The IFL is a 30 team league that uses the Action! PC football game by Dave Koch Sports. If you would like more information about the IFL please contact Commissioner John Storer at email@example.com
IFL SUPER BOWL XIX
Rams 23 Oakland 20
And so the 2019 IFL season came to an end on Friday 1/31/2020 for the final remaining teams, the Oakland Raiders representing the AFC and the Los Angeles Rams. representing the NFC It was another fantastic season in the IFL, in no small part to the efforts of the commish John Storer, who does a tremendous job and is key to making the IFL the best Action league on the net. Throughout the season we saw incredible win streaks like the Miami Dolphins who went nearly two years without losing a game, the San Francisco 49ers who reeled off 9 straight wins after starting 1-4. There were amazing individual performances like 18 sacks from Aaron Donald, an interior defensive lineman, WR Michael Thomas just missed 2,000 receiving yards and Drew Brees threw 56 touchdown passes and only 3 interceptions. There also were major upsets like the Bengals ending the Dolphins win streak, the Ravens spoiling the Vikings playoff chances on the final week of the season, and the Cardinals making a run to the NFC Conference Title game, so it was fitting that the Super Bowl ended the way it did after such a great season.
Leading up to the game there was a lot discussion about the history of the two participants. The Raiders have been a storied IFL franchise, they already have three trophies, no one was surprised to see them make it to the Super Bowl. They have been competitive for years, and put together an incredible game plan to take down the defending champion Miami Dolphins on the road in the AFC Conference Championship. The Rams history has been much more uneven, and their future was further clouded when Rams QB Andrew Luck announced before the season this would be his last. A huge shock to the fans and the team, especially since it appeared the Rams had assembled their best team to date. Many wondered if the Rams would crumble under the added pressure by the Luck announcement.
This was not the first meeting between these two teams, they played in Los Angeles several weeks earlier; the Rams came out on top in that one 34-9. The Raiders wanted revenge. During media day the Raiders players downplayed that first game and said all of the right things, but it became clear as the game unfolded the Raiders had made adjustments and prepared their team completely differently. The preparation worked, with 3:37 left in the Super Bowl the Raiders led 20-16 and stood on the brink of hoisting their 4th trophy. They just needed to stop the Rams and Andrew Luck one last time.
But first how did the two teams find themselves in that position.
The Rams got off to a red hot start. After stopping the Raiders initial possession, the Rams struck quickly, six plays ending with Andrew Luck to TY Hilton from 21 yards out for a touchdown, 7-0 Rams. The Rams had punched the Raiders in the mouth. The Raiders were still gathering themselves; they mustered a drive to the Rams 35 yard line, Raiders pro bowl kicker Jason Myers smoked a 52 yard field goal, 7-3 Rams.
Both teams have balanced offenses and they employed ball control style offenses that led to the game being played at a lightning pace. There would be little margin for error, neither team would have many possessions, not one could be wasted. On only the Rams 2nd possession the game was already well into the 2nd quarter .That drive added a field goal, 10-3 Rams. The Raiders ended up with one more possession before the half with 6:55 left and they put on a clinic. Raiders QB Matthew Stafford guided the Raiders on a 19 play drive converting 3rd down after 3rd down. The drive though stalled and time was low, the Raiders had to settle for a field goal. They left no time though for the Rams. It appeared the Raiders had figured something out in the Rams defense, the Raiders offense in the second half turned into a giant boulder gaining downhill momentum, the Rams were in trouble they just didn't know it year, 10-6 Rams led at the half.
The Rams offense still had the Raiders off balance on their first 2nd half possession. The Rams OC turned to a long time connection that was playing together for a final time, Luck to Hilton. On 1st and 10 from the Rams 48 Luck dropped back to pass and found his speedy teammate for a 22 yard gain. That put the Rams close to the red zone and several plays later Rams RB Chris Carson plunged over the top for the touchdown. A huge moment for the Rams and they appeared to be on their way to a win, but a curious thing happened on the way to the extra point, Rams Kicker Ryan Succop had been spotty all season and his demons once again got the better of him, his missed the XP wide, 16-6 Rams, but a potentially critical development.
The Raiders and Keith Jackson still had something to say about this game, it was only a two score deficit, with stars like Travis Kelce and Alvin Kamara it was well within their reach to mount a comeback. And boy did they. Stafford took the game into his hands completing 5 passes on the next drive. Coach Jackson kept his offense on the field when facing a key 4th down which Kamara converted. Then Stafford found up and coming WR DJ Moore for a 26 yard touchdown strike, the Raiders were in this! 16-13 Rams clung to a slim lead.
The game became a slugfest. The Rams had always relied on their running attack to punish teams, but the Raiders had the best front 7 the Rams had faced all season. At a critical point in the game the rushing attack failed them causing the Rams to come up empty on two possessions. With 11:40 left in the 4th quarter the Raiders took advantage and dominated the Rams defense for nearly 8 minutes. Converting two 3rd downs and two 4th downs the punishing drive ended with a Devontae Booker 1 yard plunge into the end zone. the Raiders now had the lead 20-16 with 3:37 left! The Rams had only mounted 1 drive in the entire 2nd half their fans were distraught, while the Raiders just needed to stop the Rams one more time.
Andrew Luck had led some last minute drives in the regular season, specifically two critical games against the Falcons and Vikings. The Raiders were determined not to fall victim to his last minute heroics and focused on stopping him. Lining up in a nickel defense the Raiders rolled the dice that the Rams could not or would not run. But they did run, and ripped off three runs totaling 38 yards out of the hurry up, the Rams were across the 50 yard line with 1:50 left remaining in the game. The Rams had a delicate balance to strike, Matt Stafford had devastated the Rams in the second half. The Raiders as a team were 11 for 21 on third and 4th down conversions, the Rams defense could not get off the field; so leaving time for the Raiders would be deadly for the Rams. On the other hand a field goal was not sufficient thanks to their kicker so the Rams had to get a touchdown. The Rams somewhat surprisingly did not go no huddle-hurry up at this point. After a short screen that only gained the three yards the ball sat at the Raiders 35 yard line, 3rd and 3 only 47 seconds remained. The Rams had two timeouts remaining. This play was a critical moment in the game. Rams coach Ryan Heaton said in post game interviews that they had two plays ready for this situation and relied on QB Andrew Luck to make the right decision. The Raiders appeared ready to end the game they lined up in a 5-2 front, seemingly determined not to let RB Carson to get a first down. Luck at the line of scrimmage screamed out an audible, play-by-play announcer Tony Romo immediately chimed in "Luck recognizes they are playing run, he's changing the play, look out for Hilton!" Romo, the great play by play prognosticator was right, for one last time Andrew Luck and TY Hilton hooked up for a 35 yard touchdown strike, 23-20 Rams! Rams fans were losing their minds. For most of the 4th quarter it looked bleak for the Los Angeles fans, now they were jubilant! But the Rams started to celebrate too early. There were still 38 seconds left, the Raiders had all of their timeouts and they only needed a field goal for over-time.
A modest return on the kick started the Raiders at the Rams 21 yard line. Stafford fired a quick 10 yard strike to Kelce, timeout Raiders 21 seconds left. A couple incomplete passes led to the last play of the game. Travis Kelce had delivered all game for the Raiders, he had an great season and his last catch of the game was incredible. 11 Seconds remained the ball sat at the Raiders 31 yard line, 3rd and 10. Stafford dropped back to pass and found Kelce had beaten his man, Stafford threw a perfect strike to Kelce in stride....he caught it at the 46 with running room, past the 40...past the 20..he appeared to be going for the win, eschewing outbounds or going down..But it wasn't to be, Rams safety Anthony Harris made a game saving tackle at the Rams 18 yard line! The clock expired, Oakland was not able to call timeout and the Rams were the IFL Super Bowl Champions, 23-20 final score.
Coach Heaton immediately met Coach Jackson at midfield and congratulated him on an incredible game and effort by his team. The Raiders very easily could have been crowned champions; they were indeed a worthy team. Their in game adjustments completely flipped the momentum of the game, it just was not meant to be.
There were several incredible performances in the game for the Raiders Travis Kelce easily was their MVP, 145 yards receiving on 9 catches. Raiders QB Matthew Stafford was 29-for 49 for 323 yards and 1 touchdown. He consistently completed timely passes to keep drives alive. Raiders Kicker Jason Myers also was impressive making 2 field goals, one a key 52 yarder early in the game.
For the Rams the sentimental favorite for MVP was Andrew Luck since it was his last IFL game, but the voters instead chose WR TY Hilton, 5 catches for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. An incredible performance against one of the best defenses in the league. Also impressive was Rams RB Chris Carson 19 carries 95 yards and 1 touchdown.
In the end the game came down to one more touchdown for the Rams where the Raiders settled for a field goal. It was an incredible finish to a great coached game by Keith, a worthy final game to a great IFL season.
...but there is no rest for the weary, a new season is right around the corner. And there appears to be a lot of uncertainty about the favorites for next season. Three of the final four teams this year will be faced with QB issues either due to poor performance, injury or retirement. There are exciting and new QBs on up and coming teams like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, perhaps they will be leading their teams in the Super Bowll. Could Deshaun Watson or Dak Prescott take that next step to enter the category of elite. Or maybe it will be an old reliable like Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers leading their team to the promised land. One thing is for sure with injuries to Rothlisberger, Stafford, Brees, Foles, and less than stellar play from Rivers, Goff and even Tom Brady the deck appears to be shuffled. 2020 could be anyone's season, can't wait.
Congrats to everyone on a great season, to all the playoff teams and to the Raiders and Keith Jackson who made a great run.
Lastly I once again want to thank John for doing such a great job running the league, it's an incredible amount of fun to be a part of it.
Enjoy the real Super Bowl everybody.
Rams 2019 IFL Super Bowl Champions
IFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Oakland 26 at Miami 13
Wearing merely a fur coat post-game, Oakland Raiders’ star cornerback Joe Haden smiled and simply said: “I told you so.”
In the week leading up to the game, Haden told anyone who would listen that it was the defense’s turn to have a big game after “being carried by Alvin Kamara last week.” Haden and the Raider’s defense didn’t waste time as safety Harrison Smith intercepted Dolphins’ QB Jared Goff on the first drive and returned it 51 yards to the 2-yard line. Kamara punched it in on the very next play and the Raiders were up 6-0 after a missed extra point by Jason Meyers.
“That was a huge play for us. The Dolphins started off flummoxing us with their four receiver sets from the first play on and were driving and Goff looked comfortable … we needed to get them off the field, said Raiders’ coach Keith Jackson.”
The Dolphins would prove unbowed as Darius Jennings took the ensuing kickoff 60-plus yards to the Raiders’ 37. Thanks to stout defense, the Dolphins’ seven-play drive stalled and the Dolphins settled for a 44-yard field goal to cut the lead to 6-3.
Both team’s subsequent drives would stall, but the Dolphins’ Goff seemingly broke out of his slow start with a 26-yard touchdown pass to WR Brandin Cooks to take a 10-6 lead before the first quarter ended.
The Raiders struck back two drives later by opening the second quarter with an eight-play, 64-yard drive that culminated with Kamara’s second touchdown. But after a controversial decision to go for two failed, the Raiders were only up 12-10.
“Look, it was a bad decision, said Coach Jackson. I had a conversation last offseason with Jimmy Haslam about the importance of analytics and tried to shoehorn it into that moment. I should’ve just had my kicker get out there and make it 13-7. That was entirely on me.”
After several stalled drives by both teams, the Dolphins kicked a 40-yard field goal to regain the lead 13-12 after an eight-play drive. It only took the Raiders’ five plays on their next drive to regain the lead as Kamara added his third touchdown of the day on a 25-yard touchdown reception.
“All week we knew were facing a really good defense that sprinkled in some blitzes at inopportune times, stated Raiders’ QB Matthew Stafford. So we wanted to make sure if we were able to snuff one out that we switched to a screen to AK because we knew they would be keyed on him for the majority of the day. It worked perfectly, they came in with their linebacker and we dropped it to AK and he did the rest.”
The Raiders came out of halftime intent on dialing up the pressure to maintain the 19-13 lead and they were successful as they used a combination of linebacker blitzes and stunts and twists from the defensive line to keep force Goff from the pocket repeatedly.
“We knew we couldn’t let them get settled in, said Coach Jackson, That team is extremely well coached and we knew they would come out with some different wrinkles that we would need to prepare for. In my estimation, they’ve been the most dangerous offense in the league the past several seasons because of their ability to make adjustments and keep defenses on their toes. We wanted to reverse it and show them some different looks and keep Goff uncomfortable.”
The Raiders were successful defensively in the third quarter as they sacked Goff twice, forced a fumble and garnered a pick six from Haden that made the score 26-13. It was a frustrating fourth quarter for the Dolphins as the Raiders’ defense held them scoreless despite eight-play and 17-play drives that both ended in turnovers on downs. The Raiders were able to end the game with the victory formation as they completed the shocking 26-13 win.
“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of this team, said Coach Jackson. Last season the Dolphins beat the heck out of us on their way to a Super Bowl and we didn’t shrink from that this season. We knew how good of a team they were, how well coached they were and how hungry they were and still fought them. That team over there is dynastic and an organization that I know we try and learn from every day in terms of coaching decisions, personnel decisions, draft, etc. We have one more game left and can’t wait to get out there and play for a Super Bowl title. Whew, let’s get after it!”
Raiders- Stafford: 23-40, 241, 1TD
Dolphins- Goff: 40-78, 337, 1TD, 2INT
Raiders- Kamara: 24-60, 2TD
Dolphins- Chris Thompson: 4-17
Raiders- Travis Kelce: 9-106
Dolphins- Thompson: 11-74; Brandin Cooks: 8-95, 1TD
Raiders- Haden: 7 tackles, 1 pass defense, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT, 1 TD; Grady Jarrett, 2 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 QB hurry, 2 forced fumbles
Dolphins- Henry Anderson: 8 tackles, 1 pass defense, 1 QB hurry, 1 forced fumble
Arizona 21 at Rams 45
Is it possible for a game to be decided midway through the 2nd quarter of a game. The Rams season appeared to be on the brink at that exact moment versus the dangerous AFC East Division Champ Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals led by Patrick Mahomes and Saquon Barkley had been beating the odds all season. After winning their division and then two subsequent playoff games, one on the road, they found themselves leading the #1 Seeded Rams 14-7 mid way through the 2nd quarter. The Rams were sweating, an early turnover had given the Cardinals the lead, 14-7, an eerily similar script to how the Tampa Bay game went for the Cardinals. Compounding the Rams problem at this decisive moment was the down and distance, they faced a 3rd and 11 on their end of the field. Rams QB Andrew Luck to this point had been ineffective, broadcasters wondered if he put too much pressure on himself by announcing he would walk away from football after this season. After the game interviewers asked Rams players if Luck said anything in the huddle prior to the big moment. One player divulged what Luck, a well known Game of Thrones aficionado, said prior to the critical down, "Not today". He then faced down a Cardinals blitz and delivered a 17 yard strike to TY Hilton. The Rams were back in business eventually tying it up a few plays later on a pass from Luck to tight end Trey Burton, 14-14. The home crowd now energized seemed to give life to the Rams defense who held the Cardinals on their next possession. That led to the second decisive moment of the game, the Rams, for some reason use star defensive end Khalil Mack on special teams, a seemingly risky proposition given his value to the team, but today it finally paid off, Mack rolled over his blocker and blocked the Cardinals punt. Rams ball on the Cardinals 26. The Rams quickly cashed in another touchdown, 21-14 Rams. In 8 minutes the Rams went from losing to winning. Mahomes tried to answer with 5 minutes left in the quarter. As was the strategy all game he fired off a deep ball, incomplete. His inability to find his deep ball touch hamstrung the Cardinal offense, he finished 22 for 49. The Cards drive ended in a 3 and out. The Rams again with the ball and only two minutes left. They dinked and dunked their way to the Cardinal 22 yard line running a hurry up offense and 50 seconds left. The Rams appeared to be content to come away with a field goal knowing they would get the ball to start the 2nd half. Rams star RB Chris Carson had other ideas, despite facing a defense keyed to stop him on the play Carson sweeped right dodging and weaving his way to the end zone. 28-14 Rams led at the half.
Despite a devastating 2nd quarter the Cardinals still had life in them. The Cardinals defense held the Rams on their 1st possession of the half, their offense though was still stuck in the mud. The Cardinals could not generate a consistent running game and went three and out. This time Luck decided to take matters into his own hands to make sure the Rams got points, on a 2nd and 10 play Luck scrambled for 23 yards, down to the Cardinal 34 yard line. That play got the Rams offense going again and they would not look back, Luck threw a TD strike to tight end Eric Ebron to make it 35-14 Rams. The 3rd quarter ended with a Rams field goal to make it 38-14. The Cardinals never gave up, they scored with 4 minutes left to make it 38-21, but the onside kick did not bounce their way. The field position helped the Rams score another touchdown, 45-21 was the final. The Rams move on to their first IFL Super Bowl in franchise history.
Congrats to the Cardinals and my Dad on a great season, the future looks bright, a great turnaround from top 5 pick to final four.
Cardinals Stars of the game:
RB Saquon Barkley 187 total yards (11 catches 3 for touchdowns)
QB Patrick Mahomes 22-49 253 yards 3 touchdowns 1 int
Rams Stars of the game:
RB Chris Carson 21 carries 159 Yards 3 Touchdowns
QB Andrew Luck 18-26 3 Touchdowns 1 int
The Rams move on to yet another rematch from the regular season, The Oakland Raiders. A team with an impressive Super Bowl pedigree, should be a great game. Congrats to them on making it to the final.
IFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF ROUND
Chargers 16 at Miami 35
Chargers come to Miami fresh off a wild card victory over the Jets, hoping to make it 2 in a row over the AFC East. The Dolphins, well rested after a 1st round bye and healthy are prepared for the visit.
LA takes the opening KO and travels from their own 24 to the Dolphin 15 using almost half of the 1st quarter but stall out and kick the FG for the 3-0 lead with 8:43 left. The Dolphins run 3 plays and on the 4th, Goff throws the pick at the Charger 24 and LA is going the other way. The Chargers run nine plays but stall at the Dolphin 44 and punt. Miami takes over at their own 20 and quickly move the ball 80 yards in 2:07 and get the TD with 13:11 remaining in the half to make the score 7-3 Miami. After a exchange of punts, 1 by Miami and 2 by LA, the Dolphins go 63 yards in 3 minutes and 9 seconds and score the TD to take the 14-3 lead with 2:50 left in the half. But there's no quit in the Chargers as they get the ball at their own 7 yard line and in 2:39 get into Dolphin territory and kick a 62 yard FG as time expires in the half to make it a 1 score game at 14-6 at halftime.
Miami gets the ball to open the 2nd half and go 3 and out and punt it back to the Chargers. LA covers 57 yards in 11 plays, but the drive stalls, but they do get the FG to cut the lead to 14-9 with 6:27 left in the 3rd. Miami takes over at their own 23 and make short work of the 77 yards and score the TD with 2:59 left in the 3rd quarter to take the 21-9 lead, pushing it to a 12 point lead. Undaunted, LA travels 60 yards in a little over 5 minutes and get the TD to cut the lead back to 5 points at 21-16 with 12:43 to go in the game.
The Dolphins get the ball at their own 17 and travel the 83 yards in 2 minutes and 44 seconds and get the TD to push the lead back to 12 points with 9:40 left in the contest. A Charger 3 and out opens the door for the Dolphins, and they take advantage of the opportunity and go 64 yards and get the TD to go up 35-16 with 5:50 left. The Chargers would get the ball and drive to the Dolphin 34 yard line but turn it over on downs and the Dolphins would run out the clock and get the 35-16 win. A valiant effort by the Chargers, but unable to come up with the win. LA finishes the year strong and looks to build on this year's success as the Dolphins move on to face the winner of the Bengal/Raider game to determine the AFC representative in the Super Bowl.
Thanks to Jerry for getting the game in and a excellent called game on the road.
Cincinnati 10 at Oakland 15
In a hard fought Divisional Round game, the Oakland Raiders prevailed over the Cincinnati Bengals 15-10 and now get ready to travel to Miami to face the vaunted Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship. Below is the transcript from Coach Jackson’s press conference.
Coach Jackson opening statement: Heckova game out there, I wanna tip my hat to the Bengals and especially Coach Storer. His guys never gave up and it’s impossible to feel safe against that team. Glad we were able to get out of here with a win, but never felt comfortable. That’s testament to the team he’s put together and his coaching. Let’s knock out some questions.
Q: Alvin Kamara rushed 25 times for 207 yards and one touchdown. Was the original game plan to run the ball?
A: Not at all, we thought we’d have more success passing the ball and definitely didn’t anticipate having so much success on the ground against this tough defense. To be honest if you’d asked me before the game what I expected and it would’ve been about 15 rushes and 8-10 catches for AK. But his success changed everything.
Q: At what point did you change the game plan?
A: Oh, late in the second quarter I realized the Bengals’ defensive backfield wasn’t letting anything past them and AK had already got ‘em for the 54-yard rushing touchdown midway through the first and a 29-yard run and looked really comfortable. At that point I told my offensive coordinator that we were scratching the original plan and running AK until he broke down.
Q: Was there any concern about injuries with AK? He has been injured several times during the season.
A: Not at all, during the week I talked to him and let him know what the game plan was and he told me point blank to run him if we needed. He felt confident and now we see why.
Q: What was the turning point in the game?
A: There was no turning point or momentum change because neither team had much momentum. This game was a buckin’ bronco. You just hopped on and hoped you didn’t get thrown too hard. I never felt comfortable and I’m pretty sure neither did Coach Storer.
Q: You missed the extra point after the first touchdown, which continues a string of off-putting kicking performances the past few games. Are you worried?
A: I’m the head coach and it’s my job to worry, but I believe that when we need our guy to make a big kick that he will.
Q: Late in the game, you started using a lot more play action which is not something you normally use? Why was that?
A: Well when facing a well-coached team like the Bengals, you can’t keep giving them the same look. We needed to make sure that we kept them on their toes and didn’t just keep pounding the ball. We needed to make them think about what we might do so that we could keep those lanes open. One more question.
Q: Are you ready for next week’s game against the Dolphins?
A: Not sure anyone is ready to play the Dolphins. I just want my guys to be healthy, ready to execute and that I put them in a position to succeed and if so I think we can give that squad a game. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can do.
MVP: Alvin Kamara: 25 carries 207 yards
Passing: Aaron Rodgers 12-32, 152 yards, 1TD; Matthew Stafford 18-36, 181 yards
Rushing: Melvin Gordon III, 17-81; Kamara, 25-207, 1 TD
Atlanta 10 at Rams 31
Rams and Falcons met in the rubber match after splitting their regular season series 1-1. Rams eeked out home field advantage which appeared to be the difference in the game today. Timing and inches went against the Falcons most of the day. The final score was deceiving, the Falcons threatened the Rams on several occasions but in a decisive moment a penalty, or sack or a tackle 1 yard short constantly put Atlanta in difficult predicaments.
After the Rams scored a TD on their opening possession Atlanta responded with a huge kick return for 70 yards by Jakeem Grant. But Falcons QB Phillip Rivers was let down by his OL as two sacks on the Falcons first two plays pushed the Falcons back. On 4th down Coach Golden did not appear to have confidence in his field goal kicker attempting a 48 yarder, they punted and downed the ball at the 1 yard line. After stopping the Rams the Falcons regained possession and managed a field goal, 7-3 Rams early in the 2nd quarter.
The Rams pushed the lead to 14-3 on their next drive. The Falcons next possession created another key moment. A second down sack by Rams DE Khalil Mack put the Falcons in 3rd and long. Rivers completed a pass to WR Josh Doctson but he was tackled 2 yards short. The Falcons punted the ball back to a hot Rams offense. Rams QB Andrew Luck orchestrated another TD drive, 21-3 with just over 1 minute remaining in the half. The Falcons pushed the ball into field goal range, but on 3rd and short the Falcons went for the end zone and were picked off, even though that was a tough pill right before the half, the Falcons would hang tough.
The Falcons first drive fizzled and the Rams pushed the ball to Atlanta's goal line; it appeared the Rams were going to put the game out of reach. But a goal line stand caused the Rams to settle for a Field Goal 24-3 Rams. The Falcons then put a Touchdown on the board, a deep pass Rivers to Agholor. Momentum appeared to be shifting; the Falcons converted a 4th down inside their own 15 yard line to keep that TD drive alive. Falcons tried to catch the Rams off guard with an onside kick, but the kicker kicked it too far and it was recovered by a back up lineman. The Rams took advantage of the short field and scored, 31-10 Rams. The Falcons mustered another long drive but it consumed a lot of time and it eventually ended on downs, essentially ending the game.
Penalties(7 against Atl/ 1 Against LA) and turnovers went against the Falcons all game and that ended up contributing to the outcome.
WR Nelson Agholor 87 total yards 1 TD
QB Phillip Rivers 24-39 267 yards 1 TD 1 Int
QB Andrew Luck 17-19 227 yards 3 TDs
DE Trey Flowers 2 Sacks 1 Stuff
Congrats to Marty and the Falcons on a great season, 14 total wins in a tough division and conference.
The Rams await the winner of the Cardinals and Buccaneers.
Arizona 42 at Tampa Bay 39
Last year Arizona was challenging for the first pick in the draft. This year Arizona is one game away from the Super Bowl. What a difference a year makes. What a difference Mahomes Magic makes!
The talking heads all picked the Giants to win the East division hands down. They predicted Arizona to finish 4th ahead of Washington and behind Dallas. Instead the Red Wave finished as champion after defeating the Giants twice.
The talking heads predicted Arizona would be eliminated early. They said Zona lacked elite receivers. They said the offensive line was suspect. And the defense was short on play makers. And they said Mahomes was young and lacked experience. They simply did not recognize the Mahomes magic.
Arizona did not begin the Tampa game the way they had planned. Zona returned the opening kick off only to their 11 yard line. They would pick up one first down before two of Mahomes passes missed connections to bring up a punt on a 4th and 4 yards to go. Luckily Bosher boomed a great kick and pinned Tampa on their 10 yard line.
However, Tampa lost no time, completing their first three passes to their 35 yard line. Two runs and two passes later and it was Tampa 7 and Zona zip. It was way too early to panic, but Zona felt the pressure to get something done. As it turned out, the red wave was alive and well. A pass interference penalty gave Arizona a quick first down. Mahomes then caught Tampa stacking the line looking for a Barkley as Williams caught his first pass on a short crossing pattern. On the very next play, Mahomes found Williams deep for 31 yards as the Bucs were again looking for Barkley. Barkley took the next two hand offs for 15 yards and then 8 yards and 7 points. The game was tied.
Tampa's next possession began positively but faltered after a key holding penalty. After failing to convert on a 3rd and 22, Tampa punted. Zona would earn a couple first downs before their drive also stalled. The next series for Tampa led to a critical error. Carr misread the defense and threw the ball directly into Fuller's hands. Arizona takes possession on the Tampa 12 yard line. A quick pass and then another TD for Barkley as he bulled his way into the end zone. Arizona goes up by 7.
Tampa's next possession resulted in a ball control drive deep into Zona territory, but Zona's bend don't break defense was able to hold the Bucs to a field goal. Tampa would kick to Arizona who got the ball back with 3:51 on the clock at their 22 yard line. With only a 4 point lead, Zona knew they needed to produce. And produce they did! Mahomes and Barkley traded passing and running their way down the field. With 1:07 on the clock Barkley would crash his way in for his third TD of the game. Tampa would get one additional possession but the half time score would hold at 21-10 Arizona.
Tampa began the second half with momentum going their way. Gurley was relentless as he pounded the Zona defensive line. The Bucs rode Gurley's back on a 6 minute drive to close the lead to 21-17. Mahomes was unimpressed. He went to work on the Zona drive hitting 5 different receivers picking up large pieces of real estate on each completion. On the 10 yard line Mahomes handed the ball off to Barkley who scampered 10 yards for the score as 4 Bucs defensive players missed tackles on the galloping ghost. Four consecutive touch downs on the ground by Barkley set a new Zona playoff record.
Fans began to breath a little easy. However, as it turned out, it was way too premature. Patterson set up good field position for the Bucs on the next series beginning at their 36 yard line. Carr would go to the air for most of his next drive and quickly found pay dirt just before the end of the quarter. He would find Jackson waving his hands in the end zone to cut the Zona lead to 3 points.
Little did Zona fans know disaster was 3 plays away. On a 3rd and 10, Mahomes would find Johnson on a hitch route for the first down. Bethea had his own plan though as he wrestled the ball away from Johnson for a fumble recovery. Tampa would take over on the Zona 34 yard line. After a couple strong runs by Gurley, Carr would find Cook in the end to take the lead in the 4th quarter 32 to 28.
Starting on their own 15 yard line, Zona would turn again to Barkley on the ground. After picking up a quick first down, Mahomes looked downfield for a pass to Kirk. Kirk was cover and Mahomes was flushed out of the pocket. Mahomes zigged and zagged his way for a 31 yard scramble. Barkley would get his chance again on the next play as Mahomes handed off to him off right tackle. In Barkley fashion, he faked defenders out of their shoes on his way to a 38 yard touch down and 5 consecutive score on the ground. Zona 35, Tampa 32. Fans breathed another sigh of relief, too soon!
Tampa's next drive would be crucial. Again they started with good field position set up by Patterson on their 37 yard line. Carr would find Pruitt for 22 yards, first down! Then Zona stiffened and stopped Gurley for only one yard. An incomplete pass brought up a 3rd and 9. Adams would safety blitz and sack Carr forcing the punt.
Now, with 7 minutes left, if Mahomes could put up another score, it could put the game away. Barkley picks up 7 yards on the first down. Then adds another 2 yards on second down. Mahomes tries to sneak for the first but the defense was looking for him and Zona is forced to punt. Tampa gets the ball back on their 16 yard line with 5:11 in the game. Tampa throws to Gurley for 9 yards and 10 inches bringing up a 2nd and inches. Carr goes to the air on the next play but the Zona D was ready, incomplete. With a 3rd and inches, the Bucs hand off to Gurley. Zona was looking for Gurley the entire way and stuffed him behind the line for a 1 yard loss. With 4:50 on the clock and the game on the line and a 4th and one, Tampa pulls out all the stops. With Zona obviously thinking Gurley run, Carr throws the bomb Adams picking up 56 yards. With 3:58 left in the game, Tampa is set up on the Arizona 19 yard line. Gurley scampers for 12 yards to the 7 yard line. A short pass and another 5 yard gain sets up a 3rd and inches on the goal line. Gurley blasts it across to take the lead 39 to 35.
Arizona begins the sudden death drive at their own 29 yard line. Mahomes finds Barkley for 6 yards. Then disaster strikes and Castanzo is flagged for holding bringing up a 2nd and 14. Mahomes fires incomplete to Barkley. Now on 3rd down and 14, Mahomes looks for Williams on a fly pattern, incomplete. With the season on the line and 4 an 14 it is time for the magic of Mahomes. Mahomes drops back, looks to his right and then fires a strike to Williams slanting across the middle for 16 yards and new life.
Mahomes would continue finding Barkley and Johnson and then Kirk for the winning TD. Tampa would get the ball back with 9 seconds to play which was simply too little too late.
Arizona upsets the heavily favored Bucs and advances to the game in LA.
Thanks to Mike for a great game. They really do not get much closer than this one was.
IFL WILD CARD WEEKEND
Denver 21 at Cincinnati 24
The Bengals hosted Denver in the first round of the IFL playoffs. The Broncos eliminated Cincinnati 20-8 last year in the divisional round at Cincinnati so home field advantage meant nothing. To make matters worse, the Broncos beat up the Bengals 30-7 in Denver in week seven this year.
The game opened with multiple exchanges of punts until Bronco QB Nick Mullens connected with Tyreek Hill for the 41 yard score at the 8:04 mark of the opening quarter. Rodgers answered by throwing an interception to Bronco safety Tashaun Gipson. Four plays later, Josh Adams would rumble in from 19 yards out giving Denver a 14-0 lead with almost five minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The rout was on, or so it seemed.
Cincinnati finally put together a little something and 12 plays later Fairbairn converted on the 32 yard attempt to cut the Denver lead to 14-3 with just under 13 minutes remaining in the half. On the Broncos next series rookie QB Mullens made a huge mistake as All-IFL cornerback Kyle Fuller stepped in front of a pass and took it 42 yards for the pick six and the Denver lead was just 14-10. After another series of multiple exchanges of punts, the Bengals linebacker Danny Trevathan intercepted Mullens and returned it 12 yards. After a 10 yard run by Melvin Gordon, Rodgers found Alshon Jeffery for the 9 yard score and a 17-14 Cincinnati lead at the half.
Denver received the kickoff to begin the second half. It looked like the Broncos were going to start moving the ball as Mullens converted a second and 20 with a 28 yard pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah. However, forced to punt after a Adam Gotsis near strip sack, the Denver long snapper' snap sailed over the head of punter Chris Jones and was recovered by Fuller at the Broncos 11. On third and 7, Rodgers found Gordon for the score to increase the Bengals lead to 24-14 with about 12 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Punts, punts, and more punts ended the quarter.
The Broncos brought in Blake Bortles to try to rally the troops. He completed a pass to Hill for seven yards but Mullens came back in. The benching seemed to work as Mullens completed three straight passes including a 22 yard scoring strike to Hill cutting the Bengals lead to 24-21 with about 12 minutes remaining in the game. The Bengals were forced to punt, thanks to a Carlos Dunlap sack. Denver reached the Cincinnati 28 but on fourth down Hunt was stuffed and the Broncos came away with nothing. Cincinnati ate up a little time their next drive and a Huber punt pinned them at their own nine. After an incompletion, a Jerry Hughes sack resulted in Denver turning the ball over on downs and the Bengals moved on to the next round.
Not a lot of offensive highlights for either team. Mullens was just 13 of 29 for 197 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Austin Ekeler rushed 10 times for 66 yards and Adams rushed 11 times for 53 yards and a score. Hill, despite being double-teamed or facing 10 rated Fuller, caught 6 passes for 99 yards and 2 TDs.
The Bengals won this game thanks to turnovers. Rodgers was ineffective, completing just 11 of 25 passes for 103 yards with 2 TDs and an INT. Gordon rushed for 94 yards on 25 attempts. The Bengals defense was the star with 4 sacks and forcing 3 turnovers.
Congrats to Doug on a great season.
Jets 17 at Chargers 27
same BatTime, same BatChannel.... one week after the Chargers hosted the Jets in the season finale and squeaked out
a narrow win to secure a playoff spot; both teams returned to the same venue for a sequel in the first round of the
playoffs.... the plot was eerily reminiscent of the previous week’s encounter as the teams traded punch and counterpunch,
with the eventual outcome not being decided till late in the contest....
both teams were similar when it came to offensive and defensive strategies; both teams basically concerned about the
opposing wide receivers who held the advantage over their secondary adversaries; the offenses trying to guess who might
be double-teamed and effectively counterpunching with their respective lead backs....
the game started out with the Jets being forced to punt on the first possession; but the pace picked up as the teams traded touchdowns
on the next four, Watson to Woods twice for the Jets, Manning to Westbrook twice for the Chargers; six punts closed out the rest of
the first half action for a 14-14 score at the half....
LA received the second half kickoff and were forced to punt, the Jets then moved down the field culminated by a 43 yard Hopkins field goal;
after and exchange of punts, LA moved down the field capped by a Maher field goal to tie it at 17-17.... then the crucial play of the
game happened, NY fumbled the ensuing kickoff with LA taking over at the 11 and Manning hitting Julio Jones on the first play to give
the Chargers the lead.... the Jets took the kickoff and marched to midfield where they were stopped on a 4th and 1 play....
LA then started a time consuming drive culminated by a 32 yard Maher field goal to go up 27-17.... on the ensuing drive, the Chargers
once again stopped the Jets on a 4th down play and ran out the clock....
all the stats were very similar.... the only really glaring standout, LAC 6 for 14 on 3rd downs, NYJ 0 for 8 on 3rd downs and 0-2
on 4th downs.... the Chargers displayed a balanced attack, 162 thru the air, 158 on the ground(Chubb-109); Watson passed for 203
yards(Woods 9 rec-137)....
I thank Bob for the games and back-to-back nailbiters.... now as we move on, I must paraphrase Star Trek as the Chargers prepare to go
to places where no Charger team has gone before, at least not a long while.... “Live Long and Prosper” \ II II
San Francisco 13 at Arizona 30
Some would say the real game drama took place in the media prior to kick off. Would Trubisky be ready to play after being banged up in the game against the Rams? Coach Bob was reluctant to predict as he stated over and over, we will make a decision before kick off after we see how "True" is feeling. "True" is the media darling nickname given Trubisky on the Left Coast. Therefore, the Cardinals really did not know how to properly prep for the game. When San Fran trotted Matt Barkley out onto the field, Arizona became the deer in the headlights. They really did not know what to do.
San Fran would win the toss and elected to defer. The high powered Arizona offense took the field. Barkley took the first handoff and chalked up 6 yards. Good start. However, he took the second handoff and was stuffed at the line. A screen pass netted negative yards and Arizona was 3 and out. Not the best of starts.
However, San Fran recipricated with a similar series of three and out. So Zona got the back quickly.
Arizona received the punt and Kirk advanced it to the Zona 30 yard line. Mahomes went to work but threw two quick incomplete passes. However, on the third pass he found Williams across the middle for 17 and a first down conversion. Barkley would added another first down with two rushes from scrimmage. Now on the SF 40 yard line, it would take only two more passes from Mahomes to put up the first TD. Zona 7 and SF 0.
San Fran would down the kick and begin their next drive on their own 25 yard line. Barkley would go to a quick count and attempt to get the ball deep to Diggs but was sacked for 10 yards! Wait, something yellow on the field and it smells. The time clock official was not ready the play was whistled dead! What, San Fran gets a do over! They pitch the ball to Howard who scampers 40 yards to the Zona 35 yard line. The Cards were still stunned by the officials call and were now stunned by Howard. Five consecutive runs by Barber and it was a new ball game 7-7. It also seems the defensive coordinator was dyslexic. After the first 3 consecutive runs by Barber, the intent was to KEY Barber not DOUBLE Barber, but instead the defensive coordinator pushed the wrong buttons.
In addition the actual yellow smell on the field was not a Flag by the officials, but instead was generated by Koch. After Barkley was sacked on his first play the little error window came up as the game crashed. When the game was restored, it did not record the sack but instead restored to just prior to the sack giving San Fran redo. Guess that was pay back for True sitting on bench :)
With the momentum shift, both offenses struggled for two series. Zona would receive the punt at their own 12 yard line and put together a masterful drive. The drive featured runs by Barkley with big play passes from Mahomes. However, Zona would come up short as they moved the ball to the red zone, but could not get it into pay dirt. Zona would have to settle for an easy 3 points to take a 10-7 lead.
San Fran was unimpressed. The Niners took the field motivated and literally and figuratively jammed the ball down Zona's throat. Howard, Bibbs, Barber and Jackson all took their turns grinding out the yardage while defeating run keys. Finally, the Zona defense held by stopping the drive on their 39 yard line. Who the hell would think SF could hit a 57 yard field goal. Well, Crosby did because he trotted out on to the field and cleared the crossbars from 57 yards to tie the game.
Zona would get the ball back with 3:21 left in the half. Finally settled after the yellow smell incident, Mahomes and Company went to work. Barkley showed he could catch as well as he could run. Mahomes made use of 4 different receivers as he advanced the ball down the field into the red zone. However, the drive would stall at the SF 7 yard line. This time it was Carlson who trotted onto the field for a 95% chip shot FG to retake the lead. Except it was not a chip shot as he missed the attempt wide left.
The fans began to become concerned. You know the feeling, third string QB and a hopeful easy win, turns out to be a loss instead. Tied at the half, it was going to be a new ball game.
San Fran takes the opening kick off and flops. Barkley is sacked on the first play. Barkley scrambles on the second play for one yard he is blitzed and cannot find a receiver. The next incomplete results in a punt.
Arizona starts at their 27 and wastes little time. Lightning prepares to strike as Barkley runs for 7 yards. Mahomes finds Kirk for 11 as Williams was double teamed. Now the lightning strikes as Mahomes hits Howard for 35 yards and closes with a 25 yard TD strike to Williams. Zona 17-10 back in the lead.
San Fran gets the ball back and goes back to their run first strategy. However, Zona has the momentum and forces a three an out. Not to be denied, San Fran reciprocates again holding Zona three and out.
Another momentum shift as SF realizes they are still in the game. Barkley steps up with a 22 yard completion to the Arizona 41 yard line. SF shifts gears back to the run as Barber difficult yards. It was not pretty but it was effective as Barber earned 3 to 5 yards and cloud of dust to squeeze out a first down and move into field goal range. Crosby makes it and it is now a four point game.
On Zona's next possession it was Barkley who scampered for 45 yards on his first carry from scrimmage after the kick off. In the red zone again at the SF 17. Mahomes finds Barkley for 10 for a first at the SF 7 yard line. The do or die Niners suck it up and stuff Barkleys next run. Then they sack Mahomes TWICE to force a FG attempt. This time Carlson makes it easily to extend the lead to 7 points.
However, the game drama comes to a conclusion on the next SF possession. SF put Bibbs in the game. The Cardinals decide to gamble and hard key Bibbs hoping his lack of experience may generate something good. It did as Bibbs fumbled on a sweep play after a jarring hit by Ragland. Ragland picks up the ball and easily scores. Zona takes a 14 point lead with 13 minutes left in the game.
SF downs the kick off and feels the need to change things up again. They put Geno Smith in the game. A totally unprepared and surprised Smith promptly throws the ball to Marlon Humphrey for his first intercept ion of the year. The penalty bug strikes and snuffs Arizona's chances to firmly put the game away. However, the game is really over anyways. The Niner's inability to throw the ball with their 3rd string QB dooms them for the remainder of the game. The final stats reflect how bad the San Fran passing game really was as they only completed 4 of 12 passes for 80 yards. The Niners did have 196 yards on the ground and it helped to keep things respectable. Arizona ended with 137 rushing yards and 312 yards passing. Several failures in the red zone kept the game as close as it was. And the one big defensive play put the game out of reach for SF.
Grats to Bob for an interesting game. The result could have been much different with Trubisky.
Green Bay 24 at Atlanta 27
Philip Rivers was named MVP as he led the Falcons to a 27-24 Wild card win against a well-coached Packer's team that definitely came to play.
The story of the first half was Packers punch followed by Falcon's counter punch. Both offenses were unstoppable as veterans Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger led their respective teams up and down the field. As in any prize fight, the teams started by feeling each other out as the frst quarter ended with the teams trading FGs, resulting in a 3-3 tie.
The haymakers started raining down in the second quarter as the team scored 35 points between them. It started with Ben Roethlisberger leading the Packers on a 10 play 75 yard drive, ending in a 4 yard TD run by Jay Ajayi to give the Packers a 10-3 lead. The big play on the drive was a 26 yard crossing pass to Josh Gordon.
The Falcons reply was quick as Rivers hit Nelson Agholor on a 33 yard TD pass to tie the game at 10. Tevin Coleman broke a 15 yard run off the right side to help set up the TD.
The Packers scored again on their next drive as Roethlisberger hit Ben Watson for 19 yards, AJ Green for 34 yards and finished with 12 yard TD pass to Emanuel Sanders. Jay Ajayi's 3 runs for 17 yards set up 2 play action passes to Ben Watson and AJ Green as the Packers retake the lead 17-10.
The responding drive by the Falcons was a quick strike as Tevin Coleman broke one up the middle for a 73 yard TD to tie the game again, this time at 17-17 with 2:58 left in the first half.
The teams traded punts before Roethlisberger led the Packers on their own quick strike drive with time running down in the half. A 12 yard PR return by Patrick Peterson set up the Packers with good field position at their own 45 yard line with 1:09 left. Ben Roethllisberger completed passes to Ben Watson and Emanuel Sanders to get the ball to Falcons 28 yard line. After a spiked ball to stop the clock, Josh Gordon broke open on a deep post pattern and Roethlisberger hit him stride for the 28 yard TD to give the Packers a 24-17 lead going into the half.
In the second half, the Falcons defense started to assert itself as the Packers offense seemed to run out of gas. The packers first drive resulted in a punt after an AJ Green first down.
On the ensuing drive, Rivers hit 4 different receivers for 85 yards including Nelson Agholor's 2nd TD reception of the game to tie the game at 24-24.
The Packers couldn't overcome a penalty to Emanuel Sanders on their next drive and they were forced to punt the ball away.
The Falcons started their next drive on their own 21 yard line where they started a methodical drive. Tevin Coleman and Lamar Miller rushed the ball 8 times for 40 yards. Rivers also hit Zach Ertz and Lamar Miller on short passes but the drive stalled out at the Packers 6 yard line. Kai Forbath had an uneven season with several missed FGs and missed and blocked extra points so even this 24 yard chip shot was not a sure thing. Patrick Scales snapped the ball, Donnie Jones caught it, spun the laces and set it down cleanly. Forbath approached the ball and kicked it up and it was good to give the Falcons a 27-24 lead with 1:10 left in the 3rd quarter.
The rest was up to the Falcons defense to stop the Packers. Job done as they forced two Packers punts, the last with 4:37 left. With 3 timeouts remaining, the Packers expected to get the ball back but Rivers led the Falcons on a 10 play drive for 79 yards which used up the Packers timeouts and ran out the clock to seal the Falcons 27-24 win as they get a TKO of the Packers.
Rivers passed for 341 yards and 2 TDs
Tevin Coleman rushed for 138 yards and a TD
Nelson Agholor caught 4 passes for 98 yards and 2 TDs
Roethlisberger passed for 296 yards and 2 TDs
Josh Gordon caught 6 passes for 117 yards and a TD
Emanuel Sanders caught 4 passes for 39 yards and a TD
Well coached game by Packers John.
Minnesota 16 Baltimore 28 47 0-10
Minnesota came to Baltimore with visions of playoffs in their future but the Ravens wanted to give them a taste of "10-6 and no playoffs" just like they tasted last year. DKS seems to like the torture too as this turned out to be one of those "DKS kinda games".
The Vikings won the toss and deferred. Baltimore, playing without Second-Team All-Pro T Tyron Smith (leg) and Super-Stud-Stat Pack RB Le'Veon Bell (bowling), gained 13 on their first play from scrimmage, but just 2 on the ensuing three plays. Rigoberto Sanchez's punt pushed the Vikes Akeem King back to his 21...where he fumbled the catch. Baltimore's Desmond Trufant recovered and the Ravens were in business. Two plays later, they were knocking on the Vikings door with a 1st-and-goal at the three. After two incomplete pass attempts, Baker Mayfield's third attempt was caught...by Viking LB Adarius Taylor. Viking ball at the 20.
After a Raven penalty gave the Norsemen a 1st-and-5, Drew Brees handed the ball to Ezekiel Elliott for their first play from scrimmage...and he fumbled into the waiting arms to Raven LB Benardrick McKinney. Ravens ball at the Viking 25.
Wanting to strike quickly, Mayfield chucked one downfield toward Adam Theilen, but CB Justin Coleman was blanketing Theilen like one of those flakey wraps around a mini hot dog. The refs thought it was too much and flagged him for not bringing the mustard. Ravens ball on the Vikings 3. On the second play after a Raven motion penalty, Mayfield found Will Fuller on a hitch in the end zone. Matt Bryant's PAT made it 7-0 Ravens.
After the kick-off went out of bound and the refs flagged Aaron Donald for a roughing the passer penalty, the Vikings were into Raven territory quickly. After a first down, a holding penalty set them back and they couldn't recover, failing on a 3rd-and-16 with an 8-yard pass completion. Out trotted Greg Zuerlein to boot a 40-yard FG...except that he over-calculated the stillness of the wind and hooked it.
The Ravens took over, but could only muster one first down. After the punt, the Vikings were held to a three-and-out. The Ravens again mustered a first down and even advanced to the Vikings 36, but Mayfield, already in the holiday spirit, threw another INT, this time to S Jordan Poyer.
On the second play after the turnover, Brees found Antonio Brown streaking (yes, streaking) across the field on a medium slant. The Ravens defenders didn't want to touch him and let him run the entire 59-yards to the end zone. Game tied, 7-7 just 90 seconds into the second quarter. I think there will be a civil suit filed against Brown in the off-season.
Ravens fans, having seen this way too many times (getting ahead, then falling way behind quickly, not Antonio Brown streaking), figured this was the beginning of the end. Falling short of a first down on the ensuing possession, the Ravens punted...but got a gift of their own, when the Vikings were called for offsides. After converting on two consecutive fourth-downs, the Ravens were at the Vikings 27, burning more than 7 minutes off the clock. Unfortunately, Mayfield was still wearing his Santa hat, and threw another intercept.
Brees and Elliott moved the Vikings far enough into Ravens territory where Zuerlein was able to boot a 55-yard FG. Vikings 10-7 with 3:34 remaining before the half.
The teams exchanged punts three times until there were 52 seconds remaining. Brees thought he could get a double-dip by getting a score before the half and then receiving the second half kick-off, but Raven S Earl Thomas had other ideas and wrestled the short pass out of Elliott's arms for an INT. Two plays later, Mayfield was still in a giving mood, but this time to his teammate, WR Chris Hogan, who caught the 19-yard pass for a TD and a 14-10 Raven lead at the half.
The kick to open the second half saw more of the same things that happened in the first half...namely, Baltimore kicks it, Minnesota catches it, then fumbles. Baltimore recovered and three plays later Mayfield found WR Adam Theilen in the end zone from 10-yards out. Baltimore 21-10.
Baltimore's defense forced another Vikings punt, but so did the Vikings D...and then the Ravens D. Regaining possession, the Ravens figured now was the time to start taking the air out of the ball. No, not like the Patriots, but figuratively. Using less-than-stat-pack RB Javorious "Buck" Allen to eat time, the Ravens marched down to the Vikings 3 on another time-consuming (7 min +) drive, culminating in a Mayfield to FB Nick Bellore TD toss. Baltimore 28-10 with :30 left in the 3Q.
The next four possessions ended in punts before the Vikings finally found paydirt with Brees hitting a clothed Antonio Brown from 35-yards out with just 1:09 left. The two-point attempt failed. Baltimore 28-16.
The ensuring onside attempt was recovered by the Ravens, who ran out the clock.
Baker Mayfield was somehow named the game MVP. After a spectacular 22-for-39 game for an impressive 121 yards and 3 INTs (oh, and 4 TDs), I guess the grounds crew was ineligible for the award, despite the fact that they were responsible for greasing the balls before the kicks. Buck Allen and Jaylen Samuels combined for 115 ground yards on 30 carries.
Drew Brees was held to just 229 yards on a woeful 19-of-40 attempts. Ezekiel Elliott was limited to just 32 yards on 10 carries.
Minnesota finishes the season at 10-6, but even with the Niners-Giants tie, missed the playoffs (much like the Ravens last year). The Ravens, meanwhile, look like they'll be drafting 4th or 5th, depending on the Saints-Eagles game.
Cincinnati 13 Tampa Bay 24 66 0-10
With both teams resting many key players, the Bucs rally to defeat the Bengals. Todd Gurley ran for 91 yards and two scores to lead the Tampa Bay offense.
Buffalo 10 Kansas City 24 19 0-10
Andy Dalton throws for 323 yards and 2 TD's, both to Jarvis Landry who finished with 185 yards on 8 catches, as Kansas City defeated Buffalo 24-10 in the season ending game for both teams.
Green Bay 10 Pittsburgh 15 31 10-20
The 11-4 Packers travel to face a Pittsburgh team that had lost 5 straight games. However with there playoff position clinched GB rest several key personal and the Steelers actually come in as a 4 point favorite.
The teams had to contend with 10-20 mile an hour winds witch had an effect on the game plan for both teams. This game was intense for some reason as each team had a player ejected Chris Jones for GB and Cory Littleton for Pittsburgh and several defensive personal fouls.
After Pittsburgh's opening drive stalls Roethlisbergers 1st pass a bomb fly is picked off by Webb1st and 10 from there 31. The Steelers drive down to the 34 then on a long Slant Brady returns the favor and is picked off by Peterson(one of the few starters playing). GB punts and Brady and company take over on there own 32. An 8 play drive culminates in a Brady to Herdon 2 yard TD Pass.
After 1 Steelers 7 Packers 0
On there next drive GB gets in FG range and Gould would hit from 42 yards out to cut into the lead. Pittsburgh would punt and pin the Packers at there 7 yard line to start there next drive. A holding penalty called in the end zone would give the home team 2 more points on a safety midway through the 2nd. Pittsburgh would take there next possession down to the 6 but the drive would stall there . Vinatieri would boot a 24 yard FG.
Pittsburgh 12 GB 3 at the half.
GB opened the half with the ball and marched down the field with Big Ben rumbling in from 7 yards out to cut the lead to 12-10 early in the 3rd. After a couple of punts by the teams Big Ben is Picked by the Steelers 1st round pick Justin Reid (5th)deep in Packers territory that gave the home team the ball on the 13 yard line. But as the season has gone the1st play is a holding penalty so they settle for a 32 yard FG by Vinatieri to make it 15-10.
Pittsburgh 15 GB 10 after 3
Both offenses struggled in the 4th and GB was going against the wind . GB does manage to get to the 44 yard line only to have Big Ben picked off again this time by Graham at the 27 yard line to stall that drive with 5 minutes to go. GB would have to start there final drive on there own 13 with 2:44 to go and 1 timeout. . with help of a defensive PI they get to the Steelers 36 yard line with 1:03 to play. But GB did not bring enough offensive weapons to this game for Big Ben as the next 4 plays nets only 3 yards as the Steelers defense holds on for the win at home.
Final Pittsburgh 15 GB 10
Big Ben is picked off 4 times in the game and has a 24.8 QB rating , Brady was not much better with a 60.8 rating ( he swears he will be back next year and is not retiring). Gore ran for 99 yards on 26 carries ( he says he will also be back next year) and earns game MVP.
Good luck to John and everyone in the playoffs. It was a very fun year for me even though the losing was not so much fun. Prep work for next year begins well pretty soon .
New York (A) 29 Los Angeles (A) 31 78 Calm
The first four possessions were exchanges of punts and a scoreless 1st quarter; after that all hell broke loose.... NYJ scored first, LAC answered with a td of their own,
NYJ hit a fg for a 10-7 lead.... LAC then closed out the half and opened the third with 3 consecutive touchdowns for a seemingly safe 28-10 lead.... the Jets cut it
to 28-17; LAC was ready to answer but fumbled the ball inside the Jets 10.... NYJ proceeded to march the length of the field to cut it to 28-23, missing the try for two....
LAC then marched over 70+ yards culminating in a fg for a 31-23 lead.... NYJ returned the favor, marching 70+ for a td with just over 3 minutes left; but again, the
Chargers stoned them on the 2-point conversion attempt.... LAC recovered an onside attempt and ran out the clock....
LAC pounded out 205 yards on the ground, led by Nick Chubb’s 142(6.8), as the Jets remained concerned about the Chargers vaunted receiving duo of Julio
Jones and Amari Cooper.... LAC went to their 4 wide receiver package with Chubb as the lone back and Manning was able to connect for 266 yards and
3 touchdowns.... Deshon Watson kept the Jets in the game connecting on 24 of 34 for 314 yards
Both the Jets and Chargers advance to the wild card round, with a possible rematch next week.
Arizona 0 Los Angeles (N) 38 53 Calm
The Cardinals entered the game locked into the 3 seed, while the Rams appeared secure as the number one seed in the NFC. That led to a lot of load management for both teams as they prepared for the playoffs. The Cardinals started AJ Mccarron, who appeared to suffer from star QB Patrick Mahomes hogging all the practice reps throughout the season. Mccarron competed 5 passes. Rams star running back Chris Carson was injured for the game, so seldom used Ken Dixon took advantage of the opportunity and rumbled for 123 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals defense hung tough as best they could, but the Rams rushing attack was too much, totaling 219 yards. Final score 38-0.
Cardinals finish the season 10-6, NFC East Division Champs and look to host either Minnesota or the 49ers in round 1.
Rams finish 14-2, NFC West Champs and await the results of the first round.
Chicago 20 Tennessee 27 48 0-10 Light Rain
As usual Tennessee's defense goes into sieve mode in the first quarter as the Bears convert an Andre Roberts fumble into 3 points and then Marvin Jones Jr. takes a medium Mariota hitch to the house for a 53 yard TD. Chicago 10 - Tennessee 0.
The Titans come alive in the 2nd quarter and put together two TD drives. Fringe players Wendell Smallwood and Daesean Hamilton score the TD's off of Matt Ryan passes. Tennessee 14 - Chicago 10.
Early in the 3rd Tennessee converts a Matt Milano interception into 3 points after a 92 yard drive. Chicago then takes only 2:25 to tie it up thanks to another medium hitch to Jones Jr. that gains 46 yards. Jones Jr. then gets the TD on a 9 yard Mariota pass. Chicago 17 - Tennessee 17.
The Titans start the 4th quarter with a nice drive that stalls at the Bear 17 and Dan Bailey kicks the go ahead field goal. Chicago responds with a similar drive that stalls at the Titan 11. Aldrick Rojas ties it at 20-20 with the field goal. With 5 minutes to go Tennessee can't sustain a drive but the punt pins the Bears at their own 7 with 2 minutes to go. And then . . . Matt Milano gets his second interception of the game putting the Titans 10 yards from the end zone. Three Doug Martin runs result in the TD. Chicago had a chance with a minute and a half remaining as Alfred Blue (!) took a short pass 28 yards to the Titan 42. However another medium out was picked off by Carlton Davis III and that was the game. Tennessee 27 - Chicago 20.
Marvin Jones Jr. was the Bear's stat star with 6 catches for 174 yards and 2 TD's. Bobby Wagner had 13 tackles including 3 run stuffs. DeAndre Hopkins caught 10 balls for 117 yards for Tennessee. Matt Milano had the two interceptions along with 10 tackles.
Chicago finishes 5-11 and looks forward to next year with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and Mariota consigned to the bench. Tennessee finishes 9-7 and awaits the result of the Chargers-Jets game to see if they sneak into the playoffs.
Detroit 27 Jacksonville 0 74 Calm
The Lions came to Jacksonville and mercilessly wiped out an undermanned Jaguar squad 27-0. Josh Allen was horrible in the loss throwing three first half interceptions and struggled to a horrific 16 for 44 afternoon with 4 ints and no tds. Darnold was full marks for the win going 13 o 23 for 2tds and no interceptions.
Det - Gabriel 3 catches 72 yards, 1 td.
Jax - Johnson 21 carries 143 yards.
Full marks to coach Nordberg on his bong induced win.
New York (N) 13 San Francisco 13 68 Calm
The Giants 8-6-1 visit the Niners 10-5 for the season finale, playoff possibilities in the offing. What ensued was a knock-down drag out battle on the field where both teams defenses made the difference, aided by a blown FG in the last minute.
The game started off with each team scoring on the opening drives. SF's 43 yard dive would be their longest of the game resulting in a Crosby 50 yard FG. The Giants answered with a 75 yard drive (their longest of the game) terminated in a 17 yard run by Brieda. Giants 7, SF 3.
The 2nd quarter featured a lot of punts (7) on one drive by the Giants resulting in a 38 yard FG by Santos. Giants 10, SF 3. The score was close but the Giants dominated the play. SF Trubiskey entered the game overworked an in penalty throw situation and the passing game which was SF's strength was nil. Giant's Wentz was sharp in the first half but SF defense stiffened within their own 40 yard line prevented any more scoring.
The second half opened with the Giants Brieda fumbling on his own 38 yard line, recovered by Niners Darius Leonard. Trubiskey awoke momentarily passing for 3 completions ending in a 9 yards TD pass to Boyd,score tied at 10 Two possessions later is was time for SF to cough
up the ball with an INT on the SF 20 yard line. Wentz, now cold, threw 2 incomplete passes and a 0 yard run by Murphy, results in a 35 yard FG by Santos. End of third quarter, Giants 13, 10.
On the next possession, exhausted Trubiskey threw another interception and the Giants were on the SF 43 yard line. SF stopped the Giants on the 30 yard line and exhibiting no faith in their FG kicker, punted. SF went 3 and out and punted 44 yards to the Giants Cannon -- who fumbled and the Niners recovered the ball on the Giants 28 yard line. 49ers could only advance the ball 3 yards but Crosby hit a 43 yard FG to tie the game 13-13.
Both teams had one more chance to break the tie, but neither could and the game went into overtime. Trubiskey was injured with 2 minutes to go and was replaced by the 3rd string QB, Barkley. Neither team could sustain a drive and the 4th string QB, Geno Smith, had to come in for SF. He promptly threw an interception to Giants Thomas on the 40 yd line. Wentz moved the Giants to the 25 yard line and with 22 seconds on the clock the Giants Santos missed a 43 yard kick! The game ends tied.
The Giants really outplayed the 49ers (353 yards to 232 and 24 first downs to 17) deserved better in this games but the niner defense bent but did not break. The stars of the game were both teams' defenses NY picking off 3 passes and SF recovered 2 fumbles and scoring off each. There were 18 punts!
SF completes the season 10-5-1. The previous 3 seasons the Niners had only won 9 games total. The Giants finish 8-6-2.
New England 8 Houston 14 70
New England falls behind 14-0 as Mixon (17 caries for 94 yards) and Cousins (who completed his first 10 passes in the game) work over the Patriot defense in the first half. With an injured Tannehill and a fatigued Lamar Jackson, the Patriot offense was primarily dependent on Christian McCaffrey (20 carries for 88 yards) and the legs of Jackson (84 yards rushing) but it wasn't enough as Patriots fall 14-8.
Pats finish up 6-10 while Houston wraps up at 2-14.
Denver 31 Miami 35 77 0-10
Denver visits Miami in the final week of the regular season, Miami has wrapped up the #1 seed and Denver was in based on the email scenarios by John Conners (Thank you John). But both Teams wanting to finish the year strong going into the playoffs, this game didn't disappoint.
Denver receives the opening KO and on their very 1st play, Mullins hits Hill on a short cross and Hill explodes and takes it to the house so with only 17 seconds gone in the game the Broncos are up 7-0. Each Team would score on their 1st two possessions (2 Miami TD's and 1 more Denver TD) to make it 14-14, well into the 2nd quarter before either Team had to punt. After an exchange of punts Denver would score with 4:55 to go in the half to take a 21-14 lead and that's the way it would go into halftime, Broncos 21 Dolphins 14
Miami takes the opening KO in the 3rd quarter and travels 82 yards and get the TD to tie it up at 21. Denver unable to keep a drive going give it back to the Dolphins, and once again Miami is able to engineer and drive and cover 66 yards and get the TD and Miami has it's 1st lead of the day at 28-21. Undaunted, Denver takes the KO and on their very next possession cover 75 yards and punch it in to knot the score up once again at 28-28 with 14:08 left in the game.
After 2 Dolphin punts the Broncos get the ball at their own 33 yard line and move it to the Dolphin 23, but the drives stalls, and they opt for the 41 yard FG and with 4:45 left in the game the Broncos are back in front and own a 31-28 advantage over the Dolphins. Miami gets the ball at their own 25 with the game on the line. They get the job done, with the help of 2 damaging penalties against the Broncos they cover 75 yards in 3:07 and get the go ahead TD with 1:38 left in the game, Miami 35 Denver 31. The Broncos would get off 7 plays but end up throwing the INT with 4 seconds left and the Dolphins would hang on and get the 35-31 win. A exciting and well coached game from start to finish. Denver will be playing in the 1st round of the playoffs next week while Miami gets a round 1 bye
Good Luck to all playoff Teams
Washington 24 Carolina 38 60 0-5
Two team looking forward to next season meet in a good game to end the season.
Washington Came close to tying the game in the second half on a couple of occasions but fell a little short. A long reception by Evans and run by Henry sealed the game for the Panthers. Bradley Chubb was disruptive for Washington accounting for 3 sacks and a forced fumble.
Dallas 22 Atlanta 23 68
Philip Rivers was named MVP as passed for 356 yards and 2 TDs passes to Zach Ertz. The Cowboys had several injuries but they managed to cobble together a tremendous coached game. Coach Steve always seemed to make the right call. Cam Newton had a big 75 yard TD pass and a few long scrambles to keep drives going. Kenny Stills had 10 catches for 103 yards and a TD. He also came up big late in the game.
In the end, the Falcons were lucky to hold on for a 23-22 win as Cam Newton scored a TD with 0:59 left but Chandler Catanzaro missed his 2 PAT of the game. The Cowboys recovered the ensuing kickoff but Cam Newton got sacked twice on the last drive.
With the win, the Falcons go to 13-3 and look forward to the playoffs while the Cowboys fall to 6-10.
Indianapolis 17 Oakland 38 63 0-5
Backup QB Kyle Allen throws four touchdown passes as the Raiders get past Indy.
New Orleans 7 Philadelphia 17 40 5-15 Light Rain
Eagles win ugly finale. Both teams struggle offensively but Eagle QB Jameis Winston subs in for QB Nick Foles to squeeze out the win.
Chubb,N(LAC) 21-142 1 TD
Dixon,K(LAR) 18-123 1 TD
Wilson,R(Car) 11-96 3 TD
Landry,J(KC) 8-185 2 TD – IFL Offensive Player of the Week
Jones Jr.(Chi) 6-174 2 TD
Stills(Dal) 10-103 1 TD
Rivers,P(Atl) 36-27-356 2 TD 1 Int
Dalton(KC) 38-22-323 2 TD
Watson,D(NYJ) 34-24-314 4 TD 1 Int
Ryan,M(Ten) 44-31-312 2 TD
Rodgers,A(Cin) 49-31-297 1 TD 2 Int
Allen,K(Oak) 42-24-276 4 TD 2 Int
Goff(Mia) 31-24-269 5 TD
Mayfield(Bal) 39-22-121 4 TD 3 Int
Hill,T(KC) 2 Int 2 Tk
Ansah(LAR) 3 Sk 6 Tk – IFL Defensive Player of the Week
Milano(Ten) 2 Int 10 Tk
Chubb,B(Was) 3 Sk 5 Tk
Edmunds(Dal) 18 Tk
Jones,C(Was) 3-32 Kick Ret 2-110 Punt Ret 1 TD – IFL Special Teams Player of the Week
IFL 2019 FINAL STANDINGS