On Sunday, a heated rivalry was confirmed when the Baltimore Ravens smothered the Kansas City Chiefs 30-7 at Arrowhead Stadium, paving the way for a meeting with their despised division foe from Pittsburgh, the Steelers.
For slightly more than a half, the Chiefs went toe to toe with the favoured Ravens, actually building a 7-3 lead on a brilliant 41-yard scamper by by the speedy Jamaal Charles that sent the raucous throng of 72,190 shoehorned into Arrowhead Stadium into a frenzy.
But Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco answered back with an outstanding 11-play, 80-yard drive at the end of the half that culminated with a nine-yard scoring strike to Ray Rice, putting the Ravens up 10-7 heading into the intermission.
The Ravens would never trail the rest of the way.
The turning point, however, came early in the third quarter with a call that will be second guessed in these parts for the entire offseason.
Facing a fourth-and-a-half-yard situation at the Ravens 34, the Chiefs opted to go for the first down instead of trying for the tying field goal. That’s not an issue. Instead of just plunging up the gut, however, the Chiefs curiously pitched the ball wide to Charles, who was stuffed for a four-yard loss.
Why try such a risky play call against such a lightning-quick defence like the Ravens have instead of trying to grind out six inches? Only the Chiefs coaching staff knows for sure.
In any event, the Ravens reeled off the next 20 points, earning themselves a trip to Heinz Field on Saturday. Steelers versus Ravens next weekend. Yes please!
Aaron Rodgers did his thing through the air but in a surprising twist, the Green Bay Packers also discovered a running game to complement Rodgers’ right arm as they bounced Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon in the final game of wild-card weekend.
James Starks, a rookie running back who played three season at Buffalo University, was the surprise of the afternoon as he rumbled for 123 yards on 23 carries to set a rookie rushing post-season record for Green Bay. On the season, Starks had just 29 rushes for 101 yards but given the opportunity Sunday, he literally ran with it.
With the win, Green Bay advances to play the Falcons next Saturday night in Atlanta.Rodgers threw three touchdown passes in notching the first playoff victory of his career.
Vick, meanwhile, has his storybook season of redemption come to a close as the Eagles offence sputtered most of the afternoon and played the majority of the first half without breakaway receiver DeSean Jackson who suffered an injury to his left knee. The Eagles cause wasn’t helped any by two field goal misses, from 41 and 34 yards, by the usually reliable veteran David Akers. The Eagles made a game of it in the final quarter when they drove 75 yards on 13 plays with Vick plunging over from inside the one on fourth down with 4:08 to play to make it it 21-16 Green Bay. They went for the two-point convert but it was ruled no good as tight end Brent Celek stepped out of the end zone just prior to making the catch. After being assessed a five-yard penalty the Eagles got a second shot from the seven and it was also no good as Vick threw the ball away to avoid being sacked. The result meant the Eagles needed a touchdown to win it instead of a field goal to tie and they got their chance as the Packers were forced to punt following the two-minute warning.
The Eagles took over at their own 34 with 1:45 to play and moved down to the Packers 27.
But on third and 10, Vick tried for the home run but his throw into the end zone to Riley Cooper was short and it was picked off by Tramon Williams with 33 second left to seal Green Bay’s win.
Next Saturday night it’ll be Green Bay traveling to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, the NFC number one seed.