Recap of Wild Card Weekend

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Houston Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn (7) watches his game-winning field goal against the Buffalo Bills during overtime of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Houston. The Texans won 22-19 in overtime.(AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Why Did It Go To Overtime?

The trend in the NFL has been to just go for it on fourth down more often than not. Whether you’re ahead or behind, the odds are most head coaches will go for it and consequences be damned. That’s what happened when Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien decided to go for it on 4th and 1 around Buffalo’s 30-yard line. Rather than attempt a field goal that would have increased the Texans lead over the Bills to 22-16. Buffalo didn’t have any timeouts left and if the Texans converted the game would be over. It was a quarterback sneak and Deshaun Watson was stuffed. Thus creating a chance for the Bills to tie the game or win it. They ended up tying it and thus we had overtime. Yes, Houston was down 16-0 and had rallied to score 19 unanswered points. They had all the momentum and there were risks in attempting a field goal. However, you’re defense was not playing well the entire game and they reverted back to their first half ways on that final drive in regulation. Buffalo also had two opportunities in overtime to win the game, but miscues on offense gave Houston a second opportunity. Deshaun Watson proved how elusive he was with two guys combining to make contact with him and he still scrambles out of it for a completion that sets up the game winning field goal. This was another Wild Card disaster for Houston that ended up working out for them in the end.

Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (54) tackles Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

They Knew It Was Coming

Bill Belichick is no dummy and most of us outsiders knew what Tennessee was going to do to win this game. It was simple; give running back Derrick Henry the ball. He ran the ball over 30 times and accumulated over 180 yards on the ground with a touchdown to boot. The Patriots knew it was coming and still couldn’t do anything to stop it. On top of that, New England’s offense played their worst game of the season. They had many opportunities to drive down the field to add more points, but there were moments that Tom Brady was out of rhythm and the receivers he had at his disposal seemed lost at certain points. Julian Edelman was dropping wide open passes as well. There were times that the Patriots were able to answer with their own rushing attack, but it didn’t have the same effectiveness as the Titans. We know what their gameplan will be for Baltimore. We’ll see if the Ravens are better prepared.

You Were Outplayed

I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way. The New Orleans Saints were thoroughly outplayed the entire game by the Minnesota Vikings. Their defense had Drew Brees’ number and other than Michael Thomas, no one else was effective on offense. The Saints defense also had moments where they looked lost and didn’t know that the Vikings had a premier rusher in Dalvin Cook. Kirk Cousins for all of his criticism in his career, played his best game. That throw to Adam Thielen in overtime to setup the game winning touchdown was picture perfect. Now on to the elephant in the room. Should the referees have halted everything and at least looked at the Kyle Rudolph touchdown catch? Yes. Turns out they did and they warranted that there wasn’t enough contact to stop everything and look at it a bit longer. The rule that was put in place because of what happened to the Saints last year is a complete joke. Even if they did look at it longer, I assumed they weren’t going to overturn it because they haven’t been doing that the entire year. But regardless of that play, the Saints played their worst game of the year on all fronts. Even their kicker missed a field goal who is normally automatic in the Superdome. This game just proved how stacked the NFC has been this entire season.

What Could Have Been

Part of me would have loved to have seen the Eagles backup QB Josh McCown lead a ferocious comeback win, but the writing was on the wall when it was announced that Carson Wentz wasn’t returning at halftime. The Eagles made a valiant effort and the Seahawks didn’t play a great game, but there was just too much to overcome with Philadelphia’s rash of injuries and the fact that their secondary is still awful in coverage. Just look at D.K. Metcalf’s stat line (7 catches, 160 yards, 1 TD) and tell me the Eagles have a good coverage unit. I would make the argument that whether Wentz being a quarterback or not, seeing a defender make contact like that to another should warrant a penalty. You don’t want to see hits like that anymore, says the NFL. You want to see players penalized for leading with the crown of their helmet. Yet, no flag thrown and the defense is if he would have slid feet first it would have been flagged. If Wentz wouldn’t have been hurt, I still don’t think they would have won this game. However, it would have been a better game to watch. Even though the score was 17-9 in favor of Seattle, not even the most avid Eagles fan thought they had a chance without Wentz. Even if Nick Foles was the backup they weren’t winning that game. That’s how good Carson Wentz was down the stretch for them to end the season.

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