The Saints, and their fanatics, had a easy want on Sunday: no surprises.
After 3 successive years of painful, freakish, even unfair, exits from the N.F.L. postseason, what the New Orleans Saints sought maximum of their wild-card playoff recreation on Sunday used to be not anything really memorable in any respect. A typical victory, even a run of the mill one, would suffice, thanks.
The second one seed within the N.F.C., and the most important favourite of the league’s opening postseason weekend, the Saints nonetheless were given a little of a scare after they led via simplest Four issues after a jagged first 1/2 in opposition to the lowly Chicago Bears. However New Orleans, the winner of 11 of its ultimate 13 regular-season video games, imposed its will at the seventh-seeded Bears with long, methodical second-half drives to drag away for a tidy, predictable 21-Nine victory.
The Saints’ subsequent recreation, then again, will draw a a long way larger highlight and the power of a marquee matchup of soccer royalty. It can be the general recreation between Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Tom Brady, whose fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers will talk over with New Orleans in subsequent weekend’s divisional spherical.
The 2 have by no means met within the playoffs, and it’ll be the primary recreation in N.F.L. historical past that includes two beginning quarterbacks over age 40. And whilst Brady, 43, has no longer recommended he’s going to retire after this season, there may be substantial hypothesis that Brees, who turns 42 on Friday, is taking part in in his ultimate N.FL. season.
After Sunday’s recreation, Brees stated that once Brady joined the Buccaneers he knew they might be an N.F.C. crew “with playoff aspirations and past.”
Of the approaching showdown, Brees added, “I suppose it used to be inevitable.”
The Saints defeated Tampa Bay two times all over the steady season, outscoring the Buccaneers, 72-26.
Nursing an uncomfortable 7-Three halftime lead in opposition to Chicago, the Saints used their first ownership of the second one 1/2 to mount a 12-play, 85-yard scoring pressure that took seven mins 29 seconds. There used to be just one the most important play within the march downfield. On a third-and-Four, Saints broad receiver Michael Thomas stuck a 38-yard go from Brees. 9 performs later, on second-and-goal on the Chicago 6-yard line, the Bears’ defensive entrance harassed Brees, who scrambled backward and gave the impression with out choices for safely eliminating the ball.
Only a few ft from Brees, working again Latavius Murray rose from the turf by myself after a blocking off strive. Keeping apart Murray from Brees used to be Chicago’s fearsome linebacker Khalil Mack, who used to be bearing down at the quarterback. With a little of ingenuity, Brees, who finished 28 of 39 passes for 265 yards, lobbed a nifty, prime, fluttering go over Mack’s head that landed within the fingers of Murray, who sprinted into the top zone for a rating that put New Orleans forward, 14-Three.
Even though New Orleans tacked on a Three-yard landing run via Alvin Kamara, a stellar Saints protection took care of the remainder. Chicago won simply 48 speeding yards. When Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ran for 7 yards past due within the recreation, it represented Chicago’s longest working play of the sport. With no flooring assault, the Bears threw the soccer again and again and netted simplest 199 yards in the course of the air.
“We compelled them to be one dimensional,” Saints Trainer Sean Payton stated. “While you do this, you’re going to win a large number of video games.”
Jan. 10, 2021, Three:55 p.m. ET
The overall of Nine issues yielded via New Orleans — Chicago tight finish Jimmy Graham scored on a 19-yard landing go at the recreation’s ultimate play — used to be the bottom rating for a playoff opponent within the crew’s historical past.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were given the win, and revenge, in opposition to the Titans.
The dangerous blood between the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans simmered after Tennessee routed the top-seeded Ravens in ultimate season’s playoffs and the manifest animus used to be on complete show all over a pregame spat at the Ravens’ midfield emblem in Baltimore sooner than a standard season recreation two months in the past. The Titans unusually received that recreation, too.
Sunday, in a chippy, spirited recreation, the Ravens were given their revenge — and rubbed it in — with a 20-13 wild-card recreation victory in Tennessee. When Baltimore defensive again Marcus Peters intercepted a go from Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill with not up to two mins final within the fourth quarter, he and a number of other of his teammates stomped and danced at the Titans’ midfield emblem as they grew to become to stand the Tennessee bench.
The gesture drew a taunting penalty however a 33-yard run via Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson two performs later doomed any likelihood the Titans had for a rally. It used to be becoming that Jackson used to be on the heart of the sport’s pivotal ultimate second for the reason that victory used to be his first within the postseason in 3 appearances. For the ultimate two years, promising Baltimore seasons have unexpectedly ended after house playoff upsets with Jackson on the helm.
“It used to be in my thoughts,” Jackson stated later on about his Zero-2 postseason file coming into the sport. “I’m satisfied to get it performed. It wasn’t going to be the similar effects. We in the end completed.”
Jackson, whose 48-yard landing run tied the sport at 10-10 past due within the first 1/2, had 136 speeding yards on 16 carries and finished 17 of 24 passes for 179 yards. However as dominant as Jackson used to be, Baltimore’s protection will have had the most important have an effect on at the recreation’s result because it held Titans working again Derrick Henry to simply 40 yards speeding on 18 makes an attempt. The longest run from scrimmage for Henry, who led the N.F.L. in speeding for a moment consecutive yr with 2,027 yards, used to be eight yards.
“Our protection used to be bored with listening to the noise,” Jackson stated of reminders that Henry had gashed the Ravens protection of their two most up-to-date conferences.
The sport remained tied till a Four-yard landing run via Baltimore working again J.Okay. Dobbins within the 1/3 quarter. A hectic battle ensued for the remainder of the sport and the groups traded box objectives within the fourth quarter. Trailing, 20-13, Tennessee took ownership of the soccer at their 21-yard line with a bit of greater than 4 mins final within the recreation.
5 performs later, the Titans had complex simplest 11 yards, and simply after the two-minute caution, Tannehill threw towards broad receiver Kalif Raymond, who slipped — or used to be driven — to the bottom as he used to be creating a wreck for the go. With Raymond at his ft, Peters intercepted Tannehill’s throw. On the finish of the play, Ravens avid gamers collected at the Titans midfield emblem.
After the sport, many Ravens, together with Jackson, left the sphere with out taking part within the conventional postgame shaking of palms. Jackson later known as the Titans “disrespectful” for his or her conduct previous the November steady season recreation. He added: “There wasn’t no reason why for us to shake palms.”
Baltimore used to be set to play both in Kansas Town or Buffalo subsequent week, relying at the result of the Cleveland Browns-Pittsburgh Steelers recreation scheduled for Sunday evening.