Most head-scratching moments from the NFL divisional spherical: Patrick Mahomes enjoying, coaching blunders make list

On Saturday, we witnessed Patrick Mahomes hobbling up and down the discipline at Arrowhead Stadium to steer the Kansas City Chiefs again to their fifth consecutive AFC Championship in a 27-20 win towards the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars. We additionally noticed the Philadelphia Eagles tie their greatest margin of victory in a playoff sport in franchise historical past with their 38-7 curb-stomping of their NFC East rival, the New York Giants.

Sunday round the NFL was fairly wild as nicely. The Cincinnati Bengals marched into Buffalo and defeated the Bills, 27-10, to forestall a impartial website AFC Championship Game. The Cowboys had a number of probabilities, however they could not overcome an harm to working again Tony Pollardin addition to their poor executionof their season-ending 19-12 loss at the San Francisco 49ers.

The second week of the NFL playoffs included the league’s eight most elite groups, so there was clearly some high-level soccer being performed. However, there was additionally loads of confounding soccer as nicely throughout the weekend. Here are a few of the head-scratching selections that occurred this weekend.

Chiefs’ dealing with of Patrick Mahomes’ harm

Every Chiefs participant, coach and fan skilled their worst nightmare in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win in the opening sport of the divisional spherical playoffs on Saturday afternoon: an harm to Mahomes. The 2022 first-team All-Pro passer bought sandwiched by two Jacksonville Jaguars defenders as he threw a move, inflicting his leg to bend at a painful angle. Mahomes initially grabbed each his proper knee and ankle in agony after the play.

Even although Mahomes requested head coach Andy Reid to remain in the sport, it was head-scratching to see him skip round like he was enjoying hop-scotch to execute primary, under-center handoffs to his working backs. He didn’t obtain any brace earlier than going again out for the subsequent play, not lacking any time. Mahomes then bought his ankle taped and got here again in the sport, persevering with to not miss any performs.

Eventually, the Chiefs inserted a backup quarterback Chad Henne into the sport. Henne, who led Kansas City to victory in the 2020 AFC divisional spherical towards the Cleveland Browns after a Mahomes harm, led Kansas City on a 98-yard landing drive that he capped off with a one-yard landing move to tight finish Travis Kelce. That move marked Henne’s first landing in his playoff profession.

The sport was tied at 7-7 when the harm occurred. The Chiefs turned that drive right into a discipline purpose to make it 10-3 and prolonged their result in 17-7 after Henne’s first-career postseason TD move. Yet, Mahomes went again on to the discipline to start out the second half. Mahomes was nonetheless hopping round whereas working under-center handoffs close to the purpose line in the fourth quarter. The presumptive league MVP’s mobility was clearly hampered by the harm, as none of his 18 passes had been outdoors the pocket following the harm.

Patrick Mahomes earlier than/after harm




Attempts outdoors pocket



Average time to throw



Passer score



While it’s the postseason, it was nonetheless unusual seeing the Chiefs danger a long-term harm to the face of their franchise. Mahomes persevering with to hobble round on his injured ankle throughout the divisional spherical sport may put him in a worse spot for the AFC championship sport as nicely subsequent week, a sport he says he’ll play in after being identified with a high-ankle sprain.

Andy Reid loses timeout over pointless problem

Facing second-and-seven from their very own 23 with 7:48 remaining in the third quarter, Chiefs working again Isiah Pacheco caught a swing move towards the left sideline from Mahomes and gained six yards, getting marked simply wanting the line to achieve for a primary down. Reid determined that as a substitute of dealing with third-and-inches, having two performs to get just below a yard, he would slightly have the first down instantly.

With the name on the discipline being wanting a primary down, Reid wanted indeniable video proof to win the problem, one thing that did not occur, so Kansas City misplaced a timeout and a problem early into the ultimate half-hour of motion. The Chiefs then opted to run a direct snap to tight finish Noah Gray with a purpose to decide up the first down that was stuffed by the Jaguars line of defense. Kansas City then punted because it was already backed up in its personal finish of the discipline. That sequence marked a couple of poor coaching selections by way of play-calling and timeout utilization that did not find yourself hurting Chiefs this week, however that kind of sequence may come again to burn them towards the Bengals, the staff that ended their season a 12 months in the past in the AFC Championship.

Bengals broad receiver Ja’Marr Chase blows by defenders frequently for wide-open touchdowns, as his six receiving scores of fifty or extra yards are the most in the total NFL since he entered the league in 2021. However, his 28- yard landing to start the AFC divisional spherical matchup between the Bengals and the Bills was uncommon as a result of he was stunningly WIDE OPEN towards a secondary that ranked inside the high 10 for the fewest passing touchdowns allowed in the common season.

It appeared there was a protection bust in the center of Buffalo’s zone protection, however nonetheless, it is nonetheless head-scratching to see such a high-profile high possibility THAT opens in a divisional spherical playoff sport. Seeing the play in dots type, courtesy of NextGen Stats, makes the defensive protection look much more mind-numbingly off.

Controversial TD overturn

Initially, Chase had caught his second landing of the first half Sunday, this time from 10 yards out on third-and-goal. However, replay assessment overturned the name on the discipline of a landing, and Cincinnati settled for a 28-yard discipline purpose to take a 17-7 lead as a substitute of a 21-7 lead. The NFL has re-written its catch rule a number of occasions lately, particularly after backlash from the Cowboys and their followers when Dez Bryant’s fourth-down catch with simply over 4 minutes left in the 2014 divisional spherical was overturned on a replay assessment.

While it has since softened its stance on surviving the floor, the NFL is seemingly nonetheless in search of perfection in the case of the soccer’s motion whereas securing a catch. It’s fairly comprehensible to return away from the replay of Chase’s near-score and solely see the name on the discipline, which was Chase hauling in one other landing.

Kyle Shanahan’s first-half timeout utilization

Following Dak Prescott’s second interception of the first half, the 49ers took over at their very own 28-yard line with 1:24 left in the first half of a tie sport. Head coach and offensive play-caller Kyle Shanahan then opted for a curious sequence of play-calling: a run with broad receiver Deebo Samuel and a run with working again Christian McCaffrey. Those two performs gained solely 9 yards, making it appear to be Shanahan was content material to enter the locker room tied at six.

However, he then referred to as the 49ers’ second timeout after these two performs, leaving his staff a third-and-one with 30 seconds to go. Following the timeout, quarterback Brock Purdy threw a 10-yard move to Samuel that reached their very own 47, and Shanahan referred to as one other timeout. The preliminary two performs, adopted by the conversion, would lead most to assume that it was going to be it for the first half. However, the 49ers then had zero timeouts and a primary down close to midfield. It ended up all understanding for Shanahan and San Francisco, as Purdy sandwiched a 21-yard completion to receiver Jauan Jennings in-between three incompletions, the final of which sailed out of bounds with solely a second left on the first-half clock.

Although the 49ers had been in a position to take a 9-6 lead into the break, it appeared as if Shanahan could not determine what he wished to do to finish the half, resulting in some complicated timeout utilization and combined messaging.

The Cowboys had been on the ropes after punting the soccer again to the 49ers trailing, 19-12, with simply over two minutes to go, however they nonetheless had 4 alternatives for the clock to be stopped between the two-minute warning and all three timeouts. . Two or three first downs, if dealt with appropriately, would have sealed the sport and stored the Cowboys from getting one final likelihood.

Fast-forward to 1:53 left in the sport, and the 49ers are dealing with a second-and-nine. The Cowboys had already used a timeout, so staying inbounds for an additional first down would have all however sealed the sport. Mitchell checked the first field, blowing by the Dallas protection for a brand new set of downs. But right here was the drawback: he went out of bounds. Almost each time a participant will get in that state of affairs, they exit of their approach to do a baseball slide in the discipline of play to maintain the clock shifting, however Mitchell’s adrenaline most likely bought the better of him as he jogged out of bounds. That choice allowed the Cowboys to get the ball again, and he is fortunate his protection stood tall. Otherwise, he can be coping with some uncomfortable ideas coming into the offseason.

49ers’ conservative ultimate offensive drive

Kyle Shanahan will get reward for his offensive innovation, and rightfully so, however his play-calling on the ultimate drive grew to become uber-conservative, and the risk-averse play-calling allowed the Cowboys to get the ball again one final time. After Mitchell picked up a primary down, the subsequent three performs gained a mixed zero yards: a Mitchell run up the center for one yard, one other Mitchell run up the center that went for no acquire, and a horizontal move from Purdy to McCaffrey that misplaced a yard. For all the movement and distinctive utilization of his fullbacks, tight ends and receivers, Shanahan going run, run, move when another first down would have ended the sport was bewildering.

Cowboys’ cringeworthy finish to the season

In faculty soccer, a participant can full a catch whereas getting only one foot down inbounds. However, two toes are required to take action in the execs. It appeared as if Schultz had a brain-fart relating to these guidelines in a humongous spot. It appeared as if he initially made a crucial 15-yard acquire to get Dallas into Hail Mary vary with six seconds left in the sport. Unfortunately for the Silver and Blue, the Cowboys tight finish clearly didn’t get his second foot down upon assessment, pushing them again to their very own 24-yard line.

Dallas appeared to decide on to go together with a hook-and-ladder play to try to rating a miracle landing, however a number of parts of the play resulted in the failed execution. The first one is utilizing return man and broad receiver KaVontae Turpin as the participant to pitch the ball to a sprinting teammate. Turpin is the quickest participant on the Cowboys, that means he ought to have been the one receiving the pitch after the preliminary catch, not the one establishing the play. The different flaw was Turpin’s execution in the initiator spot since he utterly did not get the ball out of his fingers shortly sufficient for even one different Cowboy to the touch the soccer. A failure in scheme and execution doomed the Cowboys’ ultimate play of their 2022 season.

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