NFL Divisional Sunday Takeaways: Mahomes Magic Cannot Be Stopped

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2022

NFL Divisional Sunday Takeaways: Mahomes Magic Cannot Be Stopped

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Most of the home favorites took care of business during Super Wild Card Weekend in blowout victories, but we saw four adrenaline-pumping Divisional Round games that left NFL fans at the edge of their seats. 

    Road dogs bounced back, winning three out of four games, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes put an end to that trend when he led the Kansas City Chiefs to an overtime victory in a shootout with the Buffalo Bills Sunday.

    Don't take anything away from Josh Allen, who did everything he could with his arm and legs to match the Chiefs' high-powered offense, but Buffalo didn't have an answer for Mahomes in the biggest moments.

    From the upset to Sunday's overtime thriller, let's break down the most significant takeaways from the Divisional Round.

Gabriel Davis Becomes Household Name in Career Game

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    Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis
    Bills wide receiver Gabriel DavisAssociated Press

    Some may argue the Bills didn't get a fair shake because of the overtime rules, which end the contest if a team scores a touchdown on the first drive. While Buffalo's defense deserves a lot of blame for the loss, no one can argue that wide receiver Gabriel Davis put himself on the casual fan's radar after a career game. 

    Davis hauled in eight passes for 201 yards and became the first NFL player to score four touchdowns in a postseason game. 

    Coming out of UCF as a fourth-round pick, Davis showed big-play ability in his first two seasons, averaging 16.4 yards per catch. Through the 2021 campaign, he eclipsed 85 receiving yards in just one outing. On Sunday under the bright lights, he feasted on the Chiefs defense. 

    Kansas City held wide receiver Stefon Diggs to seven receiving yards on three catches and a two-point conversion. In clutch moments, Josh Allen trusted Davis, who had a couple of wow fourth-quarter moments that spectators will remember.

    With less than two minutes left in the game, Davis ran a crisp route and left cornerback Mike Hughes on the ground, which opened a big window for Allen on a go-ahead touchdown pass. The Bills nearly came away with a win after Davis logged his fourth touchdown reception with 13 seconds left in regulation.

    Allen threw all of his touchdown passes to Davis, who's probably going to hold the record for most scores in a playoff game for a long time.

Patrick Mahomes Is Still the League's Top Gunslinger

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    Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
    Chiefs quarterback Patrick MahomesColin E. Braley/Associated Press

    In a scoring firework show, Patrick Mahomes left Arrowhead Stadium as the last quarterback standing with a hot hand.

    Down 36-33 with just 13 seconds left in regulation, Mahomes moved the ball 44 yards on two completions to wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker kept the Chiefs alive with a 49-yard field goal, which allowed the football magician time for one more act.

    In overtime, Mahomes sealed the victory on the first drive, finishing with a pinpoint throw to Kelce in the right corner of the end zone. The Chiefs signal-caller threw for 378 passing yards, three touchdowns and rushed for 69 yards and a score. 

    Looking ahead, Mahomes and Josh Allen will have more must-see duels, but the former came out on top Sunday, leading the Chiefs to a fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game—all four at home.

    Remember early in the season when Mahomes had some passes bounce off receivers for interceptions and skeptics started to question if the league had figured him out? Well, he just shredded the Bills defense, which allowed the fewest points and yards through the 2021 regular season, putting all that talk to bed.

Rams Advance After Almost Giving the Game Away

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    Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (left) and wide receiver Cooper Kupp (right)
    Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (left) and wide receiver Cooper Kupp (right)Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    We saw two different Rams squads on Sunday. 

    In the first half, Los Angeles looked dominant on both sides of the ball until running back Cam Akers fumbled at the Buccaneers' 1-yard line before halftime. The Rams went up 27-3 midway through the third quarter, and then they started to play sloppy football. 

    After the Rams' last touchdown drive in the third quarter, they fumbled three times and missed a field goal, which allowed the Buccaneers to close a 24-point deficit and tie the game with 42 seconds left in regulation. 

    Nevertheless, Matthew Stafford showed exactly why the Rams traded quarterback Jared Goff, a third-round pick and two first-rounders (in 2022 and 2023) for him. After taking a sack, he threw for a total of 64 yards on the following two plays, putting his team in a position to kick the game-winning field goal. 

    Los Angeles almost went down the same pathway as the 2016 Atlanta Falcons and nearly choked away a massive lead to quarterback Tom Brady in the playoffs. Thanks to Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the Rams avoided disaster and go on to host the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

    The Rams have had Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde games throughout the 2021 campaign in which they look like two different teams within the same game, rising to incredible peaks with a high-powered offense and sinking to even lower points because of turnovers.

Rams Must Overcome Their Kryptonite (the 49ers) to Reach Super Bowl 56

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    49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan (left) and Rams head coach Sean McVay (right)
    49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan (left) and Rams head coach Sean McVay (right)Harry How/Getty Images

    The Rams must button it up against the 49ers, who've won the last six meetings between these teams.

    Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan became head coaches of their respective clubs in 2017. Since then, the latter holds a commanding lead in head-to-head matchups as the lead skipper for the 49ers, going 7-3 against the Rams over the past five seasons. 

    As the No. 4 seed, the Rams have home-field advantage, but the 49ers should roll into SoFi Stadium with a ton of confidence because of recent successes over their divisional rival.

    With strong pass rushes, both teams have played well defensively in the first two rounds of the playoffs, so keep an eye on key injuries at the left tackle spot for these squads.

    After Saturday's game against the Green Bay Packers, 49ers left tackle Trent Williams moved around on crutches, though X-rays on his right ankle came back negative, per NBC Sports' Matt Maiocco. The Rams played the Buccaneers without left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who sat out with a knee injury.

    The Rams and 49ers could battle down to the final drive, with the better team making a critical stop in a close contest.

       

    Player contracts courtesy of Spotrac.com.

    Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.

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