The 32 issues we realized from the 2020 NFL season’s wild-card weekend:
1. The league billed its first postseason opening with consecutive tripleheaders “Tremendous Wild Card Weekend.” “Redemption Street” or “Soccer Exorcism” would have labored simply as effectively.
1a. The Cleveland Browns received their first playoff recreation in 26 years.
1b. The Buffalo Payments received their first playoff recreation in 25 years.
1c. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers received their first playoff recreation in 18 years, the final one being their Tremendous Bowl XXXVII triumph over the Raiders.
1d. Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson exorcised a small demon, profitable his first postseason begin in his third try.
1e. The Saints staved off a fluky January defeat … for now.
2. Tom Brady-Drew Brees, Spherical Three within the divisional spherical? Sure, please. Positive would’ve made for a pleasant NFC championship recreation … however both of those legends paying a go to to Aaron Rodgers and the Inexperienced Bay Packers within the convention title tilt can be simply as pleasant.
2a. On a associated be aware, prepare to listen to fairly a bit concerning the issue of beating a staff thrice in a single season. Brees’ Saints swept Brady’s Bucs in 2020.
2b. Memo to Tampa receivers: Preserve Saints S C.J. Gardner-Johnson out of your head … or at the very least out of earshot.
3. Again to TB12. Saturday, Brady, 43, grew to become the oldest participant to throw a postseason TD cross. He was 51 days senior to the earlier record-holder, George Blanda, however nonetheless appears a lot youthful than the Corridor of Famer.
3a. Brady and his former teammate, present Titans Okay Stephen Gostkowski, are the primary gamers to be members of playoff golf equipment in 12 consecutive seasons.
3b. Brady had by no means performed in a wild-card recreation on the highway earlier than Saturday.
3c. Brady has now overwhelmed 17 totally different NFL franchises within the playoffs amongst his file 31 postseason victories. No different quarterback even has 17 playoff wins. (Corridor of Famer Joe Montana’s 16 triumphs rank second all time.)
4. Rodgers and (presumably) Rams QB Jared Goff will meet Saturday at Lambeau Area in a matchup of former Cal Bears.
5. Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and Kansas Metropolis’s Patrick Mahomes will meet subsequent Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium for a matchup of former Texas Tech Purple Raiders.
6. Sunday marked the Bears’ first playoff highway recreation in 26 years.
6a. Sunday marked the Bears’ first playoff recreation in New Orleans for the reason that legendary ’85 staff trounced the Patriots in Tremendous Bowl XX.
7. This is hoping (former?) Colts QB Philip Rivers takes yet another whack at reaching Tremendous Sunday. Hate to see Philly Riv caught with the label “Best QB to by no means attain a Tremendous Bowl.”
8. Dwelling-field benefit continues to be overrated, groups going 127-128-1 in their very own buildings, the worst mark for the reason that 1970 AFL-NFL merger, on this oddest of normal seasons. That pattern continues within the playoffs, highway golf equipment prevailing in 4 of the weekend’s six matchups.
9. Positive can be thrilling to see Josh Allen and Mahomes have a very good ol’ shootout within the AFC title spherical. However it’s a must to marvel if the Payments, so closely reliant on Allen given their incapacity to run the ball or play a lot protection (472 yards allowed to Colts), can survive the surging Ravens within the divisional spherical.
10. Saturday’s assembly between the Bucs (Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar) and Washington (Jennifer King) was the primary postseason recreation to characteristic feminine coaches on each sidelines. Optimistic progress all the time welcome.
11. For a staff with a historical past solely courting to 1996, the Baltimore Ravens have crafted fairly the postseason legacy.
11a. Head coach John Harbaugh now owns eight highway playoff wins, most in league historical past after he broke a tie with Tom Coughlin and Corridor of Famer Tom Landry.
11b. The Ravens are 6-0 on the highway within the wild-card spherical, the perfect file league-wide.
11c. The Ravens are additionally the one group with a profitable file (11-6) in highway playoff video games.
12. Jackson joined Colin Kaepernick as the one quarterbacks with a number of 100-yard dashing video games in playoff historical past.
13. The Browns’ 28 first-quarter factors Sunday have been a playoff file for the reason that merger.
13a. Cleveland had not scored at the very least 40 factors in a postseason recreation since 1954.
14. Was Chicago TE Jimmy Graham’s walk-off TD the perfect ever (in any sport) for a man enjoying for the shedding aspect?
14a. Clearly Bears WR Javon Wims needed no a part of Nickelodeon’s graphics … however extra on that later.
14b. And so begins a compelling offseason for Chicago, which should work out what to do about free-agent QB Mitchell Trubisky, whose largely disappointing four-year keep ended with a few of his finest soccer – Sunday however – throughout the Bears’ late-season playoff drive.
15. Do not sleep on the New Orleans protection, which set franchise defensive playoff data by limiting Chicago to 9 factors and 239 yards.
15a. Previous to Sunday, Brees and Saints WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara had solely performed 67 snaps collectively this season.
16. Titans CB Malcolm Butler picked off his first playoff cross since pilfering Seahawks QB Russell Wilson to ice Tremendous Bowl XLIX six years in the past. Sunday was additionally Butler’s first playoff look since he was successfully benched by Patriots coach Invoice Belichick in Tremendous Bowl LII towards the Eagles.
17. Washington grew to become the primary staff to win its division with a sub-.500 file however then lose its playoff opener.
18. Is one eligible for the Presidential Medal of Freedom coming off a non-playoff season? Asking for a pal …
19. Rams OLB Leonard Floyd collected seven sacks in three video games towards Seattle this season. He is the primary participant within the NFL’s 101 seasons to have a number of sacks towards the identical opponent thrice in a single marketing campaign.
19a. Floyd’s teammate, Aaron Donald, has 15 sacks of Wilson in 15 video games. This is hoping Donald’s rib harm will not preserve him out towards Rodgers and the Packers on Saturday afternoon.
20. Gotta be amped for Browns coach Kevin Stefanski and Professional Bowl G Joel Bitonio, the membership’s longest-tenured participant, who merely had their private playoff debuts delayed per week as an alternative of indefinitely after COVID-19 prevented them from taking part in Sunday night time’s stunner over the Steelers.
21. The pandemic additionally wreaked havoc past the sphere. NFL Community’s Kurt Warner, CBS’ Tony Romo and NBC’s Mike Tirico all needed to quarantine and broadcast from residence this weekend.
22. Cleveland’s Mayfield grew to become the primary quarterback drafted No. 1 total to win his playoff debut since Alex Smith did so 9 years earlier.
22a. Bummer that Smith did not get the possibility to notch his third playoff victory for his third totally different franchise, his injured calf ending his magnificent comeback season prematurely.
23. It is official: The Steelers are the worst 11-0 – and now 12-5 – staff in NFL annals.
24. Colts LB Darius Leonard is enjoying at 215 kilos? Hope it lasts, dude.
25. Previous to Sunday, the final wild-card recreation staged in Nashville was the “Music Metropolis Miracle” 21 years earlier.
26. In case you missed an epic matchup of elegant punters Saturday, Seattle’s Michael Dickson outbombed L.A.’s Johnny Hekker, the perfect to ever do it for my cash.
27. Titans RB Derrick Henry ran for 40 yards with simply 2.2 per try towards Baltimore. Each have been season lows for the league’s latest 2,000-yard rusher.
28. Buffalo’s Tyler Bass drilled a 54-yard subject purpose Saturday, the longest by a rookie in a playoff recreation throughout the Tremendous Bowl period (since 1966).
29. Indianapolis coach Frank Reich’s myriad gambles did not precisely repay, however I would play for (or rent him) any time.
30. Can we cease dancing on each other’s midfield logos, y’all? I imply JuJu received the message … nothing good comes of it.
31. Good factor I am a hip dad who likes The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” … as a result of it is all you are going to hear main as much as halftime of Tremendous Bowl LV.
32. Nonetheless, I can nonetheless be a “get off my slime-covered garden” Gen Xer in relation to seeing NFL video games on Nickelodeon. I get it – appeal to the kids’ eyeballs – however meh … particularly when you possibly can’t efficiently display screen out expletives picked up by on-field microphones in a recreation the place a participant (Bears WR Anthony Miller) will get ejected for throwing a punch. (I additionally get pleasure from being at odds with my Millennial colleagues who’re less-experienced fathers.)
32a. However, admittedly, fairly cool that victorious Saints coach Sean Payton allowed himself to be slimed post-game …
32b. … whereas equally horrifying that he did not first take away his candy Air Jordan XI Concords. You are alleged to be pondering just a few performs forward, Coach.
Comply with USA TODAY Sports activities’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
In the event you love speaking soccer, we have now the right spot for you. Be part of our Fb Group, The Ruling Off the Area, to interact in pleasant debate and dialog with fellow soccer followers and our NFL insiders. Do the suitable factor, join now!