2011 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Round Results and Review
The National Football League is the ultimate platform in that which the essence of parity is best performed.
It is not all unlikely to see new teams and faces in the playoffs from one season to the next, nor is it likely that a single team will hold dominance for more than one year.
The end of the 2010 season is looking no different.
In each contest from the Wild Card round weekend of games, there was an intrigue in which you can only find in the NFL: The defending Super Bowl champions were hosted by the first division winner that compiled a losing regular season record; the bad blood between a decorated quarterback and a self-promoting media hog was renewed; a dominant defense faced an up and coming talented offense; and the new generation of already historic franchises faced off in another classic battle.
Seahawks 41, Saints 36
The New Orleans Saints came into Qwest Field as heavy favorites over the hometown Seattle Seahawks, but the outcome of the game was anything but expected.
In the first few minutes of the game, Seattle botched the opening kick out of bounds and gave up an interception in their first possession.
Yet, it proved to be a small distraction to the unreal performance of the Seahawks.
The charge, led by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, was one that very few people, including myself, foresaw.
Hasselbeck had a career day in which he threw for 272 yards, four touchdowns and a single interception. In fact, the game was such a surprise that, during the clinching 67-yard run from Marshawn Lynch, the crowd caused a seismic reading.
The defending Super Bowl champions are out and will have to make way as a new champion will emerge.
Seattle, who became the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing regular season record, can now also claim to be the first team to win a playoff game with a losing regular season record.
The victory brings with it a visit to the Chicago Bears this weekend.
Jets 17, Colts 16
Rex Ryan coached his New York Jets team to a Wild Card berth after a successful eleven win campaign.
Much to their delight, the road to the Super Bowl went through Indianapolis once again. A redemption claim was immediately on demand, since the Colts eliminated the Jets the year prior in the AFC Championship game.
The game featured a heavy dose of defensive stops by both teams, causing for late game heroics from the each side.
Indianapolis was trailing 14-13 with 2:43 remaining in the contest when Peyton Manning orchestrated another signature drive that ended with a field goal and less than a minute to play.
After a great return on the ensuing kickoff, Mark Sanchez led the Jets to victory by getting into field position for kicker Nick Folk, who split the uprights as time expired.
The Colts were riddled by injuries to many key players, but fell short in their pursuit to reach a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance. The most riddling question in Indianapolis will be the unprovoked timeout which helped New York solidify victory.
The Jets, on the other hand, will celebrate lightly and move on to prepare for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Ravens 30, Chiefs 7
The Baltimore Ravens have been known for their defense since it led to a Super Bowl victory at the turn of the century; the Kansas City Chiefs are just now learning the ways of an explosive offense.
Even though these two teams were evenly matched on paper, the true story came once they stepped onto the field.
Ray Lewis was in another road game spotlight and the Ravens made quick work of the Chiefs. The bright spot for Kansas City was Jamaal Charles, who scored the team's only points on a 41-yard rush in the first quarter. However, five turnovers was more than enough to dispose of any chances the Chiefs thought they had.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Baltimore advances to play division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in what should be a very rough game of defense and power running.
As for the Chiefs, they will need to learn all they can from this playoff game and hope to implement a more efficient strategy in the future.
Packers 21, Eagles 16
Aaron Rodgers versus Michael Vick in a showdown of high profile quarterbacks.
Vick was coming off one of his personal best seasons after exile for criminal acts, while Rodgers was filling the shoes left from Brett Favre's legacy.
Each team was full of young, focused talent that aimed to please.
It was all Packers from the get-go as they sacked Vick on the first play from scrimmage and set the tone for what was a physical game.
The Eagles were without key offense speedster DeSean Jackson for a while as he went down with a knee injury, but came back late only to fall short on a Vick interception throw in the endzone.
The Packers made way for rookie James Starks, who gained 123 yards on the ground to balance out the usual pass-heavy Green Bay offense.
The Packers will move on to face the Atlanta Falcons who were the top overall seed for the conference. It will surely be a game of passing supremacy as Matt Ryan and Roddy White are awaiting a chance to prove they belong.
The Eagles now have several questions to answer: The most intriguing is that of the future quarterback.
In review, there was no script to the weekend that has passed, but the stories that will come from the weeks following will be as crazy and misunderstood as ever.
The parity that is in the NFL is not going anywhere, but the possibilities of the future are infinite.
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