Winners and Losers Bracket Qualifying Games – Part 2

Winner’s Bracket

Jacksonville 30, NY Jets 27

The poor Jets. They led this game at halftime 24-10!  Two minutes into the game, Bilal Powell scampered 70 yards for a New York touchdown to give the Jets a 7-0 lead.  Touchdown runs by Elija McGuire and QB Josh McCown, coupled with a Chandler Catanzaro field goal gave New York a lead and momentum heading into the second half.  But Jaguar runningback, Leonard Fournette scored two of his three touchdowns, his last one coming with only 2:15 to play to tie the game.  But, on their final possession, McCown, who was terrific all day, hitting on 26 of 36 passes for 343 yards, connected with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who promptly coughed up the football deep in New York territory, leading to a Josh Lambo field goal as time expired to give Jacksonville the three point victory.

Minnesota 25, San Francisco 19

In a game that saw five lead changes, it was Dalvin Cook’s two yard TD run with only 1:45 left in the game that gave the Vikings a tough victory at home against Jimmy Garoppolo and the pesky 49ers. Garoppolo was terrific, throwing for 371 yards, but he did suffer two costly interceptions, both in Vikings’ territory.  Case Keenum, for Minnesota, was solid as well, connecting on 20 of 29 passes for 263 yards and did not turn the ball over.  San Francisco actually outgained Minnesota 422 to 357 in the game, but the two turnovers and 13 penalties for 133 yards led to the Viking’s six-point victory.

Tennessee 17, LA Chargers 16

This was a heart-breaker for Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Los Angeles actually had the lead 16-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.  Titans’ quarterback, Marcus Mariota, got Tennessee close with a 4-yard TD pass to Delanie Walker early in the period.  And, then, the Titans took the lead with 4:15 left to play on DeMarco Murray’s 5 yard TD run.  L.A. got the ball back and, after three plays yielded only four yards, went for it on 4th down, but did not convert.  Still, the Chargers’ defense stood their ground forcing a three-and-out and a punt that went out of bounds at the L.A. 17 yard line.  So, here comes Rivers, 83 yards away with no time outs and 37 seconds left in the game!  Well, he immediately hits Tyrell Williams for 22 yards and he gets out-of-bounds.  The, he hits Williams again, this time for 31 yards, again out-of-bounds, to the Titans’ 30 yard line!  After an incompletion, he finds Melvin Gordon open for a 16 yard gain, and he got out-of-bounds!  With time about to expire, enter place kicker Nick Novak who shanked the 32 yard field goal try as time expired, giving the Titans a 1-point victory.  And why was there a 1-point difference?  You guessed it.  Because Novak had missed an extra point earlier!

Carolina 24, Arizona 22

Down 22-21 with only 45 seconds left to play from his own 20 yard line, Panther quarterback Cam Newton went to work. He calmly hit Devin Funchess for a 31 yard gain, followed by a 25 yard pitch and catch to Greg Olsen, to set up Graham Gano’s game winning 39 yard field goal as time expired to send Carolina into the “Sweet 16” round of these playoffs.  Newton completed 19 of 33 passes for 276 yards, out-dueling his counterpart for the Cardinals, Carson Palmer, who also completed 19 passes, but for 221 yards.  Earlier in the game, Newton had a 56 yard touchdown run wiped out by an offensive penalty.

Loser’s Bracket

Kansas City 31, Indianapolis 16

Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith was on fire, connecting on a remarkable 21 of 25 passes for 326 yards and three TD’s as Kansas City routed the Colts, ending Indianapolis’ season. Travis Kelce hauled in two of Smith’s scoring strikes while Tyreek Hill also was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass.  Smith, showing off his versatility, also scampered on a 65 yard run in the second period, setting up Kareem Hunt’s 1 yard touchdown run.  Jacoby Brissett actually played pretty well for the Colts, throwing for 255 yards and one score, but three costly turnovers and no answer for Smith spelled the difference in this game.

New Orleans 48, Chicago 16

After their disappointing first round loss, the New Orleans Saints found their rhythm and knocked the Chicago Bears out of the playoffs with a convincing 48-16 victory. Saints’ signal caller, Drew Brees, enjoyed a terrific game, completing 20 out of 28 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns!  His primary target was wide receiver Michael Thomas, who caught 6 passes for 141 yards and one score.  New Orleans did not allow a sack and did not turn the ball over in their victory that keeps their playoff hopes alive and sends them into the elimination round.

Denver 30, Cincinnati 16

The Denver Broncos, behind quarterback Brock Osweiler, shocked the favored Cincinnati Bengals 30-16 to move into the elimination round and to end the Bengals season. Osweiler was 18-28 for 278 yards, including 5 catches by Demaryius Thomas for 120 yards.  The Denver defense came up big over and over during this contest, forcing three turnovers, returning an interception for a touchdown and sacking Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton seven times!  Dalton actually threw for 331 yards, and Cincinnati had two receivers who tallied more than 100 yards each – A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell.  But the big-play Broncos had their number today!

Seattle 31, Washington 30

Real football players “hate” kickers . . . and, sometimes, for good reason. Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins rallied Washington from a 31-10 deficit midway through the third quarter.  They scored three TDs in the last 22 minutes of the game, a 75 yard scamper and a 2 yard run, both by Samaje Perine and an 11-yard TD pass from Cousins to Josh Doctson with only 2 minutes to play in the game . . . only to see Dustin Hopkin’s PAT blocked, allowing Seattle to escape with a one-point victory, sending them to the elimination tournament, and sending the Redskins home.  The Seahawks actually ran for four TD’s – two each by Russell Wilson and Chris Carson.

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