This past weekend, the four best teams clashed in their conference championship games. In the NFC was the New Orleans Saints against the Los Angeles Rams, with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs going at it in the AFC. Before the weekend started, we looked ahead at these matchups knowing there was nothing better than this. This year, there hasn’t been that one dominant team that dominated the entire season., that one team we put all our money on. This made it a definite can’t miss conference championship weekend. Every game was a tossup that literally came down to a coin flip. We knew these teams would put on the best shows we could ask for. But unexpected characters stole the show.

Up first, the NFC game held in the infamous New Orleans Super Dome. Fans came out unmatched and looked like they were going to be too much to handle early. Jared Goff and his high-powered offense couldn’t set up at the line of scrimmage. Lineman couldn’t hear the audibles being yelled from their signal caller. The Rams even had a technology malfunction where they couldn’t turn up the volume on the ear piece where the quarterback got the play from young genius Sean Mcvay, Rams Head Coach.

sean mcvay

Sean McVay got hired after being the quarterbacks coach for the Redskins.  He has gotten his team to the playoffs two years in a row. Photo credit: ESPN

I was talking to a Rams fan and he could not believe what was happening. “I thought it was the Saints cheating when our headsets were not working. Sean Peyton has a history of cheating but then they got it figured out, so I settled down,” said Tanner Rich, a Woodstock sophomore.

Joe Buck and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman were calling the game and let us know how much a crowd can really put the home team at an advantage, and it showed for a big part of the game. This was true until midway through the second quarter when the Rams offense began to take shape with a Todd Gurley touchdown.

“I picked the Saints at the beginning of the season, so I was convinced they were going to get the job done today. After the Saints scored ten points in the first quarter, I was sure they were going to run away with the game, but the Rams never gave up and they were the better team in the end,” Ryan Martin, a Woodstock senior said about the game.

That was all we really saw from Gurley for the rest of the game. He had dropped two crucial passes that put end to drives and could not gain yardage on runs. Sean McVay chose the hot running back, and in this case, it was C.J. Anderson. Fox failed to explain what was really going on. They kept showing Todd Gurley on the sidelines, at times on the bike trying to stay loose, but it was hard to tell if he was injured or not.


C.J Anderson who took the lead role in the championship game but said this was still Todd Gurley’s team. Photo credit:

That was the first unexpected thing of the night, but perhaps one of the most surprising call in sports history changed the course of the game. On a third down, Drew Brees and the Saints had the ball in the Rams’ redzone. Drew Brees took the snap, looked to his right and through a pass to his receiver that took a huge blow before the pass even got to him. It was not even close. The cornerback not only hit him way before the pass, the collision was helmet-to-helmet and should have been an automatic first down. The crowd erupted in disbelief.


The Rams cornerback got fined for this play on an illegal hit to the head. He even admitted after the game that he knew he got away with it. Photo credit: ESPN

“It wasn’t even a bang-bang play where the ball got to the receiver right when the hit came. It wasn’t even close!” said Garrison Earnest, a Woodstock senior.

The Rams kicked a field goal to force overtime and loss the toss, so the Saints were up first at a chance to win the game with a touchdown. It looked like the game was over. Drew Brees being the MVP caliber quarterback he is wasn’t going to miss this opportunity at the super bowl. But that was not what happened. The Rams applied pressure to the Saints and forced Drew to throw a bad pass into the air hoping Michael Thomas could come up with it, but instead it was intercepted and going the other way for the Rams. All they needed was a field goal and the NFC championship was theirs. Jared Goff drove down the field and set up a 57-yard field goal for Greg Zuerlein. Sure enough, it split the uprights and the Rams were the first team locked into a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.

goff brees

Drew Brees missed a huge opportunity. He is on the latter part of his career and will probably not get another shot like this in his career again. His team was leading all game and had the ball first in overtime but still lost. Photo credit: Chicago tribune.

“It was a fluke. I can’t imagine Rams players thinking they deserve to be in the spot they are in,” said Brennan Milone, a Woodstock senior.

A week later we debate if the Rams deserve to be in the Super Bowl. The refs missed a huge call that was obvious. Many say there were other missed calls that could have changed the course of the game too, but none were bigger than the last one. Nevertheless, we have a great Super Bowl matchup between two coaching geniuses. Can the young Sean McVay out-smart the Hall of Famer Belichick?



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