The NFL’s Version of “Super Wildcard Weekend” Didn’t Disappoint  - Here Are Some Takeaways - The Jewish Voice
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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The NFL’s Version of “Super Wildcard Weekend” Didn’t Disappoint  – Here Are Some Takeaways

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By: Marvin A. Azrak

FC: (5) Chargers 30 (4) Jaguars 31:

The 10-7 Chargers had manhandled the Jaguars  in every aspect of the game for a 27-0 lead in the first half. The damage was due in large part to the defensive, who forced five turnovers, four of them interceptions against Jaxonville QB Trevor Lawrence, who was making his playoff debut in his sophomore season. Yet from late in the first half and onward, the momentum shifted as the Jaguars rallied on touchdowns from Evan Engram, and Marvin Jones JR, to slice the deficit to 27-14. After a Cameron Dicker field goals pushed Los Angeles’s lead back to 16, Lawrence responded by leading a touchdown drive that only took five plays, punctuated by a 39 yard strike to Zay Jones, bringing his team within 10 entering the fourth quarter.

Aiding to the cause was a Dickerson missed field goal, and a defensive penalty following a Christian Kirk touchdown led to a successful two point conversion attempt, making it a 30-28 ballgame. After a stop, Jacksonville got the ball back with a chance to win it, but found themselves in a crucial 4th and 1 situation at midfield. That’s when coach Doug Pederson called a stunning wildcat  play instead of a QB sneak that put the Jags in field goal range and set up Riley Patterson’s 36 yarder to seal the epic victory. The win was the third largest comeback in NFL playoff history. The Jaguars will travel to Kansas City for a clash with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday at 4:30PM.

(7) Dolphins 31 (2) Bills 34

Credit to the Dolphins for their effort behind a third string quarterback in Skylar Thomson, but Buffalo found a way to hang on and advance to the divisional round. Buffalo jumped out to a 14-0 lead on scores from Dawson Knox and James Cook, who ran it in after the Bills defense gave the offensive unit great field position following an interception Dean Marlowe, who filled in for Damar Hamlin who was at his Buffalo home recovering from the cardiac arrest he sustained  during the Bills-Bengals game on January 2nd. After a Tyler Bass field goal made it 17-0, Miami responded with 17 unanswered points of their own to even the contest. Their first touchdown of the day after three straight field goals followed Javon Holland picking off Josh Allen, who threw his second interception of the day.

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, middle, runs against Seattle Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs (6), linebacker Boye Mafe (53) and safety Ryan Neal during the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Thomson quickly marched his team into the red zone and found Mike Gesicki  in the end zone to make it 17-15, before a successful two point conversion to Tyreeke Hill tied it. The Bills would regain the lead just before halftime courtesy of a Bass field goal, but that was short-lived as a Zach Sieler  strip sack was run back for a go-ahead touchdown and a 24-20 Miami lead.

Needing a game-changer, Kaiir Elam picked off Thomson, paving the way for Allen to find Cole Beasley  to put the Bills back ahead for good, before a 23 yard spiral to Gabe Davis increased the advantage to 34-24 late in the third quarter and would be enough to withstand a late Miami push in the fourth  and advance to the divisional round against the Cincinnati Bengals.

(6) Ravens 17 (3) Bengals 24

Despite being down Lamar Jackson, Baltimore kept it close and even tied the game when Demarcus Robinson left Eli Apple in the dust and Tyler Huntley  found him for a 41 yard touchdown to even the score at 17. However, the play everyone will remember is the one with 11:39 left in the fourth quarter, when at the one-yard line Huntley reached  for the score, but the ball  was punched away and Ohio native Sam Hubbard scooped it up and ran it 98 yards for a touchdown that ultimately propelled Cincinnati to a win and a date with the Bills in the second round on Sunday at 3:00PM.


(7) Seahawks 23 (2) 49ers 41

The feisty Seahawks put a scare into their division rivals by taking a 17-16 lead into the  break, but a 25-0 second half rampage behind “MR Irrelevant” himself for being the last pick in this years draft  in Brock Purdy saw the NFC West champs advance to the divisional round, and clinched the “Super Sweep” against their nemeses(two wins in the regular season, and eliminated them from the postseason). After an early Robbie Gould field goal for a 3-0 lead, a Christian McCafrey 67 yard run set up his score to push the advantage to double digits. Smith would take over from there and find Kenneth Walker  in the end zone, before he later hit DK Metcalf down the left sideline for a 50 yard touchdown to put the Seahawks ahead 14-13. The teams would exchange field goals which saw Seattle take the lead into the halftime locker room.

Yet when the third quarter began, San Francisco showed why they had earned the division title in the first place. It began when Purdy found  George Kittle over the middle for a 23-yard gain and a new set of downs before a 21 yard Debi Samuel touchdown put them ahead for good. The 49ers owned the defensive side of the ball too, as Charles Omenihu strip-snacked Smith, and Nick Bosa was there to recover it giving the offense the ball back, and a Elijah Mitchell touchdown in addition to a Kittle two points conversion, increasing the lead to 31-17.

San Francisco essentially sealed the deal midway through the last stanza when Purdy found Deebo Samuel on a 74 yard “house call” which completed a hat trick on the day for the quarterback to go along with his 348 yards of offense.

(6) Giants 31 (3) Vikings 24

Daniel Jones became the first QB in NFL postseason history with 300+ pass yds, 2+ pass TD & 70+ rush yds in a playoff game, as his staggering performance in his postseason debut and two Saquon Barkley touchdowns propelled the Giants to an upset win in Minnesota over the 13-4 Vikings on Sunday. The playoff win was New York’s first  in 3,997 days, when Eli Manning and CO defeated Tom Brady and the Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl 46. They’ll face the top seed and NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round on Saturday night at 8:15 PM, but have nothing to lose. The organization didn’t  add many effective pieces  to the roster after last years 4-13 campaign and entered this year primed for another year in the leagues basement. However, led by GM Joe Schoen, new head coach Brian Daboll and assistant coaches in offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator  Don Martindale, both who have  received offers for vacant head coach positions around the league, these G-Men captivated the city with a stunning 9-7-1 campaign and proved their worth on Sunday by defeating a team which was previously 11-0 in one score games and won the NFC North.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell (14) takes a hit from New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden (41) while running with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(5) Cowboys 31 (4) Buccaneers 14

One team’s window appeared to come to a close Monday night while the other teams championship window continued into  the divisional round. Tom Brady went quietly into free agency, and at age 45, many are wondering if we’ve seen  the last of the GOAT. Meanwhile, Cowboys QB  Dak Prescott  had the game of his life in Tampa Bay, going 25 for 33 with four touchdowns, two to Dalton Schultz, and 305 yards with no turnovers to put a damper on any of it.

While Dallas’s quarterback had a night to remember, their kicker had one he’d like to forget, as Brett Maher Cowboys kicker Brett Maher couldn’t convert on his first four extra-point tries, becoming the first player in NFL history to miss that many in a row and in a game which was surprising, considering he only missed three all season. Fortunately enough, he nailed the fifth one to avoid the shutout and was able to walk away with a smile along with the rest of his teammates. Up next for Dallas is a matchup at  the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at 6:30 PM.

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