Archive for January, 2017

My birthday: 45 Happy Memories Upon Turning 45

Monday, January 9th, 2017

My birthday: 45 Happy Memories upon turning 45

I Entered this world 45 years ago today on January 9, 1972. On my 45th birthday, here are 45 happy memories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.) January 9, 1993 — The Raiders won a playoff game over arch rival Denver on my 21st birthday. We all had a big party to celebrate afterward at 1950s Cafe Ed Debevic’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anything I could possibly wish for has already been granted.

eric @ Tygrrrr Express

NFL 2016-2017 Wildcard Recap

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

NFL 2016-2017 Wildcard Recap

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans was the Saturday afternoon game. The Raiders were without Derek Carr, backup Matt McGloin, and left tackle Donald Penn. Connor Cook was making his first ever NFL start for a Raiders squad that is in its first playoff game in 14 years. The Texans had Brock Osweiler starting for the injured Tom Savage. The Texans also had the number one defense even without JJ Watt. Early on the Texans moved form their 25 to a 4th and 5 at the Oakland 37. Bill O’Brien opted against going for it or trying a 55 yard field goal despite the game being played indoors. Former Raiders punter Shane Lechler pinned the Raiders. Connor Cook’s first play as a starter came with the Raiders back at their own 7 yard line in front of a hostile crowd. The Raiders went nowhere and Marquette King’s first punt went only 31 yards to have the Texans starting at the Oakland 40. The Raiders held again on defense but Nick Novak hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Texans.

The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 12 at their own 22. Cook tried to test Jadavean Clowney and paid for it. A short pass was deflected by Clowney, deflected by him again, and finally intercepted by Clowney to have the Texans taking over at the Oakland 4 yard line. Lamar Miller ran around the end for the touchdown to make it 10-0 Texans. After a touchback, Del Rio was determined to get Cook going rather than run the ball. Cook found Michael Crabtree for a 19 yard gain. After a sack set up 3rd and 16, Cook fired to Crabtree past the first down marker. Officials ruled the play an incompletion but Jack Del rio challenged the call. Replay showed Crabtree had his hands under the ball. Officials rejected the challenge and the Raiders punted again.

The Raiders held on defense. Jalen Richard got belted on the punt return, yet somehow bounced off the hit without going dow and got to the sideline and raced for a 37 yard gain. The Raiders were starting at the Houston 38. Latavius Murray raced for an 18 yard gain and then gained 6 more yards. Cook hit Clive Walford for 7 more yards to set up 1st and goal at the 7. Murray banged up the middle for 5 more yards down to the 2. Murray then went off right tackle and got in the end zone. The Raiders were only down 10-7.

The Texans took over at their own 18 yard line. Osweiler fumbled the snap but Houston retained possession. The first quarter ended with the Texans facing 3rd and 12 from their own 16. A West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass lost 4 yards as the defense was keeping the Raiders in the game. The Raiders took over with great field position at their own 43 yard line. Rather than run, Cook went play action pass and fired to Crabtree for a 14 yard gain. A 2nd and 9 pass to Crabtree was perfectly thrown and dropped to kill the drive. The Texans were pinned at their own 5 yard line.

Osweiler immediately fired to CJ Fiedorowicz for an 18 yard gain. On 2nd and 4 miller appeared stop cold but did exactly what Richard did earlier, bouncing to the outside for a 19 yard gain. Another 17 yard completion to Fiedorowicz had the Texans at the Oakland 35. Osweiler found Hopkins for 13 to the Oakland 24. On 3rd and 6 from the 20, Osweiler fired incomplete as the Raiders finally held. Novak barely snuck his 38 yard field goal try inside the right upright as the Texans led 13-7.

The defenses dug in and after some punts, the Texans took over at their own 40 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. Osweiler hit Fuller for 19 yards at the 2 minute warning. Osweiler went deep to Hopkins for a 38 yard gain to the Oakland 3. Osweiler then threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to Hopkins for a 20-7 Texans lead with 1:20 left in the half. Adding to the Raiders woes, they would have to play the second half without center Rodney Hudson, injured late in the half.

Neither team could move the ball in the third quarter as Bill O’Brien played it ultra conservative with the lead. After three quarters, the Raiders still did not have a third down conversion as offensive pass interference nullified a catch by Crabtree that would have moved the chains. Running into the kicker nullified a Houston punt return for a touchdown, although it should have been roughing the kicker. The Texans began the fourth quarter at the Oakland 41 with a chance to deliver the knockout blow. From the 18, Osweiler went deep and another horrendous penalty call for defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Osweiler scrambled for the touchdown. With 12 1/2 minutes left, the Raiders were down 27-7.

The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Cook fired to Mychal Rivera for exactly just enough. It was the first third down conversion of the game for the Raiders. On 3rd and 7 from their own 38, Cook went to Andre Holmes for a 20 yard gain. On 1st and 10 from the Houston 27, Cook went to Rivera for 19 yards and. Yet offensive pass interference on Rivera, another dreadful call, meant 1st and 20 instead of 1st and goal at the 8. After several miserable calls against the Raiders, they finally got one in their favor. On 3rd and 16 from the Houston 33 and Cook running for his life, a prayer bomb meant defensive pass interference and 1st and goal at the 8. Cook fired to Holmes for the touchdown. Although the Raiders were within 27-14, only 8 minutes remained in regulation.

Houston went 3 and out and Lechler boomed a 55 yard punt to punned the Raiders at their own 19 with 6 1/2 minutes left. All the Raiders had to do was take their rookie quarterback in his first game and lead two more touchdown drives against the NFL’s top defense. There are no excuses in football. 3 completions had Cook in a rhythm and the Raiders at midfield. Yet after a pair of incompletions set up 3rd and 10, Cook fired high over the middle and was intercepted. Moore returned the interception 20 yards to the Oakland 46 With 4 1/2 minutes left.

With 3:50 to play the Raiders took their first timeout with the Texans facing 3rd and 9 at their own 47. Bill O’Brien played it super safe, yet terrible tackling allowed Grimes to gain 10 yards straight up the middle for a killer first down. On 3rd and 8 from the Oakland 41 the raiders too their final timeout. Again O’Brien called a safe run and Grimes nearly got another first down. He was stopped two yard short. Rather than try a 53 yard field goal or go for it, O’Brien took no chances. Houston did not even call a timeout, instead taking a delay of game penalty with 2:12 left. Richard called for a fair catch at his own 7 yard line. The Raiders were 93 yards away with 2:06 left and no timeouts.

Cook and the Raiders went down fighting, but they went down. On 4th and 5 from their own 12, Cook found Rivera for 6 and then 11 more. On 1st and 10 from their 29 with one minute left, Cook threw 3 incompletions and on 4th and 10 with 23 seconds left was intercepted. Cook was dreadful, going 18 for 45 for 161 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Yet what does any reasonable leathered expect from a guy starting his very first game on the road against the league’s top defense and without two of his own offensive lineman? Throw in several well thrown dropped passes and Cook had no chance. Osweiler was not much better. He was a pedestrian 14 of 25 for 168 yards and one touchdown. Yet he also ran for a score and more importantly was not intercepted.

The Raiders after 14 non-winning seasons went 12-4. Yet Derek Carr is their physical and emotional leader. Without him they are a shell of themselves. The Texans move on and travel to play New England. As for Oakland, despite the loss, this team has a bright future. The Raiders were injury-riddled, but football is not politics. There are no excuses in football. You line up with the guys you have.

The Raiders fought hard and just could not overcome the injuries. This team has a bright future ahead of it. They lost today, but they are no longer losers. Khalil Mack and the defense hung tough despite getting no help from a depleted offense.

Derek Carr should still be the league MVP. He is a superstar. Jack Del Rio should be considered for coach of the year. Reggie McKenzie should be considered for executive of the year. Let’s also give credit to owner Mark Davis, who stayed patient and allowed McKenzie to follow through on his rebuilding plan. The offseason will be long and painful. For 31 teams and their fans, it is always is. I am proud to be a part of the Raider Nation. September of 2017 will be here before we know it. 27-14 Texans

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks was the Saturday night game. On paper the 9-7 Lions appeared overmatched, stumbling into the playoffs losers of three straight. However, the 10-5-1 Seahawks barely survived 2-14 San Francisco in the finale. Detroit brought the offense while Seattle brought the defense. Yet the first half of this game was a defensive slugfest that was scoreless after the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Jim Caldwell decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Seattle 38. A pass play was blown up in the backfield for a 2 yard loss. Seattle then moved 60 yards in 14 plays and 7 minutes and 45 seconds. On 4th and 1 from the Detroit 39, Pete Carroll decided to go for it. Thomas Rawls gained 4 yards. After a 3rd and goal at the 2 pass fell incomplete, Pete Carroll again decided to go for it. Russell Wilson threw to Richardson, who somehow caught the ball threw the defender for the touchdown. At the 2 minute warning, Steve Hauschka tacked on a 43 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Seahawks. Yet Matthew Stafford worked the 2 minute drill well. Matt Prater hit a 51 yard field goal as the Lions trailed 10-3 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Seahawks moved from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Detroit 34. On 3rd and 11 Wilson was sacked to push the Seahawks out of field goal range. The Lions moved from their own 4 yard line to a 3rd and 2 at the Seattle 35. Stafford threw incomplete. Indoors away from the elements, Jim Caldwell trusted his strong legged kicker. Prater hit from 53 to get the Lions within 10-6. After a touchback, on 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 34, Thomas Rawls ran for a 32 yard gain. On 2nd and 7 from the Detroit 20, a completion only gained one yard. Yet a dumb personal foul after the play on Haloti Ngata meant 1st and goal at the 9 as the third quarter ended. On 3rd and goal at the 8, a pass to the end zone was well defended and was knocked away incomplete. From 27 yards out, Hauschka made it 13-6 Seahawks.

Seattle got it back and soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 23. Wilson found Doug Baldwin for 12 yards and then went deep to Baldwin again for a 42 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Detroit 14, Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for 10 yards. Rawls ran it in from 4 yards out to make it 19-6 Seahawks with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Seattle got it back and went 84 yards to put the game away. On 3rd and 5 from the Seattle 33, Wilson went deep to Richardson for 27 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Detroit 24, Wilson threw incomplete, but Pete carroll challenged the call. The officials reversed the call to a 10 yard catch to Baldwin. From the Detroit 13, Seattle accidentally had 2 receivers in the end zone next to each other. The pass was supposed to go to Jermaine Kearse, but Baldwin reached out and grabbed it for the score to put the game away. The Lions were game, but the Legion of Boom clamped down when it counted.

Do not be fooled by the score. The Lions were game, and fought hard in what was a slugfest through three quarters. However, at home, when it counted, the Legion of Boom did what it has been doing since 2013. Seattle is a dangerous team that can play with anybody. They have the experience, and in the playoffs, experience matters. Meanwhile, Seattle won in the friendly confines of home. The challenge comes next week if they can do it on the road. Whether they play at Atlanta or Dallas, either way they will be indoors and not affected by the elements. 26-6 Lions

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers was the Sunday morning game. Early in the regular season the Dolphins thrashed the Steelers 30-15 in Miami. However, this game was in Pittsburgh. Ryan Tannehill was still not able to come back from injury, so backup Matt Moore took over again. The Steelers jumped all over the Dolphins from the outset. Pittsburgh took over at their own 15. On 3rd and 5 from their own 31, Ben Roethlisberger found Rogers for 19 and then Antonio Brown for a 50 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Steelers. The Steelers got it back at their own 10. On 3rd and 6 from their own 24, Big Ben hit Ayers for 11 and then connected with Brown again for a 62 yard touchdown and a 14-0 Steelers lead.

The Dolphins tried to get back in it. On 3rd and 13 from their own 38, Moore went deep to Kenny Stills for a 36 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the 20, Moore threw incomplete. Andrew Franks hit the 38 yard field goal to get the Dolphins on the board. The Steelers from their own 17 kept rolling. From the Miami 26, LeVeon Bell raced for a 25 yard gain and then banged up the middle for the last yard. Despite a missed extra point, the Steelers led 20-3. Midway through the second quarter, tempers flared. With the Dolphins facing 2nd and 9 at the Pittsburgh 32, Moore threw incomplete but roughing the passer should have given Miami 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 17. Yet an inexplicable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jay Ajayi moved the Dolphins right back. Because it was after the play, the Dolphins faced 1st and 15 at the 32 rather than 1st and 10. That killed the drive and Dolphins settled for Franks from 47 to get within 20-6.

The Steelers missed a chance to add to their lead. With one minute left in the half on 2nd and 14 from the Miami 34, Roethlisberger was intercepted. The Dolphins quickly moved from their 27. From the Pittsburgh 45, Moore went deep to Parker for 37 yards. With 27 seconds left in the half and 1st and goal at the 8, Moore was sacked and fumbled the ball away. The Steelers were scoring touchdowns while the Dolphins were kicking field goals, and in this case, not even getting that. In the third quarter it was more of the same. The Dolphins moved from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 37. Moore was then sacked and fumbled. Pittsburgh moved from their 41 to 1st and goal at the 6. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Big Ben was sacked. However, Boswell hit from 34 as the Steelers led 23-6. One play after a touchback, Moore was intercepted by Shazier, setting up Pittsburgh at the Miami 25. On 4th and 3 from the 18, Boswell came in for a 36 yard field goal try. Lippett jumped over the center to block the kick. Unfortunately for the Miami defense, the ball had not even been snapped. The offsides penalty gave Pittsburgh an automatic first down. On 3rd and 5 from the 8 with the Miami defense smelling pass, Bell took a draw up the middle untouched for another score and a 30-6 Steelers lead. Miami got a garbage touchdown but no more. Next week Mike Tomlin’s Steelers travel to Kansas City for the Divisional round. 30-12 Steelers

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers was the Sunday afternoon game. In 2007 and 2011, the Giants went into Green Bay and hit the Packers in the mouth. They ended Brett Favre’s career in Green Bay and wrecked a 15-1 Aaron Rodgers team, helped along by a Hail Mary to end the half. They won with stifling defense. In this game the Giants defense again led by steve Spagnuolo gave the Packers fits. Yet all the Giants offense could muster was a 26 yard field goal by robbie Gould in the first quarter and a 40 Yarder in the second quarter for a 6-0 lead. Yet after 26 minutes of dominating, they let up. A short punt on 4th and 10 from their own 8 had the Packers starting at the Giants 38. Rodgers went deep to Devonta Adams for a 31 yard gain and hit Adams again for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Packers with 2 1/2 minutes left. At the 2 minute warning, with the Giants facing 3rd and 1 at their own 41, Rainey got the carry and got stopped as cold as Lambeau Field. The Packers moved from their 20 to a 4th and 2 at the Giants 42 with 6 seconds left. Then came the Hail Mary. Rodgers did it again. Just like he did to Detroit last year. Just like the Giants did to him in 2011 and Seattle did to him in 2012. Randall Cobb caught this one in the back of the end zone as the Packers led 14-6 over a shocked Giants team.

With 6 minutes left in the third quarter Mike McCarthy gambled with the Packers facing 4th and 1 at their own 42. This was after Adam Ripowski got stopped on 3rd and 1. Montgomery got the carry and ran into a Big Blue Brick Wall. From the Green Bay 41, Ben McAdoo immediately went for it all.  Manning went deep to Tavarres King for the touchdown. Just like that, the Giants were within 14-13. This time the Packers struck right back. A strong kickoff return had the Packers at their own 37. Rodgers hit Cook for 13, Adams for 20, and a deep ball to Cobb again for a 30 yard touchdown and a 21-13 Packers lead. A terrible blunder by Rainey on the ensuing kickoff killed the Giants. It would have gone out of bounds but Rainey fielded it at the 3 yard line and then went out of bounds himself. The Giants punted and a 23 yard return by Mica Hyde had the packers at the Giants 37. Mason Crosby hit the 32 yard field goal to make it 24-13 Packers after three quarters.

The Packers got it back at their own 20 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 10 from their 30, Rodgers went deep to Montgomery for 34 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Giants 35, Rodgers hit Adams for 12. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 16, Rodgers put the dagger in, hooking up with Cobb for a touchdown for a third time on the day. With 9 1/2 minutes left, the Packers were in command of 31-13. Two plays later Manning was sacked by Clay Matthews, forcing a fumble. Everyone except Matthews thought it was an incomplete pass and just stopped. Matthews recovered the ball at the Green Bay 45. Rodgers took nearly 6 minutes off the clock and Ripowski plunged in from one yard out to turn a thriller into a blowout.  Manning finished 19 of 34 for 264 yards and one touchdown. Rodgers was sensational, going 25 of 40 for 362 yards and 4 touchdowns. Neither quarterback was intercepted until the end of the game where Manning’s last pass was the exclamation point. With the win, the Packers next week travel to Dallas on a seven game win streak. 38-13 Packers

The Divisional Playoff games are now set (all times Eastern).

Saturday, January 14

4:30 PM: FOX: NFC: 3.) Seattle Seahawks at 2.) Atlanta Falcons

8:00 PM: CBS: AFC: 4.) Houston Texans at 1.) New England Patriots

Sunday, January 15

1:00 PM: NBC: AFC: 3.) Pittsburgh Steelers at 2.) Kansas City Chiefs

4:30 PM: FOX: NFC: 4.) Green Bay Packers at 1.) Dallas Cowboys

NFL 2016-2017 Wildcard Prequel

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

NFL 2016-2017 Wildcard Prequel

2017: We…can…do…this

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

2017: We…can…do…this

What the heck is that beeping sound?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure, getting up and writing my column is an option. It’s a new year, and starting the year off with a flurry of brilliance might be helpful. Forget it. This column is recycled from years ago. It’s also a day late. That is what happens when people get no sleep because of stressful January 1 football games.

Election 2016? The first person to talk politics gets blistered in my column … tomorrow.

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

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

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

It then occurs to me that the beeping sounds are the voices in my head telling me I am too old, even at 44, to stay out this late. Even without alcohol, exhaustion has set in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Running errands … not gonna happen.

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

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

Oh wait, she already left. Here is a note. “Tried to wake you, but that was a losing battle. By the way, you have nothing but soda in your fridge. Talk to you soon.” oh, wait, I think that happened a decade ago. This is 2017, not 2005.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is God shouting? Oh wait, that is my overdramatization of God.

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

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


Happy 2017 all. Except for the person that woke me up earlier. Whoever you are, I still can’t stand you, even though you are doing me a favor.

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

Time for a nap. Happy 2017.



New Year’s Day 2017–NFL 2016 Week 17 Recap

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

NFL 2016 Week 17 Recap

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals — A 5 yard run by Burkhead made it 7-0 Bengals early on. Justin Tucker hit a 30 yard field goal to get the Ravens within 7-3. The Bengals came back 60 yards. Red Rifle Andy Dalton threw a 1 yard touchdown pass to Uzomah to make it 14-3 Bengals. In the second quarter the Bengals moved 77 yards in 12 plays and 5 minutes. They settled for a 23 yard Randy Bullock field goal to make it 17-3 Bengals. The Ravens moved down the field but with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, Joe Flacco was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. Bullock hit again from 45 to end the half as the Bengals had a 20-3 lead. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation a 40 yard completion from Joe Flacco put the ball on the one yard line. Kenneth Dixon crashed in to get the Ravens within 20-10. With less than 5 minutes left the Ravens had to go for it on 4th and 5 at their own 25. Flacco threw incomplete. Burkhead ran for a 5 yard touchdown to salt the game away. The Bengals finished 6-9-1 as Marvin Lewis hoped to survive Black Monday. After 15 seasons and 7 playoff appearances, he wants to come back. He has not won a playoff game, and neither have the Bengals since the 1990 season. The Ravens finished 8-8 but John Harbaugh is virtually certain to be back next year. After the game, Baltimore receiver Steve Smith retired after 16 seasons. 27-10 Bengals

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts — Jason Myers hit a 47 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jaguars. Jacksonville got it back and moved 75 yards. Blake Bortles threw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Koyack to make it 10-0 Jaguars. The Colts got a break when  sack and fumble of Bortles set up the Colts just outside the red zone. Yet they did nothing as Andrew Luck was sacked and Adam Vinatieri missed a field goal. Corey Grant then ran for a 57 yard touchdown as the Jaguars had the 17-0 lead in front of a shellshocked home crowd. Vinatieri finally hit a 45 yard field goal with just over 2 1/2 minutes left in the half to get the Colts on the board. In the third quarter the Colts quickly moved 83 yards. Robert Turbin ran for a 7 yard touchdown to get the Colts within 17-10. In the third quarter the Colts moved 89 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. Luck hit Allen for a 15 yard touchdown to tie the game 17-17. With 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation, a 54 yard field goal try by Myers to give the Jaguars the lead was no good. At the 2 minute warning, the Colts attempted to punt on 4th and 24 from their own 30. The punt was blocked. with just over 90 seconds to play, Myers was good from 41 and the Jaguars led 20-17. After a touchback, Luck did what he does and the collapsing Jaguars did their part again. Luck hit Rogers for 18, Dorsett for 19, and Turbin for 14. With 14 seconds remaining, the Colts were one yard away. Luck fired to Doyle for the touchdown. The Colts finished 8-8 and the Jaguars dropped to 3-13 as both Chuck Pagano and Doug Marrone awaited Black Monday. Pagano is expected to survive while the Jaguars may bring back Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin. After the game, Colts stalwart defender Robert Mathis retired after 14 seasons. 24-20 Colts

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins — The 13-2 Patriots faced off against the 10-5 Dolphins. Last year the Patriots blew the top seed at Miami in the final week. The Patriots moved 75 yards in 13 plays and 7 1/2 minutes to start the game. Tom Brady threw a 2 yard touchdown to Captain Bacon Marcellus Bennett to make it 7-0 Patriots. New England got it back with a short field at the Miami 45. From the Miami 14, Brady found Michael Floyd at the goal line. Floyd was met by 4 defenders and somehow willed himself past the plane of the goal for a touchdown and a 14-0 Patriots lead. Matt Moore then threw a deep ball that was intercepted by Logan Ryan at the New England 43. On the first play of the second quarter Stephen Gostkowski hit a 40 yard field goal to make it 17-0 Patriots. The Dolphins had no answers as Gostkowski tacked on a 25 yard field goal to make it 20-0 Patriots. The Dolphins finally moved 75 yards in 10 plays. From the New England 8 yard line, Moore fired to Jarvis Landry, who got belted inside the 5. Somehow Landry managed to stay upright and get into the end zone as the Dolphins trailed 20-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Dolphins moved 75 yards in 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Moore threw a 25 yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 3 to Kenny Stills as the the Dolphins were within 20-14. The Patriots quickly faced 3rd and 7 at their own 23. Brady threw a quick slant to Julian Edelman, who split the seams and raced for a 77 yard touchdown and a 27-14 Patriots lead. The Dolphins moved from their own 32 to the New England 9 yard line. Moore threw a short pass to Williams, who had the ball punched out. Scott McLellan returned the fumble 69 yards to the Miami 18. On 3rd and goal at the one, Blount got in to put the game away with 5 1/2 minutes left. Brady hit Julian Edelman for the 2 point conversion to make it 35-14 Patriots. 15 years after the Tuck Rule, the Evil Empire of Football led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady clinched home field throughout the playoffs. Adam Gase has the Dolphins in the playoffs as the six seed, where next week they travel to Pittsburgh. 35-14 Patriots

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings — The Vikings quickly moved 70 yards and Sam Bradford threw a 16 yard touchdown pass to McKinnon for a 7-0 Vikings lead. Minnesota got it back and moved 93 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. On the first play of the second quarter Kai Forbath hit a 21 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Vikings. A Chicago fumble set the Vikings up at the Chicago 35. Sam Bradford hit Kyle Rudolph for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Vikings. The Bears then moved 85 yards in 17 plays and 8 minutes. On 3rd and goal from the 2, John Fox went to his bag of tricks. Matt Barkley pitched the ball to Cam Meredith, who lofted a pass to the end zone for Barkley, who caught t for a touchdown to get the Bears within 17-7. With one minute left in the half the Bears fumbled a punt, setting up Minnesota at the Chicago 21. Bradford hit Wright for a 1 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 Vikings with only 17 seconds left in the half. Yet Thompson returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Minnesota 42. Barkley went to Meredith for a 31 yard gain and Connor Barth hit a 29 yard field goal to close out the half as the Bears got within 24-10.

Early in the fourth quarter, John Fox gambled with the Bears facing 4th and 1 at their own 40. Howard got the carry and got nothing. With the short field, Minnesota soon put the game away. McKinnon ran for a 10 yard touchdown. A sack of Barkley meant a fumble that Griffin returned for a 20 yard touchdown for the final touchdown. Barkley was benched and David Fales came in to finish up the miserable Chicago season. The Vikings ended up 8-8 and next year Mike Zimmer will have Teddy Bridgewater back. whether Adrian Peterson returns is a question mark. Although the Bears finished 3-13, John Fox is expected to survive Black Monday. He will need a quarterback, since neither Jay Cutler or Matt Barkley seems to be the answer. 38-10 Vikings

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets — Rex Ryan was fired before the season finale, and Anthony Lynn took over as interim coach. Tyrod Taylor was benched as EJ Manuel got the start. The first quarter was scoreless. In the second quarter Ryan Fitzpatrick hooked up with Quincy Enunwa for a 51 yard gain. Fitzpatrick hit Powell for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Jets. A 34 yard field goal by Dan Carpenter with 1:45 left in the half finally got the Bills on the board. Nick Folk hit a 30 yard field goal to end the half with the Jets up 10-3. The Bills have not made the playoffs since the 1999 season. They fired the coach and are expected to fire both of their top two quarterbacks. Yet owner Terry Pegula may just have to clean house. In the second half the Bills represented a junior high school football team.

With 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter the Bills had 3rd and 11 at their own 26. Emanuel was sacked and fumbled, as the Jets recovered at the Buffalo 13. On 3rd and 3 from the 6, Fitzpatrick threw the touchdown pass to Marshall to make it 17-3 Jets. Manuel was benched as the Bills went to third string quarterback Cardell Jones. A Williams fumble gave the Jets the ball at the Buffalo 32. Folk hit from 36 to make it 20-3 Jets. InWith 5 minutes left in regulation Jones was intercepted by Darrell Revis, who returned the interception 49 yards to the Buffalo 3. The Jets lost yards and Folk hit from 25 to make it 23-3 Jets. Then came a play that cannot be blamed on Rex Ryan. The ensuing kickoff into the end zone was never fielded it. Mike Gillislee was right next to the ball and may have confused a kickoff with a punt. The live ball was recovered by the Jets for a gift touchdown and a 30-3 Lead. The Bills got a garbage touchdown to finish the season 7-9 while the Jets finished 5-11. Todd Bowles and Anthony Lynn both awaited Black Monday. 30-10 Jets

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles — Despite being 13-2 with home field throughout the playoffs, Jason Garrett chose to play his starters early on. It was the Eagles driving 79 yards in 14 plays, taking nearly 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. Caleb Sturgis hit a 2 2yard field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles. On the first play of the second quarter, Dan Bailey hit a 49 yard field goal to tie the game 3-3. After that, Dak Prescott was done for the day and Tony Romo came in to a standing ovation from the Cowboys fans in Philadelphia. After not having played a regular season game since late 2015, Romo quickly moved Dallas 81 yards. Romo threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Terrence Williams to make it 10-3 Cowboys. After that Romo was done for the day, as third string quarterback Mark Sanchez was brought in. Sanchez threw a pair of interceptions, the latter one giving the Eagles the ball just past midfield. Carson Wentz threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to Zac Ertz for a 10-10 deadlock at the half.

In the third quarter the Cowboys moved 66 yards inside the 5 but had to settle for a 23 yard Bailey field goal to make it 13-10 Cowboys. The Eagles came back 89 yards in 10 plays. Wentz hit Ertz for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 17-13 Eagles. in the fourth quarter the Eagles moved 75 yards in 14 plays and 8 minutes. Sturgis hit from 33 to make it 20-13 Eagles with just over 2 minutes to play. On 3rd and 10 from their own 21, Sanchez was sacked for a 19 yard loss. On 4th and 29 from their own 2, Jason Garrett decided not to go for it. However, the punt was blocked. Philly took over at the Dallas 7 and on 3rd and goal from the one, Watson got in to lock up the game. The Eagles finished 6-9-1 in their first year under Doug Pederson, while the Cowboys prepared to enjoy a bye week and get healthy. Despite the loss, Jerry Jones and the rest of Happy Valley is very happy indeed. 27-13 Eagles

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers — At 10-5 and locked into the three seed, Mike Tomlin gave his Steelers starters the day off. Landry Jones started in place of Ben Roethlisberger against the 1-14 Browns. Early on Robert Griffin III threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to DeValve for a 7-0 Browns lead. In the second quarter the Browns moved 67 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. RGIII threw a 4 yard touchdown pass to Gary Barnidge to make it 14-0 Browns.  Late in the half with everything going right, a shotgun snap for the Browns went awry. The ball went sailing past RGIII as the Steelers recovered at the Cleveland 37. Jones threw an 11 yard touchdown to Deangelo Williams as the Steelers only trailed 14-7 at halftime. Late in the third quarter the Steelers faced 3rd and 11 at their own 46. Jones went deep, was intercepted by Boddy-Calhoun, and saw Boddy-Calhoun take it 68 yards the other way for a defensive touchdown. Yet before the score could read 21-7 Browns, officials reviewed the score. Boddy-Calhoun lost control of the ball just before breaking the plane. The Steelers recovered in the end zone, so instead it was a touchback. These are the Browns.

The Steelers then moved 80 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Williams ran for a one yard touchdown for a 14-14 tie. The Browns moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 5 at the Pittsburgh 23. RGIII was then sacked for an 8 yard loss. Cody Parkey came in for a 49 yard field goal to give the Browns the lead midway through the fourth quarter. The kick was no good. These are the Browns. Jones then went deep to Darrius Hayward-Bey for a 46 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the 11, Jones hit Ayers for the touchdown to make it 21-14 Steelers with just over 5 minutes left to play. The Browns struck rich back. Isaiah Crowell ran for a 67 yard gain and George Atkins III ran for a 5 yard touchdown for a 21-21 game with 3 1/2 minutes left. The Steelers punted on 4th and 18 from their own 3, giving the Browns the ball bak at midfield with 90 seconds left. Griffin went deep to Terrelle Pryor for a 43 yard gain. On 1st and goal at the 5, all the Browns had to do was take a knee, force Pittsburgh to use their timeouts, and kick the winning field goal. Crowell got the handoff and fumbled the football at the 3 yard line. The Steelers recovered. These are the Browns.

The Browns got the ball first in overtime at their own 19. On 3rd and 1 from their 40, Atkinson gained 11 yards. Cleveland chewed up yards on the ground and moved into easy field goal range. On 3rd and 2 from the 14, Griffin threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 9. On 3rd and goal at the 9, Griffin threw a short pass but a defensive facemark meant 1st and goal at the 2. Pittsburgh was giving the game away but Cleveland would not take it. A touchdown would end the game. Rather than let the strong running game finish things, Griffin threw incomplete. On 2nd and goal from the 2, A West Coast Offense Dink and Dunk sideways pass turned into a 14 yard loss. Parkey hit the 34 yard field goal. The 17 play, 79 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Browns up 24-21, but Pittsburgh would get one chance with the ball.

After a touchback, the Steelers soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Jones hit Hamilton for 11 yards and Rogers for 19 yards. On 4th and 2 from Cleveland 32 with 3:48 left in overtime, Mike Tomlin decided to go for the win rather than the tying field goal. With their seeding assured and nothing to play for, Tomlin did not want to risk injury by extending the game. Jones hit Ayers for 6 yards and a first down. On the next play Jones went deep to Hamilton for the 26 yard touchdown, ending the game. The 1-15 Browns are now on the clock with the top pick in the Draft, but Hue Jackson is expected to survive Black Monday. Jones played well, finishing 24 of 37 for 277 yards, 3 touchdowns, and one interception. He returns to the bench next week as the 11-5 Steelers host Miami on Wildcard weekend. RGIII also played well in defeat, going 29 of 40 for 232 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. This game was an audition for him in case the Browns draft a quarterback next year. 27-24 Steelers

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Roberto Aguayo hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Buccaneers. The Panthers moved 75 yard and Jonathan Stewart ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Panthers. At the end of the first quarter Graham Gano missed a 46 yard field goal try that would have extended the lead for Carolina. Aguayo then missed from 46 as well. At the end of the half, Gano missed from 58. In the third quarter Cam Newton was intercepted by Brent Grimes, who returned it 31 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 10-7 Buccaneers lead. Gano then hit from 54 for a 10-10 game. With 6 minutes left in regulation, Gano missed his third field goal from 36 yards out. The Buccaneers then moved 74 yards. With just over 3 minutes left, Jameis Winston hit Mike Evans for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Buccaneers. The Panthers moved from their 26 to a 4th and 12 at the Tampa Bay 18 with 46 seconds left. Newton hit Kelvin Benjamin for 13 and then threw a jump ball that Benjamin caught for the 5 yard touchdown. With 17 seconds left the Panthers trailed by one point. With nothing to play for but pride, Riverboat Ron Rivera went for the 2 point conversion try. Newton fired incomplete. The Panthers went 15-1 last year but this year fell to 7-9, although Ron Rivera is considered safe after three straight NFC South crowns before this year. The Buccaneers finished 9-7 under Dirk Koetter but needed a miracle to make the playoffs and did not get it. 17-16 Buccaneers

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans — The 9-6 Texans came in locked into the 4 seed against the eliminated 8-7 Titans. Yet Bill O’Brien started Tom Savage, not Brock Osweiler. On 3rd and 9 from the Houston 15, Savage was savaged by the Houston defense and fumbled. Duquon Jones recovered in the Houston end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 Titans lead. On the first play of the second quarter, Bill O’Brien decided to go for it with the Texans facing 4th and 1 at their own 39. Savage gained 2 yards but was injured on the play. He was taken to the sideline for concussion observation as Osweiler came in. On 4th and 6 from the Titans 35, O’Brien went for it again. Osweiler was sacked. On the next Houston series Nick Novak missed a 45 yard field goal. Houston then punted on 4th and 17 from their own 3, giving Tennessee the ball at the Houston 36. On 3rd and 16 from the 42, Matt Cassel hit Matthews for a 25 yard gain. Cassel hit Matthews for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Titans at halftime.

In the third quarter the Texans moved 81 yards in 13 plays. Osweiler hit Fiedorowicz for a 4 yard touchdown to get the Texans within 14-7. The Titans came back 55 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. Henry ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Titans. The Texans came 67 yards again but bogged down inside the 10. Novak hit from 26 to get the Texans within 21-10. In the fourth quarter the Texans held the ball for over 7 1/2 minutes and moved 57 yards. Ryan Succop hit a 35 yard field goal to make it 24-10 Titans with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, Osweiler tried to rally the Texans. On 4th and 1 from the 7, Alfred Blue gained 2 yards. On 4th and goal at the one, Osweiler got in to get the Texans within 7 with 3 minutes to play. The Texans held on defense and got the ball back at their own 18 with 53 seconds left. With 23 seconds left, on 4th and 16 from their own 27, Osweiler threw incomplete. Both Bill O’Brien and Mike Mularkey have 9-7 teams, but the Texans have the tie-breaker. Houston hosts a Wildcard game next week while Tennessee is done for the year. 24-17 Titans

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons — With a win, the 10-5 Falcons would lock up the two seed and a first round bye. A loss would have them playing on Wildcard weekend. The Falcons went right to work, going 68 yards rapidly. Matt Ryan threw a 7 yard touchdown pass to Coleman for a 7-0 Falcons lead. After a touchback, the Saints moved to a 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 30. Sean Payton decided to go for it. Rather than plunge straight ahead, Drew Brees went deep to Coby Fleener for a 25 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the one, Brees went to Fleener for the tying touchdown. Yet officials reversed the call and ruled it incomplete. With nothing to play for but pride, Sean Payton inexplicably on 4th and goal at the one opted for the field goal. Will Lutz hit from 19 to get the Saints within 7-3. After a touchback, the Falcons need one play and 11 seconds to strike again. Devonta Freeman raced for a 75 yard touchdown and a 14-3 Falcons lead. The Saints came back 75 yards as well. Tim Hightower ran for a 2 yard touchdown as the Saints trailed 14-10 after a wild first quarter.

The pinball action carried over into the second quarter as the Falcons easily moved 75 yards again. Ryan hit Julio Jones for a one yard touchdown to make it 21-10 Falcons. Atlanta got it back and moved 76 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Ryan hit Mohammed Sanu as a shootout was turning into a 28-10 Falcons blowout. Lutz hit a 40 yard field goal, but Falcons kept rolling. 75 yards later had Ryan hitting Hardy for a 7 yard touchdown as the Falcons led 35-13 at halftime. The second half was a formality. In the third quarter The Falcons moved 95 yards in 14 plays and 5 minutes, settling for a 22 yard Matt Bryant field goal to lead 38-13. The game was supposedly over, the Saints still had a first ballot Hall of Famer quarterbacking them.

Brees led a furious fourth quarter rally. The Saints moved 89 yard and Brees hit Thomas for a 14 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the saints were within 38-19 with 12 1/2 minutes left. The Saints got it back at their own 32 On 3rd and 13 from just past midfield, Brees hit Snead for 27 yards. On 1st and goal at the 9, Brees went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. The Saints got it back at midfield with 5 minutes left. Mark Ingram ran for a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the one, Ingram got in. The 2 point try again failed but the Saints were within 38-25 with 2:45 to play. The Saints recovered the onside kick at their own 43. On 4th and 5 from their 48, Brees went deep to Thomas for 17 yards. On 4th and 1 from the 26, Ingram gained 9. Brees hit Cadet for a 3 yard score. With only 39 seconds left, the Saints were within 6. This time the onside kick failed and the Falcons survived.

Matty Ice finished a ridiculous 27 of 36 for 331 yards, 4 touchdown passes all in the first half, and 0 interceptions. Brees finished 29 of 50 for 350 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. Brees also topped 5,000 yards passing for the 5th time in his career. No other quarterback in NFL history has done that more than once. Despite a 7-9 finish and swirling rumors about Sean Payton bolting, he is probably staying. The Falcons clinched the bye in their second year under Dan Quinn. 38-32 Falcons

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos — Despite being 12-3, the Raiders season had become a nightmare. Last week Derek Carr broke his leg and is done for the year. Backup Matt McGloin had not played in three years. The Raiders came in with the inside track on the first round bye, but a loss coupled with a Kansas City win would drop the Raiders all the way to the five seed wildcard. The Broncos at 8-7 were out of the playoffs, and rumors were swirling that Gary Kubiak would retire after the game for health reasons. Kubiak is only 55 but suffered heart trouble earlier this year. The Broncos dominated from the start, moving 84 yards without much difficulty. Booker returned for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Broncos. In the second quarter the Broncos moved 85 yards again. This time the Raiders defense bent but did not break. Brandon McManus hit the 22 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Broncos.

Things went from bad to worse for the Raiders. McGloin took a helmet to helmet hit and left the game shaken up. The Raiders punted on 4th and 29 from their own 30 and the Broncos took over at their own 42. On 3rd and 8 from the Oakland 33, Trevor Siemian fumbled the snap, but the Broncos retained possession. The Broncos were called for offensive holding. 4th and 8 would mean a 51 yard field goal try for McManus. Yet Jack Del rio has been gambling all season, and he gambled again. He took the penalty and made it 3rd and 18 to push the Broncos out of field goal range but give them one more shot. Siemian threw a sideways swing pass that appeared to gain nothing. Then the Raiders lost all interest in tackling as Booker took the swing pass all the way for a 43 yard touchdown. This was the backbreaker as the Raiders trailed 17-0 at halftime. Connor Cook played the end of the first half and all of the second half. Cook had never thrown a pass in an NFL regular season game. The Raiders chances went from slim to none.

In the third quarter the Raiders quickly moved from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Denver 37. Cook was then sacked and fumbled the ball away. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 41, Siemian hit Lattimer for 14 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Oakland 43, Siemian hit Thomas for a 26 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the 11 Siemian threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Siemian hit Green for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 24-0 Broncos. Cook would throw a 32 yard touchdown to Amari Cooper, but that was it. The Broncos finished 9-7 while the 12-4 Raiders collapse was complete. They lost the division and will be on the road in the Wildcard round against Houston, perhaps the only team as messed up as they are. After 14 years the Raiders are finally in the playoffs, but it feels like they have already lost. It was also a sad day for Denver. After the game Kubiak confirmed the rumors and told his team he was retiring. 24-6 Broncos

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams — Chandler Catanzaro hit field goals of 32 yards in the first quarter and 34 yards in the second quarter to make it 6-0 Cardinals. The second kick came after the quarterbacks traded interceptions. The Cardinals then drove 65 yards and Carson Palmer hit Ross for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Cardinals. The Rams tried to make a game of it with Greg Zuerlein hitting field goals of 37 and 36 yards to get the Rams within 13-6. The first one came after a Rams touchdown was nullified by illegal motion. The second one was set up by a blocked punt. Catanzaro hit his third field goal from 47 yards out to end the half with the Cardinals up 16-6. In the third quarter the Cardinals put the game away. The Rams punted on 4th and 24 from their own 10. Patrick Peterson returned it 17 yards to the Rams 37. One play later Palmer went deep to Fells for the touchdown to make it 23-6 Cardinals. The Rams then punted on 4th and 23 from their own 5, setting up the Cardinals at their own 43. On 4th and 4 from the Rams 36, Bruce Arians decided to go for it. Palmer went deep to JJ Nelson for a 32 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the one, Williams got in to make it 30-6 Cardinals. In the fourth quarter turnovers turned a blowout into a carpet-bombing. A Los Angeles fumble had the Cardinals at the Rams 19. On 3rd and goal Palmer hit Fitzgerald for a 5 yard score. Goff was benched and backup Mannion played the fourth quarter. Mannion had an interception returned 66 yards to complete the scoring. The 4-12 Rams are looking for a new coach in the offseason while Bruce Arians insists that’ despite earlier health issues, he will be back in 2017. The 7-8-1 Cardinals are not expected to blow up their roster. 44-6 Cardinals

Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers — The 5-10 Chargers were wondering if Mike McCoy would be fired on Black Monday. It was also possible the team was playing its final game in San Diego and possibly moving to Los Angeles. The 11-4 Chiefs had locked up a playoff spot, but would win the AFC West and a first round bye with a win and an Oakland loss. Early on both teams had mirror image drives of 10 plays, just over 50 yards, and 5 minutes of clock. Both teams settled for mirror image 35 yard field goals as Josh Lambo hit for San Diego and Cairo Santos answered for Kansas City in a 3-3 game. In the second quarter the Chargers moved 76 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Philip Rivers hit Antonio Gates for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Chargers. The Chiefs quickly moved 75 yards and Alex Smith ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 10-10. The first big break in the game came when Rivers was intercepted, setting up the Chiefs at the San Diego 34. Smith hit West for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Chiefs. With 1:17 left in the half the Chargers faced 2nd and 7 from the Chiefs 18. Looking for the tie, Rivers went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. The Chargers defense folded in the 2 minute drill and Santos hit from 25 to make it 20-10 Chiefs at halftime.

In the third quarter the Chiefs drove down the field looking for the knockout blow. On 2nd and 3 from the Chargers 11, Smith threw a short pass that was intercepted by Addae. Addae weaved all across the field and picked up a convoy of blockers. By the time he was done, the 90 yard interception touchdown had the Chargers right back in it down 20-17. Yet these are the Chargers. Lmbo kicked the ensuing kick out of bounds, setting up the Chiefs at their own 40. Smith quickly hit Tyreeq Hill for 20 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the San Diego 9, Smith ran and came up short. Yet defensive holding on Rolando McClain meant 1st and goal at the 2. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Smith found West for the touchdown and the 27-17 Chiefs lead. The Chargers punted at their own 46 and Hill fielded the ball at his own 5 yard line. He did not fair catch it. He broke a couple tackles, stayed inbounds, and outraced everyone for a 95 yard touchdown. After three quarters, the Chiefs had a comfortable 34-17 lead.

With 11 minutes left in regulation and the Chargers in the red zone, Rivers on 3rd down fired to Antonio Gates in the end zone. The ball bounced off of Gates and a defender incomplete. Needing 3 scores, Lambo came in for the 29 yard field goal and brought the Chargers to within 34-20. Despite plenty of time, Mike McCoy hit the panic button and called an onside kick. It failed, and Santos hit a 37 yard field goal to lock up the win. The Chargers got their garbage touchdown to end their garbage season as the Spanos family decided whether or not to change cities. Mike McCoy did not even make it to Black Monday. He was fired Sunday night after the game ended. The Chiefs win coupled with an Oakland loss gave Walrus Lite Andy Reid and the 12-4 Chiefs the tie-breaker edge and the AFC West crown along with the first round bye. 37-27 Chiefs

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers — The 49ers have gone from being the most class organization under Eddie Debartolo Jr. to the least classy organization with Jed York running things into the ground. It was leaked on New Year’s Eve that the 2-13 49ers would fire General Manager Trent Baalke and Coach Chip Kelly after the game. On New Year’s Day before the game Baalke confirmed he was fired but said he would show up to the finale anyway. They were also out of the running for the top pick in the Draft.Meanwhile, the 9-5-1 Seahawks had clinched a home game on Wildcard weekend but would need to win and get help to move up to the two seed and a first round bye. On the second play from scrimmage after a touchback, Colin Kaepernick fumbled the snap out of the shotgun and the Seahawks recovered at the San Francisco 21 yard line. The defense held Seattle to a 31 yard Steve Hauschka field goal for a 3-0 Seahawks lead. The 49ers came back 75 yards and Draughn got in from the one as the 49ers actually led 7-3. The 49ers got it back and moved 79 yards in 14 plays and 8 minutes. On the first play of the second quarter the 49ers faced 4th and goal at the one. With absolutely nothing left to lose, Chip Kelly went for it. Draughn got in as the 49ers led 14-3 and were smelling upset.

Reality soon set in. A 32 yard Hauschka field goal got the Seahawks within 14-6. From their own 48, a 49ers fumble was returned by Clark 27 yards to the San Francisco 15. Russell Wilson hit non-relative Willson for an 11 yard touchdown to get the Seahawks within 14-13. The Seahawks got it back at their own 9. From the 16, Wilson went deep to Doug Baldwin for a 41 yard gain and deep again to Jimmy Graham for a 42 yard gain down to the one. Thomas Rawls got in to make it 19-14 Seahawks. The extra point was blocked. In the third quarter the 49ers punted on 4th and 25 from their own 9. The Seahawks got it back at their own 41 and Wilson went deep to Jermaine Kearse for a 36 yard gain. Hauschka hit from 33 to make it 22-14 Seahawks. After giving up 19 unanswered points, the 49ers caught a break. The Seahawks lined up to punt on 4th and 10 from their own 14. The high snap sailed over the punter’s head out of the back of the end zone for a safety to get the 49ers within 22-16.

The 49ers could not capitalize after the free kick. In the fourth quarter Hauschka hit from 28 to give the Seahawks breathing room up 25-16. After that with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation Pete Carroll took Russell Wilson out and let backup Trevor Boykin finish the game. With a first round bye out of reach, keeping Wilson healthy for the playoffs mattered more. Midway through the fourth quarter the 49ers went with some trickery on a punt return as a lateral meant a 33 yard gain to the Seattle 35. Kaepernick hit Celek for a 9 yard touchdown. With 6 minutes left the 49ers were only down two points. On 3rd and 8 from their 21, Boykin hit McEvoy for 9 yards. On 3rd and 1 from their 39, Boykin hit Willson for 7. On 2nd and 11 from the Seattle 45, Boykin hit Reece for 19 yards. At the 2 minute warning with the Seahawks facing 2nd and 10 at the Frisco 36, Boykin gained 11 yards as the 49ers never got the ball back. The City of San Francisco may be the team to rename itself the San Jose or Santa Clara 49ers. At 2-14, they still did not earn the top pick in the Draft next year. The Seahawks are the three seed and will host a Wildcard game next week. 25-23 Seahawks

New York Giants at Washington Redskins — The 10-5 Giants came in having locked up the fifth seed. The 8-6-1 Redskins with a win would get the six seed and with a loss would miss the playoffs. With everything on the line for Washington, they came out flat in a game dominated by the Giants defense. In the first quarter the Giants moved 56 yards in 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. They settled for a 40 yard Robbie Gould field goal and a 3-0 Giants lead. In the second quarter the Giants moved 74 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Rashad Jennings got in from 2 yards out to make it 10-0 Giants. The Redskins finally got on the board late in the third quarter with a 32 yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to trail 10-3 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Redskins moved 76 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and 17 from the Giants 24, Cousins found Pierre Garcon for 23 yards. Cousins hit Reed for the one yard touchdown for a 10-10 game with 8 minutes left in regulation. With 4:40 to play the Giants faced 3rd and 5 at their own 25. Manning hit Victor Cruz for 6 and then went deep to King for a 44 yard gain. With 2:17 to play, Gould came in for a 40 yard field goal to give the Giants the lead. Gould was good. The Redskins moved from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Giants 43 with 1:27 to play. Only one first down from field goal range, Cousins went deep and was intercepted by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Washington got it back at their own 6 with 6 seconds left. Attempts at hook and laterals led to the Giants recovering and Wade running the other way for an 11 yard clinching touchdown. Although Jay Gruden will be back next year, two straight home losses will have him on the hot seat in 2017. The Redskins will not be in the playoffs while the Giants under Ben McAdoo showed grit, especially on defense. 19-10 Giants

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions was the Sunday night game. With Washington losing earlier in the day, this game lost a slight amount of luster. It was no longer a do or die game where the loser would miss the playoffs. Both 9-6 teams entered the game knowing they were in the postseason. Both teams would play in the Wildcard round next week. Yet the winner of this game would be NFC North champions and be the four seed, meaning playing their first playoff game at home. The loser and six seed would have to do everything on the road. After a scoreless opening quarter, on the first play of the second quarter Matt Prater missed a 39 yard field goal for the Lions. The Packers struck first in the second quarter. A 71 yard drive was capped off with Aaron Rodgers hitting Ripowkski for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. The Lions moved 80 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the one, Zach Zenner got in for a 7-7 ballgame. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half the Lions got it back at their own 31. Matthew Stafford threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. The Lions led 14-7 and only 23 seconds remained in the half. The Packers faced 1st and 15 at their own 20. Rodgers went to Allison for a 39 yard gain and to Cook for 6 more yards. On the last play of the half Mason Crosby drilled a 53 yard field goal to get the Packers within 14-10.

In the third quarter the Packers moved 75 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for a 3 yard touchdown as the Packers led 17-14. In the third quarter the Packers moved 81 yards in 10 plays. From the Detroit 10 on 3rd and 9, Rodgers rolled to his left, waited forever, and fired a laser to the end zone to Allison for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Packers led 23-14.  From the Detroit 31, the Lions moved as Stafford hit Marvin Jones for 23 yards. Despite 1st and 10 at the Green Bay 36, Stafford threw 3 straight incompletions. Needing 2 scores, Jim Caldwell brought in Prater for a 54 yard field goal try. Prater was good and the Lions were within 6 points midway through the fourth quarter. Despite plenty of time after a touchback, the Lions defense could not get a stop. On 3rd and 10 from the Detroit 48, Rodgers threw incomplete but 12 men on the defense gave the Packers another shot. On 3rd and 5 Rodgers hit Montgomery for 9 yards. Rodgers threw a 9 yard touchdown to Adams and went back to Adams for the 2 point conversion.

The Packers led 31-17, but more importantly only 2:45 remained in the game. A rally was snuffed out when Stafford was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback with 90 seconds left. The Packers punted and a shanked 18 yard punt gave the Lions the ball back at the Green Bay 35 with barely more than 22 seconds to play. Stafford threw a Hail Mary to Anquon Boldin for the touchdown with 12 seconds left. The onside kick failed and the Packers had finally put the game away. The Packers finished the season with 6 straight wins while the Lions end the season with 3 straight losses. The Packers are division champs again while the Lions have not won the division since the 1993 season. 31-24 Packers

The playoffs are now set (all times Eastern):

Saturday, January 7

AFC: 4:30 p.m. ABC: 5.) Oakland Raiders at 4.) Houston Texans

NFC: 8:15 p.m. NBC: 6.) Detroit Lions at 3.) Seattle Seahawks

Sunday, January 8

AFC: 1:00 p.m. CBS: 6.) Miami Dolphins at 3.) Pittsburgh Steelers,

NFC: 4:30 p.m. FOX: 5.) New York Giants at 4.) Green Bay Packers

Bye weeks:

AFC: 2.) Kansas City Chiefs and 1.) New England Patriots

NFC: 2.) Atlanta Falcons and 1.) Dallas Cowboys