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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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Kristy Swanson’s reaction to Rob Reiner is an instant classic

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Kristy Swansons reaction to Rob Reiner is an instant classic

Actress Kristy Swanson has been known for slaying vampires among her many Hollywood endeavors. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress demonstrated she didn’t need Luke Perry to save her from the evil hordes in the 1992 movie that launched a successful television series. Today, she’s slaying a different kind of vampire as the evil Hollywood hordes of progressives express their Trump Derangement Syndrome on a daily basis.

Her latest kick in the face came at the expense of director Rob Reiner.

The 72-year-old Hollywood icon who brought us This is Spinal Tap and A Few Good Men has been on a tear recently with unhinged Tweets condemning the very existence of President Trump. When faced with so much hatred, reasoning with them is impossible. Sometimes, you just have to smack them back to reality and hope they come out of their hate-driven stupor.

With Hollywood rife with radical progressives who promote socialism (as long as their money is safe), open borders (as long as nobody crosses their fences), and gun control (as long as they have armed security), seeing people like Swanson hit back is refreshing.

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Entertainment and Sports

XFL unveils teams. Names great. Logos not so much.

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XFL unveils teams Names great Logos not so much

The team names are in for Vince McMahon’s XFL, his response to the NFL’s growing dissatisfaction. Before today, the cities were announced in rather large markets, signaling a direct confrontational strategy with the NFL in multiple markets, though in a different portion of the year. The emerging league unveiled its team names and logos this afternoon. The Team names overall seem to be well-received. The logos, in contrast reveal a certain lacking of creativity. The team names and logo judgement are as follows

Dallas Renegades

The logo looks like it came out of a create a team mode on Madden. Not really a fan of the name because a renegade is basically a deserter. Outlaws would have been a better word choice and would sound better because its four syllables, not five.

Houston Roughnecks

This is an excellent team name that pays homage to the community around it. The logo resembles the Houston Oilers, in that they are the same thing, though Roughnecks is more colloquial and blue collar sounding. Overall solid.

LA Wildcats

Hate the team name. It’s 2019 and your team name is the Wildcats? I would joke with my wife when filling out NCAA March Madness brackets about how many Wildcats there were, Kentucky, Villanova, etc. The logo I understand because of the marketability.

New York Guardians

Fantastic name and logo. It kind of has a superhero feel while at the same time a Gothic gargoyle vibe.

St. Louis Battle Hawks

Points for originality. War Eagle was taken. Bird are too generic, but they spiced it up a little bit

Seattle Dragons

It’s risky to go with dragons and pull it off. I think the Seattle Dragons fall short. This logo has also garnered criticism for similarities to UAB.

Image

Tampa Bay Vipers

The logo is a “V” depicting a snake’s eye. Clever, simple, original enough. No complaints. The reptile community is well represented in the XFL.

DC Defenders

The alliteration is the only reason I like this team name. Washington DC does not have a proud military history, getting burned down during the War of 1812, in which the subsequent Battle of Baltimore saved the union. DC Swamp or DC Debt would have paid more accurate respects to the community. better. So again, I don’t get it, but the alliteration works extremely well.

Final Thoughts

That’s the quick rundown of the eight teams the XFL has announced. Compared to the failed AAF, I do not like the team names or logos early as much. The choice naming of the San Antonio Commanders was enough to make me a fan. The Fleet, Apolllos, Hotshots, and Iron were also well-crafted team names. Comparatively, the XFL is generic. But keep in mind the NFL has it’s fair share of bad team names with bad or dull logos. To list a few: Browns, Jets, Giants, Packers. Major League Baseball is also unimmune. So we need to remove the bias that gives the existing team names we have grown accustom to a relative free pass.

The AFF had great team names and great football, but the XFL doesn’t exceed this, but at least they don’t plan to dump scarce money into a failed app. Overall, this announcement was enough to give the league added legitimacy in its daunting quest to challenge the NFL.

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Entertainment and Sports

Stop blaming Sony for Spider-Man debacle. It’s Disney’s fault, folk.

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Stop blaming Sony for Spider-Man debacle Its Disneys fault folk

The Twitterverse is all aflutter over Sony and Disney’s inability to make a new deal that would allow Spider-Man to continue being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nearly every fanboy is outraged at Sony, but this outrage is completely misplaced. It was Disney’s greed that got in the way.

Sony wanted to continue the current deal that brought Spider-Man’s two recent solo-films to the big screen. They were madly successful as star Tom Holland became widely acclaimed as having the best portrayal Spider-Man. But Disney didn’t like the deal because it kept most of the profits in Sony’s hands.

Marvel knew going in that they’d play second fiddle to Sony on all Spider-Man movies. They chose to make the deal for the sake of the MCU and it worked wonders for both companies. But Disney got greedy.

Spider-Man Out of the MCU: Marvel, Sony Can’t Reach Deal

A dispute at the top levels of both companies has essentially resulted in Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige being nixed from future Spider-Man projects, according to Deadline. Disney had asked for a 50/50 co-financing agreement between the two studios on future Spider-Man films. Again according to Deadline’s sources, Sony turned that offer down. Sony proposed keeping the arrangement similar to the terms that dictated the first two Spider-Man MCU films, such that Disney would only receive 5% of first dollar gross. Disney refused that deal.

Sony wanted to keep the deal they both agreed to from the beginning. Disney’s the one who got greedy. Blaming Sony for this is like blaming a divorce on the person who was cheated on. It’s Disney who’s being unfaithful to Sony… and fans.

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