The NFL’s second playoff round finally brought some excitement compared to the dragging blowouts of the Wild Card round.
In the first game of the second round, the New England Patriots thoroughly dominated the Houston Texans, as almost every pundit predicted. The Patriots did have the dropsies early, with two turnovers in the first half that the Texans looked poised to capitalize on. They went into halftime down 18-13, but the Pats turned on the afterburners and only allowed a Houston field goal in the second half while racking up the points themselves, leading the Patriots to a 36-16 victory.
The Kansas City Chiefs home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was delayed until Sunday night in move questioned by many, as the team cited fan safety in traveling during what was projected to be a major ice storm. However, the weather was much more forgiving, and the late game was marred only by a misting rain.
This did not stop the game from being boring, as all of Pittsburgh’s 18 points came by way of Kicker Chris Boswell, whose six field goals broke the NFL Playoff record for FG’s in a game.
Alex Smith had a TD pass early in the game, but the biggest Chiefs play came in the fourth quarter as they went for a two point conversion to tie the game with less than three minutes to go. Smith completed a pass to Demetrius Harris, but the play was overturned due to a holding call against left tackle Eric Fisher. The second attempt was unsuccessful and the Steelers held on to the lead to win 18-16.
The Seattle Seahawks/Atlanta Falcons game was a battle of the birds, but the Falcons dug their talons in and drowned the Seahawks.
Atlanta dominated on both sides of the ball, with MVP candidate Matt Ryan making a hard push as he led four TD drives of 50+ yards. The Seahawks put up a decent effort, but a long series of penalties ending in a safety and a depleted and injured Legion of Boom put the Hawks away.
The most enthralling game of the postseason thus far was the Green Bay Packers entering AT&T Stadium and defeating the Dallas Cowboys at the last second.
Many had speculated that the calm veteran Aaron Rodgers would guide the Packers easily past the young and inexperienced Cowboy stars in Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. That proved to be right, at least in the first half, as the Packers dominated the Cowboys on the ground with receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery scoring two TDs before the half, leaving the score at 21-13 as the Cowboys seemed to get their act together. They came roaring back in the second, scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter to tie it at 31.
On the final drive, with 35 seconds to go, after taking a sack and throwing an incomplete pass, Rodgers threw a pass to tight end Jared Cook as he ran out of bounds, which Cook amazingly caught when he dragged the tips of his toes on the turf as he crossed out of bounds. With this, Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby, after being iced, nailed a field goal with 3 seconds on the clock to keep the game from overtime and allow the Packers to stun the Cowboys and advance to the NFC Championship game.
Both Conference championships will be decided on January 22, when the Packers play the Falcons in the final game in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, and the Steelers will play the Patriots in Foxbourough, Massachusetts.