The Eagles Offense Needed To Be Virtually Flawless And It Was

In Super Bowl LII on Sunday night, the New England Patriots racked up 613 yards, the most ever for a team in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady threw for 505 yards, which was the most by a quarterback in playoff history. The Patriots didn’t punt once in the entire game. It was a masterclass in offensive execution, and it was all for naught.The Philadelphia Eagles’ 41-33 win over New England will be rightly remembered for the triumph of backup quarterback Nick Foles over a Super Bowl legend. But perhaps more remarkable was that the Eagles needed to be virtually flawless on offense to keep pace with New England, and they succeeded.Defensive coordinators Matt Patricia and Jim Schwartz, who both received heavy head-coaching buzz this hiring cycle, watched helplessly on the sidelines as the offenses combined for 1,151 yards. Forget Super Bowl records or even playoff records, that’s most total yards in any game in NFL history.Between Foles’ downfield passing and the inside/outside power-running combo of LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, the Eagles piled up 538 (hey, FiveThirtyEight!) total yards themselves and were able to counter the league’s most prolific offense each time it landed a punch. After averaging just 5.3 yards per pass attempt across six regular-season appearances1Not counting an appearance in Week 8, when he entered the game with a minute left so that he could kneel twice and run out the clock. and three starts in relief of starter Carson Wentz, Foles burned the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship for 352 yards at a 10.7 yards-per-attempt clip. Whatever changed in Foles — or whatever magic spell head coach Doug Pederson cast — was still in force Sunday when Foles threw for 373 yards against the Patriots defense, averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. He also showed a willingness to test the Patriots defense downfield, connecting on 11 of 19 throws of 10 air yards or more.After the teams traded red-zone stops on the first two drives, Blount set the tone with a bruising 36-yard run. On the very next play, Foles went for the jugular with a 34-yard touchdown strike to receiver Alshon Jeffery. It was one of five passes — and two scores — where Foles connected for 20 more yards. To put his development this past month in perspective, he only had three such passes in the regular season. The effectiveness of the Eagles’ run game set the table for Foles’s downfield feast. Repeated zone runs and outside stretches kept the Pats defense honest — and running horizontally — while Foles attacked vertically. Four Eagles combined to gain 164 yards on 27 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per attempt, while Foles completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards and a 88.6 Raw QBR. Pederson’s creativity shows up in the box score; five Eagles had at least seven touches — and two others had at least 70 yards, a receiving touchdown or both. Yes, that includes Foles: Pederson’s balance and aggression broke the Patriots’ bend-but-don’t-break defense. As expected, the Patriots still made halftime adjustments; the Eagles averaged over 2 yards more per play in the first half than in the second half. But they were still devastating on third and fourth down, keeping drives alive by converting 12 of 18 tries. Per ESPN Stats & Information Group, Foles was practically perfect in conversion situations, posting an 11.4 yards-per-attempt average, two touchdowns and 99.9 Raw QBR on 15 attempts.Yet it was a sloppily played game. Mistakes — including three missed first-half kicks, two failed two-point conversions, Brady’s dropped QB throwback and a host of blown coverages — took some of the shine off what was otherwise a sterling offensive performance by both teams.Besides his dropped pass on the option — which, to be fair, was not a good throw from Danny Amendola — it’s hard to put any blame on Brady, who put up his best statistical effort in eight Super Bowls. In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to lose any game while posting 500+ passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. No Super Bowl-losing quarterback has played better.Yet Brady raised the ire of the entire footballing internet after the game, when he was quoted as saying the Eagles made “one good play”: As the full context of the quote reveals, though, Brady was spot-on: Brandon Graham’s fourth-quarter strip sack of Brady was the only consequential defensive play of the game, and it came at the perfect time to short-circuit Brady’s now-routine postseason heroics. Fittingly, it was also the only sack by either team in the game, which tied a Super Bowl low mark.Pederson has to be credited for his amazing coaching performance, winning it all after completely remaking his offense to suit his backup quarterback. The same is true of general manager Howie Roseman, who not only survived his power struggle with deposed head coach Chip Kelly but also won the Super Bowl two years later.But most of the credit should go to Foles, who deservedly won the Super Bowl MVP award after getting jerked around by Kelly, the Eagles and the rest of the NFL. Despite contemplating retirement after being cut by the Rams in 2016, Foles stayed humble and hungry and returned the team that drafted him in 2012.His patience, and theirs, resulted in a Super Bowl payoff for a fan base that desperately needed a championship.CORRECTION (Feb. 5, 2017, 2:25 p.m.): A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of Eagles who had fewer than seven touches but who had at least 70 yards or a receiving touchdown — it was two, not three. read more

Read More →

The Raptors Tip The Finals With Their Own Strength In Numbers

With Kevin Durant still sidelined by the calf he injured nearly a month ago, Kevon Looney out indefinitely with a fractured collarbone suffered in Game 2 and Klay Thompson sitting out a playoff game for the first time in his career,1Thompson was the only Warrior to play all 101 previous playoff games during the Steve Kerr era. it was clear before the game started that the Golden State Warriors would need a Herculean effort from Stephen Curry in order to win Game 3 and take a 2-1 lead over the Raptors in the NBA Finals.Golden State got that Herculean effort. And it wasn’t enough.In fact, it’s difficult to imagine Curry playing a better game: Steph scored 47 points, snared eight rebounds and dished out seven assists. He became the first player in finals history to score 45 or more while also recording five or more rebounds, assists and made 3-pointers. And yet the Warriors trailed for almost the entire game and lost by 14 points at home. Curry’s 47 points are now the second-most ever for a player in a losing NBA Finals effort, behind only the 51 scored by LeBron James in Game 1 of last year’s finals.Combined with his 16 assisted points, Curry created 63 of the Warriors’ 98 points while he was on the floor, a truly incredible feat. Those 63 points tied for the second-most points he’s created in any playoff game during the Warriors’ five-year run of excellence. They also marked the sixth time that Curry has created at least 60 points via his shots and assists — though this is the first time he has done so in a loss.The Warriors fell largely because Toronto got whatever it wanted on offense for the entire game. Golden State yielded 123 points to the Raptors — the most it has allowed in any NBA Finals game at Oracle Arena under Steve Kerr. All five of Toronto’s starters scored at least 17 points, and they combined for an incredible 106 points on just 70 shot attempts. The Raptors all together connected on 43 of 82 shots from the field, 17 of 38 from beyond the arc and 20 of 21 from the free-throw line, recording just the 42nd 50-40-90 game2That’s shorthand for shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent on threes and 90 percent from the line. in NBA playoff history and only the third in the history of the finals.Their offense was in blitzkrieg mode right from the jump. Toronto scored 15 points in the first four and a half minutes of the game and eventually totaled 36 in the first quarter. They ended up scoring 1.44 points per possession in the opening period — the most efficient quarter either team has had during the series. The Raptors’ only blemish was a five-minute stretch in the second quarter where they turned the ball over three times and shot 0 of 6 from the field. Otherwise, they were practically unstoppable. Toronto even scored a completely absurd 1.59 points per possession on tries that began after a made Warriors basket.It was a total group effort — the kind of “Strength in Numbers” victory the Warriors themselves love to claim. Kawhi Leonard, while clearly still playing at least somewhat hobbled, nevertheless continued his metronomic consistency. Leonard finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks, and he paraded to the free-throw line nearly at will.Danny Green — who is now officially out of the shooting slump that plagued him throughout the Eastern Conference finals after apparently getting some shooting advice from Shaquille O’Neal, of all people — nailed three 3-pointers during the aforementioned first quarter, giving him multiple triples in all three games of the series. Though Raptors coach Nick Nurse chose to start Fred VanVleet over Green after halftime to keep his best Steph stopper on the floor, Green ended up nailing another three treys after the break.After a Game 2 in which he largely struggled near the rim, Pascal Siakam connected on 7 of 12 shots from inside the paint. Siakam tallied six assists as well and was a game-high plus-22, marking the third time during Toronto’s 21-game playoff run where the Raptors have outscored their opponent by at least 20 points with Siakam on the floor. Kyle Lowry played perhaps his most complete game of the playoffs, pouring in 23 points while dishing out nine assists.The starters were not the only Raptors in double figures. VanVleet, still piping-hot since the birth of his son, scored 11 points and made three 3-pointers — including an utterly ridiculous shot-clock-buzzer-beating circus shot while falling down that pushed the Raptors’ lead to 13 points with less than two minutes remaining and sparked the beginning of garbage time. From ABC News: The lone Raptor to record a basket but not reach double figures was Serge Ibaka, who nonetheless had quite an interesting game. Though two of them likely should have been disallowed and called goaltending, Ibaka officially ended the game with six blocks, marking just the 17th time in NBA Finals history that anyone has thwarted that many attempts. The clean swats were all of different varieties: a chasedown in transition, two different help-side blocks on the drive and one where he planted himself in the paint and dared Curry to challenge him, then stepped up to block a floater when Curry took up the dare.The varied contributions put the Raptors two wins away from claiming their first NBA title in franchise history. Teams in their position — coming off a victory in Game 3 of a finals series that was previously tied at one game apiece — have gone on to win the series 82 percent of the time. The Raptors, though, have two different players — Marc Gasol with the 2015 Grizzlies and Ibaka with the 2016 Thunder — who have found themselves up 2-1 in a playoff series and have still gone on to lose the series to the Kerr-era Warriors. They should know better than anyone else that against an opponent this good, nothing is guaranteed.Especially when the Warriors may soon be getting some rather important pieces back. Kerr said after the game that he expects Thompson to return for Game 4, while Durant played coy about his potential readiness, suggesting the possibility that he could return from his monthlong absence as well. While the return of one or both stars would certainly increase the chances that the Warriors come back and win the series, such a comeback is unlikely to come easily — no matter what Draymond Green might say. Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

Read More →

Ohio State mens soccer team sets program record with 7th straight victory

OSU junior forward Yaw Amankwa (23) kicks the ball during a game against Louisville on Sept. 29 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won 1-0. Credit: Breanna Williams / Lantern PhotographerThe Ohio State men’s soccer team made school history by extending its winning streak to seven with a 2-0 shutout victory over Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.The Buckeyes improved to 8-4-2 overall and 3-1-1 in Big Ten play while moving up to first place in the conference, while the Badgers fell to 3-9-2 on the season and 1-2-2 in Big Ten play.“I’m really happy for the guys, and so now to go into the record book as the team that has the longest win streak in program history is good,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “It’s a really good accomplishment for the players and I know it meant something to them today.”After losing two key players — sophomore forward Marcus McCrary and redshirt senior forward Kenny Cunningham — because of injuries, other members of the team stepped up to the plate to triumph over Wisconsin.OSU senior midfielder Kyle Culbertson and junior forward Christian Soldat were both instrumental to the win with a goal apiece.“We really do come together as a team and always fight for it,” Soldat said. “If one guy is not having a great day passing or a great day attacking, everybody else pumps him up and picks up the slack until he gets in his groove. It feels great having a team that’s always behind you.”After a rough couple of weeks, Culbertson was able to get it going for the Buckeyes when he scored the first goal of the game off an assist from junior forward Danny Jensen. Culbertson launched the ball into the back of the net in the 13th minute for his third goal of the season.Culbertson said although it was tough in the past couple of weeks for him, it was nice to see some of his other teammates step up and form a chemistry to keep the team rolling without his contributions.Soldat’s goal came in the second half when he knocked in a shot off the near post in the 65th minute, marking his third goal of the season. Jensen and junior forward Yaw Amankwa were credited for the assists.“Jensen gets the ball and I’m coming through and the ball slides to Yaw. I see him staring at the goal and I know he’s hungry for a goal too,” Soldat said describing the play. “I’m just screaming in my head asking for it. Luckily, it was on his left foot so he kicks it off to me and I just have an easy placement of the ball.”The Scarlet and Gray defense was another factor in the history-making win on Sunday. The Buckeyes’ defense was able to keep the Badgers away from the net to prevent Wisconsin from threatening for much of the afternoon. However, when Wisconsin did come close to scoring, OSU redshirt senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer came out with the saves to keep the clean sheet.Froschauer had a total of three key saves on the afternoon, contributing to his fifth shutout of the season and third consecutive.Overall, shots were 13-8 in favor of the Buckeyes, who also held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.The Buckeyes, who have not lost since Sept. 11, will next look to extend the school-record winning streak to eight when they are set to host Cleveland State on Wednesday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Read More →

Ohio State opens spring practice Urban Meyer on health Good to go

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash watches over drills at the first day of OSU football spring practice March 4 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorIf there was one thing Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer wanted his players to take away from his team’s first spring practice of the year, it was that he wants them to play angry.The Buckeyes are coming off back-to-back losses to finish their 2013-14 season 12-2, falling to Michigan State and Clemson in the Big Ten Championship Game and Orange Bowl, respectively. Those losses came after the team’s second straight 12-0 regular season, and coming into spring ball, Meyer wants his team to have a different outlook on things.“I felt last year (coming into spring practice), I don’t want to say the word ‘entitled’ … but I want an angry, blue collar team (now),” Meyer said Tuesday after wrapping up the first stint of spring drills. “I’m hoping that’s what we have. Last year it was 12-0, you’re preseason this or this. I haven’t had many people ask about our preseason, not that I know what it is. We’re just trying to find out who’s going to play for us in some spots.”Buckeyes’ healthOSU announced Monday that Meyer had undergone a procedure this past weekend to alleviate pressure from an arachnoid cyst in his head — which occurs in the brain and skull or in pockets around the brain called ventricles — but he said he’s “good to go,” and just has some simple directions from his doctor.“Just watch how loud I scream. I’m not kidding you,” Meyer said. “And how loud I blow the whistle. So I didn’t end up blowing the whistle today – it didn’t sound very good. But I’ll be back after spring break.”Offensively, the Buckeyes are likely to be without starting quarterback Braxton Miller throughout spring ball after he underwent minor surgery on his throwing shoulder Feb. 21. Miller watched the Buckeyes’ first practice with his arm in a sling, studying plays from behind the line with a camera on his hat. Meyer said Miller calls the plays, and then studies the defense in hopes of him not regressing in the spring.“They got a contraption set up where he actually calls the play … and he also tells us what he sees in the secondary,” Meyer said. “Every play we’re having him say what he sees in the secondary. It’ll be a productive spring. He’s into it right now.”Meyer said a big thing Miller will miss this spring is a chance at game reps, but it’s on the senior quarterback to keep improving other facets of his game.“If he doesn’t have a good summer, that’ll cost him a lot. He’ll be a very average player,” Meyer said. “He’s got a lot riding on this now. If he doesn’t fix this and this, that’s a much different spot than he wants to be.”Offensive depthRedshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones took the majority of the reps at quarterback with the first team offensive unit, with redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett throwing with the second team. True freshman and early enrollee Stephen Collier saw time as well.Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott took the most reps with the first team at running back. Redshirt-sophomores Warren Ball and Bri’onte Dunn, as well as redshirt-senior Rod Smith, all split time with the starters. The latter three were all clearly behind Elliott, however.Sophomore wide receiver Dontre Wilson spent time in drills in the slot receiver position, and also returned punts alongside freshman Curtis Samuel and redshirt-junior Corey Smith.At tight end, redshirt-junior Nick Vannett took the majority of the snaps with the starters, as senior Jeff Heuerman rehabs from a broken nose. Redshirt-freshman Marcus Baugh also played considerable time. Baugh was cited for underage drinking in July and January.DefenseOn the other side of the ball, the Buckeye defense was not exactly what fans had been used to, finishing 47th in the country after giving up 377.4 yards per game last year, including 268 yards through the air.Meyer took time to speak with the defense specifically before team drills began Tuesday, and said he wants them to keep more a simple message in mind this year.“To me it’s ‘all go.’ It’s all the 4 to 6 (seconds), A to B … there’s certain things that’s built into your culture and the way you go. It’s not the call, it’s not (that) I want you thinking about plays,” Meyer said. “I think sometimes as coaches because of what’s happened to the game — it’s a fast-paced game get lined up and go — as opposed to it used to be a game based on effort … I want to get back to that. So that’s what I’ll tell them.”New playersWith the loss of first-team All-American and All-Big Ten performer Ryan Shazier — who was in attendance for OSU’s first spring practice along with the since-departed cornerback Bradley Roby — the linebacker position is undoubtedly a position of interest for Meyer, who called it his biggest concern as far as depth at any spot goes, but was pleased with the effort of five-star true freshman and early enrollee Raekwon McMillan.“I was really impressed with Raekwon today, did a really good job. Moved around, very mature,” Meyer said. “For a shorts practice, he did enough where I was … very positive of what I saw.”Returning starters at the position, senior Curtis Grant and junior Joshua Perry, took reps with the first team defense along with sophomore Darron Lee who did not play a snap in 2013.Meyer said Lee “earned” the time with the first unit after the way he finished off last season and improved this summer, saying “he’s got all the skills.”Perhaps the most experienced group on that side of the ball is the defensive line, which returns all four starters in juniors Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, senior Michael Bennett and sophomore Joey Bosa. Washington took reps exclusively as an interior defensive lineman on the group’s first day on the field with recently hired defensive line coach Larry Johnson.The defensive backfield is undergoing a vast array of changes in addition to the linebacking core, because of the departure of Roby to the NFL and graduation of safeties Corey “Pitt” Brown, C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant.Three safeties saw time in OSU’s first practice, those being redshirt-sophomore Tyvis Powell, sophomore Vonn Bell and sophomore Cam Burrows. Redshirt-junior Ron Tanner also saw time, but Meyer said he “lacks some physical skills” to be added into the group.The Buckeyes are set to practice for the second time this spring Thursday. read more

Read More →

Governor admonishes Charity in Christmas Message

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, TCI, December 23, 2016  – Happy Holiday greetings are also coming from the new Governor, His Excellency Dr. John Freeman and his wife, Corinna.“Christmas is a special time for us all.   It is a holy and prayerful time, an opportunity to reflect on the blessings of the year just passing and to hope for blessings in the New Year.  It is time to be with our families, to enjoy their company and to celebrate together.  Of course for some among us Christmas can be a sad, even difficult time, especially if friends and relatives have passed away in the course of the year, or for those who are going to be spending Christmas on their own.   I hope all of us will try to reach out to the lonely or those suffering from ill-health whether at home or in hospital over the festive season.   Charity after all begins at home but it shouldn’t end there.”H.E. will spend Christmas with his family in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Related Items:last_img read more

Read More →