AFC Wildcard – Colts vs Chiefs
The first match-up of the weekend was between first round phenom Andrew Luck, versus acclaimed Coaching guru Andrew Reed. An interesting match-up indeed as Coach Reed is a notorious playoff choker, and Luck has become known for his drive and moxie. It played out in just that way, Reed choked away a 28 point lead to allow the Colts to charge right back to a one point victory. The Chiefs got off to a great first half behind quarterback Alex Smith with a good mix of pass and run. After all was said and done, this game ranked as the second biggest comeback in a playoff history. I’m loving Andrew Luck, this is kid is a straight up stud. On he first possession of the fourth quarter, Luck marches the Colts down the field and on a 2 and goal calls a hand-off to the running back right up the middle. It much the same way Jerome Bettis coughed up the ball in the exact same spot in 2005, the ball pops up and lands on the five yard line. Without hesitation, Luck picks up the ball and instinctively darts towards the goal line, lunging over for a spectacular score. That’s football ladies and gentleman, that is not something you can teach or talk about in meeting rooms. Just like the 64 yard winning touchdown zing with 5 minutes left in the game, totally exciting. I’ll be rooting for Andy moving forward, this guy is the real deal.
NFC Wildcard – Eagles vs Saints
This game didn’t quite unfold the way I had expected, certainly a tough battle nonetheless. A bit of a grudge match actually and a low scoring game at least by virtue of the type of numbers these two teams have been putting up throughout the season. The game came down to a last second field goal by the Saints, and if you’re an Eagles fan it was a very disappointing loss. Quarterback Nick Foles certainly came through for his team, playing against his high school alum Drew Brees, he took his team down the field for the go ahead touchdown, but unfortunately there was too much time on the clock. After the special teams gave up a 40 yard kick off return, the defense was unable to stop Brees and company and it was a wrap.
AFC Wildcard – Bengals vs Chargers
This was the game I enjoyed the most, the much heralded Bungles getting exactly what they deserved, their collective ass handed back to them in embarrassing and humiliating fashion. I wrote a special post as a preamble to our first meeting with the Marv Lewis led Bungles, in my article Week 2 Match-Up I talked about the media’s favoritism towards the Bungles being Super Bowl bound. Stating emphatically “The other thing that seems a tad overblown, is the view that Andy Dalton will be a Super Bowl quarterback”. Sure enough if ol’ Andy didn’t choke in grand style, just like his Head Coach has been doing exclusively for the past 14 seasons. It’s just unfortunate the Black & Gold didn’t have the pleasure of taking them down again, it’s still thrilling watching them get beat up, regardless of who does the spanking.
To be fair, their first half was relatively crisp and mistake free, up until the end of the second quarter. After a short dump-off to running back Giovanni Bernard, he was immediately stripped at the 2 yard line, the Chargers recovered the loose ball and the Bungles never recovered. Leading 10-7 entering the second half, Andy Dalton came back throwing 2 interceptions and fumbling the ball on a scramble. The Chargers seized the moment and tacked on 20 points, including a 58 yard run by former Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown with 3 minutes left in the game which served as the dagger in the heart for the lowly Bungles. So another failed attempt at winning his first playoff game, yet after going 0-5 in 14 seasons, Marv Lewis in totally immune from being fired.
NFC Wildcard – Niners vs Packers
This was another classic battle between hot gun Colin Kaepernick and the ‘discount dawble-check’ guy himself, Aaron Rogers. Much was made of the Frozen Tundra and the chilling game time weather, and if you’ve ever been to that part of the country you know the Wisconsin cold is no joke. Still San Fransisco seemed unaffected by the cold and played a rough, gritty game that ended with a last second field to secure the win. Green Bay just doesn’t seem to have an answer for Colin and crew, and with Clay Mathews sitting on the bench, the Niners gave them a heavy dose of running back Frank Gore with Michael Crabtree hauling in 8 catches for 125 yards. Colin Kaepernick had a couple of key scrambles for 1st downs including his scramble for 11 yards on 3rd and 8 with over 4 minutes remaining in the contest. In fact Kaepernick was the leading rusher gaining 98 yards on 7 scampers, clearly the difference maker in this classic NFC rivalry.