After six duds with the home team winning comfortably, the sixth and seventh games of the NFL Playoffs finally gave us some exciting football. The Packers and Steelers both registered road wins that went down to the final play.
Packers 34 Cowboys 31
The top seed in the NFC is done. Sometimes a lot of in depth analysis is required to break down a game. Sometimes the obvious explanation is the correct one. As much as I hate superlatives like this because people always say the most recent thing is the best or the worst, I am having trouble thinking of any quarterbacks I have ever seen play as well as Aaron Rodgers is playing right now. He capped a brilliant 356 yard day with an incredible 36 yard strike to Jared Cook on the left sideline with 3 seconds left to put the Packers into field goal range.
This game saw the Cowboys over a 15 point fourth quarter deficit behind some clutch play from Dak Prescott. The Packers took the lead back only for the Cowboys to tie it again only for the Packers to win it on the last play.
On that note, we might need to welcome Mason Crosby to the elite kicker club. Let’s be honest. Like 80-85% of kickers in this league are interchangeable. You could flip one from one team to another, and the team wouldn’t be any better or worse. Some guy might have a good year one year and a bad year the next. There are only a handful of truly great kickers.
Prior to today, I probably would have put the club at four, Adam Vinitieri, Justin Tucker, Stephen Gostkowski, and Dan Bailey (52 yard field goal to tie the game with 40 seconds left today...NBD). What makes these guys exceptional might differ, but they’re all exceptional. Crosby now might be part of that club. He’s made 23 straight kicks in the postseason. He hit a 56 yarder today with 1:38 to put the Packers ahead, and his 50 yarder at the gun to win it. He had to hit that kick twice by the way since the Cowboys called timeout just before the snap of his first kick, which he made anyway. Don’t forget out that 5 field goal effort two years ago in the NFC Championship Game in Seattle, including that 48 yard white knuckle kick that sent the game into overtime in a raucous crowd. As long as he doesn’t mess up against Atlanta next week, I say he’s in the club.
Steelers 18 Chiefs 16
The second game was dominated by the Steelers everywhere but the scoreboard. Pittsburgh had 389 yards to 227 for Kansas City. This game was close until the end because the Steelers couldn’t finish a drive, held out of the end zone all night. Fortunately, Chris Boswell connected on six field goals himself. The Chiefs converted a pair of fourth down plays on their final drive, scoring a touchdown to cut the Steeler lead to 18-16. They connected on a two point conversion, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty on Eric Fisher. They missed the ensuing try and opted not to try and onside kick. The Steelers converted a first down and were able to run out the clock. They head to New England next Sunday.