The first games of the NFL Playoffs didn’t really inspire a lot of hope that the competitive spirit of playoff football would rear it’s entertaining head.
The first playoff game of the season was one that many derided as the most boring/least interesting playoff game in quite some time as the AFC South Champion Houston Texans took on the Oakland Raiders. The Texans had benched their horridly underperforming, $72 million Quarterback Brock Osweiler for backup Tom Savage in Week 16, which led to a comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Savage sustained a concussion in the final regular season game against the Titans and Osweiler started the game, while the Raiders were forced to use their rookie third string Quarterback Connor Cook in his first career start.
Cook had a hard time, leaning on the run game to start off, only for them to be stifled by the Texans’ stout front line. Cook would gain his first passing TD, coupling it with a Lamar Miller rushing TD for 14 points, but Houston was not to be beaten. Jadeveon Clowney batted a pass and intercepted it in the end zone for a touchdown. Houston came out on top 27-14.
The Texans will travel to New England to face the Patriots next weekend, where few have given them even a sliver of a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.
The other AFC Wild Card match placed the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Miami Dolphins. Miami is without their starting QB Ryan Tannehill, and backup Matt Moore sustained a vicious illegal hit by Steelers’ LB Bud Dupree that left him on the ground for a few minutes, only to return after one snap. Many have cried foul about Moore apparently clearing the NFL’s “stringent” concussion protocol in only a few minutes.
It didn’t matter who was in at QB for Miami, as the Steelers laid down a brutal beating of 30-12, with Antonio Brown catching two TDs for 124 yards and LeVeon Bell running roughshod over Miami for 2 more TDs and 167 yards. Miami’s explosive running back Jay Ajayi was held to only 33 yards rushing in the loss.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured on the last play of the game and attended the post-game press conference in a walking boot, but claims he will start against Kansas City next week.
If anything, the NFC matchups proved even less entertaining for the neutral observer, as they were one-sided and not even close.
The Seattle Seahawks did not allow the Detroit Lions to score a touchdown en route to a 26-6 victory. Russell Wilson threw 2 TDs, one of which was a catch of they year contender to Paul Robinson, who caught a ball one handed while falling with a defender on top of him.
Robinson was the highlight of the game, as even though he only caught three passes, all three catches were highlight reel, seemingly impossible catches. Seattle will play the NFC South Champion Atlanta Falcons next weekend.
The final game of the weekend was the most lopsided of them all, as the Green Bay Packers completely shut down the New York Giants’ Receiver corps and scored 38 points compared to 13 for the Giants.
Not only did the Giants’ WRs drop wide open passes, but the secondary group allowed Randall Cobb to wreak havoc, even in the absence of star wideout Jordy Nelson, who left the game shortly before halftime with a rib injury. Head Coach Mike McCarthy offered no update Monday morning, but said he “has concern” for Nelson.
The Giants had surged through the end of the season to make the Wild Card, while the Packers surged from looking the worst the team has looked in years to being NFC North Champions. Aaron Rodgers has resurrected the season for himself and his team as his highly unusual mediocre play in the first half of the season had many people counting them out. They will play the imposing Dallas Cowboys next week in Arlington, with the Cowboys’ also having had a first round bye.