Most Baffling NFL Divisional Round Moments: Patrick Mahomes Playing, Coach Mistakes Make a List

Most Baffling NFL Divisional Round Moments: Patrick Mahomes Playing, Coach Mistakes Make a List

On Saturday, we saw Patrick Mahomes limping across the field at Arrowhead Stadium to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to their fifth straight AFC championship in a 27-20 win against the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars. We also saw the Philadelphia Eagles tie their largest margin of victory in a playoff game in franchise history with their 38-7 rout of their NFC East rival, the New York Giants.

Sunday in the NFL was also pretty wild. The Cincinnati Bengals marched on Buffalo and defeated the Bills, 27-10, to avoid an AFC championship game at a neutral site. The Cowboys had multiple chances, but couldn’t get past an injury to running back Tony Pollardas well as his bad executionin their season-ending 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The second week of the NFL playoffs included the eight most elite teams in the league, so obviously some high-level football was played. However, there was also a lot of confusing football going on over the weekend. Here are some of the perplexing decisions that occurred this divisional round weekend.

The Chiefs’ handling of Patrick Mahomes’ injury

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Every Chiefs player, coach and fan experienced their worst nightmare in the Chiefs’ 27-20 victory in the opening game of the divisional round playoffs on Saturday afternoon: an injury to Mahomes. The 2022 First-Team All-Pro quarterback was sandwiched by two Jacksonville Jaguars defensemen as he threw a pass. causing your leg to bend at a painful angle. Mahomes initially clutched his right knee and ankle in agony after the play.

Even though Mahomes asked coach Andy Reid to stay in the game, it was disconcerting to see him jump like he was playing hopscotch to execute basic passes under center to his running backs. He didn’t concede a double before coming back out for the next play, wasting no time. Mahomes then wrapped his ankle and returned to the game, not losing a snap.

Eventually, the Chiefs inserted the backup quarterback chad henne Henne, who led Kansas City to a 2020 AFC Divisional Round victory against the Cleveland Browns after an injury to Mahomes, led Kansas City on a 98-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a pass yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. That pass marked Henne’s first touchdown of his playoff career.

The game was tied 7-7 when the injury occurred. The Chiefs turned that drive into a field goal to make it 10-3 and extended their lead to 17-7 after Henne’s first postseason TD pass. However, Mahomes returned to the field to start the second half. Mahomes was still jumping as he executed passes under center near the goal line in the fourth quarter. The presumed league MVP’s mobility was clearly hampered by the injury, as none of his 18 passes came out of the pocket post-injury.

Patrick Mahomes before/after injury




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While it’s the postseason, it was still strange to see the Chiefs risk a long-term injury to the face of their franchise. Mahomes, who continues to hobble from his injured ankle during divisional-round play, could put him in a worse spot for next week’s AFC championship game, a game he says he will play in after being diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.

Andy Reid loses time-out for unnecessary challenge

Facing second-and-seven of his own 23 with 7:48 remaining in the third quarter, Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco caught a pass from Mahomes to the left sideline and gained six yards, getting tagged just short of the line. to win. a first down. Reid decided that rather than face third-and-in, with two plays to get to just under a yard, he’d rather have first down right away.

With the call on the field falling short of a first down, Reid needed indisputable video evidence to win the challenge, something that didn’t happen, so Kansas City lost a timeout and challenge early in the final 30 minutes of action. . The Chiefs then opted to run a straight play to tight end Noah Gray to take the first down that was blocked by the Jaguars defensive line. Kansas City then punted because they were already backed up at their own end of the field. That sequence marked some bad coaching decisions in terms of plays and use of timeouts that didn’t end up hurting the Chiefs this week, but that type of sequence could come back to burn them against the Bengals, their season-ending team. a year ago in the AFC Championship.

Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase pummels defenders on a regular basis for wide-open touchdowns, as his six receiving scores of 50 or more yards are the most in the entire NFL since he entered the league in 2021. However, his 28-yard touchdown run to start the AFC divisional round matchup between the Bengals and Bills was unusual in that it was incredibly WIDE against a secondary that ranked inside the top 10 for the fewest number of touchdowns allowed in the regular season.

It seemed like there was a coverage failure in the middle of Buffalo’s zone coverage, but nonetheless, it’s still unnerving to see such a high-profile top option OPEN in a divisional round playoff game. Seeing the play in the form of points, courtesy of NextGen Stats, makes defensive coverage seem even more bewildering.

Controversial TD overturn

Initially, Chase had caught his second touchdown of the first half Sunday, this time from 10 yards out on third-and-goal. However, replay review overturned the downfield call for a touchdown, and Cincinnati settled for a 28-yard field goal to take a 17-7 lead instead of a 21-7 lead. The NFL has rewritten its catching rule multiple times in recent years, especially after the backlash from the Cowboys and their fans when Dez Bryant’s fourth-down catch with just over four minutes remaining in the 2014 divisional round was overturned on repeat review.

While he has since softened his stance on surviving on the ground, apparently the NFL is still striving for perfection when it comes to moving the ball while securing a catch. It’s quite understandable to stop watching the replay of Chase’s near-score and just watch the call on the field, which was Chase dragging another touchdown.

Use of timeout in the first half by Kyle Shanahan

Following Dak Prescott’s second interception of the first half, the 49ers took over at their own 28-yard line with 1:24 left in the first half of a tied game. Head coach and offensive play caller Kyle Shanahan then went for a curious sequence of play calls: a run on wide receiver Deebo Samuel and a run on running back Christian McCaffrey. Those two plays gained just nine yards, so it looked like Shanahan was content to go to the locker room tied at six.

However, he then called the 49ers’ second timeout after those two plays, leaving his team on third-and-one with 30 seconds to go. After the timeout, quarterback Brock Purdy threw a 10-yard pass to Samuel that reached his own 47, and Shanahan called another timeout. The opening two plays, followed by the conversion, would lead most to think that would be it for the first half. However, the 49ers had zero timeouts and one first down near midfield. It all ended up working out for Shanahan and San Francisco, as Purdy sandwiched a 21-yard completion to receiver Jauan Jennings between three incompletions, the last of which went out of bounds with just a second left on the first-half clock. .

Although the 49ers were able to take a 9-6 lead at halftime, it seemed Shanahan couldn’t decide what he wanted to do to end the half, leading to confusing use of timeouts and mixed messages.

The Cowboys were on the ropes after punting the ball to the 49ers down, 19-12, with just over two minutes to go, but still had four chances for the clock to stop between the two-minute warning and three. timeouts. . Two or three first downs, if handled correctly, would have sealed the game and prevented the Cowboys from getting one last chance.

Fast forward to 1:53 remaining in the game, and the 49ers facing a second-and-nine. The Cowboys had already used a timeout, so staying in bounds for another first down would have almost sealed the game. Mitchell checked the first box, outpacing the Dallas defense for another series of downs. But here was the problem: it went out of bounds. Almost every time a player finds himself in that situation, he’ll do his best to make a baseball slide across the infield to keep the clock ticking, but Mitchell’s adrenaline probably got the better of him when he jogged out of bounds. . That decision allowed the Cowboys to get the ball back, and he’s lucky their defense stayed up. Otherwise, he’d be dealing with some uncomfortable thoughts heading into the offseason.

49ers conservative final offensive drive

Kyle Shanahan gets praise for his offensive innovation, and rightly so, but his play-calling on the final drive went super-conservative, and the risk-averse play-calling allowed the Cowboys to get the ball back one last time. After Mitchell got a first down, the next three plays gained zero combined yards: a Mitchell run up the middle for one yard, another Mitchell run up the middle for no gain, and a horizontal pass from Purdy to McCaffrey which he missed. a yard. Despite all the movement and unique use of his fullbacks, tight ends and receivers, Shanahan’s run, run, passed when a first down and ten more would have ended the game was unnerving.

The Cowboys’ embarrassing season finale

In college football, a player can complete a catch with only one foot in bounds. However, it takes two feet to do it in the pros. It seemed as if Schultz had a brain fart regarding those rules in a huge venue. He looked like he initially made a critical 15-yard gain to get Dallas into Hail Mary’s range with six seconds left in the game. Unfortunately for Silver and Blue, the Cowboys tight end clearly didn’t put his second foot down on review, pushing them back to their own 24-yard line.

Dallas seemed to choose to go with a hook and ladder play to try and score a miracle touchdown, but multiple components of the play resulted in the missed execution. The first is to use return man and wide receiver KaVontae Turpin as a player to throw the ball to a running teammate. Turpin is the fastest player on the Cowboys, which means he should have been the one to catch the pitch after the opening catch, not the one who set up the play. The other flaw was Turpin’s execution at the trigger point, as he failed to get the ball out of his hands fast enough for another Cowboy to tag the ball. A scheme-and-execution glitch doomed the Cowboys’ final play of their 2022 season.

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