The NFL Playoffs are always intense for players and fans, but last weekend’s games took the drama to a new level. In the Divisional Round, all four games came down to the final play.
Three of the four Divisional Round games ended on a game-winning field goal as time expired, with the final game of the weekend ending on a game-ending touchdown in overtime.
On Saturday, both of the conference's No. 1 seeds fell at home via a last-second field goal. The Cincinnati Bengals topped the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans 19-16, and the San Francisco 49ers beat the No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers 13-10.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams narrowly avoided a stunning collapse at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady. The Rams blew a 27-3 lead but rebounded to beat the Buccaneers 30-27 with a field goal as time ran out.
Incredibly, those three games were topped in the weekend’s final showdown between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills scored what they thought would be the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left in regulation, but the Chiefs marched 44 yards to kick a field goal to send it to overtime. In overtime, the Chiefs received the ball first and went down the field 75 yards, ultimately ending the game with a touchdown by tight end Travis Kelce to seal the 42-36 victory.
Husker football alums were featured plenty over the weekend in the highs and lows of an incredible weekend of football. Here is a look at how they fared in the Divisional Round.
Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite a fourth-quarter surge, had their Super Bowl chances sunk by the Los Angeles Rams in a 30-27 defeat last Sunday.
In the loss, former Husker defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh finished the game with six tackles, four quarterback hits, one forced fumble and 0.5 of a sack in his 48 defensive snaps. Suh and the defense could not muster up stops early as the Buccaneers found themselves down 24 points. Despite the early struggles of the defense, Buccaneer defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ unit found ways to give their offense a chance late in the game.
In the second half, the Rams lost three fumbles, which the Buccaneers were able to take advantage of. The most important fumble for the Buccaneers came with 2:32 left in the game. On a second-and-seven, Rams running back Cam Akers was stripped by Suh and the ball wound up in linebacker Lavonte David's hands at the Rams’ 30-yard line.
Following the forced fumble and recovery by a pair of ex-Huskers, the Buccaneers scored on the ensuing drive to tie the game with 42 seconds left.
The Buccaneers, however, could not slow down the high-octane Rams offense when it needed to most. Following a big completion from quarterback Matt Stafford, Los Angeles kicker Matt Gay sent the game winner through the uprights from 30 yards out to eliminate the Buccaneers from the playoffs.
Lavonte David, linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David accounted for 11 tackles, one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery in the loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
David, in 68 defensive snaps, had seven solo tackles and the aforementioned fumble recovery to set up the Buccaneers for hopes of a late-game comeback.
Zac Taylor, head coach, Cincinnati Bengals
Just a week after leading the Cincinnati Bengals to its first playoff victory since 1991, head coach Zac Taylor and the Bengals beat the Tennessee Titans 19-16.
In the win, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 348 yards on 28-of-37 attempts and rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase caught five passes for 109 yards. Burrow and Chase led the way for the Bengals in the passing game, but the Bengals' main contributors to the win came from running back Joe Mixon and rookie kicker Evan McPherson.
Mixon ended the game with 14 carries for 54 yards, added the lone Bengals touchdown on the ground and grabbed six catches for 51 yards through the air. Mixon’s touchdown pushed the Bengals up 16-6 with 9:34 left in the third quarter.
McPherson was 4-of-4 for field goals and 1-of–1 on extra points, contributing 13 of the total 19 points by himself. Following an interception of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, McPherson connected on a 52-yard field goal to send his team to the AFC Championship Game.
Taylor and the Bengals are just one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance since 1989. The Bengals now head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs on Sunday for a 2:00 p.m. showdown on CBS.