Wild Card Weekend
Although there were no upsets during the opening round of the 2013 NFL playoffs this weekend, wild card week still lived up to its name as several big storylines and thrilling performances took center stage. All four favorites and three of the higher seeded teams were able to advance this week, setting up some intriguing match-ups for next week. If you missed the action this weekend, here’s a little recap to get you caught up.
Texans Get By Bengals 19-13
The Houston Texans didn’t always look sharp, but they played well enough to get past the Cincinnati Bengals with four Shane Graham field goals. The defense was suburb for Houston, limiting Cincy to just 198 yards of total offense and Arian Foster did what he’s done all season long; carry the load and the team as the workhorse with 140 yards rushing on 32 attempts.
Houston advanced and will play New England on the road next Sunday. The Texans are hoping things will different this time around after getting handled easily by the Pats in week 14, losing 42-14. With the amount of talent they have all both sides of the ball, Houston certainly stands a chance, but they’ll need to find a way to stop Tom Brady and New England’s prolific and always deadly offense.
Green Bay Tops Minnesota 24-10
It was a pleasantly surprising playoff-bound season for the Minnesota Vikings, but without starting quarterback Christian Ponder for Saturday’s game, things came crashing down and their season came to grinding halt, as the Vikes fell to the superior Green Bay Packers 24-10. Adrian Peterson, who was averaging more than 200 yards per game against Green Bay this season, enjoyed another solid game with 99 rushing yards on 22 carries, but it was not nearly enough offense to earn the victory as backup QB Joe Webb completed only 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards.
The Packers offense was stellar once again on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers completed 23 of 33 for 274 yards and a touchdown, spreading the ball around to multiple receivers. Although the Packers will have a tougher time executing against the San Francisco 49ers on the road next week, their experience in significant postseason games should serve them well.
Ravens Avoid Swan Song for Lewis, Win 24-9 Over Colts
After announcing his retirement at the conclusion of the season earlier this week, Baltimore fans and the Ravens organization realized it could have been Ray Lewis’ last NFL game this weekend, but the Ravens’ win against the Colts on Sunday ensured he would be back for at least one more. Still, it was his last home game and one filled with emotion as Baltimore eliminated the feel-good Colts and spoiled Andrew Luck’s first ever playoff game. Lewis led the team with 13 tackles and the Ravens’ offense hit some big pass plays, while limiting Indy to just three field goals on the day.
Baltimore’s win sets up a date with the top seeded Denver Broncos, which will be coming into the game on an 11-game win streak. Talk about a tall order for Baltimore. However, if they continue to play inspired ball, anything is possible.
RGIII and Redskins Go Down to Seahawks 24-14
As they had done much of the year, the Redskins got off to a hot start against Seattle on Sunday behind Robert Griffin III and jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. And although the Skins carried a 14-13 lead into the fourth quarter, they were shut down by Seattle’s top notch defense the rest of the game, giving way to an incredible Seahawks comeback and 24 unanswered points. Things got even worse for the Skins as Robert Griffin III’s knee buckled out from under him early in the final quarter, causing him to go down in a heap and be removed from the game. Needless to say, Washington failed to mount a last-second comeback without its rookie sensation.
Seattle’s impressive performance on both sides of the ball sets up a match-up against the NFC’s top seed Atlanta next week. Historically, the Falcons have struggled in postseason contests, but with their best squad in years on the field next week, they’ll have more than a good chance to take care of business and advance.