Wild Card Weekend is in the books and...you know what, that round kind of stunk. We had one good game, one kind of ok game until a late score, and then the rest of the weekend was full of blow outs. Lots of former Hawks in action though, so let’s go!
King’s return to Houston has been an enormous success. Since returning to the Texans at the end of November, he logged 47 tackles in 7 games as the Texans went 4-3 and made the playoffs on the last weekend of the year. He followed up his strong finish to the regular season with an impressive display Saturday, a team-high 12-tackle performance as the Texans routed the beleaguered Cleveland Browns, 45-14. He also chipped in one punt return for eight yards and a hilarious play on Joe Flacco when the game was still close.
Desmond King II humiliates Joe Flacco with a break dance tackle. pic.twitter.com/Ndocp1lc5t— Tad Wissel (@DickAndSauce) January 13, 2024
Lukas Van Ness, Kristian Welch, and Chauncey Golston
We had no former Hawks in the Saturday night game with Kansas City and Miami - we should take a second to acknowledge that it was so cold in Kansas City that a hit on Patrick Mahomes shattered his helmet - so we jump to Sunday afternoon in Dallas. This game was over almost immediately as the Packers jumped the Cowboys on their way to a 7-2 upset, 48-32.
Van Ness finished the game with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for loss.
Lukas Van Ness with his 1st playoff sack!— Hawks in the NFL (@HawkeyesNfl) January 15, 2024
Welch also made the box score with 1 tackle. On the other sideline, Golston finished with 4 tackles as Dallas completely collapsed. Mike McCarthy absolutely will not be retained after that disaster. The loss dropped Dallas to 5-13 in the playoffs and without an appearance past the Divisional Round since 1995, when they won Super Bowl XXX. The Packers now have more playoff wins in AT&T Stadium than the Cowboys (3 for Green Bay, 2 for Dallas).
Sam LaPorta, Jack Campbell, and Alaric Jackson
I hit on this game for a moment in my All-Pro article on Sam Laporta. LaPorta finished Detroit’s 24-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams with 3 receptions for 14 yards and his first playoff touchdown in what was easily the best game of the weekend.
Campbell finished 5 tackles for the Detroit defense that bowed up at just the right time after the Rams were mostly unstoppable offensively. Jackson, meanwhile, was a stalwart for the Rams at right tackle, putting in a fantastic performance as the Rams, in what was believed to be a rebuilding year, made the playoffs and made an excellent showing of themselves. Sean McVay is an awesome head coach and if the Rams can continue to draft well, they’ll remain a competitive team. They have an excellent core and an excellent culture.
AJ Epenesa and Micah Hyde
On to western New York, where some areas along the western edge of the state were hit with upwards of 3 feet of lake effect snows. Seriously, this was INSANE.
The game happened Monday instead and the Bills advanced with a 31-17 win over Pittsburgh in a game that was suddenly tight for the Bills before a late touchdown sealed it; seriously, it’s never easy for Buffalo.
Hyde finished the game with 3 tackles, while Epenesa had a quarterback hit.
Anthony Nelson, Tristan Wirfs, and Kaevon Merriweather
The last game of the weekend was also a stinker, a 32-9 Tampa Bay rout of Philadelphia. The Eagles were in the game, but only temporarily, trailing 16-9 deep into the third quarter.
That time “in” the game ended with what should have been an Anthony Nelson safety, but Jalen Hurts managed to fling the ball away just before he was sacked and instead the play was ruled as intentional grounding. Either way, a Tampa safety, a 18-9 lead, and the rout was on as the Bucs added two more scores to blow the Eagles out.
Nelson finished with 1 tackle - should have been 2 and a sack, but whatever - and a quarterback hit. Wirfs was his usual excellent self at left tackle, drawing praise from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, especially on a play where he pulled and smashed a tiny little Philly corner. Poor guy. Merriweather did not record any stats.
Eagles fans are not handling this one well - at one point a fan in the stadium held up a “Fire Siriani” sign, which is pretty incredible to me given Nick Siriani had this team so close to a Super Bowl win less than a year ago. There’s no arguing that this season turned into a disaster for the Eagles, who were 10-1 at one point and on their way to the NFC East title, only to lose 5 of 6 and lose to the division to the Cowboys. Bad weekend for the NFC East.
Now things get serious in the Divisional Round. The Packers head west to play the 49ers, while Tampa visits Detroit for Detroit’s second home game in two weeks after having no home playoff games in the entire existence of Ford Field until Sunday night.
In the AFC, the Chiefs head to Buffalo - perhaps the game of the weekend - while Houston is at Baltimore. Let’s hope this round of games is better than the last round.