For football fans, this past weekend felt like an emotional rollercoaster. I laughed, I cried, my heart raced, my heart stopped (at least it felt like it did) – and I don’t even root for any of the teams that played. The four games put the “wild” in wild-card.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from the NFL wild-card weekend.
For the first time ever, all four road teams were victorious on wild-card weekend, giving your resident NFL writer a 3-1 record on predictions. (Damn you, Green Bay.)
The Kansas City Chiefs kicked things off with a bang against the Houston Texans, as Knile Davis returned the opening kick 106 yards for a touchdown. The Chiefs never looked back from there, defeating the Texans 30-0 to earn the franchise’s first playoff win in 22 years.
— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2016
Pittsburgh eked out an 18-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in a game that was downright ugly … but more on that later.
Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant made the play of the weekend with this incredible somersault catch in the third quarter. Forget the butt-fumble, the butt-catch will live on forever. (Jets fans know we’re kidding. Nobody will ever forget the butt-fumble.)
This is absolutely unbelievable, Martavis Bryant pic.twitter.com/avMUgwwz91
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 10, 2016
Seattle needed some divine intervention to leave Minnesota with a 10-9 win over the Vikings. For much of the game, the Seahawks struggled to move the ball on offense and their defense had a hard time getting off the field. Eventually, things started clicking for Seattle, evidenced in this play where Russell Wilson recovered a botched snap and proceeded to turn water into wine.
“You mad ’cause I’m stylin’ on you,” Wilson allegedly said as he scooped up the ball and scrambled around. But that is yet to be confirmed.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 11, 2016
The Packers finally played the way everyone expects an Aaron Rodgers-led team to play, earning a 35-18 win over the Washington Redskins. Green Bay’s pass protection held up, the running game actually showed signs of life, and the wide receivers didn’t let Rodgers down. The Packers defense also played very well with a relentless pass-rush that resulted in six sacks and 13 hits on Kirk Cousins.
It’s only right for someone on the winning team to celebrate by taking a shot at the opponent’s viral sensation. Randall Cobb obliged.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 11, 2016
Let’s start with the Houston Texans, who looked like they had absolutely no business playing in the postseason. Brian Hoyer threw four interceptions and lost a fumble, completing just 15 of 34 passes for 136 yards. J.J. Watt was held to just a single tackle. Houston, a beneficiary of a dismal division in the AFC South, looked out of sorts from the get-go, and failed to adjust the way playoff-caliber teams should.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 9, 2016
Other than the victories, the injury bug dominated the headlines for the winning teams, as several key players were banged up.
- Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch failed to even make the trip to Minnesota despite practicing all week. Coach Pete Carroll said, “He just didn’t feel like he had it.”
- Kansas City leading wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was carted off the field after an apparent knee injury, but an MRI on Sunday revealed a high ankle sprain with no ligament damage to his knee.
- Green Bay wideout Davante Adams suffered an injury to his right knee after running into a teammate, but after the game, Adams seemed optimistic about his chances to play next wee. Adams said, “It’s a situation where you just feel it out throughout the week, but I think I’ll be fine.”
And then there’s the Black and Gold. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger took a huge blow from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and landed on his throwing shoulder, forcing him out of the game. Roethlisberger eventually returned and helped orchestrate a game-winning drive. The team obviously hopes Roethlisberger can play through the injury next week, but the extent of the damage to his shoulder has yet to be determined. Roethlisberger’s favorite target, Antonio Brown, was also subject to a controversial hit from Burfict, resulting in a concussion. His status for the divisional round is unknown.
Burfict’s Hit on Brown… https://t.co/O6YyO5p7oK
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) January 10, 2016
Remember that divine intervention that helped out the Seahawks? Well, the other side of the coin was the curse from hell that doomed the Vikings. First it was Adrian Peterson, who coughed the ball up after a reception which resulted in Seattle’s go-ahead field goal. Then, after Teddy Bridgewater led Minnesota down the field, trailing 10-9, Peterson failed to center the ball for kicker Blair Walsh.
The rest is history: Walsh now lives in Minnesota folklore with Gary Anderson after missing a chip-shot 27-yard field goal wide left. (Of course, Walsh should’ve nailed what seemed like an easy kick, but he didn’t receive any help from Peterson, either.)
— NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2016
But the real ugly stemmed from Cincinnati.
When Roethlisberger was carted off the field, fans booed and threw garbage at him.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 10, 2016
On top of that, Burfict’s hit on Roethlisberger appeared to have some malicious intent. In the replay, it looks as though Burfict throws a knee to Roethlisberger’s injured shoulder while they’re on the ground:
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) January 10, 2016
When it seemed like the Bengals would win after an incredible pitch and catch from A.J. McCarron to A.J. Green for a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Burfict reared his head again. The linebacker came up with a huge interception on the ensuing Pittsburgh drive, but instead of walking to the sideline, ran in all the way to the opposite end of the field and into the locker room. Little did he know he’d eventually be made to look like a fool.
Something about karma and Vontaze Burfict thinking the game was over should end up in a Steelers last-gasp win https://t.co/vLzIETIgbk
— HuffPost Sports (@HuffPostSports) January 10, 2016
When the Bengals turned it over to give the Steelers one more chance, Burfict found his way back to the field and made the most boneheaded play of the weekend, with his vicious hit on Brown. That penalty alone helped the Steelers advance into field goal-range. That wasn’t all, though, as Adam “Pacman” Jones then made contact with Pittsburgh assistant coach Joey Porter resulting in more penalty yardage. Should Porter have even been on the field? Probably not. But should Jones be talking to him, let alone touching him? Absolutely not. After the game, Jones posted a profane video on his Instagram, ranting about the penalty, but later took it down and followed with another video criticizing the officiating. It was just a horrible showing by the Bengals, and a truly despicable showing by Burfict and Jones in particular.
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 10, 2016
Stay tuned for our preview of the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.