What a Fantastic wildcard weekend! Beginning with the Colts/Bills game on Saturday and then and wrapping up with the Browns blowout of Pittsburgh last night. There was a little bit of everything this weekend.
Bills 27 Colts 24
The Buffalo Bills got their first playoff win since 1995 as the Bills got by a pesky Colts team 27-24.
The game’s story was Bills quarterback Josh Allen who will be in the MVP conversation in years to come. No quarterback this season has shown the growth and maturity that Allen has shown from last season to this season.
That was on full display Saturday afternoon as Allen passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns as the Bills took out the Colts. Allen was able to damage with his legs as he led the Bills in rushing with 54 yards.
If this was the final game for Phillip Rivers, he went out, leaving it all on the field. Rivers completed 27/46 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns. Have Rivers done enough in his career to earn a plague in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Rams 30 Seahawks 20
The story of this game was the Rams defense and the running game coming back to life.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff was not supposed to play this game as he is recovering from thumb surgery. But after the neck injury to John Wolford, it was time for Jared Goff to the rescue.
Goff completed 9/19 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown after a slow start, but with the way the Rams defense played, he did not have to be spectacular.
Cam Akers ran for 131 yards and one touchdown as the Rams dominated the Seahawks.
The Rams had the best defense all season long. They carried that ranking into the postseason. Green Bay better not take this team lightly. This is a good Rams team and they have their mojo back at just the right time.
Russell Wilson had one of his worst playoff games, as he could not connect downfield with DK Metcalf and Tyler Everett. Wilson completed 11/27 for 174 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. To think, just two months ago, Wilson was the runaway candidate for the MVP award.
Buccaneers 31 Washington 23
The Buccaneers get their first playoff win since 2003 with their 31-23 win in DC. Running back Leonard Fournette had his best game this season with 134 total yards.
Tom Brady passed for 384 yards (a new Buccaneer postseason record) with two touchdown passes.
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke who had thrown 126 passes in his NFL career before Saturday night, passed for 306 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Heinicke also led Washington in rushing with 46 yards as he kept the Tampa defense off balance most of the game.
One thing this game proved is Taylor Heinicke has a place somewhere in the NFL. Heinicke also increased his market value tenfold earning himself a massive raise for next season, whether in Washington or elsewhere.
The Bucs offense put up 507 yards of total offense against a Washington defense, which finished third overall in total defense.
Chase Young had said he “wanted Tom Brady” finished with three tackles, zero sacks, and zero quarterback pressures.
Ravens 20 Titans 13
The Ravens defense dominated this game from start to finish as they smothered the NFL’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry, holding him to 40 yards in the win.
This was the first playoff win for Lamar Jackson as he controlled this game for the Ravens with his arms and legs.
Jackson passed for 179 yards and ran for 136 yards and one touchdown as the Ravens ended the Titans season.
The Titans took a 10-0 lead after the first quarter. Then the Ravens defense went to work, holding the Titans to three points the rest of the way. The Ravens defense held the Titans to 209 yards of total offense and would never let Tennessee get untracked after the first quarter.
Ravens coach Jon Harbaugh said, “This may be the best team I’ve ever been associated with.” This was the eighth road win in Harbaugh’s coaching career, passing Hall of Farmers Tom Landry and Tom Coughlin.
The Titans will work on shoring up their defense this off-season. Meanwhile, the Ravens will play at Buffalo in next week’s divisional round.
Saints 21 Bears 9
The game wasn’t this close as the Bears scored a touchdown on a Mitch Trubisky to Jimmy Graham pass as time expired to cut the margin to 21-9.
Drew Brees passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints eliminated the Bears.
Alvin Kamara ran for 99 yards and a touchdown in his first action in two weeks.
The Bear’s offense struggled against the Saint’s fourth-ranked defense and could muster up just 239 yards of total offense. The nine points given up by the Saints defense set a new franchise record. The previous low was 14 points given up.
Brees vs. Brady round three will take place next Sunday night in New Orleans. Brees has won the first two rounds in convincing fashion 34-23 and 38-3.
Browns 49 Steelers 37
The Cleveland Browns get their first playoff win since New Year’s Day 1995 and their first road playoff win since 1969 as they dismantle the Steelers 48-37.
The Browns also set a new NFL playoff record by scoring 28 points in the first quarter as Cleveland jumped out to an insurmountable 28-0 lead.
The Browns were missing their head coach, two starting cornerbacks, and by the time the game was over, was playing with a makeshift offensive line.
Oh, the Browns had one practice all week due to the facility being closed to COVID.
Special teams coordinator Mike Preifer called the plays in Stefanski’s absence.
Baker Mayfield threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns while Nick Chubb ran for 76 yards, and Kareem Hunt added 48 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
The Browns defense forced five Pittsburgh turnovers; four of those were interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers have a lot to work on this off-season. They need to improve their running game and find a quarterback in the draft or free agency. Meanwhile the Browns are on to Kansas City for a date with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs next Sunday afternoon.