This year’s Conference round of the NFL playoffs was one of the most exciting in recent memory. Both games – the winners heading to the Super Bowl – were decided in the final seconds and could have easily gone in either direction for either team. A few costly blunders would decide the outcome…
The AFC Conference Game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens was one of the most heartbreaking games in recent NFL history.
In the final seconds of the game, down by only 3 points, the Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw what would have been a game-ending touchdown pass to Lee Evans…which was knocked out of his hands in the endzone.
It was a heartbreaking play. Every kid’s dream is to catch that winning touchdown with no time left on the clock and send their team to the Super Bowl. Evans had the perfect chance to be the biggest hero in Baltimore, and he just couldn’t hold onto the ball.
So the Ravens brought out their veteran kicker, Billy Cundiff to kick an easy 32-yard field goal that would send the game into overtime and give them another chance to win.
Cundiff, who had plenty of experience playing in tight situations, kicked the field goal…which flew wide left. No points. The end of the Ravens season.
So the Patriots, who have been a familiar face in the Super Bowl over the past decade, would once again be heading to the Big Game.
On the other side of country, the NFC Conference game also held fans at the edge of their seats until the final play. The San Francisco 49ers were hosting the New York Giants, and in a game that was played in the pouring rain the keyword of the day was “defense.”
This was a very exciting game, with both defenses ferociously holding the other team throughout the entire game.
The deciding play came in the 4th quarter with the Giants trailing 14-10. The 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams had a punt bounce off his knee which was picked by a Giants defender. This gave the Giants deep field position and they were able to score a touchdown that put them back in the lead 17-14.
Both defenses fiercely defended their field position for the rest of the game, although the 49ers were able to score a field goal which sent the game into overtime.
During the regular season if a game is sent into overtime the first team that scores wins. If no team scores and the clock runs down, then the game it over and both teams are awarded a tie.
But in the playoffs there needs to be a winning team. So the rules are different. It works like this:
- If the first team to get possession kicks a field goal, then the other team is allowed one drive to also kick a field goal. If they don’t put points on the board the first team wins.
- The first team to score a touchdown wins, regardless of who had the ball first.
- If the first team to get possession doesn’t score then the first team to put points on the board wins.
The Giants won the toss and on their first drive they weren’t able to do anything with it and were forced to punt.
The 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams, who had already botched a punt return in the game that had led to Giants points, fumbled the punt return which was recovered by the Giants only 23 yards from the goal line.
The game was then in the bag as the Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes kicked the easy field goal that won the game for the Giants and would send them to the Super Bowl.
This year’s Super Bowl is going to be a repeat of the 2008 Super Bowl when the Patriots and Giants also played each other. The Giants won that game, but against the Patriots anything is possible. We’ll find out which is the better team this Sunday in Indianapolis.
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