Report Card Grades for Every Starting QB in the NFL's Divisional Playoffs
We're now another week closer to the Super Bowl, and four teams took the next step to reaching the pinnacle of the NFL. With a number of stellar performances, quarterbacks this weekend showed how much of an impact they can have on a game.
The best example of this was seen in the game featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers. Colin Kaepernick's amazing performance is the reason the 49ers will be playing in the NFC Championship Game.
Here are the grades for each quarterback's performance in the divisional round.
Russell Wilson: B+
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Stats: 24-of-36, 385 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 60 rushing yards and one touchdown
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks' offense got off to a slow start that put the team in a hole. However, Wilson did everything in his power to lead a comeback attempt. He rallied the Seahawks from 20 points down to a one-point lead in the game's waning moments.
This leadership and poise is exactly why Pete Carroll named Wilson the starter out of training camp.
As has been the case all season along, Wilson made plays with both his legs and arm. His ability to extend plays helped open some big completions down the field. However, it was his accuracy and willingness to take those shots down the field that spurred the comeback.
Wilson's play should have the entire Seahawks organization feeling great about the future.
Matt Ryan: B-
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Stats: 24-of-35, 250 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions
Matt Ryan was extremely aggressive from the very beginning of the game. He took several shots down the field, which opened things up for Michael Turner and the running game. That vertical threat also created some room for Tony Gonzalez over the middle of the field.
Ryan's two interceptions played a role in the Seattle Seahawks' ability to make a late-game charge. However, he responded by leading the Falcons on a two-play, 41-yard drive that got them into field goal range, and place kicker Matt Bryant came through to give Atlanta the victory. It's important that Ryan didn't allow those mistakes to impact his confidence.
Another key factor in the outcome of the game is that Ryan navigated the pocket well enough to finish the game without getting sacked once. This helped the Falcons' offense stay in rhythm by avoiding negative plays.
Joe Flacco: B+
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Stats: 18-of-34, 331 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Despite some inconsistency during the regular season, Joe Flacco continues to raise his level of play come playoff time. His confidence was one of the major factors that helped the Baltimore Ravens orchestrate a come-from-behind victory.
Flacco's success attacking the deep part of the field impacted the confidence of the entire team. Big plays, like the deep touchdown pass to Torrey Smith, do a lot to give a team momentum.
The Ravens have been reluctant to work out a contract extension for Flacco, but after this win they will have to reconsider.
Peyton Manning: C+
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Stats: 28-of-43, 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions
Peyton Manning made three uncharacteristic mistakes, all of which played a major role in the Denver Broncos' loss to the Baltimore Ravens. It's tough for any team to overcome two interceptions and a fumble by its quarterback. On this day, Manning hurt his team more than he helped it.
It's important to note that Denver's offense only scored 21 of the team's 35 points, as the other scores came from Trindon Holliday on special teams.
While this wasn't one of Manning's best performances, he had the Broncos in position for the win until the defense allowed the 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds left. That big play gave the Ravens all the momentum they needed to pull off the victory in overtime.
Colin Kaepernick: A
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Stats: 17-of-31, 263 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns
Things didn't start off great for Colin Kaepernick, as he threw a pick-six on his second pass attempt of the game. However, he quickly settled down and showed everyone the type of big-play ability he possesses.
Kaepernick's explosiveness allowed the San Francisco 49ers to outpace Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers' offense. This offensive explosion is the main reason why the 49ers are heading to the NFC Championship Game.
It's important to note that San Francisco averaged only 24.8 points per game in the regular season. Obviously, that output wouldn't have gotten the job done.
The rest of the NFL should be a little worried about how to stop the versatile Kaepernick. His ability to make plays with both his legs and arm make him a matchup nightmare.
Aaron Rodgers: B
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Stats: 26-of-39, 257 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Aaron Rodgers did everything he could to help keep pace with Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers' offense. It's important to point out that Rodgers had success despite not having the ability to rely on his running game and a leaky offensive line.
Rodgers' ability to move in the pocket and quickly release the ball shut down the strong 49ers pass rush. The 49ers knew that the Packers needed to pass the ball to find success, which allowed the defense to focus on rushing the passer.
This loss isn't on the shoulders of Rodgers, as the Packers' defense brought nothing to the table. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers obviously didn't have his unit prepared to deal with Kaepernick's versatility.
Matt Schaub: C
Stats: 34-of-51, 343 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Matt Schaub failed to raise his level of play to keep up with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. His ball placement was off most of the game, and the interception to Rob Ninkovich helped the Patriots put the game out of reach.
Schaub's inaccuracy made it tough for the Houston Texans to sustain drives. There were more than a few passes that were off the mark in critical third-down situations.
In his defense, the Texans' defense didn't really leave much margin of error. The continued scoring by the Patriots put pressure on Schaub to put points on the board.
Tom Brady: A
Stats: 25-of-40, 344 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Tom Brady remained calm and poised after a bit of a slow start. It appeared that the bye week left the New England Patriots' offense a little rusty. However, it only took a quarter before Brady found his rhythm. After that, the Houston Texans had little hope to pull off a victory.
Brady's numbers could've looked a lot better if it wasn't for a few drops by his receivers. Wes Welker let a few passes slip through his fingers.
The most impressive part of Brady's performance was the way he got Shane Vereen involved. They connected on five passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
I'm sure the Baltimore Ravens took notice of what's in store for them in the AFC Championship Game.