NFL 2018-2019 Wildcard Recap

AFC (6) Indianapolis Colts at (3) Houston Texans was the Saturday afternoon game.The teams split the regular season, but this game was all Colts from the start. On 3rd and 12 from their own 23, Andrew Luck hit TY Hilton for just enough. On 3rd and 7 from their own 38, the defense jumped offsides. on 3rd and 2, Luck hit Hilton for 13 yards. Luck then went deep to Hilton for a 38 yard gain, splitting triple coverage. Luck capped the drive with a 6 yard touchdown pass to Eric Ebron to make it 7-0 Colts. The Colts got it back at their own 26 and Marlin Mack ran for a 25 yard gain. From the Houston 24, Luck hit Rogers for 16 and Mack for 6. Mack ran for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Colts after the first quarter. In the second quarter the Colts took over at their own 35. From their 46, Luck hit Dontrelle Inman for 21, Ebron for 15, and Inman for the 18 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Colts. The Colts defense did the rest. The Texans had 4th and 1 at the 9. Bill O’Brien went for it and Deshaun Watson threw incomplete. Houston finally reached the end zone with 11 minutes left in regulation, but no more. On 2nd and 10 from the Indy 24, Watson threw 3 incompletions. Frank Reich has seen his team now go 10-1 in their last 11 games as they travel to Kansas City for the divisional round. 21-7 Colts

NFC (5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Dallas Cowboys was the Saturday night game. The first 28 minutes was a brutal slog that saw Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns get carted off with a gruesome leg injury. Brett Maher hit a 39 yard field goal for the Cowboys in the first quarter. In the second quarter Sebastian Janikowski hit from 27 to tie the game. After Maher missed from 58, Sebass hit from 42 to make it 6-3 Seahawks with 1:47 left in the half. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Ezekiel Elliott ran for a 44 yard gain. Prescott hit Michael Gallup for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 10-6 Seahawks with 24 seconds left in the half. Tyler Lockett returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Dallas 49. On the last play of the half, Seabass missed from 57 and crumpled to the ground with an apparent hamstring injury. In the third quarter a punt pinned the Cowboys at their own 2 yard line. Seattle got it back at the Dallas 44. On 4th and 5 from the Dallas 39, a 57 yard field goal was out of the question with Seabass injured. Pete Carroll decided to go for it and Wilson delivered a perfect sideline pass to Doug Baldwin for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 12, Wilson faked a handoff and kept it himself for a 7 yard gain. Wilson did that again for a 4 yard touchdown. An injured Seabass forced Pete Carroll to go for 2 rather than kick extra points. Davis punched it up the gut for a 14-10 Seahawks lead after three quarters. 

This time Dallas came back quickly. On 3rd and 1 from their own 42, Prescott hit Brown for 6 yards. From midfield, Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 34 yard gain. Elliot gained 6 and Prescott gained 9 to set up 1st and goal inches short of the goal line. Elliott banged it in to put the Cowboys up 17-14 with 13 minutes left in regulation. Dallas had a chance to put the game away when Tavon Austin returned a punt 51 yards to the Seattle 38. Prescott went to Cooper for 27 yards. Prescott went to the end zone to Noah Brown and KJ Wright made an acrobatic interception in the end zone for a touchback. 

Dallas took over again midway through the third quarter at their own 37. A pair of defensive penalties killed the Seahawks. With 2 1/2 minutes left, an offensive penalty set up 3rd and 14 from the Seattle 16. With everything on the line, Prescott took a delayed draw up the middle, leapt up in the air, and gained 15 yards down to the one. With 2:14 left the Seahawks were forced to take their final timeout. Prescott snuck it in to give the Cowboys the 24-14 lead. After a touchback and needing 2 scores, Wilson hit Lockett deep for a 53 yard gain. On 4th and 4 from the Dallas 7 with 1:18 left, Pete Carroll again had to go for it with no kicker. Chris Carson ran it in to get the Cowboys within 2. Jerry Jones was prepared to fire everyone if the Cowboys lost and blow up his stadium for the insurance money. Punter Dickson had to try drop kicking an onside kick. It floated up in the air and was easily fielded as  Jason Garrett and the rest of the staff got to stay employed with the hard fought win. 24-22 Cowboys

AFC (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (4) Baltimore Ravens is the Sunday morning game. Ray Lewis fired up the crowd before the game, but it was the Chargers defense that dominated the first half. Baltimore fumbled on 3 of their first 8 offensive plays. The third fumble set up the Chargers at the Baltimore 15. However, on 3rd and goal at the one, a run up the gut was blown up in the backfield for a loss. Lamar Jackson was constantly under pressure and had one pass intercepted. Mike Badgley made field goals of 21 and 53 in the first quarter and from 40 and 34 in the second quarter as the Chargers took a 12-0 lead to the locker rooms. King returned the second half kickoff 73 yards to the Baltimore 27. Badgley’s 5th field goal try from 41 yards out was blocked. The Ravens got a second break when they forced a fumble and took over at the Chargers 21 yard line. They settled for a 33 yard Justin Tucker field goal to trail 12-3. The Ravens got a third break when they blocked a punt and took over at the Chargers 39 yard line. Yet Tucker missed a 50 yard field goal.  

The Chargers took over at their own 40. From the Baltimore 43, Philip Rivers hit Williams for 28. Melvin Gordon ran for 14 yards to set up 1st and goal at the one. First Gordon lost a yard. Then a pass to a wide open Watt in the flat was under thrown. Watt caught it and rolled over into the end zone. However, he was ruled short of the goal line. Then on 3rd and goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, chaos ensued. Gordon got the carry, stretched for the goal line, fumbled, and saw the defense pick it up and race 103 yards the other way. The Ravens thought they had a touchdown and a 12-10 ballgame. Officials ruled a Chargers touchdown instead. John Harbaugh challenged the call, and it was reversed. Neither team had a touchdown. Gordon was ruled down. On 4th and goal from inches away, Anthony Lynn decided to go for it. Gordon went up the gut and this time broke through for the score. Anthony Lynn then decided to go for the 2 point conversion. A defensive breakdown let Rivers loft a pass to a wide open Williams for a 20-3 Chargers lead. After 3 quarters, Jackson was 3 of 9 for 25 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 1 lost fumble. He entered to heavy boos as Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco stayed on the sideline. Badgley hit his 5th field goal from 46 with 9 minutes left to make it 23-3 Chargers. At this point the Ravens had negative 2 passing yards. 

Now it was desperation time after a touchback. The Ravens faced 4th and 11 at their own 40. One more stop would end it. Jackson went deep to Willie Snead for 29 yards and then threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. With 6 1/2 minutes left the Ravens were within 23-10. The onside kick failed but the Ravens got the ball back at their own 20 with 4:45 left. On 3rd and long from midfield, Jackson was flushed out, rolled all the way to his right, through across his body to the middle of the field, and somehow hit Ed Dickson who had nothing in front of him but green. He was caught from behind at the Chargers 11 after a 39 yard gain. On 4th and 8 from the Chargers 9, one stop would end it. Jackson fired to Crabtree for the touchdown. At the 2 minute warning, the Ravens were within 6 points. They still had 2 timeouts. Everything came down to the Chargers facing 3rd and 6 from their own 26 and the Ravens out of timeouts. Anthony Lynn played it safe and ran the ball. Gordon got around the end for the first down as the Chargers celebrated. However, offensive holding negated the play. On 3rd and 16, the Chargers played it very risky and Rivers threw a pass. it was caught for 8 yards as the Chargers set up to punt with 54 seconds left. With 54 seconds left, the Ravens took over at their own 34 yard line. With 30 seconds left from the Baltimore 47, Jackson had the ball knocked from his hand. The fourth fumble of the day was the second one recovered by the defense. Melvin Ingram fell on it and the Chargers were off to New England. 23-17 Chargers

NFC (6) Philadelphia Eagles at (3) Chicago Bears was the Sunday afternoon game.Dick Butkus and Brian Urlacher fired up the crowd pregame. The first half had Buddy Ryan and George Halas smiling in heaven. Nick Foles was intercepted twice, including once in the end zone for a touchback. Jake Elliott hit a 43 yard field goal in the first quarter for the Eagles. In the second Cody Parkey hit a 36 yarder and then a 29 yarder to end the half with the Bears up 6-3. Tremendous confusion of whether one play was a fumble or an incompletion was exacerbated when nobody recovered the ball and left it sitting there. Al Michaels commented that “The Dead Sea Scrolls are easier to dissect than the (NFL) rulebook.” In the third quarter the Eagles faced 3rd and 6 at their own 21. Foles threw incomplete but unnecessary roughness gave the Eagles 14 yards. On 3rd and 5 from their own 40, Foles hit Golden Tate for 9 yards. From the Chicago 43, defensive pass interference on Prince Amukamara meant a 33 yard gain. Foles threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to Dallas Goedert to make it 10-6 Eagles. Less than one minute into the fourth quarter, Parkey hit from 34 to get the Bears within 10-9. The Bears got it back and soon faced 3rd and 11 at their own 19. Mitchell Trubsky hit Taylor Gabriel for 19, Jay Bellamy for 34, and Robinson for the 22 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Bears led 15-10 with 9 minutes left in regulation. 

A short Bears punt of only 36 yards had the Eagles taking over at their own 40 with 4:48 to play. Foles hit Alshon Jeffery for 15 yards, Goedert for 10, Nelson Agholor for 8, Zac Ertz for 13 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. With 1:55 left the Eagles faced 3rd and 9 at the Chicago 13. Foles hit Jeffery for 11 yards and for some bizarre reason, Matt Nagy decided not to take a timeout on defense. 40 seconds ticked off the clock before the Eagles ran another play. Twice Darren Sproles got the carry and twice he was stopped. Foles then threw incomplete. With 1:05 left, it all came down to 4th and goal at the 2. Foles fired to the front corner of the end zone and Tate caught it. The Eagles led by a point and Doug Pederson went for the 2 point conversion. Sproles got the carry and tried to leap over the top. He had the ball knocked out for a fumble. The Eagles insisted Sproles broke the plane, but replay appeared to show that he lost the ball just shy of the plane. The Bears got a major break when Tarik Cohen returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Chicago 42. Trubisky hit Robinson for gains of 25 and 8 yards. With 10 seconds left, Parkey came in for a 43 yard field goal to win it. The kick was dead center but Doug Pederson called a timeout. Now it was time for the real kick. Earlier this year Parkey doinked 4 kicks off the upright no good in one game. In Minnesota, he did it once. In this came the ball bounced off the upright, then hit the crossbar, and with the world watching, fell toward the field of play no good. To quote Paul Maguire, “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.” As for the Eagles, champions do not go down without a fight. The Eagles are off to New Orleans, who walloped them 48-7 a few weeks ago. Until proven otherwise, they are still champs. 16-15 Eagles

The Divisional playoff games are now set.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

4:30 p.m. AFC (6) Indianapolis Colts at (1) Kansas City Chiefs on NBC

8:00 p.m. NFC (4) Dallas Cowboys at (2) Los Angeles Rams on CBS

Sunday, January 13

1:00 p.m. AFC (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (2) New England Patriots on FOX

4:30 p.m. NFC (6) Philadelphia Eagles at (1) New Orleans Saints on FOX

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