NFL Weekly Recap: Wildcard Round

After one weekend of the Playoffs, all of the home teams are moving on.

The main stories from this week include the Texans winning their first playoff game ever leading to a massive hot tub party at Leinart's place, the Lions defense completely failing to cover anyone wearing a black and gold jersey, Matt Ryan's 4.9 yards per attempt against the Giants still being enough to surpass the embarrassing score they put up, and the Steelers underestimating (as Deadspin put it) Tim Tebow's ability to propel his arm in a forward motion and getting burned by it.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans Recap - January 07, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - While there were still two quarters left when defensive end J.J. Watt plucked Andy Dalton's pass out of the air and returned it for a touchdown, the play still seemed like a turning point. And whatever chance the Bengals had of coming back, the Texans snuffed it out with a dominant second half. Arian Foster rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns, rookie quarterback T.J. Yates passed for a score, and Houston pulled away from Cincinnati for a 31-10 victory in the first postseason game in Texans franchise history. In a year marked by the unexpected and potential pitfalls -- from the loss of starting quarterback Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart, to nagging injuries for star wide receiver Andre Johnson -- the Texans have put together the most successful season in the 10-year history of their franchise. They captured the AFC South title and won 10 games for the first time in their short history, thanks in part to Yates. He helped them to the division- clinching 20-19 win in Week 14 against Cincinnati.

Detroit Lions vs New Orleans Saints Recap - January 07, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - It took a while to get on track, but once they did, Drew Brees and the Saints showed the upstart Detroit Lions what it takes to win a playoff game. Down 14-10 at the half, New Orleans completely dominated the second half to take a 45-28 win over the Lions in an NFC Wild Card game at the Superdome. Brees, who set a single-season record with 5,476 passing yards, threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns on 33-of-43 passing to help the Saints advance to the NFC Divisional Round and exorcise the ghosts of a wild card loss to a 7-9 Seattle team last season. "Their defense was very patient in the first half and it can get frustrating when you come up against that," said New Orleans head coach Sean Payton. "But, I thought we were able to fight through and did a great job of protecting the ball and keeping it in the second half." The New Orleans backfield of Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory combined for 164 rushing yards on 31 carries with three touchdowns and also had 10 catches for 89 yards and a score for New Orleans, which went 13-3 in the regular season to win the NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons vs New York Giants Recap - January 08, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Elite quarterbacks win playoff games on the road and at home. Until Sunday, Eli Manning had done plenty of the former, but none of the latter. Manning threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns to win a postseason game at home for the first time, leading the New York Giants to a 24-2 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Manning hit eight receivers and completed 23-of-32 passes, pulling the NFC East champions out of an early-game funk. The Giants defense took care of the rest, stopping Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on two key 4th-and-inches plays. "Both in the shadow of the goal line," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the stops. "Those plays really inspired everybody." After the second one, Hakeem Nicks slashed through Atlanta's secondary for a 72-yard touchdown catch to give the Giants a 17-2 lead late in the third quarter. Nicks had two touchdown catches, including a leaping four-yarder in the second quarter that gave New York the lead for good, and Mario Manningham scored on a 27-yard catch in the fourth. The Giants, who went 9-7 in the regular season and beat Dallas last week for the No. 4 seed, moved on to face the top-seeded Packers next Sunday in Green Bay.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos Recap - January 08, 2012 - NFL - SB Nation
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - And on the second day of the NFL playoffs, the Denver Broncos rose again. Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas connected for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime, giving the Broncos a 29-23 victory over the Steelers and providing a stunning ending to their AFC Wild Card contest. Now Denver, which won its division despite losing its final three regular- season games and finishing the year 8-8, is onto the second round of the playoffs. The Broncos will face top-seeded New England on Saturday. Denver, of course, installed Tebow as its starting quarterback in Week 7 after starting the season 1-4. He then led the Broncos to wins in seven of their next eight games, a stretch that included three overtime victories and a string of improbable late-game comebacks. The Broncos' magic seemed to run out with their season-ending losing streak, but Sunday, they re-discovered it, building a 20-6 lead at halftime behind an extremely productive second quarter.

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