SUPER BOWL FINALE!!!!! New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams

But, before we get to the game, let’s set the stage, because there were a handful of impact players who were out for this contest. New England was without the services of wide receiver Julian Edelman and running-back Sony Michel, along with starting defensive end Trey Flowers. The Rams, on the other hand, did not have either wide-out Cooper Kupp or starting linebacker Dante Fowler available.

Now, to the game, the 59th and final game of my 2018 NFL Tournament, which may just have been the sloppiest game I’ve rolled in years!

The New England Patriots took the ball first and marched from their own 25 deep into Rams’ territory before Rex Burkhead coughed up the ball to the Rams’ John Johnson at the L.A. 22 yard line – the first of TEN turnovers in this ballgame! But, the Rams could not move the ball and had to punt it back to the Pats.

On their next possession, New England quarterback Tom Brady threw the first of his three interceptions, again with Johnson coming up with the ball. But, on the very next play Rams’ All-Pro halfback Todd Gurley fumbled the ball and New England’s Stephon Gilmore fell on it for yet another turnover!

And, this is how the first half went . . . with neither team being able to mount any real offense. Brady threw another pick, this time in the Red Zone, the Pats’ Chris Hogan fumbled away another ball at the L.A. 35 yard line, and Gilmore picked off an errant Jared Goff pass at the Patriots’ 15 yard line . . . all in a half that ended 3-0 in favor of the Rams.

And, the second half started the same way the first half ended – with Goff throwing another pick, this one to Devin McCourty when the Rams were in New England territory and driving. The Patriots then went on another long march, but, once again, Brady was picked off deep in Rams’ territory. This time it was at the 3-yard line, and, again, by the defensive MVP of the game, Johnson, who returned it 36 yards to the L.A. 39 yard line.

And, this time, the Rams successfully drove the length of the field, with Gurley taking it in for the game’s first touchdown from the Patriots’ 11-yard line with just under 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter! Rams 10, Pats 0.

But, New England finally answered, going 80 yards in 11 plays with Cordarrelle Patterson getting the Patriots on the board with a 6-yard TD run, to cut the Rams’ lead to 10-7.

Then, midway through the 4th quarter period, Goff was picked off for the third time, this time by Kyle Van Noy at the Rams’ 29-yard line. A 26-yard pass from Brady to Hogan, and a 3-yard scoring run by Burkhead gave New England the lead 14-10!

Remarkably, with only 6 minutes left in the game, Goff threw another interception, this on to Jason McCourty, who returned it to midfield. Brady then engineered a 3:45 drive culminating with the game’s offensive MVP, James White, hauling in a short TD pass to give New England a 21-10 lead with only 2:15 left in the game.

But Goff got hot and drove the Rams 75 yards in just 1:15 hitting Gurley on a 37-yard strike to pull L.A. within 5 points. A two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Rams still had life, trailing 21-16.

Now, I do not use the onside kick. Instead, I use the following: Instead of kicking off, the team gets to run one play, as if it is 4th and 15 from their 35-yard line. If they make it, they get to keep the ball, and if they fail, their opponent takes over at that spot.

Well, wouldn’t you know that Goff completes a 24-yard pass to Brandin Cooks! Three Todd Gurley runs for 20 yards, coupled with two completed passes to Gurley and a big one to Robert Woods put the ball at the Patriots’ 4-yard line with only 5 seconds remaining. But, Goff’s pass to Cooks was broken up in the end zone by Gilmore and New England had its championship 21-16!

Seven interceptions, six fumbles (three of which were lost), and 13 penalties!!! Not the prettiest of victories, but congratulations to the New England Patriots for their Super Bowl triumph!

Super Bowl

 

Super Bowl Matchup Set!

What the heck??!!??  I play 58 games in this 2018 playoff tournament and I end up with . . . . . . the Patriots and the Rams!!!!!!  Heck, I could have saved myself a couple hundred hours of games, stats and setup, and just replayed the actual Super Bowl!!  But, what fun would that have been?!!?

So, Saturday morning I will be playing my Super Bowl, which just happens to be a rematch of the real deal!  Hopefully mine will be more exciting than that snooze-fest was!!!NE-KCChi-LAR

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)