After games with incredible scenarios, the Los Angeles Rams qualified for the conference finals by beating Tom Brady’s Buccaneers (30-27), just like the Kansas City Chiefs, winners after overtime over the Bills of Buffalo (42-36), Sunday, in the NFL.
Updated yesterday at 11:36 p.m.
Four matches, four matches decided on the very last play!
It’s safe to say that the second weekend of the playoffs was one of the most breathtaking in NFL history. If the two games on Saturday had kept us in suspense until the very end, the two on Sunday gave us spectacular play and plenty of twists.
The second half of Brady and the Buccaneers’ loss to the Rams was thrilling, but what about the clash between the Bills and the Chiefs? Candy! Is there any other sport or league that can provide as much excitement and twists and turns as the NFL? The answer is no.
When Gabriel Davis scored his third touchdown of the game to make it 29-26 for the Bills with less than two minutes left, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs had no more room to manoeuvre. But when Tyreek Hill broke away for a 64-yard touchdown with his Olympian speed less than a minute later, the Bills looked cooked.
They weren’t. Josh Allen and Davis teamed up for the fourth time of the night and with just 13 seconds left, it was 36-33 for Buffalo.
And it was precisely in the moments that followed that the Bills lost the game. Rather than kicking the ball to the Chiefs’ 5 or 10 yard line in order to force their “returner” to run time with the ball, they kicked it into the end zone. The Chiefs were able to start their series at their 25-yard line, while keeping the precious 13 seconds on the board. Error.
Mahomes passed for 19 yards to Hill, then another 25 yards to Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker took the field and his 49-yard field goal on the last play in regulation tied the game at 36-36. The Chiefs won the toss and the Bills never saw the ball in overtime. Victory of 42-36 thanks to the decisive touchdown of Kelce.
The Bills traded blow for blow with the mighty Chiefs throughout the game. Allen completed 27 of 37 passes for 329 yards, and Davis became the first player in history to catch 4 touchdown passes in a playoff game. While Stefon Diggs (3 catches for 7 yards) and Emmanuel Sanders (one catch for 17 yards) were very quiet, Davis emerged.
But on the other side of the ball, the Bills never managed to make the “big” play. First in points and yards in the season, the Bills’ defense was unable to slow down Mahomes, Hill and Kelce. The infernal Chiefs trio was once again at the heart of his club’s victory.
Down 36-33 with 13 seconds to play, you could read the disappointment and disbelief on the faces of Andy Reid and his players… except on Mahomes’. He still believed in it, and with good reason. When it’s going full throttle and the situation calls for it, the Chiefs’ offense is irresistible.
Kansas City will therefore participate in a fourth straight American Conference final next Sunday. The Bengals, who defeated the Chiefs in Cincinnati in December, will be in the lair of the red machine. After coming so close to being knocked out, the Chiefs will want to make sure they don’t take any chances and will definitely play with their foot on the accelerator from the first whistle. Joe Burrow and his young teammates will have no room for error.
For the Buffalo Bills and their fans, it’s another heartbreaking loss. The aftertaste will be stubborn.
But they can look to the next few years with great optimism. Allen is a beast and will ensure the Bills have a strong team for many years to come. One day it will be their turn. However, they should never have kicked the ball into the end zone at the end of the fourth quarter…
Retirement for Brady?
Rumors began to circulate on Sunday morning: for the first time, Tom Brady was going to seriously consider retirement at the end of his season. And it ended with Matt Gay’s game-winning field goal, the last play in the Rams’ 30-27 win over the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.
After the game, Brady wouldn’t comment too much on his future. The quarterback, who will turn 45 in August, has a contract for another season, and the Bucs have reportedly already let him know they are hoping for his return.
According to information broadcast by several American media, Brady would not have wanted to guarantee anything to the organization. It’s the first time Brady hasn’t been adamant about his future. Will he want to end his immense career after a defeat suffered with a damaged formation like that of the Bucs?
Playing behind an offensive line that was defending without its best player, right tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle), Brady needed to get rid of the ball very quickly on Sunday. With Aaron Donald and Von Miller hot on his trail, Brady completed just 30 of 54 passes (55.5%) and had 3 sacks.
The Buccaneers still erased a 3-27 deficit to tie the game at 27-27 thanks to a 9-yard run from Leonard Fournette with just 42 seconds remaining. Brady and the defending champions fought hard until the very end, but it was the Rams who kept them in the game.
If it weren’t for the two passes Matthew Stafford threw to Cooper Kupp in the final minute that allowed Gay to attempt a 30-yard field goal for the win, the Rams would have joined the 2016 Atlanta Falcons on the list of great “chokers” in history…
Already in prime position for an easy field goal that would have given them a four possession lead late in the second half, the Rams squandered the chance because Cam Akers fumbled and lost the ball. The mark remained, 27-3.
Kupp was guilty of a fumble in the third quarter, which would allow the Bucs to come within two touchdowns of the Rams shortly after.
Von Miller knocked the ball off Brady, and we all thought it was too much play. A bad throw-in from Rams center Brian Allen gave the ball back to the Bucs the next game…
Gay missed a 47-yard field goal that lacked strength; Jalen Ramsey gave Mike Evans a long touchdown when he should have made sure to protect the deep zone first; then, to top it off, Akers committed another fumble at his 30-yard line with less than two minutes left on the board, a blunder that set the stage for Fournette’s tying touchdown. A comedy of errors. A total collapse.
Thanks to Stafford, who was his best player, the Rams avoided shame. They will therefore be able to host the National Conference Finals on Sunday as they finally try to defeat the San Francisco 49ers, who have their number. The Niners have won the last six meetings, including two this season.
If the Chiefs will be the favorites of the AFC final, very clever whoever can predict the pace of the Niners-Rams duel. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay know each other well and are two of the good heads in the NFL. We are already looking forward.