The Titans had Another Music City Miracle
Wild Card Weekend in the NFL was exactly as the name suggests: wild. It started with Kansas City vs Tennessee in a game that many people were expecting the Chiefs to win easily. After building a 21-3 lead, it looked like Kansas City was running away with the game heading into halftime. But right at the end of the 2nd quarter, the Chiefs lost one of their top playmakers in Travis Kelce after a big hit.
Without Kelce, the Chiefs offense sputtered to a screeching halt. Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt weren’t making the explosive plays they had been all year, and Alex Smith was left helpless. Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota and the Titans came to life. Derrick Henry ran for 156 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, including some important first downs late in the game. But it was Mariota who made the play of the game, and likely the play of the season, which started the Titans comeback.
The Titans scored 19 unanswered points in the 2nd half, earning a 22-21 win. This raises even more questions about Alex Smith’s future in Kansas City, while the Titans move on to play the Patriots in the Divisional Round.
In the other Saturday game, the Falcons went to LA to face a young Rams team. For Atlanta, the wounds of last year’s Super Bowl were still very fresh. While the Rams offense was dominant all season long, they did not show up for this one. Jared Goff struggled at times but his receivers didn’t do much to help him out either, dropping multiple passes on the day. Goff finished with 259 yards and a touchdown, but completed just 53% of his passes. Some mistakes on special teams also hurt the Rams, specifically Pharoah Cooper on the punt returns.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan didn’t play great, but he was good enough to get the win. He finished his day with 218 yards and a touchdown, while the backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 106 yards and a touchdown. However it was the real Matty Ice, Falcons kicker Matt Bryant, who was a key part of the Falcons eventual 26-13 win, as he went 4 for 4 on his field goal attempts including a 54 yarder. With the win, the Falcons go on to play the Eagles this weekend.
On Sunday, we saw a dud of a game between the Bills and Jaguars that showed why it’s been a while since those two teams were last in the playoffs. Neither team was able to generate much of anything, with the punters being the most used player for both teams. With the score tied 3-3 at halftime, it was pretty clear that this game wasn’t going to get better any time soon. In the 3rd quarter, Blake Bortles capped off a touchdown drive with a 1 yard throw to tight end Ben Koyack, and that was all the Jags needed to win the game.
But Tyrod Taylor and the Bills weren’t going down without a fight. Late in the game Buffalo had one more chance to tie it up, but it was looking like the chances of that all but disappeared when Taylor was knocked out of the game with a head injury and replaced by Nathan Peterman. And based on the limited play we’ve seen from Peterman in the past, the rest of the game went exactly as expected.
The Jaguars held on for the win, and now face the Steelers who they already beat once this year. In Week 5, the Steelers picked off Big Ben 5 times on their way to a 30-9 victory.
Finally, in an NFC South matchup, the Saints and Panthers met on Sunday night. As expected, both quarterbacks had huge games for their teams. Cam Newton threw for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding 37 yards on the ground. For the Saints, Drew Brees threw for 376 yards and 2 touchdowns along with an interception. The surprising part of the Saints offense was their lack of a rushing game. The typically dangerous rushing duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram was only able to generate 45 yards.
For the Panthers, they ultimately weren’t able to overcome a 25-yard miss by Graham Gano. The kicker did make his other 4 attempts on the day, including a 58 yarder, but it forced the Panthers to play for a touchdown rather than a field goal at the end of the game. The Saints went on to win 31-26, and now travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings.
Wild Card: 1-3
- Eagles beat Falcons in the Battle of the Birds
- Patriots handle business against Titans
- As much as I want to see Jacksonville win, Steelers will make Bortles actually look like trash
- Saints end the Vikings dream of playing in a Super Bowl at home