NFC Championship Game Los Angeles at Tampa Bay.
After defeating Dallas, the Rams had a rematch with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both games were at Tampa and were defensive struggles. Both teams took opposite paths to arrive one game short of the Super Bowl. Already mentioned was the late surge that brought Los Angeles from 5-6 to 9-7.
After 12 weeks the Buccaneers were 9-3. Among the victories was a 21 to 6 effort over the Los Angeles Rams. Jim Youngblood returned an interception for an early touchdown for LA. That was it for the Rams even missing an extra point. For Tampa Bay, Doug Williams threw two touchdown passes and Ricky Bell ran for another. The Bucs gained 249 yards to just 186 yards to the Rams.
Tampa then lost three straight games including a 14 to 0 loss to the Chicago Bears. They won the last game 3 to 0 to the Kansas City Chiefs to qualify for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
The NFC Title Game at Tampa Bay. Kicking three field goals, Los Angeles shut out the Buccaneers 9 to 0. LA gained 369 yards to just 177 yards for Tampa Bay.
In the Super Bowl at Pasadena, CA, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Rams 31 to 19. The lead changed seven times before the Steelers pulled away with two touchdowns in the last seven minutes. Nevertheless, the Rams made a remarkable comeback from being 5-6 during the season.
The 9-7 2008 Arizona Cardinals were the worst team ever to be in the Super Bowl.
Here were 5 of the 7 losses:
@ New York Jets 56 to 35; H New York Giants 37 to 29; @ Philadelphia Eagles 48 to 20; H Minnesota Vikings 35 to 14; @ New England Patriots 47 to 7
Their defense was below average and they were last in the Conference in running. Kurt Warner passing to targets such as Tim Hightower, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston made this the second ranked passing offense.
Arizona defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the final game of the regular season 34 to 29. However, this victory was meaningless. The NFC West was so bad that a .500 record would have put them in first place. The Cardinals were 6-0 against teams in their Division. This meant a 3-7 mark playing the other teams.
Here were the three wins that were outside the NFC West that the Cardinals won. All three were at home. Defeated the Miami Dolphins (11-5) 31 to 10; Buffalo Bills (7-9) 41 to 17, the Bills won their first four games but were 3-9 thereafter; the Dallas Cowboys (9-7) 30 to 24. The win over Miami was their best performance of the season.
in Week 6 the Arizona on the road lost to the 12-4 Carolina Panthers 27 to 23. This was a great passing duel between Jake Delhomme and Kurt Warner. Both quarterbacks put up big numbers. Warner-35 of 49 for 381 yard and two touchdowns. The two big targets were Larry Fitzgerald and and Steve Breaston. Delhomme’s number were less impressive but still good-20 of 28 for 248 yards two touchdowns. Muhsin Muhammad was his main target.
In spite of all this passing, the Panthers won from their ground game. DeAngelo Williams gained 108 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown. Arizona’s ground game was nonexistent. Final again Carolina 27 Arizona 23.
Wild Card-The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Falcons (11-5) at home. This was a great passing duel between Kurt Warner and Matt Ryan. Despite the Falcons being two games better, the Cardinals won 30 to 24. Two great defensive plays bought victory. Antrel Rolle returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown. Antonio Smith tackled Matt Ryan in the End Zone for a safety.
Semi-Finals-As they did in the regular season, Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme squared off. The combination of Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald was too much for the Panthers to handle. Nevertheless, the defense won this game. The Cardinals intercepted Jake Delhomme five time, sacked him three times, and recovered a fumble. Noone can win with against a defensive performance like the Cardinals made in this game. Easy win. Arizona 33 Carolina 13.
Let’s forget the AFC Championship. It still hurts.
Wild Card-At home vs the Atlanta Falcons. the
With the Eagles currently floundering, a look at three teams that went to the Super Bowl with 9-7 seasons gives me some hope
Los Angeles Rams 1979
In the six year period from 1973 to 1978, the Rams had three 10 win seasons and three 12 win seasons. In the playoffs, either the Dallas Cowboys or the Minnesota Vikings kept them short of the Super Bowl. Often they had defeated these teams during the season. After 11 games in 1979, Los Angeles was 5-6. They had a three game losing streak. It looked like their chance for the playoffs were gone and coach Ray Malavasi would be elsewhere in 1980.
Yet in the 12 week they began a four game winning streak. So mediocre was that the NFC West that Rams’ final game was a meaningless loss; or as I call it an exhibition game during the season. All of the games I refer to below, both Regular and Post Season, were away games for the Rams.
First Round at Dallas. The Cowboys were 11-5 for the season which included a 30 to 6 victory over the Rams. As might be expected, the Cowboys were heavily favored. However, the Rams stayed close and won with a late touchdown pass, Vince Ferragamo to Billy Waddy. The last week of the regular season saw Roger Staubach’s last miracle. He threw two touchdown passes in the last five minutes to defeat the Washington Redskins 35 to 34. Perhaps the Dallas Cowboys had an emotional letdown. Final Rams 21 Cowboys 19
NFC Championship Game at Tampa .
This loss yesterday to the Titans leaves me and others with a pain of loss and a dull ache in the stomach. The way the Eagles played for most of the third quarter convinced me that this would be an easy victory. The halftime score Philadelphia 10 Tennessee 3. Our team took the second half kickoff and put on a classic drive that ended with a touchdown, Eagles 17 Titans 3. They consumed seven minutes with one of the keys to victory “Get the Defense Off the Field.”
The reason for this is simple. It takes 25% more energy to play defense than offense. Fans want their team to spend $100 and want their opponents to spend $125. It is easier for the offensive line to block than for the defensive line to stop a runner or rush the passer; and to run a pass pattern is much easier then defending against the pass. Instead the Eagles defense fell apart after spending seven minutes on the sidelines.
This defies logic and is not a sign of a good team. The other problems were too many dropped passes and poor pass protection for Carson Wentz. Despite what I just said, the Eagles would have had a W with just one fourth down stop in overtime. The Titans got first downs three times on fourth down and between 10 to 19 yards to go.
Now we have looked at many plays that determined the outcome of the game. There was one play that caused us to lose. On fourth down, the Eagles, from the own 44, tackled the Titan runner for no gain. Our team threw up their arms thinking they had won the game. One official threw a flag for defensive holding. Let’s not go into any details.
Regardless of what happens over the next 12 games, this loss hurts us real bad now and even more so in the future.
Six years ago the Eagles came to Tampa to face the Buccaneers. It was obvious and inspiring that a tremendous number of Eagle fans attended the game. From the cheers, it was hard to believe this was a road game. All this support for a team that lost eight consecutive games. The promising 3-1 start had turned into a nightmare. All but the first two games in this awful streak , against Pittsburgh and Detroit, were lopsided.
The Eagles got off to a 10 to 0 lead. Jason Avant had two great catches making him look more like an outfielder than a wide receiver. Then things began to fall apart with a fumbled punt return at the Eagles 10, two missed field goals, and some holes in the secondary. With four minutes to play the Eagles trailed the Bucs 21 to 10.
The offense returned and Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes capping drives of about the same length, 60 yards. The first was to Clay Harbor just in front of the End Line. The two point conversion failed with Foles throwing just in front of Dione Lewis. The second drive took them to the Tampa two yard line where Foles spiked the ball with two seconds on the clock. NK then connected with Jeremy Maclin. Maclin was so excited that he and a few others just ran to the 50 yard line to let off tension.
Andy Reid was happy to have this break in the late season gloom. He expressed pride on the ability of Nick Foles to win in a come-from-behind mode. Reid said that the Eagle fans in the crowd were awesome. Like I said, he felt like he was at Lincoln Financial Field. Like many victories in the Reid era this win should have been easier; but we were happy to have it. Philadelphia 23 Tampa Bay 21.
BOB DOLE (REPUBLICAN, KS) JOHN LINDSAY (REPUBLICAN, NY)
Combat experience and the horrors of war tend to unite individuals and even groups. This happened to John Lindsay and Bob Dole when they came to the House of Representatives, within two years of each other. While both were Republicans, they represented different political ideals. John Lindsay, from the Eastern Liberal Establishment, came in January of 1959. Bob Dole, from the then upstart Western Conservatives, came in January of 1961.
Both were decorated veterans from WWII. John Lindsay won five Battle Stars for the invasion of Sicily in the European Theater and for the invasion of the Philippines later in the Pacific Dole won two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. From their experience the two became fast friends.
Bob Dole noted that Lindsay, after only two years in Congress, was already a standout in the Republican Caucus. They worked together on some of the most important legislation of the Sixties. This included the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 the Voting Rights and the Immigration Acts.
John Lindsay left the House winning the race for the Mayor of New York City in 1965 on a Fusion Ticket, Republican/Liberal. In 1968, when Dole first ran for the Senate, Lindsay had a great media presence as Mayor of New York. Lindsay was tall, handsome, telegenic, and famous for walking the streets to maintain calm while other cities were erupting in racial conflict.
That year, 1968, Lindsay enthusiastically agreed to travel to Kansas to campaign for Dole. There was great interest in this new political voice from the Eastern Liberal Establishment. The turnout out was great at the Mission Hills luncheon. The Mayor didn’t disappoint with a literate yet rousing speech for his long time friend. Republicans raised $12,000 that day, the equivalent of $87,000 in 2018.
Later on later there paths diverged. In 1969, Lindsay lost the Republican Primary in 1969 to State Senator John Marchi. Lindsay did win on the Liberal Party ticket in both the Primary and General Election. Lindsay and Dole remained friends.
Both the Senator and the Mayor showed the ability to compromise between the Conservative and Liberal Wings of the Republican Party. Today the Right Wing has become so dominant that their implied plank rests on ideas such as bigotry, disregard for the constitution, bloated defense budgets, and concern for only the wealthy.