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Here is a recap of Wildcard Weekend of the 2019 NFL Playoffs with a Monday Afternoon QB & thanks again to AP Sports/ Pro 32 for photos & articles.
AFC Wild Card
6 Colts 21, 3 Texans 7
HOUSTON (AP) — A year ago at this time Andrew Luck was at home struggling with an injured shoulder that cost him the entire season.
On Saturday he wrote a happy ending to the latest chapter of his comeback season, throwing for 222 yards and two touchdowns and the Indianapolis Colts raced out to a big lead and cruised to a 21-7 win over the Houston Texans in the wild-card game.
Luck put on a show in his hometown in a stadium where he’d attended games throughout childhood and played in them since high school, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns before halftime to help the Colts (11-6) build a 21-0 lead.
He denied feeling “at home” at NRG Stadium, but admitted to having warm feelings for the city he grew up in and where his grandparents and many friends still reside.
“But it’s still an away stadium,” he said. “It was very loud, very energetic, but fun to win, certainly.”
Running back Marlon Mack had 148 yards and a touchdown for Indianapolis, which advances to face the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round next weekend.
“We know we have an elite quarterback and we can throw it for 400 and win when we have to,” Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said.
“But the margin for error in playoff football when you try to do it that way is very thin. When you can win like this — running the football and stopping it — that’s just everything.”
Houston (11-6), which overcame a 0-3 start to win the AFC South, gave up too many big plays and couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first half to fall into the huge hole.
Deshaun Watson, who was sacked an NFL-leading 62 times in the regular season, was sacked three times and hit eight more times in a disappointing playoff debut. He finished with 235 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception.
“Just a lack of execution on our part,” Watson said. “We didn’t make plays. I didn’t make plays. Communication was a little off. You just got to give the Colts the credit.”
The Colts, who opened the season 1-5, continued an impressive run by winning their fifth straight and for the 10th time in 11 games. Saturday was their first playoff appearance since the AFC championship game loss at New England in the “Deflategate” game in the 2014 season.
It was another good game in a splendid season for Luck. He threw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns in the regular season after missing all of 2017 with a shoulder injury.
The Texans didn’t score until rookie Keke Coutee grabbed a 6-yard touchdown pass to cap a 16-play, 89-yard drive that included a fourth-down conversion that cut it to 21-7 with about 11 minutes left.
They led the NFL with nine comeback wins this season, but their attempt at a rally ended on their next possession when Watson’s pass on fourth-and-10 from the Indianapolis 24 fell short with about four minutes left.
Luck threw for 863 yards with six touchdowns as the teams split two meetings in the regular season. He picked up right where he left off in this one, when he found Eric Ebron on a 6-yard TD pass on their first drive. That play was set up by a 38-yard catch by T.Y. Hilton, who had 63 yards receiving on that drive.
“We didn’t have a lot of guys that made the playoffs so the guys that made the playoffs wanted to go out there and set the tone early, try to get the crowd out of the game,” Hilton said. “That’s what we did.”
Hilton didn’t have any catches on the next drive, but the Colts still drove down the field easily and made it 14-0 on a 2-yard run by Mack later in the first.
Houston went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Indianapolis 45 on its second possession and Watson was intercepted by Kenny Moore II. It was his first interception since he threw two against the Redskins on Nov. 18.
The Colts got to the 17 after that before J.J. Watt deflected Luck’s pass and he was intercepted by Brandon Dunn. But the Texans couldn’t move the ball and had to punt.
Indianapolis pushed the lead to 21-0 when Luck connected with Dontrelle Inman on an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
“It’s very frustrating when they’re able to execute and get their job done,” Watt said. “We had a couple of big penalties early in the game as well. But you have to overcome it and you have to find a way to win.”
The Texans had a fourth-and-1 from the 9 late in the second quarter and went for it again instead of settling for a field goal. The gamble didn’t pay off when Watson’s pass to DeAndre Hopkins was low and bounced in front of him in the end zone.
Colts: Safety Malik Hooker left in the third quarter with a foot injury. … S Mike Mitchell injured his calf in the third quarter and didn’t return.
Texans: Safety Justin Reid injured his ribs in the second quarter and didn’t return. … Hopkins said he played most of the game with a Grade 3 AC sprain of his right shoulder after injuring it in the first half.
Colts: Travel to Kansas City where the Chiefs were 7-1 in the regular season.
Texans: The Texans have some decisions to make in the offseason with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and safety Tyrann Mathieu both becoming free agents. They might use the franchise tag to keep Clowney, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.
5 Chargers 23, 4 Ravens 17
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers kept Lamar Jackson grounded, and by the time the rookie got the passing game going it was too late for the Baltimore Ravens.
Michael Badgley kicked five field goals, and Los Angeles harassed and hounded Jackson during a 23-17 victory Sunday in the opening round of the NFL playoffs.
The Chargers (13-4) will next face the second-seeded New England Patriots (11-5) on the road Sunday. The Chargers last won two games during a single postseason in 2007, when the franchise was in San Diego.
Of course, going deep in the playoffs are old hat for the Patriots.
“Yeah, I mean, gosh, we know the run they’ve had,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “It seems like forever. They’re always in these games and games beyond.”
Rivers went 22 for 32 for 160 yards for Los Angeles, providing just enough offense to help the Chargers get even for a 22-10 loss to Baltimore (10-7) just two weeks ago.
Badgley set a franchise record for field goals in a playoff game. He connected from 21, 53, 40, 34 and 47 yards.
The Chargers built a 23-3 lead in the fourth quarter before Jackson threw two touchdown passes to make it close. Given one final chance to complete the comeback, the 21-year-old looked every bit like the youngest quarterback to start an NFL playoff game when he lost the ball on his third fumble of the game.
Jackson finished 14 for 29 for 194 yards with an interception. He was sacked seven times.
“I wasn’t playing my game today. I’m ticked off about that, definitely,” Jackson said.
The AFC North champion Ravens were making their first playoff appearance since 2014 after Jackson led the team on a 6-1 season-ending run following an injury to long-time starter Joe Flacco.
In the days leading up to the game, Jackson — the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner — was lauded for the job he did to get Baltimore into the postseason. With the former Louisville star leading the way, the Ravens went on a tear by combining a time-consuming ground game with the league’s top-ranked defense.
Jackson finished with 54 yards rushing, but he was booed by many in the crowd of 70, 432 after the Ravens fell behind by 20 points.
“They were looking for better in us,” Jackson said. “We didn’t perform well. It happens sometimes.”
Jackson threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree to make it 23-10 with 6:33 remaining and tossed a 7-yarder to Crabtree with 1:59 left, but Baltimore’s last chance ended when Jackson fumbled after being hit by Uchenna Nwosu.
Baltimore finished with 90 yards rushing after averaging 229.6 with Jackson at the helm.
“We did a good job of staying in the rush lanes and containing him,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “The more times you see that offense, the better you’re going to do against it.”
The game was not without controversy.
Los Angeles used a 1-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon to take a 20-3 lead with 14:44 left. The score came one play after Gordon lost control of the ball at the goal line and the Ravens took it the other way for a touchdown, but he was called down by contact and a replay confirmed the call.
“He had control of the football as he hit the ground,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron.
That pretty much ended any hope the Ravens had of winning their first home playoff game since the 2012 season. Baltimore had won five straight in the wild-card round under coach John Harbaugh.
At halftime, Jackson was 2 for 8 for 17 yards and an interception for a 0.0 quarterback rating. Los Angeles led 12-0 at the break, marking the first time in franchise history the Ravens were blanked in the first half of a playoff game.
The Ravens fumbled three times during their first eight offensive plays, losing the last one by Kenneth Dixon on a tackle by Melvin Ingram at the Baltimore 15 to set up Los Angeles’ first field goal.
The Chargers then used a 33-yard punt return by Desmond King to set up a 53-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.
An interception by Adrian Phillips led to another field goal, and Badgley made it 12-0 with another 3-pointer on the final play of the first half.
Ingram finished with seven tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
SUGGS TO RETURN
After the game, Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said he intends to return for a 17th season.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I would love it to be here. I would like to be a Raven life-timer.”
Jackson fumbled on Baltimore’s opening possession, but picked it up himself. The same thing happened in the second series before Dixon lost the ball. Jackson has fumbled in nine straight games.
A lot of people have had trouble adjusting to the phrase “Los Angeles Chargers” because the team spent so much time in San Diego.
But referee Clete Blakeman put a new twist on it, calling them “San Francisco” on the loudspeaker.
Chargers: CB Brandon Facyson missed the second half with a concussion.
Ravens: DT Michael Pierce hurt his elbow in the third quarter. … CB Tavon Young was on the inactive list with a groin injury.
Chargers: The Chargers are 0-7 against Tom Brady and the Patriots, including playoffs, since Rivers became the starter in 2006.
Ravens: Head into the offseason with Harbaugh being assured he will return in 2019 and with Flacco likely headed elsewhere.
NFC Wild Card
5 Seahawks 22, 4 Cowboys 24
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott saw an opening up the middle, then three defenders between him and the first down.
The Dallas quarterback found a way to get there, and get his first playoff victory two years after a sensational rookie season ended in disappointment.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, Prescott scored on a sneak after his dazzling head-over-heels run and the Cowboys hung on for a 24-22 wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.
The win for the Cowboys (11-6) was the first for Elliott and Prescott after losing a divisional game in their playoff debut as first-year stars two years ago. Dallas will play at either New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round next weekend.
“It’s really just a chance to keep going on, simple as that,” Prescott said. “Me and this whole team, we want to win it all. You can’t do that without taking care of the first one. A lot of excitement, but my goal is bigger than just one playoff win.”
The loss ended a run of nine straight victories in playoff openers for the Seahawks (10-7). The Elias Sports Bureau says it was the longest streak in NFL history.
Leading 17-14, Prescott faced third-and-14 from the Seattle 17 with the 2-minute warning approaching. He took off up the middle on a QB draw, barged through a trio of defenders 6 yards short of the first and went down at the 1 when he was flipped head-first by Tedric Thompson.
Prescott, who also had an 11-yard scoring pass to Michael Gallup in the first half, scored on the next play in the eighth win in nine games for the Cowboys.
“He’s just a rare guy,” coach Jason Garrett said. “His leadership, his toughness, just his way, his spirit. It’s like none other. Somehow, some way, he’s going to figure this thing out for us.”
Dallas’ defense, ranked in the top 10 most of the season, stifled the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense and mostly kept quarterback Russell Wilson under control and handed him his first loss in four wild-card games.
The Seahawks had finished the regular season with six wins in seven games to secure Wilson’s sixth playoff trip in seven years despite a roster overhaul and 0-2 start.
“This has been a special, special year,” Wilson said. “Just the growth of our team, the men in the locker room, just the way that we’ve played together, just eliminating the doubters and the things that people thought that we could only do.”
Prescott, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 when the Cowboys lost to Green Bay at home as the top seed in the NFC, threw for 226 yards, and his sneak for what appeared to be a clinching score because Dallas burned more than five minutes while taking 24-14 lead.
But Tyler Lockett’s 53-yard catch set up a quick Seattle touchdown— Wilson’s 7-yard scoring pass to J.D. McKissic. The Seahawks got within two on their second 2-point conversion following an injury to Sebastian Janikowski.
The missing kicker left the Seahawks no good options on an onside kick with 1:18 remaining. Punter Michael Dickson’s drop kick was caught by Cole Beasley at the Dallas 31, sealing the first playoff win for the Cowboys since beating Detroit in the wild-card round in the 2014 season.
After Wilson ran for 4 yards for a touchdown and Mike Davis’ 2-point conversion run put Seattle up 14-10 late in the third quarter, Prescott led a 67-yard drive to put the Cowboys back in front for good.
A 34-yard pass to Amari Cooper , who had seven catches for 106 yards, led to Elliott’s 1-yard plunge after an apparent touchdown by the quarterback was overturned on replay.
Prescott then had a chance to give the Cowboys a 10-point lead, but K.J. Wright made a juggling interception in the end zone.
Dallas’ defense came through again, though, forcing a punt and giving Elliott a highlight play before Prescott added his. The NFL rushing leader stiff-armed Shaquill Griffin on a 17-yard run to get inside the 20.
Seattle got a double dose of bad news at halftime when Janikowski missed a 57-yard field goal on the final play and injured his left hamstring. He yelled as he grabbed the back of his leg and limped to the locker room, unable to return.
Still, the Seahawks took their first lead basically because the 40-year-old’s injury forced them to try.
Facing fourth-and-5 in Janikowski’s range from the Dallas 39, Doug Baldwin made a toe-dragging catch on the sideline for 22 yards. After Wilson’s TD run, the Seahawks pushed their lead to 14-10 on Mike Davis’ run.
But the Cowboys never did lose control of the Seattle running game after allowing Chris Carson’s first career 100-yard game in a Week 3 Seattle win that turned the season for the Seahawks, who finished the regular season with six wins in seven games.
Carson had just 20 yards on 13 carries. Wilson was 18 of 27 for 233 yards, with Lockett getting four catches for 120 yards. The Seahawks had 73 yards rushing after averaging 160 during the season. Dallas came in with the No. 5 rushing defense.
“Once we go up, we do a pretty good job of getting ourselves back down, knowing that we’ve got to start over next week and we’ve got to be able to do it again,” linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “It’s a full attack mode.”
Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns fractured his left ankle in a gruesome first-quarter injury. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said after the game that Hurns was “probably in surgery at this time.” Hurns was being dragged down by Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald at the end of a 14-yard catch for a first down when his lower left leg appeared to buckle. … Seahawks cornerback Neiko Thorpe left in the first half with a shoulder injury.
Cowboys: New Orleans or the Los Angeles Rams on the road in the divisional round next weekend.
6 Eagles 16, 3 Bears 15
CHICAGO (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles needed help to get into the playoffs, and Chicago provided it.
Look how the defending Super Bowl champions repaid the Bears.
Nick Foles hit Golden Tate with a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 56 seconds remaining against the NFL’s stingiest defense, lifting the Philadelphia Eagles past the Chicago Bears 16-15 on Sunday in the final wild-card game.
Former Eagles kicker Cody Parkey hit the left upright and then the crossbar with a field-goal attempt from 43 yards with 10 seconds remaining, silencing the raucous crowd.
The key, of course, was how the Eagles, even when they are messing up, never give up. On Parkey’s kick, several Eagles said defensive tackle Treyvon Hester touched it.
“I think the big thing is, we saw some adversity tonight in the first half (and) I had a couple of turnovers,” Foles said. “I think the big thing is that no one loses faith, no one stops believing, everyone just keeps talking, keeps believing in one another, and we just rallied. Our defense really kept us in this game.”
The defending league champion Eagles (10-7) squeezed into the playoffs by beating Washington and having the Bears (12-5) help them by knocking off Minnesota in the season finale. Philadelphia thanked its benefactor with a 12-play, 60-yard drive on which Foles, the Super Bowl MVP last February, hit six passes.
Tate made a reaching grab in the right side of the end zone near the goal line.
“We found a way,” Tate said. “That’s playoff football right there for you. That’s why we play this game for times like now once you get to January and February.”
Philly plays at New Orleans (13-3) next Sunday. Chicago’s sensational turnaround season from last place to the NFC North title is over.
“We wanted to write our story and start it off,” Bears second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. “But it does not always go the way you want it to, and that’s life, that’s football.”
No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since New England in 2004, and the Eagles are a sixth seed. The last sixth seed to win the NFL title was Green Bay in the 2010 season; the Packers won the NFC championship at Soldier Field that season.
These Eagles, led by Foles once again replacing an injured Carson Wentz, and a defense down to backups at several positions, seem to have that magical touch like last season.
It was a sizzling ending to a game marked by superior defense and several critical mistakes by the Eagles. They had to survive after Tarik Cohen, an All-Pro punt returner, took back the kickoff following Philly’s go-ahead score 35 yards. Mitchell Trubisky completed two passes to get the Bears close enough for Parkey.But his kick took a double deflection and fell harmlessly into the end zone.
He was 11 of 12 in the fourth-quarter on field goals before missing the biggest kick of his career.
“Obviously, we’re just hoping for a miss,” Foles said. “This was a hard-fought game. That’s an amazing team we just played against and it came down to the wire.”
The Bears are 1-15 all-time in playoffs when trailing after three quarters. They fell behind when Foles connected with rookie Dallas Goedert for a 10-yard touchdown in the third period that was set up by a 33-yard pass interference call on cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Although the Eagles outplayed the Bears in the first half, errors left them behind 6-3. A 15-yard personal penalty on Michael Bennett aided Chicago’s drive to a 36-yard field goal by Parkey, and a dropped potential interception in the end zone by Tre Sullivan allowed Parkey to make a 29-yarder as the half concluded.
Philadelphia also had an interception by Avonte Maddox deep in Chicago territory overturned by video replay.
Philly did score on its opening series of the game, a 50-yard drive to Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal. And again on its first possession in the third quarter as Goedert got wide open on a short post pattern behind Adrian Amos, who had an end-zone interception of Foles’ ill-advised throw in the second quarter.
Parkey also made 34-yarder early in the manic final quarter.
“We had a lot of fun and I love our guys to death,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said.
Both head coaches, Nagy in Chicago and Doug Pederson in Philadelphia, are Andy Reid proteges. That usually means lots of passing, and each team didn’t do much on the ground, combining for 107 yards rushing.
But Trubisky threw for 303 yards, going 26 of 43. Foles was 25 of 40 for 266 yards.
Teams rarely win when they are minus in turnover differential. The Eagles did, having two giveaways and no takeaways. Chicago led the NFL this season with 36 takeaways.
Chicago’s bear mascot had the perfect reaction to Parkey’s miss, falling flat on his back as he was kneeling behind the goalpost where Parkey’s kick failed.
Eagles: Travel to New Orleans, where they lost 48-7 during the season.
“Yeah, it wasn’t very good the first time,” Pederson said. “I think we’re a different football team now than we were then.”