Home #Hwoodtimes NFL WILD CARD RECAP


By Lucas Camacho

The first round of the NFL is over.  If you were expecting action-packed close games…you were kind of disappointed.  There was one game determined by one point…while the rest were blowouts.  Let’s briefly analyze each game.


CJ Stroud and the Texans

There is nothing crueler than the ever-constant march of time.  That’s what we had in this game.  On one side was the Cleveland Browns led by Joe Flacco, who represents the old guard.  On the other was the Houston Texans led by CJ Stroud, who represents the next generation of football stars.  If this was the Kevin Costner movie For Love of the Game (yes, I’m aware that it’s a BASEBALL movie, not FOOTBALL), the old guard would shine one last time over youth for a magnificent performance.  That did NOT happen here.  Instead, the Texans routed the Browns 45-14.  CJ Stroud, one of the two favorites for Rookie of the Year, became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game with 274 passing yards and three touchdowns (the touchdowns were also a rookie record for the postseason).  It did not help that Flacco threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the third quarter.  It was an unexpectedly bad performance for a team that stayed on the heels of the Baltimore Ravens down the stretch.  The Browns head to the offseason now left to figure out how it went so wrong.


Dolphins – Chiefs

The frozen tundra…it sounds like an NFL Films opening but it was true.  In a game with near record low temperatures that we haven’t seen since the infamous “Ice Bowl”, the Dolphins were given the boot from the playoffs.  The defending champs will be moving on to the next round with a much-needed morale boost.  This was a game between two teams that stumbled their way into the playoffs.  Patrick Mahomes threw for 262 yards but only had one throwing touchdown.  A round of applause, by the way, to all the brave fans who fought the elements to witness a game that could only be seen one of two ways: in person or with a subscription to Peacock.  It was so cold that pictures of coach Andy Reid’s frozen mustache went viral.  As the Dolphins head to the offseason, Miami fans want to know what went wrong for the Dolphins in the tail end of the season.  The answer is not going to be easy as many are wondering the same thing.



When looking at the score, you would think this game was closer than it actually was.  The jaw dropping truth was that the Packers utterly dismantled the Cowboys to send one of the Super Bowl favorites homes early.  The majority of the Cowboys’ points came in garbage time, something that Packers coach Matt LaFleur will address with his team before their next game.  It was a masterful performance from young Jordan Love, successor to Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 272 yards and threw touchdowns.  For the Cowboys, they are left to start an earlier than expected offseason.  Among the many questions is the future of coach Mike McCarthy.  This is the second time in the last three postseasons that the Cowboys lost a playoff game at home.  Something to note: the Packers have never lost in six trips to AT&T Stadium, which includes a Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the 2010 season.



Speaking of the Steelers, it was a forgettable day for Pittsburg.  In a game that was delayed a whole day (due to the stadium being filled with snow), the Bills dominated the Steelers to the delight of the Buffalo faithful.  Josh Allen made Bills franchise history with a jaw-dropping 52-yard touchdown run.  It was a play that many thought Allen would slide and settle for the first down.  Pittsburgh critically made the same mistake as Allen decided to go for the end zone and did.  That one play perfectly illustrated the game: the Bills looked sharp and fast while the Steelers never seemed to get it going.  After they got in to the playoffs through having the entire last week of the season go their way, it was disappointing to see the Steelers go out like this.  Many feel this is the end of the line of coach Mike Tomlin, but that doesn’t seem likely.  Tomlin has yet to have a losing record at the helm of Pittsburgh.  The problem is most likely too many strong personalities and no discernable quarterback.  Nevertheless, it will be soul searching time for the Steelers as the offseason officially begins.



It’s hard to comprehend, but once upon a time…the Philadelphia Eagles were one of the last unbeaten teams in the NFL.  Now, the utter collapse of the defending NFC Conference Champions is complete.  The Eagles’ suddenly lackluster playing has resulted in an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Going into this year, the Buccaneers had a chip on their shoulder as expectations were low after Tom Brady retired (for what we think is the last time).  However, the Buccaneers survived a terrible start to the season, beat out both the Saints and Falcons for the NFC Division crown, and now they’ve knocked out the Eagles.  Baker Mayfield had a brilliant game: throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns.  There is no simple explanation for the Eagles’ collapse, because no one has seen a fall quite like this (at least not since Rome).  The Eagles were among the favorites at the start of the season to win the Super Bowl.  Now they’ll be watching it from the couch.

RAMS 23 – LIONS 24


This turned out to be the marquee matchup of the weekend.  It was an exciting game even though the Rams came up short and never led.  These two teams are forever linked because of the trade that caused them to swap quarterbacks.  Jared Goff got revenge on his old team, throwing for 277 yards and a touchdown.  It was the Lions’ first playoff win since 1991.  Also, not long before the writing of this article, it was confirmed that Rams TE Tyler Higbee suffered a torn ACL and MCL after a hit late in the game from Lions safety Kerby Joseph in a controversial tackle.  The Lions believe they have the pieces to win the Super Bowl thanks to the picks they got from the Rams in the Goff-Stafford Trade.  However, there is one cruel fact that the Lions and everyone must face: they haven’t won the Super Bowl yet…and the Rams have.  Until the Lions win the Super Bowl, the Rams will have the last laugh…