Wild Card Weekend

As another year goes by, it’s time that the NFL hosts the playoffs for its 103rd season. From Justin Jefferson’s ridiculous catch against Buffalo late in the 4th to the ridiculous ending of Patriots vs Raiders, the NFL brought us the purest form of football this season that fans know and love. While the regular season brings us our Sunday comfort, fans buckle in for what really matters: the playoffs. These playoffs, between the ultra-competitive AFC and top seeds of the NFC, were shaping up to be one of the best. 

  To kickoff super wild card weekend, the second seed San Francisco 49ers faced their divisional rival, the seventh seeded Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks led 17 to 16 against the 49ers going into halftime, but an explosion of offense mixed with a couple turnovers on defense allowed for the 49ers to crush their foe 41 to 23. The following game was the fifth seeded Los Angeles Chargers vs the fourth seeded Jacksonville Jaguars. At around halftime, it seemed Jacksonville’s “cinderella” run was coming to an end, as they trailed 27 to nothing following four Trevor Lawrence interceptions. Coach Doug Pederson wasn’t having it, as he and his team rallied back down 27 to beat the Chargers 31 to 30. One of the greatest comebacks in playoff history, the Jaguars knew they weren’t going home. The Sunday games started with the second seeded Buffalo Bills vs the seventh seeded Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins started the season red hot, but after some injuries, and a second concussion to up and coming quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, they came into Buffalo short staffed. This showed as Buffalo moved on with a 34 to 31 win. Our third to last game saw the three seed Minnesota Vikings face the sixth seeded New York Giants. The Giants up until this point were a miracle story; no one had them doing this well before the season. That said, the Giants upset the Vikings 31 to 24. The second to last game of wildcard weekend was the three seeded Bengals facing the sixth seeded Ravens. This was a close battle throughout its entire duration, but a Sam Hubbards 98 yard fumble return touchdown towards the end sealed Baltimore’s fate. The last game of wildcard weekend was the fourth seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs the fifth seeded Dallas Cowboys. Tampa Bay had been disappointing all season, and that didn’t stop here, as the Cowboys cruised to a 31 to 14 win. Tom Brady ends his illustrious career with a lackluster finale. 

The Divisional Round was anticipated to be even more exciting than the wild card. To open the divisional round, the one seed Kansas City Chiefs faced the Jaguars. The Jags put up a fight, but they proved no match for the veteran combo of Reid-Mahomes-Kelce. The Giants faced the one seed Eagles next. While the Giants had momentum, the Eagles dominated the trenches, and demolished the Giants 38 to 7. The Sunday games started with the Bills taking on the Bengals. Two of the most exciting offenses in the league, this game turned out to be rather mellow, as the Bills couldn’t get anything to work offensively, while Joe Burrow and Jamarr Chase did what they did best. The Bengals advanced to their second consecutive AFC championship game with a 27 to 10 win. The most anticipated game of the week was 49ers vs Cowboys. The 49ers were on their third quarterback, the last pick of the draft Brock Purdy. The Cowboys wanted revenge, as the 49ers had beaten them last year in the playoffs. The game turned out to be a defensive one, as both teams only combined for two touchdowns. Following a ridiculous George Kittle catch, a Christian McCaffery touchdown early in the fourth, and two Dak Prescott interceptions, the 49ers bested the Cowboys again, with a 19 to 12 victory.  

The conference championship games opened with the 49ers playing the Eagles. Unfortunately, quarterback Brock Purdy suffered a torn UCL on the very first offensive drive for the 49ers. QB4 Josh Johnson had to enter, but even he suffered a head injury early in the third quarter. Without any offensive output from the 49ers, the Eagles were able to calmly win the NFC with a 31 to 7 victory. The next game found itself to be a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game. The Chiefs looked to get revenge against the Bengals for last year, and they did just that. Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes exchanged touchdowns, but a late game penalty, followed by a Harrison Butker game winning field goal, would send the Chiefs to their third superbowl in four years. 

Super Bowl 57 finds the Kansas City Chiefs facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles. This game had it all, including controversy. One of the biggest controversies of the night was the field. The NFL had been growing this grass field for two years. The grass field turned out to be so slippery that players had to change their cleats halfway through the game. The field proved to hinder both teams’ pass rush, and receivers were sometimes unable to stay balanced while performing an after catch move. Despite this, both teams found the endzone plenty of times. The game came down to one last Chiefs’ drive, which sealed the Eagles fate when the refs threw a pass interference flag on the defense, giving the Chiefs a new set of downs. From there, the Chiefs were able to milk out the clock and give Harrison Butker a short game winning field goal. While controversial, cornerback James Bradberyy admitted after the game that he did in fact hold on that play, and the penalty was deserved. Even then, many have been disputing over this late game call. The Chiefs go on to win their second Super Bowl in four years, an impressive feat for the young, yet generational quarterback Patrick Mahomes. As for the Eagles, they are a young team, and, after an amazing trade, own a top ten pick in this year’s draft, courtesy of the New Orleans Saints. Their future may be the brightest of them all.  

Even though this year’s playoffs were no short of amazing, the inevitable disappointment has come that the NFL season is now officially over. NFL fans have to look forward to free agency and the draft, but all of that doesn’t compare to the excitement of that first Sunday in September when NFL football officially comes back.