“NFL–Do You Believe This”
I told you so. Yeah, we all saw this coming. The 4-marquee games in the NFL playoffs became a wild mess of upsets and last second finishes, coupled by big plays all over the field, along the way. Pick a game, something you never imagined you would see.
CHIEFS-BILLS….I knew it would be ‘defenses under assault’ and it was because of Josh Allen-Patrick Mahomes. The two quarterbacks drove their teams to 25-points in the final (1:54) of regulation, and then Travis Kelce ended it with an OT-TD catch.. Allen ran for 2-critical first downs and then hit a 27-yard TD pass on a 4th and 13 to give the Bills what looked like a win. Then Tyreek Hill streaked 64-yards on a crossing pattern for the game winning TD some (:52) seconds later-or so we thought. But the Allen-Davis connection worked for a 4th TD with (:13) left to cap the wild comeback win. But wait. Harrison Butker kicked a 49-yard field goal on the final play to drag us to overtime. Everytime they had the ball, they were a threat to damage you. Big plays everywhere. Scrambling runs. Sidearm throws. Big yardage catches. Amazing runs after catches. And scary punt returns. Tyreek Hill was scary everytime he caught the ball. The Bills sprayed big pass plays all over the field, including a 75-yard TD strike to Gabe Davis. The Chiefs had 12-plays of plus 20-yards or more on the night, plus a 44-yard punt return. It’s a shame someone had to lose in this one. What an evening.
RAMS-BUCS…LA put on a dazzling show of offense for 2-quarters, then gave it all back in a 29-minute span, only to win on a field goal on the final play of the game. The Rams gave up 45-and-70 yard pass plays, while New England dished out plays of 43-and-55 yards along the way. You lose 4-fumbles in a game,you likely don’t win, but the Rams did. Matthew Stafford did not self destruct, but his running back did, Cam Akers did with 2-horrible fumbles. Cooper Kupp coughed one up too, all these negating scoring drives. Tom Brady got knocked all over the yard by Aaron Donald and the Rams defense. You tell me when Tom Brady had a day like this, 3-sacks, 6-hits, 9-pressures and more pressure than he has seen all year. Stafford threw for (366) in the most important game of his career, allowing him to play next week in the NFL title game, having won 2-postseason games in a row after having gone 9-years without one. Does Brady come back next year, well he threw for over 5,000-yards so his skill level has not eroded the way it did for Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers. The Rams come back to play again. Four lost fumbles and a win. Wow.
49ers-PACKERS…I said last week, San Francisco was built like a cold weather team, and they won because they out toughed Green Bay. They ran it when they had to, at the end of the game. They went after Aaron Rodgers all day and knocked them out of rhythm. The special teams blocked a punt and deflected a field goal. They even won with their mediocre QB-Jim Garoppol throwing for only 105-yards. It was an awful loss for the Packers, as the number 1-seed. Rodgers has never beaten San Francisco in a playoff game, so what better motivation than that to come back. The Packers will be haunted by a pick at the one killing a drive. Go figure, your winning QB throws for 105 but your defense sacks the Pack quarterback 5-times and picks a key one, and you win.
BENGALS-TITANS…The QB took a beating but kept getting up to make plays. When he was done Joe Cool, Joe Burrow, wound up with (348) yards passing, and Cincinnati played unusually tough on defense upfront. If Burrow is the name everyone knows,then Evan McPherson, who had 4-field goals, has saved them time and again this season, is the name you should remember too. An awful finish for a Tennessee team that I thought was so primed at mid season to steamroll people. Ryan Tannehill regressed, not just with this three pick game, but over the last half of the season. A gruesome loss for Mike Vrabel. So I ask these two questions. Ever see a game where your QB took 9-sacks and you won. Cincy did. And what is the future of Tannehill in Tennessee. His final 10–games he had 12-picks, 4-fumbles, 26-sacks begging this-is he the future? The Bengals have bid farewell to bad history…1st playoff win in 31-years…then first ever road playoff win in franchise history.
Don’t know if the AFC-NFC title games can match this weekend, but they will get the chance to try next weekend.