CPAC 2018 Thursday Recap

February 25th, 2018

CPAC 2018 Thursday Recap

CPAC 2018 gathering begins with a battle over censorship

Super Bowl (52) LII Recap

February 5th, 2018

Super Bowl LII Recap

The AFC Champion New England Patriots were trying to win an NFL tying sixth Super Bowl. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are in the conversation for greatest coach and quarterback ever.

The NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles lost to these Patriots in the Super Bowl 13 years ago when the men in kelly green were led by 3rd generation West Coast Offense guru Walrus Lite Andy Reid. Now it was “little Andy,” 4th generation West Coast Offense guru Doug Pederson, leading the Iggles. Carson Wentz was out injured.

Nick Foles had an electric 2013 season under Reid, with 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Yet soon after that he regressed and was practically out of football. He returned in 2017 as a clear backup. Now he had to be the next Jeff Hostetler. He had to be the next Tom Brady, an unknown 6th round pick in 2001 who only took the field when Drew Bledsoe was injured.

The Patriots had overcome a 28-3 deficit third quarter deficit to win it all last year. They trailed 24-14 in the fourth quarter three years ago before coming back to win it all. The Eagles had not won an NFL championship since 1960, when Chuck Bednarik gave Vince Lombardi’s Packers their only loss in an NFL championship game. This was a total mismatch. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman constantly reminds us, “That’s why they play the games.”

The only chance the Eagles had to win this game would have to come from their defense. There was no way they could win a shootout. Their only chance was a slugfest. Again, “That’s why they play the games.”

The Eagles got the ball first and moved 67 yards in 14 plays. They took 7 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and 4 from their own 32, Foles hit Alshon Jeffery for 17 yards. On 3rd and 12 from their own 47, Foles went to Smith for 15 yards. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 2, a false start penalty was followed by a pair of Foles incompletions. Jake Elliott hit the 25 yard field goal for a 3-0 Eagles lead. The Patriots on their first play from scrimmage saw Brady throw incomplete under heavy defensive pressure. It was the last time he would face pressure for most of the game as the New England offensive line gave him plenty of time. The Patriots moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 4 at the Philly 8. Brady threw incomplete and Stephen Gostkowski hit the 26 yard field goal for a 3-3 game.

What seemed a glacial pace all of a sudden turned into a rapid fire pinball machine match. From their own 23, the Eagles moved rapidly. Former Patriots running back LaGuerrette Blount ran for 36 yards. On the next play Foles went deep to Jeffery for a 34 yard touchdown. Special teams were a problem for both teams despite the game being played indoors. Elliott missed the extra point as the Eagles led 9-3. The Patriots got it back and soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 21. Brady went deep to Danny Amendola for a 50 yard gain. The Patriots began the second quarter facing 3rd and 2 at the Philly 9. Brandon Cooks got the carry and only gained one yard. Bill Belichick decided not to go for it, and Gostkowski came in for another 26 yard field goal try. The snap was fumbled, but somehow the Patriots still had enough time to spin the ball around. Gostkowski doinked it off the upright no good.

The Eagles then went 3 and out. The Eagles punted, which would normally be unremarkable except for one thing. It was the only punt of the entire game for either team. The Patriots took over at their own 37. Brady went deep to Brandon Cooks for a 23 yard gain. However, Cooks never saw Malcolm Jenkins, who blasted Cooks with a devastating legal block. Cooks stayed down, eventually got up, but did not return to the game. The Patriots soon faced 3rd and 5 at the Philly 35 when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels went to the bag of tricks. A double reverse to Amendola saw him then throw the ball to a wide open Brady. The Patriots ran this very same play in a 2015 regular season game against the Eagles successfully. This time the ball was well thrown but Brady dropped it. It bounced off his fingertips. Michael Jordan was a lousy baseball player, and Tom Brady was not meant to be a wide receiver.

After the incompletion, the Patriots faced 4th and 5 at the Philly 35. After seeing the missed kick from 26 yards out, Belichick opted against a 53 yard field goal try. Brady threw deep incomplete and the Patriots turned it over on downs. A decade earlier Belichick passed up a 48 yard field goal try in a Super Bowl his Patriots lost 17-14. Time would soon tell if this was another mistake, especially since again the game was being played indoors. The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 38. Foles went to Zac Ertz for 19 yards and Jeffery for 22 more. Blount then broke free for a 21 yard touchdown run. Doug Pederson made the questionable decision to go for the 2 point conversion. Chasing points often backfires, and Foles threw incomplete. The Eagles led 15-3, but there were still 9 minutes left in the half.

After a touchback, a short pass from Brady to Ronny Burkhead went for 46 yards. Yet after that the drive died. Gostkowski hit a 45 yard field goal but the Patriots still trailed 15-6 midway through the second quarter. The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31 when Jay Ajayi ran for a 26 yard gain. On the next play Foles went deep to Jeffery. Jeffery appeared to have the catch at the 2 yard line when things got bizarre. Jeffery somehow lost control of the ball from one hand, batted it up in the air with his other hand, and saw it intercepted pat the 2 yard line by Harmon. The Patriots took over at their own 10 and soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 14. Brady threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. From their own 31, Brady went deep to Chris Hogan for a 43 yard gain. On the next play just before the 2 minute warning, White ran for a 26 yard touchdown. The special teams continued to struggle as Gostkowski hooked the extra point wide not good. Yet instead of trailing 22-6, the Patriots were only down 15-12. It seemed as if the Eagles best chance to win had evaporated.

Yet for all the talk about West Coast Offense dinking and dunking, Doug Pederson was going full pedal to the metal. He was also taking some of the boldest risks in Super Bowl history. On 3rd and 3 from the Philadelphia 37, a short pass from Foles to Corey Clement went for 55 yards. Yet on 3rd and goal at the one, Foles threw incomplete. This was a long one yard, closer to 2 yards. Pederson decided to go for it. He also called up the very trick play the Patriots failed to convert on. Foles lined up as a tight end. A double reverse saw Tim Burton throw to a wide open Foles in the end zone. Brady is a legend at quarterback, but on this day Foles was the better receiver. He caught the one yard touchdown as the Eagles took a 22-12 lead into the locker rooms. As bold as the calls was, by the end of the game Pederson would be taking an even bigger risk. Meanwhile, in another surprising move, with 3 seconds left from midfield, the Patriots opted against a Hail Mary. A short pass gained 23 yards, which meant nothing.

Justin Timberlake was the halftime show. I took a nap. Nothing against Timberlake, but halftime shows should be abolished and replaced with video highlights of past NFL games. Rather than try and force football fans to embrace pop culture, pop culture fans should learn who Vince Lombardi is. After all, it is his trophy the players are trying to win. The second half became an aerial show that turned this game into an instant classic.

After a touchback to start the second half, Brady went deep to Gronkowski for gains of 25, 24, 14 on 3rd and 6, for the 5 yard touchdown to get the Patriots quickly within 22-19. Yet every time it seemed the Patriots were poised to take the lead, the Eagles offense struck back. On 3rd and 6 from their own 19, Foles found Nelson Agholor for 17 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 40, Foles hit Ertz for 14 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the New England 22, Foles went deep to Clement for the touchdown. Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles led 29-19. Yet after trailing last year by 25, a 10 point deficit was ho-hum for them.

After a touchback, Brady continued putting on a passing clinic. He hit Chris Hogan for 16 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Philly 44, Brady hit Amendola for 18 yards. On the next play Brady went to Hogan for a 26 yard touchdown as the Patriots were within 29-26 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. After a touchback, Foles went deep to Agholor for 24 yards and to Smith for 17 more. The fourth quarter began with the Eagles facing 3rd and 3 at the New England 16. This time Pederson did call a West Coast Offense play, and the short pass was blown up in the backfield for an 8 yard loss. Those who hate the West Coast Offense scream “throw it past the marker!” Elliott hit the 42 yard field goal to make it 32-26 Eagles, but now it was a one score game. What happened next was inevitable.

After a touchback, Josh McDaniels changed things up by calling 3 straight running plays by Burkhead, who ran for 5, 9 and 4. On 3rd and 3 from their own 46, Brady hit Amendola for a 7 yard gain. Brady then went deep to Amendola for a 30 yard gain. A third straight pass to Amendola gains d9 more down to the Philly 8 yard line. Brady went to Rob Gronkowski for the touchdown. This time the extra point was good. After trailing for over 50 minutes, the Patriots had their first lead of the game up 33-32 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Patriots took a timeout on defense with 8 1/2 minutes left with the Eagles facing 3rd and 6 at their own 29. It did not matter as both defensive coordinators Jim Schwartz and Matt Patricia saw their defenses gashed. Foles went to Ertz for 7 yards and a critical first down. Yet on 3rd and 1 from their own 45, Pederson again called a maddeningly frustrating West Coast Offense sideways pass. It went for no gain. Normally teams who run those plays have no running game. The Eagles had 2 quality running backs, but refused to play smash mouth. Now it was 4th and 1 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Pederson made one of the boldest calls in Super Bowl history.

The Eagles were at their own 45 yard line. Punting and playing field position and defense is what almost every coach would do. Yet nothing in this game suggested the Eagles defense was up to the task. Brady had led touchdown drives on 3 consecutive second half possessions. The New England offense did not punt the whole game. Neither defense at this stage had a single sack, much less a forced fumble. The only turnover of the game at this point was Foles’s interception, and that was a complete fluke. This game had no defense. So Pederson decided to go for it knowing a failure to convert would give Brady and his offense a short field. Yet a punt most likely meant the Eagles would never get the ball back. Going for it was the right call. As former Eagles hero Herm Edwards said, “You play to win the games.”

Foles fired high to Ertz, who was driven backward but not until after he had made the most critical 2 yard catch in Eagles history. From the Philly 48, Foles went to Agholor three straight times for gains of 10, 18 and 10. The Eagles held the ball for 14 plays and 7 minutes, forcing the Patriots to take their second timeout. On 3rd and 7 from the 11, Foles fired to Ertz inside the 5. Ertz caught the ball, took a few steps, and leaped over the plane of the goal. Once Ertz hit the ground in the end zone, the ball popped out, although Ertz caught the bobble. This led to an endless discussion of what constitutes a catch that the NFL still has not figured out.

Thankfully, the officials got the call right and clearly explained why they got it right. A receiver who catches the ball in the end zone has to maintain control of the ball all the way after hitting the ground. However, Ertz caught the ball outside of the end zone and took several steps. These were “football moves.” At that point Ertz was treated as a runner. One he broke the plane of the goal, it was a touchdown regardless of whether the ball popped out. Now it was time for the 2 point conversion try. Despite clear defensive pass interference, the pass was ruled incomplete with no penalty flag. Those who believe the Patriots get virtually every single call rom the refs had more ammo. With 2:21 left, the Eagles led 38-33. Yet a 5 point lead is not a 7 point lead. Then came the stunner.

On 2nd and 2 from their own 33 in a game with no defense, the Patriots finally became the victim of a defensive play. Brady had the ball knocked out of his hand by Brandon Graham. It bounced to Eagles defender Derek Barnett. 17 years after the Tuck Rule that started the Patriots dynasty, the refs were not able to bail out Brady this time. The entire world saw that when he finally moved his arm forward, it was with an empty hand. This fumble call stood.

With 2:09 left from the New England 31, this time Pederson played it very safe. A first down run forced the Patriots to take their final timeout. Another run took the clock to the 2 minute warning. With 1:56 left, on 3rd and 5 from the 26, a first down would end the game. However, a completed pass would stop the clock. A runner takes 45 seconds of time off the clock. This was a no-brainer. You must run the football in this situation. You don’t even think of throwing it. Blount got the carry and lost a yard. Elliott came in for a 46 yard field goal try. He would not be Ray Finkle. The kick wad perfect and the Eagled led by 8 points with one minute remaining. Yet a touchdown and 2 point conversion would tie the game.

A horrendous decision on the short kickoff resulted in the Patriots trying a lateral on the return. The decision failed miserably and the Patriots took over on their own 9 yard line. With 42 seconds left after 3 Brady incompletions, it was now 4th and 10. Yet Brady then found Amendola for 13 yards and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 27 seconds left. Brady went to Gronkowski for gains of 11 and 16 yards as the Eagles took their final timeout on defense with 13 seconds left. After an incompletion, 9 seconds remained. The Patriots were just shy of midfield. It came down to one final Hail Mary from a quarterback who at age 40 still had a rocket arm. Brady went to the end zone, and everyone had a shot at it. Just like six years earlier, this heart-stopping attempt that seemed to hang in the air forever finally fell incomplete. The Evil Empire of Football had been defeated.

These teams combined for 1,151 yards, an NFL record not just for Super Bowls or playoffs but for any NFL game. Game MVP Foles finished 28 of 43 for 373 yards, 3 touchdowns, and the one interception. Foles also caught a touchdown pass as well. The Eagles also ran the ball for 164 yards and had 538 overall net yards of offense. Last year Brady had a Super Bowl record 466 yards passing, but that game went into overtime. This year Brady was 28 of 48 for a mind-blowing 505 yards. Brady had 3 touchdown passes without an interception, but he did have the fumble with the game on the line. Had Brady’s Hail Mary been completed, he would have broken Norm Van Brocklin’s record of 554 yards passing in any NFL game. The Patriots had 613 years of total offense.

The Eagles finally have their first Super Bowl after 2 prior losses, and their first NFL championship 57 years. The Patriots have won 5 Super Bowls, but have now lost 5 as well. It was the third Super Bowl loss with Belichick and Brady at the helm. In a bizarre move that will be questioned, Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler did not play a single snap on defense. He was the hero of the Patriots Super Bowl win three years ago with his goal line interception. This year before the game he was crying during the national anthem. Apparently he got the news right before the game that he would not play on defense. He did play on special teams. There was no explanation given for his benching other than a terse statement by Belichick that it was not a disciplinary issue. Butler’s replacement was torched most of the game.

Also being torched is the Patriots staff. Belichick is losing both of his coordinators. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is headed to Detroit to be the head coach of the Lions. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is headed to Indianapolis to be the head coach of the Colts. Rob Gronkowski said he was contemplating retirement, but that could be the emotion of the moment. He had 116 yards receiving in this game. Chris Hogan had 12 8 and Danny Amendola had 152. Yet despite all these yards, the Patriots lost. The idea that defense wins championships seemed to fly out the window on this night, the late sack-strip-fumble of Brady notwithstanding. Belichick and Brady both said they would be back next year, and they have a meeting with owner Robert Kraft to iron out some tensions that have developed over time.

The offseason begins, but leatherheads can take joy in knowing that the NFL Draft is barely 10 weeks away. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce that the 0-16 Cleveland Browns are now on the clock. Yet this night was all about the Philadelphia Eagles. Foles knows that he is a backup to Carson Wentz next year. Yet on this night, he became a Super Bowl champion and MVP. Doug Pederson was once an average, non-descript career backup. He backed up legend Brett Favre, and most people cannot remember a single game Pederson played in. He was an assistant coach to Andy Reid. Now he has as many Super Bowl wins as Favre and one more as a head coach than Reid. The 2017 NFL season is now in the books, and the Eagles are the 19th of 32 teams to win it all. Super Bowl (52) LII and the season are now history. 41-33 Eagles

NFL 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Prequel

February 2nd, 2018

NFL 2018: Time for Pro Football Hall of Fame Predictions

2018 SOTU Recap

February 2nd, 2018

State of the Union: Our Union is Strong, because Obama is gone

January 2018 Tygrrrr Express Hawaii Speaking Schedule

January 29th, 2018

Here is the January 2018 Tygrrrr Express speaking schedule. 

All of the events are on the Island of Oahu. Most of the events are in Honolulu. All of the events except for the last one are Rotary Clubs.

Monday, January 29, 2018 — Pearl Harbor Rotary Club at lunch. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 — Rotary Club of Windward Oahu Sunrise at 7am. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 — Rotary Club of Mililani at 7:30am. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 — West Pearl Harbor Rotary Club in Hawaii at lunch. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 — Rotary Club of Honolulu Pau Hana at 5:30pm. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018 — Rotary Club of Kapolei at 7:30am. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018 — Rotary Club of Ala Moana at lunch. 

Friday, February 2, 2018 — Hawaii Dennis Prager Meetup in Honolulu at 8pm. 


NFL 2017-2018 Pro Bowl Recap

January 28th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Pro Bowl Recap

The NFL could have played the Pro Bowl in gorgeous Honolulu, Hawaii, but nooooooo, they had to choose rain soaked Orlando, Florida. The Pro Bowl is supposed to be a party. Instead it was a football game played in terrible weather. This is fine if its a Conference Title Game, but not for an over glorified scrimmage. Drives were taking 7 minutes. In a fun Pro Bowl, drives sometimes take barely more than 7 seconds. In the first quarter the NFC moved 75 yards in 13 plays and 7 minutes. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw an 8 yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen for a 7-0 NFC lead. In the second quarter the AFC moved 52 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. They settled for Steelers kicker Chris Boswell hitting a 41 yard field goal to get the AFC within 7-3. After that, turnovers killed the AFC.

The AFC fumbled a punt to set the NFC up at the AFC 21. The NFC lost 4 yards and Panthers kicker Graham Gano hit a 43 yarder to make it 10-3 NFC. The game’s first exciting play came when the AFC decided to go for it on 4th and 7 at their own 41. Steelers quarterback Ben Rowthlisberger threw a bomb that was intercepted by Vikings defender Harrison Smith. After some pathetic attempts at tackling, smith stumbled his way into the end zone for a 79 yard interception touchdown return and a 17-3 NFC lead. After a touchback, the AFC moved to a 3rd and goal at the 7. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback at the 2 minute warning. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson moved the NFC to the AFC 22, and Lions kicker Matt Prater hit a 40 yard field goal for a 20-3 NFC lead at halftime.

In the third quarter the AFC moved 75 yards. Alex Smith hit Colts receiver TY Hilton for a 44 yard gain. Smith went to Titans receiver Delanie Walker for a 4 yard touchdown to get the AFC within 20-10. Russell Wilson from the AFC 43 went deep and was intercepted by Chris Hayward, followed by a couple of laterals to get the AFC at their own 47. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr went deep to TY Hilton for a 39 yard gain down to the NFC 2 yard line. On the next play Bills running back LeSean Shady McCoy ran it up the middle for the score to get the AFC right back in it down 20-17.

From the NFC 25, Rams quarterback Jared Goff came in and moved the NFC to a 3rd and 7 at the AFC 12 to start the fourth quarter. Goff was sacked by Chris Heyward and Mark Ingram. Graham Gano hit the 38 yard field goal for a 23-17 NFC lead. From the AFC 45, Derek Carr went deep and was intercepted by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson at the NFC 9. The NFC held the ball for 6 minutes but got no points out of their drive. On 4th and 3 from the NFC 47,  Jared Goff threw incomplete.

The AFC had a short field and 3:44 left to try and win the game. On 4th and 7, Derek Carr hit Jarvis Landry for 12 yards. Carr hit Delanie Walker for an 18 yard touchdown as the AFC had their first lead of the game up by a point with 90 seconds to play. With the NFC facing 3rd and 6 at their own 29, Jared Goff was hit and fumbled. Broncos linebacker Von Miller recovered to lock up the win as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin led his team to comeback win over Saints coach Sean Payton’s squad. Miller was the game’s defensive MPV and Walker was the game’s offensive MVP. 24-23 AFC

NFL 2017-2018 Conference Title Games Recap

January 21st, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Conference Title Game Recap

The Conference Title Games were played on Sunday, January 21, 2018.

AFC Title Game: Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots was the morning game.

When teams say nobody gives them a chance, it is normally hyperbolic nonsense. When the Jaguars say it, they mean it. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady had the Patriots in their 7th straight AFC Title Game. The Patriots were expected to easily dispatch Jacksonville to get to another Super Bowl. Tom Brady supposedly had an injured hand, which nobody believed. Early on the Patriots made it look as easy as everyone expected them to. On the second p[lay of the game, Brady went deep to Brandon Cooks for a 31 yard gain. The Patriots moved 62 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the Jacksonville 30, Brady went deep to Danny Amendola for 20 yards. Yet on 1st and goal at the 10, a pair of sacks of Brady ended the drive. Stephen Gostkowski hit the 31 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Patriots. Yet after that first drive, the game changed. The Jacksonville defense was for real, and they took over.

The Jaguars moved 76 yards and began the second quarter at the New England 28. Blake Bortles went to Grant for 24 yards and then to Marcedes Lewis for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Jaguars. New England went 3 and out and the Jaguars soon faced 1st and 10 at their own 18. Bortles hit Grant for 15 and Alex Hurns for 27 more. On 3rd and 2 from the New England 32, Leonard Fournette banged ahead for 4 yards.On 3rd and 1 from the 6, Fournette bulled ahead for 2 yards and then ran for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Jaguars.

With 2:02 left in the half the Patriots took over at their own 15. With 90 seconds left in the half and the Patriots at their own 40, Brady threw incomplete. Yet a roughing the passer call gave New England 15 yards. Brady then went deep incomplete, but a 32 yard defensive pass interference call kept the drive going. Brady then hit Cooks for 12 yards and White ran in the last yard for the touchdown as the Patriots only trailed 14-10 at halftime. Most football fans figured that Jacksonville had done their best, but that reality would take over in the second half. In the second half Jacksonville’s defense continued to play with heart and guts. Josh Lambo drilled a 54 yard field goal in the third quarter and a 43 yarder at the start of the fourth quarter as the Jaguars held a 20-10 lead.

New England fumbled the ball away on their next drive, but Jacksonville’s offense went 3 and out. New England took over at their own 15 and Brady went to Cooks for  18 yards. A sack of Brady had the Patriots facing 3rd and 18 at their own 25. Brady went deep to Amendola for a 21 yard gain. and to Dorsett for 31 more yards. Brady hit Amendola for 14 more and then again to Amendola for the 9 yard touchdown. With 9 minutes to play the Patriots were within 20-17. Jacksonville’s defense did all it could but when it mattered the offense could not get it done. New England took a short punt 20 yards and took over at the Jacksonville 30 with 5 minutes left in regulation. Brady hit White for 15, Amendola for 8, and again to Amendola for a 4 yard touchdown. With 2:48 the Patriots had a 4 point lead. There was no way Blake Bortles was going to win this game.

After a touchback, Bortles hit Lee for 8 and then went to Westbrook for a 29 yard gain. However a sack of Bortles led to a fumble. Jacksonville retained possession, but at the 2 minute warning they faced 3rd and 17 at the New England 45. On 4th and 14, Bortles threw incomplete. With 1:47 left, the Jaguars still had all 3 timeouts. On 3rd and 9, with the Jags needing one more stop, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels played it safe. Dion Lewis got the carry, got around the end, and ran for an 18 yard gain. Jacksonville was game, but the Evil Empire of football will be going to another Super Bowl. 24-20 Patriots

NFC Title Game: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles was the afternoon game.

Early on the Vikings made it look easy, moving 75 yards. Case Keenum threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph to make it 7-0 Vikings. The tying touchdown bomb never happened because it was dropped. The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 43. Keenum got hit as he threw, and he was intercepted by Patrick Robinson at midfield. Robinson criss-crossed the entire field, picked up some fantastic blocks, and got to the end zone. Keenum had thrown a touchdown pass to each team for a 7-7 ballgame.

The Eagles got it back at their own 25 and Jay Ajayi quickly ran for a 13 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Minnesota 47, Foles hit Zac Ertz for 11 yards. The second quarter began with the Eagles facing 3rd and 1 at the Minnesota 17. Foles hit Ertz for 6 yards and LaGuerrette Blount ran for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Eagles. The Vikings held the ball for  minutes and moved from their 15 to a 3rd and 5 at the Philly 16. Keenum was sacked and fumbled to kill the drive. The Eagle soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 28. Foles hit Clement for 8 yards. With 1:18 left in the half the Eagles faced 3rd and 10 at their own 47. Foles somehow avoided a sack and threw a 53 yard touchdown bomb to Alshon Jeffery for a 21-7 Eagles lead.

Minnesota could not even make it to the half. The Eagles got it back with 30 seconds left at their own 20 yard line. Foles hit Ajay for 11, Ertz for 36 more, and Ajayi again for 13. Jake Elliott hit the 38 yard field goal to end the half with the Eagles up 24-7. After a touchback to start the second half, the Eagles kept rolling. On 3rd and 6 from the Minnesota 48, Foles hit Smith for a 7 yard gain. On the next play Foles went deep to Torry Smith after a perfectly executed flea flicker for a 41 yard touchdown and a 31-7 Eagles lead. The Vikings moved from their 25 to a 1st and goal at the 7. After Keenum threw 3 straight incompletions, Mike Zimmer decided to go for it. Keenum went to Adam Thielen, who appeared to make a juggling circus catch for the touchdown. Replay showed that the ball clearly hit the ground, and officials properly overturned the score.

On 3rd and 4 from their own 14, Foles hit Ertz for 6 yards. On 3rd and 5 from their own 25, Foles went deep to Nelson Agholor for a 42 yard gain. From the Minnesota 35, Foles hit Burton for 12 and Clement for 14 more. The fourth quarter began with the Eagles facing 3rd and goal at the 4. Foles fired over the middle to Jeffery in the back of the end zone. Somehow Jeffery held on to the high throw and somehow maintained control of it for the touchdown. The 93 yard drive against what was supposed to be the league’s best defense had the Eagles winning a laugher. The supposed slugfest saw only one team slugging as the  game was a blowout. The rest of the game was going through the motions. Case Keenum had a great season, but he finished this game 28 of 48 for 271 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Nick Foles was magnificent, finishing 26 of 33 for 352 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The Eagles are back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years last time. the Eagles lost to the Patriots team led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Now, they face them again.

In one week we play the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, rather than Honolulu, Hawaii.

In two weeks we play Super Bowl LII (52) between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.


NFL 2017-2018 Conference Title Games Prequel

January 21st, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 conference Title Games Prequel

The Evil Empire goes for Number Six: NFL 2017-2018 Conference Title Games Prequel

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Recap

January 14th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Prequel

January 13th, 2018

NFL 2017-2018 Divisionals Prequel

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