Foul Play: The NFL

The Eagles-49ers NFC Championship was a mess. The audience was put through what was quite possibly the worst game in what has already proved to be one of the most boring NFL playoffs in history. But to get to all that, we have to start at the beginning.

The NFL changed rules for the 2020-2021 season, adding a new 7th seed that could make their way to the Super Bowl and take home the trophy. But those 7th seeds have been terrible. And by terrible I mean god-awful. In the two years before this year, the 7th seed had gone 0-4, losing by an average of 13 points — they were boring slogs that were awful to watch.

So the 2023 playoffs were expected to start terribly, with the hope that things would pick up in the second round.

Except that’s not what happened. The Jacksonville Jaguars, led by Football Jesus Trevor Lawrence, pulled off a 27 point comeback to beat the LA Chargers. A day later, Miami, playing their backup, lost a fun, close game to Buffalo. The Giants upset the Vikings, while the Ravens and the Bengals played it close. The first round was wrapped up with Tom Brady getting hammered at home, which is always fun to watch.

To keep count, that’s four great games, out of six played, with a couple upsets and one of the biggest comebacks in NFL playoff history to boot. All in all, these playoffs were looking good.

You might have made the mistake of enjoying football. Stop that. We don’t do that here. This is the place where sports fans go to die.

After coming to terms with the fact that no, New York cannot have nice things, the Bills crashed against the Bengals. The Eagles steamrolled over the Giants 38-7, and the Cowboys and 49ers played a game that consisted almost entirely of field goals, with a patented Cowboy meltdown at the end. Only Jacksonville gave us a good time, holding the Chiefs to one score, but even they lost.

One good game out of four. Where were those fun games we were promised?

Fools had hope for a pair of interesting championship games. Good teams playing good teams in entertaining games, with classic catches and breakout stars.

And that brings us back to the Eagles-49ers NFC Championship, a game that had been hyped to hell and back. And for good reason!

A lot of us were excited to watch Brock Purdy — Mr. Irrelevant, the last player picked in the draft — prove himself. The Philadelphia Eagles were hungry for their second ever Super Bowl title, boasting one of the best rookie quarterbacks in the league, paired with a ferocious offense. The 49ers had a well-oiled machine, the best defense of the year, and were ready for anything the Eagles could throw at them. Their run game was honed to perfection behind running back Christian McCaffrey, while the Eagles were relying on an amazing wide receiver room to bring home points. It was the unstoppable force against the immovable object.

The game delivered for all of about three minutes. Before even a quarter of the game had been played, Purdy went down to injury, bringing in the 49ers fourth backup QB of the season. You heard me right, the fourth. And that backup backup backup QB got injured too, sending back an injured Brock Purdy to try to salvage the game, only for him to immediately leave. By the end, SF had given up on quarterbacks altogether, and had resorted to handing the ball off to a running back.

Meanwhile, the Eagles scored off of an incomplete pass (which was so obviously incomplete that the refs must be blind), and had a kick bounce off a camera line. Both teams committed so many penalties that I’m surprised the NFL didn’t suspend the entire game for unsportsmanlike conduct. And that’s not even mentioning the ACTUAL GOD DAMNED BRAWL.

This game was dirty. It was ugly. It was boring. And worst of all, it wasn’t fun. It’s not fun watching a team that has spent blood, sweat, and tears to make it here have some of the worst luck in history. It’s not fun watching a guy who hasn’t played the sport on a professional level ever get tackled over and over again. It’s not fun watching a team crumble while they can’t do a single damn thing to stop it.

Philly Punched a ticket to the Super Bowl today, and to them, congratulations. They’ll face whoever wins the Chiefs-Bengals game. The 49ers will pack up and go home, trying to figure out how another amazing season ended in nothing more than bad luck. And this mess of a postseason will chug along.

But hey, at least it’s only one more week.