By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
The NFL season is over and with it goes football viewing until August (we see you, AAF and CFL). While Super Bowl LIII left much to be desired for viewers heading into a six month spell of no games to watch (still see you, AAF and CFL), the NFL playoffs as a whole shouldn’t be forgotten.
As football fans nationwide eagerly await the 2019 season, here’s a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the NFL’s recent postseason.
5. Patriots defense helps Belichick and Brady to ring No. 6
Yes, this game was a dud in more ways than one, but credit New England’s defense with arguably one of the most impressive performances in Super Bowl history. If someone had said the Patriots would score a mere 13 points against one of the most explosive offenses in the league we all would’ve bet the mortgage on Los Angeles.
New England’s defense stifled the Rams and Jared Goff. Los Angeles never snapped the ball in the red zone. How does that even happen?
In the end it’s hard to forget the duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady claiming an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl ring together. Brady is the only player in the history of the league with six Super Bowls to his name. And the Patriots did it in a year where it seemed as if they were at their worst. They lost five games to teams that all failed to make the postseason. Three of those losses were by double digits.
You might forget the game. It’ll be difficult to forget that the Patriots have six wins in the biggest game of the year.
4. The Double-Doink
Cody Parkey’s missed field goal for Chicago against Philadelphia was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Treyvon Hester, but what everyone will remember is Parkey’s kick hitting the left upright, then the crossbar, then falling harmlessly to the turf at Soldier Field. The missed kick meant a 16-15 win for the Eagles in the NFC wild card round.
The play followed an impressive drive by Nick Foles, which ended with the Philadelphia quarterback hitting Golden Tate on a 4th down touchdown pass with 56 seconds remaining. Mitchell Trubisky was able to get the Bears in field goal range, but Parkey’s miss, which was later changed to a blocked kick gave an abrupt ending to what had been a solid year in the Windy City.
3. Jeffrey’s dropped pass lands right in the hands of Marshon Lattimore
The Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead in the Big Easy, but the Saints rallied with 20 unanswered points and hung on to for a Divisional round win at home.
When the Saints missed a potential game-clinching field goal with three minutes remaining the Eagles took over down by six on their own 42. Foles drove Philadelphia inside the New Orleans 30, but his pass went through the hands of Alshon Jeffrey and straight to Lattimore for his second interception of the game. The Saints ran out the clock and eliminated the defending champs.
2. MVP vs. the GOAT doesn’t disappoint, but the overtime rules do
League MVP Patrick Mahomes and Brady put on a show in the AFC Championship game. The two quarterbacks combined for 643 passing yards and 38 points in the fourth quarter alone (24 points in the first three quarters combined). The Chiefs erased a 14-point deficit and took the lead on Mahomes’ 23-yard pass to Demien Williams with 7:45 left in the game.
It was the first of four lead changes in the final quarter. The Patriots responded Sony Michel’s ten-yard touchdown run before Kansas City punched it in with Williams from two yards out. Rex Burkhead’s 4-yard run put New England ahead with 39 seconds remaining, but Mahomes only needed 31 to put the Chiefs in field goal range to force overtime.
What happened next is the main sour spot on the game. The Patriots won the coin toss, took the ball, ran 13 plays and scored the game-winning touchdown without Mahomes ever setting foot on the field. Sure, it’s the rule, but it’s a rule that hopefully is brought up for change in the near future.
1. The no call
Already being tabbed as the worst officiating call in the history of sports, Drew Brees’ third down pass to Tommylee Lewis fell incomplete when Nickell Robey-Coleman leveled Lewis before the Saints receiver had a chance to play the ball. Everyone in the Superdome, including Robey-Coleman was expecting a flag for pass interference, but there was none.
The Saints kicked a field goal to take the lead. The Rams drove down the field and tied the game with a kick of their own. Brees was picked off in overtime and another Rams field goal sent Los Angeles to the Super Bowl.
Football Power Index gave the Saints a 98 percent chance to win the football game had Robey-Coleman been flagged for pass interference. Los Angeles had one timeout and would’ve been forced to use it with less than two minutes remaining and the Saints having three downs to work with inside the ten-yard line.
Of course there’s no way to guarantee the outcome of the game had a penalty been called and the Saints had opportunities to win the game after the gaffe, but let’s face it, none of those opportunities carried a higher success rate than what would’ve occurred if pass interference is called on the field. It doesn’t help that the NFL admitted to blowing the call.
Despite a lackluster Super Bowl the postseason had some moments that’ll be brought up in fan lore down the road, but the missed call in the NFC Championship game will be used to make an example of officiating for quite some time.