The NFL Wild Card weekend is officially over and it did not disappoint. There were multiple upsets and first playoff game wins for many players and teams.
The first game of Wild Card weekend was between the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. The Bills ended up winning the game thanks to their quarterback, Josh Allen. Allen had 324 yards passing and two touchdown passes alongside 54 rushing yards in the game. Other than Allen, the Bills didn’t run the ball particularly well, but since Allen has the ability to throw the ball and complete passes, they were able to come out victorious. For the Colts, Phillip Rivers played well, having just over 300 yards passing alongside two touchdown passes. The Colts also ran the ball well due to their talented offensive line. Questionable coaching decisions might have cost the Colts the game, but controversial officiating also gave the Colts a chance to steal the victory. Colts Wide Receiver Zach Pascal appeared to fumble the ball but was overturned by the referees. The call left the game to be decided on the last play, which the Bills were able to stop. In the end, the Bills were able to get the win and advance to the Divisional Round for the first time since 1995.
The second game of Wild Card weekend was between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks. Neither quarterback played particularly well, but the Rams’ defense was able to contain Russell Wilson. The Rams sacked Wilson five times and picked him off once and took it for a touchdown. The Seahawks were favored coming into this game because of the quarterback situation going on with the Rams. Unfortunately, the Rams lost quarterback John Wolford to a neck injury early in the game, so Jared Goff had to play just two weeks after surgery to repair a broken thumb. Goff had 155 passing yards and one touchdown pass, but the run game for the Rams was very effective with 155 yards coming from the rookie Cam Akers. The Seahawks struggled heavily on offense and defense and the Rams were able to win and advance to the next round.
The final Wild Card game on Saturday was between the Washington Football Team and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Football Team were clear underdogs coming into this game as they had to play Tom Brady and the 11-5 Buccaneers. This game ended much closer than expected, with a very surprising score of 31-23. The Football Team had to start their fourth-string quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, who played very well for someone who had not started for more than ten games. Heinicke ended the game with just over 300 passing yards, one touchdown pass, 46 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown. Even though Heinicke’s numbers were good, Brady’s were even better. Brady ended the game with 381 passing yards and two touchdown passes with zero turnovers. The Football Team’s lack of experience really hurt them in the game as they didn’t look fully prepared for this game on the defensive side. The greatness and talent of Brady propelled the Buccaneers to the second round in a rematch with the Saints.
The first game on Sunday was a rematch between the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans. Coming into the game, all eyes were on quarterback Lamar Jackson, as he looked to pick up the first playoff win of his young career. Many backed the Titans to win because they outplayed the Ravens in both of their previous two meetings, due to running back Derrick Henry being very dominant against the Ravens. The Titans jumped out to an early 10-0 lead with a touchdown on their second drive and an interception turning into a field goal. After the first quarter, the momentum of the game completely shifted in favor of the Ravens. The Ravens defense held Derrick Henry to just 40 yards and also held the Titans to just three points over the final three quarters. The Ravens went on to win this game by seven to move on to the next round.
The next game after the Ravens and Titans matchup was the Chicago Bears against the New Orleans Saints. The Bears were completely outmatched in almost every aspect possible. The Saints had a better offense, defense, special team, and coaching staff. The Saints would go on to only score 21 points which was a season-low for the team. The offense struggled in the first half since star wideout, Michael Thomas, played his first game in a couple of weeks. The Bears completely struggled, not only were they outmatched in terms of roster talent, it didn’t help the fact that quarterback Mitch Tribusky struggled throughout the game in moving the ball down the field. The Saints “easily” won this game but have a lot of preparing to do for their matchup with the Buccaneers in the second round.
The final matchup of Wild Card weekend was between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were heavily favored because the Browns were missing multiple players, they couldn’t practice for a week, and their head coach/play-caller was out due to COVID. None of those issues fazed the Browns, who jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. That first-quarter performance by the Browns pretty much sealed the deal, as the Browns forced four turnovers and ended up turning all those turnovers into touchdowns. Quarterback Ben Rothlisberger had over 500 yards passing and four touchdowns, but none of that mattered as he threw four interceptions throughout the game. The Browns won their first playoff game in 20 years, and they now go on to face the defending Super Bowl Championships, the Kansas City Chiefs.