The NFL Divisional Round Playoff games didn’t disappoint as they were an upgrade to the Wild Cards weekend games. Now only two games remain with four teams left, Baltimore and New England in the AFC and San Francisco and Atlanta in the NFC.
- Photo by Atlanta Falcons
- Falcons kicker Matt Bryant kicks the Falcons into the NFC Championship game.
The Patriots and 49ers have played in Crescent City Super Bowls. New England has played in three big games that New Orleans has hosted. The Patriots lost Super Bowl XX in 1986 46-10 at the hands of the Chicago Bears. 1997 the Pats returned to NOLA and lost to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI. New England finally won the big game in 2002 in the first NFL Championship game following September 11 as they beat the heavily favored St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI.
San Francisco beat the Denver 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV on January 28, 1990 that help cement the 49ers the team of the decade by winning their fourth title in the 1980s.
Will the Pats make their fourth trip to New Orleans? Will the 49ers play for their sixth championship in franchise history? Can Baltimore send linebacker Ray Lewis out a champion or will the dreaded Atlanta Falcons do the unthinkable by winning their first title on the home field of their rival.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
- Photo by Baltimore Ravens
- Ravens WR Jacoby Jones hauls in the game tying 70-yard TD.
Denver 35 2OT
The weekend of fun started with a classic played in temps that registered below zero with the wind chill. Cold weather however isn’t what the game will be remembered by but for the play of the Ravens overcoming and pulling out a win in double time.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on third-and-3 from the 30 with 31 seconds left in the game took a shot. He launched a deep ball down the right sideline for receiver Jacoby Jones who somehow got behind the Broncos secondary and after the reception went in for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw and interception to Baltimore’s Corey Graham with just over 30 seconds to play in the first overtime. 1:42 in the second overtime Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal for the win.
- Photo by San Francisco 49ers
- 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick had a record setting performance against the Packers.
Green Bay 31
San Francisco 45
I called it the Kaepernick experience. In a game that reminded you of then Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick’s commercial where his moves were essentially a thrill ride, the second year player making just his eight start gave us one highlight after another.
Kaepernick, who is from Wisconsin and grew up rooting for the Packers, sent them home with a performance for the ages. Kaepernick passed for 263 yards to go with a pair of touchdown passes but was what his legs did that was special. 181 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, the yards an NFL record by a quarterback.
The 49ers had 579 yards of offense with 323 of those coming on the ground. San Fran held the ball 38:01 to Green Bay’s 21.59.
Painful is a word I can think of to describe this game. Atlanta’s 20-0 halftime lead was painful enough but to then watch the Seahawks put up 21 fourth quarter points and take the lead with 31 seconds to play 28-27. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan however in two plays, a 22-yard pass to Harry Douglas and a 19-yard pass to tight end Tony Gonzales put the Dirty Birds in field goal range with 13 seconds to play.
Kicker Matt Bryant missed the 49-yard field goal at first, but Seattle head coach Pete Carroll called a time out just prior to the kick and on the second try split the uprights for the win.
Saints fans were sick to their stomachs in missed opportunities by Seattle in the game. Twice the Seahawks had the ball inside the Atlanta 10-yard line and came away with no points. Now the unthinkable is very real. One more win and it’ll be two weeks of Atlanta Falcons talk leading up to the Super Bowl.
- Photo by Keith Nordstrom/New England Patriots
- Tom Brady and the Pats look like they are headed to the Super Bowl once again.
New England 41
Houston did its best to hang in there but the Patriots experience proved to be too much as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recorded his record 17th post season win surpassing Joe Montana. Brady threw three touchdowns on 344 yards passing.
Former LSU Tigers running back Stevan Ridley rushed for 82 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown.
The Pats did suffer a big loss as tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his arm in the game and will miss the rest of the playoffs due to surgery.