The NFL Divisional Round was a bit of a mixed bag, but now the AFC and NFC Championship games look great.
Let’s quickly recap the games that just happened this weekend.
Los Angeles at Green Bay
The LA Rams had a quarterback with nine fingers, unfortunately for Jared Goff the one that wasn’t working was the thumb on his throwing hand.
On the other hand, no pun intended, the Packers didn’t seem concerned with Los Angeles at all. The game was really never THAT close, even if the score said otherwise.
Aaron Rodgers continued to look like the NFL MVP as he carved up the league’s top defense. He finished with 296 passing yards and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).
The Packers never trailed and held leads of 13, 9, 15, and finished up by 14. Again, it was really never close. Two of the three times LA scored, Green Bay immediately scored on the next possession.
Green Bay advances to their second straight NFC Championship Game with the win.
Packers 32, Rams 18
Baltimore at Buffalo
This game was a slog. All week it was advertised as a shootout waiting to happen, and the final score was 17-3.
Now, weather could have been a more significant factor than even the players are willing to admit. However, the defenses were also pretty solid throughout the game, and the wind definitely altered the kicking game.
Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker, the NFL’s most accurate placekicker, doinked two kicks off the uprights so you know it was bad. As for the Bills, Tyler Bass missed two kicks wide of the uprights, so it was a wash on the field goal front.
Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson played all right, but the major turning point came at the tail end of the third quarter.
Buffalo took their first drive of the second half down the field and scored in 5:31. The Ravens responded with their best drive of the game, but it ended in tragedy.
Jackson led Baltimore into the red zone for the second time all game, and the team’s only goal-to-go situation. On third-and-goal, the former MVP rifled a pass to the middle of the end zone, but it was intercepted.
Taron Johnson ran 101 yards for a pick-six that put the game away, even though there was still an entire fourth quarter to play. To add injury to insult, Jackson was hurt on the next possession after his head bounced off the turf.
Buffalo 17, Baltimore 3
Cleveland at Kansas City
As good as the game started for the Browns last week against Pittsburgh, things were almost as bad against the Chiefs.
In the first half, KC scored on all four of their drives and led 19-3. Then, the second half started with Baker Mayfield throwing just his second interception of his last ten games.
So, things looked grim for the Browns. However, the defense held Patrick Mahomes and KC’s potent offense to a field goal, which missed. Cleveland marched right down the field and scored a touchdown.
On the next possession, KC converted a field goal but lost their quarterback. Mahomes exited with, and was evaluated for, a concussion. He did not return.
So, in came Chad Henne. Henne finished the drive to get the field goal and put KC up 22-10.
Mayfield came right back to lead an 18-play, 8:17 touchdown drive. Suddenly, it was 22-17.
Henne came back for KC and made a great throw to Travis Kelce for 24 yards on third-and-five. But, on the next play, Henne threw up a pass like he was playing the kids game ‘500’… it resulted in the easiest interception Karl Joseph may ever catch.
Chad Henne finds a WIDE OPEN Karl Joseph in the endzone 🔥🔥
— PFF (@PFF) January 17, 2021
But the Browns did nothing with it, punted the ball and never got it back.
Kansas City heads to their second straight AFC Championship game. Mahomes’ status for the game is dependent on if he passes concussion protocols throughout the week.
Chiefs 22, Browns 17
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Turnovers told the story for the Bucs, they snagged four takeaways from the Saints that led to 21 points throughout the game.
When New Orleans won both regular season games, they won the turnover battle. Tom Brady threw five interceptions between the two battles. Sunday was the complete opposite.
Drew Brees struggled to throw deep all night. He started the Saints turnover problems and contributed three of the four overall. The first interception Sean Murphy-Bunting set Brady up at the three-yard-line.
On the next play, Mike Evans caught the Bucs first touchdown and gave them their first lead. That lead was short-lived.
The Saints came right back and scored, but not with Drew Brees, with Jameis Winston throwing a deep dime to Tre’Quan Smith for a 56-yard TD. In case you forgot, Winston played the first five years of his career in Tampa.
— NFL (@NFL) January 18, 2021
Despite all that, the game was tied at half, 13-13, after the Bucs had to settle for a field goal when Chris Godwin couldn’t hold on to a touchdown catch.
Brees led a solid drive to open the third quarter and put New Orleans up 20-13. The Bucs did nothing in their first drive of the second half.
When the Saints got it back, they had scoring on their mind, but Antoine Winfield Jr. had other ideas. The rookie DB punched the ball out of Jared Cook’s hands, and the Bucs grabbed the fumble.
Five plays later Tampa Bay was in the end zone with a tie game, yet again. The Saints then went five-and-out and punted.
After a Bucs field goal, Brees threw another interception — this one right to Tampa linebacker Devin White. Brady turned that into another touchdown and put Tampa up 10.
The next possession, Brees threw a deep ball to Cook in triple-coverage. Take a guess how that worked out? Brees third INT. The Saints would not get the ball back, and Tampa would kneel the game away.
FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer announced before the game that this would be Brees’ last season. If it is Bree’s last game, a salute to one of the all-time greats.
Buccaneers 30, Saints 20
Championship Game Schedules
All games available on our airwaves, AM-750 The Game, via Westwood One.
Sunday, Jan. 24th
Tampa Bay at Green Bay | 12:05 p.m. PT | FOX
Buffalo at Kansas City | 3:40 p.m. PT | CBS