Super, it wasn’t.
The NFL tried to promote its expanded three day wild card weekend as Super, but it featured sloppy play, bad coaching and good teams often not bringing their A game.
The weekend ended Monday night with that was expected to be an exciting game with Tom Brady facing the Cowboys, but Brady looked old and the Cowboys routed the Bucs 31-14 for their first road playoff win in decades. Now Brady has to decide whether to return next year at age 46.
And the results didn’t have much of an impact on the road to the Super Bowl. The two top seeds, Kansas City and Philadelphia, had byes and the four other leading contenders – Dallas, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Buffalo –all won.
All the wild card teams except for the Giants lost. The other survivor was Jacksonville, which overcame a 27-0 deficit to beat the Chargers.
As expected the two seventh round seeds both lost to the second seeds. Miami lost to Buffalo and the Seahawks lost to the 49ers, the hottest team in the league who will now host the Cowboys.
But Miami made it a closer game than expected, thanks to mistakes by the Bills, who weren’t at the top of their game. As it turned out, Miami made mistakes of its own on the last drive, including failing to get a 4th and one in time and getting called for delay of game. Seattle made it a game for a half before the 49ers pulled away as rookie quarterback Brock Purdy continues to show he can lead a good team.
The Chargers had a 5-0 edge in turnovers but lost to the Jaguars, a loss that cost the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach their jobs although head coach Brandon Staley survived even though the team was undisciplined. Joey Bosa got two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including throwing his helmet to the ground after the officials missed Jawaan Taylor’s false start that should have nullified a touchdown pass.
Baltimore, the sixth seed in the AFC, was down to its third quarterback but also made a game of it against Cincinnati, the third seed. Baltimore was the victim of its own mistakes. Tyler Huntley went high instead of low on a quarterback sneak at the goal line and the Bengals knocked the ball out of his hands and it was returned 98 yards for a touchdown as the officials missed a block in the back. And at the end the Ravens tried to score without leaving time on the clock, botched the clock management and didn’t score
The wins by Buffalo and Cincinnati sets up the best divisional game of next weekend, but the shaky performances by both teams raises the question of whether they both can bring their A game next week.
Meanwhile, top seed Kansas City will be favored over the Jaguars. The Jaguars lost to Kansas City in the regular season to fall to 3-7 but then went 7-1 and are now 10-8. After their comeback win over the Chargers, they can’t be counted out.
The Giants win over the Vikings wasn’t a major surprise because the Vikings had won 11 one score games during the regular season and they don’t have a good defense and the Giants exploited that.
The Giants also played well on defense to neutralize Justin Jefferson and even though Kirk Cousins played well, he had a Cousins moment when he threw short on fourth-and-8 on the final play. The Giants will now go to Philadelphia where they will be big underdogs.
The league will probably keep calling the wild card weekend Super, but the format of matching the second seed against the seventh seed is not a formula for good games.