Lawrence: The Best Is (Hopefully) Yet To Come In NFL Playoffs

The first two rounds of the playoffs set a high bar, Amy Lawrence says, but never underestimate the NFL, where anything is possible

Amy Lawrence
January 14, 2020 - 10:28 pm
Patrick Mahomes Chiefs

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What's the cliché? "The best is yet to come."

With three games left in the NFL season, I sincerely hope that's the case. But Championship Sunday and the Super Bowl have a HIGH bar to reach with what we've seen in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The unforgettable moments from Divisional Weekend keep replaying in my head like a highlight reel. From the never-before-witnessed wild swing at Arrowhead Stadium to the return of January football to Lambeau Field to the stifling defense in the Bay Area to the stunning exit of the league's best team, the postseason is captivating so far, full of moments to remember.

Sunday's first quarter in Kansas City put the Texans on track to finally punch through their glass ceiling. Despite six playoff appearances in the last nine years, they've never reached the AFC Championship. A deep touchdown pass to Kenny Stills over blown coverage and Lonnie Johnson scooping up a blocked punt for another score catapulted Houston to an early lead and stunned fans all over the country. The first punch was a doozy, and by the time the Chiefs staggered to their feet, they were trailing 24-0 before they played 20 minutes. However, stringing together one moment at a time, they rallied for a comeback unlike we've ever seen.

With Mecole Hardman blasting through traffic for 58 yards on the next kickoff return, the noise at Arrowhead swelled in a massive crescendo. When the Chiefs stuffed a fake punt and then recovered a fumble by the Texans, the roars grew even louder. When the Texans decided their best defense was draping three guys all over Travis Kelce, their collapse was nearly complete. All that remained were the eulogies. How do we wrap our brains around 41 unanswered points in a playoff game?? Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes yelled encouragement to his teammates on the bench because he believed the whole time; he put in extra cardio running 60 yards in exultation after the go-ahead score. By the time Frank Clark recorded his third sack in the red zone with 90 seconds left, the victory party was in full swing from the top to the bottom of the stadium. Extraordinary.

The return of postseason football to the frozen tundra was dramatic for different reasons. Aaron Jones taking the opening handoff 23 yards and Davante Adams creating space one-on-one put the Packers in a position of power. But Aaron Rodgers noted the fans were harboring doubts in the second half. How could they not?? With Russell Wilson eluding tackles, extending plays, and delivering to his receivers in tight spaces, any reasonable fan would be nervous. True to NFL form, a series of remarkable feats late in the game kept us sucked in. With the Seahawks trailing by five and desperately needing the ball back, Shaquem Griffin dragged Rodgers down for his first career sack and celebrated with his twin brother at midfield. Four snaps later, Preston Smith returned the favor and sacked Wilson as the stadium erupted. Of course, the Pack still needed their quarterback to engineer a drive long enough to run out the clock. He was happy to oblige with a brilliant cross-field pass over the defense to Adams on third down. His last pass of the game was the moment he remembered later, though. Finding Jimmy Graham to move the chains against his former team was sweet redemption the Packers wanted for him. Meaningful.

Green Bay travels west for the NFC Championship against the 49ers. The top seed showed no signs of rust or a layoff in dominating the Vikings Saturday. Joe Montana on the field before the game and Jerry Rice holding court were shades of the franchise's glory days. They helped set the tone for a new postseason era for San Francisco. Jimmy Garoppolo locked in at the start, Richard Sherman's interception of Kirk Cousins, a scoring drive with ONLY run plays—the Niners flexed their collective muscles all game long. And when Nick Bosa was lying on the field in pain after a sack, the fans chanted his name and lifted him up the only way they knew how. He responded by rising from the ashes, roaring and dancing and jumping around. Perfect.

Under the lights in Baltimore Saturday, the Titans stifled the Ravens at every turn. Jonnu Smith juggled a catch in the corner of the end zone before landing on his rear end for a dazzling touchdown. Kalif Raymond hauled in a 45-yard bomb from Ryan Tannehill and hit the end zone in full stride. Derrick Henry evoked memories of Tim Tebow with a jump pass to Corey Davis for a score. The Tennessee defense blanked Lamar Jackson on every fourth down attempt and harassed him into three turnovers. And finally, head coach Mike Vrabel flashed a giant grin and punched his arm into the air as the Titans advanced to their first conference championship game in 17 years. Exceptional.

The seminal moments from Divisional Weekend weren't limited to the field either. In the CBS and FOX TV studios, Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker delivered a pair of emotional surprises. Sneaking on set, he informed a tearful Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson they will be inducted in Canton this summer. I cried along with Troy Aikman in Green Bay as he watched his former coach receive the news and get so choked up he couldn't speak. Priceless.

One year removed from Championship Sunday 2019, we're still talking about the blown pass interference call late in New Orleans that derailed the Saints and the Dee Ford offsides penalty that wiped out a Chiefs interception of Tom Brady in Kansas City. Those moments are firmly imprinted on our football brains! That spectacle will be hard to top. But with the table set by the first two weekends of this postseason, anything is possible.

We should know by now...never underestimate the NFL.

A well-traveled veteran of sports radio and television, Amy is the passionate host of CBS Sports Radio’s late-night program, After Hours with Amy Lawrence, from 2-6am ET on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. Listeners can tune in from Canada and overseas, thanks to SiriusXM, cbssportsradio.com and the CBS Sports app. Amy has also handled basketball play-by-play and color duties for various radio and TV outlets over the past 15 years. Amy graduated from Messiah College with bachelor’s degrees in Communications & Accounting before earning her master’s in TV & Radio from Syracuse University. She is a native of Concord, NH.