Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2020 Championship Weekend
It has taken 20 weeks of great (and sometimes not-so-great) football action, but we now know the participants of Super Bowl LIV in Miami. I don't think it is very surprising the Kansas City Chiefs finally broke their decades long Super Bowl drought. The San Francisco 49ers on the other hand, well lets just agree very few people saw them making it before the season started. Congrats to both squads and if you are a fan of one of these teams I wish you good luck.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Kansas City Chiefs 35 Tennessee Titans 24
It has taken 50 years, but the Kansas City Chiefs are finally returning to the Super Bowl after defeating the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship game.
The Titans knew they needed a hot start and a little surprisingly came out of the gate passing the ball. They took the opening kickoff and QB Ryan Tannehill hit WR A.J. Brown with a big 37-yard pass to move into Chiefs territory. However the drive stalled in the redzone and Tennessee kicked a 30-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Chiefs had a painfully slow start against the Texans last week and this game started out the same way. KC went three & out without gaining a single yard. The Chiefs punted the ball back to the Titans.
The Titans started driving down the field again with a little help from back-to-back offsides penalties on the KC defense. Facing a 4th and 2 on the KC 29 yard line, the Titans decided to go for it knowing full well you don’t beat the Chiefs by kicking field goals. The call payed off as Tannehill threw a three yard pass to convert the down. Several plays later RB Derrick Henry took a direct snap and ran the ball into the endzone for a 4-yard TD. Halfway through the 1st quarter the Titans took a 10-0 lead.
The Chiefs couldn’t afford to fall behind by more with clock killer Derrick Henry on the other sideline. They began moving the rock on their second possession before facing a 4th and 2 on the Tennessee 29-yard line. Like the Titans, they decided to go for it and QB Patrick Mahomes hit TE Travis Kelce with a short pass to convert the down. The drive continued until WR Tyreek Hill scored an 8-yard TD on a jet sweep. KC cuts the lead to 10-7 and the 1st quarter ends with that score.
Ryan Tannehill completed a pass on the first play of the 2nd quarter to surpass 100 passing yards on the day. Tannehill hadn’t hit 100 passing yards in either of Tennessee’s two previous playoff victories. The Titans continued to march down the field and capped off the drive with a 1-yard TD pass from Tannehill to offensive lineman Dennis Kelly to increase their lead to 17-7. According to CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz Dennis Kelly is the heaviest player to catch a TD pass in playoff history, tipping the scales at a slim, trim 321 pounds. No surprise the Titans are partial to this kind of trick play as head coach Mike Vrabel caught a lot of TD passes as a linebacker in New England.
Facing their second 10 point deficit of the game, the Chiefs got back to work on offense. Patrick Mahomes started picking the Titans secondary apart, needing only 5 plays to score a TD with a 20-yard pass to Tyreek Hill. Titans lead is once again cut to three, 17-14.
The Titans received the kickoff and for the first time all day their offense sputtered. Derrick Henry was stuffed on back-to-back runs and a 3rd down screen play netted only 6 yards. After the two-minute warning the Titans punted for the first time. After a holding penalty (of course), the Chiefs got the ball on their own 19-yard line with 1:51 left on the clock in the first half.
Mahomes went back to work picking apart the Titans defense, spreading the ball around to several different receivers. Deep in Tennessee territory, Mahomes dropped back to pass, couldn’t find anyone open and took off for an amazing 27-yard TD run, breaking several tackles along the way. The Chiefs needed only 1:40 to drive 81 yards and take a 21-17 lead at halftime.
The Chiefs received the second half kickoff and gained a few first downs before the Tennessee defense clamped down and forced a punt. The Titans had a chance to re-take the lead, but a holding penalty on 3rd and one killed their drive. They punted the ball back to KC.
The Chiefs used three straight runs to get a first down. They continued to keep the running attack going, rushing on 7 out of the first 8 plays of their drive. Was I dreaming or was an Andy Reid coached team actually bleeding the clock with a lead in the second half? Mahomes dropped back for a pass, but tucked the ball and ran for another 11 yards. A pass to Tyreek Hill set up KC with a first and goal at the Tennessee 3 yard line as the 3rd quarter ended. How about that, a third quarter without any scoring.
KC RB Damien Williams ran the ball into the endzone on the second play of the 4th quarter to give the Chiefs a 28-17 lead. Tennessee now had to pick up the pace with time running low. Ryan Tannehill hit a 15-yard pass on first down, but the KC defense stepped up and stopped the Titans with a big sack. The Titans had to punt back to the Chiefs.
The Chiefs mixed runs and short passes to keep the chains moving as well as keeping the clock running. Then Mahomes found a wide open Sammy Watkins for a 60-yard TD bomb. It was Watkins first TD reception since Week One. 28 unanswered points by KC gave them a 35-17 lead.
Tennessee was now desperate as time was running out. A fake punt kept their drive alive, then Tannehill hit a few quick passes to move the ball down the field. He capped off the drive with a 22-yard TD pass to TE Anthony Firsker. The lead was cut to 35-24, but only 4 minutes remained on the clock.
The Chiefs tried to bleed the clock out, but the Titans forced a punt. Tennessee got the ball back on their own 28-yard line with 2:09 left to play, but the KC defense held their ground and forced a turnover on downs. KC took a knee and the game was over. 35-24 Chiefs.
The Titans put up a good fight, but Patrick Mahomes looks unstoppable right now. Like last week he dominated through the air (23/35, 294 yards, 3 TDs) and on the ground (8 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD). WR Sammy Watkins was his favorite target: 7 catches, 114 yards, 1 TD.
The Chiefs knew they had to slow down Derrick Henry and they succeeded: 19 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD. Ryan Tannehill had a good game (21/31, 209 yards, 2 TDs) but he needed more help to keep up with the explosive Chiefs offense.
San Francisco 49ers 37 Green Bay Packers 20
The rematch between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers was nearly a carbon copy of their first meeting, yet this time the Niners punched their ticket to the Super Bowl after stomping on the Pack 37-20.
The 49ers received the opening kickoff and showed early on what their offensive game plan was going to be by running the ball with RB Tevin Coleman three straight downs. Unfortunately for them the runs only netted nine yards, so they punted.
The Packers moved to midfield with a combination of runs and short passes, but the drive stalled with a 4th and one. I thought the Pack would be aggressive and go for it, but that wasn’t the case as they punted.
For the first (and only) time of the game, the Niners came out passing on their second possession. QB Jimmy Garoppolo connected with WR Deebo Samuel for a 16-yard pass and a play later Garoppolo hit Samuel for a 30-yard completion. On a 3rd and eight play RB Raheem Mostert broke free for a 36-yard TD run. San Fran was up 7-0.
Same story for Green Bay on their second possession. QB Aaron Rodgers completed a few short throws for a 1st down, but a Nick Bosa sack killed the drive and Green Bay punted again. The Niners returned the punt for 20 yards to set up shop at midfield. A roughing-the-passer penalty moved them deeper in Green Bay territory, but the Pack’s defense made a stand and they had to settle for a 54-yard field goal to start the second quarter. 10-0 San Francisco.
The Packers third drive went backwards as the Pack faced a 4th and forever (actually 21 yards) after a fumble. Things went from bad to worse when punter JK Scott shanked the punt for only twenty yards. San Fran took possession on the Green Bay 37 yard line and went back to feeding RB Mostert the rock. He capped off the drive with a 9-yard TD run to give the 49ers a 17-0 lead.
On their fourth possession the Packers finally got some traction on offense. Rodgers hit WR Jake Kumerow with a 23-yard pass and RB Aaron jones followed it up with an 11-yard run. The Packers continued to ride Jones deep into San Francisco territory, but a fumbled snap turned the ball back over to the Niners.
San Fran went back to Mostert and he delivered with a 34-yard dash into Green Bay territory. The 49ers continued to pound the Pack down to the 10 yard line, but there the drive died. A 27-yard field goal by Robbie Gould increased their lead to 20-0.
Green Bay needed to get moving, but more disasters were ahead. They muffed the kickoff and were forced to start from their own 8 yard line. Aaron Rodgers connected with WR Allen Lazard for a 19-yard gain to give them some room, but he followed it up by getting picked off by CB Emmanuel Moseley.
Raheem Mostert stole the show again as he needed only three caries to gain 31 yards and score his third TD of the half to give the Niners a 27-0 lead heading into halftime.
Mostert’s first half numbers were off the charts: 14 carries, 160 yards, 3 TDs. The Niners held that 27-0 lead even though Jimmy Garoppolo only threw six passes for 48 yards. Turns out he wouldn’t even have to work that hard in the second half.
The Packers received the second half kickoff and finally got their offense moving. A few passes from Rodgers to WR Davante Adams moved the ball to midfield. Rodgers then started to find his other receivers to move Green Bay into the redzone. Aaron Jones turned a screen pass into a 10-yard TD and the Packers were finally on the board but still trailing 27-7.
San Francisco decided if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as they took the kickoff and continued to run the ball right down the Packers throat. WR Deebo Samuel took a jet sweep down the field for 32 yards and Mostert again finished the drive with a 23-yard TD run to give the Niners a 34-7 lead. Fox analyst Troy Aikman declared the 49ers were taking away the manhood of the Packers and he wasn’t wrong.
Give Green Bay credit for continuing to fight, but at this point the game was all but over. Aaron Rodgers hit TE Jimmy Graham with a long bomb to set up a first and goal from the one. Aaron Jones punched it in but the two-point conversion failed. 34-13.
Green Bay attempted an onside kick, but the Niners recovered. However they couldn’t get a first down and punted the ball back to Green Bay. Rodgers came back out firing, nailing Davante Adams with a 65-yard pass to move deep into Niners territory. A few plays later TE Jace Sternberger caught an 8-yard TD pass to cut the Niners lead to 34-20.
San Francisco took possession and with 8:10 left in the 4th quarter Jimmy Garoppolo threw his first pass of the second half, a 19-yard completion to TE George Kittle. Then Niners went back to feeding Mostert the ball, driving down to the Green Bay 24 yard line before the Packers defense held firm. A 42-yard field goal gave the Niners a 37-20 lead with a little over three minutes to play.
The Packers ran out of time. After the two-minute warning, Rodgers chucked a Hail Mary that was picked off by CB Richard Sherman. A few kneel downs later the Niners were victorious, 37-20.
What a game for RB Raheem Mostert. He became the first player in NFL playoff history to rush for over 200 yards and score 4 TDs. His 220 rushing yards is the second highest total in a playoff game, trailing only the 248 yards Eric Dickerson rushed for against the Dallas Cowboys in 1986. (You didn’t really think I wouldn’t find a way to mention the Cowboys this week, did you?)
Jimmy Garoppolo was fine when he threw the ball, but he didn’t need to do it very often: 6/8, 77 yards. Yup, that was it. No need to pass when your opponent can’t slow down, let alone stop, the running attack.
Aside from his picks Aaron Rodgers numbers looked good (31/39, 326 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), but a lot of those yards were gained when the game was already out of hand. Davante Adams (9 catches, 138 yards) was his favorite target as usual.
Well my New and Improved Super Bowl Prediction (made after my original pick to win it all, the Saints, were eliminated) held firm as we get to look forward to a Kansas City/San Francisco Super Bowl match-up. Of course while we wait for the big game the Pro Bowl will played next weekend. Seriously, who watches that disgrace of a so-called football game? I haven't watched that dumpster fire since I was a little kid and didn't know any better.
Let me know your thoughts on Championship weekend and feel free to add a Super Bowl pick as well. I'm sticking with the Chiefs winning 31-24. Should be a great game and best of all no Patriots!