Chicago 26, New Orleans 23 (OT)

UPSET ALERT!!!!!!

The Chicago Bears, playing behind back-up quarterback Chase Daniel, shock the previously unbeaten New Orleans Saints 26-23 in overtime to advance to the NFC Championship Game!  Daniel was sensational, completing 27 of 36 passes, without a pick and one TD pass to Tarik Cohen.  The Saints kept shooting themselves in the foot, with three turnovers (including two Drew Brees interceptions) and 10 penalties!  The Bears remarkable defense did not disappoint as they held the Saints to under 10 yards per catch, and the surprising Monsters-of-the-Midway find themselves only one game from the Super Bowl!CHI-NO

New England 33 – Oakland 27

Well, Oakland’s magical “Cinderella” run has finally come to an end . . . but, it certainly wasn’t a blow-out . . . and it took all of Tom Brady’s and New England’s “pixie dust” to pull the Patriots through!

The Raiders actually ran up to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.  But, the Pats scored on the ensuing kick-off, when Cordarrelle Patterson went 95 yards for a TD.  The Raiders, however, added two more Daniel Carlson field-goals to up their lead to 16-6 with just 1:05 left in the first half.

But, this is Boston . . . and this is Brady.  And, after an illegal block in the back penalty on the kick-off gave New England the ball first and ten on their own six yard line, Brady completed three consecutive passes – a 60 yarder to Josh Gordon, a 24 yarder to Phillip Dorsett and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski.  94 yards in three plays and 35 seconds!

In the second half, New England took over, or so it seemed, with James White scoring two touchdowns, one on the ground and one in the air.  This gave the Pats a 27-16 lead heading into the final period.  And, after another Carlson field goal, cutting the New England lead to eight points, Patterson fumbled during the kick-off return, and the Raiders recovered at the New England 16 yard line!  Three plays later, Doug Martin ran one in, and Jalen Richard added a two-point conversion to tie the game up!

But Brady was not done.  And, on a third and 14 from the Raiders’ 41 yard line, he found a wide-open White, who took it all the way to the Oakland 3 yard line, where Brady found Hogan for a TD to give New England the lead . . . but, Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point and left the door open just a little for Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense.

And Carr drove them down the field, into the Red Zone, before Richard coughed up the ball after short completion.  Duron Harmon fell on the ball for New England and they were able to run out the clock to preserve a hard-fought victory and a berth in the AFC title game!

This was actually one of the best games of my tournament!!!OAK-NE

Down to the Final 8 Teams . . . .

After 52 football games, I have whittled down the list to the final eight teams, and here are the pairings for the four games that will lead to the AFC and NFC Championship games, and they feature two teams that have made surprising runs in their respective conferences – the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins.  The Raiders, in particular, having the worst record in the AFC (4-12) have played their “Cinderella” role to perfection so far!  It will be interesting to see how they fare up in Foxboro!

 

American Football Conference

Oakland (3-1) @ New England (3-1)

Pittsburgh (3-1) @ Kansas City (4-0)

National Football Conference

Washington (3-1) @ L.A. Rams (3-1)

Chicago (3-1) @ New Orleans (4-0)