Playoff football. The most exciting time of the year for football fans as each snap, catch,
interception, or fumble could make or break a team’s entire season. NFL players around the
country work hard during the offseason and regular season in order to nab a spot in the exclusive NFL playoffs as only 12 teams make it each season. As NFL fans have been intensely watching the playoff games the past few weeks with the hope that their team would make it to the Super Bowl, only two teams remain after the gauntlet of games. The Patriots and the Rams.
This comes after an exciting weekend of conference championship football full of
controversy and clutch plays. The NFC Championship featured the Rams and Saints, with the
Rams coming out on top 26-23 in a game where many fans thought that the Saints were robbed
of a win. In the final 2 minutes of an intense game tied at 20, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-
Coleman had a blatant pass interference on Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, yet there
were no flags thrown. While Rams fans rejoiced over this no-call and arguably won the game
because of it, Saints fans around the nation are outraged at it.
“Even though I’m a Falcons fan and hate the Saints, it was a horrible call that might have
cost them a trip to the Super Bowl,” stated sophomore Aydin Bandukwala.
Even Coleman admitted to committing pass interference as he stated in a post-game interview: “Yeah that was PI, I whacked him.”
While Saints fans may blame the loss on the referee’s, it wasn’t entirely their fault as the
Saints still had a chance to win the game in overtime. They were the receiving team and had a
chance to put the Rams away with a touchdown, but they Drew Brees was picked off by John
Johnson. With that interception, all the Rams needed was a field goal in order to secure a win
and super bowl bid, and they did just that with Greg Zuerlein hitting the longest game winning
field goal in playoff history at 57 yards.
While Zuerlein made history with that field goal, kickers have played an interesting role
in this year’s NFL playoffs, the most noticeable one being Bears kicker Cody Parkey’s blocked
game winning field goal against the Eagles. This blocked field goal is now being called the
“double doink” by NFL fans around the world due to it hitting the post twice.
While at first called a missed field goal by Parkey, it was later ruled a block by Eagles
defensive tackle Treyvon Hester. What made this field goal interesting for the sports world was
not only the fact that it was such an important and clutch kick, but the fact that it hit the crossbar twice before finally falling onto the turf in front of the uprights. It’s rare enough to see a missed game winning field goal hit the uprights, but seeing the ball careen off of the left post onto the bottom part of the field goal was a once in a lifetime sight.
“It was really interesting to watch the double doink, but at the same time, I felt bad for
Parkey because he just lost a playoff game for his team,” stated sophomore Anand Srinivasan.
While the Rams vs. Saints game was the first one of conference championship Saturday,
the AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and Patriots lived up to the hype, as it also
went to overtime.
The Patriots lead by veteran and arguably greatest quarterback of all time Tom Brady
matched up against young star Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Patriots ended up coming
out on top 37-31 in overtime.
The Patriots got off to a hot start this game, and went into halftime up 14-0 against the
Chiefs. While many may have counted the Chiefs out of the game at this point, Mahomes proved
why he is the leading MVP candidate this season as he came out and threw for three touchdowns
against a tenacious New England defense in the second half.
The Chiefs ended up 28-24 with just over 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Brady
worked his magic, led the Patriots down the field, and Rex Burkhead rushed into the endzone to
put New England up by 3. With 32 seconds on the clock, Mahomes once again proved his skill
as a quarterback with back to back completions for 20+ yards to get the Chiefs into field goal
territory. Westminster Alumni Harrison Butker then stepped in to hit a 39-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
“I think it was really cool to see Harrison Butker hit the game-tying field goal since he
went to Westminster, and I’ve been a huge fan of him ever since. I even supported him through
college at Georgia Tech,” stated sophomore Emme Payne.
The Patriots won the coin toss, and Burkhead rushed into the endzone for the game
winning touchdown. While many praise Brady for reaching the Super Bowl for the ninth time in
his career and fourth in the last five years, some also wished that Mahomes had gotten a chance
to touch the ball and show the world what he could’ve done.
“I really wish that Mahomes had a chance to prove himself in overtime as I wanted to see
how he would respond to such an important and nerve wracking moment so early into his
career,” said senior Nikhil Manocha.
With the 53rd Super Bowl in Atlanta fast-approaching, football fans are anticipating a
high scoring and close Super Bowl. With the Super Bowl being held here in Atlanta, fans here
are not only preparing themselves for the game itself, but also the traffic that will come with the game.
“I’m not looking forward to the Super Bowl traffic, but I know it’s worth it to hold the
game here, as it is such a unique opportunity for us,” stated sophomore Rachel Liu.
With the Rams sitting at a one point favorite over the Patriots right now, it will be
interesting to see how it plays out as Brady and the Pats will be in a situation they aren’t used to: the underdogs.