2021 PFWA ALL-AFC TEAM
QB – Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
WR – Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (r); Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs*
TE – Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
C – Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs (r)
G – Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns*; Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
DE – Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders; Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns*
DT – Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers; Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs*
OLB – Matthew Judon, New England Patriots; T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
MLB – Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
CB – Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins*; J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots
PK – Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens^
P – A.J. Cole, Las Vegas Raiders
KR – Braxton Berrios, New York Jets
PR – Devin Duvernay, Baltimore Ravens
ST – Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
Coach Sean McDermott is among those who will have a hard time not revisiting and thinking about the final 13 seconds and brief overtime of the 42-36 loss.
“I watched it on video and I watched it over and over in my head a million times, in my stomach a million more,” McDermott said Tuesday during his end-of-season news conference. “It’s my livelihood and I’m super competitive as well. I want the best for our football team and this organization and our fans, quite honestly. So I’ll continue to watch it in my mind and in my gut for years ... but when we get to where we’re trying to get to, I believe that’ll make it that much more enjoyable in that moment.”
Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen put on a show, and the National Football League benefited with its most-watched divisional playoff game in five years.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-36 overtime win against the Buffalo Bills averaged 42.7 million viewers on Sunday, ViacomCBS reported. The network said the contest peaked with 51.6 million viewers. The Chiefs-Bills game produced one of the most memorable and drama-filled playoff endings in NFL history.
After trailing the Chiefs 33-29, with one minute remaining in the game, Allen led a six-play, 75-yard drive to give the Bills a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds to play. Mahomes responded with a three-play, 45-yard drive, and the Chiefs tied the game at 36 with a field goal. And in overtime, Mahomes led an eight-play, 75-yard drive and threw the game-winning touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce to advance the Chiefs to the AFC title game.
1 - Kansas City Chiefs
Previous rank: No. 3
Sometimes you need a miracle. And when you do, it’s nice to have a Mahomes. The Chiefs trailed by three points deep in their own territory with 13 seconds to play against the relentless Bills, but Patrick Mahomes’ ability to make the impossible possible saved the day in an unforgettable 42-36 win. Mahomes teed up Harrison Butker’s game-tying field goal with two massive completions, then marched Kansas City to victory with a touchdown drive on the only possession of overtime. Andy Reid’s defense was thrashed in the fourth quarter by Josh Allen — another quarterback in the upper reaches of The Superstar Club — but Mahomes has that special DNA trait that only the legends possess. There are days when he simply will not allow his team to lose, no matter the odds. The Chiefs’ reward for a classic victory is the right to host the AFC Championship Game for the fourth consecutive year. The Bengals are another worthy challenger to the conference throne.
Veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster nearly joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021 before opting to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Steelers instead of a one-year, $8 million offer from the Chiefs that included $3 million in incentives. With that contract now coming to an end, is Smith-Schuster interested in signing with the Chiefs once again?
Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster interested in Chiefs again?
Now that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is retiring, Smith-Schuster has interest in potentially joining the Chiefs again. It’s no secret in NFL circles with multiple league sources that Smith-Schuster hopes to join the Chiefs as a free agent and has expressed that desire. A year ago, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was recruiting Smith-Schuster and sending him photos of the Lombardi Trophy
“He’s a good receiver. He knows how to set up routes, especially for a young guy,” Reid said in his Monday press conference, according to Pro Football Talk. “Then he’s strong when he gets the ball in his hands. He’s got great core strength and lower body strength, and quick feet to go with it. So, he’s the complete package. He’s one of those guys that isn’t 6-foot-4 but plays like he’s 6-foot-4. He’s got great range.”
32 - Kansas City Chiefs
SELECTION: Daxton Hill, DB
The Chiefs need more playmakers in the secondary. Hill’s versatility, instincts and awareness would make him a nice fit in Steve Spagnuolo’s dynamic scheme.
Around the NFL
Payton, 58, leaves the Saints with an overall regular-season record of 152-89 and a postseason mark of 9-8, including one Super Bowl victory and the 2006 AP Coach of the Year award, in 15 seasons.
“Honestly, as I sit here today, and this is OK, I don’t know what’s next,” Payton told reporters during a Tuesday news conference. “Look, I read the reports and I’ve not spoken to anyone from a media outlet relative to doing television or radio, maybe that opportunity arises but every time I read something that says like, ‘He’s in line for this job,’ I’ll call my agent, Don [Yee], and I’ll say, ‘Don, did you hear something? ‘Cause I’ve not heard anything.’ And that’s OK. I think I’d like to do that, I think I’d be pretty good at it. So, steppin’ outside like in the cold weather today and be a little uncomfortable professionally or from a career standpoint is OK. I don’t like the word ‘retirement,’ Mr. B [late owner Tom Benson] didn’t like it either, he always said ‘retirement’s overrated.’ We get sold this image of retirement by these investment groups on TV and golf courses and, so, yeah, I still have a vision for doing things in football and, I’ll be honest with ya, that might be coaching again at some point. I don’t think it’s this year, I think maybe in the future but that’s not where my heart is right now. It’s not at all.”
“I understand that at this stage in my career, there is going to be interest in my future whenever a season ends,” Brady wrote, “but this week, all that is on my mind is the gratitude I have for this team and the fans that have supported us all year long. This year has been incredibly rewarding personally and professionally and I am appreciative of everyone who worked their ass off to help our team achieve so much.”
“I always want to win,” Brady continued. “I think that’s pretty apparent by now, but that doesn’t mean I equate losing to failure, especially when you go out fighting the way we did. There’s so much to appreciate in a season like this when you’re surrounded by a team that believes in each other, and plays for the people standing on either side of them. I’ll spare you the ‘Man in the Arena’ quote, but that feeling is something that I promise I’ll never take for granted. To everyone that was a part of it this year, thank you. I love you all!”
1 - Las Vegas Raiders
2021 record: 10-7
One thing the Raiders learned in the wake of the early-season resignation of Jon Gruden: They have a resilient team, which earned a playoff berth after an incredible finish in Week 18. Interim coach Rich Bisaccia deserves serious consideration just for navigating so much drama and trauma. The success also speaks well of the talent level despite some questionable recent draft decisions, and that will make this an attractive job.
The Raiders have the best quarterback situation of any of the available jobs with Derek Carr under center. A big question is who will fill the vacancy at general manager now that Mike Mayock has been fired, but the Raiders remain one of the most popular franchises in football, with a fantastic new stadium and a devoted fan base.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2nd)
We are in quarterback eutopia right now, Chiefs Kingdom. Think about it for a second: No fanbase in the history of the sport has had the joy of watching their quarterback get off to the type of start to his career that we have. Yeah, some quarterbacks have won rings early, but very rarely did it match up with the stats, highlights, etc. that Mahomes has created.
His output is historic. His best plays are unforgettable. His comebacks are heroic.
Simply put, we are five years into what we hope will be a two-decade-plus career of the greatest player to ever grace a football field. Savor every single moment.
2. Los Angeles Rams (5th)
The Rams came too close to becoming another victim of a Tom Brady-led comeback. After dominating proceedings for the first half, the Rams continued to find new ways to breathe life into the Bucs season.
Although they got away with it this time around, that’s now two of the last three games in which the Rams have allowed big comebacks against them. That will be a cause of concern for all going into the championship round.
“So there’s a ride,” Hardman began. “The Hulk, at Universal Studios Islands of Adventures. So how the ride goes is at first you start out real slow and then it shoots you out and it’s like one of those fun, exciting, you’re going fast and then it slows you down, and you’re like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ And then it shoots you back out again, so it’s kind of like that. It’s a rollercoaster.”
I couldn’t have described the insanity of the final stretch of the game better myself. The emotional extremes that everyone in the stadium went through absolutely fit Hardman’s description — where at one moment, a win feels inevitable. Then the next, it feels impossible.
“You feel like you’re in the driver seat, and you’re like yeah, we’re doing great,” Hardman reflected. “We got a chance to win, and then it’s like aw dang we just slowed down, we got to find a way to get back up. That game was special. Probably the worst-best game I’ve played in, in my life. I really enjoyed it, man.”
A tweet to make you think
Travis Kelce, offensive genius https://t.co/K5Wc1Q5zJC— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) January 25, 2022