The first week of playoff action is in the books! Here's what I took away from a week of action-packed fun and suspense!
The Bengals Finally Won a Playoff Game: For the first time since 1991, the Cincinnati Bengals won a playoff game. That's right. Someone sent a text message about the Bengals beating the Las Vegas Raiders, 26-19. Germany was united when Cincy advanced to the divisional round. Nintendo came out with five new home consoles when Joe Burrow completed 24 of 34 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, en route to a victory. Ja'Marr Chase contributed to the cause, catching nine passes for 116 yards, long after Operation Desert Storm went down. It's been a long time coming for Bengals fans. However, I have a feeling Cincinnati isn't done celebrating.
The Bills' Perfect Game: The Buffalo Bills had a dominant performance against their division rival, the New England Patriots. How dominant? They didn't face a single fourth-down in that game. No punts. No field goals. Just touchdown after touchdown on every drive. Bill Belichick's teams aren't known for being beaten this badly. However, the Bills did that, putting on an immaculate performance led by Josh Allen and his five touchdown passes.
Business As Usual: Even without Chris Godwin (knee) and Antonio Brown (temper tantrum), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made quick work of the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-15. Mike Evans had a big day for the defending champions, catching nine passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. Tampa Bay's defense also forced three turnovers, wreaking havoc on Jalen Hurts and company. It's now a date with Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams (more on that later), as the Buccaneers get ready for a Sunday tilt with the Hollywood Rams.
Controversy in Big D: There's so much to unwrap from the Dallas Cowboys' 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. First, what were Mike McCarthy, Kellen Moore, and Dak Prescott thinking with a QB draw with 14 seconds left and no timeouts? Never mind the controversy with the referees touching the ball. Running that play in the current situation was a gong show, to begin with. Also, the Cowboys had 14 penalties in that game, tying the record for the most in a playoff game. Such discipline (or lack of) is inexcusable for a team looking to go back to the glory days. What will happen to the Cowboys this off-season? Will McCarthy remain with the team, especially if coordinators Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore get head coaching positions elsewhere?
Big Ben's Last Hurrah: In what was possibly Ben Roethlisberger's last football game ever, the Pittsburgh Steelers were doubled up by the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-21. Big Ben has had a controversial career, with issues such as sexual assault clouding his achievements. That includes being a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback, two-time Super Bowl champion, and being the two-time passing leader in the NFL. Roethlisberger is also seventh in career passing yards, 12th in passer rating (94.3), and tied for 12th in completion percentage (64.4%) among quarterbacks with a minimum of 1,500 attempts. Ben will certainly be revered among the Steeler family, cementing his case for the Hall of Fame along the way.
Stafford Gets Over the Hump: On a more positive note, Matthew Stafford finally got a playoff win! It took loading up the Los Angeles Rams with players such as Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. However, the Rams helped the former Detroit Lions legend get over the hump, thumping the Arizona Cardinals, 34-11. Stafford threw for two touchdown passes in the game while rushing for one, setting up a match with the defending champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It feels so good for an amazing quarterback like Stafford to finally get the help he never got in Detroit. That's especially true with the Rams being definite Super Bowl contenders this season.