NFL Playoff Recaps – Wild Card Weekend
Tim Tebow's magic returned just in time to get Denver a win, as higher-seeded teams won all of the NFL's 'Wild-Card Weekend' games. Here's a recap of this weekend's NFL action:
Denver 29 – Pittsburgh 23 (OT)
Tim Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime, and the Denver Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-23 on Sunday. Trailing 20-6 at halftime, Pittsburgh rallied to tie the game by scoring 10 points in the final 10 minutes of regulation, including a 31-yard touchdown pass from Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery with 3:48 to play. The Broncos sacked Roethlisberger twice on Pittsburgh's final drive to prevent the Steelers from getting a go-ahead score in regulation. Denver will travel to New England next Saturday night to play advanced to play the Patriots in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Tebow completed 10 of 21 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran for another score for the Broncos. Thomas caught four passes for 204 yards, including the game-winning score, while Willis McGahee ran for 61 yards for Denver. Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception and was sacked five times. Isaac Redman ran for 121 yards for the Steelers, who were led in receiving by Emmanuel Sanders' six receptions for 81 yards.
N.Y. Giants 24 – Atlanta 2
Eli Manning threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, and the New York Giants beat the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 on Sunday. The Giants used a surprisingly effective running game and a stifling defense that put relentless pressure on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to win the game in convincing fashion in front of their home fans. New York will travel to Green Bay next Sunday to face the Packers in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Giants' wide receiver Hakeem Nicks caught six passes for 115 yards, including two touchdowns. New York, which finished last in the NFL in rushing during the regular season, had Brandon Jacobs run for 92 yards and Ahmad Bradshaw add another 63 yards on the ground. Ryan passed for 199 yards for the Falcons. He was sacked twice. Julio Jones caught seven passes for 64 yards for Atlanta, which saw running back Michael Turner limited to just 41 rushing yards for the game.
New Orleans 45 – Detroit 28
Drew Brees passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints beat the Detroit Lions 45-28 on Saturday night. New Orleans broke a 49-year-old postseason record by amassing 626 total yards, much to delight of their home crowd in the Superdome. Trailing 14-10 at halftime, the Saints' offense scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the second half to pull away from the Lions. New Orleans will travel to San Francisco next Saturday to face the 49ers in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Saints' running back Darren Sproles ran for 51 yards and two touchdowns, while teammate Pierre Thomas added another 66 rushing yards and a score. Marques Colston led New Orleans with 120 receiving yards on seven catches, while teammate Robert Meachem caught four passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson led the Lions with 12 catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 380 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for another score. He was also intercepted twice by Jabari Greer of New Orleans.
Houston 31 – Cincinnati 10
Rookie defensive lineman J.J. Watt returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown, and the Houston Texans beat the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 to gain the franchise's first-ever playoff victory on Saturday. Playing in front of a loud home crowd, Houston tied Cincinnati 10-10 on a 39-yard field goal by Neil Rackers with 1:48 to play in the first half. On the third play of the Bengals' ensuing drive, Watt reached up and snared a pass from Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, which he then returned into the end zone. The Texans scored two additional touchdowns in the second half to cement the victory. Houston will travel to Baltimore next Sunday to play the Ravens in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Houston running back Arian Foster ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yard dash down the sideline with 5:15 to play. Texans' receiver Andre Johnson caught five passes for 90 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown from T.J. Yates, who passed for 159 yards on the game. Dalton completed 24 of 42 passes for 257 yards, but he threw three interceptions and was sacked four times. Bengals' running back Cedric Benson carried seven times for just 14 yards and a touchdown, while A.J. Green led Cincinnati with 47 receiving yards on five catches.