For almost the entire first half of the Texans and Bengals the two teams were in an even dead heat with each team trading rushing touchdowns and then trading field goals. However the Bengals got the ball back with about a minute and 45 seconds left in the half and everything changed from there. With a little under a minute left in the half Defensive End JJ Watt made an incredibly athletic and heads up play intercepting a rocketed pass from Andy Dalton at the line of scrimmage and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. This highlight reel of a play completely changed the course of the game and was the start of a 21-0 Texans run to finish the game with a score of 31-10. The Texans face a tough matchup with the Ravens in Baltimore this week, however if they do end up winning and somehow go onto win a Super Bowl, it will be that incredible play by JJ Watt that we will look back on and see as the catalyst for their playoff run.
Then in the Saturday Night game we saw a matchup between two of the most prolific offenses in the NFL between the Saints and the Lions. It was expected heading into this game that it would an incredibly action packed game with the last team to have the ball likely the team that would win. It didn't start out that way with the Lions controlling the game, however the Saints managed to hold them to 14 points in the first half and a Saints field goal as time expired in the first half closed the lead to 14-10 Lions. From that point the Saints took over the game and never looked back. The Saints outscored the Lions 35-10 in the second half and the game ended with the Saints winning 45-28, causing many to question whether or not the Packers are still the favorites to win the NFC.
At the start of the first Sunday game the Falcons were dominant on defense stopping the Giants from moving the ball at all throughout most of the first half. However the play of the first half was when the Giants defense stopped Matt Ryan on fourth down in Giants territory. The Falcons scored first by forcing an intentional grounding by Manning in the end zone, however that was the last they would score all day. The Giants finally managed to put a drive together at the end of the 2nd quarter and went into half time with a 7-2 lead. The game remained close through the 3rd quarter with the only scoring coming in the way of a Giants field goal. The game however was decided by another fourth down stop by the Giants as the 3rd quarter inched towards a close. Deciding against kicking an easy field goal to close the Giants lead to 5 Mike Smith elected to again go for it on 4th down and again chose to try and have Matt Ryan push forward to gain a couple of inches for the first. The Giants made the stop behind the line of scrimmage and never looked back. The Giants scored a quick 14 points and won the game 24-2. Mike Smiths decision to rush Ryan on fourth down for the second time is a questionable call for many reasons. First off the fact that they failed to convert on fourth earlier in the game would have led most coaches to take the easy points and make it a one score game. Secondly, not only did he choose to rush Ryan again, but he didn't even hide it, they ran the play with an empty backfield which led everyone in the stadium on watching from home to know exactly what was coming. Lastly, the strength of the Giants team is their defensive line so why would you test them at such a critical juncture of the game, further if you decide to test them why wouldn't you give your powerful all star running back Michael Turner a chance to pick up the first. Regardless, the Falcons are now sitting at home left to again think all offseason about their inability to win a playoff game, while the Giants return to Green Bay hoping to once again beat the Packers on their way towards the Super Bowl.
The Final game of the weekend featured a matchup that many expected to either be won by the Steelers in a blowout or by the Steelers in a low scoring affair absent of any offensive excitement. Little did we know when the game started that we were in for the exact opposite. Through the end of the first quarter it appeared as if we were on pace for a low scoring affair with the Steelers holding a 6-0 lead. However it all changed when James Harrison delivered a bone crunching hit to the legs of Eric Decker that jarred ball loose and saw Decker knocked out of the game for good. On the very next play Tebow shocked us all by delivering a perfect strike to Demaryius Thomas for a gain of 51 yards. Two plays later Tebow delivered another perfect strike to Eddie Royal for a 31 yard TD. The Broncos continued to roll jumping out to a 20-6 halftime lead. However, in the 2nd half the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger crawled their way back into the game and forced the game to overtime at 23-23. The Broncos won the toss and on the first play from scrimmage Tebow fired a bullet to Thomas who then stiff armed a Steelers defender and took the ball 80 yards to the house sending the Broncos to Foxboro this weekend to play the Patriots.
Throughout the entire game Tebow only completed 10 passes; however those 10 completions went for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Tebow fired awful incompletion after awful incompletion in the 4th quarter, but when it really got to Tebow Time he yet again found a way to deliver. People will point to many different things as alternate reasons the Broncos won besides Tebow, whether it is the Steelers injuries, the great play by the broncos Defense, or the fact that Tebow only through the game winning pass 15 yards and that Thomas did the rest. However when it comes down to it, Tebow showed us an ability to pass the ball that we hadn't seen before and he yet again won the game when it came down to crunch time.
The wild card games this year were for the most part very exciting and attention grabbing. However they will most likely be remembered for three things: Watts' interception, Mike Smith's poor decision making, and the return of Tebow Time. However the results make for four very interesting game this upcoming week.