NFL Playoff Picture: Reviewing the 2012 NFL Playoffs

Justin SparksCorrespondent IIIJanuary 25, 2012

NFL Playoff Picture: Reviewing the 2012 NFL Playoffs

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    The NFL Playoffs have wrapped up and the two teams who will be playing in Super Bowl XLVI have been decided. The journey had plenty of memorable moments, records set and a ton of firsts.

    Alex Smith came of age. Vernon Davis had another memorable, emotional catch at Candlestick Park.

    Tom Brady added a slew of records to his resume. Billy Cundiff "pushed it."

    The Green Bay Packers were one-and-done.

    The NFL Playoffs didn't disappoint. They lived up to the hype and gave us all kinds of scenarios. 

    Unfortunately, they're almost over. So, let's recap some of the things you may or may not have known that took place.

The Heroes

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    Vernon Davis:

    They had "The Catch" and "The Catch II." Now, they have "The Grab." Davis came up big time as he sacrificed his body in traffic and held onto a tightly squeezed football to beat the New Orleans Saints with 0:09 left on the clock.

    Ed Reed:

    Reed sealed the deal versus the Houston Texans with an interception late in the fourth quarter. No. 20 had four pass deflections and could've easily added one or two more picks.

    The All-Pro safety seemed to be everywhere and gave Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates nightmares.

    Drew Brees:

    Brees outgunned his counterpart in the Wild Card round. He threw for an astonishing 459 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Detroit Lions.

    Eli Manning:

    Manning was exceptional against the Green Bay Packers and incredibly gritty versus the San Francisco 49ers. Manning's 330 passing yards carved up the Green Bay defense as he made another memorable visit to Lambeau Field.

The Records

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    Tom Brady:

    Brady will tie John Elway as the quarterback with the most Super Bowl appearances with five trips to the NFL's crème de la crème. He also passed Elway (4,964) to move up to fourth all time with the most passing yards in postseason history with 5,009.

    If he wins on February 5th, Brady will surpass Joe Montana for the most wins all time in the NFL Playoffs with 17. He tied Montana with the New England Patriots victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.

    Brady also moved up to No. 2 on the list past Montana and Peyton Manning for all-time postseason completions in the Super Bowl era with 472. He trails only Brett Favre (481), which he should pass against the New York Giants.

    Not a bad day of record setting for someone who "sucked pretty bad."

    Brady also tied an NFL record in the Divisional Round with his six touchdown performance. He also set the postseason record in that game versus the Denver Broncos with five touchdowns in the first half.

    New Orleans Saints:

    The Saints set an NFL record for total yards from scrimmage in one season against the Detroit Lions with 7,474. The following week in San Francisco they would extend that record to 7,946 yards from scrimmage.

    New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions:

    The two teams combined to tie an NFL playoff record. Combining for 1,083 yards, the two teams tied a record set by the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in 1995.

    Denver Broncos in Overtime:

    It sure didn't last long. All it took was one play and 11 seconds for the Broncos to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. It will go down as the quickest score in postseason overtime history.

    Tim Tebow:

    Tebow's detractors have argued that he cannot throw. Well, Tebow set an NFL Playoffs record as the only quarterback in history to have three different 50-plus yard passes in a single game.

The Firsts

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    Houston Texans:

    The Texans played, hosted and won their first playoff game in franchise history. The franchise came close in its 10-year history, but always seemed to miss the mark.

    Houston's Reliant Stadium was loud and rockin' all afternoon as they reminded the NFL that they know how to throw a party.

    T.J. Yates:

    Yates will go down as the quarterback who led the Texans to their first postseason victory. The stand-in rookie had a nice game against the Cincinnati Bengals to give the home crowd what they've been waiting for, a playoff victory.

    Andy Dalton:

    Dalton enjoyed a successful first year on the job. The rookie quarterback led the Cincinnati Bengals to a Wild Card seed.

    His first playoff game did not go as he wished, but he got plenty of experience along the way. We'll see him again in the postseason.

    Tim Tebow:

    Tebow led the Denver Broncos on a wild journey to the playoffs. Since taking over as the starter he stole the NFL by storm and that continued in his first NFL Playoffs.

    Tebow did the improbable and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in his first playoff game while simultaneously earning his first victory.

    Demaryius Thomas:

    Thomas was the first player to go over a 100 yards receiving all season versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in their Wild Card Round victory.

    Tom Brady:

    Didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time in his postseason history. It was the first time in 36 games that he didn't throw a single touchdown.

    Matt Ryan:

    Ryan continues to look for his first win in the playoffs. Three playoff appearances have resulted in three losses.

    New Orleans Saints Road Victories:

    The New Orleans Saints traveled to San Francisco with an 0-4 record on the road during the NFL Playoffs. New Orleans left San Francisco 0-5 as they continue to search for their first victory.

    New York Giants:

    The Giants are the first team in NFL history to make it to the Super Bowl with a negative point differential in the regular season.

    Eli Manning:

    Manning is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl Era to have three games with 275-plus pass yards and two-plus passing touchdowns in a single postseason.

    Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford:

    Stafford led the Lions to their first play of game since 1999.

The Goats

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    Kyle Williams:

    Williams experienced a day to forget in the NFC Championship. An odd bounce glanced his knee as he watched a punt roll past him, which set up a touchdown for the New York Giants.

    Then in overtime Williams had the ball stripped from him, which set up New York's game-winning field goal.

    Billy Cundiff:

    The Baltimore Ravens were a chip shot from sending the AFC Championship to overtime. Cundiff pushed the 32-yard field goal and forfeited his team's chance at a Super Bowl.

    Cundiff's miss was "the shortest missed field goal in the final 30 seconds of regulation of a postseason game, in which the kick could have tied the game or given the team the lead AND the team lost the game."

    Lee Evans:

    Just before Billy Cundiff rushed onto the field to take his field goal attempt, Evans dropped a sure touchdown pass. Flacco threw a great ball to the side of the end zone and Evans had two hands on it.

    He seemed to ease up before completing the catch completely and had the ball swiftly knocked out of his arms. If he holds on, the Ravens go to Super Bowl XLVI.