The Biggest Surprises from the NFL's Wild Card Weekend
The first weekend of the 2012-13 NFL playoffs is in the books, and unlike its name, things weren't all that wild, with three of the four home teams holding serve and moving on to hit the road for next week's Divisional Round.
However, that's not to say that Wild Card Weekend didn't have a few surprises up its sleeve. Here's a look at the biggest surprise from each of the Wild Card matchups.
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans: The Ginger Was Ale-ing
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The first game of Wild Card Weekend was a rematch of a Wild Card contest from last year. And while this year's 19-13 victory by the Houston Texans over the Cincinnati Bengals was closer on the scoreboard than last year's 31-10 blowout, the game itself really wasn't.
Houston dominated the game in every facet, and were it not for the uber-conservative coaching of head coach Gary Kubiak, this year's meeting may well have been more lopsided than the 2012 edition.
The Bengals weren't able to do much of anything on offense, managing only a pair of field goals while advancing inside the Houston 20-yard line only once the entire game.
Those struggles were due in large part to an absolutely miserable outing from second-year quarterback Andy Dalton, who repeatedly missed open receivers, completed less than half of his passes, threw an interception, and raised questions about whether he's truly the franchise quarterback of the future for the Bengals.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: Caught in a Webb of Futility
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The biggest surprise of the Saturday night tilt between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers may have actually come before the game even started, as Minnesota starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who suffered what had been deemed a minor arm injury the week before, was scratched from the game a few hours a before kickoff.
That left it to Joe Webb—who attempted all of zero passes all season long—to attempt to lead the Vikings to a second straight win over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
However, rather than take advantage of Webb's speed, the Vikings coaching staff bizarrely used him as a pocket passer for most of the night, with predictable results.
Webb was absolutely atrocious, completing only a third of his passes, and the Packers won easily, 24-10.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens: A Bold(in) Statement
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The Baltimore Ravens have long been known as a defensive team, but that defense has been wracked by injuries. And even with linebacker Ray Lewis back on the field for their playoff opener with the Indianapolis Colts, the offense was going to have to do their part to help pick up the slack.
Well, not only did Lewis and the defense play a great game, holding quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts out of the end zone, but the offense also held up their end of the bargain, led by a somewhat unlikely candidate.
Anquan Boldin picked a heck of a time to have his best game of the season Sunday. The veteran wideout reeled in five catches for 145 yards, including a back-breaking fourth-quarter touchdown reception that all but sealed the deal.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins: Disaster Strikes
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Before the Washington Redskins even took the field to face the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's Wild Card playoff matchup there was an inkling that things weren't right in the nation's capital.
An article in USA Today refuted head coach Mike Shanahan's assertion that Dr. James Andrews cleared quarterback Robert Griffin to reenter the Dec. 9 game in which the rookie injured his knee on a hit by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, with Andrews going so far as to say that he was a "nervous wreck" watching Griffin play on the knee.
However, all seemed well early in the game, as Griffin threw touchdown passes on the game's first two drives and the Redskins jumped out to an early 14-0 lead.
Those would be the only points the Redskins scored.
As the game wore on Griffin was clearly favoring the knee more and more, but rather than insert backup Kirk Cousins Shanahan left Griffin out there.
Right up until the knee gave out completely in the fourth quarter.
Not only did Washington lose the game, 24-14, but they have, potentially, lost far more.