Standing room only: NFL weekend playoff games knocked us out of our seats


Let the television network’s costumes and their analytics experts dig into viewership numbers and monitor social media for fan engagement. Bah. For my money, “off-seat” remains the most accurate tool for measuring the intensity of a home viewing experience.

Take the four NFL playoff games that erupted like fireworks this weekend. Ratings alone don’t do the games justice. You had to be there, and by that I mean sitting in front of the rectangular miracle box that took us inside the freezing Lambeau Field and warm Raymond James Stadium. It took us to city ​​of music and in La La Land, putting us on the pitch where Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen put on a show at Arrowhead Stadium that won’t soon be forgotten.

Looking at home, your behavior probably associated with mine, which is that all four games went to the wire – each decided on a field goal or a touchdown in extension – you were suddenly out of your seat, standing in front of the TV.

In games like these, I can’t get close enough to the riveting action that draws me like Ulysses to the sirens. The closer the game, the closer I get to my beloved 55-inch screen. (While 50 inches would have sufficed, I got a great Black Friday deal, don’t hate me).

Clockwise from top left: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (Mark Zaleski, AP), Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (Jamie Germano, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle), l Rams tight end Kendall Blanton (Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports) and 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports).

Considering the end of the AFC and NFC divisional games, in what was arguably the biggest NFL playoff football weekend ever, it’s a wonder my nose didn’t was smashed against the TV glass as the Kansas City Chiefs knocked out the Buffalo Bills late Sunday. night. But not too late. The NFL packs its product to end at 10 p.m. on a school/work night so the immediate reaction to its biggest and best plays isn’t smothered by a pillow like other classic sporting events are. .

Let’s start with a recap of the four off-seats, starting with Cincinnati’s dramatic 19-16 victory over Tennessee. But first, can we agree that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow easing Cleveland fans’ hatred of Queen City team? Burrow is so likable and so deeply connected to Buckeye State — having grown up near Athens and attended Ohio State before transferring to LSU — that to Browns fans he comes across as ” one of us” even if he plays for “them”.

That doesn’t mean Dawg Pounders has to embrace the Bengals, but my feeling is that Burrow is making rooting for Cincinnati easier than it’s ever been. Plus, the 25-year-old cigar is a badass, which makes him attached to the dysfunctional Midwestern mindset of “You’re not really trying if you’re not in pain.” Tennessee has fired Burrow nine times; astronomers don’t spend as much time staring at the sky as Burrow vs. Titans.

The Bengals began the incredible weekend of last-second wins when Evan McPherson scored a 52-yard field goal to defeat the top-seeded Tennessee Titans.

Next up: San Francisco’s 13-10 victory over the top-seeded Green Bay Packers in snowy Lambeau. The 49ers are a gritty group, and as I rose from my chair to get closer to the moving image in front of me, I was comforted that the drama of Robbie Gould making a 45-yard field goal eclipsed the tired drama of the future of Aaron Rodgers. plans.

Tom Brady? Incredible return. The GOAT was defeated. Trailing the Los Angeles Rams by what looked like a few million points, the Bucs tied the game at 27-27 with 42 seconds left. That wasn’t all Brady. The Rams tried to give away the game with their ineptitude. But by now we should know better than to attribute Brady’s ability to luck.

If only Brady played defense, he could be on schedule for an eighth Super Bowl ring. Instead, Brady watched stone face as Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford led the Rams to the basket, where Matt Gay’s 30-yard kick ended Brady’s season. . And maybe a career?

Saving the best for last, if you weren’t up for the last two minutes of regulation when the Bills and Chiefs combined for 25 points, you have formaldehyde in your veins. Watching Allen and Mahomes maestro make their way onto the field elicited two reactions: 1. The on-reel ads did nothing to dull Mahomes’ ability and competitive fire; and 2. The Browns should have drafted Allen instead of Baker Mayfield.

January 23, 2022;  Kansas City, Missouri, USA;  Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) passes against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of the AFC Divisional Playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley - USA TODAY Sports

January 23, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) passes against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of the AFC Divisional Playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports

I’m tempted to cap KC’s 42-36 overtime to win the best game in NFL playoff history, except for the stupid overtime rule that allows a team to win the game with a touchdown without the other team having a chance to tie the score.

Essentially, the Chiefs won the game on a coin toss, getting the ball first in overtime and scoring when Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce in the end zone. Of course, Buffalo did himself a disservice by choosing to kick deep instead of crashing to use more time, and playing Prevent-Win Defense in the last 13 seconds of regulation, this which allowed the Chiefs to tie the game on a field goal from 49 yards. . But not allowing Allen to get his hands on the ball in overtime was a downside.

But not a sit-down. All four games deserved a standing ovation. 48 incredible hours of football.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: The Bengals kicked off the thrill machine with a win over the Titans


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