Championship Sunday Recap - KC on To Tompa Bay
So, here we are. Only one game left. Championship Sunday has come and gone, and we now know our matchup for SuperBowl LV. Championship Sunday held up to the hype, with the four best QBs in the league this season giving us two games that laid the table perfectly for SuperBowl LV. Let’s take a look at how we got to Tampa Bay…
Brady vs Rodgers
Tom Brady… is inevitable. Thanos rose again on Sunday night and – despite 3 second half INTs – snapped away the Green Bay Packers’ SuperBowl dreams and further established his plinth at the peak of every relevant mountain in the NFL. This was a game that the Green Bay Packers will look back at and SHUDDER thinking about how they threw this one away. I don’t mean to belittle the Bucs’ achievement, as winning AT Lambeau is hard at any time, let alone when facing a Packers offense that has been historically good, but Tampa Bay would not be hosting their SuperBowl in two weeks if it wasn’t for serious deficiencies in both Green Bay’s execution and coaching.
I will whole-heartedly admit I was strongly cheering for Aaron Rodgers’ last night. He’s one of the greatest talents I’ve ever seen at Quarterback and I truly believe his resume deserves way more than the lone SuperBowl appearance he has from A DECADE ago. That’s insane. It’s not always been his fault but, if he retires (or ends up leaving Green Bay this off-season), Packer fans will – in a similar feeling to Saints’ fans with Drew Brees – look at the longevity Rodgers’ has had and think “how on earth have we only had one parade in TitleTown during that time!?” Crazy.
Whilst the game is obviously 60 minutes long… and many plays contribute to the outcome of the game, here are 3 key moments that led to the Packers’ defeat.
- There are 8 seconds left in the first half. You’re down 14-10. Worst come to worst, the Bucs are going to attempt a looooong Field Goal to attempt to push the lead to 7. What you CANNOT DO is allow Scotty freakin’ 4.3 40 yard dash Miller to catch a bomb for a touchdown and push the lead to 11. It’s unforgivable from Packers’ DC Mike Pettine and CB Kevin King to get beat like that. Awful
- But hey – you’ve got Aaron Rodgers – so you get back in the game. Brady’s thrown 3 picks, and we’re driving down 8 to attempt to tie the game with a little over two minutes remaining. 3rd and Goal from the 8. Rodgers not running the ball towards the goal line when a lane appeared to open up following a few seconds scrambling in the pocket. Rodgers maybe didn’t see the lane, or maybe was obsessed with getting it to his most trusted receiver – Davante Adams – but it didn’t work. Incomplete pass, and I was left screaming “RUN IT” at my TV, exasperated that Rodgers hadn’t taken off. He may not have made it to the EndZone, but it would have at least made it 4th and Goal from the 2, maybe the 3? And would have surely stopped what happened next…
- So, after all that happens… it’s 4th and Goal from the 8. Sure, 8 yards is no sure thing, but need I remind you that your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers?! Give credit to the Buccaneers defense. Their performance surely played into the Packers’ decision at that moment. They pressured Rodgers 22 times on Sunday, and held the Packers to a Field Goal twice in the RedZone, which has been almost impossible this season. That said… kicking the Field Goal there is just unbelievable to me. Matt LaFleur – who I’m a big fan of – blinked in that moment. If you don’t get the Touchdown, you’re in the same situation, needing a stop to get the ball back and have some hope. As it happened, TB12 got the ball back with a 5 point lead anddddddd that was that.
Brady now has the same number of NFC Championships as Brees and Rodgers… and he’s come to THEIR conference and beaten them both in one postseason to make it to the SuperBowl. God damn. Major yikes for those other two QBs. Love him or hate him, – and I’ll go on record as saying I HATED him as a part of the Patriots – we have to admit he’s incredible. 10 SuperBowl appearances in 20 seasons? 10 SuperBowl appearances out of the 55 total that have been played?! Those are outrageous numbers. Ridiculous. Insane. How much longer will it go on for?! Who knows. He’s got another year on his contract with Tampa after this one, so it’s almost impossible to see him not warning to repeat the success he’s had this year one more time, regardless of the outcome on February 7th. Beyond that? Quarterbacks, defenses, and fans across the league are all hoping Tom decides to walk off into the sunset. But when he does, will it be as a six, seven, or eight time champion? I shudder to think…
Mahomes vs Allen
The lead up to the AFC Title game centred largely around the health of Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ star QB, the defending SuperBowl MVP, spent most of the week in the NFL’s concussion protocol, and dealing with a turf toe injury that had hampered him in last week’s Chad Henne-inspired win over the Browns. So were the Champs vulnerable?! When the Bills recovered the early MeCole Hardman muffed punt and went up 9-0 with the Dawson Knox touchdown catch, Buffalo had the momentum and must surely have started to believe this could be their day.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then the Chiefs flipped the switch. And that was that. Wow. I don’t need to list the Chiefs offensive weapons – you’ve heard all the names before – but safe to say EVERY single one of them was making plays last night. Spare a thought for Hardman, who recovered from that early mistake to not only catch the Chiefs opening touchdown but provide them with a huge spark with a 50 yard rush on the following possession too. Andy Reid’s decision to quickly get his speedster back involved was a great coaching move, and only further proves that the Chiefs have infinite ways to beat you. What more can I say about Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in Eric Bienemy’s offense? It’s just really not fair. The Chiefs comfortably handled a Bills team that beat the Ravens and have been giving opponents fits all year.
It wasn’t Josh Allen’s night. The Chiefs defensive front found ways to get pressure up front, and kept Allen relatively well contained after a couple of early scrambles for good gains. On the back end, Tony Romo repeatedly described the DB’s coverage as “sticky,” and it was just that, with even the league’s leading receiver Stefon Diggs struggling to get open with any consistency. Cole Beasley made a few nice plays, but the Bills lack of a run game proved problematic, as the Chiefs successfully nullified Buffalo’s ability to create chunk plays. If you’d told #BillsMafia before the season that they’d reach the AFC Title game, they’d have been overjoyed, as they were, after so many years of toiling in obscurity.
That said, the heartbreak was still obvious for all to see. Sean McDermott’s team never gave up, recovering an onside kick and giving us a little bit of drama before it got a bit chippy and the game was over. Seeing Diggs staying on the field, watching the Chiefs’ championship ceremony was an incredible moment, and one you know he’ll be using to motivate himself next season and beyond. The Bills will be back, with a vengeance, but they’ll still see this Chiefs juggernaut standing in front of them, and will have to prove they are capable of standing toe to toe with them before they can truly be considered SuperBowl favourites.
For the Chiefs, their attempt to “run it back,” and become the 8th franchise to win back to back SuperBowls will now face their toughest test yet, in the only man to so far beat Mahomes in the playoffs. That said, that victory itself was somewhat tainted by an egregious flag negating a Brady interception that would have ended the match and would have meant that this would have been the Chiefs’ third straight SuperBowl. The Kansas City dynasty is well on it’s way to being built, and a second title in two years would just confirm that.
This is the sport media world’s dream matchup. I’ve already seen this one be dubbed “the Kid vs the GOAT.” Mahomes is 25-1 in his last 26 games. Let that sink in. Against the elite of the elite, he is TWENTY FIVE AND ONE. Unbelievable. Tom Brady vs Patrick Mahomes is Roger Goodell’s absolute dream. His eyes are still rolling back in his skull with dollar signs in them right now. I cannot wait for it and – and I cannot emphasise this enough – I will be VICIOUSLY cheering for Kansas City to repeat. Has Tom Brady shown me some more personality and become a bit more likeable since he left New England? Absolutely. Does that erase the crimes committed for the Belichick empire? Not at all. I say this with absolute conviction: The Chiefs will win the SuperBowl. Let’s go Showtime Mahomes.
I’m sure I’ll find a way to write some words before (and after) the big game, so I’ll be seeing you soon, but thanks again for taking the time to read my ramblings. I’m @CallumJDSquires on Twitter & Instagram, and for the next two weeks I’m the biggest Kansas City Chiefs fan this side of the Atlantic. Stay safe, stay sane, have a good one. Peace.