Garrett Sanders, Correspondent
With it being mid-January, it is that time of the year that football is coming close to an end. Even though it is near the end, this is where the most drama happens. You have the College Football National Championship, exciting bowl game matchups, and of course, the NFL Playoffs.
The NFL Playoffs is something that stands out to football fans everywhere. There are 12 teams competing for an opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in a span of a month, but there can only be one winner. Four more teams remain after Sunday’s divisional round, but the way that these four teams got to this point is truly remarkable.
The opening game of the divisional round featured two very stellar squads. First, there are the sixth seed Minnesota Vikings who clawed their way to win in the “Big Easy” against the heavily favored New Orleans Saints.
Minnesota had a reputation for not being able to win the big games when it mattered most. Standing in the Vikings way, however, was the Goliath of the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco had been a team that had dominated everybody they played this season. This Saturday against the Vikings, it was everything that everybody had expected.
The 49ers were able to consistently move the football down the field by playing a balanced offensive attack. The 49ers defense complimented their offense by being able to stall the Vikings offensive attack. But a lot of what the 49ers were able to do was not talent alone.
Instead, it was the lackluster of the plain vanilla play calling of the Vikings offense. Every time the Vikings were on the offense, it was the same exact story that caused them to go three and out. The creativity just was not there, and as a result, even the less experienced players of the 49ers could pinpoint what was coming.
Overall, it was pure domination. The final score ended with the 49ers cruising to victory 27-10.
Later, Saturday night, NFL fans would be watching another dominating performance. This time, it was from a team that no one gave a chance to win that very night. However, that team that dominated, just happened to be the same exact team that ended the Dynasty in the New England Patriots.
That team was none other than the Tennessee Titans. This was one of the hottest teams in the league heading into Saturday night. If anyone could crash the party of a team and end their season, this was a team that could do it.
Standing in the Titans way, however, was a team that no one wanted to mess with. This team had a very explosive offense that could exploit any defense. Not only that, this was a team that was known for having one of the most physical, hard hitting, defenses in all of football. This would be none other than the Baltimore Ravens.
On paper, everybody in the national media didn’t give the Titans a chance, but to the Titans, they used that as fuel to the fire to give them that momentum and confidence to go out and dominate. That’s exactly what was displayed Saturday night in Baltimore.
The Titans were able to move the football on the Ravens by pounding the rock and playing keep away from the Ravens explosive offense. The Titans running back, Derrick Henry, continued to play with tenacity and showed why he is an elite NFL player.
Henry had 195 rushing yards for the night, but the more impressive stat about this is that this was Henry’s third consecutive game to have more than 180-yards rushing in a game. That’s a stat that no running back ever in the 100-year history of the NFL has been able to accomplish.
The Titans were able to contain the Ravens explosive offense from scoring any points all game. The main factor of what killed the Ravens was not being able to convert on short yardage situations. The Titans stopped the Ravens twice on fourth and short in critical moments of the game. That would be the difference alone. The Titans ended up not only winning, they won big. 28-12.
After a whole night to soak in everything that happened Saturday, there were still two more games to be decided for Sunday. Both games were exciting but also dramatic as well.
The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs were the first to square off. This game featured two teams that had the potential to make the game an exhilarating matchup. To say the least, it did not disappoint.
The Texans ended up taking a huge commanding lead early. But even with a dominating 24-0 lead in the middle of the second quarter, the NFL learned that no significant lead is ever safe. The Chiefs were able to storm back. What was a 24-0 Texans lead turned out to be a 28-24 lead for the Chiefs at halftime.
In the second half, the Chiefs did not slow down their offensive attack. Even with Houston’s ability to move the ball down the field, they could not keep up the pace. Once down by 24 points, the Kansas City Chiefs ended up winning the game by 20 points by a final score of 51-31.
With everything that had happened during the weekend, there was still one more game to be played. This game featured two teams that have had a recent bitter rivalry between the two. To end the weekend with this game was perfect.
The Seattle Seahawks travelled to classic Lambeau Field to take on the historic Green Bay Packers. With the conditions being icy and cold, it all favored in the Packers direction. Nonetheless, the Seahawks did not give up without a fight to the very end
The Packers took a commanding 21-3 lead. But with what we learned from the Chiefs Texans game; no lead is ever safe. The Seahawks adjusted at halftime and things got interesting.
With two minutes left, the Packers had the ball. A first down would seal the deal. The Seahawks were able to hold the Packers to third down and long. But when it looked like Seattle would get the ball, Green Bay closed that opportunity. A miraculous throw from Aaron Rodgers to Jimmy Graham made the difference.
The Packers then went to kill the clock to end any hope for a Seahawks comeback. The final score would be 28-23.
While the weekend of the NFL Playoffs gave us a lot of exciting matchups on paper, it taught all football fans a lesson. No matter the circumstances, nothing is a given. And that is the beauty of the game.