NFL playoffs: 3 lessons SF 49ers can learn from Chiefs, Buccaneers

Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass (2) Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

SF 49ers lesson No. 2: Playing conservative won’t win the big games

Tom Brady’s touchdown towards the end of the first half was one example why he and Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians vastly outperformed Aaron Rodgers and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.

The Bucs didn’t have to try and score. They were already up 17-10 on the road, and their defense had done a phenomenal job curtailing Green Bay’s offense up to that point. Yet Tampa Bay didn’t relent, and it paid off.

Meanwhile, both the Packers and Bills were victims of timid play-calling. LaFleur is going to be criticized for how he handled the final two-plus minutes when the Packers were trailing by eight points in the fourth quarter. Even after the made field goal, Green Bay still needed a touchdown after getting a quick defensive stop.

The Bills, too, often elected to play it conservatively knowing full well they’d have to deal with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and an offense that could score in bunches and seemingly at will. Buffalo field-goal attempts on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line and then on 4th-and-3 from the 8-yard line on subsequent drives after Kansas City was beginning to run away with things in the second quarter was awfully disappointing from the Bills’ vantage point.

In some way, it’s reminiscent of the conservative play-calling Kyle Shanahan and the SF 49ers had late in the first half of Super Bowl 54, although they were leading at the time.

If there’s a lesson for the Niners, they can see how the aggressive nature from Tampa Bay and the lack of aggression from Buffalo both directly impacted the outcomes from the conference championships.