The divisional playoff games more than made up for a not so wild card weekend, the week before. All four games ended with a field goal, winning the game in the first 3 games, and sending the 4th game into overtime. My game deciding factors went 4 for 4 in deciding who should win the game. I did not fare as well, thinking that the home team would win all four games. The home team in fact would have lost all 4 games, if the Buffalo Bills would have not blown the game in the last 13 seconds. Even though all four games ended similarly, each day’s games had their own identity. Saturday’s games were defensive struggles, and Sunday’s games were closer to offensive shootouts. Let’s delve into each game as they happened this weekend.
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans 19-16 with a field goal on the last play of the game. Tennessee had only 3 deciding points in the game. One I considered luck the interception that was held up by replay. I considered it luck because it could have gone either way. If it had been called an incomplete pass on the field, I am sure that it would have held up also. Cincinnati had two incompetent plays, the kick catch interference and one significant dropped pass. Cincinnati had 7 deciding points to help them win the game. Luck when a delay of game penalty nullified a sack. An officiating blunder when they missed a Cincinnati false start that the Bengals had a big gain on. Tennessee had 5 incompetent plays that aided in the Cincinnati win. Two critical dropped passes and the biggest in the 4 quarter when they could not make 1 yard, on two plays, around the Cincinnati 30-yard line. Then, there was what I called the bizarre double blunder, in the first half when Cincinnati had too many men on the field on the extra point, following Tennessee’s first touchdown, blunder number one. This moved the ball to the one-yard line. The Titans then decided to go for two points, which they did not make, blunder number 2. Assuming that they would have made the extra point, which would have given them the lead, this strange sequence actually contributed to Cincinnati winning the game.
The San Francisco 49’s beat the other no. 1 seed, the Green Bay Packers, 13 to 10 on a game ending field goal. The officials and luck had very little to do with the 49er win. This was all about the Green Bay Packer’s incompetence. They made 8 bonehead plays ranging from dropped balls, blocked field goals, false starts and the biggest, a blocked punt that led to the only SF touchdown. Then we are going to give a whole game incompetent award, to Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur. He seems to be more interested in revving up the crowd, than paying attention to what is going on in the game. The early fumble by the Packers, that stopped their second drive, when it seemed like Green Bay was having their way with 49er defense, should have been challenged. It was a lot closer to being an incomplete pass than it looked, and it would not have hurt to challenge such a big play. They might have lost, but I have looked at that play over and over again, and the tight end barely got to the third step, and he was in the process of transferring the ball when he was hit. I am not saying that it would have been overturned, but it was worth a shot in my view. LaFleur was probably too busy thinking about when it would be a good time to try and fire up the crowd again. The 49ers only made 4 blunders which helped the Packers stay in a game, that the Packers had no intention of winning.
Speaking of having no intention of winning the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Bucs made that into an art form. The announcers gave the impression that the Rams did everything they could to lose the game, but in reality, the Bucs did more to make sure that they would lose. Some luck and the officials did play a role in this game, to some degree. Tampa Bay was recipient of a very close replay reversal that cost the Rams another first half touchdown, when they were dominating the game. L. A. was fortunate, when a late hit was barely after the play, which would have allowed Tampa Bay to keep the ball deep in L. A. territory. Tampa’s incompetent plays included 2 kickoffs out of bounds, 3 Un sportsman like conduct penalties, 2 dropped passes, and allowing the best receiver in football to run free downfield to set up the winning field goal. Besides all of that, Tampa Bay did not take advantage of all of the Ram’s miscues. In the game deciding plays, the Rams had an eleven to seven lead over the Buccaneers, which of course contributed mightily to their narrow 30-27 victory over Tampa Bay.
By far the best game of the weekend was the Kansas City Chief’s overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills 42-36. This was the lowest of the game deciding plays with Kansas City having a 5 to 3 edge over Buffalo. Both teams played well with very few incompetent plays until that fateful 13 secs at the end of the game. The first mistake that the Bills made, is they did not make the Chiefs field the kickoff. I would have kicked a ball high and hoped it would have come down around the 10-to-15-yard line. Any kind of return would have taken at least 4 to 5 secs off the clock. The Bills called a time out just before each play, that the Chiefs ran in that final 13 seconds. You have to wonder, what in hell, were they talking about. Were they getting ready for overtime? Did they not realize that a field goal would tie the game? They should have had much tighter coverage on the receivers and not allowed them to run, after the catch. The bottom line was, the Kansas City Chiefs went 49 yards, in about 10 seconds, to kick the tying field goal. Then they took the opening drive, in overtime, down the field to score the winning touchdown. Josh Allen threw a go-ahead touchdown pass with 13 seconds to go in the game and lost the game without ever taking the field again. It was one of the best football games of all time, but it was an ugly collapse of the Buffalo Bills defense and their brain trust.
Some final thoughts about the games, in general. If I am an offensive or defensive coordinator, I am going to work on these two things in the off season. Come up with a way to consistently make one yard. Tennessee could not do it 3 times and it cost them the football game. There were many other examples, this weekend of teams failing to make a yard. Find a way to stop the two-minute offense. Kansas City and Buffalo failed miserably at doing this, and they are not alone. Next week will be what I consider the final two football games of the year. The winners will go to the Super Bowl, but as you all know I do not consider the Super Bowl a football game, more of a 3-ring circus.