We have now confirmed five of the six Super Wildcard Weekend winners and we are only waiting for the result of tonight’s all NFC West match up between the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals to decide the final spot in next weeks Divisional Playoffs.
However, two of the games over this past weekend saw officiating controversies that had a major impact on how those twp games went, although for one of those issues, the officiating crew were not really to blame.
Let’s now review all five games played so far in the Playoffs and learn how the Divisional Playoffs look ahead of tonight’s final Wildcard game.
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Saturday’s Wildcard Results
Las Vegas Raiders 19-26 Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals won their first playoff game in 31 years against the Raiders on Saturday night, but it was a game that hinged on a controversial officiating call late in the second quarter which handed the Bengals a 20-6 lead.
Joe Burrow starred once again for the Bengals hitting 24 of 34 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, Ja’marr Chase collected 116 yards receiving as his stellar rookie season continued into the playoffs.
Derek Carr threw for 310 yards but only connected on 29 of 54 passes, he also had one interception alongside his sole touchdown as the Raiders struggled to convert their red zone possession into touchdowns, electing to take fiend goals on four occasions.
The controversial moment in this game came when Joe Burrow escaped from the pocket on third down and raced towards the sideline. As he reached the line, he threw the ball into the endzone, but as the ball was in the air, an official blew his whistle.
Tyler Boyd caught the ball, but it was clear that the player covering him had stopped when the whistle was sounded.
Jerome Boger and his crew had a lengthy talk about the play and ruled that the whistle had come after the catch, when clearly it had not.
By rule, if the whistle is blown, then the play is dead and if this was an officiating error, the down would have been replayed and the clock reset.
The play was crucial as it was this second Bengals touchdown that handed them the win, and as a result of the blooper, the officiating crew was stood down from taking any more playoff games this season.
The best team won the game, but you can’t help feel sorry for the Raiders that their season is now over largely due to an officiating blunder, although scoring one touchdown in the entire game also played a key part.
New England Patriots 17-47 Buffalo Bills
Last time these two teams met in Buffalo, Mac Jones attempted just three passes in the entire game as the Patriots eked out a win in very windy conditions.
On Saturday night, it was the Buffalo Bills who blew the Patriots apart with a fantastic display of offensive power that even Bill Belichick’s defense could not counteract.
Josh Allen set a franchise playoff record with five touchdowns in a stellar performance that saw him land 21 of 25 passes for 308 yards, as well as contributing 66 yards on the ground on six rushes too.
Add to that two further touchdowns, both rushed home by Devin Singletary and the Bills racked up 47 points in total and at one point, led 27-0 in the second quarter of the game.
Mac Jones tried to get the Patriots back into the game but hit 24 of 38 passes for just 232 yards and a couple of touchdowns and the same number of interceptions.
This was a statement win by Buffalo and arguably their best performance of the season. Both the offense and defense were superb throughout the game and this was a win that will make all other teams in the playoffs sit up and take notice.
Sunday’s Wildcard Results
Philadelphia Eagles 15-31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay made pretty light work of moving into the Divisional round as they were hardly stretched by an under-performing Eagles team. With the Bucs defense nullifying the Eagles rushing threat superbly well, the Eagles defence barely laid a glove on Brady until the Bucs had a 17-point advantage.
After that Brady did struggle a bit more as the Eagles exerted more pressure but with no rushing offense and Jalen Hurts unable to hurt the Bucs until the fourth quarter, by then the reigning champions had opened up a 31-point lead.
Two touchdowns late on gave the Eagles a bit of respectability but in truth, this scoreline flattered Philadelphia as the Bucs offense barely moved out of second gear in order to score the win.
San Francisco 49ers 23-17 Dallas Cowboys
This game was very much a classic case of one team playing at a pace and an intensity that the other team could not cope with. The 49ers began like a freight train and were 10-0 up in the first quarter as they caught the Cowboys cold.
It didn’t get any better on offense for the Cowboys as they struggled against the 49ers defensem who were just playing at a different level than the Cowboys for most of the first half and it was no surprise that they went in at the interval 16-7 up.
The 49ers made that 23-7 in the third quarter before Dallas started to mount a comeback in the fourth. It was then the 49ers started to look uncomfortable as Dak Prescott started to bring the Cowboys back. A stop late in the fourth gave them a chance to win the game on the final drive.
However, with no timeouts left, Dallas moved the ball downfield and with just a few seconds remaining Prescott rushed the ball to around the 49ers 24 yard line.
However, with just 14 seconds on the clock, by the time the officials caught up with the play and touched the ball and the Cowboys snapped it for Prescott to spike, time had already run out.
Initially some people criticised the official for being slow to touch the ball, but in fairness to the official, he was working his way through the Cowboys offensive line as quickly as he could to touch the ball so the play could commence.
Dallas Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy defends QB draw play: ‘Shouldn’t have had problem getting ball spotted’ – ESPN. Keep those excuses coming you blew it. Someone get the tissues. https://t.co/QKecIug3QU
— Boomer Bob was BobA1959 I’m Pissed Off and Angry (@BobNYC59) January 17, 2022
If the fault lay anywhere it lay with Dak Prescott for not ending the run sooner, so he did have time to spike the ball, or not trying to get into the endzone for the score.
However, in truth a Dallas win would have been a travesty as the 49ers were much the better team.
Pittsburgh Steelers 21-42 Kansas City Chiefs
After a scoreless first quarter, the Pittsburgh Steelers stunned Arrowhead by taking the lead when TJ Watt returned a fumble for a touchdown.
5 TDs in the last 11:31.
— NFL (@NFL) January 17, 2022
By the end of the second quarter, the Chiefs had scored three touchdowns to open up a 21-7 lead at the half as Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense took over the game.
Mahomes passed for 404 yards, hitting 30 out of 39 passes for five touchdowns and one interception and once they got into their stride, there was no way back for the Steelers in what will likely be Ben Roethlisberger’s last game.
The Chiefs even opened their playbook to allow Travis Kelce the chance to throw for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. That made the score 42-14 and meant that James Washington’s late reply for the Steelers meant little other than giving the Steelers a little more credibility.
With just one game to go tonight, we already know how next week’s Divisional Playoffs will look:
AFC Divisional Playoffs
- Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans
- Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
NFC Divisional Playoffs
- San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
- Los Angeles Rams/Arizona Cardinals @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
And I for one, can’t wait for next weekend to begin!