ALFF 2016 Play-Off's
ALFF Bowl 24 Report & Scoresheet
QB Matt Ryan had his best ever post season outing with his 4 TD, 12pt effort. Three of the last 4 winning QB's have come from the NFC South. The last winning QB NOT to score in double digits was the Apaches Ben Roethlisberger (AB 20).
WR Jordy Nelson was not required to score as the last man out in his 1st Bowl game. The 2014 ALFF receiving champion was the highest scoring active wide-out in action but did not get on the score-sheet in the 1st Bowl since AB 7 ( Riverside Rockets v Arnhall Dolphins) not to feature a receiving TD.
Veteran K Adam Vinatieri joined a select group of 3 other kickers who have two winners gongs ( Jeff Wilkins AB's 7 & 14), Mike Vangerjagt (AB's 8 & 11) and Steven Hauschka (AB's 21 & 22.) AV's previous win was with 2007 Argyll Apaches in their AB 15, 29-28 OT win over the Ashgrove Astro's.
Laurel Lions Sleepers
RB - DeAngelo Williams - 9pts
RB - Jonathon Stewart - 6pts
RB - Mike Gillislee - 6pts
WR - Julian Edelman - 6(3)pts
K - Josh Lambo - 9pts
Despite the low scoring nature of the tie there was no realistic Bowl sleeper that would have handed the coaches McConnachie a win... which would not have been the case for coach Hamilton had the roles been reversed ! James had just 5 available RB's .. and plugged in the only combination of two that presented him with a double blank. It was truly perm any one from 3 ... (or 4 if you look at WR Julian Edelman !) but RB DeAngelo Williams (net -9pts ) goes down as the ALFF Bowl 24 Sleeper.
2017 Draft Order
RB LeSean McCoy now has just one receiving TD in two ALFF Bowl outings, both on the losing side. His injury was a major turning point in this game. His previous losing effort came for the Deevale Desperados in their ill fated 27-42, AB 21 loss to the 2 Minute Drillers.
Kicker Matt Bryant fell 6pts short of setting a new post season competition kicker scoring record of 52pts.... (would have beat the 51pt mark set by the New Rebs Blair Walsh in 2015.
The Atlanta Defence scored in their only previous Bowl appearance (AB 12) as part of the 2 Minute Drillers side who beat the Ashgrove Astro's 26-19 but could not add a second winner medal with the Wrecking Rebels.
Wrecking Rebels Sleepers
QB - Tony Romo - 3pts
RB - Kenneth Dixon - 6pts
RB - Aaron Ripkowski - 6pts
k - Caleb Sturgis - 9pts
With only two players to pick from there is not much argument here ! Lions QB Matt Ryan not only scored the bulk of his sides points with a 4 TD performance that featured TD tosses of 7, 1, 10 and 7 yards but also limited opposing K Matt Bryant to a handful of PAT's at the games critical juncture. Matt Ryan is the stand-out ALFF Bowl 24 MVP.
Hot Matty Ice Ensures It's Laurel's Crown
ALFF Bowl 24 never quite reached the heights expected of the end of season showcase but that made little difference to the triumphant Laurel Lions as the Pittodrie Division champions became the first side since the now defunct 2000 Kincorth City Chiefs to land the big prize from the long cursed 2nd seed slot with a low key 18-08 win over the title repeat chasing Wrecking Rebels. Given the outgoing champions uncanny ability over the past two knock-out competitions to conjour up victory from seemingly impossible positions, coach Hamilton was probably not able to relax until well into the late New Year’s Day action..... but a superb display from QB Matt Ryan effectively neutralised the Double Mac’s high scoring kicking game and set up the 2nd year ball-club for a historic Steven Wood success. The history chasing Wrecking Rebels went into contest as slender 2pt favorites to finally land that ever elusive ALFF Holy Grail title defence , thanks largely to Vegas seeing champion WR Antonio Brown would not start for the Lions, while expecting the Bon Accord outfit to stick to their staple game-plan .. i.e. … Matt Bryant to score big and get just the right amount of support from RB Shady MCoy ,WR Doug Baldwin … and A N Other as required. The coaches McConnachie left it as late as possible to ensure their starters were fit but in the end named an unchanged side from the eight that had eliminated the 2 Minute Drillers in Rd 3. Across the Diamond Bridge coach H was a little more concerned about his potential to field an inactive player or two and sprang something of a surprise by revamping his running attack, recalling Darren Sproles for injury doubt Jonathon Stewart while inserting little used Jacquizz Rodgers in place of Mike Gillislee. For the 2nd straight week subsequent events would give the Laurel Rd camp cause to reconsider those gameday alterations. With Antonio Brown a confirmed inactive, greybeard Steve Smith came in for what was almost sure to be his last ever ALFF start. Neither side could call on much in terms of previous Bowl experience with K Adam Vinatieri and their Eagles defence the Danestone based sides only starters with “prior form”, while across the line of scrimmage Shady McCoy and Atlanta were the only pair in the same category. With coach Hamilton looking to get his name on the Steven Wood for the first time…. and the Double Mac’s poised for repeat glory, either way we were assured of a historic outcome. As has become the tradition in Wk 17 almost all the NFL fixtures were scheduled over just two Sunday periods of action, but an NBC outlier at Ford Field meant our outcome may not be decided until the very last NFL action. With the Pride stacked early and the New Rebs featuring 6 starters in the second Sunday period the expected storyline was a late Wrecking Rebels comeback.. with Jordy Nelson holding the final outcome in his hands come the NBC stanza.
WR Steve Smith in action early at Paul Brown could not get on the score-sheet for the Lions.
Hostilities opened early Sunday evening with the Lions Jacquizz Rodgers first to show potential for the Pittodrie Division’s 1st Bowl participant since the 2011 Garthdee Gryphons, but in what would become something of a recurring theme for the ball carrier, his red zone carry at Raymond James was closed down without threatening the endzone. The form of kicker Adam Vinatieri was always going to be pivotal to the destiny of the trophy, so a swift FG for the Jaguars at EverBank Stadium looked like just the thing the Laurel supremo needed to spark a potential FG battle which would aid his kicking specialist. Back in Tampa the Lions selection committee must have swallowed hard when non-activated Jonathon Stewart rumbled in from the one yard line as we waited vainly for the opening score of the showdown, as tension must have increased in the Danestone camp. Happenings at Lincoln Financial Field were arguably only secondary in terms of importance to the events in Jacksonville as far as the No 2 seeds were concerned and James was almost out of his seat as Darren Sproles came within one tap tackle of scoring on what would have been a 14 yard run… and then was stopped short on the one foot line on the very next play….. but the score still did not come. Worryingly for the Lions , the Colts went 3 and out on their opening four drives and suddenly a target of a 6 to 7pt lead to take to the late Sunday period, suggested as vital by the ALFF pundits, looked to be something of a challenging target. Meanwhile the Wrecking Rebels had two players in action with Shady McCoy and Robert Woods both strutting their stuff at Met Life. The Bills duo started quietly but anything they could muster , particularly in the light of their opponents initial tribulations would be critical to the champions effort, with the runner in particular a pivotal foil to their critical kicking game. Back at EverBank the Jaguars punished the Colts inability to move the ball with a short passing TD that sported them a 10pt lead that was not too dangerous in its own right…. but could be potentially fatal if it got any bigger and took FG’s for Vinatieri out of the equation. Consecutive play turnovers by Jameis Winston in Tampa kept Jacquizz Rodgers from being an effective danger and as the opening period moved on into the 2nd quarter of play without any scoring action, events seemed to be trending the Double Mac’s way. Then, back up In New Jersey we reached a first truly pivotal moment. LeSean McCoy took a routine hand-off on 1st and 10 on his own 26 yard line and fell awkwardly when tackled by two Jets after a 3 yard gain . The runner stayed down with an ankle injury … and significantly would not return to the field of play. With the champions reeling from that momentous loss the Lions threatened to take advantage ... but an Andrew Luck INT seemed to rob Adam Vinatieri of any scoring opportunity. To coach H’s delight Blake Bortles promptly fumbled the ball right back to the Colts. Three ineffective plays later Adam Vinatieri lined up a 48 Yd FG attempt…. but to everyone’s astonishment saw his effort go wide off the right upright. The fact the Jags went 17-00 up on their next play from scrimmage had the alarm bells ringing in the Pridelands. The loss of Shady MCoy had not only robbed the Wrecking Crew of a much needed weapon but it also all but nullified WR Robert Woods and the Bills as an offensive threat. That said, zero points from their Buffalo pairing was not a disaster for the Mac’s² if their rivals could not build a cushion to carry into the later stages. At this point James was seeing little encouragement with nothing on offer for Jacquizz Rodgers, or Steve Smith with both en route to eventual debut Bowl goose eggs… so it seemed he had to get something… anything …..out of AV and his Philly pairing. At long last with time running out in the first half of the early period the Colts found a little rhythm. An eight play drive got them back deep inside Jaguars territory and this time Vinatieri came through with a 45 Yd FG to finally open the scoring, to put a much relieved Lions 03-00 in front. For the record the 45 yard effort saw the kicker pass Jason Elam (114pts) into No1 spot in the kicking post season charts.
K Adam Vinatieri opens the scoring at last with this 45 Yd FG.
Having found a way to move the ball on the Jacksonville defence , the Colts found a new confidence in the second half in North Florida and were quickly back in position for an easy rushing score that came along with AV’s first PAT of the contest. All of a sudden 04-00 had a completely different feel to the prior scrambling for that duck breaking initial score. Now just one FG would give the Pittodrie Div outfit that much needed cushion. News of an unclaimed 77 yard TD from dropped WR Julian Edelman and a 2nd score for un-activated RB DeAngelo Williams was not quite what coach Hamilton had in mind and his mood would not have been helped by the Colts passing up a 50 yard FG opportunity to go for a 4th and short..... but at least the latter had a silver lining as it extended a late 3rd quarter drive that culminated in a 2nd Indy TD, complete with Vinatieri PAT. Now trailing 05-00 the coaches McConnachie could only think what might have been as the Bills conjored up two late red zone visits with Cardell Jones in at QB ... and a last gasp rushing TD that was would possibly have been McCoy’s... went to yet another dropped Laurel starter, RB Mike Gillislee. Back at Lincoln Financial Field the Darren Sproles threat had proved an empty one for the Danestone based combo but with the opening Sunday period nearly done there was a brief opportunity for their previously invisible Eagles defence/special teams to shine. With just 1.40 on the clock the Cowboys had to punt from deep inside their own EZ and the kick was half blocked. Tantalizingly the ball bounced out to the four yard line... but was not advanced from there .. as another scoring opportunity went a begging for coach James. To add insult to injury Philly then opted to use unheralded RB Terrell Watson rather than Darren Sproles to mop up on offence and it really started to look that 05-00 may be it, from the opening round of contributions.... unless something dramatic turned up at EverBank, where a Jaguars FG with just 1:33 left set-up the possibility of some last gasp kicking points for the Pride. Best case scenario for the Laurel Rd based combo was a 50 yard plus FG that would force NFL OT ... which could spawn a second (and technically even a third) five pointer.... but in a dramatic finish it seemed initially at least, it would just be the standard short range FG as the Colts drove deep into the end zone with no time-outs ... before spiking the ball on the 1 yard line with just 9 secs left . A chip shot FG was just what the Lions team doctor had ordered.... but to the head honcho’s chagrin Andrew Luck connected on a 1 yard TD toss ... and coach H was left looking on anxiously to see if they would opt to go for two. Thankfully from a Lions point of view the Colts lined up to kick the PAT....but a false start penalty pushed Vinatieri back to the 38 yard line. The veteran kicker held his nerve to close out the opening Sunday stanza at 06-00 but the Laurel Rd faithful could be forgiven for thinking those “lost” 2pts would be significant.
QB Matt Ryan lit up the Rebels with 4 TD's.
All things considered the Wrecking Rebels camp could not have been too discouraged about the state of affairs midway through Sunday evening , trailing by six with 6 starters to come but the defending champions received another major blow just as the 2nd New Year’s Day stanza began. RB Spencer Ware was listed as an inactive in San Diego and suddenly the pressure on K Matt Bryant to score big, was cranked up a notch. Proceedings now had two distinct hotspots with New Rebs pairing Matt Bryant and the Atlanta D facing down QB Matt Ryan in the final game in the Georgia Dome while New Rebs WR Jeremy Maclin went mano a mano with direct opponent Tyrell Williams at Qualcomm. WR Doug Baldwin and QB Jared Goff provided other scoring options for the Double Mac’s cause. As it turned out, the tone set in the opening section skirmishes was largely continued. The New Rebs advantage in numbers was not reflected in scoring opportunities and the real meat of the showdown centred around events in Atlanta. The ALFF pundits had expected a Saints defence that had actually ranked 10th through the previous 6 weeks of action, to force a significant number of Falcon “stalls” inside the redzone ... stacking points on the Bryant side of the ledger at the expense of Matty Ice... but it seems for one half at least, the NO defenders were under the impression the season had ended a week earlier. Matt Ryan led the Dirty Birds down the field on their opening possession to score on a 7 yard TD toss and although the Wrecking Rebels opened their account with the subsequent PAT, a 09-01 score-line was a totally different beast from a potential 06-03 the Mac’s² were banking on. The Dirty Birds second time with the ball was an all together shorter affair as RB Devonta Freeman scampered 75 yards to paydirt but little did we know at the time but Matt Bryant’s 2nd PAT that closed the deficit to 09-02, would be as close at the Wrecking Rebels got to parity from that point on. Elsewhere a rare deep pass to Jeremy Maclin raised a little hope in the Rosemount Place HQ but the more stark reality was the struggles of rookie QB Jared Goff (the first pure rookie to start in an ALFF Bowl) and the fact it would be late in the 2nd quarter before WR Doug Baldwin caught his 1st pass for a Seahawks offence that was limited at that stage to little more than a dozen plays. Frustration had not totally dissipated on the Lions bench outside of their passer's start in the Dirty Dome. If coach H was looking for some help for Matt Ryan from wideout Tyrell Williams the message had not got through to the San Diego Chargers. The Bolts found it difficult in any case to move the ball on the Kansas City Chiefs but when they did, seemed fixated on getting TE Antonio Gates some record breaking TD’s... with the result we did not see the Lions pass catcher get on the score-sheet. Back in the Georgia Dome , a 46 yard pass interference call got the Falcons back in the Saints red-zone but just when it seemed they might have to settle for a FG thanks to some untidy offensive penalty calls, Matt Ryan struck a body blow with TD No 2, a short 1 yarder (to Julio Jones) and at 12-03 it started to look as if the Laurel Lions may be on the cusp of taking control. With the Saints offence offering little in the way of defensive crumbs to the Bon Accord outfit’s Atlanta defence , the coaches McConnachie badly need a standard Bryant FG or better to stop the rot before half time, but Atlanta drive No 4 mid way through the 2nd Q just brought more or the same. There was a brief moment of hope with a Falcons false start on a 2nd and goal from the New Orleans 5 yard line ... but those hopes were shattered as Ryan fired in TD No 3 (to Mohamed Sanu) from 10 yards out. With potential still for a Round 1 style garbage time TD from Jared Goff and a couple of second half Bryant FG’s from a Falcons side in prevent mode, the tie was still not over but the defending champions could sense their repeat chances were draining away. Inside the 1st half two minute warning the Falcons worked the ball down the field inside the “New Awlins” half of the field. With the whole outcome now looking like it could hinge on the outcome of this drive, a defensive holding call at the Saints 35 yard line moved the ball “inside ” of five point FG range. Three plays later Matt Ryan faced a 3rd and 2 from the 7 yard line ... with just 35 secs on the clock.... the Laurel signal-caller running a rapier through his opponents hopes with a timely 4th TD strike of the evening (this time to undrafted Justin Hardy). Matt Bryant duly tacked on the PAT but at 18-05 it did appear to most observers, coach H had one hand on the Steven Wood Memorial trophy. With “last Lion” Jordy Nelson to come in the NBC game at Ford Field, the Rosemount hybrid combo had not only to close a 13pt gap in their last two quarters of 2016 participation but possibly needed to tack on at least 3pts more, to keep their title hopes alive. Although the 3rd quarter brought some early New Rebs promise in the shape of a 22 Yd Matt Bryant FG , as Matt Ryan finally failed to convert on his quest for a 5th TD, the benching of QB Jared Goff with almost a full quarter to play in Los Angeles looked very much like the white flag being hoisted in Rosemount. The rapid ticking of the clock with no further New Rebs incursions allowed the celebrations in Laurel Road to kick off long before the final gun. As it happened Jordy Nelson opted not to showboat in the NBC phase at Ford Field to give ALFF Bowl 24 it’s final 18-08 look.
Too little too late, Matt Bryant boot his 22 Yd FG for the Wrecking Rebels.
Congratulations go out to coach Hamilton and his squad on becoming the first 2nd year supremo since coach McGeachy Jnr in 2008 to win the whole shebang. His sides success marks only the 7th Pittodrie Div Bowl win in 24 attempts, the last being the 2010 Garthdee Gryphons. The Lions 18pt winning score did set a new lowest Bowl winning total ever , eclipsing the 19pts set by both the Wounded Knee Massacre (AB2) and the Riverside Rockets (AB7) but the inclusive points haul of 26 actually surpassed the lowest ever aggregate in the aforementioned WKM’s 19-05 win over the 2 Minute Drillers. Overall the 2016 post season competition was the lowest scoring in our post season history (2001 , 301pts) and the first ever to fall below a 300pt total. The MWS in the 2016 post season fell to just 22pts. It’s hard to offer up a reason on that other than the extreme weather experienced thru’ Rd’s 1&2 and the fact there was probably less up for grabs in NFL terms in Week 17 than there has been in more recent RS campaign finales. Coach H’s triumph comes on the back of a hugely successful regular season that not only brought a first Pittodrie Div pennant but new franchise bests in terms of W/L record and points scored. Just to underline how fickle ALFF success can be… only a Wk 13 OT loss to the Westburn Blades prevented the Danestone based outfit from landing the No 1 seed. Had the new champs found a way to win that one … then it would be the Drillers who would now be accepting the title plaudits !!! The Laurel Road backroom staff have already offered Matt Ryan will be named their 2016 MVP but although their accomplishments this term were closely linked to the tall passer we should not forget the efforts of K Adam Vinatieri who was key to the Lions being competitive through their unbeaten six game opening stretch. The Danestone based combo also bucked this year’s return of the RB trend , with their No 1 receiving game , sparked by Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson (in a historically low year for pass catchers) head and shoulders above the rest. Time will tell how James will adjust to the lofty heights of drafting 12th overall in September !! As always, that’s a nice problem to have ! The Wrecking Rebels simply went to the well once too often. A quite remarkable, and possibly never to be equalled, run of 7 games unbeaten in post season action came to a disappointing, but in some ways almost inevitable end, as the kicking game returned a single digit total and there was no one else around to boost the total. Until someone finally defends the ALFF title successfully, the Wreckster’s run has to be held up there as the best attempt on record. The outgoing champions (lowest) record setting QB issues have been well documented throughout the season... and we will never know if a determined effort to address the issue and exit from Ostrich mode would have put them in a place to win , what was in the end a very winnable Bowl game. Outside of League MVP candidate Matt Bryant the Mac’s² saw great service from a 3rd ranked running attack that featured Melvin Gordon and Le Sean McCoy (unless they played on Thursday !) with an injury to the former another major factor in their just falling short. Outside of those three it was patchy at best. ALFF insiders believe coach Andy and GM Mike did not see eye to eye on draft day selections, with the Mac the Younger likely to be attendance to pick from a tricky 11th spot in 9 months time. Coach Hamilton is now a healthy 3-1 in post season competition and becomes effectively the 14th name on the Steven Wood trophy.