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

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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

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Entertainment and Sports

Interview with Christopher Shaw

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Interview with Christopher Shaw

I was given the opportunity to interview Christopher Shaw. He is the director of the upcoming movie, Church PeopleChurch People is “romantic comedy satire” about a celebrity youth pastor caught up in the marketing machine of his mega church. In the interview, Christopher discusses the redemptive story arc involving what is a sad reality within churches today.

But the journey leading up to this movie was no cakewalk. Christopher’s start came from making Youtube videos. He then built a network of Christian comedians on Facebook, most notably the relationship between he and Thor Ramsay, the writer and star of Church People. They finally began their working relationship at the 168 Film Festival back in 2010. During this festival, they produced the short Skip Listening in a short period of time, the entire process taking no more than 18 days. Skip Listening won accolades at the festival and so the two have continued working together ever since.

As a Director, Christopher appreciates a high quality film. This was his critique of faith based movies, however he emphasized his optimism for how much the category has improved over the years. Passion of the Christ, he says was a breakthrough in closing this disparity. Since then, a number of faith-based films have proven to be remarkable returns on investment. As I pointed out in the interview, Christian comedy, remains rather untapped in its potential, which is a reason I sought to interview someone behind Church People.

Because this interview was for Startup Christ Presents, one of the goals of the interview is to tap their entrepreneurial wisdom. Christopher was not lacking for advice to give. The theme of the advice can be summarized by saying unless God is saying otherwise, start making content. Technology has increased the ease of entrance with film and distribution of content.

These are some of the highlights from the interview. You can watch, or rather listen, on youtube, and if you feel so inclined, subscribe to Christianity Visualized, a new channel I am working on. More to come on that later.

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Conspiracy Theory

No, Symeon Star-Eyes is not the Night King

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No Symeon Star-Eyes is not the Night King

A week ago, HBO dropped the long awaited and highly anticipated Game of Thrones final season trailer. This take may be late take, but oft times, I believe in letting the hot takes simmer down so the voices who aren’t seeking quick views for their lackluster analysis stand out. Now a lot of fan accounts on Youtube have boasted finding all these “easter eggs” in the trailer that just are not there. Particularly a lot of people are being misled by the theory that the legendary Symeon Star-Eyed is the Night King. The theory has the vote of confidence from Cosmo and its readers.

This theory existed on Reddit long before the trailer dropped. It goes so far to suggest that Symeon Star-Eyes was perhaps a Stark, but definitely from the North because the “North would want their own hero amongst the greatest heroes in Westeros history.” There is no evidence to suggest why Brandon the Builder, Breaker, Shipwright, and Burner aren’t sufficient legends. Knighthood is tied to the Seven, so it is unlikely he was from the North… But I need to slow myself down. The Game of Thrones trailer featured a star-eyed Night King reigniting this theory.

image

The seven pointed star is symbolic of the Faith of the Seven, the religion of the Andals, which would make, according to this theory, the Night King an Andal in origin. The belief that the Night King is the Andal Symeon Star-Eyes, a fabled knight from the Age of Heroes, is self defeating. Let’s first address the proposed evidence.

“There was a knight once who couldn’t see,” Bran said stubbornly, as Ser Rodrik went on below. “Old Nan told me about him. He had a long staff with blades at both ends and he could spin it in his hands and chop two men at once.”

“Symeon Star-Eyes,” Luwin said as he marked numbers in a book. “When he lost his eyes, he put star sapphires in the empty sockets, or so the singers claim. Bran, that is only a story, like the tales of Florian the Fool. A fable from the Age of Heroes.”

AGOT Bran VII 

Now, it’s important to note that White Walkers, which are referred to as Others, have not directly appeared in the books. In the lore, the Others are always depicted as having blue eyes, like when the when the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (allegedly) had sex with one.

“A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well. He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will.”

AGOT Bran IV

That man was known as the Night’s King, which is a far more plausible than Symeon Star-Eyes for being the Night King. This of course would only be true if the Night King was not an original amongst the Others. For this is generations after the Others were defeated, hence why there is a Night’s Watch. The idea that the Others have changed leadership is a major supposition not supported by either canon material or even the show who depict neither a queen nor power struggle which would likely still remain if an Other form of Symeon Star-Eyes usurped power to declare himself Night King.

And that is the less obvious reason why this fan theory is the Fake News of Game of Thrones theories. The most pressingly clear reason is that there were no Andals during the Long Night. The Andal Invasion did not occur until well into the Age of Heroes. The argument I’ve seen in response to this pressingly obvious fact is that history in Game of Thrones is unreliable. George RR Martin is intentional about using non-reliable narrators as well as writing a history of Westeros that is entirely contingent upon the interpretation of its multiple writers. Therefore the exact timing of the arrival of the Andals is subject to debate. This is all true. However, there is nothing to suggest that the Andals invaded during the Dawn Age. The Age of Heroes began after peace was made with the Children of the Forrest, as explained in the show in season one.

The First Men, who are the other predominant race in Westeros have the Others embedded in their culture, while the Andals generally believe the Others to be no more real than grumpkins and snarks. By the time the Andals arrived in Westeros, we are well into the Age of Heroes. Let’s go into more detail. When the Andals arrived they carved runes of seven pointed stars and brought their faith with them. Their invasion was repelled by the Stark Kings of Winter. Thus, the North remained primarily First Men and worshiped the old gods. House Stark remembers the Others, hence Winter is Coming. The Arryns of the Vale were established towards the very beginning of this time, for the Vale is the nearest landing spot. House Arryn is one of the oldest and purest of the Andal houses, until the current storyline. The Long Night is not in their culture. Lann the Clever had already taken Casterly Rock and established House Lannister. House Lannister bares a maternal lineage to Lann the Clever, a First Man, and has taken on an Andal line. There are FOUR Lannister POV characters. None of them reference their ancestors fighting Others. As you can see, the Andal houses did not experience the Long Night, meaning they Others invaded long before they arrived. So once again, how can Symeon Star-Eyes be the Night King.

Explanation

There are two reasons why the Night King’s, and by extension all Others’ eyes would be shaped as a seven-pointed star. The first is that a dragon must have three heads and a star must have seven points. This is to say that HBO is blowing smoke up people’s asses. The second is that the Children of the Forrest created an abomination to the old gods, whom they worship along with the First Men. This abomination bore resemblance to the faith of the seven, much like how the god Baal resembles numerous other false gods. As for me, I believe the former because the show-runners are not that intricate.

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Conspiracy Theory

Sci-Fi short film offers terrifying future of authoritarianism after 2nd Amendment repeal

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Sci-Fi short film offers terrifying future of authoritarianism after 2nd Amendment repeal

Warning: Adult language and some adult content.

The folks over at Dust have mastered the art of the short science fiction film. Their take on an authoritarian future is no exception and strikes a little too close to home for conservatives.

Imagine if nanotechnology became so advanced that it could do nearly anything to a person even at the genetic level. New hair color? No problem. Longer life? Done. Special “powers”? Sure.

What if the government could track our incapacitate anyone remotely thanks to this nanotechnology? In the scenario detailed in this short film, the government has decided to repeal the 2nd Amendment since there’s apparently no need for an armed citizenry in such a society.

For the rest, you’ll just have to watch the video. It’s 14 minutes yet terrifying nonetheless.

The combination of advancing technologies and authoritarianism in Washington DC could make for a truly horrifying future if we’re not careful. When they say something is being done to improve the collective, be skeptical.

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