Winner’s and Loser’s Brackets Qualifying Games

Winner’s Bracket

New England 55, Houston 34

The Houston Texans, fresh off their upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, showed the world they could move the football, piling up 461 yards against the New England Patriots, but four turnovers did them in in a 55-34 loss. The victory propels Tom Brady and company into the championship round of sixteen, while Houston goes into the last qualifying round.  Brady was 26-36 for 346 yards and two touchdowns, but was matched nearly pass-for-pass by Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw for 342 yards and four touchdowns, but suffered three picks at the hands of the Pats’ defense.  All-Pro wide-out DeAndre Hopkins hauled in 8 of Watson’s passes for 220 yards and three TD’s.  New England ran the ball well against Houston’s defense, finding pay-dirt five times on the ground in their convincing victory.

Philadelphia 32, Tampa Bay 3

Jameis Winston and the Bus moved the ball all over the field . . . they just couldn’t seem to get it in the end zone. Winston threw for 365 yards, connecting with nine different receivers, seemingly having his way with the Eagles’ defense.  But scoring was elusive for Tampa Bay as they dropped a 32-3 decision to top seeded Philadelphia.  Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz enjoyed a very productive day, connecting on 19-25 passes for 336 yards and three scores, including a 70-yarder to Nelson Agholor.  Philadelphia advances to the championship round, while Tampa Bay needs to win a qualifying game to move on.

Baltimore 13, Buffalo 3

Buffalo’s starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, was nursing an injury and not able to go against the Ravens, and the Bills had to start untested Nathan Peterman against a tough Baltimore defense . . . and, it didn’t go very well for the young quarterback. He only hit on 8 of 24 passes for 106 yards and the Bills never really threatened in this game, despite a great game from their defense, holding the Ravens to only 13 points.  Baltimore quarterback, Joe Flacco, was effective, if not spectacular, finishing the day 20-30 for 167 yards, and Alex Collins added 90 yards on the ground and scored the game’s only TD.  The Ravens advance to the Championship round, while Buffalo, who hope Taylor will be healthy, move on to the qualifying round.

Detroit 27, Atlanta 20

The Falcons racked up 507 yards to the Lions’ 310, but four Matt Ryan interceptions, two of them inside Detroit’s 15 yard line, was the difference in this game as the Lions prevailed and move on to the Championship Round. Perhaps the player of the game was Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman, who ran 25 times for 181 yards and caught 4 passes for another 84 yards.  Matthew Stafford, Detroit’s signal caller, was on target most of the game, connecting on 20-30 for 241 yards and a touchdown.  With the game tied 20-20 with only 5:00 left to play, Stafford led Detroit on a 8-play, 75 yard drive culminating with Ameer Abdullah’s 1-yard, game-winning touchdown.  The Falcons now move to the qualifying round.

 

Loser’s Bracket

Pittsburgh 16, Cleveland 10

What the heck is wrong with the Steelers? After losing their opening game in a huge upset to the Houston Texans, they barely got by the lowest seed in the AFC, the Cleveland Browns to avoid being eliminated from the tournament altogether!  Pittsburgh ran up 406 yards of total offense, while holding the Browns to only 144 yards.  But, two Ben Roethlisberger interception tosses in the Cleveland red-zone kept the game close – much closer than it should have been.  Cleveland, with two losses, is now bounced from the tournament, while Pittsburgh moves on, probably to host Houston in a rematch of their round one loss.

L.A. Rams 38, N.Y. Giants 16

The Rams, led by quarterback Jared Goff and running-back Todd Gurley, easily handled the Giants and remain alive in the NFC qualifying round, with their 38-16 victory. Goff was 20-31 for 271 yards and three touchdowns, while Gurley carried the ball 18 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ dominating victory.  The Giants, the lowest seeded team in the NFC, played well on offense behind quarterback Eli Manning, who threw for 230 yards, but their defense had no answer for the Rams, who move on, while New York goes home.

Miami 29, Oakland 9

Dolphin quarterback, Jay Cutler, had one of his best games of the season, completing 19 of 27 for 281 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers! Kenyan Drake, Miami’s talented young running-back, added another 111 yards and a TD on 20 carries.  Meanwhile, Oakland QB, Derrick Carr, was frustrated all day, hitting only 17 of 41 passes for 168 yards.  Oakland, with the loss, sees their season end, while the Dolphins move on to the qualifying round and keep their hopes alive.

Green Bay 13, Dallas 12

The “stats” told one story . . . the line-score, another. The Cowboys’ one-two punch of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were both solid – Prescott tossing for 243 yards and Elliot scampering for 133.  But, they just couldn’t get the ball in the end zone and settled for four Dan Bailey field goals in a one point loss to the Green Bay Packers, 13-12.  What made this loss particularly tough for Dallas is that, for the second week in a row, the Pack had to go without their great quarterback Aaron Rodgers, instead, turning to Brett Hundley, who played error-free ball in leading Green Bay to their win.  Now the Packers hope they get Rodgers back for their qualifying game, while the Cowboys will be watching from home, because their season is over!

 

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