So after an exciting weekend of NFL Football… the following is my review, thoughts, and opinions on “Super Wildcard Weekend”
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals – This game was a lot closer than I thought it would be. The Bengals should have won this game by two touchdowns in my opinion, but only managed to squeak out a 7 point lead, due to a last minute interception by LB Germaine Pratt with 17 seconds left to play I the game. The Bengals were the obvious better team, but the Raiders have been known as the team that “just wont go away” for most of the season. They have overcome a lot of adversity throughout the season, including the firing of HC Jon Gruden and the DUI resulting in death arrest of Henry Ruggs III. The Raiders won their last four games of the season to make the playoffs, but Saturday night was just not their night. Joe Burrow threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bengals to their first playoff win in over 30 years, moving on to face the #1 seed Tennessee Titans next weekend. The most memorable play that will be discussed regarding this game is the “inadvertent whistle” at the end of the first half. Burrow, under pressure rolled right and just as he was about to step out of bounds, threw across his body and hit Tyler Boyd in the end zone for a touchdown. The problem here is that while the ball was in the air, an official blew his whistle, causing a controversy that still echoes two days later. per NFL Rules, if an inadvertent whistle is blown while the ball is in play, the play does not count and must be played over. That did not happen in this case and the touchdown stood. After the game the NFL put out a statement saying that the officials on the field concluded that the whistle was blown after Boyd had caught the touchdown. Audio of the play clearly shows that the whistle was blown while the ball was in the air, thus per NFL rules, the down should have been played over. It wasn’t and the Bengals were given a touchdown. The final score difference was seven points, thus the “bogus touchdown” was the difference in the game giving even more traction to the controversy surrounding the “inadvertent whistle” and the allowed touchdown at the end of the half. I don’t know whether or not if the call had been made correctly it would have changed the outcome, but the Raiders do have a significant right to protest that play and after a season-long full of bad officiating, the NFL has a lot to look at in the offseason (not that they will look at it). Anyway, despite the wrong call, the Bengals move on to Tennessee next week and face the Titans at 4:30 pm Eastern on Saturday.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills – This game was supposed to be the marquis matchup of the day on Saturday, but it turned into what would be the biggest blowout of the weekend. Buffalo dominated from the start, taking the opening kickoff 70 yards in 11 plays to open the scoring… The Bills never looked back and dominated the Patriots to move on to the Divisional round next Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The key takeaway from this game is that the Bills scored a touchdown on EVERY drive they took possession, except for the last drive, which was only 3 kneel-downs to end the game. 7 drives… 7 touchdowns… to put this in perspective, and to add to the impressive dominance they showed against the Patriots, the Bills did not punt the ball the entire game, they did not turn the ball over the entire game, and lastly Josh Allen was perfect on third down conversions. This was a complete domination from start to finish and the Patriots did not even come close to threatening the lead put up by the Bills. Josh Allen threw for 305 yards and 5 touchdowns (including a “Thicc-Six to an offensive lineman), he also ran the ball 6 times for 66 yards with an 11-yard per run average. The surprising stat in this game was the Bills running game. mediocre for most of the year, the Bills racked up a total of 176 yards on the ground, including 81 yards and 2 touchdowns by Devin Singletary. Josh was on point the entire night and the Bills finally slayed the demons of New England dominance over them for the last 20+ years (Maybe its because a certain 44-year old QB is no longer in New England?). My good friend and Sports Nerds Show co-host @jongolson called it the Bills’ Super Bowl for 2021-22 and I have to agree. The Bills have overcome one hurdle and exorcised one demon, with another one waiting in the wings in Kansas City. The defending AFC Champion is waiting and Buffalo has to travel to Kansas City to face the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year in the AFC Championship. This Bills team is better than last year, and this game promises to be a must-watch affair that no one should miss
I will follow up this post later with my review and thoughts on the Sunday games – Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay, San Francisco @ Dallas & Pittsburgh @ Kansas City.