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  • Mon, 21 Jan 2019 09:00:10 +0000: Tom Brady was already the greatest QB of all time – now he's just rubbing it in - NFL | The Guardian

    The New England Patriots quarterback stepped up with his team’s season on the line and time running out on Sunday. Then he did it again in overtime

    Did you feel the inevitability? Tom Brady in overtime, needing to put together a drive to win the game and send the New England Patriots to their ninth Super Bowl. And, of course, he delivered, because Brady always delivers. He marched his team down the field with the confidence and presence of the greatest to ever play quarterback.

    Related: Tom Brady brilliant in the clutch as Patriots beat Chiefs to set up Rams Super Bowl

    Mahomes drills the sidearm with pressure in his face

    (via @thecheckdown) pic.twitter.com/uaMVvk4MgS

    Related: AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots 37-31 Kansas City Chiefs – as it happened!

    Another look at that no-flag callpic.twitter.com/PQIMkvrMHX

    What did Tom Brady say? Trust me, it is gold #Patriots pic.twitter.com/zHnh7ZwrUY

    Continue reading...
  • Mon, 21 Jan 2019 03:31:40 +0000: AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots 37-31 Kansas City Chiefs – as it happened! - NFL | The Guardian

    Game report

    And last but not least, read all about this instant classic right here.

    Related: Tom Brady brilliant in the clutch as Patriots beat Chiefs to set up Rams Super Bowl

    This game had just about everything, but in the end, it was almost predictable. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady heading to the Super Bowl for a ninth time.

    Considering the way they were dominated in the second half, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs launched what seemed to be an almost improbable comeback, but in the overtime, New England and Brady took over and the kid never got the ball. There’s good reason to believe that he’ll reach this stage for years to come, but for now, he yields to the old raisin who has one more crack at a title.

    Burkhead is in the endzone and New England are heading to the Super Bowl for the third straight year!

    Don’t pass the torch yet, Tom Brady has reached the big show one more time!

    Patriots 31-31 Chiefs, 10:16 overtime

    Now Burkhead barrels ahead down to the five! The game is in the balance for KC!

    Patriots 31-31 Chiefs, 11:33 overtime

    Brady looks for Patterson, incomplete. It’s 3rd & 10. Does that mean Edelman again?

    Patriots 31-31 Chiefs, 12:03 overtime

    Flea flicker! Razzle dazzle!

    Patriots 31-31 Chiefs, 12:07 overtime

    Streaking into the middle of the field, Patterson can’t grab a ball thrown slightly behind him, incomplete. It’s 3rd & 10 and now Brady hooks up with Edelman again for 15!

    Patriots 31-31 Chiefs, 13:02 overtime

    Brady finds Edelman at midfield, Edelman is pummeled to the ground and holds on! First down and NE keep their drive alive.

    Patriots 31-31 Chiefs, 13:40 overtime

    Hogan has a 10-yard reception on the left side before Burkhead runs into the line for a yard.

    We will continue playing until we have a winner. Both teams get a possession unless the first team scores a touchdown: in that case the game is over. Each team gets three timeouts.

    New England win the toss, they’ll take the ball.

    Correction:

    We had a tech hitch with the score: please refresh your browser to see the changes.

    And so for the second time today, a championship game will go to overtime as Butker’s kick splits the uprights.

    Name your superlative for this game folks, none of the will be good enough.

    Patriots 31-28 Chiefs, 0:11 4th quarter

    Mahomes throws it away. Here comes the field goal unit. It will be a 39 yard attempt for Butker to tie this up.

    Patriots 31-28 Chiefs, 0:16 4th quarter

    Mahomes hits Robinson deep in NE territory, and a neutral zone flag on the Pats stops the clock.

    Patriots 31-28 Chiefs, 0:23 4th quarter

    Mahomes buys all kinds of time, but time isn’t something the Chiefs have. Tremendous athletic play from Mahomes, who finds Ware across the 50. Timeout KC.

    Patriots 31-28 Chiefs, 00:32 4th quarter

    Smith’s return is at the 30. KC have one timeout to help the Chiefs get into field position.

    After a big catch by Gronkowski takes NE to the three, then Burkhead rolls ahead into the endzone! Brady has done it again!

    The pass deflects off Gronkowski and is picked off! Except there’s offsides on KC called. So now it’s 3rd and 5!

    So it’s 3rd and 10 at the 34 and NE keep a timeout: they have two now.

    The clock is reset to 1:01.

    Brady goes to Hogan again on the far sideline for a 14 yard gain. New England call their first timeout.

    The ball is at the KC 21. Or is it?

    Patriots 24-28 Chiefs, 1:05 4th quarter

    Brady finds Hogan for another first down. NE are at the KC 34.

    Bill Belichick

    The Patriots head coach just threw his tablet on the ground and then over the bench. It seems that he is a little upset about that pick play that helped KC take the lead.

    Williams up the middle, and the running back has his third TD of the quarter!

    The Chiefs are back on top as the kid passes the gut check in a major way, leading his team down the field to reclaim the lead!

    Patriots 24-21 Chiefs, 2:04 4th quarter

    Now Mahomes has Watkins, he’s open thanks to a pick that isn’t called! Watkins is down at the three yard line, first and goal!

    Patriots 24-21 Chiefs, 3:02 4th quarter

    Now Mahomes is going deep down the far sideline, incomplete, but we have a flag...

    Patriots 24-21 Chiefs, 3:11 4th quarter

    Mahomes drops back and throws to nobody: Kelce was closest, but there was a miscommunication there. No time for that folks. It’s big boy pants time.

    Patriots 24-21 Chiefs, 3:11 4th quarter

    Mahomes finds Kelce, who drops it and NE pick it up...but there is a defensive holding call against Jackson that voids the whole play and pushes KC up to their 37. Still a ways to go.

    Patriots 24-21 Chiefs, 3:21 4th quarter

    Smith takes the kickoff across the 30 and here we go!

    Brady kills the play at the line, takes the nap, hands to Michel, who steams ahead in between the tackles and into the endzone! New England are back on top!

    Patriots 17-21 Chiefs, 3:50 4th quarter

    3rd & 1. Burkhead has it and is tripped up short of the first down!

    Patriots 17-21 Chiefs, 4:05 4th quarter

    The clock is ticking. It’s 2nd & 7. Brady is complete to Burkhead on the far sideline, he’s about a yard short of the first down at the 13.

    Patriots 17-21 Chiefs, 4:49 4th quarter

    Burkhead runs left and he’s untouched through acres of space for a gain of 14.

    NE have their first down confirmed, much to the chagrin of the KC crowd.

    Pats on the Chiefs 44.

    Brady, tons of time, and he slings it to Hogan for a great first down catch...or was it!

    Reid throws a challenge flag. The ruling on the field was complete but the ball is moving as he hits the ground. It looks like a catch to me but it’s really close, just like this game.

    Patriots 17-21 Chiefs, 6:25 4th quarter

    Brady facing pressure again and he throws incomplete...but there’s a roughing the passing call that wasn’t immediately evident, and that’s because I am not sure it actually happened.

    Patriots 17-21 Chiefs, 7:24 4th quarter

    There’s a Chiefs fan on the field but sadly we don’t get to see it. Luckily there’s been a decent chunk of action here in the second half, don’t you think?

    Here comes the blitz again and Mahomes floats a pass to Williams on the near side, he has the football and he is STREAKING DOWN THE SIDELINE! TD KC!

    The Kansas City Chiefs have come all the way back from a demoralizing first half, 14 points down at halftime, to take a late lead at Arrowhead!

    But wait, there’s more! Brady is picked off! The pass bounced off Edelman and into the hands of Daniel Sorensen!

    So now KC take over on the Pats 23!. If you’re a Chiefs fan, that’s justice.

    Here’s the verdict:

    Edelman did NOT touch the ball, that means New England have it after KC downed it.

    Edelman fields the punt, but the ball bounces in front of him. Now Gehrig Dieter of KC is running into the endzone! Did Edelman touch the ball?

    The ruling on the field is that Edelman did touch the ball, and that it can’t be advanced by KC and that the Chiefs have the ball deep in Pats territory.

    Patriots 17-14 Chiefs, 8:40 4th quarter

    Mahomes in the shotgun, New England send everybody, and the pivot throws it away.

    Patriots 17-14 Chiefs, 8:51 4th quarter

    Well, after all this, KC have the momentum and the ball. Quickly however, it’s 3rd & 8 after Mahomes fires high over the hands of Williams.

    Patriots 17-14 Chiefs, 9:33 4th quarter

    Huge play, here we go.

    Patriots 17-14 Chiefs, 9:47 4th quarter

    Here’s a big 3rd & 2 and the crowd is up at Arrowhead.

    Patriots 17-14 Chiefs, 11:36 4th quarter

    Brady is rushed but he hits the fullback after a lightning quick release. That’s Devlin for nine yards as the clock ticks...

    Patriots 17-14 Chiefs, 12:36 4th quarter

    Michel is running again, and once more he has room up the middle. He runs for nine for a first down.

    Patriots 17-14 Chiefs, 13:35 4th quarter

    So here comes Tom Brady, bidding to reach his 42nd Super Bowl, looking to hold off this second half rush from Kansas City.

    Mahomes is rolling to his right and lets it go, right into the chest of Damien Williams in the corner of the endzone. Touchdown!

    It’s a three point game at Arrowhead! KC have upped their second half yardage production from 3o odd to 145.

    Patriots 17-7 Chiefs, 14:56 4th quarter

    Mahomes floats a ball towards Kelce but Jackson hits him too early and flags fly! It’ll be first and goal from the one for KC!

    Patriots 17-7 Chiefs, end of 3rd quarter

    Now Mahomes drops back and throws to his right to Williams who has room and is running downhill!

    Patriots 17-7 Chiefs, 0:57 3rd quarter

    On 3rd & 3, Mahomes is crushed, but not before slinging it sidearm to Watkins who has it for a first down!

    Patriots 17-7 Chiefs, 1:22 3rd quarter

    Mahomes is facing a blitz on 2nd down runs it himself, taking a hit on a nine-yard scramble up the middle after electing not to dive.

    Gostkowski drills it into the back of the net, and we’re back to a two-score game.

    That 12-yard loss on the Hill punt return was such a killer.

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 4:19 3rd quarter

    White runs up the middle to the KC 30 on a draw play. It will be a 48-yard attempt by Stephen Gostkowski.

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 4:38 3rd quarter

    Michel on first down, runs right, with little to no room for a gain of two.

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 6:38 3rd quarter

    Now New England have a chance to keep the ball on the ground, kill some clock and get three points at least. But Brady goes to the air, complete on the near sideline to Hogan for a first down at the KC 28!

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 7:38 3rd quarter

    Mahomes is sacked! That’s a pressure and coverage takedown.

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 9:05 3rd quarter

    Play fake and a handoff to Williams who has room and plows up towards a first down. It’s their biggest run of the night: 10 yards.

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 10:33 3rd quarter

    On 3rd & 6, Brady’s pass is batted down in the line by Chris Jones and the Pats have to punt!

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 11:13 3rd quarter

    Burkhead struggles but has just enough, pushing for a first down. So the Pats drive continues.

    Patriots 14-7 Chiefs, 11:56 3rd quarter

    OK, so maybe I went a little far with the Super Bowl line predictions.

    As it happened

    The Kelce score right after the big gainpic.twitter.com/zYQCq0H3mH

    Mahomes finds Kelce streaking across the middle and just like that, KC are right back in it!

    That’s quite a change!

    Patriots 14-0 Chiefs, 14:27 3rd quarter

    It’s 3rd & 2 as Andy Reid tries to avoid yet another bone crushing playoff loss.

    KC need to make plays. Big plays. And a lot of them. They start on their 26.

    Most of us hope Brady retires after the game. @LengelDavid

    When will this ever end?

    Stats

    CBS TV here in the US provided us with this nugget before the half ended.

    Email

    Christopher Lee is back, and a bit perturbed.

    And that will do it for the first half, one thoroughly dominated by an old guy who is clearly finished.

    This may sound ridiculous, but even after that thrashing, KC are down just two scores and it’s still poss...well, ok, maybe that does sound ridiculous.

    Brady, has time and is throwing deep down the far sideline into the endzone...

    ...Phillip Dorsett is being manhandled by Steven Nelson but comes up with the football and has a touchdown!

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 0:31 2nd quarter

    They can’t stop the run. White runs left now as Brady changes the play at the line of scrimmage, again. It’s a gain of nine yards to the Chiefs 29 and the Pats use their second timeout.

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 0:41 2nd quarter

    Here’s a screen to White on the near side line and he has room - ACRES OF ROOM! Where is everybody?

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 1:13 2nd quarter

    New England have little interest in stopping this clock. A play fake to Edelman and a toss to Michel goes for a yard.

    KC’s crowd are doing their best to energize the weathered defense, but New England’s running game is finding holes: Michel is at it again, finding gaping holes. It’s a nine-yard run for a first down and that takes us to the warning.

    Both teams have all of their timeouts, in case you were wondering.

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 3:08 2nd quarter

    It’s 3rd and long for KC: Mahomes facing inside pressure and he’s wrapped up and sacked by Flowers!

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 4:10 2nd quarter

    Mahomes throws deep to Hill who beats double coverage who has it! It’s a 42-yard huge play for Mahomes and KC, somehow down just seven in this game, are now on the NE 23.

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 6:39 2nd quarter

    Big 3rd & 2 for KC as their offense tries to get on track. On their 11th play from scrimmage, Mahomes is in the shotgun, drops back, runs right, is nearly sacked by Van Noy, then fires complete! Watkins has a first down to keep the drive going.

    Email

    Thomas Wahl writes:

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 7:39 2nd quarter

    On 2nd & 10, Brady fakes a throw to Patterson then hands to Michel who runs right up the middle for a gain of nine.

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 9:07 2nd quarter

    On 2nd & 7, Brady is nearly picked again! A diving Eric Berry could not come up with the pill.

    I got nothing on that Tom Brady throw. I am baffled. @LengelDavid

    You got nothing, but now New England have the ball as the time of possession conquering continues.

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 11:57 2nd quarter

    KC starts from their 20.

    Reggie Ragland picks off Brady in the center of the endzone, and he kneels for the touchback!

    And that’s the play the defense had to make!

    Big 3rd & 2.

    Brady in the shot gun, takes a step back and throws to the far sideline where Edleman is wide open. It’s a five yard gain down to the Chiefs five-yard line.

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 1:13 1st quarter

    Brady throws right, Patterson has it and he has room! Big block by Gronkowski and it’s an 18-yard gain down the far sideline!

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 2:19 1st quarter

    Brady comes out throwing, incomplete on the far sideline looking for Edelman.

    Email

    Christopher Lee writes:

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 4:33 1st quarter

    Mahomes is sacked on 3rd & 10! Kyle Van Noy wraps up a perfect start for New England as they quickly force a punt following a methodical opening drive.

    Patriots 7-0 Chiefs, 5:28 1st quarter

    Williams is wrapped up by Roberts on 2nd & 5 for a loss of two, and on third down, Mahomes fires incomplete...but there’s a flag. Defensive holding keeps the drive alive for KC.

    The Patriots, smashing Chiefs mouths, cap a marathon drive with a Sony Michel following a James Develin block into the endzone.

    That’s 15 plays, 80 yards in 8:05. Can the Chiefs answer? It’s pretty quiet in KC.

    Patriots 0-0 Chiefs, 7:05 1st quarter

    Brady looking for White on a screen pass is incomplete, setting up a big 3rd & 7.

    Patriots 0-0 Chiefs, 9:50 1st quarter

    On 3rd & 1, White moves right, cuts left, and has a short gain for another first down.

    Patriots 0-0 Chiefs, 10:49 1st quarter

    Gronk is up and running, a nine-yard catch on the near side to their own 45...and now again, this time his catch is for five yards on the far sideline.

    It really happened!

    The Pats start from their 20 and begin on the ground, right up the gut, Sony Michel a first down and an 11-yard game.

    Happy recap

    That’s what this is, if you’re a Los Angeles Rams fan of course.

    Related: Rams beat Saints in overtime to make Super Bowl after 'missed' call

    National Anthem

    I usually keep national anthem ratings for the baseball World Seires, but Melissa Etheridge did a heck of a job and I’m giving the Kansas native an 8/10.

    Prediction

    Patrick Mahomes, the young, side-arm-throwing phenom is must-see TV and certainly a must-read live blog.

    Well, thanks to a 57-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, the Rams move from one German dome to another: Los Angeles have made their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history, three seasons removed from their former home in St Louis.

    Who will they face in Atlanta? We’ll know soon enough.

    Fashionistas

    Snap poll, who won the pre-game fashion bowl?

    Highly doubt Tom Brady thinks Chiefs -3 is the right side todaypic.twitter.com/0XLAmzDIKH

    1️⃣5️⃣ has arrived. #LetsRoll pic.twitter.com/UyX8JfD0Rn

    Bundle up?

    There always seems to be a playoff game in the bitter cold and this year it’s in Kansas City. The Arctic blast is blowing over Arrowhead Stadium, a weather system which will bring temperatures to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit or -6 Celcius at game time, considerably warmer than its been in the region lately.

    Tom Brady is wearing his comically oversized coat again #LACvsNE pic.twitter.com/mFsgeeOp5H

    Perspective

    After years of tough-luck losses and ineptitude, the Chiefs would love to hoist the Lamar Hunt trophy. Others, not so much.

    Belichick’s trophy room has too many trophies in it.

    Proof: last year’s AFC Championship pic.twitter.com/NB6rpKwYrl

    Pregame thoughts

    OK, let’s just get something out of the way first: this is NOT a referendum on the state of Grandpa Brady and the Pats.

    Howdy folks, David Lengel here. Welcome to our live coverage of the American Football Conference Championship game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. We’re glad to have you with us!

    Now get back to the NFC Championship game with Hunter Felt over on Guardian 1. I’ll post some content in the meantime but we’ll see you back in a little bit. Sound good? Excellent.

    Related: NFC Championship Game: Los Angeles Rams v New Orleans Saints – live!

    David will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s Hunter Felt’s preview of today’s game:

    What the Patriots need to do: Make Patrick Mahomes look like a playoff rookie. Mahomes had a successful postseason debut against the Indianapolis Colts, but he didn’t have a passing touchdown (although he did rush for one). That didn’t really matter in a comfortable 31-13 win, but that’s not going to cut it against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Every drive in which the Patriots defense can limit the Chiefs to a field goal (or less) will be crucial if this becomes a shootout similar to the teams’ previous meeting.

    Continue reading...
  • Mon, 21 Jan 2019 03:29:51 +0000: Tom Brady brilliant in the clutch as Patriots beat Chiefs to set up Rams Super Bowl - NFL | The Guardian

    The New England Patriots are headed to their third straight Super Bowl, once more thanks to Tom Brady’s brilliance. The five-time NFL champion guided the Patriots 75 yards after winning the overtime coin toss, and Rex Burkhead’s two-yard touchdown lifted New England past Kansas City 37-31 for the AFC championship on Sunday night.

    The drive, during which New England had three third-down conversions, against an exhausted defense was reminiscent of when the Patriots beat Atlanta in the only Super Bowl to go to OT two years ago.

    Related: Rams beat Saints in overtime to make Super Bowl after 'missed' call

    Continue reading...
  • Sun, 20 Jan 2019 23:37:35 +0000: NFC Championship Game: Los Angeles Rams 26-23 New Orleans Saints – as it happened - NFL | The Guardian

    Best team won

    This is very true. It’s less that the Saints lost this game, it’s that the Rams won it. These teams were competing for the title of the best team in the NFL for much of the game. It makes sense that four quarters weren’t going to be enough and that it would come down to a field goal (hey did someone predict that the key player would end up being the kicker?) In any case, I’m going to become a mere spectator to the AFC Championship Game (join David Lengel for his liveblog here and The game report for this game is down below.). Meanwhile, thanks to everybody who read along to our liveblog, especially those who contributed. Ciao!

    Related: Rams beat Saints in overtime to make Super Bowl after 'missed' call

    Ben Dunn:

    The Saints just cannot catch a break in the post-season. On the wrong end of the Miracle last year, and this year the wrong side of the New Orleans No-Call. Unreal.

    The Rams have won the NFC Championship Game! What incredible poise by Goff and the Rams who could have been dead several times there.

    Rams 26-23 Saints, FINAL

    The Rams can win it here with a field goal, since the Saints have already had possession in this overtime.

    Rams 23-23 Saints, 11:47, OT

    The Rams pick up a first down on their first possession of overtime, but lose three yards on the next play. Goff finds Higbee for a 6 yard gain. It’s 3rd & 7 at the New Orleans 39. On the next play, Goff throws to Cooks who drops it. Saints take a timeout, with Zeurlein coming out for a 57 yard attempt.

    Rams 23-23 Saints, 13:55, OT

    Brees throws a dangerous long pass and it’s intercepted by Johnson at the Saints 46! Falling on the back as he does so.

    Rams 23-23 Saints, 14:48, OT

    On 1st & 10, Brees’s pass is tipped and goes incomplete. 2nd & 10, Brees throws deep and this time there’s a flag, leading to some sarcastic clapping. It’s defensive pass interference, which gives them 14 yards and an automatic first down. They’re at their own 40 now. On 1st & 10, Ingram gets stuffed, a huge loss. Six yards.

    Rams 23-23 Saints, 15:00, OT

    Kamara brings out the ball to start overtime. He gets to the NO 26.

    Soooo how long will this NFC Championship no-call be talked about? pic.twitter.com/S1WhmmJTFp

    Ben Dunn:

    If the Rams win this, that non-call on the obvious foul on the Saints WR is going to be a huge talking point. If that was called, as it should have been, that was game over.

    Rams 23-23 Saints, end of regulation

    The Rams kick it off, probably just hoping for no return here. Kamara takes it out of the end zone and gives it a decent return but remains well within Saints territory. Drew Brees takes a knee and we’re going to overtime and the crowd is steamed.

    Rams 23-23 Saints, :15, 4th quarter

    The Rams get it into field goal range. It’s a 48-yard attempt for Zuerlein. The crowd gets loud. The kick is JUST good.

    Rams 20-23 Saints, :45, 4th quarter

    3rd & 3, Goff finds Woods who gets it to the New Orleans 33. The Rams take another timeout.

    Rams 20-23 Saints, 1:12, 4th quarter

    2nd & 10, Goff hits Reynolds for a first down that takes them to their own 44. On 1st & 10, Goff throws incomplete. 2nd & 10, Cooks gets seven yards.

    Rams 20-23 Saints, 1:37, 4th quarter

    On 1st & 10, Goff throws incomplete. That’s a start for the Saints defense.

    Rams 20-23 Saints, 1:41, 4th quarter

    Now the Rams have a lot of time to even this thing out or win it outright. Lutz’s kickoff goes for a touchback.

    Rams 20-23 Saints, 1:45, 4th quarter

    It’s 3rd and 10 now for the Saints, who are in danger of botching this drive. Brees throws incomplete… and it feels like there should be a flag on the play somewhere. Instead, the Saints have to settle for a field goal. Lutz’s kick is good. The crowd is booing, which is understandable.

    Rams 20-20 Saints, 1:49, 4th quarter

    Kamara gets stuffed for no gain and the Rams take a timeout.

    Rams 20-20 Saints, 2:00, 4th quarter

    The Saints are now on the Rams 13. On 1st & 10, Brees throws incomplete to Thomas. They take a time-out, that feels like a miscalculation on the Saints considering the clock. And on the next play, Brees has to use a timeout.

    Rams 20-20 Saints, 2:00, 4th quarter

    There’s Aaron Donald for the Rams, pushing back Ingram for a two-yard loss. 2nd & 12 for the Saints, Brees throws deep, 43 yards to Ginn! And we’re at the two minute warning with the Saints in good position to win this whole thing.

    Rams 20-20 Saints, 3:37, 4th quarter

    Brees finds Austin Carr for a five yard down on first down. It’s 2nd & 5 at their 35. Saints are in shotgun, they hand it off to Ingram who is immediately tackled. On 3rd & 2, he throws to Kamara who stays inbounds and reaches the New Orleans 46. That’s a first down.

    Rams 20-20 Saints, 5:03, 4th quarter

    I would have went for the touchdown on 4th down. Of course, I would always go for it on fourth down I would be a terrible head coach. Saints are back on the field, Kamara takes the kickoff for a 30 yard gain.

    Ben Dunn:

    The game is great. The coaches are having a stormer. Rams and Saints are making adjustments and they are working. They’ve studied the life out of each other and their season strengths are being largely negated. Fascinating to watch. Two high-quality chess-playing head coaches not making many errors so far.

    Rams 20-20 Saints, 5:16, 4th quarter

    2nd & goal, Goff takes it on his own and gets it to the second-yard line. The Saints are lucky there’s not a touchdown. 3rd & goal, Anderson gets the ball… and he’s just short of the goal line.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 7:23, 4th quarter

    And another huge throw by Goff, who throws to Reynolds all the way at the Saints 7. That’s a 30+ yard gain. 1st & goal, Anderson gets to the 5 yard line.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 8:50, 4th quarter

    Oh wow. This might be the biggest play of the game, Goff hits Everett who gets the ball and runs it down for a 39 yard gain all the way from deep into their own territory to the Saints’ 39 yard line.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 9:38, 4th quarter

    Well, Gurley’s back out there it seems and he gets the ball to start things off, getting about six yards on first down. Woods gets the ball next and gets just one yard. It’s 3rd & 3 on the Rams own 16. On the next play, the Rams take a timeout right before Goff throws incomplete, which the fans aren’t super-happy about.

    And we do have a Gene Loves Jezebel appearance!

    Surprised how well the Saints D are playing..Helluva game.@HunterFelt

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 11:04, 4th quarter

    On 2nd & 20, Kamara gets stopped by Suh after a 3 yard gain. It’s 3rd & 17, and it’s looking like this promising drive could fizzle quickly. And it does, Brees’s throw to Ginn is incomplete, nearly picked off, and that will do it. Morstead’s punt puts the Rams on their own 9.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 11:51, 4th quarter

    Saints are at the LA 46. Ingram picks up 4 yards, but wait there’s a penalty that will push them back 10 yards. It’s 1st & 20 at the New Orleans 44 now. Brees throws incomplete to Dan Arnold. So make that 2nd & 20.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 12:29, 4th quarter

    The Rams are punting from their own seven… except there’s a penalty on the Saints that pushes them up five yards. And there’s a flag on the punt, this time on the Rams, a 15-yard chop block penalty that, after the catch, means that the Saints are starting in LA territory.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 12:59, 4th quarter

    Let’s see if that “no call” ends up hurting the Saints here. The Rams take the field with a chance to tie or better. The announcers are speculating on Gurley’s health here, it’s a surprise we haven’t seen him.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 14:56, 4th quarter

    Brees throws incomplete to start the fourth quarter, Saints fans want a call here and there might be holding here. The Saints have to punt instead. Natson catches the punt on the Rams 34.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, end of the 3rd quarter

    The ball comes out on the next play, but Kamara gets right on so all they lose is a down. 2nd & 10, Ingram picks up three. That will due it for the third. I’m thinking this might be a suspenseful fourth quarter, so stick with us.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 1:57, 3rd quarter

    Zuerlein’s kickoff is another touchback. Not a lot of drama when it comes to that department. The Saints immediately get the first down thanks to Brees throw to Tre’Quan Smith. Brees, working in the shotgun, then finds Thomas to their own 44 and Ingram gets the first down and more, all the way to midfield.

    Rams 17-20 Saints, 3:06, 3rd quarter

    It looks like an elbow injury for Bell (and by looks, I mean the replay made painfully clear). Josh Reynolds gets stopped right before the goal line. It’s 1st & goal at the one.

    Rams 10-20 Saints, 5:15, 3rd quarter

    And Goff goes long… a long throw to Cooks that gets them to the halfway mark. On the next play, Anderson gets about a yard. 2nd & 9… a yellow flag flies down, it’s offside on the Saints. That’s five yards and no play. 2nd & 4. Goff finds Cooks for a 25 yard gain and they’re already at the Saints 17. The Saints’ Von Bell looks to be hurt so we get an injury timeout.

    Rams 10-20 Saints, 7:25, 3rd quarter

    Anderson picks up four yards. Huge 3rd & 2 here, and the Rams convert. Goff throws short to Cooks for a another four. That’s a new first down.

    Rams 10-20 Saints, 8:04, 3rd quarter

    Lutz’s kickoff is yet another touchback, they’ll be on their own 25. Goff finds Woods for a four-yard gain to start their possession.

    Rams 10-20 Saints, 8:37, 3rd quarter

    They’re rolling now. On 2nd & 1, the Saints pick up a first down and it’s 1st and goal. On his first attempt, Brees throws incomplete, underthrown to Thomas. 2nd & goal, Taysom Hill gets the ball for some reason, his throw to Kamara is complete. 3rd & goal, Hill decides to go back to being a receiver, which works out rather well. Brees connects with him for a touchdown. Lutz’s extra point is good.

    Rams 10-13 Saints, 11:08, 3rd quarter

    Saints are going super-fast now. Brees finds Kamara again, why go away with what’s working, he gets 8 yards here. They’re in the red zone now.

    Rams 10-13 Saints, 11:55, 3rd quarter

    And Kamara gets the ball again and picks up 9 this time around. 2nd & 1… yep that’s Kamara again, this time for a seven-yard run. That’s another first down and on the next, Ingram runs it again and they’re already on the LA 26.

    Rams 10-13 Saints, 13:03, 3rd quarter

    On 1st & 10, Ingram gets about six yards. 2nd & 4, Brees targets Kamara, their MVP of the game so far, who easily gets a first down.

    Rams 10-13 Saints, 14:16, 3rd quarter

    Woods gets the ball to start the first half, who gets taken for a four-yard loss. On 2nd & 13, Goff throws incomplete to Woods who can’t make the catch. 3rd & 14, Goff throws incomplete yet again. Let’s see if they fake punt again

    And we begin the second half with a touchback. The Rams will start at their own 25.

    The Ying Yang Twins apparently are doing the halftime performance, which makes more sense for New Orleans than Jimmy Buffett who should legally be forced to root for the Dolphins.

    Donald Buchnowski:

    I am here in the Dominican Republic keeping up and my family in Buffalo are all for the Saints!!!

    From Pranjal Tiwari:

    I’m still confused by “love will tear us apart” making an appearance today. Do you know if that’s a Saints anthem or something, or was it the broadcaster that used it? Very strange.

    And now “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult! Goth / New wave production manager perhaps?

    Roger Kirkby:

    To The comment about headphones, up in the rafters sit a bunch of guys relaying what is going on, on the field to the coordinators on the ground. Either that or they podcast the game.

    Well this was looking like a one-sided affair until the last minute of the half. That huge completion by Goff changed everything and the Rams will have the ball to start the half. This is definitely looking different from most of the snoozers last weekend.

    Rams 10-13 Saints, end of the first half

    That will quiet down the crowd. What an absolute game-changer for the Rams. Kamara returns the Rams punt to the 20. Drew Brees decides to kneel here and take things to the half.

    Rams 10-13 Saints, :23, 2nd quarter

    There’s a flag on the punt, on the receiving team it turns out. It’s a 10-yard penalty on the Rams, which will mean that they will be starting at their 19. Goff throws to Reynolds who gets 9 yards. 2nd & 1. They connect again for a 13 yard gain that brings them to their own 41. The clock is now a factor here as well. 1st & 10, Goff throws in complete. On 2nd & 10, Goff’s pass is tipped, and is also incomplete. So it’s 3rd & 10, less than a minute to go in the half… and Goff finds Cooks for a 17 yard gain into New Orleans territory. Rams used their second timeout.

    Super dome too loud. If Saints win it’s because Rams can’t hear anything. Bad place for a playoff.

    It’s certainly a factor.

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 2:00, 2nd quarter

    That’s a better showing for LA, Ndamukong Suh sacks Brees for a six yard loss, and then gets a half-sack on the next play, by pushing Brees back on first yard. The Rams get another stop on the next play, a play that brings us to the two-minute warning.

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 3:50, 2nd quarter

    Kamara gets two yards on 1st down. Ginn picks up 6 yards on 2nd & 8. A big 3rd & 2 here for the Rams defense.

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 5:27, 2nd quarter

    2nd & 10, Anderson picks up 6 yards, to the Rams 40. He’s having another big night. On 3rd & 4, Goff throws incomplete and that will stall things out. Hekker’s punt will put the Saints at their own 17.

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 6:18, 2nd quarter

    Goff throws incomplete and the Saints take a timeout.

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 6:18, 2nd quarter

    Anderson picks up 3 yards for the Rams on first down. On 2nd & 7, Woods makes a great catch of Goff’s throw for a 6 yard gain. A big 3rd & 1 for Los Angeles here. Anderson just gets it.

    Email from Ezra Finkelstein:

    Do all players have headsets in their helmets? Because otherwise why are all the coordinators talking into their headsets?

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 8:15, 2nd quarter

    On 2nd & 12, a pressured Brees throws on the run for a seven yard gain. Not sure how exactly he did it, but it’s still a 3rd & 5 and his throw to Kamara goes incomplete. The Saints punt and JoJo Natson makes a fair catch on the Rams 22.

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 9:45, 2nd quarter

    Zuerlein’s kickoff ends up being a touchback. On first down, Kamara gets stuffed for a two yard loss back to the Saints 23.

    Rams 3-13 Saints, 9:49, 2nd quarter

    Goff finds Brandin Cooks for a four-yard gain on first down. On second down, they hand off to CJ Anderson who can’t quite get anywhere. It’s 3rd & 6 at the Saints 18, Gurley gets the ball and drops it but there’s a flag on the play… but there’s no penalty. It’s 4th down for the Rams. Greg Zuerlein makes his debut for a 36 yard field goal that’s down the middle and the Rams are on the board.

    Rams 0-13 Saints, 11:47, 2nd quarter

    The Rams are at the Saints 26 in their first real scoring chance of the game. Anderson gets the ball the next carry for a four yard gain and another first down.

    Hekker has more passing 4th down conversions this season than Jared Goff https://t.co/qhkooYdu5B https://t.co/ZBVAgY5hxT

    Rams 0-13 Saints, 12:09, 2nd quarter

    The Rams allow Goff to return as quarterback. On 1st & 10 at the Saints 45, he throw incomplete. On 2nd & 10, Goff finds Gerald Everett for 11 yards and another 1st down. CJ Anderson picks up 8 yards on the next down. The Saints’ AJ Klein gets medical attention as we head into an injury break.

    Rams 0-13 Saints, 13:31, 2nd quarter

    Woods gets a gain of a single yard on 3rd down… and the Rams decide to let punter Johnny Hekker find Sam Shields for a 12 yards gain on a fake punt! Now that is some creative offense! Their first 1st down!

    Roger Kirkby:

    No imagination from either team so far, and that’s why it’s low scoring. Maybe they are just too scared of both offences. Remember the Rams were way down against the Saints earlier this season.

    Rams 0-13 Saints, end of the 1st quarter

    2nd & 10. The crowd has not gotten louder, CJ Anderson picks up 5 yards again… for the last play of the quarter. The Rams have a total of 15 yards and have had zero first downs.

    Rams 0-13 Saints, :32, 1st quarter

    CJ Anderson gets his first carry of the game, for 5 yards. On 2nd & 5, the Rams pick up another penalty, this time a false start that negates their gain. The Rams take a timeout. The announcers speculate that the crowd noise is a factor here.

    Rams 0-13 Saints, 1:40, 1st quarter

    Another Lutz kick, another touchback. Now would be a good time for the Rams to get their first 1st down.

    @HunterFelt With #Brexit making Brits understandably nervous, please make sure your audience knows that 100% of the US economy consists of cars and beer. I’m watching Rams-Saints so I know I’m correct.

    And “The Masked Singer” episodes, apparently.

    Rams 0-13 Saints, 1:40, 1st quarter

    On 1st & 10, Brees throws to Ginn who can’t quite make the completion. 2nd & 10, Kamara gains about 6 yards. 3rd & 4 at the Los Angeles 12… and Kamara can only pick up another two yards. On 4th and 2, the Saints, who are aggressive, put the offense back on the field… an they draw a defensive encroachment penalty for a first down.

    Rams 0-6 Saints, 3:08, 1st quarter

    The Saints pick up two yards on first down. On 2nd & 8, Thomas catches a Brees pass and gets tackled immediately. It’ll be 3rd & 2, and another chance for the Rams to shut down a promising drive by New Orleans.

    Rams 0-6 Saints, 5:05, 1st quarter

    It really feels like the Saints should already be up by two touchdowns considering their first two possessions. Wow, Josh Hill picks up 24 yards to get to the LA 44. He comes off a little dazed, however. That’s not a good sign.

    Rams 0-6 Saints, 5:35, 1st quarter

    The Rams’ punt puts the Saints at their own 34, decent starting position. Wait, I’m pretty sure the broadcast just went out with “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Kind of a downbeat choice there, guys.

    Rams 0-6 Saints, 5:35, 1st quarter

    And the Saints hold the Rams to a 3-0. Might be a decent defensive battle brewing here.

    Rams 0-6 Saints, 7:10, 1st quarter

    Lutz’s kickoff goes to the end zone again for a second straight touchback.

    Pretty dull game so far,with the run game of both teams not working.Wonder if Bill Belichick is watching...

    @hunterfelt happy football day! That anthem was bizarre. So were the puppets. #saints

    Rams 0-6 Saints, 7:10, 1st quarter

    So, the Saints take over at the Rams 15. The Rams defense steps up though, limiting Brees and the Saints to a 3-0. Lutz kicks a 29 yard field goal right through the uprights. Again, could be worse for the Rams.

    Rams 0-3 Saints, 8:42, 1st quarter

    On 2nd & 3, Gurley gets stuffed for a loss. It’ll be 3rd & 7, Goff’s pass gets deflected and then intercepted by Demario Davis! Oof!

    Rams 0-3 Saints, 9:26, 1st quarter

    Well, that could have gone worse for the Rams. It looked like Brees had thrown a sure touchdown pass at the end of that Saints drive. There’s a flag on the kickoff, an illegal block on the Rams, who will start on their own 10. On 1st & 10, Jared Goff throws to Robert Woods, who picks up about seven yards.

    Rams 0-3 Saints, 10:07, 1st quarter

    On 3rd & 7, Brees throws to Dan Arnold who can’t quite hold on for the touchdown. Big drop. The Saints have to settle for a field goal here. Wil Lutz’s 37 yard field goal is good and New Orleans is on the board first.

    Email by Roger Kirkby:

    Hi Hunter, watching the game in a pub in London, definitely not the same as watching it in a bar in California. I’d like to see the Rams win. It would make coming back to LA the right decision.

    Rams 0-0 Saints, 10:12, 1st quarter

    And on the next throw, Drews and Kamara connect again and get to the 22 yard mark. 1st & 10, Brees throws incomplete. On 2nd & 10, Brees finds Thomas for a three yard gain before Aqib Talib stops him. The Saints take a very early timeout.

    Rams 0-0 Saints, 11:53, 1st quarter

    Mark Ingram picks up 9 yards on 1st down but then gets stuffed for a two yard loss. 3rd & 3, Rams could make a big stop here. Instead Brees throws long to Kamara. A beautiful 21 yard pass to get the Saints to the Rams 36.

    Rams 0-0 Saints, 14:16, 1st quarter

    The Saints are starting at their own 25. Brees throws to Michael Thomas on 1st & 10, but it’s incomplete. On 2nd down, Alvin Kamara picks up about two yards. On 3rd and long, Brees finds Ted Ginn for a nine yard completion and a first down.

    Rams 0-0 Saints, 15:00, 1st quarter

    Rams win the toss and they will (rightfully) defer. That’s my one NFL strategy: always defer on the opening coin toss. That means the Saints will receive to start the first half while the Rams will start off the second half. The Ram’s kickoff goes to the end zone for a touchback.

    Jimmy Buffett is singing the national anthem (?). Okay I’ve definitely taken something. I’m giving it a 3/10 and I’m being super-generous.

    And the lights go out and the fire display goes off (I hope that’s what I’m seeing) as the players start taking the field.

    We are getting closer to kickoff and more importantly, we’re getting closer to the end of the pregame show. Something just happened involving Rob Riggle and puppets. Or I have accidentally ingested something psychoactive. This liveblog could get dicey shortly if the latter.

    I’ve already made my prediction, I’ve got the Saints just outlasting the Rams. I am pretty much putting all my faith in the venerable Drew Brees making the Super Bowl for the first time since his 2009 victory. Your thoughts? Send them here and we’ll include them on in the liveblog, either by emailing them to hunter.felt.freelance@theguardian.com or tweeting them to @HunterFelt.

    The FOX NFL pregame show has like three more people on it than necessary, this is like a scene from a Marx Brothers movie. The set is about to topple over thanks to the combined weight.

    AFC Championship Game

    Later in the day, 6:40pm EST to be precise, the Guardian will be liveblogging the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. It should be a great match between the top quarterback in the league in Tom Brady and his possible successor in Patrick Mahomes. The Patriots ran all over the Los Angeles Chargers while the Chiefs handled the Indianapolis Colts with ease. This one should be a much closer game, at least if their regular season matchup is anything to go by.

    For a good chunk of the season, the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints were fighting for the best record in the NFL, and they both managed to secure it, ending the season at 13-3. The Saints, however, owned the tiebreaker, so they’ll be hosting today’s game. So, it’s pretty fitting that the two of them will face each other in the NFC Championship Game with a Super Bowl appearance on the line.

    The Rams had a slightly easier time getting to the penultimate round of the playoffs. While the final score of their win over the Dallas Cowboys was 30-22, the Cowboys were coming from behind the entire way. Led by the running back duo of Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson, they managed to end the Cowboys without much fuss.

    Hunter will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s his preview of today’s game:

    What the Rams need to do: The Rams need to keep relying on their running game. Everyone was expecting Todd Gurley to have a big game against the Dallas Cowboys last weekend but nobody was expecting CJ Anderson to outdo him, or for both running backs to pick up more than 100 yards each. Now the Saints defense will have to game plan for both men.

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  • Sun, 20 Jan 2019 23:33:12 +0000: Rams beat Saints in overtime to make Super Bowl after 'missed' call - NFL | The Guardian
    • Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal clinches game for LA
    • Saints felt they should have got call late in regulation
    • Los Angeles Rams 26-23 New Orleans Saints (OT)

    Greg Zuerlein kicked a 57-yard field goal in overtime and the Los Angeles Rams, helped by a huge missed call by the officials, advanced to the Super Bowl with a 26-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

    Related: Tom Brady brilliant in the clutch as Patriots beat Chiefs to set up Rams Super Bowl

    Another look at that no-flag callpic.twitter.com/PQIMkvrMHX

    Related: NFC Championship Game: Los Angeles Rams 26-23 New Orleans Saints – as it happened

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