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And then there were four… The Championship games are here, and what a round of football it was.
Ma-homes sweet home: Chiefs banish ghosts of playoff past as they ease past insipid Colts
In the first Divisional playoff match, Kansas City throttled the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 in snowy conditions at Arrowhead.
They have heard it all season, and one indeed wondered whether the Chiefs’ previously sieve-like defence would hold up against a red-hot Indy.
Well, Justin Houston and co. saved their most emphatic response for playoff day.
In what was expected to be an offensive shootout, Andrew Luck was kept to an astonishing 2-6 for 15 yards at the half.
Fellow bright spark Marlin Mack was restricted to 9 carries for a measly 46 yards over four quarters.
The Chiefs offence rolled on like the juggernaut it is, with Patrick Mahomes proving typically slick completing 27 of 41 passes for 278 yards.
Indy’s defence could not live with the one-two punch of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
The dynamic duo combined for 216 yards, allowing the ground game to punch in all four touchdowns.
The Colts hung around after going behind 17-0 early, in major part due to a blocked punt TD. If they weren’t deflated enough veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri missed an elementary 23 yard field goal on the half-time buzzer.
Late in the fourth, the Colts narrowed the lead to 24-13, however they never truly threatened the Chiefs at any point, with the Chiefs scoring late to cap off the party.
Kansas City now having exorcised their home playoff demons will look to hold the fort against the dynastic Patriots on Monday morning.
Goff and Running: Rams run Cowboys off into the sunset behind Gurley and Anderson
Todd Gurley and surprise packet C.J. Anderson combined for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns as the L.A. Rams battle past an underwhelming Dallas Cowboys 30-22.
The Rams duo became the first rushing teammates to both have 100+ yards in the playoffs since 1997.
After blunting Seattle’s league best rushing attack, the vaunted Dallas defence parted like the Red Sea in the L.A. Colosseum, giving up a whopping 5.7 yards per rush.
Keeping a late interest in the game, Dallas hopes were dashed by the rush.
This time Jarred Goff taking off for a game sealing first down with 1:53 remaining.
It had all started so well for the Boys who took a 7-3 lead behind a 29 yard touchdown to star wideout Amari Cooper.
However, their biggest strengths proved their biggest weaknesses on the West Coast.
Amidst their defence being battered, Dallas rushed for a measly 50 yards, with league leader Ezekiel Elliot totalling 47 of those.
A 17-0 run saw L.A. lead 23-7 in the third.
Yet the Cowboys behind Justin Gallop got within eight to keep things interesting.
Late in the final quarter both sides exchanged touchdowns, with Dallas needing a stop with a view to tie.
Fittingly, they couldn’t get it done. Leaving Goff and Sean McVay with their first career postseason wins.
The Young and the Ruthless: Brady, Michel and Patriots roll over Chargers at fortress Foxborough
They have been written off all season. Too old. Too slow. Feasting on a weak division.
For all the annual criticism, New England answer in the only way they know how. Winning at home in the postseason.
In a largely one sided encounter, the Patriots proved too much to handle for the Los Angeles Chargers cruising to a 41-28 win.
Behind three touchdowns from rookie Sony Michel and an unflappable performance from Tom Brady, New England swatted aside the hyped Chargers who looked lethargic following their 2600 mile journey to Massachusetts.
After a Phillip Rivers bomb to Keenan Allen levelled the scores at 7-7 in the first, the Pats scored four straight touchdowns to lead 35-7 at the half.
Effectively, New England’s 21-0 second quarter took the game away from Los Angeles, with the rest of the match seeming a formality.
Credit must go to the spirit of the Chargers who put 21 points in the second half.
However, their inability to stop New England’s offence proved costly with the Pats now able to set their sights on Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
A Foles Dawn: Eagles surrender early lead as Jeffrey gaffe seals Saints win
What a difference a year makes.
Looking for another piece of magic, marching down the field Nick Foles threw a dart square into the hands of (previously) reliable Alshon Jeffrey.
The South Carolina product let the ball and the Eagles season slip through his fingers and into the grasp of Marshon Lattimore.
Lattimore, famously at fault for last season’s walk-off loss to the Minnesota Vikings, had the redemption moment he could only dream of.
In a game of momentum the Eagles took advantage of a Saints side in disarray, to lead 14-0 into the second quarter.
Yet a successful fake punt conversion on fourth and 1 seemed to give New Orleans new life.
On the very same drive, Brees converted a 4th and goal finding Keith Kirkwood for a two yard touchdown.
Still trailing 14-10 New Orleans converted a crucial 3rd and 16, connecting with Michael Thomas, before finding Thomas again to end the drive up 17-14.
New Orleans extended their lead to six, before Wil Lutz had the chance to ice the game with 52 yard field goal, but missed wide right.
It seemed to be all set up for some another Foles fairytale yet, it wasn’t meant to be with the Saints running out the clock after Lattimore’s late pick.
Sean Payton and Carson Wentz may be sending a thank you Alshon’s way.
Conference Match Ups
AFC- Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots.
NFC- New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams.