NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard Recap

NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard recap

5) Tennessee Titans at 4) Kansas City Chiefs was the AFC Saturday afternoon game. The Titans started 8-4, lost three straight, and eked into the playoffs. The Chiefs started 5-0, collapsed to 6-6, and won 4 straight. after an exchange of punts the Chiefs took over and faced 3rd and 3 at their own 26. Alex Smith went to Tyreeq Hill for a 45 yard gain and then to Travis Kecle for 27 yards down to the 2 yard line. Kareem Hunt got the last yard for a 7-0 Chiefs lead. The Chiefs got it back at their own 24. Smith went to Hill for 26 yards. From the Tennessee 29, Hunt ran for 16 and Smith hit Kelce for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chiefs atfter the first quarter. With 6 minutes left in the half the Titans took over at their own 21. Mariota hit Delanie Walker for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Chiefs 22, Mariota was sacked. Ryan Succop hit a 49 yard field goal to get the Titans on the board with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. With 1:25 left in the half the Chiefs faced 3rd and 6 at their own 25. Smith hit Robinson for 13 yards and again for 15 more. With 30 seconds left in the half from the Titans 29, Smith went to Robinson for 15 and then for the 14 yard touchdown as the Chiefs led 21-3 at halftime. The second half was a completely different story.

The Titans began the third quarter at their own 9 yard line. Derrick Henry ran for 6 and 4 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 20, Mariota scrambled for 11 yards. From their own 45, Mariota hit Henry for 29 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Mariota tried to pass but had the ball batted down. Yet it was deflected back to Mariota, who caught his own pass and ran to the corner pylon for the throw, the reception and the touchdown to get the Titans within 21-10. The Chiefs got a break when the Titans fumbled a punt and the Chiefs recovered at the Tennessee 28. Yet the Chiefs lost 2 yards and Harrison Butker missed a 48 yard field goal try. Tennessee took over at their own 38. On 3rd and 10 just past midfield, Mariota hit walker for 14 yards as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with Henry running for a 35 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Titans were right back in it down 21-16. Tennessee got it back and soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27. Mariota hit Walker for 9 yards. On 3rd and 8 at the Tennessee 38, Mariota scrambled for 17 with 5 more tacked on for defensive holding. On 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 32, Mariota hit Smith for 10 and then fired over the middle to Eric Decker for a 22 yard touchdown. The 2 point try again failed but 19 unanswered points had the Titans up 22-21 with 6 minutes to play.

Kansas City took over at their ow 27. Smith hit Harris for 13. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, the Titans jumped offside. On 3rd and 4, Smith hit Harris for 9 yards. with 2:15 to play the Titans took a timeout on defense as the Chiefs faced 4th and 9 at the Tennessee 44. Smith went deep for a ball that was catchable but incomplete. The Chiefs still had all 3 timeouts. Henry got the carry and poor tackling let him bounce to the outside for a 13 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. Craziness ensued on the next play. Henry got the carry, got belted, fumbled, and the Chiefs returned it for a touchdown. The home crowd erupted. It was a miracle. Except it was not. Henry was clearly down before the ball was ripped out. With 1:57 left, officials properly reversed the call to down by contact as the Chiefs took their first timeout. With 1:53 left the Chiefs took their second timeout as everything came down to 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 44. Mike Mularkey played it smart by not risking an incomplete pass. Henry got the carry, bounced to the outside, and gained 22 yards. One week after almost getting fired, Mularkey led his team to a stunning road playoff win. It was another bitter home loss for the Chiefs under Andy Reid and Alex Smith and their dink and dunk West Coast Offense. The Titans played smash mouth, and Henry ran for 156 yards on 23 carries. 22-21 Titans

6) Atlanta Falcons at 3) Los Angeles Rams was the NFC Saturday night game. Neither team could move the ball early on, but the Rams fumbled a punt and the Falcons recovered at the Rams 17 yard line. Yet the rams held on defense and Atlanta settled for a 29 yard Matt Bryant field goal to make it 3-0 Falcons. Atlanta got it back and soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 17. Matt Ryan hit Mohammed Sanu for 6 yards. Ryan then went Julio jones for 27 yards to midfield. Jones then took an end around 13 yards. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Rams 33, Ryan threw incomplete twice. Bryant nailed the 51 yard field goal to make it 6-0 Falcons. The Rams fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and the Falcons took over with another short field at the Rams 32. Th second quarter began with atlanta facing 3rd and 2 at the Rams 24. Ryan hit Sanu for 6 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 12, Ryan hit Hooper for 5 yards. From the 3, Devontae Freeman got the carry up the middle and appeared stopped. Yet a big assist from the offensive line practically carried him into the end zone for a 13-0 Falcons lead.

With 5 minutes left in the half the rams faced 2nd and 6 at their own 25. Todd Gurley broke free for a 26 yard gain with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. Goff then hit Cooper Kupp for 15 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 14, Goff went to Kupp for the touchdown. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Rams were right back in it down 13-7. The Rams got it back at their own 16 with 1:15 left in the half. Rather than run the clock down, Sean McVay got very aggressive. Goff hit Kupp for gains of 5 and 10 and Woods for 8. Defensive pass interference on an incompletion added 16 more yards to the Atlanta 45 with 43 seconds left in the half. Goff then went deep to Woods for a 38 yard gain. After a ton of confusion, 14 seconds remained. After an incompletion left 8 seconds, Sam Fickens came in for a 35 yard field goal try. The kick was good and the Rams only trailed 13-10 at the break.

The Rams had the momentum but the Falcons began the third quarter at their own 17 playing out of the hurry up offense. Terrible tackling by the rams kept the Atlanta drive going. Freeman ran for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, Ryan hit Coleman for 14 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 21, Coleman got stopped. Yet Dan Quinn decided to go for it as the Falcons hurried up to the line. The Rams did not call a timeout on defense, and Ryan snuck across for the first down. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Ryan went to the end zone incomplete. The staggering 16 play, 76 yard drive took 8:15 off the clock, but the Falcons settled for a 25 yard Bryant field goal and a 16-10 lead. Atlanta got it back at their own 19. Ryan hit Jones for 12 and again for 16 to midfield. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 36, Ryan threw incomplete. Bryant drilled a 54 yard field goal as the Falcons led 19-10 after three quarters.

The Rams took over at their own 20 and Gurley lost 5 yards. The fourth quarter began with the Rams facing 3rd and 15 at their own 15. Goff went deep to Woods for 18 yards. Gurley ran for 14 yards and then ripped off a 33 yard gain. The drive died in the red zone with a sack of Goff, but Ficken hit a 32 yard field goal to get the Rams within 19-13 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Atlanta took over at their own 17 and they got aggressive as well rather than just run down clock. Ryan hit Jones for 12 and Coleman for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 36, Ryan hit Hooper for 5 yards. On 2nd and 13 from the Atlanta 38, A swing pass to Sanu saw him split the seams for a 52 yard gain. On 2nd and goal at the 8, Ryan threw a fade to the end zone that was caught by Jones for the touchdown. For some reason Dan Quinn decided not to try a 2 point conversion as the Falcons led by 13 points rather than 14 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Rams took over at their own 22 and Goff led a furious rally. Goff hit Kupp for 14 yards. On 2nd and 19 from their own 27, Goff hit Sammy Watkins for 23 yards to midfield. Goff hit Woods for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Atlanta 20, Goff hit Gurley for 3 yards. On 4th and 3 from the Atlanta 13, Goff hit Woods for 8 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Goff fired to the end zone for the touchdown with 2:11 left. Yet on further review, officials ruled the ball hit the ground. On 4th and goal at the 5, Goff with all kinds of time avoided the pressure and fired to the end zone to Watkins. Watkins had it in his body but didn’t secure it and it was knocked away incomplete. Two dropped passes were the difference between hope and death. The Rams took two timeouts on defense and got the ball back just past midfield. They took their final timeout while facing 4th and 4 at the Atlanta 43. One more dropped pass later and the rams were officially done. The Rams have talent and are built for the future, but Atlanta won this game because of their experience. 26-13 Falcons

6) Buffalo Bills at 3) Jacksonville Jaguars was the AFC Sunday morning game. Buffalo at 9-7 made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Jacksonville in only their second year of existence in 1996 shocked the Bills 30-27 in the playoffs in Buffalo and ended Jim Kelly’s career. The 2017 version of these teams played a hideously unwatchable first half. Neither team could move the ball, and even when an interception set up Jacksonville at the Buffalo 35, no points came out of it. Jacksonville had only 2 first downs in the first 28 minutes. Buffalo had a mind-numbing 18 play, 71 yard drive that took 8 minutes. Yet despite 1st and goal at the one, the Bills moved backwards to the 15. With 1:53 left in the half, Steve Hauschka hit a 31 yard field goal to finally break the scoreless tie. With wind a factor, Blake Bortles kept missing open receivers. However, with less than one minute left in the half and Jacksonville starting at their own 47, Bortles finally got it done with his legs. Bortles ran for 20 and then again for 12 to the Buffalo 21 with 19 seconds left in the half as the Jaguars took their last timeout. Bortles was then sacked, and without a timeout the Jaguars hurried back to the line of scrimmage so Bortles could spike the ball to stop the clock with 7 seconds left. Josh Lambo hit the 44 yard field goal as the teams went to the locker rooms tied 3-3 in a half that should never be replayed again.

In the third quarter the Jaguars mounted a 15 play, 86 yard drive that took 9 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and goal at the one, Fournette tried to go over the top and got rocked back by an inspired Buffalo defense. On 4th and goal at the one in a game where nobody could score, Doug Marrone made the surprising decision to go for it rather than kick the field goal. On 4th and goal at the one, a play action pass saw Bortles fire over the middle to Koyack, who caught it for the touchdown and the 10-3 Jaguars lead as the third quarter was ending. With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Bills faced 2nd and 10 at the Jacksonville 48. Taylor found Clay for 11 yards, but Doug Marrone challenged the catch. Replay showed the receiver stepped out of bounds, and the call was overturned. On 3rd and 10 Tyrod Taylor was sacked. Buffalo got it back, went 3 and out, and with 3 minutes left and all one timeout, Sean McDermott again decided to punt and trust his defense. The Bills got it back with 1:50 left at their own 37. On 3rd and 5, Taylor scrambled for 2 yards but got taken down hard by Dante Fowler. Taylor stayed down. Nathan Peterman played one half of football in the regular season and threw 5 interceptions. Now he had to come in on 4th and 3 with the season on the line. Peterman somehow avoided a sack and scrambled for 4 yards. However, on 2nd and 20, Peterman had a pass deflected and intercepted. Buffalo is done and Jacksonville heads to Pittsburgh, who they throttled earlier this season. Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin was so pleased with the hideously ugly playoff win that he almost smiled. 10-3 Jaguars


5) Carolina Panthers at 4) New Orleans Saints was the NFC Sunday afternoon game. These teams both went 11-5 during the regular season but the saints won the division due to having swept Carolina. Greg Olsen was injured for both games, and he returned for Carolina in this game. Sean Payton has given pinball wizard Drew Brees a strong running game while Ron Rivera as usual has a tough Carolina defense. In the first quarter the Panthers moved 63 yards in 14 plays and took 7 1 /2 minutes off the clock. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Saints 7, an easy touchdown pass from Cam Newton was dropped by Clay. It was right in his hands. Graham gang had missed only one field goal all year, but he missed a 25 yarder as a stunned Panthers team saw the game stay scoreless. Brees quickly went for the kill shot. A bomb to former Carolina receiver Ted Ginn Jr. went for an 80 yard touchdown. The 14 point swing had the Saints leading 7-0 rather than trailing.

After a touchback, Newton went to Olsen for 22 yards and then threw a bomb that ended up in a 39 yard defensive pass interference penalty as the first quarter ended. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the 9 to start the second quarter, Newton threw incomplete. This tie Gano hit from 27 as the Panthers trailed 7-3. After a touchback, Brees hit Ginn for 5 and Alvin Kamara for 19 more. He hit Ingram for 8. On 1st and 20 from the Carolina 32, Brees hit Kamara for 10 and Thomas for 13 more. Brees hit Hill for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Saints. After a touchback the Panthers got stopped on 3rd and 1 just past midfield. Riverboat Ron Rivera decided to go for it, and on 4th and inches Newton snuck for enough. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 24, a short pass left 4th and 4. Gano hit the 39 yard field goal as the Panthers were within 14-6 with 2:45 left in the half. That was more than enough time for Brees. He hit Thomas for 10, Coleman for 18 and Hill for 25. Zine got in from the one as the Saints led 21-6 with 43 seconds left in the half. After a touchback that was just enough time for Newton to hit Funchess for 24 yards. Gano drilled a 58 yarder to end the half. The Panthers were within 21-9, but they were kicking field goals while the Saints were scoring touchdowns.

The game slowed considerably in the third quarter. The Panthers moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and goal at the 4. Yet Newton was then sacked to kill another drive. Gano hit his 4th field goal in 5 tries from 29 yards out to get the Panthers within 21-12. After a touchback, the Saints moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Carolina 22. Brees threw incomplete, but was called for intentional grounding. The penalty made it 4th and 22 from the Carolina 39. Sean Payton gambled on a 57 yard field goal try, and Will Lutz delivered to make it 24-12 Saints. Carolina took over at their own 32 late in the third quarter. The fourth quarter began with the Panthers facing 3rd and 1 at the Saints 42. Newton hit Olsen for a 24 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the 14, Newton went to Olsen in the end zone, and the Panthers finally had a touchdown to get within 24-19 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

With 9 minutes left, Newton tried to avoid a sack and got belted. Derek Anderson came in with the Panthers facing 3rd and 17 at their own 10. Anderson tried to throw a pass but it was batted down incomplete. The Saints took over at their own 38 with 8 minutes left and a chance to put the game away. From just shy of midfield, Brees went deep to Thomas for a 46 yard gain down to the Carolina 5. Kamara got in from 2 yards out as the Saints led 31-19 with 5 minutes left. Newton came back in and the Panthers struck quickly. After a touchback, Newton hit Funchess for 19 yards and then fired a laser to Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey split the seams and raced for a 56 yard touchdown. 4 minutes still remained and the Panthers were right back in it down by 5 points With 3:22 left the Panthers took their first timeout on defense with the Saints facing 3rd and 6 at their own 39. With everything on the line, Brees fired to Thomas for an 18 yard gain. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Panthers took their final timeout. The Saints faced 3rd and 2 at the Carolina 47. A first down would end things. Kamara got the carry and ran into a Carolina brick wall as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. After failing to get the Panthers to jump offsides, the Saints had to punt and the Panthers would have a chance.

Instead, Sean Payton decided to really go for it. Under heavy pressure, Brees was intercepted at the Carolina 31. Had the defender dropped the ball, the Panthers would have taken over at their own 47. Nevertheless, Sean Payton and his cojones of steel would soon find out if his major gamble would blow up in his face with 1:51 left. Newton hit Funchess for 19 to midfield. Newton then went to Clay for 21 yards to the Saints 26. Defensive holding moved the ball to the 21. A pass to the goal line should have been intercepted but was dropped. On 2nd and 10, Newton threw the ball away under heavy pressure and was called for intentional grounding. The 10 second runoff left 24 seconds as the Panthers faced 3rd and 23 from the Saints 34. A pass to the end zone was very catchable but fell incomplete with 11 seconds left. Now it was time for the Hail Mary. Newton never had a chance. A pair of defenders bull-rushed Newton and belted him to the ground. The ball never left his hand as the Saints defense saved Coach Payton from a lifetime of criticism. Newton finished 24 of 40 for 349 yards without being intercepted. Brees was 23 of 33 for 376 yards with the one late interception. Each quarterback threw 2 touchdowns as the Saints survived a thriller. They travel to Minnesota for the Divisional round. 31-26 Saints

Bye weeks:

AFC: 1) New England Patriots and 2) Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC: 1) Philadelphia Eagles and 2) Minnesota Vikings


The Divisional Playoffs are now set (all times Eastern):

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018:

4:30pm: NFC: (6) Atlanta Falcons (10-6) at (1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) on NBC

8:00pm: AFC: (5) Tennessee Titans (9-7) at (1) New England Patriots (13-3) on CBS

Sunday, Jan. 14

1:00pm: AFC: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) at (2) Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) on CBS

4:30pm: NFC: (4) New Orleans Saints (11-5) at (2) Minnesota Vikings (13-3) on Fox

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