Bengals’ Meltdown, Vikings’ Missed Game-Winner Highlight NFL Wild Card Weekend
High tempers and a botched field goal were the deciding factors in two games as the NFL playoffs opened this weekend.
On Saturday night, the Cincinnati Bengals held a late fourth-quarter lead and seemed to put the finishing touches on their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers when Vontaze Burfict intercepted Pittsburgh with 1:36 left in the game. But on the following play, the Bengals’ Jeremy Hill coughed up the ball and gave it right back to the Steelers.
Then, a hobbled Steelers’ quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, led Pittsburgh down the field in a hurry, aided by two ill-advised personal foul penalties on Cincinnati: one, an illegal hit by Burfict on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown; and then as trainers attended to Brown, Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones inexplicitly bumped an official when he lunged at a Pittsburgh trainer. The penalties moved Pittsburgh down the field 15 yards apiece and easily into field goal range.
With 18 seconds remaining, Pittsburgh made the game-winning field goal and advanced to a Divisional round matchup against the Denver Broncos next Sunday.
In the first Wild Card game Sunday afternoon, it was a missed field goal that proved to be the difference as the Seattle Seahawks escaped the Minnesota Vikings in what ended up being a defensive standoff in the third-coldest game in NFL playoff history.
Trailing 10-9 with two minutes to go, the Vikings marched down the field and with less than 30 seconds to go, set up kicker Blair Walsh for a 27-yard field goal that would have given them the lead. Instead, Walsh pulled the kick left.
Replays showed that for the second time in the game, Walsh had to kick against the ball’s laces, which if you’ve seen Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, you know that’s an NFL no-no. Despite the replay, Walsh shouldered all the blame.
“I can tell you this, it’s my fault. … I should be able to put that through. … I’m the one who didn’t do his job,” Walsh told reporters after the game.
Walsh had made three field goals earlier in the game – all of the Vikings points – and through his career had been 33 of 34 from 30 yards or closer prior to this kick.
The sixth-ranked Seahawks walked away with the one-point victory and will travel to Carolina next weekend to face the #1 seed Panthers.
In the other NFC matchup Sunday, the Green Bay Packers overcame a shaky first quarter and 11-point deficit to beat the Washington Redskins 35-18. The Packers head to Glendale, Arizona, next weekend to face off against the Cardinals.
In the first game of Wild Card weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs dominated a sloppy Houston Texans team and shutout the home team in a lopsided 30-0 victory. The Texans committed five turnovers and were unable to slow down the red-hot Chiefs, who have now won 11 straight games after opening the season with a 1-5 record.
The Chiefs will travel to Foxboro Stadium next Saturday to face the defending champion New England Patriots.