2021 NFL Wild Card Recap

Offensive perfection, a Home Alone reunion, a forgotten rivalry and a fade to black (and gold) put the wild in NFL Wild Card Recap.

Cardinals 11
Rams 34

A stifling defense that notched the shortest playoff Pick 6 ever. Matthew Stafford playing the game of his life for his first playoff win in 13 years. Everything went right in L.A. for the Rams and props to them for stepping up … but holler at me when they do this to Tom Brady and not a third-year QB in his first playoff appearance.

Speaking of Kyler Murray, to say he failed to meet expectations is a massive understatement, as his first taste of the postseason should be spit out after what was easily his worst performance. It’s easy to say Arizona’s season ended when DeAndre Hopkins’ season did but the Cardinals were never as good as their record implied.

Steelers 21
Chiefs 42

These aren’t your father’s (or even older brother’s) Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ben Roethlisberger’s last game included perhaps his worst first half, and the Steelers surrendered 42 points for the third-straight postseason game. I’m a huge Mike Tomlin fan but there could be some lean years coming to the Steel City if this defense remains inconsistent and the offense doesn’t quickly find an heir apparent to Roethlisberger.

And is there a better show in the sport than Patrick Mahomes? Five straight touchdowns in short order and over 400 yards to upstage Big Ben’s swan song. I can’t wait for the Mahomes-Josh Allen duel next week at Arrowhead Stadium.

49ers 23
Cowboys 17

In this classic matchup — the Cowboys-49ers rivalry includes an NFL record-tying eighth postseason meeting, and the first playoff tilt between them since the 1994 NFC Championship Game — San Francisco dominated the first three quarters and looks exactly like the draw Green Bay should be dreading. The Niners’ brand of bully ball travels well, even to Lambeau Field.

Oh, and Dallas — HAHAHAHAHA!

Ahem … I laugh in lieu of repeating ‘I told you so’ since I’ve always held the belief that the Mike McCarthy hire was an uninspired choice by Dallas, as evidenced by his chronic late-game failures so bad even a 13-year-old playing Madden would out-strategize him and then doubling down on said failure. Oh, did I mention the postseason franchise-record 14 penalties? The Cowboys aren’t nearly disciplined (or detail-oriented) enough to win a championship, so the beautiful marriage between the most overrated active NFL coach and the league’s most overrated team will keep Big D’s historic drought intact.

Eagles 15
Bucs 31

Is anyone really surprised by this? Philly was 0-6 against playoff teams in the regular season, Jalen Hurts got sonned by the Bucs defense (and quite literally, Tom Brady) and that Eagles rushing attack wasn’t about to get theirs against Tampa a second time. This is Exhibit A in the case against a No. 7 seed in the NFL playoffs.

Patriots 17
Bills 47

It’s hard to be perfect in pro football … but Buffalo’s offense was just about perfect by scoring touchdowns (some even by accident) on every drive.

Given all the talk of Viagra before the game and the, um, related paraphernalia thrown on the field during the game, it was stunning to see a Bill Belichick defense so unprecedentedly flaccid.

Raiders 19
Bengals 26

It’s fitting that two main characters from Home Alone were playing this game because that was the top movie in the country the last time Cincinnati celebrated a playoff win.

Seriously though … the beginning of the unstoppable Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase tandem ended the longest active postseason losing streak in professional sports, the first step in the Bengals’ rise from punchline to Super Bowl contender. I doubt that championship run happens this year but bank on it happening in the not-to-distant future.

The only question in Las Vegas is whether head coach Rich Bisacchia gets the interim tag removed. Even with this loss — which guarantees the Raiders will go without a postseason win for 20 years — leading a team that lost its head coach and both of its 2020 first round picks to off-field issues to the playoffs in a loaded AFC deserves to get the gig full time, especially when he’s won over the roster in the process.

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