Category Archives: Game Recap

Ravens Show Resilience In Heartbreaking Opener

Chris Schisler

In a game that featured a season’s worth of deflating moments, the Baltimore Ravens lost 23-16. The Bengals led wire to wire. The Bengals mounted a 15 point lead. The Ravens defense was conservative and was scorched in-between the 20 yard lines; It was stingy in the red zone. In a game that could have been a blow out the Ravens showed resilience but still fell short.

The Ravens started the game horribly. The first 3 quarters was a slow and painful torture. The defense kept it close, which served as a sort of sliver of hope. There were so many chances for the Ravens to take control of this football game. When they did in the fourth quarter taking a 16-15 lead they just needed one stop from the defense.The Bengals scored a touchdown and Chykie Brown never had a chance. Seriously why is he covering one of the best receivers in football? The Bengals had their dagger.

The Ravens would march down the field only to be stopped on downs after two consecutive sacks. The last play the Ravens were in an empty set (5 man protection) the Bengals sent an overload blitz and the rest was painful history.

Im riding on the bus back from football heaven and I’m more angry than anything. I mean are you kidding me? The Baltimore Ravens lost a game because they asked for it. You don’t win many games when you have 10 dropped passes, stupid penalties and you put Chykie Burnt Like Toast Brown on A.J. Green in the big moment. You don’t win a lot of games when you only start playing well when the fourth quarter begins. I’m angry because this team is so damn talented at pissing me off. I’m angry that we lost a winnable game and that we beat ourselves. I apologize for the rant but this is the controlled PG-13 version.

The Ravens showed heart. They got their butts kicked on a bad day and almost won. Its not acceptable, its not-but its not all bad. You have to be at least a little proud of coming back and making it a game. Its not like we thought we’d go undefeated. We have our first loss, we have a quick turnaround with the Steelers on Thursday. No sense in sulking (though Im going to indulge in my misery for a little bit) we have to go get our first win.

3 Short Notes on National Championship Game

The Florida State Seminoles are champions of the college football world. Here are a few notes from the thrilling BCS National Championship Game:

1.) Jameis Winston Persevered

If you were going to evaluate Winston play by play he may not have the highest grade in the world. He was quite frankly a little blind. He missed out on several open receivers and he forced throws. He had limited success most of the game as a runner and he forced throws.

But when it mattered most Jameis Winston Delivered. He led a scoring drive right before the half when his team was desperate. He threw the game winning pass with 15 seconds remaining in the game.

2.) Special Teams played a huge role
One of Auburn’s first scoring drive was from a great punt return after forcing FSU to punt from the 1 yard line.

Special teams are so important and it showed in the championship game.
Florida State’s much needed score before the half was set up with a fake punt on the FSU side of the ball. A late 4th quarter kick return for a touchdown was huge in the 34-31 Seminoles victory.

3.) The ESPN coverage was very well done.

On ESPNNews they had the “film room”. This was awesome because you got to see the game from different angles including the All 22 angle which allows you to see the whole play.

To make it even better ESPN had analysts and coaches breaking the game down. The conversation was so much better than typical commentating. It was a very in depth look at every play. The only problem was the All 22 camera angle was not presented in full swing.

Having options of how to watch the game was empowering to fans. Everyone could choose the best part of the “Megacast”. I applaud ESPN for high quality TV coverage of the championship game.

49ers vs Packers: Wild Card Finale

49ers vs Packers: Wild Card Finale

jll

Chris Schisler

Imagine playing on a rock hard field in 5 degree weather and a 10 degree wind chill. That is exactly what the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers did on this frigid evening in Green Bay Wisconsin. It was a premier matchup in a game reminiscent of Vince Lombardi’s “Ice Bowl.” Now that we have talked about the weather in the hallowed frozen tundra of Lambeau Field we can actually discuss the football game.

It did not take long for the game’s first big decision to arrive. On a 4th & 6 at the Green Bay 35 yard line Jim Harbuagh decided to go for it. Colin Kaepernick completed a 31 yard pass to Michael Crabtree who was relatively wide open. The Packers wisely doubled tight end Vernon Davis but Crabtree ran right by the only defender in the vicinity. The 49ers could not punch the ball into the end zone however and they settled for a field goal. San Francisco was fortunate to even get the three points as Kaepernick was nearly intercepted in the end zone. The drive was costly for the Packers. Veteran corner Sam Shields and linebacker Mike Neal left the game with injury.

The Packers came away with nothing but a three and out on their second drive. Two possessions into the game, Aaron Rodgers had yet to complete a pass and had been sacked once. The 49ers defense got great push from their defensive line. Impressively the team from San Francisco did not seem to be effected by the weather. The 49ers started the game as the more physical team and were winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.

The 49ers offense drove right back into the red zone. 17 of 22 49ers plays were in Packers territory. There was just one problem the 49ers were having. Twice they had driven to the red zone only to come away with a field goal. The Packers were getting dominated in many respects but the scoreboard only read 6-0 San Francisco.

The fans had had enough after their team’s third possession and they promptly booed. The Packers once again went three and out. Disaster nearly struck as Aaron Rodgers fumbled under pressure. The Packers were able to retain possession but had lost 5 yards on the play. The 49ers were able to get pressure on Rodgers that kept him in the pocket. They did a great job in coverage and an even better job in run defense. Three drives (if you can call them that) in Aaron Rodgers had not completed a pass and the only thing the Pack could seemingly do is move backwards.

The Packers defense quickly gave their offense another chance as Tramaun Williams intercepted a forced throw to Vernon Davis by Colin Kaepernick. The Packers had struggled but 1 touchdown could give them the lead with a PAT. Rodgers first completion gave the Packers their first earned first down and the Packers offense started clicking.

The Packers went on to have a 12 play drive that was capped off by an amazing 5 yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers dominated the first quarter but failed to score touchdowns in the red zone. The Packers took their punches, turned the page and in the second quarter took a 7-6 lead.

The 49ers would answer the Packers touchdown with a touchdown of their own. They did it with a heavy dose of Frank Gore. First Gore makes a critical block that helped Colin Kaepernick have a 43 yard rush. Two plays later Gore took a handoff and scored from 10 yards out. A game that started as a defensive slugfest featured a sudden burst of offense from both teams.

The Packers were able to end the first half with a Mason Crosby field goal. If it were not for questionable clock management and a penalty from the Packers they could have scored a touchdown. Considering that the Packers struggled mightily to start the game a 13-10 game was a real achievement. The offense really turned it around. They started with three straight three and outs with no Rodgers completions. Rodgers finished the half 11/15 for 97 passing yards and a touchdown. The Packers had a strong 10 point second quarter.

The question at halftime was which team would put together two strong quarters of play? The Packers had captured the momentum at home. The first quarter showed the 49ers what they needed to do. They needed to reroute the Packers wide receivers and they need to get pressure on Rodgers that keeps him in the pocket. They knew they needed to run the ball and take advantage of the Packers desire to take Vernon Davis out of the game. There were huge possibilities for Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.

The Packers also knew what they needed to do to move on to the divisional round. In the second half they must get the ball out of Rodgers hands quickly and use route concepts that make man coverage difficult. The Packers knew they must contain the 49ers rushing attack and force Kaepernick into questionable decisions. There was a blueprint that emerged for both teams in the second half. The question would be who would deliver.

The second half did not start smoothly for the San Francisco 49ers. After their kick returner failed to return the ball past the 20 yard line, Kaepernick called a timeout before the first play from scrimmage of the half. That was very costly especially for a drive that ended with a three & out. Kaepernick struggled but there was really nothing open as the Green Bay secondary ate up the receivers in coverage. The next 49ers drive did not go so smoothly either. They managed to get a few first downs but had to punt the ball away after Kaepernick was sacked for the 4th time.

The subsequent Packers drive was a high point for the 49ers defense. They were able to play outstanding coverage and collapse Rodger’s pocket and sacked him twice in a row. This set up a 3rd & 22 for the Packers. Rodgers found Jordy Nelson with a 1 on 1 match up but they could not connect on the deep bomb. The Packers had to punt and the 49ers had perfect field position. The 49ers could not take advantage of it however and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers got another opportunity trailing late in the 3rd quarter by 3.

It was a scoreless third quarter. The 49ers defense found their way back to what was so successful in the first quarter. The Packers defense finally played a great quarter, not even bending.

The Packers started the 4th quarter in 49ers territory, thanks to a productive drive by Eddie Lacey and James Starks. Mike McCarthy rolled the dice on 4th down and boy did Rodgers deliver. In one of the most thrilling plays of the entire season Rodgers completed a clutch pass to Randle Cobb (Sound familiar Chicago) after it looked certain he would be sacked. That was an amazing play and no written word can do it justice. A few plays later John Kuhn scored the touchdown to make sure that great play did not go to waste. The Green Bay Packers had their first lead of the wild card game.

The 49ers offense came out onto the field with a new sense of urgency as they now trailed a game they shortly dominated. With a big third down scramble and aided by a penalty the 49ers quickly moved down the field. From the Packers 28 yard line Kaepernick threw a dime, finding Vernon Davis down the seam with linebacker AJ Hawk with his turned to him. The throw was perfectly timed and placed and it capped a quick 64 yard drive to recapture a 49ers lead.

Aaron Rodgers made some amazing plays on the next drive. I was convinced the 49ers had him for a sack when a blitzing safety came flying off the edge, but Rodgers is a magician with his feet. The Packers were able to tie the game at 20 with a Mason Crosby field goal. With 5:06 left in regulation no one could predict how the game would end, at least not on this very wild wild card weekend.

The 49ers had a championship caliber drive. Colin Kaepernick was phenomenal as he moved the 49ers into scoring range. Once the 49ers were in scoring range they were able to run the clock all the way down to kick the game winning field goal. The 49ers knew they could not let Rodgers have another chance and they did not give him one. It was a thrilling weekend of football and it ended with a game that went down to the wire.

Chargers vs Bengals: Wild Card Recap

Chargers vs Bengals: Wild Card Recap

Chris Schisler

dalton sucks

The San Diego Chargers should be grateful they are in the AFC and they do not have to travel to Green Bay. Instead they went into Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati for a wild card clash with the Bengals. The game was cold but it was nothing compared to the night game.

The Bengals defense sent a statement on the very first drive of the game. On a 3rd & 5 safety Chris Crocker came off the edge untouched to sack Phillip Rivers. The “Who Dey” yelling crowd was into it early and the pass protection error forced the Chargers to punt.

The Bengals opening drive had promise but they had to punt after a couple of first downs. That is when the San Diego offense came alive. The biggest component of their 86 yard touchdown drive was the production from the running backs. At this point in the game the Chargers were averaging 4.8 yards a carry. When Danny Woodhead gave the shaken up Ryan Matthews some plays of relief he was equally productive as the starter. Ronnie Brown even had an 11 yard rush.

Other than the one error in pass protection the Chargers offensive line was superb. They pushed the Bengals off the line and they were able to get to the second level of the defense for some big runs. They also were protecting Rivers well. On their initial scoring drive Rivers had the time to bounce step into the pocket and fire a bullet into the hands of the well covered tight end Ladarius Green for a 22 yard completion.

Andy Dalton struggled with accuracy in the beginning of the game. He had a few passes sail over his receivers’ heads. The Bengals second drive stalled when Dalton failed to connect on a 3rd & 1 pass into the flats. Former Raven Jarrett Johnson was there but there was no chance of him defending an accurate pass. Johnson’s presence in the flat was enough to scare Dalton into a poor throw. The positive that did come from this Bengals possession was flipping the field position. The Chargers were pinned inside their 10 yard line and were held to a three and out.

The Bengals were given great field position and they took advantage of it by marching to the red zone and scoring a Jermaine Gresham touchdown pass from Dalton. The Chargers were not the only team running the ball well. Giovanni Bernard rushed for 4.2 yards per carry while Benjarvis Green Ellis and Andy Dalton both averaged 4.5. Giovanni Bernard, the rookie running back from UNC, touched the ball on 5 of the last 7 plays on the scoring drive. This included a check down reception that Bernard took for 20 yards.

The Chargers next drive resulted in a three and out. On third down some controversy arose over the spot as Rivers, who was in an empty backfield was forced to run for the first down. He dove inches short and bounced past the marker but he was down by contact where he landed. It was the correct spot by the officials. Then on the Bengals next drive, Chargers head coach Mike McCoy challenged a Bengals reception by the sideline. It was a bad challenge and therefore it cost San Diego a time out. Then Marvin Jones caught a 49 yard reception that put the Cincinnati in the red zone. This was a wasted trip however as Giovanni Bernard caught a pass and fumbled on the 5 yard line. The play was highly controversial and the review was lengthy. It looked like Bernard did gain possession before fumbling and took two strides before fumbling. The play stood and the Chargers got the ball at the 11 yard line.

The Chargers went three and out giving Cincinnati just over a minute to try to score. An interesting decision by Mike McCoy was to run the ball on 3rd & long instead of going for the first down. Andy Dalton fired several inaccurate passes that his receivers jumped up to get. He made Jermaine Gresham leap high to grab a ball at the 26 yard line. The play had a lengthy review and it was ruled a catch. This is the long story short version of this sequence that ended up putting the Bengals ahead 10-7.

The first half was as completive and as physical as they come. Both teams were playing well and they knew exactly what they wanted to do. The most compelling thing about the first half was that both teams had very similar strategies. Both teams used their running games to set up manageable third downs and big passes down the field. Neither quarterback was playing phenomenal football but both were playing well enough.

The Bengals got the ball first to start the second half but it was the San Diego Chargers were the first team to score. The Chargers struck gold on a play action pass to Eddie Royal that went for 33 yards. A couple of plays later Rivers hit Ladarius Green for a 4 yard touchdown pass. The Chargers would quickly get the ball back into scoring range when Andy Dalton fumbled as diving for a first down. The Chargers however could only manage to get a Nick Novak field goal. With 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter the Chargers had a 7 point lead.

It is hard to imagine a worse 13 minute stretch for the Cincinnati Bengals. They gave up a long scoring drive; they gave it right back allowing the Chargers to take a 7 point lead. The Bengals needed to go down the field and score. San Diego had scored 10 consecutive points and had all the momentum. That is when Andy Dalton made the mistake that broke the Bengals back. The Chargers overloaded the right side with a blitz, Dalton forced a throw, Chargers corner Shareece Wright picked off the poorly thrown ball. The Chargers got the ball at the 4 yard line. That was easily the worst quarter in the Bengals season. The Chargers played well but the Bengals made mistake after mistake including a personal foul for unnecessary roughness on James Harrison.

Going into the fourth quarter the Chargers had firm control of the game and a chance to put the Bengals in a 14 point hole. The best case scenario entering the final quarter would be holding the Chargers to a field goal. A great play by Ray Maualuga stopped the Chargers third down play in the backfield; and the Bengals made the best out of a bad situation. Still they trailed by 10 and San Diego had scored on their last three possessions.

Things would only get worse for the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton threw another interception. It was his second costly interception and his 6th interception in three career playoff games. The moment seemed too big for Dalton as it often does. The Chargers would not take advantage of the turnover with points but they did take valuable time away from the trailing Bengals.

With 8 minutes to go in the game Dalton had to go back out on the field for some redemption. His home crowd could not have been sitting with much confidence in the rainy slop the sky had provided. The clock was becoming the enemy of the Bengals and the biggest weapon for the Chargers.

In a game of wasted opportunities the Bengals dropped their biggest chance. Dalton threw a beautiful dime to AJ Green that would have put the ball inside the 5 yard line. Green saw the ball slip right through his hands. Dalton was bailed out of a bad throw on a 3rd and 7 with a defensive holding penalty. The drive continued but it was taking way too much time. The Chargers were playing conservative defense understanding that the Bengals needed big chunks of yards quickly.

The Bengals last breath of playoff life was taken when they failed to convert on third and long. Andy Dalton threw a deep bomb that was dramatically over thrown. On a day where Dalton showed spotty decision making and even shakier accuracy the game essentially ended on a horrible throw by Dalton.

The Bengals made too many mistakes to win a playoff game and the Chargers took advantage of just about every Bengals mistake. The Chargers were able to contain AJ Green, they gave Dalton fits and were able to turn turnovers into points. Credit the Chargers but know they got help from their opponent.

Stay Classy San Diego.

Georgia @ South Carolina Recap

Georgia @ South Carolina Recap

11802561

This was certainly the marquee game in the realm of college football. Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldog’s faced “The Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks. The game featured a very intriguing battle between two of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. The game lived up to the billing. With stars all over the field including defensive end Jadaveon Clowney and Todd Gurley II it was a game filled with big plays.

Early in the first half it looked like Georgia might be unstoppable. The Bulldogs took a 17-3 lead. Aaron Murray was sharp and the running game was powerful. The defense had gotten the best of Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw in the first quarter. Shaw struggled to find a rhythm early. On one pivotal play the South Carolina offensive line picked up a blitz up the middle, but Shaw failed to get rid of the football and was sacked. The Gamecocks went on to punt two plays later and Georgia would score on the subsequent drive.

The game’s momentum flipped after a special teams blunder set up South Carolina for a touchdown that tied the game 17-17. It could have been a dominant first half for Georgia but it turned into an even and gritty game. Both quarterbacks played well and found confidence in the first half. Their statistics were almost identical. Aaron Murray went 10-13 for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Connor Shaw was 9-13 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

South Carolina was the team that came out sharp in the second half. Their first drive of the second half was becoming a thing of beauty. That is until Shaw fumbled after what would have been an impressive first down run. Georgia went on to score a field goal and they would keep momentum to get a 10 point lead.

The Gamecocks would find the magic back in their offensive attack and they marched to another touchdown. They missed the PAT because of a bad snap and hold and were four points down. This was a very costly point not to have, making the deficit more than a field goal.

Murray struck gold on the next drive. He rolled out of the pocket and found receiver Justin Scott-Wesley for an 85 yard touchdown. The Gamecocks now trailed 41-30. They were now down 11 points instead of a touchdown, PAT and a field goal. South Carolina went right down the field. On 4th and goal Steve Spurrier decided to go for the touchdown instead of kicking the field goal and did not convert. This was the defining moment of the game. The Georgia defense seemed completely worn down making Spurrier’s decision seem like a well calculated risk. Georgia stuffed an option play and their home crowd erupted in jubilation.

Georgia’s next drive began extra close to their own end zone thanks to a moronic personal foul by a Georgia linebacker. The mistake was compounded by a false start. But on second down a play action pass by Murray to his full back Hicks gave Georgia a first down. With an 11 point lead the Bulldogs began to work the clock with their dominant running game. Each first down felt like a death sentence to the chances of South Carolina. The game was just about over when on a 4th & 2 with a little over two minutes left Todd Gurley picked up a first down on a toss play.

It was a great game and the better team won. Georgia played a more complete game. They played a near flawless game offensively with no turnovers. They made a strong statement with a goal line stand on defense. When Aaron Murray has a great game and their running game is this strong this team is almost impossible to beat. Georgia got a much needed win against a team that had owned them in the Murray era. Their season goals were all on the line against a great team, and they stepped up to the challenge.

Texas Tech vs. SMU Game Recap

Texas Tech vs. SMU Game Recap | Chris Schisler

Texas_Tech_Red_Raiders_Helmet
Texas Tech was able to start its season with an impressive win on the road. The game was won by the team that took advantage of more opportunities. With sacks and penalties and even a missed field goal SMU left a lot of points on the field. Texas Tech struggled to score touchdowns early in the game but the offense would turn red hot. The score maybe lopsided but it was a tightly contested game. SMU had a bevy of opportunities and failed to convert enough of these opportunities into point.

The Red Raiders offense marched down the field led by freshman walk on quarterback Baker Mayfield but only came away with 3 points on their first drive. Both teams struggled in the red zone in the first half. Texas Tech would correct their offensive problems, SMU could not.This is partly because these teams depend on the short passing game and use it as their running game. Inside the 20 this becomes much harder. Texas Tech had a bootleg touchdown on 4th and goal from the 1 yard line called back due to a ticky tack holding penalty by receiver Eric Ward. The Red zone struggles for the SMU Mustangs were due to 5th year senior QB Garrett Gilbert’s inability to throw the football in the intended timing. He was sacked multiple times in the red zone. On one drive he was sacked twice in the red zone after completing a beautiful bomb to get them there.

The difference in the first half was the amazing first touchdown pass of Mayfield’s collegiate career at Texas Tech. Mayfield who struggled at times especially throwing the ball downfield took a shot. He stepped into his throw and found Jordan Davis across the middle of the field. Davis made one heck of a run after the catch for the only touchdown scored of the first half. Watching Jordan Davis I could not help but be impressed. The junior receiver played well and his skill sets reminds me of Erick Decker’s. Davis has a long way to go but he definitely caught my eye in this game.

This was an amazing first game of Baker Mayfield’s time as Texas Tech’s starting quarterback. Mayfield seemed comfortable early on. The short passing game was very efficient early on and as the game continued he became more aggressive. It was very important that he took advantage of his deeper passes when they were available. This kept the defense honest and allowed the short passing game to tear it apart. The walk on freshman’s second touchdown gave the Red Raiders a 20-9 lead about half way into the third quarter. While there were certainly times that Mayfield showed his inexperience he ran the offense efficiently. Mayfield has a lot of potential and it will be interesting to track his progress as his collegiate career continues.

The Mustangs were now facing a critical moment in the game. If Garrett Gilbert could not produce a touchdown on the subsequent drive the game could have snowballed on SMU. Gilbert delivered. He ended the drive with a 23 yard touchdown run. The play before the touchdown he ran for 19 yards. Both Gilbert runs were right up the middle of the defense. The touchdown completely changed the momentum of the game. Earlier in the game Gilbert was holding the ball to long, he remained a passer to get sacked. This may be why Texas Tech had no QB spy on those costly quarterback keepers. The momentum did not last long for SMU offensively. After forcing a Texas Tech punt the SMU offense went three and out. The drive ended on the 5th sack recorded by the Red Raider defense.

Texas Tech found its stride once again with a great touchdown drive. Words cannot tell you how impressed I was with Mayflower’s performance. A running touchdown extended the lead to 27-16. The touchdown drive that ended with 10:05 left in the fourth quarter was the defining moment of the game. It may not have been the dagger but it felt like it. As efficient as Texas Tech’s offense had been time became a big factor in SMU’s comeback aspirations. To make matters worse the Mustangs were forced to punt the ball on their next drive.

The Red Raiders had no intention of running out the clock. They took the field with 8:08 and they stayed in their fast tempo. Baker Mayflower completed two big passes to senior wide receiver Eric Ward that set up their next touchdown. The quick strike touchdown o Jakeem Grant put Tech ahead 34-16 with 5:40 left in the game. Mayflower completed 40/56 for 362 yards for 3 touchdowns. A star may have been born tonight. Baker Mayflower played a sensational game.

Texas Tech proved to have playmakers all over the offense and it was too much for the SMU Mustangs. Tech ran away with the game in the fourth quarter. Gilbert and SMU had chances to keep up with Tech, but found ways to screw it up. Whether it was a dropped pass, a penalty or a sack the offense seemed to shoot itself in the foot on a regular basis. Baker Mayflower had a sensational debut at Texas Tech and the Red Raiders were very impressive.