The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs this year was pretty wild. There were a few blowouts, but even those games had very intriguing storylines, and one of those contests became one of the best games of the entire playoffs. The Seahawks and Packers treated us to a tight game as well, and there were plenty of twists and turns across the league.
We’ve picked out a few disappointments from the weekend. Special teams blunders played a huge role. Here’s a look at the biggest disappointments from the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
It’s impossible to single out one aspect of Baltimore’s terrible performance on Saturday. Instead, the blame has to be spread around. The Ravens’ vaunted defense couldn’t stop Derrick Henry from going for 195 yards. They had no answer for Tennessee’s array of trick plays and unlikely catches. Lamar Jackson was forced to throw 59 times, which is not at all what the Baltimore offense wants to do. The whole night was a disaster for the NFL’s hottest team, who did not look ready for primetime. This one will sting for a while, and raises new questions about whether the Ravens’ offense is built for playoff success.
Bill O’Brien, head coach, Texans
Momentum may be an overrated things in football, but O’Brien went against the grain in two key spots where it felt like the game turned. The first came in the second quarter, with the Texans up 21-0. O’Brien had the chance to go for the kill on a 4th-and-1 at the Kansas City 13. Instead of trying for a 28-0 lead, they kicked the field goal. The Chiefs woke up immediately, and after scoring a touchdown, they successfully forced a punt from Houston’s 31. O’Brien called a fake on 4th-and-4 that didn’t work, giving the Chiefs a short field to make it 24-14. Kansas City never looked back, and O’Brien’s bad decisions will be scrutinized for some time to come.
DeAndre Carter, KR, Texans
More than one divisional game swung on a kick return. There were plenty of key moments in Houston’s collapse against Kansas City, but DeAndre Carter’s kick return fumble may have been the biggest. It happened at a delicate point in the game, with Houston set to get the ball back after their 24-0 lead had been reduced to 24-14. A long drive with a touchdown could have settled everyone down and put the Texans back in control, but Carter’s fumble left the Chiefs 18 yards away from another touchdown. KC got that touchdown and then started to run away with the game. Carter’s fumble was arguably the tipping point in a total Houston meltdown.
Seattle Seahawks’ offensive gameplan
Despite a late intervention by the referees, one could argue that Seattle lost their game against Green Bay in the first half. The Seahawks seem nervous about letting Russell Wilson loose too early in games, and it costs them. Seattle’s standout quarterback was just 6-of-13 for 105 yards in the first half, and the Seahawks trailed 21-3. Seattle let Wilson free in the second, and he was much better, nearly leading the team to a comeback victory. Perhaps letting him loose a bit earlier would have made things a little easier for a Seattle offense that seems like it needs a rethink.
Marcus Sherels, PR, Vikings
Kirk Cousins’ third quarter interception was a big blow to the Vikings, but the worst thing that happened to them was Marcus Sherels’ muffed punt late in the third quarter. Minnesota had just made a key defensive stand and was set to get the ball back down two touchdowns — a tough comeback, but they at least had a chance. Or they did, until Sherels muffed the punt that would have given Minnesota the ball back. San Francisco recovered, and though they only scored a field goal, the damage was done. The Vikings would not score again. Maybe they lose even if Sherels does his job, but that moment felt like a nail in the coffin.