2019 NFL Tournament Highlights

Having recently completed my 2019 NFL Tournament, crowning the New Orleans Saints as champions, I thought it would be fun to look back over the 59 games that I played and share some of the highlights here with you!

So, let’s go!!

Jeff Driskel, subbing for Matthew Stafford of the Lions, threw a remarkable 8 interceptions in a 46-20 loss to New Orleans.

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes threw 6 TD passes against the Colts in a 42-10 win.  Tyreek Hill caught six of Mahome’s passes that game for a remarkable 212 yards!

In a tie for the lowest scoring game of the tournament, New England beat the Los Angeles Chargers 10-6, with the game’s sole TD scored on a Tom Brady to Julian Edelman with only 3:00 left in the contest.

In the other 16 point game, Buffalo topped Houston 13-3 , with Bills’ QB, Josh Allen, scoring the game’s only TD on a 34 yard scramble.

Carlos Hyde of the Texans had 21 carries for 150 yards in an 18-12 victory over Jacksonville.

The Bills’ John Brown caught 4 passes against Cleveland – 3 of which went for touchdowns in a 34-16 Buffalo victory.

Indianapolis’ Nyheim Hines had 4 punt returns against the Steelers for 164 yards and 2 long TD’s!

The Jets held Denver to a grand total of 65 yards of offense in a 32-7 win, allowing a remarkable 8 yards passing in the game!

Chris Godwin of Tampa Bay had 147 yars receiving on 7 catches versus the Eagles in a 23-19 loss.

The Seahawks’ Chris Carson ran the ball 17 times for 161 yards and 3 TD’s in a 36-7 victory over the Redskins.

Robbie Gould of the 49ers was 10 for 10 in place kicks (6 FG’s, 4 PAT’s) in a 46-10 win over the Panthers.

The Ravens rolled up 542 yards of offense in a 34-30 win over the Raiders, with Lamar Jackson accounting for 441 on his own!

In that loss, Oakland’s Josh Jacobs tallied 173 yards rushing on only 20 carries.

Atlanta’s Julio Jones hauled in 5 passes for 165 yards and 2 TD’s in a 34-23 victory over the Giants.

The Rams lost to the Packers 12-10, and committed 6 turnovers to Green Bay’s 0!

Austin Eckler of the Chargers had 162 yards rushing and 4 TD’s, scoring the game-winner in overtime in a win over the Broncos.

Odel Beckham of the Browns caught 7 passes for 170 yards, while teammate Jarvis Landry hauled in 6 for 137 yards in Cleveland’s 30-29 victory over the Jaguars.

New Orleans’ Michael Thomas had 13 catches, and quarterback Drew Brees completed 33 passes in a 41-24 victory over Carolina.  Later in the tournament, Brees completed another 33 passes against the Rams!

T.J. Watt of the Steelers had 4 sacks in a 23-10 loss to the Bears.

Baltimore’s Mark Ingram logged 146 yards rushing on only 14 carries in a 23-10 win over Houston.

The Chiefs ran up 600 yards of offense and forced nine turnovers against Cleveland in a 44-16 win.  Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes had 462 yards passing and 5 TD tosses.

Baltimore piled up 254 yards rushing in a 48-7 win over Chicago . . . and, later in the tournament, they had 255 yards rushing in their 41-10 victory against Buffalo.

The 49ers sacked Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz 12 times in a 37-12 victory.

In the NFC title game, San Francisco’s George Kittle had 143 yards receiving on 7 catches.  They still lost to the Saints.

In the AFC championship game, Travis Kelce of the Chiefs hauled in 11 passes for 152 yards in their victory over Baltimore.

Passing Passes/Game Completions/Game Completion% Yards/Game Yards/Completion
Tournament      34.3           21.3       62.1%       254.0           11.92
NFL      34.9           22.1       63.3%       235.0           10.63
Rushing Attempts/Game Yards/Game Yards/Carry
Tournament        28.5      125.1      4.39
NFL        26.2      112.9      4.32

SUPER BOWL FINAL: New Orleans 44 – Kansas City 21

Drew Brees showed everybody why he’ll be in the Hall-of-Fame one day.  On the NFL’s biggest stage, he really stepped up leading his New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs 44-21.  And he was phenomenal all game long.  He hit on 20 of his first 21 passes and went on to complete 36 of 41 throws for 411 yards and 4 touchdowns!

But, early in the first quarter it appeared as if the Chiefs were going to continue their playoff momentum that brought them into this game with a tournament record of 6-0.  The Saints got the ball first and marched to the Kansas City 38 yard line where they attempted to convert a 4th and 1, but Brees’ pass to Michael Thomas was stopped in the Saints’ backfield to turn the ball over to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Mahomes quickly moved the ball all the way down the field, connecting with Tyreek Hill for a 16 yard TD pass to give KC a 7-0 lead.

The Saints, however, moved the length of the field on their next possession, culminating in Brees’ scoring pass to tight-end, Jared Cook, from 22 yards out.  But, place-kicker Wil Lutz missed the extra point.  Lutz did, however, connect on a 45 yard field goal early in the second quarter to briefly give the Saints a 9-7 lead.

I say “briefly” because it only took Mahomes 2:00 to march the Chiefs to another TD.  A 53 yard completion to Hill set up the 10 yard TD pass to Travis Kelce to give K.C. a 14-9 lead.

But, New Orleans had an answer.  It only took them 3:00 to drive the length of the field, with Alvin Kamara recording a 39 yard run, Deonte Harris picking up 13 more on an end-around and Kamara taking it in from two yards out.  A successful two-point conversion pass to Thomas gave the Saints a 17-14 lead . . . and they never looked back!

Brees threw three more TD passes and Lutz added two additional field goals as New Orleans dominated the Chiefs.  And, it was truly domination.  New Orleans ran 83 offensive plays versus Kansas City’s 51, accumulated 570 yards of offense compared to 376, and did not punt until only 1:45 remained in the game!  The Saints had more return yardage, more quarterback sacks and fewer penalties.  They also had only one turnover, compared to K.C.’s three – each of which came inside the Saint’s 20 yard line!

And, with only five incompletions, no interceptions and 4 TD passes, Brees was an easy choice for the game’s Most Valuable Player.  A great victory for New Orleans!

Super Bowl Stats

Defensive Pass Interference Question

Q –  “What was the penalty for Defensive Pass Interference in 1968?  I’m having a semi old brain freeze and I’m thinking it was 15 yards and automatic 1st down and not spot of infraction foul?  (submitted by Donald Hall)

A – To the best of my knowledge the Defensive Pass Interference has always been a spot of foul penalty.  The NFL’s rules committee met back in 2018 and briefly considered changing it to the 15 yard penalty from the line-of-scrimmage that is currently used in college, but, ultimately kept it the same.  The NFL tends to create and support rules that reward passing.  And, they thought changing the penalty would benefit the defense disproportionally.  Consider, as well, the “Illegal Contact” rule that was put in place in 1977, significantly reducing a defender’s ability to harass a receiver, because he can now only make physical contact within five yards of the line of scrimmage.  Apparently, the powers-that-be in the NFL don’t want to go back to the “three yards and a cloud of dust” mentality!

2019 Super Bowl Set! New Orleans vs. Kansas City

What a journey to get here . . . and now I have the final matchup of my 2019 NFL Tournament:  The New Orleans Saints will take on the Kansas City Chiefs!  Drew Brees versus Patrick Mahomes!

Attached are each team’s statistics through their six games that got them here.  The Saints are 5-1 . . . their only loss to the Cowboys in round two of the playoffs . . . . which they avenged in their second contest against Dallas in round five.  And, they will be just about a full strength heading into this game.  They only have four players on the injured list.

Kansas City, meanwhile, hopes that their quarterback, Mahomes, will continue his playoff brilliance, which has been nothing short of incredible so far.  In the Chiefs’ six victories against no losses, he has thrown a remarkable 27 touchdown passes, 13 of which have gone to Travis Kelce!

New Orleans actually has a very narrow rating point advantage heading into the contest.  They are a 42/42 on offense (pass/run), compared to Kansas City’s defense of 40/40.  And, when the Chiefs have the ball, their offense is 44/41, while the Saints’ defense comes in at 39/44.  This gives Brees & Company a +2/+2 advantage on offense, and the Chiefs come in at +5/-3 when they have the ball.  Actually, pretty darn close!

Here’s the injury list heading into the game, and it is a clear advantage for the Saints:

New Orleans:  Nick Easton (G-3), Janoris Jenkins (CB-3), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S-3), Tre’Quan Smith (WR-2-B)

Kansas City:  Chris Jones (DT-4), Damien Williams (RB-3-A), Anthony Sherman (FB-3), Cameron Erving (T-3), Tanoh Kpassagnon (DE-3), Terrell Suggs (LB-3), Reggie Ragland (LB-3), Spencer Ware (RB-2-B)

Chiefs StatsSaints Stats

AFC Championship: Kansas City 36 – Baltimore 26

Well . . . this one didn’t start off so great for the Chiefs.  Mecole Hardman fielded the opening kick-off 8 yards deep in his own end zone, and, for some inexplicable reason, decided to run it out . . . and only made it to the 5 yard line!  Then, on their first play from scrimmage, Patrick Mahomes was sacked by Jaylon Ferguson for a safety.  Following the safety kick off Baltimore then took the ball 84 yards with Lamar Jackson taking it in for a TD from 5 yards out for a 9-0 lead.  Then, Jackson and Seth Roberts hooked up for a 71 yard TD pass to put the Ravens up 16-0.  And, it looked like the rout was on!

The Chiefs, however, did start to chip away – with a Harrison Butker field goal and a Damian Williams TD run, to cut the Ravens’ lead to 16-10.  But Mark Ingram’s short TD run followed by a long field goal from Justin Tucker just before the half, put Baltimore back on top by 16 entering intermission.

But, the second half flat belonged to the Chiefs, as they scored 26 unanswered points to come back and defeat the Ravens 36-26.  Now they are headed to the Super Bowl!

KC - BALT

NFC Championship: New Orleans 21 – San Francisco 16

When I rolled the dice to determine the starting lineups and realized that Drew Brees would miss his second game in this tournament, I admit that I was disappointed.  You never want to see a team get the the penultimate football game without a future Hall-of-Famer.  So, what does his backup, Teddy Bridgewater, do?  He completes nearly 3/4 of his passes for 315 yards and a TD . . . and catapults New Orleans over the 49ers and into the Super Bowl!

The Saints trailed in this football game 16-14 with only 1:40 left to play and had to start their final drive from their 5 yard line.  Well, Bridgewater started working his magic.  He hit Alvin Kamara for 16 yards to the 21.  Them he connected with Tre’Quan Smith to his own 43 yard line for another first down.  Next came the big play – a 15 yard completion to Josh Hill . . . who was tackled by San Francisco’s Jaquiski Tartt by his facemask . . . adding another 15 yards to the Niners’ 27 yard line.  And, it was here that Bridgewater worked his final act of “magic” with a perfect pass to Michael Thomas for the game winning TD with only 10 seconds left on the clock!!

So, congratulations to the Saints!  They’re headed for the Super Bowl!!!

NO-SF

AFC Championship Game Preview: Kansas City vs. Baltimore

The matchup everyone wanted to see!!!  Well, maybe not the Buffalo Bills fans!!  But, this is the classic marquis contest between two terrific quarterbacks:  Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Lamar Jackson of the Ravens.  Both of these teams are unbeaten (5-0) in this tournament and this ought to be a fantastic football game!

There are a few key injuries, however.  Tyreek Hill, Kansas City’s All-Pro wide receiver is out, as is Ravens’ Pro-Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda.  Here is a complete listing of all the injured players for this game:

Kansas City:  Tyreek Hill (WR – 4A), Chris Jones (DE-4), Anthony Sherman (FB-3), Andrew Wylie (G-3), Eric Fisher (T-3), Stefen Wisniewski (G-3), Emmanuel Ogbah (DE-3), Terrell Suggs (LB-3), Spencer Ware (RB – 2B)

Baltimore: Marshal Yanda (G-5), L.J. Ford (LB-4), James Hurst (T-3), Pernell McPhee (DE-3), Chris Wormley (DT-3), Domata Peko (DT-3), Patrick Onwuasor (LB-3), Chuck Clark (S-3)

NFC Championship Preview: New Orleans vs. San Francisco

The New Orleans Saints will travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers in the NFC title game.  But the Saints will be without the services of future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Drew Brees who is hobbling after their victory over the Dallas Cowboys to land them in this championship battle.  Instead, it will be Teddy Bridgewater leading their offense against Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners.

Here is the full list of injured players for this contest:

New Orleans:  Drew Brees (QB-4), Marshon Lattimore (CB-4), Nick Easton (G-3), Marcus Davenport (DE-3), P.J. Williams (CB-3), Janoris Jenkins (CB-3)

San Francisco:  Weston Richburg (C-4), Kwon Alexander (LB-4), Daniel Brunskill (T-3), Dee Ford (DE-3), K’waun Williams (CB-3)

Baltimore 41 – Buffalo 10

The Baltimore Ravens secured a spot in the AFC title game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a convincing 41-10 victory at home over the Buffalo Bills.

The game started as a defensive struggle with Baltimore holding a 6-3 lead with less than two minutes to play in the first half.  But, they scored two touchdowns in a span of less than a minute, the second score following the first of two Marcus Peters’ interceptions.

But, the Bills scored their only TD late in the third period to cut the margin to only ten points.  But, the fourth quarter belonged to Lamar Jackson and Baltimore, as he led the Ravens to 3 touchdowns and an easy victory.

BUF-BALT