On Saturday, we witnessed Patrick Mahomes hobbling up and down the sphere at Arrowhead Stadium to steer the Kansas City Chiefs again to their fifth consecutive AFC Championship in a 27-20 win towards the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars. We additionally noticed the Philadelphia Eagles tie their largest margin of victory in a playoff sport in franchise historical past with their 38-7 curb-stomping of their NFC East rival, the New York Giants.
Sunday across the NFL was fairly wild as properly. The Cincinnati Bengals marched into Buffalo and trounced the Bills, 27-10, to forestall a impartial web site AFC Championship Game. The Cowboys had a number of possibilities, however they could not overcome an harm to working again Tony Pollard, in addition to their poor execution, of their season-ending 19-12 loss on the San Francisco 49ers.
The second week of the NFL playoffs included the league’s eight most elite groups, so there was clearly some high-level soccer being performed. However, there was additionally loads of confounding soccer as properly throughout the weekend. Here are a number of the head-scratching choices that occurred this divisional spherical weekend.
Chiefs’ dealing with of Patrick Mahomes’ harm
Every Chiefs participant, coach and fan skilled their worst nightmare within the Chiefs’ 27-20 win within the opening sport of the divisional spherical playoffs on Saturday afternoon: an harm to Mahomes. The 2022 first-team All-Pro passer received sandwiched by two Jacksonville Jaguars defenders as he threw a go, inflicting his leg to bend at a painful angle. Mahomes initially grabbed each his proper knee and ankle in agony after the play.
Even although Mahomes requested head coach Andy Reid to remain within the sport, it was head-scratching to see him skip round like he was enjoying hop-scotch to execute primary, under-center handoffs to his working backs. He didn’t obtain any brace earlier than going again out for the subsequent play, not lacking any time. Mahomes then received his ankle taped and got here again within the sport, persevering with to not miss any performs.
Eventually, the Chiefs inserted again up quarterback Chad Henne into the sport. Henne, who led Kansas City to victory within the 2020 AFC divisional spherical towards the Cleveland Browns after a Mahomes harm, led Kansas City on a 98-yard landing drive that he capped off with a one-yard landing go to tight finish Travis Kelce. That go marked Henne’s first landing in his playoff profession.
The sport was tied at 7-7 when the harm occurred. The Chiefs turned that drive right into a subject purpose to make it 10-3 and prolonged their result in 17-7 after Henne’s first-career postseason TD go. Yet, Mahomes went again on to the sphere to start out the second half. Mahomes was nonetheless hopping round whereas working under-center handoffs close to the purpose line within the fourth quarter. The presumptive league MVP’s mobility was clearly hampered by the harm, as none of his 18 passes have been exterior of the pocket following the harm.
Patrick Mahomes earlier than/after harm
Attempts exterior pocket
Average time to throw
While it’s the postseason, it was nonetheless unusual seeing the Chiefs danger a long-term harm to the face of their franchise. Mahomes persevering with to hobble round on his injured ankle throughout the divisional spherical sport might put him in a worse spot for the AFC championship sport as properly subsequent week, a sport he says he’ll play in after being recognized with a high-ankle sprain.
Andy Reid loses timeout over pointless problem
Facing second-and-seven from their very own 23 with 7:48 remaining within the third quarter, Chiefs working again Isiah Pacheco caught a swing go towards the left sideline from Mahomes and gained six yards, getting marked simply in need of the road to realize for a primary down. Reid determined that as an alternative of going through third-and-inches, having two performs to get slightly below a yard, he would quite have the primary down instantly.
With the decision on the sphere being in need of a primary down, Reid wanted indeniable video proof to win the problem, one thing that did not occur, so Kansas City misplaced a timeout and a problem early into the ultimate half-hour of motion. The Chiefs then opted to run a direct snap to tight finish Noah Gray with the intention to decide up the primary down that was stuffed by the Jaguars line of defense. Kansas City then punted because it was already backed up in its personal finish of the sphere. That sequence marked a couple of poor teaching choices by way of play-calling and timeout utilization that did not find yourself hurting Chiefs this week, however that kind of sequence might come again to burn them towards the Bengals, the staff that ended their season a yr in the past within the AFC Championship.
Bengals broad receiver Ja’Marr Chase blows by defenders regularly for wide-open touchdowns, as his six receiving scores of fifty or extra yards are probably the most in your entire NFL since he entered the league in 2021. However, his 28-yard landing to start the AFC divisional spherical matchup between the Bengals and the Bills was uncommon as a result of he was stunningly WIDE OPEN towards a secondary that ranked inside the highest 10 for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed within the common season.
It appeared there was a protection bust in the course of Buffalo’s zone protection, however nonetheless, it is nonetheless head-scratching to see such a high-profile high possibility THAT open in a divisional spherical playoff sport. Seeing the play in dots type, courtesy of NextGen Stats, makes the defensive protection look much more mind-numbingly off.
Controversial TD overturn
Initially, Chase had caught his second landing of the primary half Sunday, this time from 10 yards out on third-and-goal. However, replay overview overturned the decision on the sphere of a landing, and Cincinnati settled for a 28-yard subject purpose to take a 17-7 lead as an alternative of a 21-7 lead. The NFL has re-written its catch rule a number of occasions in recent times, particularly after backlash from the Cowboys and their followers when Dez Bryant’s fourth-down catch with simply greater than 4 minutes left within the 2014 divisional spherical was overturned on a replay overview.
While it has since softened its stance on surviving the bottom, the NFL is seemingly nonetheless in search of perfection with regards to the soccer’s motion whereas securing a catch. It’s fairly comprehensible to come back away from wanting on the replay of Chase’s near-score and solely see the decision on the sphere, which was Chase hauling in one other landing.
Kyle Shanahan’s first-half timeout utilization
Following Dak Prescott’s second interception of the first-half, the 49ers took over at their very own 28-yard line with 1:24 left within the first half of a tie sport. Head coach and offensive play-caller Kyle Shanahan then opted for a curious sequence of play-calling: a run with broad receiver Deebo Samuel and a run with working again Christian McCaffrey. Those two performs gained solely 9 yards, making it seem to be Shanahan was content material to enter the locker room tied at six.
However, he then referred to as the 49ers’ second timeout after these two performs, leaving his staff a third-and-one with 30 seconds to go. Following the timeout, quarterback Brock Purdy threw a 10-yard go to Samuel that reached their very own 47, and Shanahan referred to as one other timeout. The preliminary two performs, adopted by the conversion, would lead most to suppose that was going to be it for the primary half. However, the 49ers then had zero timeouts and a primary down close to midfield. It ended up all understanding for Shanahan and San Francisco, as Purdy sandwiched a 21-yard completion to receiver Jauan Jennings in-between three incompletions, the final of which sailed out of bounds with solely a second left on the first-half clock.
Although the 49ers have been in a position to take a 9-6 lead into the break, it appeared as if Shanahan could not determine what he wished to do to finish the half, resulting in some complicated timeout utilization and combined messaging.
The Cowboys have been on the ropes after punting the soccer again to the 49ers trailing, 19-12, with simply over two minutes to go, however they nonetheless had 4 alternatives for the clock to be stopped between the two-minute warning and all three timeouts. Two or three first downs, if dealt with accurately, would have sealed the sport and saved the Cowboys from getting one final probability.
Fast-forward to 1:53 left within the sport, and the 49ers going through a second-and-nine. The Cowboys had already used a timeout, so staying inbounds for one more first down would have all however sealed the sport. Mitchell checked the primary field, blowing by the Dallas protection for a brand new set of downs. But right here was the issue: he went out of bounds. Almost each time a participant will get in that state of affairs, they exit of their method to do a baseball slide within the subject of play to maintain the clock shifting, however Mitchell’s adrenaline seemingly received the very best of him as he jogged out of bounds. That resolution allowed the Cowboys to get the ball again, and he is lucky his protection stood tall. Otherwise, he could be coping with some uncomfortable ideas coming into the offseason.
49ers’ conservative closing offensive drive
Kyle Shanahan will get reward for his offensive innovation, and rightfully so, however his play-calling on the ultimate drive grew to become uber-conservative, and the risk-averse play-calling allowed the Cowboys to get the ball again one final time. After Mitchell picked up a primary down, the subsequent three performs gained a mixed zero yards: a Mitchell run up the center for one yard, one other Mitchell run up the center that went for no achieve, and a horizontal go from Purdy to McCaffrey that misplaced a yard. For all of the movement and distinctive utilization of his fullbacks, tight ends and receivers, Shanahan going run, run, go when yet another first down would’ve ended the sport was bewildering.
Cowboys’ cringeworthy finish to season
In faculty soccer, a participant can full a catch whereas getting only one foot down inbounds. However, two ft are required to take action within the execs. It appeared as if Schultz had a brain-fart relating to these guidelines in a humongous spot. It appeared as if he initially made a crucial 15-yard achieve to get Dallas into Hail Mary vary with six seconds left within the sport. Unfortunately for the Silver and Blue, the Cowboys tight finish clearly did not get his second foot down upon overview, pushing them again to their very own 24-yard line.
Dallas appeared to decide on to go along with a hook-and-ladder play to attempt to rating a miracle landing, however a number of parts of the play resulted within the failed execution. The first one is utilizing return man and broad receiver KaVontae Turpin because the participant to pitch the ball to a sprinting teammate. Turpin is the quickest participant on the Cowboys, which means he ought to have been the one receiving the pitch after the preliminary catch, not the one establishing the play. The different flaw was Turpin’s execution within the initiator spot since he fully didn’t get the ball out of his arms fast sufficient for even one different Cowboy to the touch the soccer. A failure in scheme and execution doomed the Cowboys’ closing play of their 2022 season.
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