Posse Ground Out By Scunny's Miller & Co
Scunthorpe RB Lamar Miller scampers untouched into the EZ to tie the scores at 12-12.
A dour low scoring affair that neither side seemed able to put to bed eventually went the Scunthorpe Steelers way as Adamski’s 5th seeded side just did enough to record an ignominious 16-12 victory over the crestfallen Caledonia Express. Leading 12-00 after an electric franchise record setting 9pt contribution by rookie WR Tyreek Hill at Arrowhead on Thursday, the Express looked to be on the verge of ending a post season hoodoo that stretches all the way back to 1993 but those early Posse fireworks were just a pre-cursor for a painfully familiar post season fade out, with the Bon Accord division outfit just scraping enough together to get over the line despite only 1pt combined between their two mainstay players. The final slugfest chapters of this 1st ever post season clash between the two coaches was in stark contrast to a quite sensational opening act in Kansas. The Express featured un-opposed WR Tyreek Hill and K Cairo Santos with the former making an immediate impact on his PO debut by muffing the opening KO of this season’s knock-out competition. There had to be thoughts of “here we go again” in Cove Bay as the Chiefs ended their first potential scoring drive by failing to convert on 4th down .. when well within Santos’ normal FG range but the Boot Hill gang were off an running with the first play of the 2nd quarter when Tyreek Hill opened the 2016 post season scoring with a sharp 36 Yd TD reception. Cairo Santos duly tacked on the PAT and the atmosphere at Dunlin Towers became more relaxed. The 2nd Q continued to be productive for the founder member Kappellmeister as the Chiefs next offensive possession ended with a second Santos XP and any concerns that the kicker was short of FG opportunities were swept away as Tyreek Hill rounded out a stunning eight minutes of action with an amazing 78 PR for a TD , the longest in PO history. 12-00 up, with half a game to go it seemed that Express could make a huge Thursday statement but unfortunately for coach Marty, the Chiefs went a little conservative and they did not add to their total. Both coaches welcomed back “resting” starters in their only changes to winning Wk 13 line-ups’, with the return of coach Garioch’s Mariota & Matthews combo regarded as slightly more meaningful than the reappearance of opponent Terrelle Pryor. The opening Sunday period for the Express was all about their Titans and how they would fare against a stingy Broncos D in Nashville … although Marty did have other options in RB Chris Ivory and wideout Tedd Ginn. The last named had an intriguing mano a mano against Scunny’s Kelvin Benjamin in Carolina, but for his part Adamski was more focussed on Cleveland where he had both RB Jeremy Hill and WR Terrrelle Pryor in action, and over in Indianapolis, where he had another double outing in RB Lamar Miller and T Y Hilton. With no fewer than six starters engaged, the opening Sunday stanza was seen as important to the Steelmen only in terms of staying in touch but with “big guns” Brees and Bailey to come later it was no more than that, although Vegas felt that on the back of their Thursday opening, Mariota and Co would probably just do enough to make the Posse surprise 2pt favorites. Things began brightly for the Steelers with Jeremy Hill getting on the scoresheet with a 1 yard TD run on the Bengals 2nd successful scoring drive at Cleveland with less than 9 minutes played, and it wasn’t long before Lamar Miller was swiftly levelling the scores at 12-12 over at Lucas Oil Field, this time form one yard further out than his stablemate. Almost simultaneously back on the shores of Lake Erie, the Steelers Hill was held short at the 7 yard line but it did look like the Posse needed someone to stem the growing Scunny pressure. Chris Ivory’s no show in Jacksonville was a blow to the Express but on the evidence of an opening drive at Nissan Stadium, where the Titans drove the length of the field to score a rushing TD, Marty had to be upbeat about his Mariota “chances”. Unfortunately …. after that early rush of activity things slowed down… dramatically. Over in Charlotte, Cam Newton could have put either side ahead…. but the big QB hooked up with neither Ginn or Benjamin to keep the scores level and then inside the 1st half 2 minute warning, we had a pivotal moment in Nashville. On 2nd and 2 for Tennessee , Marcus Mariota connected with Rishard Matthews for what would have been a massive 6pt score…. but OPI on (Arnhall’s) Delanie Walker took the points off the board. Two plays later the Titans had to settle for a FG and what would prove to be the pairs last big opportunity was squandered. Although we didn’t know it at the time a major turning point had come and gone. The 3rd and 4th quarters of the opening Sunday stanza then developed into a series of missed chances on both sides of the ledger with each side sniffing fruitless red zone openings through Lamar Miller and Terrelle Pryor respectively and Cam Newton proving inaccurate (for both teams) inside the red zone. Then forgotten man T Y Hilton forced his way into the story. The Colts had struggled all night long against a fierce Texans pass rush but early in the final quarter the BA sides top scoring receiver made a great acrobatic catch on 3rd down to keep an Indy drive alive. The very next play the pass catcher scored an 35 yard counter and coach Meek’s boys were ahead for the 1st time at 15-12. Now desperately short of options and trailing a side with both big guns to come, the Up the Hill mob were officially in trouble and there last chance to get level in the first period came and went when Cam Newton through a pick at the 2 yard line on a TD throw destined for Kelvin Benjamin. Ahead 15-12 moving on to the second Sunday phase it looked to be a formality now for the Steelers… but Vegas had suggested Drew Brees may struggle at Raymond James….and so it proved. The passer was missing his main receiving weapon and struggled to get in synch initially against a fierce Tampa pass rush. The newly installed 2016 passing champion came on stronger as the game progressed but two dropped short EZ passes ensured it would be a 2nd straight goose egg for the Scunny bell cow. Any score for last Caledonia offensive starter RB Devonta Freeman in the LA Coliseum could now tilt the balance unexpectedly back to the Pittodrie Div combo … but there was nothing but further heartache for the founder head honcho as he watched his first round draft pick leak no 1 but 2 potential TD’s to Falcons co-back Tevin Coleman. Having missed a golden opportunity to put the tie beyond his opponents reach the Meekster had to be convinced K Dan Bailey would now easily see off the final Posse threat of their yet to score Dallas defence, but incredibly the showdown’s final cameo at Met Life in the NBC action was another tense drawn out affair. A tough smash mouth game in New Jersey on a surface not conducive to consistent kicking turned in to a real defensive battle with no side able to drive deep into the other’s territory. One single PAT was all Bailey could muster, leaving his Steelers open to one defensive TD right up to the death… but it was not be .. and Adamski escaped with a nerve shredding 16-12 win. The Steelers 16pt winning total equals the lowest ever Rd 1 winning number, set by the Danestone Diablos in 2001 (16-15 v Arnhall Dolphins) but a win is a win at this stage and the Sowf London combo move on to a captivating 2nd Rd tie against the Arnhall Dolphins. Elliot v Bailey will be a interesting sub plot to that one… with Scunny perhaps best place of all sides to handle the Pokes dependent Granite Div Champions. The circumstances of the Posse’s exit will probably hurt Marty more than the fact he went one and out for an inglorious 12th straight time ( half of those in Rd 1). Had anyone suggested on Friday the Steelers would only post 16pts , then I’m sure Vegas would have listed the Express as the largest spread favorites in PO history. On the day there was some expectation that Mariota and Matthews would be a bit quieter than normal… but a double blank was devastating. After a grim 0-4 start and scoring only 41pts in their opening 3 ties , the Cove based side began to get it together when Marcus Mariota was handed the starting QB reigns in Week 5. Thereafter a trailing WR corps picked things up to finish strongly with Rishard Matthews their top man, hooking up with his QB on 6 of the 8 games he started after being promoted in Wk 6. Cairo Santos was very productive at K… with only a dragging running game (masked by a strong Devonta Freeman finish over the last two weeks) holding the revitalised Posse back from securing a higher post season seeding. Top pick Devonta Freeman , the second player taken overall, won’t make the Bust Select .. but he won’t make All ALFF starter either. Seeing Ezekiel Elliot rack up the scores over the next few seasons may be proved to be a sobering reminder to the Cove based ballclub’s supremo he could have been on the Posse. With Marcus Mariota a retained 2nd Rounder it seemed a little curious the CalX war-room elected to take Andy Dalton three spots later in the 3rd Rd, especially with the likes of Philip Rivers and Tom Brady still available. On paper Graham Gano was a decent choice as the second specialist taken overall … but the Panthers kicker was in reality a borderline bust, with a few big scores peppered with a lot more low ones. Not content with one early selection on a kicker.. Marty doubled up with Cairo Santos one round later, giving him effectively two back-ups on his roster with his 1st five picks. That said the Pittodrie Div outfit did get their act together to make the post season for the 1st in 3 years and finish with their best RS record since 2013. Coach Garioch Jnr also looks to have a keeper in Tyreek Hill and with Mariota certain to be back next term could be on the verge of returning to their “golden period” of 2005 to 2007. The draft host will pick in 5th spot in the 2017 pick fest.
Sleeper of the Week
With both games decided by 4pts or less, a season saving Sleeper was always on the cards. This term coach Marty kicked his often self defeating habit of spinning his QB carousel, with his installation of Marcus Mariota a key component of his late season improvement. That said... had he rested his starter this week against a tough Denver D... and thrown in Cleveland facing Andy Dalton... well you know the story. Dalton's 6pts (net -6pts) wins the Rd 1 Sleeper of the Week for departing coach Garioch.
Play-Off's 2nd Rd Round
Westburn Blades v Wrecking Rebels
Arnhall Dolphins v Scunthorpe Steelers
Pure Goff But Champs Beat Braves
OLB Vic Beasley in the act of strip sacking Jared Goff for what will be a 21 yard fumble return TD.
The fabled RB Title Curse proved to be alive and well as the ALFF gods conjured up a stunning combination of events to give the Wrecking Rebels a stranger than fiction 24-21 win over the slack jawed Argyll Apaches. Ten minutes into the Sunday action it looked as if the coaches McConnachie’s tenure as defending League champions was all but over, as leading RB Melvin Gordon left the field in Charlotte on a cart, seemingly leaving his sides fate wholly on the boot of newly crowned kicking champion Matt Bryant However the New Rebs had a secret weapon in QB Jared Goff who not only turned the ball over directly to his own ALFF defence for two huge scores but tacked on an ill advised TD run deep into garbage time, in what proved to be a critical last throw of the Big Mac’s dice. Hostilities in this all Bon Accord Division match-up opened on Thursday…. and would you know it… the Macs² actually defied their own strategy manual and named two Thursday starters….. but by the end of it all at Arrowhead they probably wished the hadn’t bothered . With the game time temperature in Kansas down at 22°F , RB Spencer Ware , preferred to Shady McCoy due to his NFL opponent, failed to get in on his sole goal line carry… while wide-out Jeremy Maclin, returning after injury, had little or no impact. The Braves lone contributor WR Travis Kelce was far more prominent but ultimately made no impression on the score-line either but the Campbeltown camp had to be the happier going into Sunday with the scoreboard operator still twiddling his thumbs. The two sides had split the RS season clashes .. each decided by 5pts or less , with both coaches and Vegas anticipating another close run thing. Geronimo named an unchanged Apaches line up after his tense Wk 13 play-off clinching win over the Steelers, whilst the Rosemount based coaching committee recalled a fit again Allen Hurns at WR3 in addition to the 2 “replacement” Chiefs already mentioned. The last time these two teams met in the post season was last years’s epic 2nd Round 49-45 turkeyshoot on the Wreckster’s 4 game run to title glory. Vegas saw no repeat of that level of scoring but listed the Apaches as slender 1pt favorites. With both sides heavily loaded in either the second Sunday and Monday night phases, the early Sunday action was limited in player numbers but high on quality. The Big G’s only early combatant was the man fresh from a sensational individual ALFF RB title smash and grab David Johnson, while on the other side of the LOS the New Rebs had RB Melvin Gordon and WR Allen Hurns. Ten minutes in, with the tie still scoreless Gordon was carted off at Bank of America Stadium and suddenly it looked as if the League champions were on their way out. A decent score from Johnson at this stage would have virtually put the Apaches over the top but it was now the ALFF gods seemed to take some interest. Intermittent torrential rain in Miami led to several Arizona turnovers , including a rare fumble by Johnson himself, severely limiting the runners threat level as the Cards were forced into pass mode. Allen Hurns , now the New Rebs lone starter, was largely a non factor in another disjointed Jags performance 400 miles north in Jacksonville and half time in the early games came and went, with the score still 00-00. The Cards were unable to convert decent turn-over inspired field position into anything concrete for the Argyll ball carrier and time began to become a factor. Finally with just 3 minutes left and the late games already in progress Arizona scored a second passing TD and went for two. David Johnson caught the pass from Palmer and finally we had some sort of points on the board with the Braves 01-00 to the good. Again the Apaches in Chief can’t have been too thrilled at the lack of output from his own side but given the circumstances… i.e. half the scoreless Wrecking Rebels back in the locker-room and only one recognised threat to come…. confidence levels in Kintyre had to be sky high. Attention in the second Sunday stanza was heavily focused on Los Angeles where the Rosemount hybrid ball-club had key man Matt Bryant going out alongside his defensive teams mates with QB Jared Goff’s possible “spoiling” by Braves wideout Tavon Austin, regarded as something of a sideshow. Lambeau Field was a secondary hotspot where the New Rebs Doug Baldwin was returning the “spoiler” tactic on Russell Wilson , while the Geacher had the luxury of lone wolf’s Brandin Cooks and Nick Folk going out in the Superdome and Levi Stadium respectively.…..but for the Mac’s at least, it was now all or nothing in LA. The Rams muffed the opening kick-off setting up Atlanta for a swift opening offensive score and Bryant’s resultant PAT quickly had the sides level at 01-01 but after that swift piece of action the opening quarter quickly settled down to a low scoring affair. Up in Green Bay, Apaches QB Wilson set the tone for his evening by overthrowing a wide-open receiver in the end zone but after a rocky start by the Jets at Levi Stadium, which threatened to take Nick Folk’s 3pt opportunities out of the equation , the kicker helped turn things around for both his ALFF and NFL masters with a 36 Yd FG. Matt Bryant swiftly responded with his 2nd PAT of the evening … then Jared Goff took an active interest in proceedings… although not in a conventional way. An ill advised pass out in the flat from his own 26 yard line was picked off by ALFF team-mate linebacker Dion Jones for a 33 yard pick six and with Bryant tacking on the PAT suddenly the Wrecking Rebels were 09-04 in front. If Gerimono was looking to Russell Wilson to regain control then interceptions No 2 & 3 (both in the EZ) suggested otherwise. In between the QB’s two errant passes, back in SF Nick Folk was breathing hope back into the Argyll cause with a his 2nd FG of the night, a 30 yarder, but Matt Bryant responded almost instantly with PAT No 4 to keep the champs 10-07 in front. Then came the first of two pivotal purple patches. In the space of a few short minutes Wilson threw pick No 4…Bryant added PAT No 5…over in the Superdome a quiet Brandin Cooks dropped a sure fire TD in the EZ,…and the Jets scored a TD but kept Folk on the bench as they went for two. All of that would have just left the champions 11-07 ahead .. but almost unbelievably back at LA, Jared Goff fumbled the ball under pressure and ALFF team-mate OLB Vic Beasley got a nice bounce and scampered 21 yard to paydirt. I have to figure Geronimo was still staring blankly at his TV when Matt Bryant rubbed in the salt with the resulting PAT, his 6th and last of the night … and all of a sudden it was 18-07 to the Wrecking Rebels. Remarkably, like a floored boxer the stunned Apaches picked themselves off the canvas and attempted to repair the damage. A Folk 51 yard FG was a huge boost to Braves morale and finally even Russell Wilson got in on the act, connecting on a 21 yard TD strike (importantly not to Baldwin) to haul his side back to 15-18. With Monday players to come it seemed Argyll had weathered all the ALFF gods could throw at them.. but purple patch No 2 proved otherwise. It began with Russell Wilson’s 5th and final pick of an ugly, ugly performance at Lambeau Field but even that appeared “OK” for Geacher the Elder as the Jets marched downfield in OT at Levi Stadium for what seemed a “gimme” FG for Folk that would have tied the scores at 18-18. Seemed that is …until Bilal Powell scored a walk off 19 yard TD run… which of course in OT did not even had a 1pt consolation prize for the Kicker. The focus switched swiftly to…. you guessed it.. LA. Deep into garbage time , and with the Atlanta D that had done so much to hurt the Apaches cause playing prevent with back-ups, Jared Goff actually drove down into the red zone. In one final twist of the knife the rookie passer had a simple 2 yard TD dropped by non ALFF receiver Brian Quick … before on the very next play he scrambled in on a 2 yard TD run.. the first of his NFL career. The Macs² must have thought Xmas had been brought forward 2 weeks as out of no-where with their last realistic chance their possible title defence was back on at 24-15. “All” they had to do now was hold off last Braves standing LeGarrette Blount and the Baltimore defence on Monday night, and it was game over. LGB did score early at Foxboro on a 1 yard plunge… but that was a close as the shattered Apaches came. The Wrecking Rebels move on to Rd 2 clash against the Westburn Blades , seeking to become the first side in League history to win six straight play-off games. The coaches McConnachie have used up their post season get out of jail free card with the fitness of Melvin Gordon potentially the key to 2016 fortunes. This win was their lowest franchise score in the post season where they still remain unbeaten. The ALFF Holy Grail is still attainable… but they will have to improve on this performance to do so. The Apaches exit stage left after a third straight one and out , not having won a play-off game since edging the Deevale Desperdaos 25-24 in ALFF Bowl 20. Ultimately it was always going to be their underperforming passing and or kicking units that were going to let them down.. and so it proved with a lowly three points by poster boy Russell Wilson in a career worst interception fest, the critical telling factor . Overall 2016 was a mixed bag for the Braves. It was all about a remarkable top ranked 2 head running game, which is arguably the best true one/two combination at the position in League history. David Johnson will be back for more as a retained player which can only be good news for the Geacher. Elsewhere it was a different picture, Russell Wilson was clearly the man Geronimo coveted on draft day, taking the signal-caller as the eight pick overall with the likes of Luck, Brees , Roethlisberger and even Rivers still there for the taking but given he lost his starting job to Tyrod Taylor by Week 4 tells you all you want to know about the ALFF Bust shoe in. AJ Green was a great selection as his lead receiver in the 2nd Rd and worked well in tandem with retained Brandin Cooks until injury ended his ALFF season and we will never know how good that unit might have been had 3rd Rd selection Keenan Allen not blown out his knee in Wk 1. Indeed with LeGarrette Blount taken in the 4th Rd of the Draft the Braves top half STILL looks likes it was one of the best, adding excellent complimenting talent to high class retained players at both the RB and WR position… even taking rookie Dak Prescott in the 7th Rd (another on the sure to be retained list). However the addition of Chris Bowell as K allied to the earlier selection of Wilson (and WR injuries) ultimately undid all the Geacher’s good work. Justin Tucker, Dan Bailey and Matt Bryant were all still on the board when the Big G decided to take his kicking starter from a NFL side know to favor 2pt attempts ….. had he opted for any of the other three….. he would now be sitting back waiting for his first play-off opponent. Geronimo will fill the No 6 slot in the 2016 Draft. The Wrecking Rebels 2 play off victories give them a 4-2 lead in the ATS between the franchises.
Play of the Week
Despite all the mayhem that his turnovers had wreaked on the Apaches, QB Jared Goff really killed off his opponents with his ill advised garbage time 2 yard TD run.. his first rushing TD as an NFL quarterback. Only moments before Nick Folk had been "robbed" of a chip shot OT FG at Levi Stadium when the Jets scored a walk off rushing TD that would have tied the scores at 18-18... instead Goff (just) ran in his score to give the Wrecking Rebels a 10pt lead they never surrendered. Goff's little 2 yard run is the Play of the Week.