The Super Bowl is set, with the Cincinnati Bengal to go up against the L. A. Rams. Both games followed a similar pattern, with the Chiefs and the 49er’s blowing leads in both games. The Chiefs were ahead by 11 at the half, and the 49ers had a 10-point lead going into the 4th quarter. The Chiefs made one of the biggest bonehead plays in the history of the playoffs, and the 49ers had a total meltdown in the 4th quarter. Before we get to the specifics of the games, there was one thing that was very clear. The powers to be of the NFL made the decision to let the boys play, baby, let the boys play. These two games had more non calls than any two games this year. First of all, the most popular penalty in the NFL, holding, on plays from the line of scrimmage, was called only once in both games and it was declined. In the KC game, there were two pass interference penalties that weren’t called against the Chiefs. A solid hit out of bounds by the Bengals was not called. A couple of face masks calls were missed on both sides, and an intentional grounding by Mahomes was not called. Things got even worse in the SF game. Two helmet to helmet calls were ignored, a late hit on Samuels was ignored, and LA should have been flagged twice for delay of game, but instead was allowed to go ahead with the play. I think the non-calls were balanced, so I do not think any team got a major advantage, but it was obvious the NFL did not want these games to be penalty filled. I think this did contribute to the low number of sacks in each game. Burrows was sacked the most, 4 times but compared to last week’s number of 9 sacks, this had to be a walk in the park. The Rams did not even get a sack but did come up with a big pressure and game sealing interception in the end. These lack of calls in both games were not a coincidence, and I guess that is one way to run a game, just let the players beat the crap out of one another. So much for player safety.
The Bengal game boiled down to one of the biggest bonehead plays at the end of the first half by the KC Chiefs. With 5 secs to go in the half- and no-time outs, and the ball on the Bengals one yard line, the Chiefs elected to do one more play, rather than get the sure 3 points. The decision was ok, but the execution of the play, by one of the premier quarterbacks in game was horrendous and wound up costing the Chiefs the game. He did not throw the ball into the endzone but threw to Tyrek Hill at about the 2-yard line and he was immediately tackled in the field of play, which ended the first half and no score by the Chiefs. The lack of three points cost the Chiefs the game. If they had kicked that field goal, then the field goal at the end of the game would have won the game, rather than just send the game into overtime. Both head coach Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes seem contrite about the play. Reid said he PROBABLY gave Mahomes the wrong play and Mahomes said he got greedy. Nobody mentioned the word stupid, brainless, or moronic, that kept the Chiefs from scoring any points at the end of the first half. It also had to give the Bengals a much-needed psychological lift. All the other plays that did affect the outcome of this game, seemed minor when compared with that bonehead play. The Bengal are Superbowl bound, and I have to admit, Joe Burrows is about as impressive as they come, in only his second NFL season.
The Ram-49er game came down to a monumental collapse by the 49er’s. The Rams came back but the 49ers handed it to them on a silver platter. After the Rams cut the lead to 17-14, the 49ers got the ball 3 more times. The first time, they moved the ball to the LA 45-yard line, where they had a 2nd and 1 for a first down. Like so many teams, they could not make that yard in two plays and then did not have enough guts to go for it on 4th down. The next time they got the ball the score was tied 17-17. This time the SF offense wound up getting a delay of game penalty, sandwiched around 3 terrible incomplete passes. Their last possession, they got the ball trailing 20-17 with 1:46 remaining in the game. Three plays later, after losing 3 yards on the first 2 plays, Jimmy Garoppolo threw the game ending interception, just trying to get rid of the ball. Before all of that, the 49ers caught a kick-off that would have either gone out of bounds or into the endzone, had a taunting penalty, an interception drop, that was more like catching a punt, and an obvious helmet to helmet hit, all of which, would ensure the Rams comeback would not be in vain. The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Franscisco 49ers turned blowing a lead into an art form. An art form that cost them both, a chance to play in the Super Bowl.