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NFL Divisional Weekend Review

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This weekend saw the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Just eight teams remained coming into the weekend, after all four Wild Card teams won last weekend against their “favoured” opposition. The Patriots ended the Chiefs 11-game winning streak thanks to their typical offensive strength, while the Broncos overcame the Steelers in Peyton Manning’s first game back from injury.



(#5) Kansas City Chiefs 20 – 27 New England Patriots (#2)

The Patriots ended the Chiefs 11-game winning streak on the way to another AFC Championship appearance. It was all about Tom Brady for New England, as he had a hand in all three TD scores. They opened the scoring with an 8yd TD throw to Rob Gronkowski, who else? After a 98-yard drive, and 5 and a half minutes after they got the ball, the Patriots scored again in the second quarter. This time Brady went in using his feet, jumping over the pile on the QB sneak. Two Cairo Santos FGs meant it was 14-6 to the Pats at the break.

The start of the second half saw more of the same, with Rob Gronkowski going in for his second TD on the day. He finished with 83yds receiving, whilst Brady was 28/42 for 302 and 2TDs. The Chiefs came back into though, as Alex Smith threw a TD pass to Albert Wilson in the third quarter, before Charcandrick West ran in from the 1yd line to make it 27-20. That was how it stayed, with the Patriots advancing to the AFC Championship game for the 12th time.


(#6) Pittsburgh Steelers 16 – 23 Denver Broncos (#1)

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After seeing the Patriots win, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to victory to set up another clash against his old foe. The old-timer may not have thrown a TD in the game, but hie game management was shown towards the end. The Broncos started with two FGs from Brandon McManus, before Fitzgerald Toussaint ran in for a score to give the Steelers the 7-6 lead. A FG apiece in the second quarter meant that Pittsburgh had a 1 point lead at the interval.

Again, the only scoring in the third quarter was a FG for either side, which left the game in the balance with 15 to play. A CJ Anderson TD run, with a two-point conversion between Manning and Demaryius Thomas, however, put the Broncos in charge in the match. Another Brandon McManus FG late on sealed the game, and what will become the 17th meeting between Brady and Manning next week.



(#6) Seattle Seahawks 24 – 31 Carolina Panthers (#1)

After blitzing the Seattle D in the first half, the Panthers had to hold on for victory as the Seahawks came back in the final moments. Jonathan Stewart ran in from 4yds to get the game underway, before Russell Wilson threw the first of his two INTs on the day. Luke Kuechly was the man to pick the first one off, returning for a score to double the Panthers lead inside five minutes. Another Jonathan Stewart run, plus a Cam Newton-Greg Olsen TD connection from 19yds and a Graham Gano FG meant the Panthers had an unbelievable 31-0 lead at half time.

Russell Wilson then found his game in the second half, throwing three TDs. Jermaine Kearse was the first recipient, before Tyler Lockett continued his fantastic rookie season with a score. After Kearse then caught his second of the day, the Panthers were worried. However, when they were able to hold the Seahawks final drive to a FG, they knew they were safe, and that they were in the NFC Championship game. This will be the first since 2013 not to involve the Seahawks.


(#5) Green Bay Packers 20 – 26 Arizona Cardinals (#2)

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This game had everything, including a coin toss that did not flip, a completed Hail Mary pass, and Larry Fitzgerald rolling back the years to win the game in OT for the Cardinals. Michael Floyd opened the scoring with a 9yd TD reception from Carson Palmer but the Packers were right back in the game thanks to two Mason Crosby FGs before the end of the first quarter. Jeff Janis had a big game out wide for the Packers. He put them in front with an 8yd TD reception from Aaron Rodgers just before half time.

The second half started just like the first, with Carson Palmer finding Michael Floyd in the end zone once more and they added to their lead with a FG from Chandler Catanzaro. However, on the final play of the game, a 41yd Hail Mary pass from Rodgers found Jeff Janis in the end zone to level the scores and take the game into OT. Then there was controversy…

When the referee went to flip the coin for the toss, the coin did not rotate in the air, meaning it had to be redone. This gave the Cardinals the ball, who went on to score a game-winning TD in the hands of Larry Fitzgerald. The 32-year-old finished with eight catches for 176yds and a TD, as the Cardinals advance to face Carolina in the NFC Championship game, the first time the two sides have met at this stage in NFL history.


Conference Weekend in the NFL will see two major match-ups. The top two seeds in each conference will play each other for a place in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara on February 7th. In the AFC, it will be another Brady-Manning match-up, as the New England Patriots will travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. The NFC will see the Arizona Cardinals travelling to face the Panthers in Carolina, with just three defeats between them all season.

Arizona Cardinals Carolina Panthers Denver Broncos Green Bay Packers Kansas City Chiefs New England Patriots Pittsburgh Steelers Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl 50

About Matt Coles

Previous League Two Review: 16 January

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