The NFL Wild-Card weekend narrowed things down for teams in the AFC and NFC playoff picture.
The Saints and Chargers, the respective NFC and AFC sixth seed teams, won their games, giving new meaning to the phrase, “just get in”–to the playoffs.
Divisional Playoffs: Saturday, Jan.11:
New Orleans at Seattle, 4:35 p.m. (FOX)
Indianpolis at New England, 8:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Jan. 12:
San Diego at Denver, 4:40 p.m. (CBS)
San Francisco at Carolina, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Conference Championships: Sunday, Jan. 19:
NFC, 6:30 p.m. (FOX)
AFC, 3 p.m. (CBS)
Pro Bowl: Saturday, Jan. 26, in Honolulu:
Super Bowl: Sunday, Feb. 2, at East Rutherford, N.J.
TBD, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)
AFC champion vs. NFC champion, 6:30 p.m. (FOX)
The NFL scores for the first Wild-Card games this weekend have been compiled:
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 23, GREEN BAY PACKERS, 20
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS, 27, CINCINNATI BENGALS, 10
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 45, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 44
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 26, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 24
AP updates below:
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Phil Dawson kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired, and Colin Kaepernick threw for 227 yards and ran for another 98 to lead the San Francisco 49ers past the Green Bay Packers 23-20 on Sunday night in a frigid NFC wild-card game.
In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, the 49ers (13-4) threw the final punch. Kaepernick escaped a blitz on third-and-8 and scrambled for an 11-yard gain to the 27 with 1:13 left. Dawson nailed the winning kick five plays later.
The defending NFC champions came away with a huge win in conditions that resembled a meat locker. It was 5 degrees at kickoff, and the winds made it feel like minus-10.
San Francisco plays at Carolina next Sunday.
Mason Crosby’s 24-yard field goal tied it at 20 for the Packers (8-8-1) with 5:06 left before the 49ers’ final drive.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Dump it off to the running back, hand it off, let the field goal kicker take it from there.
Philip Rivers didn’t have to do a whole lot to get a playoff win. Not with the way San Diego’s defense was dominating.
And not with the way Andy Dalton was coming apart in the playoffs again.
The Chargers took advantage of Dalton’s three turnovers in the second half on Sunday, pulling away to a 27-10 victory that extended San Diego’s late-season surge and pushed the Bengals’ postseason misery to record levels.
With Rivers making accurate throws in the chilling rain, the Chargers (10-7) won their fifth in a row, beating the last team that had knocked them off. They’ll play next Sunday in Denver, which has the AFC’s top seed.
The Chargers lost at home to the Broncos 28-20 on Nov. 10, then went to Denver and got a rejuvenating 27-20 victory on Dec. 12 that gave them momentum.
“We will be confident,” said Rivers, who was 12 of 16 for 128 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions on a rainy, 40-degree afternoon. “We’ve got to be careful we’re not overconfident, which we won’t be. Cincinnati came to our place and won five weeks ago.”
The Bengals (11-6) won in San Diego 17-10 on Dec. 1, starting their final push toward the AFC North title. They took advantage of three turnovers in that one.
They turned it over four times on Sunday, with Dalton’s fumble and two interceptions in the second half leading to one of the most stunning losses in franchise history. The Bengals had been 8-0 at home and brought the NFL’s No. 3 defense — their highest-ever playoff ranking — into the game.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes after halftime, including a 64-yarder to a wide-open T.Y. Hilton for the go-ahead score with 4:22 left, leading the Indianapolis Colts from a four-TD deficit to an improbable 45-44 comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC wild-card game Saturday.
Indianapolis (12-5) became the second team in playoff history to win after trailing by 28 or more points, according to STATS. The other: Buffalo over Houston 41-38 in overtime in January 1993. The Colts will travel to either Denver or New England next weekend for the divisional round with four straight wins.
Luck was 29 of 45 for 443 yards, the second-highest total in franchise history for a playoff game, with four TDs and three interceptions. He also picked up a fumble and ran it in for a 5-yard score. Hilton broke a franchise playoff record with 13 catches and 224 yards, finishing with two TDs — including the winner.
Kansas City (11-6) finished its turnaround season with three straight losses, two to the Colts and an eighth straight postseason defeat — none more stunning than this one. The eight straight losses broke a tie with the Detroit Lions for the longest playoff skid.
Alex Smith was 30 of 46 for 378 yards with four TDs and no interceptions on a day he lost his top two running backs, Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, and starting receiver Donnie Avery to injuries.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Shayne Graham, signed by the Saints just over two weeks ago, kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final play to give New Orleans its first road playoff victory.
Graham’s fourth field goal sent the Saints (12-5) to Seattle for next Saturday’s divisional playoffgame against the NFC’s top seed. The Seahawks routed the Saints 34-7 during the season.
Drew Brees threw for a touchdown, Mark Ingram rushed for 97 yards and another score, and the Saints’ defense slowed Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense just enough. New Orleans had been 0-5 in postseason games outside of the Big Easy since entering the league in 1967.
Philadelphia wound up 10-7 in Kelly’s first year as coach. He guided them from worst to first in the NFC East, but they were only 4-5 at home.
Nick Foles hit rookie Zach Ertz for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:54 remaining as Philadelphia rallied from a 13-point deficit to take a one-point lead. But Darren Sproles had a 39-yard kickoff return and a horse-collar tackle brought New Orleans to the Philadelphia 48. Using mostly runs, the Saints ate up the clock and set up Graham’s winner.