The Buffalo Bills won a playoff game for the first time in 25 years, the Los Angeles Rams finished unbeaten at home to the Seattle Seahawks; meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to work harder than expected to beat Washington at the start of the NFL playoffs.
The Colts’ New Years Gift to the #BillsMafia
The Indianapolis Colts did their best to lose and, in the face of so many “gifts”, the Buffalo Bills ended up winning by 27-24.
In a match on the regular calendar when you make a mistake you almost always have the consolation that “we will improve next week. It doesn’t happen that way in the playoffs. With the game 10-7, in favor of the Colts, in the red zone, on the fourth opportunity and with 1:52 left in the second quarter, coach Frank Reich decided to play it, instead of kicking a field goal. The pass from Philip Rivers to Michael Pittman Jr. was incomplete. Less than a minute it took the Bills to travel almost the entire field for Josh Allen to score, on the ground, the TD that changed the history of the game.
The Bills never lost the lead again; But the Colts missed other opportunities. For example, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter. Simple math: with those two field goals the Colts would have advanced. But in sport there is no “if only …”.
Josh Allen had a great performance: 379 total yards, of which 324 in the air and 54 on the ground, and 2 TDs. His 35-yard pass to Stephon Diggs was the best of the afternoon.
Not so Rams nor so Hawks
Since Pete Carroll took over as manager of the Seattle Seahawks, he had never lost a playoff game at home. But there is always a first time, for everything in life.
The Rams lost their starting quarterback John Wolford on the game’s second possession to a neck injury; his replacement, Jared Goff, had a broken thumb on his right hand; furthermore, his superstar on defense, Aaron Donald, was hardly on the field in the second half with a knee injury. Despite these enormous drawbacks, from playing away (in an always noisy stadium, but this time with virtual whistles in the absence of an audience), the Rams managed to pass over Seattle, 30-20, in the only surprise result of the first round of wild cards in the NFL playoffs.
Buccaneers spent work to assault the Washington Capitol
Many of us thought the game would be a ride for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There were compelling reasons for this super favoritism, from the way Tom Brady’s team closed, to the dubious way the Washington team won the National Conference East.
But the story in the NFL playoffs is always different. Washington played a very good game, thanks to his quarterback Taylor Heinicke. In just his second NFL game start, Heinicke completed 26 of 44 passes, for 306 yards, rushed 46 yards, scored through the air and on the ground. With those numbers he kept alive until last offensive series, in which he needed a two-point TD and conversion, but fell short, so Tom Brady added another playoff victory (31 in 42 games) to his already impressive record.
The best quarterback of all time completed 22 of 40 passes, for 381 yards and 2 TDs, caught by Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown.