By Hannah Bowater

The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs did not disappoint, providing a weekend packed full of unforgettable drama and upsets right until its last game. Kickers proved to be the heroes (or villains) with three of the four games being decided by walk-off field goals, and the final game being taken to overtime courtesy of a successful 49 yard attempt.


Bengals @ Titans

Coming off their first playoff victory in 31 years, the fourth seed Cincinnati Bengals found themselves to be the underdogs against the first seed Tennessee Titans. The pre-match dialogue surrounded what the media dubbed ‘The Return of the King,’ following the return of Titans running back Derrick Henry after a broken foot earlier in the season. It was however a somewhat disappointing comeback as Henry was only able to average 3.1 yards per carry. He did however score a rushing touchdown but then failed to score on the following 2 point conversion. Ultimately though, the Titans lack of a real franchise QB is what cost them this game. Ryan Tannehill managed 220 yards, one touchdown but it was his three interceptions, including one in the final 20 seconds to set the Bengals up to drive for the game winning field goal, that cost the Titans this game. If Tennessee are serious about making a Superbowl its time to move on from Tannehill and find a QB that can provide an arial attack to go with Henry’s frightening rushing ability.

For the Bengals it was a kickers game, with only one total touchdown on offence, the rest of their points came from their fifth round kicker Evan McPherson. McPherson had a perfect game, continuing his perfect post-season record, scoring on all four of his kicks including the 52 yard walk-off field goal. 2020’s number one overall pick Joe Burrow was able to overcome being sacked a record equalling nine times to throw for 348 yards, 109 of which came from Jamar Chase who averaged 21.8 yards per reception, once again demonstrating why he’s being chalked up as the Offensive Rookie of the year.

Final Score: 19 – 16


49ers @ Packers

Without a doubt this was the upset of the playoffs so far. The Superbowl favourites, first seed Green Bay Packers at home against the sixth seed San Francisco 49ers. It wasn’t supposed to be much of a competition but it seems Covid isn’t the only thing Aaron Rodgers is apparently immune to. The QB, who many think may be going back to back by being named this year’s MVP, was unable to put in an MVP worthy performance as he was unable to throw for a single passing TD the entire night. It was the Packers special teams that cost them this game however, with a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in the 4th quarter to tie the game proving to be the game changer. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (who is potentially playing for his future with the franchise following the selection of Trey Lance in last years draft) was then able to lead the team down the field following a three and out by Green Bay to allow Robbie Gould to make a successful 45 yard field goal as time expired to win the game

Final Score: 13 – 10


Rams @ Bucs

Was this Tom Brady’s last game ever? That’s the question on everybody’s lips following the Bucs defeat and the subsequent rumours and false confirmations regarding the seven time Superbowl winner’s future. Brady almost pulled off a Superbowl 51-esque comeback against the Rams who were comfortably leading 27 – 3 late in the third quarter. A series of fumbles, miscued snaps and missed field goals from the Rams meant Brady had the game tied with just 42 seconds remaining on the clock. Enter Cooper Kupp. The triple crown winner had other ideas as Rams QB Matthew Stafford was able to connect to him twice in under a minute to get the team into field goal range. Matt Gay was then able to drill a 30 yard attempt for the weekends third game winning field goal. The Rams will face the 49ers at home in an all-Californian affair for the opportunity to go to a Superbowl which will be played on home turf at So-Fi Stadium. Ironically, the only team to have played and won a Superbowl at their home stadium are the very team the Rams just knocked off – Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will history repeat itself this year?

Final Score: 30 – 27


Bills @ Chiefs

It’s safe to say this matchup was the most anticipated of the weekend but the game that took place at Arrowhead Stadium far exceeded anyone’s expectations. A rematch of week five when the Bills beat the Chiefs 38 – 10 at Arrowhead, this was the fourth meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. For the Chiefs this match was about making history by becoming the first team in the NFL to host four consecutive championship games. For the Bills it was all about revenge for last years AFC Championship game in which they were defeated by the Chiefs 38 – 24.

At the end of the third quarter the game had already provided the healthy level of excitement expected of a close game which found KC leading 23 – 21. From the fourth quarter the drama ramped up ten fold as the game cemented itself as one of, if not the greatest game the NFL has ever seen. The Bills defence came up with a crucial red zone stop forcing the Chiefs to settle for three points making it 26 – 21 with the Bills needing a touchdown. Josh Allen led the team down the field and got just that throwing on 4th and 13 to a wide open Gabriel Davis in the endzone for his 3rd touchdown of the night. A successful two point conversion saw the Bills lead 29 – 26 with 1:54 left. In just five plays and 52 seconds, the Chiefs went 75 yards for a Tyreek Hill touchdown to take the lead. 33 – 29 in favour of the Chiefs with 1:02 left, and Josh Allen takes back to the field once again needing a touchdown. Starting from the 25 the Bills once again drove down the field and Josh Allen once again connected to Gabriel Davis for his 4th touchdown of the night (an NFL Postseason record) to give the Bills a 36 – 33 lead with 13 seconds left.

Game over. Right? Wrong. As Andy Reid told Mahomes: “When its grim, be the Grim Reaper.” And boy did Mahomes understand the assignment. A touchback meant number 15 would be starting from the 25, needing roughly 40 yards against the league’s number one defence to get into field goal range to tie the game. On the first play Mahomes connected to the fastest man in the NFL, Tyreek Hill, for a gain of 19 yards. Eight seconds left. “Do it Kelce. Do it. Do it Kelce.” That was the call from Mahomes to the man he then connected to, Travis Kelce, to set up a 49 yard field goal which tied the game and sent us into overtime.

Lady Luck was wearing red and gold that night as Josh Allen who hadn’t lost a coin toss all year incorrectly called tails and the Chiefs elected to receive the football. From there the inevitable happened. A fired up Patrick Mahomes followed up the greatest drive of his career with another dominant drive which ended in a game winning touchdown pass to the greatest tight end of all time, the secret mastermind of the 13 second drive, Travis Michael Kelce.

Truly an epic shootout, both QBs ended the night with four touchdowns and no interceptions and as their teams leading rushers. This is a quarterback matchup that we’ll thankfully be seeing much more of in the coming years and it’s safe to say that’s something all NFL fans will be grateful for.

Final Score: 36 – 42


Photo Credit: Adrian Curiel via Unsplash