By Bobby “The beard of hockey” Schaumburg – Special NHL Correspondent of “The Morning Boys”
Like Charles Dickens once stated, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”. Such represents the state of the Metro area teams, which is both complicated and straightforward at the same time.
The Islanders are the only team currently holding a playoff spot (third in division) but possess just a +3 point differential on the second wild card team. Since starting the season 16-3-2 which featured a franchise-record 17-game point streak, Barry Trotz crew has come back to earth. The Islanders are just 13-12-3 since and are looking for a sniper to help bolster an offense that ranks 21st in the NHL in scoring. Mat Barzal is an emerging star in the NHL, but his team-leading 42 points currently rank 45th best in the league.
The Rangers sit 10 points out of a playoff spot and have a goalie problem/solution. The Broadway Blues would be best served by convincing Henrik Lundquist to waive his no-trade clause. They are no closer to winning with him and could have a young, controllable, impressive punch with Alexandar Georgiev/Igor Shesterkin in net.
The Devils are 19 points out a playoff spot but have some bright spots. Kyle Palmieri is an all-star for the second year, and MacKenzie Blackwood is looking like a number one goalie. With pending unrestricted free agents facing all three teams in the offseason, which team will buy, sell, or stand pat. The deadline is February 24th for the locals to decide. Buckle up, it should be a very interesting ride.
As the clock ticked down to the final seconds of the Kansas City Chiefs AFC Championship Game against visiting Tennessee, fans of the tortured franchise finally could celebrate another Super Bowl appearance.
While Chiefs fans watched the postgame celebration, which included the Hunt family hoisting the trophy named after their dad, head coach Andy Reid answered his critics as well (Chiefs inaugural owner and founder of the AFL, Lamar Hunt coined the term “Super Bowl”).
The Chiefs were hosting their second straight AFC Championship Game after losing last season to the Patriots in OT. Perhaps fans’ expectations were not as high then as they were this season. Entering last season, the Cheifs had lost six straight home games in the postseason – a streak that dated back to 1993.
What was different last season became apparent this season, as QB Patrick Mahomes continued his mastery of NFL defenses in dominating wins over the Texans and Titans. Mahomes magnificent play vaulted the Chiefs to the Super Bowl and ended a streak that saw Kansas City on a rather embarrassing list.
After appearing in two of the first four Super Bowls as members of the AFL, the Chiefs were one of four teams around at the time of the merger to fail and reach the Super Bowl.
NFL Franchises, No Super Bowl Appearances
Since AFL-NFL Merger in 1970
Championship Game W-L
New York Jets>>
>>Won Super Bowl III (Member of AFL)
The Chiefs offense explosions were quite a difference from the offense Reid featured in Philadelphia. The previous arguments used against Reid’s failure to achieve success hosting a conference championship game, no longer applied with his third-year QB.
While Donovan McNabb did not possess the offensive threats Reid has in Kansas City, productive regular-season numbers in 2002 & 2003 disappeared in sluggish playoff performances.
Andy Reid Offense, Playoff Year
Reached AFC/NFC Champ at home
Champ Game Result
Whatever fears Mahomes and company faced falling behind Houston 24-0 in the Divisional Round was quickly overcome with the Chiefs execution of seven consecutive TD drives. The Chiefs 51-31 victory saw Mahomes become the sixth QB in NFL Playoff history to throw five TD without an interception.
In what looked like a repeat performance in the AFC Championship Game, Kansas City turned an early deficit into a yawnfest. Trailing 17-7, Mahomes offense outscored Tennessee 28-7 the rest of the way.
Patrick Mahomes vs QB Greats
First Four Playoff Starts
While fans in Kansas City are excited to get back to the Super Bowl, Mahomes Madden-like numbers in his four playoff starts dwarf his competition.
Mahomes and the Chiefs should get a significant challenge from the NFC Champion 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, but what an impressive show NFL fans have been privy to so far with Mahomes playing the lead.
As the NBA nears the midseason point, Monday January 20, we celebrate the birthday of one of the countries most influential people, Martin Luther King Jr.
Growing up on Long Island, NY, I was a train ride away from Manhattan and Penn Station to see the New York Knicks play. I never understood prejudice. My mother was a great example to me and others that God created us all equal. She instilled that the character of a person had nothing to do with color. God made me extremely sensitive to the plight of the African-American and how much they suffered. My heart broke from the ignorance I saw at times concerning athletes, politicians, or public figures of race.
EXAMPLE OF A GODLY MAN
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of my childhood heroes because of the example he set as a man of God. He walked what he talked about, and I remember listening to the speeches he and President Kennedy gave during that era. Both men inspired me in many ways. King Jr.’s speech at the monument in Washington DC, along with President Kennedy’s at the Berlin wall just 63 days prior, are two of the greatest in American history. Along with Jackie Robinson and Magic Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr. is one of my heroes.
When I was living in Saint James growing up, we did not have cable lines in our neighborhood. I was unable to watch my favorite teams unless they were on national TV or local free TV. On January 15, 1990, I was 15-years-old listening to the Knicks-Bulls on the radio in my room. That day forever changed how the last few seconds of a basketball game would end.
The Knicks and Bulls could not separate from each other all game, and with 4.6 seconds left, each team had 106 points. Knicks head coach Stu Jackson sent Trent Tucker, Rod Strickland, Charles Oakley, Mark Jackson, and Patrick Ewing to the floor coming out of a timeout. He drew up a play for Mark Jackson to take the last-second shot. Since Chicago had yet to commit five team fouls, Bulls head coach Phil Jackson wanted the Bulls to use their last available team foul to force the Knicks to use time on the clock. As long as the Bulls did not foul a Knicks player in the act of shooting, the Knicks would need to inbound the ball again (however, the Bulls would see the Knicks plan and force them to draw up another play). Scottie Pippen fouled a dribbling Jackson before he could get a shot off.
The 1989-90 season was the first season that the NBA introduced tenths of seconds to determine time. This was the first game it would matter.
It’s not hard to realize that 00.1 seconds is the slimmest of time to get a shot off. Bulls head coach Phil Jackson thought the Knicks were going to lob the ball to Ewing, who could only tip the ball in considering the time on the clock.
However, instead of doing that, Mark Jackson tossed the ball to Tucker, who was coming off a screen that Ewing set on Michael Jordan. Jordan stopped and fell back on Ewing, instead of pushing through the screen. Tucker caught the ball and vaulted the ball straight up in the air toward the basket just beyond the three-point line along the sideline.
” It’s the greatest shot I ever made,” Tucker said, via Sam Goldaper of the New York Times.” I just caught the ball and flung it. When the ball left my hands, I knew it was on target.”
From that point on, the NBA instituted a rule that you could no longer catch and attempt a shot with under three-tenths of second remaining.
The win gave the Knicks a 26-10 record, including a 17-1 record at home. They had the best record in the Eastern Conference. However, from there, the season turned. The rest of the season, the Knicks went 21-27, including going 12-11 at home.
The Knicks lost the first two games of their first-round series against the Boston Celtics, including a historic 157-128 loss in Game 2. However, in one of the greatest moments in team history, the Knicks rallied from the deficit and defeated the Celtics in five games. In winning the fifth game at the Boston Garden, the Knicks snapped a 26-game losing streak. Unfortunately for the Knicks, that was the high point of their season, as they fell to the eventual NBA Champion Detroit Pistons in five games in the second round.
Despite how their season ended, Trent Tucker will always have a special place in my heart, along with permanently altering an NBA rule.
The college football world first met Joe Burrow in 2015 when he re-shirted at Ohio State during his freshman season. After throwing only 39 passes in 10 starts, Burrow transferred to LSU after realizing he would sit behind Dwayne Haskins in his junior season.
In 2018 Burrow started all 13 games for LSU, leading them to a 10-3 record and 40-32 victory over UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. During the season, Burrow struggled in losses against Florida and Alabama, completing 37 of 69 passes (53.6 percent) for 376 yards, 3 INT, and did not throw a TD. For the season, he finished with decent numbers (2,894 passing yards, 16 TD, 5 INT and completed 57.8 percent of his passes). Burrow and the LSU offense gave little indication of what was coming in 2019.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Joe Burrow, 2018 vs 2019
TD Responsible For
In their season opener against Georgia Southern, Burrow (23-27, 278 yds, 5 TD) & company put up big numbers in a 55-3 win. The next week Burrow and LSU both received national attention, defeating #9 Texas in Austin, 45-38. Burrow finished with 471 passing yards, 4 TD, and again completed a high percentage of throws (31-39, 79.5 pct).
While putting up impressive numbers against the Big XII (even a top-10 Big XII opponent on the road), Burrow and his new offensive prowess still had yet to show the SEC what was in store for them. Against Vanderbilt in their conference opener, Burrow continued his onslaught. LSU’s 66 points were there most against an SEC opponent in a regulation game. Burrow set a team record with 6 TD while throwing for 398 yards.
Against Florida, the Tigers passed their first SEC test as Burrow, and their offense continued to thrive. The Gators 42-28 loss at LSU saw them give up a season-high 511 yards while allowing Burrow to complete 21 of 24 passes for 298 yards and 3 TD. How impressive was LSU? Florida’s defense only allowed 400 yards to one other opponent (finished 11-2, ranked #6 in final AP Poll).
Despite scoring 36 points, Mississippi State held the Tigers to a season-low 413 yards. The next week, Auburn became the third top-10 opponent to fall but held them to a season-low 23 points.
The second weekend of November brought undefeated Alabama, who embarrassed Burrow and the LSU offense last season. The Crimson Tide’s 29-0 victory in Death Valley, ended the Tigers hopes of a National Championship in 2018. Burrow completed a career-low 51.4 percent of his throws while throwing one of his two INT thrown at home. If the 29-0 score wasn’t enough proof of Alabama’s domination, LSU gained a season-low 196 yards while allowing 576 to the Tide’s explosive group.
The 2019 version of Alabama was just as explosive offensively, but were much weaker defensively. Another another colossal test for LSU would be the location of the contest. By traveling to Tuscaloosa, the Tigers would be slaying their biggest demon in their home. The Tigers 8-game losing streak to the Tide featured three shutouts. If Burrow and the LSU offense wanted to be taken seriously as the team to beat in the SEC, Alabama had to go down.
The final result answered all of the Tigers critics, as LSU held on to a 46-41 victory over the defending SEC Champs. Burrow was equally impressive, turning around his 2018 performance by throwing for 393 yards and 3 TD. The Tigers 559 total yards was 360 yards improved over their 2018 letdown. Burrow also passed his season total of 2018 in passing yards, despite this being only his ninth game.
The win over Alabama put LSU in position to focus on achieving the goals they had set out to when the season began. Their victory over Arkansas clinched the SEC West for the first time since 2011. Two weeks later, Georgia fell 37-10 in the SEC Championship.
Win Heisman Trophy & National Championship
QB, Same Season, NCAA History
>>Records Not Kept
Individual goals for Burrow soon came his way. On December 14, Burrow became the 4th straight QB and 17th this century to win Heisman Trophy. He joined Billy Cannon in 1959 as the only LSU Tigers to win the award. Burrow didn’t just win the award; he lapped the competition. He set voting records for: Highest percentage of 1st place votes (90.7); Largest Margin of Victory (1,846 pts); Highest percentage of possible points (93.8) and Percentage of Ballots Received (95.5).
As impressive as Burrow’s regular season was (48 TD/6 INT, 4,698 pass yds, 77.8 comp. pct), he had another gear to show in the College Football Playoff. He set records with 7 TD in the first half and a career-high with 493 passing yards, as LSU advanced to the National Championship with a 63-28 win over Oklahoma.
Burrow’s final performance on the College Football stage, mirrored all of his 2019 record-setting performances. Facing a 17-7 deficit, Burrow’s rushing TD on third and goal ignited the LSU offense. LSU outscored Clemson 35-8 the rest of the game, finishing with 631 total yards (463 passing) and 45 points against the nation’s top-ranked defense.
LSU Head Coaches
National Champions, This Century
The final result saw Ed Orgeron become the third different head coach to win a National Championship for LSU this century. Burrow became the 9th different QB to win both the National Championship and the Heisman Trophy in the same year. Burrow set NCAA single-season records for a QB for TD thrown (60) and TD responsible for (65). His 5,671 passing yards were the third-highest total in NCAA history, and his completion percentage of 76.3 ranks second.
LSU joined Clemson in 2018 as the only team in NCAA history to finish 15-0. The Tigers also set team records for most points in a season (726) and most yards in a season (8,527).
The Cincinnati Bengals will most likely draft Burrow with the first overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Quite a remarkable accomplishment for a QB that began the season as an afterthought, but forever made his mark in the College Football world.
Entering the 2019 NFL season, very few prognosticators figured the Tennessee Titans would be playing in their fifth AFC Championship Game in franchise history.
After a successful five-year run from 1999-2003, where they appeared in two AFC Championship Games and Super Bowl XXXIV, they fell on hard times. Only three times in the previous 17 seasons has the franchise reached the postseason, winning just one game.
After a dominant 43-13 victory at Cleveland to start the season, Tennessee fell flat, losing four of their next five games. Their offense was non-existent in those losses, totaling just 31 points.
The Titans decided to replace franchise QB Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehill, who was once viewed the same way as a member of the Miami Dolphins. However, injuries and inconsistency ended his tenure leaving many to doubt his ability to lead a consistent, productive offense.
Tannehill’s presence ignited the Titans stagnant offense in consecutive wins against the Chargers & Buccaneers (completed just under 71 percent of his passes while throwing for 505 yards, 5 TD, and 1 INT). However, a loss to the Panthers dropped their record under 500 again at 4-5. While Tannehill’s calm demeanor helped provide direction, something else was missing.
Enter Derrick Henry.
Derrick Henry Rushing Numbers
Last 8 Games (Includes Postseason)
Rushing Totals (Last 8 Games)
Yards Per Game
Yards Per Carry
>> 588 yards, 6.1 YPC, 196.0 YPG, 4 TD in last 3 games
Tennessee won their next four games behind Henry’s running, as he averaged 149.8 YPG and 6.7 YPC. A sore left hamstring saw Henry post only 86 rushing yards in a loss to the Texans and miss their 38-28 loss at New Orleans.
Facing a win and in scenario against division rival Houston (who had already clinched the AFC South), Henry returned with a vengeance. His 211 rushing yards helped him become the first Heisman Trophy winner since Barry Sanders in 1997 to win the NFL rushing title, while also clinching the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC for the Titans.
As the Titans prepare to take on the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, Henry is enjoying a historic playoff run (literally). He set an NFL record on Saturday in defeating the AFC #1 seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12, posting his third straight game with at least 180 rushing yards. That followed his 182-yard performance that ended the Patriots run of eight consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances.
QB Throwing for under 100 Yds, Consecutive Playoff Wins
NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl Era
2019 Ryan Tannehill, TEN
72 at Patriots
88 at Ravens
1974 Terry Bradshaw, PIT
95 at Raiders
96 vs Vikings
After finishing the regular season averaging 228.5 passing yards per game with 22 TD and just 6 INT during the regular season, Tannehill has played a different role in the postseason. In both the Titans postseason wins, Tannehill has thrown for under 100 yards (72 at Patriots, 88 at Ravens). He is only the second QB in NFL playoff history to win consecutive playoff games without throwing for 100 yards in either game (Terry Bradshaw threw for 95 & 96 yards in wins over the Raiders & Vikings).
While Tannehill’s run at NFL playoff history could not happen without help from his teammates, perhaps its overall meaning can be seen in another example. The only other QB in franchise history to throw for under 100 yards and win a postseason game was Steve McNair. McNair finished 13-24 for 76 yards in the Titans 22-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the 1999 AFC Wild Card Game. Most people refer to that game as the “Music City Miracle”, which Kevin Dyson returned a kickoff 75 yards for the game-winning TD after receiving a cross-field lateral from Frank Wycheck. Could the NFL world be witness to another Titans Super Bowl run featuring this rare feet by a QB?
If Tannehill and the Titans are able to defeat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, they will join the Dallas Cowboys as the only teams to feature two different QB leading their team to a Super Bowl in the same postseason they won a game throwing for under 100 yards.
On December 26, 1970 in the first ever NFC Divisional Round, Dallas Cowboys QB Craig Morton set NFL records by throwing for the fewest yards (38) and completing the fewest passes (4) in a postseason win. Morton and the Cowboys defeated the Lions 5-0 on their way to losing to the Colts in Super Bowl V. A year later, Roger Staubach threw for 99 yards while leading the Cowboys to a 20-12 win over the Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round. Dallas went on to win their first Super Bowl, defeating the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI.
Fewest Regular Season Wins, Advanced To Super Bowl
Super Bowl Result
2011 New York Giants
Defeated Patriots 21-17
2008 Arizona Cardinals
Lost vs Steelers 27-23
1979 Los Angeles Rams
Loss vs Steelers 31-19
1967 Green Bay Packers
Defeated Raiders, 33-14
>>Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Kansas City in AFC Championship
What will the Titans show the NFL against the Chiefs? If it’s anything like what we have seen so far, Tennessee might become just the fifth team to win nine regular-season games and advance to the Super Bowl.