Connect with us

Entertainment and Sports

Saints rally past Eagles 20-14, will host NFC title game

Published

on

Saints rally past Eagles 20-14 will host NFC title game

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When the New Orleans Saints finally found their rhythm, they marched one step closer to the Super Bowl.

Using a dominant ball-control offense and a few gambles that paid off, the Saints got two touchdown passes from Drew Brees and two interceptions from Marcus Lattimore in a 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brees took the Saints on scoring drives of 92, 79 and 67 yards after falling behind 14-0. Lattimore clinched it when Nick Foles’ pass from the Saints 27 deflected off usually sure-handed receiver Alshon Jeffery with about two minutes remaining. A couple dozen Saints players surged off the sideline toward the end zone in celebration, while Jeffery fell face-first to the turf in agony.

“We were real calm and poised and we knew we were going to get things done,” Brees said.

New Orleans (14-3) will host the NFC title game next week against the Rams (13-4). Los Angeles, which fell 45-35 at the Superdome in November, will try again next week, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. The Saints’ win finished off a sweep of the divisional round by teams coming off byes.

Wil Lutz added two field goals for the Saints, who last got this far in 2009, when they won the Super Bowl.

Philadelphia (10-8) will not repeat as NFL champion; no team has done so since the 2004 Patriots.

“We were going down to win, but I just felt like we beat ourselves, honestly,” Jeffery said. “Hats off to those guys.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson thought his team was on its way on that final drive to pulling off another stunning comeback win

“It just felt like the momentum at that point was in our favor,” he said. “It’s been that way all season, and we felt like that sort of magic was going to continue.”

This was really two games in one. Philly scored on its first two drives as the Saints could do virtually nothing right.

“Listen, they got off to a fast start, they’re a great team,” Brees said. “Nick Foles has done a phenomenal job for them. We knew it was going to be different than last time.”

After that opening period, it was all New Orleans, yet the resilient Eagles kept it close enough that when Lutz missed a 52-yard field goal with 2:58 remaining, they were only one-score behind.

Foles, the hero of last year’s Super Bowl run, got them in position for yet another late winning score — just like last week at Chicago and last February against New England for the championship.

Then, Jeffery couldn’t handle a second-down pass, and it was over.

“That’s a great championship team,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of the Eagles. “We remained confident.”

Brees had 2-yard touchdown passes to rookie Keith Kirkwood and All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas, who had 12 receptions for a franchise playoff-record 171 yards.

Thomas’ touchdown capped an 18-play, 92-yard drive in which the Saints actually covered more than 100 yards because of penalties. It lasted 11½ minutes.

“What you saw from him today is what I see every day in practice,” Brees said of Thomas. “He’s a big-time player who wants to be the guy to make plays.”

Philadelphia had the ball for more than nine minutes in the first quarter, after which the Eagles had the ball about 13 minutes and never scored.

New Orleans, which routed Philadelphia 48-7 in November, gambled on its first play — and lost. Brees was a bit short on a deep pass to Ted Ginn Jr., and it was picked off by Cre’Von LeBlanc, one of several Eagles backups being used in the secondary due to injuries during the regular season.

“I just think we had to find our rhythm,” Brees said. “I tried to take a shot on the first play. Unfortunately, that didn’t work.”

After the first quarter, though, a lot worked for New Orleans.

Foles completed all five throws on a 76-yard drive capped by Jordan Matthews’ 37-yard TD catch . The Eagles, who quickly fell behind 17-0 in that previous Superdome loss, suddenly led 7-0.

Not long after, a 75-yard drive highlighted by a 30-yard pass to Jeffery ended with Foles’ short leap over the goal line for a 14-0 edge.

Indeed, the visitors were in control until Lattimore picked off Foles’ deep throw to Zach Ertz. The Saints showed plenty of moxie on their 79-yard march to a touchdown, faking a punt at their 30, with Taysom Hill running 4 yards for a first down. They also went on fourth-and-goal from the 2, and Philadelphia’s rapidly depleting defense surrendered Kirkwood’s 2-yard touchdown.

“When you just get that in guys’ minds that we’re going to be aggressive, that we’re going to play to win, it allows guys to relax and to cut loose,” Brees said.

With Brees finding the range and his receivers finding loads of room to roam, New Orleans crept to 14-10 at halftime on Lutz’s 45-yard field goal.

UGLY START

Maybe the Saints were rusty after their wild-card bye, but they got two first downs, including one by penalty, gained 17 yards, and Brees threw an interception and had a fumble that was recovered by teammate Ryan Ramczyk in the opening period. Meanwhile, Philly gained 153 yards and scored two TDs, and Foles went 8 of 9 for 113.

But Foles was intercepted by Lattimore early in the second quarter, and the Saints finally got going.

NUMBERS

Brees, who turns 40 Tuesday, finished 28 for 38 despite the awful start, throwing for 301 yards. Aside from Thomas, who was targeted 16 times — he led the NFL with 125 catches — no one caught more than four passes for New Orleans. Alvin Kamara had four for 35 yards and also rushed for 71 yards. Mark Ingram added 53 yards on the ground as the Saints outrushed the Eagles 137-49. New Orleans is 6-0 at home in the playoffs with Payton and Brees.

Foles was 18 for 31 for 201 yards. Jeffery had five catches for a team-leading 63 yards before the game-sealing drop.

INJURIES

In a span of three plays, two starters were hurt and needed to be carted off.

First, Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins went down midway in the first quarter, unable to put any weight on his left foot. Two plays later, Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks hurt his right leg and departed.

Several Saints players said they would be playing for Rankins the rest of the way because his season was done.

Philly also lost DB Rasul Douglas in the second quarter to an ankle injury, but he was back in the second half. DLs Fletcher Cox, an All-Pro, and Michael Bennett also were sidelined at times before returning. In the fourth quarter, left tackle Jason Peters left.

UP NEXT

The Saints host the Rams in the early game next Sunday, with the winner going to the Super Bowl.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Advertisement

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entertainment and Sports

What really separates Tom Brady from every other player on the field

Published

on

What really separates Tom Brady from every other player on the field

Every season, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gains more people who believe he’s the greatest of all time. It has been a long road for him because he didn’t have the pedigree that other potential GOATs had. He wasn’t the #1 pick in the NFL draft like John Elway or Terry Bradshaw. He was drafted in the 6th round. He didn’t come in with lots of fanfare. His first starting job came as a result of Drew Bledsoe’s injury. He doesn’t have a flashy style like Brett Favre, a complex system like Peyton Manning, or a cannon for an arm like Aaron Rodgers.

He just wins.

The key to his winning ways may have nothing to do with his strong skills, good supporting cast, or excellent game plans. It may just come down to hard work and good ol’ fashioned competitiveness. His mental toughness has been likened to Larry Bird’s or Evander Holyfield’s, two greats in their sports who made up for physical deficiencies by constantly improving mentally even when they weren’t at the top physically.

“Every quarterback can throw a ball; every running back can run; every receiver is fast; but that mental toughness that you talk about translates into competitiveness.”

Football is more than just a physical sport. As Tom Brady has demonstrated, mental toughness may be even more important than 40-yard-dash times or arm strength.


NOQ Report Needs Your Help

Continue Reading

Entertainment and Sports

This will be the Patriots’ last Super Bowl (just as I predicted in 2012)

Published

on

This will be the Patriots last Super Bowl just as I predicted in 2012

The New England Patriots have been the best NFL franchise in history for several years now. They’re dominance over two decades has been and likely will be unmatched. Tom Brady is undoubtedly the best quarterback of all time. Fans of Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Dan Marino can make feeble claims, but as he prepares for his ninth Super Bowl since 2002, it’s hard to vote against the winningest QB the game has ever seen.

But he’s 41. When I first said the Patriots were done, he was 34. I didn’t think he was over the hill, but I thought his supporting cast was diminishing. Following the loss to the underdog NY Giants for the second time in four years, I didn’t see a path for them to return until the next generation of players.

That lasted three seasons until their miraculous win over the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. I’d learned my lesson and didn’t pronounce them done. It was a good thing since they returned to the Super Bowl two out of the next three seasons.

This time, win or lose, I believe Brady and the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl for the last time.

Medical science and favorable rules for quarterbacks has changed the calculus for “over the hill” players at the position. They can stay healthy and effective longer than before because everyone’s so worried about a big penalty if they blow on the QB too hard. That’s not to say the position isn’t still dangerous; clean hits can still be gruesome. But compared to just 10 years ago, the pocket is essentially a “safe space.”

They will go into their game against the Los Angeles Rams as underdogs. The smart money will be on the Rams, and while we’ll see the line move in the Patriots’ favor leading up to the game, most commentators will buck the general sentiment and pick the Rams to step up and avenge their 2001 loss, the one that started Brady’s and Bill Belichick’s dynasty as perennial Super Bowl contestants.

We’re about to see history. It’s the final Super Bowl for the man and the team that defined the game in the modern era. Win or lose, their place at the top of the football world is cemented, permanent, and never to be matched. Until next season, at least.


Subscribe on YouTube

Continue Reading

Entertainment and Sports

Harden scores 48 points, Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT

Published

on

Harden scores 48 points Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was the star for the Houston Rockets as usual on Saturday night, but he and the team got a big boost from Eric Gordon in his second game back after recovering from a bruised knee.

Harden scored 48 points, Gordon added 30 and the Rockets overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.

The Rockets trailed for most of the night and were down by 18 in the second-half. Gordon sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer, and made four free throws in the last seconds of the extra period.

“He’s playing unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gordon.

Coming off 57- and 58-point games, Harden had his 19th straight game with at least 30 and he’s had 40 in 10 of the last 13. He was 14 of 30 from the field, going 8 of 19 on 3-pointers, and hit 12 of 15 free throws.

Harden was asked if Gordon being back after missing eight games before his return on Wednesday night eased the burden on him a little bit.

“A little bit? It takes a lot of burden off me,” Harden said. “He’s so offensively gifted and talented being able to shoot the basketball, being able to get to the rim, being able to make plays for others. You get a guy like that on the floor with you it makes it easier for not only myself but for everybody.”

Brandon Ingram missed a 3 for Los Angeles before Harden hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 132-130 with less than a minute left. Ingram tied it with a basket, and Harden again made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 133-132.

Los Angeles missed a 3 before Gordon also made just 1 of 2 free throws to leave Houston up by two with 12.6 seconds left. Kyle Kuzma lost the ball and it went out of bounds to give Houston the ball back. Gordon added four free throws after that to secure the victory.

It was the second straight overtime game for both teams after Houston lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

Kuzma had 32 points for Los Angeles and Ingram added 21 in a game where coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter.

Already without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers have another injury concern after Lonzo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. Walton said his X-rays were negative but that he’d have an MRI and “we’ll see where we are after that.”

Four straight points by the Lakers stretched the lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Harden and Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers cut it to 112-109 with about two minutes remaining.

Los Angeles made four free throws to make it 116-109 about a minute later, but Harden made two 3-pointers around a basket by Ivica Zubac to get Houston within three with about 30 seconds left.

Lance Stephenson missed a 3-pointer and Harden made two free throws to cut the lead to 118-117 with 5.7 seconds left.

Zubac made two more free throws before Gordon’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2 seconds left sent it to OT.

“I saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope running out to me and I thought he was going to fly right by me, but he stood right there,” Gordon said. “So I had to try to shoot it with confidence and I’m glad it went in.”

The Lakers built a huge lead early and were up 64-46 at halftime, with Kuzma scoring 24 points.

They were ahead by 17 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter after scoring five straight points capped by a basket from Kuzma before Houston scored the next 15 points to cut it to 74-72 three minutes later. James Ennis had five points in that stretch and P.J. Tucker capped it with a 3-pointer.

Ball was injured just before Houston’s run began. He remained on the court for a couple of minutes talking with trainer’s before he was helped to his feet where he hopped on his right foot for a few steps before being carried off the court and to the locker room by Stephenson and Michael Beasley.

Walton was ejected a couple of minutes after that when he got two technical fouls after yelling at officials during a timeout.

Ingram pointed to losing Ball as when things started to get away from the Lakers.

“Right when Lonzo went out,” he said. “That’s exactly when it went away. We lost momentum a little bit.”

TIP-INS

Lakers: James was out for the 13th straight game with a strained left groin and did not make the trip. … Stephenson finished with 16 points.

Rockets: Harden also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. … Ennis returned after missing Wednesday’s game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. … Chris Paul missed his 14th game in a row with a strained left hamstring … Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

THEY SAID IT

D’Antoni on Houston’s comeback: “Words don’t do it. That was just our guys showing a lot of heart.”

UP NEXT

Lakers: Host Golden State on Monday night.

Rockets: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


NOQ Report Needs Your Help

Continue Reading

Facebook

Twitter

Trending

Copyright © 2019 NOQ Report