Another Fourth Quarter Problem For Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan San Francisco 49ers

There have been 3 teams in Super Bowl history to lose a 10-point 4th quarter lead. Kyle Shanahan called the offensive plays for 2 of them. After the 10-minute mark in the 4th quarter, Shanahan’s teams were outscored a combined 46-0 (including OT of Super Bowl LI).

Leading 20-10 in the SuperBowl on Sunday, they were in control on both sides of the ball. Patrick Mahomes was running for his life and making mistakes, while the 49ers were running and passing at will.

But then it all changed in the fourth quarter. Powered by Mahomes and running back Damien Williams, the Chiefs romped off 21 unanswered points to win a third straight playoff game by a double-digit margin after trailing by at least 10 points. 

‘That team, that’s kind of how they’ve been all year,’ said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. 

‘They’re not a team that does it every drive. They get a little bit hot and cold. They can score very fast. That’s why there were two playoff games where they were cold to start and they were down, and then by half-time they fixed it in both games. 

‘That’s how the team is. That team doesn’t do it every single drive, but it was a matter of time. They got a lot of plays. We didn’t convert those third downs in the fourth quarter. 

‘You don’t convert those fourth downs, you don’t get an explosive run, you don’t get too many chances.’ 

Asked about the mood in the locker room, he continued:

‘They’re just hurting. Guys put it all out there. They’ve done it all year from the first game to the last game. It’s a real close team.

‘Everyone is disappointed, and they should be. I wouldn’t expect anything different. Guys put their heart into the season and came up one game short.’ 

Mahomes Credits Andy Reed For SuperBowl Win

Mahomes Reid Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs team-mates were thrilled to end Andy Reid’s long wait for a Super Bowl trophy. 

The Chiefs battled back from 20-10 down, Mahomes leading his team to 21 unanswered points in a pulsating 31-20 win. 

Reid, who lost Super Bowl XXXIX while with the Philadelphia Eagles, earned his first Vince Lombardi Trophy after coaching his 222nd career victory. 

‘I had two goals when I became starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs,’ Mahomes said. 

‘The first goal was to win the Lamar Hunt Trophy. I wanted to bring it home, the one with our founder’s name. I wanted to bring it to this family, and to this organisation. 

‘And the second important thing was to get coach Reid a Super Bowl trophy. He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time. I don’t think he needed a Lombardi Trophy to do that… but it just puts all doubt aside. 

‘And he’s going to be listed as one of the greatest coaches in history whenever he wants to be done, and I hope it’s not any time soon.’ 

‘The work that he puts in day-in and day-out, he’s there at like three in the morning, and he leaves at 11. I don’t think he sleeps. I’ve tried to beat him in, and I never can. He’s someone that works harder than anyone I’ve ever known, and he deserves it.’ 

Reid was equally delighted, adding: ‘This is what it’s all about. What a great team, great coaches. Appreciate every bit of it.’ 

The popularity of Reid, a 61-year-old grandfather of nine, cannot be understated. 

‘I think that was the goal the whole week – to win this game for coach Reid,’ added safety Tyrnn Mathieu. 

‘He’s been doing this a long time. Obviously, he has done a lot for a lot of players in that locker room, a lot of the coaches in that locker room and a lot of the coaches in the NFL in general. 

‘It’s been a long time coming for him. He’s such a good man. He gives us that confidence, he lets us be ourselves and he has created this culture that is all about family, that is all about team. We can feel that.’ 

And wide receiver Sammy Watkins, whose 98 yards featured a critical 38-yard reception with the Chiefs down 20-17, also could not speak highly enough of Reid.

‘One of the best coaches in the league. He helped me revive my year. He told me that this team was going to win championships and I believed him. 

‘He kept talking to me when I was down with injuries, when I was not getting the ball. Stay positive, stay motivated, keep my mind on the prize and one objective and that is to win the Super Bowl.’ 

Kansas City Chiefs Win SuperBowl

Kansas City Chiefs SuperBowl

The Kansas City Chiefs roared back to win a thrilling, topsy-turvy Super Bowl, holding their nerve as the San Francisco 49ers lost theirs. 

Once again faced with a double-digit deficit, MVP Patrick Mahomes kicked into gear and led the Chiefs to a 31-20 win at Hard Rock Stadium. 

It sealed the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory since 1970 and a first Lombardi Trophy for popular head coach Andy Reid. 

With the game perfectly poised at 10-10 at half-time, San Francisco seemingly took control, with Jimmy Garoppolo overcoming an early interception and Deebo Samuel puncturing holes in the Chiefs defense as the 49ers rattled off 14 consecutive points. 

It had looked all over. San Francisco led 20-10, Mahomes had been harassed and bullied by Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Co as the 49ers’ defense imposed their will. 

The headlines were being written: Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice and so on. 

But then, like the greats do, Mahomes took over. He was aided by a strong defense, who stepped up when it mattered, as the Chiefs continued their happy streak of scoring freely when it really matters. 

A little under nine minutes remained, but three swift Chiefs drives ended in touchdowns. Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce from six yards to give hope. Then, after the defense forced a three-and-out, Mahomes connected with running back Damien Williams to put the Chiefs ahead, the touchdown given after a review. The 49ers turned over possession on downs, then running back Williams fled 68 yards for his second score – he rushed for a bruisining 104 yards – to give Kansas City the excuse to wildly celebrate. 

Immaculate Reception named NFL 100 Greatest Moment

Immaculate Reception

The fans have spoken, and the Immaculate Reception is the NFL 100 Greatest Moment. The selection process began in July 2019 with fans identifying their top moment in their favorite club’s history. It culminated in a month-long process to narrow the field from 32 to the NFL100 Greatest Moment, which was reenacted Sunday with Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw during the Super Bowl LIV Pregame Show on FOX.

The play instantly became famous in Steelers and NFL lore when Harris, then a rookie fullback, snagged a pass after the ball ricocheted off running back Frenchy Fuqua and sprinted into the end zone past a shocked Oakland Raiders defense for the game-winning score in the 1972 AFC Divisional Round.

NFL Network’s Judy Battista broke down the improbable play for a December piece on NFL.com:

Bradshaw took the snap and the protection broke down almost immediately. He scrambled to his right, ducking under the Raiders‘ Tony Cline, backpedaling all the way to the Steelers‘ 28-yard line.

“I got flushed out to the right, cut off from getting to the outside,” Bradshaw said. “I looked downfield, saw a black jersey and just fired it.”

[Frenchy] Fuqua came out of the backfield, thinking he was going to be a star.

“Everything was working perfect,” Fuqua said. “I got open, as I took my eyes from the center to the ball, I caught a quick glance of Tatum coming at me. I said, ‘Oh no, I need Bradshaw to throw this to my inside shoulder.’ He threw the ball to a point. I’m running full speed. I see Jack Tatum coming full speed.”

What happened next is anybody’s guess.

“While he was scrambling, I said to myself, ‘Be an outlet pass just in case,’ ” Harris said. “He threw the ball downfield and automatically in my head came Joe Paterno’s voice of Go to the ball. That’s what he always told us in college, but in college I never listened.”

Fuqua: “I’m thinking one thing is for sure, if I don’t catch it, nobody will catch it. If he hits me early, it’s pass interference and we get another shot. I could hear him breathing. I’m glad I didn’t slow down because he would have surely gotten the interception.”

The ball arrived at the Raiders‘ 35-yard line at the same moment as Tatum and Fuqua, and it is there that the legend takes off. Fuqua leaped, and reached for the ball, but Tatum, who had come running from at least 10 yards away, crushed him with his right shoulder, sending Fuqua backwards at least 3 yards. He looked up and briefly caught a glimpse of Tatum standing over him, smiling. The ball ricocheted backward and the central mystery of the play — of NFL history, really — is whether the ball hit Tatum or Fuqua to send it flying 7 yards. If it hit Fuqua, the play, by the rules of the day, should have been over. If it hit Tatum, the play was live. One more question: Did the ball graze the frozen field before Harris, hunched over, grasped it with his fingertips and took off down the left sideline?

“I remember nothing,” Harris said. “My mind is completely blank. The only thing I remember is stiff-arming Jimmy Warren right at the end before going into the end zone. In my mind, I’m thinking, get into the end zone. Then it was just bedlam.”

On the ground, Bradshaw heard the roar of the crowd and thought to himself, “You are a hero to millions. You put that sucker right there on the money. I’m going to be on the cover of a Wheaties box. I might make 15 or 20 grand this offseason.”

Mookie Betts Trade Rumors Heat Up

mookie betts

The Red Sox are open to the idea of trading star outfielder Mookie Betts, even though doing so would greatly harm their chances of contending in 2020. They’re looking to do so in order to work their way under the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold and reset the penalty schedule. Granted, those CBT penalties shouldn’t mean much to a team of Boston’s means, but here we are. 

The Padres have been strongly linked to Betts, but of late the Dodgers seem to be the hotter potential trading partner. On that front, here’s this from veteran analyst Peter Gammons: 

This, obviously, would significantly improve the Dodgers’ chances for 2020. With the specifics above duly noted, our own R.J. Anderson recently broke down what a Betts trade might look like.

As for Betts, the former AL MVP is 27 years of age and coming off yet another excellent season. Even when Betts doesn’t put up Mike Trout-like numbers at the plate, as he did in 2018, he’s still a highly valuable performer thanks to his high offensive floor, his defense, and his base-running. He’s eligible for free agency after the upcoming season, and he’s owed a salary of $27 million for 2020. 

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson named 2019 NFL MVP

Lamar Jackson

The NFL’s consensus choice for Most Valuable Player has officially assumed the throne.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was named the 2019 NFL MVP on Saturday at NFL Honors in downtown Miami. Jackson earned all 50 first-place votes, making him only the second unaimous MVP in NFL history (Tom Brady, 2010).

Jackson was a source of pure spectating delight in 2019, shredding opposing defenses while leading the league in touchdowns with 36 passing scores and seven trips to the end zone on the ground. Jackson threw for 3,127 yards and posted a 113.3 passer rating, with the latter mark exceeding the average rating of an MVP quarterback (107.8) en route to the AFC’s top seed.

That’s not all, of course. Jackson rushed for 1,206 yards, breaking Michael Vick’s single-season record for a quarterback in the process and obliterating the average mark for an MVP quarterback (131). He more than tripled the average mark for rushing touchdowns with his seven scores.

Jackson’s league-leading marks in passing touchdowns and quarterback rushing yards made him just the second quarterback to do so in NFL history, joining Hall of Famer Steve Young, who did so in 1994 with nearly 1,000 less rushing yards. Jackson’s 1,206 yards also landed him at sixth place in the entire NFL in rushing yards.

Jackson became the youngest quarterback to ever win MVP at 22 years, 358 days old (on Dec. 31, 2019) while leading the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense (33.2 points per game). With Jackson at the controls, Baltimore finished first or second in five key offensive categories: points per game, total yards per game, rushing yards per game, big plays per game and red-zone percentage. Jackson also posted the second-highest passing touchdown percentage (9.0) in the Super Bowl era (minimum 350 attempts).

Jackson’s season could only get better if his Ravens were able to reach the Super Bowl. Baltimore’s 14-2 finish didn’t carry over into the postseason, as the Ravens were eliminated by the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional Round.

His MVP makes him the first Ravens player to win the award.

Patriots willing to pay Tom Brady $30M per year

Tom Brady

While his former protégé is set to play in today’s Super BowlNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took center stage this week for a brief moment with a cryptic tweet.

Brady posted a photo showing the signal-caller either walking into or out of a stadium, sparking intrigue across social media.

Sources say the famous tweet actually previews a Super Bowl commercial that features Brady. Either way, Brady’s offseason will be fascinating as he claims the spotlight.

But there are several factors at play.

The Patriots are intent on keeping Brady, obviously, believing he has one or two good years left. They are willing, sources say, to pay him in excess of $30 million per year to keep him in New England — a significant commitment that would bring his salary more in line with other elite QBs.

That would help, but it may not be all. If Brady is going to return, he wants to see the team spend on some weapons — which they attempted to do last offseason by signing Antonio Brown, only to have it fail. It would be unlike Bill Belichick to “go for it” but that may close the deal.

Technically, Brady is not allowed to sign a new deal with New England until free agency begins next month, but it is likely he will wait until then to even come close to an agreement.

Brady will have options. Sources say the Los Angeles Chargers are expected to be among the teams who will make a pitch to Brady. They do have what he’d require, which is a talented team that could win now. The Tennessee Titans also fit that bill, though they’d have to make a decision on whether to franchise tag Ryan Tannehill before free agency commences.

Another potential factor for Brady is his TB12 workout facility. Brady wants to continue the routine that has kept him upright and agile throughout the years, and a new team being willing to incorporate TB12 into their footprint would help. The Chargers — who will share a stadium with the Rams — would have that capability.

Is Arsenal Facing A Wage Cap Limit?

Interesting article in the newspapers this morning that Arsenal might he forced to sell players in order to lower their wage bill.

Arsenal are trying to sign Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to new contracts. But according to Premier League rules, signing their stars to big money deals could mean that Arsenal would be in violation of the short term cost control (STCC) measures which restrict teams to £7 million increases in total salaries each season.

Sanchez currently earns £130,000 per week and Ozil £140,000, and they have both been offered new deals of around £280,000-per-week. That translates to a £15m rise on Arsenal’s wage bill.

So how come the big spending at Manchester United, Man City and Chelsea have never triggered this clause?

Well Premier League rules allow for overspend, should clubs be able to show that it comes as a result of increased commercial or matchday revenue, or player sales.

With no Champions League football next season, it is difficult for Arsenal to show any improvement in commercial or matchday revenue. If anything, they will both decline in 2017/18 versus last season.

So in order to afford new contracts for both Sanchez and Ozil, Arsenal will have to reduce its wage bill by selling players.

One candidate rumored to be leaving the Emirates is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose current contract has only one year left to run. The England international is being monitored by Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City and could raise as much as £25m.

Barcelona are known to be suitors of Hector Bellerin, while Olivier Giroud is reportedly on the radars of Marseille, West Ham and Napoli and there are a cluster of fringe players who could also be sold to raise the necessary cash.

Of course, this could all be a moot point if Arsenal cannot agree new deals with Sanchez and/or Ozil this summmer and are forced to sell them on.

La Liga President: Cristiano Joining Manchester United Would Be ‘Huge Loss’

Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid would be an “irreparable loss” according to La Liga president Javier Tebas, who is desperate for the Spanish champions to keep the four-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Reports in Portugal broke on Friday that the 32-year-old wants to leave Real Madrid only weeks after leading the club to back-to-back Champions League titles in Cardiff.

It came days after he was formally accused of defrauding the Spanish taxpayer of €14m, leaving Ronaldo unwilling to continue playing in Spain, with Portuguese papers calling the decision “irreversible”.

Manchester United, along with Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing Ronaldo, but La Liga chief Tebas wants him to stay in Madrid.
Tebas told Spanish TV channel La Sexta:

“You can’t measure it, but it would be huge, and more so on the international growth of La Liga.

“It would be a massive loss for us; an irreparable loss.”

While Ronaldo is understood to have decided to leave Madrid before the Champions League final, the tax issues surrounding him at present are the driving factor but Tebas believes the forward is completely innocent and cannot understand the crime that he has allegedly committed.

“Knowing those around him, and how professional they are, I’m positive that Cristiano is innocent,” he added.

“We live at a time when any news about Spain’s Tax Office means everyone is a fraudster.

“I’m sure he’s innocent. From what I’ve read, I’m sure he hasn’t committed any crime.”

Bayern Munich Warn Clubs About Tapping Up Lewandowski

Strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe have attracted a lot of attention already this summer with potential record breaking transfers to other clubs.

But the best striker potentially on the move this summer is Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, and the German giants are moving quickly to try and keep him at the Allianz Arena by threatening to go to FIFA if clubs approach Lewandowski without their permission, amid speculation that Manchester United and Chelsea have held talks with the striker.

Bayern have gone so far as issuing a statement to Sky Deutschland warning clubs over Lewandowski.

“Robert Lewandowski is under contract at Bayern and only recently renewed his deal until 2021. Bayern Munich waste no thought on a Lewandowski move.

“There are no talks with other clubs, and there won’t be any. If other clubs negotiate with players who are under long-term contracts, they risk FIFA punishment.

“The agent also confirmed to us that he has not held any contract talks.”

Manchester United and Chelsea have both been linked in recent days with a move for Lewandowski, with Sky Sports claiming the two Premier League clubs have spoken to his representatives over a potential move.

The 28-year-old striker is reported to be unhappy at Bayern and his agent said earlier this week that coach Carlo Ancelotti offered his client a lack of support in the race to finish ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as last season’s top scorer in the Bundesliga.

Lewandowski scored 30 goals last season but missed out on the top-scorer prize to Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored his 31st on the final day of the season.

The striker said recently that he was “disappointed” over a perceived lack of support from Bayern in his hunt for the Bundesliga’s golden boot award., saying earlier this month:

He told the Polish Super-Express newspaper earlier this month:

“I was not really happy with how my team helped me. I was annoyed and disappointed with the team’s attitude.”

And his agent Maik Barthel told German football magazine Kicker:

“He was disappointed as I have ever seen him before.

“Robert told me that he got no support and that the coach (Carlo Ancelotti) gave no call to help him win the top-scorer title in the last game.”