NFL Football Column: Scott's NFL Shots
A Wild Wild Card Weekend
Without their No. 1 quarterback, the Minnesota Vikings had no chance against the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers. Without a clue about how to play in the post-season, the Cincinnati Bengals were without hope against the Houston Texans.
Meanwhile, Ray Lewis provided the spark and the fireworks for the Baltimore Ravens and Marshawn Lynch ran roughshod over the Washington Redskins. As a result, Baltimore and Seattle escaped Wild Card Weekend while Indianapolis and Washington were sent home for the rest of the winter.
On Day 1 of the National Football League post-season, the Texans dumped the Bengals 19-13 in the opening game of the AFC playoffs while the Packers whipped the Vikings 24-10 in the NFC opener. In both games, the home teams not only won, they took early leads and never looked back.
Cincinnati remains winless in the post-season since 1991 while the Vikings continue to struggle in meaningful games at Lambeau Field.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” cornerback Leon Hall told The Associated Press. Hall returned an interception for Cincinnati’s only touchdown.
“It’s disappointing. I mean, we had a good year, but it didn’t end how we wanted it to and how we planned it to. At the end of the day, they made the plays that won the game for them.”
Let’s look closely at each game on the first day of Wild Card Weekend:
On Day 2 of the National Football League post-season, the Ravens dumped the Colts 24-9 in Game 2 of the AFC playoffs while the Seahawks came back from a 14-0 deficit to whip Washington 24-14 in Game 2 of Wild Card Weekend in the NFC. Washington was the only home team to lose in Week 1 of the playoffs.
That means that Round 2 of the post-season next week looks like this: on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CST), it’s Baltimore at Denver and at 7 p.m., Green Bay at San Francisco. On Sunday at Noon (CST), it’s Seattle at Atlanta and at 3:30 p.m., it’s Houston at New England.
The Baltimore victory was huge for 17-year veteran Ray Lewis who came back from injury to play the final home game of his career. He was the best player on the field.
“My only focus was to come in and get my team a win. Nothing else was planned,” the 37-year-old Lewis told the Associated Press. “It’s one of those things, when you recap it all and try to say what is one of your greatest moments.
“I knew how it started, but I never knew how it would end here in Baltimore. To go the way it did today, I wouldn’t change nothing.”
Let’s take a close look at what happened on Wild Card Weekend:
Baltimore 24 Indianapolis 9
With Ray Lewis back, the Ravens defense was almost impregnable while receiver Anquan Boldin set a Baltimore franchise record with 145 receiving yards (on only five catches), as the Ravens advanced to play in Denver this coming Saturday. It was Lewis’s final home game before retiring. He led Baltimore with nine tackles and four assisted tackles. Joe Flacco went 12-for-23 for 282 yards and two TDs, one of them to Boldin. Bernard Pierce carried 13 times for 103 yards. Indy’s rookie QB Andrew Luck went 28-of-54 for 288 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He was also sacked three times. Reggie Wayne caught nine passes for 114 yards.
Seattle 24 Washington 14
Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch carried 20 times for 132 yards and a touchdown as the Seahawks came back from 14-0 first quarter deficit to win the first road playoff game in franchise history. It was also the largest post-season deficit from which the Seahawks have ever come back. Russell Wilson played a typically conservative game at quarterback, completing 15-of-26 attempts for 187 yards and one touchdown. Until he injured his knee in the fourth quarter, Washington’s Robert Griffin III completed only 10-of-19 passes for 84 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Seahawks will now move on to play the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta next Sunday.
Houston 19 Cincinnati 13
The Texans held onto the football for more than 38 minutes. They weren’t pretty, but their defense was outstanding and the Bengals simply looked lost. Marvin Lewis is now 0-4 in the post-season as head coach in Cincinnati. Arian Foster carried 32 times for 140 yards and a touchdown to lead the Texans, who will meet New England in the AFC semifinal next Sunday. Foster became the first player in NFL history to record three 100-yard rushing games in his first three post-season games. Matt Schaub completed 29-of-38 passes for 262 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Owen Daniels caught nine of those passes for 91 yards. For Cincinnati, Andy Dalton was out of his league. He completed only 14-of-30 passes for 147 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
Green Bay 24 Minnesota 10
The Vikings started quickly and took a 3-0 lead but at the end of the first quarter, DaJuan Harris scored a touchdown and the Packers never looked back. Joe Webb was sad at QB for the Vikings. He completed only 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Webb, who hadn’t thrown a pass all season, was sacked three times and woefully inaccurate. Adrian Peterson carried 22 times for 99 yards. while Michael Jenkins caught three passes for 96 yards and a late TD. For Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers completed 23-of-33 passes for 274 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions as the Packers controlled the ball, the clock and the game. The Packers led 17-3 at the half and coasted. The Packers will play at San Francisco next week.
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