Kansas City Chiefs, 30, Houston Texans, 0
The Chiefs rolled to their eleventh consecutive victory. Running back Kniles Davis returned the opening kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown, and the Chiefs never let go of momentum. The Texans could not find any consistency on offense, defense, or special teams. The Texans also couldn’t stop Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who totaled eight receptions and 128 receiving yards. The Chiefs played their game of football—solid defense and steady offense—and it led to their first playoff victory since 1994.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 18, Cincinnati Bengals, 16
In what was one of the most dramatic playoff games possibly in NFL history, the Bengals had a chance to finally end their playoff drought. They were in great position to win their first playoff game since 1991. But in a heated rivalry game, anything is possible. Early in the game, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Famer, was called for a personal foul. This was one of many 15-yard personal fouls, but none were more crucial than the final two called on the Steelers’ game-winning drive. After Bengals RB Jeremy Hill coughed up the football, the Steelers offense marched down the field to set up a field goal attempt. Both linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Adam Jones were flagged for 15-yard penalties that allowed Pittsburgh to enter field goal range. Burfict is facing a possible suspension for his vicious play. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell nailed a 35-yard field goal that put Pittsburgh ahead late in the fourth quarter.
Seattle Seahawks, 10, Minnesota Vikings, 9
Through three quarters and in frigid weather, the Seahawks were slow. The Vikings defense blanked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and co. for much of the game. The Vikings were in command for the majority of the game, and had a chance to win late. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, who previously converted on field goal attempts of 22, 43, and 47 yards, missed a 27-yard attempt with under a minute left in the fourth quarter. The laces were out, but Walsh took full responsibility after the game. Walsh said, “I just didn’t put a swing on it that would be acceptable by anybody’s standards.” However, it’s a team sport, and no other Viking had scored a point. Walsh should have made the field goal, but the offense needed to produce more.
Green Bay Packers, 35, Washington Redskins, 18
Led by QB Aaron Rodgers, the Packers were very balanced on offense all game. Rodgers completed 21 of his 36 attempts for 210 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. RB’s Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The Redskins didn’t manage to keep up, but they are a young team and will improve with more experience.
(AFC #5) Kansas City Chiefs @ (AFC #2) New England Patriots
(NFC #5) Green Bay Packers @ (NFC #2) Arizona Cardinals
(NFC #6) Seattle Seahawks @ (NFC #1) Carolina Panthers
(AFC #6) Pittsburgh Steelers @ (AFC #1) Denver Broncos