A Bad Day To Have A Bad Day

Image result for Lamar Jackson after loss to Titans

Lamar Jackson picked a bad day to a have a bad day. The presumptive MVP who lead the League in multiple categories and lead his Baltimore Ravens to a 14 – 2 record and the No. 1 seed in AFC laid a proverbial egg on Saturday night, AT HOME.  Jackson had three turnovers and was generally off and specifically  late and low and behind and beneath his normal level of play.

The Ravens fell to the the No. 6 Seed Tennessee Titans who shocked the football world by running all over the Ravens, both literally and figuratively.   The Ravens didn’t play very well, and the mistakes and miscues by the star quarterback wearing No. 8 didn’t help.

Lamar Jackson didn’t actually chose to have a bad day, and neither do we. Bad days just seem to happen. And bad days tend to happen at the worst of times. The key is how you react and respond to adversity. The Ravens were favored to win it all, and we all were looking forward to watching a Super Bowl with Lamar in it. But not this year. 

There’s no way to explain how and why Jackson has not performed in the playoffs two years in a row, but his Coach believes that he will rebound and return to form next year.  We all hope so. And Isn’t that just like life? We all need to rebound recover and bounce back and get back up and get back going after falling and failing. That’s why I’m rooting for Lamar Jackson, even if he’s out of the playoffs.

Here’s how the Baltimore Sun reported the story:

“BALTIMORE (AP) — With his bright red shoes and relentless running, Derrick Henry grabbed the spotlight and wouldn’t let go.

When he was done leading Tennessee into the AFC championship game Saturday night, he did a lengthy victory lap around the Baltimore Ravens’ home, slapping hands and taking selfies with Titans fans.

It has been quite a two-week ride.

“It’s not just me,” Henry said after rushing for 195 yards and throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass in a 28-12 upset of the NFL’s top team Saturday night. ”It’s a team effort. We’re all playing collectively as an offense, as a whole. We’re just locked in. We believe in each other. We communicate. It’s working out there.”

The Lamar Jackson who ran with abandon and threw 36 touchdown passes for the best team in the league failed to show up in the playoffs — again.

During his marvelous second season in the NFL, Jackson was an All-Pro quarterback who carried the Baltimore Ravens to the best record in the league. Jackson amassed the most yards rushing by a quarterback in league history and was the catalyst of an offense that led the NFL in scoring.

All of that — as well as Baltimore’s 12-game winning streak and home-field advantage — was irrelevant against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

Coming off a three-week break and looking appropriately rusty in doing so, an error-prone Jackson threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and didn’t get the Ravens into the end zone until the fourth quarter of a 28-12 defeat.

All season long, Jackson was intent upon erasing the memory of his rookie season, when he guided Baltimore to a 6-1 finish before faltering in the postseason opener at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. Jackson went 2 of 8 for 17 yards and an interception in the first half, and the Ravens trailed 23-3 in a one-and-out playoff performance.

It was Super Bowl or bust this time around, and Baltimore sure looked capable of making that happen. Jackson and the Ravens were virtually unstoppable over the final three months, slapping aside some of the best teams in the league with surprising ease.

That’s what made this game so darn surprising. Jackson did manage to rush for 143 yards, but most of that came in two chunks, a 30-yarder in the third quarter and a 27-yarder during Baltimore’s lone touchdown drive.

But twice he failed to convert fourth-and-1 runs, stuffed at the line of scrimmage on each occasion. Both times, the Titans went the other way for touchdowns.

Before this game, Baltimore was 8 for 8 on fourth-and-1 this season. Then again, very little that occurred during the regular season for the Ravens went right on this night.

Jackson’s 50th pass of the night, on fourth down in Tennessee territory with just over 4 minutes left, hit the ground with a thud. So, in fact, did Baltimore’s season.

He finished 31 for 59 for 365 yards. The main number, however, was the 12 points — Baltimore’s lowest output of the year.

Jackson doesn’t deserve all the blame for the collapse. Heck, the Ravens twice were penalized on punt returns without even getting their hands on the ball. And another All-Pro selection, Marcus Peters, was burned badly by Kalif Raymond on a 45-yard touchdown pass immediately after Jackson failed to gain the yards necessary to maintain possession.

“It only takes turning the ball over one or two times, a penalty here and a penalty there. All it takes is one loss and we’re done,” Yanda said. “That 14-2 stuff does not matter.”

How very true.”

You Just Gotta Believe!

The Philadelphia Eagles just came back from the dead and made the playoffs, and in so doing they showed us how to participate in our own resurrection (And by the way, Saint Nick lives!)

At one point in this post-Super Bowl, celebration season, the Philadelphia Eagles were a woeful 4-6. They had just lost to the New Orleans Saints 48 -7 and with that loss all expectation for the playoffs was taken away; the season was essentially and technically over. To add insult to injury, our star QB, Carson Wentz, bruised his back and a slew of other injuries ensued; painfully, the Eagles likelihood of making the playoffs went from bad to worse. Faithful Philly fans everywhere thought that the Eagles chances of getting into the Playoffs and defending their crown were slim to none. Or so it seemed.  Then it all turned around.

After losing to the Cowboys 29 – 23 in overtime, the Eagles played their best football of the season and finished on a three game winning streak. After being dead in the water, the Eagles blanked the Redskins 24-0 on the last day of the season and won this must win game on the road to finish 9 -7, earning a Wild Card entry into the playoffs. The Eagles survived mistakes and heartbrakes, and are a living testimony of how to overcome all kinds of adversity.

But to actually get into the playoffs, Philly needed help. And help (from Heaven?) came in the form of the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 Defense.  For the Eagles to make the playoffs this season the Minnesota Vikings had to lose and the Bears had to win. So what happened? The Vikings lost at home to those same Bears 24 – 10. Whew! 

Christianity teaches that death is not final. Not physically or spiritually. The central and cardinal doctrine of Christianity affirms that God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. Without the resurrection, the apostle Paul declared, Christian preaching and belief are pointless and meaningless. Because of the resurrection of Christ, we too can experience resurrections. We too can get help from Heaven to turn death into life.

Your situation may seem dead, your marriage may stink the stench of death, your children may have disappeared and departed from you, your finances may have suffered a fatal blow, and even your future may seem listless and lifeless.  But there is always hope. Always.

The Eagles making the playoffs this season just goes to show that sports teach the hope of resurrection. Resurrection is help from above descending live a dove to bring life and love. And even though we may feel or even be dead, we must participate in our own resurrection, because help only comes when we have hope. In games and seasons when it seems as if all hope is lost, teams can speak life and determine they are not facing a dead end, and we can too. It’s not just about being positive; it’s a firm faith and a battleax belief that our lot in life is to overcome every dip and every drop that we may descend into.

The Eagles making the playoffs just goes to prove that it’s not over until it’s over. The Eagles just proved to us once again that all things are possible to those who believe. So be encouraged. It’s not over. On this New Year’s Eve, it’s just beginning.   

Winning In January

 Ben Roethlisberger

In January, the days are short and the nights are long. The howling, northwest winds are chilly and the wind chill makes it even chillier. The ground is hard and the air is dry. In sum, there is nothing inviting about January. Most want to remain inside but they still play football outside. At least some do.  And some go on to win in January.  Only some.

The comfort January brings to football teams who win is in cold contrast to the weather, as the poem by Helen Hunt Jackson unfolds:

O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,

What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn

Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn

Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire

The streams than under ice. June could not hire.

 

Her roses to forego the strength they learn

In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn

The bridges thou dost lay where men desire

In vain to build.

 

O Heart, when Love’s sun goes

To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,

Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.

Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.

Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,

The winter is the winter’s own release.

 

January by Helen Hunt Jackson

 

Football in January is akin to basketball in June; only a few teams are privileged enough to make it to the postseason, and fewer still advance in the playoffs.  And this year, that would be my Eagles.  Philly played a gritty, gutsy game and eked out a win when no one game them a chance. To win in January is to summon every ounce of effort and every drop of determination because wins in January don’t come easy.

So here’s to Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles on their first playoff win since 2008. Hopefully, there’s more to come.

Advice To Philly and Foles and All Underdogs Everywhere:  “Prove the Doubters Wrong!”

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Foles needs to prove the dubters wrong. There are more people who doubt him than there are people who believe in him.  And that hurts. But it also helps, if you let it.

Nick Foles is up against it. Today, as the Eagles play the Falcons in the playoffs, Philly fans are hoping for a minor miracle. Maybe snow would help. Foles seems to play really good in the snow.  Or perhaps singing the words to this James Fortune song may help: 

Let Your power fall when your name is called

Prove the doubters wrong

Lord You are still mighty and strong

(so this is what l need you to do for me)

Fight this battle for me

So i can tell all my friends

That You have won again

You have won again

 

James Fortune

 

No one, and I mean no one, is giving Nick Foles a snowball’s chance in you know where to win today. No one. At least no one outside of Philly.  So Foles has nothing to lose if he is all in and goes all out at home at the Link in South Philly today.  The Eagles are not favored or the favorite. They have their backs up against the wall and there seems to be no way out. Everyone’s picking the Falcons to beat my Eagles in Philly. THE FALCONS?!

Now, without Wentz, Nick needs to knuckle down and muster up some energy to prove that he isn’t a wimp or a wuss of a quarterback. He needs to be all in and go all out.  That’s it.  That’s the recipe. The motto above the New England Patriots’ locker room is “Block Out The Noise!”

And that’s what the Eagles and Foles need to do. And the same goes for me and you too. You have doubters and haters and cynics and critics that say that you can’t and won’t make it. You have those who have dumbed you overboard and kicked you to the curb and left you on the side of the road for dead. Prove them wrong. Rise from the dust and from the depths and even from the dead.  Make a comeback. Win in an upset. Start trending up and not down and turn the ship around. You can do it!

Prove the doubters wrong.

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions (For Philly Fans)

NFL Playoffs

The beleaguered Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for the first time since 1999; good for them. The woeful Cleveland Browns went 0-16; no surprise there. The underachieving Falcons, who should have won the Super Bowl last year – but choked – just barely made it into the playoffs this year, with help from Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals.  Whoptedo. And the Pittsburg Steelers and the New England Patriots are poised to fight for the right to win the Super Bowl.

But the big story is coming out of Philly. The best team in football all season lost Carson Wentz, their Luke Skywalker of a quarterback in Week 14 against the Rams. Now the Eagles look lost without their last jedi.   And Nick Foles, unfortunately, is no Rey, an up and coming understudy who can take over for Luke with little to no training  (you have to be a fan of the Star Wars series).  Oh well.

So here’s why our resolution should be to hope for the best and plan for the worst.  There is reason for hope and to resolve and not to lose heart.  “The Eagles have been the best team all season. Their only losses entering Sunday (when they rested many starters in a home loss to Dallas) were road defeats in Kansas City and Seattle — hardly anything of which to be ashamed. Even at their worst, which they were against the Giants on defense in Week 15 and against the Raiders on offense in Week 16, they’ve managed to find ways to win. They are deep and talented on both sides of the ball and can play a variety of styles and still win”. http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21924480/2017-nfl-playoffs-preview-schedule-bracket-paths-super-bowl-lii-matchup-possibilities

On the other hand, one sports writer said this: “Eagles fans should be physically ill over Nick Foles. I was relentlessly heckled two weeks ago for pointing out Foles ran hot and cold against the Giants and was fine but not nearly as good as the box score suggested. After his last two performances, the Eagles are praying Foles can even approach ‘fine’ when the postseason begins. He was bad in the Christmas night win over Oakland. He was worse in a brief appearance against the Cowboys on Sunday, not only out-of-rhythm but seemingly overwhelmed. It would have been nice to see him stay out there and get some more reps, but this might have been a mercy benching. And it raises the question: ‘How will the NFC’s No. 1 seed be getting points in their first playoff game?’”

Points in a game are positive actions in life; you need as many as you can get. We can’t sit back and wait for good to come or for bad to stay away. We have to be proactive, pre-emptive and practical. Hope only works when we are willing to try, try, again.

We all should do the same in 2018. It’s the only way we, and the Eagles, will win.  So, Philly fans, here are the resolutions: let’s put in the work, let’s be both full of faith and realistic at the same time, and let’s be careful not to bite off more than we can chew.

Resolve to start all over again every day. Build on successes and bounce back from setbacks. Don’t wait until January 1, 2019, to hit the reset bottom, press pause, or simultaneously press Ctrl, Alt – Delete.

 

Happy New Year

Win And You’re In, a.k.a., Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

cousins

A win and they would be in. At least as a wildcard team. Forget the Division; Dallas had that locked up weeks ago.

A win would begin the postseason for the Washington Redskins. And they had two — count them — TWO chances to win AT HOME in December to clinch a playoff spot. But both times, they failed. Both times they fizzled. Both times, the favored team from Washington flunked out — and some would say punked out. With the season on the line, the offense was practically fruitless and the defense was essentially useless in its efforts to stop a determined but defective Giants team.

The Washington Redskins faltered ignominiously after a season of high hopes and, as far as statistics go, exceeded expectations. And in both games, especially yesterday against their heated and hated arch rivals, the New York Giants, the Redskins’ play was measly and miserable and at times almost intolerable. Their effort was lacking as the defense was sacking their franchise QB, Kirk Cousins. In other words, for three and half quarters, their energy and “oomph” towards a run at a playoff spot and a chance to play in Super Bowl LI just wasn’t there.

Sunday’s defeat had no turning point. There was no single play or crucial drive when things started going awry for the Redskins, who were favored by a touchdown. The Redskins were poor from the start in every way.  Asked Sunday night whether he felt he had the Redskins ready to compete, Coach Gruden said: “I like to think so, but obviously the results say otherwise, so what can you say?”

To answer Kirk Cousins question from last year, “No, we don’t like that.”

Forced to punt on their first five possessions, the Redskins were held scoreless in the first half for the first time all season. A last-ditch effort to avoid the shutout — a 57-yard field goal attempt by Dustin Hopkins — sailed left of the uprights, leaving the Redskins to trudge to the locker room trailing 10-0.

Their third-ranked offense, which was averaging 411.3 yards per game, was stymied by the Giants’ aggressive front seven. Protecting Cousins had been a strength all season, with the offensive line allowing just 19 sacks through 15 games. On Sunday, Cousins was sacked four times by early in the third quarter. And Cousins played throughout as if pass rushers were converging from all corners. Too bad, so sad.

So what’s next for the Redskins in general and for Kirk Cousins in particular? Only time will tell. Changes need to be made, but where do you start? Cousins set a franchise RECORD for passing yards this season. Seriously? Statistically, he’s the best Redskins QB ever!  EVER! And some want him canned.

So what can we learn?

The point is this: we need to be ready to play, especially in the “big games” of our lives. We need to prepare and pre plan and prime and pump ourselves up for every “big” occurrence we are confronted with. You and I need to be ready to play every day, but we especially need to be ready to deal with the critical and crucial moments of our lives.

In other words, prior preparation prevents poor performance. This truism is still true.

Don’t Pick A Bad Time To Have A Bad Game 


There really isn’t a good time to have a bad game, but here is a bad time to have a bad game.  And last night on MNF, the formerly playoff bound Washington Redskins laid a rotten egg. Against the Carolina Panthers, led by Cam Newton, the ‘Skins looked as bad as you can look. The ‘Skins lost a  critical, pivotal game AT HOME to the Panthers who are no way near where they were or what they were last year. Cam and the Panthers are generally a shell of their former selves that went 15-1 last year en route to the Super Bowl.

Kirk Cousins lost a fumble and threw an interception, and both turnovers couldn’t have come at worser times. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Last night, the Redskins in general, and their usually trustworthy, productive and reliable tight end, Jordan Reed, had a night to regret. Reed’s Monday night couldn’t be any worse. The Redskins tight end, who is playing through a shoulder injury, caught one pass for 6 yards through the first three quarters against the Panthers. And he didn’t get a chance to improve those numbers in the fourth quarter.

His night was over because he threw a punch at Kurt Coleman late in the third quarter, which led to a flag and his ejection. Not too smart.

So, the moral of the story is plain. Don’t pick a bad time to have a bad game. Keep you cool and your composure, because it’s not about you. It’s about your team. Because you’re better together.