Monday, February 26, 2024

Championship Sunday Review

Championship Sunday is over. We now know the two teams who will be playing in Super Bowl 55. This will be the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will be Tom Brady vs Patrick Mahomes on February 7th.

So just how did these two teams win on Championship Sunday?

Packers Rue Decision To Kick Field Goal

The number one seed Green Bay Packers fell short in their efforts to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2010 season, losing 31-26 to the Buccaneers. It was also quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ first NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field.

Brady vs Rodgers was the headline in the build-up to this game.

The Buccaneers managed to sack Rodgers five times, whereas Brady was sacked just once. However, Rodgers threw just one interception whereas Brady threw three, in as many possessions.

Green Bay failed to capitalise on these. Whilst they scored a touchdown after the first Brady interception, they were forced to punt in the drives following the other two picks.

This is where the game was won and lost. Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari’s absence was key but in the end, it was the coaching that made the headlines.

Green Bay had a good drive which led them to fourth down with just over two minutes left of the fourth quarter. It should be noted that there was a gap open for Rodgers on third down to try and get into the end zone, before he threw an incomplete pass to wide receiver Davante Adams in the end zone.

The Packers went for a field goal. This despite having the best red zone offense in 2020 across the league and the MVP favourite in Rodgers.

It seemed conservative from head coach Matt LaFleur, especially considering they went for the two-point conversion at the end of the third quarter.

If the Packers had gone for it on fourth down, they had the chance to tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion. If they had failed to get the touchdown, they still needed a touchdown in any further possession, which is the same dynamic they had after hitting the field goal.

Rodgers has come out and cast doubts over his Packers future.

Was that his last NFC Championship game with Green Bay?

Bills Outplayed By Kansas City

In a somewhat anti-climatic championship Sunday game, the Chiefs were simply too good for the Buffalo Bills.

After a season they have not seen in some time, the Bills ultimately fell at the final hurdle in their hunt to return to the Super Bowl.

Tight end Travis Kelce recorded two touchdowns and 118 yards. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill also caught for 172 receiving yards from 9 receptions.

The Chiefs were efficient and rarely put a foot wrong.

Buffalo struggled in the red zone and despite having more plays than the Chiefs, the Bills recorded less passing yards, fewer yards per play and fewer yards per pass.

Josh Allen was sacked four times, with a combined total of 53 yards for loss. Mahomes was only sacked once, for 0 yards lost. There were several times where Josh Allen should have thrown the ball away but instead taking the sack for huge loss on yards, showcasing his inexperience on championship Sunday compared to Mahomes.

Offensive Player Of Championship Sunday: Patrick Mahomes (QB- Kansas City Chiefs)

Speaking of Mahomes, the Chiefs superstar threw for three touchdowns, 325 passing yards and a 76.3 completion rate (29 from 38) along with 0 interceptions.

After the concussion issues against the Cleveland Browns in the Divisional Round, many including myself were concerned he would not be the Mahomes we all know come championship Sunday. Turf toe concerns also took place before kickoff.

Mahomes soon put any doubts over his health to bed, with a typical Mahomes performance that guided Kansas City to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

Mahomes and the Chiefs didn’t once look like they would lose this game, despite Mecole Hardman’s first-quarter muffed punt return that allowed the Bills to score from the resulting drive and take a 9-0 lead.

Defensive Player Of Championship Sunday: Shaq Barrett (LB- Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Tampa Bay will make history by being the first team to play a Super Bowl in their stadium.

Their defense has been a feature of the team that has gone unnoticed, with all the headlines that the Buccaneers offensive weapons get.

Last week, Devin White was exceptional whereas this week, Shaq Barrett was the standout player on defense across Championship Sunday in the league.

Barrett recorded 5 tackles, three sacks and four quarterback hits as Tampa Bay beat Green Bay to reach just their second Super Bowl in franchise history. Next up is Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl for this Tampa Bay defense, their toughest test yet. What a game it should be.

NFL Championship Sunday Scores

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-26 Green Bay Packers

Buffalo Bills 24-38 Kansas City Chiefs

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