A lot of football fans out there learned a tough, but valuable lesson this weekend. Change is inevitable, and missed calls are but a part of NFL culture. Looking at YOU Saints fans. Please don’t act like you got gypped out of this game. The team had every chance to win this game, but the Vikings were too good. This is the first Wildcard Weekend in recent memory where both 6 seeds advanced. If not for “I forgot how to throw the ball in the 4th quarter” Josh Allen, all of the wildcard teams would have won for the second time in league history. This week marked the 7th time in league history that 3 out of the 4 teams advancing in the playoffs were wildcard teams, which honestly isn’t that far-fetched seeing how the playoff seeding went.
What was really shocking to me this week was what kind of play won out. This year was definitely one of defensive prowess, but it seems as though the offense won out this week. Yes, I know the scores this week don’t reflect that. Hear me out though. The playoffs brings about a completely new gear of play calling, which brings tighter defensive coverage. This seemed to be the case, as top wide receivers were blanketed this weekend. Tyler Lockett went 4/8 for 62 yards, decent enough. Michael Thomas was held relatively in check, going 7/8 for 70 yards. Stephon Diggs was a non-factor going 2/3 for 19 yards. Adam Thielen had a great day however, going 7/9 for 129 yards. Still really consider him a 1B wide receiver, but he was a top option a year ago. Julien Edelman was blanketed all game, only going 3/5 for 30 yards. The only #1 wide receiver to muster up anything negligible was Deandre Hopkins, going 6/8 for 90 yards. The only wide receivers that statistically made an impact were Adam Theilen, as mentioned before, and D.K. Metcalf, who went 7/9 for 160 yards and that all important touchdown.
What really won the day was the ground game. The play of Deshaun Watson specifically got my attention, as he used his quickness and his brand of elusiveness to rally the Texans and win the game after trailing 16-zip. If you watched that game, you’ll know which play I am about to reference. Watson escaped two defenders in the pocket, getting rocked in the process, and ran to the right to avoid the sack, and checked down to his running back, who then ran the ball all the way down to the Bills’ 9 yard line, in OT. Kid’s got balls. He got walloped on that play, but still somehow managed to make the play, which would eventually set up the game winning field goal.
Being a Patriots fan, there is no way I could have NOT watched my team play. I shouldn’t have though, because I knew that Derrick Henry was going to run down their throats. Which, he did. I knew it, my dad knew it, hell Booger McFarland knew it. Man that guy is thick in the head. Henry ran all over the Pats defense, rushing for 184 yards on 34 attempts, scoring a rushing touchdown in the process. If anyone else thought anything else was going to happen, that person is naive. The ground attack was extremely important for the Titans, who now advance to the Divisional round of the playoffs, and get to go to Baltimore to face the near invincible Ravens. Good luck to them, they’ll need it.
Overall, I think Wildcard Weekend was exactly as advertised. A team that barely squeaked into the playoffs beat the reigning champions. Primetime Kirk Cousins was born, which sent NOLA into a tizzy. DangerRUSS did just enough to win the day, beating an extremely injured team. And the Bills almost were able to shed their narrative of being a mediocre team. ALMOST. That is, until the Magician took over.