Hammer Time!

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This past Sunday the Cleveland Browns pulled the curtain on their home schedule, with a 26-18 beating of the hapless Cincinnati Bengals.  It was the first game I have ever watched where nearly every Offensive play the Browns ran…worked.  Everything was clicking.  The win on Sunday brings the Browns to 7-7-1 on the year.  Sadly, their fate was out of their own hands.  The day prior saw the Redskins lose to the Tennessee Titans, which was enough to officially eliminate the Browns.  Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.  I’m not necessarily mad they didn’t make the playoffs a year removed from not winning a single game, but looking back….FUCK.  They should be in.  The Browns should be traveling to Baltimore for the right to claim the AFC North Title.  Hindsight really makes those early season losses that much worse.  They will be playing a game which determines the AFC North Title at the very least? Either way, the Browns and their fans are having some fun.  This past week was yet another display of that, as it was a fucking treat to watch.

The beginning of the game saw both teams come out a bit flat.  It is expected for the Bengals who have nothing to play for at this stage.  The Browns had been coming out firing for the better part of a month, but the Bengals were able to stymie them early on.  Both squads exchanged 4 punts to begin the Battle of Ohio.  Finally at the end of the First Quarter Mayfield lead a long march inside the Bengal Five yard line.  On Third and Goal from the Three, Mayfield hit David Njoku in the back corner of the Endzone to open up the scoring.

Nice throw by Mayfield to the back corner, and all Chief has to do is win the one on one battle, which he does easily.  Seems like a light switch has been turned for Njoku since the Kansas City game.  The Browns in general are freaking money in the Red Zone.  The Red Zone used to be a place where I closed my eyes and just hoped for the best.  Recently I can count on them to make big plays in the Red Zone.

Having just scored, the Browns were feeling it.  The very next possession had the Bengals going the wrong direction.  3 plays totaling a loss of 11 yards.  The Browns got the ball back, eager to give the Sellout crowd a show, Freddie Kitchens dialed up yet another trick on the first play from the Browns 30:

Seeing this as a trend this year in the NFL.  A ton of teams are running a shitload of Jet-Sweeps with Wide Receivers, and occasionally having them throw up a bomb.  We’ve seen a few from Odell Beckham this year, and Landry has made a few attempts himself.  Helluva throw on this play.  No joke this might be the second best throw by a Browns QB since 1999.  What a beautiful throw by Landry!  First, he shows great awareness feeling that pressure coming, stepping into pocket, and hitting Perriman’s back shoulder in stride.  Not to mention he fit it between two defenders.  There goes Perriman again with his token big play.  Two plays later, Mayfield fired a Touchdown pass to Darren Fells to make it 13-0 Browns.

The Browns were rolling, so naturally Greg Joseph decided he’d rather play “H-O-R-S-E” by drilling the upright with the Extra-Point.  It wouldn’t pose much of a problem, because the Bengals would not threaten for the remainder of the first half.  The Browns would add a Greg Joseph Field Goal to make it 16-0 at halftime.

The Second half started out much like the First.  The Bengals were forced to punt on their first possession.  Mayfield made them pay, taking the Browns on a 9 play, 87 yard march to pay dirt.  On 3rd and 4 from the Bengal 17, Mayfield hit Rashard Higgins underneath, and Higgins took care of the rest:

Once again the Browns were absolutely torching the Bengals.  They would add one more Field Goal in the fourth Quarter to make it 26-0.  Jeff Driskel then lead a mini-charge, scoring 18 unanswered points.  On their last drive of the game, Mayfield decided it was time to ice the game:

Best part about this play?

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Naturally that is Hue Jackson who Baker is taunting right there.  I was hoping they’d get really mean, and try and punch it in after that long catch and run.  Sadly the Browns decided to #VictoryFormation for the remainder of the game.  A third consecutive win brings them to 7-7-1.  This is bittersweet because it is great to finally be winning at a healthy clip.  7 wins a year removed from winless will never not be a positive.  It is unfortunate that their ducks were not in a row at the beginning of the season.  There are games that they should have won.  Oakland, New Orleans, Tampa, and the first meeting with the Steelers should all have been Browns wins.  More often than not, the Browns beat themselves or got screwed by inexplicable calls in those games.  They should be around the 11 win clip.  That doesn’t mean this season is a failure, its just giving me some serious blue balls.  Had that first down call in Oakland not been reversed, this weeks match-up with Baltimore would be for the fucking division.

This game does have meaning, as it will determine who wins the AFC North.  If the Browns win, the Steelers will take the North (assuming they beat Cincinnati).  The Ravens win and they’re in.

The game has been flexed into the National time-slot with Nance and Romo calling this one.  Hopefully the Browns will be playing more Nationally televised games in the future, but with their own Playoff fate on the line.  Lets finish above .500, shall we?

Lets go Browns!

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Nothing is Coming Easy.

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The Bruins continued to limp around the country during their late season Road-trip, and had a clash with the Dallas Stars on Friday Night.  This reunites us with old Friend, Tyler Seguin (I am not going to go any further into Tyler Seguin).  Anyway,  it was yet another third period comeback for the Black and Gold.  This time they were missing a total of 8 regular skaters for this one, and they still won.   Dallas booked their tee-times for early April, as this loss puts them out of Playoff contention.

Just 2:26 minutes into the game Stars Defenseman Esa Lindell fired home a Snap-Shot through traffic to beat Tuukka Rask.  The Bruins were caught running around in there own end.  The Forwards and Defense all got sucked in below the Face-off dots, and Lindell had all day to fire a shot once the puck was given to him at the Left Point.

Things got much worse for the Bruins in the second period with the Bruins on the Power Play:

Brutal goal for the Bruins to give up with just barely over a minute left in the second period.  Hoping to tie the game up before the start of the third, Grzelyck fell at his own attacking Blueline.  The puck slipped free, and Jamie Benn took it Coast to Coast to make it 2-0 Stars at the end of the 2nd period.  Seemed like this one was over, as a Short Handed goal in the final minute of a period is just back breaking.  Once again the 2018 Boston Bruins slapped us all across the face.

Just barely over 1 minute into the 3rd period the Bruins got on the board thanks to Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak:

Great work by David Pastrnak skating through virtually the entire Stars defense, and Brad Marchand was doing Brad Marchand things.  Going to the net drawing bodies his way.  Initially rules Pastrnak’s goal, it re-directed off Marchand prior to going in.  Early on in the 3rd it was 2-1 Stars.

The Bruins continued to press hard for a tying goal, but Dallas was hanging on by a thread.  Later on in the period Dallas was on a 5-4 Power Play, when Marchand got the puck with a head of steam.  Marchand generated a 2 on 1 with Tim Schaller on his left.  The Stars Defenseman tried their damnedest to get between the puck, and Schaller.  It found Schallers stick, who made a little move to tuck the puck into the net.  Tie game.

Looking like overtime was coming, the Bruins amped up the attacking pressure in the final minute of the third.  Any time a Star’s Defenseman touched the puck behind his goal, they were being hounded.   This would pay off as the Stars began to ware down, and David Pastrnak was wide open in front of goal with the puck on his stick.  Patiently he wrapped the puck around Kari Lehtonen’s leg to win the game with 11 seconds to go.

That should just about do it for the Dallas Stars, who were fighting for their playoff lives.  They sit 5 points out of the last Wild Card spot with 6 games remaining.  They’re going to have to win-out, and get some help from others.  The Bruins would continue their road-trip on Sunday Night in Minnesota.

The Bruins were welcomed with the return of Mr. Perfect Hockey Player-Patrice Bergeron.  Boy did he not miss a beat.  Nearly 20 minutes played, flawless in the dot, and two points to go along with the win.  Just an incredible hockey player.  Sounds like more of the M.A.S.H. will be returning in due time as McAvoy, Chara, Debrusk, and Backes have all resumed skating.

Late Sunday evening the Bruins played an overtime period against the Wild.  Much of this one was a fucking snoozer.  With the game tied at 1 just seconds into overtime Brad Marchand and Tory Krug will do all talking for me:

They keep on winning in ugly fashion and I do not care.  Winning is winning, and this team sits at 104 points.  It is crazy to think the past two-three seasons the Bruins have been like this seasons Dallas Stars.  They were hovering around 80 points with less than 10 to play, and having to win out to get in.  This year being comfortably in has allowed injured guys to take a few days off and get healed.  They may be winning ugly now, but when they finally get healthy……look out.

Go Bruins!

Jaguars Shock the Steelers

 

We heard all week about how the Steelers were going to beat the Patriots — from the Steelers themselves. Mike Mitchell had a fantastic quote:

Le’Veon Bell followed it up with a nice Saturday night tweet (which has not since been deleted so good for him standing him ground):

And then this happened:

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The 2017-18 season where a team can score 10 points in a home playoff game against Buffalo and follow it up with 45 points at Heinz Field to knock off the Steelers. AND it’s the Jaguars that did it. Crazy.

The Jaguars raced out to a 21 point lead and looked to easily run away with it as Leonard Fournette passed Le’Veon Bell for rushing TDs at Heinz Field this year (crazy stat). However, the Steelers kept fighting back but could never get ahead again. Bortles didn’t play fantastic but he did just enough to keep his team in front of Pittsburgh and never allowed them to take the lead. Pittsburgh had some incredible TDs and Big Ben still threw 5 TDs on the elite Jaguars’ defense but it was not enough.

The Jaguars move on and everyone’s preseason prediction of the formerly 3-13 Jaguars against the Patriots comes true. The Jaguars certainly deserve some respect but run into the immovable object that is the Patriots next week for a chance to play in Minneapolis.

1/13 Divisional Playoffs Round-Up: Falcons @ Eagles

The best weekend of football (arguably) has come to a close and what a weekend it was. We’re going to start with the two Saturday games, which were not as close to as exciting as Sunday but still solid.


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#1 Philadelphia Eagles 15 – #6 Atlanta Falcons 10

What do you know? The Falcons did it again and blew a winnable playoff game. I’m not going to point fingers and say I predicted it — but well, you know. Everyone was on the Falcons, which is why this is exactly the kind of game that they lose.

This game was very lackluster — as evidenced by the low score-line. The number 1 seed did successfully pull off the upset over the number 6 seed, who woulda thought? What had people buzzing on twitter most was NBC’s bird graphic:

 

Home Birds are now 10-0 against away birds — what a time to be alive. We saw them show Carson Wentz approximately 25 times and the Falcons ran the worst play on 4th down.

 

Not quite sure why you roll out Matt Ryan here and essentially only give him Julio as a target — who fell down.  Regardless, Julio did have a chance to catch it here but I have to chalk up the game to some bad coaching. The Falcons have already given a vote of confidence to their failure of an OC, Steve Sarkisian so expect more of the same next year. Nick Foles did just enough to get the Eagles the win and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

 

P.S. Lane Johnson wearing a dog mask is nightmare material.

 

Saints – Panthers III Preview

The last matchup of the weekend brings us perhaps the most exciting. The showdown between the two NFC South powerhouses reaches a trilogy in the 2017-18 season. The Saints look to defend their home turf in a third matchup against Carolina. New Orleans beat down the Panthers in Carolina 34-13 and then a 31-21 victory at home. The Saints are looking to beat them for the third time, which is no easy task.

The QB matchup features both past MVPs that are complete game-changers. Drew Brees has had a down-season for his standards but still can easily take over the game. Cam Newton however has the ability to burst out for a 40 yard run at any time. I actually like Cam to be the difference here but Brees is definitely more talented and cerebral. Advantage: Tie


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Jonathan Stewart continues to be one of the least appreciated RBs in the NFL but the combo of Ingram and Kamara easily win here. Both have had an outstanding season and over 1,000 all-purpose yards. Advantage: Saints


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The weapon advantage has to go to the Saints. The Panthers have bounced back fine without Kelvin Benjamin but Michael Thomas is easily the best weapon on the field. Greg Olsen’s return has revitalized the Panthers’ offense a bit but not enough. Advantage: Saints


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The Saints defense have been the surprise of the season and ultimately have been the reason that they played so well this season. Marshon Lattimore is the defensive rookie of the year and nobody wants to throw his way. Advantage: Saints


This is a tough one because I really think the Saints will struggle to beat the Panthers three times in a row. The Saints are a much better team overall though and unless Cam Newton has a monster game, I think they finish off the season sweep.

Saints 27  Panthers 20

The Buffalo Bills Send 1,440 Wings To The Bengals

Oh Buffalo, never change. The Bills, obviously thankful for the Bengals knocking the Ravens out, clinched their first playoff bid since the 1999 season. The Bengals won in dramatic fashion, with Andy Dalton finding Tyler Boyd on a 48 yard TD on 4th and 12 to end the Ravens’ season. What did Buffalo do to repay them?

Classic. Who doesn’t love wings? Actually if anybody didn’t, it’d be Cincinnati residents and their weird ass Skyline Chili. Granted — who even knows who is at the Bengals’ facility by now as they have long been eliminated from the playoffs. Good on Buffalo repaying their debt for their (short) playoff trip.

 

Belichick Reminding Patriots Not To Be Late In Snowstorm Is An Awesome Move

There’s a big snowstorm hitting New England currently and Belichick is still hosting a practice. It’s crunch-time for the Patriots and in reality the season doesn’t really matter until this point — so you can beat he’s not cancelling practice or having a film day even during the bye week.

“You certainly better leave yourself enough time to get here on time tomorrow. We all know there is weather. Coach has mentioned that several times to the team, so I wouldn’t want to be the guy who is late tomorrow,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said Wednesday.

Can you imagine the fear of being a Patriots player that’s on their way to practice and gets held up? I’d honestly rather start running in the snow to practice than have the fury of Bill Belichick during the playoffs on me. That player would have to be cut right? Maybe that’s why Tiquan Underwood got cut right before the Super Bowl one year — the ultimate punishment by Belichick. We’ve all seen what he’s done to players who are late even after they have a stunning game (see: Jonas Gray).

“He’s mentioned that he doesn’t care; ‘don’t call and say your car got stuck.’ I think everyone knows there are two hotels up here at Patriot Place, so stay there for the night. Find a way,” McCourty said.

Love it. I’d sleep in the locker room just to be safe. Everyone always think it’s tricks and trying to get a competitive advantage always which makes Belichick the greatest coach ever. It’s simple — he holds his players to a standard and they need to be accountable. This is the difference between Bill Belichick and a Rex Ryan who would take his team to Chuck E. Cheese the night before a game. The rings speak for themselves.