Last updated 1/31/2024 at 1:27pm
It's kind of interesting when you watch championship games especially at the professional level and think that the players will be so focused and there won't be many mistakes. But mistakes were made and with dropped passes and penalties that allowed the offense to get a fresh set of downs and continue their march towards the goal line.
In the AFC game Kansas City would make enough plays to get a lead and hold off the Baltimore Ravens. On one drive in the second half the Baltimore receiver gained around 40 yards only to give 15 back because of a taunting penalty. The Ravens would overcome that and were on the verge of scoring when the same taunting wide receiver had the ball knocked out of his hands just before he crossed the goal line. How fitting was that? At some point in time, taunting an opponent in the heat of battle needs to be confronted by position coaches. Maybe the athlete can get by with it in practice but not in a game especially a championship game.
For some reason the Baltimore Ravens that dominated most of the teams they played this season were absent on Sunday. It was frustrating watching the game at times. I would have to say that Kansas City earned the victory by playing a much better game than Baltimore. I'm not sure why the Ravens didn't come out of their funk on their home field in the biggest game of the season so far, but momentum never really came their way.
In the second game, the Detroit Lions dominated the first half and led 24-7 kicking a field goal just before halftime. San Francisco would get their time in the second half and would rally by scoring a field goal and a touchdown and momentum and the 49er fans started to make some noise.
On the Lions' next possession they fumbled and the 49ers had a short field to work with and they quickly tied the game up. The 49ers would tack on a field goal to take the lead in the 4th quarter. Detroit would go on a drive and on 4th down instead of trying a field goal to tie the game up they went for it and the pass was incomplete. Now this is maybe not normal for most teams the Lions have been going for it on 4th down all season. When they have succeeded it was great but on the road a team needs points and a break or two. By coming up short on 4th down it gave the 49er fans energy and they got loud. Now I have to give kudos to Lion coach Dan Campbell for rebuilding the Lions and getting them to this point.
I know his players would back him 100% for his decisions well, maybe not the kicker, but his team trusts him. In a championship game it is important to keep the game in reach by scoring points. A field goal would have tied the score and wouldn't have put so much pressure on the defense. Coach Campbell passed up two field goal chances that could have put six points on the board. Instead the Lions would lose the game by 3 and kept them out of getting a chance to play for the NFL championship for the first time since 1957. This was about four years before the American Football League was formed.
I guess we could also say that had the Lions made those first downs maybe the Lions would have turned those plays into eventual touchdowns. But in this league nothing is certain and maybes don't win games. I'm certain that Campbell learned a lesson that championship playoff games are different than regular season games especially when they are played outside of Pontiac, Michigan.
So there were two entertaining games played on Sunday and after the clock hit 0.00 the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers became champions of their respective conferences. In less than two weeks we can watch Super Bowl LVIII from Las Vegas. For both teams it is important to limit mistakes because mistakes were a big part of the reason that they are playing on.
- Dale Anderson is a sports columnist from Ritzville. To contact him, email [email protected].