NFL playoffs full of ‘what-ifs’

The NFL Playoffs came to a close Sunday, Feb. 2, and after each grueling week the same question was asked. What if?

The opening round of Wild Card play had local fans riled up as the Lions matched up against Dallas in AT&T stadium. The close game held fans on the edge of their seats until controversy reared its head in the fourth quarter.

A defensive pass interference penalty was thrown after a pass from Mathew Stafford to Brandon Pettigrew. After the penalty had been announced to the stadium, the referees made the decision to pick up that flag and the penalty yards were not awarded. 

Confusion led to conspiracy theories as the referees did not report to the stadium the reasoning behind the picking up of the flag. 

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo led his team down the field to take the lead, and eventually the win. 

What if the penalty hadn’t been picked up? What if?

During the divisional round, the Cowboys faced a Green Bay Packers team that was undefeated at Lambeau Field this season.

After Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers led a second half comeback, his team led the Cowboys 26-21.

With just over four minutes left in the game, Romo threw a  ball to wide receiver Dez Bryant on fourth and two that was caught near the goal line.

After video review, the call of a catch was overturned and it was decided that he did not have possession of the ball through the catch after contacting the ground.

Bryant and Cowboys fans pleaded their case that he was reaching for the goal line and that should be considered a “football move.” 

These cries were to no avail as the ruling on the field was overturned, the ball was turned over to the Packers, and the Packers went on to win the game, running the clock out on their next drive.

Again the question was asked: What if that call hadn’t been overturned?

In the Divisional Championship round, the Packers traveled to Seattle to take on the number-one ranked defense in the league, as well as “The 12th Man”. 

After holding the lead for almost the entire game, the Packers punted the ball away to the Seahawks with just less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

After a seven play-seventy yard drive by the Seahawks, quarterback Russell Wilson ran the ball in from one yard out.

Pandemonium ensued in Seattle when an onside kick was recovered by the Seahawks after Green Bay tight end Brandon Bostick mishandled the kick. 

Seattle went on to score on that drive, followed shortly by a Green Bay field goal, sending the game to overtime.

Seattle received the ball to start overtime and it took Russell Wilson just six plays to march down the field and score, sealing the win for Seattle.

A wild series of events led to the Seattle win bringing up the question again. What if?

Finally, the Super Bowl had arrived. Both teams were the number one seeds in their respective divisions. 

The Patriots battled controversy for the two weeks leading up to the game, dealing with the “Deflate Gate” scandal from their divisional championship game against the Colts.

After a tight fought game through four quarters, the Seahawks found themselves in prime position to win the game. They were down four points with the ball on the Patriots’ one yard line after a circus catch by wide receiver Jermaine Kearse over Patriots’ defender Malcolm Butler got them into the red zone.

With just twenty seconds remaining on the clock and a time out in his pocket, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made the call to have Russell Wilson throw the ball on second down.

The play resulted in an interception by Malcolm Butler, sending the game into a frenzy as a fight broke out on the next play, resulting in the ejection of Seahawks defender Bruce Irvin.

After Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl ring, it leaves many fans and reporters wondering why Coach Pete Carroll did not run the ball.

With Marshawn Lynch, the running back with the most touchdowns in the NFL this season in the backfield, most people believe running the ball was a no-brainer. 

Leading one last time to the question. What if?