Kenyan Drake saw Gronk en route to TD, but ‘he wasn’t stopping me’

Leave a comment

Twenty-nine minutes after making the play of the year in the National Football League (and oh, there was some competition for it, even Sunday), man-of-the-hour Kenyan Drake of the Dolphins picked up the phone and told me a story about the weekend he was drafted in 2016. Miami plucked him in round three. When Drake got to team facilities after the draft, rookie coach Adam Gase greeted him with a smile.

“When I met Coach Gase,” said Drake, “he told me, ‘We drafted you to beat the New England Patriots.’ “

Now isn’t that convenient? What happened at 4:10 p.m. in south Florida, on a play the Dolphins call “Boise,” was so weird and so unlikely that the NFL didn’t even know what to call it. On the official National Football League Game Summary, the play that beat the aforementioned New England Patriots 34-33 with :00 left on the clock was listed thusly:

K.Drake 69 yd. pass play by R.Tannehill (1-69, 0:16)

Drake was credited with 55 receiving yards on the play, and a 52-yard touchdown, somehow, and you get the feeling everyone in Hard Rock Stadium was trying to figure out exactly what just happened. Including Drake, who was left on the phone trying to process the incredible play and the enormity of its meaning.

“Could you imagine ever making a play like that, to beat Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots?”

“In my dreams,” Drake said, with a lot of mayhem in the background from the Miami locker room.

“Really. In my dreams.”

Remember: This was not only a cool play to beat the Goliath of the division. Miami has a trip to dangerous and likely desperate Minnesota coming this week, and if the Dolphins had lost, they’d have been 6-7, tied for ninth with Denver in the AFC playoff pecking order with three games to play. In other words, they’d have been on life support with a loss. “It was do-or-die for us, and we knew it,” Drake said.

“What helped us,” Drake told me, “is how much we practiced this exact play. We actually walk-through or jog-through the play every week. We go, like, half-speed. So we all knew what to do. It’s just a matter of doing it, and hoping it goes your way.”

“Why ‘Boise?’ “ I asked.

“You know, as a testament to that Boise State-Oklahoma game,” Drake said. The 2007 Fiesta Bowl, you may recall, when Boise use a hook-and-lateral play, a 42-yard miracle, to upset the Sooners.

Here, Sunday: Patriots 33, Dolphins 28. Ball at the Miami 31, seven seconds left. No timeouts. Ryan Tannehill took the snap, dropped to his own 21, and threw a strike to Kenny Stills at the Miami 45; he advanced it two yards and lateraled to DeVante Parker back at the Miami 45, and Parker ran to midfield. There he saw Drake, romping up the right sideline, with ace patriot linebacker Kyle Van Noy in close pursuit. Van Noy dove and caught Drake at the heels, but it was only enough to make him stumble, not go down.

“Then,” said Drake, “I was just looking for someone to toss it to. That’s the way we practice—there’s always someone for me to toss it to.”

Uh-oh. No one there, and no clear lane up the sideline. Drake cut inside, looking for daylight, and still looking for a pitchee. Unless you count Patriot defenders Adam Butler and J.C. Jackson, there were no good options for pitches. Miami guard Ted Lawson hustled downfield to make a key block on Patriot safety Patrick Chung at the New England 30.

And then, space.

“I was still looking for one of my guys, but then I had some open space,” Drake said. “That was amazing.”

Inside the 20, and here, at about the New England 12-yard line, came Rob Gronkowski, who was in the game at deep safety because New England had its Hail Mary hands team in the game. A rare mistake by Belichick; tackler extraordinaire Devin McCourt was not on the field for the play. But surely, Gronk would stonewall Drake.

Wouldn’t he?

“I saw him,” Drake said. “And I know how great he is. I know he’s going to the Hall of Fame. Awesome player. But regardless of who was there, he wasn’t stopping me. That I know for sure.” Gronk stumbled and never got a clear shot at Drake. Amazingly, with the division title on the line, after Van Noy, no Patriot had a legit chance to tackle Drake.

Drake threw the football half-a-section into the stands. Surrounded and pummeled in the end zone, all he remembers is a loud hum. “No words, just the hum. Dumbfounded. I am still in awe. Greatest play of my life.”

Well, what play could ever compete with that?

As for what it means, it gives Miami life; the Dolphins are one of four 7-6 teams in the conference now, and very likely only one of those will make the playoffs. Regarding the Patriots: It would take a very non-Belichickian collapse for 9-4 New England to lose the division, with a two-game lead over Miami with three to play, and the Patriots exit Sunday the number two seed in the conference. So they still have a good shot at the two seed and an outside shot at the one seed entering Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.

Knowing the Patriots, they’ll be able to erase the bitterness by Sunday in Pittsburgh. Just don’t expect it to go away in the next day or two.

MORE: Read Peter King’s full Football Morning Morning in America column by clicking here

Patriots settle as small favorites on Super Bowl odds 2019

Leave a comment

For all the narratives that can hang off the great Tom Brady and Super Bowl first-timer Jared Goff, two of the big moving parts in the matchup on Super Sunday involve the rushing phase.

The New England Patriots have settled as 2.5-point favorites on the Super Bowl odds 2019 against the Los Angeles Rams with a 56.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the Super Bowl 53 matchup slated for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday.

The Bill Belichick- and Brady-led Patriots are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 3.0 or fewer points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, while the Rams are 4-3 straight-up and ATS in their last seven games as an underdog. Interestingly enough, underdogs are 13-4 ATS in the last 17 Super Bowl games.

As so often happens, the last two teams standings are in good health. The biggest exception for New England, whose run defense has been league-average much of the season, is that defensive tackle Malcom Brown (calf) was limited in practice. The Rams claim leading rusher Todd Gurley (left knee inflammation) is 100 per cent after he had only five touches during the NFC championship game two weeks ago.

Backing the Patriots, who are 13-5 SU and 11-7 ATS on the year, involves putting stock in Brady and cohorts’ abundant Super Bowl experience, along with the fact the offense has been at peak form, averaging 38.7 points and 465.7 yards per game over its last three outings.

The Patriots’ offensive line will arguably be the unofficial playoff MVP, collectively, if it contains the Rams’ front four anchored by Aaron Donald, the best defensive lineman in football. If Brady, the subject of many Super Bowl props for Sunday, isn’t disrupted and/or the opposing pass rush is sucking wind after a ball-control drive, the Patriots passing game is lethal.

The Rams, 15-3 SU and 9-7-2 ATS, are new to the tumult of the Super Bowl. However, head coach Sean McVay thrives at creating mismatches, and two of the Rams’ season-long strengths, running out one-back, one-tight end sets and using play-action passes, are not tactics that New England has defended particularly well.

Goff also led five game-winning drives during the season, emerging victorious in quarterback matchups against stars such as Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson (twice).

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Patriots’ last eight games in the playoffs. New England’s last four closely contested playoff games have featured 68, 74, 44 and 62 points.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

First commercial, Trump Tweets, Gatorade color among Super Bowl LIII props

Leave a comment

Fans watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as the game, which also lends itself to Super Bowl props.

For instance, Bud Light is the -105 favorite have a commercial appear first during the telecast at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The brewer has a long track record of attention-getting ads, and making a first impression can whet the appetite for something later on in the evening.

Budweiser (+200) is a second favorite on that prop and there might be longshot value on Stella Artois (+550), whose ad will include Jeff Bridges and Sarah Jessica Parker reprising their respective roles from The Big Lebowski and Sex and the City. Michelob Ultra (+550) and Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer (+550) are also on the board.

The total number of commercials is set at 96, with both the over and under priced at -120. In the car commercial prop, Hyundai (-250) is favored against Mercedes-Benz (+170), but it might be worth playing a hunch since the February 3 game is at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Atlanta has also been hit by wintry weather this week, and it’s -140 on the Super Bowl 2019 prop bets on the stadium’s roof being closed against even money for open.

The previous two championship matchups each had over 60 points scored, and the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams are certainly capable of trading touchdowns. It is -140 that any scoring drive will consume less game time than however long it will take Gladys Knight to perform The Star-Spangled Banner.

As far as coach props, the over/under is 1.5 on broadcaster references to the relative youthfulness of 33-year-old Rams coach Sean McVay, with the over (-220) favored against the under (+155). Los Angeles is the underdog on the 2019 Super Bowl odds.

There is also a total set for the number of tweets from President Donald Trump’s Twitter account during the big game. Over 6.0 tweets is a -140 favorite with the under an even-money underdog. It is -650 on Trump not attending the game and +375 on him showing up. He did not attend Super Bowl LII in 2018.

A cross-sport bet is whether Houston Rockets star James Harden’s streak of 30-point games – 24 and counting – will end before Super Bowl LIII does, with -120 odds either way. Harden’s next two opponents, the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, have each managed to keep him under 30 at least once this season.

As far as props that pay off postgame are concerned, there is the ever-popular bet on what color liquid the winning coach will be doused in after the game. Clear / water (+220) is a slim favorite over lime / green / yellow (+225), followed by orange (+400), blue (+400), red (+600) and purple (+1000). The Patriots, for what it might be worth, have poured a clear liquid on coach Bill Belichick following each of their four most recent Super Bowl wins.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.