NFL 2022-2023 Divisionals Recap

NFL 2022-2023 Divisionals Recap

AFC: 4.) Jacksonville Jaguars at 1.) Kansas City Chiefs on NBC is the Saturday afternoon game. The Jaguars started 4-8 but won 5 in a row to make the playoffs. Then last week they fell behind 27-0 before coming back in the second half to shock the Chargers 31-30. The Chiefs breezed to a 14-3 record and the top seed in the AFC. They had last week off. Walrus Andy Reid went against Little Andy Doug Pederson in a battle of the Bill Walsh-Mike Holmgren coaching tree disciples. Yet as well as Trevor Lawrence has been playing, Patrick Mahomes is on another level. The Chiefs began at their own 17 and went right to work. Pacheco gained 12. Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 7 and 14. Mahomes went to Juju Smith-Schuster for 13 and Toney for 9. On 3rd and 6 from the Jacksonville 14, Mahomes hit Kelce for 6. Mahomes went to Kelce again for an 8 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 83 yard, 6 minute drive made it 7-0 Chiefs. The Jaguars got a jolt when Jamal Agnew returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards to the Chiefs 39. On 3rd and 1, Travis Etienne gained 19. Lawrence went to Christian Kirk for a 10 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game.

After a touchback, the Chiefs moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Jacksonville 32 to start the second quarter. Mahomes threw incomplete twice. Harrison Butker hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Chiefs. The Jaguars after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 5 at the Chiefs 25. Yet a tripping penalty followed by a sack pushed the Jaguars out of field goal range. A good punt pinned the Chiefs at their own 2 yard line. Making matters worse, Mahomes was not on the field. He had taken some big shots in the first quarter and left the game. Chad Hence started the second quarter. Rather than hand the ball off, Walrus Andy Reid immediately had Henne throwing, and he hit Kelce for 6. Pacheco ran for 8 and 7. On 3rd and 2 from their own 23, Henne hit Toney for 8. On 3rd and 3 from their own 38, Henne hit Kelce for 4 with 15 more tacked on for roughing the passer. Pacheco then broke free for a 39 yard gain. Henne went to Kelce for a one yard touchdown to make it 17-7 Chiefs. The Jaguars after a touchback managed to go 52 yards in 11 plays. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 23, Lawrence threw incomplete. Riley Patterson hit a 41 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 17-10 with 30 seconds left in the half. Mahomes came back to start the third quarter but the defenses dug in and both teams punted twice. The Chiefs managed to go from their own 39 to the Jacksonville 32. Butker hit again from 50 as the Chiefs led 20-10 after three quarters.

The Jaguars began the fourth quarter facing 3rd and 6 at their own 29. Lawrence scrambled for 11. Lawrence then went deep to Zee Jones for a 37 yard gain. Kirk gained 18. Etienne ran for a 4 yard touchdown to get the Jaguars within 20-17 with 12 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, Mahomes hit Kelce for 11 and again for 15. Mahomes went to Smith-Schuster for 16. Pacheco ran for 7 and Toney added 14. Mahoems went to Marques Valdes-Scantling for a 6 yard touchdown to put the Chiefs up 27-17 midway through the fourth quarter. Agnew ripped off another great kickoff return to have the Jaguars at their own 45. They moved to a 1st and goal at the 9. Lawrence went to Agnew for 3, but Agnew fumbled the ball without being touched. It just slipped out of his hands and the Chiefs recovered. The defense forced a 3 and out and the Jaguars got the ball back at their own 46. Yet 2 plays later Lawrence was intercepted. The Jaguars got it back again t their own 33 but were out of timeouts and only one minute remained. Patterson hit a 48 yard field goal with 25 seconds left to get the Jaguars within 7. Yet the onside kick failed. The Jaguars were game, but the Chiefs will be going to their 5th straight AFC Title Game, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus indeed. 27-20 Chiefs

NFC: 6.) New York Giants at 2.) Philadelphia Eagles on FOX is the Saturday night game. The 10-7 Giants took on the 14-3 Eagles. The Giants won at Minnesota last week and were confident heading into Philadelphia. The Eagles started 13-1 but struggled down the stretch with Jalen Hurts missing the last 3 games. Yet he was in the lineup for this game, and it was never a contest. On the 2nd play from scrimmage on 2nd and 8 from their own 27, Hurts went deep to DeVonta Smith for a 40 yard gain. Hurts hit Dallas Goedert for 9. On 3rd and 5 from the Giants 16, Hurts went to Goedert for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Eagles. The Giants moved from their own 24 to a 3rd and 3 at the Philadelphia 35. Daniel Jones was sacked for a 5 yard loss, putting the Giants out of field goal range. Brian Daboll gambled on 4th and 8 and Jones was sacked again. The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 1 at the Giants 43. Kenneth Gainwell gained 14. Hurts hit AJ Brown for 12. Hurts ran for 9. Hurts hit Smith for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Eagles.

In the second quarter the Eagles took over at their own 37. Miles Sanders gashed the defense for gains of 9, 12, 4, 11, 2 and 5. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 20, Hurts gained 7. Hurts went to Goedert for 10. Boston Scott ran for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Eagles. The Eagles got it back at their own 28. Sanders gained 5 and 18. Scott added 10. On 3rd and 6 from the Giants 32, Hurts went to Smith for just enough. On 3rd and 1 from the Giants 17, Gainwell gained 6. On 2nd and 9 from the Giants 10, Hurts threw incomplete but defensive unnecessary roughness meant 1st and goal at the 5. Hurts ran for a 5 yard touchdown as the 14 play, 72 yard, 6 minute drive had the Eagles up 28-0 at the half. The second half was pointless. The Giants managed one third quarter touchdown but nothing else. The Eagles tacked on a fourth quarter field goal. The final act of humiliation came with the Eagles just trying to run out the clock. On 3rd and 9 from the Giants 35, Gainwell took a give up run all the way for the touchdown. The Giants had a good season and are trending positive, but the Eagles will be hosting the NFC Title Game next year. The last time they did that was 2017 when they won it all. 38-7 Eagles 

AFC: 3.) Cincinnati Bengals at 2.) Buffalo Bills on CBS was the Sunday afternoon game. As most of t he 8 billion people on earth know, these teams played 3 weeks ago in Cincinnati when real tragedy struck. When Bills defender Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin had a heart attack on the field and nearly died. With the Bengals leading 7-3 in the first quarter, the rest of the game was canceled. Hamlin’s recovery has been nothing short of a miracle. Now on to football. This playoff game was played in Buffalo, and the Bengals had a legitimate right to gripe about this. The Bills finished 13-3 and the Bengals 12-4. Yet had the Bengals won the game 3 weeks ago, both teams would be 13-4 and the Bengals would hold the tie-breaker. This means the playoff game would be played in Cincinnati. At the very least, the NFL should have played this game at a neutral site rather than in Buffalo. Nevertheless, it was what it was. Both teams came in with start quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. Both teams had top notch defenses. With snow coming down throughout the game, the Bills appeared to have the edge. 

Despite the snow, the Bengas came out throwing. Burrow hit JaMarr Chase for 6 and Tyler Boyd for 23. Joe Mixon ran for 10. Burrow went to Hden Hurst for 7. Burrow then went deep to Chase for a 28 yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 Bengals lead. The Bills quickly went 3 and out and the Bengals took over at their own 28. Mixon ran for 5 and 16. Burrow went to Higgins for 6 and 11. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 23, Burrow was sacked. Yet the defense jumped offside and the Bengals had a new set of downs. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 15, Burrow went to Hurst for the touchdown. The 10 play, 72 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive made it 14-0 Bengals.

The Bills began the second quarter facing 2nd and 13 at their own 22. Allen went to Stefan Diggs for 16.Allen Gabriel Davis for 9, Diggs for 7, and Cole Beasley for 11. On 4th and 1 from the Cincinnati 23, Sean McDermott went for it and Allen gained 2. On 2nd and 16 from the Cincinnati 27, Allen went to Shakir for 23. On 3rd and goal at the one, Allen got in. The 15 play, 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Bills within 14-7. The Bengals after a touchback moved 65 yards in1 4 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 2nd and goal at the 5, a false start was followed by an incompletion. Burrow went to Chase for the touchdown, but on official review, Chase was ruled out of the back of the end zone without getting 2 feet down inbounds. Evan McPherson hit a 28 yard field goal as the Bengals took a 17-7 lead to the locker rooms. In the third quarter the Bills from their own 28 moved 65 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 7, Allen threw incomplete. Tyler Bass hit the 25 yard field goal to get the Bills within 17-10.

After a touchback, Burrow ran for 9 and hit Chase and Higgins for 11 apiece. On 3rd and 10 from the Buffalo 40, Burrow went to Hurst for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 18, Mixon got around the end for 13. Mixon ran for a one yard touchdown to cap the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 24-10 Bengals after three querters. The fourth quarter belonged to the Cincinnati defense. After forcing a 3 and out, the Bengals got it back at their own 37 and moved to a 1st and goal at the 4. The Buffalo defense held, but McPherson hit the 20 yard field goal to all but ice the game with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Midway through the fourth quarter on 4th and 6 from the Cincy 18, Allen threw incomplete. Even in garbage time with one minute left, Allen went to the end zone and was intercepted. The Bills are a very good team, but it is the Bengals traveling to Kansas City for the second straight season for the AFC Title Game. Zac Taylor’s team went on the road last year and this year and hit teams in the mouth. Now his guys are one game from the Super Bowl again. 27-10 Bengals

NFC: 5.) Dallas Cowboys at 1.) San Francisco 49ers on FOX was the Sunday night game. These teams have played legendary playoff games throughout the decades. This time a trip to the NFC Title Game was on the line as the 12-5 Cowboys were at the 13-4 49ers. Both teams have serious playmakers on offense and tough defenses. This was a defensive slugfest. In the first quarter an interception of Dak Prescott had the 49ers at the Dallas 21. Yet on 2nd and goal at the 8, the undefeated Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy ran nowhere and then threw incomplete. Robbie Gould hit a 26 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers. The Cowboys took over at their own 26. Runs and short passes had them beginning the second quarter facing 3rd and 2 from their own 44. Prescott went to Brown for 18. On 3rd and 1 from the san Francisco 29, Ezekiel Elliott got the yard. On 4th and 1 from the Frisco 19, Mike McCarthy went for it. CeeDee Lamb got around the end for 4. Prescott got around the end for 11 more. Prescott hit Dalton Schultz for a 4 yard touchdown to cap the 14 play, 74 yard, 8 minute drive and make it 6-3 Cowboys. 

Then all eyes were on Cowboys kicker Brett Maher. He set an NFL record last week by becoming the first kicker to miss 4 extra points in a single game. Combined with a missed extra point the week before that, he had 5 straight missed extra points. Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy decided not to cut him. He had been good all year before that meltdown. This time Maher did not miss the extra point. However, he did not make it either. The kick was blocked, which still counts as no good. His 6th failed extra point attempt in 7 tries affected strategy for the Cowboys for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Gould hit a 47 yard field goal with 4 minutes left in the half for a 6-6 tie. 

At the 2 minute warning on 4th and 4 at the San Francisco 35, McCarthy was not going to try a 53 yard field goal with a shaky kicker. Prescott ran for 9. Yet on 2nd and 2 from the Frisco 18, McCarthy for some bizarre reason was throwing the ball. Prescott had a pass deflected and intercepted by Fred Warner. With 1:15 left, that was plenty of time for the 49ers to move from their own 28 to the Dallas 32. Gould hit from 50 to make it 9-6 49ers at the half. In the third quarter the Cowboys got a major break when they recovered a fumbled 49ers punt at the San Francisco 21. Yet on 2nd and goal at the 6, a run lost a yard and Prescott then threw incomplete. With the football world watching, Maher hit the 25 yard field goal for a 9-9 tie.

The defense dug in and a field position game had the 49ers at their own 9 yard line. From their 21, Purdy went deep to George Kittle, who made a leaping, juggling, bobbling catch for a 30 yard gain. Christian McCaffrey had bottled up most of the game, but now he ripped off gains of 8, 5 and 8. On 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 20, Purdy was sacked but defense holding meant an automatic first down. On the first play of the fourth quarter, McCaffrey ran for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 16-9 49ers. A great kickoff return by Turpin had the Cowboys at their own 43. They moved to a 3rd and 8 at the San Francisco 25. Prescott threw incomplete. With 11 minutes left in regulation, McCarthy went with his kicker. From 43 yards out, Maher was good and the Cowboys were within 16-12. After a touchback, the 49ers went on a grueling 13 play, 64 yard, 8 minute drive. A touchdown would put the game out of reach. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Dallas 17, a run went nowhere followed by an incompletion. On 3rd and 10, Purdy only gained 6. Gould hit the 28 yard field goal to put the 49ers back up by 7 with 3 minutes left. 

The Cowboys took over at their own 18 and Prescott quickly threw 3 straight incompletions. Mike McCarthy decided to punt and trust his defense. The 49ers took over at their own 26 with 2:05 left but the Cowboys had all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. With 1:53 left and the Cowboys down to 2 timeouts, Mitchell ran for 13 yards and a critical first down. Yet rather than fall dow  inbounds, Mitchell carelessly ran out of bounds without being touched. That saved the Cowboys a timeout, essentially gifting them 40 seconds. The Cowboys did get the ball back, but they were pinned at their own 6 yard line with4 5 seconds left and 0 timeouts. They needed a miracle. With 10 seconds left from their own 24, Prescott hit Schultz for 16 yards. Schultz got out of bounds. A Hail Mary from his own 40 was certainly doable from Prescott. Yet on further review, Schultz was ruled out of bounds, meaning an incompletion and the ball back to the 24. Schultz was all by himself. His error was inexcusable. The Cowboys tried a bizarre formation with Elliott playing center and snapping the ball to Prescott to try the hook and laterals. Yet after Prescott hit Turpin for an 8 yard gain, Turpin was immediately belted before he could lateral the ball. It was brutal, but the 49ers are headed to their 3rd NFC Title Game in 4 years under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. 19-12 49ers

The Conference Title Games are set:

NFC Title Game: 2.) San Francisco 49ers at 1.) Philadelphia Eagles at 3pm on FOX

AFC Title Game: 3.) Cincinnati Bengals at 1.) Kansas City Chiefs at 6:30pm on CBS


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