SportsPulse: The NFL’s first tremendous wild-card Saturday triple-header didn’t disappoint. USA TODAY Sports activities’ Mackenzie Salmon breaks down the most important tale strains from every recreation.


The NFL’s inaugural “Tremendous Wild Card Weekend” opened up with a slightly dramatic tripleheader kicking off the 2020 season’s playoffs.

Backup quarterbacks performed main roles – as did grizzled vets and passers both coming into or achieving their primes. All 3 video games have been slightly shut, regardless that just one produced an disenchanted … and a gentle one at that.

However there was once considerable drama and various open-ended questions – Rams stars Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp could not end in Seattle because of accidents – and none of Saturday’s winners know who they are going to face subsequent weekend for the reason that league reseeds the sector.

However we do have a couple of solutions, i.e. Saturday’s winners and losers …


Expenses Mafia: The ardent fanatics of Buffalo, the AFC’s model of Inexperienced Bay, were given to revel in their first playoff win in 1 / 4 century – and a few of them even were given to wait the Expenses’ defeat of the Colts in Orchard Park, N.Y. Just right information: Expenses Stadium will host any other recreation subsequent weekend. 

Tom Brady: He now has as many playoff wins (one) with out Invoice Belichick as Belichick has with out TB12. Brady’s 31st postseason victory prolonged his personal document amongst quarterbacks.

Jared Goff: Saturday’s aid look was once the previous No. 1 draft choose’s first playoff motion since he and the Rams have been stifled 13-Three by means of the Patriots in Tremendous Bowl LIII. For the time being, Goff was once the point of interest of a lot of L.A.’s offensive struggles – his numbers falling off because the staff ignored the postseason in 2019 earlier than a 2020 resurrection in large part credited to the protection. However Goff got here thru in Seattle, offering a gutty efficiency 12 days after the damaged thumb on his throwing hand was once surgically pinned in combination. Beneath the cases, a 155-yard day that incorporated a backbreaking TD move to Robert Woods in a 30-20 defeat of the Seahawks turns out lovely excellent. 

Rams QB Jared Goff (16) and LT Andrew Whitworth survived and advanced Saturday.

Rams QB Jared Goff (16) and LT Andrew Whitworth survived and complicated Saturday. (Photograph: Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports activities)

New York Jets: Seattle’s loss manner the Seahawks shall be choosing previous in every around of the 2021 draft … apart from the Jets personal their choices in Rounds 1 and three by means of distinctive feature of the Jamal Adams business. Adams had an attractive tough recreation in opposition to the Rams, and the staff he pressured to deal him benefited on account of it.

Josh Allen: This season’s coming-out birthday party for the third-year Expenses quarterback is now whole. Allen threw for 324 yards and a couple of rankings and ran for 54 yards and any other TD. Rather a redemptive efficiency after he fell aside in his playoff debut at Houston remaining yr.

Cam Akers: The operating again set a Rams rookie playoff document with 131 speeding yards, and his 176 yards from scrimmage have been the second one maximum amongst any rookie within the Tremendous Bowl generation. Washington’s Timmy Smith had 213 yards in Tremendous Bowl XXII.

Andrew Whitworth: After struggling harm to a couple of knee ligaments in opposition to the Seahawks on Nov. 15, the Rams’ veteran left take on returned Saturday – resuming his 15th NFL season and ongoing quest for his first championship.

Taylor Heinicke: Valiant effort by means of Washington’s emergency quarterback, who handed for 306 yards and a TD and ran for a club-high 46 yards and any other ranking. Heinicke even performed thru an harm to his non-throwing shoulder, revealing after the sport he had suffered an AC joint separation. He positive appeared to be certain that he’s going to have a role within the NFL subsequent yr … and may just even get a glance as Washington’s starter relying on how issues pan out.

Former Jags: It is only been 3 years for the reason that Jacksonville Jaguars got here inside mins of thrashing the New England Patriots to achieve Tremendous Bowl LII. Nevertheless it did not take lengthy for what gave the look to be a skilled younger Jags staff to resolve earlier than being dismantled in slightly brief order. However relatively a couple of have landed in excellent scenarios. CB Jalen Ramsey is starring for the Rams, who additionally make use of QB Blake Bortles – previously the Jaguars’ starter however in all probability L.A.’s number one backup subsequent weekend. RB Leonard Fournette had a starring position within the Bucs’ win at Washington. Sunday, former Jags DEs Yannick Ngakoue and  Calais Campbell will line up for the scalding Ravens. And subsequent week, longtime Jacksonville TE Marcedes Lewis shall be some of the well-rested Packers webhosting a divisional around recreation.

John Wolford: Regardless of failing to live to tell the tale the primary quarter of his first playoff look, the Rams’ first-year QB2 was once credited with the victory … most commonly due to the NFL’s antiquated laws for awarding wins and losses to quarterbacks. (Necessarily, get started the sport, and also you develop into the pitcher of document.)


John Wolford: After making his NFL debut within the Rams’ playoff-clinching Week 17 victory, Los Angeles caught with the Wake Woodland product and previous AAF big name forward of Goff. However Wolford sustained a blow to the top/neck house on a questionable hit from Adams. Wolford, 25, who is been delaying a occupation in funding banking to proceed his soccer occupation, left Lumen Box in an ambulance for additional commentary at a Seattle sanatorium however ultimately rejoined his victorious teammates. 

Alex Smith: And for readability’s sake, neither Smith nor Wolford is a “loser” … each simply misplaced out on hard-won alternatives Saturday. In relation to Smith, the presumptive NFL comeback participant of the yr, he simply did not have sufficient time to get his balky calf in a position to jot down any other bankruptcy to his Cinderella tale.

Seahawks offense: Moderate at easiest in the second one half of of the season, QB Russell Wilson and Co. have been simply abysmal in opposition to the department rival Rams. Wilson finished 11 of 27 passes for 142 yards, threw a pick-six, was once sacked 5 instances at the back of his usually problematic O-line, all whilst overseeing an “assault” that was once 2-for-14 on 0.33 down. Whoa, ‘Hawks.

Philip Rivers:Used to be that a wrap for one of the crucial largest avid gamers in league historical past to by no means achieve a Tremendous Bowl? Rivers, who ranks 5th all time in passing yards (63,440) and TDs (421) – he overtook Corridor of Famer Dan Marino in each classes in 2020 – and simply became 39, was once enjoying on a one-year, $25 million maintain the Colts. In line with NFL Community, he’ll want foot surgical procedure this offseason as he and the staff weigh their choices. Rivers has already been named head trainer of St. Michael Catholic Prime Faculty in Fairhope, Alabama, efficient upon his retirement. However lots of the males who performed with Rivers right through an NFL occupation that is spanned 17 years up to now wish to see him hoist a Lombardi Trophy earlier than he is achieved.

Chase Younger: Nice as his first NFL marketing campaign was once, a reminder that newcomers are supposed to be observed and no longer heard. The defensive finish shouted “Tom Brady! Tom Brady, I am coming. I would like Tom!” after Washington escaped the tanking Eagles in Week 17. Cautious what you would like for, Chase … but when it is what you need, be sure to stroll the stroll subsequent time.

CenturyLink Box home-field benefit: The Seahawks entered the weekend with a 10-game playoff successful streak at domestic, a lot of it below CenturyLink’s company flag. On the other hand, their stadium was once renamed two months in the past amid CenturyLink’s rebrand. The Seahawks are actually Zero-1 in postseason at Lumen Box, the place they were not so luminous. Their remaining playoff loss in Seattle took place just about 16 years in the past to the day … to the St. Louis Rams – when this construction was once referred to as Qwest Box.

Officers: They did not penalize Adams for what gave the impression an attractive straight forward unlawful blow to Wolford. However the zebras in Buffalo just about price the Expenses a victory, giving the Colts a moment likelihood to win or tie once they did not appropriately award a fumble by means of Indianapolis WR Zach Pascal with 26 seconds ultimate that may have sealed the end result with out additional drama.

Colts analytics division: Indianapolis head trainer Frank Reich gambled relatively somewhat Saturday. He misplaced a key second-half timeout on a questionable problem. He went for 2 issues when a PAT would’ve lower Buffalo’s fourth-quarter result in seven issues (regardless that the analytics bore this one out when the Colts transformed on a next two-point play that lower the deficit to a few issues). However Reich’s choice to eschew a 22-yard discipline purpose close to the top of the primary half of – if transformed, Indianapolis would have taken a 13-7 lead – backfired when Rivers ignored WR Michael Pittman Jr. behind the top zone on fourth down. Would were great to have that timeout and the ones issues on the finish, but it surely should be famous Reich’s competitive taste has usually served the Colts effectively and earned the consideration of his avid gamers. 

Dwayne Haskins: He will have been within the lineup for the Washington Soccer Crew, enjoying for redemption in a playoff recreation at domestic Saturday night time rather than injured Smith. As a substitute, Haskins, a first-round choose in 2019, was once making plans to discuss with the Panthers on Monday in a bid to re-light his nascent occupation after falling out of fashion in Washington.


Apply USA TODAY Sports activities’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis


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