NFL 2019-2020 Divisionals Recap

NFL 2019-2020 Divisionals Recap

NFC: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers was the Saturday afternoon game. One week after going on the road and shocking New Orleans, the Vikings tried to pull off another upset against the well-rested 49ers. Kirk Cousins got his first playoff win, and now Jimmy Garoppolo sought to do the same. The 49ers faced 2nd and 8 from their own 41 and Garoppolo hit Deebo Samuel for 10 and Emanuel Sanders for gains of 22 and 11. On 2nd and 8 from the Minnesota 14, Garoppolo hit Greg Kittle for 11 and to Kevin Bourne for the 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 49ers. The Vikings took over on their own 21 and an 8 yard defensive pass interference call moved them to their own 31. On 3rd and 2 from their own 39, Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 12. On 3rd and 2 from the Frisco 41, Cousins went deep to Stefan Diggs for the touchdown and a 7-7 game. 

In the second quarter, a field position game had the 49ers facing 3rd and 12 at their own 45. Garoppolo hit Samuel for 14 yards. On the next play after a 6 yard gain, a 49ers fumble recovered by the Vikings was reversed back to the 49ers. Tevin Coleman then ran for 5, 7 and 4. Garoppolo went to Samuel for 18 yards down to the one. Coleman got in to make it 14-7 49ers. the 49ers got it back but an interception of Garoppolo had the Vikings facing 1st and 10 at the San Francisco 29 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 11 from the Frisco 17, Cousins was sacked. Dan Bailey hit the 39 yard field goal as the Vikings only trailed 14-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter the 49ers took over. On 3rd and 5 from their own 42, Garoppolo went to Bourne for 21 yards. Coleman gained 5, 7 and 6. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 17, Garoppolo threw incomplete. The 49ers were held to a 35 yard Robbie Gould field goal to lead 17-10. The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 34. Cousins went at Richard Sherman and Sherman won, intercepting the ball. The 49ers took over at the Minnesota 44. Coleman gained 4, 6 and 6. Then it was time for Mostert, and he gained 7, 4, and 4. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 13, it was back to Coleman. He gained 11 and then the 2 yard touchdown. Without throwing a single pass on the drive, the 49ers led 24-10 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Minnesota’s defense got a key stop on the next series but then the Vikings self-destructed on special teams. Sherels fumbled a punt and the 49ers recovered at the Minnesota 10 with a chance to turn out the lights. The fourth quarter began with the 49ers facing 3rd and goal at the 4. A short pass from Garoppolo to Kittle only gained one yard. Again, Mike Zimmer’s defense kept them in the game, albeit barely. Gould hit the 21 yard field goal and San Francisco’s defense turned out the lights the rest of the way. For the first time in six years, the 49ers are back in the NFC Title Game. It’ll be at home. 27-10 49ers

AFC: Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens was the Saturday night game. Ray Lewis and Eddie George are long retired. Brian Billcik and Jeff Fisher are out of coaching. Memories of bare-fisted slobber-knockers between these teams are in the past. Tennessee eked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Although they went on the road and stunned New England, now they had to take on the well-rested 14-2 Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were heavy favorites, but the last 3 times these teams met in the playoffs, the road team won. When the opening bell for this rang, it was the Titans who answered the call. The Ravens moved from their own 20 to a 2nd and 10 at the Tennessee 36. Lamar Jackson went deep and had his pass bounce off of a receiver and get intercepted by Byard. Byard returned it 31 yards to midfield. There was even a personal foul on Jackson for a horse-collar tackle as the Titans took over at the Baltimore 35. Derrick Henry gained 3, 9, 7 and 1. On 3rd and 2 from the Baltimore 15, Ryan Tannehill gained 3 with unnecessary roughness on the defense adding 6 more. A sack of Tannehill meant 3rd and goal at the 12. Tannehill went to Smith in the end zone. Smith did not get both feet down, but his behind hit the ground inbounds. One behind equals two feet as the Titans led 7-0. The Ravens moved from their own 25 to a 4th and 1 at the Baltimore 45 to start the second quarter. John Harbaugh decided to go for it. Jackson kept it himself and ran into a Tennessee brick wall. One play later Tannehill went deep to Raymond for a 45 yard touchdown as the Ravens led 14-0 in front of a shell-shocked home crowd at the Big Crabcake.

The Ravens got it back at their own 10 yard line. On 3rd and 10 from their own 21, Jackson went deep to Brown for 30 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 45, Jackson went to Andrews for 16 more. On 3rd and 12 from the Tennessee 31, Jackson threw incomplete. Justin Tucker hit a 49 yard field goal as the Ravens were finally on the board down 14-3 with 6 minutes left in the half. Baltimore got it back at their own 5 and with 1:43 left in the half faced 3rd and 16 at their own 9. Jackson went deep to Seth Roberts for 26 yards. Jackson then hit Brown for 16 and Willie Snead for 7 more. With 18 seconds left in the half the Ravens faced 3rd and 14 at the Titans 42. Jackson threw a Hail Mary between 3 defenders and Brown made a one-handed catch and came down with it for a 38 yard gain. The Ravens took a timeout with 11 seconds left. On 1st and goal at the 4, there should have been enough time for 2 shots at the end zone. Rather than a quick throw, Jackson scrambled around and threw incomplete. Only 3 seconds remained. The only sane option was the field goal. Tucker hit from 22 as the Ravens trailed 14-6 at halftime. In the third quarter the Ravens moved from their own 24 to a 3rd and 2 at the Tennessee 19. Edwards only gained one yard. On 4th and inches, John Harbaugh again decided to go for it. Again, Jackson got stopped for no gain.

From their own 19, then came Henry. He gained 5 and 4 to set up the Titans with 3rd and 1 at their own 28. Henry got the carry and banged up the gut. Running over and through tacklers, Henry was off to the races and was finally brought down after a 66 yard gain to the Baltimore 6. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Mike Vrabel went to the bag of tricks. Tannehill was on the sideline. Henry took the direct snap and looked to run up the middle. At the last second he lobbed a pass basketball style to the back of the end zone. Davis came down with it for the touchdown to make it 21-6 Titans. On the next play after a touchback, disaster struck the Ravens. Jackson was sacked and fumbled. The Titans took over at the Baltimore 20. On 3rd and 6 from the 16, Tannehill hit AJ Brown for 9 yards. On 3rd and goal from the one, Tannehill kept the ball. At the last moment he was expected to pitch it. Instead he crashed into the defense and somehow got through to the end zone. With 4:20 left in the third quarter, the Titans were dominating 28-6. The Ravens quickly moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 5 at the Baltimore 31. Jackson threw a sideline pass and Boykin made a fingertip interception. 

Baltimore held on defense and began the fourth quarter at their own 12. Jackson ran for 11. On 3rd and 2 from his own 31, Jackson bobbed and weaved through defenders for a 27 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Tennessee 33, Jackson this time got 2 yards. Jackson went to Mark Ingram for 9, Snead for 7, and then to the end zone to Hurst. Hurst made a juggling catch for the 15 yard touchdown. On the 2 point try, Jackson’s pass was deflected in the air and then batted away at the last moment. The Ravens were clinging to life down 28-12 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Baltimore got it back at their own 20 with 6 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 10 Jackson went deep to Snead for 26 and to Brown for 7 and 9. On 1st and 15 from the Tennessee 43, Jackson scrambled for 22 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Titans 16, Jackson scrambled around forever but could not find anyone and threw incomplete. On 4th and 5, a pass over the middle was perfectly defended incomplete with 4 1/2 minutes left. Baltimore got it back and with 55 seconds left faced 4th and 11 at the Tennessee 22. Jackson’s pass was low but catchable and Boykin dropped it. 

Tennessee’s second straight shocking upset had them headed to the AFC Title Game. They will be on the road, which has not stopped them so far. On paper, Baltimore was practically invincible. Jackson was 31 of 59 for 365 yards with an additional 143 yards on the ground. 508 yards of total offense were undone by his three turnovers. Henry finished with 195 yards rushing on 30 carries. He became the first back in NFL history to have at least 180 yards rushing in 3 straight games. He also had the one touchdown pass. Tannehill threw for only 88 yards, but he only needed to throw 14 passes, completing 7 of them. This was one of the great Divisionals upsets of all time. As ESPN uber-announer Chris Berman reminds us, “THAT’s why they PLAY the games!” 28-12 Titans

AFC: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs was the Sunday afternoon game. With Baltimore losing in stunning fashion the day before, the Chiefs came in knowing a win would have them hosting the AFC Title Game. All they had to do was steamroll over an overmatched Houston team. Houston came into Kansas City in the regular season, fell behind 17-3 after the first quarter, led 23-17 at the half, trailed 24-23 after three, and won 31-24. This game was even more insane. The first half was an earthquake with endless aftershocks.

The Texans began the game facing 3rd and 7 at their own 28. Deshaun Watson hit Wil Fuller for 9 yards. On 3rd and 1 from their own 46, Watson went bombs away to a wide open Kenny Stills for a 54 yard touchdown. The Texans led 7-0 only 3 minutes into the game. The Chiefs took over at their own 21. On 3rd and 6 from their own 35, a short pass from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce was just dropped. Things went from bad to worse went the punt was blocked. The ball bounced straight to Lonnie Johnson, who returned it for a touchdown and a 14-0 Texans lead less than 5 minutes into the game. Things got even worse for the Chiefs on special teams when Tyreek Hill fumbled a punt and the Texans recovered at the Chiefs 6 yard line. Watson hit Darren Fells for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Texans after the first quarter. Mahomes then threw 3 straight incompletions and the Texans took over just shy of midfield. On 3rd and 11 from the Houston 48, Watson went to Deandre Hopkins for 13 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Chiefs 21, a completion from Watson to Johnson only gained 8. After initially deciding to go for it, Bill O’Brien smartly decided not to gamble on 4th and 1. Kaimi Fairbairn hit the 31 yard field goal. With 11 minutes left in the half, the Texans led 24-0 in front of a shell-shocked home crowd at Arrowhead. Andy Reid was a most concerned Walrus Lite indeed. The rest of the half was insanity for the ages.

Momentum changed when Mecole Hardman returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to the Houston 42. Mahomes quickly went to Kelce for 25 yards and to Damien Williams for the 17 yard touchdown. The Chiefs were down 24-7 and just getting started. On 3rd and 1 from their own 31, Watson threw incomplete. Bill O’Brien then gambled on a fake punt. Reid took the direct snap and gained only 2 yards. The Chiefs took over at the Houston 33 and needed only 23 seconds to score. Defensive pass interference meant a 28 yard gain. Mahomes went to Kelce for the 5 yard touchdown to get the Chiefs within 24-14. Only 9 seconds later the Chiefs had the ball again as the Texans fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Thompson picked up the fumble and returned it 18 yards to the Houston 6 yard line. On 3rd and goal, Mahomes went to Kelce for the touchdown. Just like that, the Chiefs were within 24-21. With 2:47 left in the half, the Chiefs took over at their own 10. Defensive pass interference added 15 yards. Mahomes then went to Hill for 20 and ran for 21. On 2nd and 15 from the Houston 39, Mahomes hit Kelce for 20 and ran for 14. With 50 seconds left in the half, Mahomes again hit Kelce for the 5 yard touchdown. 4 touchdown passes by Mahomes in the second quarter had the Chiefs up 28-24. In the final 44 seconds from their own 23, Watson hit Hopkins for 38 yards. Yet Fairbairn’s 51 yard field goal try to end the half was no good by a mile. 

After a post-season record for points in the first half, the Chiefs began the third quarter at their own 15. Mahomes was only 4 touchdown passes away from 8. Surely the pace would slow up in the second half. Mahomes went to Yelder for 11 and then went deep to Sammy Watkins for a 48 yard gain. Mahomes then ran for 14 yards and 7 more to set up 1st and goal at the one. Williams ran it in to make it 34-24 Chiefs. The extra point was no good. The Chiefs got it back at their own 23. Mahomes went deep to Kelce for 28 yards. Mahomes then went to Watkins for 14 and defensive pass interference added 19 more. On 3rd and goal at the 10, Mahomes threw incomplete. However, defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 5. Williams ran straight up the gut for the touchdown to make it 41-24 Chiefs. 

The Chiefs scored 41 unanswered points on 6 straight touchdown drives. After a touchback, the Texans finally woke up. Watson hit Hopkins for 21 yards and Stills for 11 more. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 39, Watson went to Hopkins, who made a gorgeous toe-tape catch on the sideline for a 9 yard gain. A trick play half-back pass was blown up for a 14 yard loss. On 2nd and 24 from the Chiefs 44, Watson went deep to Fuller for a 39 yard gain. On the next play Watson got around the end for a 5 yard touchdown. The ball did come out, but only after Watson had just barely passed the pylon. After three quarters, the Texans were within 41-31. The Chiefs began the fourth quarter at their own 28. Mahomes went to Kelce for 23 , Hardman for 13, Watkins for 28, and Bell for the 8 yard touchdown. One minute into the fourth quarter, the Chiefs led 48-31 on Mahomes’s 5th touchdown pass and 7th consecutive touchdown drive.     

After a touchback, the Texans moved to a 2nd and 4 at the Chiefs 42. Watson then threw 3 straight incompletions as the Chiefs took over with 11:45 left in regulation. Mahomes on a pair of end arounds that counted as forward passes hit Bell for 7 and Williams for 11. Williams then took an end around that counted as a lateral 26 yards. On 3rd and 6 at the Houston 10, a completion to Williams only gained 5 yards. Mahomes lobbied to go for it, but Andy Reid was having none of it. There would not be an 8th straight touchdown. Harrison Butker hit the 24 yard field goal as 8 straight scoring drives had the Chiefs up 51-31 midway through the fourth quarter. There would be no garbage touchdown. Despite 1st and goal at the 8 with 1:54 to play, Watson threw 3 straight incompletions. Then on 4th and goal he was sacked for a 17 yard loss. Walrus Lite Andy Reid will be going to the Conference Title Game for the 7th time in his career, where he is 1-5 overall. For the 2nd straight year the Chiefs are hosting the AFC Title Game, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 51-31 Chiefs  

NFC: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers was the Sunday night game. From the Fail Mary game to to Al Harris intercepting Matt Hasselbeck to a 2014 NFC Title Game for the ages,  the 2019 season led us to another Walrus Bowl. mike Holmgren is long retired, but the two teams he led faced off again for the right to travel to San Francisco for the NFC Title Game. Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers both have one Super Bowl ring and feel like they were robbed of a second one. The Packers started the game from their 25 and Aaron Jones quickly ran for 23 yards. Rodgers hit Devontae Adams for 14. On 3rd and 8 from the Seattle 36, Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham for 13. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 20, Rodgers went to Adams for the touchdown as the Packers led 7-0. A field position game in the second quarter had the Seahawks taking over at their own 42. Wilson went to Tyler Lockett for 28 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Green Bay 26, Wilson threw incomplete. Myers hit the 45 yard field goal to get the Seahawks within 7-3. 

After a touchback to start the second quarter, Rodgers hit Adams for big gains of 11, 18 and 15, and Valdes-scantling for 8. Defensive pass interference added 18. On 3rd and goal at the one, Jones got the carry and appeared stopped. Officials called it a touchdown. On review, his helmet was over the goal but nobody could see where the ball was. Despite no view of him crossing the goal, the touchdown stood and the Packers led 14-3. The Seahawks moved from their own 18 to a 3rd and 8 at the Seattle 32. Wilson threw incomplete. Myers’s 50 yard field goal try was no good. From their own 42, Ervin got around the end for an 18 yard gain. Rodgers then hit Adams for 10. A defensive facemask on Jadavean Clowney added 15 yards. Jones gained 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 4, Rodgers took the quarterback sneak up the middle 2 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Rodgers threw incomplete but the play was blown dead because Clowney entered the neutral zone. This time on 3rd and goal at the one, Jones got in without any doubt. With 90 seconds left in the half, the Packers had a comfortable 21-3 lead.   

The Seahawks began the third quarter facing 3rd and 6 at their own 35. Wilson scrambled for 22 and then went to DK Metcalf for 24. On 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 8, Wilson went to Hollister for only 3 yards. Pete Carroll decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 5. Wilson rolled out and hit Lockett for 4 yards. Marshawn Lynch banged up the gut for the last yard. The 10 play, 69 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive got the Seahawks within 21-10. The Packers returned fire quickly. On 3rd and 6 from their own 29. Rodgers went to Graham for 27. Then he went deep to Adams, who escaped a potential tackle and raced for a 40 yard touchdown to make it 28-10 Packers.

The Seahawks got it back at their own 16. From his own 28, Wilson hit Lockett for 13, Homer for 11, and Hollister for 9. Wilson ran for 11. On 3rd and 1 from the Green Bay 16, Wilson ran for 9 and then hit Lockett for the 7 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 84 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and the Seahawks within 28-17 after three quarters. The Packers quickly went 3 and out to start the fourth quarter. The Seahawks took over at their own 21. Wilson went to Lockett for 19, Metcalf for 14, and Hollister for 19. Homer ran for 5 and caught a pass for 16 more. From the one, Lynch banged in. With 9 1/2 minutes left, Pete Carroll decided to go for the 2 point conversion. Alexander came on a blindside blitz and leveled Wilson. Nevertheless, the Seahawks were within 28-23.

The Packers soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 27. Rodgers hit Greg Allison for 11 yards. Rodgers then ran for 14 with 5 more tacked on for defensive holding. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the Seattle 40, Rodgers was buried by two Seattle rushers for an 8 yard loss. A shanked 25 yard punt had the Seahawks taking over at their own 23 with 5 minutes left. On 3rd and 5 from their own 42, Wilson was sacked for a 6 yard loss. On 4th and 11, Pete Carroll decided to punt and trust his defense. The Packers took over at their own 20 with 2 1/2 minutes left. Seattle had all 3 timeouts. On 2nd and 8, Aaron Rodgers threw the ball away incomplete, allowing the Seahawks to preserve a timeout. On 3rd and 8 Rodgers went deep to Adams for a 32 yard gain. 2:12 remained and the Seahawks still had 2 timeouts plus the 2 minute warning. At the 2 minute warning, everything came down to 3rd and 9 from the Seattle 45. The Seahawks still had one timeouts left but a first down would end it. Seattle sent an all out blitz  and Rodgers fired a laser to Graham. As Graham was about to land short of the sticks, he ended up on the defenders body and did not hit the ground until he was just past the marker. The Seahawks were game, but it is the Packers moving on after winning another classic. 28-23 Packers

The Conference Title Games are set. Both games will be played on Sunday, December 19, 2020. 

AFC: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs at 3:00pm Eastern on CBS.

NFC: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers at 6:30pm Eastern on FOX.


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