Most mind-bending moments from NFL division round: Patrick Mahomes plays, coaching blunders make list

On Saturday, we witnessed Patrick Mahomes hobble up and down Arrowhead Stadium to lead the Kansas City Chiefs back to their fifth straight AFC Championship in a 27-20 victory against the upstart 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 curb of their NFC East rival, the New York Giants.

Sunday around the NFL was pretty wild too. The Cincinnati Bengals marched into Buffalo and beat the Bills, 27-10, to prevent a neutral venue AFC Championship Game. The Cowboys had several chances, but they couldn’t prevail an injury to the running back Tony Pollardlike their poor performancein their season-ending 19-12 loss at the San Francisco 49ers.

The second week of the NFL playoffs featured the league’s top eight teams, so obviously high-level football was being played. However, there was also a lot of confusing football over the weekend. Here are some of the staggering decisions made this weekend of the division round.

Chiefs’ treatment of Patrick Mahomes’ injury

player's headshot

Every Chiefs player, coach and fan experienced their worst nightmare in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win in the opening game of the Division Round playoffs 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, causing his leg to bend at a painful angle. Mahomes initially grabbed hold of both his right knee and ankle after the pain stretch.

Though Mahomes head coach Andy Reid asked to stay in the game, it was confusing to see him hopping around like he was hopping off simple under-center transfers to his running backs. He didn’t get a single brace before going back out for the next play and never missed a moment. Mahomes then got his ankle taped and came back into the game, not missing a single play.

In the end, the Chiefs put in a backup quarterback Chad her in the game. Henne, who led Kansas City to victory in the 2020 AFC Divisional Round against the Cleveland Browns after a Mahomes injury, led Kansas City on a 98-yard touchdown drive that he ended with a one-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. That pass was Henne’s first touchdown of his playoff career.

The game was tied at 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 on Henne’s first TD pass in the postseason. Nevertheless, Mahomes went back on the field to start the second half. Mahomes was still hopping around as he ran undercenter handoffs near the goal line in the fourth quarter. The presumptive league MVP’s mobility was clearly hampered by the injury, as none of his 18 passes went out of the pocket following the injury.

Patrick Mahomes before/after injury




Out of pocket attempts



Average time to throw



Assessment of passers-by



Even though it’s the postseason, it was still odd to see the Chiefs risk a long-term injury to the face of their franchise. Mahomes continuing to hobble on his injured ankle during the division round game could also put him in a worse spot for next week’s AFC championship game, a game he says he will play after he diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.

Andy Reid loses timeout due to unnecessary 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 the left sideline from Mahomes and gained six yards, getting marked just in front of the line to win for a first . Reid decided that instead of facing third and the inch, having two plays to get just under a yard, he would rather have the first right away.

With the on-field call short for a first down, Reid needed indisputable video evidence to win the challenge, something that didn’t happen, so Kansas City lost a timeout and a challenge early in the final 30 minutes of action. The Chiefs then opted to run a straight snap to Noah Gray to pick up the first down filled by the Jaguars defensive line. Kansas City then punted as it already had backup in its own side of the field. That streak marked some bad coaching decisions in terms of play-calling and timeout usage that didn’t hurt Chiefs this week, but that kind of streak could come back to burn them against the Bengals, the team that ended their season. years ago in the AFC Championship.

Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase regularly blasts past defenders for wide-open touchdowns, as his six scores of 50 or more yards are the most in the entire NFL since he entered the league in 2021. yard touchdown to start the AFC division round game between the Bengals and the Bills was unusual in that it was stunning WIDE OPEN against a secondary that ranked in the top 10 for fewest passing touchdowns allowed in the regular season.

It seemed like there was a coverage break in the middle of Buffalo’s zone coverage, but nonetheless, it’s still mind-boggling to see such a high-profile top option DAT open in a divisional round playoff game. Seeing the game in dots form, courtesy of NextGen Stats, makes the defensive coverage look even more mind-numbing.

Controversial TD overthrow

Initially, Chase had caught his second touchdown of the first half Sunday, this time from 10 yards out on third and the target. However, a replay review overturned the on-field call of 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 the catch rule several times in recent years, especially after backlash from the Cowboys and their fans when Dez Bryant’s fourth-place catch with just over four minutes left in the 2014 divisional round was overturned after a replay review.

While it has since softened its stance on ground survival, the NFL is apparently still looking for perfection when it comes to football’s movement and securing a catch. It’s quite understandable to get away from watching the replay of Chase’s near score and only see the call on the field, which was Chase hauling in another touchdown.

Kyle Shanahan’s timeout usage in the first half

After Dak Prescott’s second interception of the first half, the 49ers took over at their own 28-yard line with 1:24 remaining in the first half of a tie. Head coach and offensive play-caller Kyle Shanahan then went on a curious series of play-calling: a run with wide receiver Deebo Samuel and a run with running back Christian McCaffrey. Those two plays gained just nine yards, making it look like Shanahan was content to go into the locker room on six points.

He then called the 49ers’ second timeout after those two plays, leaving his team a third and one with 30 seconds remaining. After the timeout, quarterback Brock Purdy threw a 10-yard pass to Samuel that reached their own 47, and Shanahan called another timeout. The first two plays, followed by the conversion, would have most thinking this would be it for the first half. However, the 49ers then had no timeouts and a first down near center field. It all ended well for Shanahan and San Francisco, as Purdy put a 21-yard completion to receiver Jauan Jennings among three incompletes, the last of which sailed out of bounds with just a second left on the first half’s clock.

Although the 49ers managed to take a 9-6 halftime lead, it seemed Shanahan couldn’t decide what to do to end the half, leading to confusing use of timeouts and mixed messages.

The Cowboys were on the ropes after punting the football back to the 49ers trailing 19-12, with just over two minutes remaining, but they had four more chances to stop the clock between the caution of two minutes and all three timeouts. . Two or three first downs, if handled correctly, would have sealed the game and kept the Cowboys from getting one last chance.

Fast-forward to 1:53 left in the game, and the 49ers face a second and nine. The Cowboys had already timed out, so staying in for another first would have pretty much sealed the game. Mitchell checked the first box and blew past the Dallas defense for another run of downs. But here was the problem: He went out of bounds. Almost every time a player finds themselves in that situation, they go to great lengths to make a baseball slide into the field of play to keep the clock moving, but Mitchell’s adrenaline probably got the better of him when he jogged off-court. That decision allowed the Cowboys to get the ball back, and he was lucky that his defense held. Otherwise, he’d have to deal with some uncomfortable thoughts going into the off-season.

49ers’ conservative final offensive drive

Kyle Shanahan gets credit for his offensive innovation, and rightfully so, but his play-calling on the last drive turned very conservative, and the risk-averse play-calling allowed the Cowboys to get the ball back one last time. After Mitchell picked up a first down, the next three plays combined to gain zero yards: a Mitchell run to center for one yard, another Mitchell run to center that went without a gain, and a horizontal pass from Purdy to McCaffrey that lost a yard. For all the movement and unique use of his fullbacks, tight ends and receivers, Shanahan going running, running, passing when one more first down would have ended the end was mind boggling.

The chilling end of the season for cowboys

In college football, a player can complete a catch while taking down only one foot. With the pros, however, this requires two feet. It seemed like Schultz had a brain fart about those rules in a giant place. It appeared that he initially made a critical 15-yard gain to get Dallas into Hail Mary range with six seconds left in the game. Unfortunately for the Silver and Blue, the Cowboys’ tight end clearly didn’t get its second foot on the ground after review, pushing them back to their own 24-yard line.

Dallas appeared to choose to go with a hook-and-ladder play to try and score a miraculous touchdown, but multiple components of the play resulted in the botched execution. The first is using returning man 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 who received the field after the first catch, not the one who set up the game. The other mistake was Turpin’s execution at the initiator’s spot, as he totally failed to get the ball out of his hands fast enough for even one other cowboy to touch the football. A failure in plan and execution doomed the Cowboys’ final stretch of their 2022 season.

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