Share this story...
Latest News

Mile High Monday: Questionable calls highlight championship Sunday

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The NFL playoffs continued on Sunday with two highly anticipated games. On one side of the bracket, you had two seasoned veterans at quarterback (Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers) vying to make it back to the Super Bowl. On the other side of the bracket, you had two young quarterbacks (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen) showing off skills that could dominate in the NFL for years to come.

I like when it comes down to one game. The NFL regular season is a grind, and in the postseason things are turned up to a whole new level. Now, there is one game left to crown a champion on a season we will never forget.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

***

Ending Could’ve Been Better

The NFC Championship Game was a wild ride. The Buccaneers had no problem moving the ball early in the game, and it looked like it was going to be a long day for the Packers defense. At halftime, the score was 21-10 and the Buccaneers kept piling up points in the second half.

When the Packers stormed back to make the game 31-23 in the fourth quarter, head coach Matt LaFleur made a call he will regret. With a fourth-and-goal inside the 10-yard line of the Buccaneers, LaFleur opted to kick a field goal instead of going for a touchdown. The way the Buccaneers offense was playing, it wasn’t a sound decision as they were not slowed down unless they themselves turned the ball over.

Instead of Rodgers getting the ball back with a chance to go for the winning score, the Packers never got Tom Brady off the field. Just as for most of the game, the Buccaneers offense did not relinquish the ball. We were robbed of what could’ve been a great ending with Rodgers getting the ball with the chance to score and go to the Super Bowl. Instead, the Buccaneers moved the ball until they could just go into victory formation.

***

Out of Control

The AFC Championship Game got out of control. There was certainly no love lost between the Bills and Chiefs, and it boiled over near the end of the game. The officials could have sent a message early in the game, but instead missed cooling the situation down. For example, Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones threw a punch at a Bills offensive lineman, but no flag was thrown in an offense that would’ve gotten the Chiefs defender ejected.

With the Bills trying to make an improbable comeback in the fourth quarter, Allen was getting sacked when the play was whistled dead. He was “in the grasp” and per NFL rule, the play was over. Instead of the Chiefs defense holding up, Allen was hit by two defenders and taken to the ground. Allen is a big, strong quarterback, but the play should’ve drawn a flag by officials.

Instead, Allen threw the ball at a Chiefs defender as he lay on the ground frustrated. The refs thew a flag, and eventually called a penalty on Allen (and others) for the play that caused some extracurricular action. When Allen was taken down, the Bills offensive line rushed to his aid and started to fight with the Chiefs defense. It was pandemonium after that with tempers out of control.

The Chiefs players didn’t look good for their play, and their response with guys like wide receiver Tyreek Hill trying to start more… stuff. The Bills didn’t look good for starting to fight too late in the game. When the game was at hand, the Bills offensive line did not play with the same vigor they had when defending Allen late. No matter which side you come down on, it was an ugly way to finish the AFC Championship Game.

***

Who Ya Got?

The Super Bowl matchup is set after Sunday’s championship games. In Super Bowl LV, the Buccaneers are going up against the Chiefs. You have Brady making his 10th appearance in a Super Bowl, looking for his seventh ring. Then, you have Mahomes making back-to-back appearances in the big game, and he’s looking to join the rare fraternity of quarterbacks who have won consecutive world titles.

It makes an interesting problem, especially for Broncos fans, when it comes to a rooting interest in the game. You can hope that the Chiefs win, the Broncos biggest rival in the AFC West. Or you can hope that Brady wins the game, and he’s been one of the Broncos biggest foes for most of his career. You can always choose to root for neither team… and frankly do something else on Super Bowl Sunday.

One notch in the Chiefs side of things has to do with Peyton Manning. Currently, he is the only quarterback in league history to win a Super Bowl title with two different teams (Colts, Broncos). If Brady wins, that means he will join Manning in that exclusive club. Broncos fans may not want Brady to have that honor and thus may make the tough decision to cheer for the Chiefs. It’s all folly in the end as it’s just sports, but it’s an interesting question I put out to fans via Twitter on Sunday night.

***

15 Years in a Row

It’s been a long time since I’ve been out on the road. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many things in the NFL have been cancelled or altered. Last year, I was able to hit the Shrine Bowl, Senior Bowl, Scouting Combine and a couple of pro days (Wyoming, Colorado) before things were shut down. This year, the only event on the scouting calendar is the Senior Bowl.

That’s why I traveled to Mobile, Ala., to get as much information as possible when it comes to the incoming senior class into the NFL. The best seniors in the country are here at the Senior Bowl, and I will be watching them at practice this week. There are no in-person interviews with players or coaches, and some things like the weigh-in have been restricted to just NFL personnel access, but I’m glad to be here since the Shrine Bowl, Combine and pro days have been eliminated from the calendar.

I am appreciative of the chance to cover this event once again for The Fan. Who knows if the NFL Draft is going to happen as per usual, so this might be the only time I get to hit the road, watch practice, talk to scouts and mingle with NFL types.

What do you think the Broncos need to look for at the Senior Bowl? Hit me up on social media and let me know!