Sunday Divisional Liveblog: Bengals, Bills Meet Again

Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase and Friends
Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase and Friends
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - It took 19 and a half weeks, but we've finally cut the chaff from the 2022 NFL season.  The final six teams standing are the top six teams in DVOA -- all killer, no filler. With all respect to the Jaguars and Giants, the NFL season has been whittled down to the best of the best. That doesn't always happen! Gate-crashers happen all the time! It's somewhat refreshing that just the best of the best is here.

That being said, we can't have six teams going to the conference championships; that's not how numbers work. We've got two more games to go today to get us to the final four -- and, on paper at least, they should be more competitive than the games on Saturday.  No more #1 seeds taking on underdogs; we have four of the top Super Bowl contenders facing off today with trips to the conference championships on the line.

We won't lie; there's going to be a weird atmosphere when the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals lock up just three weeks after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field; there's no getting through it without being reminded of what happened that Monday night.  Losing a matchup of this caliber was well down the list of things to be worried about, but it is nice that we do get to see two of the top three teams in the conference decide things on the field. As to what field that should actually be on? Well, we'll get to that in a moment.  There aren't nearly as many weird feelings about seeing the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys lock up for a record-tying ninth playoff game, a matchup that has been so hotly anticipated that...oops, looks like the clock ran out on this one. We'll get back to that soon enough, too.

And we'll be covering today's matchups live in a special playoff edition of the Football Outsiders liveblog! Because we're live, you can participate in the discussion as well! Join in on the conversation -- either in the comment section in this article, on Twitter by tagging @FBOutsiders or @BryKno, or on our brand new Discord server, where some of your favorite writers will be hanging out and reacting live.

Here we go!

Early Game Preview: Bengals at Bills

The Bengals have one legitimate grievance and one illegitimate grievance as they travel to Buffalo as the road team in this game.

The NFL covered contingencies for a Chiefs-Bills AFC Championship, and they covered contingencies for a Bengals-Ravens wild card game. They did not, however, give the Bengals any contingencies for this matchup, and it's location did indeed depend on the outcome of the cancelled Bengals-Bills game. Had the Bengals won that game, they would have been the two seed, not the Bills. This game would be in Cincinnati, not in Buffalo. And the NFL just shrugged their shoulders and are letting this play as it lies. It'd be one thing if they had done that for everyone, but the fact that the NFL bent the rules for two circumstances but not three is a little awkward, at best. The Bengals are being penalized for doing the right thing and not forcing Buffalo to either play or concede the Week 17 matchup. Not heavily penalized, mind you; home field advantage isn't what it used to be. But they can at least claim a little bit of righteous umbrage over having to go to New York.

They can not cry foul at the NFL already preselling tickets in Atlanta for the Bills-Chiefs game, no matter what Joe Mixon thinks. They were pre-selling tickets for Arrowhead for Chiefs-Bengals, and tickets in Cincinnati for Bengals-Jaguars. That's just a logistics thing.

In our stats preview, Cale Clinton asks the $64,000 question -- will Josh Allen avoid mistakes against Cincinnati? As he points out, Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in all of football...but also one that is prone to the occasional hair-tearingly awkward mistake; clutch interceptions in the red zone that kill the Bills.  Allen is simultaneously the biggest reason why Buffalo can win...and the biggest reason Buffalo can lose. Either way, be prepared for offensive fireworks.  But public opinion seems to be swinging towards the Bills, with the line falling to Buffalo -6 before gametime.

Late Game Preview: Cowboys at 49ers

Well, that's more like it!  The Cowboys we saw against the Buccaneers was the team we were expecting to see; the one that can battle head-to-head with any other team in the league and is a real Super Bowl threat. We just haven't seen that team on a week-to-week basis, as flat outings against the Packers, Giants, Texans, Jaguars and Commanders over the back half of the season had Dallas fans worrying about their chances against the top teams in the league. But against Tampa, Dallas controlled the game from start to finish. Dak Prescott looked nearly untouchable, avoiding the interceptions that have been a millstone around his neck since he returned from injury, and led Dallas to the fourth-best passing day of the entire season by DVOA. They looked like they could beat anyone.

To move on, though, they have to beat the team that had the third-best passing day of the entire season by DVOA last week, as Brock Purdy and the 49ers turned a close game at halftime into a blow out win over the Seahawks. Say what you want about Purdy's results versus his quality of play; the 49ers have hardly missed a beat despite being down to their third quarterback of the season. San Francisco is riding an 11-game win streak and have looked more-or-less unstoppable over the back half of the season.

If the Cowboys play to their potential, they can absolutely win this game, even as four-point underdogs. As our stat preview points out, Dallas is equipped to attack both the 49ers' weakness covering deep passes and Purdy's penchant for scrambling away from pressure. We'll have to see if that Dallas team is the one that actually shows up this afternoon, or if San Francisco will make it a dozen straight wins and punch their ticket to Philadelphia.

1:06 PM: Patrick Mahomes Update

I know, I know; the Chiefs aren't playing today. But when the presumptive MVP gets injured the week before the AFC Championship game, we talk about it!

Patrick Mahomes had an MRI today, which confirmed that he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Jaguars.  "Nothing more than that," is how the source confirmed that, but also, not less than that.

The average player takes four weeks to return from a high ankle sprain, though the average player does not suffer one during the playoffs. I imagine he'll be out there next Sunday no matter what; that's Mahomes' plan, at the very least. We'll just have a full week of questions about how effective he can be and to what extent he'll be limited. As if the playoffs didn't have enough twists and turns already, right?

1:34 PM: Bills-Bengals Inactives

We already knew the Bengals were going to be down multiple offensive linemen. The playing field has levelled a little bit, however, as the Bills will be out one of their key interior linemen.

DaQuon Jones has been fighting a calf injury, and has been limited at practice all week long. It ended up being too much for him; he's inactive and we'll likely see more Jordan Phillips today to make up for him. Phillips, however, was also questionable and limited with a shoulder injury, and while he's up, he may not be operating at 100%.  Everyone else who was limited at some point this week, including Dane Jackson and Jordan Poyer, is up, but Jones is a notable loss.

As for the Bengals, Alex Cappa and Jonah Williams had both already been ruled out, so it's three backup linemen in today for Cincinnati.  Tre Flowers had been doubtful with a hamstring injury; he's out, too -- that leaves Dax Hill as first in line to cover tight ends for Cincinnati.

2:08 PM: Yeah, We Knew This Was Coming

There are reports that Damar Hamlin is in the locker room in Buffalo with his teammates at the moment. There's been no reports of him showing up before the game, but I'm fully expecting him to get announced and get a huge ovation. So that should be a moment.

2:30 PM: Snow Game!

For the second time this weekend, we have a snow game alert!

Man, I hope the rumors that the NFL are looking into hosting conference title games at neutral sites from here on out are just rumors, because weather games can be great.

3:07 PM: Bengals Strike First

Oh, that was too easy.

The Bengals take the opening kickoff and march right down the field -- six plays, with four of them going for first downs.  Not facing a third down is a pretty good way to keep a drive going! 

Joe Burrow has already made a couple big plays; stepping up to avoid the rush and find open receivers. And we're talking pretty darn wide open, too.  Burrow hit Ja'Marr Chase with a jump pass for the score.

7-0 Cincinnati, very early.

3:23 PM: Nerves in Buffalo

The Bills' response drive is a three-and-out. There's some chatter in the Discord about whether or not the Bills should have gone for it; it was a 2.3% win probability error to punt, because it's possible the Bengals could just march right back downfield and score.

And the Bengals marched right back downfield and scored. The Bills did manage to force a third down -- little victories, guys -- but for the third time in three complete drives this season, the Bengals just marched right down through Buffalo territory, hitting some wide open receivers along the way.  Burrow gets the safety to jump off of Hayden Hurst, and Hurst ends up wide open for the score.

14-0.  Still early, but Buffalo needs to wake up.

3:36 PM: An Actual Stop!

Buffalo went three-and-out and punted from their own 30.  Again.  If Cincinnati countered that with a third score, this game may have gotten out of reach early. Bills gave up less than 20 first downs per game this season. Never more than 27 (Cleveland). Bengals had 10 in the first quarter.

But hey, Buffalo finally managed to stop the Bengals offense! 

That's one.  Now, they need to see if they can pass their own 30 yard line.

3:50 PM: And The Battle is Joined

Buffalo finds the end zone, and we finally have a football game in Buffalo.

The Bills playcalling has been a bit odd; a lot more carries for Cook and Singletary than I would have thought at this point.  It's not exceptionally ineffective or anything, but it is setting up quite a few third downs that Buffalo; they're making things more difficult for themselves than perhaps they have to.  But Allen's rushing bails them out here -- the sneak for a fourth down conversion, a run for the touchdown, a powerful draw dragging defenders to the one, etcetera. It's a gear Cincinnati does not have, so it will be interesting to see how much that matters in the end.

4:07 PM: Instant Replay to the Rescue?

The Bills' defense is having a terrible, terrible game.  They're letting Hayden Hurst run wild, despite being the #1 defense against tight ends this year.  They're getting almost no pass rush; the loss of Daquan Jones (not to mention Von Miller) is having a major impact on this game. And Ja'Marr Chase is, of course, doing Ja'Marr Chase things.

One of those things was apparently a touchdown, but under review, they said that he lost possession and couldn't reestablish himself in bounds before re-catching it.  What do you think?

It forces Cinci to a field goal, and a 17-7 lead.

4:19 PM: Another Punt?

For the third time today, Buffalo has punted.  And for the third time today, our model disagrees.

None of them have been entirely indefensible decisions or anything, but they've all hovered around 2% win probability losses.  The Bills are bleeding away advantages here, giving the ball back to Cincinnati over and over without putting up much of a fight.  These sorts of things add up!

4:26 PM: Halftime

The Bills hold the Bengals out of the end zone going to halftime thanks in part to a clutch tackle -- out of time outs, Burrow got a bunch of yards on a scramble, and decided to get greedy to gain some extra yards. He got tackled in-bounds, draining seconds off the clock, and forcing Cincinnati to go for one Hail Mary rather than getting another play or two in.  That falls incomplete, and so the Bengals go into half 17-7.

Buffalo has been beaten along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball; not what I was expecting with so many linemen out for Cincinnati. They get the ball to start the second half, so this is far, far from over, but Cincinnati looks like the better team, and not by an insignificant margin.

Vince Verhei: Considering the weather, the opposition, and the stakes, that was probably the best 30 minutes of offensive football I've seen a team play all season. 18 first downs in a half, in 41 snaps, against Buffalo, is nuts. And the Bengals have only even gotten to third downs five times (three conversions). Several teams didn't get to 18 first downs against Buffalo in 60 minutes. The Dolphins, to name one, only had 15 first downs in their win over the Bills in Week 3. Running, passing, all working, almost no negative plays. A masterclass by Cincinnati players and coaches.

4:37 PM: Halftime Stats

This is also only the third time all year the Bills have scored seven or fewer points in the first half. They've got to find another gear, and soon.

4:53 PM: Buffalo Gets Going, But Stalls Out

Good Josh Allen has arrived in the second half, making big plays with both his arms and legs as he moved the ball down the field.

But the Bills stall out in the red zone and choose to kick again, adding a field goal to their score.  That's yet another 2% win probability error by our numbers, as the Bills continue to send value back to the Bengals by kicking over and over and over.  Again, none of these kick decisions are indefensible in a vacuum, but they're really adding up.

5:12 PM: Cincinnati Trying to Slam the Door

Buffalo's defense seems to have no answer for the Cincinnati offense.  The Bengals have 25 first downs; the most Buffalo's given up in a game this year is 27.  They're just moving the ball almost at will.

Mixon scores a touchdown after an extensive review, and Cincinnati is sitting on a 24-10 lead with 16 minutes to go.  It's not over, but the Bills need a response drive, and they need it right now.

5:17 PM: WHY ARE YOU PUNTING

The Bills face a 4th-and-2 from their own 20, down 14 with 15:11 left in the game...and they punt.

What?

It's two yards.  You're down 14 points, and your defense is getting gashed. You have Josh Allen.  Why are you punting?!

Our numbers say that this was a 2.5% error, which is bad in any circumstances.  But the Bills have single-digit win percentage right now; they basically cut their odds by a third by giving the ball up there. This punt is indefensible. Just absolutely a disaster.  And it was preceded by a bomb, which makes sense if you were going for it on 4th-and-2, but not if the punt was an option! This is coaching malpractice, and the game will be over if Cincinnati scores again.

5:31 PM: Three-Score Game

The punt turns into Cincinnati points, though I suppose at least the Bengals didn't score a touchdown. A 27-yard pass interference play got the Bengals into the red zone, and knocked out two Buffalo defenders to boot.  Cincinnati ended up settling for a 20-yard field goal, which is usually not endorsed by the model, but going from a two-score game to a three-score game with 10 minutes left may well be the knockout blow.

5:43 PM: Ballgame

Buffalo moves the ball a little bit...

...But ends up turning the ball over on downs.  With just 7:23 left and down three scores, that will likely end the competitive portion of this one.  And if it does, that means none of the NFL's contingency plans for the Hamlin cancellation will actually end up happening.  Cincinnati doing the league office some favors, here.

5:58 PM: Warming Up the Leg

Brett Maher has been shaky in pregame warmups.  He's missed multiple kicks from under 50 yards, going in both directions. That's probably not something to be concerned about, right?

6:48 PM: Defenses Start Out Strong

We're two drives into the 49ers-Cowboys game now, and a pair of punts.  Both pass rushes have made themselves felt -- Brock Purdy took a sack on second down which ended up forcing a punt a few plays later, while Nick Bosa had to be wrestled to the ground by Tyler Smith to avoid recording a sack early.

Still 0-0, as we're in the initial feeling out period here.

6:56 PM: More Defense

The 49ers flip the field position a little after a George Kittle catch and run, but waste it on a punt from their own 38!

Our model had the win probability of going for it at 66.7%.  A field goal was 66.1%.  The punt was 65.2%; the worst of the three options if not by a ton.  And since the ball went into the end zone, it is an 18-yard punt.  That's somewhat less than ideal.

7:01 PM: More Defense!

I said before the game that if Dak Prescott played clean, then the Cowboys would win.

Deommodore Lenoir would like you to know that Prescott has not played clean.

No idea why that ball was thrown.  Terrible decision, and the 49ers are in business.

7:07: A Pattern of Consistency

Well, I can't say more defense again, can I?

The 49ers convert a long third-and-15 to keep a drive alive...

...But, as so often has been the case, they stall out in the red zone. 4th-and-8 is a tough ask, so the field goal's the right call here, but it has to go down as a missed opportunity.  3-0, San Francisco.

7:22 PM: Cowboys Reach the End Zone First

An exceptional response to the interception -- no worrying about it, no second-guessing themselves, just marching right back down the field.  14 plays, 74 yards, including a 4th-down conversion inside the red zone.  It's Dak to Dalton Schultz in the red zone, and the Cowboys take the lead!

...But it's only 6-3, because somehow, unbelievably, Brett Maher fails AGAIN.  This time, the extra point is blocked.  This is insane.

7:37 PM: Cowboys Bend, But Don't Break

The Cowboys are consistently getting pressure with four, and it's slowing the 49ers down significantly.  They're still hitting a few big plays here or there, but there's a lot of times when Purdy just doesn't have anywhere to go with the ball, either taking a sack or throwing it away.

The 49ers move the ball back into Cowboys territory, but find themselves facing a 4th & 2 from the Dallas 29.  Again, our model likes the 49ers to go for this, but that's not Kyle Shanahan's way.  The 49ers kick a field goal, and we're tied up at 6 with 3:43 to go.

The Cowboys get the ball after half, so they have a chance to score on both side of the break now...

7:53 PM: Oh, Dak.

The Cowboys are driving, including a big fourth down conversion (don't expect to see much more kicking with Maher deeply into his own head).  But the game grinds to a halt as Tony Pollard apparently injures his ankle, and has to be helped off the field.  And the very next play...

That is a huge play.  Dallas was threatening to score on both sides of halftime.  Now, the 49ers have the chance to take the lead...

8:02 PM: Shanahan Clock Management Strikes Again

The 49ers got the ball with 1:15 left and two time-outs.  Time to trust your rookie quarterback to march you down the field?  No!  You run a couple plays before picking up a first down, draining half the clock, and then you start going for it! 

Kyle Shanahan was playing for the field goal as time expired, and he nailed it.  Not sure why he was playing for that, mind you!  But play for it he did.  The 49ers take a 9-6 lead going into the half.

This has been more of a good defense game than a bad offense game, as both teams are struggling to solve Dan Quinn and DeMeco Ryan's defenses.  The 49ers are outgaining Dallas through the air; Dallas is outgaining the 49ers on the ground.  Not exactly what we were expecting!

Very intense game.  Should be a good second half.

8:21 PM: A Special Teams Break for Dallas

The Cowboys are forced to punt on their first drive of the second half, but for once, a special teams break goes their way.  Ray-Ray McCloud, who had fumble issues in Pittsburgh last year, ends up putting this one on the ground, and Dallas scoops it up!  A huge break, and a big swing!

The 49ers stiffen up again, and they...send out Brett Maher?!  This should have been a go even without the kicker issues...but Maher makes it!  We're knotted at 9.

8:40 PM: The One Obligatory San Francisco Deep Ball

The 49ers can be attacked deep when you have enough time -- and finally, Dallas hits one!

But that ends up going nowhere, as the Cowboys punt from the wrong side of the 50 again.  Neitehr team wants to risk anything against these defenses.

8:57 PM: We Would Like to Welcome the San Francisco 49ers Offense to the Football Game

10 plays, 91 yards, and a touchdown.  This is kind of thing we were expecting to see from the 49ers all day long; it took us two and a half quarters, but we're here.

George Kittle had the catch of the round, for sure.

This really has been National Tight Ends Round, and Kittle is the captain thereof.  The 49ers then bog down in the red zone a bit, but the Cowboys hold a couple times to bail the 49ers out.  And, as a result, they finally find the end zone, with CMC plunging in from two yards out.  It's a 16-9 49ers lead with 14:30 left...

9:04 PM: "Do the Cowboys Have Just One Wide Receiver?"

So asked the Discord, and the answer is...well, yes.  CeeDee Lamb has 10 catches for 117 yards; the rest of the team has 10 catches for 63 yards.  They could really use an Amari Cooper or something.

Passes to Lamb, and a great punt return by KaVontae Turpin, moves the Cowboys into field goal range where they...kick?  Believe it or not, our model agrees; you're going to need a stop on San Francisco anyway, and this way, a) you shave the chance to win if you stop the 49ers entirely, and b) can still tie after a field goal.  But that means it's still a 16-12 49ers lead...

9:20 PM: Cowboys Still Alive

The 49ers' ideal drive here would have taken all 11:03 off the clock.  That didn't happen, though they did grind a ton of clock -- we're now down to 3:04 left, and the lead is back up to seven.

Yes, the 49ers opted to kick a field goal from inside the 20.  The right call?  Our model agrees; it had the field goal as a +2.6% decision.  Now, it's very unlikely you lose in regulation at the very least.  And hey, if Maher continues to be shaky...

9:35 PM: Cowboys STILL Alive?!

The Cowboys opted to punt the ball at essentially the two minute warning, which seems like a big mistake.  But they'll get another shot -- the 49ers did pick up a first down, but Elijah Mitchell ended up going out of bounds, saving some clock.  It'd take a miracle, but Dallas does get the ball back...

9:44 PM: Cowboys, uh, No Longer Alive

So, the last Cowboys drive was a...well, I'm not sure the professional way to describe it.  It wasn't, uh, wasn't good.

It included Dalton Schultz running out of bounds before completing a catch, which then apparently then necessitated the use of...uh, this.

I wish I could tell you WHAT that was, but it apparently was very important.  It didn't, uh. Didn't work.  49ers win, and advance to the NFC Championship.

Where we will see you on Sunday!

Comments

192 comments, Last at 23 Jan 2023, 9:14am

#146 by Noahrk // Jan 22, 2023 - 6:41pm

Personally, I think the biggest factor today was how Bengal receivers kept turning short catches into moderate gains time and time again. It seemed like after the catch a Bills defender was always immediately ready and in position to make a play, but simply couldn't get it done. The decision-making for the Bills was bad, but the decisive factor was execution. The Bengals just played a heck of a game.

Points: 3

#148 by rh1no // Jan 22, 2023 - 6:41pm

I think you need to give McDermott another two or three years before you seriously start looking for another HC. He's done a great job building the program up to be the dominant team in the AFC East for the foreseeable future, and you really can't blame him for Kansas City's miracle win in the division round last year.

If Sean Payton were willing to move to Buffalo, I'd say give Sean McDermott the boot today. But Payton doesn't want to move to Buffalo and I can't think of another coach who is available who would actually be an upgrade from McDermott.

Frazier is probably the fall guy if the Bills male another early exit from the playoffs next year. 

Points: 2

#153 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:09pm

I can and do blame him for KC's win last year, it was his decision to allow two uncontested catches to move the ball into FG range, and that doesn't even discuss the other break downs leading up to that point. 

He has had a recurring issue with his teams making mistakes in bunches and, as noted, not adjusting his scheme to his opponents. 

I'm not saying to fire him (yet), but he's totally squandered Allen's rookie contract window by blowing multiple 2 score playoff leads (they were up 16 on Houston in the 2018 wild card and 9 on KC in the 2020 AFCCG *before* 13 seconds) and now we are into the shedding talent stage with nothing to show for it. 

Points: 3

#140 by big10freak // Jan 22, 2023 - 6:18pm

FWIW if the Bills did not have Allen the Bills would have been shut out.  Now I know Allen is a big reason they arrived at this point.

 

I am just saying that Allen was the 'only' guy making plays on either side of the ball for Buffalo.  

Points: 0

#154 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:11pm

If the Bills didn't have Allen they would have lost the AFC East and been eliminated on the road in the wild card round. 

Points: 1

#145 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 22, 2023 - 6:41pm

Full credit to Cincy for that win.  The patched-together O line in particular played very well.  And the game scheme was well suited to the weather.

The Bills' inability to play well in bad weather confounds me.  Why work so hard all season for a home field advantage that isn't actually an advantage?

Points: 6

#151 by apocalipstick // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:02pm

No one has a weather advantage any more. They all practice inside.

Points: 1

#155 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:21pm

Some teams are smart enough to adjust their plan to the weather. Some teams are not. Sadly Buffalo is in the latter category. See also: The wind game vs. New England where we refused - refused - to come out of nickel vs 6OL sets. 

Points: 7

#150 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 6:57pm

That was a terrible decision to punt. The result is even worse. Just 18 yards of field position.

Points: 2

#152 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:03pm

Oh, Dak

Points: 0

#156 by vrao81 // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:24pm

Maher's xp is blocked. Smh

Points: 1

#157 by big10freak // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:24pm

That was an impressive drive by Dallas 

Points: 0

#159 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 22, 2023 - 7:54pm

Oh, Dak

Points: 1

#160 by occams_pointed… // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:11pm

In reply to by OmahaChiefs13

Brutal

Points: 1

#161 by Spanosian Magn… // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:14pm

I think if I'm Dallas, I'm moderately encouraged that I've had a modicum of success moving the ball and really should have 10 points at least, while keeping the SF YAC monsters mostly bottled up.

But man, especially in what's looking like a low-scoring game, those points left on the board might be killer. And while I'm cautiously optimistic about having more scoring opportunities, the aforementioned YAC monsters are likely to rear their heads as my defense gets tired late.

I've joked, but wasn't entirely joking, that I felt more confident when my McCarthy-coached team trailed at halftime than when they had the lead, because that way he wouldn't just turtle up and try to run out an entire half. So I'd anticipate a couple of scores in the second half - but that's contingent on Prescott not throwing more picks, and the Pollard injury really hurts. I don't think that'll be enough without pressuring Purdy into a pick or two of his own.

Points: 1

#162 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:18pm

Oh, sure.....some guys get to rest when they get a high ankle sprain....

Points: 0

#163 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:25pm

I realllllllly want to see what will happen if the Cowboys face fourth and goal here.

Points: 0

#164 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:28pm

"This should have been a go even without the kicker issues..."

Even from the 7? Seems like kicking there is okay.

Points: 2

#165 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:33pm

Punting from the 38 and the 46 and only getting a FG in a goal to go situation. The 49ers have wasted a lot of scoring opportunities.

Points: 0

#166 by Spanosian Magn… // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:47pm

Yards after catch? How about yards after bobble? Looked like Kittle gained almost 10 yards between when he first touched the ball and when he finally had it secured.

Points: 0

#167 by apocalipstick // Jan 22, 2023 - 8:59pm

And another case of a defender going for a highlight killshot and whiffing instead of tackling.

Points: 1

#168 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:20pm

It feels like it's been all 49ers for a while now. But with that third down stop the margin is kept to 7.

Points: 0

#169 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:23pm

Hmm... This could all be leading up to an 18-19 score and the Cowboys being faced with a fascinating choice... Trust the shaky Maher or go for the lead.

Points: 1

#174 by RickD // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:29pm

Even with a normal kicker, there's a good argument for going for a 2-point conversion in that situation.  You've gotta think of OT as a 50-50 proposition. As opposed to simply getting 2 yards when you need to, in one play.

Points: 0

#170 by rh1no // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:24pm

Imagine for a moment that the 49ers had NOT blocked the Cowboys' PAT, but the rest of the game played out exactly the same way. Up 16-13 and facing a 4th and 3 from the Dallas 11, do you still kick the field goal knowing that you are forcing the Cowboys to beat you with a TD? Or do you play to ice the game knowing that Dallas would likely be willing to settle for a FG and tie in regulation if you fail to convert?

Points: 0

#171 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:26pm

It's fourth and ten. But punting to this 49ers running game seems questionable. One first down would just about end the game. I don't like the odds of stopping the 49ers from getting 10 yards in three plays.

Points: 3

#176 by rh1no // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:34pm

I think that if you're planning on going for it on fourth down, you don't unleash the long bomb on second and ten. And if you DO unleash the long bomb on second and ten, you call a screen or a swing or a quick crossing route on third down ... something that you have high confidence will land you in a manageable fourth down.

Fourth down decisions should be made on second down.

Points: 6

#172 by Romodini // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:28pm

This loss stands solely on Prescott. Bad reads and bad throws all game.

Points: 0

#173 by RickD // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:28pm

Strong disagreement with the decision to punt, and that was before the first down.  Driving the length of the field for a TD takes time.  Even if they get a 3-and-out here, they'll have, what, 90 seconds to go the length of the field?  Against the 49ers?

Is that supposed to be easier than converting 4th and 10?

Points: 3

#175 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:30pm

The punt past the 50 on the drive before the 49ers got a TD was a mistake too. Of course, the 49ers have punted from across midfield twice too. It's been messy from both coaches.

Points: 3

#177 by RickD // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:43pm

Lynch moved from the team box to the  field incredibly quickly.

Points: 1

#178 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:45pm

Good game. The 49ers had 113 rushing yards and averaged 3.5 yards an attempt. It felt a lot better than that. I guess I'm just remembering the last few drives.

Points: 0

#179 by thok // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:48pm

Man, that final play call looked ugly, but given the number of mental mistakes on the final drive already, I can see why you'd go for something bizarre.

Points: 1

#180 by Spanosian Magn… // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:49pm

Obviously it almost certainly wasn't going to work out anyway, but that might be the worst Buncha Laterals play I've ever seen.

Points: 1

#182 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:52pm

You missed the end of the Raiders-Pats game, huh?

Points: 7

#183 by coboney // Jan 22, 2023 - 9:54pm

That wasn't a planned bunch of laterals play... that was just several players mutinying and doing it on a random play which went about as well as you might expect.

 

This was supposed to be one but SMACK goes the Cowboy :p

Points: 2

#185 by Spanosian Magn… // Jan 22, 2023 - 10:01pm

Hahaha, fair. But yeah, it's my understanding that that one was (really, really) bad improv. This one, weird formation aside, seemed (in timing and target) like a play designed to convert 3rd and 15 - gave the defense tons of time to figure out that the ball was going middle and semi-deep and get in position to make a play. That type of play really needs to get the ball quickly to someone with a little space, even close to the line, then they can wing it from there.

Points: 0

#186 by Cythammer // Jan 22, 2023 - 10:01pm

"But they'll get another shot -- the 49ers did pick up a first down, but Elijah Mitchell ended up going out of bounds, saving some clock."

The 49ers got two first downs that drive. The first play was a pass for a first down.

Points: 1

#187 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 22, 2023 - 10:05pm

Mitchell’s play could have been super-costly. His was as dumb as Schultz’s, but didn’t come to woe because of the game state.

Points: 1

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