In 25 hours on the greatest playoff weekend in the 102-year history of professional football, the headlines, one by one, kept overtaking the last one:
BENGALS KNOCK OFF 1 SEED TO REACH FIRST AFC TITLE GAME SINCE 1988
NINERS KNOCK OFF 1 SEED ON 45-YARD FIELD GOAL AT :00
RODGERS’ FUTURE UNCERTAIN; WON’T SAY IF HE’LL STAY A PACKER
BRADY, IN A STUNNER, MIGHT WALK AWAY TOO
RAMS AVOID MEGA-COLLAPSE, WIN ON FIELD GOAL AT :00
HAS BRADY PLAYED HIS LAST GAME?
MAHOMES, ALLEN IN A DUEL FOR THE AGES
KC WINS ON GREATEST COMEBACK OF REID’S LIFE
OVERTIME RULES STINK
ALL FOUR DIVISIONAL GAMES DECIDED ON FINAL PLAY
I’m sitting here, just after 11 Sunday night, trying to process the last day-plus. Or, as Jack Buck once said: “I don’t believe WHAT I JUST SAW!!!” We came within 13 shocking seconds of the road team winning all four divisional games for the first time in history. The heroes/newsmakers: Evan McPherson (who’s he?), Joe Burrow, Jeffery Simmons, 39-year-old Robbie Gould, Deebo Samuel, the conflicted brain of Kyle Shanahan, Jordan Willis (former Jet, of all things), Cooper Kupp, Matthew Stafford, the unblockable Aaron Donald, Josh Allen, Josh Allen, Josh Allen, Gabriel Davis the touchdown machine, the tough-as-nails Patrick Mahomes, the incomparable Tyreek Hill. And Josh Allen.
After the first three games of the weekend, drama-laden all, ended on last-play field goals, no way the fourth game could match them. Then KC 42, Buffalo 36 was better, and by a lot. “I’ve been watching football for 75 years,” said 84-year-old Upton Bell, the son of Bert Bell, the NFL commissioner who preceded Pete Rozelle, “and nothing compares to this Buffalo-Kansas City game. I have never seen two quarterbacks in a playoff game play at a higher level than Allen and Mahomes. I was at the 1958 Colts-Giants championship, and that doesn’t compare to this game.”
How amazing is it that we might be on the cusp of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady walking away from football, and the talk on all your Zoom meetings this morning is: “Holy bejeezus! That game last night!”
Thirty-one points scored after the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter.
One thing I loved most about the last game, and that’s the indomitable spirit of the Buffalo and Kansas City players. That a cliché, I know. What is indomitable spirit? It’s what Tyreek Hill told me after the game. He talked to his parents a lot during the week, and they told him this was going to one of those who-wants-it-more games. Again, another cliché.
“I told the guys in the receiver room that,” Hill said from the KC locker room. “Buffalo’s great. You saw that. To win, we had to have guys who wanted it more. That’s the truth. Thirteen seconds left, fourth quarter, Buffalo scores and now we’re down, and [offensive coordinator] Eric Bieniemy comes up to me and says, ‘We’re coming to you, T.’ Patrick says, ‘Coming to you, T.’ And that’s the way I want it. I love it. I love to feel like it’s on me.”
That’s the kind of competitor you want in a game for the ages. Maybe The game for the…