Wow. Just wow. After an underwhelming Super Wild Card Weekend, the Divisional Round lived up to the hype. No, it exceeded any possible expectations for one of the best weekends of NFL Playoffs anybody has ever seen.
From Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening, these games had everything. Drama, controversy, questionable calls, retirement rumors, game-winning field goals, and even overtime. The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills finished it off with an eye-popping 25 points in the final 1:54 of regulation before Patrick Mahomes sent his team to the AFC title game in overtime.
Joe Burrow kicked off the weekend with a victory over the Tennessee Titans, and Aaron Rodgers got sent home early courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers. Tom Brady also saw his season cut short after a Matthew Stafford pass to Cooper Kupp to set up a game-winner by former Buc Matt Gay.
Seriously, this past weekend had everything anybody could ever want.
Here we go to try and rank the four Divisional Round games — based on excitement more than anything — after arguably the best weekend of the NFL Playoffs in history.
4. Cincinnati Bengals stun the Tennessee Titans
The Divisional Round was madness, so ranking these is difficult. The fact that this is No. 4 on this list shows how exhausting the weekend was. The Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase connection again thrived, as the rookie wide receiver totaled 109 yards on five catches.
The return of Derrick Henry was an afterthought — thanks to Ryan Tannehill throwing three interceptions, including one in the final minute to set up an Evan McPherson game-winner.
This game had just three offensive scores, and two of those were from the Titans. Burrow didn’t even throw a touchdown pass, and the Bengals quarterback was sacked nine times by the daunted Tennessee defense.
Still, Cincinnati’s Cinderella story continues as they head to face the Chiefs once again — just weeks after defeating them in Ohio.
This game had drama, but compared to the others, this was nothing. That is how unreal the games were.
3. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers lose to the San Francisco 49ers again
Rodgers came back to Green Bay for another year with a trip to the Super Bowl in sight. The Packers clinched the top seed in the NFC and earned a date with the 49ers.
However, Kyle Shanahan again worked his magic against Rodgers and silenced Lambeau Field in a weird game. The Packers quarterback didn’t throw a single touchdown, and even more strange is that the 49ers didn’t score on offense or defense.
The Packers led 7-0 at halftime, then 7-3 in the fourth quarter as the 49ers’ offense stalled. But, Talanoa Hufanga became the hero in the Bay Area after picking up the blocked punt and returning it for the touchdown to tie the game.
The Packers then failed to score, and Jimmy Garoppolo and Deebo Samuel put Robbie Gould in position for a 45-yard game-winner to stun the Packers faithful.
Just unbelievable, and as questions swirl about Rodgers’ future, even more questions come up about what the Packers do as a team going forward.
A defensive slugfest, another road team winning the game, and just pure deflation for Rodgers — who never envisioned going out like this.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fall to the Los Angeles Rams
The last few minutes of the Rams-Buccaneers game was madness. No, the entire fourth quarter was wild.
LA went up 27-3 and Brady and the entire Buccaneers offense looked off. It didn’t make sense, but Sean McVay dialed up a brilliant game plan.
Then, the magic of Brady returned — thanks to the Rams giving them opportunity after opportunity. Cam Akers fumbled twice in this one, including once right before the two-minute warning to give the Buccaneers a chance to tie the game.
Well, they did just that on a gutsy play call on 4th-and-1 for Leonard Fournette’s second score of the game.
Everything looked like Brady would engineer another marvelous comeback — this time 27-3 instead of 28-3. However, Stafford struck gold on a massive pass to Kupp.
Clutch. What else can you say? The Bucs drew up a blitz, and Stafford read the whole thing on what appeared to be a blown coverage.
Nonetheless, Gay trotted out for an easy game-winner, leaving Raymond James Stadium in absolute shock and capping off a dramatic game. Was this Brady’s final game in the NFL? It could be, and if so, he did everything in his power to claw back.
There’s no way anything could top this game, right?
1. Kansas City Chiefs shock the Buffalo Bills in overtime in one of the greatest games ever played
Have you ever been to Six Flags?
If not, don’t worry — this Chiefs-Bills game had far more twists and turns than any ride at Magic Mountain.
All week, the Josh Allen-Patrick Mahomes showdown was discussed as the game of the weekend. But, who had this ending as it did?
This wasn’t just the game of the weekend, but there is a solid argument to be made about this one being the best game ever played, at least in recent memory.
Allen didn’t skip a beat, but neither did Mahomes. The two heavyweights went back and forth, and the two teams combined for 25 points in the final 1:54 of regulation.
Mahomes and the Chiefs gave up the lead right at the two-minute mark. The Chiefs then stormed back thanks to a Tyreek Hill 64-yard touchdown catch-and-run. But, Allen and the Bills answered right back on a Gabriel Davis 19-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left — for Davis’ fourth touchdown of the night.
The Chiefs looked done, but with seconds left, Mahomes threw a 19-yard pass to Hill and a 25-yard pass to Travis Kelce to set up Harrison Butker for the game-tying field goal.
The Chiefs won the toss in overtime, and Mahomes delivered a beautiful pass to Kelce to knock Allen and the Bills out of the playoffs for the second straight season.
This game had everything anybody could ever want and more. Sure, the overtime rules were a big talking point after — and rightfully so — but both quarterbacks played outstanding football, both teams fought and clawed time and time again, and neither team was phased at all.
Oddly enough, this list goes in order of the games played — Bengals-Titans, Packers-49ers, Rams-Buccaneers, and Bills-Chiefs in that exact order. It’s almost like the teams watched and did their best to one-up everybody else.
This game will go down in NFL Playoffs history as an all-time great, if not the greatest, and this past weekend will be remembered forever.
What will next weekend bring?
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference