Boys and girls, this is not a drill.
Wild Card Weekend brought four of the best wild card games in recent memories as two went to overtime and all four came down to the wire.
Texans 22, Bills 19 (F/OT)
Probably the dumbest game of the weekend, both teams made laughably bad decisions. Bill O’Brien’s first-half challenge of an incompletion was a wasted timeout, but his theatrics cannot compare to the comedy show provided by Josh Allen in the fourth quarter. In the matter of 75 in-game seconds, Allen had an intentional grounding penalty, a 19-yard sack, and an ill-advised lateral to Dawson Knox. Allen played like a chicken with its head cut off, and it was jarring to watch such a promising player have a meltdown in the fourth quarter. Allen caught a touchdown in the game, and surprisingly that was not the weirdest passing stat of the game. Corey Bojorquez, Buffalo’s punter, had a spike in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. With Bojorquez’s incompletion, the Bills had a nice trio of 158.3 (John Brown), 69.5 (Josh Allen), and 39.6 (Bojorquez) as passer ratings.
The Texans started with five straight punts before they stepped their game up with a fumble. After forcing a critical field goal, the Texans scored 19 points on three drives to take the lead before sputtering for nine yards on four plays on what could have been the game-icing drive. Thankfully, the Texans failed on fourth down, allowing the world to laugh at Josh Allen’s lateral attempt seconds later.
DeAndre Carter, you cannot escape it. Carter failed to give a signal for a fair catch on the opening kickoff of the second half. Carter proceeded to toss the ball to the official who stepped out of the way, letting a Bill recover in the end zone. It was a gaffe on par with going to work without pants on. The referees made a bizarre ruling based on “common sense,” and it left a nasty mark on the game.
Titans 20, Patriots 13
THE DYNASTY IS OVER!
Jokes aside, the Titans rode the Derrick Henry train for 204 yards on 35 touches to overcome the Patriots. Outside of a screen pass to Henry, Ryan Tannehill completed just seven of 14 passes for 50 yards. In the second quarter, the Titans gained just six yards without using Henry. In the third quarter, the Titans challenged themselves even more, giving Henry three yards of help. The Titans won a playoff game on the road despite running the offense exclusively through one player.
The Patriots jumped out to a hot start, scoring on three of their first four drives. In their final six drives, the Patriots failed on a fourth-down, punted four times, and Tom Brady threw a pick-six to former Patriot Logan Ryan. Despite good days from Sony Michel and James White, the Patriots could not extend drives, failing to exceed 13 points. 13 points ties the 2005 Divisional Round, 2012 AFC Championship Game, and Super Bowl LIII for the fewest points by a Brady-led offense in the playoffs. If Brady never plays in the playoffs again, his playoff career would begin and end with a pair of passing touchdown-less performances.
Vikings 26, Saints 20 (F/OT)
With all due respect to the Vikings, this result shocked me. Defensively, the Vikings played incredibly well as Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen were game-wreckers. Both players recorded 1.5 sacks and Hunter forced a fumble in the fourth quarter. Offensively, Dalvin Cook did just enough to keep the chains moving while Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen seven times for 129 yards, including an awe-inspiring lob in overtime. Stefon Diggs was held in check for most of the afternoon, but Kyle Rudolph stepped up to end New Orleans’ season.
The Saints turned the ball over eight times during the regular season. Ryan Ramczyk allowed zero sacks in the regular season. Both of these stats can only be confined to the regular season as the Saints turned the ball over twice on Sunday, and Ramczyk was demolished by Danielle Hunter, allowing 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble on Drew Brees. Taysom Hill was the only offensive Saint who had a good day as the weapon posted 50 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards, and a fourth-quarter receiving touchdown. Alvin Kamara was ineffective, and the Saints lacked much of a deep threat outside of Hill’s 50-yard bomb to return specialist Deonte Harris.
Seahawks 17, Eagles 9
Both the regular season and playoff editions of Seahawks-Eagles ended 17-9.
The Seahawks had an ineffective ground game saved by Russell Wilson. As Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch combined for 19 yards on 17 carries, Wilson posted 45 of his own in addition to 325 passing yards. D.K. Metcalf was the main beneficiary Wilson’s passing exploits as the rookie went for a rookie-playoff record 160 yards including a 53-yard touchdown. Defensively, Seattle had seven sacks after posting one of the NFL’s lowest totals during the regular season.
Carson Wentz lasted four pass attempts before a questionably dirty hit by Jadeveon Clowney knocked Wentz out of the game. In his place, Josh McCown made his playoff debut. McCown was nothing special, but he was reasonably decent on most throws, completing 75 percent of them. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott had their moments in the backfield, combining for 94 yards on 20 rushes and chipping in 31 yards on six catches. The passing game was limited to Sanders, Scott, Greg Ward, Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, and Deontay Burnett.
Fun Facts of the Week:
Buffalo and Houston teams have gone to overtime in back-to-back playoff matchups. That Bills-Oilers showdown is famous for the Bills coming back from down 32.
Corey Bojorquez and Carson Wentz posted the same passer rating.
Josh McCown has as many playoff incompletions (eight) as he has teams played for.
The Patriots have not won a wild card game since 2006.
The Saints and Vikings played an overtime playoff game in the Superdome in 2010. Nearly 10 years later, the Saints and Vikings played an overtime playoff game in the Superdome.
Three of the four lower seeds won, marking the third year in a row that multiple road teams won.