After what felt like a lackluster Wildcard round full of blowouts and crushing defeats for most teams, the divisional round proved to be the exact opposite. The animosity of the second round was beautiful and kept every fan off their seat for most of the games, especially in the final minutes of all four. Today, just like last week, this will be a full analysis of the second round.
Evan McPherson Calls his Shot with Walk-Off Field Goal win over Titans, 19-16
The Titans weren’t the best first seeded NFL team ever by any means, but they also did not look it on Saturday. Ryan Tannehill opened up the first half with an interception, and did the same to open the second half, and he ended the game with 220 yards passing, one touchdown and three interceptions. In the past of playoff football and really any type of football, Derrick Henry is usually the best running back on the field, but this wasn’t the case. Henry went sixty-two yards on twenty rushes, less yards than his own teammate D’Onta Foreman. The only receiver who really played well was A. J. Brown, who had a beautiful catch that Tannehill put right in his pocket for him for the only touchdown by the Titans. For the Bengals side of the ball, even though he was sacked nine times, Joe Burrow had a masterclass. Joey B had 348 yards and escaped the Titans defense all day. Joe Mixon rushed for 54 yards and the only touchdown of the game. Despite these performances, the MVP has to go to Evan McPherson. The rookie kicker has had multiple game winning kicks, and kicked four-for-four in the game as well as the game winning kick, which was the best part of the entire game. Evan was drafted by the Bengals to some dismay, but proved his worth of a draft pick, and may influence teams to start drafting kickers in the future.
49ers Block Aaron Rodgers Last Dance, 13-10
This was maybe the weirdest game of the four, and I still don’t understand how the 49ers are winning these games, but I enjoy watching. Aaron Rodgers is the probable MVP this season, but did not play like it. Throwing 20/29 and for 225 yards is nice, but only when you pair it with a touchdown or two, Aaron did not throw any. AJ Dillon scored the lone touchdown of the game for the Packers, and Aaron Jones played amazing with a combined 170 yards in the game. The blocked punt is the MVP for the 49ers, the touchdown recovery by Talanoa Hufanga was great, and it tied the game late with the Packers, which lead to a later game winning kick by Robbie Gould. Jimmy Garoppolo did not play very well in Lambeau, throwing 11/19 for 131 yards and an interception. George Kittle had the most yards in the game, but the offense wasn’t the story, it was easily the crushing defense that also neutralized Dak Prescott last week. A statement win over the Packers made this team look serious as they take on the dominant offense of the Los Angeles Rams next week to advance to the Super Bowl.
Rams Squash Brady’s Comeback Chances, 30-27
It was odd to see Brady and the Buccaneers play this bad, but after their play against the Eagles, it shouldn’t have been out of the ordinary. Yes, they won by two scores, but they didn’t feel as dominant as ever. Tom Brady threw 30/54 on the day for 329 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Good game, but not the Brady golden standard we’ve come accustomed to. Mike Evans had 119 yards and that singular touchdown and Gronk had eighty-five yards on four catches. Leonard Fournette really showed up, having fifty-one yards on thirteen carries as well as two touchdowns. Matthew Stafford has been doubted by everyone for years and when finally given the opportunity and the team around him, he performed. Matt threw for 366 yards as well as two touchdowns in what felt like a flawless passing performance. Stafford also rushed for a touchdown in the game, the only one for the Rams. Cooper Kupp kept his dominant season rolling with a crazy game of 183 yards on nine catches and a touchdown, leading all receivers in yardage. Nick Scott was the lucky player to pick off Brady in the playoffs, and had a big impact on the game in hindsight. The big issue for the Rams was fumbles. What is seemingly forgotten is the score was 27-3, and Brady came back. The Rams fumbled four times in the game not counting a fifth time where Matthew Stafford was right on top of it. After Brady came all the way back to tie it up, that is when Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp hit their stride. They got it down the field and into field goal range in forty-three seconds, where Matt Gay won the game for them. MVP has to go to Matt Gay for that game winning kick, something that doesn’t happen often to Brady. This round had three walk-off kicks in total to win games, which you never see happen in a singular round of NFL action.
Mahomes and Company Outlast Bills in Overtime, 36-42
I predicted this game to be a barn-burner but man, some are referring to this game being the greatest in the history of the NFL. Through three quarters, the game was 21-23, but after a combined twenty-eight point game in the fourth, the game headed to overtime. Stats and storytelling do not do this game justice, you have to go watch that game back again. Josh Allen threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for sixty-eight yards. Gabriel Davis came out of nowhere with one of if not the best receiving game in playoff history with four touchdowns and 201 yards on eight catches. Patrick Mahomes matches Josh Allen’s incredible performance with a game of his own with 378 yards and three touchdowns as well as sixty-nine yards rushing and a touchdown. Tyreek Hill was also electric all game, running past defences and throwing up the deuces at the end of the game. Words can’t describe what happened in that game, so I won’t try. Come back for the Championship Round analysis.