It can’t get any better than this.

How many times did you say that this weekend, watching four NFL playoff games that were possibly the best four games of the season, the best four in a row in a decade, ending in possibly the best ever?

I don’t care if you’re not an NFL fan. Maybe you’re still boycotting the league because of politics. Maybe you don’t like the enormous amounts of money these players make. Maybe you are offended by off-the-field conduct. I get that.

But on this weekend, it wasn’t about politics, it wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about what happens outside the lines.

This weekend was about football, and football players - making plays. Or not making plays. It all depends on your point of view.

But from strictly a fans’ perspective? A fan of the game?

It couldn’t get any better than this.

It began with the Cincinnati Bengals and a former Heisman and national championship-winning quarterback named Joe Burrow – remember him? The Bengals went to Nashville as underdogs against the Tennessee Titans and jumped out to a 16-6 lead in the third quarter. Only then the Titans came back with 10 straight points and were on the way to winning the game – or at least forcing overtime - when Bengals’ cornerback Eli Apple batted a Ryan Tannehill pass in the air that was intercepted by Cincinnati linebacker Logan Wilson at the Bengals 47 with 20 seconds left in the game. A few plays later, rookie Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired and Cincinnati knocked off the No. 1 seed Titans and returned to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1988.

It couldn’t get any better than that.

Then the 49ers went to the “frozen tundra’’ of Green Bay to take on the Packers in typical Green Bay playoff weather: zero degrees, snow flurries, below zero with wind chill, and cheese heads sitting in the stands shirtless as if it were July in Acapulco instead of January in Wisconsin. In a miserable offensive game, Green Bay had a 10-3 lead with just under five minutes to go with San Francisco’s offense looking like it wanted to be anywhere (Acapulco, again?) other than Lambeau Field. But then there was a punt block, which turned into a 49ers touchdown, followed by three incompletions by NFL MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers, and a punt. The next thing you know San Franciso kicker Robbie Gould is lining up for a 45-yarder to win the game as the clock – and possibly Rodgers’ career as a Packer – hits zero.

Surely it couldn’t get any better than that.

Only then came Sunday, and Tom Brady and the Bucs down 27-3 to the Los Angeles Rams in Tampa Bay late in the third quarter. And all Brady did was what Brady has done so often in his storybook career: somehow the Bucs score 24 unanswered points while the Rams tried to fumble the game away – literally (four fumbles). It was an unbelievable comeback for Brady (unless you’re a Falcons fan and remember Super Bowl LI) and would have poured even more cement on his GOAT status – except that the Rams’ Matthew Stafford, who was signed by the Rams specifically for this, threw a couple of long passes and the next thing you know Matt Gay is kicking a 30-yard field goal for the win as - yet again? - time expired.

No question it couldn’t get any better than …

“Wait,” said Kansas City and Buffalo. “Hold my beer.”

And the Chiefs and Bills – most notably quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) and Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) – put on a show that may go down as the greatest NFL game ever played. There weren’t two quarterbacks in the league (and that includes Brady and Rodgers) who could have done what these two did. Twenty-five points and three lead changes after the two-minute warning. Mahomes throwing for 177 yards in the final two minutes of the game. Two teams that had answers for every question thrown at them by the other, until the Bills’ Allen called “tails” on the overtime coin flip. Wrong answer, and it proved to be his biggest mistake of the night, because the coin came up “heads,’’ which meant Kansas City got the ball and Mahomes wisely never let Allen touch the football again, taking the Chiefs 80 yards to a touchdown and a 42-36 victory in a game you hated to see end. 

Over and over. Every game coming down to the last tick of the clock. The last game going to overtime.

Every time, you said to yourself, “It can’t get any better than this.”

But every time, it did.

Ray Melick is Editor-in-Chief of 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to