Tag Archives: Nick Foles

The NFL Playoffs gave us only one good game, but next Sunday should be awesome. A crazy-good clairvoyant act on “America’s Got Talent.” And the Australian Open is starting, yay!

Well, you could choose to look at the NFL divisional playoff weekend we just had in one of two ways.

You can take the view that I’m sure most people will, that what’s usually a terrific, close, competitive quartet of games was mostly a dud, as the Rams, Patriots and Chiefs had easy wins, and only the Saints-Eagles game Sunday was exciting. So you could conclude that it was a boring weekend.

Or, you can take an optimistic view, and say we’ve got two massively great games scheduled for the AFC and NFC championship games next Sunday, thanks to the teams who won.

Kansas City vs. New England at Arrowhead Stadium. New Orleans vs. the L.A. Rams down in Louisiana. Should be a whole lot of fun. Both games ought to be high-scoring and down to the wire. They’ve gotta be better than what we just saw, right?

See, I’m an optimist.

Some quick-hit thoughts on the weekend’s games…

— Let’s start with the only really good game. The Eagles pounced on the Saints, 14-0 in the first quarter and damned if I didn’t start thinking, “Is Nick Foles really going to do this again, get incredibly hot and lead his team back to the Super Bowl?”
Then, New Orleans woke up, and squeaked out a 20-14 win with just enough offense. If I’m the Saints, I’m not feeling that confident these days. Drew Brees and Co. have not looked nearly as explosive the last several weeks as they had prior, and they’ve got a huge test in the Rams next week.

— The Patriots looked scary, scary good on Sunday. That was a good Chargers team they walloped, and like everyone else, I’ve run out of ways to praise the dominance of New England. Do you realize they’re about to play in the their eighth straight AFC title game? That is insane.

— The Rams didn’t quite look as impossible-to-stop Saturday night as they did earlier in the season, but man it is fun to watch them on offense. So many weapons, so smooth, and Todd Gurley in the backfield is special.

— Why oh why do instant replays in football take forever? I particularly love when the “rules analyst” every network has in the booth definitely tells us the call should go one way, then the referee on the field goes the opposite way. As Al Michaels said a few weeks ago on a telecast, the refs really are just making it up as they go along.

— I’m picking with my heart and my head for the title games. Give me the Chiefs, with home-field being a big help, and the Rams, getting it done in New Orleans. That would give us one hell of a fun Super Bowl.

**Next up today, I’m starting to get sucked back into “America’s Got Talent” again, now that they’ve got this “Champions” season going on. And so the other night I watched in amazement this act called “The Clairvoyants,” two people named Tommy and Amelie who are pretty incredible at predicting the future.

This is beyond the usual “psychic down at the corner store” kind of stuff. I’m kind of blown away by this. Watch and then pick your jaw up off the floor.

** Finally today, it’s a wonderful time of year for tennis fans like me, because after an offseason that felt like it lasted forever (OK it was only two months), pro tennis is back and more specifically, the Australian Open is here.

It began Sunday night, and the Aussie Open is notoriously hard to predict, since it’s the first Slam of the year, everyone’s healthy and fired up, and so anything can happen.

A ton of great storylines as usual this year in Melbourne, including: Can two-time defending champ Roger Federer win again, or is age finally catching up to him? Novak Djokovic dominated the second half of last season and already has won six Aussie Open titles, can anything stop him? Is Nadal healthy?

On the women’s side, things are wide open as usual. Can Naomi Osaka follow up her amazing U.S. Open title and win again? Is Serena ready to win again after losing two Slam finals last year? And is it time for Sloane Stephens or Madison Keys to triumph in Melbourne?

Nobody knows the answers. Which is why I love tennis so much.

We saw a huge upset that I was personally invested in Sunday night, as Reilly Opelka, a kid from Palm Coast, Fla., I wrote about when he was 11 and used to be taller than (he’s now a 7-footer), scored a huge upset and beat No. 9 seed John Isner.

Great kid from a great family. Very happy for him.

In my younger days I’d stay up most of the night during the Aussie Open, sacrificing sleep for tennis. Can’t do that anymore, but I’ll still love watching what I can see.

ESPN or ESPN 2, every night starting at 7. Can’t wait.

 

The most exciting Super Bowl of my lifetime is won, thrillingly, by the Eagles. The commercials at the Super Bowl mostly stunk. And “This Is Us” finally kills Jack, now can we move on?

Lawdy, lawdy, lawdy, that was one damn fine Super Bowl game played Sunday night.

I’ve seen lots of close Super Bowls in my life: Giants-Bills, Titans-Rams, Cardinals-Steelers, and many more. I’ve seen Super Bowls that were better played, that maybe had greater individual performances.

But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more exciting Super Bowl than the one that was played Sunday night. Every few minutes something thrilling happened. The losing quarterback Sunday, a young whippersnapper named Tom Brady, threw for 505 yards, no interceptions, and still lost.

There were so many twists and turns in this game, and so little defense being played, that I was still certain, even down eight points with less than a minute left, that Brady and New England would come back and win.

But the Evil Empire fell short, and I know many, many long-suffering Philly fans who are delirious with joy today (and probably a little drunk).

Some rambling thoughts from my tired brain about the game, and then, some thoughts on the commercials and young Mr. Timberlake’s halftime performance.

— Nick Foles. I mean, what can you say? Guy had a great start to his career, then did bubkes for a few seasons and looked to be a career backup. Then, Eagles starter Carson Wentz gets hurt, Foles comes in and plays as well as anyone can in the playoffs. Some of the throws he made Sunday were Elway or Marino-like. Tremendous game at exactly the right time.

— And now, of course, someone like my Jets or the Browns will wildly overpay him to be their starter next year, and he’ll go back to being stinky.

— The Eagles’ play-calling was sensational, especially the wacky option pass caught by Foles in the end zone at the end of the first half. Coach Doug Pederson knew that to beat the Patriots you gotta be ballsy and always go for touchdowns. I was actually really surprised that in the final two minutes, up by five, he didn’t throw the ball on 3rd down to try to get a first down and end the game, not letting Brady get the ball back. It worked out, but wow, that was a long final minute.

— For an entirely different football perspective today, I highly encourage you to read this moving essay by Emily Kelly, wife of former NFL safety Rob Kelly, who now suffers from serious brain damage caused by playing football. I read stuff like this and I wonder, how can any parent let their kid play tackle football??

**OK, on to the REAL reason so many people who aren’t sports fans watch the Super Bowl: The commercials. I thought this was a pretty uninspired year for ads; honestly only two or three were good, I thought.

The best  was from the NFL, with New York Giants stars Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning (see, Patriots fans? That should’ve been a sign it wasn’t your night.) doing a hilarious dancing routine to the song from “Dirty Dancing.”

I also thought the Budweiser “water” ad was terrific, and believe it or not I found the Dodge Ram ad, with the Martin Luther King Jr. voiceover, pretty moving.

The rest? Meh. The Amazon “Alexa loses her voice” commercial was decent. But mostly I thought the ads were so-so.

That’s OK; some years the Super Bowl itself is horrible that the commercials are all we have to look forward to. This year, the game was sensational.

— Lots of people on these here Internets were super mad about Justin Timberlake’s halftime performance, what with the whole “singing with Prince” thing, and what not. I dunno, I kind of liked JT here. He certainly did some different things, going into the stands, having the set be different at least four or five times. And him singing “I Would Die 4 U” with Prince was pretty cool.

Plus, he ended with “Can’t Stop This Feeling,” which thanks the our 3-year-old’s obsession with it, is a song we’ve heard dozens of times in our house. And I really do like it.

So I say good job, JT. Ignore the haters.

**Finally today, it’s rare I write about a TV show the day after it airs, but I love “This Is Us” and since they’ve been building toward this episode showing how Jack died for two years, I felt like I had to watch it live.

So as a warning, if you haven’t seen Sunday night’s episode, STOP READING NOW, AND COME BACK AFTER YOU WATCH IT.

Thank you. For the rest of us, I thought it was a solid episode, Mandy Moore continues to stun me with how good of an actress she is, and I’m so relieved that finally, finally, finally maybe we can move on from the incredible storyline of how Jack died, and onto more interesting stuff.

I mean, man oh man they have dragged out this man’s death for two seasons, and every single thing that happens in the show seems to always trace back to his death. Look, I get it, he was the greatest man in the history of the world, but can we tell some other stories now too, please? Thank you.

As always Sterling K. Brown’s Randall was the best part of the show; I thought the beautiful twist with the foster child and family being a grown-up Tess’ placement, and not a placement into the Pearson house, was a fabulous touch.

Kate’s speech to Toby (who I love) was also fantastic; poor dude never can measure up to her father but it seems Kate may finally be starting to give him his due.

I like “This Is Us,” a lot, I just hope we’re done being hit over the head with Jack’s death and can move on to other things. Like, for example, Kevin finally being forced to grow up, Toby and Kate’s wedding, and the continuing adventures of Randall as building super. All of those would be better than a 483rd reminder that Jack Pearson was a God among men.

Something old and something new coming in the Super Bowl, as the Patriots and Eagles advance. And this government shutdown is inexplicable, in many ways

The mindset of a Philadelphia Eagles fan, in one text exchange from me to my friend Dave M., a longtime Eagles supporter, when the score of the NFC Championship game Sunday was 31-7, Eagles, in the fourth quarter:

Me: “Nick Foles, oh my goodness!”
Dave: “Don’t jinx it!”

Yes, even up 24 points in a game that was pretty much un-blowable at that point, Eagles fans were still nervous. And I totally get that as a Jets fan.

But happily for the sanity of most of Pennsylvania, the franchise of Chuck Bednarik, Harold Carmichael and Reggie White did not blow it, and so we’ve got one heck of an interesting Super Bowl.

Oh sure, it would’ve been nice to see someone besides New England come out of the AFC, because we all hate them so damn much. But even though Jacksonville’s fantastic road effort fell short, I think this will be a fascinating Super Bowl. Is it Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s last hurrah? Can the ferocious Eagles defense disrupt things? Will Nick Foles remember he’s, um, Nick Foles and come back to Earth?

Should be a really fun game.

Some other thoughts from NFL Championship Sunday…

— I feel really badly for Vikings fans; would’ve been so much fun to see a home team finally host a Super Bowl in its own stadium. And after last week’s miracle win it sure seemed like they were destined to go all the way. But they got totally outplayed, and Case Keenum finally looked like the backup QB he’s been all his life. But they had one hell of a season.

— I can’t believe that was the same Nick Foles on Sunday who could barely complete a pass against the Raiders back in December. This guy looked like Joe Montana Sunday, throwing beautiful deep passes and being so accurate on the short ones. Carson Wentz couldn’t have done it better.

— Even up 20-10 in the fourth quarter, I never thought the Jaguars were going to win Sunday. The Patriots have done it for so long, and so well, that I truly never thought they were in danger. Jacksonville, though, what a hell of a future that team seems to have. So many young, fast guys on defense, a stud running back, and a quarterback, Blake Bortles, who maybe has finally turned the corner and is going to be good.

— I thought this was really sweet: The wife of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, Julie Johnston Ertz, is a U.S. Women’s National Team player. They played Sunday and apparently she didn’t know the outcome of the football game. She found out right after the final whistle, and this was her fantastic reaction.

**So, I gotta admit, I really and truly didn’t think a party that controls all three branches of the federal government would be stupid enough to actually shut the whole thing down. I mean, when you control everything,

But ya know, you gotta hand it to the Republican Party. Not only do they allow millions of federal workers to be off from work Monday, but they have the gall, the chutzpah, the effrontery to blame the shutdown on the Democrats. And the New York Times, bless their beautiful hearts that I love, actually ran headlines Friday night saying “Senate Democrats block bill to keep government open past midnight” when only 45 Republicans were on board for a short-term resolution?

This is, in reality, the first time EVER that a party that controlled the White House, the Senate and the House had endured a government shutdown. So hey, one more thing that’s never happened before, happening under Trump! Whoo-hoo.

So the government shutdown happened, because chaos is the only thing Trump and the GOP are good at. And people’s livelihoods are at stake, and paychecks will be lost, and hardship will be endured, while Mitch, Paul and Donnie boy sit back and blame everyone but themselves.

Democrats like Schumer and Booker and the rest: Hold firm on DACA. Do NOT capitulate to bullies and tyrants.

The other big news over the weekend was the Women’s March, which saw millions take to the streets from New York to L.A., from Atlanta to Seattle, and points in between.

It was very impressive to once again see a huge turnout, and if you are wondering “Well, what difference does it make if they march?” I say: A big difference. If these women (and there were men marchers too) become more politically active this year because of this march; if they register their neighbors to vote, or work on behalf of a candidate they’d previously never considered, or simply become a more informed citizen of the political process, then the march absolutely has made a difference.

More power to the people!

An NFL playoff game finish like no other, as the Vikings pull off a miracle. Remembering MLK’s greatest speech on his day. And one guy in Hawaii almost ended the world Saturday

It has become sort of a tradition on Twitter, when something amazing happens in the world of bats and balls and sweaty people, for myself and others to simply Tweet, “Sports, man. Sports.”

Because sometimes there just is no explanation. No rhyme or reason, no cogent analysis of why something completely improbable happened. Just that it did, and it brought such joy and anguish, and I’m going to stop waxing poetic now and just show you this:

The New Orleans Saints led the Minnesota Vikings 24-23 with 10 seconds to go Sunday in Minnesota. The Vikings had blown a 17-point lead and were about to lose, yet again, in excruciating fashion in the playoffs. And then, with the stadium cathedral-quiet, this happened…

Or, viewed another way, from the vantage point of the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, THIS happened (Warning: the crowd noise gets insanely loud a few seconds in, so watch yourself)

The Minnesota Vikings won a remarkable, improbable football game Sunday night, thanks to some really poor defense by the Saints, and some sort of miracle magic from above (Kirby Puckett and Prince cooked up something fierce).

I was driving in the car listening on radio when it happened, both little boys sleeping in the back seat, my wonderful wife indulging me listening to a game in which she knew I cared about neither team, and when the play occurred I think I yelped four octaves above my normal range, and probably swerved into the right lane of the Long Island Expressway.

Crazy, crazy game. Now Minnesota plays Philadelphia, two pretty tortured franchises, each playing a quarterback nobody ever expected to see on the field this year, certainly not in an NFC Championship game. Should be fantastic.

Some other thoughts from a pretty freaking fabulous NFL playoff weekend:

— Jacksonville? Jacksonville! Big congrats to any team that can put up 45 points on the road when Blake Bortles is the quarterback. That was one hell of a win in Steelers-ville, 45-42. Do I give the Jaguars any chance to beat New England next week? Yeah, they have a chance. It would take a pretty major miracle, but may I remind you what happened at the end of the Vikings/Saints game?

— Not pretty, that Eagles win over Atlanta Saturday. But I know a lot of Eagles fans and they don’t care how ugly any win is, nor should they. Their star QB Carson Wentz is out, and Nick Foles played pretty damn well, and the Atlanta Falcons did what the Falcons do in most postseasons with Matt Ryan as their QB, and that’s underwhelm. Atlanta absolutely could’ve and maybe should’ve won that game, but as usual, fell a bit short.

— Hilarious to think of the four remaining starting quarterbacks in the playoffs. Hmmm, let’s see, which one of these is not like the other: Bortles. Keenum. Foles … Tom Brady.

— Every time the Steelers lose in the playoffs I see a lot of screaming from their fans about how bad a coach Mike Tomlin is. And I always say the same thing: Please, let him come coach the Jets. We’ll suffer through these 12-win seasons and constant playoff appearances. SMH.

**Next up, today  is of course Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I hope you all take a few minutes and listen to this incredible piece of American oratory, from August 28, 1963.

Every time I listen to it, I still get a few chills. What an amazing man.

**And finally today, this ought to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and hopeful about the future. There was a fairly serious emergency panic in Hawaii on Saturday, due to an accidental emergency missile attack alert being sent out from the state government’s alert system. From The Washington Post, here’s how it happened:

Shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday morning, an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency settled in at the start of his shift. Among his duties that day was to initiate an internal test of the emergency missile warning system: essentially, to practice sending an emergency alert to the public without actually sending it to the public.

Around 8:05 a.m., the Hawaii emergency employee initiated the internal test, according to a timeline released by the state. From a drop-down menu on a computer program, he saw two options: “Test missile alert” and “Missile alert.” He was supposed to choose the former; as much of the world now knows, he chose the latter, an initiation of a real-life missile alert.

A drop-down menu? Seriously? Who among us, and I’m completely serious, hasn’t accidentally clicked the wrong thing on a drop down menu?

Hey here’s a tip to all governments, everywhere: Put the “test” button option and the “Missile alert” option on separate buttons. Separate screens, or hell, how about separate computers!

Hugs and kisses,

The World.

A Super Bowl rematch that was way better than the original, and other NFL Week 3 thoughts. An awesome high school kid interview. And the Chinese make cell phone texting pedestrian lanes a reality

Eagles.Skins

Last year’s Super Bowl was such a dud, it may have started a downward spiral for the NFL that has continued into this season, with Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Roger Goodell (and was that the worst press conference performance you’ve ever seen on Friday? Pretty horrible) all caught up in the web.
But Sunday’s rematch between Seattle and Denver was pretty thrilling, and almost made up for last February’s egg.
Peyton Manning was held down by the Seahawks’ for 3 quarters, than threw two TD passes in the final minutes to send the game to OT. But Russell Wilson, who would seem right at home in the middle of any chaotic situation you can imagine, led his team down for the winning score.
Great game. Wish it was this good last February when the whole world watched.
Some other ramblings from a pretty exciting Week 3, while I await my Jets’ latest prime-time mishap tonight on Monday Night Football:

— Wow, that Eagles-Redskins game was wild. Looked like an old-time Joe Thiesmann-Ron Jaworski 1980s shootout for a while. Nick Foles is damn tough, Kirk Cousins is for real, and DeSean Jackson is the cockiest NFL receiver we’ve seen since T.O., and he should shut up and just play once in a while.
What a thriller. Eagles are 3-0 and are going to be really tough to beat.
— The Browns, who I have always considered the Jets’ spiritual cousins, positively gave away their game against the Ravens. Cleveland led throughout the fourth quarter, blew two golden chances to put the game away, then lost on a last-second FG.
Cleveland fans, I feel your pain. This Brian Hoyer dude looks like he’ll keep Johnny Football on the bench for awhile.

— What the heck’s wrong with the Saints? They struggled all day to put away a pretty woeful Minnesota team. Drew Brees and Co. just don’t look right. And what’s wrong with the Packers? They looked terrible offensively Sunday.

— Thank you, Rashad Jennings of the Giants: Without you, my fantasy team might’ve scored in negative numbers Sunday. I have no idea how the Texans were 2-0 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, that guy is horrendous.

— Have no idea if the Cowboys are any good. In fact, they may be the worst 2-1 team in the NFL. But Tony Romo sure can look great at times.

–Lastly, we live in a world where Drew Stanton has won two consecutive starts in the NFL. One more reason I never, ever bet on football.

**Next up today, this totally made me smile. In my newspaper career I interviewed thousands of high school football players after games, and 99 percent of the time you get totally boring, cliched answers or mono-syllabic grunts from kids.
So when you’re a reporter and come across a kid like Apollos Hester of East View (Texas) High, well, you just want to hug him and get down on one knee and praise him to the heavens.
Listen to this fantastic 90-second interview he gives a local TV reporter after Friday night’s game. You go, Apollos.

Chinese.cellphonelane

**Finally today, remember a few months ago when, as an experiment, a sidewalk in Washington, D.C. was turned into two separate lanes, one for people walking and one for those slowpokes among us who were texting or reading email on their phones while traversing the cement? I thought it was a brilliant idea, but sadly it was just a trial.
However, as is the case in so many things related to technology, the Chinese are ahead of us.  Last week, the city of Chongqing unveiled a lane specially designated for people who want to walk as they use their cellphones. “Cellphones, walk in this lane at your own risk” is printed in the lane in white lettering. The adjoining lane reads “No cellphones,” according to this Wall Street Journal story.

Bravo, China. I hope America copies you, and soon!