If the wild card weekend was truly wild, then I’m not quite sure what to call the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
Incredible comebacks, amazing performances and postseason breakthroughs defined a weekend of some of the best football we have seen all season long, which perfectly sets up the championship round next week. If for some reason, you couldn’t get in front of a TV this weekend, here’s a short recap of what you missed.
Ravens Shock Broncos in Double OT
Ray Lewis and the Ravens lived to play another day, as they pulled off by far the biggest upset of the weekend by taking out No. 1 AFC seed and previous winner of 11 straight games–the Denver Broncos–by a score of 38-35 in a wild game that went into two overtime periods.
The Broncos seemed to have everything under control with a seven-point lead and less than a minute left, but somehow allowed Joe Flacco to complete a 70-yard bomb to Jacoby Jones for a touchdown that would send the game into overtime. The game could not be decided after an initial 15-minute period, but in the second OT frame, Justin Tucker drilled 47-yard field goal to win the game.
The winning score was also set up by an unthinkable Peyton Manning mistake–a play where he attempted to throw on the run across his body and was intercepted Corey Graham. The loss will certainly leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the Broncos, but it couldn’t be sweeter for the Ravens, which were lucky to move on.
Colin Kaepernick’s Record-Setting Day Fuels Niners Past Packers
The Saturday night game was just as surprising, but in a different way as first-year starter Colin Kaepernick enjoyed a record-setting performance in the 49ers’ 45-31 win over the Packers.
Kaepernick’s 181 rushing yards broke the NFL record for a quarterback in a single game, besting Michael Vick’s mark of 173 that he set back in 2002. Kaepernick then added more than 250 yards passing as he and the Niners dismantled the Green Bay defense and easily advanced as the team to beat in the NFC Championship game.
Falcons Stave Off Seahawks With Game-Winning Field Goal
The Falcons’ well-publicized playoff skid was again all anyone could talk about as they blew a 27-7 lead in the fourth quarter, falling behind Seattle 28-27 with just 31 seconds to go. However, a couple of big Matt Ryan pass plays set up a Matt Bryant 49-yard attempt that he nailed to finally break the streak and send the Falcons to the NFC Championship game.
Seattle demonstrated an amazing amount of resilience for a second straight week after coming back from 14-0 down to score 24 unanswered against Washington and ultimately win 24-14 last week. However, its 21-point comeback was still not quite enough against the Falcons, which were finally able to run the football at home, gashing the Hawks for 167 yards on the ground.
Patriots Take Care of Texans at Home
The least surprising, but equally impressive performance this weekend came courtesy of who else but the New England Patriots, which easily cruised past the Houston Texans 41-28 at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady had himself another spectacular game, completing 25 of 40 throws for nearly 350 yards and three touchdowns.
The only bad news for New England fans is that Rob Gronkowski was lost for the rest of the postseason after breaking his leg early in the first quarter. Still, the offensive firepower the Patriots showed without out him proved they are still the team to be in the AFC and possibly the playoffs as we march on into the championship round next week.