Last weekend, January 14-16, 2023, there were six NFL football playoff games played. Great games – some expected outcomes, two surprisingly close games and an upset. I can’t wait for this weekend’s games, but first let’s take a quick look back and see what, if anything, we can learn and apply to our life.
The Game I wanted to Watch Most from the First Week of the Playoffs:
The game I was most excited about entering the playoffs was watching the Jacksonville Jaguars, and specifically watching Trevor Lawrence. I see so many comparisons with Sidney Crosby and Lawrence – both built monster reputations prior to making the leap to the professional level and both are amazing leaders at a young age, plus both appear to place mastering their craft as a top priority (I’m not seeing/hearing any mention of either one taking political stances or any other distraction that shifts their mind from their mission) and both make average players on their teams better. The latter is the biggest connection I see in that both take a normal professional athlete and make them something special. Since I see a little Sid the Kid in Lawrence, I was excited to watch the Jags first playoff performance with him at QB. I was not disappointed and here is my takeaway from this game that can be applied to life:
If things don’t start the way you wanted them to, who cares get over it and stick to the mission. The Jags were down 27-0 before they got on the scoreboard and Lawrence’s first postseason pass was an interception. Lawrence would throw four INTs in the first half – it was ugly, but the coaches and Lawrence felt confident. In business you need a buy in to the mission and this is top down. The leadership in your company needs to set the course and it has to be communicated to the team. Constant communication can keep the team engaged and this was demonstrated on the Jags sideline when the team kept talking and sharing ideas on how to improve each play. For me it was enjoyable to watch the scheming on the sidelines of the Jags with everyone involved – I saw Lawrence breaking it down with coaches, skill players and linemen. On the flipside, there were shots of the opponent’s quarterback, Chargers’ Justin Herbert, sitting by himself. Takeaway: keep everyone together and make sure lines of communication are open to share best practices.
Will Lawrence and Jags go on and hold the Lombardi trophy in a few weeks? I doubt it, at least for this season, but I think it will happen soon, maybe next season or the one after. Going back to my comparisons of Sid and Lawrence, remember Sid was exited quickly in his first playoff experience (and in his second playoff experience he got really close but was denied again but the third season it happened). Get better every practice and successes will follow.
Here are a few of my takeaways from other week one NFL playoff games:
In the words of Eminem: If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment would you capture it or just let it slip away. Both Brock Purdy and Daniel Jones seized the opportunity and put together complete, awesome games in their first playoff game. Either one could have had nervous jitters that could have led to errors and no one would have thought less of them and people would have just considered it a learning experience, but each stood tall and relied on their abilities to lead their respective teams. Trust in yourself and trust in your team and good things can happen.
Keep it simple. Buffalo Bills found themselves in an unexpected close game against the Miami Dolphins. And I thought David was going to upset Goliath but…. When it mattered most the Dolphins overthought the situation which led to their demise. It was fourth down and one yard to go late in a game where they were huge underdogs and the Dolphins found themselves in a situation where they could have won the game or at least tied it up and extended it to overtime but instead they got a delay penalty – just run a quarterback sneak and move the chains. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.
Ignore your naysayers. We’ve all heard the Dallas Cowboys are choke artists and the players have heard it too. The last time the Cowboys won a road playoff game the grey-haired author of this article was a junior in high school. Where were you in life thirty years ago? A lot of the players on the Cowboys weren’t even alive the last time their franchise won a road game, but oh they heard about it as the media kept asking about it for their stories. The best way to shut your critics up is to produce. Not everyone is going to believe in you, but who cares just do your thing and do it well.
Have fun. Lastly make life fun and celebrate your successes. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals found themselves in a barnburner, a good ole AFC North slugfest. With it all tied up late in the game the Bengals team captain, defensive end Sam Hubbard grabbed a loose football and took it 98 yards for the go ahead game-winning touchdown. He’s a team captain and should have handed the football to the refs after scoring right? No way, spike that ball and have fun celebrating with your teammates in front of the fans. The only thing better would have been if Hubbard did the griddy dance, but hey he just ran the length of the field and was a little winded so we’ll cut him a break. Take time to celebrate your successes.