Most NFL Divisional Round lead-scratching moments: Patrick Mahomes playing, practice errors make the list

On Saturday, we saw Patrick Mahomes hobble onto the field at Arrowhead Stadium to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to their fifth consecutive AFC Championship in a 27-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. We also saw the Philadelphia Eagles tie their biggest margin of victory in a playoff game in franchise history with their 38-7 trampling of NFC East rival New York Giants.

Sunday around the NFL was also pretty wild. The Cincinnati Bengals marched on Buffalo and beat the Bills, 27-10, to prevent a neutral site AFC Championship match. The Cowboys had several chances, but they couldn’t overcome an injury to running back Tony Pollardas good as their poor executionin their 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Week two of the NFL playoffs featured the league’s eight most elite teams, so there was obviously some high-level football played. However, there was also a lot of confusing football throughout the weekend. Here are some of the head-scratching decisions that took place this split weekend.

Chiefs’ handling of Patrick Mahomes’ injury

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Every Chiefs player, coach and fan had their worst nightmare in the Chiefs’ 27-20 victory in the division opener on Saturday afternoon: an injury to Mahomes. The 2022 First-Team All-Pro passer was sandwiched by two Jacksonville Jaguars defensemen as he threw a pass, bending his leg at a painful angle. Mahomes first grabbed his agonizing right knee and ankle after the play.

Even though Mahomes asked head coach Andy Reid to stay in the game, it was heartbreaking to watch him jump like he was playing hopscotch to execute base transfers under center to his running backs. He did not receive a brace before leaving for the next game, not missing at any time. Mahomes then had his ankle bandaged and returned to the game, continuing to miss no games.

Eventually, the Chiefs inserted the backup quarterback Chad she in the game. Henne, who led Kansas City to victory in the 2020 AFC Divisional Round against the Cleveland Browns after an injury to Mahomes, led Kansas City on a 98-yard touchdown that he capped by a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce. This pass marked Henne’s first touchdown of his playoff career.

The match 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 TD pass in the playoffs. Still, Mahomes returned to the field to start the second half. Mahomes was still jumping while executing transfers under center near the goal line in the fourth quarter. The mobility of the presumed league MVP was clearly hampered by the injury, as none of his 18 passes were out of the pocket post-injury.

Patrick Mahomes before/after injury




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With it being the playoffs, it was still strange to see the Chiefs risking long-term injury against their franchise. Mahomes continuing to hobble on his injured ankle during the divisional round game could put him in a worse situation for the AFC Championship game also next week, a game he says he will play after being diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.

Andy Reid loses time out for pointless challenge

Facing second-and-seven of their own 23 with 7:48 left in the third quarter, Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco caught a swing pass to Mahomes’ left sideline and gained six yards, getting scored just before the line to win for a first down. Reid decided that instead of facing a third and inches, having two plays to get just under a yard, he would rather have the first down immediately.

With the field call short of a first down, Reid needed indisputable video evidence to win the challenge, which didn’t happen, so Kansas City lost a timeout and an early challenge. Last 30 minutes of action. The Chiefs then opted to throw a straight snap at tight end Noah Gray to recover the first down which was stuffed by the Jaguars defensive line. Kansas City then punted as they were already deep in their own end of the field. This streak marked a few bad practice decisions in terms of play calls and timeout usage that didn’t end up hurting the Chiefs this week, but this type of streak could come back to burn them against the Bengals, the team that finished its season one year ago in the AFC Championship.

Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase regularly hits defenders for wide-opening touchdowns as his six receiving scores of 50 or more yards are the most in the entire NFL since entering the league in 2021. However, his 28-yard touchdown to start the AFC Divisional Round game between the Bengals and the Bills was unusual as it was incredibly WIDE OPEN against a secondary that ranked in the top 10 for the least of passing touchdowns allowed in the regular season.

It appeared that there was a loss of coverage in the middle of Buffalo’s zone coverage, but nonetheless, it’s still breathtaking to see such a high-profile WHO option open in a Division Round playoff game. Seeing the game in point form, courtesy of NextGen Stats, makes defensive coverage even more mind-boggling.

Controversial TD reversal

Initially, Chase caught his second touchdown of the first half on Sunday, this time 10 yards out on third and goal. However, the replay nullified the infield 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 catch rule several times in recent years, particularly after backlash from the Cowboys and their fans when Dez Bryant’s fourth catch with just over four minutes left in the 2014 Divisional Round was canceled during a proofreading.

Although it has since softened its stance on ground survival, the NFL is apparently still striving for perfection when it comes to football movement while still securing a grip. It’s completely understandable not to watch the replay of Chase’s near-score and only see the field call, which was Chase carrying another touchdown.

Use of Kyle Shanahan’s timeout in the first half

After Dak Prescott’s second interception in the first half, the 49ers took over on their own 28-yard line with 1:24 left in the first half of a tie. Head coach and offensive playmaker Kyle Shanahan then opted for a curious sequence of play calls: a run with wide receiver Deebo Samuel and a run with running back Christian McCaffrey. Those two plays only gained nine yards, making it look like Shanahan was just walking into the locker room tied at six.

However, he then called the 49ers’ second timeout after those two games, leaving his team with a third-and-one with 30 seconds left. After the timeout, quarterback Brock Purdy threw a 10-yard pass to Samuel that hit his own 47, and Shanahan called another timeout. The initial two plays, followed by the conversion, would lead most to think that would be it for the first half. However, the 49ers then had no timeouts and a first down near midfield. It all ended up working out for Shanahan and San Francisco, as Purdy sandwiched a 21-yard completion at receiver Jauan Jennings between three incompletions, the last of which sailed out of bounds with just a second left in the first half. .

Although the 49ers were able to take a 9-6 lead into the break, it looked like Shanahan couldn’t decide what he wanted to do to end the half, which led to a confusing use of timeout. expectation and mixed messages.

The Cowboys were on the ropes after sending the football back to the trailing 49ers, 19-12, with just over two minutes to go, but they still had four chances to stop the clock between the two-minute warning and the three timeouts. . Two or three first downs, if handled correctly, would have sealed the game and prevented the Cowboys from having a last chance.

Fast forward to 1:53 remaining in the game, and the 49ers face a second-and-nine. The Cowboys had already used a timeout, so staying in bounds for another first down would have all but sealed the game. Mitchell checked the first box, blowing through the Dallas defense for another round of downs. But that was the problem: he went out of bounds. Almost every time a player finds himself in this situation, he goes out of his way to do a baseball slide across the playing field to make the clock go by, but Mitchell’s adrenaline probably got the better of him as he was running out of bounds. The move gave the Cowboys the ball back, and he’s lucky his defense held firm. Otherwise, he would be dealing with uncomfortable thoughts entering the offseason.

49ers Conservative Offensive Final

Kyle Shanahan is getting praise for his offensive innovation, and deservedly so, but his play call on the final drive turned ultra-conservative, and the risk-averse play call allowed the Cowboys to win the ball one last time. . After Mitchell landed a first down, the next three plays gained zero combined yards: one Mitchell ran down the middle for a yard, another Mitchell ran down the middle for no gain, and a horizontal pass from Purdy to McCaffrey that lost a yard. Despite all the movement and unique use of his fullbacks, tight ends and receivers, Shanahan was going to run, run, pass when one more first down would have ended the game was baffling.

End of season worthy of the Cowboys

In college football, a player can perform a catch while only having one foot inbounds. However, two feet are needed to do it in the pros. It seemed like Schultz had a cerebral fart regarding these rules in a gigantic place. It looked like he initially made a critical 15-yard gain to bring Dallas into Hail Mary’s range with six seconds left in the game. Unfortunately for the silver and blue, the Cowboys tight end clearly didn’t put his second foot down during the review, pushing them back to their own 24-yard line.

Dallas seemed to choose to go with a hook-and-ladder game to try and score a miracle touchdown, but several components of the game caused the execution to fail. The first uses running back and wide receiver KaVontae Turpin as a player to throw the ball to a sprinting teammate. Turpin is the Cowboys’ fastest player, meaning he should have been the one receiving the pitch after the initial catch, not the one setting up the play. The other flaw was Turpin’s execution instead from the initiator as he completely failed to get the ball out of his hands fast enough for only one other Cowboy to touch the ball. A failure in plan and execution doomed the Cowboys’ final game of their 2022 season.

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