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IFL SUPER BOWL
In a battle of #1 seeds, Carolina (13-3) and New England (16-0) hooked up in the IFL Super Bowl for all the marbles. Carolina is led by their franchise QB Russell Wilson (3600 yards, 18 TDs only 3 INT), with support from running back Derrick Henry (1646 rushing yards w/17 TDs) and stud receiver Mike Evans (1210 yards 9 TDs). Meanwhile, undefeated New England sports a multi-dimensional offense led by QB Lamar Jackson (3350 passing yards, 27 TDs and 992 rushing yards) with help from RB Christian McCaffrey (1126 rushing yards and 24 TDs) and the receiving duo of Cooper Kupp and Courtland Sutton (17 total TDs).
Patriots win the toss and elect to defer. Carolina opens up with a quick Wilson to Amendola strike for 9 yards and a short run by Kenyan Drake for the first down. The drive stalled from there and the Panthers punt it away.
Jackson hits Sutton on the first play for 11 yards and a first down. A couple McCaffrey runs leaves the Patriots with a 3rd and 3. Jackson rolls out looking for a receiver but the coverage is excellent...........he checks down to McCaffrey but is INTERCEPTED BY MAURICE CANADY who runs it all the way back to the Patriot ONE YARD LINE! A huge early break for the Panthers! A false start penalty backs Carolina up, but Kenyan Drake runs it in from 6 yards out and Carolina is on the board first, 7-0.
Lamar Jackson wastes little time answering, rushing twice for 13 yards and completing 4 of 5 passes on the next drive, the last to Courtland Sutton for a 21 yard TD and the game was tied at 7-7 at the 5:26 mark of the first quarter.
Patriots appeared to enter the game looking to stop Derrick Henry. This didn't work out well on the next drive as Russell Wilson connected three times with Drake out of the backfield for gains of 3, 26 and 24 yards to carry the Panthers deep into Patriot territory. After a 5 yard Drake run, Wilson found him for a FOURTH time on the drive for a 5 yard TD pass, and Carolina leads 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Patriots looked to answer but the Panther defense was up to the task, forcing a 3 and out. Russ starts to cook once again, finding Drake for 6 yards and Amendola for 18 yards.......down to the NE 38 yard line. Facing a 4th and 2 from the 30, Carolina calls on Josh Lambo who connects on the long field goal, and Carolina had a 10 point lead early in quarter number two. 17-7 Panthers
New England puts together a nifty nine play 75 yard drive in response, highlighted by completions to Hayden Hurst for 13 and Sutton for 16 out to the Panther 31 yard line. A 9-yard rush by Jackson was followed by a 19-yard TD strike to John Ross. 17-14 Panthers.
On first and ten Carolina looked to unleash their big dog Derrick Henry who cut inside and was hit by Logan Ryan, jarring the ball loose into the arms of rookie LB Devin White................who ran it all the way back for the TD! Patriots take their first lead of the game at the 6:52 mark of the 2nd quarter, 21-17.
Panthers looked to answer as Wilson hits Drake and Hooper for short completions to start the drive. TWO holding penalties killed the momentum however and Carolina had to punt it away. New England would have it at their own 23 yard line.
Runs by McCaffrey (2 yards) and Jackson (18 yards) preceded the two minute warning. On the next play, Jackson faded back but couldn't find a receiver.........but instead of forcing a throw as he did in the first quarter, Lamar headed into the open field for a 45 yard gain to the Panther 12 yard line! Two plays later, McCaffrey ran it in for the TD. A missed PAT by Tucker left the game at 27-17 Patriots heading to halftime.
The Pats offense started out the 3rd quarter rolling, with completions from Jackson to Sutton and Hurst for 10 and 28 yards respectively, down to the Panther 30 yard line. Three straight rushes left NE with a 4th and 1 at the 21 yard line. New England took the points as Tucker hit the FG, and the Patriots were up 30-17.
Two false start penalties on the next Panther drive dug them into a 1st and 20 hole which they could not escape. A Panther punt was returned by Nyheim Hines 26 yards out near midfield. Four plays later, Jackson hit John Ross once again for a TD, this one from 31 yards out, and NE was up three scores, 37-17.
A sense of urgency was setting in for Russell Wilson and the Panthers. After a Drake run went nowhere, Wilson went it alone and ran for a 12 yard gain and a first down. He then hit Mike Evans, thus far held in check by Richard Sherman, for 14 and another first down, across midfield. Drake was stuffed on the next run and the Patriots forced a 4th and 7 decision. Panthers decided to punt it away, but changed course when NE jumped offside. Wilson looked to hit Amendola on 4th and 2 but the ball was knocked away by Logan Ryan. Patriots maintain their lead 37-17 heading to the 4th quarter.
Lamar and Co. were on the move once again early in the 4th quarter, as Jackson hit Hurst and Kupp for 14 yards apiece. In between those completions, Lamar scrambled for another 19 yards. On first and goal, CMC ran it in from 7 yards out for his 2nd TD of the day. 44-17 New England.
Wilson drove his squad right down the field on their next drive setting up Henry for a 5 yard TD. Patriots lead was cut to 44-24 with 7:17 to play.
New England went to the ground game exclusively on the next drive. Carolina appeared a bit worn down as New England, highlighted by a 46 yard run by Lamar, ran it continuously all the way into the endzone as McCaffrey eventually scored his 3rd rushing TD of the game Carolina would add a late field goal but Patriots would prevail in the end. FINAL SCORE: NEW ENGLAND 51 CAROLINA 27
Lamar Jackson was the game MVP, as he shook off the early interception to throw for 237 yards and 3 TDs. Equally as important, Lamar was unstoppable with his legs, rushing for 171 yards on only 12 carries. Courtland Sutton led NE receivers with 6 grabs for 83 yards and a TD. Christian McCaffrey ran for a mere 57 yards on 15 carries, but 3 of those runs were to paydirt.
For Carolina, it was a disappointing end to a terrific season. Kenyan Drake caught 8 passes for 71 yards and a TD to lead the Panther offense. Derrick Henry was held to 65 yards on his 12 carries.
Each team turned the ball over one time resulting in a TD for the opposition. Carolina was stung by 8 penalties for 50 yards while NE was flagged 5 times for 47 yards.
Patriots navigate their way through the postseason by outscoring their three playoff opponents 134-48 to wrap up their perfect 2020-2021 season.
IFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Bengals 15 Patriots 45
Cincinnati travels to New England on a high after their remarkable comeback win last week against the Jets. Aaron Rodgers is always dangerous, and he has all of his weapons sharpened for this matchup. Meanwhile, New England dispatched Jacksonville with relative ease last week, and were hoping to run their unbeaten streak to 18.
Patriots would get the ball first. Completions from Lamar to Hurst and Ekeler had NE quickly into Bengal territory. A pair of Jackson runs for 10 yards each set up a Lamar to Kupp 12 yard TD pass. 7-0 Patriots.
Brandon Wilson was back to receive the kick, hoping for some more magic after last weeks dramatic KR TD which sparked the Bengals rally. Wilson fielded at the goal line and was off to the races.......................across the 30 near the 40 yard line.......... before getting blasted and coughing it up! A mad scramble for the ball....and NE would recover!
Starting at the Bengal 40, Lamar to CMC for 9 yards followed by a couple more CMC runs down to the Bengal 22. With the Bengals focused on CMC, Jackson hooked up with a streaking Courtland Sutton for the 22 yard TD. Before Aaron Rodgers could even get on the field, it was 14-0 New England.
Bengals go three and out, and the Patriots are on the move again. Jackson to Ekeler for 19 yards followed by another 19 yard completion to Kupp down to the 8 yard line. Consecutive runs by Lamar are met with force as the Patriots lose 6 yards on the two plays. Ultimately they would settle for a FG and it was 17-0 after one quarter.
The 2nd quarter begins with NE driving once again. Jackson to Kupp for 16 followed by a rushes from CMC and Ekeler have NE at the Bengal 15. On 3rd and 1, CMC rips off an 11 yard run to the Bengal 4 yard line. On the next play, Jackson runs it in and it's 24-0 Patriots.
Things would get no better for Cincinnati on the day. New England would finish the half with another long scoring drive capped by an Ekeler 1 yard TD run, and it was 31-0 at halftime.
Final Score: Patriots 45, Bengals 15
For NE, Lamar Jackson threw for 231 yards and 3 TDs. He also ran for 66 yards and a 4th TD. McCaffrey ran for 84 yards and a TD himself, to go along with 2 grabs for 24 yards.
Aaron Rodgers was not himself on this day. It wasn't until the 4th quarter before he had eclipsed the 100 yard passing mark, as Richard Sherman and the Patriot secondary kept DJ Chark, Alshon Jeffrey and the Bengal passing attack under wraps. A couple 4th quarter TD passes salvaged what had been a rough day for the future hall of famer.
Congrats to John on a great season. This one got out of hand quick after the costly fumble in the first quarter, and the Bengals just couldn't supply enough offense to keep up with the home team on this day.
Eagles 24 Panthers 30
Philadelphia and Carolina meet with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
The Panthers jumped out to the early first quarter lead with a Lambo field goal followed by Wilson hitting Drake on a 9 yard swing pass to take the early 10-0 lead.
The Eagles would respond though, at the start of the second, as Tannehill drove them down the field then ran in it himself from the 4 to bring the Eagles within a field goal 10-7. Carolina would roar back and after a 52 yard field goal by Lambo, Wilson would hit Hooper on a 4 yard pass to place the Panthers in great position, up 20-7. The Eagles were able to drive down the field and hit a field goal as time expired in the half to bring the half time score to 20-10.
The Eagles received the kick to start the third and promptly drove down the field and capped the drive with Tannehill connecting with Edelman on a 16 yard pass to draw the Eagles within a field goal 20-17. The Panthers offense then stalled on their next few drives and the quarter ended with the Eagles with striking distance.
The Panthers were able to distance themselves a little as Wilson hit Cobb on a 15 yard TD pass to push the lead back out to 27-17. They then added another field goal to lead 30-17 with 10 minutes left in the game. The Eagles would continue to play hard and Winston came in to QB and threw a 6 yard pass to Brown to draw within a TD 30-24. The Panthers got the ball back with 3 minutes left in the game and were able to convert a couple of first downs to seal the victory.
The difference in the game came down to turnovers. The Eagles had 3 and the Panthers none. Had that been more balanced, the Panthers would have been in trouble. Greg coached a great game and had a very good season.
Russel Wilson was the star for Carolina, throwing for 3 TD passes. For the Eagles, Brown had 116 yard receiving and a TD. Peterson added 103 yards on the game. The Panthers advance to their first Super Bowl.
IFL DIVISONAL ROUND