NFL Wild Card Weekend 2018

The 2018 NFL wildcard weekend featured what looked like being some intriguing matchups, and for once the games didn’t disappoint with three of them being settled by one score or less and each of these games being competitive pretty much until the end.

Indianapolis Colts 21 Houston Texans 7

This was the only game which was effectively over as a competition by half-time. Despite their fierce pass rush Andrew Luck was able to stay upright and through three passes from the shotgun to send the Colts in 21-0 at half-time. Deshaun Watson gave the Texans a glimmer of hope in the fourth quarter with a short pass to Keke Coutee (who was by far the most effective of the Texans receiving corps), however, that ended the scoring and the Colts will now head off to Kansas City for the divisional game.

This will be the fifth time the two sides have met in the postseason and the Colts have a 100% record, with the most recent win being that thrilling 45-44 in the 2013 Wild Card game. A repeat of that with either side willing would keep all neutrals happy.

Dallas Cowboys 24 Seattle Seahawks 22

This was a far more exciting game, with defences being on top for much of the first half, and a couple of weeks changes. Much of the first half was dominated by defence, and it was 63 to Seattle going into the last minute, however nice drive by Dallas led to a touchdown with 24 seconds left and they led 10-6 at the half.
Towards the end of the third quarter Seattle took a 14-10 lead thanks to a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson and a two-point conversion.
However both teams saved the best for last, and as the defences started to tire Dallas struck with two fourth-quarter touchdowns the first short run by Ezekiel Elliott (who led Dallas offence with 137 yards rushing) and then Dak Prescott looked to have sealed the game with a quarterback sneak just before the two-minute warning.
It looked to be all over but the Seahawks powered by Russell Wilson responded quickly and thanks to a touchdown and another two-point conversion they pulled it back to 24-22, but the ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful, allowing Dallas to run out the clock.

Dallas now head off to LA to face the Rams in the divisional round, the two have not met in the play-offs since 1985, when the Rams shut them out, before being shut out themselves by the legendary 85 Bears. Seattle were supposed to be rebuilding and will be happy overall with their progress, they should be back in the play-offs again next year.

LA Charges 23 Baltimore Ravens 17

This game ended up being an awful lot closer than it should have been thanks to the questionable decision by the Chargers coaching staff to play soft in the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter.
For much of the game, Lamar Jackson was pretty ineffective (being booed by his own fans) at quarterback and although the ravens’ defence held the charges to for field goals in the first half a fourth-quarter touchdown and another field goal left LA with commanding 23-3 lead. Baltimore responded to the prevent defence by scoring a couple of late touchdowns to make the score look more respectable than it actually was.

The Charges now head off to Foxboro to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriot’s hoping to make it eighth time lucky, having lost their previous seven meetings with Rivers at the helm.
Baltimore will now look to build an offence for Lamar Jackson who is now the quarterback of the future, as even when they were outclassed Joe Flacco was left on the bench.

Philadelphia Eagles 16 Chicago Beers 15

The reigning Super Bowl champions Philadelphia went to Soldier Field as underdogs and without their starting quarterback, however backup supreme Nick Foles who was Super Bowl MVP last year’s summer will help them to pull off yet another improbable victory.
In a game where rushing yards were at a premium Foles threw for a last-minute touchdown to give the Eagles a 16-15 lead, However the drama wasn’t finished as Mitchell Trubisky drove the Bears into field-goal range with 10 seconds left, however after being iced in his first attempt former Eagles kicker Cody Parkey did his old team a favour by hitting the left upright to leave the home crowd stunned. To be fair it has now gone down as a blocked field goal, but this was not his first collision with a post this season.

So the Eagles, who sneaked into the playoffs as a number six seeds now head off to face the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round, and will be hoping that they do a bit better than they did in their regular-season meeting (48-7 to the Saints).

The Bears will be disappointed but given that most pundits expected the finished bottom of the division they shouldn’t be too downhearted although with no first-round draft picks for the next two years this may have been their best chance of a run at the Super Bowl.

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