Monday Morning SuperBowl Report

By David McDonnell 

As Super Bowls go, this was an absolute classic. 

This game had many twists and turns and those that lapped up the late night coffee were rewarded with a game for the ages

If you went to bed and missed watching America’s greatest export into the wee hours of morning, here is how SuperBowl 57 unfolded.  

First Half 

In hindsight, we were given a glimpse of what was to come when both the Eagles and Chiefs scored touchdowns on their opening possessions. Jalen Hurts first punched it in from one yard, before Mahomes responded by finding Travis Kelce for their usual touchdown. 

Second Quarter 

The Eagles dominated possession in the opening two quarters and they were winning the battle in the trenches by running the ball behind their O-Line. Hurts was outstanding and dictated the action from the pocket and soon put to sleep any worries about his recent shoulder injury. In the second quarter he found AJ Brown with a deep ball for a touchdown. 

When the Eagles forced a three and out and got the ball back, they looked to add to their lead but a fumble by Hurts resulted in Nick Bolton returning the ball to level the scores at 14-14. 

Hurts responded to his mistake by leading his team up the field and he took off on a run to give Philly first and goal. One play later he ran into the endzone, after getting a great block by Jason Kelce, for his second rushing touchdown of the game. 

Mahomes tried to respond in a two minute drill, but after getting tackled on a third down, he limped off the field and looked in pain on the sideline. 

At this point everything seemed to be going Philly’s way and Jake Elliot added a field goal to give the Eagles a 10-point lead at half-time. 

Second Half 

After Rhianna’s performance, the Chiefs changed strategy as they only had just over eight minutes of possession from the allotted 30 in the opening half. It became obvious from the opening drive of the second half that they were going to commit more to their rushing attack.

Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco ran hard every chance he got and finished that first drive of the third quarter with a touchdown. 

Nick Bolton then looked to have recovered another fumble for a touchdown but the score was chalked off somewhat controversially in my opinion. 

Hurts responded with his best drive of the game, which included his best pass of the contest to Dallas Goedert on third and 14, which was ruled a catch even after a challenge flag was thrown by Andy Reid.

The Chiefs defence got a big stop on third down in the red zone and the Eagles had to settle for a kick at goal, which gave Philly a six-point lead at the end of the third quarter. 

Fourth Quarter 

Kansas City responded by throwing to Jerrick McKinnon in the backfield which gave Mahomes shorter third downs to complete, which he converted by throwing quick strikes to Juju Smith-Schuster.  

The Chiefs then took the lead with 12 minutes remaining when Kadarius Toney, a mid season pick up from the Giants, was left on his own for a simple touchdown as the Eagles swallowed the bait of too many DBs trying to cover Travis Kelce. 

Ninety seconds later, a huge punt return by Toney saw the Chiefs knocking on the door once again. This was the paly of the game.

This time Mahomes found rookie Skyy Moore for a very similar touchdown to the previous one but on the other side of the hashes. 

Hurts got the ball trailing by eight points and led another magnificent drive which saw him connect with a deep ball to Devonta Smith. Hurts then ran in for another touchdown from close range and also ran in for the two point conversion to tie the game 35-35 with just over five minutes remaining. 

The game was in the melting pot and two minutes later, Mahomes caught everyone by surprise when he took off on a run upfield on his injured foot. 

Soon after on third down, Mahomes threw an incomplete pass towards Smith-Schuster but corner-back James Bradberry was flagged for a tug on Juju, which gave the Chiefs a fresh set of downs with under two minutes to play.

On first and goal, McKinnon then had a chance to score a touchdown but knowing the Eagles were out of timeouts, grounded the ball at the one yard line. 

This was a great example of situational awareness as it took almost 90 seconds off the clock and gave his teammate Harrison Butker a chance to win the Superbowl with a chip shot field goal. 

Butker did his duty and with it the Kansas City Chiefs won the Superbowl with Patrick Mahomes named as SuperBowl MVP.

To the victor go the spoils. 

This SuperBowl will be talked about for a long time to come. Overall, it was the highly entertaining game that the 38-35 scoreline suggests.

A lot of the credit has to go to Head Coach Andy Reid and Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who adjusted their game plan at half time. By getting the Eagles defence to run from sideline to sideline, in the end they couldn’t put enough pressure on Mahomes on passing downs. 

The much vaunted Eagles defence, who led the NFL in sacks this season,  didn’t record one in the Super Bowl and it was a major factor in them losing a game. 

Huge credit must also go to the Chiefs O-Line who gave Mahomes a clean pocket all game and in the end the Chiefs QB brought home the bacon. 

My Super Bowl Preview

By David McDonnell 

In boxing they say that styles make fights. 

Tonight’s Super Bowl sees the Chiefs, a team that has passed for the most yards in NFL history against the Eagles, the best team at running the ball in the NFL, so we are in for an intriguing matchup. 

The Big Show kicks off at 11.30 pm (GMT) so let’s investigate how this game might go. 

Eagles Offense v Chiefs Defence

This Eagles O-Line has bullied most comers throughout the season, and I thought before the NFC Championship game that they would finally meet their match against the excellent 49ers defence. That didn’t come to pass and Philly ran in four rushing touchdowns in what turned out to be another dominant display.

The Kansas defence possesses this season’s best Defensive Tackle in Chris Jones and have two linebackers in Nick Bolton and Willie Gay that are excellent against the run. The Chiefs defended very well against the rush in the AFC Championship game against the Bengals, and Cincinnati running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine hardly made any impression on proceedings.

If they can stop the Eagles running the ball, then they are likely to win the game. However, that is easier said than done. 

I also believe the Eagles have a matchup advantage with their wide receiving duo, AJ Brown and Devonta Smith, going against two rookie corners in the impressive Trent McDuffie and Joshua Williams. Coming off the best game of his young career against the Bengals, it is the latter Williams that I feel can be exposed by the route running of Smith and by the speed and athleticism of Brown. 

The Eagles will test this out through use of play action to take shots down the field on whoever is matching up against Williams being the likely target. Kansas defensive back L’Jarius Sneed has been out recently but his return could be a massive shot in the arm for their defensive backs. 

The Chiefs are also below league average defending against tight-ends this season and I expect to see the Eagles target Dallas Goedert on key third downs and in the red zone on Sunday night. He would be a decent tip to score the first touchdown at 12-1. 

So it seems like the Eagles attack have all the advantages heading into this game. What can go wrong? 

The big question mark I have about the Eagles offence centres around the health of Jalen Hurts. 

Last time out Hurts looked to me that his shoulder injury was affecting him hugely and after that early throw for Smith’s one-handed grab against the 49ers, he didn’t make a throw of note for the rest of the game.

He was even running into traffic instead of checking down to open receivers in the last quarter of the NFC Championship game and although he has had two weeks to rest and rehab, I remain unconvinced he is anywhere as sharp as he was during the season. 

If he can’t throw then it will have a major bearing on the game, as Kansas City will be able to pack the box and concentrate more on defending the run. I expect to see a lot of run option plays and RPOs in order to get Hurts to use his biggest weapon, his legs and he might very well run for over 100 yards in this game. 

Hurts shoulder, just like Patrick Mahomes ankle, seemed to bother him later in the game, probably when the effect of the pain shots began to wear off. This might become more evident in the Super Bowl as there is a 50 minute half time show with Rihanna, so the pain meds might lose their effect sooner than a usual Sunday Night Football game. Something to keep an eye on. 

Chiefs Offence v Eagles Defence

The Chiefs have the best quarterback in the NFL coming off his best season and arguably the best ever tight end coming off his best season, so they definitely have a chance, especially if QB Patrick Mahomes is over his sprained ankle injury which I suspect he will  be. 

Mahomes won the league MVP during the week and has the ability to win matches on his own if he is afforded time in the pocket to dictate play. He has improved his game this season by becoming better and finding all his receiving options, which makes the Chiefs very difficult to defend against.

However, outside of Kelce at tight-end, they don’t have a blue-chip receiver although Marquez Valdes Scantling stepped up in a massive way last time out and is the only wideout who regularly wins contested catches along the sideline. 

Juju Smith Schuster missed most of the last match but will likely be passing option number three in the slot. If he is fit Juju could figure strongly especially as Kelce is likely to be double marked throughout the contest. Juju is tall for a slot receiver and Mahomes often throws his way when he needs to get the ball out quickly. 

I think another player who could feature more than he has recently is running back Jerrick McKinnon.  I expect the Chiefs to have difficulty running the ball against a very deep and talented Eagles defensive front so I can see Andy Reid getting Mahomes to pass the ball wide to McKinnon out the backfield in order to stretch the field. 

The Eagles lost their first game this season in Week 10, when the Washington Commanders ran the ball against them 49 times. The following week, Howie Roseman brought in veteran pair Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph who have 13 years of NFL experience each. I expect the Eagles to be able to halt the Chiefs rushing attack and the Chiefs will answer by putting the ball in Mahomes hands even more than they usually would. 

The Chiefs do have an excellent O-Line but with the Eagles able to change their front five to keep them fresh, they will eventually be able to tee off with their talented pass rushers led by Haason Reddick against Mahomes. 

The MVP QB will need to produce the magic but he is certainly capable of this. 

Prediction

The big question in deciding who will win the SuperBowl is: Will the Chiefs defence be able to stop the Eagles rushing attack for 60 minutes? 

My gut tells me no, and that is why I believe Philly has the significant advantage.  In my opinion, the Chiefs would need two Chris Jones to stop this Eagles O-Line from dominating and unfortunately they only have one. 

Although I won’t be cheering for the Eagles, mainly due to being a Washington fan and Patrick Mahomes being my favourite player to watch in the NFL,  I do believe the Eagles will be Superbowl champions in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Chiefs 20-30 Eagles 

SuperBowl 58 Preview: Chiefs vs Eagles

By Conor Perrett 

The SuperBowl is the biggest event in North America, and this year both No. 1 seeds from the AFC and NFC will take each other on.

This match-up is an interesting one, with the MVP Patrick Mahomes being an underdog for the first time in his 10th playoff game. We know both teams have high powered offences, but it may be a battle on defence that wins their team a new ring.

With kick-off scheduled for 11.30pm tonight (GMT) for folks in Ireland and the UK , prepare yourself for a late one as it should be a battle throughout.

No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia has been the most impressive team throughout the regular season and deserve their place in the SuperBowl. On paper their roster is superior, with an array of talent all over the offence and defence.

With injuries to Jalen Hurts and Lane Johnson I thought this offence would struggle to maintain the consistency we saw previously, but it hasn’t been too much of a problem. If I wanted to nit-pick then the passing game has looked a bit weak, but with their two previous matchups basically being over after the first quarter, I can’t blame them for turning to the run game.

The run game has been the catalyst to the Eagles success, with the ability to run many options due to the athleticism they have at the QB position. Philly lacks an out-and-out No. 1 running back, but with different kinds of talent in their room, they can put themselves in the right position to succeed.

Matchup to keep an eye on – Philly’s D-Line: The Eagles’ defensive line was a force against the 49ers two weeks ago and Haason Reddick’s sack to force a fumble, and destroy Brock Purdy’s elbow, may have been what won them the game.

Philly has depth all over the line and with 70 sacks this season, that’s the third most in NFL history since the league started counting sacks in 1982. 

Philly’s defensive line has wreaked havoc during the playoffs and the only time Mahomes has lost in the playoffs was when he faced a Buccaneers D-line that caused him issues.  

No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are no strangers to playing in the Super Bowl these days, but like I mentioned earlier this is the first time Patrick Mahomes will be an underdog in a playoff game. Kansas has always had the luxury of being an offence that overpowers everybody but this matchup in particular will be a test.

Mahomes is the best player in football and Andy Reid may also own that title for play-calling, but with the talent that this Eagles defence have, it’s hard to see where this Chiefs’ offence will take advantage.

As for the defence, they put on a great showing in the Conference Championship that no one really saw coming. They contained Joe Burrow all night with a strong defensive line performance and when they needed to get a stop at the end, they did so. It will be a struggle to get past this Philly O-line that is the best in football, but stopping that run will be their best chance at it.

Matchup to keep an eye on – Travis Kelce vs Philly’s pass defence: Travis Kelce is one half of the Kelce brothers in this game and he may be Mahomes’ only weapon. Kelce is regarded as the best tight-end in the league and it’s thanks to his receiving ability from the position that makes him so good.

With 21 catches and three touchdowns in just the two playoff appearances so far, Kelce has dominated his matchups against the Jaguars and Bengals. But now he will face the best pass defence in the country. The Eagles have members all over the secondary, but with their best two corners Darius Slay and James Bradberry playing on the outside, they may have to get creative to stop this future hall of famer.

Previous Matchups

2021 Season:

Week 4 – Chiefs @ Eagles, 42-30 Chiefs Win

These two last met during Week 4 of last season in a high scoring shootout game. Back then Nick Sirianni was in his first year with the team and this loss put them 1-3 for the season. A lot has changed in that year though, with general manager Howie Roseman transforming the team. The Eagles at the start of this season had been leaking points on defence, but now find themselves a year on in the Super Bowl with a top-2 defence in the league.

Super Bowl Prediction

We’ve finally got here and with this being the last prediction of the season it’s not a simple one. 

Both teams have had a hell of a journey to get to this point but only one can win so let me give you my thoughts.

The Chiefs have always been strong offensively, and after seeing their defensive performance two weeks ago it makes it even tougher to not back the MVP winner. 

I like how the Chiefs are looking on both sides of the trenches and Isiash Pacheco looks like an incredible weapon despite being a 7th-round pick less than a year ago. What I worry about for this team is how they will fare in the passing game. 

Their wide-receivers in particular look a bit weaker than we are used to, yet saying that; this team was still comfortably the No. 1 offence in the league during the regular season. Travis Kelce is the main threat but Kansas will need another receiver to step up and cause some trouble if they want to break Philly’s defence.

While on the other side in Philadelphia, on paper everything looks in their favour. They have the better roster, been better consistently and even the more impressive wins during the playoffs. The only real knock you can make for this side is the path they have had to face to get here. Many with me included will look at the Giants and a quarter-backless 49ers’ as a walk in the park for them, with some in the national media calling it a ‘Big 12’ schedule. 

Granted in the playoffs that seems the case, but during the regular season they had no easy ride. On strength of schedule they ranked 1st in ‘opponents win percentage’ and before their injuries late on that caused a speed bump, they were the best regular season team throughout. 

So as you can imagine in a grand final, both teams are extremely talented in their craft. If we want to look at the superstitions surrounding the ‘white jersey conspiracy’ then the Chiefs will hold that in their favour.

I believe this game will be slightly dominated by the defences with it being on the lower side of scoring, so if you’re looking for a bet go for the under on total points scored.

As for my final prediction, I feel more confident in this Eagles roster but it’s hard to go against the best player and coach in this game. At the end of the day I could go back and forth on the winner, however I see more scenarios in which this Eagles’ defence will win the game.

I believe they will be disruptive in both trenches and while they may not be consistent on offence, will make enough plays to get themselves in scoring positions and let the defence work its magic.

Chiefs 20-24 Eagles

NFC Championship Preview: 49ers @ Eagles

By Conor Perrett 

The time has come for the NFL Conference Championship games, and in less than 24 hours we will know which two teams will meet in the Superbowl. 

The first game on the schedule is in the NFC as the No. 1 and 2 seeds meet. The Eagles and 49ers have been the two most impressive teams on this side of the bracket, but they’ve both got here with different styles. 

Now only one of these teams can represent the NFC in the main event in two weeks. 

No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia has been the best team in the league for the majority of the season, with them being special on both sides of the ball. 

On offence, Jalen Hurts was in the MVP conversation before his injury, while their defence may just be the second best in the league to the team they will be facing at 8.00 pm tonight (GMT). 

What this game might be influenced by is the health of these players. 

Towards the end of the year injuries were starting to add up and it was getting a bit worrying after Hurts and left-tackle Lane Johnson both went down. They’ve had a few weeks to rest, but we don’t really know where Philly stands currently. 

The Eagles dispatched of the Giants easily last week with a highly- impressive performance, but it was against a team they had beaten twice already and the weakest remaining team in the playoffs.

What we do know is this team will look to come out the blocks fast and if they can play anywhere near to how they were in the first half of the season, Philadelphia may well find themselves in the Super Bowl.

Matchup to keep an eye on – Stopping the 49ers’ run game: If there has been one weakness to the Eagles all year it’s been their run defence. Their defensive-line is stacked with talent, but stopping interior runs has been a problem. It just so happens that this is the Niners strength, with them taking a focus to the run game. While on paper Philly has more talent on that side of the trenches, stopping the run and forcing Brock Purdy to throw into a tough secondary will be the game plan for this Eagles’ defence.

No. 2 San Francisco 49ers 

Kyle Shanahan has come from a family famous for its NFL coaching and it’s led to him being one of the best offensive play-callers in the league. 

Alongside General Manager John Lynch, they have built a team in San Francisco that is strong of both sides of the ball. But on the offence side where Shanahan specialises, his style has allowed for them to get this far despite starting a quarterback that was taken last at pick 262 in the NFL Draft just nine months ago.

Brock Purdy stepped into this offence when previous starters Trey Lance and Jimmy G went down with injuries and hasn’t looked back since. With an array of weapons that includes Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey and many more, the Niners play-action focused playing style makes them a tough team to stop. 

Last week against the Cowboys we saw this team take on a top defence and still come through unscathed. Now, they will have to do it again, but they won’t have the luxury of facing an inconsistent offence this time round.

Matchup to keep an eye on – 49ers’D-Line vs Philly’s O-Line: Both of these positioned groups are regarded as their best respected positional groups in the league. San Fran has talent all over the line including potential DPOY Nick Bosa, while the Eagles have two players in Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson who may just be the two best offensive linemen in the league. This battle in the trenches will be a brawl all night long in the run and passing game, and the winner may just determine the outcome of the game.

Hurts’ mobility is what makes his offence so electric and if the 49ers’ feisty defensive-line can pressure him, it could be a recipe to success.

Previous Matchups

2021 Season:

Week 2 – 49ers @ Eagles, 17-11 49ers Win

These two teams last met during Week 2 of last season, in the exact same destination of the Conference Championship. Despite this, both teams looked a lot different with this being the start of a three-game losing streak for Philadelphia. They were in their first year under head-coach Nick Sirianni, while the Niners had Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting QB.

NFC Championship Game Prediction

As you can see I have laid out why both of these teams have gotten this far and why this matchup is so close.

The Eagles have been the most dominant team all year long, while on the other hand the Niners are the hottest team down the stretch. With the game being in Philadelphia I think the crowd will play a part with its noise and is a reason why the Eagles are considered 2.5 points favourites.

I feel this game could be a bit like the Niners and Cowboys game last week with it being a battle of the defences and fairly low scoring. Both teams have very few weaknesses, but if I had to look at where something could be taken advantage of, it’s Philly’s run defence. I fear this may be the game where Purdy will look like the seventh-round rookie he is, but the Niners run the ball so well.

In the end I’m going to back the Niners who I predicted to win the Super Bowl, but Philly will take this to over-time where it will be a classic of a game. 

49ers 21-18 Eagles

Playoff Preview: Giants v Eagles 

By David McDonnell

I’ll keep this preview short and get straight into it. 

The best of the action in this game will be between the Giants defensive front against the Eagles O-Line and whoever wins this contest over the 60 minutes will be in the NFC Championship game next week. 

That’s how I see it and for me, it’s advantage Philly. 

Throughout the season, the Eagles offensive line have bullied most of the teams they have come up against. It has been the bedrock of their success and they have found it relatively easy to clock up yardage on the ground all season. Routinely they have taken a lead in the opening half and closed it out in the second half of matches.  

At the end of the season we had right-tackle Lane Johnson, guard Landon Dickerson and centre Jason Kelce picked on our All-Pro team.

This dominant line has helped the run game and given quarterback Jalen Hurts the time and space to dictate the Eagles offence and also opened up play-action to hit deep shots down the field. That Hurts is very dangerous with ball in hand adds another layer to what has become a very difficult team to play against as they can change how they decide to attack based on their opposition.

The strength of the Giants defence is their D-line, led by Dexter Lawrence and assisted in the middle by Leonard Williams and Jihad Ward. Although Lane Johnson is named to start for the Eagles, he will not be operating at 100% by any means and it will be interesting if the Giants can get some change out of impressive rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux attacking from the left side. 

Another interesting thing to watch out for is how healthy Hurts looks at QB as two weeks ago against the same opposition, it was clear he was minding an injured shoulder and only ran for 13 yards. If Hurts is not operating at 100% either, then the Eagles could be vulnerable to an upset. 

I know I am projecting here but I can’t see this Giants team, even coming off their best performance of the season in last week’s win against the Vikings in Minnesota, stopping this Eagles side. 

Last week was in my opinion Daniel Jones’ best game of his career for the New York franchise and this will certainly give them hope, but my gut feeling is their limited receiving core led by Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins will find themselves outmatched by cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry. On the contrary, I expect the Eagles pair of AJ Brown and Devonta Smith will expose the Giants defensive backs. 

So much of the Giants success this season has come from the rushing talents of Sequon Barkley but tonight I believe it is more likely in my opinion that the Eagles defence will wear down the Giants rushing attack rather than the other way around. 

The Eagles have a terrific rotating cast on their defensive line with starters Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat, backed up with the talents of rookie behemoth Jordan Davis and veterans Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph and Robert Quinn. 

I’ll put my hands up, I can’t see the Giants beating the Eagles tonight. I haven’t seen many teams being able to compete upfront with that Eagles O-line yet this season and I suspect only the 49ers have the capability to overpower them consistently for four quarters in the NFC side of the draw. 

I have been wrong many times before but I don’t believe I’ll be wrong tonight. 

Eagles to win.

Walk-Off Wins Galore 

Week 15 Monday Review Column 

By David McDonnell

Yesterday we put another incredibly exciting weekend in the books with three walk-off wins, two of them in overtime.

Most of the rest of the games were just very close for the most part so let’s get to it and review the best of yesterday’s action. 

Walk-off wins 

The best place to start is in Las Vegas which finished in the most unpatriotic way for the Patriots. 

For anyone who was on the wrong end of the Pats playing mistake free football and grinding out wins for almost a quarter of a century, yesterday they got some payback and then some more, with what can only be described as a wonderfully unexpected epic finale. 

It was the Master versus the Apprentice as Belichick came up against his long-time offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in what turned out to be a very entertaining contest.

The Raiders were healthier than they have been on offence all season with both Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller in the starting line-up and it was the latter that got things going when he ghosted past the defence to catch a touchdown pass. 

In the third quarter, safety Kyle Duggar showed his offence how to score touchdowns when the veteran read Derek Carr like a book for a pick-six.

Rhamondre Stevenson had been the standout player on the Pats offence with 172 rushing and with less than four minutes left in the game, the running-back cut through the Raiders defence for a touchdown. 

It put the ball back in Derek Carr’s court and the QB didn’t disappoint and retook the lead when he found Keelan Cole in single coverage with a great throw over the top to tie the game with 32 seconds left.

It was a controversial call as one of Cole’s feet looked to have gone out of bounds, which wouldn’t have made the Pats head coach very happy. 

Worse was to come for Belichick.

Just as we prepared ourselves for the third overtime of the night, we got one of the most memorable plays of his reign in New England when Jacoby Myers made a game deciding brain fart after the clock had already reached zero. 

What a crazy NFL moment, one for the ages!!!!

Let’s take a look from another angle.

It must have been a very satisfying score for Chandler Jones, who was traded away from the Pats a number of years ago.

In fairness to Belichick, he didn’t throw Jacobi Myers under the bus in the press conference afterwards.

Cowboys v Jaguars

In the second quarter the Dallas Cowboys must have thought they were well on their way to securing their playoff position when they took a 14-0 lead but it didn’t turn out that way as this game went to overtime before it was decided. 

Trevor Laurence has just turned the corner in recent weeks and the many doubts about him delivering on his unquestionable potential are fading by the week. Ever since he got that late win against the Ravens a few weeks ago, he has been excellent and this week it was all about keeping up with the Jones. 

Laurence found his favourite target Zay Jones for three touchdown passes, the best of which was this Trev throw on the run for a 59-yard score. 

It reduced the Cowboys lead to 10 points and it was game on!!!

Dak Prescott has been inconsistent of late and threw an interception and the Cowboys were duly punished when Laurence found Marvin Jones on third down late in the third quarter to leave just three points separating the sides. 

Dak then led a drive to retake the lead when he found the very impressive Noah Brown with the minutes remaining. At the very end of regulation, Riley Patterson kicked over from 48 yards to send the game to overtime. 

The game was decided when a ball thrown by Dak was deflected and Rayshawn Jenkins capped a red letter day, where he had 18 tackles and two interceptions, with this walk-off 52-yard pick-six.

With it the Jags playoff chances are greatly renewed and they are now only one game behind the Tennessee Titans, who have lost their winning mojo. 

The best moment of the Titans v Chargers game was this heads up play by corner-back Roger McCreary, who jumped out of play and passed the ball midair to Joshua Kalu for an amazing interception. 

Justin Herbert has been balling of late and he found Mike Williams late in the game to set up a field goal, which Cameron Dicker dispatched for the win.

The result puts the Chargers in the sixth position in the AFC on 8-4, just ahead of the Miami Dolphins after beating them in their head-to-head matchup a week ago. 

The third walk off win of the night came as the Texans surprisingly brought the Kansas City Chiefs to overtime. 

With the score tied 24-24, the Texans stopped the Chiefs first drive in overtime and had the chance to drive for a game0winning field goal. However, Frank Clark punched the ball clear from Davis Mills for a fumble and on the next play Jerrick McKinnon ran in from 26 yards for the walk-off win. 

The Texans have won only one game all season but they are competing hard every week and general manager Nick Caserio has knocked their draft class out of the park and given this franchise a solid base to build on going forward. 

Lovie Smith seems to be enjoying his seat at the top table and this Texans team is heading in the right direction. 

Jets v Lions

A game that had huge playoff significance saw the Lions win the sixth game in their last seven outings, this time against the New York Jets. 

The first score of the contest was a 47-yard punt return from Kalif Raymond. 

Zach Wilson was under centre for the New York franchise and he had a good day throwing for 317 yards and two touchdowns. He routinely found Garrett Wilson and threw an excellent pass to  CJ Uzomah in the second quarter. 

Wilson did throw a costly interception in the third but he found Uzomah for a second TD that saw the Jets into a late fourth quarter lead. 

The Lions responded when Dan Campbell went for it on fourth and inches, which resulted in a play-action call that saw Brock Wright go for a 50 yard touchdown.

It gave Detroit a three-point lead and Wilson managed to put them into field goal range but Greg the Leg couldn’t force overtime with his 58-yard kick. 

Round Up

There was another late finish as the Saints won on the road against their divisional rival Falcons.

The New Orleans offence can be unpredictable with their two QBs continuing to rotate and both Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill found Juwan Johnson for touchdowns. 

It was third-round pick Desmond Ridder’s first NFL start for the Falcons but it wasn’t enough to bring home the W. Instead, it was another rookie that caught the eye on the day as running-back Tyler Allgeier averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 139 yards and a touchdown. 

Ridder did have a chance to lead a late drive with the scores 18-21 but rookie Drake London caught the ball to pick up a first down, but lost it in contact and the Saints recovered it to effectively end the game. 

The Bengals are now the top seed in the AFC North after staging a second half comeback against the Bucs.

It was an impressive win but an even more so a demoralising loss as the Buccaneers went from leading by 17 points late in the second quarter to trailing by 17 by the middle of the fourth quarter. 

A lot of it was of their own making. 

First Gio Bernard seemed surprised to be snapped the ball during a punt, then a 23 yard sack on Burrow was called off for a foul. This was followed up by fumbles by Brady and Fournette on successive drives. Inextricably, the Bucs didn’t even manage to get out of their own half for the entire third quarter. 

All these mistakes were punished on the scoreboard and the Bengals led 20–17 by the end of the third quarter. Burrow then found Chase at the start of the fourth in an all too easy turnaround.

The Steelers defence shut down Carolina’s rushing attack with Chuba Hubbard their leading rusher with a mere 10 yards. The best of the Steelers three touchdowns was this angry run from Najee Harris, who got into the endzone for the fourth game in a row. 

Bret Rypien threw 21/26 as the Broncos overcame a tame second half challenge from the Arizona Cardinals that had Trace McSorley replace the injured Colt McCoy at quarterback. 

The Eagles extended their record to 13-1 after a hard fought affair with the Bears in Chicago. 

Justin Fields almost won Touchdown of the Week for the fourth time this season, but he was judged to have stepped out of play with this amazing effort.

He did find Montgomery soon after to finish the touchdown drive. However, Jalen Hurts showed what he could do with ball in hand and ran for two touchdowns in helping the Eagles to another road win. 

All four teams in the NFC East currently occupy playoff positions after the Giants won against the Commanders that also had its share of late drama. 

Here is a link to that match report: https://tinyurl.com/bdxpj8er

Watch out for our Monday Night Football preview a little later. 

Late NFL drama aplenty in Week 12  

By David McDonnell 

I usually start every week with a load of superlatives about just how good the NFL was the previous evening and today I am going to bang the same drum once again as the NFL served up a Sunday dinner and dessert full of sporting drama.

There is quite a lot to get through so sit back, put on your seat-belt and let me drive through the most important stories and a lot of thrilling finishes across the National Football League. 

Ravens v Jaguars

Yesterday might go down as a seminal moment in the NFL career of one William Trevor Laurence. 

The former Clemson quarterback won a National Championship in college and he came to the NFL with a well-earned reputation that saw him selected as the first overall pick of the 2021 draft.

For most of the season Laurence, like most of the quarterbacks in their sophomore season, has struggled at times for form and consistency but he looked every inch the superstar as he led an impressive winning drive against the Ravens. 

I can’t think of a more notable moment in his professional career.  

Let’s fast forward to when Jacksonville kicker Riley Patterson kicked the Jags into a one-point lead with four minutes remaining. 

Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson threw a deep ball to veteran 35 -year-old receiver Deshaun Jackson for a 62 yard completion. 

Jackson, the Lamar one, then found former Jag Josh Oliver for a go-ahead touchdown and a two-point conversion that saw the scores poised 27-20.

With two minutes to go, the ball was put in Trevor Laurence’s court and to mix up my sporting metaphors, the QB stepped up to the plate. 

With the game on the line, Laurence found Christian Kirk for 33 yards, threw for another 20 to Zay Jones and then finished off the 75-yard drive by throwing to Marvin Jones for a six-pointer. 

Instead of kicking the game into overtime, Doug Peterson decided to risk it by going for the two-point play and Trevor threw a bullet this time to Zay Jones for a go-ahead score with 10 seconds remaining. 

Cue pandemonium in the sunny Jacksonville November stadium, but the drama wasn’t over yet.

The 14 seconds left on the clock were enough for Lamar to set up a 67-yard field goal attempt for Justin Tucker, who holds the NFL record at 66 yards. His effort looked to be sailing straight between the uprights but dropped just short.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s face told a story as it is the fourth time this season his side have lost double digit fourth-quarter leads. 

Bengals v Titans 

It leaves the Ravens joint-top of the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals, who also left it late to overcome the Titans in Tennessee. 

The Titans best score came after Treylon Burks followed up a great run by Derek Henry for a second quarter touchdown. 

In the fourth Tennessee led 16-20 and Burrow, as has become his wont, led the Bengals down the field and threw for Tee Higgens to score a go-ahead touchdown.

Higgins has been stepping up in a major way since the injury to Ja’Marr Chase and when Chase returns to the lineup, possibly next weekend, this team will be very difficult to stop if Burrow is afforded too much time in the pocket. 

Chargers v Cardinals 

There was more last gasp drama as the San Diego,  I mean the LA Chargers won another entertaining match-up at the death against the Cardinals. 

This was a ding-dong battle throughout with Kyler Murray was back after injury and he found DeAndre Hopkins for the opening touchdown 

Very late in the fourth quarter the Cards led 24-17 and Herbert found Austin Ekeler for a touchdown for the Chargers to trail 23-24.

Just like in Jacksonville, the Bolts decided to go for the win and their risk was also rewarded when Herbert threw to Ger Everett with 15 seconds left in the contest. 

It secured a win that sees the LA franchise who are now 6-5 and in the play-off hunt after overcoming a poor start to the season. 

Falcons v Commanders

Another team who had a poor record early in the season but also are back in the mix are the Commanders who at 7-5, to currently sit inside the play-off positions. Interestingly, if the season was to end today all four teams in the NFC East would be playing football in January.

This was another game that went to wire as Washington, leading by six points, managed to pick Marcus Mariota on second and goal with only a minute remaining. Deron Payne deflected the pass and Kendall Fuller got his hands on the ball for his second interception in two games. 

Packers v Eagles

Those who were expecting a low scoring encounter would have been majorly disappointed, as this turned out to be a wild affair. 

After 15 mins and 6 seconds, five touchdowns had been scored as the game caught fire from the off. 

On the opening drive Hurts who was outstanding all night picked up two third downs with his legs and brought the play down to first and goal for Kenneth Gainwell to punch it in and almost immediately the Eagles defence intercepted Aaron Rodgers.  

This time it was Miles Sanders who took maximum advantage and the home side opened up a 0-13 lead inside the opening six minutes. 

It looked by that stage that it could  be a long night for Green Bay but when the lights are brightest Rodgers usually comes to play.  On the next drive the Packers hit back immediately and a Rodgers led drive finished in the endzone when AJ Dillon powered over for a six pointer from 20 yards. 

The Packers D then managed to turn the ball over on a short field by stopping Hurts on a QB sneak on both third and fourth down and Green Bay took a one point lead when Rodgers found Randell Cobb in the endzone 

Before the first quarter was over Jalen Hurts had set off on another run to the two-yard line and would end the quarter with over a 100 rushing yards. On the first play of the second quarter they had their third TD of the night. 

There were defensive turnovers from both sides which ended when Rodgers found running back Aaron Jones, who made an excellent scramble-drill adjustment and caught the ball at the back of the endzone to tie the game 20-20.

The first half scoring wasn’t finished and with 13 seconds left Hurts found Quez Watkins from 30 yards with his best throw of the night.

The game settled down after the break somewhat and AJ Brown got in on the scoring act to extend Philly’s lead to 14 points.

Aaron Rodgers then needed to leave the field with an injury and Jorden Love, remember the first round pick who has been riding the bench since he was drafted in the first round in the 2020 draft? 

Love came on and almost immediately made a splash when he connected with Christian Watson on a crossing route and the rookie took off down the left sideline for a terrific touchdown to make it a one-score game.

Both sides added field goals as a wild night in Philly ended 33-40 as the Eagles go 11-1. 

I wrote in my preview of this game that I expected the Eagles to go back to their winning formula and let their O-line lead them to another victory and that is exactly what they did. They ran the ball down the Packers’ throats all night and by the end Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders combined for 300 rushing yards with the rest of the team adding a further 64 yards. 

Raiders v Seahawks 

Another team, well one man who had a special rushing performance was Josh Jacobs who broke the Raiders franchise record with over 300 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns. 

In contrast, rookie running back sensation Kenneth Walker led the Seahawks in rushing with only 26 yards but he did manage to punch in two touchdowns including this effort. 

This was a very exciting game as the teams went toe to toe from start to finish. In the second quarter, Derek Carr found an unmarked Mack Hollins for a score with a flea-flicker set-play that caught Seattle off guard. 

The game was a ding-dong battle and entering the fourth quarter the tie was evenly poised 27-27 a piece.

The Seahawks took a lead with five minutes remaining when Travis Homer found the end zone from 18 yards but Carr hit back. First Devante Adams managed to grab the ball despite Michael Jackson catching hold of his other hand.

A few plays later Carr found Foster Moreau in the endzone to tie the scores 34-34. Geno did have a late chance to lead a winning drive but Maxx Crosby sacked him on third down.

In overtime Crosby came up trumps again with his 10.5 sack of the season. I know it’s already week 12 but I’m calling that Crosby will break the sack record this season. Watch this space!!!  

Soon after,  it was all over when Jacobs ripped off an 86-yard walk-off touchdown to win the game for the Raiders. 

On the day Jacobs was sensational, rushing for 228 yards on 28 carries and caught 74 more. Afterwards, I think it’s fair to say that his coach Josh McDaniels was happy with his running-back’s performance.

Round Up 

Another game that had late, late drama came as the Buccaneers visited the Browns.

Tom Brady led the Bucs to a 17-10 lead but Jacoby Brissett found David Njoku to level the scores with 32 seconds left.

The game went to overtime and running-back Nick Chubb burst in from close range for a walk-off win in Cleveland. 

Mike White had a day to remember as he led the Jets to an impressive 10-31 win against the Bears, who were missing Justin Fields and had Trevor Siemien starting under centre. 

White was in sensational form and will no doubt continue in this role for the medium-term future as he had a QB rating of 149.3 and threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns. 

The most eye-catching was his throw to Garrett Wilson in the first half. 

The 49ers won their fourth game in succession and very impressively in each of the last four games, they held their opposition to zero points in the second half. 

Here they went one better and handed New Orleans their first duck egg on the scoreboard since 2001. DeMeco Ryan’s defence shut down their run game and Andy Dalton was the leading Saints rusher with 21 yards. 

The 49ers have the ability to ratchet up the intensity and have play-makers all over their roster and they are getting healthier by the week. It is no surprise to me that they are regarded as genuine Super Bowl contenders. 

The Chiefs were never in trouble against a Bryce Perkins led Rams. Of note Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce for his 12th  touchdown of the season. 

Tua made light work of the Texans and as the Dolphins took a 30-0 lead into half time. They even had the luxury of resting their starting QB at the break, and gave Skylar Thompson the second half. 

Sam Darnold was back in the starting lineup and led the Panthers to a win against the disappointing Broncos to give Steve Wilks the fourth win of his interim coaching tenure. 

And that’s it.

Phew.

What a night of action. My fingers are tired from tip-tapping away at the laptop but thank you for your time. All socials media help will be greatly appreciated.

Later we will post a preview for Monday Night Football, as the Steelers face the Colts.

Heinicke hands Eagles first loss on MNF 

By David McDonnell

The Washington Commanders outplayed the Eagles for most of Monday Night Football and duly gave their NFC East rivals their first loss of the season. 

Key to the Washington win was their rushing attack and they ran the ball down the throat of Philadelphia 47 times, averaging over three yards a carry. It kept Jalen Hurts and his offence sitting on the sideline for long periods and when Taylor Heinicke needed to convert third downs he routinely found his best receivers, particularly Terry McLaurin who had 128 receiving yards on the night.

The Eagles got off to a terrific start when Josh Sweat knocked the ball out of Heinicke’s hands and two plays later, Jalen Hurts broke the plane for an early touchdown for the home side. 

The Commanders answered back, working the ball downfield on a 13-play drive, which included three third down conversions, and Antonio Gibson ran in from two yards to tie the game. 

Before the end of the first quarter the Eagles were seven ahead once again when Hurts faked a run and then passed over the defensive line to Dallas Goedert for another six-pointer as this contest threatened to turn into a shootout.

Rookie Derrick Forrest picked off Jalen Hurts to give the Commanders possession and 16 plays and 86 yard yards later, Brian Robinson Jr managed to break the plane from short yardage to give the Commanders the lead. Washington’s plan of keeping Hurts off the field was working and their 51 plays in the first half set a new NFL record this season.

It left the Eagles trailing at half time for the first time all year.  

In the third quarter, Heineke found McLaurin for 42 yards for the biggest play of the night, but a redzone stop on third down left Slye to kick Washington nine points ahead.

On the first play of the fourth quarter Hurts found Devonta Smith who brushed off a tackle and ran into the endzone. It was a birthday TD for the former Heisman winner and left only two points separating the sides. 

CJ Garner Johnson then got his sixth interception of the season when Heinicke underthrew a deep ball to McLaurin. Soon after Washington forced a Goedert fumble and Slye added a 55-yard field goal to extend the lead to five.

Then came the most important play of the game. Quez Watkins was found over the top but as he got to his feet Benjamin St Juste knocked the ball out and the rookie safety Forrest collected his second turnover of the night.

By the time Hurts got the ball back there were 3.30 left on the clock but they couldn’t convert a first down. The Eagles were about to get the ball back when Heinicke took a knee on third down and Brandon Graham collided into the quarterback to give the visiting team another set of downs. 

The Eagles did get a last play with a five seconds left. It led to a mis-placed lateral and Casey Toohlill scooped and scored from a yard out to add some gloss to a close fought contest. 

The Commanders are now 5-5 for the season, while the Eagles stay top seeds of the NFC alongside the Vikings with a record of 8-1.

Eagles go 8-0 

By David McDonnell

It was a much better than expected Thursday Night Football, but the Eagles never looked in any danger of losing this contest.

This was a Philly team that won in second gear for the most part. On offence Dallas Goedert, Jason Kelce and  Miles Sanders were impressive but the best player on the field was defensive tackle Jevon Hargrave, who put the Texans O-line under pressure all night and finished with three sacks on Davis Mills. 

The game opened with a touchdown for the underdog Texans when David Mills found 6 ‘6 rookie tight-end Teagan Quitoriano after a 75-yard opening drive by the home team. 

Philly did what they have done all seasons and ran the ball to great effect for the rest of teh half. They replied with an 18-play drive and Miles Saunders ran behind Landon Dickerson to tie the game at the end of the first quarter. 

Another run-heavy drive with Sanders and Jalen Hurts doing most of the damage ended on the 10th play when Kenneth Gainwell ran into the endzone for the Eagles 16th rushing TD of the season.

At the end of the second quarter, Damien Pierce was much to the fore and helped  bring Houston down the field.  Mills then found Chris Moore with a dart to the right of the endzone to tie the contest 14-14 at halftime.

In the second half, it was an even contest for the most part but Philadelphia kept their noses in front. Hurts found AJ Brown as the Eagles retook the lead.

Although Ka’imi Fairbairn made it a four-point game by the end of the third quarter, Dallas Goedert extended Philadelphia’s advantage into a two-score lead after an impressive drive where he featured heavily. 

A Hurts converted two-point conversion left the final score at 29-17 as the Eagles go 8-0 and remain top seeds in the NFC.