Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots
After a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, the Baltimore Ravens traveled to Foxboro, Mass. to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. In his career, Brady is 12-3 at home in the playoffs, making a win for Baltimore a tough task. However, Baltimore has 10 postseason wins since 2008, tying Green Bay for a league best.
Jumping out to a fast start, Joe Flacco threw two touchdowns to Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith to go up 14-0 on New England. New England got the ball back and had an 8 play, 78-yard drive which resulted in 4-yard touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. After New England scored another touchdown, Joe Flacco responded by throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Owen Daniels with 10 seconds left in the first half.
Picking up where they left off in the first half, Baltimore struck quickly with a 70-yard drive that resulted in a Justin Forsett 16-yard touchdown. However, Tom Brady wasn’t giving up yet. He led two consecutive drives which resulted in two touchdowns to tie the game 28-28. On Baltimore’s next possession, they had to settle for a field goal. Getting the ball back with 10:17 left in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady led a 74-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell to take a 35-31 lead.
New England’s defense held and allowed the Patriots to advance to another AFC championship. With the last touchdown pass of the game, Tom Brady passed Joe Montana with the most career playoff passing touchdowns. Brady ended the game with 367 yards passing, 3 touchdown passes, and 1 interception.
Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Despite their losing record this season, the Carolina Panthers managed to find a way into the playoffs. And, after beating the Arizona Cardinals last week, the Panthers traveled to Seattle to face the Seahawks in a very hostile environment. Coming off a Super Bowl win last season, the Seattle Seahawks looked to reach the NFC championship for the second straight year.
Carolina began with a promising start to the game until Panther quarterback Cam Newton was intercepted by Richard Sherman. After another turnover for the Panthers, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson led a short 4 play, 28-yard drive ending in a 16-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin.
Carolina struck next with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Seattle scored another touchdown while Carolina answered with a field goal. It was 14-10 at half. Then, Seattle came out of the half operating on all cylinders. They kicked a field goal followed by two more touchdowns. One was a 90-yard interception by Seahawks corner Kam Chancellor. Late in the fourth quarter, Carolina put another touchdown on the board, but it would not be enough.
Seattle now advances to the NFC championship game for the second year in a row. Wilson ended 15/22 with 268 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. For the Panthers, Cam Newton ended 23/36 with 246 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
After a win last week on a questionable pass interference call, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions advanced to play the Green Bay Packers in the frozen tundra, as it is commonly referred to.
Green Bay scored first with Aaron Rodgers throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless. Dallas came right back, and Tony Romo threw a 1-yard touchdown to Tyler Cutts to cap off a 12 play, 62-yard drive. The Cowboys didn’t stop there, Tony Romo threw another touchdown on the next drive to Terrance Williams for a 38-yard touchdown. Before halftime, Mason Crosby for the Packers kicked a 40-yard field as time expired.
In the second half, after another Crosby field goal, the Cowboys drove down the field to score another touchdown to make the score 21-13. However, the Packers finished the game strong scoring two touchdowns on passes from Aaron Rodgers to make the score 26-21, after a failed two-point conversion on the second touchdown.
Trying to comeback and win the game, Romo and the Cowboys were driving down the field. Faced with a 4th and 2, Tony Romo threw a 31-yard pass to Dez Bryant which was ruled a catch at the 1 yard line. But, after review, the pass was ruled incomplete, and the Packers got the ball and ran the clock out.
Rodgers ended the game with 316 yards and 3 touchdowns while Romo finished with 191 yards on 15/19 pass attempts with two touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos
Facing off against his former team, Peyton Manning looked to advance to his second straight AFC championship game. But Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis colts came to play.
The Broncos started the game hot by finishing a long opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas. However, in the second quarter Daniel Herron scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7.
On the next drive, the Colts got to Manning and forced a fumble which was recovered by the Colts. This turnover set up a drive that ended in a touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Dwayne Allen. The next Colts possession Luck threw an interception which led to a Broncos field goal. The score was 14-10 at half.
In the second half, the Colts start out with a 15-yard touchdown from Andrew Luck to Hakeem Nicks. 21-10. The Colts and Broncos each kicked another field goal to make the score 24-13. On a 4th and 8 with 3 minutes left in the game, Broncos running back CJ Anderson came inches short for the first down. Colts ball. Even though Denver would get the ball back, time ran out before they could score. Colts win. Peyton Manning’s record in the playoffs slides to 11-13. Andrew Luck advances to his first ever AFC championship game.