NFL 2018-2019 Divisionals Recap

2018-2019 Divisionals Recap

AFC (6) Indianapolis Colts at (1) Kansas City Chiefs was the Saturday afternoon game. 5 years ago the Colts overcame a 38-10 third quarter deficit to win a playoff shocker 45-44 over the Chiefs. Andrew Luck was the Colts quarterback and Walrus Lite Andy Reid was the Chiefs coach. They still are. However, that came was in the indoor domes Lucas Oil Stadium. This time it was in outdoor Arrowhead, where snow flurries came down throughout the game. The Chiefs dominated from the start. The Chiefs began at their own 10 and made it look easy. Patrick Mahomes hit Tyreeq Hill for for 11, Travis Kelce for 16 and Sammy Watkins for 34. Damian Williams ran for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back and soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 34. Mahomes hit Hill for 10 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Colts 47, Andy Reid decided to go for it. Williams ran for 11 yards. On the next play Hill took an end around, veered to the middle, and outraced everyone for a 36 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chiefs. In the second quarter the Chiefs held the ball for7 minutes and 15 plays, moving 53 yards. They settled for a 39 yard Harrison Butker field goal to make it 17-0 Chiefs. 

With 6 minutes left in the half, the Chiefs punted on 4t and 20 at their own 19. Dustin Colquitt had his punt blocked and recovered by Pascal in the end zone for a Colts touchdown to get the Colts within 17-7. The Chiefs stayed unfazed and moved 75 yards in 10 plays. Mahomes hit Kelce for 30 yards, Watkins for 5, and Hill for 14. On 3rd and 6 from the Indy 22, Mahomes hit Kelce for 7, Williams for 9 and Watkins for 4. Mahomes scrambled for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 Chiefs with 1:46 left in the half. Luck worked the 2 minute drill and moved the Colts to the 5 yard line with 8 seconds left. The Colts suffered a self-inflicted would when he threw incomplete and Frank Reich with 3 seconds left brought in ageless Adam Vinatieri. Well Vinatieri became famous by kicking a 45 yarder in a blizzard. With slight flurries, he doinked a 23 yarder off the upright no good to end the half. Luck did hit Hilton for a 29 yard touchdown with 5 1/2 minutes left, but Vinaitieri shanked the extra point no good. The Chiefs moved from their own 39 to a 4th and 3 from the Indy 38. The Chiefs punted but running into the kicker sealed the Colts fate. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Williams took it straight up the middle to put the game out of reach with 2 1/2 minutes left. In a fitting end, the Colts reached the Chiefs 4 yard line but a pass to a wide open receiver in the end zone was dropped. The clock ran out before they could score. For the first time in nearly half a century, the Chiefs will host the AFC Title Game. The winner gets the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named after the late beloved founder and owner of these same Chiefs. 31-13 Chiefs

NFC (4) Dallas Cowboys at (2) Los Angeles Rams is the Saturday night game. After a touchback to start the game, Jared Goff hit Tyler Higbee for 19 yards. Dallas jumped offsides as Todd Gurley ran for gains of 3, 4 and 9. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Dallas 7, Goff under heavy pressure threw incomplete. Greg Zuerlein hit the 25 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. The Cowboys took over at their own 29 and soon faced 4th and 1 at the Dallas 49. Jason Garrett went for it and Ezekiel Elliott gained 5 yards with another 15 tacked on for a very questionable personal foul tacked on. On the next play Dat Prescott hit Amari Cooper, who split the seams for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Cowboys. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Goff hit Woods for 5 yards. On 4th and 1 from their own 45, now it was Sean McVay who’d decided to go for it. Goff gained 3 yards. From the Dallas 43, CJ Anderson rumbled 15 yards. The second quarter began with the Rams facing 3rd and 2 at the Dallas 20. Anderson gained another 11 yards. From the 9, Goff hit Brandon Cooks for what appeared to be a touchdown. His knee and elbow came down inbounds. Yet on further review the calls as reversed. Officials ruled Cooks juggled the ball. The Rams settled for a 23 yard Zuerlein field goal. Despite moving the ball at will, the Rams trailed 7-6.

The Rams got the ball back at their own 24 and this time they would not be denied. From their 28, Goff hit Cooks for 20 yards, Woods for 16 more, and Higbee for another 11. From the Dallas 15, Anderson ran fro 14 and then got the last yard to make it 13-7 Rams. The Rams got the ball back at their own 36 and Anderson ran for gains of 6 and 7. On 3rd and 14 from their own 45, Goff threw incomplete but a defensive penalty for illegal use of hands gave the Rams new life. From midfield, Goff hit Cooks for 15 yards. Gurley then raced for a 35 yard touchdown to make it 20-7 Rams with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Cowboys moved from their own 19 to a 3rd and 7 at the Rams 36 with 52 seconds left in the half. Prescott went back to pass, somehow escaped a couple defenders, and was ruled in the grasp by the officials. He was actually in the grasp of his own tackle, who held on to him to protect him. It was a bizarre sequence of events that resulted in an 8 yard loss to push the Cowboys out of field goal range. The closes thing to a break for Dallas came when the Rams failed to extend the lead. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein missed a 63 yard field goal at the gun. The Rams had 170 yards rushing by halftime and topped 200 early in the third quarter.

In the third quarter the Rams moved from their 26 to a 3rd and 3 at the Dallas 22. A shotgun snap on a fake handoff led to a fumble that Goff fell on. Zuerlein drilled the 44 yard field goal to make it 23-7 Rams, but they did not fully close the door. The Cowboys faced 2nd and 12 from their own 23. Prescott hit Michael Gallup for 27 yards to midfield. On 4th and 1 from the Rams 41, Jason Garrett again decided to go for it. Prescott went with the option and pitched it to Elliott, who gained 5 yards. On 1st and 20 from the Rams 46, Prescott went deep to Gallup for a 44 yard gain. From the 2, Elliott gained one and then got the other yard for the score. The 2 point conversion try succeeded. After giving up 20 unanswered points, the Cowboys were back in it down 23-15 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. After a touchback the Rams soon faced 4th and 2 at their own 47. After failing to draw the Cowboys offsides, with 3 minutes left in the third quarter the Rams punted for the first time all game. A short 29 yard punt had the Cowboys at their own 23. The fourth quarter began with the Cowboys facing 4th and 1 at the Rams 35. For the third time, Jason Garrett went for it. The entire football world knew Elliott was getting the football and it took the whole Rams defense to stop him. Michelin Man Wade Phillips celebrated his defense’s inspired stand. 

The Rams then embarked on a time consuming drive that took 12 plays and 7 1/2 minutes off the clock. From the Rams 35, Woods gained 9 and Anderson ran for 3, 7 and 9. Goff hit Woods for gains of 18 and 7. On 3rd and 2 from the Dallas 11, Cooks took an end around 5 yards. Midway through the fourth quarter, on 4th and goal at the one, Sean McVay decided to go for it even though a field goal would make it a 2 score game. Failing to convert would give Dallas a long field but a chance to tie it. McVay went for it all and Anderson crashed through the middle and into the end zone. McVay pumped his fist as the Rams led 30-15. With 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Rams took their final timeout on defense as the Cowboys had to go for it on 4th and 1 for the 4th time in the game. Prescott rolled out and ran for it himself, gaining 2 yards. With just under 3 minutes left, the Cowboys faced 4th and 3 at the Rams 17. Prescott under heavy pressure threw a prayer incomplete. However, defensive pass interference on Aqib Talib in the end zone put the ball on the one. Prescott got in himself as the Cowboys were within 8 points with 2:11 to play. The Cowboys had all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. Jason Garrett decided to kick it deep and pray that his defense could get a stop. At the 2 minute warning, it came down to 3rd and 7 from the Rams 28. Obviously you have to run the ball in this situation. Goff rolled out and looked like he was going to pass. Then he raced upfield and gained 11 yards and a critical first down. Anderson got one more first down to send the Rams to the NFC Title Game. They rushed for an NFL playoff record 275 yards. 30-22 Rams

AFC (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (2) New England Patriots was the Sunday morning game. The Patriots began with a time consuming drive of over 7 minutes that took 14 plays and moved the ball 83 yards. On 3rd and 3 from their own 24, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for 6 yards. On 3rd and 2 from their own 38, Brady hit White for 10 yards and then for 17 more. Michel ran for gains of 11 and 5. On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 9, Brady threw incomplete. However, defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Michel got the yard to make it 7-0 Patriots. The Chargers took over and soon faced 3rd and 15 at their own 28. Philip Rivers went to Williams for 18 yards and then went bombs away to a wide open Keenan Allen for a 43 yard touchdown. The game was tied 7-7, but after that the Patriots exploded.

From their own 33, Michel ran for 12. Brady hit Edelman for 14 and again for 28 more. Michel then ran for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Patriots. The Patriots got it back at their own 42 in the second quarter and made it look easy. Brady hit Edelman for gains of 11 and 17, to Philip Dorsett for 11, and to Chris Hogan for 5. On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 15, Brady hit Dorsett for the touchdown and a 21-7 Patriots lead. The Patriots got it back at their own 13 and kept rolling. Brady hit James White for 28 yards. On 3rd and 2 from their own 46, Brady threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Michel then ran for a 40 yard gain and Burkhead ran for 3 and then the 6 yard touchdown as the Patriots were winning a 28-7 laugher. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Chargers finally forced the Patriots to punt on 4th and 7 from their own 24. The Chargers fumbled the punt and the Patriots recovered at the Chargers 35 yard line. Brady quickly fired to Edelman for 19 yards. Michel ran up the gut for a 5 yard touchdown as the Chargers led 35-7 with 1:43 left in the half. At this point the Patriots had 21 first downs. The Chargers had only 20 total plays.

The closest thing the Chargers got to a break was the Patriots greed at the end of the half costing them a field goal try. In running one more play, the receiver was tackled in bounds and the clock ran out. League ruled prevented the cancellation of the second half, which was uneventful garbage time. In each quarter Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal for the Patriots. The Chargers needed to reach the end zone five times and made it there only three times. The Patriots reached the AFC Title Game for an unprecedented 8th straight year. They will be at Kansas City. As staggering as the reign of excellence has been under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots have not won a road playoff game since they beat these same Chargers in the 2006 season. To be fair, one reason for that is that so many of their playoff games have been at home. 41-28 Patriots

NFC (6) Philadelphia Eagles at (1) New Orleans Saints is the Sunday afternoon game. A few weeks ago the Saints blasted the Eagles 48-7. All they had to do was beat them again to waltz into the NFC Title Game. Cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’S why they PLAY the games.” On the first play of the game from their own 35, Drew Brees went for the bomb and was intercepted by LeBlanc at the Philadelphia 24. On 3rd and 1 from their own 33, Nick Foles hit Zac Ertz for 11, Darren Spriles for 5 and Smallwood for 6. Foles went deep to Matthews for a 37 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Saints. The Saints went 3 and out and the Eagles got it back at their own 25. Nelson Agholor took an end around 12 yards. Foles hit Golden Tate for 12. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 34, Foles went deep to Ashon Jeffery for a 30 yard gain. Foles got the last yard himself for a 14-0 Eagles lead in front of a stunned home crowd. The Saints then moved from their own 8 yard line to a 3rd and 8 at their own 45. Brees was sacked and fumbled. The Saints fell on it but only after a 14 yard loss.

The Eagles got it back at their 30. From their 48, Foles went deep and was intercepted by Lattimore at the Saints 21. On 3rd and 1 from their own 30, Mark Ingram got stopped cold. The Eagles had all the momentum. It shifted when Sean Payton called a  fake punt on 4th and 1 from his own 30. Payton called a surprise onside kick in the Super Bowl, and he is from the Bill Parcells “Big balls” school of coaching. Taysom Hill gained 4 yards and the Saints finally got going. On the next play Brees went deep to Thomas for 42 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Philly 15, Alvin Kamara gained 7 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 9, Brees hit Thomas for 7 yards. Sean Payton went for it on 4th and goal at the 2. Brees threw a perfect fade pass to the corner of the end zone, and Kirkwood came down with it to cap the 12 play, 79 yard, 6 minute drive and get the Saints within 14-7. With 1:18 left in the half, the Saints took over at their own 6 yard line. Brees hit Watson for 12, Ted Ginn Jr for 21, Kamara for 23 and Thomas for 9, Ginn for 15. On 2nd and 5 from the Philly 27 with 11 seconds left, this time Sean Payton took no chances. The Saints did not have a timeout. Wil Lutz hit the 45 yard field goal as the Saints trailed 14-10 at halftime.

The Eagles went 3 and out to start the third quarter and the Saints mounted the drive of the year from their own 8 yard line. Brees hit Ginn for 8, Thomas for 11 and Kirkwood for 6. On 3rd and 3 from the Saints 45, Brees went to Hill for 9 yards. On 1st and 10 from the Philly 46, Brees went for it all but the well defended ball was batted away incomplete. Sean Payton then went to the bag of tricks and brought Hill in at quarterback. Hill went bombs away and found Kamara for the touchdown. Yet offensive holding instead meant 2nd and 20. Brees came back in and hit Thomas for 20 yards. Hill came in on a couple more runs of 5 and 3 as Kamara picked up a tough yard on 3rd and 1 from the Philly 27. On 3rd and 16 from the Philly 32, Brees hit Thomas for 20 yards. After a false start, samara gained 15 yards to the 2. Brees rifled a pass to a well-covered Thomas, who muscle for position and caught the ball for the touchdown. A mind-numbing 18 plays and 92 yards took a ridiculous 11 1/2 minutes off the clock and gave the Saints their first lead up 17-14. 

The Eagles after a touchback picked up one first down but not another one as they had to punt the ball back to the Saints. The Saints took over one minute into the fourth quarter at their own 17. On 3rd and 5 from their 22, Brees hit Smith for 15 yards. The Saints running game had been bottled up all game but the Eagles defense was exhausted. Ingram broke off a 36 yard run. However, on 3rd and 7 from the Philly 24, a pass from Brees to Kamara only gained 3 yards. Lutz hit the 39 yard field goal. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Saints led by 6. However, despite 20 unanswered points, they did not close the door. 

The Eagles again could not move the ball, and the Saints got it back at their 25 looking to put the game away. They moved 10 plays and chewed up 5 1/2 minutes. With just over 3 minutes left, the Eagles faced 3rd and 8 at the Philly 31. Rather than line up right behind the center, Brees lined up in the shotgun. The handoff was blown up in the backfield for a 3 yard loss. With 3 minutes left, Lutz came in for a 52 yard field goal try that would put the game on ice. Lutz was no good, just barely missing wide. The Eagles defense did everything they could. The defending champs were still alive. Now it was time to see if Foles had more miracle magic left.

From their own 42, Foles hit Ertz for 16 yards. Roughing the passer on the next play had the Eagles all the way at the Saints 27 yard line at the 2 minute warning as the crowd held their hearts in their throats. Foles went to Jeffery, but the ball sailed through his hands and was intercepted by Lattimore with 1:52 to play. With one minute to play and the Eagles out of timeouts, the Saints faced 3rd and 10 at their own 33. The Eagles last hope was a stop and a punt block. Kamara gained 12 yards and that was it. Champions fight to the very end. The defending champs fought valiantly. The Philadelphia Eagles played with guts, but were knocked off. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, who will host the Rams in the NFC Title Game. 20-14 Saints 

The Conference Title Games are now set.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

NFC Title Game: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints at 3:00 p.m. on FOX

AFC Title Game: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs at 6:30 p.m. on CBS

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