Six games, three upsets, four road team wins, including an astonishing victory that ended a 27-year drought. It was truly a wild, Wildcard weekend.
In the first year of a newly formatted playoff where only the top seed in each conference gets a bye-week, the play lived up to the hype. Multiple teams had the opportunity to rewrite their history and move on to the Divisional round.
The weekend’s biggest upset came in Pittsburgh as the Cleveland Browns shocked the football world with something it hasn’t done in 17 years. Win a game in Heinz Field. What juiced it up was the win or go home mentality, and maybe because the Browns were without their head coach Kevin Stefanski due to COVID protocols.
Despite the odds, the Browns came out the gate firing and outscored the Steelers 28-0 in the first quarter. The first six Steeler drives were either interceptions, punts or a fumble recovery in the endzone. Cleveland never looked back and secured their first playoff win since 1995, 48-37, the same year Baker Mayfield was born.
“We believe in the people in our locker room no matter what’s going on,” said Mayfield to the media. “Nobody believed in us besides us.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>After Cleveland’s first postseason win since 1994, Browns’ players FaceTimed HC Kevin Stefanski – who watched the game on TV in the basement of his Cleveland home after testing positive last week – so he could be a part of the team’s postgame celebration.</p>— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1348601393704263681?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 11, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
On the flip side in the AFC, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens changed its narrative and beat the Titans in Nashville, 20-13. Jackson, who lost his first two playoff games, ran all over Music City for 136 yards and one touchdown.
In the NFC, the Saints took care of business in New Orleans and defeated the Chicago Bears 21-9. Drew Brees, who turns 42 this week, proved he is still a top quarterback in the NFL and threw two touchdowns on a sturdy Bears defense.
On Saturday, the Buffalo Bills led the weekend by edging out the Indianapolis Colts 27-24, for its first playoff win since 1995. In recent years, the Bills haven’t had the playoff chance due to their division’s dynasty, in New England and Tom Brady. But with Brady in the NFC now, the Bills and newly profound quarterback Josh Allen took complete advantage of a rare opening.
Allen, a likely MVP candidate, played exceptionally well through the air and on the ground. Allen threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 54 yards and a score.
“We got work to do,” Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott told his team after the win. “Humble and hungry. Get your rest and let’s hit the reset button.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>? Humble and hungry.<a href=”https://twitter.com/pepsi?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Pepsi</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BillsMafia?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BillsMafia</a> <a href=”https://t.co/7CJOB2Xopn”>pic.twitter.com/7CJOB2Xopn</a></p>— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BuffaloBills/status/1348043121905422337?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 9, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
The Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks game followed and looked a lot different due to no fans being allowed in. Seattle, known for their “12th Man” fan factor, didn’t have much to feed on and lacked momentum the entire game.
The Rams, playing a quarterback with thumb surgery less than two weeks ago, came out of Seattle with a 30-20 win.
Finally, on Saturday was Brady’s Buccaneers taking on the Washington Football team. Despite the Buccaneers playing on the road, Washington didn’t have enough firepower to overcome Brady and his weapons on offense. The Buc’s prevailed 31-23, and Brady wins his first playoff game, not as a Patriot.
If this was an indication on what is to come in the next round of the playoffs, we are all in for a treat.
Up next this Saturday, the Rams take on the Packers and Tampa Bay visits the Saints. Followed on Sunday by Ravens at Buffalo and the Browns head to the defending champs, Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes.