With the regular season now just a dot in the rear view mirror of the 2013 season it was down to business for the eight teams involved in this weeks games!
That’s right folks the playoffs are here again and as always the action starts with the Wildcard weekend. This is where the two lowest ranked division winners face off against the next two best records in the conference. The draw is based on how the teams were seeded and so the third placed team faces the sixth place team and the fourth plays the fifth, very much like the football league playoffs for those familiar with English football.
With it being the playoffs and each game being equally important I think it is only fair that I provide you with a breakdown of each game with the usual highlights mixed in. Let us start this week with the NFC and the games between Green Bay and San Francisco along with Philadelphia vs New Orleans.
This was probably the tie that I was most looking forward to this week as I knew that a Sunday evening game in Green Bay can only mean extreme coldness with a chance of snow! With San Francisco being from california you would have to say it was advantage Green Bay before the game as the temperature dropped low into the single figures with a wind chill taking it below zero degrees.
In the first quarter it was actually San Francisco who took the early advantage with two Phil Dawson field goals from 22 and 25 yards respectively. On their third possession Green Bay were forced to punt again and things were looking pretty dire. Luckily for Green Bay their defence was able to step up to the occasion and intercepted Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers next drive. This play led to a bit of a scoring frenzy with Green Bay scoring a touchdown and a field goal either side of 49ers touchdown making the score at the half 13 - 10 to San Francisco.
The game remained a cagey affair throughout the entire third quarter and not a point was scored by either team. This set up a dramatic fourth quarter with the Packers being at home and down by three points. The packers opened up the fourth quarter with a one yard run by the big fullback John Kuhn. Kudos to John for thinking about the Lambeau leap, alas it was just not meant to be!
The 49ers answered back on the next possession with a 28 yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis which in turn was answered by a 24 yard field from Mason Crosby of the Green Bay Packers. Just over five minutes left on the clock at this point and the score at 20 all, it was down the Green Bay defence to stop San Francisco one last time……………..
Unfortunately on this occasion the Packers had no answer to the young Colin Kaepernick as he moved the 49ers down the field chewing up clock as they drove the ball. In the end the 49ers managed to get just enough first downs to wind down the clock before kicking the game winning field from 33 yards with no time left on the clock. San Francisco move onto the divisional round of the playoffs and next week's action.
Final Score: San Francisco 23 vs 20 Green Bay
To see the game highlights please click on the picture below:
We now move onto the late saturday night game between the Saints and the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. For those who have been following the Saints matches this year you will know that they have not been too great on the road and have suffered a handful of defeats.
This game was a real slow burner as the first five possessions of the game ended with a punt and then on the sixth possession after just four plays Drew Brees was intercepted by the Eagles defence for the first time. Philadelphia then took the ball 43 yards in 11 plays but the resulting field goal was missed by Alex Henery. The score halfway through the second quarter was 0 - 0 and let’s not forget that both teams have been renowned for their offence this year, the playoffs clearly has a crazy effect on things!
Parity was restored shortly after with a 36 yard field goal from Shayne Graham of the Saints and we again then had to wait over six minutes for the next score before Nick Foles connected with Riley Cooper for a 10 yard touchdown reception. The Saints followed this with a 46 yard field goal over their own just as the half came to a close. The score at this point was 7 - 6 had me in a state of shock that the scoring was this low!
Both coaches must have used a few choice words during their halftime team talks as from this moment on both teams were able to start moving the ball on offence and in the third quarter it was New Orleans who struck first and second with a touchdown reception from Lance Moore and a touchdown run by Mark Ingram. Both Saints players tried to do a form of LeSean McCoy's touchdown celebration but it was LeSean who was laughing as he walked in on a one yard touchdown run of his own late in the third quarter. It was now 20 - 14 to the Saints as we headed into the fourth quarter.
I skip ahead now to half way through the fourth quarter and by this point both teams had exchanged field goals making the score 23 - 17 to the Saints with just over eight minutes left in the game. The Eagles got the ball back and to be honest they were almost too efficient by scoring a touchdown in just over three minutes. This put them up 24 - 23 and gave the Saints just under five minutes to score. If you ask me the Eagles scored far too early as with the playoffs games it is quite often the team who has the last possession that comes away with the win. Sadly for the Eagles fans this was the case again as Shayne Graham kicked the game winning field goal for the Saints as time expired just like the above game between the 49ers and Packers.
Final Score: New Orleans 26 vs 24 Philadelphia
To see the game highlights please click on the picture below:
We now move onto the AFC and the games between the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts and the San Diego Chargers at the Cincinnati Bengals. The first game I want to cover is the one that disappointed me the most out of these two ties and that is the Chargers at Bengals.
On paper you would have expected this to be a really close game with the form the Chargers are in and how well the Bengals defence has been playing of late. Unfortunately the game did not live up to expectation and to be honest I think I am just going to let you watch the highlights by clicking on the picture below as I am too disappointed to even bother with a review:
Final Score: San Diego 27 vs 10 Cincinnati
I will say this though, take nothing away from the Chargers and their coaches as they came up with the perfect game plan to silence Andy Dalton and A J Green, I just thought perhaps Dalton would have produced more rather than having a touch of the Romo’s!
Now unlike it’s AFC counterpart this game had just about everything you could ask for in a playoff game. In the first quarter Kansas City’s star running back Jamaal Charles went out of the game with a concussion on the first series. Kansas did not let this stop them though as they took the opening possession 82 yards down the field and scored on a six yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe who was looking in remarkable form!
Not to be outdone early in the game, Indianapolis took their first possession 74 yards in seven plays finishing off with 10 yard touchdown pass to T Y Hilton. Kansas then just exploded on offence as they went on to score on each of their first five possessions and by halftime the Colts were looking around in disbelief at the scoreboard as it read 31 - 10 to the Chiefs!
In the second half Kansas continued their onslaught as they scored another touchdown making it 38 - 10 and giving themselves a 28 point lead. Now at this point myself and I am sure a number of other fans watching this game thought that this was it, game over but the Colts had other ideas. They managed to get a touchdown back making 38 - 17 and on the Chiefs next drive the immortal Robert Mathis decided that it was time to make a play as he sacked Alex Smith and at the same time forced a fumble which was recovered by Kelvin Sheppard. This proved to be a massive turning point for Indianapolis as they went on to score four more touchdowns with Kansas only managing two field goals.
Unbelievably we now had just five minutes left in the game and the Colts were down by just six points. Within a matter of minutes the Colts took the lead on what was the game winning 64 yard pass to T Y Hilton and the second biggest comeback in playoff history had been completed.
For me this was the defining game in Andrew Lucks young career so far, to have played so badly for most of the game and to then bring your team back from 28 points down takes real guts and determination. The Colts defence played their part too but this is why they took Luck with the first pick of the 2012 draft!
Final Score: Kansas City 44 vs 45 Indianapolis
To see the remarkable game highlights click on the picture below:
Well that just about wraps it up from me this week but join me next as I review the divisional round games. Let us hope that they provide just as much intrigue and drama that three of the games brought us this week!
Until next time football fans, stay safe, take care and ‘Thanks for Stopping By’.
Adri 'BallHawk' Mallows