NFL: Stars align for thrilling Divisional Round

24 January 2022 23:12:37 GMTPlus10
There were plenty of fireworks on Sunday

A thrilling weekend of NFL action concluded on Sunday night and there were plenty of talking points, from shock results to clutch performances, the divisional round had it all.

Now just four teams remain in the battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy, with more excitement scheduled for this Sunday's Conference Finals and all the action on the Sports Live Streaming platform.

Burrow and the Bengals upset the applecart once again

Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals had already made history with their first playoff win in 31 years over the Las Vegas Raiders in the wildcard round before the young quarterback led his side past the number one seed Tennessee Titans.

Ryan Tannehill, the Titans quarterback, was intercepted three times while Burrow threw for 348 yards in the Bengals' battling win.

Bengals kicker Evan McPherson was the key man, going a perfect four from four with his field goals, including for 54 yards and nailing the 52-yard winning kick as time expired to send the Bengals to the AFC Championship for the first time in 33 years.

McPherson was the only kicker drafted in last year's NFL draft and showed Cincinnati had made the right decision.

The Bengals are used to the underdog role and they will play it once again, 27/10 on the money line to overcome the Chiefs.

Green Bay come unstuck once again

The Green Bay Packers came into the NFL playoffs as number one seeds in the NFC and favourites to win the Super Bowl.

However, at a freezing cold Lambeau Field, they saw their dreams disintegrate in a low scoring affair with the San Francisco 49ers.

Visiting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for just 131 yards as San Francisco leaned on their running game.

Green Bay's typically dominant offense just couldn't get going in the cold and the Packers poor special teams cost them. A blocked punt led to a 49ers touchdown, while the Niners also blocked a Green Bay field goal before they had just ten men on the field for San Fran's game-winning field goal.

Robbie Gould slotted the kick to extend the 49ers playoff record over the Packers to 4-0 in recent years and send the favourites packing.

The 49ers are 31/20 to come out on top of the NFC Championship game but questions now remain about where the Packers go from here, with a huge rebuild looming.

Rams unseat Brady and Bucs in wild encounter

The Los Angeles Rams steamed out of the gates in the first half of their encounter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, going up 20-3 at the break. Matthew Stafford, who secured his first-ever playoff win in his 156th NFL start in the wildcard round, scored a quarterback sneak at the start of the third quarter to put the game seemingly out of sight.

However, if there's a man to engineer a comeback, it is Tom Brady. The 44-year-old led a thrilling revival, kick-started by a Leonard Fournette touchdown that saw the game go into the final quarter 27-13.

Brady then gunned a 55-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans before just two plays later, Ndamukong Suh ripped the ball from Rams' Cam Akers to give the Bucs possession with just two minutes on the clock.

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Fournette ran in his second touchdown and Tampa Bay converted the extra point to tie the game with just 42 seconds to play.

In times of need this season, the Rams have turned to their duo of quarterback Stafford and star receiver Cooper Kupp. Los Angeles looked to the pair again and they delivered two huge plays to get the Rams in field goal range.

Matt Gay did the business from 30 yards, the kick meaning that for the first time ever, three consecutive playoff games were decided by a game-winning field goal.

The result also meant that Brady, the most successful NFL player of all time, did not extend his playoff win record to 35 or add to his seven Super Bowls. Questions have been raised about whether he will call it a day. The Rams go into their matchup with the 49ers at 4/7 to go out on top.

Pass Masters and AFC rivals put on masterclass

If the NFL wildcard round had been filled with one-sided affairs, they more than made up for it in the divisional games, with every clash a close encounter.

Fans had the best saved until last, however, in the meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills.

The two have previous, meeting in last year's AFC Championship game where the Chiefs edged out the Bills before losing the Super Bowl to the Bucs.

Their quarterbacks, the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and the Bills' Josh Allen, are both dual-threat gunslingers, who had thrown for five touchdowns each the week before.

Allen started off with a ruthlessly efficient drive to score an opening touchdown before Mahomes ran in himself to level the scores before firing to Byron Pringle to take the lead.

Allen answered back with a touchdown to Gabriel Davis to take it into halftime at 14-14.

The ding-dong battle continued in the second half with a touchdown for each side and a Kansas City field goal setting up a grandstand finish.

Best finish of all time?

A full 25 points were scored in the last minute and 54 seconds of the match, with each quarterback finding increasingly unlikely plays to go back and forth, taking the lead and relinquishing it.

The Bills took the lead with 13 seconds to go but allowed Mahomes to drive to within field goal range before Harrison Butker tied it with a 49-yard kick.

The coin toss ended up deciding it as the Chiefs got the ball first in overtime, scoring through Travis Kelce to win it without Allen getting back on the field.

The matchup will go down as one of the best in playoff history. That there had to be a loser seems almost unfair but the two young quarterbacks look likely to clash for years to come, indeed this may just be the beginning.

The Chiefs are now just 25/1 to win the Super Bowl and 5/17 to overcome the Bengals in the AFC Championship game.

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