd and 4, Keenum was sacked for a 10 yard loss to take the Vikings out of field goal range. Despite 7 minutes with the ball, Minnesota came up empty.

The Saints from their 20 finally put a drive together. On 3rd and 1 from their own 43, Brees snuck for 2 yards. A short pass to Thomas went for 28 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 19, a low throw to Willie Snead was somehow caught for a 5 yard gain. Brees went to the end zone to Thomas for a 14 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 80 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive finally got the Saints on the board down 17-7 with one minute left in the third quarter. After a touchback, Keenum erred terribly. Trying to avoid a sack, he threw a wounded duck that was intercepted by Williams. The Saints took over at the Minnesota 30. Brees threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Thomas as the Saints were only down 17-14 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback, Murray ran for 14 yards and Keenum went deep to Collins for a 27 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 31 Keenum almost made the same mistake again. On the verge of being sacked out off field goal range, as he was going to the ground he threw an incomplete pass. He was not called for intentional grounding. Sean Payton challenged that Keenum’s knees were down before he threw it. Payton lost the challenge. He had lost an earlier challenge as well, leaving the Saints without challenges and only one timeout with 10 minutes left to play. Forbath drilled the 49 yard field goal dead center to make it 20-14 Vikings.

The Saints soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 36 and Sean Payton went into his bag of tricks. Brees threw a backward slant to Snead, who then threw to a wide open Alvin Kamara. The option pass was overthrown and incomplete. The Saints punted and Minnesota had to punt it back from their own 40 with 5 1/2 minutes left. The punt was blocked and the Saints took over at the same spot. Brees scrambled all over the place and threaded the needle for a 15 yard completion to Ginn. Brees went to Kamara for a 14 yard touchdown. With 3 minutes left, the Saints had come all the way back for a 21-20 lead as Minnesota fans wondered if this was 1998 all over again.

The Vikings faced a critical 3rd and 1 from their own 34. McKinnon got the carry up the gut and got 2 yards as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Keenum then threw another pass under pressure that should not have been thrown. Despite defensive pass interference, Thielen came down with it for a 24 yard gain to the Saints 40. On 3rd and 5 from the Saints 35, another dangerous pass fell incomplete. Forbath came in with just over 90 seconds to play for a 53 yard field goal try. From Gary Anderson to Blair Walsh, Minnesota fans now had to await Forbath. He drilled it and the Vikings led 23-21. Now it was up to the NFL’s high octane offense against the league’s best defense as the Saints took over after a touchback with one timeout left.

Brees went to Hill for 18 yards and Ginn for 11 more to the Minnesota 46 with one minute left. 3 straight incompletions left 4th and 10 with 45 seconds left. A 64 yard field goal try was not an option, even indoors. Minnesota needed one more stop, and they did not get it. Brees went to Snead for a 13 yard gain. A couple of short passes left 3rd and 1 at the Minnesota 24 as the Vikings took their first timeout on defense to stop the clock with 33 seconds left. Kamara got the carry and lost a yard as the Vikings took their second timeout with 29 seconds left. Now it was up to Will Lutz from 43 yards out. He was also good as the Saints were back on top 24-23 with 25 seconds remaining.

After a touchback, the Vikings had one timeout and needed 40 yards for a 53 yard field goal try. The Vikings started with a false start. Keenum went to Diggs for 19 yards as the Vikings took their last timeout with 18 seconds left. A pair of incompletions left 10 seconds. The Vikings needed a miracle. Keenum threw a deep ball near the sideline that was caught by Stephan Diggs at the Saints 35 yard line. The defender took a bad angle and completely missed the tackle. Rather than run out of bounds to set up the field goal, Diggs saw that there was nothing in front of him but green. Diggs raced to the end zone for the touchdown as the clock read double zeroes. Minnesota was on their way to Philadelphia for the NFC Title Game. Forget Gary Anderson. Forget Blair Walsh. Forget Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson. Forget Brett Favre’s interception. 8 years after these teams had a playoff classic for the ages, they did again. Somebody buy that 100 year old Vikings fan at the game her beverage of choice. Pacemakers for the rest of us. Finally, miracles exist in Minnesota. 29-24 Vikings

The Conference Title Games are set. Both games are played on Sunday, January 21, 2018. All times Eastern.

AFC Title Game: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) at (1) New England Patriots (13-3)(-9) at 3pm on CBS.

NFC Title Game: (2) Minnesota Vikings (13-3) at (1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) at 6:30pm on FOX.

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Prequel

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Prequel

13-3 teams are rested and ready: NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Preview and Bettor’s Guide

My birthday: 46 Happy Memories Upon Turning 46

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

My birthday: 46 Happy Memories upon turning 46

I entered this world 46 years ago today on January 9, 1972. On my 46th birthday, here are 46 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, 1993 — The Raiders won a playoff game over arch rival Denver on my 21st 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 escaping 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.) 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.

29.) 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.

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

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

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 — 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.

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 2017-2018 Wildcard Recap

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard recap

5) Tennessee Titans at 4) Kansas City Chiefs was the AFC Saturday afternoon game. The Titans started 8-4, lost three straight, and eked into the playoffs. The Chiefs started 5-0, collapsed to 6-6, and won 4 straight. after an exchange of punts the Chiefs took over and faced 3rd and 3 at their own 26. Alex Smith went to Tyreeq Hill for a 45 yard gain and then to Travis Kecle for 27 yards down to the 2 yard line. Kareem Hunt got the last yard for a 7-0 Chiefs lead. The Chiefs got it back at their own 24. Smith went to Hill for 26 yards. From the Tennessee 29, Hunt ran for 16 and Smith hit Kelce for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chiefs atfter the first quarter. With 6 minutes left in the half the Titans took over at their own 21. Mariota hit Delanie Walker for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Chiefs 22, Mariota was sacked. Ryan Succop hit a 49 yard field goal to get the Titans on the board with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. With 1:25 left in the half the Chiefs faced 3rd and 6 at their own 25. Smith hit Robinson for 13 yards and again for 15 more. With 30 seconds left in the half from the Titans 29, Smith went to Robinson for 15 and then for the 14 yard touchdown as the Chiefs led 21-3 at halftime. The second half was a completely different story.

The Titans began the third quarter at their own 9 yard line. Derrick Henry ran for 6 and 4 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 20, Mariota scrambled for 11 yards. From their own 45, Mariota hit Henry for 29 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Mariota tried to pass but had the ball batted down. Yet it was deflected back to Mariota, who caught his own pass and ran to the corner pylon for the throw, the reception and the touchdown to get the Titans within 21-10. The Chiefs got a break when the Titans fumbled a punt and the Chiefs recovered at the Tennessee 28. Yet the Chiefs lost 2 yards and Harrison Butker missed a 48 yard field goal try. Tennessee took over at their own 38. On 3rd and 10 just past midfield, Mariota hit walker for 14 yards as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with Henry running for a 35 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Titans were right back in it down 21-16. Tennessee got it back and soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27. Mariota hit Walker for 9 yards. On 3rd and 8 at the Tennessee 38, Mariota scrambled for 17 with 5 more tacked on for defensive holding. On 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 32, Mariota hit Smith for 10 and then fired over the middle to Eric Decker for a 22 yard touchdown. The 2 point try again failed but 19 unanswered points had the Titans up 22-21 with 6 minutes to play.

Kansas City took over at their ow 27. Smith hit Harris for 13. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, the Titans jumped offside. On 3rd and 4, Smith hit Harris for 9 yards. with 2:15 to play the Titans took a timeout on defense as the Chiefs faced 4th and 9 at the Tennessee 44. Smith went deep for a ball that was catchable but incomplete. The Chiefs still had all 3 timeouts. Henry got the carry and poor tackling let him bounce to the outside for a 13 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. Craziness ensued on the next play. Henry got the carry, got belted, fumbled, and the Chiefs returned it for a touchdown. The home crowd erupted. It was a miracle. Except it was not. Henry was clearly down before the ball was ripped out. With 1:57 left, officials properly reversed the call to down by contact as the Chiefs took their first timeout. With 1:53 left the Chiefs took their second timeout as everything came down to 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 44. Mike Mularkey played it smart by not risking an incomplete pass. Henry got the carry, bounced to the outside, and gained 22 yards. One week after almost getting fired, Mularkey led his team to a stunning road playoff win. It was another bitter home loss for the Chiefs under Andy Reid and Alex Smith and their dink and dunk West Coast Offense. The Titans played smash mouth, and Henry ran for 156 yards on 23 carries. 22-21 Titans

6) Atlanta Falcons at 3) Los Angeles Rams was the NFC Saturday night game. Neither team could move the ball early on, but the Rams fumbled a punt and the Falcons recovered at the Rams 17 yard line. Yet the rams held on defense and Atlanta settled for a 29 yard Matt Bryant field goal to make it 3-0 Falcons. Atlanta got it back and soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 17. Matt Ryan hit Mohammed Sanu for 6 yards. Ryan then went Julio jones for 27 yards to midfield. Jones then took an end around 13 yards. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Rams 33, Ryan threw incomplete twice. Bryant nailed the 51 yard field goal to make it 6-0 Falcons. The Rams fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and the Falcons took over with another short field at the Rams 32. Th second quarter began with atlanta facing 3rd and 2 at the Rams 24. Ryan hit Sanu for 6 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 12, Ryan hit Hooper for 5 yards. From the 3, Devontae Freeman got the carry up the middle and appeared stopped. Yet a big assist from the offensive line practically carried him into the end zone for a 13-0 Falcons lead.

With 5 minutes left in the half the rams faced 2nd and 6 at their own 25. Todd Gurley broke free for a 26 yard gain with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. Goff then hit Cooper Kupp for 15 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 14, Goff went to Kupp for the touchdown. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Rams were right back in it down 13-7. The Rams got it back at their own 16 with 1:15 left in the half. Rather than run the clock down, Sean McVay got very aggressive. Goff hit Kupp for gains of 5 and 10 and Woods for 8. Defensive pass interference on an incompletion added 16 more yards to the Atlanta 45 with 43 seconds left in the half. Goff then went deep to Woods for a 38 yard gain. After a ton of confusion, 14 seconds remained. After an incompletion left 8 seconds, Sam Fickens came in for a 35 yard field goal try. The kick was good and the Rams only trailed 13-10 at the break.

The Rams had the momentum but the Falcons began the third quarter at their own 17 playing out of the hurry up offense. Terrible tackling by the rams kept the Atlanta drive going. Freeman ran for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, Ryan hit Coleman for 14 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 21, Coleman got stopped. Yet Dan Quinn decided to go for it as the Falcons hurried up to the line. The Rams did not call a timeout on defense, and Ryan snuck across for the first down. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Ryan went to the end zone incomplete. The staggering 16 play, 76 yard drive took 8:15 off the clock, but the Falcons settled for a 25 yard Bryant field goal and a 16-10 lead. Atlanta got it back at their own 19. Ryan hit Jones for 12 and again for 16 to midfield. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 36, Ryan threw incomplete. Bryant drilled a 54 yard field goal as the Falcons led 19-10 after three quarters.

The Rams took over at their own 20 and Gurley lost 5 yards. The fourth quarter began with the Rams facing 3rd and 15 at their own 15. Goff went deep to Woods for 18 yards. Gurley ran for 14 yards and then ripped off a 33 yard gain. The drive died in the red zone with a sack of Goff, but Ficken hit a 32 yard field goal to get the Rams within 19-13 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Atlanta took over at their own 17 and they got aggressive as well rather than just run down clock. Ryan hit Jones for 12 and Coleman for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 36, Ryan hit Hooper for 5 yards. On 2nd and 13 from the Atlanta 38, A swing pass to Sanu saw him split the seams for a 52 yard gain. On 2nd and goal at the 8, Ryan threw a fade to the end zone that was caught by Jones for the touchdown. For some reason Dan Quinn decided not to try a 2 point conversion as the Falcons led by 13 points rather than 14 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Rams took over at their own 22 and Goff led a furious rally. Goff hit Kupp for 14 yards. On 2nd and 19 from their own 27, Goff hit Sammy Watkins for 23 yards to midfield. Goff hit Woods for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Atlanta 20, Goff hit Gurley for 3 yards. On 4th and 3 from the Atlanta 13, Goff hit Woods for 8 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Goff fired to the end zone for the touchdown with 2:11 left. Yet on further review, officials ruled the ball hit the ground. On 4th and goal at the 5, Goff with all kinds of time avoided the pressure and fired to the end zone to Watkins. Watkins had it in his body but didn’t secure it and it was knocked away incomplete. Two dropped passes were the difference between hope and death. The Rams took two timeouts on defense and got the ball back just past midfield. They took their final timeout while facing 4th and 4 at the Atlanta 43. One more dropped pass later and the rams were officially done. The Rams have talent and are built for the future, but Atlanta won this game because of their experience. 26-13 Falcons

6) Buffalo Bills at 3) Jacksonville Jaguars was the AFC Sunday morning game. Buffalo at 9-7 made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Jacksonville in only their second year of existence in 1996 shocked the Bills 30-27 in the playoffs in Buffalo and ended Jim Kelly’s career. The 2017 version of these teams played a hideously unwatchable first half. Neither team could move the ball, and even when an interception set up Jacksonville at the Buffalo 35, no points came out of it. Jacksonville had only 2 first downs in the first 28 minutes. Buffalo had a mind-numbing 18 play, 71 yard drive that took 8 minutes. Yet despite 1st and goal at the one, the Bills moved backwards to the 15. With 1:53 left in the half, Steve Hauschka hit a 31 yard field goal to finally break the scoreless tie. With wind a factor, Blake Bortles kept missing open receivers. However, with less than one minute left in the half and Jacksonville starting at their own 47, Bortles finally got it done with his legs. Bortles ran for 20 and then again for 12 to the Buffalo 21 with 19 seconds left in the half as the Jaguars took their last timeout. Bortles was then sacked, and without a timeout the Jaguars hurried back to the line of scrimmage so Bortles could spike the ball to stop the clock with 7 seconds left. Josh Lambo hit the 44 yard field goal as the teams went to the locker rooms tied 3-3 in a half that should never be replayed again.

In the third quarter the Jaguars mounted a 15 play, 86 yard drive that took 9 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and goal at the one, Fournette tried to go over the top and got rocked back by an inspired Buffalo defense. On 4th and goal at the one in a game where nobody could score, Doug Marrone made the surprising decision to go for it rather than kick the field goal. On 4th and goal at the one, a play action pass saw Bortles fire over the middle to Koyack, who caught it for the touchdown and the 10-3 Jaguars lead as the third quarter was ending. With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Bills faced 2nd and 10 at the Jacksonville 48. Taylor found Clay for 11 yards, but Doug Marrone challenged the catch. Replay showed the receiver stepped out of bounds, and the call was overturned. On 3rd and 10 Tyrod Taylor was sacked. Buffalo got it back, went 3 and out, and with 3 minutes left and all one timeout, Sean McDermott again decided to punt and trust his defense. The Bills got it back with 1:50 left at their own 37. On 3rd and 5, Taylor scrambled for 2 yards but got taken down hard by Dante Fowler. Taylor stayed down. Nathan Peterman played one half of football in the regular season and threw 5 interceptions. Now he had to come in on 4th and 3 with the season on the line. Peterman somehow avoided a sack and scrambled for 4 yards. However, on 2nd and 20, Peterman had a pass deflected and intercepted. Buffalo is done and Jacksonville heads to Pittsburgh, who they throttled earlier this season. Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin was so pleased with the hideously ugly playoff win that he almost smiled. 10-3 Jaguars

 

5) Carolina Panthers at 4) New Orleans Saints was the NFC Sunday afternoon game. These teams both went 11-5 during the regular season but the saints won the division due to having swept Carolina. Greg Olsen was injured for both games, and he returned for Carolina in this game. Sean Payton has given pinball wizard Drew Brees a strong running game while Ron Rivera as usual has a tough Carolina defense. In the first quarter the Panthers moved 63 yards in 14 plays and took 7 1 /2 minutes off the clock. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Saints 7, an easy touchdown pass from Cam Newton was dropped by Clay. It was right in his hands. Graham gang had missed only one field goal all year, but he missed a 25 yarder as a stunned Panthers team saw the game stay scoreless. Brees quickly went for the kill shot. A bomb to former Carolina receiver Ted Ginn Jr. went for an 80 yard touchdown. The 14 point swing had the Saints leading 7-0 rather than trailing.

After a touchback, Newton went to Olsen for 22 yards and then threw a bomb that ended up in a 39 yard defensive pass interference penalty as the first quarter ended. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the 9 to start the second quarter, Newton threw incomplete. This tie Gano hit from 27 as the Panthers trailed 7-3. After a touchback, Brees hit Ginn for 5 and Alvin Kamara for 19 more. He hit Ingram for 8. On 1st and 20 from the Carolina 32, Brees hit Kamara for 10 and Thomas for 13 more. Brees hit Hill for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Saints. After a touchback the Panthers got stopped on 3rd and 1 just past midfield. Riverboat Ron Rivera decided to go for it, and on 4th and inches Newton snuck for enough. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 24, a short pass left 4th and 4. Gano hit the 39 yard field goal as the Panthers were within 14-6 with 2:45 left in the half. That was more than enough time for Brees. He hit Thomas for 10, Coleman for 18 and Hill for 25. Zine got in from the one as the Saints led 21-6 with 43 seconds left in the half. After a touchback that was just enough time for Newton to hit Funchess for 24 yards. Gano drilled a 58 yarder to end the half. The Panthers were within 21-9, but they were kicking field goals while the Saints were scoring touchdowns.

The game slowed considerably in the third quarter. The Panthers moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and goal at the 4. Yet Newton was then sacked to kill another drive. Gano hit his 4th field goal in 5 tries from 29 yards out to get the Panthers within 21-12. After a touchback, the Saints moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Carolina 22. Brees threw incomplete, but was called for intentional grounding. The penalty made it 4th and 22 from the Carolina 39. Sean Payton gambled on a 57 yard field goal try, and Will Lutz delivered to make it 24-12 Saints. Carolina took over at their own 32 late in the third quarter. The fourth quarter began with the Panthers facing 3rd and 1 at the Saints 42. Newton hit Olsen for a 24 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the 14, Newton went to Olsen in the end zone, and the Panthers finally had a touchdown to get within 24-19 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

With 9 minutes left, Newton tried to avoid a sack and got belted. Derek Anderson came in with the Panthers facing 3rd and 17 at their own 10. Anderson tried to throw a pass but it was batted down incomplete. The Saints took over at their own 38 with 8 minutes left and a chance to put the game away. From just shy of midfield, Brees went deep to Thomas for a 46 yard gain down to the Carolina 5. Kamara got in from 2 yards out as the Saints led 31-19 with 5 minutes left. Newton came back in and the Panthers struck quickly. After a touchback, Newton hit Funchess for 19 yards and then fired a laser to Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey split the seams and raced for a 56 yard touchdown. 4 minutes still remained and the Panthers were right back in it down by 5 points With 3:22 left the Panthers took their first timeout on defense with the Saints facing 3rd and 6 at their own 39. With everything on the line, Brees fired to Thomas for an 18 yard gain. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Panthers took their final timeout. The Saints faced 3rd and 2 at the Carolina 47. A first down would end things. Kamara got the carry and ran into a Carolina brick wall as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. After failing to get the Panthers to jump offsides, the Saints had to punt and the Panthers would have a chance.

Instead, Sean Payton decided to really go for it. Under heavy pressure, Brees was intercepted at the Carolina 31. Had the defender dropped the ball, the Panthers would have taken over at their own 47. Nevertheless, Sean Payton and his cojones of steel would soon find out if his major gamble would blow up in his face with 1:51 left. Newton hit Funchess for 19 to midfield. Newton then went to Clay for 21 yards to the Saints 26. Defensive holding moved the ball to the 21. A pass to the goal line should have been intercepted but was dropped. On 2nd and 10, Newton threw the ball away under heavy pressure and was called for intentional grounding. The 10 second runoff left 24 seconds as the Panthers faced 3rd and 23 from the Saints 34. A pass to the end zone was very catchable but fell incomplete with 11 seconds left. Now it was time for the Hail Mary. Newton never had a chance. A pair of defenders bull-rushed Newton and belted him to the ground. The ball never left his hand as the Saints defense saved Coach Payton from a lifetime of criticism. Newton finished 24 of 40 for 349 yards without being intercepted. Brees was 23 of 33 for 376 yards with the one late interception. Each quarterback threw 2 touchdowns as the Saints survived a thriller. They travel to Minnesota for the Divisional round. 31-26 Saints

Bye weeks:

AFC: 1) New England Patriots and 2) Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC: 1) Philadelphia Eagles and 2) Minnesota Vikings

 

The Divisional Playoffs are now set (all times Eastern):

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018:

4:30pm: NFC: (6) Atlanta Falcons (10-6) at (1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) on NBC

8:00pm: AFC: (5) Tennessee Titans (9-7) at (1) New England Patriots (13-3) on CBS

Sunday, Jan. 14

1:00pm: AFC: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) at (2) Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) on CBS

4:30pm: NFC: (4) New Orleans Saints (11-5) at (2) Minnesota Vikings (13-3) on Fox

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Prequel

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Prequel

Bomb Cyclone Bowl: NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Preview and Bettor’s Guide

Liberal Twitter bimbos banned me

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Liberal Twitter bimbos banned me

Twitter censorship of Conservatives is real, pervasive, and denied

2018: We…can…do…this

Monday, January 1st, 2018

2018: We…can…do…this

What the heck is that beeping sound?

(Knocks the phone off the hook, keeps banging the snooze alarm)

A voice tells me it’s my pager. My pager is black, so finding it in the dark is the needle in the haystack equivalent. A lucky smack knocks it against the wall, where it may or may not have shattered. The beeping continues. Why does anyone need a pager anymore anyway?

Who the heck is texting me at this ungodly hour of…(either 7 a.m., 1 p.m., or 1 a.m. …it looks blurry)?

Oh, no. It is 5 a.m., and my first radio interview of the New Year is with the morning man of an East Coast station. Time to pretend to sound coherent and go back to sleep. Oh no, wait, that radio interview was four years ago.

Great, happy wishes for the new year. Thanks. Whoever you are, it is too early to talk to you.

One year the person on the telephone insisted it was 1 p.m. After explaining to them that they were on the East Coast, and that 1 p.m. EST is 10 a.m. in Los Angeles, they grew impatient. They knew how to tell time, and that it was 4 p.m. EST, hence 1 p.m. my time.

Sure, getting up and writing my column is an option. It’s a new year, and starting the year off with a flurry of brilliance might be helpful. Forget it. This column is recycled from years ago. It’s also hours late. That is what happens when people get no sleep because of stressful December 31 football games.

Election 2018? The first person to talk politics gets blistered in my column … tomorrow.

Bowl games? There is Tivo. Besides, does anybody care who wins the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl, the Lack of Insight.com Bowl, the Fishbowl, the RU486 Morning After Bowl, The California Metrosexual Pride Bowl, or any other game that may or may not be made up?

Speaking of the morning after, does anybody remember the David Byrne Talking Heads song from the movie “Less than Zero? (which the temperature feels like right now, even in LA)? The song is called “Once In A Lifetime.”

“This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. What have I done? How did I get here?”

It then occurs to me that the beeping sounds are the voices in my head telling me I am too old, even at 45, to stay out this late. Even without alcohol, exhaustion has set in. Oh wait, I stayed home and watched “Lilo and Stitch.”

Get out of bed? Work calls in (whenever) hours. Better rest up, before my tyrant of a boss complains. Such is the life of the self-employed.

Get up now? Somehow stagger to the shower, get dressed, make it out of my condo to go … where?

The stores are closed. Maybe they are open. Too tired to find out.

My birthday is in just over a week. Time to pace myself.

Work on my website? All that takes is staggering to my couch. Oh, no. My IT guy has not finished it yet. Oh, wait, he did years ago. I clicked on the wrong site.

Go on Jdate and search for women? Not a bad idea, except it is too tiring to check their Adams Apples. This is not the year for a boyfriend, and am not sure that my eyes can tell the difference right now. Besides, Jdate is so 2014. Now it is Tinder, JSwipe and JCrush.

Shop on Ebay? No. bad idea. Buying stuff when not at full capacity is problematic. Who needs another mountain goat? Dang creature gets his horns in my hide. Not a comfy way to wake up. Calm down boy, you’ll get some straw to graze on upon my waking up.

Work on my record album? Although again, world, just because my hair is long, that does not mean my band exists. The best instrument is the triangle, because that tells me lunch is ready. Oh wait, my hair is not even that long anymore. I could work on that, although I didn’t do much. I sat. It grew.

Ahh, yes, lunch. Get up and eat something. My microwave is slow, and a five minute microwave dinner takes almost 15 minutes. Read the paper? It is cold outside my building where the stand is, and it only takes coins. Reading the paper online is tiring, and my printer is not working. At least the lifestyle section makes a great placemat for eating.

Staying in bed for only a couple more hours until (whatever the big and little hands say) would allow me to stay up all night and be totally exhausted for work tomorrow. Again, my boss is a tyrant.

Running errands … not gonna happen.

Every morning, a four word prayer starts my day. My elbows are used to try and leverage them against my bed to prop me up. Placing my alarm clock on the other side of the room failed, since ripping the cord out of the wall solved that problem.

As for the Jewish brunette who stole the covers, her voice was not a problem last night, although if she opens her trap today she will receive a more caustic reception than usual.

Oh wait, she already left. Here is a note. “Tried to wake you, but that was a losing battle. By the way, you have nothing but soda in your fridge. Talk to you soon.” oh, wait, I think that happened over a decade ago. This is 2018, not 2005.

She is a liar. There are potato chips in my fridge as well. Why they are there remains a mystery, but it saves having to remember which cabinet they are in. One-stop shopping  is the way to go.

Besides, combing my hair for her was enough. Not doing it this morning, proud “retrosexual” that is me.

At least having the decency to say some morning prayers would be appropriate.

“Hey God…those people I pray for every night…yeah those people, the same ones…look after them again.”

Back to sleep, despite every attempt to wake up. The home phone is turned off, the cell is off as well, and the pager is still shattered, in addition to being disconnected years ago.

There may have been a car crash outside my building followed by 911 calls and sirens, but telling everybody to “keep it down,” solved that problem. A brief nightmare of me being late for work was averted when I realized my location to me was known if necessary.

Four televisions in the living room, and none in the bedroom. Who thought that up? Oh yeah, a television in the bedroom would promote laziness. Besides, trying to figure out which remote to use would cause me to break them all as if they were my pager.

Ok, here it is. Come on, elbows, do your stuff. Rise, young lad, rise! Awaken thy exhausted tired eyes!

Why is God shouting? Oh wait, that is my over-dramatization of God.

Time to set the alarm now to avoid missing work tomorrow. Where was it thrown? Threw it? Oh, screw it.

Ok, time for my four word prayer. It has gotten me this incredibly terribly far. Time to contemplate getting out of bed.

“We…can…do…this.”

Happy 2018 all. Except for the person that woke me up earlier. Whoever you are, I still can’t stand you, even though you are doing me a favor.

Ten hours and 16 bowl games later, there is only one thing left to do.

Time for a nap. Happy 2018.

Zzzzz.

eric