SUPER BOWL FINAL!!!!

My 55th and final game of the 2017 NFL Tournament was a fantastic contest between the Atlanta Falcons and the Jacksonville jaguars.  Atlanta won the coin toss and elected to defer.  Right off the bat, it looked as if they may have made a mistake as the Jags marched right down the field, helped by two Falcon pass interference penalties . . . but, the drive stalled at the Atlanta 25 yard line and Jacksonville place-kicker, Josh Lambo pulled his 45 yard attempt and the Jaguars missed an opportunity to strike first.

The Falcons, on the other hand, were able to move the ball into Jacksonville territory on their first two offensive drives, with their kicker, Matt Bryant, nailing 34 and 53 yard field goals to give Atlanta a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Falcons added to their lead halfway through the second quarter as the remarkable Devonta Freeman ran one in from 14 yards out to give Atlanta a 13-0 lead.

But, Jacksonville had an answer, as they drove 75 yards in four minutes, culminating in Leonard Fournette’s one-yard touchdown run, an we went to halftime with Atlanta up 13-7.

The Falcons were impressive on their initial possession of the second half, driving from their 24 to the Jaguars’ 35, where Bryant once again drilled a 53 yard field goal, allowing Atlanta to up their lead to 16-7.  And that’s the way the fourth quarter started.

Jacksonville, however, started the final period with Lambo splitting the uprights from 27 yards, cutting the Falcon lead to 16-10.

And, here is where it got fun.  On Atlanta’s next possession after the Lambo field goal, Falcon’s quarterback, Matt Ryan was picked off by All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey.  Then, Blake Bortles, Jacksonville’s quarterback, led the Jags down the field, eventually scrambling for 14 yards to the Atlanta four yard line.

So, here it was, first and goal, down by only six points, and staring their first lead of the game right in the face!

But, a holding penalty, followed by an offensive pass interference penalty took Jacksonville all the way back to the 24 yard line, where, with 7:30 to play in the game, settled for another Lambo field goal, this one from 38 yards, to cut Atlanta’s lead to three, 16-13.  But, it certainly felt like a successful stop by the Falcons defense.

But, what happened next really threw a wrench into Jacksonville’s comeback, when Ryan led them 75 yards in nine plays and Freeman, once again, scored a rushing touchdown – this time from three yards out.  There was only 3:30 left in the contest, and Atlanta held a 23-13 lead.

Bortles, however, wasn’t done.  He drove the Jaguars all the way to the Falcons’ nine yard line in only 2:22, with Lambo connecting on his third three-pointer of the game.  Now, down by seven with only 1:08 to play, down by seven points, Jacksonville attempted an on-sides kick, and, amazingly, it was successful, with reserve defensive back, Jarrod Wilson, recovering the ball at the Jags’ 46 yard line!

But, Bortles had run out of magic, and, after a 19-yard completion to Keelan Cole, the drive stalled, and a fourth-down sack by Vic Beasley ended the contest.  Final score:  Atlanta 23 – Jacksonville 16.

Still, this game had a little bit of everything!  Nine injuries, eleven punts, 352 yards rushing, five defensive pass interference penalties on Atlanta and only two turnovers.

Hard to believe, but we’re done for this year . . . . . . can’t wait to do it again next year!!

 

ATLANTA

Ryan  16-33  225 yards   1 int

Freeman   14 rushes  82 yards  /   T. Coleman  8 rushes   51 yards

Jones   8 catches  124 yards  /  Sanu  2 catches  45 yards  /  Freeman  2 catches  16 yards

JACKSONVILLE

Bortles  17-37  168 yards

Fournette  20 rushes  60 yards  /  Ivory  5 rushes  50 yards  /  Yeldon  5 rushes  35 yards

Cole   4 catches  95 yards  /  Westbrook  3 catches  24 yards  /  Fournette  4 catches  13 yds

 

SUPER BOWL – Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

OK, it’s not the Eagles and the Patriots, but I have to be honest, I’m really looking forward to this Super Bowl game between Atlanta and Jacksonville.  The Falcons won my Super Bowl last year (the 2016 NFL season) by destroying the New England Patriots, so they are in a position to repeat!  And, contrary to what some of you may think, even though I live in Atlanta, I am NOT a Falcons’ fan – I’m a Cowboys’ fan, which comes with it’s own load of baggage!!

So, this Sunday, Atlanta and Jacksonville will face-off, and they are two teams that have unique strengths that they’ll be showcasing.  Atlanta marched through the playoffs with a 5-1 record (they lost to Detroit 27-20), while Jacksonville is unbeaten at 5-0.

Atlanta has done it with a pretty evenly balanced offensive attack.  They have averaged 149 yards per game on the ground (4.6 yards per rush) behind Devonta Freeman’s remarkable post-season – he’s scored 10 touchdowns in the six games!  But, they have also had success in the air behind Matt Ryan, completing 64% of their passes, averaging 253 passing yards a game.

The Jags have featured a monster rushing attack, averaging a remarkable 180 yards a game on the ground (5.3 yards per carry), with Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yelton leading the way.  Quarterback Blake Bortles has been consistent, if not spectacular, with Jacksonville averaging 203 yards per game via the air, and Bortles connecting on 58% of his tosses.

Defensively, however, both teams have played well.  Atlanta has held their six opponents to an average of only 268 yards of offense per game!  Meanwhile, the Jaguars have recorded 19 sacks and forced 11 turnovers in just those five games.

And with both teams at just about full-strength – each of them will be without the services of a starting offensive lineman – we’re expecting a great game!

Here’s the injury list:

Atlanta – Andy Levitre (OG), Adrian Clayborn (DE)

Jacksonville – Allen Hurns (WR), Jeremy Parnell (OT), Allen Robinson (WR), Aaron Colvin (CB)

So, stay tuned.  This will be the 55th and final game of my tournament that has honestly been the most fun I have ever had playing the football game solo.  I’m expecting no less in this final contest!!

AFC, NFC Title Games Set

After 52 games, I have whittled down the list of 2017 NFL teams from 32 to the final 4!  And, they are four teams I would NEVER have predicted would be here at this juncture in my tournament.  But, upsets are part of football and, therefore, part of APBA Football!

So, here we go:

AFC Championship:  Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Both of these teams are undefeated (4-0) in this post-season tournament, and they’ve each done it by playing exceptional defense!  Jacksonville QB, Blake Bortles, has been spotty at best.  He has completed 61-102 for 902 yards, but he’s only thrown 1 TD while suffering 6 interceptions!  His counterpart for the Ravens, Joe Flacco, has hit on 80-120 for 731 yards, 3 TD’s and 3 picks.  The Jaguars have enjoyed a terrific running game behind Leonard Fournette (302 yards on 60 carries with 6 TD’s) and Chris Ivory (34-209-2 TD’s).  Unfortunately for the Jags, Ivory is hurt and will miss this game.  Here is a list of everyone on the DL who will not be playing in this AFC Title Game:

Baltimore:  Matt Skura (OG), Marshal Yanda (OG), Patrick Onwuasor (LB), Marion Humphrey (CB), Jimmy Smith (CB), Carl Davis (DE).

Jacksonville:  Chris Ivory (RB), Allen Hurns (WR), Allen Robinson (WR), Aaron Colvin (CB)

NFC Championship:  Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons

Each of these teams lost one game on their way to the NFC Championship.  The Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals in their first game of the tournament and have run off four consecutive victories to get here.  Meanwhile, the Falcons lost to the Lions by 7 in the second round of the tournament, but both teams come to this championship game 4-1.  And, unlike the AFC title game, these teams have done it with offense.  Now, Seattle lives and dies with Russell Wilson, and he has not disappointed.  He has thrown for 1,298 yards, completing 89-164 with 3 TD’s.  He has, however, tossed 5 interceptions.  But, he has also rushed for 234 yards on 39 carries and has found pay-dirt four times.  His favorite receiver, Doug Baldwin, has caught 24 passes for 398 yards and one score.  For the Falcons, Matt Ryan has completed 105 out of 166 attempts for 1,253 yards and four scores.  But, he, too, has been susceptible to the turnover, with 5 picks.  Devonta Freeman has been terrific, though, rushing for 434 yards on 79 carries and a remarkable 8 TD’s!  And, the incomparable Julio Jones has been remarkably steady, hauling in 31 passes for 502 yards and 2 touchdowns.  But, injuries may play a big role in this game, as Seattle kind of limps in to this championship game, with four starting defensive players on the shelf.  Here is the list of everyone on the Disabled List:

Seattle:  Eddie Lacy (RB), Oday Aboushi (OG), Rees Odhiambo (OT), Jarran Reed (DT), Cliff Avril (DE), KJ Wright (LB), Richard Sherman (CB), Kam Chancellor (S)

Atlanta:  Ricardo Allen (S), Adrian Clayborn (DE), Vic Beasley (LB), Terron Ward (RB)