Brady and Bucs, Bills and Rams win NFL wildcard games


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Old hat for Brady, new thrills for Buffalo.

And a defensive gem by the Rams.

The NFL’s first three-time wildcard title saw Tom Brady raise his record for playoff wins to 31 with a 31-23 win for Tampa Bay in Washington on Saturday. Brady was the key to New England winning six Super Bowls and nine overall, and he’s now led the Buccaneers (12-5) to their first playoff win since their NFL title race. in 2002.

After a quarter of a century, the Bills got one of those triumphs Brady collects – and they even figured out how to stop a Hail Mary.

Buffalo (14-3) broke a 0-6 playoff skid with a 27-24 victory Saturday over Indianapolis (11-6). The previous playoff victory was against Miami on December 30, 1995. And it was the Bills’ first home game in 24 years, with a limited number of fans in attendance (6,700) for the first time this season.

Los Angeles (11-6) rocked Russell Wilson and dominated even though it went without unanimous All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald for much of the second half of a 30-20 Seattle win. . A Darious Williams pick-6 was a major contributor, as were five sacks, two by Donald.

Buccaneers 31, Washington 23

Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns in his 42nd playoff start and the first without a New England uniform. He’s used all of his guns well, from receivers Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin to tight end Cameron Brate and running back Leonard Fournette.

But the Tampa Bay defense leaked and Taylor Heinicke, an unrecognized Washington player, on his second pro start over injured starter Alex Smith, ran for 46 yards and a touchdown and threw for 306 yards and a score.

In the end, however, it was another W for Brady.

“He’s a fighter, he plays hard, works hard and studies hard,” Fournette said of Brady, “and he’s the man for the job.”

Well, yes – for two decades.

Bills 27, Colts 24

Josh Allen threw two touchdown passes, scored another run, and Micah Hyde repelled Philip Rivers’ hopeless pass to end the game. Buffalo will host an AFC Divisional Round game.

“It doesn’t matter what it looks like,” Allen said. “It’s the playoffs. It’s win or come home and we did it. We need to focus on the one we have next week. “

In Buffalo’s last loss before winning their next six games and the AFC East crown, Hyde was one of three defensemen who failed to spill the ball. DeAndre Hopkins’ 43-yard jump on Kyler Murray’s desperate pitch – the “Hail Murray” – won that game for Arizona. The Bills learned the lessons, and Philip River’s uprising for TY Hilton was incomplete.

“It’s been a long time since Bills Mafia got to celebrate like this,” Allen said. “But it’s a game.”

Rams 30, Seahawks 20

“A lot of guys stepped in and answered the bell big,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “Darious Williams showed up, I thought it was a huge change of momentum for us.”

Cam Akers rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown, and Jared Goff, though fragile for parts of the game, replaced injured starting quarterback John Wolford early on and avoided major mistakes. Less than two weeks after undergoing right thumb surgery, Goff capped the victory with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods.

“I think it was really just a sting. He looked really good, ”McVay said of Wolford.


Browns (11-5) vs. Steelers (12-4)

For their return to the playoffs after a drought from 2003, the Browns will be absent from coach Kevin Stefanski and peer guard Joel Bitonio due to COVID-19 issues, and they are not so healthy otherwise. . They barely practiced this week.

Perhaps their familiarity with their great rivals, who have won AFC North but have lost four of their last five games to an 11-0 record, may help. Cleveland also edged out Pittsburgh in the season finale, but the Steelers have rested plenty of regulars, including QB Ben Roethlisberger and All-Pro rusher TJ Watt.

The key to this game could be the ground games. Cleveland is strong with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, while Pittsburgh struggles.

Chicago (8-8) at New Orleans (12-4)

While the Saints needed extra time to beat the Bears in November, they are solid favorites here after winning their fourth straight NFC South crown. Drew Brees is probably in his last playoff run and has supreme weapons in RB Alvin Kamara and, if he’s healthy, spreader Michael Thomas.

Plus, New Orleans has a defense in many ways as strong as Chicago’s. The Bears need their defense to be at its best because apart from WR Allen Robinson, they have few threats. They are the third team since the 1970 merger to reach the playoffs after a six-game losing streak.

Ravens (11-5) vs. Titans (11-5)

They met in the divisional playoffs last year and Derrick Henry ran over the Ravens for 195 yards. They met in the regular season and the All-Pro running back totaled 133 yards in the November overtime win en route to a 2,000-yard season.

Baltimore has its own highly efficient running game, a three-pronged operation starring quarterback Lamar Jackson and RB Gus Edwards and rookie JK Dobbins. The Ravens averaged 191.9 rushing yards per game and their 3,071 rushing yards were the third highest in NFL history.

Oddly, this is the fifth playoff meeting, and the road team have won each of the top four.


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