NFL Playoff Teams Are Earning Their Yards After the Catch
Quarterbacks get all the credit but the teams left in the N.F.L. playoffs thrive because playmakers like Deebo Samuel, Travis Kelce, A.J. Brown and Samaje Perine pick up yards after their catches.
The quintessential San Francisco 49ers forward pass travels roughly 15 feet through the air. It can be thrown by the rookie quarterback Brock Purdy to targets like Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey or George Kittle, who then dodge, weave, sprint or steam roll through defenders to transform what looked like a meager 5-yard pass into a highlight.
The 49ers have long been notorious for relying upon short tosses to speedy yet burly receivers to maximize yards after the catch, or YAC. The 49ers led the N.F.L. in YAC per reception in 2019 (6.6), 2020 (6.2) and 2021 (6.5). They tied the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers for the league lead with 6.6 YAC per reception in the 2022 regular season.
Thats right: Kansas City, while still an aerial circus, also relies heavily on yards after the catch to supplement its offense. So do the Philadelphia Eagles, who finished tied for fifth in the N.F.L. with 5.8 YAC per reception. Even the Cincinnati Bengals, whose signature play remains a moon launch from Joe Burrow to JaMarr Chase, finished tied for 11th in the league with 5.2 YAC per reception.
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