NFL 2018-2019 Conference Title Games Recap

NFL 2018-2019 Conference Title Games Recap

NFC Title Game: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints was the Sunday afternoon game. These teams played a regular season thriller in New Orleans where the Rams overcame a 35-14 deficit to tie the game 35-35, only to see the Saints win 45-35. The Saints again had the home field, and were hosting the NFC Title Game for the second time in their history. Again, the Saints jumped out to the early lead. The Saints moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 3 at their own 43. Drew Brees lobbed a perfect floater to Alvin Kamara for 21 yards and then hit him again for 14 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Rams 19, Brees threw to the end zone and the receiver dropped it. Wil Lutz hit the 37 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Saints. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 13. Jared Goff threw a short pass to Todd Gurley, but it bounced off of Gurley’s hands into the arms of Davis for the interception. Despite taking over at the Rams 16, the Saints again had to settle for a 29 yard Lutz field goal to lead 6-0. The Saints got it back at their own 32 and Brees hit Hill for 24 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Rams 37, Brees hit Thomas for 19 yards. On 4th and 2 from the Rams 10, Sean Payton decided to go for it. Drew Brees barked out the hard count and the Rams defense bit. Michelin Man Wade Philips could not believe the defensive lapse. On the next pay Brees went to Griffin for a 5 yard touchdown. The Saints led 13-0 after the first quarter.

Last week the Saints trailed 14-0 and needed a fake punt to jumpstart their offense. This week the tables were turned. In the second quarter, the Rams were punting on 4th and 5 from their own 30. This time it was Sean McVay calling for the fake, and quarterback turned punter Johnny Hekker again delivered. Hekker hit Sam Shields for a 12 yard gain. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Saints 18, a run went nowhere and Goff threw incomplete. Greg Zuerlein hit a 36 yard field goal to get the Rams within 13-3. With 1:50 left in the half, the Rams took over at their own 19. Goff hit Reynolds for gains of 9 and 13. On 3rd and 10 from their own 41, Goff hit Cooks for 17 yards. With 48 seconds left in the half, the Rams were at the Saints 42. Goff went bombs away to Cooks for 36 yards. On the next play Gurley went up the gut, punt and stretched the ball over the pylon for the 6 yard touchdown. The Rams only trailed 13-10 at halftime.  

The Saints began their first drive of the third quarter at their own 29. Ingram ran for 6. Brees then hit Kamara for gains of 8 and 9 followed by Kamara running for 6 more. Ingram ran for 16 and Kamara added 8 more. Brees went back to Kamara for 9 more yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Brees went to Hill for the touchdown. The 12 play, 71 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Saints up 20-10. After a touchback, the Rams responded. From their own 37, Goff hit Cooks for 14 yards. From the Saints 42, Goff went to Cooks again for 25 yards. An end around by Reynolds gained 16 yards down to the one. Goff fumbled the snap but quickly fell on it himself. On 3rd and goal from the one, Goff hit a wide open Tyler Higbee in the flat for the score. The 10 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Rams within 20-17 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. 

With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Rams took over at their own 9 yard line. On 3rd and 3 from their own 16, Goff rolled all the way out to his right and fired a laser to Gregg Everett, who split the seams for a 45 yard gain. From the Saints 40, Goff went deep to Reynolds for a 33 yard gain. On 2nd and goal at the 5, Goff rolled out to his left and had nothing but green in front of him. However, he hesitated, allowing the defense to close the gap. On 3rd and goal at the 2, CJ Anderson only got half of it. With just over 5 minutes left in regulation, Sean McVay had the biggest call of his career to make. On 4th and goal at the one, the aggressive coach this time went conservative and opted for the field goal. After a meaningless delay of game penalty, Zuerlein hit the 24 yarder. After 55 minutes of football, the NFC Title Game was tied 20-20. This was everything leatherheads could ask for in a football game. 

Drew Brees went for all the marbles, and Thomas out-jumped the defender to set up 1st and 10 at the Rams 13 at the 2 minute warning. Rather than try and run down the clock or force the Rams to use their timeouts on defense, Sean Payton went with a pass play that was incomplete. A run then went nowhere. On 3rd and 10, another incomplete pass stopped the clock again. Lutz came in for the 31 yard field goal try to give the Saints the lead. The kick was good, and the Saints had the 23-20 advantage. The Rams began their final drive with 1:41 to play at their own 25 yard line and one timeout. Goff went to Reynolds for 19 yards. On 3rd and 3 just past midfield, Goff hit Woods for 16 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 30, Todd threw incomplete. With 19 seconds left, Zuerlein came in for a 48 yard field goal try to tie the game. Zuerlein drilled it. After 60 minutes of thrilling football, leatherheads, were being treated to overtime.  

Just like 9 years ago, the Saints would have to play an extra session. Just like 9 years ago, they won the coin toss and got the ball first. On 2nd and 10 from their own 26, an incompletion was nullified by defensive pass interference. That gave the Saints 14 yards to their own 40. A run was blown up in the backfield for a 6 yard loss. On the next play, Brees got belted as he threw the ball. It floated helplessly in the air. Despite laying on the ground on his back, Johnson made the interception. The Rams took over at their own 45. One completion moved them to the Saints 42. Needing only a few yards to get in long field goal range, the Rams had a run blown up in their backfield for minus three yards. Goff avoided a sack and somehow completed a pass for a 6 yard gain to set up 3rd and 6 from the Saints 39. After a swing pass was incomplete, Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein came in for a 57 yarder to win it all. Sean McVay knew a miss would give the Saints excellent field position. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, Zuerlein was dead center. This epic finish was already an instant classic. Unlike 9 years ago, this time the Saints were on the losing end of a killer turnover. For the third time in their history, the Rams were going to the Super Bowl. 26-23 Rams, OT

AFC Title Game: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs was the Sunday night game. These teams played a regular season game that is already an instant classic. The Chiefs rallied from a 24-9 halftime deficit to tie the game 40-40 only to see the Patriots win it 43-40 on the final play. That game was in New England. The rematch was in Kansas City, as the Chiefs hosted the AFC Title Game for the very first time. Meanwhile, New England had the experience. Clear skies could not hide the bitter cold weather. Meanwhile, the Patriots started out red hot. Michel ran for 11 yards. Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 13 more. On 3rd and 4 just past midfield and the Chiefs smelling pass, James White ran for 5 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 35, White gained 2 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Chiefs 30, Brady hit Julian Edelman for 14 yards. Michel did the rest, running for 11, 4 and finally the one yard touchdown up the gut. The 15 play, 80 yard, 8 minute smash mouth drive had the Patriots up 7-0. 

The Chiefs went backward in a big way. Patrick Mahomes was sacked for a 14 yard loss as the Chiefs punted on 4th and 24 from their own 10. Edelman returned the punt 11 yards to give the Patriots a short field at the Chiefs 44. On 3rd and 4, the Chiefs again expected a pass. Again, a perfectly executed draw play went for a 5 yard gain. Brady then hit Cordarelle Patterson for a 15 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 12, Brady fired to Edelman for an 8 yard gain. The second quarter began with the Patriots one yard away from taking a 14-0 lead. Michel got the carry and got stopped. On 3rd and goal at the one, Brady faked the handoff and fired over the middle. He was intercepted by Ragland in the end zone. Big man with football thought about running it 100 yards the other way. Then reality set in and he slid down in his own end zone for a touchback. On the verge of seeing the game completely unravel, the Chiefs were still alive. Yet on 3rd and 1 from their own 29, Williams got the carry and got stopped cold. 

The Patriots moved from their 26 to a 3rd and 1 at the Chiefs 42. Michel got the carry and got stopped. After Bill Belichick’s attempt to get the defense to jump failed, the Patriots took a delay of game on 4th and 1. The Patriots punted, which is something they did not do the entire time these teams met in the regular season. The Chiefs finally got going and moved from their own 15 to a 1st and 10 at the New England 23. Yet on 3rd and 9, for the second time in the game, Mahomes was sacked for a 14 yard loss. Walrus Lite Andy Reid decided to punt rather than gamble on a 54 yard field goal in freezing weather. The Patriots took over at their own 10 with 3 minutes left in the half. Michel ran for gains of 2, 9, one and 5 to give the Patriots 3rd and 4 at their own 27 with 1:13 left. The Chiefs took a timeout on defense and it bit them in a big way. Brady went to White for 5 yards. Then he connected with White again for a 30 yard gain. White then gained 9 more. Finally, Brady went deep to Philip Dorsett, who was well covered. Dorsett made the catch and the Patriots had the 14-0 lead with 27 seconds left in the half. A 17 yard kickoff return had the Chiefs at their own 42. Yet Mahomes was sacked and fumbled. The Chiefs retained possession but the 10 yard loss ended the half. 

The Chiefs began the second half at their own 26. Desperately needing a big play, they finally got one. On 3rd and 2 from their own 34, Mahomes went for the bomb and found Sammy Watkins for a 54 yard gain. On the next play Mahomes rifled a 12 yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce to get the Chiefs within 14-7. The Chiefs held on defense, but a disastrous mistake on the punt return lost 12 yards. Throw in an illegal block and the Chiefs were starting at their own 3 yard line. Another sack of Mahomes had the Chiefs punting on 4th and 18 from their own 8. Edelman took the punt and midfield and returned it 13 yards to give the Patriots excellent field position at the Chiefs 37. An offensive holding call killed the drive. Stephen Gostkowski came in for a 47 yard field goal try to extend the lead. The kick was good, and the Patriots led 17-7 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. 

The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Mahomes gained 2 yards. On 3rd and 3 from their own 43, Mahomes hit Watkins for 10 yards. From the Patriots 47, a swing pass from Mahomes to a wide open Williams went for 33 yards. The Chiefs began the fourth quarter at the New England 14 yard line. An incomplete pass to the end zone was followed by a flag for defensive pass interference on the one yard line. Officials missed a push off and offensive pass interference on the play. Mahomes rolled out and fired to Williams for the touchdown to get the Chiefs within 17-14 with almost the entire fourth quarter to play. 

The Patriots moved from their own 24 to a 3rd and 2 at the Chiefs 26. White got the carry and came up one foot short of the sticks. With 10 minutes left in the game, Bill Belichick wasted no time going for it. Normally Brady goes for the quarterback sneak in this situation. This time Brady handed off to Burkhead, who tried to go airborne but was blasted back. The home crowd erupted in celebration at the inspired defensive stand. The Chiefs could not capitalize on offense as 3 plays netted only 2 yards. The Chiefs punted and chaos ensued. 

Edelman fumbled the punt, the Chiefs recovered and returned it for a touchdown. The referees huddled and ruled it a muff and not a fumble, giving the Chiefs the ball at the New England 28. Then on further review the officials ruled Edelman did not touch the ball. It appeared to graze his thumb, but the Patriots retained possession. After escaping the most controversial non-fumble call since the Tuck Rule, poetic justice came 2 plays later when a pass by Brady bounced off of Edelman’s fingertips and was intercepted by Sorensen. Sorensen returned it 22 yards to the New England 23. On 2nd and 10, Mahomes rolled right and lobbed a screen pass left to a wide open Williams, who took it all the way for the touchdown. Mahomes’s 3rd touchdown pass of the second half gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game up 21-17 midway through the fourth quarter. 

On 2nd and 7 from their own 28, Brady threw incomplete but the Patriots were again bailed out by the officials. A very late and questionable flag for roughing the passer kept the drive going. On 3rd and 8 from their own 45, Brady fired off the mark but Edelman made a diving, one-handed catch. Andy Reid challenged the catch, and the ball may have hit the ground. The catch stood and the Patriots gained 11 yards. Burkhead ran for a 14 yard gain and Brady hit Gronkowski for 11 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 10 with 3 1/2 minutes to play, Burkhead got stopped a few inches short of the 1st down. Again Bill Belichick went for it. Michel got the carry up the gut and ran all the way for the touchdown to give the Patriots the 24-21 lead. 

The Chiefs took over at their own 27. On 2nd and 10 Mahomes threw incomplete, but defensive holding meant an automatic first down. On 2nd and 10 from their own 37, Mahomes threw incomplete. However, defensive pass interference meant a 23 yard gain. On the next play Mahomes went for it all and threw a bomb to the end zone into double coverage. Mahomes was lucky to escape with an incompletion when the defender dropped the would-be interception. On the next play Mahomes found a wide open Watkins in the flat for a 38 yard gain and 1st and goal at the 2. On the next play Williams ran it in for the score. With 2:03 to play the Chiefs led 28-24. 

Patterson should have allowed a touchback to give the Patriots one play before the 2 minute warning. While it was a mistake for him to run the kickoff out of the end zone, he returned it to the New England 38 yard line. 

Brady went to Chris Hogan for 13 yards down to the New England 20 as the Patriots took their 1st timeout with 54 seconds left in the game. On further review, officials ruled the ball hit the ground incomplete to set up 3rd and 10 from the Kansas City 34. Then came more choose. Brady had a ball bounce off of the receiver’s hands and get intercepted. Before the Chiefs could celebrate, officials ruled the defense jumped offsides. It was 3rd and 5 instead of game over. Brady went deep to Gronkowski for a 25 yard gain. Eric Berry had perfect coverage but Gronk did what Gronk does in wrestling control of the ball. Andy Reid took his first timeout on defense with 42 seconds left as the Patriots faced 1st and goal at the 4. On the next play Burkhead ran it in off tackle. The Patriots regained the lead by a field goal with only 39 seconds left. 

The Chiefs took over at their own 27 with 32 seconds left. Mahomes completed a pass for 21 yards as the Chief took their final timeout with 23 seconds left. Needing a miracle, the Chiefs got one. Mahomes went deep to Robinson for a 27 yard gain to the Patriots 21. The clock could have run out but the Patriots jumped offsides on the play. The clock stopped on the defensive penalty with 16 seconds left. The Patriots had 36 players with 123 years of AFC Title Game experience. The Chiefs had 0 players with any AFC Title Game experience before this game. Mahomes threw the ball out of the end zone with 11 seconds left. The Chiefs were out of timeouts. Even though it was only 2nd down, Andy Reid took not chances. Harrison Butker came in for a 39 yard field goal try to tie the game. With the entire football world watching, the kick was dead center. Again, the NFL brought us an instant classic. For the second time on the day, fans were treated to overtime. 

Walrus Lite Andy Reid’s mustache was on full tilt. Until he wins a Super Bowl, he will not be upgraded to full walrus status with Mike Holmgren, Jerry Reuss and Craig Stadler.  The Patriots won the coin toss and took over after a touchback. Walrus Lite Andy Reid’s mustache as on full tilt. Until he wins a Super Bowl, he will not be upgraded to full walrus status with Mike Holmgren, Jerry Reuss and Craig Stadler.  

On 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 45, Brady fired over the middle to Edelman for a 15 yard gain. On the next play Josh McDaniels went to his bag of tricks with flea flicker. Brady threw it to the end zone incomplete. Brady went deep again to Patterson, who got blasted for an incompletion. On 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 30, Brady went to Gronkowski for 15 yards. Burkhead ran up the middle for 10 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 5. A touchdown would end it but a field goal would give the Chiefs a chance. Burkhead got the carry and gained 3 yards to set up 2nd and goal at the 2. Burkhead carried again and carried the ball into the end zone and the Patriots back to the Super Bowl. Again, it was sweet victory for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and football’s evil empire and a bitter defeat for Walrus Lite Andy Reid and the Chiefs. 37-31 Patriots, OT 

Super Bowl LIII (53) is set. The Rams will represent the NFC and the AFC will be represented by the Patriots for the third straight year. In one week we play the Pro Bowl. In 2 weeks we play the Super Bowl. This is a rematch of the 2001 season when an unknown New England quarterback shocked the heavily favored Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf to launch a dynasty of their own. Again, the NFL brought football fans an instant classic.   

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