Here is what I learned from the Wild Card Playoffs, the better quarterback in all four games survived and advanced. Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers are all living to play another day, and all had to go on the road to do it. Can we say that there are many other factors in a team winning a football game, sure we can but can you say that each of those quarterbacks didn't have at least one or two plays which determined the outcome of the game?
What happened in Minnesota?!?
I have nothing to say that may actually comfort Vikings kicker Blair Walsh after his face cringing missed field goal from 27-yards out that would have put the Vikings ahead and most likely advanced them to next weekend, it was a chip-shot, you've got to make those and he knows that, however, I will stick up for Walsh. Adrian Peterson's late-game fumble was massive, and I can't understate that. To cough up the ball when momentum was swinging away from your team is absolutely brutal. Walsh's previous kicks from 43 & 47-yards were not easy kicks at all. This the playoffs though, every team knows what's at stake and the bottom line is every inch does actually count.
Here is what the Vikings have going for them though;
(1) Moving into a new state-of-the-art stadium next season. (2) They've hit on a lot of their first-round picks over the last few years, Floyd, Bridgewater, Smith, Rhodes, Waynes, Kalil, and Barr all which are young and making plays for that team. (3) Jerick McKinnon and Stefon Diggs are young offensive weapons who played very well this season. That's much more than many other teams in the NFC have going for them.
To the victor, It's unlikely that one single play can completely alter a football game, unlikely but not impossible. Down 0-9 in the fourth quarter, unable to get anything going on offense all day, Russell Wilson scoops up a fumble which had been snapped over his head, escapes a huge loss to find Tyler Lockett in the middle of the field for a 35-yard gain and puts them in position to score and change momentum. That is what Russell Wilson brings to the table, no play is done until it's done, he has an ability to escape the pocket, knows what to do when the plays break down, and is in complete control of the offense. The win wasn't pretty but it was absolutely frigid out, the conditions were brutal, and you could see on both teams the effects it had. For a team that has reached two straight Super Bowls, they're battle tested and this win against the Vikings in the freezing cold is just one more battle that Wilson and Seattle have survived.
Props to the Green Bay Packers, they got 'it' back!
I can't say I'm all that surprised though, I'm really not. We're not Kirk Cousins fans over this way. When he beats the likes of Aaron Rodgers in a shoot out, come talk to me. No, it isn't easy to say now that the game is over but seriously, Rodgers is a winner. My thoughts on the Packers are simple, they played a football team they're better than and they just needed to figure that out on their own. Jay Gruden and Washington had no idea how to stop the wave once Green Bay got it going. They were running down hill, both running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks had their way with the Washington defense late. Rodgers was making plays all afternoon and I really felt like for the first time in months the Packers were feeling their offense. Green Bay was really trying to get play makers like Randall Cobb involved as often as possible, getting him the ball in the backfield and finding him open for passes. All around I really felt like the Packers were playing a complete game, that being said - it gets much more difficult going forward. . .
I'm finished talking about the NFC East "champions", I'd rather point out what the Packers are running into in Arizona. A team they lost to 8-38 just weeks ago. A veteran led team that's been able to rest for over a week now. I'll also point out this, the game has to be on Aaron Rodgers shoulders, without Jordy Nelson I'm still failing to see the other guy on the offense that can be as dynamic as they'll need a player to be against the Cardinals. I'd love to say it could be Eddie Lacy but let's face it, he really hasn't been what one would have hoped he'd be heading into this year. Cobb hasn't been super impressive and while we really like young Davante Adams, he's been far to streaky to be relied upon. The Packers have their hands full with the Arizona Cardinals, either way it's the playoffs, it's Palmer vs. Rodgers. I'm jacked up!!