Here are five key takeaways from the NFL’s Sunday playoff action:
1. Reid’s gutsy call
Andy Reid’s gutsy fourth-down call at the end of the Browns-Chiefs game added to his Hall of Fame legacy. Nursing a 22-17 lead and facing a fourth-and-1, Reid opted to go for it. Chad Henne rolled to his right a completed the short pass to Tyreek Hill that was essentially a walk-off conversion. A punt was the more traditional/conservative decision. Give Coach Reid tremendous credit for making that decision.
2. Henne was ready
When Patrick Mahomes was given the day off in Kansas City’s regular-season finale, it was all about giving their star QB some rest – not about getting the Chiefs’ backup some reps. But sure enough, when Mahomes went down in Sunday’s game, the fact that Henne saw game action in Week 17 definitely helped him.
3. Bucs’ balanced attack
Tom Brady passed for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns this season. He’s got amazing weapons in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski. But the Bucs might be most dangerous when they are balanced. Against New Orleans, they rushed the ball 35 times and passed 33 times.
4. Shorthanded Saints
Give the Tampa Bay defense plenty of credit, but don’t forget that New Orleans was missing several key offensive players. Backup QB and all-around weapon Taysom Hill was inactive. So was backup running back Latavius Murray. And Deonte Harris, whose first-quarter punt return set up the Saints’ first points, left the game with an injury. The Bucs will have a much tougher task stopping Green Bay’s offense next week in the NFC Championship Game.
5. Bad day for Brees
In what was likely the final game of Drew Brees’ career, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer threw three interceptions. But an even bigger reason for the Saints’ loss was his inability to throw the ball downfield. Brees had no attempts of more than 20 yards in the air.