Championship Sunday has some new blood.
While the Patriots are in their NFL-record seventh straight conference championship, the Jaguars, Eagles and Vikings are appearing in conference title games for the first time in years.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum and Eagles QB Nick Foles started the 2017 season as valued backups but hardly players expected to be in the position they’ll be in Sunday: each having a shot to lead his team to a Super Bowl.
Both will face dominant defensive lines able to force pressure without help from linebackers or defensive backs, meaning they’ll face seven- or eight-man coverages. Foles has been inconsistent since taking over for Carson Wentz, but Keenum has shown an uncanny knack for buying time in the pocket, having been sacked only 22 times. He could pick on the Eagles’ occasionally spotty pass defense.
The Eagles have a good defense. The Vikings have a great defense. And against Philadelphia’s struggling offense, Minnesota’s D will lead the team to its first Super Bowl since 1976 — to be played in its own stadium, no less, a first in the Super Bowl era.
Caris LeVert split a pair of free throws with 13.7 seconds left, giving the Nets a 99-98 edge. It was the second time he missed a free throw in the final 42 seconds.
Langston Galloway misplayed the ensuing inbounds pass, but was able to knock the ball to Drummond. Detroit’s center nearly traveled in a rare drive from outside the 3-point arc, and flipped in a go-ahead shot.
I felt like we were focused and locked in tonight, said Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Nets. We were playing a really good team on their floor, but we trusted Spencer to make that last play.
On Jan. 10, the Pistons routed Brooklyn 114-80 behind 22 points and 20 rebounds from Drummond. That was Detroit’s last victory, with three of the five defeats coming at Little Caesars Arena.