Wild Card Weekend

The Wild Card Weekend brought some entertaining football, some shock results and some incredibly tight wins.

 

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Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans:

21-7 

The Indianapolis Colts thrashed the Houston Texans on Saturday night to secure a match up with Kansas City next weekend.

Indy dominated the first quarter against their divisional rivals, totaling 155 net yards on offense to Houston’s 39. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who showed up at the stadium in a clown mask, damaged the Texans hopes by converting two third-down attempts. Quarterback Andrew Luck capped off the first possession by finding Eric Ebron in the end zone for a 6-yard TD.

The Colts then took their next possession and turned it into a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive, which Marlon Mack ended with a 2-yard run, to take the visitors 14-0 up. By the time the dust had settled on the first period, Indy were averaging 8.1 yards per play and had taken control of the game.

Luck turned in a somewhat impressive performance against a Texans team that just didn’t show up, completing 19 of 32 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. The signal-caller’s supporting cast stepped up, Mack slashed the Texans for 148 yards rushing and a touchdown on 24 carries, setting a single-game playoff franchise record. Hilton, who entered the game averaging 133.3 career yards at NRG Stadium, totaled 85yrds on five catches. The offensive line did their job and protected Luck, who wasn’t sacked on the game.

Credit to the Colts’ defense for what they did on Saturday afternoon. The Texans entered the game ranked 15th in the league in offense and 11th in scoring, but Indy sacked Deshaun Watson three times and held him to just 235 yards through the air. Pierre Desir deserves a huge pat on the back for holding All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins in check.

Hopkins totaled five catches for 37 yards on 10 targets and Watson struggled with his preferred target being taken away by Indy’s secondary. The play-maker completed 29 of 49 passes, averaging 4.8 yards per completion. He did some damage with his legs however, totaling 76 rushing yards on eight carries.

Keke Coutee scored the only touchdown for the hosts after he connected with a 6-yard lob from Watson.

Saturday’s victory sets up another postseason showdown between the Colts and the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Kansas City clinched the top seed, but their playoff history against the Colts isn’t a positive one. The two have met four times in the post season (1995, 2003, 2006, 2013), the Colts have won them all. The last time they squared off, Indy won 45-44. In that game K.C. jumped out to a 38-10 lead before Luck engineered the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history.


Up Next:

Colts v Chiefs – Saturday, January 12th (4:35pm – NBC)

Texans – Eliminated

 

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Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys

22-24 

Dak Prescott effectively answered any doubts about whether he can handle the spotlight. The quarterback came up big in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, scampering up the middle for a 16-yard gain on third-and 14 from Seattle’s 17-yard line. Prescott then ran it in from the 1 on the next play to give Dallas a 24-14 lead with 2:08 left. The playmaker is the first Dallas quarterback with a pass and rush touchdown in a playoff game.

The Seahawks didn’t help themselves on the winning driving, conceding two pass interference penalties on third down, helping to extend Dallas’ march down field. It was the play-maker who placed the cherry on top of the host’s game with a gutsy performance. In addition to scoring the game-winning TD, Prescott completed 22 of 33 passes for 226 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He added 29 yards on the ground on six carries to help his team move on to the NFC Divisional Round next weekend.

Dallas’ No.4 didn’t do it alone, of course, with running back Ezekiel Elliot and wide receiver Amari Cooper coming through with big individual performances. Elliot gutted the NFL’s No. 13 run defense with 137 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Cooper, who has become a prize possession in Dallas since his trade from Oakland, turned in a 106-yard receiving performance on seven catches, averaging 15.1 yards per catch.

With Prescott, Elliott and Cooper, Dallas find themselves with a modern version of The Triplets, who are good enough offensively to cause headaches for any opponent this postseason.

Jason Garrett and his Cowboys face a tough Divisional Round test with a matchup against the LA Rams in Los Angeles.

Up Next:

Seahawks – Eliminated

Cowboys v Rams – Saturday, January 12th (8:15pm – FOX) 

 

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Los Angeles Chargers v Baltimore Ravens

23-17 

The Ravens were jittery from the start, losing the ball three times on their first eight snaps. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson was fortunate to pick up his own bouncing fumble on their first drive and even luckier that his botched shotgun snap stayed in Ravens’ possession. Baltimore’s first four drives ended in three punts and a fumble.

It wasn’t long before whispers that Joe Flacco might take over started, not surprising when Jackson finished with 194 yards through the air, the vast majority coming deep in garbage time. Baltimore found themselves down 23-3 midway through the fourth period, but Jackson and his offense found their fire with the QB tossing a pair of touchdown darts to Michael Crabtree that left the Chargers angling for a first down, their playoff lives on the line inside the two-minute warning. The Ravens forced a punt to take over with 45 seconds left, but their season was over when the rookie signal-caller saw his third fumble of the game recovered by Melvin Ingram.

The Chargers came out with six-plus defensive backs with safety Derwin James hovering at the line for a Chargers unit that practically ignored the middle linebacker position. They held the Ravens to just 90 yards rushing at an average of 3.9 yards, it worked until the late flurry from Baltimore, though the Chargers did prove one thing, this Ravens attack can be studied and stopped.

Chargers fan’s hearts were in their mouths when their star player Melvin Gordon came up hobbling with an early left knee injury, he returned in the second quarter for the Chargers but never quite looked the same and was often rested with Austin Ekeler filling in.

L.A. fans waited for Philip Rivers to test the Ravens defense deep, but his longer throws were visibly impacted by the strong win. Credit should go to rookie kicker Mike Badgley, who calmly converted first-half field goals of 21, 34, 40 and 53 yards, despite the Bolts being held to 129 total yards before the break. Badgley set a single-game playoff franchise record by making those five field goals.

The entire third quarter passed without a first down for either team until Antonio Gates moved the sticks with about two minutes left in the period. Rivers then found Mike Williams for 28 yards and the first big play of the game, to set up a Gordon goal-line score that burried the Ravens in a 20-3 hole.


Up Next:

Chargers v Patriots – Sunday, January 13th (1:05pm – CBS)

Ravens – Eliminated

 

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Philadelphia Eagles v Chicago Bears

16-15 

Nick Foles‘ storybook career continues, he was the hero of the game for the traveling fans. Not only has he thrown the second most TD passes in Philly postseason history (incl last year), but after Mitchell Trubisky sent Chicago to a 15-10 lead with less than five minutes remaining, the QB led an impressive 12-play, 60-yard drive that left Philly in a crucial fourth-down situation. Foles promptly rolled right and found Golden Tate for the go-ahead touchdown, immediately validating their deadline-beating trade for the former Lions receiver.

Trubisky had an up-and-down performance which saw him get away with a handful of interceptable passes. Credit Philly’s Nigel Bradham for sensing several misdirection plays from the second-year signal-caller. With the game on the line, however, the Bears QB delivered a standout performance on his team’s final two drives. He made big throws to Taylor Gabriel, Josh Bellamy and Allen Robinson on a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that gave Chicago a 5pt lead.

After Foles‘ go-ahead score, Trubisky showed a sliver of hope for the home team, unleashing a back-shoulder beauty that found Robinson for a 25-yard completion. The two then connected for another quick completion to set the stage for a manageable 43-yard field goal attempt that was twice rejected by the same goalpost and thus Chicago’s season is over.

Up Next:

Eagles v Saints – Sunday, January 13th (4:40pm – FOX)

Bears –  Eliminated 

 

DIVISIONAL ROUND MATCHUPS 

AFC

Colts v Chiefs – Saturday, January 12th (4:35pmNBC)

Chargers v Patriots – Sunday, January 13th (1:05pmCBS)

NFC

Cowboys v Rams – Saturday, January 12th (8:15pmFOX

Eagles v Saints – Sunday, January 13th (4:40pmFOX)

 

 

ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN 

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