This past weekend will go down as the greatest pro football weekend ever. All four playoff games literally went to the wire and were won in the last second, three by field goals with no time remaining. It started on Saturday with the top-seed Tennessee Titans dropping a 19-16 decision to the Cincinnati Bengals as kicker Evan McPherson drove home the wining field goal with no time remaining. Later that evening on the frozen tundra at Green Bay, the NFC's top seed, the Packers, lost to the San Francisco 49ers as kicker Robbie Gould booted a 45 yarder through the uprights as time expired.
Sunday's two semi-final games were even more impressive as the visiting Los Angeles Rams upset the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27.
With three minutes left in the third quarter, the Rams held a commanding 27-3 lead before 44-year-old Tom Brady led a furious comeback effort to tie the game at 27-27 with just 42 seconds remaining. Rams quarterback Mathew Stafford led his team down the field and put kicker Matt Gay in position for a game winning 30-yard field goal with no time left. Then there was the weekend finale on Sunday night as the Kansas City Chiefs took an overtime win over the Buffalo Bills 42-36 in a game that saw the two teams combine for a total of 34 points in the final quarter and overtime.
Here are some takeaways from all four games.
The game showed once more that the team that actually played the week before is sharper and more focused than the team that had the bye in week one of the post season. The Titans played well enough defensively to win the game, as they sacked Bengals QB Joe Burrow nine times but quarterback Ryan Tannehill uncharacteristically threw three interceptions costing the Titans a shot at the AFC Championship Game. It also left a sour taste in the mouths of the thousands of Titans' fans who were expecting a lot more.
Same as above as the Packers looked especially sluggish on offense. I'd rather play in the bye week than be off and allow a team that had played the week before to come into my house and sneak away with a victory. Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked confused much of the night and his future with Green Bay is still up in the air. By the way, I love watching a football game played in zero weather with heavy snow falling.
Tom Brady may have played his final football game. The ageless Brady almost put his team back in the NFC Championship Game, but fell short. He looked as good as ever at times, but on other occasions looked almost mortal. It may be time for the GOAT to hang it up. On the other hand, I'm happy for Rams' QB Mathew Stafford who toiled away with the lowly Detroit Lions for 12 seasons before coming to the Rams in the off season and leading them into the playoffs. Stafford never won a playoff game in Detroit but he's now 2-0 in the post season with the Rams.
This was easily the best game of the weekend. Back and forth with three lead changes in the final few minutes, it will go down as one of the classic match ups of all time. Again, the focus was on the two quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Josh Allen of the Bills set a standard that may never be equaled again. They each passed for at least 325 yards, threw at least three TD passes with no interceptions and rushed for at least 60 yards. No other tandem in NFL history has accomplished that in the post season. By the way, Josh Allen who reminds me a lot of the great Brett Favre, is making his mark as the next superstar in the NFL. The only bad thing to come out of this game is a reminder that the NFL needs to revamp its overtime rules. It's a shame that Allen and the Bills had no chance to answer the Chiefs' winning touchdown. That needs to be fixed now.
You toss in big wins for the Tennessee mens' and womens' basketball teams as well as the UTC men and women, and it was the perfect sports scenario. Though my wife may disagree, I can't wait til next weekend!
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org