On to the Quarterfinals

NFC 2016 Playoff Brackets

AFC 2016 Playoff Brackets

I have completed the first two rounds of my 2016 NFL Playoff Tournament and am down to the final eight teams.  It will be interesting to see if “Cinderella” San Diego can continue their improbable run against the Chiefs.  It will also be a test of depth when the Steelers visit Foxboro to take on the Patriots.  New England will once again be without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and the Steelers will have to go without Le’Veon Bell.

These games, in particular, are where injuries really start to make a difference.  And that list of stars who are hurt is not limited to the Steelers and the Pats.  Dallas will be without Sean Lee and Dez Bryant.  The Packers’ Eddie Lacy will miss this game, as will Taylor Gabriel for the Falcons.    Here is the complete list of players who won’t be participating in these quarterfinal games:

 

San Diego:  King Dunlap, Jatavis Brown, Kyle Emmanuel, Robert McClain, Manti Te’o

Kansas City:  Allen Bailey, Jaye Howard, Tamba Hali, Daniel Sorensen

NY Giants:  Bobby Rainey, Bobby Hart, Kelvin Sheppard, Eli Apple, Leon Hall

Atlanta:  Taylor Gabriel, Austin Hooper, Adrian Clayborn, Courtney Upshaw, Tyson Jackson, Desmond Trufant, Brooks Reed, Jonathan Babineux, Derrick Shelby

Green Bay:  Eddie Lacy, J.C. Tretter, Datone Jones, Jake Ryan, Damarious Randall, Joe Thomas

Dallas:  Alfred Morris, Dez Bryant, Benson Mayowa, Terrell McClain, Sean Lee, Damien Wilson

Pittsburgh:  Le’Veon Bell, Cobi Hamilton, Ricardo Matthews, Ryan Shazier, Cameron Heyward, Arthur Moats, Artie Burns, James Harrison, Robert Golden

New England:  Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Logan Ryan, Jabaal Sheard, Shea McClellin

 

Kansas City 24 – Indianapolis 18

Indianapolis – Kansas City Recap Sheet

How do you lose both of your quarterbacks and still win?  Just ask the Chiefs . . . because that’s exactly what happened in their game against the Colts.  With Indianapolis up 10-0 early in quarter number two, Kansas City QB, Alex Smith, went out with an injury.  Enter backup, Nick Foles.  All Foles did was to complete 8 of his 10 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns!

But, Foles was knocked from the game in the third quarter with a three point lead . . . and, back came a hobbling Smith who did just enough to hold off the Colts and lead the Chiefs to victory!

Dallas 23 – Minnesota 9

Minnesota – Dallas Recap Sheet

The Cowboys played well enough to defeat the Vikings, despite Ezekiel Elliott having a sub-par game, picking up only 41 yards on 14 carries.  Dallas signal-caller, Dak Prescott, enjoyed another productive game, hitting on 19 of 26 passes for 222 yards and a TD.  But, it was the Cowboys’ defense that really rose to the occasion, holding Minnesota to only 278 yards, including a paltry 46 yards rushing.

The ‘Boys now host the Green Bay Packers in the quarterfinal round in what shapes up to be a great contest!

Pittsburgh 34 – Cincinnati 10

Cincinnati – Pittsburgh Recap Sheet

Cincinnati had the lead 10-7 at the two minute warning of the first half, before Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown went on a tear for Pittsburgh, leading to 27 unanswered points, and a 34-10 Steelers victory.  Big Ben completed 25 passes for 364 yards and two scores, while All-Pro Brown hauled in 8 receptions for 125 yards.  Pittsburgh continues their surge through the playoffs, outscoring both of their opponents so far by a combined total of 79-13!

Green Bay 31 – Seattle 13

Green Bay – Seattle Recap Sheet

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers advance to the next round of the playoffs by playing error-free football, bouncing the Seattle Seahawks from the tournament 31-13.  Rodgers was helped by Ty Montgomery who scored two touchdowns, including a 50 yard rush for a score.  Seattle, playing without either of their starting safeties, got within one point at the half, 14-13, before the Pack scored 17 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters.

Dallas 37, Washington 34, OT

Washington – Dallas Recap

Being a lifelong Cowboys fan, it is not that often that I have any empathy at all for a Dallas opponent.  But, after this game, I felt horrible for Washington signal caller Kirk Cousins.  He was amazing in this game and deserved a better fate.  Not only did he throw for 481 yards and four scores, but, he also ran for one touchdown.

But, it was what happened at the end of the game that garners my sympathy.

With 8:15 left in the fourth quarter, Cowboys’ QB, Dak Prescott, hit Jason Witten for a TD that put Dallas up 34-21.  But, Cousins marched the ‘Skins 75 yards in 4:45, hitting Jordan Reed with a 10-yard TD pass, cutting the lead to six points.  There were three minutes and thirty seconds left in the game.

Washington elected to kick the ball deep, and Dallas was able to pick up two first downs, crossing midfield before their drive stalled.  But, the Redskins had to burn all three of their timeouts in the process.  Chris Jones, the Cowboys’ punter, nailed a beauty, with Dallas downing the ball at the Washington 5 yard line.

So, here comes Cousins.  He has 1:23 left in the game and no timeouts, and he’s 95 yards away from the Dallas end zone.  No problem.

On first down he hits DeSean Jackson for 52 yards to the Dallas 43.  After a spike to stop the clock, he connects with Vernon Davis for 14 to the Cowboy’s 29.  One more spike to kill the clock, and then he finds Pierre Garcon behind the Dallas secondary for a 29 yard game-tying touchdown pass, Garcon’s third of the day!

TIE GAME!!!!

But Cousins could not kick the extra point . . . and, apparently, neither could Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins, who missed the game winning PAT, sending it into overtime where the Cowboys got a Dan Bailey field goal on their first possession and Cousins’ magic finally ran out.

Absolutely amazing!!  And games like this are a great reminder of just why we play APBA Football!

 

 

New England 27, Baltimore 24

Baltimore – New England Recap

Can the Patriots win without Tom Brady?  Apparently, just barely!  The New England offensive line came up big, helping New England roll up 211 yards on the ground to support QB Jacoby Brissett as they nipped the Baltimore Ravens in Foxboro, 27-24.  Brissett threw for 179 yards, hitting on 13 of 23 passes, including a touchdown.  He also ran for 54 yards and another score.  It wasn’t pretty, as the Pats uncharacteristically turned the ball over three times in the contest . . . but, they did just enough to hold off the Ravens to advance to the next round.