In the divisional-round games of the N.F.L., the Bengals gained respect by defeating the Bills, renowned for their defensive strength, while Patrick Mahomes and his favorite target shredded the Jaguars. The Eagles crushed the Giants, as well as the 49ers shutting down the Cowboys, providing a clear path forward to the NFC Championship.
Dallas’s offense was expertly countered by DeMeco Ryans.
The 49ers’ defense dominated the Cowboys on Sunday night, shutting them out in a 19-12 victory. A combination of relentless pass rushing, superior coverage between the numbers, and non-stop tackling energy was too much for the Cowboys to handle.
Through the course of the season, the 49ers’ defense had lived up to DeMeco Ryans’ plan of attacking with a formidable pass rush, tight coverage and disciplined tackling. In the divisional round, the presence of their pass rush was most noticeable. Although only one registered sack was recorded, the base four defenders managed to enclose the pocket on Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, forcing two bad interceptions.
Prescott had no luck in the tight, cramped environment, as the 49ers were successful in keeping the Cowboys from making quick and successful throws over the middle. On a third down from their own 40-yard line, Dallas once again met misfortune as Talanoa Hufanga, playing safety for the 49ers, came down from the back of the defense to intercept a pass aimed for tight end Dalton Schultz’s in-breaking route, leading to an incompletion and subsequent Cowboys punt.
With the Cowboys on their own territory on their next possession, San Francisco linebacker Dre Greenlaw faked a blitz before dropping back to cover receiver CeeDee Lamb on a deep route. Greenlaw was in perfect position to cut the route off, causing Prescott to hasten his throw to Michael Gallup near the sideline. Unfortunately, the receiver had stopped running his route prematurely, allowing 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir to swoop in for the interception.
In the third quarter, with the game tied at 9, San Francisco’s All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner displayed his remarkable prowess. Just outside of the center’s left shoulder, Warner positioned himself on the line of scrimmage, only to then drop into coverage when Dallas faced another third down. Warner dashed towards Lamb, who was running down the right side of the field on a deep-lying gameplay, and was able to get to him quickly and keep up the same pace, thus preventing Prescott from making a successful completion to him.
Facing a fast and determined pass rush with few easy options, Prescott was regularly forced to make check downs. Even the Cowboys’ yards-after-catch failed to get them far as the 49ers’ defense flew all over the field to contain any big gains. Lamb ended with 117 yards from his 10 catches, whilst no other receiver had more than 27 yards. Schultz scored the Cowboys’ lone touchdown, and Brett Maher kept them in the game with his second-half efforts.
The 49ers defense put on a stellar performance against the fourth-highest scoring NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, propelling the team to the next round of the playoffs. Now, their attention shifts to preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles, the top-seeded team in the postseason.
The Bengals’ ability to run the football can have a major impact on the outcome of a playoff game.
The Bengals showed the rest of the N.F.L. why they should be feared as a complete offense on the field Sunday. Their ability to both throw and run the ball effectively is especially troublesome for defenses in the playoffs, when game-planning is more meticulous and margins for error are much narrower. Joe Burrow led the Bengals to a quick start with the first drive of the game; six plays that included a variety of throws, such as quick tosses, mid-range darts and a deep pass of 23 yards to Tyler Boyd. To cap it off, Burrow delivered a 28-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase between the split in the coverage unit, giving Cincinnati an early lead.
Bengals Coach Zac Taylor let the run game take the reins after Cincinnati jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, with Joe Mixon taking charge. The Bengals employed an attack focused on downhill rushes between the tackles, wanting to observe how the Bills would respond. As defensive end Von Miller and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones weren’t on the field, Buffalo failed to provide an adequate reply.
Burrow had a lead the entire game, and ran the offense skilfully using a mixture of short and medium-ranged passes, in addition to strong, downhill runs from Mixon and Samaje Perine. Mixon finished the game with 20 rushes for 105 yards and a TD. Despite having three starters out on the offensive line, the Bengals ran for 172 yards, a season-high 85 of which coming before contact, while the Bills could only manage 63 yards on the ground. This was particularly impressive considering the Bengals were playing against a Buffalo team that had given up the league’s fewest yards before contact (0.8 per carry) during the regular season.
Travis Kelce played an essential role in helping Patrick Mahomes triumph over the Jaguars.
Saturday night almost turned into a disaster for Kansas City. With only two minutes and counting left in the opening quarter, the Jaguars pass-rusher Arden Key accidentally rolled up on the Chiefs’ star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes’s right ankle. The entire impact of Key’s body weight fell right onto the ankle, easily taking away the majority of Mahomes’ mobility and forcing him to painfully hobble around the field for the rest of the quarter.
After driving the Chiefs to a 10-7 lead with a 50-yard field goal from Harrison Butker, Mahomes was unexpectedly replaced by veteran backup Chad Henne. Surprisingly, Henne drove the team to a touchdown. Mahomes re-entered on the next possession, his right ankle heavily taped, but was obviously hindered by the injury, as he hobbled to hand the ball off from under center and lacked his usual speed.
Coach Andy Reid altered the Kansas City offensive formation in order to gain an advantage against Jacksonville. He had Mahomes operate out of the shotgun as much as possible so as not to require too much movement, and changed the position of tight end Travis Kelce regularly – from in-line, to the slot and out wide – to perplex Jacksonville who were unable to counter with an apt defender.
With Kansas City leading by a slim 20-17 margin in the fourth quarter, Mahomes used a deft pocket maneuver and threw off his healthy left foot to put the ball game away. The Chiefs started in a trips formation from the 6-yard line on second down. Mahomes initially intended to look to his left at the solo receiver, tight end Noah Gray, but the press coverage shut down the slant route. Without worrying, Mahomes slid back in the shrinking pocket, lifted off his left foot, and hurled the ball to the back of the end zone for Marquez Valdes-Scantling, thus increasing Kansas City’s lead by two scores.
Travis Kelce made history in the playoffs, reeling in 14 receptions and scoring two touchdowns – the most since the 1970 merger of the A.F.L. and N.F.L. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes added to his legacy Saturday night by showing everyone yet again that he can overcome any obstacle.
The Giants have finally realized the potential of Daniel Jones.
Despite the sobering outcome of the season, the Giants should be applauded for their resilience and pushing beyond expectations. They exceeded any realistic outcome for the 2022 campaign and have set themselves up for further success in the years to come. After a 38-7 loss to the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round. Joe Schoen, the Giants’ first-year general manager, must now make several personnel decisions, but none more important than what to do with their quarterback, Daniel Jones.
Under the guidance of Coach Brian Daboll, the offense was retooled specifically to maximize the strengths of Jones. This gives reason for optimism, with the expectation that the offense will only improve further with the addition of pass-catchers. During the season, the Giants focused mainly on a run-based offense with Jones regularly scrambling upfield. As a result of his dynamic play, Jones had the fourth most carries of any QB with 120, nearly twice that of his total in 2021. Daboll prioritized rapid ball-release and the prevention of negative plays when constructing his passing game, which was quite beneficial to Jones, who usually makes errors if he holds the ball for too long.
The Giants just scraped by this season with Richie James, Darius Slayton, and Isaiah Hodgins, none of whom boast the capability of being a No. 1 receiver. The likes of a trade for Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins or selecting a first-rounder in the draft could pave the way for new opportunities for both Daboll and Jones.
If the New York Giants want to explore the possibility of deepening their relationship with Daniel Jones, they must be prepared to make a substantial financial commitment. Most likely, this would mean either placing the franchise tag on Jones, costing approximately $45 million, or signing him to a mid-tier deal comparable to what Ryan Tannehill secured with the Titans, which is estimated at around $30 million in guaranteed salary per year. However, the team must bear in mind that the potential return on their investment may not be worth the hefty price tag.
Final Scores From Around The NFL-2022 Divisional Round.
49ers 19, Cowboys 12: The battle of the defenses was intense, as neither team was able to establish a credible run game. Ultimately, it was the air attacks that decided the outcome, and Dak Prescott had the harder challenge of trying to break through the 49ers’ defensive backs. His two first-half interceptions gave the 49ers the advantage, and they were able to keep the win despite Brock Purdy’s lacklustre performance (19 completes from 29 attempts made for 214 yards and 0 touchdowns).
Bengals 27, Bills 10: Joe Burrow put the Bengals firmly in control by throwing them to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter in the icy conditions, allowing Cincinnati’s defense and running game to take over. Joe Mixon broke through the center of the Buffalo Bills defense with 105 yard and a TD, even with a back-up line of offensive players. Conversely, the Bills were unable to run the ball or win battles along the sides. Josh Allen (25 of 42, 265 yards and one interception) had to compromise and make desperate throws to covered receivers and scored what few rushing attempts his team had.
Eagles 38, Giants 7: It was no shock that the Eagles dominated the Giants, whom they had swept in the regular season, with their final game ending in a 48-22 blowout in Week 14. On the first drive of the game, Jalen Hurts threw a 40-yard pass to DeVonta Smith and never looked back. Philadelphia went on to win by utilizing their running game, outrushing the Giants 268-118. By the half, the Eagles had secured a whopping 28-0 lead and remained unchallenged for the rest of the game.
Kansas City 27, Jaguars 20: After suffering a right ankle sprain early in the first quarter, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes relied largely on his tight end, Travis Kelce, to gain ground and move the ball up the field. Though they put up a strong fight considering the opposition’s talent superiority, the fourth-seeded Jaguars were unable to produce enough offensive firepower to stay competitive on the scoreboard.