Historically, paying close attention to the Wild Card weekend could be important. Although as a team, you want to be a top seed for a first-round bye and home field advantage, six of the last nine Super Bowl champs played in the Wild Card weekend. With the Panthers — who got hot at the right time — Ravens, Colts and Cowboys all winning their respective games this weekend, the top four seeds — who were all resting this weekend — have difficult matchups next weekend.
The Panthers ran into a Cardinals team that has struggled with injuries this season. The Cardinals had to go with their third-string quarterback, Ryan Lindley, who has one career win as a starter and 2 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Cam Newton threw for 198 yards, two touchdowns and one interceptions and also rushed for 35 yards. The Panthers’ defense held the Cardinals to only eight first downs — compared to 25 by the Panthers — and 78 total yards.
The Ravens went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers at Heinz Field for the first time ever in a playoff game. Joe Flacco threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns, while the Steelers couldn’t overcome turning the ball over three times, including two interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger.
Andrew Luck experienced no problems breaking down the Bengals’ defense as he threw for 376 yards and a touchdown pass — an amazing throw on the move, while avoiding a sack that resulted in a 36-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief. The Bengals’ woes continue as they still haven’t won a playoff game since 1990.
The Cowboys benefited from some controversial calls, but at the end of the day, Tony Romo made the big plays he needed to make, including a crucial 21-yard pass to Jason Whitten on 4th and six to keep the drive alive while down 20-17 in the fourth quarter. The Lions took a commanding 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but after that, the Cowboys outscored them 24-6. Romo Finished with 293 yards and two touchdown throws, and NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray rushed for 75 yards and one touchdown.
Next week’s games:
Baltimore at New England, Saturday
Carolina at Seattle, Saturday
Dallas at Green Bay, Sunday
Indianapolis at Denver, Sunday