The final score of Sunday’s early playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers might look fairly close at 41-28, but make no mistake about it. The Pats dominated proceedings and had the opportunity to take their foot off the gas a little toward the end. After trading TD’s in the first quarter, it was 7-7. From there, though, the Patriots put their foot upon the neck of the Chargers with old school, smash mouth football on both sides of the ball to go up 38-7 with four unanswered touchdowns and a field goal. The Chargers did fight back, of course as you’d expect, but it was never all that close, and it was obvious who would be moving on. Sony Michel was the star of the afternoon for the Pats, running for 129 yards and three TD’s. But Tom Brady was very productive as well, especially in the short passing game as he racked up 343 yards and a touchdown toss of his own. The Philip Rivers meme about coming back from behind might be a real thing, but it was just too much of a comeback to try and muster this time around, particularly when you consider the Pats hadn’t lost in the Divisional Round in any of the seven years prior. The Patriots will now travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
In the late game of the day, it was the New Orleans Saints that were able to finally defeat the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles 20-14, thus setting up a home game in the NFC Championship with the Los Angeles Rams. It could have been so different, though, as the Eagles took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter as ‘Saint’ Nick Foles showed out with a touchdown in the air and one on the ground. Drew Brees then threw a TD to Keith Kirkwood and led a field goal drive to make their deficit just four going into halftime. From there, the defense continued to hold the Eagles to scraps, allowing Brees to find Michael Thomas for a touchdown that gave them the lead. In the fourth quarter, a lone field goal was made by them to push the lead to six. With the Eagles driving late in the game, looking to win it, it was Marcus Lattimore that came up with his second interception of the game to seal and hand his team the victory.
In the NBA, James Harden made history on Sunday despite a very poor shooting performance from deep. In the 116-109 loss to the Orlando Magic, Harden scored 30 or more points for the 16th straight game, tying him with Kobe Bryant. He had 38 points as he shot just 1 of 17 from three-point land. That tied a record for most misses in NBA history from deep.
And finally, according to sources, Manny Machado could have a new home in Chicago. But it wouldn’t be with the Cubs. Instead, it looks like the White Sox have offered the shortstop an eight year deal worth in a bid to overcome the challenge of the Philadelphia Phillies for one of the most sought after free agents in this era. Some believe he will sign with Philly if Bryce Harper also does.