What a night of night of football. We now know which two teams are going to play in the Super Bowl, and surprise surprise. One of them is the New England Patriots. The other probably deserves an asterisk after their name, but sometimes that’s just life in the NFL.
In case you missed them, here’s a brief recap from both the conference playoff games.
LA Rams: 26 – New Orleans Saints: 23 (OT)
To say the Saints got a bit screwed over by the referees would be a contender for the coveted “Under Statement of the Year” award. For the most part, the game was fairly evenly matched. Both defenses were big factors, each holding their opponent to a field goal or less when it came to the crunch.
The Rams seemed to struggle early on, with the Saints driving well on early possessions. Ultimately the LA defense held them to a field goal both times. There’s also the matter of a very early interception from Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff which set up one of those field goals.
There’s a couple of notable plays from this game which need talking about.
Firstly, Rams coach Sean McVay, the very same offensive genius, mastermind, renegade coach McVay who has balls of steel and ice in his veins. He opted for a field goal, right at the goal line too. Honestly, if ever I’ve seen a play where I think “coach is going to go for it here”, it’s the Rams, 4th down, inches from the goal line.
There was also a fake punt. Shout out former Packer, Sam Shields, but saying the Rams did some trickery is like saying the sky is blue. It’s just a given.
The play which is all everyone is talking about is a missed defensive pass interface call late in the 4th quarter. With time winding down, the Saints had the ball when Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman delivered a hit to Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis. He wasn’t playing the ball, never turned his head, he just played the man.
It was such an egregious missed call that the Superdome; which had been super loud all night, fell silent. Had the flag been thrown there, the Saints could have taken a knee, run out the clock to around 4 seconds and kicked a field goal to secure the win.
Sadly, for the Saints, the Rams were able to force a tie and get the game into overtime. New Orleans won the toss and opted to receive the kickoff. Then the unthinkable happened, quarterback Drew Brees threw such a deflating interception that I immediately began checking the reply to see if Tom Brady was hiding in the corner.
The Rams capitalised and drove down the field for a 57-yard field goal to send them to Super Bowl 53.
New England Patriots: 37 – Kansas City Chiefs: 31 (OT)
Two overtime games on one Championship Sunday, come on NFL I need to sleep at some point!
I was getting ready to gloat at half time. Not because I was especially invested in the outcome, but because at least one team I’d picked was proving me right.
The Patriots jumped out to a 14 – 0 lead, and looked like their defense was going to choke the life out of the Chiefs, who really didn’t get anything going in the first two quarters. By the end of the 3rd quarter finding themselves down 17 – 7.
Credit to Kansas City, they wanted to be in that Super Bowl. They really wanted it, and it showed. The Chiefs fought their way back, racking up 24 points in the 4th quarter alone. At one point the Chiefs took the lead 21 – 17, having put up 21 unanswered points.
The final minutes of regulation just demonstrate what a great game this was. First, Tom Brady decided “awww hell naw”, marching the Patriots 75 down the field to reclaim the lead. This didn’t last long as the Chiefs came right back with a scoring drive of 68 yards.
Six plays later, New England gets back on top 31 – 28. There are now literally seconds on the clock, and Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes put on a show. 45 yards in around 30 seconds to set up the game-tying field goal.
Remember when I said don’t bet against Brady? Just don’t, it’s a fool’s errand. On the first drive of overtime, the Patriots drove down the field in 13 plays. Including crucial catches by both Edelman and Gronkowski, culminating in a 2 yard run by Rex Burkhead to send the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl