The first-ever NFL super Wild Card Weekend brought us the playoff football that we’ve all been waiting on. Usually, playoff football brings us the most competitive games of the season, but this week gave us a variety of blowouts. But who was on the receiving end of these blowouts, and who was giving them out? Let’s take a look back at Wild Card Weekend.
Cinncinati Bengals def. Las Vegas Raiders 26-19
The first game on Saturday was the Bengals hosting the Raiders. Las Vegas, fresh off their thrilling overtime victory over the Chargers, was riding high and had a lot of momentum. The Bengals rested their starters in Week 18, but the last time the Bengals played all their guys, they beat the Chiefs to clinch the AFC North.
Both squads scored on their first drives, with the Raiders hitting a 47-yard field goal and CJ Uzomah scoring on a seven-yard pass from Joe Burrow, putting the Bengals in front 7-3. The next drive for the Raiders, however, Derek Carr fumbled. The Bengals took over at the Raiders’ 15 yard-line. It was Carr’s 75th fumble since entering the league in 2014, the most in that period.
Three of the next four drives ended in field goals, with the Bengals kicking two and the Raiders netting one, bringing the score to 13-6 in favor of Cincinnati. The next drive would end with the highlight of the game, as Joe Burrow made an unbelievable throw to Tyler Boyd for six.
The Raiders would respond with an excellent two-minute drill, as Carr would hit Zay Jones from 14 yards out for a touchdown, leaving only 13 seconds remaining in the first half. The Bengals would kneel out the first half, with a score of 20-13 Bengals.
No touchdowns were scored in the second half, but the Raiders had a chance to tie it late, as Derek Carr has done for the Raiders so many times. Carr could not quite get Las vegas to the endzone this time, as he was picked off, and the Bengals would advance. The win snapped Cincinnati’s 32-year drought without a playoff victory, and they will play the Titans next week. The Raiders will now look for a new GM, and find a head coach position that was vacated by Jon Gruden.
Buffalo Bills def. New England Patriots 47-17
Patriots fans, you may want to skip to the other games. This one got ugly in a hurry. Buffalo hosted New England in a game that didn’t quite reach negative degrees, but it certainly got close. Buffalo drove 70 yards on their first possession and ended the drive with one of their many highlights when Josh Allen attempted to throw the ball away, and Dawson Knox caught it.
The first Patriots’ drive was going well until Mac Jones tried to go deep against Buffalo’s elite secondary. The pass wasn’t a bad decision, but it was in the air just long enough for Micah Hyde to be able to steal it away for the highlight reel interception.
Allen would then drive the Bills 80 yards down the field, finishing it with another touchdown to Dawson Knox. The Patriots would then go three and out, punting back to the Bills, who would score another touchdown. This time, Devin Singletary ran it in. The Bills would take a 21-0 lead.
That touchdown would be met with another New England punt, leading to Buffalo going 89 yards on four plays. One of them was a 45-yard pass to Stefon Diggs. The touchdown came on a 16 yard run by Devin Singletary. The Patriots would end the half with a field goal to go into the second half down 27-3.
The second half was more of the same, with the Patriots struggling to score and Buffalo scoring on every single one of their possessions. Buffalo had seven possessions in this game, and they scored a touchdown on every single one of them. They were the first team in NFL history to do this. The game mercifully came to an end with the final score of 47-17. Buffalo successfully took out decades of frustration on the Pats. Meanwhile, New England will certainly need to do some work on the defensive side of the ball, while also adding a number one wide receiver.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers def. Philadelphia Eagles 31-15
Four years after Super Bowl 52, Tom Brady finally got a chance at playoff revenge against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bucs started hot with a touchdown run by Giovanni Bernard. The Bucs would run it in again at the end of the first quarter to go up 14-0.
Tampa Bay went into the second half with a 17-0 lead after an interception in the endzone by Mike Edwards.
The first score of the second half was a Rob Gronkowski touchdown, his 15th playoff touchdown, giving him the second-most all-time behind Jerry Rice with 22. The very next drive, Jalen Hurts threw his second interception of the game, this one to pass rusher, Shaq Barrett. The Bucs never let the Eagles get into the game and ultimately won 31-15 thanks to a pair of Philly garbage time TDs. The Eagles will have multiple first-round picks to help shape their roster due to the variety of trades they made.
San Francisco 49ers def. Dallas Cowboys 23-17
The 49ers and Cowboys gave us a game that shows what playoff football was all about. Great plays, high drama, and most importantly, ref drama. The 49ers started this game with a touchdown, as Eli Mitchell ran it in from 4 yards out. San Fran would add a pair of field goals before the Cowboys would score on a 20-yard catch by Amari Cooper. The Niners would add another field goal to go into the half leading 16-7.
About halfway through the third quarter, Dak Prescott would be intercepted by K’Waun Williams. The very next play, the 49ers would hand it to their wide receiver Deebo Samuel, and he would run it in for the touchdown, putting the game almost out of reach.
Up 23-10, the 49ers had a drive to attempt to put Dallas away, put Jimmy Garopollo would overthrow his man, and find Anthony Brown for the interception, giving Dallas hope for a comeback. Dak would run it in to make it a six-point game.
Dallas would get the ball back after San Francisco killed five minutes of the clock, but Dak would barely miss Cedrick Wilson, leading to a turnover on downs.
The Cowboys would get the ball back with 32 seconds left, and with 14 seconds left on the clock, called a running play for Dak Prescott, meaning Dallas would have to get up and spike it with very little time on the clock. On his way to spot the ball, the official collided with Prescott, and Dak spiked it with no time on the clock, meaning the 49ers win.
The Cowboys and their fans were livid, and fans were throwing trash at the referees at the end of the game. Nonetheless, Dallas’ season is over. The Cowboys have little cap space and several key free agents that they will likely have to let walk. Meanwhile, the 49ers have some injuries that they will need more clarity on before heading into Green Bay to take on the Packers.
Kansas City Chiefs def. Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21
In what was likely the most predictable outcome of this round, the Chiefs cruised by the Steelers. Pittsburgh had the momentum early, getting an interception off of Mahomes, but could not capitalize. They did manage to get a 7-0 lead after TJ Watt recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
Kansas City came right back with a 4-yard touchdown by Jerick McKinnon on an underhand toss from Patrick Mahomes. It was the first of five unanswered touchdowns by Kansas City. The hole was too large for even Big Ben to get out of, and this is likely the end of the road for him. Next season will be a new era for the Steelers. In the meantime, the Chiefs will take on the Bills in Kansas City next week in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship.
Los Angeles Rams def. Arizona Cardinals 34-11
Monday night brought us one last playoff blowout to close Wild Card Weekend. This was unexpected, as these two teams had been closely competing throughout the season. The Rams were able to run all over the Cardinals, as they ran for 140 yards. Odell Beckham was the first to find the endzone in this one, as he caught a short touchdown from Matt Stafford.
The next touchdown would come on a QB sneak from Stafford, putting LA up 14-0. The next score was a dreadful pick six where Kyler Murray panicked, getting away from a safety and threw it up in the air, where it was picked and ran into the endzone by David Long Jr.
The very next drive, Kyler would be picked off again for his second straight interception. The Rams could not capitalize, and the Rams went into halftime up 21-0. From there, the Rams never let the Cardinals into the game, using Cam Akers, who was playing in some of his first real-time since tearing his Achilles in the offseason, making a miraculous comeback. The Rams would win easily and will move on to face the Buccaneers in Tampa next week. Meanwhile, Arizona will need to get some help in the secondary after getting torched all game by LA’s passing game.