NFL Championship Sunday Recap

After a Divisional Weekend for the ages we were treated to a whole lot more surprising football on Championship Weekend as the Jags gave Tom Brady and the zebras damn near all they could handle while in Philly the Eagles and their fans put perhaps the biggest collective chip on their shoulder—thanks in large part to a fast-selling dog mask—and proceeded to beat the odds for the second straight week and completely annihilate most people’s team of destiny in 2018, the Vikings. I also think we can all agree that other than BillsMafia, the fans we most wanna see celebrate a trip to the Super Bowl are definitely Eagles fans. City officials even tried to pre-empt the belligerent celebrations of Philadelphians by greasing their city lamp-posts the fuck up with Crisco. Safe to say that didn’t stop them. Sorry there Millie, pour yourself another screwdriver and avert your eyes from the TV, maybe your Viks will finally make it back next year.

Now I know there aren’t many people outside of Eastern Pennsylvania that thought the Eagles would rout the Vikings 38-7 after the way the Vikings won their last game. The Vikings started off well, got a quick TD on their opening drive and it seemed as though they were on their way to play in the Super Bowl at home. Unfortunately Patrick Robinson sparked 38 unanswered points by Philly later in the first quarter when he picked off a duck from Case Keenum and returned it all the way cross-country for a touchdown.

Vikings after that pick 6: Alright guys, don’t worry, let’s regroup and do what we do.

Two Eagles drives later:

Vikings: Well fuck.

Then Nick Foles, or as they call him in Philly now, ‘Big Dick Nick’, began dismantling arguably the best defence in football bit by bit. First there was the long drive that was capped by a quintessential LeGarette Blount 11-yard score, which was followed by a red zone fumble by Keenum right when you thought the Viks were finding their groove again. After that it was mayhem for Big Dick Nick. A 53-yard bomb to Alshon Jeffery, a 29-second drill to grab a field goal to close the first half,  a 41-yard bomb to Torrey Smith on a flea flicker and a masterful 12-play, 92-yard drive to really drive the dagger in there, capped off by a lovely 5-yard touchdown snag by Jeffery.

I said in my preview for this game that there was no way Foles would be able to replicate his 23/30 line from the previous week against this Vikings defence. Well, like my man with the eyepatch said, Wentz went down, and Big Dick Nick did indeed step the fuck up for the Philly faithful. He dominated the no. 1 defence so hard (26/33, 352, three TDs) that Eagles fans’ post-game festivities have become the main story about this game, and with good reason. Philly fans have been doing their best BillsMafia impressions since their team punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, and we’ve got two more weeks until they play so buckle up for a lot more wild shit coming straight outta Philly before this season comes to a close.

Now let’s talk Patriots-Jaguars, because that game was actually competitive for nearly the entire 60 minutes. The Jags played a near-perfect game as Blakey B went yet another week without a turnover—hats off to the guy, he nearly matched Tom Brady blow for blow in his first AFC Championship game, completing passes to 10 different receivers on the day—Leonard Fournette and the run game were getting the tough yardage, Dante Fowler Jr. (two of Sacksonville’s three sacks) was making Brady’s life hell and the D even came away with a fourth-quarter turnover. You can literally see Brady duck and brace himself for a sack about five or six times on one play before Fowler eventually comes to put the fucker out of his misery.

The fourth quarter turnover was also one of the wildest plays you’ll see as Brady tossed it backwards but almost like a screen to Danny Amendola before he turned around and fired it right back across the field to Dion Lewis who was running behind a convoy of about a half a ton of man before up-and-coming star linebacker Myles Jack—who also had a crucial tip-toe INT last week in Pittsburgh for the Jags—came out of nowhere to completely body Lewis, end what should’ve been a scoring play for New England, strip, scoop and score… But wait, what’s that? The play was blown dead? Why would they do that when referees have clearly been advised in recent years to let the play go on so plays aren’t mistakenly blown dead?? Oh yeah Tommy, didn’t see you there. Makes sense, now. Nevertheless, it was a clean strip by Jack, Jack recovered it while no Pats player was touching him on the ground and it should’ve been a touchdown to put Jacksonville up 27-10. The refs couldn’t allow a nail in the Patriots’ coffin that late though.  Instead they awarded the ball to Blake Bortles and the boys, who promptly went three-and-out, ending whatever momentum Jack’s fumble had gotten going.

Don’t matta.

It’s always fun to make jokes about how the refs want the Patriots to win and how they make calls for Brady that they wouldn’t for anyone else, and on Sunday the case grew a little bit stronger. Not only was there that ridiculous early whistle on the Myles Jack strip play, but you can see a ref in the middle of a Patriots touchdown celebration looking way too damn happy for my taste. There were a couple of pass interference calls on AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey while covering Brandin Cooks that have some people up in arms but after watching them a few times over both calls were pretty obvious fouls in my eyes. The sheer volume of penalties is fishy though. While it can be argued that teams are penalized more against the Patriots because they can’t compete with them without a hold here or a pass interference there, the numbers are hard to ignore: over the Patriots past three playoff games (including last year’s Super Bowl) they have been penalized a total of nine times for 70 yards while their opponents have been flagged a whopping 25 times for 225 yards in those games. I’m not saying there’s collusion going on, but that’s just facts.

That’s brotherly love Philadelphia could learn a thing or two about right there.

Anyways, Brady was Brady in the end, firing passes off to seven different targets at a 68 percent clip while taking a beating he doesn’t usually have to deal with on Sundays. Not to mention he did it mostly on the backs of Cooks, Amendola and Lewis because of the concussion suffered by Rob Gronkowski (I can’t imagine him missing the Super Bowl) in the first half. The Jags defence definitely caused Brady some problems and the Eagles will certainly be studying the film closely to see what they can do to replicate Sacksonville after putting together their own dominant defensive performance at home on Sunday. I would say the Eagles have all the momentum after that big, emotional win, but as they themselves proved by making the Minneapolis Miracle a mere footnote, momentum doesn’t seem to count for much in this league.