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The Wild Card Weekend is often completely crazy and eventful, but somehow, we have the feeling that this season’s one will be remembered for years to come. If for nothing else, then for the historic fact that all four away teams won their games. The Seahawks, Steelers, Packers and Chiefs all played in front of hostile crowds and they all went through to meet their divisional rivals.
In Houston, the game could pretty much be summed up with the first play of the game, when Knile Davis of the Kansas City Chiefs returned the opening kickoff for a 106-yard touchdown. Texans fans thought that this is just an unfortunate start to the game, but they were wrong. They were very, very wrong. Their quarterback Brian Hoyer had four turnovers in just the first half and the Chiefs actually did very little to punish Texans, leading only 13-0 at the half.
And just when the home fans thought the halftime would be a wake-up call for their team, the second half turned out to be more of the same. They ended up losing the game 30-0, giving the Chiefs their first postseason win since 1994.
Saturday’s second matchup was a much more interesting one, with the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were ahead 15-0 into the fourth quarter and seemingly in control of the game, even though Ben Roethlisberger had to be carted off the field on the final play of the third quarter. This was cue the Bengals needed. They dominated the quarter and they took the lead with less than two minutes to go.
And then, they imploded. It was as if the entire team drank some dumb juice after scoring that last touchdown. They started making mistakes and what is worse, beating up on the Steelers’ players, earning themselves game-losing penalties. It was a crazy, bona fide Wild Card Round game in Cincinnati.
Sunday’s first game between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and the home Minnesota Vikings was played in arctic conditions. It was the third coldest game ever played in the league at -6, with wind chills taking the temperature down even more.
The conditions, which resembled those Napoleon met when he tried to invade Russia, affected the game. The players were probably more concerned with self-preservation than anything else and the level of play reflected this. It became a defensive trench kind of a game that Minnesota was winning 9-0 through the first three quarters. Russell Wilson led his team to a messy drive for a touchdown and a field goal some time later gave the Seahawks the 10-9 advantage.
The Vikings managed to set up a 29-yard field goal attempt with their two-minute drive and then Blair Walsh came on for the winning kick. In his career, he was 30-for-31 inside 30 yards, but on this one, crucial attempt of the season, he missed. He was inconsolable. He was devastated. As was most of the state of Minnesota.
In Washington, the home Redskins were hoping that the Green Bay Packers will continue with their poor play that had lost them the division title as they lost games left and right the last few weeks of the regular season. At first, that was exactly the kind of team the Packers resembled. In the first quarter, they advanced 11 yards. Altogether. In a whole quarter.
The Washington lead was 11-0 and then, all of a sudden, the Packers woke up and they turned the whole game around. Aaron Rodgers was back to his old self, finding people at will and leading his team with infectious confidence. In the end, it was 35-18 for the Packers, wrapping up this historic Wild Card Weekend.