Sunday in the NFL delivered two spectacular games, a huge upset and a crazy finish – just the type of day NFL fans dream about and rarely ever get.
First in Pittsburgh, where the Jacksonville Jaguars (yes, I said the Jacksonville Jaguars) advanced to the AFC Championship Game in a game where no one gave them much of a chance, despite the fact that their defense had previously dominated Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense. They advanced not just because of their defense, though, but because of Blake Bortles and an offense that finally turned it on when the team needed them to the most.
Then, to Minnesota, where the Vikings dream of playing in the Superbowl at home is alive and well, thanks to …a missed tackle? Yes, the Vikings delivered the first fourth-quarter walk-off TD in Playoff history to crush the Saints and advance to the NFC Championship game where the Eagles await.
So, let’s go in depth into the crazy:
Jaguars Prove They’ve Got What it Takes
If you can say with a straight face that you expected the Jaguars to pull this off, and by the score they did, I’m going to assume you’re Jason from The Good Place.
Because no one else could say with a straight face they saw this coming. In fact, many people online only JUST found out Blake Bortles was a real person and not a joke in the aforementioned show, that’s how much of an afterthought he’s been, even in the middle of this improbable run by the Jaguars.
Bortles was not an afterthought on Sunday, and he was brilliant at times, especially during two fourth-quarter drives that essentially sealed the game. Butt of the jokes? Maybe, but he gets to be that for one more week, and that’s more than a lot of better quarterbacks can say.
And though, right now, the idea of the Jacksonville Jaguars being able to beat the New England Patriots at home in the AFC Championship game sounds like the kind of thing that only happens on TV, we can’t deny that this team is, at times, playing like they’re on a TV show. And hey, we didn’t exactly give them a chance against Pittsburgh either and they put up 45 points.
Jaguars in the Superbowl? We can’t say we’re completely sold, but wouldn’t that be a nice way to start 2018?
Crazy Game Gets a Crazy Finish
The Vikings controlled the game early, the Saints controlled the game late, and looked ready to pull off the win, until ….that happened. And by that we mean the most improbably play ever, as a last second TD on a missed tackle will haunt the Saints for a long time.
It’s this simple, if the player is tackled, the game is over. It doesn’t matter where he’s tackled – the Vikings had no time to get the field goal unit in the game. They had one play to win the game, Casey Keenum had one play to win the game against a much-improved Saints defense and Drew Brees.
Keenum came through. Boy, did he. He had some help from the Saints defense, who missed the biggest tackle of the season, but still, we can’t say he didn’t give his team a chance to win.
Same goes for Drew Brees, who continues to be one of – if not the, Tom Brady be dammed – most consistent QB in the NFL. If your team is in the playoffs, Brees is the man you want leading it. This time things didn’t work out for the Saints, but as long as Brees is around you gotta think they have a chance.
As for the Vikings, well, if they can play first-quarter defense and with the motivation of playing at home in the Superbowl and the confidence from this game? Well, they sure look like they can take on the Eagles.
The AFC and NFC Championship games will be played next Sunday, with the Patriots hosting the Jaguars at 3:05 PM ET and the Eagles hosting the Vikings at 6:40 PM. The Superbowl will be played at 6:30 PM on February 4th.