Black Quarterback: 2019 Divisional Round Review
By Brandon Simmons
Chiefs Scalp the Colts
For all the questions surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense and recent playoff woes heading into Saturday’s game, they have been answered. The Chiefs destroyed the Indianapolis Colts 24-13 to advance to the AFC championship. As much as people would like to throw praise on Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, the real credit has to go to the Colts’ blueprint, in which Kansas City decided to take over for themselves.
Indianapolis was getting praise late in the season for winning games by running the ball and playing solid defense, but it was KC who took on this mantra in this matchup. The Chiefs totaled 180 yards rushing, powered by running back Damien Williams’ 125 yards. This rushing attack helped the Chiefs gain the advantage with the time possession as well – 39:49 to Indy’s 20:11. The real credit goes to the Kansas City defense, who played lights out. The Colts’ offense did not get a first down until well in the 2nd quarter. The Chiefs pass rush – the strength of Kansas City’s defense – did their job as linebackers Dee Ford and Justin Houston combined for 3 sacks.
It was a total domination effort by the Chiefs in a way that was unconventional to them for this season. They still had quite a few pass plays by their receiving corps. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had 7 catches for 108 yards and wide receiver Tyreke Hill finished with 8 catches for 72 yards, but also had a 36 yard jet sweep run for a touchdown. The Chiefs showed that they can win football games with more than just Mahomes throwing across the field. If they can keep this defensive intensity up, combined with their speed on offense, they have become the most dangerous team in these playoffs right now.
Rams Run Off the Cowboys
The Los Angeles Rams placed their high-flying offense on the ground to the beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 in the divisional round. The Rams styed on brand with their 30 scoring of 30 points or more but the 1-2 punch of running backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson supplemented the Rams with their first NFC championship since the days of “The Greatest Show on Turf.” In the first half, Anderson came totaled 78 yards rushing. Gurley finished that half with 80 yards, including a 35 yard touchdown to put the Rams up 20-7. Things continued to go well for Los Angeles in the 2nd half. The Rams continued feeding the ball to Gurley and Anderson as both players finished the game with 100 yards apiece. With all the rushing yards the team accumulated, it was only poetic that Rams quarterback Jared Goff would run for the first down to seal the game.
The Rams were able to get pull off a historic rushing night, partly because of their own defense’s performance. While L.A. were getting into their rushing bag, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot was getting bagged up for 20 carries and 47 yards. The Rams defense even made key stop on Elliot on 4th down. But their efforts went far beyond stopping the ground game. The Rams held the Cowboys to 1/10 on 3rd downs and had the only “sack” of the game on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott – an incidental grasp of his own offensive lineman.
It was a monumental night overall for the Rams. The team totaled 273 yards rushing, the most ever in the franchise’s playoff history and Sean McVay became the youngest head coach to win a playoff game, a mark previously held by John Madden. The Cowboys had a decent showing; Prescott threw for 266 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup even had 6 catches for 119 yards. However, while the running game was shut down, the passing game could not generate enough plays to translate into any scores. While the Rams weren’t exploding with touchdowns in this game, it still would’ve helped to keep some points on the board on some of these drives. But the Rams’ ground attack was just too much to let the Cowboys offense back on the field.
Business as Usual for the Patriots
The “epic” saga between Philp Rivers and Tom Brady has concluded with another chapter; and by “epic” I mean another chapter in the one-sided story between these two. The New England Patriots senselessly beat the Los Angeles Chargers into 41-22 victory. It was a completely, dominant effort at the hands of the Patriots. Didn’t matter if it was offense, defense or special teams, when New England was on the field it spelled trouble for the Chargers.
New England had this game from the jump. They scored on their first drive with a 1 yard touchdown by running back Sony Michel. After L.A. responded with a touchdown pass from Rivers, the Patriots came back with another touchdown run Michel. The Patriots rookie running back was such a huge part of this game, touching 100 yards in the first half and finished with 129 yards and 3 touchdowns. Of course, Brady had his usual shine for the day throwing for 331 yards and 1 touchdown, including wide receiver Julian Edelman’s 9 catches for 151 yards. The defense was especially amazing in this game, as they held Chargers running back to only 15 yards and played their receivers as aggressive as possible.
There’s not much more to really go on about the way the Patriots played because it was what was expected of them to do. The Chargers are a good team and have a QB that is a future hll-of-famer, but the Patriots are just different and have been for a long time. It shows when they take the field and there are games where it shows who they are as a team. This was one of those games.
Saints Work their Voodoo for Divisional Round win
The New Orleans Saints pulled out a win against the Philadelphia Eagles after falling behind on a huge lead in the first quarter. The Saints beat the Eagles 20-14, in a game that was a rematch of their Week 11 meeting, in which New Orleans won 48-7. But this time around, Philly was asking for all the smoke. On the first play of the game, Eagles cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc picked off Saints quarterback Drew Brees. From there, the Eagles marched down the field where Eagles QB Nick Foles threw a TD to Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews. The Saints go 3 and out, then the Eagles come back and score a TD on a Foles QB sneak. For a quarter and a half, the Eagles looked like they were on their way to making an upset, but that changed on one simple play.
The big break for the Saints came in the 2nd quarter when cornerback Marcus Lattimore picked off Foles. That turnover led to a Brees touchdown pass on 4th and goal, which made cut the lead to 14-7 Eagles. The Saints kicked a FG at the end of the 2nd half and opened the 2nd half with a 12 minute drive; this drive got led to a 2 yard touchdown pass to receiver Michael Thomas to put New Orleans up 17-14.
The Eagles just could not continue their success past the 1st quarter into the rest of the game and the Saints took advantage like they should have. That first touchdown drive in h2 2nd quarter was key early in the game; it involved New Orleans going for it on two 4th down plays and they converted them. If either of those failed, then the Eagles would have probably ran with that momentum and capitalized on their lead. However, the Saints defense fed off those plays for the game, as well as their fans’ energy and fought their way to hosting the NFC championship.
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