Wow! It has been a wild NFL postseason, with many teams losing in heartbreaking fashion. So far during the playoffs, we have seen 6 games be decided by 6 points or less. Dreams will come true for two teams after Championship weekend, while two teams will head home with a heartbreaking loss. Who will pull out the win for their team?
Championship weekend was kicked off with the red hot Bengals traveling to Kansas City to take on the red hot Chiefs. With the Chiefs winning one of, if not the most exciting playoff games in NFL history last weekend versus the Buffalo Bills, they were expected and heavily favored to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. Joe Burrow and the Bengals looked to defy the odds and take out the monster of the NFL; a true David and Goliath narrative.
The Bengals could not have gotten off to a worse start. The first quarter saw the Cheetah, Tyreek hill, score a touchdown from ten yards out, effectively bringing the score to a 7-3 Chiefs lead before things looked to be out of hand. The Chiefs started COOKING in the second quarter with Patrick Mahomes finding Travis Kelce for a five yard touchdown, and then Mecole Hardman for a three yard touchdown on the very next drive. The score was now 21-3, and if I was a betting man, I would have said the Chiefs are undoubtedly going to their third straight Super Bowl. Cool Joe Burrow had other plans. Before halftime, Joe Burrow found Samaje Perine on a 41 yard connection to bring the score to 21-10. With 1:05 left in the half, it seemed like too much time for Patrick Mahomes to respond with a score of his own. The Chiefs drove all the way down the field to the Bengals one yard line, and elected to go for the touchdown instead of kicking the field goal with 5 seconds left, only to miss the opportunity and walk away with no points. Could this be the momentum shift that the Bengals needed?
Burrow and the Bengals came zooming out of the locker room. For real, I have no idea what was said in that locker room at halftime, but it must have been the craziest pump up speech in NFL history. Whether or not you want to blame Kansas City’s play calling/offensive execution, you can’t deny that Cinci’s defense stepped up and shut down the Chief’s high powered offense. They consistently found clever ways to get Mahomes under pressure, and their secondary was locking down every Kansas City receiver. On the other side of the ball, Joe Burrow looked like a National Champion, slinging the ball all around the field and scoring 11 unanswered points in the third quarter to tie this game up. Did I mention that the touchdown went to Ja’Marr Chase? I mean, big shocker there; he’s only been doing it all year. Chase his rookie card here!
If you would have told me that the Kansas City Chiefs would blow a 21-3 lead in the AFC Championship game, I would have called you crazy. But here we are! The fourth quarter was a true battle. Both defenses straightened up and did everything in their power to deny the opposing team any points. With six minutes left in the game, Evan McPherson (arguably the MVP in these playoffs) kicked a clutch 52 yard field goal to put the Bengals up 24-21. Can the Bengals hold? Well, the Chiefs weren’t going to be put to sleep that easily. On the very next drive, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense effectively drained the clock and got their team in position to score at the Bengals 9 yard line. In an attempt to win the game with a touchdown, Patrick Mahomes tried to escape pressure and fumbled the ball with less than 40 seconds left. Fortunately for Chiefs fans, Joe Thuney landed on the ball, making the field goal attempt 44 yards and slightly less manageable. Harrison Butker scoffed and drills the field goal to send the game into overtime. What are the odds of back to back OT games for the Chiefs? THIS IS PLAYOFF FOOTBALL BABY!
The Chiefs won the toss, and it appeared that this was going to be a replay of the divisional round vs. the Bills. We’ve seen this before: Chiefs get the ball and score without giving the other team an opportunity. However, following two incompletions, Patrick Mahomes looked deep for Tyreek Hill, only to be INTERCEPTED by Vonn Bell and returned to the Cin 45 yard line. Oh, and it should be mentioned that Patrick Mahomes threw this interception only 13 SECONDS into overtime. I know it hurts, Buffalo, but this is poetic justice at it’s finest. The Bengals proceeded to slice and dice the Chief’s defense, effectively using Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon to get into field goal range. The game ends off the foot of Evan McPherson, who absolutely drills a 31 yard field goal and punches Cincinnati’s ticket to the Super Bowl! WHAT A RUN!
Aside from three interceptions, this was an amazing battle between Burrow and Mahomes. Burrow finished with 250 yards and two touchdowns, while Mahomes threw for 275 yards and three scores. Yet another game decided by a late field goal! You think the Bengals have what it takes to win the Super Bowl?
The NFC Championship game proved to be just as dramatic as the 49ers travel to LA to take on the piping hot Rams. It should be mentioned that prior to this game, the 49ers have won the last 6 games against the Rams. Do they have what it takes to pull off another upset and strengthen their chance to win the Super Bowl? Or will Matthew Stafford finally get the recognition he deserves with his first Super Bowl appearance?
The Rams got the scoring started with a 16 yard dime thrown from Matthew Stafford to the triple crown winner, Cooper Kupp. When are teams going to put a little more respect on Kupp’s name? Double him, triple him; do something! He can’t be stopped! However, the Niners were not going to go down without a fight. They immediately respond by asking their own All-Pro to take it to the house, and Deebo Samuel did just that on a 44 yard catch and run for a touchdown. We’ve got a battle on our hands folks! The Niners enter halftime with a 10-7 lead as Gould kicked a field goal with time expiring.
The third quarter is when things started to look slightly grim for the LA Rams, as the amazing George Kittle was found nearly wide open in the endzone for a 16 yard touchdown. The score was now 17-7, and it seemed as though the Rams were about to drop their 7th straight loss to their division rivals.
Matthew Stafford had other plans; he’s been through way too much pain and anguish in his career to let this opportunity slip through his fingers. Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, Stafford found Kupp once again for an 11 yard touchdown. HOW ARE YOU NOT PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO THIS MAN?!?! Aaron Donald and the Ram’s defense then force a punt, and Stafford once again drives down the field and is rewarded with a 40 yard Matt Gay field goal. Oh boy, the game is tied again! Donald was seen rallying the defense on the sideline, and whatever he said worked as the Rams forced a three and out on the very next drive. Here’s your moment, Stafford!
The Rams offense skated through the Niner’s defense, effectively getting into field goal range with less than two minutes left before Matt Gay kicked a 30 yard field goal to give the Rams a 20-17 lead. Stafford and the Ram’s offense cooked in the fourth quarter, scoring on all three of their drives to take the lead.
Can Jimmy G orchestrate a game winning/tying drive? Well, to keep it short and sweet, no he can’t. Garoppolo went backwards before throwing an incredibly errant pass that was picked off. Stafford took a couple knees, and that’s all she wrote! The LA Rams are once again going to the Super Bowl!
It can’t be overstated enough how much Stafford deserves this. After being drafted No. 1 overall by Detroit in 2009, Stafford has been nothing short of amazing during his career. He’s been consistently given no talent to work with on one of the most lost franchises in Detroit, yet still put up amazing numbers. You never heard Stafford complain about his pro bowl snubs, or his lack of talent. He’s been an outstanding and incredibly underrated player throughout the duration of his career, and we couldn’t be happier for his accomplishments through all of the resilience. Now he’s got his chance on the big stage.
However, the team Stafford will be playing in the Super Bowl has a Quarterback who was taken No. 1 overall as well. The last time two quarterbacks who were drafted first overall played in the Super Bowl was Peyton Manning vs. Cam Newton, and what a duel that was. Joe Burrow has taken the NFL world by storm, and rightfully so. Chase his rookie card here! The young QB combined with his talented young receivers have been electrifying this year, connecting for 38 touchdowns including the playoffs. However, Stafford and company have combined for 47 total touchdowns through the air for the Rams.
Regardless of who you’re rooting for, this should be an incredible matchup to watch on the biggest stage of them all. And how refreshing! This will be the first Super Bowl in over 18 years that hasn’t featured Manning, Brady, Big Ben, or the San Francisco 49ers. Crazy stat, right? The Rams will likely be favored to win, but the Bengals are no stranger to that this postseason, and we’ve learned as viewers that it means nothing.
Who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy this February?