Welcome to the Wild Card weekend edition of the 3M report; a look back on the magic, mayhem, and mishaps of the first-round games. I love the playoffs because, for the most part, I get to just sit back and enjoy the games without worrying about my lineups. Don’t get me wrong, I throw in a few DFS lineups and play in some playoff contests, but there’s something relaxing about not having any real scratch at stake and simply watching the game we all love.
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Unless you are a Texans fan, there wasn’t a whole lot to love about the first game of the weekend. Brock Osweiler played well (for him) and helped his team to their first playoff victory since 2012. It says a lot about Osweiler that the team ran the ball 44 times including 31 carries from Lamar Miller. Nine of Osweiler’s 25 pass attempts went to DeAndre Hopkins. It only took Brock an entire season to figure out that when he peppers Nuk with targets, good things happen. They had a nice hookup on Hopkins’ two-yard touchdown when he got off the line quickly and Osweiler hit him on a short slant for the score.
Connor Cook led two touchdown drives, which was two more than I expected from the fourth-round rookie starting his first ever NFL game. I doubt we’ll ever see something like that happen again in our lifetimes and for good reason. Cook completed just 18 of 45 for 161 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. To give you an idea of how bad that was, Osweiler had seven more passing yards on four fewer completions and 20 fewer attempts. After all the talking Amari Cooper did about demanding the ball, he came up small with just two catches for ten yards on ten targets. He had several bad drops that would have been big plays. He definitely did not help out his rookie quarterback in this one. The real story of this game was the Texans defense. Jadeveon Clowney had one his best games as a pro, including tipping this interception to himself and setting up Miller’s touchdown run. Houston’s reward for their victory? A date with the Patriots next weekend in Foxboro.
The Saturday night game was even more of a lopsided contest as the Seahawks held the Lions without a touchdown in their 26-6 victory. They will travel to Atlanta next weekend. The biggest reason the Lions lost this game was their inability to stop the run. After hearing all week about how the Seahawks had lost their identity as a team that plays strong defense with a powerful running game, Thomas Rawls showed up to prove everyone wrong. His 161 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries was the key to this football game and a franchise rushing yardage record Paul Richardson could be the 2016 playoffs version of Chris Matthews. His one-handed touchdown reception will certainly go down as one of the best catches of the 2016 playoffs. The perennially underrated Doug Baldwin came up huge in this one as well with 11 receptions, 104 yards and a touchdown of his own. One of those catches was perhaps even better than Richardson’s. Baldwin was somehow able to pin the ball to his leg and then secure it against his butt!
Detroit couldn’t get anything going. They didn’t turn the ball over, but that’s about the best thing you could say about their offensive performance on Saturday. The Lions failed to run a single play inside the Seattle 33-yard line and forced Matt Prater to make two field goals from beyond 50 yards to get any points on the board. Prater is the first kicker in NFL history to make two 50+ yard field goals in the same playoff game. So I guess you have that to be excited about, Lions fans.
Pittsburgh got out to a ridiculous start on Sunday morning. Before Miami could blink, Antonio Brown had a 50-yard touchdown and a 62-yard touchdown. They followed that up with a drive where Le’Veon Bell got the touchdown, every single touch, and every single yard. It’s like they know everyone had them in their DFS lineups this weekend. How did Miami’s first half go? They had four drives, two field goals, one punt and one lost fumble. The Steelers take this one in a laugher, 30-12. Ben Roethlisberger hurt his ankle late in this one and was seen in a walking boot after the game but insists he will play in Kansas City next week.
The Packers offense started slow and it got worse early in the second quarter after Jordy Nelson was knocked out of the game when Leon Hall hit him square in the ribs on a sideline pass breakup. Late in the second the Packers offense got jumpstarted when Aaron Rodgers hit Davante Adams for a 31-yard gain. Before that play with 3:45 left in the half, the Packers had just 29 yards of total offense and were down 0-6 to the Giants. Two plays later Rodgers went back to Adams in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown. After New York went three and out on the next possession, the Packers got the ball back with 1:18 left in the half. Rodgers got his team to the Giants 42-yard line and then it happened. Rodgers threw the ball up on the final play of the half and Randall Cobb snuck behind the mass of players looking for the jump ball and caught the 42-yard touchdown to end the half. Late in the third, after the Packers turned the ball over on downs, Eli let loose a deep ball that Tavarres King pulled in for a touchdown and brought the Giants within one point. On the very next drive, Rodgers went back to Cobb for his second touchdown, this one from 30 yards out. Two not enough? How bout a third touchdown from Cobb with 9:19 left in the game to put the Packers up 31-13. Mike McCarthy made this Packers fan proud in the fourth quarter. For a coach who usually is content to sit on the ball in the second half if they have a lead, he did a great job of not taking his foot off the gas in this one. Aaron Ripkowski added a rushing touchdown with 2:43 left to go to put this game away 38-13. Here’s hoping they can keep it rolling against the powerhouse offensive rookie duo in Dallas next weekend.
One of my biggest takeaways from this game has to be how much Davante Adams has grown as a player. Until now I haven’t been convinced that this is the real Adams and questioned his ability to be an NFL WR1 once Nelson moves on. That changed on Sunday as Adams made big catch after big catch to keep the chains moving. His ability to get off the line and create separation early in the route is incredible. Is he going to occasionally drop the ball? Most likely, but so do other big-time receivers. Just ask Odell Beckham who dropped three in this very game. As a Packers fan, I’m especially excited to see what Adams can do the rest of the playoffs and beyond.
That will do it for the Wild Card weekend edition of the 3M report! I’ll be back next week to recap the divisional round.