NFL Playoffs Recap: What The Hell Just Happened?

List of quarterbacks playing in the Conference Championship games next weekend:

Tom Brady and, uhh, Nick Foles, umm, Case Keenum, and *gulp* Blake Bortles.

So we have the greatest QB of all time, a guy who spent the majority of the season as a backup, a guy who began the season as a backup, and a guy who’s name has become the punchline to every joke about (really) bad QB’s.

Before we take a look ahead (in a new episode of The Cutback later this week), let’s first take a look back at the strange weekend that was the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.

Eagles overcome historic underdog status, get goal line stop to advance

Philly entered this game as the first #1 seed to be an underdog in Vegas, as the red-hot, 6th-seeded Falcons were 3 point favorites. While both teams have put up big offensive numbers for most of this season, this was a relatively boring offensive game. Philly took a 6-3 lead after LeGarrette Blount punched one into the end zone, but rookie kicker, Jake Elliott, missed the damn Extra Point. The Falcons responded by moving the ball down field with some help from penalties on the Eagles, and Matt Ryan found Devonta Freeman for a TD after a nifty little scramble.

Shortly after taking the 10-6 lead, Atlanta had a chance to take a 2 score lead into halftime, but unfortunately for the Falcons, this crazy shit happened:

The Eagles then gained 15 yards and stopped the clock with 1 second remaining and Elliott converted a 53-yard field goal to go into halftime down 9-10.

Elliott would go on to convert 2 more field goals of 37 and 21 yards, respectively, while the Falcons were held scoreless in the 2nd half. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and the rest of the Eagles defense showed they were up for the challenge of facing the streaking Falcons, although Atlanta had a chance at the end, but couldn’t convert on 4th and goal from the 3 yard line.

They try to move the pocket for Matt Ryan, but it’s pretty clear that the only option they are looking for is Julio Jones, who falls down (Pass Interference if you ask Falcons fans), and after getting up the ball sails through his hands, but he would have been out of bounds even if he had caught it.

Nick Foles finished 23-30 for 246 yards and Jay Ajayi had 15 carries for 54 yards, while Matt Ryan completed 22 of 36 passes for 210 yards, with 9 of those going to Julio Jones for  101 receiving yards. Nick Foles and the Eagles advance to the conference championship.

Patriots leave no doubt, rout Titans 35-14

Well, Titans fans at least there was this play:

Rookie receiver Corey Davis hauled in a fantastic one-handed touchdown catch, the first TD of his career, to put the Titans up 7-0 late in the first quarter.

That shit was short lived. 

Tom Brady picked the Titans defense apart, mainly with dump-offs in the flats to Dion Lewis and James White, while peppering Danny Amendola with targets underneath the Titans defensive coverage. Lewis finished with 9 receptions for 79 yards to go along with 15 rushing attempts for 62 yards, White ran for a TD and hauled one in from Brady, while Amendola had 11 catches for 112 yards. As if that wasn’t enough, any time the Patriots needed to convert, Brady found Gronk, who was mainly covered by Titans safety, Kevin Byard, and the NFL leader in interceptions was in good position on most plays, but just couldn’t matchup with the size of Gronk, as Gronk finished with 81 yards and a TD. Brady finished with 337 yards and 3 touchdown passes.

Tennessee was on the short end of the shitstick for a couple of penalties and missed calls early in the game, but Brady and the Patriots proved to just be too much for the young Titans team. Brady and company advance to their 7th consecutive AFC Championship game.

Blake Bortles shuts critics up, Jags back up shit talking

Jacksonville has suddenly become the sassiest team in the league and thanks to their defense (and their offense today), they have been able to back every word up so far this season.

Jacksonville scored on 3 of their first 4 drives on rushing touchdowns from Leonard Fournette (2) and TJ Yeldon, scoring on just 1 play from the 18 yard-line after Myles Jack intercepted Ben Roethlisberger on 3rd and 11, for the Jags second score of the day. Pittsburgh got on the board with an Antonio Brown TD grab over AJ Bouye, the first TD the defensive back has given up all season, but the Jacksonville defense answered by forcing a Big Ben fumble and taking it to the house to go up 28-7.

The Steelers answered with a 36-yard TD to Martavis Bryant just before halftime, and once again moved the ball swiftly downfield immediately after halftime, resulting in a 19-yard TD pass from Big Ben to Le’Veon Bell to bring the score to 28-21.

After trading punts, the Jags D came up with their second stop on 4th and 1 in the game, taking over at their own 39, Blake Bortles found Keelan Cole on a deep ball for 45 yards, setting up Fournette’s 3rd rushing TD of the game.

Pittsburgh answered in just a minute and 29 seconds, as Ben found AB on 4th and 5 from the Jacksonville 43, for Brown’s second TD of the day. AB finished with 7 receptions for 132 yards.

But the Jags weren’t gonna let Pittsburgh take this one from them, as Blake Bortles connected on consecutive 3rd down conversions, before finding fullback Tommy Bohanan on a killer play-action pass for a 14 yard touchdown, which is what happens when you run the ball down the other team’s throat all game long.

Pittsburgh responded quickly again, this time in just over 2 minutes, with the culminating play being a flag-football type backwards lateral, from Ben to Bell after Ben carried the football beyond the line of scrimmage, causing confusion among the Jaguars defense, to bring the score to 42-35.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin then decided to go for an onside kick with over 2 minutes remaining, and it ended in a Steelers penalty and the Jags being in field goal range without having to move the ball at all. Josh Lambo converted a 45-yard field goal to put the Jags up by 10. To be fair, the Steelers didn’t stop the Jags the whole damn game, so it’s easy to understand why Tomlin wasn’t confident in his defense with the game on the line.

The Steelers then converted a meaningless TD with one second remaining after yet another questionable coaching decision by Tomlin, opting not to kick a field goal with 32 seconds left and then try another onside kick to get the ball back. Anyways, poor coaching or not, Jacksonville, led by Blake Bortles 214 yards and 0 interceptions and Fournette’s 109 yards on the ground, advance to the AFC Championship to play New England.

Vikings hold off Saints rally, win on Minnesota Miracle

Minnesota jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead behind rushing touchdowns from Jerrick McKinnon and Latavious Murray. However, the Saints came out of the locker room with a comeback on their mind, as Drew Brees connected with Michael Thomas on back-to-back touchdowns with the second coming after a 1-play drive from the Vikings that saw Case Keenum intercepted by Marcus Williams of the Saints secondary.

The Vikings tacked on a field goal to go up 20-14 with just over 10 minutes remaining. But then, it looked as if Minnesota was going to continue their trend of brutal playoff losses when this happened:

Then this:

But the Vikings answered the challenge when Keenum connected with Adam Thielen for a 24 yard gain, setting up a Kai Forbath 53-yard field goal with 1:29 left in the game. Not to be outdone, Brees connected with Josh Hill and Ted Ginn to get the Saints to the Vikings 46 yard line, before completing a 13 yard pass to Willie Snead on 4th and 10 with 45 seconds remaining.

New Orleans couldn’t pick up another first down, as Minnesota used 2 of their 3 timeouts to preserve what they could of the clock, and kicker Will Lutz swished a 43-yard field goal to put the Saints ahead 24-23 with 25 seconds remaining.

After a false start penalty moved the Vikings back 5 yards following a touchback on the kickoff, Keenum found Stefon Diggs for a 19-yard gain and first down. Two incompletions followed, before the first walk-off touchdown in NFL postseason history. Words won’t do the play justice, so here’s one last video:

The play was amazing, and the celebration with the helmet toss and his teammates mobbing him into the tunnel was great. But this moment that followed, led by Case Keenum, who began the year as the team’s backup quarterback, is the celebration everyone will remember, especially Vikings fans. So yea, I lied, one more video.

Keenum, who finished 25-40 for 318 yard and a touchdown, and Stefon Diggs, who finished with 137 receiving yards and the touchdown from Keenum, lead the Vikings into the NFC Championship game against Nick FOles and the Eagles.

{Photo belongs Hannah Foslien/Getty Images}

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