Twelve teams exited the NFL regular season as playoff teams and they all had one goal in mind. Holding up that Lombardi trophy on February 4th.
The first step was the wild card round. In this round four games were played, two for each conference. On the AFC side the Tennessee Titans marched into Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs got off to a 21-3 halftime lead and looked to have the game in control going into halftime. The Titans proved everyone wrong as they completed a comeback and won the game 22-21 as they held the Chiefs scoreless in the second half. The game was highlighted by an unbelievable play in which Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass to himself. The pass was batted down by a KC defender but right back into Mariota’s hands who then ran it right in to the end zone.
“I was very surprised with the outcome of the Chiefs-Titans game because I thought for sure the Chiefs would win after their solid first half,” sophomore Razshae Miller said.
The other AFC game was a low-scoring affair between the Jaguars and the Bills. The Bills came out on the losing end of their first playoff game in seventeen years. The Jaguars came out with a 10-3 win. On the NFC side the Falcons pulled off what was considered an upset victory over the Rams in LA. The Saints also got a 31-26 win over the Panthers in a NFC South division playoff battle.
After their win over the Chiefs a week prior, the Titans went moved on to take on the AFC’s number one seed in the Patriots in the divisional round. The Patriots were able to get a 35-14 win over Tennessee in that game meaning they would advance to the AFC Championship game. Who they would play in that game was decided a day later when the Jacksonville Jaguars won an offensive shootout over the Steelers with a 45-42 victory.
The NFC’s number one seed in the Eagles, who are now led by backup quarterback Nick Foles, got a 26-13 in over the defending NFC champions in the Falcons. They also clinched their spot in a conference championship game. Their opponent would turn out to be the number two seed Minnesota Vikings who got a win over the Saints by the score of 29-24. This game was won on a last second touchdown catch by Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs who was able to avoid a tackle by Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams and get into the end zone for the win.
“I thought the game was over for sure before Diggs caught that unbelievable touchdown as time expired. Amazing game,” freshman Josh Arndt said.
In the first conference championship game played was the AFC game in which Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The top ranked passing offense in the Patriots against the top ranked passing defense in the Jags. Something had to give. The Jacksonville defense could not stop Tom Brady and that Patriots offense as Brady went on to throw for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns in his team’s 24-20 win. The Patriots trailed the Jaguars most of the game before scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter which completed their comeback.
The game on the NFC side between the Eagles and Vikings was anything but a close affair. After scoring an early touchdown in the first quarter, the Vikings were shut out the rest of the game while their defense could not keep the Eagles out of the end zone. Philadelphia scored 38 unanswered points on their way to a win by the score of 38-7. Nick Foles, who has been filling in for quarterback Carson Wentz since his injury during the regular season, threw for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns, leading his team to the victory.
“It would have been pretty cool to see the Vikings play in the Super Bowl because it is in their home stadium, but the Eagles have had a great season and earned the right to be there too,” junior Cam Holst said.
The Super Bowl matchup is set and it will be the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles who take the field on February second. The Lombardi is still up for grabs and there is sure to be a good game to decide who takes it home.