When Drew Brees is “on” he can be frightening! And, he was just about at his best against the Rams in the first game of the “Elimination Round.” The Saints’ All-Pro quarterback completed 33 of his 39 passes for 335 yards and a pair of TD’s as New Orleans held off a rally by Los Angeles to win by 13 and advance to the quarterfinal round of these playoffs.
He had some help. Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara combined for 146 yards rushing on 28 carries (5.21 yards per rush) and the Saints’ defense forced 3 Rams turnovers in the victory.
But L.A. made it close, narrowing the Saints’ lead to only 3 points early in the final period. But Brees connected on a 53 yard pass to Jared Cook that set up an 8-yard TD toss to Michael Thomas to help New Orleans pull away.
Because injuries play such an important role in the outcome of an NFL game, I wanted to share here the list of injured players as we get ready for the next round of my playoffs. And, as you can see, some teams are pretty much at full strength, while others are going into their contest with a number of key players on the shelf.
I have completed the “Double-Elimination” part of my 2019 NFL Post-Season Tournament. Now, I have 16 teams left. Four teams are 3-0 (They are the #1 and #2 seeds respectively in their conferences), and the remaining 12 teams are 2-1. Here are the pairings as we move to a single-elimination format:
In the final game of the third round in my 2019 NFL Post-Season tournament, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs came from 14 points down to dominate the New England Patriots and remain unbeaten. Once again, Mahomes was sensational . . . this time throwing five touchdowns, 3 of them to Travis Kelce.
The Pats actually took an early 14-0 lead, and it easily could have been 21-0, because, with the score 7-0, Stephon Gilmore stepped in front of Tyreek Hill on Kansas City’s third play from scrimmage, picked off a Mahomes pass and returned it 73 yards for a score . . . only to see the TD wiped out by an illegal block on the return.
But, Mahomes was not daunted, and went on to complete 23 of his last 29 passes for 379 yards and those five TD’s. Kansas City now goes into the single-elimination part of this tournament as the #2 seed in the AFC.
In a game that was more fun and entertaining than I expected, the Colts outlasted the furious Raiders’ comeback to nip Oakland 21-19. And, as is so often the case, it was a missed extra point by Oakland’s Daniel Carlson that doomed the Raiders.
Indianapolis, playing with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, took a comfortable lead, 21-7 early in the final period, on Marlon Mack’s third rushing TD of the game. But, on Oakland’s first play from scrimmage, Derek Carr found Hunter Renfrow wide open for a 75-yard touchdown! But, Carlson’s missed extra point kept it an 8-point lead for the Colts.
But, on Oakland’s final drive of the game, Carr marched them 80 yards for a TD, with Josh Jacobs diving into the end zone from one yard out with no time left on the clock to cut the margin to only 2 points. On the two-point conversion try, Jacobs easily crossed the goal line, but the Raiders were flagged for holding, moving the ball back to the 12 yard line. Carr then hit Renfrow who took it right to the goal line . . . . and it had to go to the replay booth for a ruling . . . and Renfrow was inches SHORT, and the Colts had their narrow victory!!!
Who knew Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz was such an athlete? In a game where he connected on 21 passes, but for under 200 yards, he contributed some timely scrambles, tallying 50 yards rushing on only 6 tries in leading Philadelphia past the Falcons 23-20.
Atlanta passed well – Matt Ryan completed 26 passes for 292 yards and a TD . . . but the running game was almost non-existent – with the Falcons only logging 76 yards on 23 carries. Meanwhile, the Eagles offensive line opened up huge holes all day long for their rushers, led by Jordan Howard’s 92 yards on 124 carries. In total, the Philly rushing line was 34 attempts for 188 yards – over 5.5 yards per carry.
With the victory, the Eagles advance to the Sweet-Sixteen bracket, and Atlanta is done!
In a battle of unbeatens and long-time rivals, the Green Bay Packers played error-free football in narrowly defeating the Minnesota Vikings 23-21. But is was a game of momentum. Neither team did a whole lot offensively in this one, but, the Packers took advantage of three Viking turnovers to run up a 23-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. Then, all of a sudden, Minnesota’s offense came alive.
After a lengthy drive, Dalvin Cook scored and then flowed that up with a successful run for a two-point conversion, to cut the Packer lead to 8 points. The Vikings got the ball back with one last opportunity, and Kirk Cousins, the Vikings’ signal-caller, completed four passes in succession for 65 yards, the final 19 coming on a Cousins to Stefon Diggs’ TD pass with only 5 seconds remaining, to cut the Packers’ lead to 2 points. This time, however, Cook was stopped inches short of the goal line and the 2-point conversion failed, giving the Packers a thrilling victory and the #2 seed in the final playoff bracket!
Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold has two sack numbers on his APBA card – a “28” and a “29.” So, explain to me how it is possible that I just kept rolling those two numbers!! Darnold ended up being sacked 8 times for nearly 50 yards in losses and, despite completing 28 passes, still came up short in a 7 point loss against the Browns.
The Jets, despite all of the sacks, tied the game 13-13 with just over 5:00 left in the contest, when Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland offense, went on a 73-yard, 10-play drive that used up over 4:00 of clock, culminating in Mayfield finding Kareem Hunt open in the end zone for the game-winning TD.
Darnold did drive New York to the Browns’ 27 yard line, but a final pass in the end zone to Robby Anderson fell incomplete and the Jets’ playoff run is over.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, with 312 yards passing and two touchdowns, dwarfed his Rams’ counterpart, Jared Goff, who completed 20 passes, but for only 189 yards. But, the talented Tamp Bay signal caller also tossed two interceptions, both inside Los Angeles’ 25 yard line, in a 29-24 loss. The victory propels the Rams into the round of 16 finalists in this tournament, and sends the Bucs home.
Todd Gurley enjoyed a productive day for the victors, rushing for 86 yards, including a six yard scoring play. But, the biggest play of the game for the Rams came early in the final period, when Goff hit Gerald Everett with a pass . . . Everett was tackled just outside the Bucs’ end zone and fumbled the ball. It bounced into the end zone where Los Angeles offensive guard, Austin Blythe, covered it for an important Rams’ touchdown!