On Sunday night we were treated to two highly entertaining NFL Conference Championships. Each game decided its conference and had fans glued to their seats. Could Aaron Rodgers finally get back to the Super Bowl? Could Tom Brady do the unthinkable and get to a tenth?
Then how about in the AFC? The Buffalo Bills have had 27 years of hurt and now have a chance to end it. Would Josh Allen be the hero that the Bills Mafia deserves? Or would Patrick Mahomes recover from a concussion and turf toe and get back to the big show? Needless to say, it was built up to be a great Sunday and it turned out that way as we were treated to two great NFL Conference Championships.
2021 NFL Conference Championships: NFC
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 – 26 Green Bay Packers
A playoff matchup that we have wanted for years. Brady versus Rodgers. The two number 12s facing off against each other for a shot at the biggest match in sports. For Rodgers, it has been years of hurt since he won the Super Bowl in 2010. Tom Brady however, has had quite a different set of circumstances. He has six Super Bowl rings and has lost in a further three appearances.
Brady has now played in 14 Conference championship games and won ten of them. Rodgers has played in five but only managed one win. Two of the greatest to ever do it but only one of them has the record to prove it.
Tom Brady continued his fine December/ January form as he started the game with the ball. A nine-play drive ended with a fifteen-yard pass to Mike Evans as he made Kevin King look ridiculous (not the only time he would). Tom Brady showed that in his 20-year career that he seems to have lost any nerves that may exist. Green Bay then took the field and despite Aaron Rodgers finding Marcedes Lewis for a nice 14-yard gain he then suffered an eight-yard sack and Green Bay was forced to punt.
On their next drive, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 17-yards in nine plays and were forced to punt back to the Packers. Green Bay finally found their offensive swagger and Rodgers uncorked a 50-yard dime to Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
At the start of the second quarter playoff, Lenny made an appearance. Having gone 53-yards in two plays, Leonard Fourmette was handed the ball on the Packers twenty-yard line and ran in a touchdown. During the regular season, the Packers scored a total of 253 points in the second quarter, giving them the record for the most points in any quarter ever. This second quarter did not live up to that narrative.
Green Bay went on a 15 play drive and was then forced to kick a field goal after failing on three attempts at the goal line. Having made 24 of 25 attempts on goal-to-go situations settling for a field goal here was a hammer blow to this offense. It would not be the biggest hammer blow of the second quarter for Green Bay.
With 28 seconds left on the clock, the Buccaneers got the ball on their 49-yard line. Despite Green Bay forcing them to a fourth down, Brady found Foumette for a 6 yard gain to get them a first down with eight seconds to go. All Green Bay had to do was play prevent defense and they would go into the break down four points. Kevin King did not get that memo as he allowed Scott Miller to get in behind him and catch a 39-yard pass to stretch the lead to 21-10. A huge defensive lapse yet again from the Packers cornerback.
Never mind at least the Packers get the ball to start the second half. Three plays in, however, Aaron Jones received a catch from Rodgers before fumbling the ball for a second time. Devin White thereafter returned it to the Green Bay eight-yard line. It took one play for Tom Brady to find Cameron Bate and stretched the lead to 28-10. That seemed to finally spark the Packers offensive into life. Rodgers went eight plays and found Robert Tonyan for a touchdown.
After an interception from Tom Brady, the Packer’s offense marched thirteen plays before Davante Adams got in on the action and scored a two-yard touchdown. The score was now 28-23 and the game was finally a contest again. Nerves seemed to finally catch up to Brady as he threw another two interceptions on their next two drives.
Fortunately, Matt LeFleur’s Packers couldn’t take advantage and went three and out after both turnovers.
Tampa scored a field goal and then the real drama started. Green Bay down by eight marched the ball 58 yards down the field and then once again failed to find the end zone from three attempts. It was now fourth and eight with two minutes and change left on the dock. Surely you go for it and not give the greatest quarterback of all time the chance to run the clock out. Even if you fail the attempt you have Tampa pinned in the shadows of their end-zone.
Instead, LeFleur decided to send Mason Crosby out and kick the field goal, narrowing the deficit to 31-26. Tom Brady then held onto the ball, despite a harsh pass interference call (again on Kevin King), and took his team to their first Super Bowl since 2003.
After playing three road games Tampa gets to play in the Super Bowl at their home stadium and the acquisition of Brady has paid off big time. Green Bay has some questions to answer in the off-season, like why didn’t they go for it on fourth and down, and what will happen with their star quarterback after another failed NFL Conference Championship Game?
2021 NFL Conference Championships: AFC
Buffalo Bills 24 – 38 Kansas City Chiefs
After watching the NFL Conference Championship game between two of the greatest to ever do it, we were treated to a matchup between the rising stars of the game. Patrick Mahomes and his high octane Kansas offense against Josh Allen and his equally high octane Buffalo offense. A game that was destined to be high scoring as both quarterbacks are blessed with ridiculous arm strength and a receiving core that most teams would be envious of.
Allen has led his team back to the AFC Championship for the first time in forever and would be hoping to get them back in a Super Bowl. In typical fashion, however, he would have to go up against Tom Brady if he made it. After seeing him disappear out of their division the Bills finally thought the years of hurt at the hands of Brady were over. Now they are playing for a shot to compete against him again in the biggest match of the year. First, they would have to find a way to get by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Thankfully for the Chiefs, and all NFL fans, Mahomes cleared the concussion protocol and was able to suit up for this one. Buffalo started the game with the ball and Allen led them on a strong opening drive that included a fourth-down completion. Unfortunately, they stalled at halfway and settled for a 51-yard Tyler Bass field goal to take the lead. After that, the Buffalo defense forced a stop and Kansas City punted the ball straight back to the. Buffalo was then forced to punt to Mecole Hardman.
As he went to catch the punt, he fumbled it at the Kansas two-yard line and handed Buffalo the ball straight back. Josh Allen came in and found Dawson Knox for the game’s opening touchdown and once again Kansas City found themselves down in a playoff game.
That ended up being the only time that Kansas stumbled in this one. After his fumble led to a touchdown, Mahomes found Hardman for a seven-yard score to narrow the deficit. The Chiefs’ defense then forced a quick stop and Mahomes was back in action. An 82-yard drive in only five plays was finished off by a 6-yard run by Darrel Williams to give the Chiefs two scores in two drives.
Kansas City had the answer for Buffalo’s offense as they forced another punt on their next drive. The offense took full advantage and marched 77-yards before Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran in a one-yard touchdown. Buffalo only managed a field goal in the second quarter and found themselves down 21-12 at the half.
The second half was much of the same for the Bills as they allowed big play after big play to the Kansas City offense. By the end of the third quarter, Mahomes had another touchdown pass as he found his trusted tight end, Travis Kelce, for a one-yard touchdown reception. Buffalo managed a field goal in the third quarter leaving them with a mountain to climb in the fourth. It didn’t start well as Mahomes found Kelce for a five-yard score. Buffalo now found themselves with Mt. Everest to climb never mind a mountain. 38-15 down with under ten minutes to play.
Touchdown, a two-point conversion, onside kick, touchdown, a two-point conversion, onside kick, touchdown, and a two-point conversion. Easy…right? It started well, as Allen found Isaiah Mckenzie for a six-yard score, but the two-point failed conversion failed. Buffalo then tried the onside kick and managed to recover the ball only to go down the field and score just a field goal. A second onside kick was unsuccessful and Kansas City was able to see out the clock.
So there we have it, the roundup of the 2021 NFL Conference Championships is complete and Kansas City moves on to play in the Super Bowl for a second straight year as their dominance of the AFC reigns supreme. Patrick Mahomes gets another crack at Tom Brady, only this time it is in the Super Bowl. Brady has proven himself as the greatest to ever do it but Mahomes could be the only man able to catch his record. A win for the Chiefs in this one will have Mahomes well on the way to becoming the new G.O.A.T.
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