Archive for the ‘SPORTS’ Category

3 Time Super Bowl Loser Tom Brady Quits Football

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

Tom Brady, who lost three Super Bowls, quits football

NFL 2021-2022 Conference Title Games Recap

Sunday, January 30th, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Conference Title Games Recap

All 4 Divisional Playoff games came down to the final play. 3 underdog road teams won and the fourth nearly did as home field advantage proved worthless this weekend. 

Both Conference Title Games were played on Sunday, January 30, 2022.

AFC Title Game: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs at 3:00 p.m. on CBS. The Bengals won a thriller over the chiefs 38-31 in Week 17, but that was in Cincinnati. The Bengals won a slugfest last week at Tennessee in which Joe Burrow was sacked 9 times. The Chiefs won a shootout over Buffalo in which Patrick Mahomes led a comeback after the Bills took the lead with only 13 seconds left. The Chiefs jumped all over the Bengals at the start. The Chiefs took over at their own 16. McKinnon gained 8 and caught a pass from Mahomes for 14. On 3rd and 1 from their own 47, Burton barely got the yard. Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 10 and ran for 11 himself. Mahomes threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill to cap the 11 play, 84 yard, 6 minute drive and make it 7-0 Chiefs. 

After a touchback the Bengals moved 14 play and 61 yards in 6 1/2 minutes. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Kansas City 14, Burrow threw 3 straight incompletions. Evan McPherson hit the 32 yard field goal to get the Bengals within 7-3. After a touchback, Mahomes went deep to Mycole Hardman for a 44 yard gain to end the first quarter. In the second quarter with the Chiefs facing 3rd and 3 at the Cincinnati 24, Mahomes hit McKinnon for 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Cincinnati 5, Mahomes scrambled ll over the place and spun away from 2 defenders, firing to Kelce in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-3 Chiefs lead. The Chiefs got it back at their own 28. Clyde Edwards-Helaire gained 3 and 7. Mahomes hit Kelce for 19. Edwards-Helaire ran for 14 and 4. On 3rd and 1 from the Cincinnati 15, Mahomes hit Kelce for 12 and Hardman for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 21-3 

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 35. Burrow went to Tee Higgins for 8 and again for 18. Burrow then found Perine, who split the seams and raced for a 41 yard touchdown to get the Bengals within 21-10. Yet the Chiefs took over at their own 19 with one minute left, plenty of time for Mahomes. The Chiefs moved down the field easily and defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one with 9 seconds left. The Chiefs had timeouts. Mahomes threw incomplete, leaving 5 seconds. At this point Walrus Andy Reid gambled on trying to get in one more play. Mahomes threw a swing pass that was tackled in the field of play as the clock ran out. There would be no field goal try as the Chiefs missed an opportunity. Momentum shifted in the third quarter. From his own 17, Burrow went deep to Higgins for 44 yards. Yet on 2nd and 8 from the Chiefs 37, a costly delay of game penalty pushed the Bengals out of field goal range. The Bengals defense held again and the Bengals got it back at their own 35. The 11 play, 52 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Bengals facing 1st and goal at the 8. A sack of Burrow killed the drive. McPherson hit again as the Chiefs were within 21-13. 

Two plays after a touchback on 2nd and 3 from their own 32, Mahomes had his pass batted up in the air and intercepted by Hill. The Bengals took over at the Kansas City 27. Burrow hit Chase for 17. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Burrow threw a jump ball and Chase won the battle for the touchdown. Zac Taylor went for the 2 point conversion. Burrow went to a wide open Taylor in the flat successfully. The game was tied 21-21 after three quarters. The Chiefs began the fourth quarter facing 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Mahomes scrambled all over again but this time was finally sacked by the Cincinnati defense. The Bengals took over at their own 34 with all the momentum and a chance to take the lead. Burrow went to Chase at the sideline, but this time Lajarius Sneed jumped the route and intercepted the ball. The Chiefs took over at their own 47. On 3rd and 6, Mahomes was sacked again.     

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 6 from their own 24. Burrow nearly had his head taken off but somehow avoided the sack twice and scrambled for 7. On 3rd and 7 from his own 34, Burrow again scrambled for 11. Burrow hit Higgins for 16. A false start led to 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 34. Burrow completed a swing pass for no gain. McPherson came in for a 52 yard field goal try to give the Bengals the lead. McPherson’s kick just snuck inside the left upright good. With 6 minutes left in regulation, the 11 play, 46 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive had the Bengals up 24-21. 

Yet the Chiefs had Mahomes. After a touchback, Mahomes hit Hardman for 5 and Kelce for 5 and 8. On 3rd and 1 from their own 44, Mahomes went to Kelce for 18. Hardman ran for 9 and McKinnon added 14 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning with the Chiefs facing 1st and 10 at the Cincy 15. On 3rd and 2 from the Cincy 7, Mahomes hit Kelce for just enough. On 1st and goal at the 5, McKinnon gained one yard as the Bengals took their last timeout on defense with 1:26 to play. The Chiefs could win the game in regulation or ensure they used up the entire clock and tie it, but probably not both. Then came the craziness. Mahomes ran all over the place but could not find a receiver. He was eventually sacked for a 5 yard loss. On 3rd and goal from the 9, chose ensued. Mahomes ran all over the place again and again could not find a receiver. He was then hit and fumbled. A Bengals recovery would end the game. The Chiefs entire season was saved when they retained possession after a 17 yard loss. 2 seconds remained. 

A field goal try from Butker to tie the game would still be a very makable 44 yards. Flash back to 1995, when Lion Elliott missed 3 field goals in the fourth quarter as the 13-3 Chiefs suffered a shocking home loss. Announcer Paul Maguire said, “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.” Joe Theismann tried to offer sympathetic commentary, intoning sorrowfully that “Lin Elliott will be the loneliest player on the Chiefs.” An unsympathetic Maguire replied, “Well it doesn’t matter because Lin Elliott’s not going to b a Chief next year.” Elliott never kicked in the NFL again. In 2022, Butker failed to be the new Lin Elliott. Butker’s kick was good. The 14 play drive went 49 yards but took all 6 minutes off the clock. The game was tied 24-24. The Chiefs were now the first team in postseason history to play 2 consecutive overtime playoff games. Last week the Chiefs won the coin toss and Buffalo never saw the ball. This led to calls for a change to the overtime rule from people who fail to understand what “sudden death” means. This time the Chiefs won the coin toss again and the home crowd erupted in celebration. Mahomes was going to score another touchdown and the coin toss would again be an issue for people not appreciating football.    

After a touchback to start overtime, Mahomes threw incomplete. On 2nd and 10, he threw a pass that should have been intercepted and returned for a defensive touchdown. Instead, the ball was dropped incomplete. The Chiefs were lucky not to lose the fumble at the end of regulation. They were lucky not to suffer an interception on the 2nd play of overtime. On the 3rd play from overtime on 3rd and 10, Mahomes went deep for Hill. At the last moment, defender Bates got a hand on it and deflected it in the air where Bell intercepted it. The Bengals took over at their own 45. Burrow hit Higgins for 9 and 8. Joe Mixon broke off runs of 7 and 13. On 2nd and 8 from the Chiefs 10, Burrow took a knee to center the ball. Now it was up to McPherson to pull off the shocking upset. McPherson made 4 field goals against the Raiders and 4 more last week against Tennessee. Before his final kick to win it on the last play of the game, he turned to a teammate and said, “It looks like we’re going to the AFC Title Game.” There were no cocky boasts before this kick. 

From only 31 yards out, McPherson was good. In an absolute shocker, the Bengals came back from an 18 point deficit on the road and stunned the heavily favored Chiefs. The Chiefs blew this game. They will not be going to the Super Bowl for the 3rd straight season, making Andy Reid a most saddened Walrus Indeed. Two years ago Zac Taylor was a rookie NFL head coach who went 2-14. With the top pick in the Draft last year, he took Burrow. Last year Burrow was a rookie quarterback who suffered a broken leg and missed the 2nd half of the season as the Chiefs went 4-11. Calls for Taylor’s firing were ignored. This year the third year coach and second year quarterback are going to the Super Bowl for the 3rd time. The Bengals lost the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1988. Yet this 2021 Bengals team is a very confident bunch. After winning 3 playoff games including two on the road as underdogs, they have a right to be. 27-24 Bengals 

 

NFC Title Game: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams at 6:30 p.m. on FOX. The 49ers barely snuck into the playoffs as a Wildcard on the final week of regulation. The Rams won the NFC West. The 49ers beat the Rams twice in the regular season, including in that final regular season game they had to have. The Rams led that game 17-0 at home and blew it as the 49ers won 27-24. The 49ers tried to lose their first 2 playoff games but survived at Dallas and then on the road stunned Green Bay despite no offense. They won on a blocked punt. The Rams stomped Arizona in their rubber match. Then the Rams won on the road, took a 27-3 lead at Tampa Bay, collapsed as the game was tied 27-27, and won on the final play 30-27. The 49ers were cocky after having beaten the Rams 6 straight times. Plenty of San Francisco fans traveled to Los Angeles to try and eliminate home field advantage. If the Rams won, they would be playing the Super Bowl in their home stadium. 

The Rams moved from their own 33 on a 10 play, 64 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Stafford fired over the middle only to have his pass deflected in the air and intercepted. The Rams got the ball back but were pinned at their own 3 yard line. Sony Michel gained 8. On 3rd and 2 from their own 11, Matthew Stafford threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 9 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from their own 28, Michel gained 3 as the scoreless first quarter ended. On 3rd and 10 from their own 43 in the second quarter, Stafford scrambled and gained 14 yards. Stafford then hit Blanton for 11. On 3rd and 6 fro the San Francisco 28, Stafford hit Cooper Kupp for 15. On 3rd and 13 from the Frisco 16, Stafford went to the corner of the end zone and Kupp can down with it for the touchdown. This was a statement drive. 18 plays. 97 yards. 9 1/2 minutes off the clock. With 9 minutes left in the half, the Rams had the 7-0 lead.

After a touchback, this time the 49ers moved quickly. Jimmy Garoppolo went deep to Brandon Aiyuk for 31 yards. Garoppolo then threw a quick swing pass to Deebo Samuel, who evaded a tackler and outraced everyone to turn a loss into a touchdown and a 7-7 game. The Rams moved from their own 23 to a 1st and 10 at the Rams 38. Stafford went bombs away and had a wide open Skowronek in the end zone. Skowronek dropped it. It just bounced off his fingertips. Then on 3rd and 8 from the San Francisco 36, Stafford threw incomplete. Then Matt Gay’s 54 yard field goal try was wide no good. After all of that, the Rams wasted another opportunity and the game was still tied 7-7. Just like last week, the 49ers were being dominated statistically but were hanging around. On 3rd and 8 from their own 46, Garoppolo hit George Kittle for 11. Garoppolo went to Hasty for 6 and Aiyuk for 13. From 38 yards out, Robbie Gould’s field goal try to end the half was good as the 49ers took the 10-7 lead to the locker rooms. 

In the third quarter the Rams moved from their own 11 to a 2nd and 1 at the San Francisco 43. Cam Akers got stopped. On 3rd and 1 under heavy pressure, Stafford threw incomplete. Sean McVay went for it. On 4th and inches, Stafford took the quarterback sneak and got stopped stone cold. McVay wasted a timeout on a losing challenge. The 49ers soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 48. Garoppolo hit Aiyuk for 13 and Samuel for 14. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 26, Garoppolo fired over the middle to Jennings at the sticks. Jennings appeared stopped short of the marker but willed his way through the defense for 11. Garoppolo then went to Kittle for a 16 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 58 yard, 6 minute drive had the 49ers up 17-7. 

After a touchback, Stafford hit Kupp for 7 and 11.On the first play of the fourth quarter, Sean McVay called a flea flicker. It worked as Stafford hit Blanton for 20 and again for 9. On 2nd and 1 from the Frisco 11, Michel got stopped. This time on 3rd and 1, Stafford worked the play action perfectly and hit a wide open Kupp in the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown. The Rams were within 17-14 only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. The 49ers moved from their own 14 to a 2nd and 1 from the Rams 44. A run lost a yard. On 3rd and 2, a run went nowhere and the ball came out. Replay showed that the runner was down by contact, but Sean McVay wasted his final challenge and the Rams final timeout unsuccessfully. Nevertheless, the Rams got the ball back at their own 15. 

Stafford immediately went bombs away and should have been intercepted. The defender was all by himself and just dropped it. Unfazed, Stafford went deep again to O’Dell Beckham for 29 with 15 more tacked on for a helmet to helmet hit. On 3rd and 10 from the San Francisco 41, Stafford hit Kupp for 16. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Frisco 18, a swing pass from Stafford to Michel lost 4 yards. This time Gay hit the 40 yard field goal to tie the game 17-17 midway through the fourth quarter. After a touchback the 49es offense malfunctioned. First came an incompletion and then a killer delay of game penalty. Then a badly thrown pass by Garoppolo should have been intercepted. This time it was the Rams defense that dropped an easy interception. The Rams got the ball back at their own 39 with 6 1/2 minutes left. The goal was to make sure Garoppolo did not see the ball again.

On 3rd and 1 from their own 48, Stafford hit Blanton for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Frisco 37, Stafford hit Kupp on a perfect crossing route for a 25 yard gain. On 1st and 10 from the Frisco 11, a first down without a touchdown would let the Rams use all the clock. A run lost a yard. Kyle Shanahan surprisingly did not take a timeout, letting the clock go down to the 2 minute warning. On the next play Stafford was sacked, and the 49ers took their 1st timeout with 1:55 left. On 3rd and 18, a short pass gained 8 yards and Shanahan took a 2nd timeout. Gay came in for the 30 yard field goal try to give the Rams the 3 point lead. Gay was good. However, after a touchback, the 49ers still had 1:46 left and one timeout from their own 12. Under heavy pressure, an incompletion was followed by a completion that lost 3 yards. Garoppolo was not sacked all game. Yet on 3rd and 13, from their own 22, Garoppolo was about to be sacked when he shot-putted a desperation heave that bounced off a receiver’s hands and was intercepted by Howard. Stafford took 3 knees to send the 49ers back to San Francisco in the same year the Dodgers beat the Giants and send the Rams to the Super Bowl. 20-17 Rams

Super Bowl LVI (56) is set: AFC Cincinnati Bengals vs NFC Los Angeles Rams

Top 10 Greatest NFC Title Games

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

Top 10 Greatest NFC Title Games

Greatest NFC Title Games in NFL History: CDN’s Top 10

Top 10 Greatest AFC Title Games

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Top 10 Greatest AFC Title Games

Greatest AFC Title Games in NFL History: CDN’s Top 10

Top 10 NFL Conference Title Game Upsets

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Top 10 NFL Conference AFC-NFC Championship Game upsets

Do not change the NFL overtime rules

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Leave the NFL Overtime Coin Toss rule alone

NFL 2021-2022 Conference Title Games Prequel

Monday, January 24th, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Conference Title Games Preview and Bettor’s Guide

NFL 2021-2022 Divisionals Recap

Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

NFL 2021-2022 Divisionals Recap

The 2021-2022 NFL Wildcard matchups were last week. This week was the Divisional games.

Cincinnati Bengals (4)(10-7) at Tennessee Titans (1)(12-5) was the Saturday afternoon game. The Bengals won the AFC North and then last week survived on the final play for their first playoff victory in 31 years. The Titans won the AFC South and had the bye week last week along with home field throughout the playoffs. The Titans were seeking to reach the AFC Title Game for the second straight year while the Bengals were seeking to reach their first AFC Title Game since 1988. The Titans got a major emotional lift with the return of beast running back Derrick Henry, who missed the second half of the regular season with an injured foot. 

On the very first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Ryan Tannehill was intercepted by Bates, setting up the Bengals at the Tennessee 42. Joe Burrow hit Joe Mixon for 21, but a delay of game penalty meant 3rd and 14 from the Tennessee 28. Burrow hit Tee Higgins for only 8. Evan McPherson hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bengals. The Bengals got it back at their own 12. Burrow threw a quick swing pass to JaMarr Chase, who evaded a tackle and raced for a 57 yard gain. Yet a sack of Burrow meant another 3rd and 14 from the Tennessee 34 had Burrow hitting Higgins for only 7. McPherson hit again from 45 to make it 6-0 Bengals.

In the second quarter the Titans took over at their own 16. Tannehill went deep to AJ Brown for 41. On 3rd and 3 from the Cincinnati 36, Tannehill went to Hilliard for just enough. Henry ran for 6. Tannehill hit Julio Jones for 13 and Brown for 8. Henry took a direct snap for a 3 yard touchdown. The extra point was good, and the Titans briefly led 7-6. Yet a penalty on Cincinnati gave the Titans the option of better field position for the kickoff. For some bizarre reason, Mike Vrabel instead decided to take the extra point off the board, move the ball from the two to the one, and go for a needless 2 point conversion. Henry got the carry and was stopped. Instead of taking the lead, the game was tied 6-6.  

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Burrow hit CJ Uzomah for 6. Burrow then went to Higgins for 15 and again for 22. On 3rd and 9 from the Tennessee 19, a false start followed by a sack killed the drive. McPherson hit from 54 for a 9-6 Bengals lead with 1:40 left in the half. Despite not reaching the end zone and Burrow getting sacked 5 times in the first half, the Bengals were setting the tone. The Bengals began the third quarter at their own 35. On 3rd and 1 from their 44, Burrow hit Higgins for 12. Joe Mixon ran for 6 and 10. On 3rd and 5 from the Tennessee 23, , Burrow avoided a sack, ran up the middle, and dove for 7 yards. Mixon then ran up the middle to the right and weaved back left for a 16 yard touchdown and a 16-6 Bengals. After a touchback, Henry ran for 9, 3 and 9. Foreman then broke several tackles for a 45 yard gain. The Titans had 1st and goal at the 9. Tannehill tried to throw a swing pass. Hilton made a leaping deflection and then plucked the ball out of the air for an interception. Only a tackle by Tannehill prevented Hilton from returning the interception for a defensive touchdown. 

The Titans got it back at their own 28. Henry ran for a pair of 5 yard gains. Tannehill then went deep to Brown for a 40 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the Cincinnati 21, a completion from Tannehill to Hilliard gained only 5. Randy Bullock hit the 34 yard field goal. With 1:40 left in the third quarter, the Titans were within 16-9. A strong kickoff return had the Bengals taking over at their own 40. Last week the Bengals won with help from a blown call. This week a controversial call went against them. Burrow threw a short pass for Perine that bounced off his hands. Hooker made a shoestring interception and returned it 15 yards to the Cincinnati 27. Replay showed the ball clearly hitting the ground at the exact same time as Hooker got his hands on the ball. It should have been an incompletion. After a lengthy review, the calls took. After a false start, Tannehill went deep to Brown into double coverage. The throw was perfect and Brown made a one-handed grab for the touchdown. The Bengals were on the verge of putting the game away earlier, and instead the game was tied 16-16 after three quarters.

The Bengals began the fourth quarter at their own 20. Burrow hit Uzomah for 7 and Mixon ran for 13. Burrow connected with Chase for 21. On 3rd and 3 from the Tennessee 32, Burrow was sacked for a 16 yard loss. The 7th sack of the day was a tremendous mistake for Burrow, because it pushed the Bengals out of field goal range. The Titans moved from their own 17 to a 3rd and 1 at the Cincy 35. Tannehill tried the quarterback sneak and got stopped. Mike Vrabel passed up a 53 yard field goal try that would have given the Titans the lead. Instead Henry got the carry on a slow moving play and was gang tackled in the backfield for a 2 yard loss. Midway through the fourth quarter, the game was still tied. The Bengals moved to a 3rd and 8 at the Tennessee 48. Burrow was then sacked for the 9th time. There were no fancy blitzes. This was just a straight bull rush up the middle and the Tennessee defense repeatedly overwhelmed the Cincinnati offensive line. 

The Titans took over at their 16 with 2:43 left in regulation. After a 3 yard run, the clock ticked all the way down to the 2 minute warning. The Titans moved with very little urgency, not wanting to leave any time for the Bengals if they failed to make a first down. Yet the Bengals also let the clock run down, not wanting to leave the Titans time if they did get first downs. On 3rd and 5 from his own 20, Tannehill fired over the middle and had the ball bounce off the receiver into the air and intercepted by Logan Wilson. Tannehill’s 3rd interception set up the Bengals at their own 47 with 20 seconds left and 2 timeouts. Burrow fired the ball to Chase for 19, leaving 15 seconds. The Bengals were in long field goal range. Zac Taylor was not going to risk Burrow getting sacked a 10th time. A pair of very safe runs followed by 2 timeouts took the clock down to 3 seconds but added 0 yards. McPherson came in for the 52 yard try to win it. A miss meant overtime.

There would be no overtime. McPherson buried the kick and the Bengals had the stunning road upset win. Home field, the bye week, and the return of Derrick Henry did not matter. McPherson hit 4 field goals for the 2nd straight week. Burrow became the first quarterback in NFL history to get sacked 9 times and still win a playoff game. The Titans won all year playing smash mouth. The Bengals normally win with flash. They won this game with grit and toughness. This was old-school football. The Bengals are on the road for the AFC Title Game. 19-16 Bengals

San Francisco 49ers (6)(10-7) at Green Bay Packers (1)(13-4) was the Saturday night game. The 49ers snuck into the playoffs by going on the road, overcoming a 17-0 deficit, and shocking the Rams 27-24. Then the 49ers in the Wildcard round went on the road again and stunned Dallas 23-17. The Packers breezed their way to the NFC North crown and a bye week with home field throughout the playoffs. The Packers in the regular season were an unbeaten 8-0 at home. The Tundra at Lambeau Field truly was frozen with a kickoff temperature of 4 degrees. The Packers made it look early on from their own 31. Aaron Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for 14 and Aaron Jones for gains of 19, 10 and 11. AJ Dillon ran for 5 and then for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. The Packers did not face a single 3rd down on the 10 play, 69 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. The defenses took over the rest of the opening quarter in which the 49ers had negative 7 total yards. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half, the 49ers were at minus 10 yards. Yet the Packers after their opening drive did nothing as San Francisco’s defense kept the 49ers in the game.

On 2nd and 10 from their own 23, Jimmy Garoppolo threw a sideline pass and George Kittle made a leaping one-handed catch for a 15 yard gain. It was Garoppolo’s first completion and the 49ers first 1st down after nearly 24 minutes of futility. On 3rd and 1 from their own 47, Mitchell gained 4. Garoppolo hit Mitchell for 16 and Mitchell ran for 6 more as the 2 minute warning came with the 49ers facing 2nd and 4 at the Green Bay 25 yard line. Garoppolo hit Kittle for 12 to set up 1st and goal at the 9 as the Packers took their 2nd timeout on defense with 1:10 left in the half. Yet then came offensive holding. On the next play Garoppolo twice avoided being sacked and rolled out but his pass was intercepted by Amos at the 4 yard line. The Packers were willing to run the ball to end the half, but the 49ers took a timeout on defense that backfired on them. The Packers on 3rd and 3 from their own 11 saw Rodgers escape the pressure, roll to his right, and lob a pass to Jones for a 76 yard gain. Yet on 1st and 10 from the San Francisco 14 with 26 seconds left, Rodgers got sacked and fumbled. The Packers retained possession and Rodgers spiked the ball with 3 seconds left. Mason Crosby came in for a 39 yard field goal try to extend the lead. The kick was blocked. 

The 49ers got a jolt to start the third quarter when Deebo Samuel returned the second half kickoff to midfield. With snow now coming down, pass-happy Kyle Shanahan actually started running the ball. After 4 straight runs, Garoppolo then hit Samuel for 18. On 2nd and 5 from the Green Bay 12, Mitchell tried to get around the end and looked like he had the edge to the end zone. Yet stokes made a touchdown saving tackle at the 3 yard line. Making matters worse, Mitchell was called for an offensive facemask. Instead of 1st and goal it was 2nd and 14 from the green Bay 21. Then came an illegal formation on the offense. On 3rd and 16, a give up completion from Garoppolo to Samuel gained only 12. The 10 play, 7 minute drive netted only 39 yards. Robbie Gould hit the 29 yard field goal to get the 49ers on the board. 

The Packers took the ball at their own 28 and held the ball for 9 minutes. The 14 play drive moved them 57 yards and set up 2nd and goal at the 5. A false start moved the Pack back. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Rodgers was sacked. Crosby this time hit the 33 yard field goal but the Packers only led 10-3 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The 49ers had their turn at their own 28, moving on a drive that took 5 1/2 minutes off the clock. The snow was coming down harder now. On 3rd and 11 from their own 48, Garoppolo fired to Kittle for 24 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Green Bay 25, Garoppolo fired over the middle to Jennings near the sticks. Jennings thought he had the first down but a perfect tackle by Amos kept Jennings short. Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 19. Mitchell got the carry and got blasted by the Green Bay defense for a one yard loss with 6:15 to play. The 49ers defense forced a 3 and out as Rodgers was sacked for a 5th time on the night. On 4th and 19 from their own 12, the Packers punted. Then came the shock.

The punt was blocked by Willis. Talanoa Hufanga picked up the blocked punt at the Green Bay 6 yard line and ran it in for the touchdown. This was more than just the first time a game had featured a Talanoa Hufanga. It was now a 10-10 deadlock with 4:40 to play in front of a shellshocked snowed upon home crowd. The Packers had failed to put the game away the entire game and now were in a fight for survival. The Packers went 3 and out again as the 49ers took over at their own 29 with 3:20 to play. Garoppolo hit Kittle for 12 and Samuel for 14. The Packers took their final timeout on defense with 1:03 to play. Then the 49ers took their 1st timeout. Everything came down to the 49ers facing 3rd and 7 at the Green Bay 38. A 56 yard field goal try with snow coming down was not a serious option. Pass-happy Kyle Shanahan actually called a running play. Samuel gained 9 yards for a key first down. With 4 seconds left, Gould came in for the field goal try to win it. Now the the kick was 46 yards. Gould was good. 

For the second straight season, the Packers won 13 games and home field throughout the playoffs only to flame out in the playoffs. Jimmy Garoppolo was too classy to yell at Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay crowd: “I own you! I f-in own you! I always will!” Garoppolo was expected to be replaced early in the season by Trey Lance. Instead, Garoppolo and the 49ers led by their nasty defense are on the way to the NFC Title Game for the 2nd time in 3 years.. Garoppolo is as unassuming and humble as Rodgers is insufferable. Rodgers spent the entire offseason last year complaining that he did not have enough help. The defense gave up 2 field goals. Rodgers led one early touchdown drive and did nothing the final 54 minutes. He is a great regular season quarterback. For the second year in a row in cold Green Bay football weather, he lost to a warm weather team. This loss is on him and the horrendous Packers special teams. In addition to giving up a blocked field goal, a blocked punt, and 2 long kickoff returns, the special teams saved their worst for last. On the final decisive field goal, the Packers only had 10 men on the field. This was a stunning playoff upset. 13-10 49ers

Los Angeles Rams (4)(12-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2)(13-4) was the Sunday afternoon game. The Rams won a shootout over the Buccaneers in Week 3 in Los Angeles, but the rematch was in Tampa. These teams came into the game knowing that the winner would play in the NFC Title Game on their home field. The Rams clobbered Arizona last week in the Wildcard while the Buccaneers breezed through their Wildcard game against overmatched Philadelphia. Both Sean McVay and Bruce Arianss are offensive wizards. The Buccaneers do have the great Tom Brady, but have suffered key injuries including on their offensive line. The Buccaneers came in seeking to go to the NFC Title Game for the second straight year while the Rams were looking to go to the NFC Title Game for the 2nd time in 4 years. The Rams finally got Cam Akers back after he missed most of the entire regular season. The Buccaneers got Leonard Fournette back after he missed 4 weeks. Fournette began the game with runs of 11 and 10, but after that the Rams defense held. 

The Rams took over at their own 20 and Matthew stafford came out throwing. Stafford hit O’Dell Beckham for 6, Akers for 9, and Cooper Kupp for 17. After a holding penalty meant 1st and 20, Stafford calmly went to Beckham for 20 and Tyler Higbee for 29 more. Yet on 1st and goal at the 9, a run gained one yard and stafford threw incomplete twice. Matt Gay hit the 26 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. The Rams got it back at their own 29. Stafford went to Beckham for 9. On the next incompletion, defensive pass interference added 16 more yards Stafford then hit Higbee for 9. Another incompletion saw Ndomakung Suh get called for taunting, adding 15 more yards. Stafford may have gotten away with a light kick to Suh, but Suh was heard mouthing expletives that go beyond football. Suh has a history of such behavior on the field. Akers ran for 9 and Stafford hit Blanton for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Rams. 

After a touchback with 3 minutes left in the opening quarter, Brady finally completed his first pass, hitting Fournette for 13. Brady then somehow avoided a sack and fired over the middle to Rob Gronkowski for 29. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the Rams 27, Brady threw incomplete. Ryan Succop hit the 45 yard field goal to get the Buccaneers within 10-3 after the first quarter. Yet Succop then kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, setting the Rams up at their own 40. A sack of Stafford st up 3rd and 20 from their own 30. Stafford calmly went bombs away to Kupp, who evaded a tackler for a 70 yard touchdown and a 17-3 Rams lead. The Buccaneers were all called for a defensive penalty for a player removing their helmet and slamming it to the ground in the field of play. The Buccaneers went 3 and out and the Rams got the ball back at midfield with a chance to all but turn out the lights. The Rams wasted the opportunity and the Buccaneers got the ball back at their own 20.

On 3rd and 7 from his own 23, Brady hit Mike Evans for 9. On 3rd and 6 from his own 36, Brady hit Evans for 21. On 1st and 10 from the Rams 43, Brady hit Evans for 8. Yet an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Brady meant 2nd and 17 instead of 2nd and 2. Brady cursed out the officials for failing to throw a flag on a hit that was perfectly legal. Brady went to Fournette for 19 while still yelling. Yet from the Rams 31, a run gained one yard and Brady threw incomplete twice. From 48 yards out, Succop’s kick was no good. The Rams moved from their own 38 to a 1st and 10 at the Tampa Bay 28. After an incompletion, a swing pass lost 4 yards. On 3rd and 14, Stafford hit Kupp for 11. Matt Gay hit the 40 yard field goal to cap the 12 play, 41 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 20-3 Rams with 2:23 left in the half. A sack of Brady had the Buccaneers facing 2nd and 17 at their own 8 at t he 2 minute warning. Brady went deep for Gronk and Scott made a leaping interception in front of him at the Tampa Bay 31. The Rams moved to a 2nd and goal at the 6 with 24 seconds left in the half looking for the kill shot. Akers got the carry and fumbled at the one yard line. The Buccaneers recovered. The Rams got the ball to start the third quarter but again did not put the game away. The Buccaneers were 3 scores down, but both teams knew what Brady was capable of. Also, the Rams lost their regular season finale by blowing a 17 point lead. 

A great punt pinned the Buccaneers at their own 5. They went 3 and out and Powell returned the punt 33 yards to set the Rams up with gift field position at the Tampa Bay 28. Rather than grind down clock, Sean McVay kept his foot on the gas. Stafford hit Blanton for 11, Kupp for 4, and Beckham for 10. On 3rd and goal at the one, Stafford took the quarterback sneak and bulled forward across the plane of the goal for a 27-3 Rams lead midway through the third quarter. After a touchback, Brady hit Evans for 5 and Howard for 7. Brady then went deep to Gronk for 42. and to Evans for 11. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Rams 12, Brady threw 2 incompletions sandwiched around a sack. With the home crowd booing, Bruce Arians on 4th and 11 opted for the field goal. Succop hit from 31 but the Buccaneers still trailed 27-6 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Yet every time the Buccaneers had the slightest momentum, they lost it. For the 2nd time on the day, the ensuing kickoff was kicked out of bounds  and the Rams took over at their own 40.

Yet every time it looked like the Rams were going to permanently turn out the lights, they didn’t. A short pass from Stafford to Kupp was fumbled. Murphy-Bunting returned the fumble 10 yards to set up the Buccaneers at the Rams 30. On 3rd and 9, Brady threw incomplete and was lucky he was not intercepted as the defender just dropped it. This time Bruce Arians went for it on 4th and 9, Brady hit Scotty Miller for 16. On 2nd and 7 from the Rams 10, a short pass to Tyler Johnson saw johnson break through 2 tackles and somehow turn nothing into a 9 yard gain and 1st and goal at the one. Fournette got in off right tackle for the touchdown. The Rams had every chance under the sun to put this game away. Instead the Buccaneers only trailed 27-13 after three quarters. The Rams quickly went 3 and out and took only 9 seconds off of the fourth quarter. A blowout was now a ballgame. 

Yet in a game of rapid momentum shifts, momentum shifted again. Brady got sacked by Von Miller and fumbled. The Rams had the ball at the Tampa 25 and needed only a field goal to make it a 3 score game again. Then this crazy game got even crazier. Out of the shotgun, Stafford was looking away from the ball and had no idea the snap was coming. It sailed past him and the Jason Pierre Paul recovered for the Buccaneers all the way at the Rams 46. Brady hit Gronkowski for 13 and Fournette for 5. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the Rams 27, Brady was sacked by Floyd. On 4th and 14 from the Rams 36 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Brady went deep incomplete but appeared to be bailed out by a late hit on a defenseless receiver. The home crowd celebrated, thinking it was 15 yards and a new set of downs. Yet after an official huddle, they ruled the late hit occurred after the play, making it a dead ball fail. The Rams would get the ball and the penalty was post possession. It was a very questionable call, as the late hit appeared to be part of the play. It was a fraction of a second call and the Rams were bailed out.

The Rams played smash mouth to bleed clock. Van Jefferson broke off a 15 yard run. Akers added 3 and 8. A short pass from Stafford to Jefferson went for 15. The Rams moved all the way to a 1st and 10 at the Tampa Bay 31. A pair of safe runs meant 3rd and 12. Sean McVay took no chances and called another safe run that gained 4 yards. Gay came in for a 47 yard field goal try with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation to lock up the win. The kick was inside the posts but short, no good. 47 yards, short! In beautiful warm weather. Whatever deal Brady made with the devil 20 years ago was very much still in existence. The Buccaneers took over at their own 37. Brady hit Evans for 9 and Fournette for 6. Defensive pass interference added 15 more. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 28, a swing pass was blown up by a perfect tackle for a 3 yard loss. On 4th and 9 from the Rams 31, Brady had all the time in the world but threw incomplete. The Rams defense had done its job all game and made up for second half ineptness on offense and special teams. From their own 31, they needed to just calm down and end things. The Buccaneers had all 3 timeouts on defense. The Rams went 3 and out but forced the Buccaneers to take all their timeouts. The Buccaneers took over at their own 23 with 4 minutes remaining.  

Brady went to Smiller for 19 and Fournette for only 3. Then Brady went bombs away to a wide open Evans for a 55 yard touchdown. 77 yards took only 36 seconds. The Buccaneers were within 27-20 with a full 3:15 to play. The defensive breakdown meant that the Rams offense had to find a way to get one first downs. 3 straight runs would take the clock down to nearly one minute. Yet on 2nd and 7, Akers fumbled for the 2nd time on the day and the Buccaneers recovered. The Buccaneers took over at the Rams 30 with a full 2 1/2 minutes to play. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 21, Fournette gained 3. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 18, Brady hit Cameron Brate for 9. The Buccaneers lined up quickly to immediately go for it So Sean McVay took the Rams 2nd timeout on defense to let them regroup. With everything on the line and everyone bunched inside, Brady handed to Fournette as he tried to bounce it outside. A defender tried to tackle Fournette in the backfield for a loss but Fournette shook the tackle, got to the outside, and practically walked into the end zone. Forget a deal with the devil. Tom Brady might be the devil himself.

After a touchback, only 42 seconds remained in the game. While the conventional approach might be to just play for overtime, remember what happened in the Super Bowl 5 years ago. Brady led New England back from a 28-3 deficit to face overtime. New England won the coin toss. Brady led a touchdown drive. Atlanta never saw the ball in overtime. Brady had led his team back in this game from down 27-3 to 27-27. It was imperative he not get the ball back again. The Rams had self-destructed, but still had the most potent offense in the league. On the first play, Stafford was sacked for a one yard loss. McVay was still not willing to let the clock run down to overtime. He called the Rams last timeout with 35 seconds left. Stafford went deep to Kupp for 20. Kupp got out of bounds. Then Stafford went bombs away to the best receiver in the game, and Kupp came down with it for a 44 yard gain. Stafford rallied everyone to the line and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 3 seconds left. Gay came in again. This time the kick to win it was only 30 yards. A miss would have Rams fans ready to lose their every loving football minds. Gay was good. In their regular season game, Brady threw 55 passes. In this game he there 54, completing 30 for 329 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Stafford was 28 of 38 for 366 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The dragon was slayed. The Rams will host the NFC Title Game against archival San Francisco, who beat them twice this year. The Rams took down Brady and now need to beat his backup to go to the Super Bowl. 30-27 Rams

Buffalo Bills (3)(11-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (2)(12-5) was the Sunday night game. The Bills won the AFC East and blasted archival New England to pieces 47-17. The Chiefs won the AFC West and destroyed Pittsburgh 42-21. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes both threw 5 touchdown passes last week. Last year the Chiefs beat the Bills in the AFC Title Game 38-24. This year the Bills went into Kansas City in Week 5 and stunned the Chiefs 38-20. The Chiefs were one win away from reaching the AFC Title Game for the 4th straight year, a feat the Bills accomplished from 1990-1993. That was the last time the Bills were in the AFC Title Game. The teams came into this game knowing that results from the previous day meant the winner would be hosting the AFC Title Game on their home field. 

The Bills began at their own 29. Josh Allen hit Devin Singletary for 13. On 3rd and 9 from their own 43, Allen hit Cole Beasley for 7. On 4th and 2 from midfield, Sean McDermott went for it. This was a tacit admission that keeping Mahomes off the field was the only way to win. Allen got around the end for 10. Singletary gained 7 and caught a pass from Allen for 15. Isaiah McKenzie gained 11. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Allen only gained one. McDermott again went for it, concluding that field goals would not beat the Chiefs. On 4th and goal at the one, Allen lateraled to Singletary, who took the pitchout around the end for the touchdown. The 13 play, 71 yard, 7 minute drive made it 7-0 Bills. The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 5 from their own 31. Patrick Mahomes hit McKinnon for just enough. On 3rd and 6 from their own 40, Mahomes scrambled up the middle for 34 yards. Mycole Hardman ran for 6 and Mahomes added more. On 3rd and 5 from the Buffalo 8, Mhaomes scrambled around the left end, dove for the pylon, and stretched the ball just enough for the touchdown. The 11 play, 74 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive tied the game 7-7. 

The Bills after a touchback moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 41. A run gained one yard followed by an incompletion. On 3rd and 9 and needing only a few yards for long field goal range, Allen was sacked. A great punt pinned the Chiefs at their own one yard line. They went 3 and out and punted. Yet with the Bills getting excellent field position and facing 3rd and 2 just past midfield, a run lost 2 yards. The Chiefs took over at their own 14. Mahomes went deep to Travis Kelce for 21, to Byron Pringle for 12, and to Tyreek Hill for 10. Clyde Edwards-Helaire gained 22. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 14, Mahomes hit McKinnon for 6 yards. A sack of Mahomes set up 3rd and goal from the 11, Mahomes was sacked. Yet a killer defensive holding penalty meant 1st and goal at the 6. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Mahomes somehow escaped a sack and fired high to the end zone where Pringle came down with it for the touchdown and the 14-7 Chiefs lead. The Bills after a touchback had 1:52 to work with. Allen went to Beasley for 24. On 3rd and 2 from the Chief 43, Allen hit Davis for 5. Allen gained 9 and 11. Allen then went to Davis in the end zone for an 18 yard touchdown and a 14-14 game. 

After a touchback, Mahomes had only 37 seconds left but all 3 timeouts. Defensive holding added 5 yards. Mahomes then went to Hill for 26. Mahomes hit Hillagain for 4 and Kelce for 8 as the Chiefs took their 1st timeout on 1st and 10 from the Buffalo 32. A pair of incompletions left 3 seconds. Harrison Butker came in for the 50 yard field goal try to give the Chiefs the lead. Butker was no good, just barely missing the right upright. After a touchback to start the second half, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. McKinnon gained 3. On 3rd and 4 from the Buffalo 43, Mahomes hit Hill for only 3. Walrus Andy Reid went for it on 4th and 1. Mahomes hit McKinnon for a 20 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Buffalo 18, Mahomes scrambled all over the place and gained 9. Yet in a very clean game, offensive holding instead meant 3rd and 18 and killed the drive. It was the first penalty on the Chiefs all game, and only 2 penalties had been called on the Bills. This time from 39 yards out Butker barely snuck the kick inside the right upright good. It was ugly but the Chiefs led 17-14 after the 13 play, 54 yard, 8 minute drive.

The Bills soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Singletary took a pitchout laterally and only gained one. This time from his own 34, Sean McDermott was not in a gambling mood. Perhaps he should have been. The Chiefs took over at their own 39. Mahomes hit Kelce for 8 and Pringle for 5. Edwards-Helaire ran for 20. Then Hardman ran around the end, appeared to be trapped after a short gain, and somehow veered back inside and shot past everyone for a 25 yard touchdown. Butker’s miserable night continued as he doinked the extra point off the left upright no good. Yet with 2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Chiefs had breathing room up 23-14. One play and 10 seconds after a touchback, the Bills were right back in it. Josh Allen went bombs away and found Davis in stride for a 75 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Bills were within 23-21. 

The Bills held on defense and got the ball back early in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. Yet they were pinned at their own 8 yard line. Allen hit Davis for 17 but after that the drive bogged down. Hill almost delivered the back-breaker, returning the punt 45 yards to the Buffalo 16. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 7, McKinnon took the direct snap and got blown up in the backfield for a 3 yard loss. Butker hit the 28 yard field goal but the Chiefs only led by 5 with 9 minutes left in regulation. The Bills soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Allen hit Beasley for 5. On 3rd and 4 from their own 43, Allen scrambled all over the place and gained 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 39, Allen gained 3. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 32, Allen only gained 2. With 3 minutes left, Sean McVay could have kicked the field goal and trusted his defense. Yet with Mahomes on the other sideline, going for it on 4th and 4 was the right move. Allen scrambled and gained 6. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 20, Allen under heavy pressure threw a dump off pass that would have been better off dropped. Instead it was a 7 yard loss as the clock ticked down to the 2 minute warning. Again, with Mahomes on the other side, going for it even on 4th and 13 was the only sane option. Allen evaded a sack and found a wide open Davis in the end zone. It was a complete defensive breakdown. The 27 yard touchdown gave the Bills the lead. Now they needed the 2 point conversion. Allen scrambled all over and finally threw across his body to the back of the end zone. Stefan Diggs made a leaping catch for the conversion. The Bills led 29-26 with 1:54 to play. What happened in the final 2 minutes will be talked about forever for all the right reasons. 

The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 10 from their own 25 with 1:39 left. Mahomes hit Kelce for 11. With 1:16 left, on 2nd and 10 from their own 36, Mahomes threw a short pass to Hill, who split the seams, got to the sideline, picked up a block, and outraced everyone for a shocking 64 yard touchdown. The Chiefs now led 33-29. After a touchback the Bills had one minute left and all 3 timeouts. Allen went to Davis for 28 as the Bills took their first timeout. Allen then went to Davis for 12 and Emanuel Sanders for 16. Defensive pass interference stopped the clock with 23 seconds left. On the next play Allen evaded the pressure and found Davis for a 19 yard touchdown. With 13 seconds left, the Bills had the 36-33 lead in front of a shellshocked home crowd at Arrowhead.  Allen had the game of his life. The third lead change in the final 2 minutes made this a game for the history books. Yet after a touchback, Mahomes had 13 seconds and 3 timeouts, needing only a field goal to tie it. Mahomes went to Hill for 19 and called timeout with 8 seconds left. Mahomes then fired over the middle to Kelce for 25 yards and called timeout again with 3 seconds left. Butker was having a miserable game, but from 49 yards out it was all on him. This time Butker was good. The 4th score in the final 2 minutes had this insane game going into overtime tied 36-36.

Yet this game appeared over once the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Mahomes hit Kelce for 10. Mahomes then hit McKinnon for 16. On 2nd and 6 from the Buffalo 34, Mahomes hit Hardman on a short pass, but Hardman raced for a 26 yard gain down the sideline. Mahomes then went to the corner of the end zone and Kelce made a leaping catch for the 8 yard touchdown. The Bills never saw the ball in overtime. This game was an instant classic for the ages. The teams combined for 4 total penalties and 0 turnovers. They also combined for nearly 1,000 yards of total offense. Allen was magnificent, going 27 of 37 for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns. He did everything a quarterback could be asked to do. He was 13 seconds away from victory. Gabriel Davis caught all 4 of those touchdown passes. Yet Mahomes was 33 of 44 for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mahomes had 177 yards passing in the final 2 minutes and overtime alone. The Chiefs host Cincinnati in the AFC Title Game. The Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to host the AFC Title Game 4 straight years. This makes Andy Reid a most happy walrus indeed. 42-36 Chiefs  

All 4 Divisional Playoff games came down to the final play. 3 underdog road teams won and the fourth nearly did as home field advantage proved worthless this weekend. 

The Conference Title Games are set. Both games will be played on Sunday, January 30, 2022.

AFC Title Game: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs at 3:00 p.m.

NFC Title Game: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams at 6:30 p.m.

eric

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