Super Wild Card Weekend Recap
With the new 14-team playoff format, the NFL’s first-ever Super Wild Card Weekend is now officially in the books.
Fans were treated to an extended weekend of action, with a slate of six games extending from Saturday to Monday night. While only a pair of these first-round matchups kept viewers on the edge of their seats until the final whistle, it appears that we’re in for a divisional round full of offensive fireworks.
Before we direct our attention to this week’s matchups, let’s recap each game from Wild Card Weekend.
Cincinnati Bengals 26, Las Vegas Raiders 19
Going into Saturday, one of the biggest questions was whether or not the Bengals offensive line could keep quarterback Joe Burrow on his feet against a stout Raiders defensive front. Any doubts were quickly dispelled after an electric 20 point first half in which Las Vegas was held without a sack on the second-year gunslinger.
While the Bengals had little trouble moving the ball down the field, they often failed to capitalize on long drives in the second half, resulting in a total of four field goals from rookie kicker Evan McPherson.
Cincinnati’s offensive woes nearly gave way to late-game heroics by Derek Carr, but a last-drive interception by Germaine Pratt sealed the deal for the franchise’s first playoff victory in 31 years.
The Bengals will travel to Tennessee to take on the top-seeded Titans on Saturday.
Buffalo Bills 47, New England Patriots 17
Alongside the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins, it appears that Josh Allen has entered the status of Bill Belichick’s kryptonite. In his last two outings against their AFC East rival, Allen has thrown for a whopping eight touchdowns to zero interceptions.
After falling to New England in 35 of their last 40 matchups, it appears that the little brother has finally gotten long-awaited revenge in the biggest stage of them all, handing Belichick the worst loss of his postseason career.
In a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship, Buffalo will take on Kansas City on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Philadelphia Eagles 15
Despite being swept by the Saints for a second consecutive season, witnessing a mid-game resignation and losing two main weapons to injury, Tom Brady continues to fly by any doubters in cruise control.
Surrounded by a cast consisting primarily of backups, Brady finished the game with 271 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers – just as you would expect.
Outside of a big run by Boston Scott, Tampa Bay’s defense ate up the league’s top rushing attack, allowing just 95 total yards.
On Sunday, Brady and the Bucs will continue their quest to defend their title against the Rams at home.
San Francisco 49ers 23, Dallas Cowboys 17
Make it 11 straight trips to the postseason without an NFC Championship appearance for America’s Team.
From costly penalties to offensive inefficiencies, the Dallas Cowboys collapsed in grand fashion on their home turf against the 10-7 San Francisco 49ers.
With no timeouts and 14 seconds remaining on the clock, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore placed the cherry on top of Sunday’s meltdown by calling a quarterback draw for Dak Prescott, ultimately sending the Cowboys home without attempting a game-winning shot at the end zone.
As for the 49ers, their incredible season turnaround is only gaining steam.
They will once again be underdogs this Saturday, as they take on the top-seeded Packers in Green Bay.
Kansas City Chiefs 42, Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Following a first-round beatdown on the road, all signs point to the end of the Ben Roethlisberger era in Pittsburgh.
The veteran quarterback looked every bit his age on Sunday against the Chiefs, averaging just 4.9 yards per completion on 44 pass attempts.
On the other hand, Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s offensive juggernaut exploded for six total touchdowns and over 500 yards, showing signs of renewed dominance after an inconsistent 2021 campaign.
Los Angeles Rams 34, Arizona Cardinals 11
After 13 years of prominence in the quarterback hierarchy, Matthew Stafford finally has a playoff victory to his name.
The Rams shook off a Week 18 collapse in significant fashion, taking down Kyler Murray and the Cardinals for a second time this season. The star-studded Los Angeles defense had Murray running for his life all night, resulting in a pair of picks and just 137 total yards through the air.
With an offensive attack that is finally living up to its potential, this L.A. squad couldn’t be peaking at a better time.
Grant Sheets is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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