Words cannot do justice to the wonder that was the Divisional Round, but I will try.
The 2021-2022 NFL Playoffs kicked off with a fairly tame Wild Card Weekend, as most of the games ended in blowout fashion. In hindsight, that was just trimming the fat. The Divisional Round was the real wild weekend of these playoffs. Every single game ended in a walk-off, nail-biting right down to the wire. This may go down as the greatest round of NFL playoffs in history.
First up, in case you forgot, were the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans on Saturday. It was perhaps the tamest of the four games, but that shouldn’t take away from the excitement that happened. Joe Burrow was under fire all night to the tune of nine sacks, but he still managed to deliver through the air. The Bengals defense deserves credit as well for three interceptions in a forgettable game for Ryan Tannehill. The final interception was the turning point in the game, as the Titans went from orchestrating a game-winning drive to losing it. Evan McPherson notched a 52-yarder to win it, and thus concluded the first of four games.
The encore to that performance was the San Francisco 49ers versus the Green Bay Packers. The game will be remembered not for an explosive offensive outing, but a whimper that could conclude the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay. Defense was the name of the game. The 49ers managed to win despite zero offensive touchdowns. The Packers, meanwhile, stalled after scoring on their opening drive. The 49ers blocked a punt in what turned out to be the defining moment, giving San Francisco life. A Robbie Gould field goal closed out an impressive and disappointing Packers season. Be sure to relive it!
Saturday was a low-scoring day, but Sunday went off the rails.
The Los Angeles Rams managed to shake off the Cardinals in the Wild Card, but they faced a difficult foe in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fortunately for the Rams, they came out swinging, leading 20-3 at half time. By the middle of the third quarter, it was 27-3 for the Rams.
However, Tom Brady finds a way. Eerily similar to the 28-3 deficit he encountered in the Super Bowl against Atlanta, Brady pulled his team from the brink to tie it late. When the Rams started fumbling, we all knew deep in our hearts that Tom Brady was going to come back and nothing could stop it from happening.
Except one thing could: Matthew Stafford.
Stafford had accumulated many game-winning drives, but the doubters remained. Could he do it on the big stage? The answer is yes. Not only did Tampa Bay have all the—dare I say it—momentum, but the Rams offense had shot themselves in the foot for most of the second half. Yet when it mattered most, the Stafford to Cooper Kupp connection came through. A pair of deep passes to Kupp set up a last second field goal to win it. The Rams move on to the Conference Championship.
After a heart-pounding game like that, the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills rounded out the week. With an epic showdown of Patrick Mahomes versus Josh Allen, there was a chance for another exciting game.
Exciting might be understating that game. Little needs to be said beyond this graphic:
You may never see a more ridiculous final two minutes of football. At the two-minute warning, the score was 26-21 for the Chiefs. The Bills and Chiefs combined to score 25 points within those two minutes. The offenses traded punches like two juggernauts, an incredible showcase of top-tier quarterbacking. The Bills went 75 yards in 49 seconds. The Chiefs went from their own 25-yard line to field goal range in 13 seconds. It’s almost a shame the Chiefs won in overtime on the first possession, because this showdown was one for the ages.
A wild weekend of NFL football is in books, but that begs the question: which game had you on the edge of your seat?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Which was the best Divisional Round game?
My answer: Bills-Chiefs.
When I was brainstorming ideas for Question of the Day and settled on this, it was the start of the fourth quarter in the Bills-Chiefs game. It was a good game, sure, but I had my mind set on the Buccaneers-Rams game being the peak of this weekend. Seeing the Packers melt down and their fans turn on Rodgers was a subtle victory, but not enough to change my mind. As a Lions and Stafford fan, it would be hard to top that near-collapse and game-winning drive.
Then came the Bills and Chiefs.
I have long argued the importance of having a great quarterback, and that was on full display in the fourth quarter. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes were as clutch as can be, whether making stellar throws or making magic with their legs. There have been many great shootouts in NFL history, and this game deserves a place among them. Just look at this stat:
Starting at the 2 minute warning, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes combined for this statline:— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) January 24, 2022
15-of-20 for 290 yards and 4 TDs
The game went back-and-forth like a pendulum, with each drive somehow more spectacular than the last. This weekend as a whole was special, but the finale was something else. I can’t imagine the emotions of being a fan of those teams—my heart might not take it.
Regardless of your fandom, football is meant to be entertainment, and this weekend certainly delivered.
Which was the best Divisional Round game?
This poll is closed
Bengals vs. Titans
49ers vs. Packers
Rams vs. Buccaneers
Bills vs. Chiefs