Afternoon Drive: Observations from NFL Championship Sunday

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce takes off for a big gain early in Sunday's AFC Championship game at Baltimore.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce takes off for a big gain early in Sunday's AFC Championship game at Baltimore.

Welcome to The Afternoon Drive, where the sports staff of the Times Free Press will give you a dose of (random) sports-related information that will hopefully get you thinking about more than just what's for dinner. This information will be packed into an online list form each weekday, but the opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff as a whole.

Today's list

Lindsey Young offers up a few observations after a rather odd NFL Conference Championship Sunday.

1. Too much machismo

Look, I get the whole "Dan Campbell has done this all year" stuff, but at some point it's OK to dial the macho down a bit and do what's best for your team. Kick the field goal with 7:32 remaining, tie the game and see if Brock Purdy (and/or Kyle Shanahan) can handle the moment. Instead, the Lions run a horrible fourth-down play, the defense appears to sense the game is over and the 49ers take advantage. Also, if Campbell has consistently gambled, why in the name of Edsel Ford did he elect to kick from inside the 5 at the end of the first half?

2. Purdy great

If Brock Purdy is considered a good "game manager" I really hope the Falcons can find one just like him. Though the Lions gifted a few things and Brandon Aiyuk caught a pass that should have been intercepted, Purdy won that game for San Fran. By my count, he had seven immense positive plays in the second half, including three scrambles for 51 yards -- one on each of three consecutive drives -- that were critical in scoring the team's last 17 points.

3. Setting the mood

Travis Kelce absolutely punked the Ravens. From the moment he caught Patrick Mahomes' first pass to the very end, the tight end was in the face of any Ravens defender who happened to be nearby. He let everybody -- including his teammates -- know that the Ravens were not going to be the intimidators. Yes, he had 11 catches for 116 yards and the game's first TD, but it was his attitude that set the tone and led to several Baltimore personal fouls.

4. Ravens' regret

Quick, what does Lamar Jackson do better than any quarterback in the NFL? Make plays with his legs, right? So, why did the presumptive MVP appear so hesitant to run Sunday? Yes, the game plan was odd, but there were plays to be made. The Chiefs were begging the Ravens to throw the ball and Todd Monken and company obliged. Still, how many times did Jackson hold the ball too long before either getting sacked, throwing the ball away or bailing out way too late? I literally screamed at my TV for him to take off and force the Chiefs to tackle him in open space on more than one occasion. Even on his one big early scramble it looked like Lamar didn't want to be hit. Strange indeed.

5. NFL got its wish

This is in no way implying the games were somehow tilted toward the Chiefs and 49ers, but the postgame bear hug NFL commish Roger Goodell shared with KC's Chris Jones was certainly curious. I mean, it lasted waaaaaaaay too long to just be congratulatory. And, let's face it, Chiefs-49ers had to be the preferred matchup for NFL brass, not to mention CBS execs. (Quick, what's the over/under on Taylor Swift cutaways in Vegas?)

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com.

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