Tennessee Titans 28, Baltimore Ravens 12
What you need to know
- A strong defensive showing along with another dominant performance from Derrick Henry
helped lead the Titans to one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent history as they blew out the Ravens to pave their way to an AFC title game. Henry finished with 195 rushing yards from 30 carries, and while he didn’t find the end zone himself, he did pass for a touchdown to Corey Davis
. Ryan Tannehill
accounted for the other three touchdowns, two passing to Jonnu Smith
and Kalif Raymond
and one rushing it in himself. The Titans offensive line continues to look sharp while Derrick Henry
is putting this offense on his shoulders, now rushing for over 180 yards in three straight games.
- The Ravens and Lamar Jackson
turned the ball over 6 times against the Titans including two turnovers on downs on 4th and 1. Lamar Jackson
played well but had a pair of costly turnovers. Jackson made some huge plays with his legs and made some great throws but failures to convert in the red zone and on 4th down kept the Ravens from scoring points. The Ravens were not at all committed to running the football despite finding success when they did. Gus Edwards
saw only 2 carries after gaining 19 yards on his first attempt. Mark Ingram
was clearly not healthy, Mark Andrews
was also playing at less than one hundred percent and lacked his usual explosiveness. Marquise Brown
and Hayden Hurst
were the two standouts among skill position players. Brown played one his best games of the season including a spectacular one handed catch. Hurst stepped up late in the game and made a nice touchdown catch.
QB Ryan Tannehill
, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 7 - 14 - 88 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 13 - 1 - Ryan Tannehill
had another great game with the luxury of a strong backfield to lean on, attempting just 14 passes while completing only seven of them for a highly efficient 88 yards and two touchdowns. The first drive was relatively uneventful for Tannehill aside from him making a nice throw on the run to tight end Mycole Pruitt for a 15-yard gain. On the second drive, Tannehill had a timely scramble for three yards to convert on 3rd-and-2. Two plays later, however, he took an ugly sack for eight yards to bring up a long third-and-goal. Tannehill came up big on third down though, making a nice throw to the left corner as Jonnu Smith
helped out with a highlight-reel catch for the 12-yard touchdown. Tannehill’s next throw on the following drive would be his best of the game. It was a one-play drive as Tannehill found Kalif Raymond
with a 51-yard deep ball for his second passing touchdown of the game. The Ravens were fooled with the play action, and Raymond was wide open for Tannehill’s perfectly-thrown deep ball for an easy score. Tannehill completed just two more short passes before halftime and completed just one pass in the second half as the Titans were in run-first mode. Tannehill had a few scrambles himself, including a three-yard touchdown run to put the Titans up by three touchdowns and solidify the big win.
RB Derrick Henry
, 45 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 3 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 30 - 195 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Derrick Henry
continues to amaze as he finished with yet another mammoth performance on the ground, rushing 30 times for 195 yards. Henry first broke off a few chunk gains of nine and seven yards on the second drive of the game as he touched the ball on five of eight plays on what would end up being a touchdown-scoring drive. Once the Titans went up by two scores to start the second quarter, the game script was ripe for Henry to really get going. He busted his first long run on the last drive before halftime, sparked by first showing great patience to wait for a hole to open up at the line of scrimmage. Henry made a nice cut, broke a tackle five-yards downfield, and proceeded to stiff-arm his way to a 27-yard gain. Coming out after halftime, Henry proceeded to account for all 81 yards of the opening drive for Tennessee as he capped it off with, of all things, a passing touchdown to Corey Davis
. Henry took the snap from three-yards out, scrambled around, and made a jump pass to Davis to cap off a drive on which he also broke off his longest run of the game. The big run of 66 yards came on a draw play that was going nowhere, but Henry somehow stayed upright at the line of scrimmage and had no defenders left in front of him as he sprinted to the big gain, finally being caught 66-yards downfield. For the rest of the game, Henry ground out tough gains while busting one more big run of 23-yards before the end of the third quarter.
WR A.J. Brown
, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - A.J. Brown
was relatively invisible as a receiver, seeing just three targets and hauling in only one reception for nine yards midway through the third quarter. It was a big play for the Titans though, as that catch converted a third down to help keep the clock moving. Brown also rushed once for nine yards on a jet sweep in the second quarter. Brown now has just two catches for 13 yards in the postseason.
WR Corey Davis
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 1 (2 targets) - Corey Davis
was targeted only twice, catching one pass for three yards to avoid getting shut out from the score sheet for the second straight game. Lucky for Davis, his one catch was a touchdown on the unique jump pass from Derrick Henry
coming on the opening drive of the second half.
WR Kalif Raymond
, 4 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 45 - 1 (1 targets) - Kalif Raymond
had just one catch in this game, but it was a big one as he flashed his speed to get free for a 45-yard touchdown to kick off the second quarter. The Ravens bit on the play action while Raymond ran free past the secondary and showed great concentration to bring in the catch while falling backwards in the end zone, untouched by any Baltimore defender. This was his second long touchdown of the season.
TE Jonnu Smith
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 1 (3 targets) - Jonnu Smith
had minimal involvement with just two catches for 12 yards, but he did score the first touchdown of the game with a highlight-reel one-handed catch in the left corner of the end zone from 12 yards out. It was a third-and-goal play, and Smith was very well covered on his route. He stayed focused on the ball though, and after getting one hand on it, Smith batted the ball back to himself, obtained control, and got two feet down while falling backwards out of the end zone.
QB Lamar Jackson
, 97 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 59 - 365 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 20 - 143 - 0 - Lamar Jackson
and the Ravens failed to play the brand of football they had played throughout their winning streak. The Ravens dropped numerous passes, struggled to execute offensively when it mattered most, and turned the ball over 6 times as a result. Jackson moved the Ravens into Titans territory on their opening possession but Jackson threw high targeting Mark Andrews
and the pass went off his hands and was intercepted. The Ravens second possession ended abruptly after a failed quarterback sneak on 4th and 1. Jackson danced behind the line of scrimmage and tried to find a lane to run through on the play instead of just plowing straight ahead. Jackson set up a field goal attempt with a 30 yard completion to Marquise Brown
and a tight window throw over the middle to Mark Andrews
on 3rd down. Then on 3rd and 16 throwing out of his own end zone Jackson hit Seth Roberts
down the seam for 26 yards. A few plays later Jackson dropped an absolute dime to Marquise Brown
for a 38 yard gain. Jackson hit Brown perfectly in stride with a number of defenders in the area. The Ravens settled for a field goal after the long completion. Jackson and the Ravens moved deep into Titans territory and ran the same play again with the same result on 4th and 1 resulting in a turnover on downs for the second time. On the first play of their next possession Jackson showed poor pocket awareness trying to step up instead of escaping the pocket and was stripped from behind for the Ravens fourth turnover. After moving into Titans territory Jackson threw another interception this time failing to see Kenny Vaccaro underneath of Miles Boykin
. Trailing by 21 in the 4th quarter Jackson led the Ravens down the field for their first touchdown. Jackson threw a strike down the seam to Hayden Hurst
for a 15 yard touchdown. The Ravens moved the ball but failed to score on their final two possessions.
RB Mark Ingram
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 22 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Mark Ingram
managed some production on limited touches but was clearly not healthy. Ingram left the game before halftime and was shown with a wrap on his injured calf and would return briefly in the second half.
RB Gus Edwards
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 20 - 0 - Gus Edwards
ran through a huge hole up the middle and broke into the open field for a 19 yard gain. Edwards showed good patience and awareness waiting for blocks downfield. Edwards saw only 2 carries after his big run. The Ravens favored using Jackson over Edwards in short yardage situations which was a highly questionable decision.
WR Marquise Brown
, 83 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 126 - 0 (11 targets) - Marquise Brown
looked the part of number one NFL wide receiver against the Titans. Brown made plays all over the field and played one of his best games of the season. Brown came wide open running a deep comeback route and picked up easy yards after the catch thanks to the soft coverage resulting in a 30 yard gain. Brown made a 16 yard catch working just beyond the underneath coverage. Brown made a spectacular one handed catch running down the seam from the slot for 38 yards. Brown made the catch with numerous defenders around him and made it look effortless. Brown picked up 9 yards running a crossing route on 3rd and 3. Brown gained 9 yards on an underneath catch along the sideline. Brown made a 17 yard catch running a deep in route.
WR Willie Snead
, 81 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 56 - 0 (8 targets) - Willie Snead
did most of his damage underneath working as a check down option for Jackson. Snead made his first catch running a curl over the middle for 6 yards. Snead dropped a potential 10 yard catch on 3rd and long that was thrown slightly behind him. Willie Snead
found a hole in the Titans coverage downfield for a 26 yard gain.
TE Mark Andrews
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 39 - 0 (7 targets) - Mark Andrews
was clearly playing at less than one hundred percent against the Titans. Andrews did not seem to have his usual speed and ability to separate. Andrews looked stiff and was not able to pull away from defenders as he usually can. Andrews made his first catch running a corner route for 12 yards. Mark Andrews
had his second target skip off his hands and the pass was intercepted by Kevin Byard. Andrews looked like he may have been favoring his injured ankle on the play. Andrews found a soft spot between three defenders on 3rd and 6 to make a 16 yard catch over the middle.
TE Hayden Hurst
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 53 - 1 (6 targets) - Hayden Hurst
racked up 4 catches in quick succession late in the game. Hurst made a tough 8 yard catch over the middle. Hurst showed great hands and concentration securing a 15 yard touchdown over Kenny Vaccaro. Hurst had minimal separation on the play but still secured the pass. Hurst picked up 18 yards running a simple curl underneath with a nice move after the catch. Hurst picked up 12 running a quick out route underneath. Hurst also had a target down the seam bounce off his shoulder pad as the pass arrived before he turned around for it.
Minnesota Vikings 10, San Francisco 49ers 27
What you need to know
- After dispatching the Saints last week in the Wild Card round there was a lot of optimism in Minnesota. Unfortunately, they ran into a San Francisco defense that got several key defensive players back and were well-rested. The Vikings could not get anything going on offense and tied the mark for second-fewest first downs in a playoff game with 7. Kirk Cousins
was hung out to dry by his offensive line and was sacked 6 times. Dalvin Cook
could not get anything going on the ground and was only given 9 carries the entire game. The Vikings kept things close going into half time at 14-10 but then were completely shut out in the second half. Cousins threw an ugly interception in the 3rd quarter that the 49ers turned into points and Minnesota looked to almost give up at that point. Marcus Sherels struggled as a punt returner and muffed a punt twice. He was able to jump on one of the fumbles but lost the other. Minnesota ranked top 10 in total yards this season but were unable to break through against the top teams in the NFL. They have their main core coming back next season but will need much better play from the offensive line to help breakthrough.
San Francisco 49ers
- Jimmy Garoppolo
was good on play action passes, but had a few throws he would like to take back. He wasn't really needed to win this game. The running game was too much for the Vikings to handle and Tevin Coleman
ran hard as the lead back ahead of Raheem Mostert
, who had a calf cramp late in the game and wasn't 100% after being sick during the week. No one in the passing game had a strong fantasy line because of the game script.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 46 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 29 - 172 - 1 TD / 1 INT - This week was a huge let down for the Viking offense. They showed an ability to move the ball when it mattered against the Saints and the offensive line was able to protect Cousins. Then this week happened and Cousins has next to no time to throw the ball. He was sacked 6 times for a loss of 46 yards. He also threw an ugly interception in the 3rd quarter when he stared down Adam Thielen
and Richard Sherman was able to jump the route. The 49ers scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive and put the nail in the coffin of the Vikings before the 4th quarter even started. Cousins threw a single touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs
, but it was a gift of a touchdown with the defender falling down after Diggs had to come back for the ball. It was not a great throw for Cousins and a combination of a great adjustment by Diggs and poor coverage by the 49ers. Cousins got the monkey off his back with his first playoff win last week, but not being able to win the big game will continue to follow him. Cousins will have 1 more season in his fully guaranteed deal to lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl. The window is rapidly closing for the Vikings and they will need to make vast improvements in regard to protecting Cousins to compete next season.
RB Dalvin Cook
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 18 - 0, Rec: 6 - 8 - 0 (8 targets) - It was a rough day for the Viking offense and it started with Cook. Not only did the offensive line struggle to protect Cousins, but they also could not open any holes for Cook. He tied his season-low for carries with 9 and averaged just 2 yards per carry. His longest run went for 6 yards and the running game was just not there. Cook led the team with 8 targets and made 6 catches for just 8 yards. The 49ers defense did a great job swarm tackling and did not let Cook get to the second level. The screen game that had worked so well for the Vikings this season was nowhere to be found. It was a great bounce-back season for Cook and he was able to avoid the big injury. Look for another 1,000-yard season next year as long as he can stay healthy again.
RB Alexander Mattison
, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0 - The Vikings just could not run the ball this week. Mattison was given a single carry for 3 yards and did not have a target in the passing attack. Mattison and Cook have a very similar skillset and he was not a great change of pace option this week. The Vikings clearly like Mattison and plan on using him as a big part of their future. Mattison should be one of the top handcuff options next season with the injury history of Cook.
WR Adam Thielen
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (7 targets) - The talk all week was about the ankle injury to Thielen and if he would be able to play through the stitches. Thielen came into the game saying he was not 100% but that he was going to give everything he had. Unfortunately, the offensive line could not protect Cousins and Thielen was unable to win matchups down the field. Thielen caught 5 of his 7 targets and was second on the team with 50 yards. He trailed Dalvin Cook
in targets by 1 and Stefon Diggs
in yards by 7. His longest catch went for 17 yards and there was just not enough time for Cousins to push the ball down field. It was an injury-plagued season for Thielen after a true breakout last year. The Vikings are very thin at receiver and Thielen should be in line for an excess of targets again next season.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 57 - 1 (5 targets) - In what was a mediocre game by the entire Minnesota offense, Diggs managed to make 1 big play. He had the lone touchdown for the Vikings and it came on a defensive breakdown and bad coverage by the 49ers. Diggs caught 2 of his 5 targets and led the team with 57 receiving yards. His big play was a 41-yard touchdown where he just ran a stop and go route and fought underneath to make the catch. Diggs caught the ball 22 yards downfield and in fighting back for the ball his defender fell to the ground. From there it was an easy 19-yard scamper to the end zone to give Vikings fans hope. Diggs caught only 1 more target for 16 yards and was a non-factor outside of those 2 plays. It was a frustrating year for Diggs but he still finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards. Look for the Vikings to take a more balanced approach next season and get Diggs more involved.
TE Irv Smith
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (3 targets) - It was not a great day for the Viking offense, but Smith took big steps forward to be the starting tight end. He caught all 3 of his targets with his big catch going for 21 yards. He outplayed Rudolph this week and gave Vikings fans a glimpse of their future. They took him in the 2nd round for a reason and are fully invested in using him going forward. It should be an interesting conversation with Smith next year in this offense and what sort of value he will have.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (3 targets) - After making the walk-off touchdown catch last week for the Vikings to advance, Rudolph was bottled up by a smothering 49ers defense. He caught just 2 of his 3 targets for less than 5 yards. The Vikings utilized Rudolph in more of a run blocking capacity and made the shift to Irv Smith
through the air. This is what the future in Minnesota is going to look like. Rudolph is a fan favorite, but Smith is the tight end of the future.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 19 - 131 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 0 - 0 - Garoppolo was sharp to begin the game, with only a George Kittle
drop slowing down the first drive. He found Emmanuel Sanders
for a big gain to get into scoring range and then Sanders again to get into the red zone. Finally, he finished the drive with an easy play action pass to Kendrick Bourne
. On the second drive, Garoppolo kept it alive with a third and long desperation duck to Bourne that worked, but he was sacked and almost picked later as the drive stalled out. On the second touchdown drive he got some yards after catch help from Deebo Samuel
, but couldn't convert on a sneak after Samuel set the team up at the one. He was picked by Eric Kendricks in his own end late in the second quarter when he failed to read him dropping into coverage. In the third quarter, Garoppolo had one excellent third down conversion to Bourne when he negotiated the pocket well, but mostly wasn't needed to close out the win in the second half. He did have a chance to get a second touchdown pass in the second half with a screen and shovel pass to George Kittle
on goal to go plays, but both were stopped.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 105 - 2 - Coleman got the start with Raheem Mostert
not at 100% in this game and he ran hard with a good burst at the point of attack. He was often down on first contact and running in a linear fashion without much nuance as usual, but as the game went on, the holes got bigger and Coleman almost got into the open field a few times. His role as the lead back got him two short scores and he was showing a lot of fight at the end of his runs.
RB Raheem Mostert
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 58 - 0 - Mostert came in on the second drive after a calf cramp was holding him back and ran with great intensity, usually getting multiple yards after first contact. He ripped off a couple of first downs as soon as he got the ball and usually posted good gains on his runs. He also recovered a fumbled punt on special teams, but left in the fourth quarter with a calf cramp and needed an IV. He should be closer to full strength for the NFC Championship game.
RB Matt Breida
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 17 - 0 - Breida was only in during garbage time in the fourth quarter and he had a fumble that will give the team pause about using him again in the playoffs.
WR Deebo Samuel
, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 42 - 0 (6 targets) - Samuel displayed his typical run after catch toughness and ground out extra yards on his short receptions, including pushing the ball down to the one to set up a Tevin Coleman
score and pushing through multiple tacklers to convert a third and long. He had one fumble on an end around that was reversed by replay.
WR Kendrick Bourne
, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 40 - 1 (5 targets) - Bourne had a big game, but not without some flaws. He came through with a short score off of a play action pass to cap the 49ers first drive and also made a sprawling catch on a 3rd and long desperation quacker from Jimmy Garoppolo
to extend the second drive. He also had two bad drops, but redeemed himself in the second half with a leaping catch on a third and long.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 33 - 0 (2 targets) - Sanders had a couple of catches on the opening drive, including a big play to get into scoring range and a reception to get into the red zone, but wasn't heard from otherwise in the comfortable win.
TE George Kittle
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (5 targets) - Kittle was a force as a run blocker, but quiet as a receiver in this one. He had a drop on the first drive, but then got the ball on a reception inside the five, setting up Kendrick Bourne
's score. His biggest contribution in the passing game was breaking up a ball that should have been picked. He had two goal to go targets in the second half on a screen pass and a shovel pass, but neither was successful.
Seattle Seahawks 23, Green Bay Packers 28
What you need to know
- In another installment of “…But Will It Be Enough?”, QB Russell Wilson
nearly brought his team back from a 21-3 deficit, in the process reminding us just how dangerous he still is when he runs the ball. But in the end, it just wasn’t enough this time. RB Marshawn Lynch
took on most of the carries, and scored twice in what most likely will be his last game before heading back into retirement. Lynch had a 12-3 edge in carries over Travis Homer
, and probably could have handled more, but with the Seahawks were forced to go to the air in the second half. After breaking the rookie playoff record for yards in a game (160) last week, DK Metcalf
came back down to earth with a good-but-not-great game, and it was Tyler Lockett
’s turn to steal the spotlight, as he had an excellent game.
Green Bay Packers
- The Green Bay Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-23 to advance to the NFC Championship game. Aaron Rodgers
completed 16 of 27 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Aaron Jones
carried the ball 21 times for 62 yards and two touchdowns, and caught one pass for four yards. Jamaal Williams
had a very quiet day, rushing one time for three yards with one reception for nine yards. Davante Adams
dominated the Seahawks secondary to the tune of eight catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets. Geronimo Allison
, Marquez Valdes-Scalding, Jake Kumerow
and Allen Lazard
combined for two catches for 19 yards, a sad continuation of the Packers struggles in finding a complimentary receiver next to Adams. Jimmy Graham
caught three passes for 49 yards on four targets.
QB Russell Wilson
, Pass: 21 - 31 - 277 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 64 - 0 - Wilson didn’t have a horrible first half, but he just wasn’t able to connect with his receivers consistently enough to sustain any drives. The running game was not exactly inspiring, which led to a lot of pressure. Late in the half, Wilson countered with his legs on a number of rollout plays, and scrambles for good gains (he was the Seahawks leading rusher, by a country mile), and the momentum started to shift. Then, he came out throwing in the second half and moved the team up the field for an eventual Marshawn Lynch
short yardage TD. On that drive, he found DK Metcalf
for a 24-yard pickup, but was otherwise limited to short throws to him. On the other side of the field, Wilson had a great connection with Tyler Lockett
, hitting him for two big plays in the first half, and continuing the rapport in the second, as all but one of their hookups went for either a first down or touchdown. On the touchdown play, Wilson had rolled out and he anticipated Lockett’s moves perfectly, timing the short pass to him just as he separated from his defender in the end zone. Wilson nearly brought the team back to win it, but was sacked on 3rd & 5, which led to a punt with under three minutes to go, with hopes of one more possession. The Seahawks did not see the ball again, however.
RB Marshawn Lynch
, Rush: 12 - 26 - 2 - Lynch looked strong in the early going, but the Packers weren’t giving up much, and even stopped him on 3rd-and-short, which stalled the Seahawks second drive. Lynch got most of the carries over Travis Homer
, by a 12-3 margin. For the most part, Lynch tried to follow his blockers, and when breaking away was closed in on pretty quickly. After the one short yardage fail, he was basically unstoppable in those situations, converting both touchdowns from in close, and further adding a five yard run from the six, setting up his own score.
RB Travis Homer
, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets) - Homer looked proficient on his few carries, getting positive yardage when there wasn’t much room to run. He fared better as a receiver, taking a 4th-quarter pass from behind scrimmage for 16 yards, to the 5-yard line. He has played well enough these past few games that he’s most likely earned a place in the pecking order going into next season, albeit behind Chris Carson
and Rashaad Penny
WR Tyler Lockett
, Rec: 9 - 136 - 1 (10 targets) - Lockett was the Seahawks leading receiver by a wide margin. His first contribution was a 28-yard reception down the sideline, in which he had a couple of steps on the defender, and easily pulled in a perfect throw from Wilson. This play set up the field goal – and only first half points – late in the first quarter. Still in the first half, he added a big play of 31 yards over the middle, continuing to show versatility with his knack for finding openings zone defenses. He converted a short 4th-and-1 in the red zone, on a quick rollout play, getting the ball almost to the goal line, setting up the Seahawks first touchdown. Lockett’s TD was a short catch in the end zone, that was a deceptively good play. Wilson had rolled out and as Lockett jockeyed for position in man coverage, Wilson’s pass floated to him – wide open -- at the exact moment that he found separation.
WR DK Metcalf
, Rec: 4 - 59 - 0 (5 targets) - Metcalf didn’t come close to last week’s record breaking day, as the defense seemed intent on playing softer coverage on him and taking away the big play. The result was a handful of catches underneath, but for the most part he was kept in check. The exception to this was a catch that helped set up the TD to start the second half, in which he caught the ball in between defenders and was able to run about ten yards for a 24-yard pickup into the red zone.
TE Jacob Hollister
, Rec: 5 - 47 - 0 (6 targets) - Hollister caught the first pass of the game, an 11 yarder over the middle in which he got hit and went end-over-end. He had a short red zone catch, and fought hard to get the first down, but came up just short. His biggest play was a 19-yard catch in the 4th-quarter, which sustained a drive that led to a touchdown.
QB Aaron Rodgers
, Pass: 16 - 27 - 243 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 14 - 0 - Aaron Rodgers
completed 16 of 27 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He also rushed five times for 14 yards. This game summed up Rodgers season very well, as he alternated between stagnant drives and elite throws at some of the biggest times in the game. Specifically, with the Packers facing a third and eight from their own 22 yard line, deep in the fourth quarter and clinging to a five point lead. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and looked downfield to Adams, who was running a straight go-route from the inside right slot position that was angled toward the right sideline. Adams was able to create some separation by running a ridiculous hop-step juke that gave him some operating room. The way the route was set up, Rodgers had an angle that allowed him to make a throw that only Adams could make a play on, right at the apex of where two Seahawk defenders were converging. Although the angle was right, it was a difficult throw because the ball had to arc over the top of one defender, and then drop in a bucket ahead of the safety who was giving help over the top. Rodgers throw was textbook perfect, and it came at one of the defining points in the game and set up the Packers for the win. Rodgers first touchdown pass of the game came with the Packers facing a third and seven from the Seattle 20 yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and was looking to Adams on the left side the entire time. Adams ran a filthy route that was set up by Allison and Adams essentially running the same exact routes from the same side of the field. They both started off the line running immediate slants, Allison to the outside and Adams to the inside. It was an awesome piece of route-combinations, as right at the apex of where Allison and Adams met, they both put their foot in the ground and ran in the opposite directions. This confused the Seattle secondary and Adams was able to get massive separation from his defender which gave Rodgers plenty of room to lead him into the end zone for the 20 yard touchdown. Rodgers second Seattle touchdown pass came with the Packers facing a second and six from the 40 yard line. Rodgers took the snap under center and play action faked the handoff to Jones. The Packers overloaded the left side of the field, sending Adams in motion where he settled in right behind the inside left slot position. Adams ran what looked to be a deep post-route to the inside of the field, but after changing direction, Adams ran a double-move and ran on an angle back to the left sideline. The route was executed so cleanly that the Seahawks secondary had no one even in the close proximity to challenge the pass to Adams. The result was an easy 40 yard touchdown and a replay that is destined to be in “how to run routes” books and publications for years to come.
RB Aaron Jones
, Rush: 21 - 62 - 2, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (2 targets) - Aaron Jones
rushed 21 times for 62 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching one pass for four yards on two targets. This was far from Jones most efficient outing, as this was the first time where Jones did not eclipse 100+ yards rushing when receiving at least 18 carries (8 for 8 heading into this game). Jones still managed to make a big impact in this game, scoring two touchdowns on the ground. The touchdowns were essentially the same play, as they both came with the Packers facing a third and goal from the one yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and handed off to Jones who was running a draw right up the middle of the line. On the first touchdown, Jones managed to keep his feet moving when he was met with resistance at the line of scrimmage, which gave him enough momentum to extend the ball over the goal line for the one yard touchdown. The second touchdown was easier for Jones, as he was able to run right up the gut for the easy touchdown. Jamaal Williams
and Tyler Ervin
combined for just three carries and one reception, paving the way for Jones to be the Packers bell-cow back throughout the playoffs.
RB Jamaal Williams
, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Jamaal Williams
ran one time for three yards and caught one pass for nine yards on one target. This game was dominated by Adams in the passing game, and Jones getting nearly all the carries in the running game. That left scraps for Williams to share with every other player on the Packers offense, and the result was five players with one catch, Graham with three catches and Adams with eight. Despite Williams not being much of a factor in this game, he has carved out a nice little piece of the Packers offense and should be more involved in what will be a difficult matchup against the 49ers. In their week 12 matchup against the 49ers, Williams was the more efficient of the two, rushing 11 times for 41 yards to Jones 13 carries for 38 yards.
WR Davante Adams
, Rec: 8 - 160 - 2 (11 targets) - Davante Adams
rushed eight times for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets in the Packers win over the Seahawks on Sunday. Adams put on a master class of route-running, hitting the Seattle secondary with a bevy of double moves and jukes coming off the line of scrimmage. Adams came up big when it counted most, as the Packers offense was stagnant at times and depended on Adams to make the big play, something he did over and over again. With the Packers looking to close the game out in the fourth quarter, they were facing a third and eight deep in their own territory. Adams was lined up in the inside slot position on the right side of the formation and ran a straight go-route that angled towards the sideline. He was able to get immediate separation on his defender by juking him out at the line of scrimmage with a hard jump cut and fake to the inside. Rodgers was given a small window of daylight, but it was all he needed to execute the throw that only Adams could make a play on, right at the apex of where two Seahawk defenders were converging. Although the angle was right, it was a difficult throw because the ball had to arc over the top of one defender, and then drop in a bucket ahead of the safety who was giving help over the top. Rodgers throw was textbook perfect, but you have to tip your cap to Adams as well. He ran such a crisp route and never gave up the separation he created at the line of scrimmage, which was the difference between it being a completion and the Packers having to punt the ball back to Russell Wilson
, up only five points with less than five minutes left in the game. Adams first touchdown catch of the game came with the Packers facing a third and seven from the Seattle 20 yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and was looking to Adams on the left side the entire time. Adams ran a filthy route that was set up by Allison and Adams essentially running the same exact routes from the same side of the field. They both started off the line running immediate slants, Allison to the outside and Adams to the inside. It was the first time I’d ever seen that specific route combination between the X and Z receivers. With Adams and Allison on a course that would see them intersect, they both stuck their foot in the ground and cut hard in the opposite direction. This confused the Seattle secondary and Adams was able to get massive separation from his defender which gave Rodgers plenty of room to lead him into the end zone for the 20 yard touchdown. It was a very impressive route because Adams did not give anything away in terms of where he was going to end up, a tough thing to do when you have to cut back in the opposite direction and get up to top speed very quickly. Adams then outran the Seattle secondary to the end zone, scoring on the 20 yard touchdown catch. Adams second touchdown catch came with the Packers facing a second and six from the 40 yard line. Rodgers took the snap under center and play action faked the handoff to Jones. The Packers overloaded the left side of the field, sending Adams in motion where he settled in right behind the inside left slot position. Adams ran what looked to be a deep post-route to the inside of the field, but after changing direction, Adams ran a double-move and ran on an angle back to the left sideline. Adams absolutely destroyed the Seattle secondary with double move-routes, and they all seemed to be executed in a way where Adams was running away from the coverage on his second move, something that allowed him to generate big plays whenever they caught Seattle in the wrong coverage. This was Adams showing that he can carry the Packers offense on his back, which is exactly what he’s going to have to do in order for Green Bay to win next weekend in San Francisco.
WR Allen Lazard
, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0 - Allen Lazard
had a very quiet day in the Packers win over the Seattle, failing to secure his only target of the game, and missing some time with a leg injury. He did run the ball once for five yards on an end around. Lazard has carved out a piece of the Packers offense as the #2 receiver, but it is hard to depend on him for anything meaningful when Rodgers spreads the ball out as much as he does.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Marquez Valdes-Scantling
caught one pass for eight yards on one target in the Packers win over the Seahawks on Sunday. Valdes-Scantling has seen his playing time decrease with the ascension of Lazard, so one target is about what you can expect for him in the playoffs. He does have the added benefit of running a majority of his routes down the field, but when you get only one shot at a deep ball, you can’t expect to make that play a majority of the time.
TE Jimmy Graham
, Rec: 3 - 49 - 0 (4 targets) - Jimmy Graham
caught three passes for 49 yards on four targets in the Packers win over the Seahawks on Sunday. Graham’s long gain of the night came on a third and six from the Packers 29 yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and waited in the pocket for his receiver’s routes to develop. Graham managed to slip his way through the Seattle zone and get behind the linebackers tasked with covering him. Rodgers dropped the ball over the Seattle linebackers and hit Graham in stride. Graham was absolutely lit up by a Seattle safety after taking several strides down the field, but he was able to hang onto the ball and set up Adams long touchdown two plays later. Graham’s biggest play of the game came on the Packers last drive where he was able to gain a first down when the Packers were faced with a third and nine at the Seattle 45 yard line. If Graham does not convert the first down, then the Packers have to punt the ball back to Wilson up only five points. It says something that Rodgers was willing to go to Graham on the biggest play of their season to date, but it’s hard to trust him when he’s had so many down games this year.
Houston Texans 31, Kansas City Chiefs 51
What you need to know
- The Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead on the back of good deep passing and some Chiefs gaffes, but their offense couldn't keep up with the Chiefs and the running game that dominated in the first matchup stalled out. Will Fuller
looked healthy and effective in his return but it wasn't enough even though Deshaun Watson
had a big statistical game.
Kansas City Chiefs
- The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans 51-31 on Sunday, advancing to the AFC Championship game where they play the Tennesse Titans. Patrick Mahomes
completed 23 of 35 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 53 yards on seven carries. Damien Williams
rushed 12 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. Sammy Watkins
stepped up big when his number was called, catching two passes for 76 yards on two targets, and gained 14 yards on his only rush of the game. Tyreek Hill
had a quiet day, totaling three receptions for 41 yards on a meager four targets. Travis Kelce
was the star of the game, catching 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns.
QB Deshaun Watson
, Pass: 31 - 52 - 388 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 37 - 1 - It was an unfortunate game for the Texans, and it was a hot start for Deshaun Watson
leading the offense on their first opening-drive touchdown of the season. He was able to hit Kenny Stills
for a 54-yard touchdown pass when the Chiefs busted a coverage leaving him wide open. Watson also hit tight end, Darren Fells
, for a four-yard touchdown pass on a nice ready hitting his tight end, finding a soft spot in a zone looks just inside the endzone. It was also the first time in a while that Watson was able to cut loose the deep ball, and he hit six passes for over 20 yards plus four of 30 yards or more. Watson did chip in five-yard touchdown run late in the game when the game was out of reach. Watson had no turnovers, but it was a yardage filled game for the offense, but it not produce enough scores to keep up with the Chiefs' explosive offense.
RB Carlos Hyde
, Rush: 13 - 44 - 0, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - The Texans run game has not been the same since the right tackle situation lost rookie Tytus Howard. Carlos Hyde
had little to work with on Sunday with his longest run, only being seven yards. He was a little more involved with the passing game catching three passes, but overall it was a slow game for the Texans lead back.
RB Duke Johnson
, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 5 - 23 - 0 (8 targets) - It was a slow day for Duke Johnson
, he only had one carry for 11 yards and five receptions for 23 yards. His longest reception was nine-yards, but with the Texans play behind the majority of the game. Watson had to push the ball downfield to his receivers.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, Rec: 9 - 118 - 0 (14 targets) - The Texans did not wait to get Hopkins involved in the game, unlike last week. Hopkins would end up hurting his ribs on their last offensive play before halftime on a 38-yard reception. He would finish the game with a team-high 118 receiving yards. With plenty of vertical presence from Stills and Fuller, Hopkins was able to work underneath and make plays. Hopkins had two receptions of 21 and 20, and the rest were under nine yards of catching and moving the chains.
WR Will Fuller
, Rec: 5 - 89 - 0 (8 targets) - It was the first game for Will Fuller
in two weeks since injuring his groin in week 16. His presence was enough to open up the passing game and not only get him looks but help Deshaun Watson
spread the ball around. Fuller's longest reception was 39 yards down the left sideline when he blew by a Chiefs defensive back. Fuller was also able to haul in a 30-yard reception helping Watson put together a strong deep ball game.
WR Kenny Stills
, Rec: 3 - 80 - 1 (6 targets) - Stills ended up getting the Texans offense going to start the game with a 54-yard touchdown reception from Watson. On a third-down play, Stills was able to break free after the Chiefs coverage busted and left him wide open for an easy throw from Watson. Outside of his touchdown reception, Stills was kept quiet. Only catching two more passes along the way for 26 yards for the remainder of the game.
TE Darren Fells
, Rec: 3 - 22 - 1 (7 targets) - It has been a quiet stretch for Darren Fells
since being a touchdown catching machine to start the season, and he finally got back to catching a touchdown against the Chiefs. After a fumble on the Chiefs, he was able to find space in the Chiefs secondary and allow Watson to hit him for a four-yard touchdown pass.
QB Patrick Mahomes
, Pass: 23 - 35 - 321 - 5 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 53 - 0 - Patrick Mahomes
completed 23 of 35 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. In the Chiefs win over the Texans on Sunday. Mahomes also rushed seven times for 53 yards. This was a tale of two games, the first consisting of the opening 19 minutes, and the second being the final 31 minutes. In the first, the Chiefs get themselves in a massive 24 point hole before Mahomes reminds us why he is the reigning MVP and puts up 51 points, including four touchdown passes in the second quarter alone. It took all of 18 plays from scrimmage in the second quarter for Mahomes to throw four touchdown passes and take the lead 28-24 heading into the second half. The first of Mahomes touchdown passes came with the Chiefs facing a first and 10 from the Texans 17 yard line. With Williams lined to his left, Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and looked immediately to Williams who was running a wheel route up the left sideline. The pass was thrown while Williams was still running hard with his eyes upfield and was put in the perfect place, so much so that the ball was nearly in Williams gut by the time he looked back. From there Williams beat the Texans secondary to the goal line without being touched, sparking one of the greatest playoff comebacks in the history of the sport. Mahomes second touchdown pass came four plays later, with the Chiefs looking at a first and goal from the Texans five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and faced a collapsing pocket, which forced him to step up and out towards the right sideline. From there it may have looked as though Mahomes was being tackled from behind, but in reality he dove to the right which gave him the proper angle to throw a sidearm pass to Kelce, who was running a crossing pattern towards the right sideline. The pass came low and out to his left, but Kelce was able to make an impressive catch, while also keeping his momentum moving upfield which allowed him to dive across the goal line for the five yard touchdown. The Mahomes to Kelce connection struck again, this time three plays later with the Chiefs facing a third and goal from the Texans six yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran a bootleg to the right sideline. As Mahomes neared the right sideline, Kelce cut off his route and moved slightly back to the middle of the field, giving Mahomes an opening to fit the ball into. Kelce caught the pass cleanly and was able to run the remaining two yards untouched for the six yard touchdown. The duo was not done though, as Mahomes threw a third touchdown pass to Kelce with 50 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Chiefs their first lead of the game. Facing a third and goal from the Texans five yard line, Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran a bootleg to the left side of the field, essentially the mirror image of the previous touchdown pass. Again, Kelce ran an out-route to the left sideline and right as Mahomes was about to cross the line of scrimmage—forcing the Texans defender who was covering Kelce to commit towards Watson—he stopped his route again and sat down in the one spot that was vacated by the feeling Texans defender. Mahomes was able to get enough on a shotput-like throw to hit Kelce, who had camped out just across the goal line. The play will most likely be remembered by Mahomes baiting the Texans secondary into making a move that forced a gap in their zone defense, a move that was made while Mahomes had to travel parallel to the line of scrimmage on his last stride before stopping short and throwing to Kelce. However, I will remember it with respect to the pass that Mahomes threw, perhaps the 100th different throw variation we’ve seen from him in his two short years a starter. This one was a shotput motion that was thrown against his body back to the middle of the field while running to the left sideline. The throw is so difficult to make, and the angle is so severe, Mahomes had to actually stop his feet just to get enough on the pass. A pass that traveled only six yards, yet he was one of maybe three players in the NFL who could have made that play, and he made it at the most important time. Mahomes final touchdown pass came with the Chiefs facing a first and goal from the Houston eight-yard line. Preceding this play, Mahomes had completed passes of 23 yards, 13 yards and 28 yards. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and play-action faked a handoff to Williams, before looking to Blake Bell
, who was running a wheel-like route that started with him lined up just behind the end of the left side of the line. The Texans secondary reacted too late and Bell was able to cross the goal line easily for an eight yard touchdown.
RB Damien Williams
, Rush: 12 - 47 - 2, Rec: 2 - 21 - 1 (6 targets) - Damien Williams
rushed 12 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching two passes for 21 yards, one of which went for another touchdown for Williams. On any other day, Williams nose for the end zone would have given him player of the game, but that went to either Kelce or Mahomes. Williams opened the flood gates for Kansas City’s offense in the second quarter, catching a 17 yard pass from Mahomes. Williams gets credit for completing the catch, but the truth is the ball was in the exact perfect spot that it needed to be in. As Williams turned around to look back for the ball, the pass was nearly implanted on the left side of his stomach, which made it easy for Williams to keep his momentum moving upfield and outrun the Texans secondary and get the Chiefs on the scoreboard. The next time Williams scored, the Chiefs had run up three more touchdowns and were now leading 28-24. Williams was lined up to Mahomes right and took the handoff straight up the middle for an easy one yard touchdown, a touchdown that happened to be the deciding score for Kansas City. Williams wasn’t done though, as he added a second touchdown on the ground, this time with the Chiefs facing a first and goal from the Texans five yard line. Williams was lined behind Mahomes in the backfield, and was able to get a full head of steam while running up into the middle of the line. Williams used a hard jump-cut forward as he fit himself into the small hole that his offensive line had opened. Williams kept his momentum moving forward and catapulted himself across the goal line for the five yard touchdown. Williams is a perfect fit for the Chiefs offense, as he excels when put in advantageous situations, and he’s versatile enough to fit in with all the different packages and the pre-snap RPO that Reid likes to run.
WR Tyreek Hill
, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (4 targets) - Tyreek Hill
caught three passes for 41 yards on four targets and rushed one time for four yards. Considering the five touchdown passes and 300+ yards for Mahomes, I would have pegged Hill for a larger share than 41 yards and four targets, but that’s the way it goes when you play with two superstars in Kelce and Mahomes, and an efficient running back in Willliams. When all are on their game, there isn’t going to be much scraps for the fourth player. Hill did have catches of 17 and 20 yards, and forced a deep pass interference penalty. On the bad side, Hill muffed a punt early in the first quarter that gave the Texans the ball at the Chiefs six yard line. This resulted in an easy touchdown drive for the Texans, and a 21-0 lead, a lead that would have broke most teams but not the Chiefs.
WR Sammy Watkins
, Rush: 1 - 14 - 0, Rec: 2 - 76 - 0 (2 targets) - Sammy Watkins
caught two passes for 76 yards on two targets while also rushing one time for 14 yards in the Chief win over the Texans on Sunday. Additionally, Watkins forced a 28 yard pass interference penalty that set up Mahomes touchdown pass to Bell. Watkins 48 yard reception in the third quarter set up Williams one yard touchdown. On that catch, Watkins found a soft spot deep in the Texans zone and was able to make the catch and then turn the ball upfield and gain an additional 28 yards after the catch. Watkins looked good, smooth coming out of his routes and with nice burst when he was able to turn the ball up field. A Watkins playing at his highest level is almost an unfair addition to the Chiefs offense, but we have yet to see that at the same time when Mahomes, Hill, Kelce and Williams are all at their highest level, but perhaps this is the time for that to happen.
WR Mecole Hardman
, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (4 targets) - Mecole Hardman
caught two passes for 14 yards on four targets in the Chiefs win over the Texans on Sunday. Hardman did not make much of an impact in the passing game, but anyone who watched this game will remember Hardman’s 58 yard kickoff return that kickstarted the Chiefs comeback from 24 points down. It was a crucial play in the context of the game’s momentum, but it shouldn’t come as much surprise given Hardman’s penchant for making big plays on limited touches each week.
TE Travis Kelce
, Rec: 10 - 134 - 3 (12 targets) - Travis Kelce
caught 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 12 targets in the Chiefs win over the Texans on Sunday. Kelce took over this game in the second quarter and brought the Chiefs back from 24 points, scoring three touchdown in a mere 12 plays. This also included a 28 yard pass interference penalty that set up his first touchdown catch, a 15 yard pass interference penalty, and a 20 yard catch that set up the Chiefs offense in the red zone which resulted in Kelce’s second touchdown catch. Kelce’s first touchdown catch came with the Chiefs facing a second and goal from the Texans five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and faced a collapsing pocket, which forced him to step up and out towards the right sideline. Kelce was running a crossing route towards the right sideline and was able to create a sliver of separation from his defender. The angle from where Mahomes was moving in the pocket made it difficult to throw the ball in a place where only Kelce could make the catch, so he dove to the right and created the momentum and angle needed for Kelce to make the difficult catch. This is the type of play the best tight ends in the game make, and Kelce leads that charge, catching the ball out in front of him and low while still maintaining his motion towards the goal line. It took only three more plays for Kelce to strike paydirt again, this time with the Chiefs facing a third and goal from the Texans six yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran a bootleg to the right sideline. As Mahomes neared the right sideline, Kelce cut off his route and moved slightly back to the middle of the field, giving Mahomes an opening to fit the ball into. Kelce caught the pass and turned quickly before crossing the goal line for the touchdown. Kelce wasn’t done putting his stamp on this game though. With 50 seconds left in the first half, Kelce scored his third touchdown of the quarter, this one on a five yard reception that was a spitting image of his second touchdown catch, only run to the left sideline. Kelce showed his veteran savvy and football intelligence on these plays, knowing the perfect time and place to cut off his routes and create the right placing and angle for Mahomes. Mahomes made a couple of exceptional mini-plays within this play, including riding the line of scrimmage and throwing the ball against his body (running to the left sideline and throwing back to the middle of the field) at the exact moment that he baited the Texans defender into committing to him as a runner. Kelce and Mahomes have great chemistry and it Is plays like this that showcase their shared ability of knowing what the other is going to do when the play breaks down.