Archive for the ‘SPORTS’ Category

NFL 2015-2016 Pro Bowl Recap

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

NFL 2015-2016 Pro Bowl Recap

For three straight years from 1992-1994, the week before the Super Bowl featured Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice in a game for the ages. The Super Bowl was an afterthought. The NFC Title Game between Irvin’s Dallas Cowboys and Rice’s San Francisco 49ers was an epic showdown.

The 2015 season has one game before the Super Bowl where Rice and Irvin are on opposite sides, and virtually nobody cares. The NFL has tried to make the Pro Bowl work. It should keep trying.  Scrapping the game altogether would be a shame. The league got rid of the AFC and NFC Conferences, as Team Rice and team Irvin competed.

The game suffers because so many players refuse to play in the game. They come down with injuries, some more imagined than others. Even a coach skipped this game, although his illness seems legitimate.

On one side, Kansas City Chiefs Coach Walrus Lite Andy Reid was in charge of his eight billionth Pro Bowl. Perhaps he loves trips to Honolulu, Hawaii, although the Vince Lombardi Trophy seems to be a better destination. Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy is ill, so his assistant head coach Winston Moss is leading the other squad.

New York Giants Eli Manning led a 10 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive and threw a 4 yard touchdown to Kelce for a 7-0 Team Rice lead. After that Team Irvin took over. Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson threw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones and a 6 yard touchdown to Devonta Freeman to put Team Irvin up 14-7 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Wilson found St.Louis/Los Angeles Rams Todd Gurley for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Team Irvin. Oakland Raiders Derek Carr hit Kelce for a 10 yard touchdown to get Team Rice within 21-14. Minnesota Vikings Teddy Bridgewater found Philadelphia Eagles Darren Sproles for a 2 yard touchdown to have Team Irvin up 28-14 at halftime.

In the third quarter Team Rice moved 75 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Doug Martin ran it in from 3 yards out to get Team Rice within 28-21. Bridgewater came right back and threw a 50 yard touchdown to Robinson for a 35-21 Team Irvin lead.

Team Irvin lead. Jameis Winston took over and put the game away. Winston hooked up with Delanie Walker for a 53 yard touchdown in the third quarter and then threw a 7 yard touchdown pass to Deandre Hopkins for a 49-21 Team Irvin lead. Team Rice scored once more but got no closer. Russell Wilson was the game MVP with 3 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions. 49-27 Team Irvin

eric

NFL 2015-2016 AFC/NFC Title Games Recap

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

NFL 2015-2016 AFC-NFC Title Games Recap

For leatherheads, the games before the Super Bowl are a very big deal. The Vince Lombardi Trophy for winning Super Bowl 50 will have to wait. There is some serious football to be played before that game.

The Conference Title Games are upon us.

http://www.commdiginews.com/featured/nfl-2015-2016-conference-title-games-preview-and-bettors-guide-56180/

Here are the Conference Title Games Recap.

AFC Title Game: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos — Brady vs Manning XVII was the talk, as was the chess match between Peyton Manning and Bill Bellichick. Yet the key to this game was Wade Phillips, and whether Denver’s defensive line could overwhelm New England’s offensive line in the trenches like they did in the AFC Title Game two years ago.

New England got one first down but then punted. Denver took over at their own 17. Rather than try an establish a running game, Gary Kubiak had Peyton Manning come out throwing. On 3rd and 10, Manning hit Emanuel Sanders for 11 and the Broncos moved. On 3rd and 6 from the Denver 44, Manning threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 14 more yards. Manning threw a 21 yard touchdown pass to Owen Daniels for a 7-0 Broncos lead.

The defenses settled in, and late in the first quarter the Broncos were at their own 28. Manning threw a lateral that was dropped. The referees blew the play dead, thinking it was an incomplete pass. A New England player picked up the loose ball and ran for a touchdown that was waived off. The refs blundered twice. First, they blew the play dead when it was clearly a backward pass. Yet they then allowed the play to be challenged when it should not have been reviewable.

On further review, the play was ruled a lateral and New England got the ball at the Denver 22. Tom Brady hit Bolden for 20 and Stephen Jackson got in from the one for the touchdown. Normally 2 wrongs does not make a right, but this time it somehow did. By reviewing a non-reviewable play, the refs accidentally made the right call the second time. However, the whistle should have blown the play dead. After all of that, Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point as the Patriots trailed 7-6.

Denver got it back and soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 26. Manning threw deep and looked like he was throwing an interception to Malcolm Butler. Yet Sanders out jumped Butler and ripped it out of Butler’s hands for a 34 yard gain. Despite the catch, the Broncos punted again.

The second quarter began with the Patriots taking over after a punt at their own 13.  On 2nd and 10, a short pass by Brady was intercepted by Von Miller, who made a spectacular jump of the route. On 3rd and 6 from the New England 12, Manning threw a perfect fade to the corner of the end zone to Daniels for their second touchdown connection and a 14-6 Broncos lead.

The Patriots moved from their own 24. On 3rd and 9 from their 44, Brady threw incomplete but illegal contact on the defense kept the drive alive. On 3rd and 10 from the Denver 40, Brady scrambled for 11 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Denver 22, Brady was sacked by DeMarcu Ware and Von Miller for a 6 yard loss. Gostkowski hit the 46 yard field goal as the Patriots trailed 14-9 midway through the second quarter.

Denver went 3 and out and committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the punt, giving the Patriots excellent field position at their own 41. On 3rd and 5, Brady got rocked as soon as he threw a deep ball into double coverage. Stewart intercepted Brady as the Broncos took over at their own 44 with 4 minutes left in the half. A sack of Manning had Denver punting again and New England taking over at their own 11 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half.

New England went 3 and out as the Broncos took over at their own 44 with 1:46 left. On 3rd and 4 from the New England 34, Manning threw incomplete. With 38 seconds left, Brandon McManus came in for a 52 yard field goal try. The kick was good as the Broncos led 17-9 at the half.

Denver got the ball to start the second half and Manning was immediately sacked for a 13 yard loss back at his own 7 yard line. Denver punted and the Patriots took over at their own 33. After 4 straight Brady completions meant 1st and 10 from the Denver 20, 3 straight incompletions meant a 38 yard field goal try. Again Gostkowski was good as the Patriots trailed 17-12.

Broncos moved from their own 20 to a 3rd and 1 at the New England 46. Kubiak called a pitchout, but a great tackle stopped the play. On 4th and 1, Kubiak took no chances and punted. The Patriots took over at their own 8 yard line.

Brady was sacked by Von Miller, who grabbed his own crotch as part of his sack celebration. He was lucky not to get a penalty flag. The Broncos got it back at their own 44. On 2nd and 7, Manning was sacked for a 12 yard loss. Denver’s defense was playing well but the offense was wasting great field position and failing to put the game away. Fantastic punt coverage had the Patriots backed up to their own 4 yard line. Again Miller sacked Brady and again the Broncos had excellent field position at their own 40 as the third quarter ended.

Last time on 3rd and 1, a gimmick play failed. This time on 3rd and 1 from just shy of midfield, Gary Kubiak played textbook power football. CJ Anderson appeared stopped short but broke through and raced for a 30 yard gain. Another carry by Anderson gained 8 more. On 3rd and 2 from the New England 14, Manning hit Sanders for 4 more.

Running North and South was working. Yet another East-West run lost 3 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 13, Manning threw to a wide open Norwood in the end zone. The ball was just overthrown beyond Norwood’s diving reach. McManus hit the 31 yard field goal for a 20-12 Broncos lead with 10 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback, a personal foul for a helmet to helmet hit on the defense had New England on the move. On 3rd and 10 from the Denver 44, Brady rifled a pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 19 yard gain. On 3rd and 11 from the Denver 26, Brady threw a short pass to Woodhead, who got blasted by 2 defenders separately and somehow stayed standing. On 4th and 1 from the 16, Bill Bellichick decided to go for it. Rather than play smash mouth, Bellichick went finesse and paid for it. Brady threw short of the marker, which is hard to do when needing one yard. Edelman caught the ball and was swarmed by the Denver defense for a one yard loss.

With 6 minutes left, Denver’s offense again had a chance to end the game. Again, Denver’s offense could not gain a first down. With 4 1/2 minutes left, the Patriots took over at their own 28 yard line. Brady hit White for 15 and Gronkowski for another 28 yards to the Denver 28. An incompletion on 2nd and 5 was wiped away due to defensive holding. With 2 1/2 minutes left, on 3rd and 1 from the 9, Brady tried the quarterback sneak and was stopped. Yet a false start on the offense actually benefited New England. On 3rd and 6, Brady fired a completion to Amendola for a first down, but Amendola then had the ball ripped out. Denver celebrated the recovered fumble, but it was ruled an incomplete pass.

Before the 4th and 6 play, with 2:25 left, Gary Kubiak challenged the call. It was a very dicey challenge, because the officials could have ruled it was a completion and that Amendola was down. Kubiak got lucky. The incompletion stood and everything came down to 4th and 6. Wade Phillips brought the house. Brady threw off his back foot to the back of the end zone. Gronkowski was surrounded by 3 defenders, and the ball was deflected incomplete. The Patriots still had all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. Denver’s offense desperately needed one first down.

On 3rd and 10, rather than run the ball and force the Patriots to take their last timeout, Kubiak called a pass play. Manning threw incomplete. The Patriots got it back at midfield with 1:52 to go and one timeout. 17 seconds later, after a couple near sacks, it was 4th and 10. Brady went for the bomb into double coverage and Gronkowski caught it for a 40 yard gain to make it 1st and goal at the 10 with one minute left. 

On 3rd and goal from the 4, Brady again barely avoided a sack and threw incomplete. With 17 seconds left, one play and four yards would decide the AFC Title Game. The Patriots took their final timeout. Under heavy pressure, Brady fired to the very back of the end zone. Gronkowski out-muscled 2 defenders and caught the ball. He did not step on the end line. Now it was a 2-point game. The Broncos called their final timeout with 12 seconds left as everything came down to the 2 point conversion.

Wade Phillips sent the house. Brady fired over the middle. The ball was deflected high in the air and intercepted by Aqib Talib. Talib tried to run it all the way the other way, was stripped of the ball, and the Patriots recovered. Yet that ended the play. The onside kick failed. The Evil Empire of Football led by Hoodie Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady will not be going to Super Bowl 50. Denver won the Lamar Hunt Trophy. Peyton Manning has at least one more game, and a nasty defense on his side. This was an instant classic. 20-18 Broncos

NFC Title Game: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers — These teams met last year in the NFL playoffs. The Cardinals were the far better team but were playing with their fourth string quarterback due to a set of devastating injuries. Carolina had a losing record but the home field advantage since they won their division. The Panthers won that game 27-16. Arizona feels they were cheated last year, and came in healthy and seeking revenge. Bruce Arians is the most aggressive NFL play-caller on offense and defense, and today’s battle would see if that boldness would be rewarded. Politicians holding a rally now in South Carolina might be thinking it is a bad idea. Snow didn’t shut South Carolina down, but the NFC Title Game does.

Arizona went 3 and out and the Panthers moved from their own 34 to a 3rd and 2 at the Arizona 27. Cam Newton threw incomplete. Graham Gano hit the 45 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Panthers. Arizona punted again and Ted Ginn Jr. returned it 33 yards just past midfield. From the Arizona 22, Ginn took an end around all the way to the left side of the field, came all the way back across the right side and picked up some fantastic blocks for a touchdown and a 10-0 Panthers lead.

Arizona gained a couple first downs on their next drive but punted again. The Panthers quickly faced 3rd and 8 from their own 14. Newton went bombs away to Cory Brown, who broke a tackle and raced for an 86 yard touchdown with less the one minute left in the opening quarter. Just as they had one week earlier, the Panthers exploded out of the gate for a 17-0 lead.

In the second quarter the Cardinals moved from their 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Carolina 37. On 3rd and 10, Palmer was slammed to the ground and fumbled as the Panthers recovered. Although it appeared Palmer was down, the call stood. This time the Arizona defense forced the Panthers into a 3 and out, and the Cardinals got it back at their own 21.

On 3rd and 11, Palmer found Nelson for 15 yards. A defensive facemark a few plays later kept the drive moving. David Johnson ran up the middle for a one yard touchdown. With 6 minutes left in the half the Cardinals were within 17-7.

Carolina again went 3 and out and punted, but disaster struck Arizona when star cornerback Patrick Peterson fumbled the punt. The Panthers took over at the Arizona 46. Runs of 17 and 23 by Stewart had the Panthers at the one. On 3rd and goal from the one at the 2 minute warning, Cam Newton went airborne, stretched the ball out, and got knocked back. The Cardinals thought they stopped him but replay clearly showed the ball broke the plane of the goal. The Panthers led 24-7, but the final 2 minutes were crazy.

After a touchback, Palmer was sacked and fumbled. After a wild scramble, the Panthers took over at the Arizona 31. Two plays later, Newton went deep and was intercepted by Peterson at the Arizona 6 yard line. Peterson was one block away from a touchdown the other way, but he still managed a 72 yard return to the Carolina 22 with one minute left. Palmer immediately fired to the end zone into double coverage and was intercepted by Coleman. 4 Arizona turnovers had the Cardinals still down 24-7 at halftime.

Last week Carolina nearly blew a 31-0 halftime lead. This time they sought to put the game away early. In the third quarter they moved from their own 17 to a 1st and goal at the 9. From the 6, Newton was sacked for an 11 yard loss. On 3rd and goal at the 17, Newton found Greg Olsen, but only for 14 yards. Garo hit the 21 yard field goal as the 11 play, 80 yard, 7 minute drive made it 27-7 Panthers. Arizona soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 28. Palmer threw a short pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who inexplicably dropped it.

The Panthers moved from their own 21 to the Arizona 23. On 3rd and 10, Newton scrambled and received a very favorable spot for an 11 yard gain. He may have been short of the marker but the spot was not challenged. On the next play from the 12, Newton scrambled again and went airborne for another touchdown. Late in the third quarter, the Panthers had a 34-7 lead.

The Cardinals did move from their 20 to a 3rd and 2 at the Carolina 29. A short pass to Darren Fells was dropped. Bruce Arians went for it on 4th and 2. Palmer hit David Johnson for 8. On the next play Palmer found Fells for the 21 yard touchdown. Arians decided to go for 2. Nelson rushed around the end, shook a tackle, and dove past the pylon. The Cardinals were down 34-15 only 45 seconds into the final quarter.

Carolina quickly went 3 and out and the Cardinals got it back at their own 36. A pair of completions followed by a pair of incompletions had the Cardinals facing 3rd and 10 just past midfield. Palmer went for it all and came up snake eyes. A bomb to the end zone into double coverage was intercepted by Coleman at the one yard line. A personal foul for a facemask on the tackle only added insult to injury on Arizona’s fifth turnover. 12 minutes still remained, but the fourth quarter was just a formality.

Facing 3rd and 3 at their own 23, Ron Rivera went for the kill shot. Newton threw a bomb to Greg Olsen for a 54 yard gain. After that, it was time to just chew up some clock. On 3rd and 10, Newton scrambled up the middle for a 14 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Newton fired to Funchess for the touchdown. Up by 25, Rivera went for the 2 point try. Newton hit Tolbert for the score to make it 42-15 Panthers.

15 seconds later, Palmer was intercepted by Luke Kuechly, who returned it 16 yards for another touchdown. Arizona’s sixth turnover made it 49-15 Panthers. With 5 minutes left, it was time for the coronation. It began when Palmer was intercepted yet again for Arizona’s seventh turnover. With 4 1/2 minutes left, Newton went to the sideline and let Derek Anderson take a few snaps.

Last year, Ron Rivera was nearly fired as the Panthers were 3-8-1. They won 4 straight, won their division with a losing record (one year after winning it with a 12-4 record), and won their Wild Card playoff game over Arizona. This year they are a 15-1 machine holding the George Halas NFC Championship Trophy after setting an NFC Championship record for points scored. 49-15 Panthers

Super Bowl 50 is now set: AFC Denver Broncos at NFC Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have been to one Super Bowl, losing on the final play. The Broncos have won two Super Bowls, but are the only NFL team to have lost five Super Bowls. All of those losses were by at least 17 points.

In one week, on Sunday, January 31, the NFL Pro Bowl takes place in Honolulu, Hawaii. Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice are the team captains. Andy Reid and Mike McCarthy are the coaches.

In two weeks, on Sunday, February 7, the Super Bowl takes place in the San Jose Bay Area of California in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium. CBS is broadcasting the game. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Top 10 AFC/NFC Title Game shockers

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Top 10 AFC/NFC Title Game shockers

http://www.commdiginews.com/sports/top-10-conference-title-game-upsets-in-nfl-history-56127/

eric

Top 10 NFL Divisional shockers

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Top 10 Divisional shockers

http://www.commdiginews.com/featured/top-10-divisional-playoff-upsets-in-nfl-history-55981/

eric

NFL 2015-2016 Divisionals Recap

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

NFL 2015-2016 Divisionals Recap

NFL Wild Card round saw all four road teams favored. Those road teams all won.

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2016/01/nfl-2015-2016-wild-card-recap/

Now for the NFL 2015-2016 Divisionals Recap

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots — The Chiefs had won 11 straight games, but do not be fooled. They have a good defense, but Alex Smith deserves the label of dink and dunk West Coast Offense game manager. It is one thing to knock off Houston and play with a lead given to you by special teams in defense. It is quite another to play catchup on the road against a well rested New England squad. This week was the reality check.

The Patriots jumped all over the Chiefs from the start. Tom Brady led an 11 play, 80 yard drive and thew an 8 yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 7-0 Patriots lead. The Chiefs then linked and dunked for 17 plays, 64 yards, taking 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. Yet they had to settle for a 34 yard Cairo Santos field goal and still trailed 7-3.

In the second quarter the Patriots were pinned at their own 2. Brady old an 11 play, 98 yard drive that consumed 5 1/2 minutes. Brady snuck in from a few inches out for a 14-3 Patriots lead. The Chiefs reached the red zone again but settled for another field goal from 23 to trail 14-6 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Patriots moved 69 yards quickly. Brady found Gronkowski for a 16 yard touchdown to make it 21-6 Patriots. Smith did lead a 12 play, 80 yard drive that took 6 minutes. A ton of luck turned a busted play for a loss into a big gain after Smith ran into his own man but somehow completed a deep ball sandlot-style. A 10 yard touchdown pass to Wilson had the Chiefs within 21-13.

In the fourth quarter the Patriots put it away. Stephen Goskowski hit a pair of field goal from 32 and 40 yards for a 27-13 Patriots lead. It is one thing to dink and dunk with a lead, but Smith was not going to throw 2 touchdown passes late by moving the team in 4 yard increments.  The Chiefs got a garbage touchdown with 1:13 left but the onside kick failed. The Chiefs and all 3 timeouts and on 2nd down Bill Bellichick gambled with a pass. It doinked off a receiver, then off a defender, and was somehow caught by a receiver for the clinching first down.

It was almost an interception for a touchdown the other way. Almost means nothing. The Patriots are going to the AFC Title Game for the fifth straight year, tying the NFL record set by the 1973-1977 Oakland Raiders. As for Smith’s critics, the way to silence them is to win a big game. He didn’t. Walrus Lite Andy Reid once again lost to evil Hoodie Bellichick, preventing him from getting his upgrade to full walrus status. 27-20 Patriots.

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals — The Cardinals did lose at home by 30 in their regular season finale, but they beat the Packers by 30 points at home last month. The Cardinals may be the most complete team in the NFL. The Packers looked great last week against an overmatched Washington squad, but this is where the rubber meets the road. Bruce Arians brought a well-rested and very focused team who still is smarting from being robbed of their quarterback last year.

A field position game quickly had the Cardinals taking over at the Green Bay 42. On 4th and 1 from the 10, David Johnson gained 2. On 3rd and goal from the 8, Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd for the touchdown. The Cardinals led 7-0 after the first quarter, but the rest of the game was a street fight.

The second quarter saw the Packers embark on a pair of staggering 17 play drives. Green Bay moved 85 yards and took 7 1/2 minutes off the clock, followed by going 71 yards and eating up 8 minutes. Despite all of that, the Packers could not close things out in the red zone. On the first drive, Rodgers had an interception returned 100 yards for a touchdown by Patrick Peterson. Yet before one could say 14-0 blowout, it was nullified by a defensive holding penalty. A pair of field goals by Mason Crosby from 28 and 34 had the Packers trailing 7-6 at halftime.

In the third quarter Rodgers was quickly intercepted to give the Cardinals a short field. Three plays later Palmer was intercepted right back. The Packers moved 81 yards and finally reached pay dirt. An 8 yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Janis had the Packers up 13-7. The Cardinals came back 74 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. This time it was the Cardinals bogging down in the red zone. Chandler Catanzaro hit the 28 yard field goal as the Cardinals trailed 13-10 after three quarters.

The Cardinals moved from their own 38 and began the fourth quarter with an 18 yard completion to set up 1st and goal at the 10. Easily in field goal range, Palmer went to the end zone and was intercepted. The Cardinals held on defense and got it back after a touchback with 11 minutes left in regulation.

On 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 43, Palmer found David Johnson for 9 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 28, Palmer found Brown for 9 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Green Bay 19, Palmer rifled a perfect pass between two defenders to Johnson. Johnson broke a tackle, dove, and made the first down by the nose of the football. Palmer was living on the edge.

On 1st and goal from the 9, Palmer threw a dangerous pass over the middle that was batted up in the air by a defender. Somehow instead of a sure interception, it caromed to Floyd for a fluke touchdown. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good, as Palmer’s Shane Falco impersonation completed the 14 play, 80 yard, 7 minute drive and Arizona up 17-13 with 3:45 to play.

With 2:42 left, the Packers faced 4th and 5 at their own 25. With one timeout left plus the two minute warning, Mike McCarthy made a very gutsy decision to go for it rather than punt. Rodgers threw a low ball that bounced once before being trapped incomplete. Eight seconds later, Bruce Arians made an equally if not even more controversial decision.

On 2nd and 8 from the Green Bay 23 with 2:34 left and the Packers out of timeouts, a run would have taken the clock down to the two minute warning. Instead, Arians called a pass play. Palmer threw incomplete, stopping the clock. A run on third down took the clock to the two minute warning and set up fourth down. Catanzaro hit the 36 yard field goal to put the Cardinals up 20-13, but the Packers got it back with 1:50 left instead of barely more than one minute.

The Packers took over at their own 14 with 0 timeouts. A sack of Rodgers followed by a controversial non-call of pass interference had the Packers facing 4th and 20 at their own 4 with 55 seconds left. Green Bay needed a Hail Mary to beat Detroit, but this time the Packers needed two Hail Marys. Even Aaron Rodgers cannot throw it 96 yards on one play.

Rodgers rolled to his left and heaved a pass that was caught by Janis for a 60 yard gain to the Arizona 36. The rest of the Packers raced down the field to try to get set for Rodgers to spike the football. Instead he decided to run another play. He threw to the end zone incomplete, and illegal motion pushed the packers back 5 yards. With 5 seconds left the Packers had one last chance from the Arizona 41.

Detroit a few weeks ago got burned as Jim Caldwell sent only 3 men rushing. Arians tried the reverse approach, bringing extra pressure. Rodgers rolled to his left again, and with a man in his face, heaved a pass to the end zone. Janis caught it again! Are? You? Kidding? Me? Two Hail Marys in one season. 96 yards on two bombs. The extra point was good. The game went into overtime tied 20-20. The extra session even got off to a goofy start when the coin flip saw the coin refuse to flip. On the second try the Cardinals won the toss and elected to receive. They took over at their 20.

Given that Bruce Arians just saw his team kicked in the gut, the thinking was that he would slow the game down and give his deflated team a chance to settle down. Surely Palmer would play it safe after some near catastrophes. Wrong. Nothing stops this offense’s  aggressiveness. Palmer nearly got sacked, escaped, and threw a ball across his body to the other side of the field. Larry Fitzgerald was wide open and off to the races. He got some blocks, and was finally tackled after a 75 yard gain. One play into overtime, and the Cardinals had 1st and goal at the 5.

Now Arians had to play it safe. Wrong again. First Palmer threw an incompletion. Then on second down with everyone spread out, Palmer did his john Elway impersonation. A perfect shovel pass to Fitzgerald went for the touchdown and ended the game one minute into overtime.

A few years ago the Cardinals beat the Packers in overtime 51-45. This game overall was less thrilling but the ending was pure Cardiac Cards. Cris Collinsworth summed it up best. ”There is no reality television that can match the drama we just saw.” The Packers are done for the year while the Cardinals are on their way to the NFC Title Game. It was a long time coming and required one extra minute and some heart pills, but Carson Palmer at age 36 finally has his first playoff win. The Cardinals are one game from the Promised Land. If Moses had dreadlocks he’d be Larry Fitzgerald. 26-20 Cardinals

Seattle Seahawks at 15-1 Carolina Panthers — Carolina won in thrilling fashion in Seattle earlier this year. The previous three years the Seahawks won three straight times in Carolina. Carolina rested up, but Seattle had beast Mode Marshawn Lynch finally ready to go. On paper this looked like a great game. It was not.

From the Carolina 25, Jermaine Stewart ran for a 59 yard gain on the very first play. Stewart ran for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Panthers. 2 plays later, On 2nd and 13 from their own 11, Russell Wilson was intercepted by Luke Kuechly, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers had a 14-0 lead barely more than 3 minutes into the game.

Carolina got it back and moved 86 yards in 15 plays, taking nearly 9 minutes off the clock. The second quarter began with Stewart getting in from the one to make it 21-0 Panthers. One play later after a touchback, Wilson was intercepted. Graham Gano hit a 48 yard field goal to make it 24-0 Panthers after little more than one quarter of football.

Carolina got it back at their own 46 and moved easily. On 3rd and 14 from the Seattle 19, Cam Newton went to Greg Olsen for the touchdown. On the last play of the half, Steve Hauschka came in for a 55 yard field goal try to get the Seahawks on the board. The kick was no good as the Panthers took a 31-0 lead into the locker rooms. The question at this point would be if and when Ron Rivera would pull his starters. There is no need to risk injuries. As great as Cam Newton is, he still needs to practice his clipboard-holding skills.

The decision was delayed when the Tyler Lockett returned the second half kickoff to midfield. A personal foul on Carolina had the Seahawks starting at the Carolina 35. Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 13 yard touchdown to finally get the Seahawks on the board. They trailed 31-7, but it was only 90 seconds into the second half. Seattle got it back at their own 37 and moved the ball again. On 3rd and 10 from the Carolina 33, Wilson went deep to Lockett for the touchdown. Midway through the third quarter, the Seahawks were within 31-14.

The crowd got even more nervous when Pete Carroll called a fake punt that was executed perfectly. Yet a sack of Wilson ended the drive as the Panthers sought to slow Seattle’s momentum. In the fourth quarter Wilson led the Seahawks 73 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Wilson hit Kearse for the touchdown. The Seahawks were within 31-21 with 6 minutes left in regulation.

Seattle got it back at their own 22 with 2:49 left and continued a furious rally. With 1:26 left, Seattle had 2nd and 10 from the Carolina 13. A delay of game penalty followed by a pair of incompletions brought Hauschka in for the critical 36 yard field goal. It was good and the Seahawks were still alive, down by 7. Now came the critical onside kick.

Last year Seattle needed the miracle and got it. Not this year. The onside kick was grabbed high in the air by Kuechly, who somehow hung on to it. The Seahawks 2 time reign as NFC Champions is over. Champions go down fighting, and the Seahawks did. Next week Carolina hosts the NFC Title Game. 31-24 Panthers

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos — Until last week, Pittsburgh was supposed to be the most dangerous AFC team that nobody wanted to face. That was with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben and Antonio Brown got rocked last week in Cincinnati. Roethlisberger showed grit and courage in the win but he has a separated soldier. He will play, but will be without injured Bryant and DeAngelo Hall. Denver’s defense was ready to tee off on Big Ben.  Denver can run the football, and Peyton Manning showed that reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Denver entered well-rested while Pittsburgh had to try and get a road win while being an injured mess.

Bolden returned a punt 42 yards to have the Broncos starting at the Pittsburgh 30. On 3rd and 5 from the 14, a Manning completion came up short. On 4th and 1 from the 10, Gary Kubiak ignored Manning and the crowd and played it safe. Brandon McManus hit the 28 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Broncos.

Pittsburgh moved from their 20 to a 4th and 1 at the Denver 32. A 50 yard field goal try was no gimme in the cold weather, and Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. Rather than move the chains, Roethlisberger went deep incomplete. A field position game had Denver starting again with a short field at the Pittsburgh 31. On 2nd and 1 they lost a yard followed by an incompletion. Again Denver settled for a 41 yard McManus field goal and a 6-0 lead.

After a touchback, Maitavius Bryant caught a pass for 23 yards and then took an end around 40 more yards. Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 15 yards and on the next carry got in from the one to make it 7-6 Steelers. In the second quarter the Steelers faced 3rd and 5 from their own 20. Roetholisberger went deep to Darrius Hetward-Bey for a 58 yard gain. Chris Boswell hit a 43 yard field goal to make it 10-6 Steelers.

The Broncos moved to a 4th and 3 at the Pittsburgh 38 with 6 minutes left in the half. Kubiak decided to go for it. Manning threw a pass to Emanuel Sanders, who had it before getting blasted by Mike Mitchell for an incompletion. Pittsburgh soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 45. mike Tomlin called a double reverse that gained nothing.

Denver took over at their own 5 with 3:14 left in the half. CJ Anderson broke free for a 34 yard gain. With 12 seconds left in the half the Broncos faced 3rd and 10 at the Pittsburgh 32. Manning fumbled the snap, fell on it, and called timeout with 5 seconds left. McManus came in for a 51 yard field goal try. The kick looked good and at the last second a gust of wind appeared to blow it wide. The officials ruled it good, and replay showed that it was not blown wide until after it had just gone through. It was close, but the correct call as the Broncos trailed 10-9 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh moved from their 21 to a 3rd and 5 at the Denver 10. Roethlisberger threw incomplete. Boswell hit from 28 to make it 13-9 Steelers. Disaster nearly struck Pittsburgh when they fumbled a punt, but were lucky to retain possession at their own 6. Pittsburgh punted back and Denver took over at their own 47. A couple of 10 yard manning completions set up McManus for his fourth field goal try from 41. The kick was good as the Broncos trailed 13-12 late in the third quarter.

Pittsburgh moved from their 20 to the Denver 24. On the last play of the third quarter, Big Ben was sacked, with an offensive personal foul killing the drive. On 4th and 20 from the Denver 34, Mike Tomlin opted to punt rather than try a 52 yard field goal in less than ideal wind conditions.

After a touchback, Manning hit Sanders for a 34 yard gain. Yet after that the offense did nothing. Pittsburgh again flirted with destruction when they fumbled another punt. Again they were lucky to recover the ball in their own end zone for a touchback. Denver players thought they had a safety, but the rulebook stated it was a touchback. A penalty tacked on had the Steelers starting at their own 25.

Three completions by Roethlisberger had the Steelers on the move facing 2nd and 4 from the Denver 34. Toussaint got the carry and had the ball jarred loose by Roby. DeMarcus Ware fell on it for Denver, After exactly 50 minutes of mistake free football, the game’s first turnover had the Broncos taking over at their own 35 with 10 minutes left.

After a long gain by Anderson was wiped out by offensive holding, the Broncos faced 3rd and 12. Manning went deep to Fowler, who broke several tackles for a 31 yard gain. From the Pittsburgh 36, Denver played smash mouth and knocked the Steelers back with hard running. On 1st and goal at the 2, a pair of runs by Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson did not get in. On 3rd and goal, inches away, Manning hurried the play and handed the ball to Anderson. He was initially stopped cold but bulled his way in. 13 plays, 65 yards, and 7 minutes had the Broncos up with exactly 3 minutes to play. On the 2 point conversion try, Manning hit Denarius Thomas to make it 20-13 Broncos.

The only downside was Denver was out of timeouts while Pittsburgh had all of theirs. After a touchback, a pair of completions led to the 2 minute warning. The Steelers faced 3rd and 5 at their own 43 and still had 2 timeouts left. An incompletion meant 4th and 5. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips dialed up pressure and Big Ben was buried under an avalanche. The 13 yard loss had the Broncos at the Pittsburgh 30. The game seemed over, but Cincinnati thought that last week.

With 1:41 left, the Steelers took their last timeout. Denver faced 3rd and 11. The only sane thing to do would be to run the ball and try the field goal. Throwing the ball would be crazy. Manning is sane. He handed it off as the clock ticked down to just below one minute. McManus came in for his fifth field goal try to ice the game. From 45 yards out, with 53 seconds left, McManus stuck in the dagger.

Needing 2 scores, Pittsburgh moved quickly. Chris Boswell hit a 47 yard field goal with 19 seconds left. Now they needed the onside kick. The onside kick was a very good one, but it was eventually recovered by the Broncos at their own 37. The Steelers showed a ton of heart, but the Broncos are advancing to the AFC Title Game. For the 17th time, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will square off. Just like two years ago when the Broncos beat New England, this game will be in Denver. 23-16 Broncos

All the Wild Card teams are out. All four teams with first round byes advanced. One week after only road wins, all the home teams won.

The Conference Title Games are set. Both games will be played on Sunday, January 24.

AFC Title Game: 2) 12-4 New England Patriots at 1.) 12-4 Denver Broncos at 3:00 p.m. on CBS.

NFC Title Game: 2.) 13-3 Arizona Cardinals at 1.) 15-1 Carolina Panthers at 6:30 p.m. on Fox

eric

NFL 2015-2016 Divisionals Prequel

Friday, January 15th, 2016

NFL 2015-2016 Divisionals Prequel

http://www.commdiginews.com/featured/nfl-2015-2016-divisional-playoff-preview-and-bettors-guide-55761/

eric

Prayers for Blair Walsh

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Prayers for Blair Walsh

Anyone thinking pro athletes are overpaid must ask themselves if they could handle pressure of failing in front of millions of people.

Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27 yard field goal. He blew it. Afterward, he cried his eyes out. He also publicly answered every media question. He blamed himself. He could have made excuses. The snap was high. The hold was not right. The ice cold weather meant he was kicking a rock. The hashmark was wrong. Also, Walsh was not responsible for the Vikings blowing a 9-0 fourth quarter lead.

Yet Walsh made 0 excuses. He failed on the world stage. How many of us could handle that?

How many of you think that the millions of dollars he earns will wash away that pain?

Athletes earn plenty of money, but with that money comes more pressure than most of us could possibly imagine. Could you kick a 27 yard field goal? I can’t.

Could you handle possibly being a national joke for the rest of your life? Would you want to cringe every time someone says that Ray Finkle is Lois Einhorn, and know that they were joking about you?

It is my hope that Mr. Walsh has enough good people in his life to help lift him up.

We all make mistakes, but he made his publicly in front of a larger audience than most of us will ever know. Hopefully most of us in that audience will treat him with compassion rather than derision.

As a kicker, Walsh failed when it mattered most. As a human being, he was the ultimate success in how he handled his failure. He took personal responsibility. He showed heart and character.

Now let us show the same heart and character toward him.

Good luck, Mr. Walsh. Good luck and God bless.

eric @ Tygrrrr Express

NFL 2015-2016 Wild Card Recap

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

NFL 2015-2016 Wild Card Recap

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans — In Week 1, the Chiefs went into Houston, jumped to a 27-9 halftime lead, slept through the second half, and won 27-20. The Chiefs then lost five straight games, followed by 10 straight wins. The Texans began 2-5 before winning seven of their final nine games. Knile Davis shocked the home crowd by returning the opening kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Chiefs lead. Both teams have good defenses and subpar offenses. In the first half Bryan Hoyer was intercepted three times and fumbled once. Cairo Santos hit a pair of 49 yard field goals in the second quarter to have the Chiefs up 13-0 at halftime.

With the Chiefs defense playing lights out, West Coast Offense Game Manager Alex Smith dinked and dunked as he does. In the third quarter an 11 play, 94 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive saw Smith hit Conley for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 20-0 Chiefs. In the fourth quarter Ware ran for a 5 yard touchdown and Santos added a 33 yard field goal as the Chiefs won their first playoff game in 22 years. Alex Smith, Elvis Grbac and Steve Bono might all be the same person, and next week at New England will require more than a game manager. For now, Andy Reid is one happy Walrus Lite. 30-0 Chiefs

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals — In November, the Bengals went into Pittsburgh and shocked the Steelers 16-10. In December the Steelers went into Cincinnati and throttled the Bengals 33-20. The Bengals began the season 8-0 but split their final eight games. The Steelers snuck into the playoffs the hard way when the Jets lost last week. 

In 2005, these teams played a playoff game in Cincinnati. The Bengals led 10-0, Carson Palmer got hurt, and the Steelers took over for a 31-17 win en route to a Super Bowl title. Winners win and losers lose. The Steelers have six Super Bowl rings. The Bengals have none, and have not won a playoff game in 25 years. The Bengals will never get respect until they win a game like this. The Steelers know how to win. The Bengals have flamed out four straight years in the first round of the playoffs. Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the playoffs, all Wild Card losses. Would Charlie Brown finally kick the field goal and get the little red-haired girl?

To do it, the Bengals would have to win with AJ McCarron, in for the injured Andy Dalton. Both teams were warned about bad behavior due to previous skirmishes this season. With hard rain coming down most of the game, this was a game with brutally hard hits, not all legal. Chris Boswell hit second quarter field goals of 39 and 30 yards and added a 34 yarder in the third quarter to make it 9-0 Steelers. The Steelers finally completed an 82 yard drive. Ben Roethlisberger hit Maitavius Bryant for a 10 yard touchdown. Mike Tomlin decided to go for two because he does so frequently regardless of the score. The attempt failed but the Steelers led 15-0 after three quarters. The fourth quarter will be talked about in football circles forever.

The Bengals moved late in the third quarter from their 20 to a 3rd and 9 at the Pittsburgh 23. The game then got very violent. McCarron threw a short pass to Bernard, who then got blasted on a helmet to helmet hit by Shazier. No flag was called. Shazier recovered the ball. The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass but Mike Tomlin challenged the call. The refs reversed the call to a fumble as the entire Bengals sideline exploded at the lack of a defensive penalty. It was clearly helmet to helmet, but instead of 1st and goal the Steelers had the ball. Turnabout then became fair play. On the last play of the third quarter the Steelers faced 3rd and 18 from their own 17. Roethlisberger was sacked and driven hard into the ground, landing on his arm. While piledriving a quarterback is illegal, this play liked legal. No flag was thrown. Big Ben landed hard on his arm. He left the game injured.

The fourth quarter began with the Steelers punting on 4th and 30 from their own 5. The Bengals took over at the Pittsburgh 46. A deep bomb drew a defensive pass interference call at the 4 yard line. Only one minute into the fourth quarter, Jeremy Hill got in from the one as the Bengals were down 15-7. Landry Jones came in for Roethlisberger and struggled. The Bengals got it back at their own 13. McCarron moved the Bengals from their own 13 to a 3rd and 8 at the Pittsburgh 22. A completion came up 3 yards short. With 5 minutes left, Marvin Lewis decided to kick the field goal and trust his defense. Mike Nugent hit from 36 as the Bengals trailed 15-10.

The Steelers again went nowhere and Adam Pacman Jones returned the punt 24 yards to the Pittsburgh 45. On 4th and 2 from the Pittsburgh 37 with 2:45 to play, McCarron found Marvin Jones for 9 yards. With 1:56 to play, the Bengals faced 3rd and 7 from the Pittsburgh 25. McCarron went deep to AJ Green for the touchdown as the home crowd went wild. The 2 point try failed, but the Bengals had come all the way back for a 16-15 lead. The Steelers took over at their own 14 with 1:43 left. Then came the crazy finish.

Landry Jones was quickly intercepted by Vontez Burfict. The Bengals were at the Pittsburgh 26. All they had to do was run out the clock. The game was over. A jubilant Bengals defense sprinted all the way across the field and through the tunnel. They had finally played the dragon. Hill got the carry, gained 6 yards, and then fumbled. A shocked crowd saw the Steelers recover the ball at their own 9 yard line. While it looked like Hill’s arm hit the ground to make it down by contact, the fumble ruling stood. The game was not over. Football fans everywhere said it. “These are the Bengals.”

To make things even more dramatic, Jones did not come back in. Roethlisberger did. Players with concussions have to sit out and go through concussion protocol. Big Ben was no concussed. He had a screwed up arm. Nothing prevented him from coming back in. Roethlisberger is as tough and courageous as they come, but the Steelers were at their own 9 with 1:23 to play. The Steelers did have all 3 timeouts, as the stunned Bengals defense had to come on the field for one more stand. On 3rd and 2, Big Ben hit Toussaint for 7 yards. With 28 seconds left, the Steelers faced 4th and 3 at their own 41. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 12 yards as the Steelers called their final timeout with 22 seconds left. These are the Bengals. Then came the play that will be talked about for years to come.

From the Cincy 47 without a timeout, the Steelers were not in field goal range. Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown incomplete. Brown was then levels by Burfict in another helmet to helmet hit. Brown was motionless on the ground. He left the gam injured. The refs threw the flag. It was helmet to helmet, but the refs did not call it earlier on the hit by Shazier on Bernard. This time they did call it. The 15 yard penalty moved the Steelers to the Cincy 32. A field goal try from 50 yards out in miserable weather was far from a sure thing. Yet the Bengals found a way to destroy themselves. The referees played a very controversial role.

After the personal foul, play was delayed when players from both teams spilled on the field. Former Steelers player Joey Porter was always an agitator. Now he is an assistant coach for the Steelers. He had no business being on the field, but he was. He got into it with Adam Jones. Jones shoved Porter. Rather than call offsetting penalties, only Jones was flagged. The unsportsmanlike conduct call on Jones meant 15 more yards. 30 yards of penalties on one play now had the Steelers at the Cincy 17. These are the Bengals, who were now in full meltdown mode. Their entire sideline was going insane as Marvin Lewis could not contain them. Mike Tomlin kept his guys slightly calmer by comparison.

With 18 seconds left, on first down, Tomlin immediately brought in Boswell for the 35 yard field goal try. Boswell was good. The Bengals got it back at their 24 with 6 seconds left, and one deep incompletion later the game was over. This was a gut-wrenching loss. Marvin Lewis is 0-7 in the playoffs, all Wildcard losses. He has 5 straight Wildcard losses. The Bengals will howl about the refs, and they have legitimate grievance. yet they had their chances, and collapsed.

Despite the loss, AJ McCarron still sleeps with Miss Alabama, who he recently married. He will be fine. Marvin Lewis might not be. There was even talk that he could be fired despite a 12-4 season. Pittsburgh was going to Denver and Cincinnati was going home after one of the most gut-wrenching losses in franchise history. Winners win. These are the Steelers.  Losers lose. These are the Bengals. 18-16 Steelers.

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings One month ago, the Seahawks went into Minnesota and blasted the Vikings 38-7. Minnesota showed a ton of grit going into Green Bay in the regular season finale and winning the division crown. Seattle throttled seemingly invincible Arizona by 30 points in a game that was over at halftime. Unlike the comfortable Metrodome, this game was played in brutal cold weather that dipped below zero degrees. The Purple People Eaters would be proud. This game was a bone-chilling street fight. Blair Walsh hit a 22 yard field goal in the first quarter and field goals of 43 and 47 in the third quarter as the Vikings led 9-0 after three quarters.

The Seahawks began the fourth quarter at their own 20 and finally moved the ball. On 1st and 10 from the Minnesota 39, the most bizarre play of these young playoffs occurred. Out of the shotgun, Russell Wilson was clearly not ready for the snap. It sailed past him. Wilson fell on the ball for a 5 yard loss, but quickly realized no defenders were near him. He alertly got up, scrambled, and found a wide open Tyler Lockett. Lockett caught the ball and raced all the way to the Minnesota 4 yard line. Wilson then threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin. With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Seahawks only trailed 9-7.

Two plays later, disaster struck the Vikings. On 2nd and 5 from their own 27, Adrian Peterson got the carry and gained 8 yards. Yet the ball was chopped out of his hands by Kam Chancellor. Rubin recovered the ball for the Seahawks at the Minnesota 40. Peterson is an all world superstar, but so is Kam Chancellor. The Legion of Boom did it again. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 37, Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for 8 yards. That was just enough for Steve Hauschka to try a 46 yard field goal. In zero degree weather, Hauschka was good. The Seahawks had the one point lead with 8 minutes left in regulation.

The defenses kept dominating as each team punted twice. The Vikings began their final drive at their own 39 with 1:42 to play and 2 timeouts. A defensive pass interference penalty on Chancellor moved the ball to the Seattle 42. Teddy Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph for a 24 yard gain. With 1:26 to play, the Vikings were at the Seattle 18. Pete Carroll could only helplessly watch. Mike Zimmer handed the ball three straight times to Peterson, who was not letting go of that football again. With 26 seconds to play, Blair Walsh came in for the winning field goal try. He had made three longer ones. This was only a 27 yarder.

No good! He hooked it as wide as wide can be. A shellshocked home crowd sat their stunned. The internet immediately began making jokes about Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. Ray Finkle is Lois Einhorn. Scott Norwood missed from 47. Lin Elliott choked from 42. This was from 27. Cue Paul Maguire. “i hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.” The two time defending NFC champions needed a miracle, and they got it. They are off to Carolina next week while Minnesota suffered one of the most bitter defeats in a team history filled with them. In 1998, it was automatic Gary Anderson who missed from 39. The 2015 season saw Blair Walsh miss from 27 yards out. Vikings fans will never get over this one. 10-9 Seahawks

Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins Green Bay started out 6-0 before losing six of their last ten games. Washington looked like an 0-16 team entering the season. Jay Gruden stuck with Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin III, and the gamble paid off. Washington finally clinched the woeful NFC Least one week before the regular season ended. Despite being 5-7, four straight wins to end the season has Washington on a roll. Green Bay’s offense has been out of sync, as the defense has had to carry the team. Aaron Rodgers is not getting any help and Mike McCarthy took back play-calling duties. It did not save the Packers from losing the NFC North division on their home field last week.

Early on the game was all Redskins. On 3rd and 13 from the Green Bay 5, Aaron Rodgers went back to pass and was sacked in the end zone for a safety. The Redskins took the 2-0 lead and the free kick at their own 45. From the Green Bay 15, Kirk Cousins hit DeSean Jackson for the touchdown. Yet the play was reversed and ruled down at the one. Alfred Morris twice got the carry and twice was denied. On 3rd and goal at the 2, a costly delay of game penalty on Cousins had the Redskins settling for a field goal. Dustin Hopkins hit from 25 to make it 5-0 Redskins. Early in the second quarter the Redskins faced 3rd and 10 from the Green Bay 24. Cousins went deep to Jordan Reed for the touchdown to complete the 64 yard drive. The extra point was no good, but the Redskins led 11-0. Then reality set in.

Rodgers finally got going and the Packers moved 80 yards. Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for a 12 yard touchdown to get the Packers within 11-7. The Redskins kept moving well, going from their own 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Green Bay 39. Cousins was then sacked, resulting in a fumble. The Packers took over at their own 46. Mason Crosby hit a 42 yard field goal with 3 minutes left in the half as the Packers only trailed 11-10. Washington quickly went 3 and out and a 17 yard punt return had the Packers at their own 40 with 2:22 left in the half. With 45 seconds left the Packers faced 3rd and 2 at the Washington 30. Rodgers found Devonta Adams for 20 and again for the 10 yard touchdown as the Packers led 17-11 at halftime.

The Redskins were determined to make a game of it in the third quarter. They moved 73 yards and Cousins ran for a 3 yard touchdown to put the Redskins back in front 18-17. The Packers would not be denied, moving 80 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Starks ran it in from 4 yards out as the Packers had the 24-18 lead after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Packers turned out the lights. They moved 76 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Eddie Lacy got in from the 2 and Rodgers hit Abbrederis for the 2 point conversion. With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Packers had a commanding lead.

With the Redskins facing 4th and 10 at their own 32 with 5 minutes left, Cousins was sacked to end what little suspense remained. Crosby hit the 35 yarder to ice it. This was the reality check for both teams. The Redskins won the NFC Least. They were never that special. The Packers were the better team. Now Mike McCarthy takes his squad to Arizona for a rematch with the team that blasted them by 30 points a couple weeks ago. Jay Gruden now has to decide whether to extend Kirk Cousins, keep RGIII, or take somebody completely new in the 2016 Draft. 35-18 Packers

The Wild Card round is done. All 4 road teams were favored. All 4 road teams won.

The NFL 2015-2016 Divisional Playoffs are set:

Saturday, January 16:

AFC:

5.) 11-5 Kansas City Chiefs at 2.) 12-4 New England Patriots at 4:30 p.m. on CBS

NFC:

5.) 10-6 Green Bay Packers at 13-3 Arizona Cardinals at 8:00 p.m. on NBC

Sunday, January 17:

NFC:

6.) 10-6 Seattle Seahawks at 1.) 15-1 Carolina Panthers at 1:00 p.m. on Fox

AFC:

6.) 10-6 Pittsburgh Steelers at 1.) 12-4 Denver Broncos at 4:30 p.m. on CBS

eric

NFL 2015-2016 Wild Card Prequel

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

NFL 2015-2016 Wild Card Prequel

http://www.commdiginews.com/featured/nfl-2015-2016-wild-card-preview-and-bettors-guide-55396/

eric

NFL 2015 Week 17 Recap

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

NFL 2015 Week 17 Recap

Sunday brings football. Then comes Black Monday, where as many as half of the 32 NFL head coaches could be fired. Some teams already started the process.

One week later brings the NFL playoffs. Here were the AFC and NFC playoff scenarios entering the day.

There will be plenty of time to talk about the road to Super Bowl 50, but it starts with making the playoffs. As retired Minnesota Vikings Hall of fame defensive standout John Randle reminds football fans everywhere, “This is when the big dogs come out.”

Here is the NFL 2015 Week 17 Recap.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons — Neither team us going to the playoffs but the Falcons were playing for a winning season. This may be the last game for Sean Payton and Drew Brees in New Orleans. Early on Shane Graham hit a 51 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Falcons. The Saints moved 70 yards and Tim Hightower got in from the one to make it 7-3 Saints. In the second quarter Matt Ryan hooked up with Moeaki for a 42 yard touchdown to cap an 82 yard drive and make it 10-7 Falcons. The Saints came back 68 yards. Brees hit Ben Watson for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Saints.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Graham had a 45 yard field goal try blocked. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Saints faced 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 17. Sean Payton decided to go for it and Brees completed a pass for no gain. The Falcons moved to the Saints on yard line. After a run lost 3 yards, Ryan hit Freeman for a 4 yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in the half for a 17-14 Falcons lead. In the third quarter Kai Forbath hit a 41 yard field goal for a 17-17 tie. With 1:47 left in a tie game from the Atlanta 24, Matty Ice went ice cold. He was intercepted. The Saints took over at the Atlanta 25 and bled the clock. With 3 seconds left Forbath came in for the 30 yarder to win it. He was good. After starting 5-0, Atlanta fell to 8-8. The Saints finished 7-9, but will face swirling questions starting tomorrow. After a decade, it could be the end of an era. 20-17 Saints

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills — Earlier this year in New York, Rex Ryan got revenge against his former team with a 22-17 Bills win. This time the Bills were playing for pride, as a win would get them to 8-8. Sexy Rexy was told before the game that he was coming back next year. The 10-5 Jets needed a win to guarantee a playoff spot. A loss with a Pittsburgh win would eliminate the Jets. A field position game in brutal cold and windy weather had the Jets punting on 4th and 18 from their own 4. A shanked 21 yard punt had the Bills taking over at the Jets 25. On 3rd and 3, Tyrod Taylor scrambled all the way for the 18 yard touchdown, just getting the ball to the pylon for the 7-0 Bills lead.

In the second quarter the Bills moved 70 yards in 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the 2, Rex Ryan decided to go for it. Out of the shotgun, Taylor handed to Williams, who barreled his way just past the plane of the goal. The extra point was no good but the Bills led 13-0. Things got worse for the Jets when Ryan Bullock missed a 40 yard field goal. In a game filled with penalties, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bills on a punt had the Jets starting at their own 40. Three plays later, Fitzpatrick found Brandon Marshall for a 17 yard touchdown to get the Jets within 13-7. The Bills then held the ball for over 9 minutes, running 15 plays and moving 70 yards. Yet they had to settle for a 20 yard Dan Carpenter field goal with 20 seconds left in the half to make it 16-7 Bills.

Disaster struck the Bills to start the third quarter when they fumbled the ball away. The Jets took over at the Buffalo 23. The Buffalo defense held as the Jets settled for a 39 yard Bullock field goal to trail 16-10. Yet the Bills again responded with a long drive. 66 yards and 14 plays took almost 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. A slant pass to Watkins went for 38 yards. On 4th and 6 from the Jets 28, Taylor found Watkins for 8. This was the third time the Bills converted on fourth down. yet for the second straight time, it only resulted in a field goal. Carpenter hit from 37 to make it 19-10 Bills with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. The Jets came back 77 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Buffalo 21, Fitzpatrick fired to Eric Decker for the touchdown as the Jets only trailed 19-17 after three quarters.

The Jets got it back at their own 28 to start the fourth quarter and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 14. Fitzpatrick went to the end zone and was intercepted by Leodis McKelvin with 11 minutes left. Buffalo ran 13 plays and held the ball for 7 minutes. This was Rex Ryan football. Again Buffalo settled for a field goal as Carpenter hit from 42 to give the Bills a 5 point lead with 4 minutes left. After a touchback, the Jets faced 3rd and 9 at the Buffalo 45 at the 2 minute warning. Fitzpatrick was hit as he threw the ball, and a wobbler was intercepted by Lawson at the Buffalo 34.

The Jets took their timeouts, and on 3rd and 9 Rex took no chances. The clock ticked down and the Jets got it back at their own 18 with 44 seconds left and 0 timeouts. On 2nd and 1 with 17 seconds Fitzpatrick went deep and appeared to have Kenbrell Thompkins for a long gain. Butler then blasted Tompkins, resulting in an incompletion. Had Thompkins held on to the ball, he would have had a miracle touchdown since Butler fell down after he delivered the hit. One play later Fitzpatrick was intercepted and the Jets were done. The Bills finished 8-8 as they beat the Jets twice by the exact same score. Todd Bowles went 10-6 in his first season, but those who want to complain about the same old Jets will do so. Fitzpatrick was intercepted three times in the fourth quarter. The Jets were knocked out of the playoffs when Pittsburgh won. The New York Post headline will be brutal on Monday, as both New York teams not in Buffalo found a way to make Mayor Bill DeBlasio only the third biggest screwup in the state. This might be the only day where the New York football Jets will be downgraded to New Jersey. 22-17 Bills

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears — In a game without playoff implications, Jim Caldwell may be fired after it is over.Matthew Stafford hit Wright for a 9 yard touchdown to cap a 77 yard drive and make it 7-0 Lions. On the last play of the half, Matt Prater drilled a 59 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Lions. In the third quarter, the Bears faced 4th and 1 from the Detroit 31. John Fox opted for the field goal try. Robbie Gould hit from 49 to get the Bears within 10-3. The Lions punted on 4th and 15 from their own 8 and Chicago took over at the Detroit 41. On 3rd and 3 Cutler went deep to Bellamy for a 34 yard touchdown and a 10-10 game.

This time the Lions came back 72 yards. On 3rd and 9 from midfield, Stafford scrambled for 12 and threw a 36 yard touchdown pass to Megatron Calvin Johnson for a 17-10 Lions lead. In the fourth quarter the Bears quickly moved 83 yards. A 23 yard touchdown pass from Cutler to Matt Forte tied the game 17-17. The Lions came right back 80 yards. Stafford hit Eric Ebron for a 1 yard touchdown for a 24-17 Lions lead. A strong kickoff had the Bears starting at their own 47. They moved to a 1st and 10 at the Detroit 16. Cutler incompletions ended the drive. John Fox opted for the field goal. With 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Gould hit from 34 to get the Bears within 4 points.

A penalty on the ensuing kickoff had the Lions starting at their own 4. The Bears got it back at their own 43 with 3 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 3 from midfield, Forte gained 13. At the 2 minute warning from the Detroit 37, Cutler was intercepted and the Lions ran out the clock. Jim Caldwell was so pleased, he almost made a facial expression. After starting 1-7, the Lions finished 6-2 down the stretch. Owner Martha Ford likes Caldwell personally, so he might survive Black Monday. 24-20 Lions

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals – Baltimore is done for the year. The Bengals clinched the AFC North, but with a win and a Denver loss could move up to the two seed and get a first round bye. They would have to do it with backup quarterback AJ McCarron, in for the injured Andy Dalton. After a scoreless first quarter, Justin Tucker hit 28 and 50 yard field goals in the second quarter to make it 6-0 Ravens. The Bengals finally got going, moving 81 yards. McCarron hit Tyler Eifert for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Bengals with 1:45 left in the half. Ryan Mallett quickly moved the Ravens from their 14 to the Cincy 31 and spiked the ball with 3 seconds left. Tucker was good from 49 as the Ravens led 9-7 at halftime.

Mallett started the third quarter by quickly throwing an interception, setting up the Bengals at the Baltimore 33. McCarron hit AJ Green for a 5 yard touchdown and a 14-9 Bengals lead. The Ravens then moved from their 37 to a 4th and 7 at the Cincinnati 42. John Harbaugh decided to punt, but the Bengals were in the neutral zone offsides. For some reason the referees only marked off 4 yards instead of 5. Harbaugh then decided to go for it on 4th and 3 from the 38. Mallett threw incomplete in what was a microcosm of the entire Baltimore season. The Bengals moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Baltimore 38. After McCarron threw incomplete, Marvin Lewis decided to go for it. Jeremy Hill got the carry and ran all the way for the touchdown and the 21-9 Bengals lead.

Mike Nugent added a 52 yard field goal with 4 minutes left for a 24-9 Bengals lead. Mallett quickly moved the Ravens 75 yards. A 2 yard touchdown pass to Juszczyk had the Ravens within 8 with 1:51 to play. The defense held but the Ravens got it back at their own 9 with only 41 seconds. Mallett was intercepted and the Bengals got to 12-4. Marvin Lewis and his players then went to watch the Denver game, knowing a Denver loss would give the Bengals a first round bye. Denver won and the Bengals had to settle for the three seed. 24-16 Bengals

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns — After stumbling last week, the 9-6 Steelers needed to win this game and hope the Jets lose to make the playoffs. The Browns were expected to fire Mike Pettine and Sam Farmer after the game. The Steelers fumbled on their first drive, giving the Browns the ball at the Pittsburgh 39. On 4th and 5, Pettine decided to go for it and Austin Davis completed a pass to Gary Barnidge that came up one yard short. Ben Roethlisberger threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller to cap a 70 yard drive and make it 7-0 Steelers early on. Later on Big Ben was intercepted, setting up the Browns with another short field at the Pittsburgh 24. The Browns settled for a 29 yard Travis Coons field goal to get within 7-3.

The Steelers then faced 4th and 3 at the Cleveland 30. Mike Tomlin went with the field goal, but Chris Boswell from 48 was no good. Coons made a 39 yarder as the Browns were only down 7-6 with 1:56 left in the half. The Steelers moved 80 yards in the blink of an eye. A 17 yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown had the Steelers up 14-6 with only one minute left. After a touchback, the Browns soon faced 3rd and 19 at their own 43 Davis went deep to Terrell Pryor for a 42 yard gain. with 17 seconds left the Browns had 1st and 10 at the 15. Davis then quickly threw 3 incompletions. Coons hit the 33 yard field goal to end the half with the Browns down 14-9.

In the third quarter Roethlisberger was intercepted again, and Robertson returned it 38 yards to give the Browns 1st and goal at the 9. With a chance for the lead, the inept Browns offense did what they do. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Davis was intercepted in the end zone by James Harrison for a touchback. Harrison tried to run it back 100 yards like he did in the Super Bowl. He was 95 yards short this time. Yet on 3rd and 7 from the 8, the Browns jumped offsides. On 3rd and 2, Big Ben went deep to Darrius Hayward-Bey for a 66 yard bomb. Boswell hit a 39 yard field goal for a 17-9 Steelers lead.

The Browns kept fighting. A staggering 17 play, 62 yard drive took nearly 10 minutes off the clock. Yet again the Browns had to settle for a fourth field goal from Coons. The 29 yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter had the Browns within 17-12. The Browns got it bak at their own 1. From their 21, Davis was sacked and fumbled. The Steelers took over at the Cleveland 8. One play later Big Ben hit Wheaton for the touchdown and Toussaint for the two-point conversion to make it 25-12 Steelers. The Browns were in full self-destruction mode, fumbling the ensuing kickoff. Pittsburgh took over at the Cleveland 28. Boswell hit from 21 to complete the scoring. Mike Tomlin can celebrate. The Jets lost, meaning the 10-6 Steelers are in the playoffs. Mike Pettine and Sam Farmer awaited the hammer from Jimmy Hallam on Black Monday, but instead Hallam brought it down on Sunday as soon as the game ended. They were both fired. 28-12 Steelers

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys — Jason Garrett may be fired after this game that does not have playoff implications. Dallas is done and the 8-7 Redskins have clinched the NFC East and are locked into the four seed. Jay Gruden decided not to rest his starters. A field position game had the Redskins starting just past midfield. Kirk Cousins completed a pass to Crowder that went for a 44 yard gain. On the next play Cousins went to Grant for a 5 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Cowboys lead. Jerry Jones contemplated burning down his stadium for the insurance money. Third string quarterback Kellen Moore was then intercepted, setting up Washington at the Dallas 43. On 3rd and 6, Cousins went deep to Pierre Garcon for a 39 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Redskins. Moore then fumbled to give the Redskins the ball at the Dallas 30. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Cousins found Crowder for the touchdown and the 21-0 Redskins lead.

In the second quarter Dustin Hopkins tacked on a 27 yard field goal to make it 24-0 Redskins. Cousins was done for the day as Colt McCoy finished up the game. Gruden allowed his starter to take the rest of the day off to rest for the playoffs. The Cowboys finally got on the board with an 80 yard drive. Moore hit Jason Witten for the 4 yard touchdown as Dallas trailed 24-7. Dallas got it back at their own 14 with 90 seconds left in the half. Moore took them right down the field. A 5 yard touchdown pass from Moore to Cole Beasley with 20 seconds left in the half had the Cowboys only down 24-14.

To take back momentum, the Redskins moved 74 yards in 14 plays and took 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. They settled for a 33 yard Hopkins field goal and a 27-14 Redskins lead. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Redskins faced 3rd and 9 at their own 29. Rather than play it safe, Gruden went for the kill shot. McCoy went deep to Ross for a 71 yard touchdown and a 34-14 Redskins lead. Dallas managed a safety and then drove deep into Washington territory before fumbling the ball away. Dallas added one more garbage touchdown. The 9-7 Redskins will host a playoff game while everyone in Big D awaits Jerrah and his decision on Black Monday. 34-23 Redskins

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans — This game did not have playoff implications. Despite another losing season, Gus Bradley was told he is coming back next year. The 8-7 Texans clinched the AFC South and are locked into the four seed. Bill O’Brien decided not to rest his starters, and Bryan Hoyer returned from injury. Nick Novak hit a 29 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Texans. Later on the Texans moved 79 yards. Early in the second quarter, on 3rd and 9 from the 12, Hoyer hit Grimes for the touchdown to make it 10- Texans. Myers would hit a 43 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 10-3. The Jaguars then fumbled, giving the Texans the ball at the Jacksonville 42. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Grimes got in to make it 17-3 Texans. Novak tacked on a 51 yard field goal to end the half with the Texans cruising 20-3. A dull second half saw Myers hit from 34 in the third quarter for the Jaguars and Novak answer from 51 in the fourth quarter for the Texans. Jackson intercepted a Blake Bortles pass and returned it 27 yards for the final score. Bill O’Brien and his 9-7 Texans host a playoff game next week. 30-6 Texans

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts — Both teams are expected to fire their coaches after this game played between backup quarterbacks that had no playoff implications. Adam Vinatieri hit a 49 yard field goal for a 3-0 Colts lead. Later on the Colts faced 3rd and 9 from their own 9, Freeman was intercepted, setting up the Titans at the Indy 5. One play later Zach Mettenberger ran for the touchdown for a 7-3 Titans lead. Later on Freeman found Coby Fleener for a 57 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Colts. In the second quarter the Titans moved 80 yards and soon faced 4th and goal at the one. Mike Mularkey with nothing to lose decided to go for it. Cobb got in to make it 14-10 Titans. Vinatieri hit a 52 yard field goal to get the Colts within 14-13. With 1:39 left in the half, the Colts got it back at their own 42. Freeman was out, and fourth string quarterback Ryan Lindley was in. Lindley threw an 18 yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson with 13 seconds left in the half for a 20-14 Colts lead.

In the third quarter disaster struck the Titans immediately. On 2nd and 15 from their 30, Mettenberger was intercepted and Freeman returned it 23 yards for a touchdown and a 27-14 Colts lead. Mettenberger was sent to the bench and the Titans fourth string quarterback Tanney came in. Tanner sparked the Titans and Ryan Succop hit a 49 yard field goal to get the Titans within 27-17. The Titans got it back at their own 41 to start the fourth quarter. Tanner hit Green-Beckham for a 5 yard touchdown to get the Titans within 27-24 with 11 minutes left in regulation.

The Colts held the ball for 6 minutes. With 2 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Vinatieri hit a 35 yard field goal. Tennessee trailed by 6 but still had a chance to win it. After a touchback, the Titans moved to a 3rd and 7 just past midfield with 1:41 left. Tanner was sacked for a 14 yard loss and then threw incomplete. The Colts got to 8-8, but it will not be enough to save Chuck Pagano. Mike Mularkey might also be gone, although the Titans have the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. 30-24 Colts

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins — The 12-3 Patriots with a win would lock up the top seed in the AFC and home field throughout the playoffs. A loss and a Denver win would knock New England down to the two seed. Miami is done and is expected to fire interim coach Dan Campbell after the game. Franks hit a 38 yard field goal for a 3-0 Dolphins lead. In the second quarter Stephen Gostkowski answered with a 34 yard field goal for a 3-3 tie. With 1:56 left in the half, the Dolphins took over at their own 36. On 3rd and 8 from the New England 46, Ryan Tannehill went deep to Greg Jennings for a 31 yard gain. Tannehill then hit Parker for the 15 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Dolphins with 30 seconds left in the half.

In the third quarter the Patriots needed only 5 plays to go 80 yards and tie the game. Stephen Jackson got in from the two for a 10-10 game. Yet this was a streetfight. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Dolphins took over at their own 18. From the Miami 48, Tannehill went deep to Parker for a 46 yard gain. Tannehill hit Cameron for a 2 yard touchdown as the Dolphins had the shocking 17-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Patriots went backward and had to punt on 4th and 26 from their own 4. The Dolphins got it back at the New England 45 knowing one first down and a field goal could put the game away.

On 3rd and 11, Tannehill scrambled for 19 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, a run failed to get in as the clock hit the 2minute warning. Yet on 4th and goal, it was a no brainer. Franks hit the field goal to lock up the shocking upset win. The ultimate indignity for Tom Brady was to spend the final 2 minutes on the sideline. Jimmy Garroppollo finished the game as Brady was a miserable 12 of 21 for 134 yards. Tannehill was magnificent, going 25 of 38 for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns. Neither quarterback was intercepted. Bill Bellichick has a 12-4 team, but a Denver win would knock the Hoodie and his team out of the top seed. In 2004, the 12-1 Patriots lost at the 2-11 Dolphins. This was the repeat, although it may not be enough to save interim coach Dan Campbell. Later on Denver would win, knocking the Patriots out of the top spot and into the two seed. 20-10 Dolphins

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants — Chip Kelly was fired on Saturday and Tom Coughlin may soon follow in a game without playoff implications. DeMarco Murray broke free for a 54 yard touchdown for a 7-0 Eagles lead. A field position game had the Giants starting at the Philly 47. On 2nd and goal at the 3, Eli Manning threw incomplete twice. Josh Brown hit the 22 yard field goal to get the Giants within 7-3. The Eagles came right back 85 yards. A 6 yard touchdown run by Darren proles had the Eagles up 14-3.

In the second quarter the Giants again moved into the red zone and again could not finish the drive. Brown hit from 30 to get the Giants within 14-6. Sam Bradford was then intercepted, setting up the Giants at the Philly 35. Manning found Tye for the 9 yard touchdown to get the Giants within 14-13. The Eagles then moved 80 yards in 16 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Bradford hit Matthews for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-13 Eagles. The Giants came back 80 yards in 13 plays. on 3rd and goal from the 2 with 15 seconds left in the half, out of the shotgun, Rashad Jennings got in to get the Giants within 21-20.

In the third quarter the Giants faced 4th and 3 at the Philly 39. Tom Coughlin decided to punt and play field position. The Eagles were pinned at their own 3. They were on the move to their own 44 when Murray got the carry and fumbled. The Giants took over at the Philly 45. One play later Manning went deep to Reuben Randle for the touchdown and the 27-21 Giants lead. The Giants got it back and moved from their own 39 to a 1st and 10 at the Philly 14. Looking to extend the lead, Manning was intercepted by Thurmond, who returned it 83 yards for an Eagles touchdown and a 28-27 Eagles lead. At that moment Coughlin thought that maybe he should retire and collect his pension.

The Giants moved from their 20 to a 4th and 7 at the Philly 38. Coughlin again decided to play it safe and punt. The Eagles began the fourth quarter at their own 9. Coughlin does not play defense. Apparently, neither do his players. A 13 play, 91 yard, 6 minute drive culminated with Bradford hitting Matthews for a 3 yard touchdown. With 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Eagles led 35-27. After a touchback the Giants moved to a 4th and 7 at the Philadelphia 30. With 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Coughlin opted for the field goal. Brown hit from 48 and the Giants were down by 5 points.

The Giants got it back at their own 20 with 1:43 to play. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, the Giants had 2nd and 10 at their own 42 with 44 seconds left. Manning then threw 3 straight incompletions and the Giants were done. After 12 years and 2 Super Bowl rings, Tom Coughlin may face a brutal Black Monday in New York. Meanwhile, Pat Shurmur is a 1-0 undefeated juggernaut in Philly. 35-30 Eagles.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals — Both teams are going to the playoffs. The 9-6 Seahawks have the wild card while the 13-2 Cardinals have a first round bye. A win and a loss by Carolina would give the Cardinals home field throughout the playoffs. The Cardinals won in Seattle but faced a different Seahawks team at home. The Seahawks took over after a punt at their own 12 and move 88 yards in 12 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the one, Brown got in up the gut for a 7-0 Seahawks lead. Carson Palmer was then intercepted, setting up Seattle at the Arizona 41. Steve Hauschka hit a 52 yard field goal for a 10-0 Seahawks lead.

In the second quarter the Cardinals moved 80 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. Palmer threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. The extra point failed as the Cardinals trailed 10-6. The Seahawks came back with an 11 play, 80 yard, 6 minute drive of their own. Russell Wilson hit Tukuafu for the 7 yard touchdown to make it 17-6 Seahawks. Tyler Lockett then returned a punt 66 yards with an extra facemark moving Seattle all the way to the Arizona 8. One play later Wilson hit Coffman for the touchdown and the 24-6 Seahawks lead. It was deja vu all over again as Lockett took his next punt return 42 yards to the Arizona 27. On 3rd and 7, Wilson went deep to Kearse for the 24 yard touchdown. The Seahawks scored the first 5 times they had the ball as they led 30-6 with 2 minutes left in the half. With Carolina winning their game big, it was time for Bruce Arians to consider giving Carson Palmer and his starters the rest of the day off.

Drew Stanton replaced Palmer for the second half. Hauschka tacked on third quarter field goals of 33 and 52, the latter after a Stanton interception. The Legion of Boom did the rest in a quiet second half. The 10-6 Seahawks he’d to playoffs with confidence while the 13-3 Cardinals, despite the loss, will have a first round bye but not home field throughout. 36-6 Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers — The Buccaneers are done. The 14-1 Panthers came in knowing that despite their unbeaten season being ruined last week, a win would give them home field throughout the playoffs. A loss and an Arizona win would drop Carolina to the two seed. Connor Barth hit a 39 yard field goal as the Buccaneers led 3-0 after the first quarter. After that reality set in.

In the second quarter Newton capped off a 77 yard drive with a one yard touchdown run to make it 7-3 Panthers. Carolina got it back at their own 40. After a sack meant 2nd and 22, Newton went deep to Finches for a 41 yard gain. Graham Gano hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Panthers. Jameis Winston was then intercepted, setting up Carolina at the Tampa Bay 46. Artis-Payne got in from the one to make it 17-3 Panthers. Carolina got it back just past midfield with 2:43 left in the half. Newton went deep to Jerricho Cotchery for a 31 yard touchdown just past the 2 minute warning for a 24-3 Panthers lead. The Bucs did reach inside the Carolina 5 yard line with 7 seconds left in the half, but Winston threw incomplete. With 4 seconds left, Lovie Smith decided against the field goal. Winston threw incomplete again. With Carolina up by 21 and Arizona getting blasted by 24 in their game, Ron Rivera had to decide whether to pull his starters at halftime.

In the third quarter the starters were still in. Carolina punted from their own 32. The Buccaneers fumbled it. Joe Webb picked it up at the Tampa 17 and ran it 14 yards to the 3. Newton got in from one yard out to make it 31-3 Panthers. Winston did get the Buccaneers in the end zone with a 4 yard touchdown run, but Newton threw a 16 yard touchdown pass to Finches to keep it a blowout. Newton was 21 of 26 for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns without big intercepted. Newton staked his case to be NFL MVP. The Carolina starters stayed in way too long, but they are 15-1 and the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Carolina. 38-10 Panthers

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos — Denver came in knowing that New England had lost. A Broncos win at home over eliminated San Diego would give the Broncos the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs. A loss would drop them to the three seed without a first round bye. If Kansas City also won, Denver with a loss would lose the AFC West division and fall all the way to the five seed and play only road playoff games. Mike McCoy was awaiting Black Monday and the Chargers fans wondered if they would even play in San Diego next year. Peyton Manning sat on the Bench as Brock Osweiler started again. the first half was hideous. Osweiler had 222 yards passing by halftime, but also threw 2 interceptions. In the first quarter Osweiler hooked up with Denarius Thomas for a 72 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Broncos lead. Josh Lambo hit from 50 in the first quarter and from 42 in the second quarter as the Chargers trailed 7-6 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Broncos got the ball after a punt at their own 5. From their 15, CJ Anderson fumbled and the Chargers recovered at the Denver 32. On 3rd and 8 from the 13, Philip Rivers hit Antonio Gates for the touchdown and the 13-7 Chargers lead. Gary Kubiak had seen enough and swallowed his ego. After 5 Denver turnovers, he decided that a first ballot Hall of Famer might be a better option than an unknown backup. Osweiler was out and Manning was in. The Broncos moved 80 yards. After twice having a touchdown reversed and taken off the board, CJ Anderson finally got in from the one to make it 14-13 Broncos with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Brad McManus added a 48 yard field goal with 13 minutes left in regulation to make it 17-13 Broncos.

One play and 11 seconds later, the Chargers had the 20-17 lead as Philip Rivers went bombs away to Williams for an 80 yard touchdown in front of a stunned home crowd. The Broncos got it back at their own 20 and moved to a 3rd and 2 at the San Diego 16. Anderson got the carry and lost a yard. McManus hit the critical 35 yard field goal to tie the game 20-20 with 10 minutes left in regulation. With 5 minutes left the Chargers faced 3rd and 7 at their 25. Rivers was intercepted by Keo, who returned it 22 yards to the San Diego 23. One play later Ronnie Hillman ran all the way for the touchdown as the Broncos led by 7. San Diego kept fighting, and with 1:47 left faced 4th and 7 at the Denver 40. Under heavy pressure, Rivers threw incomplete. Denver then faced 3rd and 7, and Anderson ran for the first down to ice the game. It was far from pretty, but the Broncos have home field throughout the playoffs. They also have Field General Peyton Manning back. 27-20 Broncos

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs — After starting 1-5, the Chiefs won 9 straight and are in the playoffs as a wild card. They would have to travel on the road. If they win here and Denver loses, the Chiefs win the AFC West and move to the three seed to host a wild card game. The Raiders are just trying to get to 8-8. A few weeks ago the Cheifs beat the Raiders in Oakland when the Raiders had a fourth quarter meltdown. Early on it was all Chiefs. Alex Smith threw a short pass to Jeremy Maclin that went for a 25 yard touchdown to cap an 80 yard drive and make it 7-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back at moved 87 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. Ware got in from 3 yards out. The Chiefs led 14-0 after the first quarter. It  was time for dink and dunk West Coast Offense game manager Alex Smith to go into his shell and not throw anything longer than four yards.

Taiwan Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to the Chiefs 38. The second quarter began with the Raiders facing 3rd and 1 at the Chiefs 10. Latavius Murray got the carry and lost a yard. Sebastian Janikowski hit from 29 as the Raiders trailed 14-3. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half from the Chiefs 31, Alex Smith was intercepted. The Raiders took over at the Chiefs 31. On 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 24 with all the time in the world, Carr went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. One play later, Smith was intercepted again. This time it was Amerson, who returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. The Raiders only trailed 14-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter, a sack of Carr had the Raiders punting on 4th and 13 from their own 7. Marquette King had his punt blocked for a safety and a 16-10 Chiefs lead. The Chiefs took over after the free kick at their own 47. On 3rd and 4, Smith found Maclin for 17, with 15 more tacked on for a roughing the passer penalty on Khalil Mack. He tapped Smith, who flopped. On the next play Smith hit Harris for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 23-10 Chiefs.

With 3 1/2 minutes Cairo Santos hit a 39 yard field goal that appeared to lock up the game. Yet offensive holding meant Santos would have ti try again from 49. The kick would have been blocked, leading to a pass attempt that was stopped well short of the first down. The Raiders had 3:15 to try and pull off a miracle. With 2:01 to play, Carr threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. The Raiders were within 6. The onside kick failed, but the Raiders had all 3 timeouts. They held on defense and got it back at their own 11 with 1:34 to play. 89 yards without a timeout is a lot to ask. With 22 seconds left, a pass to Mychel Rivera was caught near the sideline, but rivera could not get out of bounds. There would be no final Hail Mary or hook and laterals.

The Chiefs at 11-5 have won 10 straight, but will have to settle for the wild card since Denver won their game to wrap up the AFC West. Meanwhile, one year after going 3-13, the Raiders improved to 7-9. Jack Del Rio knows he has a team on the verge of something special next year. For now, Walrus Lite Andy Reid was the one smiling after seeing his 1-5 team run the table. 23-17 Chiefs

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers — Both teams are done for the year. Both Jeff Fisher and Jim Tomsula are expected to survive Black Monday, although only Fisher should. The Rams with a fourth straight win would get to 8-8 while the 49ers are a train wreck. Greg Zuerlein hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams after the first quarter. In the second quarter Blaine Gabbert threw a 33 yard touchdown pass to Anquon Boldin to make it 7-3 49ers. Phil Dawson tacked on a 26 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Rams. After that, the Rams took over. Zuerlein hit from 32 to get the rams within 10-6. Blaine Gabbert then had an interception returned 42 yards by Sims to the 3 yard line. Tre Mason scored a 4 yard touchdown for a 13-10 Rams lead. With 22 seconds left in the half from the Rams 34, Cunningham ran for a 40 yard gain. Zuerlein hit from 44 to make it 16-10 Rams at halftime.

In the third quarter the 49ers moved 70 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Yet again the 49ers bogged down deep. Dawson hit from 28 as the 49ers trailed 16-13. The 49ers got it back at their 20 and moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Rams 8. Gabbert fumbled and the 49ers were lucky to retain possession after a 12 yard loss. Dawson hit from 38 as the game was tied 16-16 with 4 1/2 minutes left. The game went to overtime. The Rams held the ball for 7 minutes on their first overtime drive. Zuerlein came in for the 48 yarder to win it. The kick was blocked. From their own 26, the 49ers benefitted from a critical 15 yard facemark against the Rams. From the Rams 38, Gabbert found Patton for a 33 yard gain. With 3 1/2 minutes left, on 1st and goal at the 5, Jim Tomsula took no chances. Dawson came in and hit the 23 yarder to give the 49ers the win. The 7-9 Rams will probably make no changes, while the 49ers organization did not even wait until Black Monday so the tea could enjoy the win. In a low class, bush league move, Tomsula was fired on Sunday after the game. York is no Eddie DeBartolo. 19-16 Rams, OT

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers — This regular season finale was the NFC North showdown. Both teams came in at 10-5 having a clinched a playoff spot. A win meant a home playoff game and a loss meant having to go on the road as a wild card. This was cold weather black and blue football. In the first quarter Blair Walsh hit a 39 yard field goal for the Vikings and Mason Crosby responded from 28 for a 3-3 tie. Despite holding the ball for nearly 9 minutes, Green Bay stalled in the red zone. As for Minnesota, a successful fake punt call by Mike Zimmer set up their first score. Walsh hit from 32 in the second quarter as Minnesota led 6-3 at halftime. Green Bay went for it on 4th and 5 from the Minnesota 40 late in the half, but Aaron Rodgers threw deep incomplete. With 15 seconds left and facing 4th and 2 from the Green Bay 40, Minnesota suffered a costly delay of game penalty and punted.

A shanked 29 yard Green Bay punt had the Vikings taking over in the third quarter at their own 42. After one pass, the running game just took over. Thielen ran for a 26 yard gain. On Peterson did the rest. On 3rd and 2 from the 3, Peterson was just a battering ram, getting into the end zone for a 13-3 Vikings lead. After Teddy Bridgewater threw a careless interception rather than take a sack, the Packers faced 3rd and 2 at the Minnesota 45. A first down run was offset by offensive holding. On 3rd and 12, Rodgers was hit and fumbled. It looked like an incomplete pass, so many players stopped. An alert Captain Munnerlyn picked it up and raced 55 yards for a touchdown. On further review, the touchdown stood. Rodgers batted the ball forward with his hand only after it was already knocked free. The Vikings led 20-3 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

After a touchback, the Packers finally got going. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Rodgers found his non-relative Richard Rodgers for a 16 yard touchdown. The 14 play, 80 yard, 6 minute drive saw Richard Rodgers leap in the air in the face of 2 defenders to just get the ball past the pylon. The Packers still trailed 20-10, but plenty of time remained. Green Bay got it back at their own 16 with 10 minutes left and moved the Packers again. On 3rd and 3 from the Minnesota 18, Rodgers was sacked. Crosby hit from 43 but the Packers still trailed 20-13 with 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Crosby kicked off, and Cordarelle Patterson split the seam for what seemed like a dagger in Green Bay’s heart. Patterson had returned the kickoff 71 yards to the Green Bay 30 before he had the ball chopped out of his hands. Of all people, it was kicker Crosby who forced the fumble after chasing Patterson down. Carlos Hyde recovered the fumble at the Green Bay 23. Rodgers quickly found Randall Cobb for 17 and James Jones for 37 more. A short pass to John Kuhn saw Khn hurdle tacklers for 13 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 10. After a sack, on 3rd and goal at the 13, Rodgers scrambled for his life and fired incomplete. With 2 1/2 minutes left, Mike McCarthy decided to go for it. Green Bay then messed up badly. With the play clock winding down, the Packers called a timeout rather than just take the delay of game penalty. The Packers only had one timeout left. On 4th and goal from the 18, Rodgers fired to the end zone and was intercepted by Xavier Rhodes for a touchback.

The Packers needed another miracle and nearly got one. Trying to run out the clock, Adrian Peterson fumbled. after a mad scramble, Peterson retained possession as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Peterson got the ball again as the Packers took their final timeout with 1:55 to play. Everything came down to 3rd and 5 from the Minnesota 25. Zimmer played it very safe and handed to Peterson again. The defense held as the clock ticked down. The Vikings punted and the Packers took over at their own 42 with one minute remaining. Three straight incompletions meant 4th and 10 with 43 seconds left. Rodgers then fired to non-relative Rodgers for a 12 yard gain. Rather than spike the ball, Rodgers fired to Adams for 7 and Adams got out of bounds with 24 seconds left. A Hail Mary went out the back of the end zone. Another completion had the clock running. On fourth down, Rodgers snapped the ball just as the gun sounded and launched another Hail Mary. This time it was knocked down incomplete.

This was a gutty win for the Vikings. This was hard-nosed Mike Zimmer football. They just hit Green Bay in the mouth. Had the Packers won, these teams would have played each other again next week in Green Bay. Instead, 11-5 Minnesota as the

NFC North champion hosts the very dangerous 10-6 Seattle. After four consecutive NFC North division championships, this year the 10-6 Green Bay as the five seed wild card will travel to face 9-7 Washington. 20-13 Packers

The playoffs are now set.

AFC:

Wild Card games:

5.) 11-5 Kansas City Chiefs at 4.) 9-7 Houston Texans, Saturday, 4:30pm EST on ABC ESPN

6.) 10-6 Pittsburgh Steelers at 3.) 12-4 Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, 8:00pm EST on CBS

1.) 12-4 Denver Broncos and 2.) 12-4 New England Patriots have the bye week.

NFC:

Wild Card games:

6.) 10-6 Seattle Seahawks at 3.) 11-5 Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, 1:00pm EST on NBC.

5.) 10-6 Green Bay Packers at 4.) 9-7 Washington Redskins, Sunday, 4:30pm EST on Fox.

1.) 15-1 Carolina Panthers and 2.) 13-3 Arizona Cardinals have the bye week.

eric