Monday, January 24, 2022

Maybe the greatest weekend in NFL playoff history

This last weekend was maybe the best weekend of NFL football ever.  I can't think of four better games all coming in the space of two days.  

They had everything.  Amazing clutch plays, turnovers and unpredictable events that were completely shocking and unexpected.  Eight great teams, each with great quarterbacks.  And the pressure of do-or-die games.  That's entertainment, kids. 

All four games ended in a walk-off.  The first three ended in last second field goals.  The final game (Buffalo at Kansas City) was simply a football game for the ages.  The lead went back and forth like windshield wipers with each team trading touchdowns.  With 13 seconds left and Buffalo leading, Kansas City hit a miraculous field goal to tie, and then won it in overtime with a touchdown.  Final score 42-36 (reminiscent of old AFL games in the '60s).   I'm sure it was less exciting if you were a Buffalo fan, and overtime rules have to change so the team that loses the coin toss for OT still has a chance to win if the winning coin toss teams drives and scores a touchdown.  But still!  Wow!

And wait, there's more! 

It was subfreezing and snowing in Green Bay, which you know is my preferred scenario for football.  

I'm sure some may disagree, but it was wonderful to see Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady go down.  Especially Rodgers.  Fuck that anti-vaxxer.  The jokes after the loss were almost instantaneous.   He didn't have adequate protection.  He could have used a shot in the arm, etc.   My favorite, that someone posted on Facebook was that Rodgers and Green Bay could still go to the NFC Championship game if Mike Pence had any courage.  

The game I was most invested in was the Rams-Buccaneers, and it was a rollercoaster.  All Rams the first half, which was most enjoyable.  But the second half they were atrocious, allowing Brady to bring the Bucs back from 27-3 to tie the game with 45 seconds left.  The Rams got two big plays to bring them within field goal range and won it in regulation, but it was a nail biter.  I was a wrung out dish rag, and this was before the Kansas City-Buffalo game.  

I'm also a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals so to see them upset Tennessee in the south was delightful.  Bengal fans have been long-suffering for years.  Can they beat Kansas City?  Well, they did once already this year. 

And the Rams have lost six straight to their NFC opponents, the 49ers.  The first-half Rams will beat them.  The second-half Rams will get blown out.  They need to decide which Rams team will play.   

I also have to say that the network announcers were all up to the task.  Ian Eagle, Joe Buck, Al Michaels, and Jim Nantz were as good as the games.   My preference:  still Al Michaels.  He is so in control, and no one handles dramatic moments with more flair.   And more than the others, Al taps into the emotion of the audience.  He says things you were thinking.   I know his contract is up at NBC following the Super Bowl, but I'm sure he'll surface somewhere next season -- maybe with Amazon that will have Thursday night football.  He's as sharp as ever and deserves to be behind a microphone. 

And the other three were great too.  Joe Buck has that spare Ray Scott authoritative big game delivery, Ian Eagle calls a terrific game and has a sly sense of humor, and I've never heard a football announcer who was more observant than Jim Nantz.  He sees tiny things on the field that most analysts don't pick up.  How he does that from way up in the booth I will never know.  He's also doing the game with Tony Romo who is a bar none the best analyst in the game.  Genuine personality and uncanny in how he can predict what's going to happen.   But they're all excellent.  There's not a Brent Musberger in the bunch.

Looking forward to next weekend.  But I gotta tell you, this past weekend is a hard act to follow.  Maybe impossible.


Dave Dahl said...

I declared myself sick of the annual Aaron Rodgers drama until I saw (again) the axe-throwing commercial.

It's hilarious !!

Brian Phillips said...

...and even the veteran Al Michaels could only shake his head and say, "Boy...!" after his game was over. I think Michaels' heart is saying, "Games like this are the reason I'm glad he's retiring!"

Mike Barer said...

Last year, our quarterback, Russell Wilson, was sad that he was watching in the stands during the Super Bowl. This year, he will have good company including Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

Roger Owen Green said...

It was an INCREDIBLE weekend. And I'm a Bills fan! (EVERYBODY is right about changing the OT rules; and OT is 10 minutes in the regular season, which is really advantageous to the team that gets the ball 1st). On the other hand, I was more rooting against the Bays than for the Rams and the 49ers.

Maybe we'll have the Bengals and 49ers in the Super Bowl again, which now takes place halfway to March.

VincentS said...

With six concussions Brady should retire even though it's probably too lata.

Gary said...

I'm a long-suffering Buffalo Bills fan (also known as an idiot) and they should change the mame of this city to Sports Hell.

Poor Josh Allen, an incredible athlete who will slam his head against the Buffalo Curse for his whole career.

Glenn said...

Why is everyone complaining about the overtime rules? For years, it was sudden death, and all the team who won the toss had to do was get in field goal range. Fine, so they made it so they now have to score a touchdown to automatically win. Now it's not enough, and everyone is demanding both teams get a shot with the ball. What the hell, man? Football has two sides, offense and defense. If you lose the toss, get a damn stop. Hold them to a field goal and you'll get your shot. Letting both teams automatically have the ball is too close to 'everyone gets a trophy' territory.

Darwin's Ghost said...

Talking of anti vaxxers, I was so disappointed to read that Meat Loaf was one. He was quoted saying recently "If I die, I die." Well, he did.

A great artist, terrific live performer, and a good actor. But he died needlessly of stupidity.

Darwin's Ghost said...

Let’s go, Aaron!

Jeff Boice said...

They do need the change the OT rules, at least for the playoffs. The way that Chiefs-Bills game went, you knew the coin toss would decide the winner.

I liked the Packers-49ers game best because of the snow and because the key play was a punt block for a TD. The block caused the ball to soar straight up 40 feet- on TV all you saw were the players running around wondering where the ball went. Then it drops straight down next to a group of Niners. It was as if God had chosen the 49ers to win.

Mike Chimeri said...

Honestly, the anti-vax position of Aaron Rodgers wasn't on my mind as I watched skimmed through the game on DVR yesterday morning (even though I can't stand anti-vaxxers, either), but I was still satisfied with the outcome. And as much of a Bucs front-runner as I've been in the past two years (due in part to having family in the Tampa Bay Area), I was glad the Rams won. Someone else deserves a chance to win the Super Bowl this year. I expect that someone else to be the Chiefs, giving Chiefs Kingdom their second title in three seasons. I would prefer the Bengals or Rams, since Cincy's never won and the Rams haven't won in L.A.

Speaking of the Chiefs' win, I have an unhealthy aversion to the idiom "at the end of the day," so I was fuming when Patrick Mahomes said it in his postgame interview. I probably wouldn't have taken the phrase so hard if I hadn't been repeatedly subjected to it earlier in the evening while watching documentaries (that I immediately quit watching) on Peacock. I know you say it occasionally, but I promise not to quit reading this blog.

tavm said...

The only reason I'm glad the Bengals won is because the quarterback is Joe Burrow-the same one who led the LSU Tigers to an undefeated season two years ago including winning the National Championship game against Clemson and won the Heisman Trophy besides. So he now has a chance to do the same in this year's Super Bowl! At least I hope that happens...

KLA 83 said...

My city doesn't have an NFL team, so it's been quite a while since I've been emotionally invested in a game. But Sunday was different. I was literally jumping off the couch and yelling at the TV during the Rams game. Receivers fumble, runners fumble, the center hears voices in his head and hikes a fumble, yet LA's defense pulls them through to the final four. Add three other engrossing, nailbiting games (what genius schedules a night game in northern Wisconsin in midwinter?) and it made a for great weekend.

My only dispute with you is on Tony Romo. He used to be better. Now he mumbles inconsequential nothings too often, getting by on charm and not analysis. Chris Collinsworth is the best.

VincentP said...

This weekend was a good reminder to ignorant casual fans that quarterbacks don't win titles (no matter how often the networks show them on the sidelines, whereas they routinely ignore coaches) -- teams do. The 49ers especially made that evident. In the Washington Post, Sally Jenkins gave her endorsement to old-school football:

So prepare for the biggest Niners-Rams game since 100,000+ used to pack the Coliseum back in the '50s.

Phil said...

Ken, I am a huge Packers fan.

But fuck Aaron Rodgers and his antivax and antiscience opinions. I haven't worn my Rodgers jersey since his stupidity was made public, and if he leaves the team, I'm okay with it. Don't want his drama.

sanford said...

Mike said

Someone else deserves a chance to win the Super Bowl this year. As Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven. Deserve has nothing to do with it. The Rams fumbled 4 times and almost a 5th at the end. Not a team that deserves to win. Of course Tampa was not too much better. Brady was terrible in the first half and despite throwing for all those yards he only averaged 6.1 per attempt. Plus he was sacked 3 times and got called for his first unsportsman penalty ever. If this is Brady's last year (which I don't think it is) I would have liked to have seen him go to the Superbowl.

sanford said...

The field goal to tie the game wasn't so much the miracle but that Mahomes was able to get them in that position with 13 seconds left. I have seen this happen once before in a regular season game. It was the Bears and Atlanta. 11 seconds left and no time outs. Atlanta kicked a field goal to win the game. I don't if was brought up post game, but why didn't Buffalo squib kick instead of kicking the ball into the end zone. Needless to say as a Bears fan I was thrilled to see the Packers lose and Robbie Gould kicking the winner.

Side note speaking of anti vaxxers. Did you see what John Stockton said about athletes dying from the vaccines.

Don G said...

Thanks for mentioning Ray Scott, my father’s favorite announcer.

Mike Chimeri said...

Sanford, I was speaking from a probably-misguided everyone-gets-a-trophy, dynasties-are-bad-for-sports perspective. Yes, I know the Rams did everything in their power to lose, but in the end (preferable to "at the end of the day"), Matthew Stafford threw two quick strikes to Cooper Kupp, and the ball was clocked with enough time for Matt Gay to try the game-winning field goal, which he made. Collapse averted, just like the Falcons nine Divisional Playoff rounds ago (and they trailed by a point). Of course, those Falcons lost to the 49ers the following week, which I expect the Rams to do next week. Super Bowl LVI will look like LIV, except on the other end of the continent, and in New York, down one channel (Fox is on 5, NBC on 4).

My dad thought Brady would retire if he lost, but like you, Sanford, I don't think so. He'll retire when Jamie Moyer did.

Wallis Lane said...

My favorite post-game tweet was:

The Wisconsin State Republicans are now meeting to choose an alternate slate of Packers.

thomas tucker said...

Brent Musberger? I forgot about him. Bring back Meredith, Cosell, and Gifford!

blinky said...

I am hoping for a San Francisco/Cincinnati Super Bowl with San Francisco beating Cincinnati for the third time in a Super Bowl!

Jahn Ghalt said...

The "miracle" (in Buffalo at KC) was three drives in 2:00 - two for touchdowns that were needed to avoid the loss.

I agree that, at least for a playoff game, something should change to make the coin toss less consequential (though the old "first score wins" rule sucked worse)

The current rule seems OK for regular season - as one football player/coach/student pointed, out the game is brutal without OT, He pointed out that in "the old days" there was no OT (excepting playoffs).

I mostly had the sound off (per usual) but did catch the Michaels/Collinsworth duo here and there. Given how dominant the Rams pass rush was, I thought Collinsworth had a good point that Tampa should play the no-huddle (like Chicago voters) early and often.

(actually, I think offenses in general should use it A LOT MORE)

Having been primed by his excellent podcast interview, it was apparent how "prepared" Michaels was.

I fell victim to magical thinking - that Brady had mystical agents "helping" with four freaking fumbles (especially #4). "Self immolation" was Michael's metophor.

The still-young Mahomes continues to impress. What a cool customer. Top notch passing skills. Combined with speed, agility, and elusiveness. And his Buffalo counterpart was nearly as impressive.

The No Fun League was exemplified by the self-impressed morons who called penalties for "taunting" and Brady's objection to the head-shot non-call (and one other). 45 yards for 'talk' - all in one quarter - grounds for a big fine, or exclusion from postseason if I were the commish.

As a long time Laker guy, I once had "hate" for Bird, Parrish, McHale - and especially Ainge. Not really worthy of a Friday Question - but:

it was wonderful to see Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady go down

It's been forty-odd years since Bird's first ring was snatched from the Lakers. How does that "hate" compare with this "wonderful" twin-killing?

Michael said...

Since baseball is the only sport that God invented, I'll set aside what I think about football and say this: Whatever you think of Brent Musburger, he's a key reason you like Tony Romo.


I noticed this. Romo is the first analyst I've heard since John Madden who sounds like he is enjoying himself--which, as a play-by-play man, Musburger did (and still does, as the Raiders radio announcer). Most of the analysts I hear are so caught up in discussing the Red Dog 53 zone blitz with the strong safety covering the wide receiver who was slot left, they don't convey that the game is supposed to be entertaining.

It brings to mind what Lindsey Nelson and Jack Buck said in different ways about baseball: They could still feel romantic about the game because they didn't play it, and didn't see the hard parts. A former player knows how tough it is. We still want to enjoy it.

Liggie said...

@Glenn: The Phil Luckett coin flip gaffe is the reason for both teams getting a possession rule. At the start of overtime, Luckett mistakenly announced "Heads" when Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis actually called "Tails". The other team scored on the ensuing drive, thus ending the game without stunned Pittsburgh touching the ball. The NFL realized that the game shouldn't end because the referee misheard the coin flip call, so they decided to change the sudden-death rule to one where both teams get a possession.

Imagine if basketball ended on sudden death.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Mike Chimeri had some interesting comments.

Objections to cliches in "press conferences" - easy to fix - change the channel. I recall that less than 3% is "new" or "original" - what would you miss?

Ken knows that Cliches are best as "seasonings" not big bites - like Shakepeare when he coined so many of them.

I too doubt Brady will retire now. His arm seems sound along with his usual "intangibles". And he seems to still have those "six quick steps" and sound footwork.

Phil said:

I haven't worn my Rodgers jersey since his stupidity was made public

I am loathe to "support" a team in that way. If I were EVER to make an exception I'd wear a Giants #24 or a Mariners #51 - but would not feel worthy to sport "Mays" or "Ichiro" that way - feeling that homage is well-paid with only the number (and only the worthy would "get it").

Can one get those jerseys - or is that a custom-affair?

Dave Widel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Widel said...

It was without a doubt the greatest weekend of football ever.

I really, really miss Dan Fouts with Ian Eagle, he was able to play off of Ian's snarkiness. They used to be my favorite team. I was glad to see Trent Green instead of Charles Davis. I with him well, but I'm sick of him asking me questions every play. Every comment starts out with some rhetorical question. Eagle/Davis is now my least favorite team.

As for the overtime rules, Defense is a part of the game too. Maybe spend a little of the money they spent on a great Offense on a better Defense. That's not just because I'm a Chiefs fan, I said the same thing last time when the Chiefs lost the coin flip.

Jahn Ghalt said...

One other thing:

It’s hard to imagine a better announcer than Al Michaels – WHO, not currently with a gig, is better?

The suits better get a clue – and let Michaels fire THEM – not the other way around.

Mike Chimeri said...

I was talking about one-on-one interviews, Jahn, not press conferences, but I agree with you about changing the channel, if not muting the TV until it's over. Frankly, the law of averages caught up to me when Patrick Mahomes spoke to Tracy Wolfson. Following the early game won by the Rams, I thought to myself, wow, it's been a while (weeks) since I've seen a postgame interviewee say my hated phrase. Jinx!

My neurosis is so bad that I will open transcripts for YouTube videos to see how often that phrase or "kind of" and "sort of" are said in videos on channels I subscribe to. I have changed the channel, or rather unsubscribed, too often because a content creator says those phrases too often, or in the case of The 8-Bit Guy, fumfered or uptalked too much.

It's too easy for me to blame Asperger Syndrome on everything that's wrong with me, but it certainly plays a role.

benson said...

This may not mean much outside of Michigan and maybe LA, but the one thing that was very cool was when he had to make the biggest play of his career (so far) Matthew Stafford did it. He gets so much crap from Lions fans because they never won anything (literally), and there's the game slipping away to the GOAT. This was all set to be vintage Brady, and then, when he had to, he tossed the pass to Kupp, which led to the win. The son of a gun did it. Very happy for him.

BGVA said...

I'm a Cowboys fan (don't worry, I come in peace) and initially said I wasn't watching thanks to my coach and QB messing up the end of their game. Eventually I gave in and watched most of Sunday's games and bits and pieces of the Packers-49ers game.

Definitely glad I watched KC-Buffalo. The word "classic" gets used a lot for modern events before they get a chance to age, but last night's game was definitely an instant classic. Great game in a great football environment. That said, it also proved that even though both teams *usually* get the ball in OT, the new format is still broken. If the team that wins the coin toss scores a TD, the opponent should still get one drive to tie or win. If they lose a fumble or get an INT/turnover on downs, then the game is over. If they score and tie, continue OT until the next team wins or the clock expires. Of course, if it's the postseason, play another OT. Or see below.

Better yet, do like college and give both teams four downs from the 25 or even the 40. However, unlike college I'd end the game in a tie if neither team leads after 4 or 5 OTs. I'm one of those weirdos who likes ties and would love to see the NFL keep that rule. If nothing else, develop this rule for the playoffs.

Lemuel said...

@Mike Chimen: "fumfer" is my new Word of the Week.

Anonymous said...

Kaaron Rodgers, fake quarterback should have learned to shut up and throw the ball!! Great documentary on Peacock about Joe Montana. Janice B.

Mike Chimeri said...

Thanks, Lemuel. I picked it up from Neil Ross in his memoir.

Jeff Boice said...

I had the same thoughts about Buffalo doing a squib kick. Then I remembered the Music City Miracle.

Leighton said...

I hear Charlie Brown's teacher, discussing this "football ball."

jcs said...

I'm a Packers fan since 1996. In the same year I started pursuing an advanced degree in immunology.

Watching Aaron Rodgers when he justified putting others at risk (including his teammates and choaching staff), was more painful than witnessing Green Bay's special teams croak between 03:00 and 05:00 CET. Listening to Rodgers bold statement that after intense studying he came up with an efficacious immunisation protocol against corona virus on a radio and web show hosted by an A-shirt-wearing, testosterone-driven Pat McAfee was disturbing.

This thrilling football weekend would've been much more enjoyable for me without the aftertaste of ignorance, reckless selfishness and an utter disregard for science-based decision making.

Jay Moriarty said...


Rex Malum said...

I like my football to have defense. Color me unimpressed.

The NFL game is broken. The final 2 minutes of the Bills-Chiefs game attests to that. But now, for something more serious....

Someone once wrote, "But to point out that you don’t like a movie because of how someone reacted to rape charges — you’re going to be deleted."

Hmm, replace "movie" with "game result" and replace "rape chargers" with "vaccine opinion" -- and, well, you know.

Science is a tool. Science is not a value. Science helps us live to our values. Our values have tradeoffs. Just walk into any courtroom and you'll see the values of truth-seeking go man-to-man versus the values of due process.

Science may tell us the likely risk of a behavior but it doesn't tell us whether that risk is worth a foregoing competing reward or of a taking a competing risk.
Vaccines have risks. Vaccines have rewards. Mandates have costs. Mandates have benefits. Masks have risks. Masks have benefits.

As someone who doesn't know all the science and who certainly doesn't know all the values and intensity felt for those values, my great ignorance leads to more tolerance. No doubt Know-it-Alls are likely peeved.

sanford said...

Rex said
I like my football to have defense. Color me unimpressed.

The NFL game is broken. The final 2 minutes of the Bills-Chiefs game attests to that. But now, for something more serious.... Granted that game had very little defense. But you don't see games like that all the time. When I started watching football. There were always some high scoring games. It happens. As Tony Kornheiser says it is a television show. People want to see scoring. I am fine with seeing a good defensive battle but you don't want to see that every game. Some how the NFL has not found that sweet spot where there is enough defense and offense.

Kyle Burress said...

I've been busy this past week so I'm playing catch-up, but I have to agree that those were the four best playoff games I've seen in one weekend in my life! They were all enjoyable to watch.