New England fans know what it’s like to lose again. The Tom Bradyled Patriots came up short in their 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Sunday. Favored by almost everyone in the media and everyone polled, the underdog Philadelphia Eagles, with backup quarterback Nick Foles, outcoached and outplayed the defending Super Bowl champions.
Was I surprised? No. The Eagles had a Cinderella feel to this season. When Carson Wentz got hurt and Foles came in, a lot of people counted them out. They never counted themselves out. It reminded me of another backup who ended up coming in after a season ending injury to the starting quarterback and took his team all the way to the Super Bowl – and won.
For the 8th time in the 16 years that Tom Brady has been a healthy starting quarterback for the New England Patriots with Bill Belichick as his head coach, the New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl.
Let that sink in. It’s amazing, astonishing, and sounds impossible, but it’s true.
The Patriots beat the #1 passing defense in the AFC Championship game, 24-20 to advance to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis where they will take on the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles after their rout of the Minnesota Vikings.
All week, the media was talking about two things: Jacksonville’s defense and Brady’s injured throwing hand. Despite the 12 stitches at the base of this thumb, Brady was able to engineer his 11th game winning drive to seal the Patriots’ victory.
The New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick, don’t lose in the postseason in Foxborough. This record has a chance to be broken when Belichick meets up against his old nemesis, Tom Coughlin.
Teams, coaches, and players try to outsmart Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. This won’t be one of those games. Doug Marrone and Coughlin believe in beating you with talent, playing simple, but effective smash mouth football.
The game will hinge, not on quarterback Blake Bortles, but on Jacksonville’s front five: defensive end Calais Campbell, outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackles Malik Jackson, and Marcell Dareus and OLB Dante Fowler. Brady will run if he has to, he will rush a yard or two on a QB sneak, but mostly he stays in the pocket and it’s up to those men listed above to push the pocket, snap after snap. Then hit him. And again. #Sacksonville doesn’t even need to sack him, just abuse him.
Hopes were high for the Tennessee Titans. They were relishing the “underdog” role against the number one seed New England Patriots and were confident after getting an upset victory last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Titans players were quoted in the press saying “it’s our time”. They were confident in their quarterback, Marcus Mariota, insinuating that the Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady might be past his prime and due for a fall from the NFL throne.
At the beginning of the game, it looked like the Titans had a good chance to beat the Patriots; the Titans were first to score late in the first quarter when Mariota threw a 15-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Corey Davis for a touchdown. It was Davis’ first NFL touchdown, a one-handed catch that got the Titans on the board and it felt like a breakthrough for the Titans first-round draft pick. Finally, during a playoff game, Davis made a big play. The glee didn’t last for long as the Patriots were able to score on their next possession and even the score.
In a strange set of occurrences, this writer was at the Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills playoff game. One hour before kickoff, a friend walked into my house waving tickets that her customer just gave her because she decided not to go.
The mad dash we embarked on was one that would’ve won the Great Race. Sometimes everything goes your way, from green lights to little traffic to finding the perfect parking spot because one person inexplicably left. We watched the first three drives on my phone as we walked from the car, and up the ramps. In one hour and ten minutes, we got dogs out, two females change (including make-up), stopped for cash and drove 23 miles. It was worth it!
Throughout the past two weeks, there has been a lot of rumblings in the press and on social media about head coach Mike Mularkey’s job security. The Tennessee Titans lost three games in a row. Most of the wins this year have been determined to be “ugly wins” and most of the games have been low scoring or “boring”.
When the press asked Mularkey if he felt that he was close to losing his job if he didn’t make the playoffs, he responded: “I haven’t had support to say I was (secure). I just assumed the worst”. The press conference video of this exchange was heartbreaking, Mularkey was quite emotional when questioned about his job security. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk has addressed the situation with this statement:
These two teams haven’t been to a playoff game in so long, kids have been born and are in high school. For a Jags home playoff game? They graduated. Two teams new to the playoff with quarterbacks who also haven’t been in one. It’s going to be either a mess or a sign of good times ahead for the under 30 guys.
Head coach Doug Marrone is coaching his old team. That should make a difference, but teams change a lot in a couple years. What will definitely have an effect, is the fact that running back LeSean McCoy is far from 100%. That hurts not only their run game but their passing ability. He’s their second-leading pass catcher. They’re losing a day of practice and the Jags don’t have to change a thing.
I’m sure the Bills Mafia will be out in full force based on how quickly the seats sold out. They are ending their own playoff drought and are overwhelmingly and understandably excited about this game. However, Jacksonville is pretty stoked as well. It’s going to be a loud game. Believe it or not, Jaguar fans have caused delay of game calls due to the noise. Two of my sons will be there, as long-suffering fans who’ve been to a lot losing games, they’re beyond excited. And they’re raucous like their mama!