This Week in the NFL: Conference Championships

Tom Brady (#10, right) posing with his fellow college quarterbacks at the University of Michigan’s media day in 1999.

Carlos Osorio - AP Photos

Tom Brady (#10, right) posing with his fellow college quarterbacks at the University of Michigan’s media day in 1999.

Tom Brady Tribute: Retired After 22 Years

The man, the myth, the legend, the G.O.A.T.: Thomas Patrick Edward Brady, better known among everyone as Tom Brady, officially announced his retirement on Tuesday morning.  Drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, the California-native and University of Michigan graduate was a sure-fire benchwarmer. However, after an injury to the New England Patriots starter, he was thrust into the spotlight. Over the course of his twenty-two-year NFL career, he won seven Super Bowls, six of which were with the New England Patriots. After playing with the Patriots for twenty years, he migrated south to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won a Super Bowl in his first year. In his second season with the Buccaneers, his team made it to the Divisional Round, where they lost due to a game-winning field goal by the Los Angeles Rams. However, that heartbreaking final game of his career doesn’t erase how groundbreaking his playing has been these past decades. He’s influenced many of the younger NFL players, who grew up watching him tear up the turf. Hopefully, he’ll still do work with the NFL, as a coach or analyst, so the millions of fans that he’s gained in both New England and Tampa Bay will still get to watch him around the game. 

Other Storylines From Around The NFL This Week

The retirement of another star quarterback: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement last Thursday. Roethlisberger played all eighteen of his NFL seasons with the Steelers, winning two Super Bowls, and taking many trips to the playoffs. 

Limiting ticket sales: When the Los Angeles Rams played at home versus the San Francisco 49ers during Week 18 of the regular season, almost all of the fans were those of the 49ers, making it more like an away game for the Rams. However, the Rams organization “prepared” for their matchup against the 49ers by limiting ticket sales to only residents of the greater-Los Angeles area. If someone from outside the area tried to purchase tickets, then the transaction was terminated. However, it didn’t work, and on gameday, Rams fans were being booed out of restaurants by 49ers fans in town for the game.

The AFC Champions: The Cincinnati Bengals went to Kansas City to play against the Kansas City Chiefs, whose stadium is one of the hardest to play in, with their ruthless fans and the infamous “tomahawk chop.” At halftime, the Bengals were down 21-3. However, they rallied back, stepping it up on both offense and defense, and were up 24-21 at one point. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker kicked a forty-four-yard field goal to tie up the game as time expired, sending them to overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss, but they weren’t able to capitalize on the opportunity, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s pass got intercepted. The Bengals drove all the way down the field, and their rookie kicker, Evan McPherson, kicked a field goal to send the team to the Super Bowl. This is the second playoff game in a row that McPherson has kicked a game-winning field goal. 

The NFC Champions: The San Francisco 49ers made the short trip south to play against the Los Angeles Rams. However, in a stadium filled with their fans, it didn’t feel too much like an away game. The 49ers seemed to dominate stat-wise, but the score remained close. With just under two minutes left, Rams kicker Matt Gay kicked what ended up being the game-winning field goal. The 49ers got the ball back with around one minute left, and three points down. In a last-ditch effort, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garrappolo blindly threw a pass to a teammate as he was about to be sacked. However, the awful pass was tipped into the air, and a Rams player intercepted it, sealing the game and a trip to Super Bowl LVI. After the game, 49ers rising-star wide receiver Deebo Samuel could be seen crying on his team’s sideline and being comforted in a sportsmanlike act by newly-acquired Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. 

The former Washington Redskins, having to change their name due to controversy, will now be called the Washington Commanders. For the past two seasons, while they decided on a name, their name was the Washington Football Team.

The Super Bowl will be played on Sunday, February 13th at SoFi stadium in Los Angeles, California. The two teams facing off are the Cincinnati Bengals, who had a sudden comeback this season, and came back from an eighteen-point deficit in their qualifying game, and the Los Angeles Rams, who came back from a ten-point deficit to make it to the Super Bowl. This is the first time in 33 years that the Bengals will be at the Super Bowl. 

Final Scores: 

  • AFC Championship Game: Cincinnati Bengals versus the Kansas City Chiefs (played in Kansas City) – Bengals win 27-24
  • NFC Championship Game: San Francisco 49ers versus the Los Angeles Rams (played in Los Angeles) – Rams win 20-17


Kristina Klauzinski ‘24, Staff Writer