Rams (and refs) beat the Saints in OT

The good, bad and ugly of the NFC Championship game

Rams website

These teams combined for 80 points in their week nine matchup. They combined to score a bit more than half of that amount this time as the Rams are onto Atlanta courtesy of a 26-23 overtime shocker. Here's how I saw it:

The Good

-Both Seans showed their penchant for gambling in the first quarter. Saints' Payton drew the Rams offsides on 4th & 2; Rams' McVey faked a punt for a passing first down. This was a matchup of two highly innovative offensive play callers: one the proven vet, the other a prodigy. The defensive coordinator matchup (Dennis Allen of the Saints and Wade Phillips of the Rams) was fun to watch as well.

-Saints running back Alvin Kamara was a matchup nightmare. Drew Brees found him 11 times for 96 yards. He routinely made the Rams defense look bad no matter how they tried to defend him. Prime example was the wheel route he caught for a 21-yard gain.

-Rams quarterback Goff outdueled Brees when it counted most. He was able to make several plays in the fourth quarter and overtime. His throw on 2nd down when he was in the grasp of Cam Jordan to gain yards was clutch. It put them within field goal range and ultimately won the game for them.

The Bad

-Saints tight end Dan Arnold dropped a touchdown pass in the first quarter. Brees put it on the money with two defenders nearby. Arnold caught it and dropped it as he was falling to the ground. It forced a field goal try. Four points can make a huge difference in games like these.

-Rams didn't force a Saints punt until midway through the second quarter. The Saints couldn't convert a couple possessions into touchdowns, but were able to maintain a two score lead. The Rams put themselves behind the eightball early again.

-The Saints offensive line couldn't keep Brees clean enough all game. He was sacked twice and was forced into throwing a crushing interception in overtime. Left guard Andrus Peat played through a broken hand that he just had surgery to correct two weeks ago. The Rams pass rush exposed this line's deficiencies.

The Ugly

-Rams linebacker Cory Litteton gave Saints tight end Josh Hill a forearm shiver to the head in the first quarter. Hill went out under concussion protocol, but there was no flag on Littleton. Saints were already without Benjamin Watson at tight end.

-Rams running back Todd Gurley must still be injured. His play has been limited the last few weeks. When he has played, he hasn't made an impact. He dropped a pass that Saints linebacker Demario Davis intercepted and led to a field goal. Another dropped pass would've been a for sure first down, if not a touchdown, and forced the Rams to kick a field goal.

-The refs missed several calls, but what's new. Saints defensive end Cam Jordan appeared to have horse collared Rams Quarterback Jared Goff. Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman clearly held Saints wideout Tedd Ginn Jr on a third down incompletion. But the missed pass interference call against Robey-Coleman on Tommylee Lewis was blatant!

Another NFC Championship game in New Orleans and another overtime thriller. The Saints had the game in their hands, only to have it taken away from them. A lot will be made of the non-call on the third down that caused them to kick a field goal with 1:45 left and not ice the game on that field goal with no time left. The Rams are now on to Atlanta and Sean McVey is on his way to becoming the youngest head coach to possibly win a Super Bowl.

The Patriots dynasty continues with a 13-3 win over the Rams

The good, bad and ugly of Super Bowl 53

Eric J. Adler, Patriots website

In the lowest scoring Super Bowl in NFL history, the Patriots beat the Rams 13-3. Here's how I saw it play out:

The Good

-The refs let both teams play down the field. Defensive backs and wide receivers like to hand fight running routes most times. The refs allowed them to be physical and it made for a better game. Games have more flow when they aren't chopped up by flags. The Patriots didn't get a defensive penalty called on them until the fourth quarter.

-Tom Brady loves his slot receivers, especially the Smurf-types who run great routes and have sure hands. Julian Edelman is the second leading receiver in post season history because he fits that description perfectly. He added to that total with 10 catches for 141 yards.

-Bill Belichick and Sean McVey had a great chess match as opposing playcallers: Belichick as the grizzled defensive guru, and McVey as the boy wonder on offense. There was also Wade Phillips directing the Rams defense against Josh McDaniels and the Patriots offense. This was like watching Ali-Foreman or Leonard-Duran. Most people would say in this era of scoring, this was a bad game. I beg to differ.

The Bad

-Brady threw an interception on the Patriots first possession. They were in field goal range when Brady uncharacteristically threw a pass high and into traffic. It was tipped and picked off by Rams linebacker Cory Littleton. In such a tight game, taking points off the board proved to be huge.

-The Rams had 57 total yards of offense and two first downs. They had three times as many punts (six) as they had first downs in that half. It looked as if the Patriots would control the game, but they were only up 3-0 at the half. It was the second lowest scoring first half since Super Bowl 9 when the Steelers led the Vikings 2-0.

-The Rams inability to stop the run became their Achilles heel. The Patriots ran for 146 yards as a team.

The Ugly

-The Rams' Nikell Robey-Coleman was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a 2nd&14 play in which he hit Rex Burkhead helmet to helmet for a four yard loss. It went from a potential 3rd&18, to a 1st&10. Robey-Coleman thanked his lucky stars when Stephen Gostkowski missed the field goal.

- Patriots safety Patrick Chung seemed to have broken his arm early in the third quarter. He's so critical to what Belichek likes to do on that side of the ball. Whether it's as a blitzer, man coverage, zone coverage, or as a spy, Chung is Belichick X-Factor. He showed his toughness by refusing to take the cart to the x-ray room, and coming back to the sideline with his aircast on.

-Jared Goff threw a crucial interception in the fourth quarter. 2nd&10 on the Patriots 27-yard line down 10-3 with 4:17 left in the game, Belichick brought out the zero blitz to pressure the young quarterback. Goff lobbed a ball up to Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore made the pick at the four yard line.

Sometimes I wonder what would've happened had Yoda ever had to fight Luke Skywalker? Would Yoda have won because he was older, wiser, and more experienced? Would Luke win because he's younger, faster, and more innovative? Belichick may have answered that question for us as far as football is concerned. End the discussion now. Brady and Belichick the GOATs at their respective spots. We'll never see another dynasty like this in the NFL, ever. I consoder myself blessed to have been fortunate enough to have seen this whole thing from beginning to now. We should all consider ourselves fortunate. Regardless of how some may feel about them, this is history. This is greatness.

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