It is the start of a new semester at the University of Maine and with that comes getting back into the playoff action. This past week featured the divisional round, which some call the best weekend of the season. Without further ado, let’s discuss what happened this past week.
The first game of the week was the Kansas City Chiefs outlasting the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20. The scoring started when Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce on an eight-yard pass on their first possession. Jacksonville answered right back with a 39–yard drive which was largely set up by a 63-yard kick return by Jamal Agnew. Five plays later, Trevor Lawrence hit Christian Kirk from 10 yards out. Later on, Kansas City went on a 98-yard touchdown drive. This was without Mahomes, who hurt his ankle on the previous series.
Veteran backup Chad Henne filled in and drove the Chiefs the length of the field where he found Kelce for a passing touchdown, this time from one yard out to make the score 17-10. The start of the second half saw the return of Mahomes. Jacksonville kept it close with a run from Travis Etienne from four yards out. Not to be outdone, Mahomes responded and threw another touchdown, this time to Marcus Valdez-Scantling from six yards away. The only score the rest of the way was a Jags field goal with 25 seconds to go to make it 27-20. KC will host the AFC Championship game in Arrowhead on Sunday.
The Philadelphia Eagles dominated from start to finish in a 38-7 drubbing over the New York Giants. The game was over by halftime with Philly being up 28-0. The touchdowns went as follows: 16–yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Dallas Goedert, nine-yard pass from Hurts to Devonta Smith, three-yard run by Boston Scott and five-yard run from Hurts. In the second half, the Eagles were able to coast and put the game away. The Birds were able to run for a staggering 268 yards as a team. Elijah Gainwell led the way with 112. The Philadelphia defense sacked Daniel Jones five times and forced an interception. The Eagles are flying and are hosting the NFC Championship on Sunday.
The first game on Sunday featured a blizzard in Buffalo while Burrow and the Bengals bullied the Bills 27-10. Cincinnati got up to a quick 14-0 lead as Joe Burrow found Jamar Chase for a 28–yard pass and threw a dart to Hayden Hurst in the endzone from 15 yards out. The Bills offense responded with a one–yard Josh Allen run halfway through the second quarter. The Bengals tacked on a field goal to make it 17-7 at half. Buffalo matched that field goal on the first possession of the third quarter. The Bengals fired back with another TD as Joe Mixon ran it in from a yard out, which turned out to be as much insurance as was needed. Buffalo’s offense or defense could not get it done that day. After this game, it seems like Burrow has passed Allen as the second-best QB in the league, behind Mahomes. The two will face each other with the winner going to the Super Bowl.
The final game of the weekend saw the San Francisco 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-12. In a low–scoring defensive grind, there were only two total touchdowns scored. The first came for the Cowboys when Dak Prescott lofted it to Dalton Schultz to give Dallas a 6-3 lead in the second quarter. All eyes were on Cowboys kicker Brett Maher because he missed four kicks a week ago against Tampa Bay. His only PAT attempt on the day was blocked.
The other TD on the day was from the 49ers when Christian McCaffery plowed his way into the endzone from two yards out to break the tie and make it 16-9. Both teams added a field goal. Dallas had an opportunity to have a game–tying drive, but pulled a typical Dallas Cowboys and mismanaged the clock and had one of the strangest and least successful final plays we have ever seen. The Cowboys are the NFL’s version of the Irish adage Murphy’s Law: “What can go wrong, will.” The 49ers will travel to Philadelphia for the NFC championship. Can Brock Purdy become the first rookie QB to start a Super Bowl?
(This article is accurate as of Jan. 22)