NFL Playoff Sunday Review
Ravens @ Titans
Lamar Jackson has had a reputation for playing poorly come playoff time. It looked like that reputation was going to live on after the first quarter. Lamar did not look good and the interception he threw in the first quarter was very bad. The Titans jumped out to a quick 10–0 lead over the Ravens.
That lead evaporated quickly and Lamar Jackson began to figure out the Titans defense that had knocked him out of the playoffs a year prior. Lamar found a crease in the defense and scampered all the way to the endzone to cap off a nice touchdown drive that tied the game at 10. From there, it was the Ravens defense that absolutely shut down the Titans offense, particularly Derrick Henry.
After Derrick Henry’s slow start to the game, everyone was waiting for him to bust out in the 4th quarter as he is prone to do. Give credit to the Ravens defense for shutting him down and neutralizing the whole Titans after the first quarter.
Lamar pulls off a playoff victory and advances to the divisional round.
Final Score: Ravens 20 | Titans 13
Bears @ Saints
As a Bears fan, I am not sure why I was optimistic going into this game. I guess that is what fandom does to you. The Bears offense has been lackluster all season. From changing quarterbacks in week 3 only to go back to your original quarterback later on in the season when it looked like their playoff hopes were down and out. Credit to Mitch Trubisky for the leadership he showed getting the Bears into the postseason after everything he went through. The Bears offense pulled some trickery out of their playbook in the first half and Javon Wims dropped a touchdown pass right in his breadbasket. A gut wrenching drop for the Bears and their fanbase as that touchdown would have changed the whole trajectory of the game.
In the end, the Bears offense could only muster 9 points… 6 of which came on the final play of the game when nothing really mattered at that point. The defense played very well for being short-handed. The Saints dominated the time of possession and the Bears defense only allowed three touchdowns. If the offense played the way it had the previous 4–5 weeks, the Bears may be enjoying a win on this fine Monday, but instead the season is over.
The NFL and the officiating crews got what they were hoping for and that is Drew Brees advancing to the next round to play Tom Brady. The game will be broadcast on the History Channel.
In all seriousness, the Saints deserved to win the game. That defense played very well. CJ Gardener-Johnson did what he does best… Not playing good defense, but talking so much trash that got under the Bears wide-receivers skin. Anthony Miller got tossed from the game for shoving Gardner-Johnson much like Javon Wims had in their regular season matchup.
Brees and Brady will be a great matchup to watch, unless Sean Payton decides to go with Taysom Hill as he did a few times against the Bears and the results were not good for the Saints.
Final Score: Bears 9 | Saints 21
Browns @ Steelers
These two teams had just faced off in week 17 and the Browns escaped with a 2-point victory to secure their spot in the Wildcard. However, the Steelers were not playing for anything and had much of their 2nd stringers in the game on both sides of the ball. Steelers dancing wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster added more fuel to the Browns fire when he said ‘The Browns is the Browns’ and that he was happy to be playing them in the Wildcard game.
Well, that all backfired from the first snap. The first shotgun snap for the Steelers and of the entire game went over Ben Rothlisberger’s head and was recovered by the Browns in the endzone for a touchdown. From there, the Browns continued the onslaught of points putting up 28 in the 1st quarter alone. After leading 28–0, the Steelers showed some fight and pride. Ben Rothlisberger wound up throwing for 500 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Browns huge first quarter was challenged when the Steelers cut the deficit to 11 points in the 2nd half. However, the Browns weathered the storm and came out victorious. Their first playoff road win since 1969. Well-deserved for this Browns team and their fanbase. As a reward, they will get to face the defending champion, Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead next week for the divisional round. Good luck to them!
Final Score: Browns 48 | Steelers 37