On the weekend of Jan. 9, eight National Football League teams participated in the first round of the NFL playoffs to see who would advance. On Saturday the Kansas City Chiefs visited the Houston Texans, and the Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers. On the following day, our Seattle Seahawks faced the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins played against the Green Bay Packers.
The first of these games to take place was a brutal 30-0 victory that the Chiefs took over the Texans in an incredibly boring game that will likely be remembered as one of the worst NFL playoff games in history, for several reasons. The first of which is the fact that the 30-0 loss ranks as the fifth worst shutout in NFL playoff history. There have also been only 20 shutouts and this was the first one seen in a decade. On top of that, only 26 playoff games in history were decided by 30 points or more. Another downside to this game was the teams themselves. Of all the prominent NFL fan-bases such as those of the Seattle Seahawks, the New England Patriots, or Green Bay Packers, neither the Chiefs nor the Texans are known for their wide-spanning fan support. Kansas City was on a 10 game winning streak entering the playoffs, but I bet nobody remembers that. On the other hand Houston is the third worst NFL division in history, with a combined record of 25-39. All of these factors lined up a snooze fest that sleepily elevated the Chiefs to the next round
Next was the 18-16 victory of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Cincinnati Bengals. Throughout the course of the game the Steelers had a pretty commanding lead; 6-0 at halftime and 15-0 going into the fourth quarter before the game turned on its head. Able to rally 16 unanswered points, the Steelers went from in the lead to having to score from deep in their own territory with 90 seconds left on the clock. A last second field goal put the Steelers ahead 18-16 to win the game and send the Bengals home Overall the Bengals’ composure was what almost won them the game in the end, but a slipup in the final moments put it out of their reach. Ultimately, the Steelers won a messy game that they should not be proud of as they advance to play the Denver Broncos in the next round.
The last game of the weekend was the Washington Redskins hosting the Green Bay Packers in a 35-18 win for the visitors. Coming into the game there were questions about how strong Green Bay was given their losses in the last two games. The problems seemed to continue as the Redskins lunged ahead to an 11-0 start. Aaron Rodgers, star quarterback for the Packers, started 1 for 8 on passing with 11 yards and a safety against him. After this, the Packers rallied, holding a 17-11 lead at halftime and an eventual win. During this rally, Rodgers completed 20 of his last 28 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. He credits his own focus and mentality for the achievement. Packers wide receiver James Jones had similar thoughts, expressing that in the playoffs, everybody is 0-0. With this win, Green Bay will travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals in a bid to redeem themselves after a brutal 38-8 loss to Arizona in the last week of the regular season.
Last but not least was the Seahawks game in Minnesota. At kickoff, the two teams had to play in -6 degree weather with a -25 degree wind chill, marking the coldest game in Viking history. The bout itself was a defensive grudge match, with neither team willing to give any ground to their opponent. Eventually the Vikings routed the Seahawks, gaining a 9-0 lead in the final quarter. However, Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks showed their pure will to go on as they rallied for 10 points, leaving the Vikings with the ball in the Seahawks’ red zone in the final moments of the game. In a play that will go down in history, Blair Walsh missed an easy field goal, handing Seattle the win in a battle of iron-willed defenses that proved to be a thrilling game overall. The hawks will now be going on to face the Carolina Panthers in the next round.