NFL Weekly Recap: Divisional Round

Who expected Alex Smith to out-pass Drew Brees? (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Another week of the Playoffs is over, and we got some surprising results.

Everything started off with the 49ers shocking the Saints, and Alex Smith showing some late clutch-ness that I don't think anyone besides Niners fans thought he had in him. After that we got to see Tom Brady going into troll mode on the Broncos in a blowout where the only entertaining moment after the second quarter was Brady punting the ball on third down and a close game between Houston and Baltimore where T.J. Yates killed the Texans with turnovers.

We ended the weekend with what might be the most surprising game to most people (although I did pick the Giants) where Green Bay laid an egg filled with dropped passes and fumbles on their way to becoming the first 15-1 team to ever lose their first playoff game. And really, the Packers should have only scored six points considering that both of their touchdown drives came after being assisted by some horrible calls from the Refs.

New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers Recap - January 14, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - "I don't know what you would call this one," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of the instant-classic play. "The throw- and-catch?" How about "The Clutch." When Vernon Davis hit the ground with Alex Smith's pinpoint pass still in his hands Saturday, he delivered the San Francisco 49ers something they hadn't tasted in nine years. Playoff victory. Davis scored on a 14-yard catch with nine seconds remaining, lifting the 49ers to a 36-32 win over the New Orleans Saints and capping a breathless finish in the NFL's first divisional round game of the weekend. It was the third touchdown scored in the last 2:11 of the game, coming after Smith's 28-yard bootleg gave the 49ers a 29-24 lead and Jimmy Graham's 66- yard catch put the Saints ahead 32-29. "They ended up making one more play than we did," said Saints coach Sean Payton. The name of the play? "Vernon post," Harbaugh said -- and who knows if he was telling the truth. But it worked perfectly. Davis slipped behind one defender and held on to Smith's pass in the front of the end zone despite a hit from safety Roman Harper, who couldn't knock the ball loose with his hand. Despite forcing five turnovers -- including a pair of Drew Brees interceptions -- the 49ers still needed to rally twice in the final minutes to win their first playoff game since 2003 and move on to face the winner of Sunday's Giants-Packers game in next week's NFC Championship game.

Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots Recap - January 14, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady shredded Denver's defense in a record-tying performance, while Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow never got on track against a relentless New England defense. The magical run for the former Heisman Trophy winner is over for this season, but Brady is one win away from pushing the Patriots to the Super Bowl yet again. Brady tied an NFL playoff record by throwing six touchdown passes in New England's 45-10 dismantling of Tebow and the Broncos in an AFC divisional playoff game Saturday at a frigid Gillette Stadium. The top-seeded Patriots, who will host either Baltimore or Houston in next Sunday's AFC Championship Game, set a franchise record for most points in a playoff game. Brady connected on 26-of-34 throws for 363 yards and was picked off once, equaling the TD mark held by Daryle Lamonica of the Oakland Raiders in a 1969 game against Houston and San Francisco's Steve Young in the Super Bowl against San Diego following the 1994 season.

Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens Recap - January 15, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Turnovers can be the ultimate difference maker. The Baltimore Ravens scored 17 points off four Houston giveaways and emerged with a 20-13 victory over the Texans in an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are headed to the AFC championship game for the third time in franchise history and first since the 2008 season. They will travel to Foxboro next Sunday to meet the Patriots, who dismantled Denver on Saturday night in a 45-10 rout. "This football team won the game no matter what. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but they found a way to win," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Joe Flacco threw two first-quarter touchdown passes for Baltimore, which notched its second postseason home win. The AFC North champs only previous playoff victory at home was a 21-3 wild-card win over Denver on December 31, 2000, the first step on the way to winning Super Bowl XXXV. Arian Foster had 132 yards on 27 carries for the Texans, who added another item to their list of playoff firsts: a loss. Rookie Houston quarterback T.J. Yates was picked off three times -- twice by Lardarius Webb, whose second interception led to a 44-yard field goal by Baltimore's Billy Cundiff with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.

New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers Recap - January 15, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) - Hakeem Nicks' 37-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first half proved to be huge, as the New York Giants stunned the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, 37-20, in an NFC divisional playoff game from historic Lambeau Field. Holding onto a 13-10 lead with six seconds remaining in the first half, Eli Manning launched a Hail Mary-type pass into the end zone. Nicks managed to come down with the ball, giving New York a 10-point cushion at the break. "It was put in a spot where Hakeem went and got it, and with his outstanding hands was able to hang on to it," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "That gave us a huge lift." Mario Manningham essentially put the game away in the fourth quarter with a four-yard TD catch for the Giants, who dominated the Falcons, 24-2, last weekend in the wild card round. Brandon Jacobs added a 14-yard TD run late in the final period. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl the last time they beat Green Bay in the playoffs. New York took a 23-20 overtime decision over the Packers in the 2007 NFC Championship Game, which proved to be Brett Favre's final appearance in a Green Bay uniform. New York followed up by bouncing then-unbeaten New England in Super Bowl XLII to claim a surprise NFL title as a fifth seed. These teams met in the regular season this season, with the Packers taking a 38-35 decision over New York on December 4. The fourth-seeded Giants will head to San Francisco next Sunday to take on the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers beat the Saints, 36-32, on Saturday to advance. San Francisco beat the Giants, 27-20, on November 13. Green Bay, which went 15-1 in the regular season, came into the game with a 13-game home winning streak. The Packers had come out on top in each of their previous three divisional round games as the home team after receiving a bye week.

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