For The Record – Joe Kazmar

There were a couple of surprising upsets in last weekend’s Divisional Round of the National Football League Playoffs involving one of the two Lone Star State teams that were among the eight teams competing for this Sunday’s Conference Championships and the right to play in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Not too many fans were shocked that the New England Patriots subdued the Houston Texans 34-16, covering the huge 16-point line of the Las Vegas Boys. What was noteworthy was the fact the Texans played better than most expected with the game much closer than the final score indicated.
But the big disappointment occurred at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, home of the Dallas Cowboys, who dropped a heart-breaking 34-31 decision to the Green Bay Packers on a 51-yard field goal as time ran out.
Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal was dramatic, but did not cause half as much panic as Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers did when he slung a desperation 36-yard pass on a third-and 20 with 12 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 31-31.
The “Mini Hail Mary Pass” was caught by teammate Jared Cook who did a toe-dance to stay in bounds. Crosby booted his field goal on the very next play.
Dallas got off to a lethargic start and found themselves trailing The Pack by 18 points, 21-3, halfway through the second period. The Pokes went into the dressing room at the intermission trailing 21-13.
At the end of the third period the Cowboys’ deficit increased to 15 points before rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott went to work and put 18 points on the scoreboard in the final quarter, knotting the score at 28-28 with 4:08 left in regulation. The teams traded field goals before Mason’s boot ended the game at the gun.
Green Bay’s win advanced them to meet the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday’s Conference Championship Round. The Falcons overpowered the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 on Saturday and are favored by four points against the Packers.
The other upset occurred Sunday night in game that was pushed back from noon to 7:15 p.m., due to an ice storm at Kansas City, between the Chiefs and the surging Pittsburgh Steelers.
It was a hard-hitting defensive struggle that was won by Pittsburgh 18-16, also on the final play of the game.
The Chiefs scored a touchdown in the final seconds of the game and went for a two-point conversion to tie the game. They completed a pass in the end zone but some bozo lineman on the other side of the play was called for holding, moving the ball back to the 12.
The pass was incomplete, giving the Steelers the victory despite the fact they crossed the Kansas City goal line ZERO times. All Pittsburgh’s 18 points came on six field goals by Rice graduate Chris Boswell.
The Steelers better get indoctrinated real quickly on how to score touchdowns, because six field goals against six-point favored New England Sunday would probably have them losing by 20 or more points.
And speaking of the Patriots, the fans at Gillette Stadium last Sunday appeared quite worried during the first half of the game as the Houston Texans were holding their own against New England.
Although the Pats jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first period, the Texans scored 10 points in the second quarter and only trailed 17-13 at the intermission.
But the costly mistakes which have led to most of the Texans’ setbacks this season again game back to haunt them.
Erratic quarterback Brock Osweiler heaved three interceptions, rookie wide receiver Will Fuller beat his man to the end zone but dropped a certain touchdown pass and—just like last year’s game against Kansas City—the special teams allowed a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
A team cannot make that many mistakes and expect to beat the best team in the NFL!!!
It made things too tough for the defense, even though it is ranked No. 1 in the league. The defense intercepted much-heralded Pats’ quarterback Tom Brady twice, sacked him twice and hit him eight times.
As disappointing as Sunday’s loss was, the Houston Texans have a lot to look forward to for the 2017 season, provided the defense remains intact and J.J. Watt returns completely recovered from his recent back surgery.
Their biggest deficiency has been the lack of scoring and the inconsistent play of their quarterbacks, especially Brock Osweiler.
What the Texans could really use this coming season would be a veteran quarterback who still has some good years left and is not fragile as Dallas’ Tony Romo.
KWICKIES…Green Bay’s 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday marked the first time a road team won in the playoffs after 12 straight home victories dating to last season.
Congrats to Orange native and former Lutcher Stark High assistant coach Wade Phillips for landing the defensive coordinator’s job with the Los Angeles Rams. Defense definitely was not the reason the Rams were so lousy last season. Wade said he took the job with the idea he doesn’t want to wait four or five years for the team to become a winner, he wants it to happen in 2017.
Justin Thomas is becoming a 23-year-old phenom on the PGA Tour after posting the lowest 72-hole score (253) in PGA Tour history. His week at the Sony Open in Honolulu began last Thursday with a 59 and ended with his second consecutive tour victory. Tommy Armour III shot 254 in the 2003 Texas Open. Thomas is the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win back-to-back weeks by three shots or more.
JUST BETWEEN US…I have to agree with the decision made last week by Kevin Flanigan to resign from Beaumont West Brook and accept the head football coaching position at Tomball. The school put Flanigan on administrative leave from Nov. 22 to Jan. 6 for putting a camera in the West Brook boys’ locker room in an effort to catch a thief who was continually breaking into the lockers and stealing money and cell phones. Flanigan said he went to the administration and informed them of the problem but to no avail. So he took things into his own hands. He said the was not contacted by the school district from the time he was put on administrative leave until last Wednesday, two weeks after the grand jury chose not to indict him. A spokesperson for BISD claimed the district was unable to reinstate Flanigan any sooner than it did because its offices were closed from Dec.19 through Jan. 2 for the holidays. He had little trouble finding another head football coaching job after leading West Brook to an 11-2 season in 2016. Their loss certainly is Kevin Flanigan’s gain, who will be getting a 24 per cent pay raise from his current $84,297 salary with BISD.