The Giants are expected to hire Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as their next head coach and Minnesota’s loss in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday frees Shurmur up to officially take the job.
It looks like it will be at least a day before that happens, however. Shurmur is heading back to Minnesota with the Vikings on Sunday night and will go through exit interviews with Vikings players. Shurmur said, via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com, that there will be “another time and place” to talk about the Giants job.
Sunday was a rough day for the Vikings offense after a sharp opening drive put Minnesota up 7-0. They would not score again in the 38-7 loss, which was a bed ending for what had been a very successful season for Shurmur’s offense.
Shurmur didn’t answer another question about his potential coaching staff with the Giants. A report on Sunday indicated that former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is the top candidate to be the defensive coordinator for the Giants next season.
The Jaguars had six penalties for 98 yards. The Patriots had one for 10 yards, a hold on a kickoff.
According to NFL Research, it was the fewest penalties called on one team in a playoff game since the 2011 AFC Championship when the Patriots had one penalty against the Ravens.
The Jaguars were not happy.
“The stats speak for themselves,” Jaguars defensive lineman Malik Jackson said, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.
Cornerback A.J. Bouye wanted Stephon Gilmore called for pass interference against Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook on a fourth-down pass late in the game and Patriots receiver Danny Amendola called for head-butting safety Tashaun Gipson after a play in the third quarter.
“I was pissed because I seen Amendola head-butt the hell out of Gip in front of the ref, and you all don’t call nothing?” Bouye said. “It don’t make no sense, man; it’s a lot of stuff that don’t make no sense. I have a lot of respect for these people in this locker room. They kept fighting; we all kept fighting. We knew there was stuff we couldn’t control and we kept it close.”
The Jaguars were called for two defensive pass interference penalties against the Patriots, including a 32-yarder against Bouye that led to a touchdown. During the regular season, Jacksonville was called for an NFL-low five defensive pass interference penalties and had the fewest total defensive penalties with nine.
“You all see it,” Bouye said of the officiating Sunday. “I got players hitting me up in the NFL saying the same thing. But at the end of the day, we can’t put the blame on [officials]. We didn’t execute good enough. [The Patriots] executed good enough.”
The Jaguars couldn’t slam the door on the Patriots in New England on Sunday afternoon, so their season ended in a 24-20 loss that felt especially painful after they took a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Watching that lead evaporate will likely burn for some time and one of the team’s veteran leaders said he wants something productive to come out of that burning. Defensive end Calais Campbell said he was proud of his team and that they have to use Sunday’s result as something to inspire them heading into next season.
“I told the guys to keep their head up and use this as fuel,” Campbell said in the locker room. “We are definitely going to have a lot of respect going into next year, and it’s going to be a little harder. We just have to use this as motivation to prepare for it and be prepared for next year.”
After going from 3-13 to 10-6, a division title and two playoff wins, the Jaguars won’t be sneaking up on anyone next season and coach Doug Marrone offered a reminder that success one year doesn’t guarantee anything the next year by saying “you have to start from scratch” each season during his press conference.
Campbell knows that well. He went to the Super Bowl as a rookie in 2008 and continues to look for a second chance to win a title after falling short on Sunday.
Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo hasn’t returned in the second half after injuring his calf. Now, Vikings center Pat Elflein is out.
Elflein has an ankle injury.
The Vikings downgraded him to out after initially calling him questionable.
Elflein was injured with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter on an incomplete pass.
It’s added injury to insult for the Vikings, who have seen the Eagles dominate them since taking a 7-0 lead.
Minnesota trails 31-7 at the end of the third quarter with Philadelphia threatening to score again.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick had no interest in discussing quarterback Tom Brady‘s hand injury in the days leading up to the AFC Championship Game and he didn’t have much to say about the injury after the 24-20 win either.
Belichick brushed off a question at his press conference about how Brady handled things in and outside the locker room by saying Brady did a great job preparing and said there weren’t any changes to the game plan due to the cut Brady suffered in practice on Wednesday. The final question referencing Brady’s injury had to do with his toughness and Belichick’s response left little doubt that he was moving on to other topics.
“I mean, look, Tom did a great job and he’s a tough guy,” Belichick said. “We all know that, alright? But, we’re not talking about open-heart surgery here.”
Brady called the injury “bothersome” in his postgame press conference, but he spent the fourth quarter doing surgery on the Jaguars defense to close out the comeback and another trip to the Super Bowl.
Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo has had a rough postseason. He left last week’s divisional-round game with a concussion.
The team listed him as questionable in its final status report for this week’s game, but Sendejo cleared concussion protocol and started.
Now, he’s out with a calf injury.
The Vikings list him as doubtful to return, and he remained on the sideline to start the second half as the Eagles marched down to the field to yet another score.
Philadelphia leads 31-7 with 10:05 remaining in the third quarter.
The Jaguars went up by 11 points in the first half of the AFC Championship Game and took a 10-point lead on a Josh Lambo field goal early in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t do enough to close out the Patriots and lost 24-20 after two late Tom Brady touchdown passes.
Jacksonville built that early lead thanks in large part to the plays Blake Bortles was making through the air. He was 13-of-15 for 155 yards and a touchdown in the first half and found particular success off play action. The second half saw the Jaguars take fewer shots as they protected their lead and coach Doug Marrone was asked after the game if he regretted the direction the play calling took in the final 30 minutes.
“You can always go back and look at that but the coverage started to change a bit,” Marrone said at his press conference. “We wanted to make sure we were being successful. We wanted to keep with thinking we are going to pop one of these runs. Keep going with it. Obviously we did not pop enough, especially in the second half.”
Marrone was also asked about the conservative path he chose right before halftime when he had Bortles take a knee with 55 seconds left on the clock. The Patriots had just cut their lead to four points and Marrone said “we had to make some adjustments going into halftime” and were getting the ball to start the second half.
They’d get a field goal on that opening possession of the third quarter, but ultimately needed more points than Marrone was able to find on Sunday afternoon.
And just like that, the Eagles have their first lead.
After tying the game on Patrick Robinson‘s pick-six, the Eagles forced a Minnesota three-and-out. The Eagles scored their second touchdown in a 7:49 span, with the offense getting in the end zone this time.
The Eagles went 75 yards in 12 plays. Tight end Zach Ertz converted two third downs. He caught an 11-yard pass from Nick Foles on third-and-10, the first third down of 10 yards or longer the Eagles have converted since Carson Wentz injured his knee.
Ertz also had a 6-yard reception on third-and-one from the Minnesota 17.
LeGarrette Blount then bulled his way into the end zone from 11 yards out with 13:37 remaining in the second quarter.
The Eagles crowd is back into it with their team now winning 14-7.
The Eagles offense has one first down and 17 yards in its only possession. But we have a tie game in Philadelphia.
Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long hit Case Keenum‘s arm as he released the ball on a third-down throw intended for Adam Thielen. Patrick Robinson made the easy interception at the 50-yard line.
He started up the sideline and then cut back across the field, sneaking into the end zone on a clearing block by Ronald Darby for a game-tying touchdown with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.
Robinson had four interceptions in the regular season.
Keenum now is 5-for-9 for 61 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Well, that was easy.
The Vikings quieted the raucous Eagles crowd by taking the opening kickoff and scoring a touchdown. The nine-play, 75-yard drive ate up 4:46 off the clock. Minnesota gained 6, 2, 2, 11, 3, 12, 10, 4 and 25 yards.
Case Keenum went 3-for-3 for 48 yards, including the 25-yard touchdown to a wide-open Kyle Rudolph. Eagles linebacker Najee Goode trailed Rudolph by several yards.
The Vikings have scored on their opening drive in five consecutive games.
Sam Bradford will again serve as Case Keenum‘s backup.
The Vikings made Teddy Bridgewater inactive a second consecutive week, along with Kyle Sloter.
Bradford returned last week after the Vikings activated him from injured reserve. Bridgewater had served as Keenum’s backup since Week 10 when he returned from the physically unable to perform list, replacing Bradford on the roster.
Bradford spent the 2015 season with the Eagles, going 7-7 as Philadelphia’s starter before it traded him to the Vikings before the start of last season.
He started two games this season, including the season opener when he passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over New Orleans.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has done this before. He may be doing it again.
The Patriots offense has found a sudden life, and have cut the Jacksonville lead to 20-17 in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game on Brady’s touchdown pass to Danny Amendola.
Brady had been 1-of-8 on third down conversions before hitting Amendola on a third-and-18, and that clearly sparked their offense. A 31-yard flea-flicker to Phillip Dorsett helped get them into position for the score, and the thumb that we talked about all week doesn’t seem to be a problem.
The Jaguars are hanging on, but the Patriots are showing that they’ve been in games like this before, even after losing tight end Rob Gronkowski to a concussion.
The Vikings will have safety Andrew Sendejo and wide receiver Adam Thielen as expected.
Sendejo was diagnosed with a concussion during Minnesota’s victory over New Orleans but cleared protocol. Thielen has a lower back injury that Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported are “slight” fractures. Thielen took a hit from Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore during the third-quarter of last week’s game.
The Vikings had listed Sendejo and Thielen as questionable.
Minnesota again has Sam Bradford as the backup quarterback to Case Keenum with Teddy Bridgewater inactive.
The Vikings’ other inactives are defensive end Tashawn Bower, running back Mack Brown, center Cornelius Edison, offensive guard Danny Isidora, quarterback Kyle Sloter and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee).
The Eagles will not have starting middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. He was listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. That means Najee Goode will play in the team’s base defense.
Philadelphia’s other inactives are offensive lineman Will Beatty, wide receiver Marcus Johnson, cornerback Sidney Jones, defensive end Steven Means, defensive tackle Elijah Qualls and running back Wendell Smallwood.
Destiny Vaeao will serve as the fourth defensive tackle after the Eagles went with only three players at the position last week.
If the Patriots are going to come back to beat the Jaguars (not a typo), they’re going to have to do it without tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski was ruled out with a concussion, after taking a helmet-to-helmet shot from Barry Church in the second quarter.
After some recent missteps in the league’s concussion protocol, game officials acted swiftly to get Gronkowski to the locker room for testing when he wobbled on his way up.
Now, the Patriots have to figure out how to do business without Tom Brady‘s most trustworthy target.
The Jaguars pushed their lead to 20-10 on a 43-yard field goal by Josh Lambo to start the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars took knees before the end of the first half, to protect a lead. And once they got the ball to start the second half, they added to it.
The Jaguars just got a 54-yard field goal from Josh Lambo to push the lead to 17-10 in the AFC Championship Game.
They also chewed another 4:37 off the clock with the nine-play drive, as they continue to play patiently. Now it’s a matter of whether the Patriots are able to move the ball against them.
The Patriots announced that tight end Rob Gronkowski was questionable to return to the game with a head injury. He remained in the locker room getting concussion tests when play resumed in the third quarter.
Gronkowski took a helmet-to-helmet shot from Jaguars safety Barry Church late in the second quarter.
The Jaguars have injury concerns of their own, as well. Left tackle Cam Robinson is questionable to return with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Josh Wells on the drive that led to the field goal.