Yesterday, the NFL announced that NFL GamePass would be free to access until the end of May for all those missing football while stuck inside. The streaming collection is extensive, including condensed and full replays of all games from 2009-2019, both regular season and postseason. This past season was filled with a handful of quality games, so if you're in the mood, here are the five best from 2019 to watch.
Week 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 55, Los Angeles Rams 40
If you want to see a bunch of scoring, this is the game for you. The Bucs scored 28 in the first half and 27 in the second half while the Rams kept pace until the final quarter. Jameis Winston and Jared Goff combined for 902 (!) yards passing and six touchdowns (along with three interceptions between the two to keep things interesting). Goff threw the ball 68 times! This also marked Chris Godwin's coming-out party after he caught 12 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. It was a shootout in its classic form, 60 straight minutes of sheer entertainment. Whether this was a display of offensive effectiveness or defensive ineptitude is certainly up for debate, but who cares when both teams combine for nearly 1,000 yards?
NFC Wild Card Round: Minnesota Vikings 26, New Orleans Saints 20
In the most competitive NFC playoff field in some time, the 13-3 Saints had to host the 10-6 Vikings on Wild Card Weekend in the Superdome, and it lived up to the billing. Both defensive lines gave the opposing quarterback nightmares from start to finish. The Saints had to score 10 points in the final frame to send the game to overtime. For all the criticisms Kirk Cousins faced for his performance when the lights were brightest, he came through when Minnesota needed him most with a bomb to Adam Thielen on the first possession of overtime. Then, as per usual in New Orleans, controversy struck; the Vikings walked it off with a fade to Kyle Rudolph that may or may not have been pass interference. But it wasn't called, and the Saints lost another heart-breaking playoff game at home in what was supposed to be their year. A great back-and-forth battle to watch for everyone outside the Bayou.
NFC Divisional Round: Green Bay Packers 28, Seattle Seahawks 23
This matchup, featuring Russell Wilson battling against Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in January, has a strong claim to the best playoff game of the 2019 postseason. The Packers took a comfortable 21-3 lead heading into the half thanks to the Rodgers-Davante Adams connection and Aaron Jones building off a breakout season. Then Wilson dragged the Seahawks back in the game, closing the gap to 11 points entering the fourth quarter. Seattle made it a one-score game with a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, and looked like they might pull off the improbable-- until controversy struck. Rodgers found Jimmy Graham for a first down on a crucial third-and-nine that essentially ended the game. But the spot was questionable at best, and from most angles it looked like Graham was just short. But the call on the field was upheld, Rodgers found Adams with a gorgeous over-the-shoulder fade on the next play, and the Packers escaped. Wilson was magical all year, and watching him duel against one of his few peers in Rodgers was an absolute treat.
AFC Divisional Round: Kansas City Chiefs 51, Houston Texans 31
Twenty years from now, we may very well look back on this game as the moment Patrick Mahomes went from superstar to the best player in the NFL. Sure, based on talent alone, he already had a claim, but he had never faced a scenario like this before. The Texans shot out of the gates to stun the Chiefs at Arrowhead and take a 24-0 lead in the second quarter. The fans were quiet, Chiefs players looked shell-shocked, and articles were already being written about how Andy Reid will simply never come through when it matters most.
We all know what happened next. Mahomes led Kansas City on four straight touchdown drives in the last ten minutes of the second quarter to take a 28-24 lead going into halftime. By the four-minute mark of the third quarter, the Chiefs had scored 42 straight points. Mahomes finished with 321 yards in the air and racked up five touchdown passes, while leading his team in rushing as the cherry on top. It was the first domino to fall en route to the Chiefs' first championship in 50 years, and just another inhuman performance from Mahomes that we've quickly come to expect.
Week 12: San Francisco 49ers 48, New Orleans Saints 46
This was the best regular season game of the year, and one of the best overall games we've seen in a while, even if the stakes weren't particularly high. San Francisco rolled into New Orleans at 10-2, looking every bit the championship contender they would prove to be a month later. The Saints, meanwhile, were starting to hit their stride after Drew Brees came back from a finger injury that sidelined him for over a month. In what was supposed to be a relatively even battle of well-rounded teams, only the offenses showed up to play. The two quarterbacks played immaculately; both threw for 349 yards, and Brees added five touchdowns while Jimmy Garoppolo put up four touchdowns and an interception.
It all culminated in what was, in retrospect, the play of the year from George Kittle. Down by one with less than a minute remaining, Garoppolo found Kittle in the flat on a fourth-and-two from their own 33-yard-line that guaranteed the drive would continue, but not much more. Then Kittle decided he was done with all that, and rumbled for 39 yards after the catch, at one point literally dragging three Saints defenders forward before finally getting taken down when one defender gave up and yanked him to the turf with his facemask. It set up Robbie Gould's game-winning field goal, and proved to any remaining doubters that this Niners team wasn't just a fun story. They were for real.