The NFL has never had a four-game weekend like that before.
In Tennessee, Ryan Tannehill nearly led the Titans into a game-winning field goal range but was intercepted with :20 seconds left and instead Joe Burrow helped send the Bengals to the AFC Championship.
In Green Bay, the Packers held a late 10-3 lead but Arik Armstead sacked Aaron Rodgers for a loss of 11 and the ensuing Corey Bojorquez punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Robbie Gould kicked the game-tying PAT with 4:41 remaining and 4:41 later also kicked the game-winning field goal, sending Jimmy Garoppolo to his second AFC Championship game in two years.
The last game of the weekend saw three touchdowns, one field goal, and four lead changes in the final 1:54 of regulation, as Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes dared fans to dream of a 16-quarter football game. Instead, the Bills and Chiefs went to overtime and only Mahomes was allowed a final drive, putting Kansas City in their fourth-straight AFC Championship.
And of course Rams fans are aware of the 24-point comeback by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—literally on queue after everybody on Twitter then Cris Collinsworth pointed out that Tom Brady’s 27-3 deficit was quite similar to 28-3—but also won’t ever forget Matthew Stafford’s clutch 44-yard pass to ensure that he won’t have that in common with Matt Ryan.
this was the 1st thing I thought of when I saw Matthew Stafford make the "clock it" motion pic.twitter.com/D70Iy7dufZ— alex (@highlghtheaven) January 23, 2022
The Titans traded for Ryan Tannehill in 2019 and have gone 30-13 with him as the starter, winning the division in both seasons that started with Tannehill as the Week 1 starter. The Bengals found themselves in a fortuitous position to be drafting first in a draft class that did happen to have a clear-cut number one quarterback.
The Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round at a time when Brett Favre had mad 205 consecutive starts and was still a Pro Bowl quarterback. The 49ers traded a second round pick for Garoppolo after he had made two starts, then paid him over $100 million only after he had made another five. San Francisco then traded two future first round picks and used the third overall pick to select Garoppolo’s replacement, Trey Lance.
The Bills got mixed reviews and some heavily criticized Buffalo for trading up five spots to draft Josh Allen in 2018. Many wondered why the Bills wouldn’t have sold the farm for Josh Rosen, if anything.
The red flags of draft QBs, all of which must apparently be treated equally:— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) April 24, 2018
MAYFIELD: too short to play QB in NFL?
ROSEN: too smart to play QB in NFL?
JACKSON: too fast, why put him at QB in the NFL?
ALLEN: cannot throw football to other football players
The Chiefs were not so much criticized for trading up 17 spots in 2017 to select Patrick Mahomes, but there was curiosity about the Texas Tech quarterback who had fallen past a few QB-needy teams as well as the element of Kansas City having a Pro Bowl quarterback in Alex Smith who had gone 22-9 in the previous two seasons as starter.
There was probably a time that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would’ve given Jameis Winston a contract extension after he had thrown 33 touchdowns and led the NFL in passing yards in 2019. That time was not with Bruce Arians as the head coach however, and instead the Bucs were happy to woo Tom Brady if the Raiders, 49ers, and Broncos seriously didn’t want to do it for some reason.
And if “QB wins” truly were anything then surely the Los Angeles Rams could at least claim to have a QB who wins at least 9 times per season for them. But four years with Jared Goff, three playoff appearances, one Super Bowl loss, and one mega-sized mistake on the salary cap eventually led Les Snead to pulling the trigger on his magnum opus on a resume already full of magnum trades. Goff, two first round picks, and a third round pick for Matthew Stafford.
The biggest QB acquisition since Tom Brady.
Which was preceded by a trade for Tannehill, a trade up for Allen, a trade up for Mahomes, and an unexpected swing for Rodgers.
Breaking: The Titans have acquired QB Ryan Tannehill in a trade with the Dolphins, according to his agency. pic.twitter.com/NIsvpVO3oz— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 15, 2019
If anything was more clear on Sunday that wasn’t the case on Saturday, it was that we were getting to watch four of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. If you had put the tape on of 44-year-old Tom Brady against the Rams defense and told me it was a college senior, I would think he has all the makings of a first round pick in 2022. Not seeing more of Josh Allen next week feels like the biggest gut punch of the playoffs, but how can you poopoo more Patrick Mahomes either?
Somehow, Matthew Stafford remains underrated for making many of the same no-look and sidewinding throws and pump fakes, but is happy to deflect credit to Cooper Kupp too.
This is the football we paid for and we didn’t pay a damn thing!
Some other teams were aggressive, but not aggressive enough; the Carolina Panthers traded a second round pick for Sam Darnold and because of that, it will nearly be a first round pick that the 5-12 Panthers sent to the Jets; at least Carolina went from Teddy Bridgewater to Darnold, which makes it all the more confusing that the Broncos never considered what it meant that a team would rather have...Sam Darnold at quarterback.
The Panthers decided a fresh face at QB was needed after one year w/ Teddy Bridgewater.— Alaina Getzenberg (@agetzenberg) April 6, 2021
*Enter Sam Darnold*
The trade could be a steal if his performance is turned around. If not, the search for a QB will likely continue again next year. Rinse and repeat.https://t.co/KbLg11QUS9
The Dolphins could have cut ties with Tua Tagovailoa after one season like the Cardinals did with Rosen, but instead of trying their hands at Stafford by pulling from their cache of first round picks they played it “safe” and stayed course. The Giants decided to stick with Daniel Jones for a third try. The Raiders didn’t want to get aggressive by seeing if they could land Brady as a Derek Carr upgrade in 2020 or Stafford in 2021.
The Broncos, Dolphins, Giants, and Raiders also all have head coach openings right now.
The Washington Football Team (7-10) and New Orleans Saints (9-8) missed the playoffs with quarterbacks who we knew in Week 1 would miss the playoffs. The Colts traded a conditional first round pick for Carson Wentz, which is aggressive, but probably too aggressive for a quarterback who many were still comparing to Goff at the time of the trade, not to Stafford.
Though the game has gotten easier for quarterbacks to put up great numbers, there are still only a small and finite number of great quarterbacks. This offseason is potentially going to feature the most insane quarterback carousel of all-time, as Rodgers and Brady get knocked out sooner than they had expected and have uncertain futures; Russell Wilson missed the playoffs; Deshaun Watson potentially returns to the mix; the Ravens decide between Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley; the 49ers consider their options on what to do with Garoppolo; the Raiders, Vikings, Saints, Steelers, Football Team, Panthers, Browns, Dolphins, Giants, and Texans all figure out again if they need a quarterback upgrade (they do), and Carson Wentz gets traded again.
I’m just happy the Rams already resolved this last year. By being aggressive.
So the Rams had to overpay for Matthew Stafford because they overpaid Jared Goff. Sounds like the Rams.— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) January 31, 2021
Is it possible that the Rams purposely overpaid for Matthew Stafford to set the QB trade market early?— Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge) January 31, 2021
With San Fran in their division and needing a QB, they’ll basically need to give up four 1st’s to land Deshaun Watson now.
LAR set the price for a QB astronomically high.
Matthew Stafford is the most overpaid, overrated QB in the NFL. Best of luck, LA Rams...— Ragnarok Lobster (@eclecticbrotha) August 6, 2021