NFL Wild-Card Weekend Review
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, January 5, 2020
Toronto, ON – The opening weekend of NFL playoffs did not disappoint! Two games needed overtime, and there was a surprising result in one of the AFC contests.
Buffalo vs. Houston
What a game this was. Bills quarterback Josh Allen had a great opening drive, which included a 42-yard rush and a reception for a touchdown on a trick play. That made it 7-0 Bills, and they held a 13-0 lead at the half. The Texans erased a 16-point deficit in the second half before taking the lead, 19-16.
With five seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka kicked a 47-yard field goal to tie the game at 19-19 and send it to overtime.
Both teams punted on their first possessions of overtime. On their next drive, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson evaded a sack and found Taiwan Jones for a 34-yard catch to set up first-and-goal.
Houston kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked a 28-yard field goal to give the Texans the 22-19 victory.
J.J. Watt returned for Houston, who had a crucial sack to help rejuvenate his team. He had been out since October with a torn pectoral muscle.
Allen was 24-for-46 and threw for 264 yards in the game as well as running for 92 yards. He struggled at times in the second half.
Watson threw for 247 yards as well as rushing for 55 yards.
The Texans will face the Chiefs in the divisional round.
Tennessee vs. New England
Titans running back Derrick Henry was dominant, helping the Titans upset the Patriots in a 20-13 victory on Saturday night. He rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown in the win.
The Titans trailed 13-7 late in the second quarter. A seven play, 75-yard drive was capped off by a one-yard rush from Henry, which gave Tennessee the 14-13 lead.
There was almost no scoring in the second half, but Tennessee capitalized on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s mistake late in the game. With the ball on the New England one-yard line, he was intercepted by former Patriot Logan Ryan for a 9-yard touchdown to put the game away.
The Titans defence was able to contain Brady, who was 20-for-37 with 209 passing yards and an interception.
His counterpart, Ryan Tannehill, threw for just 72 yards in the win. That is the fewest passing yards for a starter since Baltimore’s Joe Flacco had just 34 in a wild-card win over New England a decade ago.
Brady’s future with the Patriots is uncertain, as his contract is now done. “I love the Patriots,” he told reporters post game. As for retirement, he’s still unclear. “I would say it’s pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely. I love playing football. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward.”
Minnesota vs. New Orleans
For the second straight year, the Saints’ season ended in overtime in the Superdome.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins found tight end Kyle Rudolph with a 4-yard pass on third-and-goal in the extra frame to propel the Vikings to a 26-20 victory.
There was possible offensive pass interference on the play, as it appeared that Rudolph pushed off defensive back P.J. Williams before jumping to catch the ball. There was no call on the play, with the NFL president of officiating Al Riveron saying after the game that “none of that contact rises to the level of a foul.”
Cousins was 19 for 31 with 242 passing yards and a touchdown.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished the game 26-for-33 for 208 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and was sacked three times.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook played after missing the final two regular-season games with a shoulder injury. He scored two touchdowns on the day, and gained 130 yards from scrimmage.
Minnesota will now face top seed San Francisco next weekend that was 13-3 in the regular season, just like New Orleans.
Seattle vs. Philadelphia
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 325 yards including a 53-yard touchdown to DK Metcalf as Seattle eliminated the Eagles 17-9 on Sunday.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz only lasted two series before leaving the game with a head injury after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Jadeveon Clowney. It was the quarterback’s first career playoff start.
He was replaced with 40-year-old Josh McCown, who also made his playoff debut. But he couldn’t find the end zone.
All nine of the Eagles’ points came from Jake Elliott field goals.
With the game tied 3-3 in the second quarter, a nine play, 82-yard drive was finished with a 5-yard rushing touchdown from Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
Philadelphia cut the lead to 10-6, but Wilson followed that with the touchdown pass to Metcalf to extend their lead to 17-6.
Wilson led the Seahawks with 45 rushing yards, while Metcalf had seven catches on the day for 160 yards.
Wilson and the Seahawks will now travel to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the divisional round next Sunday.