Browns Finally Win an NFL game!

Well, it’s official. Hell has officially frozen over. For the first time in 635 days, the Cleveland Browns could finally call themselves ‘Winners’, if only for a week. Last Thursday evening witnessed one of the stories of this early NFL season, with the luckless Browns – who had gone 19 games straight without a win to their name, finally picking up a ‘W’ in their own backyard with a 21-14 victory over the New York Jets.

Now, some of you reading this will be thinking, “what is the big deal about this win for the team, as all teams suffer spells of no wins and losses at some time or another”. However, you have to understand the whole picture to get it. It would be fair to say that the Cleveland Browns in the NFL are not one of the big-hitters in the league or deemed as one of the glamour sides in the league either.

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Cleveland fan Photo: Boston Herald

Cleveland has always been in some quarters, a kind of ‘cult’ team within the National Football League and one of the sides that fans of other sides and pundits dismiss instantly. They are the American Football equivalent of the Chicago Cubs pre-World Series champions in 2016, to which the Cubs were dubbed ‘The Loveable Losers’. For the Browns last winning season you would have to go back to the 2007 NFL Season for when they posted a (.500 season) and record of 10-6, but was denied a playoff spot by their divisional rivals in the Pittsburgh Steelers in a tiebreaker and also saw the Steelers miss out by thE same token against Tennessee.

Since then, the Browns have flirted with the bottom place in the league for many years and saw them last year not just finish bottom of the pile, but managed to become the first team since the 2008 Detriot Lions to register an ‘Imperfect’ season record of 0-16. In comparison to the Lions sides of ’08, the Browns can take a slight victory that they didn’t concede as many points as Detroit did in their winless year, with the Browns conceding 107 points less than with 410 against as opposed to the Lions 517.

Meanwhile, the Browns haven’t made the postseason playoffs since 2002 and saw them losing narrowly to the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-33 in a Wild Card game in Pittsburgh. Barring, of course, the 2007 season, the Browns have only ever won more than five games once in a year, and that came back in 2014 with a 7-9 season record. However, it’s been a slippery slide for Cleveland and saw them posting their best year in 2015 with a 3-15 record and in previous years posted 1-15 and of course the infamous 0-16 of last year.’

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Browns fans wearing infamous paper bags  Pic: USA TODAY

The Forest City’ as Cleveland is sometimes referred to by people, has seen the team lost in the wilderness of sporting sides there in the City – as with the Cavaliers battling for an NBA title with star player LeBron James and finally landing success in 2016, it has also seen a sleeping giant in the Cleveland Indians baseball team reaching a World Series the same year, and lost perhaps the greatest game seven in MLB history to the Chicago Cubs.

In the past few years, Cleveland fans have used social media to show their frustration and wanting their team to ‘tank’, meaning they want them to lose on purpose just so that they can get a good shot in the draft at a new quarterback. In 2014, the Browns selected Johnny Manziel as 22nd pick overall and the man dubbed ‘Johnny Football’ had an eventful spell in Cleveland, but ended with him getting injured in 2015 and would never wear the Browns uniform again.

With all the losing records and defeats piling up one after another against the Browns, it saw a couple of fans looking to inject a bit of dark humour to things and put forward a ‘Cleveland 0-16 parade’ following a winless year.

The idea was put in motion and saw long-suffering fans of the franchise going through with their parade and was met originally with some of the Cleveland players expressing displeasure and offence to the parade happening. The three who expressed their anger towards the staging of the parade was Defensive-End Emmanuel Ogbah, Defensive-Tackle Danny Shelton who has since been traded to New England and Linebacker Christian Kirkey.

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Browns fans at Xmas time  Pic: DenverPost

The man responsible for the parade was Browns fan Chris McNeil and was interviewed by ESPN over the whole parade. In an interview he gave to the website, he mentioned that the parade was a ‘shot across the bow to ownership and front office’ as fans were fed up with watching a poor team. On social media, it saw McNeil fending off calls that this parade was an embarrassing event for the City of Cleveland, while his reply back was “The Brown have one win in two years, that is embarrassing to me as a fan”.

So on January 6th, 2018, on a snow-covered day in the Rock and Roll city, the ‘Cleveland 0-16’ parade took place and saw many humorous sights being captured on camera on local news and national news too. At one point it saw fans carrying ‘tombstones’ of past Browns quarterbacks since their last postseason success, but all in all, it was lighthearted and something to allow Browns fans to vent and be creative with and not be rioting.

All money raised in the build-up to the parade was to pay for security, public restrooms and things needed for a parade. For all the comings and goings of it, it was reported that $50,000 was raised and donated to the City’s Food Bank and so it saw a positive outcome overall.

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Cleveland hero Baker Mayfield takes applause from Browns fans   Pic: SLATE.COM

So following their horror year last season, it saw all change with the Front Office and Coaching changes all happening in the offseason. At this year’s 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas, Texas it saw Oklahoma Quarterback Baker Mayfield being drafted as the first overall pick, having just come off a heartbreaking double-overtime loss against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl Semi Final.

Following a preseason to which the Browns won 3 of 4 games, their opening season saw them facing their divisional rivals in Pittsburgh Steelers at home and from being 21-7 points down with seven minutes to play, it saw two scores to bring them all square at 21-21 and go to overtime. With nine seconds left to go in the sudden death, it saw kicker Zane Gonzales having a chance to kick a winning 43-yard field goal but saw it blocked by T.J Watt and put a halt to their defeats with a tie. 

After their tie with Pittsburgh, they then headed to the Superdome in New Orleans, and for most of the game had led the way and with 2.40 left to play, they found themselves throwing away the game as a touchdown and 2-pt conversion saw the home side Saint going 18-12 up. However, on a 4th & 5 play for Cleveland, the ball was thrown upfield by Tyrod Taylor and saw Antonio Callaway making the catch for a touchdown and had Zane Gonzalez needing only to add the extra for what seemed like a victory.

Having missed his previous two kicks, Gonzalez missed another and after the Saints converted a field goal late on, they led 21-18 before Gonzalez missed another saw him missing four in a row and saw the Saints win and you could say his kicking cost the Browns victory in the opening two weeks of the season and saw the streak continue on.

With two successive games of snatching ‘defeats from the jaws of victory’ against both Pittsburgh and New Orleans, the Browns returned home against a New York Jets side that had a similar 0-2 record to Cleveland. New York opened up a 14-0 lead in the 2nd quarter and then later on in the half, saw the Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffering an injury and was gone for the rest of the game.

Cleveland’s new kicker Greg Joseph, who was given a great ovation by the home fans in the warm-up, saw him literally kick-starting the Browns into action. With two Field Goals either side of the half and with Taylor gone for the game, it saw rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield coming into the fray and throwing some nice passes and led to Carlos Hyde scoring a touchdown to bring it within two points and then tied it up with a version of a ‘Philly Special’ or ‘Cleveland Cleveland’, with Baker Mayfield catching his first NFL touchdown on debut to level the game at 14-14.

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Cleveland celebrates with fans after victory Pic: Browns wire- USA TODAY

New York then led again, but the Browns had a new hero in Mayfield and he then led the Browns to victory with a drive that saw Carlos Hyde running for his second touchdown and with Terrance Mitchell making an Interception at the end of the game, it brought the Browns closer to a win. With Cleveland taking a knee, it saw the home fans going wild in the stands and throughout the City, as they were no longer ‘losers’ and could finally claim to be ‘Winners’.

Plus for the first time since beating the San Diego Chargers (now L.A Chargers) on December 24th, 2016, the Cleveland Browns could finally celebrate a regular season victory.

 

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Eagles overcome New England in a Classic

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  191px-Philadelphia_Eagles_logo.svg    PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 41   NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 33 193px-New_England_Patriots_logo.svg

In the early hours of Monday morning, it saw the Philadelphia Eagles becoming Super Bowl champions with victory over the favourites in the New England Patriots at Minnesota’s US Bank Stadium, as the NFC East side were crowned World Champions for the first-ever time at Super Bowl LII. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was named the MVP of the game, after the former University of Arizona player, threw for three touchdown passes and even caught a touchdown pass himself, as the Philadelphia man threw for 373-yards in his sides 41-33 win over the most dominant team of recent times.

It was a game that was action-packed from the opening kick off to the final play of the game, as many pundits had already decided the outcome beforehand, with the New England Patriots being crowned champions before a ball was even snapped. But the NFC champions were more than happy enough to play up to the role of underdogs, with Philadelphia having been using that terms for the whole of these post-season match-ups.

The traditional clash of AFC and NFC Champions clashing at the Super Bowl saw many records broken during this year’s contest, as the teams combined for the most offensive yards in a single game this season, as no regular season or postseason could boast that over that year. Another record that got broke was one that had lasted for thirty years, as the two sides totalled 1,151 for offensive play and were 222 more yards than what the previous record was set when the Washington Redskins beat the Denver Broncos back at Super Bowl XXII.

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Brandin Cooks tries to Hurdle a Philadelphia Eagles defensive player

Many former players and commentators felt that the AFC division is the weakest of the two in the National Football League, and when comparing the contenders for this year’s Super Bowl, it is pretty hard to disagree with that point at all, as the New England breezed through their conference games with relative ease over their respective rivals in the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. It felt that the Patriots only challenge in the postseason would come at the Super Bowl itself, as the NFC was one of the toughest conferences to win and that proved to be the case with many sides showing their title credentials.

For Philadelphia, getting to Minnesota and setting up a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX was a battle itself, following tough games against the Atlanta Falcons and host city Minnesota in the NFC Championship game a couple of weeks ago. Facing the Patriots again seemed to be a way of expelling their Super Bowl past, as back in 2005 the Eagles lost out to New England and this was a great chance to gain revenge against the side that beat them thirteen years ago. The Eagles started the game with possession and saw Nick Foles engineering a drive that saw Torrey Smith completing a 30-yard catch on a 3rd & 12 that eventually culminated in a 25-yard field goal being kicked over by Rookie Jake Elliott to give the NFC side a 3-0 lead early on. New England responded in kind with a field goal of their own to level the game at 3-3, and it saw the game starting to take shape with both sides looking to assert their dominance and have both defences struggling early on after the first couple of opening drives for both sides.

Former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, saw him cutting through New England defense and moved his side from the Eagles 30-yard line to the Patriots 33-yard line with a solo run. Philadelphia then scored the opening touchdown of Super Bowl LII thanks to a catch in the end zone by Alshon Jeffery, as the former Chicago Bears man made a superb grab from a Nick Foles throw towards the wide receiver for a score and have the NFC East side retaking the lead. Elliott then went to add the extra point for Philadelphia, but his kick had some curl on it and it missed the uprights and left the score at 9-3.  Tom Brady then came back onto the field and saw him struggling to find one of his receivers with the Eagles defense on top and closing down all options that were normally on offer to Brady. Rob Gronkowski was given special treatment, as he proved to be ineffective in the entire first half for the defending champions, with ‘Gronk’ being shut down by the Philly defensive unit. That meant that New England needed guys to step up, and Chris Hogan and ‘Mr Postseason’ Danny Amendola stood up and accepted the challenge and both of them came up huge for the Patriots when they needed them.

Amendola soon found himself in acres of space near the sidelines for a pass by Brady, as he got the reigning champs upfield. Brandin Cooks then attempted to hurdle Eagles Safety Rodney McLeod on the ten-yard line but instead saw the Philadelphia man catching Cooks in mid-air and looked like he was going to go WWE on him, as he had him in a kind of powerbomb position, but Cooks failed to get by. Stephen Gostkowski then stepped out onto the field for the Patriots and saw his 26-yard field goal attempt botched in the lead up to it, with the snap to Ryan Allen having the ball bobble to the punt kicker, and that led to panic and saw Gostkowski quickly putting boot to ball and could only watch it swerving away and hitting the goalposts to see no points. There was a slight hint of frustration on the face of the Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, but his poker face didn’t give too much at all away.

Prior to the game taking place, there was some concerns from the kickers on where the ball was being snapped too, as the logos on the field were causing problems for both sides on special teams and had the logos leaving the kickers a bit ‘unsteady’ and even saw the Super Bowl logos being painted on the pitch only hours before the big event.

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Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles matching a catch for a touchdown  PIC: BBC.co.uk

Brandin Cooks was then forced to leave the game with a head injury following a scary moment with 13.03 to go in the second quarter when Cooks completed a catch and was looking for a gap to run into, but instead he was hammered hard by Malcolm Jenkins and saw the New England man knocked out cold by the Eagles Safety. That then left a huge hole in the New England offense, with the Patriots on a 3rd & 5 they then attempted a trick play involving Brady as a receiver and have Danny Amendola taking a pass and becoming the quarterback on the play and throwing a pass towards Tom Brady down the sidelines but he was unable to take in the pass and moved the Patriots to fourth down situation.

Philadelphia managed to stop the 4th down conversion attempt and saw them looking now to take advantage of shaky New England side that wasn’t looking too good, especially with Cooks being knocked out cold and being assessed for a concussion protocol and then had their star man in Gronkowski being frozen out by their opponents.  LeGarrette Blount continues his assault on the opposition with a score and picked up the Eagles second touchdown of the game, after he powered his way through the New England side and was a similar story back at Super Bowl XLIX, when Marshawn Lynch did the same to the Patriots with the Seattle Seahawks and saw New England having no answers to stop him in that game either.

Stephen Gostkowski then kicked over a 45-yard field goal to see New England trailing by nine points at the midway point of the second quarter came around. Nick Foles threw an attempted pass out wide to Alshon Jeffery as he battled with Stephon Gilmore – of which Gilmore replaced the ‘benched’ Malcolm Butler in the lineup, as the ball came towards the two battling players it saw Jeffery juggling the ball and fell into the hands of Duron Harmon for the Interception. The Philadelphia defensive was doing a great job of stifling the play of Brady and co but then hit penalty trouble when Jalen Mills was guilty of a hold against Chris Hogan and saw the ball moved upfield for the Patriots to get outside of field goal range. Brady then threw to Hogan for a 38-yard catch that saw New England inside the Eagles half. Minutes later saw James White grabbing a touchdown for New England with just over two minutes remaining, as the running back bounced off a tackle or two and broke free of the Eagles clutches for a score. 

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Rob Gronkowski completing a catch for a Touchdown   Pic: NFL.com

Gostkowski then missed another kick, as his extra point attempt was no good and went nowhere remotely near the posts at all and saw the AFC side trailing 15-12. Philadelphia then found themselves deep in Patriots territory and when a pass for Jeffery saw the wide receiver failing to get the better of Gilmore who looked better the more the game went on, Philadelphia Head Coach Jim Schwartz then opted to run on a fourth & goal instead of going for a field goal and it was viewed by many to be a ‘gutsy’ call by the Eagles coach.

Prior to the snap, Foles shouted towards his offensive linemen a change to the play call and perhaps trying to draw a offsides penalty as well. Instead, though, it saw the ball being snapped towards Corey Clement in the backfield and he flipped it to Trey Burton on the run, before Burton fired a nice weighted pass to quarterback Nick Foles in the end zone for a touchdown and see a surprise play that caught everyone out. That score was also the first time in Super Bowl history that a quarterback had caught a pass for a touchdown and more importantly saw them extend their lead to 22-12 with Elliot kicking the extra.

Following the Half-time break of which Justin Timberlake performed his back catalogue of hits, it saw the second half starting off well for the New England as the Patriots came out a different team and had the Eagles probably wishing that they didn’t have a break, as there wasn’t much momentum. As it was, Tom Brady led a recovery for his side and led to Rob Gronkowski making a grab in the end zone for a touchdown to get his team back in it. It also saw the re-emergence of the Patriots wide-receiver in the second half as ‘Gronk’ threw away the shackles that the Eagles had him in during the first half.

Midway through the third quarter, it saw some controversy in the game, as all season the ‘catch’ rule has been the bain of many NFL fans, players, coaches, pundits and probably even officials too. This time saw a deep pass thrown towards Corey Clements who made the grab before heading out of bounds. This then led to the officials reviewing the play and deciding whether it was a score or if it should be overturned. Using the old style ruling it was a good catch, but using the catch rule today – and it divides opinion. On review, it didn’t look like he had completed two steps with the ball before hitting the whitewash, but then on another angle, he did. Eventually, the ruling of a touchdown stood and the Eagles moved out to a ten points lead at 29-19 with 7.18 left in the third.

New England has made it a habit of always coming right back at opponents and this was no different, as Chris Hogan made a catch in the end zone to score a touchdown and bring it to a three-point ball game. Jake Elliott then gave the Eagles some breathing space with a 42-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter to help extend their lead to a six-point gap at 32-26. In last year’s Super Bowl, it saw the New England Patriots infamously put up 19 points in the fourth quarter en route to see them go from dead and buried, to tying the game and winning in overtime for the craziest ever finish to a championship game.

This year, however, they only trailed by six in the fourth quarter, but they still showed their battling qualities and came storming right back at a tough brash Philadelphia side in the second half. As the game went on it saw Philadelphia being limited in their attack, thanks to New England now turning the tables on their opponents and saw their game suffering because of it. With 9.22 left to play, it saw Rob Gronkowski claiming his second touchdown pass of the game and drew New England level with the score. Gostkowski who had such a mixed game with the boot, saw him making no mistake this time around and kicked the extra point for AFC Champions and give them the lead for the first time in the contest.

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Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after fumbling the ball during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

With the Patriots on top, in both scoreline and play, the Eagles now badly need a response and so with 2.30 left to go in the game, it saw them reaching the New England 12-yard line and needing looking for a score. That response came in the form of Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, as he dived his way into the end zone for a score and have the ball popping up before regathering for a score. Once more it saw the call being looked at and was just more drama and tension added to this game. The officials decided to double check the play and it dragged up that unwanted argument of ‘catch or no catch’ again.

In a season, where this rule has reared it’s ugly game on pretty much every game and has done more damage than it is meant to do, so this call was gigantic in the grand scheme of things. If it was ruled a ‘no catch’ then it would be 4th & 7, but should it be good then the Eagles were leading again. The touchdown stood and saw the Eagles trying for a two-point conversion to make it a one-score game that would need New England needing to get a PAT to tie the game.

The game clock said 2.21 left to play and saw the defending champions with one time-out remaining, but the telling factor without question was the man with the ball and perhaps the ‘greatest’ quarterback to ever play the game in Tom Brady, as he looked to engineer another possible Super Bowl winning drive. During an incredible game between two top teams, it saw neither side giving up a single sack in the contest. 

With most people thinking, “could the Eagles stop Brady from delivering yet another Super Bowl championship for New England?”, It was probably doubtful that any person in the US Bank Stadium thought “‘WHAT IF, Philadelphia could force a turnover?”, but that is exactly what happened. As the ball got snapped to Brady on 2nd & 2, it saw the quarterback scanning the field and looking to throw the ball, however, Brandon Graham knocked the ball from the gloved hand of Brady and forcing a fumble to which teammate Derek Barnett recovered the ball for the Eagles. Following that huge play by Philadelphia, it saw the Eagles unable to make the most of the great field position they had got from forcing the turnover and were forced to settle for a Jake Elliott field goal from 46-yards out with just over a minute of play to go.

Despite Philadelphia holding an 8-points lead, it saw the Patriots still not giving up hope of producing a late twist to this game, as Tom Brady was nearly tackled in the build-up; but Brady managing to get free and fire off a ‘Hail Mary’ pass upfield and have the ball tipped and see some desperate defending by the Eagles defense to close the game out as time expired and have the NFC East side crowned Super Bowl champions for the first time in their history.

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Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. The Eagles won 41-33. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It saw a bitter-sweet ending for the Philadelphia Eagles at quarterback, as Carson Wentz who was on course to be the MVP of the league until he tore his ACL in his knee on a scramble against the LA Rams in Week 14, was forced to watch from the sidelines as back up Nick Foles took on the mantle of trying to carry on with his good work. In six weeks, it saw him from the bench to now being made MVP at Super Bowl LII. For Carson Wentz, it would have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Eagles starter as he had been the man for Philadelphia before his injury. 

The victory is the first championship-winning side to come from the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ since the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series back in 2008 in Major League Baseball. There was some joy for the Brits too, as Running back Jay Ajayi became only the fifth player to win a Super Bowl from the United Kingdom and proudly showed off his national pride with the Union Flag draped around his shoulders.

For the Patriots, it seemed like an ‘end of a era’ of sorts to their team, as talk after the game was of Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels leaving New England to become the new Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts and also the likely move of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, becoming the Detroit Lions new Head Coach later this week. Rob Gronkowski admitted that he was to review his options and that this game could very well have seen the last ever ‘Gronk Spike’ from the big man. Meanwhile, Tom Brady said in his press conference that he plans to continue on past forty, but what does the future hold for the Legendary head coach Bill Belichick? Rumours have been rife in the media that Belichick may choose to leave New England in the summer with a possible rift inside the camp being blamed.

One thing for sure though, this game will go down in the history books as one of the most entertaining Super Bowl’s played out, with non-stop action and drama in one game. 

When American Football Tried To Crack Europe

  With the 2018 NFL International Series fixtures being announced within the last month or so, it sees London hosting three-games with Wembley Stadium hosting two and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club playing host to the first at their brand new stadium. The explosion of the game on this side of the ‘pond’ has seen people within the sport has not gone unnoticed, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Mayor of London, talking about the English capital being the focal point of American Football in Europe. There have also been mutterings about London netting an NFL Franchise of their own in the future. Technically speaking, London did have a team in the NFL back in the day, but that was in the form of the former ‘World League of American Football’ days.

So with the game on an uplift on these shores, here is a look back at when American Football tried originally in expanding their game across the globe. Before the National Football league burst onto a world scene in the 80’s, it saw the NFL looking to promote the game outside the US in the early 1970’s with an exhibition game that took place in Paris in 1972 and saw a group of players featured in a one-off game that saw NFL Bleu against NFL Rouge.

In 1974, it saw announced in New York City that a new league was to be created and would be including Europe as part of the new set up. The idea was the brainchild of both Bob Kap and Adalbert Wetzel, with the ‘Intercontinental Football League’ being set up.  

Both men were looking to tap into a foreign market and the idea of bringing ‘Gridiron’ overseas for the first time in a league structure was unheard of. Bob Kap was a former football coach in the defunct North America Soccer League and saw him in charge of the Dallas Tornados. Kap came to the United States as an immigrant, having fled his homeland of the Republic of Yugoslavia as it was then during the 1956 uprising. While at Dallas, he also worked under the former owner of the NASL and founder of the Kansas City Chiefs in Lamar Hunt, so there were some strains of American Football links behind him. 

His business partner was a West German entrepreneur in Adalbert Wetzel, as Wetzel owned German football side Munchen 1860 and had him onboard giving the creation of this new league some creditability. The league itself featured six-teams and were to be split into two divisions, with one division being German-speaking and the other being more of a continental division. Teams pencilled for the IFL league in 1975 season were the following:

German Division:
  • Munich Lions           –  Germany 
  • West Berlin Bears   –  Germany
  • Vienna Lipizzaners –  Austria
Continental teams
  • Rome Gladiators              –  Italy
  • Barcelona Almogovares –  Spain
  • Istanbul Conquerors       –  Turkey

There were four more European cities that were to be included for the following year with; Paris Lafayettes of  France, Copenhagen Vikings of Denmark, Rotterdam Flying Dutchmen of the Netherlands and the Milan Centurions of Italy, all seemingly ready to join the year after. However, things didn’t go to plan and never saw a ball snapped in anger, as a few factors put paid to the league never getting off the ground.

Many reasons have been given as to why the league never happened, and those reasons bandied have ranged from an economic recession in American at the time, there was also the NFL players going on strike that summer too and also some political problems that saw friction between the US and Europe. Another reason given was that Europe wasn’t ready for the game to come overseas and in truth, that seems a more likely explanation. In 1982, it saw Channel 4 starting to broadcast weekly highlights of the NFL to viewers in the UK, and in 1986, it saw an estimated 4 million people staying up through the night to watch the infamous ‘1985 Chicago Bears’ thrashing the New England Patriots at Superbowl XX.

The NFL then tried to expand into Europe, following games being played in Canada, Japan and Mexico in years gone by. In 1983, it saw Wembley Stadium playing host to an exhibition game with the Minnesota Vikings beating the then St Louis Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) 28-10 to win the ‘Global Cup’. Three years later, it saw the World Champion Chicago Bears facing the Dallas Cowboys and kickstarted annual games played in England up until 1993. Sweden, Germany and Spain

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World League of American Football logo between 1989-1997  Pic: SportingLogos.net 

With the league becoming more popular in the 80’s, it led to the NFL owners unanimously voting for a spring development league and saw the commissioner at that time in Paul Tagliabue backing the plans for it in 1989. The new development league was called the ‘World League of American Football’ or ‘WLAF’ for short. It saw 26 of the 28 owners in the NFL at that time, helping to fund the league with $50,000 each from the teams to cover the costs. Of the 10 teams in the league, it saw the WLAF office owning five of the sides when the 1992 season came around with three of the five European side being owned by the league.

 

The teams for the Inaugural season of the World League were split into three division and saw 2 three-team divisions and one four-team division.

European Division
  • London_Monarchs_Helmet London Monarchs                   (1991-1997 / 98 as England Monarch)
  • Barcelona_Dragons_helmet   Barcelona Dragons                (1991 -2003)
  • Frankfurt_Galaxy_helmet  Frankfurt Galaxy                    (1991- 2007)
North American EAST division
  • New_York-New_Jersey_Knights_helmet_1991-1992  NY/NJ Knights                           (1991-1992)
  • Orlando_Thunder_helmet_1991-1992  Orlando Thunder                       (1991-1992)
  • Montreal_Machine_helmet_1991-1992  Montreal Machine                     (1991-1992)
  • Raleigh-Durham_Skyhawks_helmet_1991  Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks      (1991)

North American WEST

  • Birmingham_Fire_helmet_1991-1992       Birmingham Fire         (1991-1992)     
  • San_Antonio_Riders_helmet_1991-1992       San Antonio Riders     (1991-1992)   
  • Sacramento_Surge_helmet_1991-1992    Sacramento Surge         (1991-1992)     

 

On Saturday, March 23rd, 1991, it saw the opening game taking place at London’s Wembley Stadium, as the hometown London Monarchs beat the Frankfurt Galaxy 24-11 to become the first franchise to win a WLAF season game. The teams in the WLAF played off for the World Bowl, much like the NFL play for the Super Bowl. In the first final it saw two European sides facing off at World Bowl I, as a crowd of 61,108 watched on as the London Monarchs shut out the Barcelona Dragons 21-0 at Wembley to become the first-ever World Bowl champions.

  • Ohio_Glory_helmet_1992 Ohio Glory (1992)

Prior to 1992 season kicking off, it saw the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks being replaced by the Ohio Glory who played just one year in the WLAF and following the Skyhawks 0-10 season, it saw the Glory faring not much better despite a 1-9 record that saw them beating the Frankfurt Galaxy in Week 7.

Following the 1992 season, it saw three franchises leaving the league in Sacramento and San Antonio, and brought a halt to the league with reports of next to no interest at all in the WLAF from within the United States. A reporter from the LA Times had been quoted as saying “American fans were less likely to shell out their hard-earned dollars to watch games which featured ‘roster-cut leftovers’ “. After two seasons of World League Football, it saw the league losing money with $7 million dollars being bandied about just in the first year alone.

With a hiatus of the league for two-years, it saw the NFL playing a couple of exhibition games in Sweden, Spain and Germany, both when split and then Unified too. In July of 1994, it then saw the announcement of the league coming back undergoing a huge overhaul with the WLAF now being shortened to the ‘World League’ and having the American sides leaving and having the ‘World League’ entirely made up now of just European teams. The reboot in 1995 saw a 10 team league now shrinking to a six-team league, with three new sides being included. 

  • Amsterdam_Admirals_helmet         Amsterdam Admirals  (1995-2007)
  • Rhein_Fire_helmet       Rhein Fire                      (1995-2007)
  • Scottish_Claymores_helmet     Scottish Claymore          (1995-2004)

Fox Broadcasting Company became the co-owners of the league and was a huge benefactor in getting the World League back on its feet and also had Reebok sponsoring the teams and manufacturing the uniforms off all the sides in it. Not everything was sorted, as the London Monarchs were forced to find a new home following high costs too much to hold games at Wembley and so saw Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane being home for the Monarchs. The WLAF also granted London an exemption in the league, as their pitch was 93 yards long as opposed to a full sized 120-yard scale.

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World League Logo – PIC: Worldleagueofamericanfootball

The first season of the revamped league saw one of the three expansion sides finishing top of the standings, as the Amsterdam Admirals finished with a 9-1 record and hosted the World Bowl in ’95. It saw the Dutch side facing German side Frankfurt Galaxy at the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium and saw in front of a crowd of 23,847, the Galaxy pulling off a shock upset to beat the Admirals and win their first of many World Bowl titles.

While Amsterdam had a successful season in their first year, the same couldn’t be said for the Rhein Fire or the Scottish Claymores though, as the Edinburgh based side finished bottom with a 2-8 record. Roll forward a year later, and the Scottish Claymores went from the ‘outhouse to the penthouse’ with the Scottish side claiming a 7-3 record to finish top of the standings and saw them holding the World Bowl at Murrayfield Stadium and beat the defending champions the Frankfurt Galaxy 32-27 at home in front of the biggest crowd to ever watch an American Football game in Scotland, with 38,982 to witness the Claymores victory at World Bowl IV.

 

In 1997, it saw the remaining founding side of the World League in the Barcelona Dragons finally lifting the title at World Bowl V, as the Dragons beat the Rhein Fire 38-24 at the Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic in Barcelona, and was also the venue for the 1992 Summer games. The Monarchs moved away from White Hart Lane to play their home games at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea F.C and saw the London Monarchs blowing the biggest lead in World League history, as they held a 23-point advantage against the Barcelona Dragons but went on to lose 37-32.

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NFL EUROPE Logo 1997- 2006

The ‘World League of American Football’ was then given a name change for the start of the 1997 season, as it was known now as NFL Europe. It also saw the Monarchs dropping the London from their name and changing it to England, to which they split their home venues between Crystal Palace, Ashton Gate home to Bristol City FC and finally Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. Sadly, the move and name change didn’t help much and saw them folding after the season. World Bowl ’98 saw the Battle of Germany, as Frankfurt Galaxy took on the Rhein Fire and saw the side from Düsseldorf claiming their first taste of success to become champions.

Before the 1999 season, it saw a third German side joining the league as the Berlin Thunder took over the Monarchs and saw half the league coming from Germany. Frankfurt then won their second World Bowl beating the Barcelona Dragons in Dusseldorf at World Bowl VIII to claim a 38-24 victory. As the new Millennium came around, it saw the league beginning to suffer problems and with the demise of the England Monarchs in 1998, it saw the Barcelona Dragons now altering their name to FC Barcelona Dragons to gain fans and saw their fanbase dwindle and struggle with finances and was finished after 2003.

  • Hamburg_Sea_Devils_helmet       Hamburg Sea Devil   (2005-2007)
  • 135px-Cologne_Centurions_helmet     Cologne Centurions (2004-2007)

By the time the 2005 season started the league was now effectively an All-German league with many Pundits dubbing the final two seasons as ‘NFL GERMANY’ as with Frankfurt, Rhein Fire and Berlin already in it, it saw the Cologne Centurions joining in 2004 and the Hamburg Sea Devils joining in 2005 for the remaining couple of seasons. It did see one side breaking up the German sides in the Amsterdam Admirals who were the only non-German side in the competition. The league was renamed a fourth and final time as ‘NFL EUROPE’ became ‘NFL Europa’. Following the 2007 season, the league then came to an end after fifteen seasons of American football and saw the Hamburg Sea Devils being the last ever champions of the competition as they defeated the most successful side in the league in the Frankfurt Galaxy.

The league’s purpose was to originally develop players and set up them up careers in the National Football League but instead it turned into a league that was low on money and loss a heck of a lot over the years too. Only die hard fans cared about the league and so the end of the 2007 season the NFL decided to put it out of its misery and shut the doors on NFL Europa for good. 

Pretty much most of the teams had a star in the making or in some cases, a couple of handy players at their disposal, as former quarterback Brad Johnson played a part in the success of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that won Super Bowl XXXVII, as Johnson played a season with the London Monarchs. In that one season, Johnson picked up 2,227 yards and threw for 13 Touchdowns in his solitary year overseas.

In 1996, it saw the biggest name to date in the league at that point in time, with the London Monarchs signing former Super Bowl winner William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry. Former Pro-Bowler David Akers played a year with the Berlin Thunder before Akers became a mainstay in the league and saw him playing 17 years in the NFL, with stints at Atlanta, Carolina and Washington. Akers will be more known for his time with the Philadelphia Eagles and saw him playing during the Eagles Super Bowl run in 2004.

Staying in Germany and moving to the Rhein Fire, it saw a couple of famous names in their own right amongst their ranks too. Firstly, Defensive-End Terry Crews, now you’re probably thinking you’ve heard that name before but can’t remember it being too much on a Football field. Well, you’d be right. Terry Crews who was an 11th round draft pick for the LA Rams back in 1991, saw his career never really taking off and had him playing just four seasons of NFL football with stops off at San Diego, Washington and Philadelphia, before stopping off in Dusseldorf. However, Crews is more well known for his appearance in Old Spice advertisements.

The second Fire player is a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Line-Backer James Harrison. Harrison, who now plays for the New England Patriots, saw him lining up for the Rhein Fire in 2003 and helped the Dusseldorf side to reach World Bowl XI where they would go on to lose to the Frankfurt Galaxy. The former Kent State player saw his stand out moment coming at Superbowl XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals when he Intercepted a throw for a 100-yard touchdown off a pass by former NFL Europe Alumni in Kurt Warner. 

The Amsterdam Admirals had a few handy players over the years too. As Kurt Warner cut his teeth with the Dutch side in 1998 and saw Warner using his experiences as a stepping stone to go on and have a successful career and included being named MVP at Superbowl XXXIV as part of the ‘Greatest Team on Turf’ in the St Louis Rams. Warner in the World League led the way with Touchdown passes and yardage with the Admirals in 1998. 

Amsterdam had two up and coming quarterbacks that year, as with Kurt Warner being the main guy for the Admirals they also had Jake Delhomme, who would go onto to lead the Carolina Panthers to their first Super Bowl appearance in 2004. However before that, Dehomme moved teams in 1999 and saw him switching Holland for Germany and the Frankfurt Galaxy to be exact, and he picked up a World Bowl title with the Galaxy in only season.

Back in 1995 it saw the start of the greatest kicker in NFL history, as for the Amsterdam Admirals they had kicker Adam Vinatieri and saw the him kicking 13 out of 14 attempts during his time there in World League. That high standard set him in good stead and helped him kick two field goals that won two Super Bowl titles for the Patriots over the years. The 4-time Super Bowl winner enjoyed his stay with the Dutch franchise and saw him being part of the team that made it to World Bowl III, but lost out to the Frankfurt Galaxy. 

Coming full circle, it saw in 2007 the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell bringing for the first time ever a regular season game outside the US and saw the Miami Dolphins facing the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium in front of 81,176 and has since had almost every team play in London with only five sides having not, with the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks being the sides yet to play in the UK. Over the past few years, it has seen more games played out of Wembley and saw last year Twickenham Stadium hosting two games. 

British fans love their sport and especially American sports too, as sports from across the pond have always been well supported on these shores too. Whether you attend American Football, Basketball and Ice Hockey, you’ll see fans wearing jerseys of their favourite teams in the US or Canada. 


NFL WILD CARD Review – Titans in a Thriller, Jags win/ Brees shines for Saints & Ryan stars for Falcons

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What a breathtaking weekend of Wild Card games that took place this past Saturday and Sunday, as it saw an Incredible performance by Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota single-handedly carrying the Titans to a thrilling comeback victory in Kansas City, after the Chiefs had looked like that had the game under full control at the halftime break.

The Atlanta Falcons looked good in their Wild Card game against the Los Angeles Rams on the West Coast, as Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan used his experience to guide his side to a win in their NFC clash on the return to playoff football at the Coliseum. Sunday’s games started off with a dull game between Jacksonville and Buffalo to which it was anything from ‘must watch TV’ in Florida, but the Jaguars did enough to progress.

The remaining game saw the New Orleans Saints marching on to the Divisional games next weekend after they picked up a tough win against Carolina at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Drew Brees shone for the Saints against the Panthers, as he faced his rival in Cam Newton in the battle of the star quarterbacks.

 

1280px-Kansas_City_Chiefs_logo.svg  KANSAS CITY CHIEFS   21   –  22   TENNESSEE TITANS     Tennessee_Titans_logo.svg

Saturday night saw a thriller at Arrowhead Stadium in the first of the AFC Divisional Wild Card games, after Tennessee Titans overturned an 18-point deficit, thanks largely to a second-half winning performance from quarterback Marcus Mariota, as the Titans playmaker helped to engineer a stunning come from behind victory to set up a meeting with New England next weekend at Foxboro.

The first half was dominated by the home side, as Kansas City got on the board first after Tyreek Hill had got the Chiefs up to the Titans 30-yard line and saw two plays later Kareem Hunt crashing his way into the end zone for a 1-yard score. Towards the back end of the first quarter, it saw Alex Smith finding Travis Kelce in space to throw into and he completed a 13-yard pass to the Tight-End for a Touchdown and moved the Chiefs 14-0 up.

Tennessee was simply being shut down by a solid Kansas City defensive unit, that didn’t allow the Titans any joy at all on offense and saw the Titans making a total of 127 yards in the first half. It saw the Titans yards numbers dwarfed by the home side who made 264 yards in the half, while the telltale statistic of the first half was Kansas City picking up sixteen First Down’s, compared to Tennessee’s five. Things weren’t helped either when Mariota threw a pass intended for Delanie Walker and saw the Titans man in double coverage and instead saw Marcus Peters picking it off for Interception.

Kansas City wasn’t just hitting Tennessee hard on the scoreboard, but they were doing just as much on the field too as Marcus Mariota could attest to, as the quarterback was sacked in a crunching tackle by Derrick Johnson on the Chiefs 30-yard line and set up the only points for Tennessee in the half, after Ryan Succop kicked over a 49-yard field goal. With 1.34 remaining in the second quarter, it saw a massive blow to the Chiefs when Travis Kelce suffered a big hit that kept the Tight-End out for the rest of the game.

Tennessee fell further behind with just five seconds left to go in the half when DeMarcus Robinson went in for a score after some ‘average’ tackling allowed the Chiefs to extend their lead and go into the break 21-3 points up at the interval. At the half, it seemed like the home side would be heading to a bit of lop-sided win and saw the Titans needing some inspiration from somewhere on their side. The way it looked they could do with another miracle that mirrored their infamous ‘Music City Miracle’ if they were to overcome Kansas City.

Marcus Mariota would prove to be that inspiration that the Titans was looking for, as firstly, he scrambled on a 3rd down to pick up a much needed first down for his side and then had handed off a pass to Derrick Henry who bulldozed his way through the Chiefs defense to get deep inside the Kansas half.

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Tennessee Titans Quarterback dives for a Touchdown Pic: Getty Images

Later, while on a 3rd and goal, it saw Mariota having no options of which to pass to and saw him scrambling to make a play and threw into the end zone and saw the pass deflected back towards him and he went in for a touchdown. No matter how fortunate the end result, it gave the Titans a foot back in the game and see perhaps a new miracle for the Titans.

It felt like that score had sent the momentum shifting in favour of the Titans, but when Adoree’ Jackson spilt a punt return and saw Kansas City recovering it looked like that momentum would dissolve. As it turned out, the Chiefs were unable to make the most of the field positioning and saw Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker striking the post on a 48 yard FG attempt to see a chance go begging and sensed that perhaps the game was slipping away from the Chiefs. That miss boosted the Titans and despite trailing by 11 points with still a quarter to go it had Tennessee looking the better side.

Derrick Henry then ran for a 35-yard touchdown to bring the gap down to five points and saw the Titans trying a two-point conversion which failed miserably. With just over six minutes left to play, it saw the Titans taking advantage of a tired Chiefs defense that had been out on the field for the majority of the second half and saw Mariota throwing a pass to Eric Decker for a 22-yard touchdown. With Tennessee ahead in the game, they tried to put more daylight between themselves and their opponents, but their attempts to score on a two-point conversion were foiled again by a tired looking Chiefs defensive unit.

Kansas City’s offense then came back onto the field after what felt like an eternity since they were actually out their, but when they jogged on the field they looked like a stunned football team and one that seemed beaten. With the Chiefs on a 4th and 9 and forced into gambling, it saw Alex Smith throwing a pass upfield for Albert Wilson and saw the Tennessee safety’s  snuffing out their last chance and saw the Titans pulling off one of the most stunning comeback victories in Wild Card history. The loss for the Chiefs marked a run of six home losses in a row in the playoff football since 1993.

 

192px-Los_Angeles_Rams_logo.svg    LOS ANGELES RAMS   13  –   26   ATLANTA FALCONS    Atlanta_Falcons_logo.svg

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Falcons QB Matt Ryan firing a pass off- Pic: GETTY IMAGES

For the first time in 41 years, it saw an NFL postseason game being played out of the famous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, as the Rams looked to carry on their incredible story this year. Sadly though, much like the last time that Los Angeles played at the Coliseum back in 1977 in a playoff game, it saw the home side coming up short once more as a Falcons side led by Matt Ryan, looking like a team on a mission, as they look to erase the memory of last year’s Superbowl nightmare less than a year ago.

Atlanta got a huge slice of luck midway through the first quarter when a Falcons punt upfield saw the ball bouncing off Blake Countess foot and saw a scramble for the loose football and see the Falcons recovering. That then led to a 29-yard field goal by Matt Bryant that put the Falcons ahead and saw him adding a further kick later on in the quarter to put the AFC South team 6-0 up.

Devonte Freeman put the Falcons in an even stronger position as they led 13-0 after a 3-yard run brought a touchdown for Atlanta and saw the home side falling further behind. LA then replied through quarterback Jared Goff, who threw for his first postseason touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp, as the pass connected for a 14-yard score in the end zone.

The final fifteen-seconds of play in the first half took an incredible nine minutes to complete, as with no timeouts the Rams spiked the ball with nine seconds to go and saw the officials wanting to review a couple of plays previous that saw an incomplete pass being called, and saw the rare occasion of the home fans cheering the decision to not give the catch and helped the Rams out, with time added back on the clock. With the last action of the half, it saw a 35-yard Field goal kicked by Sam Ficken to narrow the deficit and make it 13-10 at the half.

Matt Bryant then kicked a 25-yard field goal to open up a six-point lead for the Falcons before striking a 56-yard effort to make it 19-10 for Atlanta, with still a quarter to play. Jared Goff in his first playoff game looked assured of himself, much like he has for the best part of the season and saw him doing all he could to help his Rams side to stay in the game. Todd Gurley then started to pick up a bit of steam and had LA looking to him to score an get them back in it. As it was, it saw Los Angeles forced to kick a field goal instead and see the lead cut down to six with more than ten minutes left to play.

Mohamed Sanu then ran 52-yards to get the Falcons up to the Rams 10-yard line, before a couple of plays later while on a 2nd and goal, it saw Matt Ryan throwing a high floating pass out towards the corner for Julio Jones to make the grab and score a touchdown and make it a 26-13 game. Los Angeles then thought they had a touchdown when Goff found Tyler Higbee in the end zone, but the replays showed that the Tight-End had dropped the ball and so it was ruled an incomplete pass and saw the hopes of a comeback ended there and then.

It brought an end to an entertaining season for the Rams this year, as a stunning debut season for Head Coach Sean McVay, saw his team posting an 11-6 record on the year. Meanwhile, for the Falcons it saw them moving to an 11-6 record and have them now facing Philadelphia Eagles in Philly next weekend.

 

193px-Jacksonville_Jaguars_logo.svg  JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS  10  –  3   BUFFALO BILLS Buffalo_Bills_logo.svg

Ben Koyack
Ben Koyack celebrates Touchdown in Jaguars win – Pic: Boston Herald

Jacksonville and Buffalo played out the remaining AFC Wild Card game in Florida and while no one ran away with the game, it will certainly not be challenging the AFC game the night before between Tennessee and Kansas City for the game of the weekend, but it certainly proved to a case of how to defend at least.

A scoreless first quarter saw only 94-yards in total being recorded between the sides in the opening fifteen minutes of the game until a 31-yard field goal by Stephen Hauschka put the Bills ahead. Jacksonville’s Quarterback Blake Bortles then conjured up a first down conversion late in the second quarter to get the Jaguars within field goal range and have Bortles going to the well too often, and he was stopped by the Buffalo defence and led to a Josh Lambo 44-yard field goal to take the sides into the halftime break all square.

Late in the third, it saw Leonard Fournette trying to leap over the Bills defense for a touchdown, but he was dragged back by the ankles by Buffalo’s Lorenzo Alexander as he made sure that the Jaguars Running-Back wasn’t making the line. However, the Jaguars then gambled on a 4th and goal and it saw them richly rewarded as Blake Bortles picked out Ben Koyack in the end zone to see the Tight-End making the catch and getting the touchdown to put Jacksonville ahead.

In the fourth quarter, it saw Buffalo struggling to make much on offense and had LeSean McCoy being stifled by the Jaguars defense throughout the game and have the Bills top weapon being grounded. With just over a minute to play, it saw the Bills hopes all but go up in smoke, as quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sacked and had to be helped off the field of play following a hit he suffered and saw his head hitting the turf and saw backup Nathan Peterman coming into replace him for the remainder of the game.

This was the same Nathan Peterman, that in a previous start for Buffalo in Week 11, saw the rookie QB throwing for five interceptions in the infamous game against the LA Chargers in which Tyrod Taylor was benched and was soon thrown back on. With Taylor now done for the game, this was a chance for Peterman to redeem himself in the eyes of Bills fans and those fans around the league that mocked his performance earlier in the season. His first snap saw him scrambling for a first down and lost control of the football at the end of the play but thankfully was out of bounce. His second play saw a throw that was caught and helped the Bills pick up another first down and move upfield.

Tyrod Taylor, Yannick Ngakoue
Tyrod Taylor gets driven into the turf by Jags Defense – Pic: Boston Herald

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo who was commentating for American television said of Peterman as they moved upfield, “Peterman has a chance to etch his name into the history books with the Bills on this drive right here”. It proved to be the commentator’s curse and saw the backup quarterback sacked for a loss of ten yards. The next play was a 2nd and 20 and saw Peterman throwing a pass that was tipped and eventually Intercepted by Jalen Ramsey and he helped the Jaguars claim victory and see a rematch from Week 5, as the Jags now travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.

 

192px-New_Orleans_Saints_logo.svg  NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 31  –  26  CAROLINA PANTHERS191px-Carolina_Panthers_logo.svg

Panthers Saints Football
New Orleans Quarterback Drew Brees celebrates a Touchdown – Pic: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints made it a clean sweep of victories over their NFC South rivals in in the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the final Wild Card game of the weekend, as Drew Brees shown his quality once more as a top performer in the postseason, as he threw for 376 yards and picked up two touchdowns that helped the Saints go marching on into the playoffs against a very stubborn opponent.

After a tight opening quarter of play between these rivals, it then saw a piece of brilliance by Brees to open the scoring, as the Saints Quarterback found former Carolina Wide-Receiver Ted Ginn Jr up the middle and have the now New Orleans man finishing off the play for an 80-yard touchdown pass to move the home side in front.

Earlier in the second quarter, it saw the ‘pride of Arbroath’ in Graham Gano slotting over a 27-yard field goal after the Scottish kicker had missed an earlier attempt in the quarter.

Drew Brees then pick up his second touchdown pass of the game when he found Josh Hill wide open in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Saints, as New Orleans looked good in the contest. Graham Gano then kicked over another field goal for the Panthers to keep them still in touch with the home side, as they trailed by just 8-points.

Zach Line then went in for a 1-yard score to have New Orleans on moving further ahead and lead 21-6 as the halftime break was approaching, but Gano had the last say on the half as he drilled over a 58-yard kick to see Carolina down by 12 points at the half.

Cam Newton was trying his best to get the Panthers back in the game and had Gano being the one to chip away at the Saints lead, as he kicked over his third field goal of the game to make 21-12. Wil Lutz then replied with a 57-yard field goal for New Orleans as they looked to hold back a Carolina side at arm’s length.

Carolina then scored a touchdown when Newton found Greg Olsen in the end zone for a score, but the Saints came back later in the quarter, as Brees found Michael Thomas who got the Saints up to the 5-yard line and near the Panthers goal-line

Alvin Kamara then went in on a 2-yard run to get the fourth touchdown for New Orleans in the game and looked to have closed the game out. However, the celebration on the Saints score had hardly calmed before Christian McCaffrey raced into the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown and have a noisy and boisterous Superdome crowd fall silent as the Panthers refused to give up with 4.09 remaining.

With the game coming to the crunch, it saw the Saints going for it on 4th and 2 to see the game out and have Brees being intercepted by Mike Adams and gave Carolina one last chance to steal victory at the death.

As the game reached its dying moments, Carolina just couldn’t find a way to break them down and with 11 seconds left to play it saw the Panthers on a 4th and 23 and needing Newton to come up with something special to get the win for the Panther. Instead was jumped upon by three New Orleans players and saw him go from the Saints 34-yard line to being dumped on his own 45- yard line.

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Cam Newton (left) Drew Brees (right) Rivals shake hands after a tough battle -Pic: Forbes


NFC DIVISIONAL GAMES:

191px-Philadelphia_Eagles_logo.svgPhiladelphia Eagles (13-3) v Atlanta Falcons (11-6)  Atlanta_Falcons_logo.svg

@ Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia 

127px-Minnesota_Vikings_logo.svgMinnesota Vikings (13-3) v New Orleans Saints (12-5192px-New_Orleans_Saints_logo.svg

@ U.S. Bank Stadium, Minnesota

 

 

AFC DIVISIONAL GAMES:

193px-New_England_Patriots_logo.svgNew England Patriots (13-3) v Tennessee Titans (10-7Tennessee_Titans_logo.svg

@ Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass

196px-Pittsburgh_Steelers_logo.svgPittsburgh Steelers (13-3) v Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6193px-Jacksonville_Jaguars_logo.svg

@ Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

 

NFL WILD CARD Preview

This weekend is ‘Wild Card Weekend’ and sees eight-teams hoping to take another step towards making Superbowl Ll in Minnesota on February 4th, as the AFC and NFC Wild Card games are played out to see who advances to the divisional games next weekend. The four-game themselves are some of the most intriguing and unpredictable matchups in recent times and the postseason themselves is an absolute lottery as well.

It is difficult to recall a more open NFL season than this year’s one, as no side has looked particularly unbeatable compared to previous years gone by, and that goes for the four Wild Card games this weekend too. Half of the teams making up this weekend’s games (Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills) none have played in the postseason for at least 11 years and in the case of the Bills it is 18 years and helps brings to an end to the unwanted record of being the only NFL franchise to not have appeared in a playoffs in the 21st century.  But for the case Los Angeles it is 29 years since they last held a home playoff game – before the team moved to St Louis in 1995.

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Tennessee_Titans_logo.svg158px-Kansas_City_Chiefs_logo.svg

TENNESSEE TITANS v KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – @ Arrowhead Stadium

First up is the Saturday night game, as the Tennessee Titans travel to the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to take on the in-form Chiefs. Kansas City will look to pick up their first Playoff victory in at home, since 1993 when the Chiefs had to overcome the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime to prevail. 25-years ago also saw the AFC West team beating the then Houston Oilers 28-20, in their divisional playoff game, and to which later saw the Oilers moving to Tennessee, before adopting the Titans names in 1999.

Kansas City does hold a 2-0 record over the Titans, but that is if you included their record as the Oilers too, with the victories for the Missouri side coming back in 1962 & 1994. In match-ups since the move to Nashville back in 1996 and onwards, the Titans hold a slender 5-3 series record overall in the head to head. The Chiefs have had three parts to their season, as they firstly defeated the Superbowl champion New England Patriots in Foxboro to shock the Patriots and the experts in the process. Kansas City then followed up that win with four straight victories that moved them to a 5-0 record before the wheels then blew off. The Chiefs then lost six of their next seven games, to move to 6-6 on the season and saw them finally getting back to winning ways in week 14, as Kansas beat their bitter rivals the Oakland Raiders and finished the regular season with four wins to claim a 10-6 record and make the playoffs.


For Tennessee, they haven’t played in a Playoff game since losing to the San Diego Chargers (now LA Chargers) back in 2008 and saw their last win in the postseason coming as far back as Baltimore in 2003, before they fell to the eventual champions in New England. The Titans have a decent record in the playoffs at 5-6, though that is if you exclude their Oilers history. Their first playoff ever victory as the Titans came against Buffalo back in 2000 in what was dubbed ‘The Music City Miracle’, in which Tennessee scored on the final play of the game after a kickoff return saw Frank Wycheck throwing a lateral pass across the field to Kevin Dyson, and he ran it back for a 75 yard touchdown to win the game.

That Tennessee side would make it all the way to the Superbowl XXXIV, having been a Wild Card side, and saw the Titans coming up a 1-yard short of winning their first ever Superbowl against ‘the Greatest side on turf’ in the St. Louis Rams. Since then, however, the Nashville outfit has struggled to make the playoffs and this year has seen them finding it hard to string more than two wins together and ended up with a 9-7 record on the season, but they’ll hope to improve on that. For a City that is famous for the ‘King’ Elvis Presley, they’ll know that come game time that ‘It’s now or never’ and will want to avoid feeling like a ‘Hound dog’ should they lose out.

PREDICTION: Kansas City

 


193px-Jacksonville_Jaguars_logo.svgBuffalo_Bills_logo.svg

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS v BUFFALO BILLS – @ EverBank Field

The second AFC clash of the weekend pits the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Buffalo Bills at EverBank Field in Florida. Such has been the demand for playoff tickets at the EverBank Field this Sunday, that steps have been taken to open up another section of their stadium, as the Jaguars are playing hosts to their first postseason game since the turn of the century and also first playoff game since losing to New England back in 2008.

The Jaguars saw them picking up huge scalps in the first half of the season with impressive victories that included a 44-7 blowout win at Wembley Stadium over the Baltimore Ravens and then beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-9 to claim another scalp. Towards the back end of the season, it saw players and coaches alike on the sidelines being involved in heated arguments during losses to San Francisco and Tennessee in the final two weeks of the season and has seen their momentum take a battering from those incidents. Jags quarterback Blake Bortles has picked up twenty-one touchdowns on the year while throwing for 3,687 yards while Running Back Leonard Fournette has been key in the rushing game with ten touchdowns and over 1,342 yards.

Meanwhile, Wide Receivers in Marquise Lee and Keelan Cole have picked up six touchdowns between them and account for 1,467 yards and Tight-End Marcedes Lewis has five touchdowns on the year himself with 318 yards to boot.


With the Jags booking their playoff spot weeks ago, in the case of Buffalo, it was literally a last-minute thing and needed help from unlikely allies. It saw the final week of the regular season seeing the Bills beating their fellow conference rival in the Dolphins in Miami and then had Buffalo needed to await the outcome of the Baltimore/Cinncinati game to see if they would make the playoffs or not.

For most of the game, it seemed certain that Buffalo was heading through until the Ravens led right up until the final stages of the game and needed an Andy Dalton throw on fourth-down to find Tyler Boyd and have the Bengals causing a shock and stunning the Baltimore Ravens and spark off wild celebrations among Bills players and fans that were watching from within the confines of the stadium in Miami.  Buffalo hasn’t made the end of season playoffs since 1999 and held an unwanted record of being the only side in the NFL to not have played a single postseason game in the 21st century, with their last game being the ‘Music City Miracle’ game against Tennessee.

The Bills this year has been led by Running-Back LeSean McCoy, of which the Harrisburg native has scored run in for six touchdowns and ran for 1,138 rushing yards on the season. Quarterback for the Buffalo side is Tyrod Taylor, and he has thrown for 2,799 passing yards and fourteen touchdowns on the year. However, the most bizarre incident involving Taylor came back in Week 11, when the head coach Sean McDermott made the strange decision to give Nathan Peterman the nod ahead of him against the LA Rams and saw Nathan Peterman having a nightmare game that saw him throwing five Interceptions and could have easily cost Buffalo in the long run.

Their biggest worry ahead of their game with the Jags this Sunday is an injury to  LeSean McCoy after he suffered an ankle injury in the win over the Dolphins but has said in the last couple of days that he plans to suit up and will hopefully take his place out on the field. If he is missing for the Bills, then you feel that they are in a world of trouble.

PREDICTION: Buffalo Bills



 

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Switching conferences now to the NFC and it sees the past two NFC champions taking their place in the Wild Card games in the form of the Carolina Panthers and also last year’s beaten finalists in the Superbowl in the Atlanta Falcons.

 

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NEW ORLEAN SAINTS v CAROLINA PANTHERS – @ Mercedes Superdome

The first game sees a clash of the NFC South rivals, as Cam Newton leads his Carolina Panthers side to the Mercedes Superdome as they face the New Orleans Saints and a side that the Panthers have lost twice to already this year in the regular season. It saw the Louisiana outfit beating Carolina in their previous meetings that came in Week’s 3 and 13.

For the Superbowl winners back in 2010 in New Orleans, they started this season with two losses against the Minnesota Vikings on the road and then the current Superbowl champions in New England at home. That was before they then secured their first win of the year at Carolina in Week 3. Evergreen Quarterback Drew Brees has thrown for a total of 4,334 yards on the year and picked up twenty-three touchdowns and has a passer rating of 103.9%. The Saints have the second-best offense in the league, with only the Patriots having a better record.

For the two-time Superbowl runners-up in Carolina, they haven’t had that much of a bad season in truth, with their only losses coming against teams that have made the playoffs barring of course the hapless Chicago Bears. Wins on the road at New England and Detroit gave the Panthers a 4-1 record, before losses to the Eagles and then a disaster in Chicago against the Bears saw two 75-plus yard turnovers helping their opponents to victory. The Panthers were also only one of three teams to defeat the top-ranked Minnesota Vikings over the whole of the regular season. Carolina had many weapons at their disposal in their offense, as Wide-Receiver Devin Funchess scored eight touchdowns while Running Back’s Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey both picked up seven touchdowns each and the duo combined for 1,818 yards overall.

Cam Newton saw him completing 3,302 yards on the season and collected twenty-two touchdowns as well, as the Panthers talisman came up big when they needed him and will need to do the same come Sunday, as he faces arguably one of the top 3 quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees. It could see the game of the whole playoffs too between these two NFC South rivals.

PREDICTION: New Orleans Saints

 


 

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LOS ANGELES RAMS  v   ATLANTA FALCONS  – @  Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

The last game of the weekend sees the Playoffs heading to the West Coast and have the beaten runners-up from last year’s Superbowl in Atlanta, as they travel to the City to Angels to take on the surprise package of the season, in the Los Angeles Rams at the L.A Memorial Coliseum.

Atlanta will be hoping to make their way back to the Superbowl and put right what went wrong last year, following their complete and utter disintegration against the New England Patriots. The Falcons were 28-3 up midway through the third quarter and on course for victory. What followed, was the worst collapse ever by a team in a Superbowl or perhaps any final in sporting history, as the Falcons lost out 34-28 in overtime to the Patriots and see them cave in spectacularly.

The Falcons overcome the Bears, Packers and Lions to post a 3-0 start to the season, as they looked to exercise their demons from last year, but they then suffered three straight losses, including a rematch with New England, that saw them then slumping to 3-3. Atlanta finished with a 10-6 record and had the Falcons bouncing back with a Playoff berth and saw the core of players from last year in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and Mohamed Sanu all stepping up for the Georgia-based side. Freeman claimed eight touchdowns and made 1,182 yards in the regular season, only Julio Jones had more yards (1,459) for the Falcon on the year. Tevin Coleman scored eight touchdowns with five on the rush and making 927 yards, while Sanu caught five touchdown passes and 713 yards this season.

Los Angeles as previously mentioned may have been the surprise package of the season of the year, as having posted a 4-12 record last year with Jeff Fisher in charge in, after he was fired it saw the Rams making a brave move for Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator in Sean McVay to be the new Head Coach of the Rams. The appointment raised a lot of eyebrows amongst the NFL, with McVay being the youngest coach in the league at 31 years old to coach any team.

When the Rams hit their Bye Week in Week 8, they were 5-2 on the season and that included a huge win at AT&T Stadium, in which they beat the Dallas Cowboys on their home turf 35-30 and also completed a shutout of the Arizona Cardinals at home and began to see people taking the Rams serious as a playoff contender. One huge difference for the Rams has been the impressive display of youngster Jared Goff at quarterback, as the former first-round draft pick by the Rams in 2016 had looked like he may not cut the mustard in the NFL last season, but roll on a year later and Goff has become one of the most exciting prospects in the league and with over 3,800 passing yards and twenty-eight touchdowns. Goff has been given new life under coach Sean McVay this year, as McVay by many has been the coach of the year and turned the fortunes of this Rams side around in such a short space of time that he has done an incredible job.

The meeting with the Falcons could come down to the quarterbacks, and Goff will be able to show how far he has come this season as he faces one of the best play-callers in Matt Ryan, as the Atlanta quarterback has struggled for form this season but not wavered at all and has helped carry his Falcons side to the postseason under some difficult times.

PREDICTION: Atlanta Falcons


 

Brady leads New England to a ‘Miracle’ at Superbowl

83f356f6f0fdaf290c3cfa62b02fb410y71myf8mlwlk8lbgagh3fd5e0  New England Patriots  34 – 28  Atlanta Falcons 299

New England Patriots claimed a fifth Superbowl title and their second in three years in what was arguably the greatest comeback not only in NFL Superbowl history, but possibly in all of sports too. The Boston based side came back from the biggest points deficit ever in a Superbowl, to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy once again. The Atlanta Falcons were 21-3 points up at half time and cruising, before Patriots quarterback Tom Brady produced one of the greatest performances ever seen at a Superbowl as dragged his team not just from the jaws of defeat but the throat of of defeat, to see the Patriots recording a stunning 34-28 points victory at Superbowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium.

A scoreless first quarter between the sides saw Atlanta looking the more likelier to break the deadlock, as Devonta Freeman caused the Patriots trouble throughout the game as he was picking up yards for fun and a 37-yard carry by the Falcons man was the longest run in the quarter. New England struggled offensively and saw Deion Jones causing a fumble off LeGarrette Blount to see Robert Alford recovering the ball for the Falcons and had them in complete control. Atlanta’s quarterback Matt Ryan made two passes to Julio Jones who got them into good field position and that allowed Devonta Freeman to finish off the drive with success, as he ran in for a 5-yard touchdown to see Atlanta go 7-0 up.

With New England still unable to get a score or look likely at that point to score, it saw Ryan and his Falcons offense moving up the field once more and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper was caught in the endzone to have Atlanta leading 14-0 and make it an unbelievable first half for the side. The Patriots sideline was in utter shock and disbelief at what was happening out on the field and non were shocked than Patriots head coach Bill Belichick who saw his side being dominated in the game. Around the stadium people were in shock too with the majority of them being New England fans inside the NRG Stadium.

Tom Brady was having a nightmare game at this point in time, and saw him being ineffective with the ball for the Patriots as his receivers were unable to make any catches at all. His night got worse when he threw an interception to Robert Alford and the Falcons player ran in for a 82-yard score and saw the Falcons crushing the odds on favourite New England Patriots 21-0 and was threatening to become one-sided.

In all the Superbowl’s that Brady had been involved in not once had they been so far behind an opponent in the game, and the previous deficit was 10 points that he was forced to bring his side back from. Atlanta’s defence had spent the far majority of the second quarter on the field and was giving Matt Ryan and his offense a long long rest of it, with the Falcons not even needing Ryan on the field of play to score points.

With Atlanta being dominant and suffocating the New England offence, it did start to see some slight chinks in the Falcons armour appearing as towards the back end of the first half, as it saw the Falcons picking up three defensive penalties for holding and in doing so it helped the Patriots gain vital yards up field. With time on the half coming to an end it saw Stephen Gostkowski drilling a field goal to get the AFC Champions on the board with three second before the half came to a close.

Second half saw both teams unable to score on their opening drives and that meant that the Patriots were forced to punt to the Falcons. Atlanta’s Taylor Gabriel then connected on two passes that saw the Falcons continuing their march up field and their 85-yard drive was finished off by Tevin Coleman who caught a 6-yard pass and went in for the touchdown to see them lead 28-3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter. Those fans in Red shirts and everyone watching at that point in time seemed convinced that the Superbowl trophy was heading for Georgia as their opponents seemed crestfallen.

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Falcons score Touchdown: Pic via TheSun

New England knew that if they didn’t start playing sooner rather than later, that this could become an embarrassment and even surpass their huge defeat back at Superbowl XX, when the Chicago Bear of 1985 destroyed the Patriots 46-10. Tom Brady wasn’t about to let that happen and saw him starting to get going much to joy of their fans.

After he run 15-yards himself and was the longest run by any Patriots player in the whole of the game, it gave his team a first down and finally within range of scoring their opening touchdown as James White who had their only stand out player for the opening three quarters, claiming a catch to see the Patriots getting it to 28-9. Gostkowski then missed the extra point attempt for New England and thoughts of this wasn’t going to be their day was still surfacing.

Stephen Gostkowski then tried an onside kick for the Patriots, but he managed to see the ball hitting him before it reached 10-yards and gave away a penalty which seemed to sum his day. Atlanta now saw them starting to struggle a bit going forward, which forced them to punt away as they were unable to get their offence moving as well as they done in the first half.

Atlanta were just fifth-teen minutes away from Superbowl glory and their cause was helped by Tom Brady getting sacked twice by Grady Jarrett, and he was proving to be big player in the Falcons defensive after making two huge plays in stopping Brady.  Goskowski then shrugged off his poor game to nail a 33-yard field goal for New England and make it 16 point ball game and give the Patriot fans in the stadium some hope that the impossible might be possible.

Atlanta needed some much needed points quickly if just to keep the pressure on the Patriots, but instead on their third play of the drive Dont’a Hightower caused Ryan to fumble the football and give New England possession in the process. Danny Amendola then made a 6-yard catch to get his side back within two scores of tying the game up if they were able to score 2 two-point conversions. New England faked a high snap to Brady and saw everyone looking at the quarterback instead of James White, who went in for a two-point conversion to make it a 28-20 game with 5:56 in the game.

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Tom Brady celebrates a Touchdown Pic via: Dailynews

This performance by Tom Brady was becoming special, but no-one knew how special it would go on to be as the contest unfolded. In Atlanta’s penultimate drive of the fourth quarter, it saw some of their decision making being questionable and would prove to be one of the talking points later in the game. From kick off it saw Greg Hardy choosing to run the ball instead of letting it go out of bounce in the endzone possibly, which would have given the Falcons a much chance with field position for their drive.  

Ryan though did manage to engineer a move up field for Atlanta, while Freeman was continuing to get good yardage on plays and then saw Julio Jones, who had been a player that wasn’t used far enough in the game by Atlanta, but he made a fantastic acrobatic 27-yard catch by the sidelines to see them in field goal range. T

The Falcons were in great position and arguably should have closed the game out too considering where they were. Everyone expected the side to just keep running the football and gain extra inches or yards on the drive and move them up field a bit a more, but instead a 1-yard loss from Freeman saw them moved back a touch and then had a 9-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu cancelled out thanks to a holding penalty and saw Atlanta now 3rd and 33 on the New England 45 yard line.

With an incomplete throw by Matt Ryan, it gave the Patriots a final chance of getting this game tied up with 3:30 left to go in the contest and plenty of time for another Brady special, but also crucially they had all their timeouts still intact. Passes by Brady to Chris Hogan for 16-yards and then Malcolm Mitchell for 11-yards, saw the Pats’ move up field with ease and against a tiring Falcons defence now.

For years New England and their fans have been forced to watch replays of Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse juggling catch against them at Superbowl XLIX a couple of years ago, and then of course the infamous ‘Helmet Catch’ by David Tyree of the New York Giants at XLII of which the Giants beat the Patriots in for the second Superbowl in as many years.

Julian Edelman, Keanu Nealm Ricardo Allen
New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman makes a catch as Atlanta Falcons’ Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal defend, during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

This time however the Patriots would have their own moment of brilliance coming their way, when a pass by Brady was deflected up in the air by Alford and saw three Falcons players and Edelman all trying to make the grab, but the ball bounced off the ankle of Alford and saw the diving Patriots man making a stunning catch inches off the ground to see New England now having the momentum and having the game swinging massively in their favour.

Atlanta challenged the play to with they burned their final timeout over with a coaches challenge. Brady would go on to make exceptional plays and had him leading his team up to the 1-yard line, before White scored again and made it a two-point game at 26-28, before Brady found Amendola in the endzone to tie the game up at 28-28 and see the Superbowl heading to its first ever overtime.

Atlanta got the ball in the closing stages, but they were nowhere near to getting a chance to kick a field goal and so we headed into unheralded territory of overtime. New England won the coin toss and elected to receive, with saw the four-time champions having the chance to win the game and left Atlanta a broken side after watching Tom Brady basically producing the most stunning performance in Superbowl history.  

An incomplete pass to Martellus Bennett saw De’Vondre Campbell called for a pass interference and that penalty took the Patriots to the Falcons 2-yard line and a first down for New England. Vic Beasley almost intercepted a pass from Bennett and that proved to be the last action for the Falcons, when James White went over for his third touchdown in the game and also the Superbowl winning score too, as he stretched out to break the pane before his knee touched the ground. That score gave New England an unbelievable come from behind victory take it 34-28 over the Atlanta Falcons and claim a franchise record 5th Superbowl crown.

The games MVP could only go to one man and whether you love him or hate him you had to take your hat off to the performance of Tom Brady who literally dragged his team from oblivion, and then produced the greatest comeback of all-time and sports period, as you have to remember they were 21-3 points down and looked dead and buried at half time to then comeback and take victory.

The trophy presentation was an interesting one to say the least, as NFL Commissioner Robert Goodell handed the trophy over to Robert Kraft the Patriots Owner and after his speech was drowned out by the New England fans booing him, this was after the Commissioner suspended Tom Brady for his part in ‘Deflategate’ last season in a playoffs match against Indianapolis.

With Goodell walking off stage right, it gave Kraft the open mic and had the following to say in his Superbowl winning speech: “Two years ago, we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona and I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all. But a lot has transpired over the last two years,” Kraft said, as the crowd, sensing where he was going, roared in response. “And I don’t think that needs any explanation. But I want to say to our fans, to our brilliant coaching staff, our amazing players who were so spectacular: this is unequivocally the sweetest.”

Tom Brady then collected the MVP of the Superbowl and was emotional in his speech to the crowd and his final words to the New England fans was: “Boston, we’re bringing this sucker home!”. This performance by Brady leaves no one in any doubt now that he is the G.O.A.T and some have even been quoted as saying that this would be a perfect way to retire and bow out, as nothing will ever surpass this moment. However you get the sense that there is still a few more years left in the Patriots ’12’.

Divisional Championship game review

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This past Sunday saw the AFC and NFC Championship games taking place in both Atlanta and New England, and no one could have predicted the outcome in the two games, with the result seeing resounding wins for both the Falcons and the Patriots and will see them both meeting in Houston’s NRG Stadium on February 5th for Superbowl LI.

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ATLANTA FALCONS                  GREEN BAY PACKERS 
             44                                                              21

First on the menu was the NFC Championship game in Atlanta, as the Falcons were playing in their final ever game at the Georgia Dome, before the side make their move across the street to their brand new $1.5Billion home in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium next season.  

Their opponents were the in-form Green Bay Packers and was led by Aaron Rodgers who had helped turn their season around, with the Wisconsin side racking up 8 win on the spin with their last defeat coming in a huge loss to the Washington Redskins back in November in Week 11. Since then however the Packers have been arguably the best team in the whole of the NFL to date.

The teams met back in Week 8 in the Georgia Dome, where on that occasion Atlanta took a late win over the Packers 33-32 thanks mainly to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whose late drive inspired a win for his side. This time around though it saw the Falcons being far more aggressive and clinical in their play and virtually saw the hosts having one foot in the Superbowl before Half Time.

Atlanta dominated the first half of the game and had Mohamed Sanu opening the scoring for the Falcons on their opening drive, with quaterback Matt Ryan scrambling from the defence and throwing a quick forward pass out to Sanu in the endzone for a touchdown. Mason Crosby then missed a 41 yard field goal attempt for Green Bay as the Packers looked rattled early on in the game, while Matt Bryant added a kick for the home team to move them 10-0 ahead after the first.

Second quarter saw the brilliance of Atlanta’s wide-receiver Julio Jones, as he made play after play after play for the Falcons. Matt Ryan then went in from 14 yards to make it a 16 point ball game for Atlanta and with the point after, it was 17-0 with 7 minutes still left to play in the first half. Green Bay and Rodgers in particular was unable to spark his team into life in the opening half and had the Falcons defence all over him. Desperation reared its head late in the quarter, when Rodgers launched a long deep ball up field that was intended for Jordy Nelson but instead saw Ricardo Allen making the pick and gave the Falcons another chance to add to their total.

Following the interception by the Falcons, it saw them increasing their lead when Julio Jones made a catch right by the whitewash and had managed to pull it in a for a touchdown to see a 24-0 half time lead for the home side. Jones carried on his stunning form into the second half with the former Alabama wide-receiver running it to the house for a 73 yard touchdown, as he brushed aside the Green Bay defenders on his way to a score.

Green Bay finally got on the board through Devante Adams and saw the Packers now having a lot of work to do if they wanted to get back into this contest. Julio Jones then made a stunning catch for Atlanta as he was being tackled by two Green Bay players in the process of making the grab, but somehow still made a play. Devonta Freeman then made a 4 yard catch to increase the Falcons lead to 30 points and lead 37-15 with the hosts already on their way to the Superbowl.

Jordy Nelson completed a 3 yard play from Aaron Rodgers to see the Packers hitting double figures but was more in consolation. Tevin Coleman ran in unchallenged for an easy touchdown to all but put the final nail in the coffin for the Packers side this season as Atlanta was heading back to the big dance for the first time in 19 years. Green Bay though had the last word in the NFC Championship game, and in truth summed up the Packers season as after a poor start to the game it then saw them coming back late on, but even a Jared Cook touchdown couldn’t prevent the Falcons from victory. 

The only question now was, who would the Atlanta Falcons meet a fortnight on Sunday at Houston’s NRG Stadium at Superbowl LI? 

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New ENGLAND PATRIOTS        PITTSBURGH STEELERS 
36                                                                        16

In the AFC Championship game it pitted the two most successful teams in that division historically, with the Pittsburgh Steelers facing the New England Patriots and saw both teams hoping to not just take their place at Superbowl but also edge ahead of their rival in the AFC titles win column too, with both sides winning 8 AFC Championships a piece.  Tom Brady was also hoping become the first quarterback in history to win 7 AFC championships titles and they looked good after the opening quarter as they led 10-0, courtesy of a Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a Chris Hogan touchdown to have the Patriots in charge early on.

DeAngelo Williams then smashed his way through the New England defence to get the Steelers on the board, but the extra point was missed and was the second kick to be not converted by Chris Boswell in the postseason. Hogan then recorded his second touchdown of the game, after he connected on a Tom Brady pass for a 34 yard score and saw New England beginning to pull away in the game. Pittsburgh managed to get up to the Patriots goal line, but despite all their efforts they had to resort to kicking a field goal and was a chance missed for the ‘Steel City’ side.

Third quarter saw the Patriots effectively put the game to bed early, as after a Gostkowski field goal from 47 yards out moved the home side further ahead, it then saw LeGarrette Blout going in for a touchdown and made it 27 to 9 game in favour of the hosts. Pittsburgh fumbled on one play and that gave the Patriots another chance to make the most of it before the quarter was out. From the resulting turnover it saw four plays needed before Tom Brady found his man Julian Edelman in the end zone for a touchdown pass and  all booked their place at Superbowl with a quarter to go. 

With 3:36 left to go in the game, it then saw Ben Rothlisberger then throwing a pass out to the corner of the end zone and saw Cobi Hamilton connecting for a 30 yard touchdown to see the Steelers replying late on. Victory for New England sees them as the undisputed kings in the AFC Division now with 9 titles to their name, but the much bigger prize is that on February 5th as they travel to Houston and will be huge favourites to make it five World titles at Superbowl LI.

NFL Round Up-Week 13

 

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This week saw Tom Brady breaking the record for the most wins by any Quarterback, as he surpassed Peyton Manning’s record of 200 wins in the Patriots game with the LA Rams. Tampa Bay continued their late surge into the playoff picture as they go under the radar by many, but are in the thick of it. Chicago picked up only their 3rd win of the season and could have come at a cost of a high draft pick for next year. Dallas remain the form team still, while Detroit and Oakland keep picking up victories in this unpredictable season so far. 

min   MINNESOTA VIKINGS   15  –  17  DALLAS COWBOYS dal

Dallas Cowboys headed to the U.S Bank Stadium in Minnesota and chalked up their 11th victory in a row, with Dez Bryant completing 4 passes in the game for 84 yards and one of those catches putting the Cowboys ahead in the fourth quarter. Ezekiel Elliott gave Dallas a 7-3 lead in the second quarter with a 1 yard touchdown, but Kai Forbath kicked his third field goal to put the Viking back in front at 9-7 early in the fourth.  That Dez Bryant touchdown then saw the Cowboys retaking the lead and with Dan Bailey kicking a 39 yard field goal it saw the score open up to a 17-9 game for the NFC East side.  Jerick McKinnon with 25 seconds left saw the home side scoring and their attempt to tie the game with a two-point conversion failed and handed the win to Dallas.

atl  ATLANTA FALCONS 28 – 29  KANSAS CITY CHIEFS  kcc.jpg

A thriller at the Georgia Dome saw the Chiefs taking it late on thanks to the fantastic work from Eric Berry who collected two interceptions in the game and none more important than the his second one, as an attempted two-point play for Atlanta was returned instead for a Chiefs two pointer. Kansas City scored 3 touchdowns in the first half to cancel out the soul Atlanta one that Devonta Freeman scored, as Spencer Ware collected a couple of scores and then Eric Berry returned a 37 yard interception to move the Chiefs 20-13. Albert Wilson then made it a 16-point game with touchdown in the third quarter and then Devonta Freeman and Aldrick Robinson put the Falcons one ahead of the visitors at 28-27. Berry then intercepted a two-point attempt by the Falcons and had him streaking away to give Kansas City the win.

buf  BUFFALO BILLS  24 – 38 OAKLAND RAIDERS  oak 

Oakland Raiders produced a stunning comeback from 15 points down late in the third quarter, to then storm back to victory and win by 14 points themselves at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum. Touchdowns by Tyrod Taylor and two from Mike Gillislee put the Bills in a dominant position at 24-9 with Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski trying his best to help his side stay in contention with Buffalo. Things then changed late on towards the third quarter, as Oakland started their comeback and saw them scoring 15 unanswered points. Late scores in the third by Michael Crabree and a Latavius Murray touchdown put the Raiders one shy at 23-24 and then Amari Cooper and second touchdown from Murray helped the Oakland Raider completely flip the game around and see them remain top of the AFC West ahead of their meeting with the Chiefs next week.

images-4  NY GIANTS  14 – 24  PITTSBURGH STEELERS  pits

Pittsburgh defence in the first half proved to be the key to victory in their win over the Giants, as they shutout the NFC East side for the opening two quarters at Heinz Field. The Steelers led 14-0 after a Antonio Brown touchdown and couple of field goals by Randy Bullock. Rashad Jennings put points on the board for the Giants with a 13-yard score before Ladarius Green reopened the 14 point lead again for Pittsburgh with a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning threw a 1 yard pass to Sterling Shepard with 26 seconds left on the game and saw the Giants take a knock to their playoff hopes.

wash  WASHINGTON REDSKINS  23  –  31   ARIZONA CARDINALS  asri

Arizona quarterback had a stunning performance as he threw for 300 yards which resulted in 3 Touchdowns for the Cardinals in a win hard-fought win at the University of Phoenix Stadium. David Johnson put Arizona ahead in the first quarter before Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins then ran in for a score in the third quarter to put the Redskins ahead at 13-10. Michael Floyd had given the lead back to the Cardinals later in the quarter, that was until Jamison Crowder scored on a 26-yard pass to see the lead swapping again. A touchdown either side of a 53 yard field by Dustin Hopkins saw the Arizona Cardinals home with David Johnson picking up his second touchdown and then J.J Nelson with a 42-yard play sealed the deal. 

buccs  TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS  28  –  21  SAN DIEGO CHARGERS sd

Tampa Bay made it 4 wins on the spin in Week 13 as they defeated Phil Rivers and his San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. San Diego twice led in the game with Dontrelle Inman and Melvin Gordon getting into the endzone, while a Doug Martin score for the Buccaneers was sandwiched in between the Chargers touchdowns for a 14-7 half-time score. Second half saw the Buccaneers put in a swashbuckling display with 2 TD’s through Lavonte David and fourth effort by Cameron Brate to give Tampa Bay victory despite Tyrell William 40 yard TD earlier in the third quarter for the Chargers.  

car  CAROLINA PANTHERS  7  –  40  SEATTLE SEAHAWKS  sea

Seattle completely destroyed the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field as Panthers head coach Ron Rivera benched his quarterback Cam Newton for the opening drive of the game, after he fell foul of a team dress-code violation and saw him watching on from the sidelines. From the kickoff it seemed like the Seahawks had their opponents number and led 10-0 with a Thomas Rawls 8-yard run proving to be the only TD in the opening quarter. Ted Ginn Jr then gave the visitors their only joy in the contest as he scored a 55 TD to the Panthers within 3 points. However a second Thomas Rawls TD and 2 kicks by Steve Hauschka moved Seattle out to a 23-7 lead at half-time. A 75-yard run by Tyler Lockett TD and a 1-yard TD from Jimmy Graham saw the Seahawks pushing the 40 points barrier before Hauschka kicked a 28 yard field goal to complete the massacre. 

ind  INDIANAPOLIS COLTS  41  –  10  NY JETS   jets.jpg

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a game and a half, as he threw for 278 yards and 4 TD’s in the contest at MetLife Stadium in New York. Indianapolis led 24-3 through a hat trick of touchdowns by Dwayne Allen in the first half and saw Nick Folk 38 yard kick being the only response from the Jets after three-quarters of the game. Donte Moncrief and Robert Turbin scored either side of a Adam Vinatieri field goal for the Colts, as Robby Anderson completed a 40 yard pass to see him get New York at least into double figures. 

det  DETROIT LIONS   28  –  13   NEW ORLEANS SAINTS  nos

The Detroit Lions tightened their grip of the NFC North with a win over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. Theo Riddick added a TD to a Matt Prater field goal for a 10-0 lead and after kicks between the two sides were traded for the following two quarters, it saw Lions holding firm at 19-6 after three-quarters of play. John Kuhn scored a 1-yard TD for the Saints as they looked to force their way back, but a 66 yard TD by Golden Tate pretty much sealed the win for Detroit and had Prater kicking over a 52-yard field goal to make sure of the victory.

la  LOS ANGELES RAMS   10  –  26  NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS  ne

New England’s Tom Brady broke the NFL record for the most wins as he picked up his 201st victory beating the previous of 200 set by Peyton Manning last year. The Patriots lead 17-0 at half time after TD’s by LeGarrette Blount and Chris Hogan put the hosts ahead at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. After Greg Zuerlein kicked the Rams on the scoreboard midway through the third quarter, it then saw Stephen Gostkowski converting on 3 kicks himself and leave the game 26-3 in favour of New England. Kenny Britt picked up a TD for Los Angeles inside the final two minutes of the game, but the day belonged to Tom Brady and saw him going into the history books as the QB with the most wins of all-time.

den  DENVER BRONCOS  20  –   10  JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS  jack

Denver kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over the mistake-ridden Jacksonville Jaguars as two interceptions by quarterback Blake Bortles saw him and the Jags handing victory to the Broncos at EverBank Field. Devontae Booker ran in for a 6-yard TD in the second quarter after a scoreless first and saw Brandon McManus last kick of the first half giving the away side a 10-3 lead at the break.  Bradley Roby then returned a 51-yard interception off a pass by Bortles to see the Broncos going 17-3 up. In the fourth quarter the Jaguars QB made up for his earlier mistake and completed a 22 yard run into the endzone for a TD and have his side one score away from levelling the game. However hope was dashed when McManus kicked a late field goal to give Denver the game. 

tex  HOUSTON TEXANS  13  –  21   GREEN BAY PACKERS   gb

Aaron Rodgers made 209 yards and threw for 2 TD passes in the game, while also possibly damaging a hamstring in the Packers win over the Texans at Lambeau Field in one of a couple of games affected by the snow. Randell Cobb put Green Bay ahead in the contest after the second quarter and saw Ryan Griffin respond for the Houston Texans with a 6 yard TD pass from Brock Osweiler to tie the game. Jordy Nelson then made it 14-7 early in the fourth quarter for Green Bay and the Packers increased their lead when Aaron Ripkowski went in for a 3 yard run to make it a 21-7 points game. DeAndre Hopkins then scored a 44 yard TD to give the Texans late hope with just under 2 minutes left to go, but the extra point was no good and saw the chance of coming back evaporate from that point. 

phi  PHILADELPHIA EAGLES  14  – 32   CINCINNATI BENGALS  cin

This was a game that the Cincinnati Bengals had full control from kick off and never looked in any danger at all. The Bengals led 19-0 at the break with Jeremy Hill and Tyler Eifert claiming a TD each and have Mike Nugent enjoying a better kicking day then in previous weeks, though he did slice his extra point attempt at the end of the first half wide and get some boos his way from the home fans in the Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati continued their battering of the Eagles after Brandon LaFell completed a 8 yard pass to grab the Bengals third TD of the game. Philadelphia then picked up a couple of TD’s as firstly Zach Ertz went in for a 13 yard pass and then Darren Sproles ran into the endzone for a 2 yard play to see the score 29-14 for the hosts, before Nugent slotted over a 38 field goal to condemn Eagles to defeat.

images-1  MIAMI DOLPHINS  6  –  38  BALTIMORE RAVENS   bal

Miami saw their 6-game run come to a screaming halt at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, as Joe Flacco quarterback threw for 381 yard and collected 4 touchdowns for the Ravens in the process. Baltimore took a 24-0 lead after the first half thanks to TD’s by Terrance West and a brace from Dennis Pitta as the Ravens dominated the Dolphins in the opening two quarters. DeVante Parker picked up a 8-yard TD for Miami in the opening minute of the third quarter, but also saw them missing out on the two-point conversion. The Ravens regrouped and had Breshad Perriman entering the endzone along with second score for Terrance West as the home side beat up the Dolphins to see the Ravens strengthen their playoff hopes.

chi CHICAGO BEARS   26  –  6   SAN FRANCISCO 49ers     49

A freezing cold and Snowy Soldier Field was the setting for two of the worst sides in the NFC this season as the (1-10) 49ers met the (2-9) Bears in Chicago. It did have the feeling that it was a double edged sword the contest as whole, as win would improve the respective sides record, but cost them a higher draft pick in the process. Phil Dawson kicked two field goals to put San Francisco 6-0 up and that was until Jordan Howard claimed a hat-trick with one TD in the second quarter and then two more in the third saw the Bears 21-6 ahead. Connor Barth added a field goal and then Leonard Floyd caused a safety to see the Bears move to 3-9 on the year and scupper a potential higher draft pick with the victory. Special mention should go to Defensive-End Akiem Hicks who had a stunning game with 2 sacks and caused a fumble off the 49ers. 

NFL WEEK 12 – Round up

This Thursday kicked off with a Thanksgiving triple-header and saw two of the three games on show producing some stunning football, with the All-NFC battle at AT&T Stadium and a last-gasp kick in the NFC North proving to be a taster ahead of the traditional Sunday games. A couple of blowout wins for the Saints and Falcons were mixed in with some close competitive games throughout the day and included a barnburner of a game in the late game between the Chiefs and Broncos at Mile High Stadium. 

DETROIT LIONS  16 – 13  MINNESOTA VIKINGS 

The first game of the week came from Ford Field in Detroit and where the Lions and the Vikings met in an All-NFC North match-up and had both teams entering the game with 6-4 records on the season. Detroit led through a Anquan Boldin touchdown after quarterback Matt Stafford threw a pass to the man wide open in the end zone for a 2-yard pass. Minnesota was living a charmed life in the first quarter, with firstly Sam Bradford being sacked and having Detroit recovering the fumble until the umpires deemed it was an incomplete pass. Shortly after it saw the Vikings turning the ball over again and have the Lions going 70+ yards up field, only to see them rule a pass interference against the Lions on the play.

The resulting drive came saw Matt Asiata going in for 5-yards and see the Vikings tying the game up at 7-7. Field goals then came to the forefront with Matt Prater making a successful 29-yard kick for the home side, before Kai Forbath then converted with kicks from 30 and 38-yards to put the Vikings 13-10 up. Prater then got the Lions back on level terms and in the dying seconds of the game it saw him converting on a 40-yard field goal that would condemn Minnesota to defeat and lift Detroit to the top of the NFC North standings.

DALLAS COWBOYS  31 – 26  WASHINGTONS REDSKINS 

A grudge match from the NFC East pitted the Washington Redskins against the Dallas Cowboys in a return match from Week 2, where on that occasion Dallas came away victors 26-23 in Washington. To say the sides don’t like one another is a given, but the first half of the contest was predominantly Cowboys driven and saw Ezekiel Elliott getting the Cowboys on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown. Dustin Hopkins then kicked a 24- yard field goal to cut the lead down to four points, after he had missed an earlier kick due to the sun glare from inside the AT&T Stadium which proved to be problematic.

Dan Bailey made a 46-yard kick at goal for the Cowboys before an astonishing catch by Terrance Williams, saw him jumping to make the catch and still have the presence of mind to get both feet down in the end zone for a touchdown before he went out of bounds.

After a scoreless third quarter, it saw Washington coming from nowhere to score 20 points in the final quarter. Firstly Jordan Reed started the comeback for the Redskins with a touchdown from a Kirk Cousins throw on a 2nd & Goal and then soon saw Dallas QB Dak Prescott taking it upon himself to run the ball in for Dallas touchdown and lead by 12. That was until a 67-yard play saw Cousins firing the ball way up the sideline and saw receiver DeSean Jackson going in for the touchdown to bring it closer once again. 

Elliott then barged his way over for his second touchdown of the game for Dallas and that looked to have killed off the hopes of their fellow divisional rival. However with 1:55 remaining in the game it saw Washington last signs of defiance, and had Jordan Reed scoring another touchdowns as he made it an uncomfortable couple of minutes for the Cowboys but Dallas held on.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS  28  – 7  INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 

Prior to kickoff it saw the game between the Steelers and the Colts being billed as the two most inconsistent sides meeting head to head and it was Pittsburgh who prevailed. Things didn’t start off well for the Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien, as on the opening play of the game as he fumbled the ball and was lucky to recover it. Le’von Bell then put the Steelers in front with a 5-yard run, with Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing a pass to Antonio Brown in the corner that saw him spinning away to score a touchdown and put the Steelers 14-0 ahead.

Donte Moncrief then dived his way in to make a catch off Tolzien to complete a 5-yard pass and get the Colts back in the game. Soon after it saw a copy of the Steelers previous touchdown,with Rothlisberger once again finding Antonio Brown and have Pittsburgh lead after the first half.

A scoreless third saw the Colts going for broke with a couple of 4th & Goal attempts, but none of them were successful. Pittsburgh then rubbed salt into the wounds of their opponents late on, as Indianapolis fell to third Brown touchdown catch off Roethlisberger, and this time he completed a 22-yard pass to see the Steelers improving to 6-5 on the season.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS  49 – 21   LA RAMS 

The clash between the Saints and the Rams pitted two quarterbacks very much at the different ends of the spectrum, with Jeff Goff making just his second start for the Rams while Drew Brees was playing in his 16th season in the National Football League. Goff picked up his first ever touchdown pass, when his 24-yard throw connected with Tavon Austin and he gave the Rams the lead early on.

Brandon Coleman then caught a 3-yard pass off Drew Brees in the Rams end zone to see the Saints levelling things up with the added point. New Orleans then fumbled the ball inside their own 10 line line and after Brees was tackled by Mark Barron it led to the Rams scoring a touchdown quickly after through Kenny Britt, who completed a 6-yard play. 

New Orleans then stormed right back in the game with three unanswered touchdowns in the game, with firstly Mark Ingram picking up a 10-yard run before Brees then leapt over his blockers to cross the whitewash and put the Saints back in ahead. Michael Thomas then made a good catch in double coverage to pick up another touchdown for the Saints and that moved them out to a 28-14 lead before LA scored a late touchdown with Lance Kendricks making it 28-21.

Second half saw New Orleans completing the job with further touchdowns by Ingram and Thomas again, as a 50-yard play was converted by Tim Hightower for the huge win in the Superdome.

ARIZONA CARDINALS  19 –  38 ATLANTA FALCONS

This was a must win for the Cardinals against the Falcons, as they couldn’t afford another loss or it would be a mountain to climb to make the playoffs. Larry Fitzgerald helped boost their chances with a spectacular one-handed catch to get Arizona in decent field position and following on from that catch it saw the Cardinals scoring a touchdown through Jermaine Gresham, as he made a catch off Carson Palmer.

Justin Hardy then made a stunning catch of his own to take the Falcons up to the Arizona 10 yard line, before Devonta Freeman burst at speed on a 1st & Goal to see the home side tying the game up with the kick and had both kickers nailing their respective field goals for a 10-10 score. Taylor Gabriel then went in for 25-yard run to see the Falcons back ahead, but that was before Chandler Catanzaro brought an end to the scoring in the first half with a 54-yard field goal for the Cardinals. 

Tevin Coleman made it a 24-13 game for Atlanta, as he put daylight between them and Arizona. Gabriel then picked up his second touchdown of the game with a 25-yard run, which had the visitors in all sorts of trouble. David Johnson managed to somehow take a pass down by his knees and go over for a score, as he gave the Cardinals some late hope till Devonta Freeman made sure of the win for the Falcons as he completed a 5-yard run to pick up a big win.

MIAMI DOLPHINS  31   –  24   SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

San Francisco arrived at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami hoping to avoid a tenth straight-loss as they faced an recently in-form Dolphins side. Things started well for the 49ers though, after Carlos Hyde completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to lead after the first quarter. However, Miami who have one of the best home records in the league came right back through British Running-Back Jay Ajayi, as he was given the ball inside the 10-yard line and  you can normally predict that it will result in a touchdown and that was just what happened.

Dion Sims then completed a pass in the end zone to put the Dolphins 14-7 up, before Andrew Franks then added to the total with a field goal for Miami. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a 4-yard pass to Garrett Celek as he claimed a touchdown and see San Francisco not giving up quite yet. Kenyan Drake ran a kick return for 78-yards and got Miami up to the 49ers 20-yard line. Kenny Stills then caught a pass from Ryan Tannehill and he took it to the house for a 43-yard play and with Leonte Carroo getting a scorer later on for the Dolphins , it  saw Miami move to 31-14.

San Francisco kept battling away and a stunning one-handed grab by Torrey Smith kept the 49ers in the game as they refused to go away, but had to resort to Phil Dawson striking a 36-yard field goal to move them within one score of levelling the game and proved to late to come back.

BUFFALO BILLS  28  – 21  JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 

Buffalo kept their playoff chances alive with a win against Jacksonville, though it was the visitors who got the better of the early exchanges with Chris Ivory going in for the Jaguars to lead after the first quarter and have the Bills looking to respond in the second. LeSean McCoy then ran in a 7-yard touchdown to tie the game up and Jacksonville’s defence once again sprung a leak as they let McCoy in again, with the Buffalo man punishing them and recording a 75- yard run on the play to see the Bills lead 13-6.

Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles  threw a 20-yard pass to Marqise Lee as he put the Jags back ahead with a slim one point lead at 14-13, before Tyrod Taylor darted for the end zone with a 7-yard run to temporarily give Buffalo the lead back. However back came Jacksonville again and a diving Allen Hurns effort saw him injured on the play but put his side back ahead. On a night of fantastic catches, it saw Justin Hunter making a grab from nowhere as he claimed the ball in the endzone to give the Buffalo Bills victory in a back and forth contest in Buffalo, New York.

CLEVELAND BROWNS   13  –  27   NEW YORK GIANTS 

The Cleveland Browns looked in search of their first win of the year against a tough NY Giants side that had dreams of consolidating their playoffs hopes at the ‘Dawg Pound’. A Surprising scoreless first quarter between the two sides then saw touchdowns by Dwayne Harris and Odell Beckham Jr of the Giants giving them the lead and had the Browns responding with the boot of Cody Parkey, as he was successful with a couple of field goal attempts. 

Another scoreless quarter in the third saw it all to play for in the final quarter and had the Giants 14-6 up at the start. Jason Pierre-Paul then took the sting out of the game when Josh McCown saw him having the ball knocked up in the air and ended up in the hands of the Defensive End for a 43-yard fumble return and put the Giants 20-6 ahead. Corey Coleman then caught a 21-yard pass from McCown in the New York end zone to see them trying to rally late on, but Beckham who had missed the previous drive with an injured hand, then saw him returning to the game and grabbing another touchdown to see off the Brown late challenge and keep the Browns imperfect season going at 0-11.

BALTIMORE RAVENS  19  –   14  CINCINNATI BENGALS 

In the NFC North clash between the Bengals and the Ravens, it saw Baltimore opening up an 10-0 lead on Cincinnati after Joe Flacco threw a 14-yard pass to Breshad Perriman for a touchdown and then had Justin Tucker finding his range with a 52-yard field goal to see the Ravens taking an early lead. Mike Nugent then kicked the home side on the board with a 23-yard kick before Tucker landed a mammoth 57-yard field goal to move the Ravens 13-3 in front, with another kick just before the half.

The Bengals kept the Ravens quiet in the third and saw Cincinnati picking up a touchdown for their troubles, when Andy Dalton played a quick 3-yard pass out to Tyler Eifert as he made it an 11-point ball game. Justin Tucker then made another kick and that put Baltimore 19-9 up early in the 4th quarter. Nugent would close the gap again on their opponents as he landed a field goal with time coming to an end. Baltimore’s special teams then chewed the clock and conceded a safety with 11 seconds of the game remaining to see out victory.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS    14  –  5   SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 

Tampa Bay kept their recent form of late going with a win over the Seattle Seahawks at Qualcomm Stadium, as the Buccaneers took an early 10-0 lead after the first quarter through Jameis Winston pass to Mike Evans for the opening touchdown and then a Robert Aguayo field to give them a lead. The combination for Tampa  Bay worked again later on as Winston thrown the ball up over the last man and found Evans again on hand to make the catch and pick up the touchdown.

Seattle then forced a safety after Luke Stocker of the Buccaneers grabbed Frank Clark in the end zone and prevented him from making the likely sack on Jameis Winston and saw the Seahawks registering the two-points. Steven Hauschka then kicked a field goal to get the Seahawks chipping away at the scoreboard and Seattle were then given hope late on, when Robert Aguayo pulled his 48-yard kick on goal wide of the target before half-time.

A scoreless second half saw both defences on top and had both sides making an Interception a piece and caused a fumble as well with the offence on both sides being shut down.

HOUSTON TEXANS      13  –  21      SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 

A stunning performance by Chargers quarterback Phil Rivers, saw him leading his San Diego side to victory with three touchdowns and making 242 yards in the game. Play was scoreless in the first quarter with the hometown Texans taking the lead through quarterback Brock Osweiler leaping over his blockers and breaking the pane to score first.

Rivers then threw for the first of his touchdowns after Tyrell Williams made the catch and completed a 52-yard play to tie the game up with the added point. Osweiler then had a pass intercepted and was the first of three he would turn over in the game. That interception would lead to the Chargers scoring a second touchdown, with Williams making the grab in the end zone to put San Diego 14-7 up.

Josh Lambo missed a 54-yard kick for the Chargers in the second quarter and despite the home side causing a turnover, it never saw the Texans making the most of their chance. Nick Novak opened up the fourth quarter with a 19-yard field goal and put them four points behind San Diego. Phil Rivers then saw Hunter Henry straying inside the end zone and his 12-yard pass resulted in a touchdown. Houston then had Novak drilling over 45-yard field goal with 18 seconds left and then gambled on an onside kick and saw the Texans recovering to try to steal victory right at the death. 

As it was, Osweiler with no time left on the clock took a few steps back and launched the ball downfield into the end zone and had Chargers Dexter McCoil making the clean catch for San Diego and confirming victory.

NEW YORK JETS  17   –  22    NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

New England left it late in their game against the Jets, as victory moved them to 9-2 on the season with a win at MetLife Stadium. The game started with New York going 10-0 ahead early in the second quarter, with a Nick Folk field goal and a Brandon Marshall touchdown to put the Jets ahead in this AFC East battle. Soon after the Patriots got things going in their favour thanks to a Steven Gostkowski 28-yard field attempt as they began to make their comeback. 

Malcolm Butler who was the hero for New England in the Superbowl two years ago, then saw him recovering a loose ball on a Jets play and led to an eventual touchdown for visitors. Tom Brady shown his coolness under pressure when the ball was snapped to him and after the quarterback dropped the ball momentarily, Brady quickly gathered himself and fired towards Malcolm Mitchell for the score in the end zone.

Both teams then failed with field goal attempts, before Gostkowski finally broke the stalemate almost midway through the third quarter as he put the Patriots 13-10 up with a 29-yard kick. Quincey Enunwa then took an extraordinary catch in the deep corner of the end zone from a Ryan Fitzpatrick throw and that put the Jets back in front with a 22-yard pass for a touchdown. Another field goal by New England then saw them move within one point of the Jets with the final few minutes ticking down by.

The winning play then saw Malcolm Mitchell picking up his second touchdown of the game on a 1st & Goal for the Patriots, when Brady found Mitchell to his left and saw him going over for a 8-yard play to see the Patriots stay perfect on the road this year and go 3-1 against divisional teams this season.

CHICAGO BEARS   21  –  27   TENNESSEE TITANS 

Chicago Bears coach John Fox gave Matt Barkley a run out as quarterback in what has been a bit of a poisoned chalice at quarterback position so to speak for the Bears this year-after the loss of both Jay Cutler (shoulder) and Brian Hoyer (Arm) through injury. One noticeable thing about the game wasn’t on the field of play, but in the crowd, as over 13,000 empty seats gave a clear sign that Bears fans weren’t happy with their side.

The game itself saw the Bears running game looking useful in the first half of the opening quarter, with Jordan Howard continuing to be the only bright spark on what has been a dismal season for the Windy City outfit this year. Barkley then threw his first touchdown pass to Daniel Brown for a 7-yard play and it put the hosts up 7-0. Tennessee then mounted their comeback at the end of the first quarter through a Derrick Henry run as he ran into the Bears end zone with a 11-yard run.

Delaney Walker then caught a 4-yard pass to register the Titans second touchdown of the game and saw the Chicago defence getting horribly confused and caused the score. More slack marking by the home side allowed Rishard Matthews to make a stunning catch in the Bears end zone for a 29-yard completion to put the visitors 21-7 up at the half. Chicago then fooled the Titans by going for an onside kick at the start of the second and successfully recovered in the process too. Barkley then got the Bears to a 3rd & Goal until the quarterback panicked and threw a turnover in the end zone to see a chance go begging.

Two fields goals by Ryan Succop moved Tennessee even further ahead at 27-7 and the game seemed pretty much dead in the water. That was till Matt Barkley then tried to engineer a stunning comeback for Chicago, with firstly Marquess Wilson completing an 8-yard pass and then Deonte Thompson making a catch on the next drive for successive scores and bring the Bears on the verge of possibly stealing the game.

The killer for Chicago in the game was all the dropped catches they were making or not making-as the case would be, with a total of 12 overall and none that were more important than the one Josh Bellamy dropped in the final minute. With Barkley looking for a man he saw a Tennessee man losing his footing throwing to the Bears wide-receiver available for the winning catch but he somehow managed to drop it and it proved costly as the Bears loss to a heartbreaking defeat.

OAKLAND RAIDERS   35   –  32    CAROLINA PANTHERS 

This was a game of two halves for sure, as Oakland dominated their opponents for the whole of the first half and then saw the Panthers role-reversing in the second half. Seth Roberts put the Raiders ahead with a 2-yard grab in the end zone and that until Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dashed in for a 3-yard run to tie the game up. Latavius Murray then ran through the Panthers defence on the goal line to see the Raiders retaking the lead and was followed up by a Sebastian Janikowski field goal to see the Black & Silver 17-7 ahead.

Cam Newton then panicked on his 3-yard line and his intended pass was intercepted by Khalil Mack, who caught the ball to go in for a touchdown and have the Oakland 24-3 up at the break. Newton had gone the whole of the second quarter without a single completion and the Raiders defence had him their collective pockets it seemed. As the third quarter came around it saw the turning point in the game at that point in time, as Derek Carr got the ball snapped to him but in the process the snap came out wrong and saw the quarterback dislocating his ring finger on his throwing hand.

This led to Carr missing the next drive for the home side and in his absence saw Oakland now starting to lose their way as touchdowns for Jonathan Stewart and a 88-yard pass for Ted Ginn, saw the Panthers forcing their way back but failed in their two point conversions and extra point kicks. Carr returned to the field of play wearing a glove on his injured hand, meanwhile Carolina had by now turned the game on its head. Two quick scores by Stewart stretching over for a score late in third and then a Kelvin Benjamin with a 44-yard catch, saw the Panthers going 32-24 ahead with the added point.

Clive Walford then made a good catch from a Derek Carr throw up the middle of the field, as he completed a 12-yard play with Seth Robert then making a catch on a two point conversion to see the Raiders back level with their opponents. Janikowski then kicked the winning points with 1:45 left to go in the game as he slotted over a 23-yard field goal to see Oakland come from behind in a game that they should never have comfortably won at half time.

DENVER BRONCOS    27  –  30      KANSAS CITY CHIEFS   

An incredible finish at Mile High Stadium saw the Kansas City Chiefs getting a huge stroke of luck in the dying seconds of overtime to complete a memorable win for the AFC West side. After the sides played out a scoreless first quarter, Offensive Linebacker Justin Houston was having a half to remember and was giving the Broncos offence nightmares. Houston saw Denver conceding a safety in their own end zone, after he sacked the quarterback and luckily for the Broncos had Russell Okung to fall on it and avoid a touchdown against them. 

Tyreek Hill then ran back a 86 yard kick off return immediately on the following play, and that put the visitors 9-0 up in a blink of an eye. Brandon McManus struck a 33 yard field goal to get Denver on the scoreboard and had the Broncos trail by six at the half way point. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian then dodged a bullet to set up Jordan Taylor for their opening touchdown, as the former Northwestern QB in college had to scramble to avoid the Chiefs defence before running to the far side and finding Taylor for the score.

Hill was back at it late in the third quarter, when he went to the corner for another touchdown to saw the Chiefs back in front. Emmanuel Sanders then caught a 35 yard pass to move the Broncos ahead by a single point and when Bennie Fowler looked to have secured the win for the home side on 76 yard play, it put Denver ahead 24-16 with over two minutes to go. Kansas City though had other ideas and saw Tyreek Hill rolling into the end zone with :11 seconds to go in the game and then saw the Chiefs follow it up with a two point conversion courtesy of Demetrius Harris to send the game to overtime.

Both Brandon McManus and Cairo Carlos nerves were tested to the fullest in the overtime quarter, with both kickers making their kicks to see the game continue on as the scores moved to 27-27 all. McManus then tried to kick a 62 yard effort for the Broncos, but that was no good and with the last play of the contest having Santos the chance to win it on a 34 yard kick, his effort veered left and somehow went in off the post and gave Kansas City victory. 

GREEN BAY PACKERS 27 – 13  PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Green Bay snapped their recent losing streak with a win over the Eagles in the Monday night football game in Philadelphia, while the home have now lost six of their last eight games this season. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked up his first of two touchdowns passes in the game after Davante Adams scored on a 12-yard pass to put Green Bay up in the contest, and that was soon cancelled out by Carson Wentz who run into the end zone to tie the game.

Adams then claimed a superb catch to see the visiting side retaking the lead, after the wide-receiver somehow made a catch for the touchdown. Caleb Sturgis then nailed a 48-yard field goal to see the Eagles move within four points of their opponents. Crosby is a familiar name that has brought misery towards Philadelphia fans for a long time, but that is more Sidney Crosby from their Pennsylvania neighbours the Pittsburgh Penguins in ice hockey, while this Crosby was Mason Crosby and he kicked a 33-yard field goal to move 17-10 ahead in the match. 

Sturgis responded within five minutes of the third after he kicked over a 50 yard strike to pull three points back for the Eagles and then had Aaron Ripkowski crashing over to see the Packers lead 23-13, before Crosby put the nail in the coffin for the Eagles with a 32 yard kick to condemn the home side to defeat.

NFL ROUND-UP: WEEK 11

Last weekend saw Week 11 in the National Football League and for the kickers it was a weekend to forget as from 12 attempted Extra Points being kicked, amazingly 10 were missed or blocked up and down the Country. Meanwhile Monday Night Football took place in Mexico City in front of a packed out between the Texans and the Raiders.

17227042013Minnesota Viking  30 – 24  Arizona Cardinalskwth8f1cfa2sch5xhjjfaof90

Minnesota Vikings snapped their four game losing streak against the Arizona Cardinals at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, with two returns leading to touchdowns that both were over a 100-yards. Sam Bradford threw a 16-yard pass to Adam Thielen in the end zone to get the Vikings off and running after they challenged the original call for an incomplete pass. Arizona came back with David Johnson running in for a touchdown from short distance to score for the Cardinals.

After the Cardinals led 10-7 courtesy of a 34-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro, it then saw Matt Asiata reaching out over the whitewash to put the home side back in front. Xavier Rhodes then made a ‘pick-six’ play as the Minnesota Corner-Back intercepted a pass on his own goal line and then proceeded to take it to the house for a 100-yard touchdown and help the ‘Vikes’ pull away. Arizona’s Jermaine Gresham then spun and staggered his way through the Viking defences to score a touchdown for the Cardinals, as he closed the gap going into at the half. 

From the start of the second half it saw Corrdelle Patterson returning a 104-yard kick off for a touchdown and having the home fans cheering him home. During the week Minnesota sacked their kicker for poor form and their new kicker Kai Forbath started his Vikings career with a miss but would later kick a 27-yard field goal. Arizona had the last say in the game when David Johnson collected his 2nd touchdown of the game for the visiting side, after Carson Palmer threw a 4-yard pass out to Johnson to score on.

 

857Kansas City Chiefs  17 – 19  Tampa Bay Buccaneers17636702014

Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City saw a battle of the field goals taking place, as Kansas City’s Cairo Santos kicked the hosts into an early 3-0 lead, before Buccaneers kicker Robert Aguayo converted on his opening two kicks to put Tampa Bay ahead at 6-3. Chiefs Quarterback Alex Smith then ran and slid his way into the end zone as he put Kansas City 10-6 up with the extra point added, then Aguayo drilled a 41-yard field goal to see Tampa trail by a point at the half for a 10-9 scoreline.

Another Robert Aguayo field goal saw him making it a 12-10 lead for the Buccaneers as his kick 36-yards out in the fourth quarter went through the uprights. Alex Cross then caught a 3-yard pass by Jameis Winston to put the visiting side 19-12 up, but back came Kansas City once again and had Alex Smith finding Albert Wilson open in the end zone to complete a 3-yard pass and move the Chiefs within one score of their opponents. Tampa Bay managed to see out the game and make it 2 wins on the bounce for the Buccaneers.

406Dallas Cowboys   27 – 17    Baltimore Ravens318

Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco made a comment during the week prior to their clash against the Cowboys that ‘We should beat them. I’m not kidding’. In hindsight it may have been better to look at his own side than the in-form Cowboys. The Ravens led after the first quarter through a Terrance West 18-yard run touchdown and it also saw the AFC North side playing well defensive too in the opening quarter. 

Cole Beasley then made a catch in the endzone from Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, as the Rookie QB for the Cowboys carried on seeing his stock continuing to rise with another good play. Both sides traded field goals in the second quarter and went in all square at the break.

Dez Bryant went on to score two touchdowns for the Cowboys, as he made it a 24-10 ball game. That until the Ravens replied through a Steve Smith 5-yard catch to make it 24-17 and as time dwindled down it was left to Dan Bailey to close out the game for ‘America’s Team’ with a 21-yard field goal for Dallas.

970Pittsburgh  Steelers   24 – 9    Cleveland Browns15578552015

In Cleveland it saw the Browns going 0-11 on the season after their recent defeat coming against a fellow AFC North rival, in the Pittsburgh Steelers. A couple of Chris Boswell field goals put Pittsburgh 6-0 up early on in the contest and that set up how the game played out. Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell went in for a touchdown and then had David Johnson completing the two-point conversion for the Steelers.

Both teams saw their respective quarterbacks getting hurt on plays in the game, with ‘Big Ben’ Roethlisberger getting dumped hard to the ground by a Browns player that ended up crashing down on top of Roethlisberger saw him struggle for a time before he shook it off. Cleveland’s Cody Kessler then got hurt himself during a tackle and was forced out the game and replaced by former Chicago Bears QB Josh McCown. 

After Cody Parkey and Chris Boswell both converted field goals, it saw the Browns scoring a touchdown through a Josh McCown pass to Gary Barnidge and the Cleveland player made the catch to get the points on the board for the home side-however their extra point attempt was no good. 

Pittsburgh finished the game off with Ryan Shazier sacking Josh McCown near the Cleveland endzone and saw the ball coming loose for Javon Hargrave to gather and go over for a Steelers touchdown.

919New York Giants     22 – 16     Chicago Bears364

After the Bears embarrassing defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend, John Fox’s men looked to try and redeem themselves at the Meadowlands, and looked like they might just do that. Chicago led midway through the first quarter when a Jay Cutler 19-yard pass to Tight-End Zach Miller saw him in for the touchdown, but sadly for Miller and the Bears- the influential player for the Chicago in the half saw forced to leave the game with a broken foot.

Rashaad Jennings then responded for the Giants with a 2-yard run and that moved New York into a 7-6 lead with the extra point good. Bears kicker Connor Barth then kicked a successful 40-yard field goal attempt as he restored the lead for Chicago in the 2nd Quarter. Jeremy Langford then crashed over from a yard out to put the visiting side 16-6 points up in the game and looked like a different Bears side that played all season. Former Soldier Field favourite in Robbie Gould came up against his former side for the first time since they shown him the door, and the Bears All-time highest points kicker converted on a 46-yard field goal for his new club. New York were being upstaged by a struggling Chicago side that was on absolute fire at MetLife Stadium, but the game was far from over.

This season more than any other season for the Bears has saw building leads and then falling away in the second half, and this game was to prove no exception to that rule. The second half proved this this point, as an early touchdown by Will Tye for the Giants started the recovery for New York and shown the Bears defensive frailties once again. 

Sterling Shepard then caught the Chicago defence cold again going in for a 15-yard touchdown for the Giants, as they had all the momentum. Jay Cutler then tried to engineer a winning drive late on in the game for the Bears, but Cutler did what Cutler does best and that was seeing him being picked off for an interception and handed the Giants the win and leave Chicago look unlikely to win another game this season on their current second half form.

cwuyv0w15ruuk34j9qnfuoif9Detroit Lions    27 – 17      Jacksonville Jaguars 15988562013

This was a crazy game at Ford Field between the Lions and the Jaguars, with Special Teams being the key to victory. Jason Myers kicked Jacksonville into an early lead courtesy of a 27-yard field goal, meanwhile Andre Roberts then took the ball to the house for a 55-yard punt return for Detroit and saw the extra point blocked by the Jaguars defence. Jacksonville’s Wide-Receiver Allen Robinson then caught a 3-yard pass on a 1st & goal from quarterback Blake Bortles, as he put the Jags back in front.

Detroit kicker Matt Prater kicked over a 27-yard field goal to tie the game up in the first half and then early on in the second half saw Rafael Bush making an interception and running it back for a 39-yard return to see the Lions taking the lead.

Jacksonville had Myers kicking another field goal for them before Marqise Lee made a superb grab in the endzone and managing to just get his feet down in time for a touchdown for the Jaguars. Eric Ebron then forced his way past the visiting defence to score a touchdown and with the Lions back ahead in the game, it saw Prater adding another field for Detroit to make the game safe for the home side.

 593Indianapolis Colts    24 – 17    Tennessee Titans1053

Indianapolis scored 14 unanswered points in the First Quarter to set the Colts on their way to victory against a hard-working Tennessee Titans side at the Lucas Oil Stadium. Robert Turbin got things rolling for the home side after he scored a touchdown five minutes into the game, after Frank Gore had rushed up the sideline for a run of 49-yards to get the Colts in position for a score. From there it saw Dante Moncrief then making a catch to pick up a touchdown for the home team while under pressure and it had the Colts offense on fire.

T.Y Hilton then made it 21 unanswered points for the Colts as he completed a 2-yard catch for Indianapolis with Andrew Luck finding his man. With time ticking down on the second quarter it saw Marcus Mariota then ducking out of a tackle before firing out to DeMarco Murray for the touchdown, and get the Titans on the board and give them a boost ahead of the half-time break. 

Mariota then threw a pass down field in the Colts endzone and had his Wide-Receiver in Tajae Sharpe was on hand to make the catch for a one score game. As the Titans battled their back from 21 points down to now trail by seven, it saw Tennessee right back in the contest. Titans Ryan Succop then made it a four point game with his field goal effort, but Adam Vinatieri made amends for an earlier miss in the first half, as the veteran converted on a 49-yard field goal to helped the Colts edging out their visitors.

403Cincinnati Bengals   12 – 16   Buffalo Bills n0fd1z6xmhigb0eej3323ebwq

This game saw the defences on top and had the kickers proving their worth on a day of bad kicks in the league. Cincinnati suffered a huge blow early on in the contest though, when A.J Green was carted off the field with a hamstring injury inside the opening two minutes of the play.

Buffalo scored their only touchdown in the game when Running-Back LeSean McCoy became the architect to the Bills score, after he had made the huge play to get them up inside the Bengals half with a big run on the drive. McCoy then finished it off with a 7-yard run to see Buffalo 7-0 up in the game.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton dashed to the endzone towards the back-end of the opening quarter as he picked up a touchdown for the home side. Mike Nugent had an absolute nightmare in the game for Cincinnati, with the kicker missing one of his two extra point attempts in the game. Buffalo’s Stephon Gilmore then made a great interception to see him streaking away up field and was finally brought down around the Bengals 6-yard line.

Kicker Dan Carpenter kicked over a 26-yard field goal for the Bills as he helped them to a 10-6 lead after the opening quarter. Tyler Boyd then caught a catch in the Buffalo endzone to see the home side taking the lead again and this then saw Nugent missing his second straight kick and was roundly booed by his own fans. Two further kicks by Carpenter in the third and fourth quarters handed the visitors the advantage and took the game by four points in a tight contest.

17994552009San Francisco 49ers    17 – 30    New England Patriotsy71myf8mlwlk8lbgagh3fd5e0 

Tom Brady led his New England Patriots to victory at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco, with the controversial quarterback making 280 yards and throwing for 4 touchdowns in the win. His first of four touchdowns came when he found Julian Edelman open in the endzone for a 4 yard-pass to get the Patriots up and running, but the 49ers cut their lead down thanks to a 33-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.

Brady pulled a stunning move to set up James White for a touchdown, as his delicate little lob pass over two San Francisco players left White wide open and all the time in the world to run in for a 6-yard touchdown. Vance McDonald then completed an 18-yard touchdown for the ‘Niners’ after quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw the ball for the Tight-End to get the host back in it. With the contest scoreless in the third, it saw Brady scanning the field and floating a ball up towards Danny Amendola and he made the catch for New England and have the Pats well and truly in control.

Brady’s fourth touchdown pass of the game saw him coming under pressure from behind, but his quick-out pass found Malcolm Mitchell- which saw the 49ers defence stopping the wrong man and that allowed Mitchell to gallop away unchallenged and make it 27-10 ball game. Stephen Gostkowski then coolly slotting a 38-yard field goal over to increase the Patriots lead in the game, but San Francisco had the last word on the scoring and had Kaepernick throwing a pass out to Shaun Draughn as he ran in for the 49ers second touchdown of the game.

594153172016Los Angeles Rams    10 – 14    Miami Dolphins 15041052013

A late rally by the Dolphins saw them prevailing in the wet at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but overcame a very tough defensive effort by the LA Rams. The big news before kick off was that the Rams was giving a start to their number one draft pick and his first start of the year in Jared Goff -as the 22-year old didn’t look out of place either in the game. 

Todd Gurley then gave the Rams the lead with a 24-yard run to the endzone and that was the only score in the game up until the third quarter. After a Greg Zuerlein field goal for the Rams, it saw LA looking like they were going to hold out over Miami and with the rain starting to come down a bit heavier- it made things harder for the two sides on the field.

However Miami got a touchdown through Jarvis Landry and the his Dolphins team mates,  as after making the catch on the 5-yard line he was then grabbed by the Rams defence and this led to Landry’s teammates virtually using him as a battering ram to plough their way over the endzone for a score. With 37 seconds remaining on the game it saw Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill throwing to DeVante Parker for the winning play and completed a 9 yard touchdown pass to beat LA and have the home side wondering how on earth they let the win slip through their fingers. 

pfiobtreaq7j0pzvadktsc6jv Seattle Seahawks    26 – 15     Philadelphia Eagles960 

Seattle defeated a fellow NFC rival in the shape of the Philadelphia Eagles at CenturyLink Field and in the process, it saw them improving their record but sitting just behind the Cowboys and Giants for the best Conference record. Things started out great for the Seahawks when CJ Prosise ran for a 72-yard touchdown, as he flew up the sidelines and into the endzone for a score. The extra point was blocked and was the tenth in the day to be missed in the League all day.

Second quarter saw Zach Ertz reaching out over the line to score a touchdown and put the Eagles back on level terms. Russell Wilson then threw an angled pass out to Jimmy Graham who looked like he was tackled, but somehow the Seattle man wriggled his way free and went in for a score.

A brilliant piece of play-calling by the Seahawks offensive saw Wilson flipping the ball to Doug Baldwin who then threw back to the running quarterback in the endzone, and had Russell Wilson making the catch to move the Seahawks 24-7 in ahead. With Hauschka making a 35-yard kick to put Seattle further ahead, it then saw Carson Wentz finding Dorial Green-Beckham with a pass to see the Eagles getting a touchdown late on.

im5xz2q9bjbg44xep08bf5czqWashington Redskins    42 – 24    Green Bay Packersdcy03myfhffbki5d7il3 

An incredible fourth quarter saw 34 points being scored between the Redskins and the Packers- with Washington showing their dominance late on with three touchdowns in the final quarter. DeSean Jackson opened the scoring after he caught a 17-yard pass from Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins, as he put the home side up 7-0 after the first. Green Bay then got on the board in the second quarter after a Jordi Nelson catch and saw him dropping it soon after, but the umpires deemed that the Packers man had full control of it before losing quickly after.

Rob Kelly then run right up the middle of the field for a 10-yard touchdown and move the Redskins 13-10 in the contest. Jamison Crowder then made a catch and took it into the endzone for a 44-yard touchdown after Cousins had fired the deep pass up the middle for Crowder to claim. In the third it was mostly Washington and they hammered home their advantage in the game from that point on wards.

However the Packers scored first in the final quarter as a 31-yard play saw Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to an open James Starks in waiting and he pounced on the opportunity to make the home side pay for not keeping tabs on him. Cousins then looked down field once again and spotted the movement of Pierre Garcon open, and his throw to his Wide Receiver saw Garcon finishing it off with a 70-yard play for Washington and had them grinding the Packers in the dirt.

Jared Cook then claimed a bullet pass from Rodgers in the Washington endzone, to see the Packers picking up a touchdown. The Redskins then run in two further touchdowns thanks to the efforts of Rob Kelley, as firstly he went in from a yard out and then soon after ran in for another score from 4-yards out to inflict a heavier defeat on the Green Bay Packers.

f1wggq2k8ql88fe33jzhw641uCarolina Panthers       23 – 20      New Orleans Saints907

The Thursday night game between Carolina and New Orleans kicked off last weekend’s games, in what was filled with injuries to both teams over the course of the game.

Both sides traded field goals early on in the first quarter, and so as we moved to the second quarter where the Panthers showed their claws to their opponent. Jonathan Stewart went in for a 1-yard touchdown and that was soon followed up by a long 49-yard kick by Graham Gano to see Carolina going 13-3 up.

Cam Newton then fired off a ball up field that saw Ted Ginn Jr making a stunning catch for a touchdown. After Gano and Lutz traded field goals in the final quarter for their respective sides, it saw New Orleans scoring twice with Brandon Coleman and Coby Fleener picking up a touchdown a piece in a losing effort.

g9mgk6x3ge26t44cccm9oq1vlOakland Raiders  27 – 20   Houston Texans 570

Monday night football came from South of the Border as the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City was the venue for the clash between the Raiders and the Texans and was played in a stadium with an Infamous bit of American Sporting history attached to it too. It was the sight of the infamous ‘Black Power salute’ that took place back in 1968 during the Mexico Olympics and involved two African American athletes, namely John Carlos and Tommie Smith. So this past Monday saw Tommie Smith lighting the Al Davis torch of which is traditionally done at every single Oakland Raiders game and was befitting that he should light it in Mexico City.

Onto the game and it was a packed house of 76,743 as the Oakland Raiders came from behind to beat the Houston Texans in an entertaining encounter. Nick Novak put the Texans ahead in the contest with a field goal, but that effort was cancelled out by a Jalen Richard touchdown and a Sebastian Janikowski field goal to see the Raiders edge ahead. Houston then scored a touchdown either side of half time, as firstly Braxton Miller completed a 12-yard play with Brock Osweiler throwing the ball his way and then Lamar Miller went in for the Texans to lead 15-10.

Janikowski kept up his record of having never missed a single kick on a Monday Night Football game with a 20-yard field goal attempt through the posts to make it a 15-13 game. Novak then returned the favour and reopened Houston’s five-point advantage again with a kick and that then brought an onslaught by the Raiders. Oakland Quarterback Derek Carr fired a pass up field towards Jamize Olawale and had his blocker doing his job well to help his team mate en-route to the endzone for the touchdown.

The Raiders then scored the winning points with Carr throwing to Amari Cooper, as he gave the Houston defenders the slip quite literally and running to the endzone for a 35-yard score to see the Raiders 27-20 up and win a thrilling game in Mexico.