Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans
WHO DEY NATION STAND UP! The Bengals are headed to the AFC championship for the first time since 1988, after a close 19-16 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Bengals offense had a tremendous performance despite constant pressure from the Titans, who sacked Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow nine times, five of them coming from Harold Landry and Jeffrey Simmons alone. Joe Burrow threw for 348 yards on 28/37 passing, although he did have one interception, but it was fairly questionable. Rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase also showed up big in this game with 109 receiving yards on just five catches.
One of the biggest disappointments in this game was Titans’ running back Derrick Henry, who had 60 total yards and just a single TD for the titans. Although this wasn’t a bad performance by any means, fans still expected more from the two-time pro bowler.
The game was tied with three seconds left in the game, but Bengals kicker Even McPherson was confident the Bengals would win, saying, “Looks like we’re going to the AFC Championship.” This confidence was well-founded, as McPherson delivered an impressive 52-yard kick from the left hash line to seal the game for the Bengals and continue their remarkable playoff run.
San Francisco 49’ers vs. Green Bay Packers
The 49ers out-dueled the Packers for the spot in the NFC championship as Jimmy Garrapulo went into Lambeau to take Rodger’s Packers out of the playoffs. Jimmy G and the 49ers offense couldn’t do much as he only passed for 131 yards and was unable to score a passing touchdown, but this is where special teams come into play, as the Niners had a blocked field goal and a blocked punt, which led to a crucial touchdown. The 49ers’ defense also helped the team by not allowing Rodgers to score a passing touchdown.
One of the game’s biggest plays came when the Niners’ wide receiver Deebo Samuel ran for nine yards on a crucial third and seven plays with one minute remaining, setting up Robbie Gould’s 45-yard game-winning field goal. However, after that play, Samuel appeared to have suffered an injury and was walking with a slight limp. Thankfully, he seemed to be fine after the game and indicated to reporters that this wasn’t a serious injury whatsoever, “My ankle got twisted up, and I got scared there for a minute, but I’ll be alright,” Samuel told NFL Network.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We were robbed of one of the greatest postseason comebacks of all time when the Rams met the Buccaneers in Tampa. Matthew Stafford led the Rams to a start where they led 27-3 in the third quarter. However, all NFL fans know that they can’t count Tom Brady out late in games, as he has produced some of the greatest postseason comebacks in modern NFL history, and up until late in the game, it looked like this would be the case, with the Buccaneers scoring 24 points in the second half, tying up the game. Still, Stafford and Cooper Kupp’s connection was too much for the buccaneers at the very end of the fourth quarter, where they connected for two deep shots that led to Matt Gay kicking a game-winning field goal to seal the game for the Rams.
Kupp finished with 183 yards with nine catches, while Stafford finished 28/38 with 366 yards and two touchdowns. Rumors are swirling that this may be Brady’s last game, but I doubt he would retire on a loss considering he couldn’t get things done with his turnovers.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills
Game of the year? The Bills’ 36 points and Josh Allen’s 329 yards and four passing touchdowns (somehow) weren’t enough, as the chiefs countered everything the Bills did in what might be the craziest final minute of the season.
The fourth quarter was incredibly action-packed, with 25 points scored between the two teams, culminating in a three-point Bills lead with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. With just 17 seconds remaining, Patrick Mahomes made a few key plays to keep the game alive, which eventually led to a Harrison Butker field goal to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, the chiefs elected to receive, which led to them marching down the field, culminating in a game-winning catch by tight end Travis Kelce. This meant Josh Allen would never have a chance in overtime to win the game.
The fact that this game was pretty much decided by a coin-toss prompted anger from many NFL demanding changes to the overtime rules to allow the kicking team to attempt to score a touchdown if the receiving team does. However, Allen himself was accepting of the outcome and didn’t have anything negative to say about the overtime rules/coin-toss situation, telling a Bills reporter, “The rules are what they are and I can’t complain. … If it was the other way around, we’d be celebrating.” The fact that one of Allen’s best postseason games of his career was brought to an end to a coin toss may influence the NFL to change some aspects of its overtime rules. Interestingly enough, the Chiefs were on the opposite side of this situation against the Patriots during the 2019 AFC championship game, where the Patriots scored a touchdown on the first drive of overtime, preventing the chiefs from getting a chance to have the ball in overtime. The Chiefs created a petition to change the overtime rules in 2019, but the NFL denied it.
Mahomes had an incredible game, with a 75% completion percentage, 378 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and a crafty rushing touchdown. The Chiefs will be hosting the Bengals this Sunday for a chance to head to the Super Bowl for the third season in a row.
This year’s divisional round was one of the most exciting in recent memory, and we can’t wait to see what happens during the conference championship games next week.