First week of playoffs makes for surprising wins

Maddie Morelli, Sports Editor

The first-ever Super Wild Card Weekend was exactly that: super. For the first time ever, the NFL played six Wild Card games in two days. There were some close games, and a couple of blow outs. In each conference, the No. 2 seeds moved on, while the No. 3 seeds were upset victims.

The games began on Saturday, January 9. In the first game of the day, the No. 2-seeded Buffalo Bills used a stellar performance from star quarterback Josh Allen as he posted his first-ever playoff win, 27-24, over the Indianapolis Colts. Allen completed 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns. Buffalo star wide receiver Stefon Diggs was nearly unstoppable, catching six passes for 128 yards. Allen outdueled veteran Philip Rivers, who was playing in his first playoff game as a member of the Colts. It was the Bills’ first playoff win since 1995.

The second game on Saturday was the first upset of the weekend. The No. 6-seeded Los Angeles Rams went to Seattle and upset the Seahawks, 30-20. LA quarterback Jared Goff had to come off the bench following an injury to starter John Wolford. While Goff didn’t play great (9-of-19, 155 yards, 1 TD), he played well enough to help the Rams advance. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson tossed a costly pick six, which helped knock the Seahawks from the postseason.

The final game on Saturday featured the ageless Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing the Washington Football Team (WFT), formerly known as the Redskins. While Brady wasn’t perfect, he was good enough as the Bucs held off a gritty WFT and quarterback Taylor Heinecke, who completed 26 of 44 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception, though. The Bucs held off the WFT, 31-23.

Sunday’s games began with the No. 5-seed Baltimore Ravens taking on the No. 4-seed Tennessee Titans. Last year’s MVP, the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson rushed for 136 yards and threw for 179, accounting for a pair of touchdowns. Baltimore was able to hang on for a 20-13 road win in Nashville. The Titans, who made a run to the AFC Championship last year, weren’t able to get out of the Wild Card round this year.

Sunday’s second game featured the No. 7-seed Chicago Bears against the No. 2-seed New Orleans Saints. The game was fairly low scoring as the Saints held a 7-3 halftime edge. Behind Quarterback Drew Brees and running back Alvin Kamara, the Saints pulled away in the second half for a 21-9 win.

In the last game of the weekend, the Cleveland Browns pulled off the most stunning upset of the six contests, upsetting the No. 3-seed Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers, champions of the AFC North, spotted Cleveland 28 first-quarter points and spent the rest of the game fighting to get out of the hole. The Steelers trimmed the deficit to 35-23 in the third quarter, but could never get closer and lost, 48-37. Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tossed four interceptions and was forced to throw the ball 68 times. He had four touchdowns as well, but it wasn’t enough. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield won his first-ever playoff game.

The divisional round took place on Saturday, January 16, and went into Sunday, January 17.  The weekend consisted of four total games, setting the stage for AFC and NFC championships. 

On Saturday, the Packers took on the Rams, and Green Bay walked away with a 32-18 win over Los Angeles. The Packers played stellar offense against the top defense in the league. They rushed for 191 yards, not allowing a sack. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 296 passing yards, and produced three touchdowns. 

In the second game on Saturday the Ravens played the Bills. Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson sustained a concussion in the third quarter which forced him to leave the game. This created a large obstacle for the Ravens, who were already down by two touchdowns at the end of the third quarter. The Bills ended up securing a spot in the AFC championship, with a 17-3 win over the Ravens. 

The games on Sunday consisted of the Cleveland Browns vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. the New Orleans Saints. 

The Buccaneers took down the Saints with a 30-20 win. The Saints were favored going into Sunday’s game, so it was quite an upset. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees went 19 of 34 with 134 passing yards. Brees threw one touchdown, but had three interceptions. Bucs’ quarterback Tom Brady went 18 for 33, with 199 passing yards. Brady played a major part in the Bucs’ success with him completing three touchdown passes. With this game being between two of the most respected quarterbacks the league has ever seen, it drew more viewers than ever.