Monday, May 27, 2024

NFL Conference Championships 2020: Here’s what we learned

The stage is set for Super Bowl LIV as only two teams remain in this year’s season after some epic NFL Conference Championships.

Kansas City battled back against a valiant Tennessee Titans team at Arrowhead after falling behind early.

But once in the lead by the end of the first half, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs never looked back and bagged a 35-24 victory over Mike Vrabel and the Titans.

Meanwhile the San Francisco 49ers destroyed the Green Bay Packers in front of a gleeful home crowd.

The devastating performance was tough to watch for even neutral fans as the Niners – or Raheem Mostert – ran over Green Bay’s defense like a bulldozer while Aaron Rodgers stalled on offense.

Here’s what we learned from this weekend’s events…

The Kansas City Chiefs like a slow start

In both of their playoff victories, the Chiefs have faced unsettling deficits and looked to saunter off the starting blocks.

In the divisional match-up with the Houston Texans, the team went 24-0 down before roaring back and putting up an unending barrage of points, eventually sealing victory at 51-31.

So Chiefs Kingdom can’t have been too worried when Andy Reid’s side went down 17-7 in the second quarter.

What turned the tide of the game was a phenomenal 27-yard scramble by Mahomes to the end-zone which gave the Chiefs the lead to close out the second quarter.

And, with their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years within reach, they never let go from there.

Mahomes finally gets some silverware to go with the hype

The Chiefs’ 24-year-old looked completely at home with the Lamar Hunt trophy raised above his head, newly crowned with the obligatory AFC Championship headwear.

Since he made his debut in the NFL back in 2017, fans and pundits alike have been dying to anoint him as the best quarterback in the league.

With his performance in this season’s playoffs and his first Super Bowl appearance, you would be hard pressed to argue anyone else is better.

Mahomes flaunted his scrambling ability in both playoffs victories, breaking tackles, extending plays and putting up points.

He was the team’s top rusher with 53 yards and one touchdown on Sunday.

Against Tennessee, he also completed an impressive 23 of 35 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns. The man is on a mission.

Move over Derrick Henry – let’s talk about Raheem Mostert

The most talked-about factor in the Titans offense has been their opponents’ inability to stop running back Derrick Henry.

Yet, on Sunday, the Chiefs managed to do just that, holding him to just 69 yards and one touchdown. He wracked up 195 yards the week prior against the Ravens.

Instead, the running back everyone was talking about was the San Francisco 49ers’ Raheem Mostert.

The Niners stuck with their game plan to run the ball and, after Tevin Coleman went off with a shoulder injury, Mostert bore the brunt of that responsibility.

The 27-year-old, who was cut by six teams before landing in San Francisco, made history with his 220 yards and four-touchdown performance.

He was devastating and the Packers had no way of slowing him down. If he can bring that head in two weeks’ time, he could be a contender for Super Bowl MVP.

Jimmy Garoppolo continues to be a no-show in NFL Conference Championships

The former New England Patriots quarterback might have thought winning two rings as Tom Brady’s back-up was as easy as they come.

That is until he is kept as almost a mere spectator throughout San Francisco’s NFL playoff run this season.

It seems the 49ers are happy leaving it in the capable hands of Mostert and the others, asking Jimmy G to throw the ball only eight times in the entire game.

Of course, he completed six of those for an unremarkable 77 yards and no touchdowns.

The previous week he was slightly more active, completing 11 of 19 for 131 yards and one touchdown but this was almost entirely in the first half.

And so the 28-year-old, who has fought off criticisms that he is injury-prone, is heading back to the NFL Super Bowl but this time as a starter.

Will he even have to break a sweat when the team face off with Kansas City in Miami?

Green Bay’s late effort should prove they had a right to be there

After getting crushed by San Francisco in November, the Packers promised they had learned from their mistakes and would come out fighting this time.

After all, there’s a shot at the Super Bowl on the line so everyone nodded their heads and took them at their word.

But wow – it could have not gone any worse for the Packers come Sunday night at Levi Stadium.

Instead of being down 23-0 at half time, they were down 27-0. The ball was fumbled twice and Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions. It was just bad and all the doubters were shouting “I told you so” at their TVs.

The defence was the biggest disappointment, having had such a strong outing against the Seattle Seahawks and Marshawn Lynch. On Sunday, they couldn’t stop anything.

Yet Aaron Rodgers and the offence tried to rally in the second half and managed to put up 20 points against the top defensive unit.

Rodgers completed 31 of 39 for 326 yards and two touchdowns – not terrible numbers – while Davante Adams put up 138 yards himself with some flashes of brilliance.

It just proved too little, too late. But the first-half falter should be forgiveable given this is a team with few offensive weapons under the guidance of a first-year head coach.

The Packers got to the NFC Championship game fair and square and should be applauded for making it as far as they did – they will undoubtedly be back stronger.

Mike Vrabel’s penis is safe

You might be wondering why everyone is talking about Mike Vrabel’s penis.

That’s because, earlier in the season, the Titans’ head coach offered up his manhood in exchange for a Super Bowl win and it was beginning to look like that deal might be legit.

Tennessee were everyone’s favourite underdog heading into the clash at Arrowhead on Sunday but the Chiefs crushed their NFL Super Bowl hopes despite a promising start.

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked to be playing confidently and made some impressive throws while the defense kept Mahomes at bay.

However, it didn’t last and as soon as the Chiefs got their claws in, it was game over for Tennessee.

A swift sigh of relief for Vrabel and his package.

The Chiefs and the 49ers will face off in NFL Super Bowl LIV on February 2 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

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