Quantcast

NFL Wild Card roundup: Texans, Vikings squeak out wins, Titans pound Pats

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) pulls in the game winning touchdown pass over New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) during overtime of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in New Orleans. The Vikings won 26-20. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)

There’s a reason why they call Wild Card weekend the best two days of the NFL season.

Four first-round postseason games gripped the sporting landscape over the weekend to set up a tantalizing slate of Divisional Round matchups — basically the NFL’s quarterfinals.

We saw a two-possession comeback in Houston, the possible end of one of the greatest dynasties in North American sports history, and the Vikings get the best of the Saints down the stretch yet again.

Here is the weekend that was in pro football:

BILLS 19, TEXANS 22 (OT)

Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans erased a 16-0 second-half deficit to defeat the Buffalo Bills in overtime to advance to the Divisional Round for just the fourth time in franchise history.

A Ka’imi Fairbairn 28-yard field goal won it in overtime shortly after Watson bounced away from two would-be sackers to dump off a pass to Taiwan Jones for 34 yards.

It was the third-largest comeback win by a home playoff team in the last 15 years. Fitting for a city rivalry that hadn’t met in the playoffs since the Bills came back from a 35-3 deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers in the 1993 Wild Card round.

The Texans will now face a Chiefs team that they already beat in Kansas City, 31-24, during Week 6. However, the Chiefs defense is much improved since that last meeting and are considered the favorite at home.

TITANS 20, PATRIOTS 13

The student took down the master as Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans shut down his old coach, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots on Saturday night.

Tennessee ripped through the Patriots behind a smashmouth brand of football behind the NFL’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry. The bruising back went for 182 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries.

Meanwhile, veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill simply played the role of game manager as he completed just 8-of-15 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in the win.

The Titans defense stymied Tom Brady and the struggling Patriots offense with relative ease — their 13 points scored was tied for its lowest output all season.

Vrabel’s reward for downing the defending champs is a trip to Baltimore to face the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed, the Baltimore Ravens, and their MVP favorite in quarterback Lamar Jackson.

VIKINGS 26, SAINTS 20 (OT)

A four-yard fade in the corner of the end zone from Kirk Cousins to Kyle Rudolph lifted the Minnesota Vikings to an upset win over the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome on Sunday afternoon.

The Vikings squandered a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead to a Saints team they had stifled for most of the evening behind a strong defense and diligent run game anchored by Dalvin Cook.

Minnesota’s back went for 94 yards and two touchdowns on the day while Cousins threw for 242 yards and a score.

It was the Vikings’ defense, though, that stole the show as they limited Drew Brees to just 208 passing yards and star running back Alvin Kamara to 55 all-purpose yards.

The Vikings’ win secured a matchup with the NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers on Saturday in the Divisional Round. The winner of the Philadelphia Eagles-Seattle Seahawks matchup will face the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers.

Joe Pantorno